Ugh

Ella has an upper respiratory infection.  I hope this didn't come from greeting at church on Sunday.  If that's what's going to happen we're going to have to say 'no'.  Poor little pumpkin won't take any of her medicine (for pain) because it's a new kind that doesn't taste very good and is rather thick.  In fact, it gagged her last night.  Needless to say we haven't gotten much sleep since Monday.  Her throat is really sore and she won't eat or drink much.  I'm at the end of my rope.


Thank you so much to everyone that entered the This is Vegan Vegan Express giveaway! The contest was closed as of 10am EST and I ever so carefully did a random name draw.

And the winner of a brand new copy of Vegan Express personally inscribed by Nava Atlas herself is..... DRUMROLL PLEASE...!



Linda Mead Moore!!!!




Congratulations, Linda! If you could please email me at mary@thisisvegan.com with your mailing address, I will pass the information along to Nava and your copy of Vegan Express should be on its way to you shortly.

Thanks again to everyone who entered and a special thank you to Nava Atlas for so generously offering to personally sign a copy of the book for our winner.

And since we are talking about Vegan Express today, here is a picture of another great meal I made from the book (which has quickly become my favourite out of all the recipes I've tried in Vegan Express) - Chana Masala and Curried Cashew Couscous:



I love chana masala regardless of how fancy or simple you get with it, but following along with the "express" theme of this book, I especially love how quickly it comes together. I have had chana masala many different ways, but I anytime it can be done with next to no work, I love it even more. We tend to like things to be extra flavourful so I doubled the spice amount: I put in 2 teaspoons of garam masala and 2 tsp of regular old curry powder (not something I recommend if you like things to be more mild). The coucous was amazing as well; the conflicting textures of the grain, the cashews and the raisins I tossed in made for such an interesting accompaniment to the chickpeas.

Sit tight dear readers, there will be another This is Vegan giveaway coming up soon!

Wind

Will this wind let up anytime soon?  We have been waiting patiently but that is beginning to be stretched a bit thin these days.  Oh well.  Not much you can do except be patient.  We talk to the other fishermen in our community and they are feeling the same way. 

The grad went well and our oldest boy looked so mature.  Gave us a quick glimpse into the future when he hopefully graduates high school. 

A little bit of excitement in Wiarton last night.  A business beside the TD Bank on the main street burnt completely and damaged the bank.  It may have cause a lot damage to a restaurant that was up for sale which was located on the other side of this building that burnt.  I went to go do some banking and they don't know if they will be open this week for there is no hydro and a lot of smoke and water damage.  A bit of excitement that doesn't usually happen in the little town of Wiarton.   Now people have to go to Owen Sound to do any banking if they had their accounts in Wiarton. 

Well this is all for now.  I hope this wind quits soon.  It would be nice to see some fish come through the doors again.  I don't want to forget how to smoke fish....

Fruity Breakfast Bars and a Camping Excursion



Summer is here! We marked the first official weekend of summer with a camping trip in the Grand Bend region of southern Ontario.

For someone as indoorsy as myself, you would think that I would positively loathe the prospect of sleeping outside with the bugs and having to hike to a bathroom. But, for some strange reason, I absolutely love camping. It is my most favourite summertime activity. Although, to be fair, what we do can barely be called camping - you certainly won't see me setting up a tent in an abandoned forest with no running water or cell phone signals. I like to be where someone can hear me scream and there is an actual real-life toilet at my dispense. So it may not be the most respectable form of camping, but sitting around a bonfire with your buddies on a summer night - what is better than that?

The one thing we always seem to do when we camp is overbuy food of the dinner variety: veggie dogs, burgers and the like, while completely ignoring breakfast. I'm generally not big on breakfast; when I'm at home I rarely have anything more than a bowl of cereal or the night before's leftovers before heading off to work. The thing with camping, though, is that you need to eat something somewhat substantial before spending the day in the sweltering heat.

This year I decided to make a batch of breakfast bars that I knew I couldn't turn down in the morning. I found the recipe on page 101 of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. The base of these guys is made of old-fashioned rolled oats and spelt flour and they do have the general feel of those prepackaged bar varieties without the extra sugar and junk loaded in.

They use brown rice syrup in lieu of sugar.

And now I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Great Sugar Debate of the 21st Century.

Syrups have generally been demonized thanks to their disgusting brother, high fructose corn syrup, but not all syrups are created equal. I did some research on BRS when I first thought about trying this recipe and the verdict is out. It is generally believed that it is better than both high fructose corn syrup (isn't everything?) and sugar, but there is still debate regarding its suitability for diabetics and others with blood sugar issues.

Basically, it probably won't kill you to eat it now and again, but I wouldn't be pouring it into my coffee every morning (nor would I be pouring sugar into my coffee. Nor would I be drinking coffee at all because ever since I was dared to eat a coffee bean in the fourth grade I cannot bring anything even remotely coffee-like to my lips without gagging).

That's the thing with sweeteners. They are cool now and again but we are way, way too reliant on them as a whole (did you know the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day?! 355 calories a day in sugar alone!). This is precisely why I don't bake unless I know someone else is going to help me eat what I make.

Me and sugar don't really get along, even on the best of days. I have had some pretty gnarly blood sugar issues in the past and more noticeably to those around me, I tend to turn into a raging biotch after just one cookie. As a result, I can't even imagine what would happen if I decided to consume 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. I'd probably be divorced and have no friends, for one thing.

Essentially, even after reading all sorts of websites I still have no idea what's going on with regard to sweeteners. I'm just going to place BRS in the "in moderation only" category for the time being in hopes that I don't keel over and die anytime soon.

This was a camping weekend. I needed something easily accessible for breakfast. These bars seemed to do the trick. They tasted pretty awesome too, with dried cranberries and strawberries; sesame, sunflower and flax seeds all strewn about nicely. After they were already in the oven I realized I forgot to put the canola oil in, but they turned out completely fine without it so hurrah for less fat, I guess.

It was a beautiful weekend and it didn't rain once while we were there, I can't believe it!



Me, Paul and pinto bean hot dogs around the fire.



Fun at the beach



A rousing soccer game in which Paul took his goaltending duties very seriously, to the point where he chipped a tooth after taking a ball to the face.



Saturday night's beautiful sunset



Great times with great friends (and my beloved camping socks)
Wow a lot has happened since I last wrote.
Just a quick run down off events and some of them were:
A young bear visited us about two weeks ago and hung around in our tree for a bit before moving on.
A family of geese have moved in to our shore.
We were busy fishing but struggling with the algea and zebra mussels. 
Dealing with a lot of rain but our garden is liking it. 
Had to shut down for a week while the G20 was going on because we couldn't chance getting stuck in traffic.
Now fighting with the thunderstorms, wind and the algea.
Fish inspector and his supervisor paid us a visit this past week. 
And our oldest son has his grade eight grad tonight and wearing a tux for the first time. 
Having to cancel markets till we can get back fishing.  Hopefully sooner than later but the weather is suppose to be unsettled all this week.
Sorry for such a quick run through but it has been interesting.  I will update more regularly again and have to look at the pictures I have snagged over the last little while.
Hope everyone is enjoying their summer. 

Garlands of Grace

I know I have mentioned before, but Garlands of Grace have such beautiful head-coverings.  And there service is wonderful.  Right now they are running a facebook contest.  Here's the link to their facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/pages/Garlands-of-Grace/117793814917755

I love the new patterns they have for the Cecily.  That's my favourite style of covering.
Yesterday, Paul and I marked our fourth wedding anniversary. In the grand scheme of the universe, four years is virtually nothing, but in our lives it has been a crazy four years filled with going to school, graduating, going back to school, finding jobs, getting laid off and finding other jobs. But it's all par for the course when you get married young (Paul was 23, I was 22) and you're just settling in to adulthood.

We both experienced more hectic-than-usual (read: more stressful-than-usual) days at work and then after work we headed to our beautiful niece's eighth grade graduation ceremony for a few hours. We were pretty exhausted by this point but I am a firm believer in marking life's little and big milestones in some way or another - so we went for a late dinner at Bangkok Cuisine.

I wrote about my undying love for Bangkok's peanut curry last summer, but since then I have branched out and sampled some other items off their menu.

I am horribly predictable when it comes to restaurants. I find one thing that I like at a place and then play it safe every time we return, in fear of trying something new and not liking it as much and therefore "wasting" a meal selection. I think this stems from the fact that we never go to restaurants (partly because there are not a lot of restaurants we can go to here but mostly because I am extremely cheap) and I don't want to waste a perfectly good restaurant trip.

So, I did not order my beloved peanut curry yesterday and that works out well for you, because I can show you more of what this wonderful little Thai restaurant has to offer.



We started out with an order of fresh rolls, with a light peanut dipping sauce. To be honest, by this point it was after 9pm and we hadn't eaten in hours and thus it is highly likely that we would have eaten dirt off the ground were it presented to us, but all the same these rolls were a nice crunchy way to start the meal.



For his entree, Paul ordered the drunken noodles. Here is what I love about this restaurant: all of their menu items come with an option of substituting tofu or vegetables in place of meat and they have no problem leaving the egg that traditionally accompanies thai meals out of the equation, no questions asked. That is exactly what they did with this drunken noodle dish; rice noodles and veggies in a thai brandy sauce. "Omnomnomnom" is pretty much the only phrase that can encompass its excellence.



This rice dish that I ordered is the house special, but Paul and I affectionately refer to it as "Bangkok Spicy Rice". Spicy being the operative word.

(I typically like my food really, really spicy but at Bangkok I can never go higher than a medium. Paul tried their "Extra Hot" once and we nearly had to make a pitstop at the ER on the way home. I can only imagine what their "Top of the Line" spice is like.)

This dish has lots of fresh veggies, tomato, pineapple, water chestnuts and cashews and dare I say it - it has stolen the place in my heart previously reserved for only the peanut curry. That should teach me to be more adventurous at restaurants!



And as if there wasn't enough vegan love in this place, they actually have a vegan-friendly dessert! This is a thai banana cake. Don't ask me how this works, but it's basically rice, banana, black beans and coconut milk and somehow all of those things together make for an incredibly sweet end to a crazy spicy dinner. Yum!

It was nice to get to spend some time together after a crazy day and reflect on the last four years - after dinner, like every year on our anniversary, I forced Paul to watch our wedding DVD over a couple glasses of wine. When we turned it off we were kind of depressed though, as we're fairly convinced that we are starting to look freaking old these days.



Here's to many more anniversaries!


Bangkok Cuisine
1500 Weber St. East,
Kitchener, ON N2A 2Y5
(519)748-7676


P.S. There is still plenty of time to enter my Vegan Express giveaway AND the stakes have been raised: I have been contacted by Nava Atlas, the author of Vegan Express, and she has offered to send the winner a personally inscribed copy of the cookbook on behalf of This is Vegan! How wonderful! Now go on over to the post and the Facebook page and enter!
It seems to me that the residency is just getting going.  I suppose some of the students wanted a bit of time to themselves without pressures - after term finished.  So this week I have seen more faces in college than previously.  It is a shame that I cannot continue through July and August.

This week has been a bit interrupted for me + I am feeling the effects of end of residency, as it dawn that I have only a few hours left to be there.  So this week i managed to get in on Monday, briefly on Wednesday, Thurs and today.  I will pack up on Monday.
Whilst at home and at ACAD I have continued with the worms.  This is a sample which I have finished unwrapping now and worn as a scarf (of course) it is not indigo but acid dye and is a great prototype for the next worm I will make.
I hope to exhibit a few worms, what is the collective noun for worms..?  at the ACAD show.

I have used the time to get some colour onto my papers and give some thought to if/how I might participate in the end of residency show.  I flow from yes to no and back again.

I know this image is incredibly difficult to see but it jut gives an idea of how I might display some of my tree bark papers.  I have many - but they are not finished and this just shows my thought processes.

Our Get Away

I don't know if any one noticed, but we've been away for a few day  :)
Since Colin's dad is taking care of everything already, we decided to take a short holiday a few weeks early.  So we packed up and headed to Bowmanville on Sunday.  It was good to get Colin away from the farm for a while.  He was starting to climb the walls.  At least he can relax without feeling guilty for not working.

On the drive down Ella got a piece of wool from Grandma and was 'knitting' with her crayons.  It was the most adorable thing.   She really looked like she knew what she was doing.  I'm going to teach Ella to knit soon.


Great Grandma was happy to see us.  She turns 80 at 
end of July.  Hopefully she and Uncle Dennis will go up to his cottage in Bancroft in July.  That way we can go over for the day (it's only 2 hours) and spend some time with Great Grandma.

Colin did the driving to Bancroft, but that was a bit too much.  He was rather sore,  you don't realize how many muscles are connected.  We got to Great Grandma's and Colin got some well deserved rest.  It was so hot in Bowmanville on Sunday.  Luckily Great Grandma has a large tree in the backyard so we sat out there to catch the breeze.

Monday was Ella's big surprise.  For weeks the adults have been talking about the 'ooz' that we were going to.  Ella had no idea.  We went to the Bowmanville Zoo for the first time.  To make the day even more special, Belinda and Stefan were able to get the day off work to come and join us.  Ella had a great time reading the map and showing us where we needed to go.

It was such a hot day, but the Bowmanville Zoo is well treed.  Unlike the Metro Zoo in Scarborough which is out in the open and we would have fried.  There were quite a few buses of school kids, but everyone were dispersed around the zoo so it wasn't too bad.  But sure reinforces why we're going to homeschool Ella!

For a late lunch/early supper we all went to Chuck E Cheeses.  Oh my, Ella had so much fun.  Since it was during the day, Ella had the place to herself, with one other nice little girl for company.  Uncle Stefan played lots of the games and got Ella enough coupons to get a soft ball for in the house.  She was quite pleased with her day.

Tuesday was Momma and Daddy day.   We stopped by an old mill that was near our B&B.  It's in a little hamlet called Tyrone.  It's a water-powered sawmill and flour mill.  I even bought a bag of flour for bread.  The mill pond is beautiful and there is a path for strolling.
Outside of the mill they had an old grain cleaner.  Even though it is from the last, last century the technology is very similar to that of Colin's new grain cleaner.  I certainly wouldn't want to have to put too many tons through the old cleaner.


Ella and Grandma spent the day with Great Grandma and Uncle Dennis.  We hopped in the car and headed for the lake.  There is a little road that runs along the lake shore.  Some places only the guard rail separates the road from Lake Ontario.  It was a beautiful drive (except for the light rain).  We passed a lot of beautiful old farm houses and cottages.  We stopped in Port Hope and Cobourg and did the 'tourist' thing.  Luckily we picked up a big two person umbrella.   Then we headed up towards Rice Lake and went over to Port Perry.  It's fun just to spend the day with Colin without a list of things we 'have' to do.

We finished the day off with a really nice supper out at the Marina in Bowmanville.  It's a nice restaurant without being overly fancy.

Wednesday was the time to head home.  We stopped in Peterborough, well Keene really, and spent some time at the Lang Pioneer Village.  Ella had a great time.  There were a few school trips there too, but again everyone was spread out.    I've been here a few times over the years and always enjoy myself.  It's just the right size for an afternoon.  They have lots of interpreters, someone for nearly every house/building.  There was even a book author there that has a lot of historical fiction Canadian books that have study guides to go with them.  She said a lot of homeschoolers/alternative schools use them.

   It's always funny when we go to pioneer villages.  Between Colin and I we find so many pieces of equipment that we both currently use.  Here's another grain cleaner, this time a fancy version.  In a couple of the houses I was wishing for the cast iron bake-ware and the dough boxes/boards.  Aside from my fridge and stove, my kitchen doesn't look all that different than the ones at the village.


Apparently we left the village too soon.  Ontario was hit with an earthquake Wednesday.  We were driving in the car and so didn't feel a thing.  Some of my ornaments were moved, but luckily the moved towards the back of the bookcase and not off the edge. 
Well, I guess that's about it for our trip.  We're home again.  And I need to get back to the laundry -vacation must be over  :)

The Daiya Experiment...Part One: Pizza



When it comes to veganism, the lack of cheese is where we start to lose people and where, I think, we developed our "vegans be crazyyyy!" status. I don't know what it is about cheese, but it has got such a firm hold on our western society that to the mainstream it seems almost blasphemous to abstain from it. I can't count how many times I've heard the phrase "I can be a vegetarian but there is no way I could ever live without cheese". Up until two years ago, I myself was a frequent dropper of similar kinds of statements that equated a lack of cheese with death.

To this day I don't quite understand what exactly it is about cheese, because when you do stop and think about what it actually is, it's quite gross. I was lactose intolerant for most of my life for Christ's sake and I still refused to give it up until about two years ago. Because apparently at the time writhing about on the floor clutching my stomach after dinner seemed more sensible than not eating cheese.

One of the issues I had with giving up cheese was a lack of suitable alternatives to a shredded cheese that melts and tastes at least somewhat like cheese. I tried tons of different brands...some I tolerated, some I spit out into the sink, and none were reminiscent of cheese enough to make me feel it was worth the trouble. I preferred to simply do without. I generally feel the same way about the faux meats, although I do entertain them now and again (mostly for Paul's sake).

A couple months ago I started hearing about the Daiya brand. And not just hearing about it, but hearing people positively FREAK over it. I saw the advertisements, I saw the pictures and I read the testimonials and my initial thought was that it was entirely too good to be true.

I got word that the brand had gone retail and it was for sale at Panacea in Toronto. A friend of mine so kindly offered to make a stop and buy me a load of vegan products that are not available here in Kitchener, and so this weekend I found myself with two tubs of Daiya: one mozzarella and one cheddar.

I was positively giddy over the prospect of eating something cheese-like again, although not necessarily because I miss cheese. Quite frankly, these days I actually have trouble remembering how cheese tastes (interestingly, I have not forgotten how all of the cheese-induced stomachaches felt).

Truth be told, I just want another point for our team - an item available to those newly transitioning to veganism that wasn't available to me that might make it that much easier to take the leap. Because the whole cheese thing is such a huge hurdle for so many in our society it becomes a powerful roadblock to our cause. I just want there to be something out there for those who are teetering on the edge of veganism but are afraid of a life without cheese (of all the things to be afraid of!).



Despite all the rave reviews, I wasn't prepared to go easy on Daiya. And so for my first meal featuring this product I turned to the quintessential cheese item: pizza.

Back in the day, I was a cheese pizza kind of girl. A double cheese, extra tomato sauce kind of girl - to be exact. I was going to do the same thing with Daiya but these days I feel quite ridiculous eating a dinner with absolutely NO vegetables present whatsoever, so I tossed on some onions, garlic, green pepper and mushrooms.



So, this is my attempt at a non-biased, calm and orderly review:

THIS PRODUCT IS FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TEXTURE

It comes shredded. It looks exactly like mozzarella. It even kind of smells like mozzarella (from what I can remember). You put it under heat and it actually melts (something sorely lacking from many other dairy-free cheeses - they simply flake and crumble in the grossest possible way). I know this kind of excitement over a melting property may seem wildly insane to all you non-vegans out there, but those of you who have tried other vegan cheeses will share in my glee over this innovation. And it even does this without the help of isolated soy (or any other kind of soy either - Daiya is completely free of soy and other allergens).

TASTE

I loved the taste. Loved it! I have never been able to say that about a vegan cheese before; at best I have tolerated them, but Daiya is positively delicious. Now, it is not exactly mozzarella-like (not that I really remember what mozzarella tastes like, it's been years). It is definitely close enough to mozzarella and delicious enough on it's own to help those in cheese-withdrawal to cope in their early days of veganism (and for those of us who are veterans to satisfy the random cravings that sometimes grip us).

I'm still not on board with giving faux meat and dairy a prominent focus in the vegan diet because I think it often detracts from the VEG portion of our name, but I am for anything that can be enjoyed without the needless suffering of animals and anything that can help people realize that veganism is not about sacrifice, it is about being rewarded by the prospect of a peaceful lifestyle. You can now have your veganism, and eat your cheese too. Thanks Daiya!

I'm not done with this project yet. I've still got half a tub of mozzarella and a full tub of cheddar to go, so stay tuned!

I was never under the delusion that my children were perfect but I did believe them to be fairly well behaved, respectful children.  Now that they are grown up, far from home, and feeling safe from any parental retribution, I am hearing stories from them that make me shake my head and sigh but most times laugh (which is not what I would have done at the time).

While talking the other day, Adam revealed to me that he had had little respect for his grade twelve english teacher. This was not news.  I remember him complaining about her lack of knowledge. "Mom" he had said to me "she doesn't even know the difference between a metaphor and a simile."

Disclaimer:  I will be using a word that some might find offensive so stop reading here if you are easily offended. 

So here's what went down many years ago in Adam's grade twelve english class.

Teacher: "Does anyone know the the name of the literary term used by authors to hint at what is to come later in the story?"

SIlence

Teacher:"Nobody knows?

Adam calling out from the back of the class: "Foreskin."

Teacher: "What? Did I hear something?"

Adam louder this time: "Foreskin"

The teacher turns to the board and starts writing: "That's right, foreshadowing."


I am still laughing.




We like to do Taco Tuesday dinners at our house. Here's one version. Country-style boneless pork ribs, rubbed with almost a whole packet of Taco Seasoning Mix, set in a roasting pan covered with fresh cilantro stalks, chopped purple onions, garlic and some whole and seeded jalapeno peppers. Roast uncovered for about 3 hours in a 325-degree oven. Pull the cooked meat apart with a couple of forks so it's all shredded. Ta-Dah, now it's ready to cram into warmed soft corn and white tortillas.

The condiments we like to use build our soft tacos are: Mexican style shredded cheese, black beans (drained, rinsed and chilled), cilantro, avocado, diced fresh tomatoes, onions, shredded iceberg lettuce and shredded red cabbage and fresh limes, quartered, to squirt over the concotion. Oh and salsa and sour cream, too. Adding the red cabbage makes it Baja style, I'm told.

Viva los Martes de los Tacos!




My last week at ACAD



Even though I have a view out of the studio window that is shown above for your pleasure. today I was despondent.  I wrote up my 'diary' and as I did so I worked things out.  The difficulty with being alone at ACAD in the mornings as compared to working at home on my own (which I am quite used to) is that in my home studio I don't expect to be with anyone else.  Whereas the college is supposed to be buzzing with people.  Yes, it is quite a lonely existence there on your own.. rattling around the studios.
When someone does arrive I find myself babbling on and harassing the poor unsuspecting... with my lonesome chatter.  It isn't quite as bad as I make it sound... I am not begging for attention... but it might seem that way.

Anyway just as I was feeling all down in the dumps today they started to arrive and by the end of the day we had a busy studio with Jen., Lindsay, Ashley, Charis and Me.... wow... that is 5 people all there at once, a record.

To cheer myself up I collated what I have produced whilst at ACAD so far and it amounts to 36 pieces.  Some are just sheets of handmade paper, others are interesting coloured surfaces but the exciting ones are the ones I have worked into both with thread and sculpture and I feel that this is where I aim to go with the sheets that I haven't done anything with yet.
The piece above is dyed, sculpted whilst iron-staining occurred on a metal bucket! and pressure jetted.  Now I have added more jet stream and am waiting for it to dry.

It was very nice that I had some feedback on the pieces I had put up on the wall last week.  Melinda gave good feedback directly to me on Friday.  Rosanne had been in at the weekend (yes, that is correct English my Canadian friends.... At the weekend... not On the weekend...., but, On Wednesday (and not just Wednesday, In March.... etc etc...), and then today Charis offered some insights and so did Josi.  Now I am well-informed as to which ways I might take the pieces.  Thanks everyone.  Invaluable.
Now I am home, after shopping - Safeway very close to ACAD luckily... made Tacos for tea, Dan cooked up the chicken good man! and I did refried beans, with plenty of raw veg... better known as salad,  and now I am off to yoga.  Should be a great brain break.
Oh, but tomorrow is Mugs Morning for Al's class's mums.  So a bit of a commitment break there for me. Made 2x choc fudge brownies, no nuts and Gluten free for the group tomorrow as well this evening...so it turned out to be not such a bad day.  Or rather, I feel better with myself now compared to 11am this morning.  Despondency Disappeared.
On Friday I mowed the lawn.  This is a rare occurrence as it is generally done by Ian but since he had been away for a couple of weeks and the grass was getting long, I figured I should help out.  Part way through the chore, Matthew and Kere arrived with the kids.  Matthew took over for me so that I could go 'play' with the grandkids.  Kere had never used a riding lawnmower so she decided to go out and have a go at it too so between the three of us, the job was done by the time Ian got home that night.

On Saturday I went into town to do some shopping and came home to find Ian...wait for it... mowing the lawn!   Had he not realized it had been done just the day before?   I began to laugh as soon as I realized that he was straightening the 'cut lines'.   I rolled down the window of the car and called out "That's what  I love about you."

There's more that I love about him too.

  • I never have to pick up after him, ever, not dishes. not clothes, not paper.
  • He keeps the cars filled with gas, windshield washer fluid, and oil.
  • He is always even tempered.
  • He thinks the best of others.
  • He has a generous heart.
  • He has a great sense of humour even though it may not be evident at first.
  • He has been the best dad to our kids.



There's a lot more and that list is so obviously not in order.   I feel like the luckiest woman alive to have him in my life and I often wonder how I managed to snag him for myself.  

As I was preparing a special Father's Day dinner, Ian walked past the kitchen, looked at my mess, smiled and said "That's what I love about you."



Pineapple Right-Side-Up Cupcakes (for Father's Day)



We spent the afternoon poolside at my brother and sister-in-law's place. I definitely stuffed my face full of entirely too much green bean casserole, moroccan phyllo rolls (courtesy of my mom and found in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan) and potato salad and I even got a little bit of sun.

I had planned to bring a dessert, but I wanted to try something new this time. I chose these pineapple cupcakes (on page 70 of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) because the page caption literally described the afternoon we were planning for: "These are sublime summertime cupcakes, perfect straight out of the fridge and eaten while lounging about poolside".

I always think my cookbooks are singling me out and in this case it appears that they actually were.

Truth is, I wasn't all that keen on them as cupcakes at first, but it's not because they tasted bad or anything. They were actually pretty good. I don't know, I just think of the cupcakes of my youth with their teeth-rotting fluffy icing and insanely moist texture. These are definitely heavier and having never actually had a pineapple upside-down cake before, I didn't realize that they were not meant to be light and airy until after I made them (and Paul described to me exactly what pineapple upside-down cake is).

Again, it's not that they were bad by any means, it's just that when you are expecting something other than what you have in front of you it kind of hits you by surprise. The cool thing is that they are completely soy free and use minimal amounts of the bad stuff (read: sugar) so you can feel a little less guilty about eating them than the typical buttercream style this cookbook is famous for. I'd almost refer to them as muffins, and as muffins I love them. So it's not about the cupcakes per say; it's about my own neuroses and games of semantics.

Plus, look how pretty and summery they look! They are perfect for cookouts and cottage excursions and sitting on blankets waiting for fireworks to start (isn't summer the BEST?!).

We had a lovely day of sunshine and now I fully intend to ingest all sorts of leftovers while watching Six Feet Under (I live in a tv time machine - I never get into shows until years after they become famous).



My brothers, my dad and me - Father's Day, 2010

MexiMillet and Tofu Baked Beans with Apples



I'm a carb-a-holic. Don't get me wrong, I love vegetables, but when it comes down to it, the rice/pasta/quinoa on my dinner plate is usually my favourite part. Which is probably why I will never be a size 3. And also why I turned into a raving lunatic the summer I attempted the Atkins diet in an effort to drop a few sizes (the greatly misinformed young adult that I was).

I don't believe in a world where "carb" is a dirty word and vegetables are forsaken in favour of fatty meat products.

I know cutting them out makes you drop ridiculous weight (while I was a raving lunatic at the time, I did drop a dress size doing Atkins), but at what cost? Atkins actually encourages scrapping a slice of whole grain bread for PORK RINDS!

On what freaking planet are fried pork rinds a healthy option?!

If I were ever to attempt to manage my carbs again, I would go raw - brightly coloured, crunchy veggies and not deep-fried animal byproduct, thank you very much.

Not to mention that the animals and the environment care very little about fad diets and very much about the violence inflicted upon them and the endless pollutants being omitted into the atmosphere every minute because of our over-indulgence in animal-based products.

Honestly though, I think the world is becoming aware of how ridiculous the old low-carb high animal-protein diets are because I held a garage sale this morning and I couldn't even give away my old Atkins and South Beach books.

I'll also note that while I did drop weight doing Atkins that one summer, nothing compared to the summer I went vegan. If you want to cut something out of your diet and drop a quick few pounds, cut out the cheese and butter. I lost ten pounds in a month by doing absolutely nothing but stuffing my face with everything other than meat and dairy. I didn't go vegan to lose weight, it was just an added bonus, but the results cannot be denied.

So, this entry is about my undying love of carbohydrates.

Because I really and truly do love me some grains, I try and at least rotate the kinds I am eating so that I am not sitting down to a bowl of pasta every evening. And I also have a rule that vegetables have to take up more space on my dinner plate than grains.

Because I'm always looking to expand my carb repertoire, I stumbled upon the glorious grain called millet.

Millet is old school. Historically, it's one of the oldest foods on record and is even mentioned in the Bible several times as a key component of bread. Sup, Gluten-Free Jesus! (Interestingly, while I was partaking in one of my compulsive google-clicking extravaganzas I came across this interesting article about the "body of Christ" being literally gluten-free. Not relevant here, yet too curious to not share).

I am neither gluten-free, nor Jesus (that I know of, anyway) so none of this really matters but I always find "eating historically" to be an interesting concept in a time when even our soybeans can be (and often are) genetically engineered in a test tube. And the thing is, millet is really, really good. And good for you, as it is high in magnesium and fiber.

Admittedly, it did trip me out a bit when my mom pointed out that the cute birdseed sticks we used to hang in my beloved childhood budgie's cage were made exclusively of millet, but I pressed on and tried the recipe for Meximillet anyway, found on page 118 of Veganomicon. The recipe involves cooking the millet with jalapeno, garlic, onions, tomatoes and a host of Mexican-inspired spices, topped with freshly chopped cilantro.

The texture was surprisingly, polenta-like, which worked out well for me because polenta has been one of my favourite foods since I was in diapers. I didn't tell Paul what we were eating before he sat down and his response was "Wow, what the hell is this? This is good" so I'm going to give it a double win.

I served it up with a side of tofu-baked navy and black beans and red delicious apples in bbq sauce (recipe on page 96 of Calciyum). Truthfully I defaulted to the baked beans because I didn't quite know what the millet was going to taste like and I figured them to be neutral enough to go along with a Mexican-inspired meal, but they ended up being the perfect accompaniment for the Meximillet.

So embrace your inner carb-lover. Just within reason and never at the sake of vegetables.

YOU GOTTA HAVE...FRIENDS!



I couldn't imagine life without my friends. I have made some great ones over the years. They have enriched, and in some cases changed my life. 

There is the first new friend I made as a young adult.  We smoked lilac leaves once because we thought they smelled like marijuana when they burned. Don't ask me how I knew what marijuana smelled like. It was the 70's, enough said. (We did not get high but we did get headaches.) We drove around in her Toyota until it met it's untimely end when we ignored the red add oil warning light.  Who knew that failure to do so could actually seize an engine? Not us.  I have never been sillier with anyone and I could write a book about our many adventures.   She is the one of the most creative people I have ever met.  I stand in awe of her talents. 

There's the friend who taught me how to cook, bake, cross stitch, and sew, and helped make me the domestic goddess I am today (no comments from the peanut gallery). She's the same friend who also taught my son to say the  S H word when he was two. Well she didn't "teach" it to him, he picked it up by osmosis.  She loves my kids almost as much as I do and to this day they call her "auntie". 

There's the friend who coerced me into making fun of her husband's recent vasectomy by popping over on a night she was entertaining a group of friends to read a poem I'd written in his honour and to invite them to join the "Clip It" club.
"V is for vasectomy , that is what you had."
"A is for the agony, boy did it feel bad."
That's all I can remember. (Nobody laughed)  I guess they didn't think it was all that funny.  I did but then again, this same friend and I laughed all the way through The English Patient.

There's the friend I see only rarely because of the large distance between our homes but oh how I look forward to our yearly lunch date.  I honed my cheating skills at Uno and Trivial Pursuit long ago when we were all poor and she and her husband spent many a night hanging out at our place for cheap entertainment.  


I count you as a true friend if we have

  • laughed so hard we've cried.
  • taken part in some quasi illicit activity (like stealing a Dashboard Confessional poster out of a bathroom stall in the House of Blues).  Who carries a screwdriver in their purse anyway?
  • pulled a prank or two together.
  • pulled an all nighter (talking not drinking).
So thanks for the memories friends.  Let's make some more!














How do I feel about ACAD residency now?
I am proud to say that after three weeks of the ACAD home studio security I can now open the lock with one-handed.  This might seem like a small development, but believe me it isn't and will probably keep me coming back for more next year.

What have I accomplished apart from this?
I now have many (hand-made) sheets of brown paper! :-  brown papers that are iron stained and brown papers that are iron stained and are beginning to be sculpted.  Hmm... is that a lot to show for 3 weeks work?
You might not think so but I know how labour intensive it is to hand-make paper without a Hollander and pulper.  I only burnt out one blender (and even that wasn't entirely my doing, as it has probably been used for many student-hours before I got a hold of it).
Iron staining takes about an hour to set up at least two days to process and although I was, initially very excited about having access to all the rusted metal in the studio, I now find that there isn't enough to do a huge batch of rusting.  Next week I will try to track some more down at ACAD and I have plans to request use of some that I drive past on the industrial estate (called Manchester!) near where I live.  This is a piece inspired by palm tree bark.

I need to  challenge myself over the stitching(where it is necessary) otherwise I will end up with surfaces that look like other surfaces I have created in the past.
Above is an image of one that is not sculpted and was really just an experiment for edges... () and to see if my sewing machine can cope with iron filings and paper pulp that drop down the hole as I sew.  Conclusions: yes I can burn the edges! - but I will finish that off at home, the thought of having the whole of ACAD evacuated because of my paper burnings was too much for me.... and as to the sewing machine... only time will tell....

So what of my final week at ACAD next week?  I plan to do as much iron staining as materials will allow and stitch, stitch, stitch. If possible also place some pieces to shibori (I think I can use that as a verb!)
I hope I make time to sort out some pieces for the show in August... I have to do it now as I have other commitments between now and then, I must get organised for August and it isn't even July!
August 21st - Sept ???7th.  At the Marion Nicoll Gallery in ACAD.  Be there.

A BOY'S INFLUENCE




He was the one that could talk me into doing the most ridiculous things.
(Matthew to me skiing on the bunny hill with the little kids on a school trip): "Mom you are totally ready for the big run"

"I don't know Matthew... I think it's best if I just stay here."

"Mom, the hardest part is getting on and off the ski lift.  I've been watching you, I know you can do it."

"You think so?"  

"Yep, I'll talk you down."

I should mention at this point that he was only eight or nine at the time and that his idea of skiing was bombing down the hill at a breakneck speed.  I will also mention to those who have never skied before that getting on and off the ski lift is not the hardest part of skiing, stopping is.
I got about halfway down the hill, realized that I was going way too fast, tried to stop, couldn't, so decided to drop and roll (works for fires).  I rolled and slid and slid and rolled and finally came to a stop just below the lift.
 "Hi Mrs. J" called the giggling kids passing above me.
I got up and made my way to the chalet for a hot chocolate to celebrate the fact that a). I was still alive and b). I had suffered no major injury.

As I made my way to the counter, a hush descended on the lunchtime crowd and I could feel eyes following me.  I spotted my reflection in the window and saw that not only had my wool sweater collected huge snowballs as I had slid down the hill but my hair was snow caked and sticking out at all angles.   

Matthew is all grown up now and has a family of his own.  He has matured and no longer encourages or dares me to take risks.  I miss our adventures.

This is my most recent picture of him and is a huge hint in reference to my last post.  : )

top