Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hello! Again!


So, here I am once again with nothing to say.

Actually, that's not true. A lot of really cool stuff has been happening that I'd love to tell you about, but I just don't have the time. Or rather, I just don't make the time. Or rather, I'm letting all my thoughts mellow until I have just the right words to share with you.

Nah. I'm just lazy.

Until I get my act together here's another picture of me: 



There, don't we all feel better now knowing that I still exist?

Obviously not a current picture. You can tell by the flowers in the background, and by the still uncut hair.  There are a few more unpublished photos in the files. Procrastination is my friend. I have a winter's worth of Visible Monday outfits saved up. Now I won't have to go out into the cold for pictures if I want to participate. Yeah!

This outfit is a combination of recycled, upcycled and Canadian-made items. Except the shoes. My fussy feet require just the right shoe, so when I find ones that work I buy them. Ideals be damned. 

The shrug and the trousers were both bought on consignment. The tank is Canadian-made by Miik clothing (Purchased at Be clothing). The bracelet is stolen from a gift from my mom. (I think she knows I have it.) The pendant is locally made from recycled bicycle parts. (Rose Pedals Jewelry if you're interested. You should be interested.)

Linking up with Patti of the Patti dress over at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. Hope you'll stop by and check out the fun. And if the promise of stylish women with impeccable taste isn't enticement enough, there's a contest too! You should seriously check it out.




Friday, November 21, 2014

Why?... Why Not?... And Other Questions...


Look! I'm still here! Here's a picture to prove it:


Yes, I know. Not a very flattering picture. 

I had a migraine that had just receded enough to go out in public.

I had just been for a consult with a new stylist/hairdresser/individual of scissorly skills. My hair had been left to its own devices, as I wanted demonstrate what my hair actually does, rather than what my hair can be made to do. (I think we have a plan. Appointment in a week. We'll see if it's a plan I can actually enact. My sister inherited all the hairstyling genes in our family. I, on the other hand, can almost always figure out which end of the brush to use.)

The picture was taken up close, with an iPad, under questionable lighting in the front shop of a local optometry practice. There were other customers around. I was feeling rather self conscious. (I stopped there on my way home from my hair appointment, in spite of the headache, because the stylist was wearing really cool glasses that she had purchased there. And because a co-worker also got great frames there. And because I really, really need to replace my current glasses.)

Strange how I feel the need to justify/explain/make excuses for my appearance. Do we all do that? Do men do that?

Why am I sharing this? Probably because I cringe every time I see this picture. My instinct is to rip it to shreds, or at least delete it and try to forget it. Which is ridiculous. This is my face. Or at least a digital reproduction of my face. I should love my face. Shouldn't I? Or would that be vain?

Of course, one could perceive vanity in sharing one's face on the internet. Why am I sharing it? I know I'm not looking for approval, or reassurance or compliments. You're going to have to take my word on that one.

So why am I posting it? To torture myself? Because I don't want to, and I'm contrary by nature? Because it scares me and I'm tired of letting my fears hold me back? 

Maybe because each time I see it I cringe a little less. I find a little bit more to like. I'm a wee bit gentler with myself. I judge a bit less harshly.  And maybe if I can do that for myself, I can expand the skill and extend it to the world.

Though maybe I should be asking why not?

It's only a picture for crying out loud.









Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reaping in the Rain


This year the stars (and schedules) aligned to allow me to help with the grape harvest at Sleeping Cougar Acres.


It was a great year for grapes. In some cases we were able to fill an entire bucket with grapes from a single plant. It was a less-than-ideal day for working in the vineyard.  There was rain, and there was the knowledge that not all the neighbourhood cougars were sleeping. Reports of sightings in the area added a little extra excitement to the day.


Petite milo grapes, the ones we were harvesting, are considered whites even though they are a lovely pink when ripe. There are 350 of these plants at Sleeping Cougar Acres. There were six of us picking. You do the math.



In previous years they managed to pick the whites in about three hours. This year there were so many grapes it took more than seven. We did take a brief break for a delicious picnic lunch that L prepared for us volunteers. Yep, I work for sandwiches. And cookies.



By the end of they day we were all wet, exhausted, achy...



... and in some cases silly.



The grapes were purchased by Southend Winery on Quadra Island.  They don't have a final weight for this harvest, but the winery's truck was practically groaning under the load. A bumper crop! Or rather a bumper-to-bumper crop. We filled four of the winery's transport containers. I understand that in past years they only filled one. And we haven't even started the reds.

Yes, I said "we". In spite of the rain, the aching muscles and the possibility of being eaten by a mountain lion, I'd definitely invite myself back to help harvest the reds. A bad day in the vineyard is better than a good day at work. And that's before we've tested the fermented fruits of our labour. So much to look forward to!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

On the Rocks and On the Water


Last weekend included more active adventure than is normal for this couch potato. I've been wanting to write about it all week, but I haven't been able to lift my arms to the keyboard before today. 

OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there's nothing like trying new things to help you discover muscles you never knew you had.

It started on Friday when my friend T and I headed to On the Rocks climbing gym in Campbell River. T had always wanted to try climbing, and as she was kind enough to share a gift certificate with me, I was more than willing to tag along. 

T took to climbing like she'd been doing it all her life. I took to it like someone who spends a lot of time reading. Still, I had an amazing time. I'd certainly do it again, but I think I need to work on upper body strength first. And balance. And core strength. And convincing my arms, legs and brain to work together...

I love how my rented climbing shoes match my outfit. If you can't be physically coordinated you should at least be colour coordinated!

Not hanging there like a big salami! Go me!

 By Sunday I had recovered enough for paddle boarding. Once again my access to adventure was due to the generosity of friends. L and L were kind enough to allow me to use the boards they brought to the beach. 

Notice how in my case it's not "stand-up paddle boarding". I have yet to attain "stand up" status. My first attempt earlier in the summer ended in a splash. As I was still rather stiff from climbing, I wasn't sure I'd be able to hoist myself back on the board if I fell off this time. Still, in spite of the lack of vertical achievement, I had a wonderful time. My aching shoulders actually felt better after a couple of cruises around the lagoon. 


I'm on the right. Not standing up. 

It's taken me almost 50 years, but I'm starting to realize that being active can be enjoyable. You just have to choose the right activity. And have friends who are willing to share the adventure!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Not A Real Green Dress


Was browsing the sale rack at be clothing when I spotted this dress by We3.


I wasn't really looking for a green dress. I wasn't sure I wanted a green dress. The store owner thought it was blue. I wasn't sure I wanted a blue dress either. She thought we could settle on teal, but I tolerated teal the last time around. (Was that the 80's? The 90's? I don't pay attention.) I refuse to do teal again. We decided to settle on "not a real green dress". 

It's Canadian-made, washable and comfortable. The belt can be tied in a number of different ways. It's a no-brainer on days when outfit planning fails. I can't ask for much more than that, though I wouldn't mind a tree fort in our yard.

Joining Patti and the not-so-barenaked ladies over at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. Hope you'll head over and check out the fun!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

For What It's Worth

Elusive Onions is a labour of love. Or maybe lunacy. Any reward I've received from my work here is of the intangible variety. I've never received cash, or gifts. Heck, when once upon a time I held a contest I provided my own prize. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled on a website that put a dollar value on my blog.

Apparently, Elusive Onions is worth $765.47*. 

(The asterisk leads to a footnote that refers to a disclaimer that, if I'm reading the legalese correctly, says that the information provided should under no circumstances be taken seriously for any purpose.)

I was kind of shocked that anyone would go to the trouble of appraising my wee corner of the interwebs. I was also shocked at how little 6 years of writing is apparently worth. Such well-crafted stories and beautiful photography should be worth much more than that, shouldn't it?

Some other interesting facts gleaned from the URLmetrics website:
  • Elusive Onions is ranked 10,650,967 in the United States. It has no worldwide ranking.
  • There are less than 300 monthly visits
  • Topics: Balls (Cashew-Date Laurie Balls, cashews and dates)
  • Lots of other techie gibberish I don't understand.
These stats are bizarre, and rather funny. I wrote about balls once. That was three years ago, but apparently that's what get's you noticed on the world wide web! 

I actually don't know why I write here. For the most part I write for myself. It's never been for money, though if someone offered me cash with no strings attached, I probably wouldn't say no. 

Writing here is a hobby.  There are stranger hobbies to have. (Yes, all you spoon collectors, I'm talking about you!)

Writing here is my way of challenging myself. Of forcing myself outside of my comfort zone. Of being scared and being OK with it. It's my version of parkour. I can't imagine being any more frightened jumping from roof-top to roof-top than I was when I shared my first post, or the first photo of myself, or my sketchbook drawings.

Writing here is me shouting from our dust speck that I'm here! I'm here! I'M HERE!

Glad you are too!









Sunday, August 10, 2014

"No- Brainer"

At the beginning of the month une femme d'un certain âge shared her version of a "no-brainer" outfit. This is one of mine: 


This is the outfit I choose when I don't want to think about what to wear. It's super-comfy. Two of the pieces are Canadian-made. It doesn't require ironing. Or planning. I can choose to accessorize. Or not. It works for all the climbing, crouching, shifting, lifting, standing, reaching tasks I do at work. It works equally well for a waterfront walk and a lunch date with Hubby. And it's all washable should my lunch land on my lap. Not that that ever happens. Much. 

Linking up with Patti and the ever-stylish team over at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. Go check out the fun!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Down the Wabbit Hole

Last week, I stopped by to visit the ever-inspiring Val at Muse Fondue. She had posted her photos from an online scavenger hunt hosted by Made With Love. Val had piqued my curiosity with her July photos, so I decided to check out the host's blog.

Whump! Down the wabbit hole I fell. 

I've decided to attempt the scavenger hunt for August. I've been carrying my camera and my carefully-copied scavenger-hunt list with me wherever I go. 

Ha!

I actually copied the list for the month, then forgot it at home when Hubby and I went on a photo walk on Saturday. At least I remembered my camera. I also remembered the first thing on the list: W is for?

Not much to go on, but better than nothing. I really didn't expect to get many photos. How many "W" things could there be? Surprisingly, quite a few. 

The following photos are brought to you by the letter "W".  
Winding walkway with willow
Western Mountain Ash
Water feature with waterfall
Whistle-Stop Pub
Winding walkway in the woods
Water, wood
Winner? Nope.
Westfalia
Wood and wildflowers
Waterfowl
Windsock
The hunt is already causing me to be more aware of the world around me, and I'm starting to look at things differently. I like that. In fact I'm kind of excited by it. So excited that I couldn't wait to share my pictures with you. It's going to be a challenge to save the rest for the end of the month.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Maxi Moxie

Last summer my sister gave me two lovely, floaty maxi-skirts. I hauled them halfway across the continent, then they sat in my closet, unworn, for months. I considered donating them.  As much as I'd like to be a woman who can successfully wear a long, gauzy skirt, the reality is that I'm kind of a klutz. I had visions of getting a foot caught in the excess fabric and doing myself an injury. 

These visions were not unwarranted. Though I've never been injured, I have practically disrobed myself when wearing skirts of the floaty variety. Imagine crouching beside a child's desk in a voluminous skirt. Got it? Now imagine standing up suddenly, not realizing that you've caught your heel in the back of the skirt. If the skirt isn't firmly in place, your waistband is going to slip floorward. Not a good look for an elementary school teacher. Enough said. 

A few weeks ago a, during the World Cup, a local pub invited all England fans to gather and watch the first game against Italy. Hubby and I decided to attend. And we decided to walk. Easy decisions. What I found more difficult was deciding what to wear. 

The pub is about 3 km from our house. I knew I needed something comfortable for walking, but I wanted to look decent when we got there.  I finally decided to try one of the maxi skirts. 



I'm pleased to report that the skirt was a success. No injuries were incurred, I was comfortable, and I managed to stay decently dressed throughout the match and on the walks to and from the pub. An impressive feat, considering the amount of beer involved. If only England's performance had been as successful as my first foray into the world of maxi skirts!

Linking up with Patti and the lovely team over at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. Head on over and check out the fun!

(Oh the irony. Today, after planning this post, I caught my heel and fell up the stairs while wearing this skirt. No permanent injuries. Yellow card for the skirt!)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Overheard at the Beach

OK, I think we've established that I'm an introvert who likes quiet. I can also be fairly quiet, and as such, I hear things. No, not like that. I overhear things. Sometimes what I hear is sad, or disturbing, and sometimes what I hear makes me laugh. Quietly. To myself.  


The following snippets were overheard on a recent trip to the beach. Hubby and I both laughed over the comments of these two young beachcombers. 
 "Spider crab! Spider crab!" 5-6 year old boy
This one led Hubby and I to a rousing, but quiet, rendition of "Spidercrab! Spidercrab! Does whatever a spidercrab can!". We didn't take it any further. The song loses something when it doesn't rhyme. And we don't really know what a spider crab does.
 "I found a geoduck! It's squirting my balls! It squirted my junk!" 8-10 year old boy 
This one wasn't really difficult to overhear. In fact, there was no avoiding it. I'm sure the entire beach heard about this boy's intimate interaction with the wildlife. Still, it made us laugh. And watch where we were walking. 

Not a spider crab.
I'll likely share more of the things I overhear when I'm out and about. It gives me the opportunity to listen better, and it gets me off the couch and out the door.

Also not a spider crab.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quiet

At the end of April roadwork began outside my workplace. Every day, for six weeks, we were subjected to the cacophony of construction. There was continuous thumping, beeping, shouting, roaring, grinding, scraping and jackhammering. 

In addition to the constant noise there was dust and inconvenience. Some days the road was closed. Some days the sidewalk was inaccessible. There were occasions when the entire block was without water. 

Strangely, the chaos didn't seem to deter our customers. While other businesses suffer when the roads are ripped up, our loyal clients kept coming... and commenting. It seemed like every single person had some remark about the activity outside our door. Some behaved as though I had personally requested the roadwork, and they felt I should have answers about, and control over, the situation. Others behaved as though I had no idea that there was roadwork happening, and they felt obligated to let me know. There was a steady stream of questions, comments, observations and complaints. 

While my work life was nothing but noise, my after-work life was consumed by "Quiet". I had been on the library waiting list for months, so the arrival of Susan Cain's book about introverts was a well-timed coincidence. 


The book led to several personal insights. One of the first was an awareness of the impact of my environment. I was cranky at work, and exhausted at the end of the day. At first, I didn't think to attribute my mood to the noise from the construction. Then came the day when it was so loud I worried about the impact on my hearing. I popped in some earplugs. Tension and anxiety eased immediately. My shoulders released. My neck softened. I was surprised at the difference the earplugs made. I was also surprised that I noticed. Prior to reading Cain's book I'm not sure I would have been aware of the difference that moment of quiet made.

Unfortunately, there was just that one moment of silence. The earplugs were a very temporary solution. My job requires constant interaction with customers. It usually helps if I can hear them. Usually.

That the noise was having an impact was one insight. I also realized that customer interactions were wearing me down. I'm not comfortable with small talk, and it seemed like everyone I spoke to wanted to engage in discussion about the construction. There were days when I felt completely unable to respond to their comments, so I didn't. I must have come across as surly. Or deaf. 

Realizing that I'm not the only one who struggles with small talk was a relief. I'm not dysfunctional. I'm introverted! Eventually I developed a strategy that worked for me. Every time someone commented on the construction, I tried to say something positive. It didn't seem to matter that I used the same observations again and again and again. Having something to say made things a bit easier. 

Of course, I was still exhausted at the end of the day. Nothing was getting done around the house. I wasn't writing. I wasn't connecting with friends. All I wanted to do was sit on the sofa and read. So that's what I did. And I felt bad about it. Once again I felt that there was something wrong with me, then I realized that this was my way to recharge. Work was loud, and customer interactions were difficult. I couldn't avoid or change those things, but I could give myself permission to look after myself when I had the opportunity. Many, many books were read during those six weeks. 

Not only could I give myself permission to recharge, I could ask for what I needed. I could ask Hubby if we could leave the television off after particularly chaotic days. Small thing I know, but recognizing and asking for what I needed was new to me.

As the weeks went on I found other strategies that worked for me. The radio stayed off in the car. I found a place to park that allowed a lovely, peaceful walk to and from work. I went for long walks on my lunch break. If I was too tired to cook at the end of the day, we went out for dinner. 

Over those six noisy weeks, Cain's book allowed me to learn new things about myself, and about introversion in general. Not the least of which is that it's OK to be an introvert. Who knew?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Got Frocked!

I think I've made it fairly clear that I am an lurker. I skulk around on other blogs for ideas and inspiration. Frocks and Frou Frou is a regular stop for me. Lilli knows what works for her. She has a well-defined personal style. I admire that.

Last week while snooping I saw Lilli's "Yours Truly" pictures. I realized that I had comparable items in my wardrobe. A sand-and-black print dress. A soft, black, drapey cardigan. Flat, black shoes. Not exactly the same items, but similar enough to try to recreate her outfit. And her poses. The photos were taken at the end of a long work day.  Hubby and I were tired and hungry. By the end we were feeling rather giddy. 





The dress and the cardigan were both purchased second-hand. That makes this outfit a great choice for Bella's Second-hand First link up over at Citizen Rosebud. And look, I'm jumping in on the first day. I feel so organized!

Hope you'll lurk your way over to check out the fun and fashionable women at both blogs. 




Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Iced Tea to Ice Cream

This one is for you GB!

Our local tea shop is a lovely place. When you enter you are greeted and offered a wee cup of tea. Recently, the weather has been warm, so they've served iced versions of the featured tea.  

A few weeks ago it was an iced white tea flavoured with coconut pieces, pink rose petals, blue malva flowers and vanilla. It made a nice iced tea, but I think it makes an even better ice cream.  Or rather sorbet. 

I think I'm seeing a trend here...

White Tea Vanilla Coconut Sorbet

Adapted from the Chocolate-Coconut Sorbet recipe in David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop

2/3 cup water
2/3 cup honey
pinch salt
2-3 tbsp Tea Centre White Tea Vanilla Coconut loose-leaf tea
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 400 ml can coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Combine water, honey and salt in a pan. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally, until the honey has dissolved.
  • Add tea leaves and coconut.
  • Steep for 40 minutes.
  • Strain out tea leaves and coconut
  • Add coconut milk and vanilla to water/honey mixture
  • Chill
  • Churn in ice cream maker
  • Enjoy!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Get Them Before They're Gone...

I am a collector of kitchen gadgets. Sometimes they're wonderful, and sometimes I wonder why I bought them. Hubby is quite good at fuelling my obsession. He has provided some of my favourite gadgets. The ice-cream attachment for my KitchenAid mixer is one.  This is another:


Yes, I am aware that an ipad isn't technically a kitchen gadget, but I do love having it in the kitchen with me. And not just for the sentimental value:



It's great for looking up recipes:


Both the cookies and the granola glimpsed in the pictures above are made from recipes I found online. I find a recipe, try it once, and, if it turns out, I bookmark it for future use. For the longest while I felt quite smug about all the paper I was saving. Prior to ipad acquisition I was printing recipes. The ipad allowed me to green up my kitchen practices. Then catastrophe.

Some of my favourite food bloggers started taking down their websites. It wasn't just that they didn't post any more. The websites were actually disappearing, often without warning. My carefully-curated bookmarks led nowhere. The horror! The frustration!

Last summer Kristin, the author of one much-bookmarked website, announced she was moving on to other things. She kindly left her website Cook Bake Nibble available so her followers could continue to access her recipes. What a relief! 

Last week, I discovered that Kristin will be retiring Cook Bake Nibble at the end of the month. Thankfully she gave her readers notice, so I've spent much of my afternoon printing favourite recipes. Sifting through her recipes one last time made me remember how much I liked her cooking style. We had many really great meals as a result of her work and her willingness to share her ideas.

So, if you're looking for some decent, easy, whole-food recipes you may want to head over to Cook Bake Nibble before it's too late. And if you miss out, don't fret. Kristin also announced that she'll be releasing a cookbook this year that will include new recipes and recipes from her old blog. I've already signed up for notification when the cookbook is ready, and will try to remember to let you know when I know. In the mean time, you can visit Kristin's new blog Niblet and check out her new adventures. 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stolen Goods

Though I'm not quite as late as last time, I'm once again leaving it to the last minute to join Bella's Second Hand First link-up over at Citizen Rosebud.  



The photo is last-minute too. I rushed away to work right after it was snapped. That's probably why my photographer, aka Hubby, didn't mention the shirt.

Of this outfit, three pieces are new to me. The skirt and belt are thrifted. The chambray shirt was lifted.

Last year many style bloggers praised the versatility of chambray shirts. (Or maybe it was the year before. I really don't keep up.) You could dress it up. You could dress it down. Fashionable women were seen wearing chambray with leather, and chambray with tulle. The really brave wore chambray shirts with jeans and risked being accused of wearing a Canadian tuxedo. 

Though I've never paired them with leather, tulle or (yikes!) denim*, I've had chambray shirts in the past and quite liked them, so I happily leapt for that bandwagon... and almost missed it. 

In spite of reassurances that they'd be easy to find second-hand, I didn't find one. I searched everywhere. I eventually expanded my search to include new items and experienced a different kind of failure. They were all more fitted than the chambray shirts of my youth. None of them buttoned over my chest. 

I had given up on my chambray dreams until one day, while peering into our closet, I spotted one. On Hubby's side. Search complete. 

Stolen from your husband's side of the closet counts as second hand, right?

Hope you'll head over to Citizen Rosebud to check out the stylish and resourceful women sharing Second Hand First. 

*OK, maybe I wore it with denim. I had permed hair too. Whatever.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Speechless...

...but not by choice.

Actually, when it comes to commenting on other people's blogs, I'm usually pretty quiet. I mostly lurk, but there are a few women out there I try to keep in touch with. Often I don't have anything new or inspiring to say. I just want to say "hi".

I haven't even been able to do that lately. Not that I haven't tried, but interweb gremlins seem to be eating my comments. Disqus has been particularly evil and bitchy. I got so frustrated I cancelled my account. 

Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.

Or it could just be user error...

Whatever the reason, I've been relegated to lurker whether I like it or not. So if you've noticed my lack of participation, please realize it's not intentional. It's not you. It's me. Or the internet. Or gremlins. Or something.

In the mean time, if you're visiting Jan, Val, Patti, Sue, or Rose-Anne please tell them I said hello. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Twenty-fourth of May. Eh?

It's a long weekend here in Canada land. Officially, we are meant to be honouring the birthday of Queen Victoria. Unofficially, it's the weekend that, for many Canadians, heralds the start of summer. For the ambitious, it's a weekend of camping or gardening. I'm not so ambitious, so my tribute to the beginning of summer has involved ice cream. 

Saturday was our first trip of the season to Benino Gelato. Raspberry for me. Salted caramel for Hubby. In spite of the rain we sat outside with our treats. It's the May long weekend dammit. Must... enjoy... food... outside... Actually, it wasn't too bad. The seats were sheltered, and the rain had pretty much stopped. That's another feature of the May long weekend... unpredictable weather.

Of course, exposure to the good stuff means the store-bought frozen treats just won't do. Solution? Make my own. The less-than-cooperative weather worked to our advantage in this respect. Our planned adventure to the Monster Truck extravaganza was out, but ice-cream making was in.  

I could have gone with a tried and true recipe, but where's the adventure in that? A comment by a friend at book club inspired me to try something new. She wondered if I had tried the Silk Road tea I served as ice cream. I had not. Hmmmm....



It seemed appropriate that ice cream made on Victoria Day be made from tea purchased in Victoria. 

Lullaby Tea Ice Cream

Adapted from the Vanilla Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style recipe in David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop 

1 cup whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp Silk Road Lullaby tea leaves
1 tbsp vodka
3/4 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
  • Combine cream, sugar and tea leaves in a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved
  • Remove from heat. Add milk and vanilla.
  • Steep for 30 to 60 minutes. (Taste occasionally for desired flavour.)
  • Strain out tea leaves. Add vodka. Chill.
  • Churn in ice cream maker.
  • Enjoy!






Sunday, May 18, 2014

So Not Sophisticated

A while ago, I mentioned my longing for a black sleeveless dress like the one I had seen on Canadian company Miik's website. I still haven't found a similar dress, but I did find some Miik basics at one of my favourite local shops, be. I was so excited to try the items in person that I got carried away and bought three pieces. Kiss that tax refund goodbye!

I'm wearing my new Audrey wrap top below. Pricey? You bet, but I love how it feels and how it drapes.  I also like that the company seems fairly open about the making of its garments. And when the top is worn with a thrifted skirt and a hand-me-down jacket, the overall cost of the outfit is less than that of a fast-fashion equivalent. Or at least that's what I'm telling Hubby. 


I wore the outfit for a lunch date with Hubby yesterday.  We planned to go for pasta at Toscano's Trattoria, but when we got there it was closed. Oddly, about every second time we go there it's closed, yet it's always open when I'm in the neighbourhood on other business. Still it all worked out for the best. We ended up around the corner at Avenue Bistro. The food was great. I had the beef dip with frites. I don't regularly order fries when we're out, and when I do I'm usually disappointed and leave most of them. The fries at Avenue are so good I ate every one. With Hubby's help, of course. 

The people at the neighbouring table were quite amusing. They spoke with classic French accents. I had my back to them, but their dropped h's and rolling r's had me imagining French women à la Mireille Guiliano. The men, on the other hand, had us both flashing back to a fifth season Simpsons episode. Their discussion of the "shaudere" (aka chowder) actually had my normally circumspect Hubby smirking into his coffee. Yep, we're mature that way.

After our lunch we attempted a waterside walk. That was almost immediately rained out, so we topped off our Saturday date with our first gelato of the season at Benino Gelato. Frites and gelato. I feel so sophisticated. At least as sophisticated as someone who can quote the Simpsons can feel. 


For actual sophistication, head over to Patti's Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. The cosmopolitan crew is sure to delight.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Butterflies on the Beach



I have nothing to say here. It's been like that for a while now. My creative energy has been dormant. Instead of stringing old words together to make new stories I've been clearing, decluttering and, in some cases, destroying. (Bye, bye houseplants. Hello garbage dump!)

So why am I here if I have nothing to say? Well, because I miss writing here, and I miss interacting with the wee community of friends I have made on the interwebs. 

So instead of a story here's a picture of me, on the beach, dodging raindrops after an oyster burger at a sea-side pub. 

Things are good.

Linking up with Patti and the amazing community of visible women over at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. Go check them out!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Photos From the Road

On Friday I received pictures from the Brooklyn Opening from the lovely people at the Sketchbook Project. I spent a fun half an hour poring over the photos trying to spot my sketchbook. No luck. That didn't stop me from imagining that someone pictured was viewing my work.

Some people seemed too serious, or too confused. Some looked bored. Some weren't looking at sketchbooks at all. (That's right. I'm talking about you Mr. Texty. Put down that phone and give your full attention to that book! Someone worked hard on it!) After scanning the possibilities a few times, I've decided to imagine that the couple in the lower left corner of this photo are viewing my sketchbook. 

Photo "borrowed" from the Art House Co-op's photostream on flickr
Don't they look like they're having fun? That was my goal as I worked on my sketchbook. I wanted my reader to have fun. I wanted to make them smile. When I imagine that couple looking at my sketchbook I feel that my mission has been accomplished. 

If you'd like to be a real reader of my sketchbook, and if you're in Asheville, North Carolina on Wednesday, March 26 between 1 and 5 pm, stop by The Asheville Bookworks. The mobile library, including my sketchbook, will be parked outside the the doors waiting to make you smile.



Friday, March 21, 2014

Travelling, Touring Sketchbook

I've been slow in sharing my sketchbook pages here, but that doesn't mean things haven't been happening. My sketchbook, along with thousands of others that form The Sketchbook Project's Mobile Library, hit the road last weekend. The tour started in Brooklyn, NY at the Brooklyn Art Library. From there it will visit more than twenty cities on its journey across North America. A big adventure for my modest sketchbook. I'm rather excited about it.

What's even more exciting is that I've already received an email from my sketchbook. Yep. I get letters from my art, or rather on behalf of my art.
Hello!
We just wanted to let you know that leah l. just viewed your sketchbook (#S130320) at Brooklyn Art Library in Brooklyn, NY!
Your book has been viewed 1 time so far.
Sincerely,
The Brooklyn Art Library Librarian
Cool, huh? Whenever someone views my sketchbook I get an email notification. The above note made my day.

Today my sketchbook, and its arty friends, is hanging out in Richmond, VA at the Virginia Commonweath University from 1:00 - 5:00 pm. I know it's rather late notice, but if you happen to be in the area stop by and check things out. In particular, check out my sketchbook. I'd love to hear from it again, and I'd love for you to see my completed sketchbook. 


Want to see what I've shared so far? I've created a page for my sketchbook. Just click on the tab way up at the top of the page.

Next stop. Asheville, North Carolina.







Monday, March 10, 2014

A Complicated Sadness

A long time ago in a teeny, tiny town far, far away...

...I taught at an elementary school. I think many of you already knew that.

It was the most rewarding job I ever had. It was also the most difficult. As much as I enjoyed working with children, the education system as a whole didn't work for me. After four years I left. That was twenty years ago.

_______

Early in February a name on a book's acknowledgements page jumped out at me. (Yes, I am one of those people who reads the acknowledgements.) The author's son had the same name as a boy I taught all those years ago. I wondered if that boy and the author's son were the same person. I had never met the boy's father. His parents had split up. The father was never mentioned. The author seemed old enough to have a twenty-something son, and he lives close enough to the teeny-tiny town to make the relationship a possibility. I was intrigued by the coincidence, particularly since I had met the author a couple years ago.

Because of this, and because I'm a generally nosey person, I decided to do some online snooping to see if the author was the father of my long-ago student. What I found was a memorial page on Facebook. My former student committed suicide in November.

I was caught completely off guard by how sad that made me...how sad it still makes me.

_____

When I think of my former students I think of them as they were. Each one, even the ones that didn't conform to the constraints of the education system, had some spark of potential. Occasionally, when I realize that my memories are twenty years old and those children are now grown up, I imagine that potential fulfilled. I imagine adults with dreams and careers and families. I imagine they are happy. Knowing that it was otherwise for this young man, particularly since I remember him as a bright, happy, smiling child, has left me feeling...

What I'm feeling is complicated. I feel sad. I feel like the world is a bit darker for this loss. I feel surprise at my emotion over a child I haven't seen in twenty years. This leads my to feeling a bit like a creepy stalker, though my common sense knows this is not the case. I feel heart-sick for his family. 

_______

Today, when I took a break from writing this, I discovered that Rose-Anne of Life, Love and Food had written about suicide and those left behind in her most recent post.  Her honesty and generosity humble me. 

______

I never did find out if the author and my former student were father and son. It seems unimportant now. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blooming Though

I've been in a rather dark mood lately. Things have seemed grey both inside and out. I think the West Coast winter finally got to me, but I'm doing my best to shake it. 

What better way to get over the blahs than to jump in, do something spontaneous, new and really last minute. So with 15 minutes left on the clock I've decided to throw together a post and join the Second Hand First link-up over at The Citizen Rosebud. 

I've admired, and lurked at, The Citizen Rosebud for ages.  I go there regularly for inspiration. If it weren't for writers like Bella, I don't think I'd have given shopping second-hand a second thought. 

This outfit includes three new-to-me items. The skirt came from a consignment shop. The belt and the jacket were thrifted. 


Though I'm not quite a "second-hand-first" shopper, I am getting better at thinking about my clothing choices, and I am starting to consider issues like sustainability and ethical production before I hand over my cash. Shopping is a bit more challenging now, but I'm enjoying searching for clothing that feels good inside and out. 







Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Buggy

The arrival of the West Coast Seeds catalogue is a big deal for many of the gardeners I know. They get all excited and are inspired to start garden plans for the upcoming year. I, on the other hand, took a look at the cover of the new catalogue and was inspired to draw. How very odd.

I wasn't even drawn to draw any of the amazing plants pictured within. Nope, not I. I chose to draw a bug. 

I don't know what made me look at the photograph of the lacewing and say "I think I can draw that". Up until that point I had been working from drawings and illustrations. It hadn't occurred to me to try to draw something from a photograph. 

It was difficult. I was way beyond my comfort level. You can see eraser shavings on the original below. There were a lot of eraser shavings. Still, I'm glad I tried. I learned quite a bit. Like I have no idea how to convey translucent wings. Yet. It also prompted me to try shading, which led to further attempts later in my sketchbook.


The inspiration
My re-creation
I feel like I've learned quite a bit since I drew my lacewing. I now see things I'd like to change and do differently. My little lacewing might have to undergo further metamorphosis. Or maybe I'll create a sibling for it, particularly since the one pictured above has winged its way to Brooklyn and is awaiting its summer tour.