Monday, August 31, 2009

Home Economics

Home Economics Home Economics by Wendell Berry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars The most thought-provoking book I've read in a long time. Wendell Barry has so many wise comments to make on community and economy, on farming and on society. He makes some very adept judgments of our culture and how it could or should be. At length, he provides a model for life that I would build my life around. View all my reviews >>

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How to Grow More Vegetables

How to Grow More Vegetables (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars Wow what a lot of interesting information. My only concern is that the writers claim their findings are applicable to ANY climate/soil type, and I'm not certain that's truly the case. That said, I was fascinated by their planting techniques, the information about companion planting and natural ways of getting rid of pests. Not to mention the raised bed style of gardening, which I want to go out and try right now. View all my reviews >>

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 20th Comes Again

The world-with-a-small-blonde-girl began twenty-five years ago today.
Last night we had A&C over for home-made ice cream and multiple rounds of Dutch Blitz. A in particular was a worthy Dutch Blitz adversary. We had a lovely time. And they didn't even complain about our melty first attempt at ice cream.
This morning, Brent gave me my birthday present: a small oil painting purchased at the Kamloops Farmer's Market. Daisies are my favourite, and it's a lovely painting. Best of all, it was an absolute surprise. I like surprises.

Let the Adventure Commence

Sew, I have a new soing machine. Er. So, I have a new sewing machine. Dear Grandma Marci, and any others (ie Mom B) interested in my new challenge, Here is the machine I have purchased. I'm hoping it's going to last the rest of my life. To everyone else reading, I am embarking on an adventure of sewing. I wish to quilt. Step #1, buy a machine. I've been wanting to do this for a while, but didn't have time whilst finishing my thesis. I started looking into machines a year ago and was talking to an expert quilter in Montana who just happens to be M's Grandma. On Saturday last, after much hemming (pun not intented) and hawing, I purchased a Pfaff machine, last year's model. Sunday night, with some help (thanks you two!) I set it up and figured out how to thread it and sew some stitches. It's an Expression 2028. Quality brand, 68 stitches and an upper presser foot system patented under the name "IDT" (Integrated Dual Feed). Oh, and the bobbin fits in under the arm, apparently like an industrial machine. Automatic button-hole stitch. And I'm sure there are other unique features, but I have yet to discover them. Step #2, other supplies. I have quality sewing scissors...and a seam ripper (very important for taking out messed up work). Other than that, there's a lot I still need... Step #3, fabric. So far I've been sewing on old rags. A friend of B's parents gave me some tips on buying fabric (apparently there are huge import taxes on fabric coming up from the States?). Step #4, a pattern. I want to make a vibrantly bright quilt with lots of small squares. It''s ok if it takes a long time and is very repetitive. That's what I need in order to learn: repetition. I've got some quilting pattern books to look through, so I'll start there. Once I've got pattern, I was thinking of going down to the quilting shop down the street and saying: "I want to make this. Can you help me get all the stuff I need?" I think it'll be quite expensive, but I need to start somewhere.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Classical Piano

Last night we went to hear Jon Schmidt in concert. You know, Jon Schmidt of "Love Story meets Vida La Vida" of my all-time favourite songs. I would even go so far as to say that it is my theme song for this summer of 2009. The concert was at the Central United Church, in the older part of downtown. Across the street is the Hudson's Bay Company store, where we could see naked manikin bums in the second storey window. The Central United Church was built in 1906 and is a lovely old sandstone building. The sanctuary built in a dome and the acoustics are lovely. Schmidt did not have the piano miked and the sound carried beautifully. Schmidt was a very humble down-to-earth individual. He played all kinds of music, classical, old rock and roll hits, compilations he's invented. It was almost like an evening lesson in music. He played with his feet, upside down with his hands backwards, with his nose, his head, his elbows and his whole arm. For one song, entitled "dumb song," he said he had to wear a padded wig in order to protect his head from bruises. He pulled it off well. At the end of the show, he took requests for songs to play. When someone asked for a song he couldn't remember how to play, he asked the audience if they had the sheet music for it (he writes and sells the sheet music to his songs). Sure enough, someone did, and he played the song from the book. And one final note, one of my brothers was recently complaining that the city of Calgary is so unfriendly and I was arguing against him. Last night at the concert we saw two girls from our local coffee shop, and two families from Lacombe. How's that for life in the big city? And a final final note, our big plan for the evening was to walk from the church down along the river and end up in Kensington at Higher Ground for dessert. Except that it was pouring rain (who ordered that?) Nevertheless, we braved the rain, me in my birkenstocks, cotton shirt and skirt, and walked down through along the lamp-lit path, smiling at how other pedestrians were enduring the downpour as well. It was a lovely though damp end to the evening.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Recently I told someone that we were going saskatoon u-picking, and they thought I was speaking a foreign language. Since then I have discovered that saskatoons are a Western Canadian phenomenon and consequently non-Western Canadians would likely have no exposure to this most prairie-like of fruits. Technically, you should be able to find saskatoons throughout western North America, but I can't speak for any Montanans out there. Montana readers and residents, care to comment? We went out to a u-pick called PrairieBerry U-Pick, south-east of the city. They were very well stocked in saskatoons and we got all that we wanted. They even give you one-legged stools you attach around your waist for picking comfort. I highly recommend this place. It cost $15 for a full ice cream pail. Since then, I went picking out on a ranch in the Porcupine Hills west of Nanton, and there were LOTS of juicy ripe berries there too. These, of course, are free. A better option than a u-pick, if you have access to wild bushes. We had a wonderful day at the u-pick. We went out with some friends and one couple's lovely daughter T. Have I ever mentioned how much B and I love kids? Little T is one of those kids you can't help but love. She is free-spirited and intelligent and so interesting. But how could she not be when she has such great parents? T's dad has a gardening blog and we often compare notes on the success of our vegetables. We had a picnic in between the rows of saskatoon bushes and shared around cheese and vegetables and chocolate and bread with artichoke dip. Can there be a better way to spend a sunny Saturday?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Danish Weather

It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone--er, I mean in NW Calgary. It's been raining for a couple of days now, and it rained a bunch last week too. The weather is chilly for August, we've been wearing pants and socks, and contemplating the possibility of mittens when we go out for walks. It can't possible be fall yet, can it? The weather reminds us of Denmark, our trip from last fall. The weather and the fact that I am but a few steps away from finishing my thesis on Danish-Albertan history. So we thought we should post a few pictures from our trip last October. We're definitely missing the people and places there and wish we could go back. What do you think, a post-thesis celebratory trip? Anyone interested in financing this venture? Denmark is a beautiful, beautiful country, full of rich colours and interesting architecture.
Architecture and Design:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Friday Night Knitting Club

The Friday Night Knitting Club The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars Definitely in the genre of chick lit, take it or leave it. However, I definitely liked how the activity of knitting wove (pun intended) the story together. It was a really neat new take on a female character-based novel. I will be checking out the sequels. View all my reviews >>

To Do: Ride A Fire Truck

Riding in a fire truck has always been one entry on my bucket list. Fortunate for me, my brother is a member of the local volunteer fire department and could therefore help me attain this goal. While we didn't get to ride in the truck itself, per se, we did get to experience the capabilities of the tower truck. We had to wear helmets (in case the sky fell) and harnesses. I put the face guard down, just to get the full experience. The helmet was both heavy and hot but I'm guessing those aren't major concerns to a fire fighter when he's in a burning building.
My sister-in-law took B's camera and got some shots for us (thanks M!) while we went up.
Luckily, I'm not at all afraid of heights. I like them, actually. I especially like the urge I get to test out my flying abilities when I get up high. I'm pretty sure I'd be good at flying. I am in my dreams, anyway. But, I was harnessed in here.
Our hometown looks so peaceful from way up there. Little houses, lots of trees and flowers, the sound of traffic on the highway muted.
After we came back down, my brother took his wife M and my other brother T up for a spin.
J&M: we're pretty big fans of them.
My fearless firefighter brother.
My easy-going lifeguard/plumber brother.
It was a great field trip, fulfilling one of my life-time goals and inspiring B. Now he wants to join the fire department too.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

B and I saw this movie in theatre Friday night. Nora Ephron delights again. As you may know, my all time favourite movie is You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle is pretty high up there on the list too, both Nora Ephron movies, and this is another success. Meryl Streep and Amy Adams pull off their roles brilliantly. Especially Meryl Streep. By the end B and I just wanted to rush out and buy Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and cook with butter. I'm not much of a cook, but B is, and I'm all in favour of eating French food. Especially if it involves Brie and wine. Edited to add: Ha! We're not the only ones who want to go out and buy the cookbook. Check out this article on readers following up on the movie.

Friday, August 07, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day

After four days of drizzling rain, which brought welcome relief from the dryness around here, and was a refreshing break, we have blessed sunshine again. The birds are happy, the flowers are happy, I am happy. We crank up some music and get to work this morning so thankful for all God had provided us with. Habit, a blog I read regularly, had this to say about yesterday: "as we were walking back to the house he said, "some people have to drive somewhere just to do this." it made me realize it's important to count your blessings." Counting my blessings.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Feed the Birds...

This spring we received a bird feeder and finally put it up this past week. Over the weekend we were not home and the birds managed to completely empty it of all its seeds. For the past two days they have been pecking at it in the hopes that there would be some more, so finally today we filled it back up for them. So many interesting varieties that we had no idea were around. I set up my tripod and shutter release so I could sit a ways from the window and not scare them off. So here is one photo I managed to get.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Travelling the Trans-Canada/Christmas In July

Last weekend we drove out to Kamloops-area for a family gathering. It was a really great weekend, both the trip out and the time spent there. Whenever we made the Alberta-to-BC trip when I was a child (which we did many times as we have lots of family there), I always wanted to stop along the way to see things. But, time was of very limited quantities then, and the point was to get there and see the family, not stop along the way. This time, we managed to include both.
Vern and the Summit Marker: We stopped at the summit of Roger's Pass. There's quite a neat exhibit there.
Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk Home to many different species of birds. The whole walk was a couple of kilometres and a nice way to stretch our legs. We went searching for a bakery in Revelstoke to stop for lunch, and we FOUND one. Custom-made sandwiches and fresh-baked bread. We'll be stopping at the Chalet Bakery again!
At last, Monte Lake/Country Garden Greenhouse
I have so many magical memories of this place as a child and it didn't fail to delight this time either.
Singing around the "campfire" (it was actually a propane fire that offered a good substitute in the event of a fire ban).Kamloops Farmers' Market Plenty of fruit, vegetables be had.The Smorgasbord The deli, greenhouse and fair-trade goods outlet owned by my aunt and uncle.
Christmas in July, complete with Santa...with a red nose? He must have been rubbing noses with Rudolph (?). Possibly also known under the alias "Uncle Jorgen."
A pinata for the kids.
The three girl cousins, daughters of three sisters.
The trip home could not be complete without a stop at the D Dutchmen Dairy. It's just tradition.
Craigellachie, site of the the last spike. It was thirty-five degrees out and there wasn't much to see, unfortunately.
Giant Cedars Boardwalk Another opportunity to stretch our legs and our final major stop on the way home.