Jan 28, 2010

some corrections and comments

massive pancakesmassive pancakes, by me

Soo... it turns out when I type up some comments on French phrases based just on what I hear, I can make some mistakes, but hey I disclaimered it so we shouldn't be too surprised! I double-checked one phrase with one of my French teachers yesterday, and Jess Cuthbert left some useful corrections on the last post. With these helpful tips, I'm going to re-write the list of phrases last week, with some corrections. I might even include some extra phrases.

[brief interjection: If you're reading this on Facebook, you can read the original - non-imported - version on my blog]

I briefly debated integrating some useful things I learned in class over the past two weeks, but I think it could get confusing. So for now I'm just going to leave this post for "The first French phrases I learned to pick out of conversation"

good morning, by me

Parce que --> Because
When I plug "because" into Google Translate, it tells me that there are four options.
  • car
  • parce que
  • autant plus
  • à fin que
Jess pointed out in her comment that she finds "car" easier to use in a sentence, which contradicts my statement that "car" is for writing and "parce que" is for speaking. I'm tempted to say that I never hear people say "car", but it's also possible that it's more of a subtle sound than "parce que" is, so maybe people do say it and I just don't notice it for what it is. I do find that people do use "parce que" a lot. Kyle mentioned something yesterday that made me laugh because I'd basically posted the same thing on this blog: knowing a few key phrases really helps impose some structure on the conversations we're hearing, so it makes it a bit easier to track the flow of the conversation. " Parce que" is definitely one of those phrases. Ditto for "mais" and "Je pense" and "donc". Now we just need to figure out how to fill in the substance of the conversations!

Mais --> But
The meaning is pretty simple here. I think the translation is quite literal. You make a statement, you want to insert a "but", so you say "mais". So when I'm listening to a French conversation, I hear "mais" after a pause because it's either at the beginning of a sentence, or after a comma in the middle of a sentence.

Je pense --> I think
To me, this seems to be the most common way of expressing one's opinion. Yesterday, the purpose of my "communication oral" french class was practicing the different ways of expressing our opinions. It turns out there are tons of different ways (which, perhaps, I'll detail in another post), but I really seem to hear "Je pense" in pretty much every conversation I've ever listened to.

Bonne journée --> Have a good rest of the day
Jess pointed out that journée is a feminine noun, so this phrase is actually "bonne journée". Way to complicate things, french. Thanks a lot.

Donc --> Therefore, so, then
This was probably the first new word I recognized, which was way back at the potluck Christmas party we went to. I remember thinking "what the hell does 'donk' mean? I've never heard that before". Of course Kyle had never heard of it either. And... I forgot to look it up, so forgot all about it until I started hearing regular French conversation in January. Then, partially out of context, and partially because I confirmed it in Google Translate, I figured out that it's equivalent to "so" or "therefore" or "then". It really jumps out at me, and it's used pretty frequently. Good one to know.

open to anything
open to anything, by me

J'espere --> I hope
Usually occurs at the beginning of a sentence. I don't actually hear this one that often, but I heard it in one particular conversation quite a bit, and it jumped out at me then, so I've remembered it since then... even though it's not super common.

Quelque --> Some
Very useful. It also gets combined, much like "some" does in English. So there's quelquefois (sometimes) and quelque chose (something).

Meme --> Same
Super useful word to know!!! Often combined with "chose" to become "meme chose" (pronouned "mem shows") which means "same thing"

Les deux --> Both
I hear it a lot in class, such as when someone asks which word or phrase is more common, and the teacher shrugs, nods, and says "Les deux", to indicate they're equally common.

C'est ça --> That's right; exactly
I think that the literal translation is "That's so", or something along those lines... But based on context, it seems to mean "That's right", to indicate affirmation of something's truth. Jess suggests it might be similar to saying "exactly!" in English, when you're trying to agree with a statement that someone is making. I would argue there isn't an English phrase that would be the exact equivalent. Next time I hear a sentence when it's being used, I'll try to note it down and present it in a future post.

Peut-etre --> Maybe; perhaps
Pretty straight forward...

Jamais --> Never
No additional comments.

massive pancakes
untitled, by me

-------NEW STUFF-------
Puis --> Then
Jess, I invite you to comment on this one. I started noticing earlier this week that people tend to start sentences with something that sounds like "pwee". I inferred, based on my oh-so-substantial knowledge of French pronunciation, that the word I was probably hearing was "puis". When I Google Translate that word, it gives me "Then". This makes sense, contextually, I think. Any comments from someone who knows more French than me? Side-bar, this is one of the words I have a lot of trouble pronouncing. It involves making funny non-English shapes with the mouth & lips. Curse my English-trained speech-making bits.

Besoin --> Need
Sidebar: One useful thing I learned when I tried to learn Spanish (hah!) was that when you're expressing physical sensations, the grammar is different than in English. You don't say "I am hungry", you say "I have hunger", essentially. So in Spanish, that'd be "Tengo hambre" and in French it's "J'ai faim" ("faim" being one of those tricky words where you don't pronounce the last letter and you have to plug your nose: "faih"... sort of). SOOooo back to the word "besoin". You're trying to say you need something? "J'ai besoin" (J'ai being "I have", of course.) Kyle says this is one of the words that jumps out at him.

fin de la semaine --> weekend
This phrase, when spoken in normal Quebecois French, sounds more like "fin de semaine" (or in English phonemes: "faih duh suhmaih" - or something like that). Bon fin de la semaine is how you'd wish someone a good weekend.

ALSO... someone said something to me at the bus stop today. I kinda just went "uh?" and raised my eyebrows. She repeated herself and smiled, and I THINK she was complimenting my hat so I said "merci" but she left me alone after that. Here's what it sounded like she said, please help me decode it. I'm typing it using English phonemes so I don't pollute your interpretation: Bell voh touque. I'm pret-ty sure I heard "tuque".

alpaca, by Kyle

If you were in Quebec, what phrases do you think you'd want to know how to say? In class, we learned stuff like "what's your name" (and "my name is") and "where do you come from?" (and "I come from Canada"), etc etc. But there's all sorts of little stuff we have to pick up as we go along. Like, I didn't know how to say "hear" or "see" for the longest time, and kept substituting "listen" (i.e. ecouter) and "watch" (i.e. regarder), which makes me feel dumb. I just learned those two verbs today and already forget how to conjugate them. Go me.

So... any tips for me?

Jan 23, 2010

en français, s'il vous plaît

leaveleave, by me
A big part of my decision to do a PhD in Québec City was the fact that I'll ideally end up bilingual at the end. The only problem is the 2-3 years in between where I have to struggle through the painful process of learning an entirely new language. No big.

When we moved here in November, my attempt to learn French was limited to watching French TV. That didn't go over very well, since I pretty much couldn't recognize any words. In fact, spoken French just sounded like a continuous stream. So... things didn't start out too well.

Kyle found this sweet French Assistant website, where you're taught French in a somewhat logical order (i.e. it starts out with French words that are essentially the same as English words. I find this approach works for me). Additionally, we had been to one Christmas social event, and had been around people, so by the time we started school full-time, we were able to recognize a few phrases, and even *gasp* know how to say some ourselves (Thanks to Google Translate, we knew how to say "we're picking up a package" and "we have our own bags", although the grammar is not nearly that nice).

untitled, by me
I'm enrolled in two French classes this semester. One is for speaking and writing, and the second is just for speaking. Each class is 3 hours per week and we must speak French in the class (NO ENGLISH). The teachers even teach in French, which terrified me. Imagine my surprise when I started my first class and actually understood what the teacher was saying. Now... I don't know if it's because of all that failed TV watching, or whether she has a less-Quebecois accent (which is easier to understand for me, since apparently we learn "Parisian French" in Ontario schools), or whether she talks very slow and uses simple words, but I totally get about 80% of everything she says. Which is pretty cool.

So, I'm finding the classes helpful for getting the basic vocab and the grammar rules as well. Kyle is simultaneously working on the French Assistant website (he has field work this semester so no official classes for him), and each evening we review new phrases and words and rules we've learned. And the last source for learning new things is the fact that I'm surrounded by francophones, many from France, some from New Brunswick, and obviously many from Québec. While I don't understand everything I hear (in fact, I only understand about 10% or less, since people talk so frikken fast), I've gotten to the point that I can pick out common phrases. I find this extremely useful for imposing structure into the rest of their sentences. Also, each time I hear a common word or phrase, I go home and look up the meaning and add it to my repertoire of French vocab knowledge. This way, I'm slow building up what I know... and maybe eventually I'll actually have the guts to say something in French to a local. Hah.

revealed, by me
I've been meaning to record the phrases and words I've picked up, thinking maybe it'll be helpful to someone else who's trying to learn French. I think that I tend to pick out the most common phrases, but it could also be that they stand out because they're at the beginning or end of a sentence or phrase... either way, here they are. I should add a disclaimer that in some cases, I'm just inferring the meaning of these phrases and words from context, and I could be wrong. Also, my spelling could be off because I just write them how I think they're spelled.

Parce que --> Because
Really not sure on the spelling, there. Just a guess. It might actually be Par ce que, but it's pronounced sort of like parskuh, in normal every day conversation. Interesting tidbit: In my French Grammaire book, it uses the word "car" in the context that I would have expected the word "because" to be, so I asked a couple of people about the difference. The difference isn't super obvious, but essentially it seems that "parce que" is more often used in spoken language, while "car" is the written, or less slangy, form.

Mais --> But
This is probably one of those words that jumped out at me because of it's place in the structure of spoken French - it's almost always after a pause.

Je pense --> I think
Nearly always shows up at the beginning of a sentence. People use this a lot; it seems to be the most frequent way that people express their opinions. It's often combined with a "que" to become Je pense que..., which means "I think that..." or even Je pense que, oui, which means "I think so, yes" (I'm guessing).

Bon journée --> Have a good rest of the day
Really not sure on the spelling with this one, because it's only ever spoken, as far as I can tell. It's what cashiers say when you're leaving. Took us a couple awkward moments to realize they weren't saying "Bonjour", which obviously has a slightly different meaning (one is for greeting, the other is for saying goodbye).

Donc --> Therefore, so, then
Usually shows up after a pause in a sentence, or sometimes at the beginning. I don't see this one written, but I hear it a lot. One of the first words that jumped out at me. Took me a really long time to figure out what it meant.

J'espere --> I hope
Usually occurs at the beginning of a sentence.

Quelque --> Some
Very useful. It also gets combined, much like "some" does in English. So there's quelquefois (sometimes) and quelque chose (something).

Meme chose --> Same thing

Les deux --> Both
I hear it a lot in class, such as when someone asks which word or phrase is more common, and the teacher shrugs, nods, and says "Les deux", to indicate they're equally common.

C'est ce --> This is so
I think that the literal translation is "This is", but I often hear this phrase in isolation as a statement. From context, it seems to mean "That's so" or "this is so", to indicate affirmation of something's truth. I'm also not sure on the spelling. I definitely hear this one a lot, since I've started recognizing it.

Peut-etre --> Maybe, perhaps
Kyle informs me that the literal translation is "Can be". I hear this phrase in isolation, in which case it's often combined with a shrug. Or I hear it at the beginning or end of a sentence, when people are making some sort of suggestion.

Jamais --> Never
This is a recent recollection for me. I kept hearing it in conversation, and couldn't remember what it meant. Then out of no where the word "never" popped into my head, and I've since confirmed it on Google Translate. Awesome.

There's also a lot of basic terminology that's been useful. "Ce" and "cette" are "this", depending whether your noun is masculine or feminine. "Semaine" is week (and it's feminine). All the numbers tend to jump out at us, but I was never very good at remembering them all, so I have a bit of difficulty figure out exactly what the numbers are as they're saying them... But at least I can recognize them as numbers!

And one last useful tip, for anyone who's going to visit Quebec. It's about interactions with cashiers at grocery stores, Pharmaprix (i.e. Shoppers), and other stores. Kyle and I had been going to grocery stores for a while when this story happened, and we always managed to bungle through it, thanks to some very understanding and patient cashiers. We learned very quickly to say "Nous avons les sacs" before they could ask us any of their own questions about "sac" because we never know whether they're asking if we have our own or if we want to buy some! In any case, every once in a while a cashier says an extra word after we tell them we're paying with debit, and we're never quite able to catch what they're saying, so we usually just look confused and they make their own decision about whatever they've just asked us.

One time, I bought bus tickets (billets d'autobus) from a convenience store and the woman said something that sounded like "montant?" after I had given her my debit card. I gave her the appropriate confused look and said, somewhat sheepishly, "Je ne comprends pas". She then mimed for me, by gesturing at my money total and saying "Le meme?" and then pointing upwards and saying "ou plus?". Which I gathered to mean, do I want the same amount or more money. I just pointed at the total and grunted. She took that to mean "meme". ANYWAY... that was when I learned that whatever word they're saying, which sounds something like "montant", means cashback. But the story's not over...

Last week, Kyle and I went to this little farmers market type store (like a way more expensive Joseph's that really likes their styrofoam - in fact, all stores in Quebec really like their styrofoam but I'll leave that for another post), and tried to pay with debit. The woman then said her "montant" word, and Kyle looked at me for help. I said firmly "NO", and Kyle repeated it, and the woman gave us a look like we were absolutely crazy. I couldn't figure out what the problem was. Well... I emailed a fellow anglophone (from Michigan) who's been here for a few years, and he explained for me. Apparently the cashiers are saying "meme montant", which, if you read my notes above, means "SAME MONEY". i.e. where a cashier in Ontario asks "cash-back?" meaning "do you want more money", the cashiers in Quebec ask "same money?" meaning "do you want this amount, or do you want to add cash"... so the appropriate response is actually "Oui", or "meme montant"... If you say "Non", you have to supply an additional amount that they add to the total. Oops. Keep that in mind - super helpful.

too cold for chess, by me

I actually feel pretty ridiculous when listening to French conversation right now. Mostly I hear gibberish, especially if I'm not concentrating really hard, but then someone will say one of these phrases and it will totally just pop out at me. It would be like the written equivalent of typing in 12 pt font and then using 16 pt bold on certain common phrases. Has anyone else experienced something like that when learning a new language?

Jan 17, 2010

recipe: one new recipe post in the archives

Good LoveliesGood Lovelies, by me

I've decided to backdate my recipe posts back to when I originally emailed them out. Because these tend to be hidden in the archives, I'll also announce them when I post them.

Today I posted:
Green Peas and Mushroom Green Curry


Jan 10, 2010

crafts: how to make a 'sackboy'

little big cake, by LG Weddings

So, you like Little Big Planet, and want to make a sackboy. If you're like me, you'll Google your brains out trying to find a pattern you like. I didn't find any patterns I liked, so I made up my own crochet "pattern" through trial and error. My first attempt took at least five attempts (tearing up and starting over) until I got the head right. The arms and legs were much easier (only one or two tries). I've crocheted three full sackboys (plus one lone head) in total, and they all ended up slightly different; I can't seem to keep my style consistent, and I didn't try to write down a pattern until the third one. Below, I've made an attempt at step-by-step instructions on how to make my third sackboy.

Pattern: Sackboy
I'm providing this "pattern" (I think you'll understand why I keep using quotes in a minute or so) free, and I ask that you do not sell any items you make with this pattern. Gifts are OK, however! This little guy took me about a day, but that's including all the photo-taking and writing down instructions. My first sackboy took a few days because of all the trial and error.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments, if anything is unclear or if you think I've left anything out. I'm open to modifying my "pattern" to make it clearer and/or better. And if you end up writing your own pattern using mine as a starting point, I'd love to link to you since not everyone will like my pattern.

sackboy, by me

Some notes, before you start: I've never been a very good pattern-following crocheter (is that a word?). I started crocheting only a couple of years ago and I've followed maybe 2 patterns in that time. Most of the stuff I do is building off other patterns, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. So I treat my "pattern" below as guidelines, and I therefore leave it pretty open. You'll see instructions like "crochet in a spiral for 6-7 rows" or "chain 5 or 6, depending on how you feel". If this doesn't sound like the kind of pattern you want to follow, you may want to try one of the more specific patterns elsewhere on 'the internets'. On the other hand, I don't want you to be intimidated by my lack of specifics! One of the reasons I love crocheting so much (cf knitting) is that it's so easy to rip up a few rows and start over. So... jump in and give it a try.

Some general notes: You make the sackboy in 5 parts: 1) head & body; 2) two arms; 3) two legs. You start from the top of the head and work almost entirely in a sc spiral, increasing and decreasing as you go, down to the body of the body. I used a size 3.75 crochet hook and (um...) "standard" Bernat yarn (can you tell I don't know much about yarn...). The pattern will need to be adjusted for thicker or thinner yarns and hooks. I can't tell you how to do that... it's trial and error, as I said. :)

sc = single crochet (video)
ss = slip stitch (video)
ch = chain (video)
dec = decrease by single crocheting two stitches together (video)
2sc = increase by single crocheting two single crochets into the same stitch (video)

Start & first round:
Make a magic adjustable ring (video)to start, and then make 6 sc into the ring. Tighten and tie tail to working yarn (this ensures your head won't end up with a hole in the top), and then ss to the first sc.

2nd round & remainder of the top of the head:
Chain 1 (counts as 1 sc), and then alternate (approximately*) between sc and 2sc in each stitch. When you get around to the start of that round, do a sc (or 2sc) into the first stitch in the round you're just ending. In other words, continue in a spiral around and around. When you've done another round or so, you'll shift more to a sc, sc, 2sc, pattern (rather than sc, 2sc). You're aiming for a circle that's approximately flat and disklike (a bit of a dome is more true to the character), with perhaps a bit of an ovalish shape to it (rather than circular). When your head disk is the size you'd like it, finish the circle with a ss.
*I say approximately because mine went something like this: sc, 2sc, sc, 2sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, 2sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, ...

Side of head:
ch1 to start. sc in back loop only of the previous round (this helps create a sharper line between the top and side of the head). After you've completed the first round (for those who like numbers, mine was about 27 stitches around), sc (both loops, not back loop only) in a spiral again, 1 sc in each stitch from the previous round. If you keep your stitches nice and tight, you'll eventually notice a cylindrical type shape start to appear.

After approximately 3 rows, while on the part of the spiral that corresponds to what will be the left or right side of your sackboy's head, do one 2sc to increase by one stitch. Continue sc around to the other side of the sackboy's head and do one more 2sc to increase again. Continue sc in a spiral for one more full row, or where you think the mouth should start.

Mouth & eyes:
The mouth starts a couple of stitches in from the absolute side of the head. You're going to have to eyeball it because I don't have any numbers for you (sorry). At one side of the mouth (this will become the corner of the mouth), do ch stitches until you have a chain of a length that seems like the right size for a mouth when you hold the chain next to where it would have been had you been continuing sc. Then do one sc to connect the chain back to the spiral. Again, you'll have to eyeball where you want the other side of the mouth to end. For me, I did a chain of 14 stitches and then I skipped 10 sc from the previous round.

Once you've got your mouth outlined, it's time for the eyes. I used little black shank buttons (guess how long it took me to figure out the name of that kind of button... way too long) that were in a big mixed bag of buttons from Value Village ($2.99!). I've since tried putting normal buttons on a plush doll and it just looked creepy so I think this is the way to go. I positioned my eyes about halfway between the top of the head and the mouth. Once I knew where one eye was going, I pushed in through so I could see the shank from the inside when I turned the head inside out a bit. I then sewed the eye on by doing repeated loops through the hole and surrounding yarn. It takes quite a few loops because the button seems to want to fall out of where you've got it. Keep checking, periodically, to see if your eye is firmly attached. When it is, do a couple knots to tie it off. Or you can do like I did, and just start sewing the second eye with the same thread, because it seemed easier at the time.

To make the inside of the mouth, you'll need cardboard and two small pieces of fabric (black & red). I used a triscuit box from the recycling box and some fabric scraps from a some shirts/PJs I've modified. Like most things so far, sizing the piece of cardboard is a bit of trial and error. I started by making a rectangle, then folding it in half and shoving it inside my sackboy's mouth to see roughly how big of an oval it needed to be. Then I'd trim bits off until I had the right size. I usually make the bottom of my mouth smaller than the top or else sackboy ends up with an underbite. I cut the black fabric to be large enough to fully cover the cardboard and then have some overlap on the back (it's this black fabric that will be used to attach the mouth lining to the "lips"). For my past two sackboys, I glued the black fabric onto the cardboard, and then glued the red tongue onto that. However, I couldn't find my glue yesterday, so I sewed the mouth and tongue instead. This makes things a little less neat, although quicker because I didn't have to wait. Up to you, whether you prefer sewing or gluing. I, personally, have terrible sewing technique, as you can see.

When the mouth lining is done, it's time to sew it inside. Basically the idea is to turn the head mostly inside out and sew the mouth lining to the inside loop of the crocheted part that outlines the mouth. Make sure you've got the cardboard the right orientation - I've sewed one in upside down before. I found it helped to do a couple of stitches in the corners of the mouth first, just to keep it in place as I started sewing. I didn't sew through the cardboard - I just used the black fabric. When finished, turn it right side out.

This next part is optional. I Like to put a cardboard disk in the top of the head to help keep its shape. But the LBP sackboys have rounder heads. Up to you. I just cut an oval out of cardboard and shoved it into the top of the head. Then I stuffed the head. For stuffing, I used shredded up napkins that would otherwise have been thrown out (no, they weren't used. They were simply impractical since they left silver sparkles on anyone who used them!).

Neck & body:
Now that the head and eyes are in, and the head's stuffed, it's time to start decreasing. Do 3sc after the connection of the mouth (the right side of the mouth), and then start alternating dec, 1sc, dec, 1sc until you think it's the right size for the neck. Stuff a bit more stuffing in there before you start increasing again. To increase for the body, do 2sc in each sc around for one row/round (still working in a spiral), and then alternate sc, 2sc for another row until the diameter is good. Then sc in each sc around continually until the body is approximately the right length (mine was ~1"). Dec 1, sc about 3/4 of the way around the body and then dec again. sc about 1/4 of the way around and then dec again. sc, sc, sc, dec, sc, sc, dec, sc, dec, and then alternate sc and dec until you're really small. Cut the yarn so that you have about 2 inches left, and thread through the loops of the last row. Pull tight and do a slip knot to close the bottom hole.

[note: these directions are for the exact arms on the sackboy above. I think they're a little large so I would have decreased the initial number of chains by 1.]
Row 1: ch7
Row 2: sc into the 2nd chain from the end. sc to the end
Row 3-6: ch1, sc to the end
Row 7: ch1, sc to the end, and then do another sc into the last stitch ( you should have 2sc in the last stitch from the previous row)
Row 8: same as row 3-6

continuing from the last stitch of row 8, ch 5. ss into 2nd ch from the end, and then sc in remaining 4 ch. ss into one of the stitches in the last row you made for the arm. ss into one stitch over, and make another finger (5ch, 22, 4sc). repeat until you have four finger. For the thumb, do 4 ch instead of 5. You may need to play around with the fingers a bit, to make sure you get the placement correct. I kept making 6 fingers by accident because my arms were too many stitches wide. When the fingers are done, cut the yarn with about 3 inches left, and use it to sew the arm (i.e. fold the arm in half). Tie off but leave some loose yarn so you can tie the arms onto the body.

For the second arm, follow the same directions except the first finger has 4ch and the last finger has 5ch.

Start and round 1: Make a magic adjustable ring and make 6sc into it. Tighten and tie with knot and ss.
Round 2: ch1, then do 2sc, sc (approximately alternating again) for one round. You want a flat disk. ss to first sc to make the loop.
Round 3 and rest of leg: ch1, then sc in back loop only of previous round. continue for one round. When you've completed this next round, instead of ss to the first stitch, continue in a spiral but doing normal sc (not back loop only). Continue sc for one row.
dec 1. Add a little cardboard circle to keep the foot round and flat.
sc in a spiral for 2 more rows. dec 1.
sc in a spiral for ~5 more rows, then start alternating dec, sc, dec, sc until you've gotten quite small, but not too small. Add stuffing to the leg. Cut the yarn with a couple of inches and loop the yarn through each sc in the last row you made. Pull to tighten, do a slipknot to tie it off, leaving a bit of yarn to attach the leg to the body. Do the other leg in the exact same manner. It might be useful to count your rows (i didn't), because I ended up with 2 legs of slightly different length. I hope Eric doesn't notice...

The exact assembly technique is up to you. I just left lots of 2-3" threads on each body part and then used those to attach the limbs to the body. For the legs, I used a single loop through the body to attach each leg, which leaves the legs pretty mobile. If you wanted your sackboy to stay locked in a particular position, more sewing is necessary. For the arms, I needed two loops: one for the top of the "shoulder" and one for the "armpit". I then used a small crochet hook to grab each loose thread and pull into into the body cavity.

Voila! You have a sackboy.

Jan 4, 2010

rainbow cake

it's a frikkin rainbow cake! Photo by Aleta Meadowlark

My mind... it eez blown.

Go to Omnomicon to find out how to make it. It sounds ridiculously easy and I must find an excuse to make it soon.

recipe: two new recipe posts in the archives

red, by me

I've decided to backdate my recipe posts back to when I originally emailed them out. Because these tend to be hidden in the archives, I'll also announce them when I post them.

Today I posted:
Green Peas with Coconut and Cilantro
Sweet & Sour Schmeatballs


Jan 2, 2010


escape, by me

Reflections on 2009:
I started this blog at the end of 2008, thinking that it would eventually become a replacement for my email list of recipes I used to send out on a (roughly) weekly basis.

From my first post.
#1: this is a place for me to post recipes that I've sampled and decided are worth sharing.
Also, as most people who know me have already realized, I'm a bit of an eco-nut. This blog will #2: give me a place to comment, rant, and rave about various environmental topics. Furthermore, I've recently become very concerned over my consumption and how much waste people produce. I'm on a personal conquest to reduce waste in various ways, such as reusing and mending items that would otherwise be thrown out. So I will #3: post stories, comments, and how-to's on my quest to reduce waste.

But then, the unthinkable happened. In January of 2009, I got a job. For whatever reason, this job caused me to think that I didn't have enough time to maintain my email list or recipe blog, and I stopped posting. This lack of posting probably had to do something with the fact that I got married in Sept of 2009... so all of my free time went to DIY wedding planning and projects.

DIY, by LG Weddings, cropped by me

Around May or so, Kyle quit his job at Sutherland to take up at position in my lab at U.Windsor. This was a good thing from one perspective (he didn't have to do customer service calls anymore, he was learning about a new kind of biology, he was working within 5 feet of my desk), but was also somewhat awkward at times (I was technically his 'superior' given that I had 4 months more experience and knowledge on the job). We worked in this lab until November, because....

I ended up taking the PhD position that I mentioned way back in January, and Kyle and I moved to Quebec in late November. Soon after we arrived here, Kyle was accepted into a PhD position as well, which will also start in January. So we've been adjusting to the new location, learning French (very slowly), and taking some time to be lazy before school starts up again.

Other accomplishments of note include the fact that I helped start a craft group (which is either calling itself World of Woolcraft or Stitch N Bitch) with Michelle back in Windsor. See, I had caught a whiff of the crafting bug starting way back when I knit myself a scarf for my Harry Potter costume. But then I discovered crocheting (thanks mom!) and I can't stop. I finished Kyle a blanket, crocheted a blanket for my cousin Michelle as a multi-year Christmas/birthday gift , have made wristwarmers and a hat for myself... plus I'm currently working on about 5 different projects right now. I also dabbled with quilting by making myself a rather spiffy purse, but I am beginning to think that I don't have the patience or precision required to have quilting as my craft of choice.

triplex, by me

What this all leads to is a shift in the focus of this blog. I've been doing a lot of writing lately, either emailing friends and family updates and stories about Quebec or updating my Offbeat Bride Tribe profile, and I like it (the writing, that is). So I'd like to continue writing without being restricted to recipes and green-ness. I therefore propose that I can write about anything that comes to mind, but it'll likely revolve around:
  • recipes
  • crafts
  • environmentalism
  • adjusting to Quebec
  • photography?
and there might be a touch of "Hey I read an interesting journal article about ducks today". I'm not sure if anyone will read the things I write, but please feel free to comment if you are a reader - I like to know if anyone's visiting.