A Toronto vegan blabs on about crafting, food, and her life in general.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


For those of you who have sat through my "Ya! We're getting a car!" posts, you may have noticed that I have not posted a "Ya! We have a car now!" entry.

After almost a month of phonecalls, phonecalls not returned, being strung along, delays and broken promises of delivery dates, we have now confirmed that tomorrow evening we can pick up our new car - without the sunroof. Apparently, a part is on order for installation of the sunroof and it would take until next Wednesday (!) for it to be ready. Considering we have waited this long AND we have to make a trip to Fergus this weekend (minimum 5 hours or so on the bus in total) for the boy's sister's 30th birthday, we were not going to happily wait until next week. So, we're picking it up tomorrow and we'll take it back, when the part is in, for installation.

We're happy and excited, but the joy has been slightly deflated by the hassles we've had. Welcome to car ownship, I suppose.

ETA: After I wrote this last sentence, a quote from frequent reader and commenter, Sophie, came to mind: "Goody, goody, gumdrops" :D


Sunday, May 27, 2007

At 34 years old, I still have not learned what my drinking limit is. I also still have not quite figured out that I am no longer able to recover from a night of drinking like when I was in my 20s. As a result, most of my day has been spent in bed or on the couch. Thank goodness for those 8 episodes of Penn & Teller's Bullsh*t and, when I could stomach it, that entire pizza and those 2 cans of ginger ale.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Electronic coach

Meet my coach

I recently discovered the Couch to 5k podcast. I'd been trying to run on my own, at my own pace, since the weather got warmer and things just weren't feeling right. I suppose "my own pace" really isn't much of a challenge. So, I downloaded this 9 episode podcast, developed by Robert Ullrey and based on Cool Running's beginner running program.

Since I'd already been running a bit, I decided to start at week 2's episode, then moved up to week 3 the very next running day and then to week 4. If you're just starting out, each of these episodes should be followed for 3 separate days, or 1 episode per week with a rest day in between each. Two days ago I completed week 5, and today I shall start day 1 of week 6. The last run was 5 min warm-up, 20 min run and 5 min cool-down. Yeah - I ran for 20 minutes straight! Woo! Of course, my lungs felt it for the rest of the day - but in that good way.

The podcasts are set to upbeat electronic music, which I thought would annoy me like crazy but I've been able to tune it out and focus on the quick paced beat. Then Robert pops in every so often to tell you when to run, walk, cool down, or just to offer some positive words. There are 9 different episodes, all designed to get you running a full 5k without stopping. Which is good timing for me, since I've signed up to run the Pride 5k in about 4 weeks - the same number of podcasts left for me to complete!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

No poo

I have to come clean. I've already outed myself to several friends and family members, and now it is time I make the announcement.

I haven't shampooed my hair since the fall.

It's true. Well, with the exception of once or twice. But that does not mean I haven't washed my hair in all that time. I have been. But with baking soda.

I first heard about this "No 'poo" thing on VeganRepresent.com, and I decided to try it right away. The basics of No 'pooing is to wash your hair with a baking soda solution, scrubbing and rubbing your scalp in a circular motion, and rinse with an apple cider vinegar solution. I experimented with different strengths of solutions to find what was best for me, and I now have my own system.

Why no shampoo?

Because it is filled with chemicals and whatever you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. Have you ever read the ingredients list for beauty products? Can you pronounce or recognize most of the ingredients? Probably not. And I've decided I don't want to take the chance of those chemicals leeching into my body.

The other reason is that shampoo is designed to strip the oils from your hair and scalp. Then, most people replace those oils with conditioner. Sounds counterproductive, doesn't it? Many people have to shampoo their hair every day - and that is mostly caused by the shampoo itself. Your scalp works on a supply and demand basis - the more your shampoo, the more your scalp produces oil. Once your body adjusts to the baking soda method (and there is an adjustment period while your skin learns to produce oil only as it needs to) you can go a few days or longer between cleansing before your scalp produces the same amount of oil.

Another reason - it is a lot less expensive than the $12 bottle of shampoo I was buying.

The basic method is to dissolve 1 tbsp of baking soda in enough water to make a paste. This gets rubbed into your scalp in circles, stimulating the blood flow and opening clogged pores. Start with circular motions on the top of your head, working your way to your part, then on the back of your head, and then to your temples. Constant circles and gentle rubbing is key as this loosens the oil from your scalp and hair. As I experimented, I found that I needed more baking soda, so I use the basic method, plus I dissolve 1 tsp of baking soda into 1 cup of water, and add that just before I start the circular scrubbing.

After letting the solution sit for a minute or two, I then pour a mix of apple cider vinegar and water (1 cup of water, maybe 3 tbsps of vinegar) onto my hair and rub it in. This sits for a couple of minutes before being well rinsed out. There are other instructions on this page.

When your hair dries, you scalp will feel clean but not stripped, and your hair will be very soft. Don't worry about smelling like vinegar - the smell goes away with rinsing and drying.

I'd love to know if anyone gives it try!

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Advice from a stranger

I normally do not get approached by strangers in public. I think I generally have a wall around me that tells people to leave me alone. But yesterday, a cute little Asian woman on the subway decided to ignore my wall to give me all sorts of advice:

"You are very pretty. Be careful when you look for a husband – some men may take advantage of you."

"If you do not find a husband, that is okay. You do not need one."

"When you look for a husband, and you see a man with a large head, tell him 'no thanks'. That way, your baby will have a small head and you will not have to be cut open when you give birth." (I told her the boy has a small head. This pleased her)

"When you are pregnant, the baby's head grows fastest when you are sleeping. So, when you sleep, set your alarm clock to wake you every four hours. Then, get up and have a little something to eat. Then the head will not get so big and you will not have to be cut open to give birth."

"When your husband wants sex, check your pulse. If your pulse is too fast, tell him 'no. my condition is not good.'"


Hiking in our own urban backyard

This Victoria Day long weekend kinda caught us by surprise. Queen Victoria was born on May 24, and the holiday is unofficially referred to here in Canada as "The May Two-Four", as in the large case of beer. This year, however, the weekend started on the 19th and felt way too early for May 2-4, so we didn't think to make plans. Sometimes, being able to wake up on Saturday morning and ask yourself "What do I want to do today?" is exactly what you need.

This weekend has been a mix of extreme sadness and much needed quiet. The sadness came in the form of the death of a great friend's mother. That's all I will mention about it here. The rest of the weekend was a mix of activities that got our minds off the bustle of last week.

Saturday, we had a nice brunch at a Tex-Mex restaurant down the road, where we fed sparrows some chips and bread on the back patio. After brunch, we walked towards Castle Frank Road, entered an urban park system and hiked for a few hours. I'd never been through these parks before, and was really surprised at how far removed from the city they felt, though they were just tucked in behind some of the city's busiest roads. You can see on the map below the green space where we walked – we walked the ravine to the west, came back and went slightly north to the Don Valley Brick Works, and back south to Bloor-Danforth.

And of course we brought our cameras!


Blossoms in the sun


Dandelion, close up. I've always loved dandelions and never understood what people had against them.


Some huge mushrooms growing on a tree stump

me and boy

Happy hikers!

Don Valley Brick Works

Don Valley Brick Works

On Sunday, it was a day of spring cleaning – laundry, sweeping, washing, cleaning. We removed the slip cover from the damaged couch (which I complained about here) and beat the cushions to release the settled dust. After taking a good long look at the couch sans cover, we made a decision to leave the cover off and temporarily cover up the arms. I ripped apart the small side cushions that came with the couch (which we never use) and figured out a way to attach the fabric to the arms. But, needing a curved sewing needle, I had to pop out to Fabricland to find a needle and some fabric to make new side cushions that we'll actually use. A little digging in the remnants bin produced not only some beautiful silver-grey fabric for cushions, but 2 rolls of dark blue fabric that matched the colour of the couch perfectly and that was longer and wider than the repurposed fabric I'd ripped apart earlier! For less than $10!

The fabric covered beautifully (it looks less lumpy in person than it does in this photo). So far, we've only completed 1 arm, but I plan to do the next one some time this week.

Today, we had a great lazy day, watching Of Mice and Men, doing a little clothes shopping at the Eaton Centre, filling our tummies with Indian Food, and some more movie-watching. I expect even more lazing about, ending with the season finale of 24!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada

While not so patiently waiting for our car to be ready (I mean, c'mon! How hard is it to find a blue Honda Fit in the area?!), I've been thinking of all sorts of places we can finally visit now that we'll be able to drive. I recently heard about The Donkey Sanctuary, which is just outside of Guelph - probably about an hour drive from our home - and I can't wait to visit!

I have soft spot in my heart for donkeys. When I was a kid, my hometown had a public barn/petting farm where a donkey lived, along with lots of other animals. The poor creature would often cry out from its empty, muddy, grassless and lonely pen at the people walking through the park. Whenever I was there, I would spend time petting and talking to the donkey - and the goats - because they didn't seem to get a lot of attention. They weren't "cute" like the bunnies or sheep. But they were incredibly friendly and wonderful.

It makes me sad, thinking back on the lives those animals had at that old barn in the middle of a suburban park. I only hope that maybe the animals that no longer live there were able to live out their lives in a happy place. And those who didn't get a chance to leave have a little place in my heart.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Famous last words

"How hard can it be?"

Well, I seem to think pretty hard. The boy, well, he's confidant we can do it.

Once upon a time, I used to have a nice dark blue couch. I got it from Ikea and it was exactly what I'd been looking for. Fast forward almost 10 years and I have a worn sofa covered in a hideous, stretchy, ill-fitting, sage green slipcover that cost me way too much. Tetley had discovered scratching the arm of the couch about 6 years ago and she's destroyed one arm and recently ripped holes in the slipcover. Since we both despise the awkward cover, we've decided we will try to reupholster it ourselves, if only to prolong the time before we need to replace the entire couch. We've gotten a quote on a professional doing the job, and the price was way out of our range. Honestly, we could've replaced the couch for that price!

Neither of us has recovered a piece of furniture. But we have a sewing machine and a good staple gun. All we need is fabric and strong needles.

Now for my plea: does anyone out there know of a reupholstery class being taught at a studio or school in Toronto? Leave a comment or email! I'm desperate!

Third time's a charm

Third time's a charm

I've been knitting every weekday, though not blogging about it. I spent about 3 weeks knitting a pair of long arm warmers (I knit on the subway, about an hour total each day), and now the weather is beautiful. Then I moved on to socks. The first attempt, my gauge was off and the sock ended up too large. I don't like to start a project over, so I ditched it and move on to another. During the second attempt, I finally gave in close the end of the first sock, knowing that I would not have enough yarn to finish the second one. Then I turned to the cute sock yarn Robyn sent me a few months ago and started knitting a pair for the boy. So far, so good! I love the colours of the yarn and I think they will look great on him!


It's review time at work. They're a little late, but they always are. At the beginning of the week, we were told that they had to be done by tomorrow. No biggie - we've done away with filling out the Review Questionnaire so it's really just a long chat about where we are, where we want to go any problems we might be having and what our yearly increase is. The boy had his two days ago, as did everyone else and by the end of the day, it was too late to do mine. I found out today that mine will be tomorrow, partly because my reviews take energy! I've been given "homework" this year to do before the review - decide what I want out of the next year - plus I'm having a pre-review chat with the creative director/big boss to dicuss these things, then I'm having the review. Um. I didn't know I was so complacent.

The problem, I suppose, is that I am never really sure where I want to go. I don't know what I want out of the next year. I'm sure I want something... but what is that something? I've moved into a new role recently, a role I've never really tried out before. I'm now delegating work to the more junior designers - something I always let others do. I mean, I struggle with keeping my own work on track, let alone anyone else's! I'm very easily distracted. I'm not great with client meetings, so we've phased those out of my duties. I don't want to be just a designer - I want to be involved in our work at a higher level. I'd like to continue being involved in the conceptual process. But I do not have this vision of what or where I want to be that I feel I am supposed to have.

I mean, am I alone? Does everyone have these yearly plans and 5 year plans? I've just never been able to nail that stuff down. Long-term goals? What are those? I feel as though I'm constantly in an uphill climb to being me, but that final vision of myself is fuzzy and too far away.

UPDATE. Sometimes things are just so freaking obvious. I know what I want. A short discussion with the boy and it all became clear! More later...

Um, if you wanna know, just ask.

This is definitely the weirdest search hit I've gotten.

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Monday, May 7, 2007

But, knowledge is power and all that...

This makes me a little sad.

I am trying to come up with an idea/concept to promote a repository type of website. Apparently, stock photo companies haven't discovered that libraries are, in fact, cool.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Beep, beep!

Today the boy went out with his dad to a Honda dealership in Mississauga to check out what they offer and to test drive the car again. I just got a phonecall - and we are now owners of a Honda Fit! We still need to wait for them to find the car we want and install all of our extras (we got a few awesome things thrown in), and the boy's income tax refund still needs to arrive. But we should have the car soon! And then we can go camping, weekend hiking, the boy can get out of the city to mountain bike, we can see our families without it being an entire weekend of buses... I'm very excited!


Thursday, May 3, 2007

It's not you, it's me. Okay - it's you.

I'll miss all the times we had

Today marks the first day of trying to get my caffeine addiction under control.

Step 1 - admit that those 2 mornings this week when you were grumpy and tired were, in fact, due to not having fresh ground coffee available those mornings

Step 2 - decide if you want caffeine to have that affect on you

Step 3 - make a plan to reduce caffeine intake. It doesn't have to be severe. No need to release the grumpies on everyone in your path.

Step 4 - buy a decent coffee substitute and start diluting morning coffee. Teeccino gets great reviews!

Step 5 - try hard not to scrap previous steps.

But we'll still get together from time to time

The thing about coffee is not so much the caffeine kick, but the deep flavour and the ritual of making it. Teeccino is designed to take care of both those things. Upon opening the canister, I found it full of "grounds" made up of herbs, grains, fruits and nuts. The smell is a bit coffee-orange-spice. I like my coffee medium to dark, black and unflavoured, but the smell of Teeccino wasn't unpleasant by any means.

I scooped 2 tablespoons into the coffee press, added my just below boiling water and stirred. Hmm - a lot like coffee. After 5 minutes, I pushed down the plunger and poured my cup. It tasted just as it smelled, with a little sweetness. Again, I drink my coffee black (including no sugar) so I could have done without the sweetness. But the flavour was good. Definitely not coffee, but a good, deep and complex flavour. I gave the boy a sip, and he thought it was okay as well. But he takes sugar.

I finished the cup. And I didn't feel deprived of my morning ritual the way I feel when I just make tea. Not to mention, tea upsets my tummy in the morning sometimes. I'll have it again tomorrow, but this time I will dilute with coffee grounds. I definitely want to avoid any possible headaches or crankiness.

There is also still the excellent coffee at work that I need to deal with. One step at a tme, I guess.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I don't get it

I've been living in high rise apartment buildings for over 30 years and I still don't understand why someone will not hold the elevator door open for a person who is only a few feet away. And I'm not just talking about in the lobby where people are more anonymous. I'm talking about people letting the door close as one of their hallway neighbours is obviously walking quickly towards the elevator. I just don't get it.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Move 'em out!

On a whim, I decided to move my food logs to a new blog, mishka's vegan food log. I'll start moving my most recent food log posts over there.