Saturday, January 31, 2009

book review: the groom to have been

the groom to have been by saher alam is a fascinating, educating, fun read. i picked it up expecting something lighthearted and silly, since the cover describes it as 'a love story inspired by the age of innocence'. i've never read any edith wharton, but that description led me to believe that the book might be a comedy of manners. that description is misleading. this isn't a silly book at all, and it isn't a comedy of manners. it's a serious, interesting look at life as an idian-muslim immigrant in north america.

nasr, the protagonist, is looking for a wife. he wants a woman who can teach his children urdu, get along with his family and engage him, personally. obviously this woman is not to be found in a new york nightclub, so he enlists his mother, to her delight, to search for an appropriate bride for him. eventually the right woman is found and the wedding plans commence.

a few things make this book interesting and unique: nasr was raised in canada and is thoroughly (north) americanized, but respects his culture's traditions. he has to balance his western-ness with his eastern-ness, and the two sides often conflict. with his friends from work he goes to a bar and has a few beer, with his mother he eats halal and speaks urdu. nasr has to let go of the idea of romantic love in order to marry a stranger. also, he often has to translate his parents' culture to his friends, and in doing so explains it to the reader. arranged marriages, which seem so bizarre and outdated to me, begin to make sense when seen through his eyes. again and again customs that i had previously not understood or possibly even heard of are explained. ms. alam's writing is so elegant that this vast exposition of a culture isn't textbook-y or dense. rather, every so often i would realize that she had just taught me something new when i wasn't even aware that i was being taught. this author has not just grasped the concept of 'show, don't tell', she has mastered it.

the subjects that are touched upon are varied and often serious. life as a muslim in new york right after 9/11, the ongoing struggle to balance duty and desire, feminism and personal politics within islam, the deceptions that families build their lives on, being the victim of racism and hate crimes - it's all there, and more, eloquently expressed.

this is a book of generous depth and vibrant colour. i found reading it to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. i highly recommend it.

guest post: daffodyllic speaks

today my daffodil friend is guest blogging. she tells me that she is writing about herself, allegedly from my point of view. a narcissus talking about herself? fitting. but i'll let her tell you herself.

I have an exceptional friend. This friend enjoys a certain amount of anonymity (though truth be told, she can barely pronounce the word anonymity), so on occasion she goes by pseudonyms having to do with a Narcissus (daffodil, for you un-botanists). Daffodils are hearty, bright, cheerful, fleeting, persistent, joyful, short-lived, and commonly yellow. My friend is all of these things as well, especially the narcissistic part. For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Narcissus, he was a beautiful young Greek boy who had the misfortune of catching a glimpse of his perfect visage in the mirror of a pond, and proceeded to fall so helplessly in love with the reflection that he bent to kiss it and was drowned.
My friend is not Greek, male, in love with her reflection, nor drowned. However, she is swimming in her own snot today, as the result of catching a pesky virus of the Common Cold variety. Here she is, miserably attempting to stop the constant flow of liquid from her nostril area: Notice here the gold of her hair and the white of the disposable tissue: how like a daffodil in colouring.

Today my exceptional daffodilic friend cleaned out her car. She has a Grand AM, which is gold-coloured like some varieties of daffodils; she calls it her “good morning car,” though not to many people get the joke.

Her son (who is too brown to be compared to a daffodil of any variety, but is narcissistic in his own four-year-old way) helped with the chore of the day, and by help, I am sure we all mean got in the way, blasted his mother with the hose (instead of the vehicle), and sprayed too much biodegradable orange cleaner on the windows.
A fun Saturday morning activity, if you ask me, especially since the sun was shining and the weather was gorgeous, and below-freezing conditions are an inconceivable notion to native Floridians.
(Why do Canadians not spell “Morning” as “Mourning” when they insist on spelling every other “-or” word as “-our”…? Mysteries abound.)
Speaking of mysteries, why is there a guest blogger? And what is the meaning of this post? And is there even a central idea to this rambling nonsense?

OK, so let’s sum up: My friend is like a daffodil, daffodils are a Narcissus, Narcissus fell in love with himself and drowned, my friend is drowning in her own snot and was drenched by a water hose that should have been aimed at her daffodil-coloured car. Also, the weather in Florida is more gorgeous than a Greek boy, and there is no snow, which daffodils can pop through anyway.

to answer my flowery friend's query, here's some info about why canadians spell things the way we do. also, thanks for spelling things the canadian way for me. good job.

Friday, January 30, 2009

sockly instruction

my friend is learning to knit socks, and i thought i'd post a tutorial so she doesn't have to take me out each time she needs to learn the next step. not that i don't love going out, but an at-home resource is helpful.

first, cast on: if you're using fingering sock yarn, 60 - 65 stitches on size 2 needles works for most women. i like working in multiples of 12 stitches when possible, so my improvised socks have all had 64 stitches in them. i suggest looking up a pattern designed for the type of person you're making the socks for (man, woman, child, baby, etc) using the weight of yarn you have. even if i ignore the rest of the pattern, i like having someone else do the work as far as figuring out how many stitches to cast on.
cast on your stitches, divide between three needles. to join in the round, make sure the stitches are all pointing down, with no twists. then use the free yarn hanging of the third needle to start knitting the first needle, pulling it tight so you have a triangle of needles. like this: knit at least 1/2 an inch in a ribbing pattern. knit 1, purl 1 or knit 2, purl 2 are the most common. knit 2 purl 1 or knit 3 purl 1 are ok, too. it really doesn't matter, so long as you switch between knitting and purling every couple of stitches. the ribbing acts like an elastic, keeping your socks up. keep in mind that your ribbing pattern should work with your number of stitches - don't try to do a 4 stitch repeating pattern for the ribbing (k2p2, for example) of you have 61 stitches. this is why i like using a number of stitches that is divisible by 12, since almost everything works. the ankle of the sock is just a tube. knit in circles until it's the length you like. the easiest and fastest thing to do is stockingette (knit every stitch, all the time) but the sock will be more interesting if you make a pattern. when you've knit as much as you need to in order to have the sock height of your preference, put half the stitches on a stitch holder or just leave them on the needles, but ignore them. the other half of the stitches you will knit back and forth, like you do with flat knitting. you knit all, turn your work, slip one stitch, purl all. turn your work, slip one, knit all. continue to knit/ purl, turn, and slip one until you feel that the heel flap is long enough. a typical heel flap is ~3 inches long, maybe slightly less.
i like to knit the heels and toes of my socks with a strand of sewing thread along with the yarn for added reinforcement. what's the point of spending all this time making socks if they're just going to wear out? i use the thickest polyester thread i can find, in a colour similar to that of the yarn. this is the part where things get tricky. take it slow and trust the directions, and ask people for help when you're confused. it works, i promise.

divide the number of stitches in your heel flap in half.
add one
knit that number.
knit two together
knit one
turn your work
slip one
purl three
purl two together
purl one
turn your work
slip one
knit four
knit two together
knit one
turn your work
slip one

and so on. you can either keep adding one to the number of stitches you're knitting/ purling and count as you go, or go by visual cues. if you're doing the latter, (as i do) you knit/ purl together the stitches with a gap between them.
then knit/ purl one, then turn your work, then slip one, then knit/ purl until you get to the next gap. keep going until you've knit together the last two stitches on each end. finish on a knit row.
this part can be tricky, but it's quick. use a spare needle and pick up all the slipped stitches along the side of your heel flap. pick up an extra one when you get to the place where the flap meets the held stitches. this prevents unsightly holes. (the pink sock here has one of the unsightly holes you're hoping to avoid.) knit across the picked up stitches, then across the stitches that were held while you knit the flap. now pick up the stitches that run along the other side of the flap, making your knitting a tube once again. (remember to pick up that extra stitch at the beginning) when all your stitches are on needles again, it's time to rearrange them. you want the stitches you held back while you knit the heel flap all on one needle, needle 2. the rest of the stitches should be evenly divided between the other two needles, needles 1 and 3.
in round one, knit until you have three stitches left on needle 1, point A. knit two together, then knit one. knit across needle 2. (or continue whatever pattern you've been doing, needle 2 is the top of the foot) on needle 3 knit one, slip one, knit one, and pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch, right off the needle. knit to the end of the needle.for round 2, knit the whole thing.
for round 3, follow the long instructions above. continue to alternate decreasing rounds and knitting rounds until you can add the stitches on needles 1 and 3 and have them equal the stitches on needle 2. for the body of the sock, knit your chosen pattern on needle 2 and knit all on needles 1 and 3 until you've got ~1.5 inches less than the length you need for your foot. a chart for figuring out lengths for foot sizes is here. you're almost done! the toe of the sock is fairly simple.
round 1: on needle 1 knit to the last 3 stitches, knit 2 together, knit one. on needle 2 knit one, slip one and knit one, then pass the slipped stitch over the knit one and off the needle. knit to the last 3 stitches on needle 2, knit two together, and knit one. on needle 3 knit one, slip one, knit one, pass the slipped stitch over, knit the rest.
round 2: knit all
repeat these two rounds until you have eight stitches left.
to close the toe you do the kitchener stitch. i'll let someone else explain that.
yay, socks!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

my favourite activity

my little boy just had about 1/4 cup of light brown oil come out of his cornhole. off to google symptoms. oh, the joy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

sockly lessons learned.

i'm finally finished knitting my hedera. they took all month. i hate learning experiences. why can't complicated skills be easier to learn? the way they do it on the matrix looks convenient. can you imagine the knitting equivalent of this?

those would be some kickass socks, i tell you.

while knitting these socks i learned a thing or two. three things, to be precise.
1. pay attention, especially if you're knitting lace or deviating from the pattern. if you forget where you are but keep knitting, bad things happen. holes and blank sections in the pattern and holes and uneven parts and holes. and holes. 2. don't try two new things at the same time. if you're knitting your first lace socks, don't clutter up your thought processes by making them your first toe-up socks, as well. pick one new skill per project. after realizing that you're in way over your head, if you decide to spontaneously modify the pattern, you're an idiot.
3. just because you get bored doesn't mean you can stop, even if you're going out of your skull and can't bear another 4-row repeat of this damned lace pattern. keep going or the unfinished socks will haunt you from the bottom of the bin where you hid them. just buckle down and do it. and maybe make them shorter than you had originally planned, by a few inches. you know, for mental health's sake.

today i'm starting some straightforward, easy socks. ones in bulkier yarn so they knit up quickly. ones that i don't have to look at while i work on. ski socks for my dad's birthday, even. i can't wait. bring on the ridiculously simple!

nora, these are for you if you want them, llama llove. i don't know if they'll fit, but i made them in your foot size, i think.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

product review: honey nut cheerios

here's a product review to make up for yesterday's silliness. this review will be short, positive, and unsullied my photographic nonsense.

i really like honey nut cheerios. i only eat them a couple of times a year, thanks to the whole not-buying-milk thing, but when we have both milk and cereal and the stars are aligned, i can't get enough of their sweet, crunchy-then-soggy goodness. soluble fibre, artificial nut flavouring... what more does a cereal need? the excessive sweetness makes the roof of my mouth go numb for a while, each time i consume a bowl. plus i'm lactose intolerant so my forays into the world of cereal-eating always result in serious, toxic gas.

i don't like other types of cheerios, or other types of cereal, or most breakfast foods, even. but honey nut cheerios are special.

i'd go on for longer about the merits of my treasured oaty o's of goodness, but we have milk and honey nut cheerios in the house, so i can't stay in any one spot for too long. the fumes emanating from my ass get to me.

but while we're talking about being a fan, check it out: this blog has its own fanpage on facebook. yeah, it's a pointless exercise in self-promotion, but you should still become a fan of 584.
it looks like linking to the fan page doesn't work. if you really want to be a facebook fan, log in, type '584' into the box on the top right corner of your screen, and select 'pages' from the tabs above the list of choices. you'll see it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

product review: cafe mocha coffe-mate (with extraneous pictures!!)

why is it that i only review products i hate?normally i boycott nestle. they're right up there near monsanto on the list of evil corporations. i miss my coffee crisp and aero bars, though. why can't a local, fair-trade based company start making those? alas.

anyways, my partner thought he'd get me a treat and picked me up a bottle of nestle cafe mocha coffee-mate. i usually drink international delights flavoured creamers in my coffee, since we don't buy milk. they make the intense, delicious coffee we drink sweet and extra delicious. not healthy, but whatever. i don't have to justify myself to you.

so, to the review:

this stuff, when tasted on its own, tastes like oversweet chocolate milk. i guess they didn't get the memo that 'mocha' implies coffee flavouring, but whatever. and it's a dairy-free product, so the fact that it tastes to similar to milk is creepy. it contains:
  • WATER,
  • SUGAR,
  • FLAVOUR AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOUR, (no appropriate image found)
  • COCOA,
  • SALT,

um, yuck? yeah, yuck. gross.

this creamer makes your coffee taste like there is chocolate milk in it. oversweet chocolate milk. it's not a horrible taste, but it's really nothing special and definitley not enough justification to consume all those ingredients listed above. if i want chocolate milk in my coffee i'll get chocolate milk
and put it in my coffee.

plus, it all sinks to the bottom of the mug, no matter how fast you drink it, making the last mouthful into a cringe-inducing mouthful of disgusting sweetness.
so if you're out grocery shopping and this tasty-looking creamer catches your eye, keep walking. but if you're sipping your coffee and start wishing for a more expensive, less healthy and less ethical version of chocolate milk to put in it, nestle has just the thing for you!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

book review: driving sideways

driving sideways by jess riley is a novel about a 20-something woman with a serious medical condition who heads out into the wild blue yonder, looking for adventure. leigh, the protagonist, is quirky, smart, funny, and has an endless supply of pop culture references with which to pepper her observations. she is dealing with heavy shit, but she does her best to stay upbeat in spite of it all.

the book is entertaining and educational. the characters are sympathetic and well developed. i wouldn't claim it's the best novel i've ever read, but it's the best one i've read so far in 2009. i'd give it 8/10. go ahead and read it. the book probably won't change your life, but you won't regret the time you spent, either.

yesterday my partner and i were driving around, running errands. we took turns sitting in the car with the babies while the other ran into the store/ library/ whatever and got stuff done. that way we don't have to pay for parking. i'd brought this book with me. my partner, naturally, asked about it. i started to summarize and review it for him, and he looked a little surprised. he'd assumed, from looking at the cover:
that it was a fluffy chicklit book with no literary merit whatsoever. that pissed me right off. not that he assumed that, since it was a pretty safe assumption, given the chicklitty cover, but that so often good books that happen to be written by women and feature women (especially if the protagonist is single) get given these covers and get marketed as fluff. plenty of men and women who would love the book skip over it based on the feminine cover. my partner would, he admitted. so would many of my female friends. it's sexist and screwed up that books about single women can't be taken seriously as mainstream fiction. grrrrr.

i used to get embarrassed about reading books with pink and/ or images of lithe, feminine body parts on the cover. i didn't want my partner, friends, or strangers on the bus to assume that i read brainless fluff.* it was a conscious decision on my part to stop hiding what i'm reading or skip over books with girly covers. the publishing world has set things up in a sexist, discriminatory way, and i won't go along with it. so now i proudly read whatever i want to and if anyone so much as raises an eyebrow at me i educate them about the sexism that is rampant in the publishing business. just like i've done here, in these two paragraphs. i call it lecture activism. or preachiness. or giving innocent victims an earful.

*i do enjoy the occasional foray into the world of true chicklit. i don't have tv and sometimes my brain needs a holiday. i have nothing at all in common with the shopaholic, for example, but do most viewers have that much in common with the characters on the sitcoms they watch?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

garden planning do's and dont's

it's that time of year again! my seed catalogs have arrived in the mail and i'm about to get madly carried away with all the gardening i'd love to do. last year i signed up for several community garden patches, plus my own yard, plus committing to being a significant presence on my friend's farm. in the end i gardened in my own yard. full stop. so to keep my eyes from getting waaay bigger than my gardening capacity, here are some practical tips.

do plan ahead. the last thing you want is for planting time to come and for you to have no seedlings ready.
don't plant enough seedlings for an 80 acre farm.

do measure your plot(s) so you can draw up a plan when you're figuring out what seeds to order
don't wait until there are four feet of snow then realize that you're an idiot.

do create a garden that you find interesting. why not plant purple tomatoes, purple lettuce, purple carrots, purple beans, purple potatoes and white beets?
don't stick just to the varieties of produce that you can get at the grocery store. what's the point in putting all this work in if you could pick up identical food down the street?

do compost. a compost bin provides the best fertilizer you could ask for, and costs only your kitchen and garden scraps. it reduces the amount of garbage going to the landfill and feeds your garden.
don't keep cramming things into your compost bin when it gets full. when tightly packed, compost can't decompose properly and so you'll end with a useless monument to ecofriendliness instead of a soil-producing ecomachine.

do try growing plants that don't suit your climate in the winter, but are happy in pots. i have two types of hot pepper plant that have been cheerfully providing me with tasty little peppers all winter long. also a banana tree and a guava tree that are growing steadily and will one day feed me. cumquats, cherry tomatoes, and many exotic flowers love to summer outside and winter indoors near a sunny window.
don't forget about herbs - my kitchen windowsill has been home to a happy, productive basil plant for ~6 years.

do read up on lasagne beds, square foot gardening, companion planting, container gardening, and upside down tomato plants.
don't get all crazy trying ten million new things at once. keep it simple. try new things, but don't get in over your head. there are a zillion cool-sounding techniques out there, and most won't work for you. a few will, with fantastic results.

do find a local, independently owned source for your seeds. if they're based near where you live, they'll know what grows well in your area and have good tips for you
don't buy seeds from the grocery store or hardware store or any big, mainstream seed company. they're all monsanto. even a lot of the smaller companies are just subsidiaries of monsanto. and monsanto is seriously, purely evil. they're one of the largest corporations on the planet and they make wal mart look like a model corporate citizen. learn about them, yo. then refuse to give them your money. (they already get lots of it; most normal produce, as well as the corn, wheat & soybeans that are in 99.99999% of processed foods are made of come from monsanto plants)

do plant things that you like to eat and feel capable of growing
don't grow all carrots and beets just because they're easy. beans are easy, too. diversify, baby.

do have a plan for preserving the bounty of your garden
don't plant twenty heads of lettuce on the same day so they all come ripe on the same day and you end up eating nothing but lettuce for a week and still have to throw most of it away

do buy heirloom seeds. they're basically horticultural activism made easy. most seeds you see in stores and mainstream catalogs are patented and bred or modified to be sterile, so you can't save the seeds from one year to plant the next. monsanto owns most of these. heirloom seeds are ones that have been saved by regular people, mostly, for decades or centuries. they often look really cool and taste amazing. experiment with different tomatoes, especially.
don't buy thirty different types of heirloom tomato seed when you only have thirty square feet to plant in. i know they look cool and it's hard to choose, but bite the bullet and narrow down your selections.

do make your seedling pots. learn how to make an origami box and fold non-glossy flyers and newsapaper into seed starter-sized squares. or cut a toilet paper roll in half, then fold together one end of each half.
don't buy peat pots. they're convenient, but at a great ecological price. if you really want to throw money away on seed starter pots, buy coir. it's made of the hair on coconuts. how cool is that?

do start more plants than you'll actually need. expect casualties. some seeds don't grow, some succumb to baby plant illnesses, some seedlings are killed by pests as soon as they're transplanted outdoors, some wait a week and get kille by cutworms...
don't try to plant every seedling you grow. i know that composting a perfectly good young plant feels like murder, but overcrowding is a bad idea. overcrowded tomatoes & corn don't produce, overcrowded carrots & beets need thinning over and over, so it's less labour-intensive to just plant them spaced out to begin with, overcrowded beans choke each other and everything else out - just don't overcrowd, ok? err on the side of too much space between plants.

do plant strategically. carrots and beets are happy in darker, damper places, as long as they aren't too dark or damp. tomatoes and peppers need as much light as possible.

this is my plan. the top of the picture points south. because the garage blocks the sun for most of that big patch, i put mostly root crops there. all the other areas get plenty of light, so they're full of plants that love the sun. see how i've put thin rows of things together? i can put a row of root crops in front of tomato plants because they don't steal the tomatoes' light, being short and all. then behind the tomatoes (or peppers) i can put a trellis with beans or a row of sunflowers or corn, since those are all tall enough to get the light they need, regardless of the other plants. after everything is planted i go back and wedge more beets & carrots into whatever corners i can. i grow a lot of those, since i like to make vats of beet borscht and can them for winter consumption. cheaper, healthier and tastier than stupid campbell's slop.
don't make the same mistakes over and over. i make pickles, but do you seen cucumbers anywhere on that chart? squash, pumpkins, and cukes need a lot of room, and i don't have that. after my cukes overgrew their area last year i decided to stick to more decorous plants.

do grow organically. your body, your wallet and your planet will thank you. it's not that hard, honestly.
don't grow unorganically. i'm serious about this, folks. those chemicals are literally toxic. you really don't need them.

do have fun
don't make it a chore - gardening is meant to be exercise, a source of cheap, healthy food, and relaxing. if something goes wrong, that's ok. learn from it and move on. there's always next year.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

for the love of winning

i'm entering a contest here. you should, too.

how to be a square and a heel

i'm not happy with the socks i'm making. these are my reasons.

the foot of the sock is really narrow. i have high arches and suspect that these socks won't fit around my feet comfortably. i'm not making them for me, but i don't think they'll fit anyone. they're pretty, though.

i'm trying out a new heel. it's a bitch. first i did it wrong and it looked like this:
see the little flap on the right side of the needles? that's supposed to be the heel. do you know anyone with a flat, tapering growth on the back of their heel?
this shows the growth better. it looks like something vaguely obscene to me. a sock's private part. anyways, i tore it out. i hate undoing what i've knit, normally i just keep going and live with a flawed knit object. but this particular flaw would make the sock unwearable. i heaved a sigh and tore it out.

after the first heel i followed the instructions religiously. there was no way i was going to redo these babies more than once. but the pattern (lifestyle toe-up instructions) betrayed me. see, socks are supposed to have a gusset to make them foot-shaped. a triangle of fabric that helps them fit better. (it's the lightened part of the purple sock) the peach sock is more like a 90 degree angle in a pipe. now look at your foot. does it look like a pipe elbow to you? yes? i've got some socks for you!
so i'll finish the socks, because i can't not finish, but i'm not using the toe-up method again. not until these instructions apologze and make amends.

i hope the intended recipient has bizarrely shaped feet she's never told me about.


in other news, my non-condom hat is progressing. i like the colour and the texture and all that. but my friend pointed out yesterday that i have a green coat, green boots and i often wear green pants. now i feel torn about my cool green hat. maybe i should branch out a little, colour-wise.

anyways, i had an idea, inspired by this from craft:. it's headphones built into headwear. personally, i hate trying to keep my earbuds in my ears when i'm wearing a toque. they only stay if i hold very still. annoying. this hat will have earflaps and be lined with microfleece, with an old pair of headphones built in. the wire can go inside the cord that dangles from an earflap. what could be better?

off to a protest then for some food. have a great day, peeps!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

about a boy (or two)

this morning i'm really frustrated with my kids, so i'm going to ignore them while i post positive things about them. when my attitude has been improved by all this positivity i'll go interact with them again and hopefully not want to kill them any more.
(just so you know, they're merrily munching chunks of cheddar cheese while i sit and stare at this screen. they aren't starting fires or harming each other at the moment)

lately my boys have been blossoming, creatively. the baby has started being interested in drawing, the boy has been making up stories, and both of them are brimming over with silliness. for example, a few days ago the boy told me that his feet can't cry because they don't have eyes or a mouth. out came the jiffy marker, then out came the camera. the kids spent the rest of the day making their feet interact. (the boy wanted sad feet so i made the baby's feet happy to balance things out)

they've both been really into playing pretend, these days. my boy didn't play pretend when he was 1.5, but he didn't have a big brother to imitate and emulate. they are most frequently jedi, sith, spidermen or supermen, but they also become gollums, treebeards, puppies, trains, tiggers... yeah. they pretend a lot. and they're really into costumes. they have a variety of cool hats, and a couple of masks. today they were the dark knight and a panda.

they don't actually play in the masks, since they can't see anything, but that's better for me. i only ever get blurry shots when they're jumping around with invisible lightsabers, fighting the forces of evil. (or good)

in case this post wasn't cute enough for you, my boy came up to me after breakfast and said,

"jar jar binks is in a movie, not some peoples' boobs"

i asked him to repeat himself a few times to make sure he'd really said something so incredibly random, and yes, that's what he said. so in case you're wondering....

"jar jar binks is in a movie, not some peoples' boobs"


i want some better code names for my sons. i can't keep blogging about 'the boy' and 'they baby', since the baby is almost done with babyhood and often does some very boylike things. i could call them 'the monkey' and 'the puppy', but i think cute animal comparisons are overdone, when it comes to little kids. i could use their initals (jad and ez-d) or... ideas?

ok, i'm ready to go play nice.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

making everything except news. and babies. and some other stuff.

things have been pretty business-as-usual around here. we've stayed holed up at home as much as possible, given the ridiculous cold outside.
i'm planning a trip to toronto with the kids in april and so am already scheming what to get at ikea. it's an illness, i can't help it.
my baby has been singing the star wars theme song (very off key and off tune, unbearably cute) and is obsessed with yoda. we only have one book with a picture of yoda, so he carries it around with him all the time, open to the page with his hero, and crows 'yaya! yaya!'. i want to bottle up his sweetness and keep it forever.

i forgot to post about it at the time, but in december i made this cape for my boy's friend's birthday. i'm pretty pleased with it. it's a cut up t shirt, with the star made out of old jeans. so it's 99% recycled materials. (the 1% is the embroidery thread. i'm not that hardcore)
my son has one of these and he loves it. he wears it all the time. they're so simple to make, and bring such joy to little people. i am definitley a fan of the diy cape.
the cape is being modeled by my baby, who, as of last night, is nightweaning. it's either that or get him a cow to sleep under so he can drink all night. i'm not willing to be his night cow any longer. the kid plays hard all day and goes to bed starved, and so nurses all night. he's 18 months old. old enough to eat during the day and let his mama sleep at night. he is firmly anti-nightweaning. he's made his opinion known. he expressed it all night last night and i'm sure he will again tonight. we'll probably have a desperately miserable week, but then much, much better sleep after that. until he gets a cold and i feel bad for him and so nurse him at night and we have to re-nightwean him. seriously, it never ends. never.

warning: this is not a giant wool condom, no matter what kara tells you. that is not a reservoir tip. it will not prevent pregnancy or sti's. please do not attempt intercourse with it.
actually, i'm making myself a hat. the lace socks, while fabulous looking, have gotten tedious so i decided to break it up with a quick, easy project. i don't much like my current toque (americans call them beanies or watchcaps. i'm not american) so i'm making one with this beautiful green yarn. it will have earflaps. i might even line it with microfleece, depending. i hate sewing, but added warmth is welcome when the forecast is for -55 tomorrow.

for dinner tonight we had my incredible, famous, delicious spicy orange tofu. it's my favourite way to cook tofu and no matter how much i make there are never leftovers. and you're in luck, i'm going to share the recipe.

phenomenal spicy orange tofu
1. start your rice cooking. use 1/2 water and 1/2 orange juice if you want it to be extra delicious. use all the spices listed below if you want to fall over with pleasure when you eat your meal.

2. chop a block of drained tofu into bite sized pieces. rabbit or chicken work well with this, too, i guess, but then you'd have to change the name, and that might get complicated. it's best to stick to tofu. anyways, saute the tofu (or whatever) in some oil, with garlic and/or onions if you're so inclined.

3. while the tofu becomes golden and delicious (or the meat cooks, i guess, you bloodthirsty carnivore) mix together
  • 2/3 cups of orange juice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt
  • cayenne (if kids and wimps are eating this limit yourself to 1/4 tsp of cayenne, if you're making it for me use at least 1 tsp, preferrably more)
  • chopped veggies (whatever you have around. today i had nothing in the fridge so i used frozen peas, carrots & corn, and that was fine) (beets do not taste good in this meal)
4. when the tofu is perfectly cooked pour in the juice & spice & veggie over the tofu, and stir until everything is nicely mixed. cover it and let it simmer for a bit, stirring every now and then.
5. take the lid off when the tofu has soaked up the sauce. let it simmer for another minute or two, just to thicken it.
6. serve with the rice.