Friday, 30 November 2012

{this moment}: My Macca Moment

{this moment} - Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule, one of my favourite authors who blogs at  

"A Friday ritual. A single photo... capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Unlike Amanda, this week mine will have words. I can't help myself. 

I am a lifelong Beatles fan. I was raised on their music by a Beatles-loving mother. Forty-eight years ago the Beatles played a show at Empire Stadium in Vancouver and my mother was there. Last Sunday my husband and I went to Paul McCartney's show at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver. It was epic, amazing, everything I wanted it to be an more. It was a show of a lifetime for me. The feelings of peace and love were strong that night.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Fall Garden Update

My goodness did time fly this autumn. I planned on journaling about my first attempt at planting garlic and my fall garden clean up much earlier than this, but life seemed to get in the way. My teaching job, my own children, my extended family, all kept me busy. Today I went out to mulch and harvest the last of my Brussels sprouts and I realized that December is almost upon us. I suppose my husband putting up the Christmas lights and decorating the front yard for the coming holiday season was a bit of a wake up call for me.
Beautiful, pungent garlic cloves separated and ready to be planted.

In late October I finally decided to plant my garlic. I fell in love with garlic scapes this summer via the Richmond Sharing Farm CSA (link) pick up and I knew I wanted to grow my own garlic. I planted some of my left over Sharing Farm garlic (one row) but the rest I bought at West Coast Seeds because I wanted to be sure that I was planting hard neck garlic to get scapes in the early summer. I chose the Russian red garlic (link).

Delicious scapes from the Sharing Farm CSA

My youngest daughter was such a distraction taking all my cloves helper in the garden. I don't know what I would do without her! I finally gave her a bucket of dirt, a toy shovel and pretend seeds so I could finish what I needed to before having to pick up my other two kids at school.
I planted tulip and daffodil bulbs the same day.

If I remember correctly I planted approximately thirty cloves in one of my two raised beds. I have been over-zealous in the past with spacing of my seedlings, so I hope I erred on the conservative side of spacing this time.

Finally today I remembered to get out and mulch the garlic bed. We bought two hay bales for our October display in the front yard and I had every intention of bringing those bales around to the backyard to mulch my garlic. However, much in the same way I am a lazy crafter, I am also a lazy gardener and those hay bales still remain in my front yard. My husband knows me well and suggested that the hay become part of our Christmas display and feed our illuminated reindeer. What a smart fellow. Then I realized that I have a lawn covered in leaves and I did two jobs in one by raking the leaves for my garlic mulch. Problem solved. I supposed I should have chopped the leaves up, but remember, I'm lazy. I may have to go back and redo this if we have another big wind storm, but as you can see from the photo, I have no shortage of leaves. By then I may have no more excuses for leaving my hay in the front yard and can use that to mulch.
Do you think the "leaves as mulch" idea was a good one?

My other raised bed has some kale from the summer that is probably about four to five feet high now and still hasn't bolted (I was waiting to collect the seeds). So looks like we will be having some kale chips soon. I also found a rogue beet and chard plant that I was unaware were growing. What a nice surprise. I harvested the last of my Brussels sprouts today because I am taking some into my class at school tomorrow. I found out that most of my students have never heard of or tried Brussels sprouts so I am going to take the stalk in and steam them for all to try (along with some beets to steam and kale to make into kale chips).
The poor Brussels sprouts are a little worse 
for wear after an aphid infestation, but still delicious.

So now the garden is all ready for its long winter sleep.

My next step, researching and planning my summer garden and begin learning about winter gardening for next year!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

A Great Garden Gadget

Can you guess what this garden gadget does?

It's called the Wingdigger (link) and I bought it at West Coast Seeds in Ladner, B.C. I purchased it at their store but they do have an online store as well.

It turns compost and aerates it without a shovel, and honestly it is the best $15 I have spent toward my garden. I find it almost impossible to turn my compost with a shovel because it is in a tall bin (purchased from my city). I am not strong enough in my upper body to dig down deep enough, especially as my bin is now almost full to the top.
The wingdigger is pushed all the way down 
into my compost bin here. The handle is visible 
on the right side of the photo.

The wingdigger has a double sided blade at the bottom that goes up when it is pushed down into the compost then opens as it is pulled up. I can reach all the way to the bottom of my bin and pull it up fairly easily. It creates air holes and moves compost around. Of course it doesn't completely turn the compost and mix it up, but if I use this often and then do some occasional turning with a shovel it does the trick nicely.
Pure genious

This is not a paid endorsement of any kind. This is just a cool garden gadget with which I am impressed.

Friday, 16 November 2012

{this moment} 16-11-12

{this moment} - Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule, one of my favourite authors who blogs at  

"A Friday ritual. A single photo... capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Honour Thy Mother: Mother Earth

A Facebook friend shared this video today (thanks Wendy). I found it very moving, to the point of tears. It pretty much sums up why I am pushing myself to learn more, taking risks with what I can do and trying to be a better global citizen.

We are all children of Mother Earth. Honour thy mother. 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

DIY Felt Poppy Tutorial

A few years ago I decided to make my own poppies for Remembrance Day, in honour of my late grandfather, who I called Poppy. He served in WWII in the RAF as a navigator. Although it was a pivotal time in his life (met and married my grandmother in England), he did not like to talk about the war or his part in it. All he would say to me each Remembrance Day was that it was tragic what each side did to each other, and that he always thought about the families in Germany living in fear and being injured or dying as a result of his bombing raids. He did not like to glorify the war or tell stories about the war (except to tell tales on himself - one involved a brick wall, a bicycle and a night of drinking). He did hint at some of the horrible scenes he witnessed, but on the whole he never participated as a veteran in Remembrance Day ceremonies. In many ways he became a quiet pacifist in his later years.

At this time of year when people remember the many sacrifices soldiers made, and continue to make, I like to also think about the innocent victims of war and victims of violence of all kinds. This year my students and I researched some current conflicts around the world and we had a discussion about how our world seems peaceful to us in North America. The world, however, is far from peaceful; we are removed from their lives that it doesn't have much impact upon us. Many of us are aware of the continued violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. How much do people in general know about the conflicts and violence in Sudan, Mali, Syria, Nigeria, Algeria, Congo, Palestine and Israel, and more. Also, there is the silent violence toward and mistreatment of workers around the world and slave workers in developing nations who provide us with the goods we want ?

When a good friend linked to this site (link) about wearing white poppies for peace (to remember all victims of war and its environmental destruction, as well as to seek peaceful ways to end conflict) I knew I had to make my own peace poppy (in above photo). I like to think that my Poppy would have liked one of his own to wear, and this year I will think of him as I wear my own peace poppy to my children's school's Remembrance Day assembly. For another well written article about white peace poppies, read this article.

It always bothers me to see the plastic flocked poppies after Remembrance Day discarded on the ground or lost. I wish they made the pins more like safety pins so they didn't poke my kids or fall out easily. My homemade poppies have safety pins attached to the back.

Here is my step-by-step tutorial for creating felt poppies:

1. Cut out a circle shape in red, or white for a peace poppy. I tend to eyeball things (I'm allergic to measuring in general) so I cut a circle that is approximately twice the size of the flower I want to create. 

2. After knotting the end of the thread, use a running stitch, go around the circumference of the circle about 5 mm from the edge (don't go too close as the felt may break when the stitch is pulled in step 4 and 5). I used blue thread so it would show up in the photo but I usually use thread to match the fabric colour. 

3. In step 3 the whole circle has been stitched. Do not tie off the end.

4. Gently start pulling on the thread so that the felt begins to gather.

5. Continue pulling on the thread until the whole circle has been gathered in the centre.

6. Reshape the flower and gently flatten it until it takes a flower shape.

7. Cut another smaller circle out of black felt (or green for the peace poppy). Sew the small circle onto the flower. It could also be glued on. If I were feeling especially crafty I could sew black beads onto the black centre. For my peace poppy I embroidered "PEACE" onto the green circle before I attached it to my white poppy.

8. This is the completed poppy. 

9. At this point I sometimes sew a safety pin to the back, although I am a lazy crafter and my peace poppy is currently attached to my coat using a safety pin coming through the inside of my coat.

I'm wearing my peace poppy this year hoping for a more peaceful future for all on this planet.



A year later and I find it interesting the negative press that the Harper government of Canada is giving to peace poppies. I won't go into all the reasons they give for "disrespectful" the white poppies are because it makes my heart rate go up and I don't need that right now. Since posting this a year ago around Remembrance Day I have heard very strong opinions about why I shouldn't be wearing a peace poppy, as well as why I shouldn't be making my own poppy and reusing it each year. 

While I was prepared for the former opinion, I was wholly unprepared for the latter. Apparently I am not being supportive of veterans when I make my own. However, I donate to the veterans' red poppy fund each year at my school so I am still unclear how I am hurting veterans. I stand by my opposition to the waste of discarded poppies lying around on school grounds. Furthermore, I believe that the values of my country, the very values that veterans fought for, guarantee me the right to express my values and opinions.

This may ruffle feathers, but in my opinion most Remembrance Day ceremonies seem to almost glorify war, with a jingoistic edge. The soldiers sacrificed and died for my freedom. They fought so I can live in peace. But civilian casualties and deaths on either side of a conflict often far outnumber military deaths, and these innocent people did not volunteer their lives for any cause. Are their deaths meaningless? We honour soldiers but say nothing of the other casualties, be they environmental, animal or human. 

I love how my school (where I work) does the Remembrance Day ceremony. It is respectful of veterans who served in any war while at the same time asking people to think about a better world with peace for all, regardless of where one lives. Students read poems and sing songs about peace, be it on the playground, at home or in the community. My favourite part is the parade of nations when our students represent their birth countries to show the diversity of our community, while at the same time showing how we are all the same. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Autumn Crown Tutorial

My daughters collect so many leaves that I decided I needed to do something crafty with them.

I saw a tutorial for this leaf crown on line two years ago, before Pinterest, and I didn't bookmark the link (or if I did I can't find it in the mess of my bookmarks now), so I'm sorry that I can't give credit to the original crafter for the idea.

All you need are leaves. Plain and simple, right? The leaves cannot be thoroughly dried or else they will crack and crumble when they are folded.

Here are the steps:

1. Collect at least a dozen leaves outside. They can be all one colour, or for a more colourful crown, collect a variety of leaf types.

2. Start with one leaf. Fold it in half, with the stem at the side, so that you have the symmetrical points of the leaf touching each other.

3. Fold another leaf the same way.

4. Use the stem from the second folded leaf to poke two holes just above the line of symmetry of the first leaf.

5. Weave the stem of the second leaf in and out of the punched holes in the first leaf.

6. Once the third leaf is added there should be enough of the third stem to weave through the first leaf to make the crown sturdier.

7. Follow steps two to six for each leaf you add to the crown, until the circumference of the crown is large enough to fit over the prince or princess's head.

8. Weave the stem of the very first leaf through the last leaf added to secure the crown into a circular shape. Be sure to have the ends of the stems on the inside of the crown for a smooth outside.

9. If the leaf is too damp leave it to dry before using.

10. Place the leaf crown on the autumn prince or princess. Voila!

When the leaves become too dry and crumbly, just put them back outside, or better yet throw them into a compost container or garden.