Sunday, October 26, 2014

Weekend Project: Fruit Crate Shelf

Friday afternoon I wandered into Zoe's Store on 14th, a great little thrift store, always full on inspiration, and picked up a simple wooden fruit or veggie crate for $12. (They had a sturdier 25 dollar option, but I thought this ricketier one had more charm).

Since shabby chic is all the rage right now, you can find thousands of ideas for what to do with these crates on Pinterest. I thought to make a shelf  out of mine.

Coming to me as is though, meant it needed some work.

I pulled out some old nails, and added some new ones.

Gave it a serious scrubbing (the clear water in the pail was practically mud by the time I was through.

I resisted the temptation to paint it, wanting to salvage the original labeling on top.

And instead gave the inside a coat of a deep mahogany stain (two in one stain and polyurethane sealant).

Added some brackets for easy hanging and threw it up on the wall.

Furnished it with an ikea lantern, and a pair of milk bottles, not to mention some fresh fruit, and there you have it, a quick and easy weekend project in the bag!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Namasaturday 02: Late night mental yoga.

My favourite part my yoga practice is taking savasana at the end. After an hour and 15 of focussing on my breath as I move through each posture, savasana is the clearest my mind ever is. So peaceful.

Thursday night I was woken up by my cell phone ringing with some unfortunate news, and afterwards I thought there'd be no way to hush the noise in my head and fall back asleep afterwards. I thought to myself that I needed the peace of savasana, but wasn't about to hop out of bed to run through some sun salutations. So instead I tried some mental yoga instead.

First I chanted (with my thoughts) the opening chant to the Ashtanga Practice. And then I began to do sun salutations. Counting my breath, and visualizing the movements.

Inhale, hands go up.
Exhale, fold forward.
Inhale, chest and eyes look up.
Exhale, jump back, chaturanga.
Inhale, up dog.
Exhale down dog.
Take five long breaths.
At the end of your exhale, bend your knees and look forward.
Inhale, jump forward look up.
Exhale, bend forward.
Inhale, hands go up.
Exhale, samasthiti.

Going through these mental sun salutations calmed both my body and my mind. Eventually I was able to get some sleep.

Today is a reminder that yoga is available to you both on and off the mat. Even if you have not physically practiced in a few days.

And with that I'll leave you with the translation of the ashtange closing chant, the words of which seem particularly appropirate with everything going on in the world these days.

May all be well with mankind.
May the leaders of the earth protect it in every way by keeping to the right path.

May there be goodness for those who know the earth is sacred.
May all the worlds be happy.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Thank God for Cats on the Internet!

Sometimes you just need something to make you smile.

Or to help you get through Friday and make it to the weekend.

Or to do both.

Good Mythical Morning (on YouTube) drew my attention over to just now. And I can't click away, or do I want to.

It's basically a website that loads a random GIF of a cat, set to music. And it's different every time you reload. And they are all purrfection (see what I did there?).
 So click on over to the webiste and enjoy. Then go and hug someone you love today. Have a happy Friday!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I'm about to go over to the dark side.

I am on my way out the door to get my very own Costco membership. And it makes me want to die a little inside.On the other hand, I can't wait to come home with a lifetime supply of pickles, and devour them in less than a month.

Hopefully by waiting until after dinner it won't be a zoo?

Who am I kidding, it's going to be rediculous, at least Kevin is coming for emotional support.

Some other things that happened today.

1)For the 3rd time this week I spooned jam onto my toast, then washed the spoon before spreading the jam.

2) I started reading Grace's Guide Book (the art of pretending to be a grown up) and love!

3) I bought this for a couple of bucks.... I can feel a weekend project coming on!

That's all for now, Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Crochet Corner: Floor Cushion

When I have to start new things (and I'm procrastinating on them) I sometimes find a related task I like better, to do first. For instance to work on writing project for school, I certainly didn't decide I needed a new work area and then spend a day wandering ikea and assembling a desk and lamp. I mean that doesn't sound like me.

So as part of my goal of leading a more yogic life style, I decided I should give meditation a try. Which of course means I need a cozy floor cushion to sit on while I do it. So naturally that means a whole new crochet project (and not actual time spend meditating yet).

So here's the finished product.

And here's the pattern.

Solid round bottom side (12 rounds):
Round 1: Using a super bulky weight yarn in main colour, and a 6.5mm (K) hook, chain 4 and then make 11 DC into fourth chain from hook (12 DCs)
Round 2: 2 DC into each DC (24 DCs)
Round 3: *1 DC into first DC, 2DC into next DC* repeat around 12 times (36 DCs)
Round 4: *1DC into each of first 2 DC, 2DC into next DC* repeat around 12 times (48 DCs)

Continue in this manner, increasing by 12DCs evenly around, until you have completed 12 rounds (144 DCs)

Sides of cushion (3 rounds):
On next round, 1DC into each DC all of the way around, working only into back loop of the previous round (round 12 of the flat bottom circle). This will create a square edge between bottom circle and sides.
Next round, 1DC into each DC all of the way around, working now into both loops (normally).
Repeat previous row.

Top of cushion (12 rounds):
Round 1: *1 DC into each of next 10 DCs, then DC2tog* Repeat around 12 times (132DCs) working into back loops only of previous row (to create a square edge between top circle and sides.)
Round 2: *1DC into each of next 9 DCs, then DC2tog* Repeat around 12 times (120DCs) working into both loops of previous round as normal.
Round 3 *1DC into each of next 8 DCs, the DC2tog* Repeat around 12 times (108DCs).

Continue in this manner decreasing 12DCs evenly around, until round 11.

Stuff your cushion full of fiberfill... I used nearly an entire large bag.

Round 11: DC2tog 12 times around.
Round 12: 12 DCs.
Bind off yarn and sew the hole in the center, pulling 8 DCs of previous round tight.

Colour pattern: I did rounds 1,2,11 and 12 in the main colour, rounds 3,4&5 in blue, 6,7&8 in green and 9&10 in purple colours.

 The two rows that were worked only in the back loop can now be worked  in the front rows to add a decorative trim, which also helps define the shap of the cushion.
With second colour (worsted weight yarn) and 5mm (H) hook, 1SC into front loops only of each DC in these rows. (Row 12 bottom and row 3 sides).

Overall this cushion was super easy to make, help me to use up yarn from my stash and is super comfy to sit on.

One great tip, if you don't have any Super Bulky (size 6) yarn around, you can mix and match yarns together, for the blue and the green stripes I held a size 4 and size 2 yarn together. For the purple stripe I held a 3, 2 and 1 together. Doing this for the whole cushion would really burn through your yarn stash, and creates a great tweed look!

Reverse side (in the magazine you can see the blanket I'm also working on right now)

What yarn projects are you working on lately?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Namas-Saturday....get it? It's a yoga pun.

Since July I've been practicing Ashtanga Yoga as close to every day as possible. And I've made some huge strides. In addition it's becoming an essential part of my daily life and mental health. Because let's be honest, Grad School is notoriously horrible for your mental health. You can read a shocking article on the subject by Science Careers, reporting that nearly 60% of all graduate students self report mental health issues. And I am most certainly one of the 60%, especially this time of year when daylight hours in Calgary inevitably overlap with lab hours.

So as a preventative measure before winter sets in, here's to yoga!

This morning I attended Dana Blonde's Ashtagna Level 1-2 class at 10am at the Yoga Shala here in Calgary. And here are some things about that:

  1. I hate morning yoga, those first forward bends during sun salutations, oh the toes seem so far away, I really need a couple hours of moving around to loosen my legs up.
  2. Especially because yesterday I did not practice asanas, instead I attended a Yoga Philosophy class at the Yoga Studio North, by Anne Douglas, and sat on the world's second most uncomfortable chair for two hours and took notes. (I had previously sat on the world's  first most uncomfortable chair the last time I attended a workshop at the Yoga Studio North, and arrived early this time to avoid that situation)
  3. So at yoga this morning I chanted this mantra in my brain during my sun salutations "Don't Notice Me, Don't Notice Me, Don't Notice Me" hoping to avoid Dana's attention for an adjustment. Hoping to have a easy class of it.
  4. I figured I could get away with it, sure my mat was located right at the front of the room, but come on, it was a full house, so maybe I'd get lucky.
  5. NOOOPPPE the mantra did not pay off. She decided to 'assist' me in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana or the balancing posture where you hold you leg up by your big toe.
  6. And let me tell you, the assist just makes you work your but off, my quads were screaming by the time we got to part C.
  7. On the other hand, I felt hugely empowered and impressed to have had my leg held way higher in the air than normally, and smiled (while gritting my teeth) through the whole thing.
  8. During the seated postures I made a literal huge jump forward today, I managed to jump directly through from downward dog to seating, in one motion, keeping my hands planted, about half the time. A feat which I have previously only managed once or twice, and has been a mini goal lately. I guess after being forced (forced is a strong word, but yeah) to work harder than my lazy brain wanted to during those balancing postures I committed to working extra hard throughout, and it totally paid off. Thank you Dana.
  9. We then took some time to explore some postures from the begining of the seond series, which was great, especially because we skipped Navasana while we were at it.
  10. Then poof! I guess it was karmic payback for my earlier ill intentioned mantra, but I got spotted for an assist again, this time working through the shoulder stand sequence. But it was a great assist, because even tho I thought for sure I would fall the second my elbows came off the ground to get into Urdhva Padmasana, or flying lotus pose, I was well supported and it was great.
So that was my yoga today, an unexpectedly great way to end a very full week, and I walked out of the studio feeling so full of goodness.

In other news, the September issue (I think) of Yoga Journal recommended the book Going Om, which is a collection of short stories by yogis who are also writers; and I picked it up last night. I can't wait to curl up with it tonight, it features some authors I've previously enjoyed (Cheryl Strayed and Suzanne Morrison).

Any how, since yoga is such an important thing for me lately, I'm going to be writing about it here every Saturday in a post series titled Namas-Saturday. (Namaste.... get it?) so now you have that to look forward to!


Memebox Superbox #45 korea's Most Wanted

Yeah free things from the internet!

Every so often (really and truly infrequently) I get free things in the mail from the internet. And it legitimizes me as a blogger. And sometimes they arrive when I'm way to busy to blog about them (which immediately takes away the sense that I am actually a blogger...whatever that is).

This time, the box arrived, and I opened it up and took pictures....and well I haven't tried anything yet, but we'll get to that.

So thank you to 20something Bloggers and Memebox for sending this perk my way!

So I've never had a subscription box before, but I know they are pretty much a thing now. Unfortunately usually when I think I want one, they don't ship to Canada. So apart from knowing that memebox was a beauty subscription box, I didn't have any other expectations.

It arrived in a sweet pink box, which, since I hoard things like boxes I will probably keep... and will maybe upcycle it or something. So for the box alone, excited!

Inside it was packed full of beauty products, and I do mean full, only a single piece of tissue paper for padding. All of the products are from Korea, so that's fun too, except for this:

Some of the products claim to be "Dermatological test completion" which I know is probably just an unfortunate google translation thing, but since I have admittedly sensitive skin, means I'll be doing text patches with all of them. The above product is some sort of skin bio-cellulos soothing patch, recommended for sun burns... so I'll be taking these to Mexico with me next month (box came with 5).

 The box also came with a Shara Shara Tinted Style lip gloss (suuuper pink!), a Pure Skin overnight mask (suuuuper lemony), some Hope Girl Nail Polish (all clear coats with gold sparkles) and a Blithe Patting Water Pack (whatever that is).

And finally a Makeup Helper compact, which is a little bit light, and pretty heavily scented for a powder, but it has a sweet mirror, and so I'll get a lot of use out of that at least.

So there you have it. I'll update this post as I try these products, and although you can tell why I'm not a beauty blogger (I mean most days I don't wear any makeup at all, much to my mother's dismay), it was fun to get some new beauty products to try out!

What subscription boxes have you tried out? Any favourites that come up North?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blog Purge: to unfollow or not to unfollow

Tonight I went to add another blog to my reading list in Blogger, only to recieve a notification that I could not follow any more blogs, and to please delete some.

So it was time for a Blog Purge

I've been blogging for years now. So some of the blogs on the old follow list have been there for years. And as I clicked through them, I found that some of them hadn't posted anything in 3 or more years. Clearly they could be let go.

It's not that I had been holding on to them all this time, it's just that they have been out of site out of mind, if they don't post, they don't show up in the reading pane, and you eventually forget they exist.

Unfortunately when I clicked the little gear wheel to manage my reading subscriptions, it just wouldn't load (probably a result of following too many blogs). So I thought about other ways I could go about following the blogs I want, and purging the ones that were not longer active (or interesting to me).

In the past I had tried following blogs through RSS feeds, or though bloglovin or google+. There are some I follow through twitter more or less, and others that I follow through 20sb, but I have always loved having the reading list right in blogger.

With that reading list failing me now, I thought I'd go unessesarily old school with things, and just create a word document full of links, and organize the blogs into categories like: Bloggers, Canadian Bloggers, Knitting and Crochet, Inspiration, Health and Fitness, Food, Fashion... etc. And just give that a try for now.

In the mean time, how do you follow peoples blogs? Leave me a comment to let me know how, and I'll add you to my word document!

Thanksgiving Dinner in 4 Hours

It's Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada, and Kevin and I celebrated with a break in our very busy schedules by roasting up a chicken along with all the good side dishes you could want. Like I said tho, very busy (I was in the lab all day today, and all morning yesterday and Saturday, but such is grad school), so I blocked off one afternoon to do an entire Thanks giving dinner for the two of us.

Here's how:

Shopping list:

-1 whole (fresh not frozen) chicken
-1 acorn squash
-2 large potatoes
-2 sweet potatoes
-1 bunch of celery
-1 onion
-1 pack fresh cranberries
-5 mushrooms
-2 boxes of stove top stuffing
-1 packet of instant turkey gravy
-1 can cranberry sauce
-2 heads of garlic
-1 bunch of asparagus
-pack of fresh baked dinner rolls
-1 bottle of red wine
-1 pecan pie
-1 tub of hagen das


2:00 Preheat oven to 350', cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds/pulp

2:20 Bake squash face down, mean while cut the tops of one head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tin foil and put in oven
 2:50 Take Squash out, flip over, put 1tbsp brown sugar and 1tbsp butter into each half, put back into oven

3:00 Remove garlic from oven, spoon cloves out into bowl and mash with fork, add 1/2 softened butter, and chicken seasoning herbs, mash together (this is your chicken rub).

 3:10 Spoon the rub into space between chicken skin and breast, and rub liberally over outside of chicken. Place half an onion and some cloves of garlic into the chicken body cavity. Put four celery stalks on the bottom of your roasting pan, and some more garlic cloves. Add 1 cup of water and sit chicken on top of the celery.
 3:20 Remove squash from oven, and turn oven up to 375'. Once squash has cooled, scoop out from shell into bowl (along with buttery goodness from center of squash) and mash together with a fork.

 3:30 Put your chicken into the oven, cover with a tin foil tent.
 3:50 Peel your potatoes
 At this point things got busy, and I forgot to take any more picture of the process.

4:10 Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Chop your potatoes into medium sized chunks.
4:20 Add potatoes to boiling water.
4:30 check on your chicken, add more liquid if needed.
4:35 Chop one half onion, remainder of celery and mushrooms
4:50 Drain potatoes, add 1/3 cup of butter, 1/2 cup milk, 2tbsp minced garlic and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, mash together, transfer into serving pan, and garnish top with Parmesan cheese
5:10 remove chicken from oven, pour juices into a sauce pan for gravy
5:20 Spread asparagus onto to baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, garlic and parmesan, put asparagus and potatoes in the oven
5:30 Saute celery, onions and mushrooms in a large pot until soft, on second burner, heat chicken juices and adding enough water to bring volume up to 1 cup, stir in gravy packet when boiling
5:40 add cranberries and 2 cups water, cover (they will splatter when they burst), remove asparagus and potatoes from oven
5:50 stir in stove top stuffing, remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes, fluff with fork and serve
6:00 Serve everything to the table, sit down and enjoy

So there you have it, an entire thanksgiving dinner in 4 hours, in one tiny apartment kitchen. You could adapt the timeline to accommodate a turkey (if it's a smaller one), but the chicken done this way was great (especially for just the two of us). After dinner we packed up lunches for the next three days each, because really the best part about a turkey dinner is the leftovers.

What did you cook up this weekend? Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pulled Pork for the People

I have to admit, Kevin and I were in Wendy's last weekend, and we looked at the pictures of the pulled pork sandwiches and thought "no way".

But that was before I saw this video.

It was one of the pre-roll ads on YouTube (I think before Good Mythical Morning earlier this week) and it was the kind with the option to skip the ad after the first 5 seconds. But I couldn't hit skip, I had to keep watching. May it was Stone Cold (who just didn't get the career break the Rock did), maybe it was the line about Calgary and Toronto, but likely it was the whole thing.

This is one of the best ads I've seen in a long time, and I just had to share it with you all. Will it make me go out and buy pulled pork at Wendy's, probably not, but it did make me smile.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Books to Read: Lev Grossman's The Magicians

I am a book junkie.

I think we've established this here on my blog.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my dad reading to me before bed, particularly the books: Charlet's Web, The Secret Garden, The Boy Next Door and this big old 365 days of fairy tales book.

By the time I was in grade three I was hooked on the Hobbit and Narnia. Later came the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Heralds of Valdemar.

Today my own personal library (and I think I have to call it library and not just collection) is well over 300 books.

This past week, I crushed another 3 (one of them in the last 24hours).

They are Lev Grossman's

The Magicians
The Magician King
The Magician's Land

They drew me right in, and wouldn't let me go until I finished them.

So why did I start this book review off by telling you about my favourite childhood books? Because if you are going to read these books, you need to have read and loved The Chronicals of Narnia and Harry Potter. Lev Grossman pulls these two worlds together and drops the mal adjusted Quentin Coldwater into them.

Quentin grew up reading the Fillory books (basically a twist on Narnia) and when, midway through his last year of highschool, he is accepted into North America's only magic school, Brakebills; he feels like he has finally found his own Fillory adventure.

However magic isn't the solution to happiness, and when, after 4 years of hard studying Quentin and friends graduate into the real world. They quickly find themselves throwing their lives away into drugs, alcohol and debauchery. Things are getting pretty bleak until they find a way into Fillory, which turns out to be real after all and more importantly, not as happy and wonderful as the children's books made it out to be.

Over the three books, with Quentin at the lead, Grossman explores what it means to find happiness and purpose in life and what people will sacrifice in the pursuit of it. This is Harry Potter and Narnia's dark and twisty and grimy older sibling. And if you've ever found yourself wishing you could escape your life and run off on a magical adventure, these books are for you.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

20sb Cooking Challenge: Pumpkin all the things!!!

So I have a confession to make.

I don't really care for pumpkin. Or Pumpkin Pie, or Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Or PSL.

So of course Jenna's video from a week or so ago cracked me up (language/NSFW!).

But the 20something blogger cooking challenge this month was to cook something savory with pumpkin.

So here are my Pumpkin Ricotta Ravioli with Maple Butter Walnut Sauce. (we had to keep it to 10 ingredients or less).

1 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs (used in 3 places)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 crushed walnuts

Step 1: the Pasta

Put 1 cup of flour, 1 egg and 1tbsp of olive oil into a bowl.

Kneed it together with your hands until it just holds. Dryer is better. And if it's still lumpy, that's ok, it'll come together when you roll it out.

Cut dough into four pieces and get your pasta machine out.

 Roll the past out into sheets on the thinnest setting.  And set aside, covered.

Step 2: The filling.

In a bowl mix 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree with one egg, 1 half cup of drained ricotta cheese (drier is better), 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Mix together until smooth.

Get ready to assemble. You can do it without the ravioli mold, but definitely invest in one (for like 10 bucks) because it saves so much time. You'll need the egg white from the 3rd egg as well.

You can read my post over here all about making ravioli,. Each one gets about 1 tsp of filling.

Throw them on a plate while you get the water boiling. They can go directly into bioling water, and take about 4 minutes to cook (they should be floating easily).

Step 3: The Sauce!

That's right, start with a heaping chunk of butter. 4tbsp, in a pan on medium heat. You can make the sauce while you bring the water to a boil and cook the ravs.

Add in a quarter cup of maple syrup and a half cup of crushed walnuts. Cook on medium, stirring frequently until the sauce turns a nice brown.

Multi task like a champ, and when everything is good to go you can serve them up one of two ways.

First option. Toss drained ravs with some of the sauce and serve, for maple buttery goodness.

Option two: throw the drained ravs right into the pan with the still cooking sauce and let them crispy fry in the butter sauce. Then serve.

There you have it, basically autumn on a plate. Enjoy!