Monday, April 29, 2013

Butterflies and Memories

Had the butterflies been pink, or yellow, or blue this cardigan would have stayed in the shop. Butterflies are not my style. These butterflies are orange and black though. They reminded me so much of growing up in Ontario that I had to bring them home.

I grew up in Essex County, home of Point Pelee National Park. Each fall thousands of monarch butterflies gather at Pelee to begin their migration to Mexico. Your timing has to be just right to witness this wonder. The monarchs are only there for a few days before they take flight. Of all the times I visited the park, I only managed to be there once for the migration. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. It's the kind of memory that makes me buy butterfly-infested cardigans when I'm looking for black trousers.

The sweater isn't the only part of this outfit that reminds me of my roots. The necklace was a gift from my Grandmother. She gave it to me while I was visiting her years ago. It belonged to a great-aunt, or a great-great-aunt. I wish I could remember who the original owner was. (That's a hint should any of my family members be reading this. If you recognize the necklace, please let me know who it belonged to.) 

The Shamballa-style, tiger-eye bracelet was a Christmas gift from my parents. My sister and my niece were given similar bracelets. Wearing mine makes me think of family.

The photos are a family affair too. Each week, without complaint, Hubby takes my Visible Monday photos. I'm not his only subject. Below are two of his more co-operative models.

Once again I am linking up with Patti and the stylish rabble for Visible Monday over at Not Dead Yet Style

FYI - Rabble is the term for a group of butterflies. I feel it is an apt description for the wonderful women who insist on being visible week after week. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Whole Hog - Minus the Hog

Once upon a time, this was mostly a food blog. Then a terrible, horrible thing happened. My favourite local-food shop, Brambles, closed in October of 2010. When I look back I realize that my bloggish ramblings became less frequent for a long time after that.

Recently,  Angeline and Jim, formerly of Brambles, now owners of Whole Hog Farms, launched an organic fruit and vegetable subscription. I signed up as soon as the service was available in my area. Each week, for $25,  a bin of organic produce is delivered to my door.

When the service first started, Jim emailed a weekly list telling us what to expect in the bin. Often the contents didn't quite match the list. That may be why those emails have stopped. I don't mind. I'm quite liking the surprise. It's like I'm a contestant on Chopped or Iron Chef. I never know what to expect when I open the bin.

Last week's secret ingredients...

Once I unpacked everything I sat down with my cookbooks and planned meals for the week. I compiled my grocery list at the same time. 

The top cookbook is one my Mom made for me when I first moved out on my own.
Using the produce, the cookbooks pictured above, some kitchen staples and a few items from the grocery store I created the following meals. Items in bold are from the bin.
  • Curried tofu and mango salad on mixed greens. Green pepper, mango and greens.  Roasted sweet potatoes with cumin, coriander and curry powder. Both recipes were from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health
  • Veggie rice wraps. Loosely based on Meghan Telpner's recipe in Undiet. Mango, green pepper, carrots and greens. 
  • Pasta with zucchini and lemon. Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. Zucchini! Duh! Tomato salad. Tomatoes. Again, duh!
  • Chicken - Pineapple. Mom's. Green pepper. Salad. Greens and tomato.
  • Shitake brown rice pilaf. Rebar Modern Food Cookbook Leeks. Steamed broccoli. (The broccoli came in this week's bin.)
Each of these recipes made dinner for two, and there were leftovers for lunch the next day. Oranges, bananas and remaining carrots were eaten as snacks.  

I realize now I could have made Mom's Chicken-Pineapple with oranges instead of pineapple to up the "Hog" content of the meal. Maybe next time, when I'm actually doing the cooking. Hubby was the Iron Chef for this one.

(Note: I'm quite certain this is not a Mom-original recipe, but I don't have any idea where it originated. Mom had been making it for years prior to including it in the cookbook above. As I've had the cookbook for more than 20 years, I'm hoping that there won't be any copyright issues. Should you know where this recipe first appeared, please let me know in the comments below so I can attribute the source. If it's your recipe, welcome! And thanks for years of tasty meals.)

Mom's Chicken-Pineapple

1. 2 or 3 chicken breasts cut in strips (Hubby used two chicken thighs)

2. Assemble: 
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced diagonally
  • 1 cup celery sliced diagonally
  • 1 green pepper cut in strips
  • 2 cups pineapple chunks, drained, reserve juice
3. Combine in Bowl:
  • Pineapple juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soya sauce
4. Over high heat, saute strips of chicken in oil. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until white.

5. Add onion, celery and green pepper and continue to stir-fry for about 2 minutes.

6. Add pineapple, then juice mixture. Stir and bring to a boil.

7. Reduce heat and cook until just clear. 

8. Serve over rice.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rockabilly Pin-up Mouse?

My first impulse was to walk away when I saw this skirt at the thrift shop. The label says it's a size 6, and I am not. Still, I found a few other things I wanted to try on, so I went back and grabbed it on my way to the fitting room. It was the only item I took home that day. 

In my excitement at fitting into a size 6, I didn't consider what I would wear with a red-and-white-polka-dot skirt. My closet didn't offer any ideas, so I hit the interwebs. Google brought me images of pin-up-girls and rockabilly style and Minnie Mouse. There is a disturbing number of scantily-clad Minnie Mouse impersonators on the internet. 

I decided to go with black and white and red all over. My choices must have kept my polka dots professional. I didn't get mistaken for Minnie Mouse once all day.

Linking up with Patti and the Stylistas over at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bravery and Joy

I am often afraid. 

I'm afraid of saying the wrong thing, of doing the wrong thing. I'm afraid of what people will think.

I'm afraid of having too much, of not having enough. I'm afraid of endings and beginnings. I'm afraid of change.

I'm afraid of what I might lose, of what I might find. I'm afraid of getting lost in the never-ending, day-to-day minutiae and never finding my way. 

I'm afraid of posting this. 

When I read Neil Gaiman's New Year's Wish my first reaction was fear. In it he wishes us bravery, and that scares me. If I'm going to need bravery, it means something scary is going to happen, so thinking I might need bravery frightens me. 

It's fun being in my head, isn't it?

It took me a while to realize that bravery isn't something reserved for terrible things. You might need bravery to do something you want to do. Like sing the theme song from a favourite childhood television show at your wife's New Year's Eve concert. I understand Neil wrote his wish while waiting backstage to do just that.  (If you want to hear Neil read it go here.  You'll have to scroll down to get it. The wish is at about the 6 minute mark. Listen to his "Make Good Art" speech while you're there.)

Once the lightbulb flashed on, and I understood that bravery isn't just for worst-case scenarios, I started to think of bravery in different ways. I thought about bravery as a tool to get over the daily fears that hold me back. 

And that realization is bringing me joy. Pushing past the fear is helping me to shape my world in new ways. I'm trying new things. I'm saying yes when I would normally say no. And sometimes I'm saying no when I feel I "should" say yes.

I printed and framed Neil's wish so I can be reminded of my brave, new way of thinking. It floats around my house, and pops up in new places from time to time. Even that brings me joy.

Printed in Comic Sans MS. I felt it was appropriate, as the Sandman series was my first introduction to Neil's work.

Of course, now I'm afraid the copyright police will come knocking on my door for posting Neil's wish without appropriate permissions. I know I'm not lucky enough to have Neil come knocking. Good thing, as I'm afraid my house isn't clean enough to receive guests. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


On Monday I came home from work to have dinner with Hubby. He greeted me at the door; then he asked if I had heard about the Boston Marathon. I thought he was going to tell me a human interest story. You know, something like "they had to stop the race to round up a troop of kangaroos that had escaped from the zoo". 

I can't tell you how much I wish that had been the case. 

Because I had to go back and cope with the realities of my job, I didn't want to watch the news. (Thankfully, Monday night was relatively quiet. We didn't have to call emergency services until yesterday afternoon.) It was Tuesday morning before I saw reports of the explosions.

The CBC showed the same video several times while we watched. I felt numb. Then sick. It wasn't until about the third showing of the clip that I noticed details. Smoke. Canadian flag. Runner hitting the ground. Runner covering his ears. Yellow vests. Lots of yellow vests. Uniformed people in yellow vests running toward the smoke and the chaos.

I think that was the moment I started to feel sadness. Maybe it's because of recent experiences with our local emergency personnel, but the sight of those brave people running toward the explosion opened my heart to the tragedy of what happened.  

So in the midst of the horror, sorrow and anger that washes over me each time I hear more about the explosions in Boston, I feel gratitude. I'm grateful that there are people who choose to run toward the smoke.  Thank you to the women and men who are there for us in all our emergencies. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Saturday With Some Twists

Normally Hubby and I plan as little as possible for Saturdays. It's the only day we have off together, so usually our priority is to enjoy ourselves.  This past Saturday was a bit wonky. Hubby had to go into work early in the morning, then, as he is getting ready for a race, he went for a run. I slept in and did some yoga. A bit different from our regularly scheduled sleep-in, but he was home early enough that we had most of the day left to enjoy ourselves.

Of course, first we had to get our taxes done.  And drop off the recycling. Then our plan was to go out for lunch and maybe a walk. 

The day went pretty much as planned.  Pretty much. I puttered around getting ready while Hubby watched soccer and waited patiently. His patience was rewarded. If we had left any earlier we would have missed the Girl Guides when they came to the door. Two small sales people meant two boxes of classic chocolate and vanilla cookies for us.

It was almost noon before we headed out the door. Still, we weren't terribly hungry. That might have been due to the cookies. We couldn't decide where we wanted to eat so we did our errands first.

While we were waiting to see someone about our taxes another couple came in. They had just been out for lunch at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant. Not only did they talk about their lunch, they brought pho for their tax advisor. I guess that's one way to get to the front of the line! 

The smile of a woman getting a tax refund!
Since we had been talking about the same restaurant earlier, and as it was fairly close by, we decided to head there to celebrate our refunds. We hadn't been there for years, so we had conveniently forgotten that this particular restaurant was cash much for my plans to treat Hubby to lunch! 

Fortunately, Hubby had enough cash to cover it, so we didn't have to spend our afternoon washing dishes. Instead we picked up a couple of lattes and headed for a walk along the waterfront. 

New, thrifted jacket and comfy clothes for a waterfront walk. The outfit could have been easily adapted for dish-washing. (TARDIS socks not visible.)

A quick stop to replenish our beer and wine supplies then we headed for home. Hubby decided a nap was needed. Since I had slept in, and since I hadn't gone for a run, I had enough energy to mow the lawn. (I haven't "gone for a run" since high school, so I should have plenty of energy.) I changed into my grubby clothes, donned my headphones and got to work.

Not quite lawn-mowing clothes.
Also, sadly, not the outfit I was wearing to greet the fire fighters and paramedics.
Shift to a few hours later. Hubby and I had just settled in with our hard-earned beers and were getting ready to watch Doctor Who. That's when the doorbell rang. I was hoping it was the Girl Guides again, as we were already running dangerously low on cookies. The ringing quickly turned to frantic knocking, then pounding. Instead of Girl Guides there was a young woman on our doorstep.  She was in a panic and was looking for help. At her suggestion, her six-year-old sister tried to fit into the infant swing at the park next door. The child managed to get in, but she couldn't get out.

Hubby and I couldn't get her out either, and as we couldn't determine if the child's blood-curdling screams were from pain or fear, we decided to call in the professionals.  We headed back to the house. I called 911 while Hubby took a blanket, a box Kleenex, a box of Girl Guide cookies and other supplies back to the park.

So there I was, once again, dealing with our local emergency personnel. If I haven't mentioned it before, let me state here that the emergency personnel in this area are AMAZING.  Right from the 911 operator who had to help me decide where to direct my call  (for the record, for child stuck in a swing it's ambulance) to the ambulance dispatcher, who decided it might be good to have some fire fighters on the scene too, to the paramedics and the fire fighters who came to the rescue, all were caring, respectful and professional.     They freed the little girl with minimal trauma to her, and with minimal embarrassment to the sister who put her there. Watching them in action was almost as good as watching Doctor Who.

Beware of child-eating swing on the other side of that fence!

This is the second time in less than a month that I've had experience with our local emergency personnel. Dinosaurs and paramedics. I wonder what the universe is trying to tell me. 

Oh, and if any Girl Guides are reading this, I'm in need of more cookies. One box went home with the little girl, and the other somehow disappeared. 

I'm linking up with Patti and the other wonderful women for Visible Monday over at Not Dead Yet Style. Stop by and check out the excitement. 

PS. Blogger has decided to do some creative formatting today, and I just don't have the patience to figure out why. Please excuse the odd layout in the above post.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Timey Wimey Toes

Where does a geek-hubby shop for gifts for his geek-wife?

Thinkgeek, of course.

What does the geek-hubby choose for his geek-wife?

Awesome TARDIS knee socks, which he knows his geek-wife will love.

And what does Timmy, the friendly Thinkgeek customer-service monkey, add to the package?

Three pairs of Dr. Who-themed crew socks. Bonus!

Happy, happy, happy fashionable feet.

Now if I could just figure out where to get a coat like the incredible, marvellous, superb one the Doctor wore in Sunday's episode I'd be one excited, and likely broke, fangirl. 

Linking up with Patti and the other timeless women for Visible Monday over at Not Dead Yet Style