Walking on Sunshine

I love walking with this sweet child even if it is to just enjoy her wild ensembles.  Note to self:  One can never ever have enough stripey knee-high socks.


Bean Salad Yummy Yummy

My mum has been making this bean salad since forever.   Thankfully, she passed the recipe down to me when I began contributing to family picnics and potlucks.  Not only is it tasty, but it makes quite a lot, and it takes five minutes to make!  This bean salad has been made hundreds of times, and it's a winner.

Mum's Bean Salad
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch of dry mustard
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can green beans, drained
  • 1 can yellow beans, drained
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced rings
The day before your picnic/potluck, dump the three cans of beans and the green pepper and red onion into a large container.  In a large pouring vessel (I have a dressing shaker thing-y from Tupperware), mix the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and dry mustard.  Pour the vinaigrette over the bean mixture.  Put the lid on the container.   Store your salad in the fridge, and let marinate overnight.  Just before serving, drain your salad.  Add a big spoon and serve!  Take sweeping bows when complimented.

Happy summer potluck season!


Still Kickin'

Two months ago, I started playing soccer for the first time ever.  I practice twice a week and play a full game every Sunday evening.  I figured it would just involve running around and trying to kick the ball.  I must have been insane!  Soccer is intense!   It's the best workout I could ever imagine!  I am by far one of the worst players in terms of skills on my team which is only to be expected since I have no experience and am really out of shape.   However, as each week goes by, I feel my legs getting stronger, my abdomen tightening up, my energy level increasing, and my endurance on the field improving.   I'm getting the knack of how things work.  Sometimes I kick the ball in the right direction at just the right speed. 

The team has started to talk about indoor soccer for the winter.  I'm going to need a pair of indoor soccer shoes.  Crazy, right?



:: Roses from my garden ::

It's been quite the day, today!  It was Mr. J's birthday, so I woke up at the crack of dawn to bake fresh caramel walnut sticky buns before I left  to spend a good portion of the day at ChangeCamp.  It was also World Wide Knit in Public Day, so I took some knitting with me.  Mr. J got a slow, quiet, relaxing day with his girls off doing their own things.  That's what he likes best.  We joked that we wanted to get him the best gift ever, but how does one wrap a nap? :)

The conference was pretty incredible, and the venue was one close to my heart.  When I first came to London fifteen years ago,  I would bus downtown on a weekly basis and just sit in the gallery and soak in the sights.  It was free and usually void of crowds.   Just a good place to think and sort things out.   So it's fitting that the discussions today were thoughtful and energizing.

To be honest, I was intimidated by the minds present.  I'm a plain ol' mum, and I like to craft. These are smart and very passionate people.  They know things.  They're already engaged.  They're coherent.  I want to be just like them. :)   Despite my social awkwardness, I was comfortable enough to be an active participant. This was huge for me.  I think it was possible because everyone in the room wanted the same end result - to live in a great city.  I felt connected.  Actions were carved out of the numerous discussions, and some steps were determined.  I left feeling inspired to do more - to be part of a solution.   I'm looking forward to future meetings.  It didn't hurt that I also knit several inches of a new sweater.  All in a day's work, friends.


PS. You'll never believe this!  At one table, I used the example of the Mayor selling London as a wonderfully rich and enticing city in which to live, and I simply suggested that the City present a more realistic snapshot of our community - including the most vulnerable (e.g. seniors, children, newcomers, unemployed), and unbeknownst to me, the Mayor was at another table, AND someone dragged her over and introduced me to her and told the Mayor I had something to say to her.  I wanted badly to hide under the table, but I repeated myself and nodded and smiled like an idiot while she went on to say that it would be impossible to lure big businesses and intellectuals to our City with images of derelict buildings and homeless people.  I did NOT see that coming.

In Progress - EZ #7

I'm slowly chugging away at my 7th EZ knit - her Norwegian Mittens with an alpine motif on the back of the hand and snowflakes around the cuff.  It's taking some concentration, so it never sits too far away from me for a couple of rows here and couple of rows there.  As shown in the second picture, I still have the rest of the thumb to knit.  My goal is to finish them by the end of June.  We'll see.  It's hard when I have a big tub of challah starter dough in the fridge begging to be rolled out and made into caramel walnut sticky buns.  Mmmmm . . .

Happy Friday!


Dinner in 25 minutes

Life has changed since I got the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, bread-wise at least. Let's not get too carried away. Having homemade bread at your finger tips is as fabulous as it sounds and the master dough is so versatile. I had one pound of dough left sitting in the fridge. It was probably in there for a little over two weeks and was coming on to its last legs. I dug around in the fridge and found some slices of ham, a little block of smoked Gouda, and a handful of asparagus spears. I rolled out the dough (no proofing!), laid out my filling, rolled it up and into the oven it went. After 25 minutes I had a very tasty and savory roll coming out of the oven with bubbling cheese and all. Makes for a quick and easy dinner with leftovers to look forward to tomorrow. For those who do not have the book, you can find the recipe for the master dough here. Just throw the recipe together (no kneading!) and keep the bucket of dough in your fridge for up to two weeks. You'll never have to buy expensive artisan breads again...it'll change your life.

Post Gathering on the Green

I added another piece of sweet art to my Cara Simpson collection at the Gathering on the Green this year.  It is entirely made of fabric - half quilted and half embroidered.  I wish I was half as talented.   I should round up all my pieces and stage a little collage.  Add that to my to-dos.

Knitting has been non-existent this week.  We've been busy.  One night was spent watching the oldest play Helena in her class's rendition of A Midsummer's Night Dream in which family and friends were seated cabaret-style.  That was pretty neat. And hilarious.  The kids in her class are koo-koo for cocoa puffs.  To give you an idea of what I mean, do you know the part where Oberon doses the sleeping Lysander with magic?  Well he did it while dancing to Thriller. :)  What else did we do?  Soccer practice, board meetings, a baseball game, and a movie.  Craziness.  I think we'll just sit back and take it easy this weekend.  I'm going to finish the dress for the Bumblebee,  bake some of these cookies, hang out in the backyard, and knit.  Bliss.

What's on your plate this weekend?


Not a baby cake

Finally, a cake that is not in the shape of a baby! This stack of books consisted of vanilla cake with vanilla butter cream, chocolate cake with ganache, and lemon cake with raspberry cream. My favorite is the lemon and raspberry. I worked on decorating the cakes for the entire evening last night and delivered it this morning. And look! No baby! Actually, wait. Oh there it is.
Sneaky babies. So I can't make a cake without involving babies in one way or another. I promise that this run of baby cakes will end and I'll be able to show you something different.

Joy in What You Lack

I've been noticing that my slightly angst-ridden teenager could use some experiencing and some wisdom that her schooling has been lacking.  I admit that I leave a lot of teaching up to the school system, and I haven't  had any beefs with the teaching up to this point, but  her words and actions are still very narrow-minded and contradictary to what's going on around her.  So I've been asking myself what will she need to know to stand up for herself and people less fortunate than her.  What will she need to know to make good decisions and choices?  What will she need to know to feel good about herself?    I also don't want her to believe everything I say because I don't want her to believe everything everyone else says either.   I guess I will need to tell her that there are always lots of perspectives and to listen to all of them.  Nothing is black and white or simple.  Maybe we'll talk about digging deeper before coming to conclusions.   Maybe we'll talk about what people gain or lose from what they are saying and doing.  She's a book smart kid.  She's very sensitive.  She also wants to fit in.  What teenager doesn't?   I really want her to be resilient.  I want her to be empathetic.  I want her to be happy.  I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here.  I guess I just had a lightbulb moment, and I feel like I have a huge job ahead that I'm thinking could turn the dread of raising a teenager into something I might actually enjoy.  I say 'enjoy' because I have no doubt that I will learn a thing or two myself.  I'm feeling very hopeful.

Anyway, last night, I started with just spending some one-on-one time with her and sharing some simple skills and even learning together.  We sewed a little dress.  She sewed all the straight seams, and she even did the gathering stitch around the top edge of the skirt which I had never done before, so I was floored when she figured it all out by herself.   It took us a good amount of time, but we exercised a good amount of patience and humour. :)   I checked the errata afterwards as I was a bit disappointed with the width of the bodice.  It was much too small for our skinny 7-year old family member, and yet it noted that it would fit an 8-year old.  Well, the errata included instructions to widen the bodice which we had figured out already for our next attempt.  Regardless, we have a very pretty and sweet dress for a 4-year old.   And I've already begun to measure out a pattern that will fit our Bumblebee.  And after that?   We are going to make the trapeze dress for El.   And then I want a kimono dress.  So we have our work cut out for ourselves.  Literally and figuratively.


Ruffle tee

A couple of weeks ago I was at Target, my favourite place to kill an hour, and came across these t-shirts for $5. I picked up two in my size (one for my sister) and another in XL. I had seen this post awhile back and was really inspired by it and wanted to try my hand at embellishing. After laying out the shirts and trying to decide what to do I just grabbed the scissors and plunged in. It was kind of weird cutting up a perfectly good t-shirt but after some cutting, some ruffling, and some sewing, I came out with this.
This picture was taken at kind of a strange angle. I'm not sure if you can tell that I added ruffle to only one side of the shoulder. The ruffles make an otherwise boring t-shirt a little bit more fun and I can wear it to work with a cardigan. For $15 I made one ruffle shirt for myself and will gift the other one to my sister.