Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Couscous Creations

I like to pack my lunch for work. Not only does it save money, but it is also healthier....since I know exactly what I'm eating. Sometimes, it's a mad dash in the morning, to get my lunch packed before I am late for the bus.

One quick, easy and eco-conscious thing I've been doing the past few weeks is packing lil' couscous cups. I pour a little over 1/4 of a cup of golden couscous into a small glass bowl (the one-cup bowls I have are great because they have the measurements right on the side, and they even have a nice, tight cover). Then I add spices to my liking. Today, it was a curry powder with a smidge of salt-free lemon seasoning. But really, you could really use anything that strikes your fancy....even just a lil' S&P! Throw the cover on and Voila! Lunch is prepared. When it's time to eat, I fill with hot water, just below the one cup mark (you can fill with hot water from the coffee maker or throw the whole thing in the microwave).

The great thing about these little couscous cups, is since they are packed with all dry ingredients, they don't have to be used right away. You could even pack enough for the whole week, in different varieties, and keep right in your desk. Next on my agenda is a breakfast couscous, seasoned with cinnamon, currants and a tad of brown sugar!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I inherited my wedding band from my mother, who inherited it from my grandmother. It is quite a unique ring. I love it, in and of itself. I love it even more because it is a family heirloom. And I think I love it even more still, because of how it came into my possession.

Darren and I did not have a traditional wedding. Like many things in our life, it was rather unconventional. We eloped. To Wyoming. With him being an avid skiier, and me a snowboarder, the height of a killer ski season in Jackson Hole seemed like the perfect time and place to tie the knot. Before our wedding, I had not given much thought to what I would wear as a band. I just knew that flashy, simply was not me. I have never been a fan of sparkly jewelery, so diamonds were not even an option. As the date drew near, and I remained ringless, I was not in the least bit concerned. If I had no wedding ring at all, I would not be bothered. Whatever would happen, would happen.

Now understand that nobody knew about our plans to wed. Nobody! It was kept top secret, for a few reasons. . .mainly to keep things simple. My mother had been staying with us for a few days prior to our departure. She would be helping with Emma (12 years old at the time) while we were away. The morning before we were leaving for Wyoming, my mother approached me in the kitchen. She looked me square in the eyes and said that she didn't know why this was happening, but she had to give me my grandmother's wedding ring. I was stunned. She had worn this band along with her own grandmother's wedding band for years, but now here it was in my own hands! She told me that my grandmother had come to her in a dream the night before, and told her to give this wedding band to me. How about that?! This story still gives me goosebumps every time I tell it. And the rest is history...

I imagine this ring is at least 100 years old. Stamped only "14K" on the inside, it is mostly white gold, with a yellow gold edging, and the most darling star engraving trailing it's way around the entire ring. I've done a bit of research to try to track down information on the history of the style or this particular design. I haven't found much of anything. But it really doesn't matter. This ring has it's own history, and it is a history that I am a part of. I can remember, as a young girl, my grandmother wearing this band. She is standing at her kitchen counter, chopping onions for my tuna fish sandwich -- which is how I always used to eat them. She has a hanky tucked up the sleeve of her beige cardigan sweater -- that is where she always used to keep them. I get many compliments on my ring. It is very special afterall. But more importantly, I get many flashbacks from time to time, upon glancing at my hand. Little snipits of my life, a lifetime ago. This ring is a living piece of my personal history and my family's heritage. And it sits right here on my very own finger!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Perfect Bag (for me)

I believe I have found the perfect bag. For me, that is. 

I've had this bag for about six months, so I've been able to take it for a good test spin. It is the KEEN Irving bag (check it out here!)! Made of 100% reclaimed shopping bags and rice bags. (There is even an inside "pocket" that is made out of a hunk of water bottle!) Not only super Eco-Friendly, this commuter bag is sturdy and large, with enough compartments to keep the contents all in order. Hallelujah! Who isn't tired of giant bags with one large compartment in which your stuff just mixes, mingles and flops around? Without fail, this bag neatly transports everything I need for a day at the office. . . and the bus ride there and back!

Now, the colours may seem garish. And they are. But I had no choice. Because these bags are made from repurposed shopping bags, when purchasing online, you never know what you're going to get. And pink is one of my least favourite colours. But I can't tell you how many compliments I get on this bag. And the colour is growing on me. Sort of.
Don't get me wrong. This thing is big. I don't know how many times, I've had to excuse my bag, when walking in crowds. But I've gotten used to the gianormous size. Sort of. This has become the only bag I carry. I am able to multi-purpose it as my diaper bag. When taking Otto out for a jaunt, out comes laptop and papers, and in goes diapers and bottles. The many compartments are actually quite perfect for serving this purpose. Pockets that hold my Kindle during the week, are holding Otto's favourite rattle, Eloise, on the weekend!

So you may be asking yourself. . .  Linda, what's in your Irving right now? Well, the current contents are: laptop & sleeve, Nalgene bottle, commuter coffee mug, two stainless steel lunch tins, umbrella, grapefruit, project knitting bag, wallet, 2 scissors, bus pass, 3 pens, 2 notebooks, roll of drawings, Kindle, crossword book, sunglasses, iPhone, hand lotion and Burt's Bees chapstick.

As the start of my Project 333 draws near, I am seriously considering the 33 items that will accompany me. And after a good 6 month trial period, I am certain that *this* will be my one, my only . .. .my bag for the long haul! :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fond Farewell

Today, I began the hardcore purging, in preparation for my Project 333. Tons and tons and tons of clothes are being done away with. I was having a hard time dropping my premium goodies into a cold and dark Goodwill box, so I offered them up for grabs on my Facebook page. It seems that might have drummed up interest. . . we'll see.

When you read other people's experience with Project 333, you read about the emotional attachment we all have to our clothes (and to "stuff" in general, I suppose). How true it is! Today, I found myself trying on some old things that just didn't look good on me. Yet, for some reason, I was trying to tuck them away as a potential candidate for Phase 2. ....what? Once I realized I was doing this, the purging became easier, and I began to try to figure out why I was attached to a particular item. Interesting!

So I am proud to say, here is a sampling of a few of my favourites, to which I was brave enough to finally bid a fond farewell today.

1. Paisley Skirt: I designed and sewed this skirt myself. I am certain that therein lies the reason for my attachment to it. I mean. . is it really all that pretty? Emma calls it my "sofa skirt". Ha! A unique design for sure, but it is time to say goodbye.

2. Vintage Strawberry Dress: A Goodwill find of mine from several years ago. I paid $3.50 for it, and I would receive many comments on it, each and every time I wore it! (I am starting to see why.) Don't get me wrong, I still think it is adorable, especially with white platform sandals. Perhaps better suited for someone 20 years my junior, so back into the Goodwill vortex you go!

3. Patchwork Plaid Skirt by American Eagle: Still love a good patchwork plaid, but once I got honest with myself today, I could see how unflattering the cut of this skirt really is on me. I think I can find more constructive ways to get in touch with my inner prep.

So, goodbye to a few of my favourites from days past. You each have served me well. But, alas, it is time for me to move on.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pure & Natural: Homemade Baby Food

Three months ago, when we got the word from Otto's pediatrician that we could start him on solid food, there wasn't a doubt in our minds that we would make our own. And our pediatrician was very pleased with our decision. Not only would we be feeding Otto the most natural way, but he also told us manufactured food can cost upwards of $8.00/lb...and that's not even organic!

Three months later, I can't imagine feeding Otto any other way. My mother had given us a bullet blender, which has a special grinding blade. The appliance itself is so tiny and cute...perfect size for churning out micro batches of baby food! Not only do we know exactly what's in our baby food, but we can customize the texture for our new lil' eater. And while I purchased some fancy glass 1-cup containers with lids, my favourite method of storage is old fashioned Bell jelly jars with twisty tops. The perfect system.

Fresh batch of butternut squash . . .ready for Otto!
Otto couldn't be happier. There's not a single food he's tried, that he hasn't loved. Here's the current ongoing list of Otto's foods:

** butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, spinach, zucchini, mangos, nectarines, green peas, string beans, peaches, asparagus **

We follow the four day rule, to test for allergies (introduce a new food, then wait four days for an allergic reaction before introducing the next new food). So his list is still growing! Although I'm not sure if we'll see meat on there anytime soon. I am a vegetarian, and as for Otto...well he's still on the fence.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Project 333. . . perhaps?

I have been mulling this over for awhile, and finally have decided to take the plunge and begin my own journey with Project 333. At the very surface, Project 333 is an exercise in minimizing your closet:

"A small collection of 33 items, including clothing, outerwear, shoes, accessories & jewelry, built for use during a 3 month period."

The brainchild of Courtney Carver, the Project has gained quite the following. I heard about it from (and was inspired by) my friend Beverly. I would read her Facebook posts about this "P333 thing" and how it was transforming her life. Then one morning, as I was trying to get ready for work, I sat peering inside my closet for the longest time. I was befuzzled! I have hanger after hanger after hanger of garments, yet I couldn't find a single thing to wear. Forty five minutes went by, and I finally settled on a pair of black pants, and a black 3/4 sleeve shirt. (Wow! How creative!) I was so frustrated that it had taken me so long to get dressed that day, that I almost missed my bus into work! And then I remembered Beverly's P333. Ah, yes. Project 333.

My goal with this project, to summarize with one word, is to simplify.

Beyond that, I want to streamline my morning routine. . .oh, and my life too. Seriously, I don't want to hem and haw on Sunday evening because I have to iron this and that and that and this for the week. And I don't want  to even have to *think* about what I'm going to put on my body when I roll out of bed in the morning. I don't want to be wasteful anymore. I want to use all of the things that I have. Period.

I am excited as I embark on this experience. I have set a start date of 05.01 for myself. I realized only after setting that date, that my Project 333 will straddle a summer beach vacation. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to work that into my 33 items, but I'm figuring out. Now it is time to set the wheels in motion. I need to begin purging my closets and drawers. If it is ill-fitting, or the wrong colour, or the wrong cut, or if I just don't like it, it has to go. This "cleaning house" needs to happen before I can sit down and really try to orchestrate my magical 33 -- those 33 lil' things that will carry me through 3 months.

To learn more about Project 333, be sure to visit the website:
Project 333 | experiments in living with less

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Like Birds!

In the words of the great Eels. . . "I Like Birds"!

I really, truly do. Not sure what it is about them. I got my first Sibley's about three years ago, and I would just thumb through the pages, looking at the photos and reading about these lil' creatures. I was hooked. And then.. . I went on my first organized bird walk with the Audubon, and I was REALLY hooked. Birdwatching is truly an art. I loved seeing how the old-timers would scan the landscape for birds, standing super still and quiet so they could listen for calls. Now that i think about it . . . I think I like watching the birdwatchers.

I remember my first bird walk. We had paused where the woods opened up to a pond (Great Pond in Simsbury, Connecticut, to be exact). A veteran was standing quietly next to me, scanning the scene. He said he saw something across the pond, that looked just a bit "off". . ."off" enough to get the scope on it. That day, I saw my first Osprey, in the scope! I was amazed. Shortly after, I also saw my first Grackle in the scope. And as far as I was concerned, that was the most sparkliest bird I ever saw. The old timers politely explained that a Grackle was no great shakes; barely a step up from a Crow. I didn't care, that was the prettiest dang bird I ever saw.

And to this day, even knowing what I know about a lot of birds in this world. . . the Grackle is still my favourite bird.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Red Again!!!

I've always coloured my hair. It has been every colour in the natural world (and a few unworldy hues as well)! The colour I have settled on as my favourite, however, is red. Not just any red. . .but the richest, reddest, red of all reds! .....but commit to it, I will not. I get bored too easily. In fact, I was blonde when Otto was born 6 months ago. After his birth, I had tried to achieve my signature red, but with no luck. Why was the same red dye I used to use, turning my hair lilac? . . .and then black?? People told me postpartum hormones messed up my hair, and there was nothing I could do.

Well, this morning, I found an old, old box of Herbal Essence "Disco Inferno". After using hand selected dyes and specific developer volumes from the professional beauty shop for the past 6 months, I figured it would never work. Plus, it was so old, the developer must be defunct. . . .

Well, guess again!
My old red is back :)

My Hairs Through The Yairs ! !!
(...some better than others)

Friday, April 8, 2011

One Grateful Gal

Feeling extremely grateful for my job today. This job market has been especially brutal to the Architectural industry. After being without a job for two years, I know I am lucky to be gainfully employed, and even luckier to be working in a field I still *LOVE* after 10 years!

I may not be involved in so much design these days, but I am digging the technical stuff too. One aspect of Architecture that always appealed to me, is that it is multi-faceted and truly touches upon many disciplines. Hard to be bored and easy to be challenged :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

hello (blog) world!

"I sup­pose the point of pub­lish­ing such a doc­u­ment is to
demon­strate the way in which 
the hours of a day can as satisfactorily
be filled with trivia as with impor­tant events."

I am starting feeling like a blog is mandatory these days. I am noticing that not only are more and more of my friends blogging, but I, myself, am gleaning more and more information from blogs. Huh. How about that! I have been outside of the technological loop this whole time!

Blogs are a curious thing to me.  They make me think about how technology is changing our culture. Through the internet, we now have at our fingertips a plethora of online social networks, podcasts, YouTube videos and yes. . .  blogs. We are becoming much more public with our personal lives. And those of us that participate in this online cultural revolution, are quite aware (call it self-conscious, if you will) of exactly how we project our personal lives. Yup. Admittedly, what we put forth for the world to see, is orchestrated. . .as it should be.

Long gone are the days of a diary with a lock and key, in which you scribble your deepest secrets? I doubt it! But as I embark on my first blog, I would like it to be rooted in honesty. A true chronicle of what is going on in my life. It will be an account of what I find interesting, and will be sparked from those things that are true to me...a genuine extension of me, suitable for public consumption.