I'm rooting for the "Canadian" team!

In the leadup to the NHL Playoffs I've heard many, many people say: "Now that my favourite or local team (Habs, Leafs etc) are out of the running .. I'll be cheering for the Canadian team: the Vancouver Canucks" or "The Cup belongs in Canada" etc.  But are the Vancouver Canucks, whos' team name itself is a slang word for Canadian, really the most Canadian team?

Vancouver (26 players) 14 Canadians, 5 Americans, 7 Intl'

Nope!  I'll be cheering for Boston because they've got more Canadians on their roster, including two local boys from Welland: Nathan Horton and Daniel Paille


GO Rail

As a frequent transit rider, I have strong and valid (or at least I think so) opinions but I sometimes wonder if anyone is listening.  Well its nice to know, sometimes the answer is YES!  After this little exchange on Twitter last week, Matt VanDongen and I continued our chat on the phone.  I didn't know until today though, that my opinions were carried through into an article in the St Catharines Standard!

GO rail: You can build it, but will they come?

If you build it, Kate Job thinks they will come.  The downtown St. Catharines resident regularly rides the provincially subsidized GO Bus to Burlington, where she has family, or to catch a connection to Toronto.  She'd much prefer to hop the train, however.

"It would beat lining up at a sign on a pole at Fairview Mall, that's for sure," said Job, a greenhouse technology student at Niagara College.

She has gratefully made use of the limited seasonal tourism train between Burlington and Toronto, which starts this weekend for 2011.  She finds the VIA Rail station easier to access as a pedestrian and cyclist, for one thing. And walking your bike onto a commuter train car is a little easier — and faster — than stuffing it onto the front of a bus bike rack.

"And I just think more people would take the train over the bus," she said.


Alexander McQueen Paperdolls

In this week's edition of the Dover Sampler I found some fantastic free printables featuring designs by the late Alexander McQueen.  The dresses are tabbed, clearly to be put on paperdolls but it didn't come with a base doll.  Not too hard to make one yourself :)  I used to enjoy the satisfaction of cutting out detailed dresses precisely and perfectly .. I'll see how my skills have held up! [CLICK HERE] to save/print your own


In Search of Shakespeare

I've just finished watching a superb documentary: In Search of Shakespeare, presented by Michael Wood.  Astounding!  I've read most of his works (some multiple times) performed many of his plays, and even studied the Bard himself in school.  However, I really had no idea how much I didn't know about him!  Fascinating stuff too, not just about the people he knew, what his commissions were etc (the stuff you usually read in history books that I don't much care for) but really interesting tidbits into his life such as landlord records, legal proceedings against him, and the creation of his family crest and shield.  

Intertwining a current group of Shakespearian players with the historical record of Elizabethan England makes a sometimes dry subject come entirely to life.  This documentary is really about the man: William and not the legend: Shakespeare - a unique viewpoint that gives me a new understanding and perspective on the plays, sonnets and poems I was already familiar with.   A well-conceived collaboration between the BBC and PBS, it is also very visually appealing containing beautiful cinematography and long lost illustrations / photographs.  I love when presenters/researchers/writers are able to tie together really broad strands to really explain or understand how something came to be - as a whole.

I'd highly recommend watching this documentary, even if you have no background knowledge or interest.  Its honestly worth renting or buying, but if not .. here are the links to watch it online: Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4



Between the Lines

Today I visited the Family Estate Winery: Between the Lines with Greg Wertsch one half of the pair of brothers who together operate the vineyard and produce the wines.  I love this quote about them from their website:  "Both have had their feet in the vineyard as long as they can remember; little shoes in the Old World and big work boots in the New World."  With the intention of putting their knowledge to use in Niagara, they chose to study European wine regions with climates similar to our own: Germany and Alsace among others - using that knowledge to cultivate cool climate grapes / wines that flourish and reflect our region instead of trying to mimic better known varietals with poor results.  "[we] believe the job in the winery is to release and exhibit the character of the grapes created by the soil, sun and the vineyard manager as he matches the vine to the land."  Greg feels that with a cooler climate, similar to the Rhine region of Germany, Reislings are the future and will become the cornerstone of our Niagara region.  
We tried a number of their wines, and to my delight I was genuinely surprised by my reactions.  My favourite - their Pinot Noir - is stupendous.  I kid you not, one of the best red wines I've tasted since living down in this region, and at around $10 per bottle - I think I'm going to go back and get a case!  Its full, well balanced, clean and not too heavy - entirely drinkable on its own, but the well rounded range of flavours would make it good for pairing with any number of foods.  While not a big drinker of white wine, I did truly enjoy their Reisling.  It was fresh, crisp, very accessible - geared to the every day person, not a wine snob (would go great with fish n chips) - I didn't feel like I had to know anything about wine in order to enjoy it.  And .. the first rosé I've ever really liked!!  Drinking much more like a true red, but very light and refreshing .. I grabbed a few bottles of it for sipping on the summer patio.
I also think their name / branding is brilliant.  They are situated between Line Road 5 and Line Road 6 just off Four Mile Creek Rd. in NOTL hence "Between the Lines" smiles


No Man Is An Island

I had a truly sublime and blissful day today.  One of those momentous occasions where everything falls into place all at once and truly luxurious relaxation takes the place of stress and panic and upheaval.

I also just want to share with everyone a lesson that I'm learning, slowly but surely: you have to open up (especially when someone is offering to listen) you cannot keep things bottled up inside.  I've always heard people say that, but I shrugged it off as a self help mantra in favour of my personal preference until now: sheer denial.  "I don't have anything to talk about" I'd say, "I'm doing alright"  Well .. not only was I not talking to anyone else .. I wasn't communicating with myself.  When I finally took the time to listen to the messages my body and inner dialogue were leaving me - I realized I wasn't fine at all, I had just become very good at "keeping calm and carrying on".  Today I've taken the first step towards an open conversation with myself, and then I'll be able to communicate honestly and openly with those around me.  My suggestion to all those around me is to do the same.  Listen to your body.


Moving Injuries & Home Remedies

Considering this is the 12th time since leaving my parents' house that I've moved .. you'd think I'd be getting good at it.  No, each and every time seems as disastrous as the last!  To further complicate things, I'm a downright klutz and I never seem to make it through moving without some kind of injuries.  Today was no exception!  I ran my elbows into a few doorways and .. blushes .. fell out of the back of the truck, faceplanting onto the back bumper!  I've got a few solid purple bruises and scrapes on my legs and elbows and a tender spot on my forehead.  eep!

I'm often sceptical of home herbal remedies / homeopathy, but there is one that I absolutely stand by after years of positive results: arnical gel!  When I get those really deep tissue bruises I slather on a layer of the stuff and the stiffness aching goes away almost immediately, then it also seems to speed up the healing process from a few weeks to a few days!  Arnica montana the main ingredient (also known as mountain tobacco and leopard's bane) has been used as a healing remedy for centuries by both Europeans and Native Americans.  The anti-inflammatory nature of this plant stimulates blood flow and activates circulation reducing discolouration, stiffness and soreness by drawing blood away from the bruise to allow for repair of damaged capillaries.  Not just for bruises, anti-inflammatory Arnica can reduce swelling in aching  muscles/joints and ease pain and stiffness caused by arthritis.  I've been using Arnica Cream by NakaHerbs, found at my local health food store The Peanut Mill but any cream, gel or tincture with Arnica montana as the active ingredient should work well!

[for more information]



I think one of the reasons I'm resisting graduating from school is I really can't imagine what I'll do afterwords.  Even the times I dropped out, I've still thought of myself as a student.  So I'm setting myself some post-school plans to work towards.  My #1 dream has always been to travel, but I think that concept is too ambiguous, so I'm narrowing it down to one specific place (among many) to focus on.

With canals for waterways, like Venice (which has always intrigued me) but the carefree air of a small town - Gierthoorn looks like a lovely, dreamy getaway.  I would imagine the pace of life must slow down when boats or bicycles (a cycling path runs along the canals) are your main mode of transport {wistful sigh} The canal "punters" are referred to as whisper-boats as their electric motors barely disturb the tranquillity and quaint houses with thatched or tile roofs accessible by wooden bridges only add to the charming nature.

Someday .. someday .. 


Rainbow Spring Evening

I have no pictures of this evening's meal cause I ate it too fast, and I'm not going to type out a big long description because I'm enjoying sitting out of the deck toooooo much :) but this is what I had for dinner, all made by me and either from my garden or the farmers market:
  • mixed greens with rainbow chard, rainbow carrots; topped with red, orange and yellow nasturtiums and a cereal oil/apple cider vinegar/peach dressing

  • fiddlehead, leek and potato soup

  • potato leek dumplings


simple beaded earrings

I found a tutorial by @leethal for making Easy Two-Bead Earrings (I have a thing for making earrings!) I cleaned up my apartment this evening, sorting out a bunch of beads so I wanted to use them up - this was a perfect quick fix.  I made about a dozen pairs with each color of beads :)


Kitchen Postal Fabric

I've had this lovely fabric for quite some time and I knew I wanted it in my kitchen, but I wasn't quite sure what to do with it.  Well when I moved into my new place I finally found a window just perfect to hang it in!  Since the window doesn't open and is very high up, I wanted a covering that never had to be raised or lowered.  I made a simple hollow hem on each end of a rectangle exactly the inner dimensions of the window and using two extendible curtain rods I fit the piece of fabric flush inside.  Since the pattern is dyed right through the cloth, it looks great by daylight from the inside as well as illuminated by the light from my kitchen when you look at it from outside at night!  I used the leftover fabric to make a cushion and the two tie in quite nicely with the colours I have going already :)  Yes I keep my television in the kitchen .. really the only time I turn it on is in the background when I'm cooking (and yes I have bunny ears for my TV)


Ace Restaurant

I walked by this place almost every day when I lived in Parkdale and always wondered what was inside.  You could see the edge of a few red/white booths peeking out around the boarded up windows.  BlogTO gives a few updates with what's happening to it now :)


Weaving Willows

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. 
So begins "The Wind in the Willows" but it is also very much how I feel today: aching and weary from dispelling a long winter of discontent and longing from my house and welcoming in the warmth and penetrating  sun of spring.  One of the things I've been doing is bringing those signs of spring indoors!  Willows (Salix spp) grow fast, especially at this time of year and their young pliable branches make a great tool for weaving into a variety of things such as baskets, brooms, toys and even wicker furniture.  Another interesting note: as far back as ancient documents from Assyria, Sumer, Egypt and the writings of the Greek physician Hippocrates - the medicinal properties of Willows have been well documented.  Containing salicylic acid, the same compound found in Aspirin, species of the Salix family have been used as a homoeopathic remedy for aches and fever.

Since they grow so fast, and even more so with pruning, its fine to harvest willow switches - just keep in mind who the trees belong to.  Harvest the youngest long slender twigs, not older thicker branches, and try not to do any cosmetic damage by harvesting out large chunks.  Once you have cut your willows you will want to weave them as soon as possible, so they dry and harden in the shape that you wish.  I've included the most basic instructions to make a circle - but once you are comfortable with that the possibilities are fairly endless!  My circles are small, to make a wall-hanging, but you can clearly make them quite large!  


Orysi: Frankincense & Myrrh

I've been using a great Frankincense & Myrrh goats milk based soap from Orysi Aroma Bodycare Products that I bought at the Thunder Bay Farmers Market last summer.  Unfortunately when I went to order another bar it seems that they don't make that one anymore, but there were quite a number of other unusual scents to pick from .. I bet coconut lime or lavender mint would be very refreshing!  I should also add that I also highly recommend their
Outdoor Body Products Bio-degradable Soap


Riding the Backroads

Its finally starting to look like we might get summer!  Another beautiful mild day, sunny and calm - perfect for a motorcycle ride .. unfortunately everyone else thought so too and it we slowed to a cruise LOL but a great way to check out other cycles / cars out on the road.

We headed out Taylor Rd from Niagara College, enjoying gentle twists and long curves as we made our way around Lakes Moodie and Gibson, then over to Fly Rd which straightens out and becomes Mud St, a lengthy stretch of relaxing warm pavement that we rode into Hamilton.  We followed it right up the "mountain" to Albion Falls which is conveniently right near the junction for the Red Hill Valley Parkway - easy turnaround back to the QEW -> Niagara.


Small Pleasures: Spices

Much like Amelie, the main character in one of my favourite movies - I've learned to cultivate a love of small tactile or mentally stimulating pleasures (if you haven't seen the sequence I'm talking about, click the picture of her hands below, its lovely)  I amuse myself by pouring and skimming and holding spices and dried goods until my fingertips turn colours and saturate with the scents of markets and exotic foods.

Today, after a trip to DinhDinh I was taken by the intricite details of some Star Anise (Illicium verum) and just had to make note of it - the details in nature amaze me sometimes!

A key ingredient in Chinese 5-spice, Pho Soup and Masala Chai (three other things I picked up), the spice itself has a strong anise/liquorice flavour and many medicinal properties: antimicrobial, antioxidant, analgesic, convulsive, sedative, insecticidal.  But really, its also just aesthetically pleasing, would make an interesting addition to a twist on potpourri :)



Somehow, amidst all this rain and cold, the cherry blossoms have managed to all bloom together on the one single day of brief warm sunlight we've had in ages.  I was just starting to think summer was never coming, but this day of pink trees and blue skies just might change my mind :)  I had my own mini-Hanami (the centuries old Japanese tradition of picknicking and enjoying the blossoms) under a Prunus serrulata in the park near my new house that slowly turned into a Yozakura (cherry blossoms by moonlight) as the afternoon/evening and bottles of wine wore on and more and more people joined me.  These luminous, intense blossoms are extremely beautiful but wistful in their transient, fleeting, ephemeral nature and quick death - a metaphor for all of life itself really.


Cooking w Parchment Envelopes (repost from last year)

I can't believe I haven't discovered this cooking technique before now!  Parchment envelopes make cooking a full meal really easy and healthy :)  You can cook multiple packages at once to make multiple main & side dishes - either to feed a group dinner or to freeze/refrigerate for later meals.  Simply place a protien such as chicken or fish on top of a bed of veggies (or veg alone) then crimp the envelope shut and bake until it puffs up!  So simple!  I made halibut on a mixture of green peppers, onions, white carrots and lemon in one parchment envelope with a side dish of all sorts of rainbow veggies from both the farmers market and my garden in the other.


succulent mini window box (repost from last summer)

I found two charming old bread pans put out at someone's curb so I brought them home to be planters.  Since I didn't want to try drilling holes in them I figured drought tolerant succulents would be a wise choice since they don't require nearly as much watering.  Succulents are water retaining plants (usually with fleshy leaves) that have evolved fine root systems to withstand periods of drought, so therefore your container should never hold too much moisture or require drainage and a special potting mix should be used to prevent too much water from building up (see recipe below).   

I've had these succulents recuperating on my stairs for a while.  Since my plants come from dumpster diving missions they're rarely labeled so the best I can do is: R - Portulaca, L - Sedum 

Succulent Potting Mix 
(also works for Cacti)
2 parts builders sand
1 part perlite
1 part potting soil
1 part peat moss


Si deus nobiscum quis contra nos?

I watched Elizabeth today for the first time in ages, I didn't realize that movie was over 10 years old already!  Its always been one of my favourites and I think Cate Blanchett is so strong in the role of Elizabeth so I wanted to make something for my desktop background:


Sesame Broccoli Salad

  • This is a simple and refreshing side dish for the summer with a bit of Asian flavour

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp oriental sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 10 cups broccoli (~2 large bunches)
  • 2 cups chopped mixed peppers
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds

Mix soy sauce, vinegar, oil and honey until blended. Steam broccoli and peppers until tender (~5 minutes) then chill.  Stir sesame seeds in skillet over medium heat until golden(~5 minutes)  Mix broccoli, peppers and half of sesame seeds into dressing. Let marinate at room temperature at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours, tossing occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and mix with dressing, and sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds.


Motivational Infographic

I'm finally starting to get unpacked - one of the first things I wanted settled was my bedroom, and this lovely Motivational Infographic: Gandhi's 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World illustrated by Francesa Ramos is a great addition to the blue, peaceful, oasis theme I have going.



I've never felt compelled to wear makeup on a daily basis, although I do on occasion get dolled up for a photoshoot or to go out (for the record - I don't even shave my legs)  I think these two videos speak for themselves to the illusory nature of the glamour industry:



dance, she says
cause who else will there be
when the bass line starts as the boulders roll
moss makin’ faces as it gets to shakin’
matching the beat
dance louder, she says
your splashing feet can’t be heard
over the herds of alto rocks
brought down with the melt stream
the lone hawk chillin’
and trilling his tune
dance wilder, she says
you haven’t lost yourself yet
in the mellow melody of the alpine meadow,
tuneless accents from the dead leaves descent
they’re grooving hard
they’re talking to me
and the voice in my head
keeps tellin’ me to dance


Delirium Hair

I think its fair to say that my hairstyle choices have largely been influenced by the character Delirium, created by Neil Gaiman as one of the Endless in his Sandman series.  As you can see I love her half mohawk and rainbow striped mass of curls.  So when it was time for a haircut today, even though I lost some length and my days of manic panic pink are over, I couldn't help but keep the shaved undercut teehee


Vintage Bathtub

Among other things, one criteria for apartment hunting a new place was a great bathtub!  I lucked out with a nice deep metal clawfoot, which although not that long is nice and deep :)  I wanted to make my bathroom into a refuge at home, and since the walls are already a lavender/grey I went with a French Provincial theme.  I take baths more than I shower, so a luxurious cloth bath curtain in slate blue with gold swirls was one splurge for my home oasis.  I fit a plastic liner onto the reverse side that can be flipped back for the times that I do choose to shower.  An angled mesh shelf from IKEA just fits into a very tight space, allowing for draining storage of wet items, and the curtain gathers infront.  The polkadot duckies were a housewarming / birthday present from a couple of good friends :)  Thanks!


Moving Day

Moving into a new place finally, yay no more leaking roof!  After nearly a dozen moves at all ends of the province, I'm getting pretty good at it!  This 101 from @ApartmentTherapy is full of wisdom that I agree with, this piece of advice in particular:

  • Try to have at least a sketchy floorplan of where you want those large furniture items to go. Because the bookcases came off the truck and were popped right into place, my sister and I were able to unpack her 30 boxes of books in a flash at the end of the day, creating an instant feeling of accomplishment as well as clearing a huge amount of floorspace.

First: the pre move checklist, including things like doing a spring clean, and measuring rooms/doors before attempting to bring in furniture.  Then, the moving checklist for the weeks / days leading up to and including moving day - don't forget your change of address/utilities/internet!  Finally: the cleaning checklist for as you move in.  Its better to get it all over with and have a fresh start!

I'm off to unpack :)  What would you unpack first?