Wild Fires

See the haze hanging over the cornfield?  No, it’s not the heat and humidity back, it’s actually quite nice today.  That is smoke from the out of control forest fires in Quebec.  It’s making its way into Eastern Ontario.  In fact, we have an air quality warning in effect.  I’m glad I only have barn clothes to hang out today, Colin doesn’t care if they smell a bit smokey.  So far the smoke isn’t making it’s way into the house.


Yesterday I caught my son lighting birch bark on fire with a magnifying glass... he's 27... and his three year old son was with him.  When confronted he explained that he was teaching his son survival skills.  As if  I was fooled.  There would have been no "Look son, the convex lens of a magnifying glass concentrates the rays of the sun into a point creating enough heat to start fires."   It would have been "Hey son, come check out all the cool  stuff you can burn with this thing."

He forgets I am his mother and we have history.  This is the same son who with his brothers, lit my giant pillar candle on fire by spraying WD40 at the flame.  They would never have been caught except someone was foolish enough to video tape it.

Beautiful Saturday

We've finally had a break in the humidity.  Ella and I spent the morning helping Daddy plant out some of his pumpkins.  Ella did a great job.  Next year she will be able to do pumpkins on her own or at least without direct supervision.  Daddy's beginning to see the beginning of the end for planting, the greenhouse is starting to look thin.  It's really windy today, that's why Ella has a jacket.  Without the wind and I think it would have been much warmer.  As it was I was quite comfortable, this is the temperature I like.

I've taken advantage of the nice day and got my dog biscuits baked.  This is the newest thing I'm going to try selling on OVFC.  They are made with people grade ingredients, so I'm hoping they sell well.  I've made 14 dozen small regular dog bones  :)  I have a few other recipes in mind to try, but we'll start with the regular ones and see how they go.

Still haven't heard from the dance recital.  It's ridiculous that everyone shows up for noon, even if they are nearly last on stage.  When I danced you showed up an hour before your scheduled time.  I'm not sure about the way this place is running rehearsal/recital, it's not like they are new at this.

Here's a fun picture to share:

Ella was so proud of her drawing she wanted me to take a picture.  It's a picture of Momma and Ella outside an igloo.  I helped with the picture of Ella on the right.  Ella always wants me to draw with her.  I was surprised when she said she wanted to draw an igloo.

Vegan Adventures in Montreal - Part Three: Crudessence

While Chuchai and Aux Vivres were amazing, the restaurant called Crudessence on Rachel Street in Montreal holds a special place in my heart, because it is there that I realized the power of raw/living cuisine.

I've noted my apprehension toward raw vegetables in the past, regardless of my firm belief that a diet consisting mostly of that which is considered "living" is optimal for health and longevity.

When I first went vegan I was pretty ignorant with regard to the raw lifestyle. I pictured a whole lot of salads and handfuls of nuts. I never dreamed that such things as pizza, hamburgers and pasta were within the raw realm. Creeping around the interwebs made me quickly aware of how misguided I was, yet I was still nervous to try my hand at preparing it myself.

Lucky for me, in Montreal I had the opportunity to have someone prepare it for me.

While we were having dinner at Chuchai the woman at the table over got wind that we were from out of town, so she recommended that we try Crudessence. We weren't sure we would get the opportunity to head out that way, but after several people confirmed that it was one of the best eateries in Montreal (and vegan and raw), we knew we would regret missing it.

We started off with smoothies (it feels like we had a million smoothies this past weekend):

I went for the Loco-Local (elderberry, strawbery, raspberry, apple and maple syrup) and Paul tried La Gallant (cacao, strawberry, raspberry, banana and hemp milk).

For the main course I gave the cheese pizza plate a try:

The "cheese" is made of a mixture of cashew and macademia nuts and the pizza is topped with capers, black olives and crumesean. The "crumesean" is made of brazil nuts. It's served with two sides: a zucchini ribbon pasta with a delicious tomato sauce topping and a caesar-esque salad.

Paul got the Om burger plate:

The burger itself is made of mushrooms, flax, sundried tomatoes and a host of other veggies topped with fresh tomato, lettuce, onion and healthy doses of homemade ketchup and mustard. It also has their famous caper aoili as a topping.

We were completely blown away by Crudessence. Like I said, we were pretty ignorant about the raw lifestyle and had previously never had the opportunity to interact with it. We really had no idea what to expect, but we loved everything! If we have to pick a favourite, I think it would have to be the Om burger - look at it, it's amazing!

I was stuffed beyond all belief by the time I was done eating, but I couldn't resist trying a raw dessert. And they had my all time favourite cake variety available - living carrot cake!

It goes without saying that Crudessence gets the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval along with the other two restos we tried. They are not only fabulous eateries, but those working behind the counter are tireless crusaders for all that is vegan and ethical. Their vested interest in that which is organic, local and animal-free is truly inspiring, check out the values section of their website for more info, and if you're in the Montreal area, make your way to Rachel Street to try this incredibly innovative restaurant. You won't be disappointed.

I just wish I lived closer so that I could participate in one of the "uncooking" classes that they offer!

105 Rachel W Street
Montreal, Quebec
H2W 1G4
(514) 510-9299

We had the opportunity to try three vegan-friendly restaurants while in Quebec and not one of them disappointed us. Because I don't often get the opportunity to interact with vegans in an all-vegan environment here at home, it was a truly invigourating experience to see the cause so alive and well out there in the world.

Thanks, Montreal!

Vegan Adventures in Montreal - Part Two: Aux Vivres

We went out for a drink or two (or six) in old Montreal on Saturday night so we woke up a smidge hungover. Everyone knows that the cure to a hangover is a hefty breakfast - just ask the busy waitresses hustling and bustling around diners every Sunday morning.

The thing is, when you're vegan, it's not really a matter of falling out of bed and finding whichever diner is closest. It may not be a matter of finding a restaurant at all, as vegan breakfasts are not exactly a mainstream specialty. It's instead usually a matter of waiting until noon, when restaurants start serving lunch meals in conjunction with all day breakfasts. Then and only then you may be able to sneak by with a plate of fries while dreaming about tofu scrambles and fak'n bacon.

The cool thing about being hungover in Montreal is that a vegan breakfast/brunch is not just some vodka-cranberry induced dream - it is reality on Saturday and Sunday mornings!

When our eyes opened on Sunday morning and our bodies were a bit reluctant to move, what got us out of bed was the prospect of vegan brunch at Aux Vivres.

We started off with a couple of smoothies: Tropicalia is on the left and Le Creamsicle is on the right

And then came the food.

This is the Le Complet meal - tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, jalapeno cornbread, sweet potato, fresh fruit and a wonderful salad of carrots, lettuce and beets in a creamy dressing.

I still can't believe I was able to eat a real breakfast (i.e. not just a fruit cup) in a restaurant. That hasn't happened to me in well over three years. It was all so delicious, but the cornbread really stood out as the best part of the meal.

Paul followed Le Complet up with another brunch item:

Gaufre Dorees (golden waffles)! Two organic waffles topped with cashew cream, fruit and an organic maple syrup.

I decided to order off the dessert menu:

gateau fauxmage (uncheesecake!)

We were so impressed with Aux Vivres that we returned for a second meal, on our last day in Montreal.

I got the all dressed tempeh burger plate (tempeh burger with caramelized onions, tomatoes, lettuce, pickle and chipotle mayo along with sides of creamy coleslaw and potato wedges with chipotle ketchup).

Paul got chili fries (roasted potatoes topped with house chili and sour cream) and

The Aux Vivres BLT made famous via the blogosphere - the "B" is actually coconut! I have no idea how they manage to make coconut taste like bacon but they do and it's positively incredible.

We loved absolutely everything we tried at Aux Vivres and the staff were among the friendliest people we encountered in Montreal. If we had to pick a favourite, the "WIN" goes to the B.L.T. It has to be - the bacon is freaking coconut! How does that even happen!

It goes without saying that this restaurant gets the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval. I almost need to invent something even higher than the Seal to give to Aux Vivres. It is the best food I've had in a restaurant in a long, long time.

Aux Vivres
4631 boulevard Saint-Laurent
Montréal, Québec, Canada
(514) 842-3479

Barn Cats

I am really getting tired of losing barn cats.  Especially the friendly ones.  We lost every single cat this winter to distemper.  This is our two new ones, Smudge and Socks.  Unfortunately we've lost Socks now too.  I don't know what to do.  Most barn cats are far too wild to give them needles.  You'd certainly never get a hold of them to give the booster shot.  I know life and death are just every day parts of farm life, but I'm a small town girl who loves her animals.

This past weekend we made the six hour trek east to Montreal, Quebec. It was a long weekend and Paul's birthday, and neither of us had ever been before. We grabbed some friends and headed up for a few days of drinks on patios, sightseeing and eating. Oh, the eating.

Montreal is a vegan paradise. I say this, because the city in which I live is not. Veg businesses tend to struggle under the weight of roadhouses and fast food restaurants around these parts.

Montreal does pose some issues for vegans. Most of the mainstream restos and gathering spots we encountered had nothing vegan-friendly, aside from the odd salad. My typical go-to of french fries was even off limits at several places because they could not guarantee that they were beef tallow-free. It could have just been the places we attempted, of course. To be honest I'm not great with navigating cities I've never been to (or cities I have been to, for that matter) and my French is positively abysmal. So, it is highly likely that I just didn't know what the hell I was asking for. Although, some kind locals that I met on the patio at Chuchai taught me to say "Je suis végétalienne" ("I am vegan") and that helped for the remainder of our visit.

Montreal makes up for the questionable state of their mainstream french fries by offering up several all-veg, all-the-time options that have resulted in the greatest meals I have ever had in my life. Because of this, I grant the city Vegan-Friendly status (and subsequently the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval).

We arrived late Saturday afternoon, positively famished after having eaten nothing more than a tofurky sandwich on the side of the road somewhere in Gananoque. We checked in to our hotel quickly, freshened up a bit and walked on over to Chuchai on Saint-Denis. After The Busy (Happy!) Vegan's post about this restaurant, I knew it had to be on the list for must-sees on our trip.

The restaurant features the fancier Chuchai next door to Chuch Express, which has the same menu but is a bit more informal and you're allowed to bring your own wine (apparently it is the mother ship calling me home). We had intended to dine at Chuchai but got confused once we got there and ended up on the Chuch patio, which in the end was more than fine with us.

The menu was divided according to main features: "chicken", "duck", "beef", etc. It was kind of a trip, to be honest - we may have panicked a little and thought we were in the wrong restaurant for a minute. But alas, we were comforted by the gentleman behind us telling stories about his vegan travel adventures and knew we were safe.

We implemented our restaurant trial rule of thumb: we each order an appetizer and a meal. They must be four different items and we must share them with each other regardless of how good they may be. Then we have a little taste-test competition to determine who made the best choice.

Unfortunately, Chuchai doesn't have an online menu and I didn't think ahead to write down what exactly we ordered, so bear with my descriptions.


I ordered what turned out to be delicious samosa-style bites, stuffed with potatoes, veggies and yellow curry:

Paul ordered these spicy fried mushrooms with basil:

And the Round One Winner is..................
Paul, with his deep-fried mushroom selection

So, I basically thought he was nuts when he selected this app. I was kind of disappointed too because I generally hate mushrooms, unless they are chopped into the tiniest little bits and I can't actually taste them. I don't know what they did to these particular mushrooms because they were not only the better of the two apps, they were probably one of the best things we've eaten. Ever. Not that there was anything wrong with the samosas, they were positively incredible, but these mushrooms were so delicious that I am still salivating over them.


I ordered one of Chuchai's "chicken" dishes. I have no idea what the base of the "meat" was. I am leaning toward seitan, just based on the texture, but I can't be certain that it wasn't a soy-based product. Perhaps a Montrealer can help me out. Regardless of what it was, it was vegan and full of flavour, tossed together with pineapples, cashews and crunchy vegetables in a sweet sauce:

Paul ordered a "duck" dish - red curry duck with vegetables, to be exact. They got the texture right on (we are positive this one was a grain meat), and the creamy coconut flavour of the sauce was amazing:

And the Round Two Winner is..................
Mary, with her "chicken" selection

This was an extremely tough call. We love them both and would order them both again in a heartbeat. We gave the win to the "chicken" dish just because the contrast between the spongey "chicken", the sweet pineapple and the crunchy cashews made for a really unique taste experience. I'm the one who implemented the "must share" rule, but I definitely ate quicker than normal and in the end probably got more of it. It was just too good.

Dinner was a bit pricey. It came to $65.00 for all the food pictured above (not including tip), but we didn't mind because we never get to indulge like that around here. And indulge we did - the 1.5 mile hike back to the hotel was a bit painful on that kind of a full stomach. Paul definitely had to lay down for a bit before heading out for drinks with our friends:

Chuchai/Chuch Express
4092, rue Saint-Denis
Montreal, QC H2W 2M5
(514) 843-4194

I made fruit pizza on the weekend.  I hadn't made it in a while but was asked a couple of weeks ago for the recipe and that was just the incentive I needed, well that and an excuse to share it (two pizzas for two people is just pure gluttony). So when both my son-in-law and his sister invited us out to their family cottage it provided the perfect opportunity to make our family favourite recipe. 
Look what you missed out Nathan.  Was Taylor Swift worth it?  
Matthew & Kere, I will make this for you next month when we celebrate your birthdays.
For the rest of you, here is the recipe so you can make it yourself.  

The reason this pizza tastes so good is the base. I use a coconut sugar cookie recipe and I think it's the coconut that compliments the fruit so well.

I find the recipe for the cookies makes more than enough for two bases but not quite enough for three so I just make some cookies from the leftover dough. For that, you make little balls, place them on a cookie sheet and flatten with the bottom of a glass that is greased in butter and dipped in sugar. So yummy! They were one of the kids favourites growing up. 

Here's the recipe:

Cookie base:

2 cups sugar
2 cups margarine or butter softened
1 cup flaked coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350. Mix sugar, margarine, coconut and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients.
Press into two pizza pans. Bake until edges are golden and middle looks pretty cooked. (I honestly can't remember how long. I can just tell when it's done by looking at it.) Note: The dough rises and spreads if it is put on too thick so watch it doesn't spill over.

12 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Mix until smooth, divide in half and spread over cooled pizzas.

Topping can be any type of fruit you like. I found kiwis and bananas the best tasting but always added strawberries, raspberries etc. for colour. It is easiest to layer from the outside in.

When I make them for my family, I rarely put a glaze on top but if I am taking them out I add the glaze just to keep the fruit from discolouring (bananas) and it makes it shiny and prettier. You can buy a glaze but it is really simple to make. The best way to put it on is with a pastry brush. 


Tonight, after a big meal, my husband helped do the dishes and tidy the kitchen and I discovered that he refers to just about everything I cook with as a "thing".  

Where does your "thing" (lid to the blender) go?

Does your "thing"(silicone spatula) go in the top drawer?

Do you put your"thing" (steamer for the rice cooker) on first or your other "thing"(bowl for the rice cooker)?

Do you want me to put your "thing"(measuring cup) in the dishwasher?

While I really appreciate his help, the task takes almost twice as long as I turn to look to see what he's referring to all the time.    It can be exasperating.

This is all one sided.  If I ever refer to his "thing" it can only mean one "thing".

Memories of Mending ...

As I've been stitching on my little boro-inspired piece, I've been remembering my school days. There we learned how to darn our lisle stockings using a little wooden mushroom shaped tool.

According to the dictionary, lisle is “1. A fine, smooth, tightly twisted thread spun from long-stapled cotton. 2. Fabric knitted of this thread used especially for hosiery and underwear.”

In the 1950’s there was no such thing as pantyhose. Women wore stockings, which had a seam down the back. Nylon stockings were the most fashionable, but lisle stockings were cheaper. Lisle Stockings tended to wrinkle around the ankles. Because we wore these stockings for more than one day, the longer we wore them, the baggier they became. I remember that it was the heels and toes of these ugly things that got the most holes. What a relief when pantyhose came in to fashion! The ones we were allowed to wear were more like tights in a hideous brown color! Ah! the memories that flow when I have a needle and thread in my hands!

Heading off Into the Unkown... but God is God. Yay!

So!  Tomorrow I'm leaving here, and Sunday I fly to Texas.  I think I'm all packed.  I think everything is together.  I think my life is in order.  I think my bags are all packed.  I think I am ready.  But who knows, really?  I'm just human,  Fortunately, God is God.  I'm so very glad.  :-)

I feel a bit crazed, I don't feel very together, and I really have no idea what I'm doing, but God does.  And God is God.  Whew!

In just a few short days, I will be spending time with new people.  I will be making new friends.  I will be challenged by very trying situations.  I will be overjoyed and the amazing things God will do.  God is God.  He is in control.

Please be praying for me as I head out on this new adventure.  I know that this is where the LORD wants me, and that He will guide me through every moment of it, no matter what happens.

I love you Jesus!

Check this out for a link and half:-
Stitching on this little piece reminds of when I used to have to darn lisle stockings at boarding school, somehow. I have a bit more to go and can't wait to start working this whole idea in colorful fabrics and threads.

Gosh, lisle stockings held up with a pink satin suspender belt. Obviously this was in an era before nylon tights were invented! Those lisle stockings were a badge of maturing. One graduated to those from wearing knee socks with the uniform. Shirts with ties and satin suspender belts. The look was finished off with brown leather lace-up shoes! Well, we also wore navy blue wool skirts.
So much for the mouse problem, I now have a family of turkeys frequenting  my lawn each day.  I thought it was pretty funny when they first showed up.  So did the painter and the plumber.  We discovered that the slamming of the front door would send them into a gobbling frenzy.  I caught the painter going out one afternoon and when he got no response from the slamming door he purposely opened the door and slammed it shut extra hard just set them off.  I reminded him he was sixty not six.

The other day I caught one of them sunning itself on my deck.  

Again funny but the mess it left behind did not impress me, neither did the mess that came inside from the bottom of someone's shoe.  

I chased them off but they came back.  I threatened them with a big stick and still they came back.   I resorted to explaining to them that if I caught them pooping on my deck again, I didn't care who they belonged to, they would end up in my freezer.  So far so good.  I haven't seen them since which leaves me to wonder...
a) Can turkeys understand humanspeak?
b) Have my neighbours bugged my house, overheard me and kept them safe in their coop?
c) Did someone beat me to following through with the threat?

I also find it strangely coincidental that a single friend of mine posted as her facebook status that she was roasting a turkey. Very suspicious indeed.

ACAD Grad show in brief and in half.

I went up to ACAD this morning and spent a good 3 hours pottering around the assorted rooms and gallery spaces experiencing the best the students had to offer.  And although it has been described as "The good, the bad and the ugly,"  I felt very good about what I was seeing and was sufficiently encouraged to keep on searching out more and more rooms to delve into, and I left ACAD hoping that one or both of my children will want to go and see the show tomorrow, so that I can take in even more.
Unfortunately the steward in the first gallery space told me that photography was only allowed if you are 'family'... although I believe we are all related, I don't think that was quite what she had in mind, so I have only my mental pictures to hold on to.  However, to keep the blog from looking completely dull, I have inserted images from the web of related works wherever possible... I hope none are copywritten and I will happily remove them if asked to do so.
But sorry that I couldn't illustrate the actual pieces in the show.

One significant point that occurred to me was that students graduating from the painting course had sometimes exhibited pieces in fibre.  I found this quite heart-warming.  One such piece that was stunning piece by Randy Niessen a mixed media (untitled) work with lines of taught fibres radiating from a focus on the floor, to 3 metres up the walls, where painted grid lines in the same colours of  purple, white, lilac, yellow and blue intersected and formed a mesmerising interference pattern which toyed with ones sense of perspective and dimensionality .
In the same room Cassandra Pauls piece of tumbling blocks... (Image on right from TRUCK Gallery website) acrylic on wood suggested the work of an artist recently exhbited in the Epcor gallery.
 and below with Nate Mcleod and Cassandra together... this piece really grabbed my attention in the TRUCK'S plus fifteen window space. Ah, so I was right!
Img-4.jpgSimilarly The Mould Family Portraits ( that remind me so much of Maurice Sendak's artworks for Where the Wild Things Are ....)  being the work of Mynthia McDaniel might also have recently shown in Epcor. (see below from ACAD website). Good for ACAD to have its students actively seek local exhibition space.

Anne Fetterley (of Contextural)  had prime position in the entire show,  in the main gallery space.  Her work was shown off to full effect in the central space.  The four panels hanging in arcs to a lower surface strewn with onion skins.  I had seen the piece, Onion Skin Project, at the Contextural meeting both whilst 'under construction' and images of the show (two days ago)... but it was lovely to see it in place and set off by its juxtaposition with  the complimentary piece by Janis Milligan:  huge rust dyed panels on two facing walls.  Lovely pieces, fantastic curation.

There were so many pieces that caught my eye.   Robyn Weatherly had used video installation and photography to show off his blown glassware.Viviane Mehr a student on the painters' course worked coloured shapes on overlapping transparent ?plastic squares, the layers are held together at the top edge by a single straight line of machine ?chain stitch... A series of 6 pieces had the look of devored fabrics and were beautifully presented..
David Blankenstyn had taken green glass bottles and recycled them adding facial features as well as hair, cigarettes and so on so that each had its own character... An amusing piece called Collect Yourself, perhaps a nod to recycling.
 This piece by David was at Triangle gallery in December last year.

To finish I will note a lovely textile piece created by Judy Dibus, yet another painting student who worked in fibre - seemed to be a whimsical piece a colourful assault on the visual... Growth Chart is a 3D bar graph of growth with the bars, or rods constructed of wrapped cuddly toys bound together into their pillars of ascending height by thread.  This piece was cited in the central mall to give it plenty of space.  Wonderful.

My favourite piece of the whole show was a hand made paper sculptural effigy (and I say no more as I, sadly didn't record the name of the artist... perhaps I will get that tomorrow).  And second most favourite was Sarah Burchell's piece that was reminiscent of  Andy Goldsworthy's rabbit blood pieces, but Sarah used Logwood, soy milk, citric acid and iron to produce an amazingly rich palette that gave the 2D piece a deep 3D feel with intense brown and deep deep blue black colours.

I love really bright colours.

I may take it too far, sometimes. I got hot pink bed sheets for one of our spare beds, even though no one ever uses it, just because they made my heart happy. If I ever have a child, boy or girl, that nursery is going to be painted lime green. My lucky socks are rainbow-striped. My kitchen is an alarming shade of yellow and the living room that is connected to it is orange (after we finished painting Paul announced that looking at the kitchen was "like staring directly into the sun").

Maybe it's all in my head, but there is something psychologically liberating about being surrounded by vibrancy. Come on - it's hard to be in a bad mood while staring directly into the sun.

Knowing this about me and seeing the picture posted above, it's not too difficult to understand why I absolutely loved this pasta dish. It tasted great, don't get me wrong, but it's the gorgeous yellow of that rouille that drew me in.

To be honest, I don't really know what a rouille is. Wikipedia says it is a French sauce that consists of olive oil, breadcrumbs and chili peppers. Robin Robertson, the author of Vegan Planet (the book where you can find this recipe) notes that it's often a roasted red pepper rouille that accompanies pasta. However, her use of yellow peppers that are sauteed on the stove rather than roasted lend a more subtle and light taste to this pasta. And she includes the ingredient that makes all pastas great - artichoke hearts. It's the perfect summertime pasta dish.

And speaking of summertime, I have discovered a new treat for the upcoming heatwaves that I have subsequently given the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval:

Coconut milk popsicles that are quite reminiscent of the Popsicle Pete popsicles I devoured as a kid (remember saving the sticks/collecting popsicle pete points and sending away for a prize?!).

Unlike Pete's creations, these are 100% cruelty-free, vegan, organic, soy-free, gluten-free and made with fair-trade cocoa. Check out the Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss website for more information. They are a bit pricy - I picked up a box of four popsicles for $6.00 but they are so good and are guaranteed vegan, plus you can slurp away without worrying about the wages paid to workers during the production process. They are a special treat and not a daily consumption item, so go ahead and splurge a little now and again.

Not going to lie, we already ate all four and it was only yesterday that we bought the box. What is better than eating a chocolately popsicle in your pajamas?

Luckily I am surprisingly more cheap than I am gluttonous, so I did show some restraint with regard to buying a second box. Ooh and look, you can catch a glimpse of one of my crazy yellow walls!

I designate myself a full-time mixed media artist

I am going to apply to the Alberta Craft Council... I have to tick a box for Full time, Part time, hobbyist... etc.... I am taking it very seriously and will tick full time.  Before now I have used the words 'full time' in the following context, "It is like I have a full time job, so I can't come round for coffee..."  Even so I do allow too many distractions in my working week.  Mainly because I don't want to go so pale, through lack of sunlight, that you can see the blueness of my internal organs and I don't want to forget how to hold an adult conversation through isolation.  But there are other ways to be with people that are more directly related to my work and I am going to allocate time to these instead.
I have periods of reflection when I am away from home, on annual leave (I am an expat.). The result is usually the formulation of a wish list, new action plan and setting of goals and then I return home and put the plans into action.  Weirdly though, I am doing this now, before the summer holidays.  And it feels good.
Kreative Momentum (4) workshop today was about Cable Stitch, which for those of you who are not British, or not familiar with using the sewing machine for strange activities, means bobbin work where one uses a thicker than normal thread in the machine's bobbin.  It takes some adjustments to the sewing machine and you work upside down, but most machines will stitch a fair Cable stitch - without the blood rushing to ones cheeks.

We had 6 machines in the room and worked from basic machine code! to beginners' Cable.  Amazingly the poor suffering students liked it and want more... I would teach every day if I could....  but I think they still want one class a month.  We all have busy lives.
Anyone interested in dye and progressive stitch workshops do email me.
No photos of this class - but I hope to get some shots of their work up soon.
Plan for tomorrow ACAD Grad show and bookshop - a spoil-myself day.


Do not adjust your screen and no, this isn't deja vu back to Mothers' day.  This isn't really snow.  This is all the fluff that comes off our silver poplar this time of year.  We've actually got a lot less fluff than most years.  We've had a good breeze the last few days and it's blown away a lot of the fluff.  Usually it's a couple of inches deep in the yard.  My allergies don't like this time of year, I usually try to stay inside  :)

I've been looking into the whole business of Pink for a Girl and Blue for a Boy. This old European legend is rather sweet:

Baby boys were found under cabbages, which were somewhat blue in color. A baby girl was born in the heart of a pink rose.

(So mabye that's why "mon petit choux" ("my little cabbage") is a term of endearment in France. I've often wondered about that!)

A rather more more scientific approach is excerpted from an article by Mark Henderson, Science Editor of Timesonline.com

"We all know that women like pink and men prefer blue, but we have never really known why.

Now it emerges that parents who dress their boys in blue and girls in pink may not just be following tradition but some deep-seated evolutionary instinct.

Researchers have found that there could be sound historical reasons why women have developed a heightened appreciation of reds and pinks, while men are drawn to blue.

The explanation might date back to humans’ hunter-gatherer days, when women were the primary gatherers and would have benefited from an ability to home in on ripe, red fruits ...”

Here's another theory:

Long ago, many people believed that evil spirits hung around the nursery, but that these spirits were repelled by certain colours. The most potent colour was blue, associated with the heavenly sky.

Blue was believed to frighten away demons and rob them of their power. So blue on a baby was not only adornment, but also seen as a very necessary precaution. Now this was a long time ago, when girls were considered inferior, so boys got the really potent blue colour—it didn't matter what colour girls got. The assumption is that later generations chose pink for girls to symbolize that new rosy all-over-pink look.

Wow! From strong, essential ancient hunter-gatherer women to being "rosy all-over-pink-creatures" that didn't really matter ...

Last night was critique night.  I was in two minds - do I go do I stay?  Do I take or do I leave.  Hmmm.  I decided on go and take.

The funny thing was that Arlee wasn't with me.  I swear we would have had wet patches somewhere after my struggle to find the venue.   I used Madame Gee-Pee Ess (she the electronic visionary of all things  road).... I can't remember what her original name was ... but she has helped me many a time in Calgary, this gridded city of Cookie Cutter Avenue, Ridge, Road, Street, Boulevard, Crescent.... the list is mind-numbingly dull...

But last night she did her worst.  The thing was that I was trying to find %%%* 10th Street SW which the machine and Google Maps told me was South of the River and on 10th St between 6th and 7th Avenue.  All good and conforming to what my expat-in-new-location, settling-in process, had taught me, down to which side of the street it was on.
*I keep the actual number hidden so as to protect its owner's identity.
I spent 3/4 hour walking up and down trying to find the right tower block.  Panic was setting in. I rang Contextural for clarification only no-one was taking calls;  till much later.  Meantime I asked Calgarians who weren't as well up on street layout as me - the expat, to no avail.  All the time Mdm G.P.S. is yelling at me that I am approaching the desired location... how wrong she was.  But how clever too***  for she must have know something that, as yet, I did not.
So eventually I decided that the organisers must have meant NW not SW.  So off I go with Madame Gee Pee Ess helping out - to %%% 10th Street NW... which does exist but isn't a tower block.  I decided that I had seen enough of Kensington and asked G.P. to take me home.  That's when Contextural rang to say ***there was a typo on the invite and I had been searching for the wrong address by a factor of 80.  By now I must have been nearly an hour late.  But, encouraged, I pushed back to 10th Street SW.  Why? Because I have determination in my nature... I located the tower block and after moving up several levels, and I don't mean of the tower block, I mean of the computer game, that I now felt I was part of... I arrived at the meeting.  With hindsight it was well worth the effort.
We saw photos from the ACAD grad show, Actual pieces from the show, wonderful work ready for development at the ACAD summer residence and a lovely piece worked from banner material.... I can't say more as I don't know how widely the artists want me to publicise their work.
Me I took two worms that aren't terribly novel.  Novel as worms, not novel as scarves, except one does have spikes on and wouldn't 'work' as a scarf.  The exciting thing about them does make people "oooooh and aaaaaah" (too much Les Mis. recently).  But more on that another day.  Sufice it to say that the worms were welcomed and they intrigued no one more that our hostess's delicous cat, who couldn't seem to get enough of them.
Members of Contextural were extremely encouraging of what I want to do during the Residency and so I will push on.  Also I must go and see the ACAD show and look in at the bookshop which sounds like an Aladdins cave of supplies.  Why have I never visit it?  Could it be that I had the wrong address.

Mock Boxed Cake Mix

My beloved husband is celebrating a birthday this week. Since we have other things going in the coming days, I threw a little party for him on Saturday night. Nothing fancy, just a few of our favourite people, a considerable amount of alcohol and our unfinished basement (where I can be sure nothing will get ruined).

Paul is not a fancy guy. Particularly when it comes to food. His all-time favourite cake is boxed Betty Crocker yellow cake mix with chocolate icing. This was great in pregan days, because I was a horrible baker and the opportunity for screw-ups is greatly minimized when the cake comes in a box.

(Note that I said minimized and not eliminated. I did screw it up more than once. Actually, I can't remember a time that it wasn't completely mangled, or burnt on the bottom, or a gooey mess on the inside.)

I've never actually read the box to see if it is vegan-friendly so I can't guarantee that it's not, but odds are that "modified milk ingredients" are somewhere on that list. Even if, by some miracle, it was vegan-friendly, I'd imagine there's some pretty funky chemicals and preservatives strewn about within that box that make baking the cake from scratch all the more appealing.

I was kind of nervous about embarking on this adventure, because it is his favourite kind of cake and I am not the greatest baker to begin with, let alone in situations where I am trying to copycat something without using any of the same ingredients.

I recruited my copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I made a double batch of golden vanilla cupcakes and split the batter between two 9" spring form pans. Isa's secret to making really golden vanilla cupcakes is sprinkling turmeric into very warm soy milk and allowing it to boil until the milk turns a lovely shade of yellow. While I don't see this as necessary when making golden vanilla cupcakes just for the sake of making golden vanilla cupcakes, I was trying to mimic Betty's lovely yellow hue and the turmeric definitely did the trick.

I baked them at 350F as per usual, but it took about double the time to bake (approximately 40 minutes until a knife came out of the centre clean). I topped it off with chocolate buttercream frosting and then made a half batch of vanilla buttercream, just so I could do a little writing on the cake.

As you can tell by the above pictures, the cake was an eyesore. There is not a creative bone in my body and when it comes to artistic endeavours I have the patience of a five-year-old. The good news is that it tasted really, really good and the birthday boy was very pleased with it.

[As an aside, does anyone know where I can get soy-based birthday candles like the numbered ones pictured above? They are paraffin so technically they are vegan-friendly in the traditional sense of the term, but I would hardly consider anything petrol-based vegan-appropriate, particularly in light of all of the animals massacred in the Gulf oil spill.]

So, it was a good night. Although I did learn one thing on Saturday: leave mixology to the professionals. We decided to try our hand at inventing drinks and ended up something we affectionately named "battery acid", because it was the only term we could think of to describe its flavour (and appearance).

Other than the horrible gut rot on Sunday morning, it was a good night.

Some of the girls (I'm on the far left)

Some of the boys

And this is a picture of Celebration dip, which I have posted about before, just because I wanted to show you the cute hot pepper dish my mom got for me in Florida.

P.S. I have no idea why pictures on old blog posts are not showing up. I'm inclined to blame Photobucket. Please sit tight, hopefully the technical glitch will be resolved shortly.