Posts Tagged "Books"

I am NOT just a sewing machine

Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in life | 1 comment

Looking back at my blog posts over the last few months it might seem to you that I do nothing but sew cute cuddly create-a-creatures.   And although that part of my life and business seems to have grown exponentially and taken up a larger portion of my time – I really have been doing more than just sewing!

And so, as friends who have been out of touch for awhile, let’s get caught up!  Here’s what’s been happening in my neck of the woods:

1.  I am teaching Kindergarten again, which I love.  This year I started a class blog (for parents of students only – sorry) and I love, love, love being able to share all of the crazy, happy, exciting moments of our days together.  One of my favourites from the past few weeks was creating a blizzard in the gym using crumpled up pieces of scrap paper.  One of my students said “This is the best day ever!”  I love hearing that!

Kindergarten Artwork

2.  I have just started reading this book.  I have had a hold on it at the library for so long that I can no longer remember who recommended it to me or why I wanted to read it.  What I’ve read so far makes sense, but the jury is still out…

3.  This song has become one of my favourites.  I love the imagery in it.  Wow.

4.  I have discovered that I love green smoothies.  It’s funny how your tastes change over time.  My current favourite mixture is kale, frozen peaches, spirulina, a little maple syrup, and almond or coconut milk.  It’s very green, but good.

5.  I feel like I have become an expert in Disney World vacations – and I haven’t even been yet!  I read this book and this book cover to cover.  I never knew there was so much attention to detail in the parks, I guess as a kid you don’t really notice or remember those things.  I am looking forward to experiencing it all as an adult.

6.  Truth be told, I really have been spending most of my time sewing creatures, and I love it.  But I am also hoping to take some time to finish up some other projects I started last year (um…yeah..and some I started the year before that.)  This year I have vowed to not buy any new fabric until I finish up old projects – it’s only February and it has already been a hard promise to keep!  But there are several of those old projects that I am really looking forward to finishing and hopefully can share with you soon!  In the meantime, one of my current favourite custom pieces.  I love the ruffles on the dress!

And now it’s your turn!  What’s been happening with you these last few months?  Any exciting books, or songs, or projects on the go?


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My New Favourite Gardening Book

Posted by on Apr 4, 2012 in Books, Gardening | 0 comments

We have a whole shelf in our book-filled house dedicated to gardening.  Last year I posted a list of my favourites, and since then I have a list a mile long of books I have read from the library, and those that I hope to read.

But of all the gardening books I have read so far, I now have a new favourite.

You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail.

This book is different from any gardening book I have read before, and I think that is why I love it so much.

To start with, Gayla keeps things simple.  After reading stacks of gardening books with flawless photos and long lists of plants I can never seem to find, and a confusing amount of information on soil and ph and watering and garden design, it is refreshing to find a book that is, well, fun!  Rather than getting bogged down by how much there is to be done, she makes gardening sound doable, reminds you that it doesn’t have to be perfect, and then gives you lots of great ideas for making your garden a success.

And it’s not that the book isn’t meaty, because it is.  There is a wealth of information in there on starting a successful garden, no matter how small the space you have to grow (and even what to do if you are growing on a public space!)   But there are also really fun crafty projects like making your own leaf-shaped concrete stepping stones (I so want to do this!), sewing yourself a garden apron, creating moss-covered pots and stones, making tea with your own home-grown herbs, and on and on.  All told in a relaxed, you-can-do-this kind of way.

And as much as I love reading about gardening, I sometimes find the process a little stressful as the list of things I have to be doing and I should be doing and I need to be planting gets longer and longer.  You Grow Girl comes without the panic.  Instead there is the kind of enthusiasm you get when talking to your best friend about the thing you are passionate about.  I finished reading the book inspired and excited about the gardening season ahead.  (and I have yet another book  I am going to keep out of the library as long as I can….) :)  I am also adding “grow my own loofah sponge” to my list of gardening things to do.  I had no idea this was something you could grow in your garden – how cool is that?!

Gayla also has an amazing gardening blog which I read regularly, and two other gardening books which I can’t wait to check out.

Have you read any good books lately?

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Cookbook Review: Ripe From Around Here

Posted by on Apr 1, 2012 in Books, Cooking/Recipes | 0 comments

I have spent all March cooking from this cookbook:

Ripe From Around Here: A Vegan Guide to Local, Sustainable Eating (No Matter Where You Live) by Jae Steele.

I shared with you some of my culinary adventures with Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes, Roasted Applesauce, West African Stew, and, what I called, the Best Ever Vegetarian Split Pea Soup.

I loved all of these recipes and I know I will make them again and again.

I also tried several other recipes from the book with mixed results.

Oatmeal Raisin muffins were delicious, but crumbly.  We made the most of their crumbly nature by cutting them in half and using them like the biscuit in strawberry shortcake, topping them with yogurt and berries.

I was really excited to try the baked beans, as we love our baked beans around here, but sadly they just didn’t work out for us.  I kept having to add a lot of extra water as they thickened to the point of burning, and they ended up lacking in flavour.

Coconut Curry with Seasonal Veg was also disappointing.  In this case, it may not be the recipe’s fault, as I had to play around with the spices a bit to use what I had on hand.  We ate the curry with “Naked Oats” also called “Rice of the Prairies” which was also a new venture for us.

Coconut Curry with Seasonal Veggies over Rice of the Prairies


Ginger Miso Almond sauce was another recipe that I wasn’t happy with – until I changed a few things. :)   I found the original recipe to be overpowered by the almond butter (but someone else might think it’s fine!)  It’s not perfect for us yet, but it’s a recipe worth playing around with.

There are still several other recipes in the book I want to explore.  I want to try making my own oat and nut milks, and have all the ingredients for making the dried fruit compote, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  And because this book works with seasonal ingredients, I only made recipes that used winter ingredients.  There are so many other recipes I want to try when our garden is producing again, including Blueberry Peach Pancakes, Raspberry Millet Muffins, Herb Garden Hummus, Homemade Ketchup, White Bean and Lovage Soup, Roasted Fiddleheads with Garlic, and two different Pad Thai recipes, to name a few.

Curried Golden Split Pea Soup


Despite a few so-so recipes, I generally loved this book.  I especially love the way it is organized.  So many cookbooks that focus on seasonal ingredients are organized by season.  This one is organized like a traditional cookbook, but uses symbols beside each recipe to show you in what season the ingredients will be available.  I like the interesting descriptions for each recipe (it’s fun knowing the history behind things!), and like so many vegan cookbooks, it is packed with other useful information, such as how to start your own vermicomposter, which house plants to buy to purify the air inside your home, and recipes for simple household cleaners.  The fact that it is Canadian makes it even more useful to me, as it is based on seasonal ingredients I can find right here (and the author does an excellent job of offering a wide variety of produce, and mentioning when a certain ingredient might not be available locally.)  I am sure anyone in the Northern part of the United States, with their similar growing season, would find the same thing.

The recipes are not overly fussy, although some look quite beautiful, which makes this a perfect, all-around cookbook.  And although it is a vegan cookbook, I think the recipes have appeal for a much wider audience (after all, my meat-loving hubby enjoyed these dishes too!)  The recipes are very easy to adapt to your own tastes and preferences (I will admit to using butter and milk when trying out some of the recipes!)

This is a book I will definitely keep out of the library as long as I can! :)  And when the librarians won’t let me keep it any longer, it will definitely be added to my “to buy” list.

This month I am cooking my way through “The Food Matters Cookbook” by Mark Bittman.   I was inspired by the Food Matters Project and can’t wait to try out some of the recipes!

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What if you became a Pizza…

Posted by on Mar 28, 2012 in Creative Kids | 0 comments

A few weeks ago, we explored this book in my classroom:

In this story, Pete is disappointed that he can’t go outside to play, so, to cheer him up, his Dad turns him into a pizza!  Not a real one, of course, but an imaginary pizza, complete with dough kneading, the addition of toppings (checkers!) and a trip to the oven (the sofa.)  This is a fun. light-hearted book that just begs to be acted out!

If I were reading this book to one or two small children, I would definitely follow it up with scooping them up and immediately turning them into pizzas (of the Pete variety.)  I must admit that I did consider doing some variation of this in my classroom, but with 13 youngsters all eager for a turn, I instead turned to activities we could all engage in at the same time.

Hello play dough!  (I apologise in advance for the photos.  Fluorescent lighting and my camera do not agree.  I am determined to learn how to get great photos despite the lighting – if anyone has any tips I’d love to hear them!)

Following all of the steps in the book, we turned our play dough into our own pizza.  We all took turns to knead the dough and roll it flat, and then everyone had the opportunity to make their own toppings to add to the pizza.  By the time we were ready to put it into the “oven” imaginations had taken hold and we were really cooking the pizza.  Some of the students commented on the amazing smell as it was baking, and others had grumbling tummies waiting for a bite.

When we removed it from the oven we had to figure out how to cut the pizza so that everyone could have a fair share (math is everywhere, isn’t it?) and then we all enjoyed describing the wonderful flavour of this best pizza in the world.  While we ate, several of the students contemplated opening up our own pizza store and selling our wares to the world (or at the very least to the principal!)

To follow this up we made and ate our own real pizzas using mini pitas, and we wrote a class book about our favourite pizzas.


"My pizza is very good. It was so good I ate it all."


More pizza fun could include:

  • create signs and menus for our very own (imaginary) pizza store
  •  plan a pizza party and invite a special guest (like the principal in my case!)
  • draw a number of pizzas and then cut them into pieces to serve different numbers of people (My Grade 3 students loved doing this when we were learning about fractions – I played it up with taking orders via telephone and having them create and cut the pizzas for the different orders…and then we really had fun with silly customers who wanted crazy combinations like 1/8 sardines, 3/8 strawberries and 1/2 stinky cheese)
  • making a cardboard pizza!
  • creating our own stories where we turn into our favourite foods!
  • Some of my students were disappointed that Pete didn’t turn into a real pizza.  This could be fun to explore – what would happen if we really did turn into a pizza???
  • Pizza tag – you are the pizza, and I want to eat you, yum! :)

Anyone else have fun pizza ideas to add?

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Roasted Applesauce

Posted by on Mar 25, 2012 in Cooking/Recipes | 1 comment

Here is another amazing (and simple!) recipe from Ripe from Around Here.

Applesauce is pretty standard fare around here.  It often finds its way into baking, and I also enjoy it for a snack or dessert.  I have always made it the same way – peel and chop the apples, put them in a pot and simmer until done.

But this recipe puts a new twist on things by making the sauce out of apples that are roasted in the oven, then put into a blender.  The recipe with variations can be found on the author’s website, here.

Begin with peeling and chopping your apples.  She suggests using two different varieties, I made mine with Spartan and Cortland as they are two varieties that are still available locally grown.

Lay them out on a baking sheet, lined with parchment, drizzle with fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Pull them out and stir and flip the pieces of apple over, then bake for another 25 minutes.

Give it a few minutes to cool off, then purée in the blender.

This is absolutely the smoothest applesauce I have ever eaten.  And yummy.  I will definitely be making applesauce this way again and again!

What is your favourite way to make applesauce?

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