Friday, February 26, 2010

gilligan’s island magnets


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In case you can’t tell, I recently had some time to work on various craft ideas I’ve been thinking about recently. Post condo sale means that life will slowly start to return to normal. YAY!


With these, I printed out sepia toned images from the tv show Gilligan’s island, bought acrylic squares (ones used in scrapbooking) and painted the back of the square with modge podge before sticking the images to them. The results became a bit more rosy than anticipated, but I’m ok with that.


I then painted the back of the image, let it dry, and finally glued on the magnets:


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As you can see, my magnets turned my images blue. Drats! Not quite the look I was going for. (Though pink and blue seems to be a theme: see cranes). Obviously I’ll need to seal up the backs better on the next try… modge podge just doesn’t quite make the cut!

origami crane bookmarks


This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now. But there were always a few challenges behind the idea: how do you get the ribbon through the crane without damaging it and how do you keep the crane strong enough to survive the wear and tear?


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For my trial run I created a crane that was rather large, threaded the ribbon through the hole at the bottom with a needle and thread and then painted the crane with modge podge.


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I still like the idea, but the ribbon is too thin and the crane is too large (and I suspect still too flimsy). Another day, another trial to come…

Wednesday, February 24, 2010



Now that we know that the condo is practically sold, it feels like things are going to start settling down again (we won’t be moving until about mid May). Yay… a little calm in my life will be a good thing. Between condo selling, brother settling in, going to Nia twice a week, and some shifts in my job definition at work, things have been a little too crazy as of late.


Speaking of my brother, things are going relatively well. Though I have to admit that I have a new found appreciation for parents of teens. The age is quite interesting, to say the least. It’s amazing how a few years on our own really changes how we perceive things and make the shift from “mom will do it” to “shit, I have to take care of this because no one else will.”


The biggest shift though, is really being felt in our grocery bills. With my brother around, we’re going through things that we used to never finish, like milk. Before we’d search for the longest expiry date in the organic milk section… and hope that we’d finish the stuff in time. Now, well… we bought milk on Sunday and it’s Wednesday morning and we’re almost out already. The same for the sugar and various other goods.


Of course, the irony is that it’s all the things that I’m adamant about buying organic that are being consumed rapidly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’re not wasting, it’s a definite perk… but I’m not so sure if we’re going to be able to afford my ethics in shopping at this rate!  :)


In other news, it looks like we’re off to Tremblant this weekend. While everyone else skis, I’m going to relax in front of the fire and cook up a storm!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

farewell home

So it's official, pending inspection, our condo is sold. How crazy is that? Just when we were starting to get things the way we wanted.... we up and sell, only to start all over again. We must be masochists!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

anxiety, depression, and positive thinking


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In my everyday life, I am surrounded by a lot of people who suffer from anxiety or depression. Both are diseases that I struggle to understand in order to be able to support the people in my life that face these issues.


The thing is, as much as I KNOW the symptoms and the how of both illnesses, I have to admit to still struggling to actually understanding why one person can control negative thoughts and emotions and why another can’t.


On some level it seems like such a simple thing: when you’re sad you drag yourself out and look for ways to find happiness. When you’re anxious, you stop and tell yourself to breathe and let go. Both are things I can do. But they aren’t things that some of the people in my life can do. And that fact just makes me so amazed by how complex the brain really is.


In New Age speak, there’s this idea that we manifest our own reality by willing and believing what we want into being, either negatively or positively. Obviously I’m reducing and over-simplifying for the sake of brevity. Mainstream views of the world toy with this concept and I suspect that on some level more people accept this than actually refute. After all, the power of positive thinking and prayer are part of our everyday vocabulary. From health issues to job hunting, we are surrounded by visualization techniques, calming routines, or various other practices, that all draw on this concept of making our dreams come true by manifesting the power of positive thinking.


But what happens when we can’t use this power in a positive way? If we can invite the positive in, can we also invite in the negative? Can we make our biggest fears reality? (Ok, just to clarify, I’m not talking about making the monster in the closet real here). Can our constant anxiety and fears of being misread, misheard, misinterpreted, mis-whatever lead to that being the way the world views us?


The question is rhetorical. Obviously I think the answer is yes.


So what can we do to change that? How do we create a brighter reality and vision when we can’t still the demons inside? Cause god only knows that it’s hard enough to do it when all the hormones and signals in our brains are functioning according to what is deemed acceptable! These thoughts are front and center in my mind these days as I attempt to help someone in my life face these challenges and deal with students at work with various learning and physical disabilities who are trying to finding coping mechanisms to deal with an ordinary world from the viewpoint of an extra-ordinary body or brain. (Like I said, I am surrounded by these issues)!


I’ve found myself giving a lot of thought to how the brain works and how our thoughts/behaviours/actions shape the reality we live in. I’m no expert and I still don’t have any answers. All I know is that as I try to help, I find myself often being torn between conventional thinking, new age philosophies, and questions about what is normal and why we deem it to be a hard and fast rule that must be adhered to. Einstein couldn’t tie his own shoelaces or pass math class; Beethoven was deaf; Van Gogh was manic; and Joan of Arc, well now we wonder if she might have been schizophrenic. So what’s so great about seeing the world according to everyday wisdom?


On the other hand, how do we function in an everyday world if we can’t do everyday tasks? From getting out of bed to taking the bus, depression and anxiety can make these tasks feel impossible. So how do we create coping mechanisms that help overcome these challenges to the point of being able to function within the confines of accepted society? What happens when our brain tells us that everyone is looking at us, and we can’t shut that off, and thus, end up creating situations where everyone really is looking at us?


These days I’m working on the premise that we learn to manage it by training our body and mind slowly, spoon by spoon, step by step, how to stand back, access, and go forward with the belief that things can be different. I guess I’m currently becoming a fan of the school of cognitive behavioural therapy (not that I really knew what that was a couple of years ago) mixed with a healthy dose of new age philosophy.


Give me a week or two and maybe I’ll have a different theory, but for now that’s all I’ve got.

Monday, February 15, 2010

valentine’s day: montreal old port


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I’ve been busy adapting to life with sibling and husband these days. This weekend we ventured out to the Old Port and then out for poutine. My baby brother had never had poutine in Montreal… so a Valentine poutine it was…


Otherwise, not much to report. Many changes but still processing it all…

Thursday, February 11, 2010

what do i really want out of life?

Recently, Chris Guillebeau’s postcard project came to my attention via my google reader. In it, he asks 2 questions (from this original work):

1. What do you really want to get out of life?
2. What can you offer the world that no one else can?

And I hate to admit it, but these questions have me totally stumped. Ok, not totally. I can answer the first one with relative comfort, but the2nd question leaves me quaking in the corner, insecurity raging. What can I offer, really truly offer, that is unique?

So, following his suggestions (LINK), I visited Paul Myers text, Ideal World and found that he had some very insightful questions to help shape my answer to the first question.

The 2nd, I’m afraid, might be left up to me to answer. ARG!

Myers questions (follow link if you want to read the text yourself):

Where would you live?
Who would your friends be? What kind of people would you like to spend your time with?
How would you spend your time, if you could be doing anything at all that you wanted?
What would you eat? Wear? Listen to?
Would you work? If so, what would you do? If not, what would you do?
What do you want to learn? To know? To be?
Where would you like to vacation? What would you do?
What else would be a part of your perfect life?

Ever the dutiful student, I pulled out my paper and pencil, and started crafting my answers.

1.  Where would I live, if I could live anywhere right now?

The answer is surprisingly simple. I would live here, in Montreal, but back in my old plateau neighbourhood, east of the Mont Royal metro. Everything is in walking distance, from Nia to restaurants, grocery stores, and everything else I need on a semi-regular basis.
So if I could live anywhere I would opt for a ground floor walk up with 3 bedrooms and a yard (not big, but big enough for a porch and a permaculture garden), preferably with upstairs neighbours who would be interested in creating a green rooftop space and communal composting. Oh, and I have a garage for Paul, cause that’s important to him.

2. Who would your friends be? What kind of people would you like to spend your time with?

Aside from the friends I already have and cherish, I would love to have neighbours we get along with who would be interested in community building. I want to be surrounded by people who care about the environment and spirituality. I want to spend time discussing politics, art, culture, travel, social justice, the environment, and life with people who share similar outlooks and are striving to make their ideals reality. I want to spend time with friends who are less concerned with money and appearance, and more concerned with making a difference, be it through community, education, politics, environment, or spirituality. I want to be surrounded by a community that loves to cook and have potlatches, and cares about things like making a comfy home and living an ethical life. A community that is artsy, bohemian, but also grounded in our world.

3. How would you spend your time, if you could do anything you wanted?

Imagine my surprise when I realized that I wouldn’t really spend my time all that vastly different than I already do. Sure, I’d be more productive, and I’d be more involved, but at the core, I am happy with the steps I’m taking to make my ideals real.

I would volunteer at least once a week. You know, to put my ideals of community into practice. Make a difference on a local level. I would do activities that make me happy and help maintain balance in my life, like my Nia course, but also a day or 2 of yoga. Because for all that I love Nia and the exercise helps ground me, there is a component missing that I found in yoga. I would work 4 days instead of 5 in order to take a me day to just focus on creativity and crafts. Or soap-making, gardening and cooking. Or just reading. But one day would be mine to do what I wanted. I would get out of the house more and live a more social life. I would find community in order to learn more about living a sustainable, ethical, non-consumerist life. And then I would share it with others and help other people learn to realize this goal.

4. What would you eat? Wear? Listen to?

I would continue to eat vegetarian but I’d like to eat more homemade goods (pasta sauce made from home grown tomatoes and the like). I would like to buy a deep freezer and cook in advance in order to move away from so much processed, store bought food.
I would wear clothes that were handmade, by myself or by small independent companies and artisans. Fair trade and ethical clothes made in a sustainable way, outside of corporate culture and clothing companies that dump clothes in landfills in order to get tax credits instead of donating to charity.
As for what I’d listen to, well that wouldn’t change.

5. Would you work? If so, what would you do? If not, what would you do?

I’d work. I’d work in education, either where I’m at with reduced hours or as a teacher. I like the nature of the work I do. It’s important and meaningful. I would just like to have less wasted time behind a desk. And I’d like to be able to have time every year to go abroad and make a difference for others. At least 1 month a year to teach or learn or build projects abroad.

6. What do you want to learn? To know? To be?

Everything? Ok, not everything.
First of all, I’d like to learn harmony, balance and self-discipline. Because I think I could benefit from finding a little more Zen and harmony in my life. I rush around with too many different things going on at once… so balance would be a good thing.
And then, after that, the list is enormous! These are just a few things on the list:
· Artistically/Creatively: Photography, sewing, origami (more), shoe making, various crafts, pottery making
· Earth: Gardening, permaculture, grey water systems, composting
· Home: Canning, soap-making, better vegetarian cooking skills, green home remodelling
· Academically: Sociology, Education theory, more about postcolonial sonnets, world religions, international development, basic business skills, Photoshop
· Other: Yoga, Thai Yoga massage, holistic healing, Reiki, tarot (better than I currently know), writing a novel
I’d like to know that I’m making the shift from idealism to living my philosophies in everyday life. I want to make the shift from dreams to reality. I want to know that I’m walking the path that matches my words. And I want to be a calm person who practices loving kindness in every aspect of my life. Because loving kindness is my greatest aspiration and I know that I’m a long way from it yet.

7. Where would you like to vacation? What would you do?

Everywhere. Literally! I would work, watch, and learn. I’d like to alternate between trips of pure travel and seeing, and trips of service that allow me to live and experience the realities of another country.  I would go all over India, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, North China, Tibet, Africa (everywhere from South Africa to Egypt, but most especially at this point in time Ethiopia and Morocco), Argentina and Colombia, Mexico. And Peru, because I want to see Machu Pichu before I die.

8. What else would be part of your perfect life?

The simple things: love, happiness, gratitude. A house to come home to. Family and friends that give me meaning and a network of friends that nourish my goals and values. Spirituality, tolerance, travel and health. I’d like to live a life that is more holistic than the one I’m currently living.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. But the questions are food for thought, and well, are prompting a  lot of questions and examination that I haven’t done in a while.

Coming back to the first question that led me down this musing: What do you really want to get out of life?DSCF0222 (2)

I’d have to say that (in a nutshell) what I want to get out of life is something between the ordinary and the extra-ordinary. I want to live a life that sustains me and others. That educates and models the values that I hold dear: environment stewardship, ethical relationships, travel, creativity, and loving kindness.

The life I want isn’t vastly different than the one I currently have, only a few things that I’m still working on (but for the most part have already started). And that makes me happy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shopping Resource Wishlist:

organic cosmetics in review ~ ongoing

DrHauschkaVolumeMascara Dr Hauschka mascara    

Overall I was less than impressed with this mascara. I found it clumpy and flaky. It doesn’t stay on for more than a couple of hours and comes off in big clumps. Unlike other products by this company, the mascara is scented and not worth the cost.

Skin Deep Cosmetics review: Not so good.

image from Dr Hauschka website

 Lavera mascara   

The mascara is smooth and soft. It glides on. Unfortunately, it also glides off! Although, unlike Dr Hauschka, this mascara didn’t leave me with black flakes around my eyes.

The product feels gentle on my lashes and is good if you’re only looking for a temporary mascara. Again, this mascara only stays on for about 2 hours.

SkinDeep review on Lavera brand (no listing for mascara) : decent/good
image from Lavera website

Reviewed Feb 10th, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

i [heart] origami bonsai


I have to learn how to do this:

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Images from


They are seriously amazing. And I think they’d make fantastic paper terrariums! New craft goal!!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

chemical shopping guide

Made for me, when I shop:


bone char sugar

Ever on the lookout for food industry practices that compromise my vegetarian values, I just discovered this morning that white sugar is made with bone char from cows. Read this article from VegNews to find out more if you're interested.

The pure stupidity and contamination of cross food practices never ceases to amaze me. Why do we need cow bones to whiten sugar? Why do we dye cheeses orange? Hell, why do why dye oranges (the peel) orange?

Why do we bleach brown sugar before adding molasses in?

So here is yet another food item that I'm going to have research and find out if there is an every day non-bone char equivalent available to me. (The link gives me only American brands of sugar... drats).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

shopping: enviro produce bags


From Coop de la Maison Verte

I love the idea of re-useable mesh bags for buying groceries.

I hate all the plastic that comes with grocery shopping. I try to avoid it, but this is an excellent idea for those veggies that just need a bag of sorts!

I’m going to try my hand at making some, but if not, I know where to go!

blue, green living room

colour inspiration
pictures found above are from a file I’ve been collecting for a while, most are from the old Domino magazine, some from Apartment Therapy, and a couple from HGTV (as far as I can remember… I didn’t do a good job of saving the files with credits… my bad!)

My brother has arrived safely, the realtor’s have taken their pictures, and we’ve had our 1st visits. All in all, the future is coming, whether we’re ready for it or not! Which means that it’s time to start thinking about decorating! Yup, maybe other people would focus on boxes and packing and sorting but me, me I’m all about the decorating!

As you may be able to tell, I’m currently digging the blue/green combinations. We’re painting in our new digs this weekend and I’m eyeing up a shade of green to go with our slate blue/grey couches.

green living room

The photo on the far right is our current living room and these are a few of the greens I’ve been playing with. So far I’ve ruled out the one on the bottom right (#6) because it’s just too much and probably #3 (mid left) because it’s too pastel. I’m sort of more drawn too the top 2, and the mid right. But maybe bottom left would be ok? Not sure… Big decisions to be made between now and Saturday!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

and the cat wins


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My little brother was supposed to arrive last night, but due to heavy fog his plane was delayed until today. We have everything ready and waiting for him, but apparently Mayla (the black cat in the photo above) decided to adopt a you snooze you lose motto and has officially claimed the bed as her own. Tough luck Kev, it looks like you’re getting the couch!  :P

Monday, February 1, 2010

unauthorized pelvic exams while you sleep

Just when you started to feel safe (if you did):

Medical students routinely practice doing internal pelvic examinations while surgery patients are unconscious, and without getting specific consent, at least in Canada. [...] She polled her fellow students and found 72 per cent had also done exams on unconscious patients, without consent, confirming that it is routine.

Exerpt from a feministing article in response to an article from the Globe and Mail. I am horrified. HORRIFIED! Our bodies are not labs to be used for random educational experimentation. It is one thing to ask patients, then if they are willing, to perform this type of exam for learning purposes. But to do so without consent is a violation of our rights and trust.

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