Mar 31, 2010

green: old shoes and gym gear

I've recently hit the end of the road with two pairs of shoes. The "leather" (I think it's pleather...) has cracked and is falling apart in places. Since one of the pairs is boots and I need my boots to be waterproof, this crack renders them essentially useless. But what do I do with them? I don't feel right giving them to Value Village. Why would anyone else want my nasty-ass cracked shoes? Well I found this website online, which gives suggestions on what to do with old gym gear. Since they mention shoes, I'm pasting the ideas here.

Follow Women's Health's recent tips on giving your gear a second life:
Recycle your shoes through Nike Reuse a Shoe program.
Recycle any Patagonia clothing.
Recycle or donate yoga mats through the Recycle Your Mat initiative.

Source: Fit Sugar

Mar 29, 2010

crafts: cutest bootie EVAR!

I just finished the cutest little baby bootie and I NEED to share it with y'all. Well, I don't know how many people read this, but I feel like putting it on a blog satisfies my need to run around like a crazy person showing it to everyone I know (which I have also done, actually...).
The lighting was bad with the photo, but checkitout!

I made it this morning. Now I need to spend some time perfecting the pattern so I can churn out hundreds. And, yes, I do want to make a larger version for myself. How cute would this be in adult slippers? I can't justify spending $70 on real chucks so I feel like this would be a pretty decent second-best ;)
You can read more about it on Ravelry, too.

Mar 28, 2010

recipe: nic & kyle's vegetarian chili

(Originally emailed Apr. 2, 2008)

our recipe!
our recipe!, by LG Weddings

I've added two new people to the list. Julie, from my lab (I've added you in case you find some recipes for your sis or for CR), and Dane who I know from Laurier people (hey, you said you wanted a recipe!). The background info: I (try to) send out a vegetarian recipe every week, seeing as Kyle and I usually try at least 1 or 2 new recipes per week, and I hope that someone out there actually finds something they like.

Today I will share with you my recipe for vegetarian chili. I grew up with my mom's chili recipe: simple, tasty, hearty, but full of meat. And it turns out that it doesn't work well as chili when you just omit the meat. I have tried time and time again to make vegetarian chili and it nearly always ends up tasting "off" and being overly liquidy. So I did some investigative work (including Wikipedia and some recipe sites), plus some trial and error, and finally settled on a vegetarian chili recipe I like. Kyle says it's the best food I make. I don't have a meat substitute in it (I've tried it and I didn't like it), but you could always try that if you wanted. I usually serve this chili with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheese. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll chop up some avocado and mix it with lime juice and serve that over top of the chili. I guess green onions would also work as a garnish. We make fresh french crusty bread for dipping.

Some comments from now me (as opposed to me writing in April of 2008). I was searching for this recipe today and I couldn't find it (can't find any recipes in our recipe box since I decided to "re-organize" it. Grr. Then I checked my second go-to spot: my blog! And I realized to my astonishment *gasp* that I haven't posted our chili recipe. As you've already read, Kyle and I developed this recipe together, but the other cool news about it is that we served it at our wedding! The caterer at the Toronto Zoo (Compass Canada) was really great about it and they made our chili for us. How cool is that?

Now as it turns out, Kyle and I have different methods of making this chili. And... his tends to end up better than mine. So I'll intersperse the Kyle Method below.

dinner buffet!
our recipe!, by LG Weddings

Nic & Kyle's Vegetarian Chili
Ease: 1 very easy
Time: 3 somewhat quick (quick to throw everything in a pot, but long time to let it simmer)
Ingredients: easy to get
Source: my mom, plus inspiration from various places

crockpot chili, by me

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 chili or jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 large cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1-2 splashes red wine
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 squeezed lemon (or about 2-3 Tbsp of lemon juice)
  • few grinds/shakes of black pepper
  1. Saute garlic, onion and pepper in a bit of oil for a few minutes - until fragrant and onions are soft. But don't brown garlic.
  2. In crockpot or slow-cooker, combine remaining ingredients and add onions and garlic.
  3. Set crock pot to high until chili starts to boil, then turn heat down.
  4. Boil for several hours. Throughout the day, scoop off the liquid that rises to the top and RESERVE. Do this before you stir it because it's easier. (Kyle method: don't scoop off liquid until the very end)
  5. Before serving, mix some (> 1 Tbsp) cornstarch into the mug of reserved liquid and add gradually back into the chili until the chili is thick.
  6. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, lime-y avocado cubes, etc. Also, fresh bread.
  7. Yum.

Mar 21, 2010

pretty things

I've fallen into a new semi-obsession. For lack of a better term, I'm calling it "looking at pretty things". I'm not quite sure when it started happening, but it hit me full force last weekend, when I spent hours browsing craft, design, fashion, and photography blogs and adding them all to my Reader (and again, when finding images to use in this collage, I just spent another good 2.5 hours). I can trace the factors in this obsession (thrift-store finds & Anne-Marie, wedding-planning, Offbeat Bride, Etsy, crocheting, America's Next Top Model, quilting & Michelle Dobrin, watching hours of Colour Confidential, my new years resolution to "dress better", my yearning to be a real photographer, Buzz, Reader, & the blogsophere), but still the obsession itself kind of snuck up on me. And last weekend when blog-browsing, I was unreasonably excited about skimming through these blogs. I've fallen in love with cotton candy colours and old-fashioned photography, I suddenly care about fashion, and I *need* to redecorate our apartment.

I've created a place for me to store these pretty (and strange and/or interesting) things I see scattered over the web. I'm creating it for myself, not for anyone else, but if you want to check it out, you can.

french: the strangeness of learning a language

[untitled, by me.]

Learning a new language is such a strange experience. It's like, I'll be sitting there listening to something my teacher is saying, and even though she's clearly speaking French, I can understand her. My brain is ill-behaved and tends to try to translate everything word-for-word, which is apparently a bad way to go about learning a new language. But my brain doesn't listen to me when I tell it to stop translating. And despite the attempted word-for-word translation that my brain keeps trying to do, sometimes when I'm listening to French conversation, I just understand what is being said, before my translating brain can catch up. So I'll find myself nodding agreement even as my brain finally proudly announces that it's decyphered what's being said.


Have you experienced anything like this, or am I the only one?

Mar 16, 2010

green: eco home

click on the photo for the original source.

I loved reading about this home, so I'm sharing it with you. Check out the cool supplies this guy uses to build homes with. I'm in awe.

From Interior Design
Bakker's commitment to recycled or recyclable materials gets a full workout inside, too. Since interior partitions aren't load-bearing, he could construct them with structurally flawed concrete blocks found abandoned in a field, where they'd acquired a patina of weathering and stains. Only the drywall fails to meet his exacting eco standards. "Magnesium-oxide board wasn't manufactured yet locally," he explains. Which is why the ceiling and floor sport expensive Australian plywood rather than a much cheaper but dubiously sourced Chinese import. Cabinetry, shelving, beds, and the front door are made of heavy-duty plywood once used to crate mining equipment. "It's so beautiful, with branding marks and stenciled numbers all over it," he says. He adds that many of the house's plywood surfaces were sealed with store-bought soap, "an old technique from Scandinavia."

Reading about this really makes me wonder what it takes to accomplish something like this. Money, obviously. But initiative, land, know-how, connections, influence, skills of persuasion, what else? Is it possible for a "normal" person to build a home out of reclaimed materials, or do you need to be a Big Name?

Mar 14, 2010

crafts: recent finished objects

If you haven't already joined me on Ravelry, you should do so. And for those of you who haven't, I wanted to share some of my recently finished objects. I'm very much into "practical crocheted items" right now, so if you noticed a theme... you're not imagining it. Click on a photo for more info about the project & some more photos.

External Harddrive Case for Kyle

iPod Cozy for Kyle - I'm really proud of this one!

Neon Nuclear Blanket for Jack Borrelli

Cutlery Case for Moi

I've almost finished my first baby quilt and I'm not happy with it. I'm not a good quilter. Quilting requires patience, and precision, and the proper equipment. Quilting sans those things = bad.

A bit of self-appreciation for a moment: my craftiness was featured on my favourite(only) wedding blog, Offbeat Bride.

I also discovered, which I've only spent about 1/2 hour exploring so I'm not sure if I like it more or less than Ravelry. Either way, I've found a bunch o' ways to waste time/procrastinate... and it's going to ruin me (or at least my PhD). I did find a SWEET idea for what to do with jean hems (I now have a reason to appreciate my short legs), and I also found a sweet article on what to do with old jeans, which makes me a happy camper.

Jean Hem Skirt = AWESOME (note: that's not me, and I didn't make that skirt. That's simply my inspiration. Click on the photo for more details)

And the last thing I will share with you for today is: a nifty little program that traces your mouse patterns (dots indicate periods of inactivity). I find it pretty exciting to turn it on during a particular activity and then try to figure out what was going on during that activity. This image was me blog-browsing for 1.5 hours + a shower.
mouse-tracing blog-browsing

Mar 8, 2010

french: FAIL

Trying to learn interact with people in a language you just barely understand and can hardly speak does a real number on your emotional health. The elation I experience when I've successfully navigated an encounter in French is pretty awesome, but the embarrassment, frustration, and self-flagellation I feel after an unsuccessful encounter are pretty darn awful. I've decided to document some of my wins and fails, in the hopes that it’ll cheer me up, motivate me to improve, and perhaps diffuse some of the embarrassment.

Fail: Pretty much any social encounter. The structure, grammar, and topic of normal everyday conversations are beyond my comprehension. I get maybe 1 in 10 words and have no concept of the flow of conversation.

Win: I needed to obtain proof of registration at Laval in order to obtain a student bus pass. I had printed a form, and was dropping it off at the registrar’s office. Turns out it was the wrong form, and I needed to specify why I needed it so that she could get the correct form. I understood what she was saying, she understood what I was saying (en français), and it was good. It might have helped that I prefaced it by saying “Je parle un peu de français”.

Fail: A new person started at the DUC office a couple weeks ago, and I don’t think he knows I’m a stupid Anglophone. He came into the packed lunchroom one day so I got up to give him my seat, thinking the message was clear. I had misjudged, however, and he was standing near the sink waiting for his meal to microwave as I washed my dishes. He said something to me, which I interpreted to mean either “Are you done with your seat?” or “Can I have your seat?” or something along those lines, but because I didn’t know the specific question he was asking, I didn’t know the specific answer. Solution? I grunted and waved my hands. He seemed to get the message because he left and took my seat. Utter failure.

Win: Actually obtaining the student bus pass required a trip to the mall. We had no idea how this was going to work out, but I started with my usual preface and then stated “Nous avons besoin de le carte OPUS” (recognizing that the grammar was incomplete, but that this was the best I could pronounce). A look of understanding on her face and a bit of an awkward pause prompted “Nous sommes etudiants.” (pronounced improperly b/c I forgot la liason). She handed us a couple forms, charged us the correct amount, we got photos, and voila! Bus passes! Total win, even if I was having a minor panic attack at the time…

Fail: I was at Le Pub for dinner with 4 francophones, and decided that the only thing I felt comfortable ordering was des frites. Seemed simple enough. Turns out the pronunciation is super specific and I can’t say it properly. Two of my francophone friends jumped in to clarify. Super fail. I should have just gone with poutine.

Win: I needed to send a blanket to Mike & Megan’s baby, and had been procrastinating as long as possible. Once Jack was born though… I really needed to send it. I got my phrase ready, based on what I’m comfortable with (I’m uber-polite b/c it’s habit/easy to start ever request with “Je voudrais…”): “Je voudrais d’envoyer ça” and shoved the box on the counter. He asked what service I wanted (well I figured that’s what he was asking, since I didn’t understand him) and I said (totally faking it): “Moins prix”. He repeated, in proper grammar, “Moins char”, to which I nodded. WIN!

Fail: Today, I tried to send a book. I thought it would be much easier than the package b/c it’d be letter mail. Um, no. The guy decided that I was an Anglophone and he’d try to make it easy on me by showing me the different prices and holding up fingers for the number of days they would take. Unfortunately I didn’t understand what he was doing and didn’t pay attention to the first price he showed me. So when he showed me the second, I was like “erm…” and figured that the prices were close enough that I just wanted the second price. But I didn’t know how to say that. I tried to just point and say “ça” but he didn’t understand (understandably), so he switched to English. I always classify an English switch as a fail. I think I amused him because I kept trying to speak French even though I clearly couldn’t. He asked me what the package was and I was like “huh?” but he said “livre?” and I was like “oui!” and he asked how much (because insurance is included) and then said “twenty dollars?” and I was like “nah, un dollar” and he laughed. Then he smiled when I said “merci” as he handed me my receipt. So… fail because of the English-switch, but at least he doesn’t hate me for being a stupid Anglophone.

Mar 7, 2010

health: do you wii fit?

routine, by me

My fitness regime has been extremely erratic/inconsistent since... forever.

Elementary & High School: I hated gym class; I hated outside. Briefly considered taking a grade 11 class that used exercise machines, but didn't (probably because it would have required me to take grade 10 gym *shudder*)

there's something about his smile I don't quite like..., by one of my parents

Undergrad: I joined a women's only gym for 4 months when living at my cousin Michelle's place between OAC & 1st year. I decided I actually liked exercising. Did aquafit in first or second year. In 3rd (?) year, I went to the U.Waterloo gym with the boys for several months with interesting results (did you know if a girl does too much "chest-work", she can end up with 4 boobs? true story). Decided I really liked weight-lifting. Tried to go to WLU gym a few times in 4th year, but it didn't stick. Decided I needed a gym buddy.

Costa Rica heavy lifting, by Kyle

Spent some time in the "crappy gym" at U.Windsor to get in shape for field work, with Jess as my gym buddy (yay!). 3.5 month field season in Costa Rica got me in the best shape of my life. Subsequent inaction gained me 10 lbs in fat (which only finally disappeared when I worked a bizarre 1-week schedule of field work on the vegetarian-unfriendly Limnos + a 2-day stomach bug). Did a few days of gym time in the last year of my MSc with Karan & Jess.

chubby me, by Kyle

The Middle Year: Purchased a Wii Fit in Oct 2008 and started using it 3 times a week when working part-time for Dan. Stopped using it when I started full-time for Jan.

spin, by LG Weddings

Prompted by the fact that I don't even walk to school anymore, the fact that I'm ALWAYS TIRED, and finally catalyzed by (my favourite photographer) Rebekka's blog post about exercise, I decided to try again. Only thing I can seem to stick to is Wii Fit... so I've been doing 31 minutes every morning. I have Wii Fit Plus, and set up a routine for myself. I find I work best if I have a routine, or else I'll just play two balance games and get bored. So far... it seems to be working. It's embarrassing, but I actually get stiff from Wii Fitting. I was really out of shape, I guess... Also, I'm not as tired in the evenings, which is nice.

What do you do for exercise? Do you Wii Fit? Do you have a routine? What are your favourite exercises (on and off Wii Fit)?

Here's my routine:
  • Palm Tree
  • Half-Moon
  • Chair
  • Tree
  • Cobra
  • Downward-facing Dog
  • Warrior
  • Triangle
  • Sun Salutation
  • Single-Leg Extension
  • Lunge
  • Torso Twists
  • Sideways Leg Lift
  • Rowing Squat
  • Arm & Leg Lift
  • Plank
  • Deep Breathing
I'm considering switching Deep Breathing to the very top, but that would require me to delete and reset all my exercises and I'm a bit lazy, since I just got them in an order I like!

Mar 1, 2010

crafts: join me on ravelry!

diablo, by me

Do you knit or crochet? Are you part of that World of Woolcraft/Stitch N' Bitch group back in Windsor that I miss so much? Join me on Ravelry. We can keep track of each other's projects and share what we're working on and have finished!

I joined a year ago but only just started exploring and I really like it. You can search for patterns, add patterns to your "queue" of projects, and start projects just by clicking a link. I've already got 15 different pattern marked as "to do in the future". And I've already started two different patterns I discovered on Saturday. It's fun stuff. So you should join me. It's still in Beta form, so you have to request an invitation to join, but it only takes a few days to receive the invite, so hurry up and join!! *EDIT: After revising the website, it seems that you may not need to request an invite to join... Kaitlin joined really quickly after reading this email so it seems pretty easy.*

And if you're already on Ravelry, I'm pixienicki, like I am everywhere on the Web...

Jack and blanket