3 October 2011

In the Works: Knitting!

I've been keeping busy during the cooler weather with Ruby and work ventures. In those tiny bits of in-between time, I've been rediscovering knitting.  Has been a great time-passer during the really stressful bits here and there (ie when Ruby got spayed last week). And, it's a great replacement for television. It's nice to just knit and listen to the rain. 

Here is what i'm working on now: It's a cowl in a waffle-like stitch, super thick and squishy, made of the best wool that i got in Canmore. I can not seem to find it anywhere else in North America...but here is the website for Madelinetosh.

And below is Ruby in her cone, followed by Ruby without the cone when we went down to the lake last weekend.

We are heading to a cottage this thanksgiving weekend for food, board games, and lakeside fires. Also, it's Tom Mosher's birthday tomorrow! I am currently baking a giant cheesecake in the oven. Lucky boy. Will also be playing alot of St Petersburg, our new favourite board game (which i bought for tom for his bday).

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

3 September 2011

DIY: Deoderant

In an effort to stop as many harsh chemicals as we can from entering our bodies, I decided to give this recipe a try.  My friend Mat passed it on when i found a small pot of white paste in his bathroom and i asked what it was. Simple, invisible, and nice smelling, why keep putting aluminum and all that other toxic crap into your bloodstream?

1/4 cup baking soda (aluminum free)
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
4 tablespoons Coconut Oil (comes in solid form in a jar)
15-20 drops essential oil (i used jasmine)

Cream it all together in a bowl, adding the essential oil last.  The recipe probably last for five months or so, the cocunut oil is good for two years.  Keep cool or in the fridge when it is hot. 

It IS that easy. Just apply a tiny amount in the morning with your fingers like lotion. The cocunut oil will not remain greasy, your clothes will not be stained. Baking soda is a natural odor eliminator.

Summer Vacation

It has been much too long since i've last posted - work has been extremely busy for both myself and Tom and we've used most of our free time playing with Ruby and doing all our other hobbies.  It was long overdue that we take a couple of weeks off and visit with friends and family.  My very good friend Maggie got married in Winnipeg, which also gave me a great reason to spend time with my parents, my sisters, and their families.

Maggie is a redhead, she looked beautiful in her vintage-inspired wedding dress. She also rarely expresses her emotions this loudly - she must be happy! Steve is a joker, Tom and I love his enlightening personality.

I tried to dress like an adult for my girl's wedding. I made my necklace from wonky fresh water pearls.

Tom also dressed like an adult. Together, we make a very fine adult-looking couple!  The wedding took place at Oodena Circle in Winnipeg, an outdoor amphitheatre that pays homage to 6000 years of Aboriginal Peoples in the area.

My family needed a new family portrait that included all of the boyfriends and grandchildren, so we set up a camera in the backyard.  I love my new extended family! And congratulations to my wee sister Kristin (the tiny one beside Gramps) and her ginger-haired boyfriend for getting engaged!

And of course my nieces (Brea and Andrew's beauties) steal my attention all the time!  This is Hannah, five years old, outgoing and super intelligent.

This mini-me is Madeline, introverted, quirky and super cool. She is also in love with Tom, my studly boyfriend. Good taste she has.

She's often found away from the crowd in some imaginary world and perfectly happy! And this is my mom's bountiful and beautiful garden.  Mom attracts hummingbirds and creatures galore with her flowers, greenery and vegetables.

We moved on to Calgary to visit this hip family. Katie, Mat and their baby Archie entertained us for a few days in Calgary, Canmore and Kananaskis.  Their smiley son Archie below.

We rafted the bow river, played St Petersburg, sampled some awesome beers. Mat (below lurking in the background) taught us a little more about Scotch and we sampled.  His wife Katie taught me a little more about knitting...I hope to pick that up again and post some soon!

I am back in love with Scotch. Still loving Whiskey and Bourbon, though. Dalmore was my favourite out of this bunch.


Mat and Katie drove us up to Kananaskis for a hike through a ravine, we saw some Indian pictographs! Tom is still representing Ynot Cycle even when he is on vacation. <3  Glad he came with me, he's been working so hard lately. 

More posts to come! In the meantime, enjoy the approach of Fall.

12 June 2011

Oh my, It's a GARDEN!

Over the last few weeks, we have been growing many, many plants and a puppy. Our very early mornings and mid-sleep pee breaks have kept us too busy to be doing much else. But we are loving it nonetheless! We have so many more puppy friends through puppy school and our romps in the park. And then she falls asleep on us...

We did have time to enjoy a great day for bbqing. We picked up two racks of side ribs and made our favourite ribs yet: a very easy recipe from Primal Grill, our favourite saturday morning television show about grilling. It is a bit like Bob Ross  but with charcoal and large chunks of meat, rubs and marinades galore. Use the recipe here, but skip the lemon bbq sauce at the end. The spicy rub and bourbon-cider-butter grilling juice are more than enough for a very nice dinner.

As a side for same dinner, we had a fresh batch of home-grown arugula in a vinaigrette. I harvested the arugula from our own garden shown below! Our friend, Andrius (shown below in white hat), has been our gardening mentor and has guided us through the growing process to lead us to this back-yard utopia of veggies! It is so rewarding to harvest from your own backyard. 

The pink Columbine (above middle) seems to pop up in cracks of pavement on sidewalks and between buildings. It is a beautiful little surprise all over the city! Look at that bed of lettuce, spinach, arugula, leeks, peas, chives, and tomatoes climbing in the back! Also seen are golden raspberries, wild strawberries, chives, cabbage, kale, radishes and some herbs. Below are my two favourite gardeners, my boy Tom and my little lady Ruby. Awww. Ruby has become a great little gardener, sniffing about but not stepping on anything! She has a green paw.

This weekend we got up early enough to hit the Palmerston Street Yard Sale, a wealthier strip in the hood that has good 'crap'. We came home with a new skateboard, some fenders, many new clothes, and a few cupcakes. Tom also found some 75 litre planters on the roadside and HAD to ride them home on his bike. They went into the garden as planters. Tom has set up a rainwater collection system in the back yard so that we just use rainwater to irrigate the garden. It's great living with a Mechanical Engineer.

30 May 2011

New family member!

Tom and I welcomed a new little puppy into our home last weekend. She has been taking up every bit of our spare time and spare energy. Ruby is a boxer from North Perth, Ontario. Also known as 'beast', 'beastor' or 'little monster', she chews everything, jumps alot, attracts alot of attention from strangers, and will only fall asleep on my lap. She'll get to be 60-70 lbs, so this must all stop soon! Thanks to her Aunty Cat and Crazy Uncle Z (pictured in my last post) we've managed to get through work days without having to worry about her during the day.

16 May 2011

Spring and new things

It has been a busy couple of weeks with some nice weather and some rain. Last weekend, i took advantage of some sun and the cherry blossom festival at high park with some friends on a blanket! The park was a flutter with photographers and wedding photo opportunities.

Also happening at the park was the high park native plant sale. I picked up a wild strawberry plant, hoping that it would spread through the garden but somehow stay out of the mouths and bellies of squirrels and raccoons. These little berries are much tastier and much smaller than the generic, massive white berry that we are used to from the grocery store.  A perfect bite size. It was planted in the garden recently, after a long session of clearing away years of weeds and unwanted nettles from the garden.  With the help of a few eager friends, we prepared half of the back yard for planting in less than one afternoon! Tom even relocated a few small trees to maximise soil square inches.

As we faced a rainier period this last weekend, Tom and I ventured 2 hours north west of Toronto to Listowel (also hometown of my friend Melodie).

It was a beautiful stretch of farmland that led us to our breeder's farm, and eventually, our new little puppy 'Ruby'! We picked her out based on her calm, centred and independant personality. We get to pick her up and bring her home next weekend! This week will be filled with puppy-proofing our house and yard. We can't wait!

She is a dark brown brindle boxer. She will be spoiled. We welcome all puppy visitors next week!

5 May 2011

Garden in Progress

Here's a sneak peak into what's been growing inside just waiting to be planted in the yard this weekend! We started this sweet potato in the jar by suspending it with toothpics. It sprouted almost immediately, now we have a bit of a tree. You can use the same trick on a potato or an avocado pit. Just let the roots develop in water, wait for some kind of green growth to sprout out the top, and plant it in the ground!

There is a gigantic patch of stinging nettle spreading through the garden. After last year's attack on my legs, I am dreading even going near this stuff! Do not mistake it for mint. It is not pleasant to any skin that touches it. My legs burned and itched for days.

In addition to tackling the garden, I am also looking forward to the High Park Native Plant Sale this Sunday. Hoping to find some grasses and wild flowers to let loose!

2 May 2011

Athletic Endeavors with a Visitor

After a busy couple of weeks with friends, I've managed to go through my photos and sit down and create a few montages of events. My very good friend Maggie visited, we celebrated with other friends, had many good meals, some good drinks. It's always great to have a few days with old friends. Below are a couple of montages:

Varying approaches to bocce ball release:

And varying approaches to falling:

BBBQ'd Ribs, Arugula, and home-made French Onion Soup...my football arm....and Maggie!

Most of my time in the last weeks has been creating food and playing outside. I wouldn't have it any other way! And finally, an update on my gardening venture. We have relocated most seedlings to pots on the balcony. My latest new tool for gardening is the Pot Maker pictured below. A great tool for creating plant pots out of old newspaper! Just place it right in the ground come planting time as it will disintegrate into the soil. Also pictured: my shallots have won the fight against bulb-munching squirrels. Unfortunately, my Lily of the Valley bulbs were completely uprooted.

Finally, following the theme of making...My good friend Mat made a baby with his lovely wife Katie in Calgary. Below is their handy-work named Archer! Congrats, and good work.

18 April 2011

Follow Up: A terrarrium in an old scotch bottle

I was unsure about how well the moss would do in the bottle. I have not had to water it at all- it appears to be fairly self-contained even with the lid off. It also turns out that i have five small unexpected inhabitants inside the tiny landscape...five snails, each about 4 mm in size! They came in with the soil i suspect. There is also a mysterious plant sprouting inside, perhaps a grass of some sort. I swear it's better than watching tv...sometimes the snails try to climb up the side of the bottle then fall back down.

You can see one of the in the photo below looking down inside the bottle (bottom right corner, the white dot). The moss itself seems to be getting longer. It looks like tiny coniferous trees if you look close, the bottle is too steamy right now to see. 

See the original post with directions here.

These are a few of my Favourite Things: 'Alive in my Apartment'

We have a small but very much alive domocile. Myself, Tom Mosher (my elven boyfriend who is also a maker and takes part in all experiments around the house), Chicken (black cat), and our family of plants, all pictured below.

Tom: Fixed-gear freestyle bike trick guy, green thumb, up-and-coming chef, playmate. (Left photo by Sungwoo Kim)

Chicken: Sits on all things i am currently working on, pretends to hate being loved.

And the plants. I have listed my favourites below, all are hearty, easy to maintain and somewhat eccentric in appearance. 

Cylindrical Snake Plant (Sansevieria cylindrica)

Each 'leaf' is a hollow spear similar to a pencil in weight and strength. Very sculptural and skeletal. Only needs watering once a month. The spears can be braided or shaped into whatever mass is desired.  Tom bought me this beautiful turquoise vase (which is also spiny) for my birthday. Thanks, tom!


Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

A slow-growing yet hearty succulent that will tolerate cold windowsills and hot humid summers. This one also requires only one or two waterings a month, produces pink flowers (which i have not yet seen), and is easily propogated by cutting off small stems and planting them in same soil. I have pruned this one for the last five years since i bought it as a two inch cutting, which allows the trunks to get thicker and stronger, more like a bonsai. 


Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina) 

We nicknamed this on 'Cascadia' since it hangs above our staircase about two metres long. It thrives in mid light (indirect). It is easy to propogate by placing cuttings in a glass of water for a few days to grow roots, then potting in a new pot. Frequent trimming helps the plant to stay full; if it gets too long, it will become thin and spindly. Makes a great 'green' chandelier!

Elephant Palm (Beaucarnea)
Also called a Ponytail Palm, this very decorative plant has a trunk that looks like an elephant's foot with curly, stringy tendrils hanging down. It grows slowly, but can reach 4-6 feet tall. Easy to care for, dark or light conditions, humid or dry.  Unfortunately, also readily available at ikea. 


Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)

This canopy plant (also called 'fruit salad plant') is named after its adult leaves which unfurl to show leaves with holes in them (like the cheese). While the plant is young, leaves show no holes. Leathery leaves can become anywhere from 25cm-75cm across, providing a nice umbrella in a shady room. Fairly easy to maintain as long as it is out of the sun and away from heaters. Also provides a great focus point for speculation ('it has holes because it grows so fast') during dinner parties. 


Organ Pipe Cactus (Lenaireocereus Marginatis)
This guy had a rough beginning. He started out as four tiny spikes in the soil, then got knocked over a few times. Parts were broken off. We replanted those broken parts upsidedown thinking the whole thing was going to die anyway. What happened? It started growing tiny clones out of the exposed broken bits! Now it has aerial roots, the whole thing looks like a crash site. Fluorishing! Again, waters once a month. Pick off the clones at any point, let them dry out for a few days, then replant in soil.

Plants make great stress relievers. The clones make great gifts for friends...and they are free! It is strangely rewarding to watch them grow. You might collect so many that you will have to make a 'green curtain' as i have done in my washroom. Installed a few shelves in front of the windown instead of those nasty dirt-collecting venetian blinds:

A great source for all house plants is a book called 'The House Plant Expert' by D.G. Hessayon. 

GET THIS...the best part....NASA conducted a study in the 1980's that showed that houseplants help to purify air inside due to chemicals that offgas from building materials for decades. For a 2000 square foot home, fifteen large plants will take care of formaldehyde, benzene, and Trichloroethylene that exist in insulation, paints, adhesives and varnishes. Since I live in approximately 600 square feet, I guess my forty something plants cover all toxins.

10 April 2011

Spring has sprung!

A beautiful weekend allowed us to leave windows open, repot our seeds for the upcoming garden, ride bikes, play bocce with friends, and set up the slackline by the lake! Below is me and Tom at our first slackline session of the summer! Follow my adventurous boyfriend, Tom Mosher's blog here and check out his entrepreneurial/designer skills for YNOT Cycle here!!

An update to my seedlings from my post 'first steps towards summer garden'... we repotted all of our seedlings into their own pots only a week later. Only a matter of weeks before we put them in the ground!

7 April 2011

Connie - My Industrial Sewing Machine

This post is by request...my Pops has been wanting to get a look at my industrial sewing machine. He's a neat guy, I inherited his eccentric interests.

She is pretty epic. The model is Consew 230. The machine itself is all cast metal (in my estimation the whole thing weighs more than 150 pounds), as well as the oil tank and motor underneath. It is self-oiling (the oil wicks up from the silverish square tank directly under the machine) and could sew through bone if it happened to slide underneath. The presser foot is lifted up by shifting your thigh into the lever with the padded blue cover - this is great for handsfree shifting. No fancy stitches on this one, just forward and reverse with a few stitch-length adjustments, but who really needs more. I have sewn through many layers of leather anything that will fit underneath the presser foot, it will go through it.

Refer to the exploded axonometric diagram and legend for more information. This drawing in itself is also amazing!

I have been creating bags of all scales for friends and family, stay tuned for more posts about things made with Connie! Hope you enjoyed this one, Daddio!

4 April 2011

A terrarrium in an old scotch bottle

The weather this past weekend allowed so much outdoor activity... walking, frisbee, returning empties, cleaning off the balcony and prepping for a massive garden! I couldnt help but notice all the bits of greenery poking up from the brownness of winter. The brightest patches of spring green caught my eye around large trees and on sloped banks. They were patches of live moss! I have seen some sites that sell kits for $20-$30 that allow you to build your own small terrarium...but why bother purchasing when you already have all the pieces? I grabbed as much moss as my hands could carry, being careful to take a bit of the clay soil with it.

Around the house, i collected an old bottle of Glenrothes whisky that i was using as a vase. Any glass vessel will do, you just need to be able to place the chunks of plant or moss inside the soil (this is where you might need chopsticks).  Another good choice would be Bulleit Bourbon or Woodford Reserve.

Here are the steps:

1. Break up some styrafoam into smaller particles for drainage layer (about half inch)
2. Place a piece of mesh or tulle fabric between above the pellets to keep the layers from mixing
3. Top with two or three inches of potting soil. Funnels will be required if you're using a bottle (the tiny opening is hard to work around but they're so beautiful) to direct the ingredients to the bottom
4. Use the chopsticks to arrange everything on the soil
5. Spray some water into the tiny ecosystem and close it up. 

You should only have to open it once a month or so to add water or allow wetness to escape. It can also remain as an open system, you just have to water it more often. I am planning on adding some smaller plants to this mix once the moss is better established! 

If you want to start a moss garden in a shady part of your back yard, try this recipe involving some moss, buttermilk and sugar in your blender. Garden gnomes and turtles will love that you gave them a place to park.

Greener is better!

2 April 2011

First steps towards a Summer Garden

Thanks to my friend Melodie for supporting my gardening habit and setting me up with tonnes of great organic seeds for my summer vegetable garden! Tom and I got things started a few nights ago by planting seeds that will hopefully flourish in time to be repotted outside in May after the last frost. We found this great Jiffy Windowsill Greenhouse that holds 24 peat pellets.

Just add water, place a few seeds in each pellet, cover with lid, place in indirect light, and in 4 weeks you have a plant ready for the outside! We made a plan map of the box to keep track of which plant is which vegetable. Hopefully by June or July, we will be harvesting:

Little Finger Carrots
Rainbow Chard
Dward Grey Sugar Pea
Bounty Edamame Soy Beans
Vienna White Cabbage
Romanesco Broccoli
Iroquois Cantaloupe
Trionfo Violetto Pole Bean
Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry
Watermelon Radish
Garden Peach Tomato
Yellow Pear Tomato
Brandywine tomato
Sugar Baby Watermelon
Carosello Cucumber
Gourmet Shallot
Green Chives
Mesclun Mix Greens

I am also going to plant Lily of the Valley Bulbs (my favourite flower in the whole world due to its nighttime aroma) and some wild grasses and lavender in large pots on the balcony for some aroma, greenery and shade. 

Happy Gardening!