Saturday, October 31, 2009


Remember this?
Here are more work in progress shots:

I cut her out of a felted wool sweater using my original drawing as a template. I love the texture of the cables in the sweater. I am playing with texture and detail vs. simplicity and economy. You will see what I mean when I show you the stitching next time.

These pants were my favourite work pants until they had an unfortunate confrontation with the corner of my desk. I tried and tried to figure out a creative way to fix them, but decided against stitches or patches on my butt. So now they're being repurposed for my embroidery projects. Now that I have them on the hoop I think they are perfect for this project. The weave is nice to work with for stitching, the colour is perfect and it has some subtle character I couldn't have planned into the piece if I'd tried.

I think I'm going to go stitch now. The house is quiet like Christmas morning before everyone else gets up and I've got work to do.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Recycled Sweater Treasury

It's amazing what creative people can do with a couple of felted wool sweaters. Here are just a few of the wonderful things I found on etsy this morning. Go here for the real thing. It's worth it to see the comments and take a closer look.

Monday, October 26, 2009

By the end of the week.

I won't bore you with the details, but the 2 year old with pneumonia is all better now and, after much drama and disappointment and repeat drama and a ridiculous long story with an unhappy ending we're taking our house off the market and hunkering down for the winter.

On a completely unrelated note, I have a work in progress to show you. There were supposed to be several more pictures but I'm having trouble finding them in the abyss of my new computer. Really steep learning curve. seriously.

So here's a teaser. The piece will be called "By the end of the week" and it's about some days when you feel defeated and just want to curl up in a ball in a dark corner somewhere. I'm sure you can relate.

This drawing is just the beginning of the process - the pattern, as it were. It's drawn on a piece of construction paper with a soft pencil. I usually shy away from drawing things that are supposed look like real things, as I have no art training whatsoever and little innate skill with drawing reality (and, frankly, little interest in art that is that analytical for me), but this one just poured itself out of me onto the page. The artists out there will know what I mean.
I promise to post the finished piece when it is done.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For Angie. Re: food.

Angie (here) is asking questions about how families organize food. Rather than posting a long comment I thought the topic deserved a whole post. (Plus I’m stumped on the signing in thing, sorry, Angie. Techno-Neanderthal)

I have a feeling Angie is more of a linear thinker than I am so I’m not sure how much this will help. The fact that she follows recipes sets us apart to be sure. Meals in our house are very simple. This is the crux of the plan. The simpler the better. If it takes more than 30 minutes to prepare it doesn’t happen. We find excuses to eat out instead, so we plan our menu based on 30 minutes or less. I’d rather spend time with my family on weeknights than in the kitchen. For example, cooking potatoes takes just about exactly 30 minutes so they are just barely acceptable. We don’t eat roasts or casseroles or lasagnas on weeknights. We save them for weekends when we are home longer and have time to play in the kitchen.

Maybe a good place to start would be with this week’s menu. I plan the menu for the week on the weekend when I do shopping. I only shop once a week, no exceptions.

1. spaghetti squash with seafood sauce
2. beef stew
3. pork tenderloin with butternut risotto.
4. chicken stew (Wednesday)
5. something with ground beef. (spaghetti or chilli)

OK, you’ll notice I don’t label the meals by date. This gives us the flexibility of choosing which meal we feel like making usually based on our energy levels that night. Wednesdays we always have company over so I have to plan something specific in order to have enough. I wouldn’t normally plan spaghetti squash during the week but Monday was a holiday so it counts as a weekend meal. I also know that I need to cook some brown rice sometime this week (after supper) so we have it for the pork night. I usually do that on the weekend and have it in the fridge but we got a little carried away making onigiri for the first time ever this weekend (soooo good) and used up all the rice.

After the 30 minute rule, the next guiding principle is season. The menu above is a winter menu. It’s built around warmth and the kinds of food that are available now. A good way to start your meal planning is to think “what’s in season” and plan around that. Guaranteed to be less expensive, healthier for you and easier to find. I don’t buy cucumbers or strawberries in the winter. Right now it’s squash, potatoes, beets, apples and whatever I have in the freezer from the summer. In the summer we eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies either steamed, stir fried or eaten raw and often barbeque our meats. That’s even faster than winter food.

There are probably cheaper ways to eat. I am always amazed at how much we manage to spend at the grocery store. But I think real, whole food is worth it, and am thankful that we have the resources available to choose that.

I manage to skip most of the inner isles of boxed stuff, ducking in only when necessary. My experience has been that that stuff is more expensive anyway (not to mention less healthy). We have a whiteboard on the fridge with a running list of stuff we’re out of. It’s much easier to remember everything if it’s written down when you think of it during the week. On the back side of my grocery list is the first draft of our menu. The grocery list is split into four sections: produce (fresh), meat/milk/protein, other edible (cans, boxes, jars, frozen) and non-edible (soap, dog food). This drives my husband crazy but I do it anyway. I only want to go through the store once. There are often blanks on the menu when I hit the store – then I’ll write “2 more meals” or “2 more fruits” and decide when I get there based on what looks good or is on sale that day. If I’m really organized I’ll find the online flyer for the store I’m going to and see what’s on sale and then plan around that, but I find I suddenly “need” way more stuff that wouldn’t have hit my list if I hadn’t looked. The biggest savings comes when I can leave the kids at home and quickly run through the store getting only what’s on my list. The more focused I am the less I stop and look at things, and the more I stick to the plan. When I get home I rewrite the menu because it has undoubtedly changed, and post it on the fridge. The theory is that that way anyone could then pick something off the menu and cook dinner. I find it useful to have a reminder of what the heck I was thinking when I bought all this stuff when I get home from work bleary-eyed and not wanting to do anything but flop onto the couch and order pizza.

Leftovers. Leftovers usually end up in my lunch, used in the kids’ lunches or reincorporated into another supper. Our fridge is bare by the weekend somehow, no matter how full it was at the beginning of the week. I keep an eye on the leftovers and could tell you any day exactly what is in my fridge. I hate cleaning moldy containers that much. Today I have about a cup of canned pumpkin to use up and I’m really not sure what I’ll do with it (Risotto maybe?). And we really need to eat up the pumpkin puddings from Monday or freeze them.

So, Angie, I don’t know if that helps answer any of your questions. Your issues are probably different than mine. This really works for us so I thought I’d share.
Please, anyone share if you have a comment on how you feed your family.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I forgot about winter.

I forgot how quiet snow can make the streets.
I forgot how much I like cozy slippers and soft wool sweaters.
and I forgot about the warmth of gathering family and friends together just for the sake of being together.

so, maybe winter's not ALL bad afterall.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Heart Handmade!

I snagged another treasury in celebration of our team sale that is happening this week.
Click here for the real thing.

For everyone who appreciates the handmadeness of things. Everyone around us has so many talents - imagine if we bought what we needed from people instead of corporate machines (or better yet, made it ourselves). How might the world be different?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Turning Points.

First Snow this weekend.
It’s officially winter.
Rainee and I harvested the final bits of swiss chard, mint and spices from the garden as heavy, dark, cold clouds loomed and snow began to fall. Rainee always helps in the garden, she loves being outside and seems most at home in the garden.

I can feel the internal switch from fresh raw vegies and barbecue to warming stews and things roasted in the oven. I can start to feel the pull of Christmas and long for the luxury of time for projects in January, February and March, before spring comes and we switch over to summer mode again. If I was organized I would put the summer shirts and kid’s shorts away instead of just into the laundry bin again. But I’m not. Maybe next weekend.

Instead, I’m making pictures of peacocks with the neighbourhood kids (Did you know they have ugly feet? Me neither. They focus on the bounties in life rather than their shortfalls.)

I’m dreaming up projects – quilts, at least one hat (for me, turns out everyone else is covered but not me.) and baby booties. Several several pairs of baby booties (my almost 2 year old is still a baby, right? Can I keep her close for just a little bit longer?).

Seems appropriate to have a harvest sale in the store as I pull in the last little bits of life from my garden. Take a gander, there are lots great handmade goodies made close to home and only a couple of days left on the sale. I’ve got an eye on a couple for Christmas gifts already. Not telling what.