Thursday, January 26, 2012

Treasure found

When Mark was cleaning out the cubby recently, he found two dry and dusty envelopes with the address of the house next door, and the name of the War Veteran who lived there, back when these houses were first built. Weathered, stained, and brittle, we opened them carefully, thrilled by this discovery, and found some stamp catalogues, paystubs dated from 1946 through 1949 (he seems to have worked for a Furniture company and made $6.75 per week), life insurance papers (so much more lovely and decorative than now), a broken compact mirror, and a metal bill fold with a 20 dollar Deutschmark.

Not sure how these papers came to be in our crawl space, unless the houses were numbered differently at one time? An enticing mystery for sure. I will discuss with the neighbours.

I have to say, it was quite exciting to stumble upon something from a previous owner (even if he may not have lived in our house), and I would love for some future homeowner to find this and feel the same sense of wonder. It makes me love this little house even more, knowing more about the history in it's old bones. Is there any greater thrill than uncovering long-lost treasures (even if at some point they were just mundane papers)?

2 bottles milk and Whipping cream. Such lovely handwriting! Look at that W! Swoon.

Monday, January 23, 2012

That's right, my friends!

It's Beavertail season, y'all! So bundle up, and get out on the canal for some deep-fried, sugar coated dough!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter forest

Finally, the first snowshoe of the season. So good to be back in the winter forest. Incredible colours on the snow from the late afternoon sun. Peach, mauve, and coral pink! The thick blanket of snow muffling summertime sounds, allowing me to hear the flapping of the Pileated Woodpecker's wing-beats as he passed overhead. Just a brief moment, but a magically expansive one. A perfect day out, topped off with an owl sighting on the way home. Life is good. Even when it's minus 20.

B+A #003: $2 makeover

A simple refresh for this antique sewing table found at a flea market for $20 a few years ago. It coated well, but I put on two coats anyway, to make it nice and thick, which used about half of one of these handy test pots. 

Also, if you're curious about the name, as I was, Araucana is a type of chicken, whose eggs are a lovely sea-foamy colour.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Every cloud...

... (and leaf, and tendril, and telephone pole) has a silver lining.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The first skate of the season

After finding out that a section of the canal is now open (from Pretoria to Bank), Mark and I jumped at the opportunity to get out on the ice last night, even though it was bitingly cold, and though it is a bit scary skating in the near-dark...

Enjoying the little things of late: you know, like snowstorms and crocheted universes.

Some nice colours and textures I pass on my way to work.

Keeping the Christmas tree up as long as possible, since we were so late in getting it.

Enjoying walking home in Friday's beautiful snowfall.

Happening upon the opening of a beautiful art installation by Andrea Haltrich at the Shenkman Arts Centre, and spying this awesome poem in the guestbook. Here, I'll type it, because it's just so awesome:

Tyler's poem
Hey andy, I know your pretty handy, your art is great, I wish it was a state. I know you nit this, and the squirrel's bit this. But the good thing is that I want it to be on bing, so let me tell you that i love you. but I want you to know that you can tie a bow. So that's my story.

Frosty tendrils.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Night walk

An after-dinner stroll turned into an hour long walk through the farm. Though I know it was from light pollution, the low-hanging clouds lit the snow-packed trail with such a cozy glow. I like how my camera struggled in the soft dimness and captured a blurry scene and made the clouds look like the aurora borealis.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Setting intentions

I wasn't going to make any resolutions this year, but after reading so many inspiring posts (such as here, here, and here), I have been inspired to look at my avoidance of resolutions. I think for me, they've always felt that they come from a place that fails to accept who I am, and instead chastises myself for not being "better" at something. And they often also center around the superficial, asking me to judge myself based on someone else's ruler, and I rarely come out feeling like a winner. Or maybe it's just because this beautiful time of expansiveness and change has become tainted by marketers and buzz-words, that it cheapen the possibilities, and I've just passively boycotted it altogether.

If I acknowledge "the list," there are many things I would like to improve, master, or change. I would like to learn French. I would like to get back to the accordion (I was doing so well, but I've let it completely drop off). Finish the photobooks I'm so behind on. Paint more. I'd like to be nicer. More patient. Stop swearing when I'm angry. Stay on top of email. Keep in touch. Get things done. Cook more. Keep the house clean. Be confident. Be more grateful. Eat for wellness. Do a cleanse. Quit sugar. Be more centered. More present (live in the hereness, less in the thereness). ...and on it goes... I could easily add to this list, but it does start to feel a little defeating. Furthermore, so many of these goals simply don't translate well into rigid resolutions. I want to allow myself the flexibility to falter, because as soon as I'm "supposed" to do something, it feels like a chore, and I'm less likely to continue. It has to be something I'm passionate about and keep coming back to.

That being said, I do find a thrilling sense of hopefulness from starting a brand new year. The feeling of a clean slate. Who knows what this year will hold? So many possibilities and opportunities. Before I came across Susannah's free workbook: Unravelling 2012, I hadn't before fully assessed the year before and actively set out goals for the year ahead, but I did, and have found the process challenging, but also enlightening.

What leapt out at me was that I want to be a more active participant in my own life. Engaged. Start steering this boat and find out where it's headed. I've been reading The Happiness Project, and it's empowering to be reminded that only I am in control of who I am and how I feel (though sometimes I forget that I'm in charge and can get a little lost in the sea of routine and work and responsibilities, and sometimes it feels like these things rule me, rather than the other way around).

This is all a bit nebulous, but what I keep coming back to is the desire to meditate. Become centered and tap into the stillness within. (I know it's in there!) And this might seem at odds with wanting to be more active, but I see it as a vital ingredient to being more engaged in my life.

I'm sure this will be a process. A journey. And though I've dabbled in meditation, I've never committed. But there are so, so many resources out there that talk about the benefits of meditating regularly. To aid me in this quest, I am trying Jack Kornfield's Meditation for Beginners DVD, in addition to Gaiam's same-titled DVD (which I've had for years, but rarely use). I've also found a great many instructional videos on youtube, but also with youtube, there's a lot to filter through. If anyone has any self-directed resources (books, CDs, DVDs) they would like to recommend, I would love to hear about them.

So this year, I'll be patient and gentle with myself, and rather than choose an external talent (playing accordion, though I will do that too sometimes), I'm drilling deeper. Going to the source.

Anyway, thanks for reading. What intentions are you setting for yourself this year?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Oh dear.

Well that was short-lived. I guess it got mild overnight. Sigh. Poor snowman.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A new year.

A walk among the trees. Snow on the ground and plastered to the trees. Fresh air. Catching snowflakes on my tongue. Building a snowman.

A Happy New Year: my first oyster, Tim Tam Slams, and Croissant Perfection (really! it happened!)

We kicked 2012 off right! What a fun night! Feasting and games with great friends (thanks S&B!), what could be better? It was an eclectic spread: snacks from the local Bosnian deli, a cheese board (and pears to go with the blue cheese = yummmmmm), oysters, fine chocolate, Blackcurrant-Raspberry wine (thank you SV for the wine!), and a variety of jams and preserves to spread on the dance-worthy croissants (more on those in a minute), and Tim Tams. We didn't even get to the ice cream!

Mulling over which alien baby to eat first.
Since I was on the losing end of the winning tie (in a shoot-out, mind you!) of our rousing game of Apples to Apples, I had to have the first oyster. I was a little afraid, I won't lie, but it was good! Silky, creamy, fresh, and zesty with a squirt of lemon and drop of tabasco. How have I never had these before! Then, later, I introduced everyone to the Tim Tam Slam, which sounds like a drinking game, which I guess it kind of is. The Tim Tam is an Australian cookie/biscuit that is delicious all on its own, but when you bite off the diagonal corners and use it as a "straw" to drink tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, it's really good. Here's a great instructional video featuring CBC's Tim Tamashiro (whom the biscuit is not named after).

Look at those layers! I feel... I feel... I feel happy of myself!
As for the croissants, I'm not sure what stars were aligned yesterday or what wonderful thing I did to deserve such awesome croissant karma, but it happened: after multiple attempts at making croissants from scratch, I have finally hit upon the right recipe to yield the most beautiful and delicious croissants. Here is what I did this time, for the most part using the "construction" steps from here, and the baking steps from here, with some modifications of my own:

Dance-worthy Croissants
500 g flour (I have a gram scale, but some time I think I'll try to convert: 500 grams looked to be about 4 cups)
15 g active dry yeast
90 g sugar
15 g salt
300 ml warm milk
340 g butter, room temperature (3 sticks, unsalted)