Monday, 31 December 2007
Two thrifted scarves from the stash and a pattern (which was evened out after this photo) made from a plastic grocery bag later....
The original had round holes for handles, but, as this project has taught me, my skills with flimsy silky material are sketchy at best, so I just made slits reinforced with lots of bar-tacks at the ends. I did do the fancy bottom thing at the bottom, after a sewing-table-plastic-bag-dissection (not pretty - how am I going to put it back together?)
Yay! I may make more of these (after adding a way to keep it folded up in my purse) and give bunches of them as belated holiday gifts :-)
Saturday, 29 December 2007
Family walks at this time of year are joyous; swinging arms, crunching snow, and making up songs. However, once in a while I love solitary winter walks...
This makes me smile every time I walk by:
And tucked in the corner...
Full of promise, waiting, witnessing the winter...
Craft stuff soon, I promise :-)
Thursday, 27 December 2007
And, from the appearance of the tree, you can tell that a three-year-old lives here:
Later, I was surprised to find this by the back patio doors:
What is that? Well, at our house, there's the myth of the party-hat. Once, Safiya left a paper party-hat outside. It was subsequently ruined in the rain, and, well, (shhhh) it got recycled. Except that she asked where it went, and being the sensible parents we are, we told her...that the raccoons that live around here must have taken it for their party. So now she believes that part of raccoon behaviour is to appropriate little girls' party hats.
So, when Mr. S. and Safiya were making hats that afternoon, she insisted he make one for the raccoons. And leave it outside for them. And thus is born a new Solstice tradition: an offering for the raccoons. :-)
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
Saturday, 22 December 2007
This is what last weekend brought us, much to our glee. I love the muffled sounds, the crunching of snow under the feet, the assertiveness of a good blizzard; the kind that makes people grumble cheerfully about "the weather we're havin'!"
It's started to melt just a little today, but the huge drifts are still there, making the obtaining of the tree even more satisfying.
Yesterday was the first day of the return of the Solstice spirit around these parts (see the previous post). It was spent anticipating today. Today, with a clean house and a super-clean and re-organised craft room, I started to make a few things, and it felt good. We decorated the tree, I did some sewing, there were crafts, and I stayed up late to wrap the few gifts for our precious girl.
The above picture is the table at breakfast this morning. More Safiya craft than food....
And this is Safiya's table, which has been moved from the playroom into the kitchen so that she can play in the light that comes in through the patio doors. Her pinecones, collected in a bowl in the living room, are the only decorations we have in the house other than the tree, and it is enough; just perfect. We aren't "doing" much to celebrate this year, and it feels oddly more celebratory than previous years of fussing and worrying over gifts and decorations and such.
Tomorrow we'll have our Solstice morning, and then I'll indulge in some more sewing. And I have all night to dream...
People often say not to fix things that aren't broken. Well, that may be true, but sometimes you have to smash something; tear it asunder, in order to fix it. And this enables you to experience the meditative quality of picking up the pieces. And sometimes you don't even put it back together again. Sometimes you collect it only to throw the whole thing out, bury it, burn it, what have you, straighten your shoulders and start anew. (Fully aware that you've probably missed a few pieces and if you're not careful they'll end up sticking you in the foot, but still...)
You may have noticed that I haven't been around lately. My heart hasn't been in it. The craft room noticed as well, and so did Mr. S. and Safiya, I think. And so did the goddesses of house and home and hearth. As of two days ago, besides our little wreath I had neither baked nor cleaned nor wrapped nor prepared in any way for Solstice or Christmas. Not a thing. Until I found a voice of mine, an angry one, that had been shelved, and finally put it to good use.
This blog, this space of mine, is a little craft, a little political, a little mothering, a little figuring things out, a little this and a little that. As I get older I'm learning the difference between personal and private. That being said, I'm writing here to commemorate the day that my anger finally rose up to confront someone that I should have long, long ago. The day that I learned how purifying the expression of anger can be, how it can distill all the convolutions of a problem into its essence, simplifying it and sifting it like flour until you can look in the bowl and divine yourself by how the dust falls.
Tonight it the longest night of the year, and I am so glad to be able to welcome and enjoy it. And to welcome tomorrow, the beginning of the return of the sun.
Peace, strength, and health to you and yours on this longest of nights.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Amongst piles of scraps, mountain high, divided by colours, we claimed our territory: "Pink, it has to be pink!" And so, just sitting and talking, scissors in hand, in-between learning to tie and finding the perfect scraps, we sl-ow-ly assembled what was declared to be "The best wreath ever":
Our little gesture of festivity is inspired by this wreath, found via whip-up. And as I look at the original now, I realise why Safiya kept insisting that it have a blue bow...well, tomorrow that will have to be changed :-)
And there's that long-ish piece sticking out on the right-hand-side....arg!....I have to go and fix that....right now
Thursday, 6 December 2007
I lied today. I said "I hate handsewing" and "I hate knitting". This is not true, and for such transgressions I am truly sorry.
In truth, I said these things out of love. When you love to do something, picking it up in the knowledge that you soon must put it down again can be painful. And so I lashed out against something that I love.
Don't worry, I'll make it up to you.
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
The video above is timely, considering the season about to fall upon us (THUD). It was first posted on Celsias a couple of days ago, and now No Impact Man has a post on it as well. I'm posting it here because the more (even if it's just a little) the merrier! Annie Leonard is a waste activist, and the video is engaging and clear. It seems that more "ordinary people" aren't waiting for politicians to set policy and well, just getting the word out or making their own. Including this guy's video on global warming: "How It All Ends" (this is the revised one, in response to feedback from the first, more succinct version).
And then there's the Riot for Austerity. It's an invitation to, over a year, reduce your consumption by 90% and keep it there. That's right, 90%. There are pressing reasons why this figure was chosen, and I'll let the link speak for itself, but I will say that it's an inspired idea. Our household hasn't officially joined, but we're being sucked in bit by bit :-)
There are sooooo many well-spoken people discussing the statistics, the checks and balances, the politics, of global warming, the coming fresh-water shortage, peak oil, greenwashing, and etc. These are important foods for thought, mostly because all those words are (hopefully) catalysts for growth of action. But we are an average family. So here's my average family rant on going green (wait, gotta find the soapbox - oh crap, Safiya's using it as a house for the Mama toy dog....)
I am not part of this new religion, and a religion it does seem, sometimes. I am not better than you because my honey is wildcrafted and yours comes in the plastic bear. You are not going to heaven with your recycled totebag in, er, tow...
And that's the point, isn't it? First, we are in this together. Second, we cannot buy our way out of what is coming.
I do not believe the government will fix things for us (there, I've said it, but please don't stop protesting!) There is a long list of reasons why I think this, but maybe for another post. I do believe that people are very good at getting together to help each other out in a crisis (look at the Big Summer Blackout of 200? here in Toronto - no pandemonium, just people helping each other out - it was coool! I wish we could celebrate it every year!) I don't believe technology is going to save us (we don't have the time). Also, my limited understanding and observation has lead me to the idea that it's better not to hedge my bets on everyone getting on the ACTION bandwagon anytime soon. So here's my radical statement:
I do not make "environmental" changes to stop global warming.
When I took a health psychology class, one of the studies that struck me involved health in the elderly and the idea of anticipation. As far as I recall, there were three groups (randomly assigned): elderly who were not assigned regular visits by volunteers, elderly who were assigned random visits by volunteers, and elderly who were assigned regular (same time, same day) visits by volunteers. The surprising result was that the second group did worse, health-wise than the first group (the third group did the best, obviously). It seems that it was the expectation, the looking forward to the visits, that were of more benefit than the actual visiting!
And so, I make changes in order to practise what is likely to be coming down the road soon. To take care of my family. So that the visits of beans-and-grains, of low-water-levels, of less-of-everything are familiar friends who stop by regularly, not spectres to be feared. The major ones are done: we buy second-hand, have signed up for environmentally friendly electricity, make a lot of our own stuff, are vegetarians, don't have a car, and Mr. S. bikes to work or takes transit (and we picked our house to enable this). There's much more to do, to practise (the garden this year was a bust :-), but it really is a riot!
Funnily enough, I don't even notice much of a difference (and this from a formerly decent shop-a-holic).
Once you stop buying things, you can stop reading labels and trying to weigh products according to their enviro-moral worth. Once you start eating local and in season as much as you can, you can once again stop fretting over labels. Once there's no expectation of being entertained all the time, you start to actually have fun.
And just in case you think I'm all doom-and-gloom (Hi Mom :-), here's some links about why this really works, and what fun we can look forward to:
Sharon's post on Post-Peak Hedonism.
The benefits of living this way from Colin.
And by the way, we have the plastic bear. It just gets refilled, is all.
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
Seriously. The above recipe, scribed in my adolescent script, is a relic from the past; it is one of the two favourite casseroles that our family grew up with. That and "Potato Chip Casserole". I kid you not :-)
These days our cupboards look mostly like this:
Butter and cheese are lovely (I'll pass on the "cream of" soups!), but not to a lactose-intolerant vegetarian (how unfair is that?). Why all the writing on the jars? First, it must be noted that that kind of...ahem....meticulousness...is from the pre-Safiya era. But it has served us well. For example:
"How do you make amaranth again?" "It's on the jar!"
"Am I really getting enough calcium?" "It's on the jar!"
"Marnie, are you sure you're getting enough protein?" "It's on the jar!"
It's yummy eating, and although I can't find locally grown quinoa or amaranth yet, for the most part the whole grain, beans, veggies, and fruit thing (and vegan baked goods!) is 100-mile diet friendly. And, incidentally, wallet-friendly as well.
Of course, sometimes the jar is a little vague: ratio water to oats: 3 to 1 or 4 to 1, cook 10 to 40 minutes. You know, more or less...
Saturday, 1 December 2007
The low-light setting of my camera is great except that you've either got to have a tripod or a really steady hand. Hmmmm, as the above picture proves, must cut back on....what? I don't drink coffee, so maybe chocolate? No, that can't possibly be it :-)
If this works it will be quite possibly the easiest way to clothe a child, ever. Felt sweater, cut off sleeves and neckline, cut out armholes. Ta-da! I added slits at the bottom sides for a little bit more ease of movement because it wasn't quite a-line, but since the shape is based on a little dress she already has, it'll probably fit. Yay for felt tunics!
Some other things finished in the four hours of lovely craft time this afternoon:
New legwarmers for Safiya! And, from Cynthia Treen's Last Minute Fabric Gifts:
A hat pour moi. "Why hello, Robin Hood" said Mr. S. upon my surfacing from the basement. Hmmmm, I thought so myself a little, but I was also trying to persuade myself that at a certain angle it could be jaunty-and-just-a-little-glam-in-a-30's-kind-of-way. That is, until Mr. S. burst my bubble. Well, it's off to rob the rich and give to the poor I go!
Thursday, 29 November 2007
And the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey
And a bowl of oranges, too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch
And stuck to all my senses
Oh, won't you stay
We'll put on the day
And we'll talk in present tenses...
Sometimes it's right there in front of you. I'd lost sight of the fact that the words you use will determine your path for the day. And so, a better use for the words from the title in my previous post...thanks to my favourite song. (which I wish I could find streaming somewhere for you, but the poetry is lovely anyway...)
Monday, 26 November 2007
Here always has been a little blurry to me. I'm a tad forgetful (ahem). Your name will slip through my mind like silken cobwebs, and unless I'm engrossed in a book or sewing or something that keeps my focus, I'm easily distracted and endlessly multitasking, sometimes spectacularly inefficiently.
The future, however, is bright and distinct. I can see it. No, not fortell it, just...see it. It's what helps me visualise a project, it's why I can see the potential in an apartment or house (something at which Mr. S. is completely hopeless, as he will willingly attest to), why I'm good in a pinch, and it's where I spend a lot of time in my head. Which is fine when you're alone. I used to sit and just watch trees and birds for hours when I was young. (I even wondered if I could make a living doing that...sadly, I think not.) At a personal (or personable, I guess) level, though, it doesn't work quite as well. There are benefits, but it's the downfalls that I'm feeling more acutely lately.
I don't think I want to be the kind of mother that isn't present. Someone who always has one of her feet (thinking-like) in the future....what needs to be done, planning, anticipating, lists, playing scenarios, worrying, constructing futures....can't be the greatest companion for a child. A child's life is NOW. I don't want to look into her eyes and be looking past her. Some people have a gift for being now, but it always has been a struggle for me. To quiet my brain. To breathe, mentally.
To put the following in context, in her three years Safiya has always fallen asleep at night with me. And that's just the Way It Has Been. Today (conversation had whilst busy playing):
"So, what if Granny came and stayed all day...and didn't go home...and then Mama and Babo went out on a date and then..........you went to sleep with Granny?"
"So, you would be o.k. if Granny put you to sleep and then Mama and Babo came home after you had gone to sleep?"
"...but I still like Mama and Babo."
Friday, 23 November 2007
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
Random or weird. Maybe random and weird? You see, nobody thinks they're weird, but the nice thing is we all are, so let's celebrate a little weirdness, eh? And randomness...1. If I make a mistake when I type (a spelling error, for example), I backspace all the way back to where the mistake was made, erasing everything in my path, and start over again. I don't know if that's weird or just a little obsessive-compulsive, but there you are...
2. Both polar-fleece and cotton balls are like nails on chalkboard for me. Serious goosebumps and icky-shivers. If you ever want to get me to confess something, just stick my hand in a jar of cotton balls...
3. I haven't brushed my hair for a couple of years. What? It's clean, just not brushed! My Mom needed a comb once at our place and the only thing I could find (to her utter bewilderment and slight horror) was Safiya's baby comb. Don't come to our house if you've got knots in your hair. Well, you can come over, we just won't be able to help you...
4. When I was little, I used to hide places and read. Everybody did, right? I lived on a farm...where I was supposed to work. So I took my books and I hid - in the empty giant wooden bins that were used to ship peaches to the canners. In trees. In the family car, lying down, with the window cracked for air just a little so that it wouldn't be noticeable. In the upstairs of the barn, where the baskets were kept - I would burrow in, making tunnels in the baskets, and bring a flashlight..."Oh there you are!" My Mom would say. I was really good at hiding :-) I don't really think behaviour like that is applicable to adult daily life, but wouldn't it be fun?
5. I can eat an entire jar of pickles. Just the homemade kind. In one sitting. Ask my Grammy about what happened to her stash of pickles when I house-sat one time for them...
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
I echo Jen's sentiment about this part making one feel shy, but here goes:kate
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. Don’t break the chain!
And p.s. if anyone ever wants to pass around a meme/chain for weird or random things about their partners, sign me up! I could do, oh..."73 weird and random things about Mr. S." Ha!
Monday, 19 November 2007
This is the large picture. My "workplace". It's in quotes because I've gone back and erased that word and re-typed it a couple of times because my real workplace has no physical limits. It is the house, it is the subway, the city, our backyard. Wherever we are. Funny, when it's written like that it sounds like it's (that is, the mothering thing) following me wherever.I.go. Ha!
As for the tidy table, lest you get any false impressions, here is the other side of the room:
My pile of projects. I know where everything is, really I do. By the way, that table in the first picure? Best idea ever. The idea was planted in my brain by Martha's oversized ironing board, and then watered by the hearty recommendations of my friend Johanna. Made it myself for all of $60 (adjustable legs from Ikea, plywood from the hardware store, flannel and cotton covering from my stash - I keep it loose instead of staple-gunning it because the fabric does double duty at craft fairs). Handy-dandy, man. And here's the floor:
Sweaters a-waiting cutting up and considering. The rug also had a former life as a sweater. And the leftover studs (painted by Mr. S. - thank you, honey :-) are oh-so-perfect for stashing and stockpiling:
It is difficult to make basements look cozy in photographs, but this little piece of concrete and bare walls has definitely made its way into my heart.
Sunday, 18 November 2007
A short dissertation on the picture above:
There is a spot of chocolate syrup on my sweater. I am wearing sweatpants in the middle of the day. My snack of choice is a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes with a side of horseradish, and the literature is an intriguing study of the gnostic gospels so that my mental appetite can also be fed. Holed up in the spare bedroom, pillows and comforter just so, I can read and view the trees outside at the same time, half their leaves still clinging in golden valiance. Just for an hour or so.
This is indulgence.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
It's gorgeous, if cold, outside today; a sunny blessing in the middle of a rainy stretch of weather. So I've spent it taking "inventory" photos and updating the shop. Safiya has gamely been relegated to television company, which (my pride forces me to note) we haven't indulged in for many months. However, business takes time, takes it and sucks it up, spitting out keystrokes and hurrying footsteps up and down stairs before the light shifts. I am glad to have most of my things listed, all neat and orderly and accounted for.
And a very important thing that I've learned after one or two past time investment mornings like this: the rest of the day is my darling's. My eyes and hers, holding hands, running down sidewalks and kicking leaves. To make up for my distraction and a long morning in t.v. land.
Monday, 12 November 2007
This is why the first thing that every person says upon entering our house is: "That's a lot of apples."
Yes, yes it is. How did they get there? Under my mistaken belief that we are somehow homesteading instead of living in an urban home that is exactly fourteen feet wide. Must dive into canning applesauce...
Or, start drying apples. Today we dabbled in that, doing a little taste test of each variety: Mutsu (they're still in the oven!), Courtlands, MacIntosh, Golden Delicious...they ended up very yummy, nice and crispy and sweet. Safiya's reaction as she sauntered away with her little bowl of apple chips?
"Now that's a good snack!"
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
For a former farmgirl, I've got ridiculously sensitive skin. Today we indulged in one of the little routines around here; making lotion. This is adapted from Jackie French's Natural Solutions:
3 parts oil : 1 part beeswax, grated
(I use sunflower oil, as it's high in vitamin E, relatively inexpensive, and I can get it Canadian made. If I'm splurging I add some calendula oil.) Heat the oil and wax in a double boiler (or, um, extra-from-Value-Village-'cause trying-to-wash-wax-doesn't-work-pot balancing precariously over another pot) until wax is melted. Take off heat, add a few drops of essential oil, and slowly whisk in about 1 part water (keep whisking! or else it gets lumpy, and lumpy lotion? booo!) Keep in the fridge.
It's inexpensive, pure, and, having tried everything else including doctor prescribed? This is the good stuff, baby!
Monday, 5 November 2007
Safiya has taken to choosing her clothes more often these days. Here she's wearing one of my shirts as a dress, over her long-sleeved-t, topped with her tutu and a spiffy button from Sweetie Pie Press.
The kid has style, man.
And yes, we go out in whatever she's chosen to wear that day. Or whatever she's chosen to dress me in. One day, pre-jacket season, it wasn't until we'd returned from the grocery store that I realised I still had on my blue construction paper butterfly wings.
I think that we'll make that house policy; always keep your wings on when you go out :-)
Saturday, 3 November 2007
And now, on a completely unrelated note: I saw this post on a new-to-me blog, so just for some Saturday morning fun:
1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car),
Kitty None (I might start using that...)
2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie),
Chocolate Peanut Butter Double Chocolate (a little weighty - how about P.B. Triple-C, eh?)
3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name),
M-Sas (or, M-Sass, obviously)
4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal),
5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born),
Renata St. Catharines (awesome!)
6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first),
7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink),
The Green Tea (that's the weakest superhero name ever)
8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers),
9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy),
Lilac Goodies (hee hee)
10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ),
And a few more…
11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter),
hmmmm can't remember...
12. SPY NAME/BOND GIRL: (your favorite season/holiday, flower).
Autumn Rose (better than Autumn Peony or Autumn Camellia, and yes, I'm cheating)
13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Strawberry Jam Willow
15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”),
The Felting Storm Tour (cool!...that can be this blog's alter-ego name :-)
O.k., enough of that kind of silliness, now off to a different kind of fun - sewing!
Remember this post from February last year? Well.....that project, repairing the quilts, has been on hold since then. There's nothing like brisk November days to kick things back into gear. That, and the brown and yellow quilt is the one that Mr. S. uses, and every morning it looks like some fantastical cotton chicken has moulted everywhere...and I'm supposed to add that Mr. S. is none too fond of the taste of cotton batting...
This is what the edges that were still in good repair looked like. I don't know a lot about quilts, but I've never seen an edge finished like this before. This quilt is a hand-me-down from my grandmother, it's stuffed with cotton batting, and the binding is this thick cotton string encased in a tube and then sandwiched between the front and back. Anybody else familiar?
I had a whole lot of bias tape lying around - seemed like a logical thing to try...
Let's just say I had a little trouble. But you know what? It's done, it's serviceable, and it will not fall apart if I need to wash it. All in all, I'm pretty pleased....next!
Monday, 29 October 2007
Thursday, 25 October 2007
I've been looking for a vegan chocolate cookie recipe that uses oil (not margarine! you cannot convince me that something chemically cooked up like that is good for me! anyway...) for a while. Something like New Moon Kitchen's (Yay for local bakeries!) MoMints, because I have been known to eat an entire bag of those...you know, maybe...once in a while....
And then I saw this recipe and figured close enough, I'll just take the plunge and sub oil for the margarine (I really needed chocolate cookies). Not having prunes, I used the first recipe (and had to use cow's milk yogurt instead of soy, and apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic...it's like that a lot in our kitchen - whatever works!) Mine didn't stay risen, and they're not that pretty, but...oh...goodness...gracious.....groan....like little chocolately circles of heaven. Crispy giving way to chewy...deep chocolate flavour.......mmmmmmmm
The plate at the back? That's for the broken ones - 'cause they don't count ;-)
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
I think he thinks it's a sport. If I don't bother drying them, a skyline of dishes remains overnight, which leaves me with a bit of unease, only allayed by the knowledge that this is an effective robbery deterrent. One breath and the whole thing comes down...
Some evenings, especially around craft fair time, the in-between dinner and dishes time is when Mr. S. takes Safiya to our neighbourhood park so that I can collect myself. I've always liked that expression because that's exactly how it feels. oh there's that piece of my brain...what's that train of thought doing under the couch?...oh crap, I totally forgot about the handful of worries I stuffed behind the armoire....well, they can just stay there, I'll deal with them later ;-)
Tonight we just hung out, the three of us, but I did squeeze in a new seam. I needed to join non-felted wool knit to felted wool knit, and I think it went rather well, for a first try:
The non-felted wool I turned over 1/4" and then sewed down with a straight seam in order to give a stiffer edge to work with, pressed it, and then I just zig-zagged the two together. Didn't do a trial bit, just went for it, so I'm pretty glad it turned out. It's a very late wedding present for friends we love dearly. Bit by bit that list on the right hand side there is getting shorter!
And in other walking-foot love:
A late Eid present, a scarf that went unfinished because my sewing machine exploded at the last minute. Literally. The little arm on the walking foot must have jiggled something loose and all of the sudden - !!!!!!! - pieces of the foot, the needle, the shaft - everywhere! Slight panic, picked everything up, and then I decided - BAH! - it was too unbearable to deal with right then. Which worked, as I was able to fix it after Eid due to a much calmer head, having cooled down a bit!
Oh, and dinner? That went rather well too. A recipe for stuffed cabbage rolls from The Winter Vegetarian, by Darra Goldstein. It's a lovely read. The rolls were delectable, stuffed with barley, shredded apple, onions, and parsley.....
Perfect end to a day.