Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Santa Came and Went

Now that it's after Christmas, i can share with you what's been keeping me busy for the past few months. The hardest part, the part that took the longest, was the planning and organizing of what gifts to make. Once i knew what to make for whom, the flow of creativity was much easier. And this year, there was a good balance between knitting, sewing, transfer work, and other mediums of crafting. J also got into the creative side of gift-giving too and made gifts for people - he made record bowls and made transfer hankies for his dad. The bowls are quite easy to make - just heat up the oven and melt them a bit to shape. (Here's a guide.) Of course, we did work right up until the last minute, but it was all worth it.

We decided to use fabric to wrap our gifts, instead of buying new wrapping paper. This way, we save on the environment, save some money, but also give great pieces of fabric as an extra gift. I also got some wonderful gifts but i will post about them later. Christmas is, after all, about giving, right? Of course, the other great part of the holidays is to be with family and eat. A lot. I ate constantly for about 4 days in a row. A lot of yummy nut loafs and some great chocolate mint soy milk to drink. I'm glad to be home, even though there's no snow!

I have created a Flickr set of my holiday presents - to see more, feel free to check out the pictures. But, for the most part, my gift-making included:* a book bag for my sister, who's an environmental chemist, so this book was perfect
* a cat tunnel for her cat, who loves to bury herself under the covers
* a yo-yo belt (for my sis too - we always out do ourselves for each other)
* a linen table runner with block prints and cross-stitch detail for my mom
* car dice for her too because she WON a car
* a knit scarf for my dad:* placemats
* pot holders and oven mitts
* an apron* a baby jumper for a nephew who's dad Loves Star Wars
* tea pot cozies
* soaps
* dog toys and vegan dog biscuits

ps. the photo on the top was made with this cool kalaidescope thingie i bought J

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Birthday Tea Party

As a December baby, i always compete with the festivities, so it's important to me that i do my birthday justice, and let's be honest, so that others do me right! For my birthday this year, i wanted to do something different. Since there are no roller skating rinks in the city (egads, can you believe that!?), that option was out. And since typical fancy hotel afternoon teas are not vegan-friendly, J and i decided to host our own tea party at home. We requested guests to dress 'nice' and we served yummy treats that we associate with fancy tea parties. Complete with dainty pinky fingers!

We converted our dining room into a tearoom. We split apart the table, and used all our good linens and antique dessert plates. I even brought out my favourite cloth napkins!
On the menu was:

* Scones with whipped cream and raspberry jam - i had the vegan creme and J made 'real' stuff for the others (recipe for The Garden of Vegan)
* Triangle cucumber sandwiches with creme cheeze and dill
* Happy Birthday Rose Bundt Cake - i suggest added cocao
* Devilish Eggs
* Rosemary bread with dips
* Left-over celebration cake (vegan!)
* Chocolates
* Soy nog
* and of course: teas - cream earl grey, jasmine, vanilla hazelnut

I got some wonderful gifts this year, as well. For example, my wonderful partner knew i was on a mission to find a briefcase for work (it's a policy at work to have one to keep client's files safe) but i didn't want a briefcase that looks like one, nor one that's leather. He found one and more! I also got the vegan cupcake book i've been eying and dreaming about - a book full of 75 recipes and lovely pictures. And, another great score is a vintage apron in got from a friend who's birthday is also December 17. Oh, and i can't forget the vagina pen i got...
J also surprised me to tickets to The Nutcracker, in the new Ballet and Opera house in Toronto: The Four Seasons Centre. It's a beautifully designed space - very modern yet built for such classic arts. We had a great time, dressed up, and enjoyed all the kiddies there. Thanks honey!

One other thing i did for my birthday was treat myself to a trip to the spa - a vegan and organic spa in Toronto called Aliviar. The only one of its kind here and it was well worth it. The woman who took care of me made me feel at ease and really treated me like a queen. I got a vegan salt body scrub - my first time ever doing something so intimate like this - and she completed my treatment with a luxurious massage. And, ironically, that night a good friend gave me a gift certificate to this same spa for a pedi + mani combo! I will definitely be going back!

I also wanted to take this time to wish everyone a happy holiday season. I'll be away from blog world until after Christmas, when i'll be back here to post all the great gifts i made everyone! I finished my part of the gift-making the other night and it's such a relief to not be scrambling away on Christmas Eve!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Vegan Holidays - Part 1

One thing i love about the holidays is that i can share vegan dishes with friends and co-workers, and prove that being a vegan can be fun, creative and tasty. I feel a deja vu coming on (i think i've already posted about this), but i really do appreciate pot lucks for this reason. For example, at work we had a holiday party this week and i purposefully signed up to contribute a dessert. Making a vegan salad, main, or side dish isn't as far of a stretch, but i really love indulging in decadent desserts - to challenge myself but also to demonstrate the wonders of vegan baking. And, with a lot of trials and tribulations (both mine and others), vegan baking has come a long way, and i feel it's my duty to share the wealth! So, as a lover of cupcakes and all things chocolate, i decided to make cupcakes.

I chose the chocolate banana cupcake recipe from Post Punk Kitchen. It was a great recipe and the cupcakes turned out fantastic. And no tofu! While i love surprising people with the wonders of tofu, i love when i don't have to include it in baking.

I added a festive-like icing that i made myself: butter cream peanut butter
3/4 cup margarine
3/4 cup peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp almond extract
green and red sprinkles

I made about 20 cupcakes, and had a lot of icing left over, but it was so good i could spread it on just about anything.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas is Coming, Christmas is Coming

Well, it's barely 7am and i slept like crap. I only know i even slept because J told me i snored. And i don't snore. What i thought was just my usual allergies seems to have become a cold. Nothing major, just bad sinus congestion, but it's enough to impact my sleeping.

So, here i am awake and wanting to share with you pictures of my decorations to our apartment. We bought a tree from our usual spot - a corner store in our neighbourhood that we love - and put up the trimmngs while watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I think, no i know, that this is J's favourite holiday movie. I love that he still finds it so funny after all these years.
We also decorated around the house a bit and i made these wonderful cloth trees. When we were in Boston last weekend, we went to Anthropologie (i love that store and we don't have it here) and J loved these big fabric trees and challenged me to make them. After a bit of a production on how to make the template to cut out, i found Little Birds tutorial. And voila, i made 5 very different trees that now adorn my mantel.
I also can't have any decorations without updating my Eleanor, so here she is complete with my festive apron that i made for last December's Tie One On group.

Lastly, i have completed my wish list. Besides the list of books i posted about already, i also would love to receive the following things:

*Terry cloth robe
* Dance Dance Revolution PS2 game
* Okami PS2 game
*New York City Ballet workout DVD

* Make-Up brushes that are vegan-friendly
* Brief case that’s not a ‘briefcase’ like the striped one at Casuri
* Iron
* Rice cooker
* Salad Dressing Shaker (i.e. Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker)
* Salad Spinner
* Air Purifier

Friday, December 08, 2006

Crafts and More Crafts

After such a somber post - and thanks again for all the wonderful comments - i wanted to get into the spirit of the holidays, and also chat about crafts. Since it's in my name and all!

One recent project that i finished, and just in time for this cold weather, are my first pair of knitting socks. I followed a Debbie Bliss pattern from her 'Home' book and they actually came out - heels and all. One funny thing, where i had an uh, DUH! moment, was when the instructions said to turn work inside-out to bind off with the needles still on. I had no idea how to do this - how to fit dpn through such a small opening. I did not get it for my first sock, but luckily had some help for the second and realized that i could pull the work through the opening, not pull the needles through the hole! Good thing i don't knit alone!

Otherwise, i'm happy with my work. I was a bit scared about the heel work, but got some help and persevered. The socks are slippery and a bit big (i am a size 5.5 after all), but they're great indoors. And for dancing a la Tom Cruise in Risky Business!

Also, my lovely vegan pal Sabrina came through with a great package of oodles of things. See my post for more details but i just wanted to highlight that she gave me two vintage sewing notions that were made right here in Toronto - and she's from the States! Too funny!

Speaking of Toronto, i'm so excited that one of my favourite craft fairs is on this weekend: The DUDE Show. Just in time for the holidays. I'll be going there tonight and i can't wait!

Lastly, i bought the first issue of Craft magazine while in Boston. Since they don't sell them here in Canada (yet????!!!!) i hunted one done. And was happily surprised. Not that i will be making a top with lights on it or have a garden to make a display for, but i did love the jungle gym for cats and the great knitted boots.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

We Need to Remember

After a week away from home, and thus a week away from a computer, i am struggling this morning with posting about a day that is important to me. I came back home last night and tried to relax before my busy day at work. I need to write about it. Not because i want to remember it but because i think we all need to remember it. Not just because i work with survivors of abuse on a daily basis, or because i am a woman. But because we still live in a world that leaves people out.

I was just in Boston visiting my lovely sister and a friend. I had a great time and grew to love Boston more. We even went to a craft fair! How fun! While i loved going there, i had some struggles. 1) It seems to be quite un-vegan friendly - while i found some places that i could eat something, overall i did not eat as healthy and tasty meals as i do here at home. I wish i discovered a vegan restaurant, but even the health food stores lacked for me. I thought i bought 'extra firm' tofu for a dinner i made, but it was just soft/silken tofu. Not what i had in mind.

Also, something else i noticed as well was the lack of awareness overall about December 6th. It seems that we only really acknowledge here in Canada. Because it happened here? Because people want to forget that men can be violent towards women? That a man can murder 14 women just because they're women? I don't know but i remember. I remember being in grade 9 and thinking i was invincible and that this 'story' was so far removed from me, that it didn't matter. It does matter because it can happen to any of us.

And i'm not alone. Read here and here for more bloggers' posts.

I hope you have a chance to read about this day, that 17 years ago changed my life and my awareness about the rights of women. How could we possibly be 'equal' if a man chose to kill his peers just because they were women and he hated the idea of them being his equals. This was not intimate violence, something we seem to turn a blind eye to, but a calculated plan against women in this man's class.