Sunday, December 29, 2013

A New Year

It's been ages since I even looked at this blog, let alone decided to post something, but my latent productivity seems to be shifting lately. A bit more creative energy has been working its' way to the surface, and what better way to acknowledge this than with a post?

I came across this snippet from Melody Beattie when I was thinking about what I wanted from the New Year. She's often (over)quoted by self-help types, but this quote made me give her a try. I found a used copy of The Language of Letting Go, and have found it to be eerily familiar. Read it, and leave a comment if you like,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

two sides of the same coin

Some days I feel like I can do it all: teach, cook, create, nurture, be witty and optimistic, and enjoy the process...
Rosie the Riveter can do it ALL. (You can tell because her baby is smiling.)

...and other days it seems like my efforts get lost in the shuffle, and I don't know where I belong in all the daily minutia and "shoulds" that come along with being a mother, partner and teacher.....
I know I'm hiding somewhere under all these things to do! - The Hidden Mother

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

über practical

I'm not a fancy knitter. Truth be told I tried to be and have found that I despise following other people's instructions (knitting patterns), and generally want to make things that are as practical as possible. It's taken me a couple of years of lofty, futile attempts to knit with multiple yarns at once, cables, and other projects that took more out of me than anything else to learn this about myself. Which I choose to see as no small feat! Grasping for some way to soothe myself after drooling over a whack of complex patterns on Ravelry I knew I wouldn't be able to tackle with Baby O at home (and aware of my own pattern stubbornness), my mind wandered back to a William Morris quote from my Intro to Visual Culture course from my Art School days:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful

Morris was a man who was focused on design and how it effects our daily lives through the objects we choose to surround ourselves by. As someone who shops carefully and more importantly who defines herself as a Maker of Things, I think this is great advice. Similar is the slightly less articulate adage: K-I-S-S, or Keep it simple, stupid

So I've endeavored to simplify here:
Little socks for Baby O, pattern from The Expectant Knitter

...and here:
MAN Mitts, for my man, my own pattern

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

colour theory

Here's a glimpse of the colours and textures inspiring me so much this fall.

Grey and white fading in a natural ombre.
Image from Matatabi -

Gloomy mustard maritime landscapes.
Image from BlowUps -

Anything yellow, and especially hand-drawn polkadots.
Image from CreatureComforts -

Old School Charm with a lot of exposed lady arm.
Image from Colette Patterns -

Shiny, shiny shoes.
Image from Pod -

Remembrances of Spring.
Image from Babetteworld -

For a stroll through more of the same, check out my Treasury Yellow Loves Grey, on Etsy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

it's harvest time, part 3

Remember my post on Annelino Giallo beans? Well, this morning while tidying up in the garden I gathered a few errant bean pods and cracked 'em open. What I saw was a feast for the eyes, my very own Andy Goldsworthy-inspired natural gradient scale! These beans, (two kinds: Scarlet Runner and Annelino Giallo) are in different stages of drying out, which is why they're different shades of pink. Lovely, no?

it's harvest time, part 2

Considering the long time it's been since my last post, you'd think I was busily knitting entire outfits for my family for the winter or harvesting an acre of food, but truth be told our family was just plain SICK. That cold did it's rounds and knocked us on our butts for around 3 weeks solid. We're now back on the mend, and into enough of a schedule that I can get back to this blog o' mine.

This past spring I planted Chioggia Beets, never having grown any kind of beets before, simply because they looked pretty on the package. I'd seen a post somewhere on the internet saying beet greens look nice as a border for a garden. Since I knew I wouldn't be getting to hand-installing the bricks I'd set aside to polish up my garden border (based on my inability to focus more than a few minutes on anything because of baby-induced sleep deprivation), I planted them and hoped for the best. Well, I had no idea they needed to be thinned after germinating! So this I what they looked like when I harvested them:

Basically, all green and no beet. The beets that I did try to eat tasted like soap. But there's always a silver lining in the garden: the greens were absolutely yummy. To test them I did a poll of my buddies on facebook to see the best way to prepare beet greens. This recipe, from my old buddy Marla MacLeod at the Ecology Action Center in Halifax, NS, was the clear winner because of it's ease, simplicity and down-home tastiness:

     1 bunch beet greens
     2 tbsp butter
     juice of one lemon
     1 tbsp local honey
1. Wash and stem the beet greens.  Steam briefly in a covered pot.
2. In a separate pot, melt the butter.  Add the lemon juice and honey.  Cook over moderate heat to a   light syrup.
3. Combine the beet greens with the syrup and heat through. Serves 2.

That used about 1/6 of the total amount of beet greens I had, so then I did this to add some veggie-based iron into Baby O's diet:
I triple washed these greens to make sure O wouldn't eat any snails or slugs or dirt.

They shrank to 1/10 their size, easily.

beet greens post-steam

beet greens post-puree, stored cosily in the fridge with other baby food

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Liter of Light

Yesterday my sister in law told me about a project underway in the slums of the Philippines which uses the simplest of technology to have a hugely significant impact on the poor. Isang Litrong Liwanag, or A Liter of Light, is..." a sustainable lighting project which aims to bring the eco-friendly Solar Bottle Bulb to disprivileged communities nationwide. Designed and developed by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Solar Bottle Bulb is based on the principles of Appropriate Technologies – a concept that provides simple and easily replicable technologies that address basic needs in developing communities." (from website

A pop bottle filled with liquid installed into the corrugated aluminum roof of a home in this area can harness sunlight shed the equivalent of a 55 watts bulb! People who couldn't stay in their houses during the day because of the darkness have found a new place in their own homes.  Inspiring to see what can come of available materials and a little ingenuity. See the video that describes that project and it's impact on these residents of Manila:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

lac pink

One day last week the three of us (S, O and I) were feeling a little cagey, so decided to head out to do a baby-friendly hike in nearby Gatineau Park. What we discovered when we go there is that Lac Pink is a very unusual lake in that the bottom of it is completely devoid of oxygen - due to a type of bacteria that live at a depth of 15 feet that exist in such great numbers that they block all light and use all the oxygen so nothing below it can grow or live. This captured my imagination because all I can think about is all the cool fossils and unseen bits of history that must be down there! The algae that growns in the lake also make it a really beautiful shade of green, as you'll see below.

O and I taking in all the fresh air and greenery. Sigh.

Friday, September 9, 2011

it's harvest time

With the shift into September brings with it hot days, cool nights and a GLUT of yellow Annelino Giallo pole beans needing to be harvested from my garden. For an idea of what my garden looks like in our "new" Ottawa backyard, check this out:

As you can see, the beans are what's covering most of my back porch, not to mention the one (measly but beautiful) sunflower that survived the 60 seeds planted and eaten by the demonic local black squirrels... not bad for a first-time bean grower, eh? And so, O and I set out to harvest some beans...
Objects shown are scaled true to life!

Monday, September 5, 2011

neck and neck

The past year and a half has been one filled with learning and never having enough time to finish anything...until now! Here are images of a cowl I started for myself in April...yes, it's taken me 4 months to knit what's essentially a neck-sized tube. But I DID knit it, which is really the point, and doing so has truly done wonders for my confidence and for establishing an identity separate from being a Mama. Plus, the delicious earthy tones of the Manos Del Uruguay's Maxima yarn match my chocolate brown winter parka.
Detail of custom stitch pattern. Click image for link to my Ravelry page.
Below is a picture of the infinity scarf I sewed in about 1 hour, based on this tutorial. When I set out to make this I had no idea how these scarves were taking the world by storm, but I guess this is what can happen when you have a baby! My lovely friend Rita agreed to model it for me, and as you can imagine its neutral tones and sheer volume have me wishing the cold weather would hurry up and arrive already. Combining shades of grey, yellow and cream has been inspiring me lately, I think thanks to this fabric by designer Naomi Ito at Nani Iro Design. My fiance bought two yards of this for me at Miss Matatabi's shop on Etsy. I'd love to know what colour palettes protagonist readers are thinking about these days?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

a green walk

On Thursday O and I escaped the heat of the city for the heat of the marshes. I think he was tired of doing the same old things, and I needed a dose of nature. He slept almost the entire time, allowing me to linger over flowers and views as long as I wanted. It was heavenly!

This last picture was taken after he woke up - Mama's eye view of Baby O in the carrier.

Friday, July 29, 2011

perfectionism is a dish best served cold

At St.Vinnie's today I found the ultimate self-guilting tool... Try serving up a heaping portion of perfectionism with this:

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