Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What Food Challenge Are You Facing?

Food instability is everywhere.
I don't know what challenges you're facing this year, but up here in the north, one of ours will be to deal with the growing cost of groceries.
Not just fresh fruit and vegetables either...all groceries. It seems that the healthier a food is, the more expensive it is! So many folks reach for items with empty calories, rather than veggies. As convenient as it is to grab a box of Kraft Dinner, how many of us have the time and budget to think about making that same dish from scratch? Sure, there's less chemicals and crap in it, but how many of us reach for a brick of cheese, a little milk and a package of elbow noodles instead? Is it worth it to buy four loaves of bread and trust that it's not mostly filler, when we can make our own?

I'm fortunate to be able to make that choice.

But what about the food items we can't make? Like peanut butter? The price on that comfort food jumped a few years ago, and of course, it's never come down. Coffee is outrageous, and to counteract how much we were spending on it, I started drinking tea.
Fresh veggies are mind-blowingly expensive. I need to get off my arse and plant lettuce and spinach again, to grow inside. No, I won't be able to grow a massive head of romaine, or a large bag of spinach, but it's better than going without because we can't afford that big bag of greens.

So, what food challenges do you have to contend with this year? Any ideas how to ease the pinch?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Let There Be Peace, And Let It Begin With Me

When I was still young, I thought I understood what peace was. I was convinced my world was a pretty safe place. In my early twenties, I used to work in an area of downtown Toronto I didn't know was dangerous. I just walked around like I owned the whole neighborhood. No one ever hassled me on my short walk to the subway, or on the train either. I thought it was a peaceful commute. And it was.

But these days, there are a rising number of unsafe places. And far less peace than I remember. But maybe my understanding of peace has changed? Let's check...

  1. 1.
    freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.
  2. 2.
    freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.

Yup, that's pretty much what my definition is as well.
So why is there less of it? Is it, as a friend on the phone last night suggested, because fewer people care about the effect their words and actions have on others? Perhaps.
There is more violence today, more war, more judgement and more hatred. Using the definition above and physics, when there is more violence on the opposite scale, there must be less peace. Like a glass that's filled with water. More water -- less air space. 

My phone call with a friend last night was enlightening. At some point in the conversation, my friend said, "It comes down to one thing -- is that person's choice to do what they want with their body harming me in any way? Will it impact my life if a woman chooses to have her baby even if that baby is a product of rape? Will it impact my life if you choose to love someone of the same gender?" So why aren't more people asking themselves these kinds of questions before they judge others? Maybe it's too much work. Maybe it's easier for them to judge before trying to understand? I don't have the answers. But I'm mighty glad that I and my family are out here in the bush!

Some of you might remember that I can go on for hours about Ravelry, the knitting/crocheting/weaving/fiber website. Today, one of the hot discussions was the upcoming world-wide knit-in for peace. The event was born from one simple comment about the potential for peace if a few hundred knitters all decided to knit for peace. From the concept creator, Christina Campbell,

"Last year after conducting the first “peace-along” I jokingly said “if we could get knitters around the globe to focus on peace for 21 days we might create world peace.” At this point I say, no joking, what have we got to lose?
I’ve created a cowl pattern that has a bit of a soothing stitch pattern. It’s a 4-row repeat. Knit 1 repeat per day and at the end of 21 days (or close to it) you’ll have a peaceful cowl. Optional i-cord edging."
What’s a peace-along? There will be a daily tip on how to infuse more peace into your life. These tips will be available on my blog each day from December 1-21. They’ll be simple things, some from me and others from a few guests.  

So obviously, the idea spoke to me as a knitter. And who knows if we'll change the minds of angry people afraid of those who look or act, or pray differently. But in the 21 days that we'll be knitting that cowl, we will be thinking and talking about peace. And if the teachings of Buddha are correct, we'll cast peaceful ripples out into the world around us. And that's not a bad goal!
Each of us needs to do what we can to promote peace, no matter if that's knitting, writing poetry, peaceful protests, letter writing, feeding the homeless...we can all do a little something to reduce the mistrust and judgement and hatred in our world.
Maybe it won't start with a flower, or a stitch, or a knitted cowl...but it might.

Here's some music to help get you in a peaceful frame of mind.

"Let there be peace, and let it start with me."

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nipples On a Breastplate, Or A Pickle?

While I work on a post chronicling pickles from hell, I wanted to share this little tidbit with you. It nearly made me spit my coffee across the room. I hope the rest of your day is laced with equal amounts of humor!

"The man is as useless as nipples on a breastplate."
George R. R. Martin

Monday, August 01, 2016

Go Off World!

Hot Off The Press!

I can hardly believe it, but my short story ‘If It’s Easy’ is now available at Inktera and Tolino Books, as well as Amazon, of course! Who is Tolino Books, I can hear you asking? They are Germany’s online bookstore answer (recently expanded to Belgium) to the Amazon behemoth, and the third largest english language market for e-books in the world. Inktera claims over a million books in their catalogue. And, literally just in, ‘If It’s Easy’ is now also available at Scribd, and Page Foundry, as well as Kobo and Apple iBooks!

This is great news for readers looking for markets outside of the Amazon bubble!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

If It's Easy

I am thrilled to report that my speculative fiction short story has finally been born! I'd shout it from the treetops, but I have a thing about heights.

The story is a bit of romance, a bit of speculative fiction and a bit of an adventure. Here's the synopsis,

When a Djinn is discovered inside a popular author's computer, it's only the beginning of the strange twist Coriander's life has taken. Now she's on the cusp of an out-of-this-world adventure with a woman that's stolen her heart, and is offering much, much more than the moon.
I’m very  proud of it, but I’m biased, and absolutely captured by these characters.  Coriander Wolf is a popular science fiction author who falls head over heels for Devi Aradesta, who is everything Cori is not. Where Cori is a shy, blonde introvert, Devi is exotic, forward, crisp and alluring with a gentle voice with a hint of a mysterious accent. They are about to tumble into an adventure neither of them saw coming.
The thing about short fiction is that you don’t need to set aside hours to read. It’s cheaper. Instead of laying out $18 like so many bookstores ask, short fiction is an inexpensive investment, and it offers up more choice in the literary landscape.
‘If It’s Easy’ can be found on Amazon right now for a mere .99 cents USD I hope you’re intrigued enough to go buy a copy, read it and then come back here and tell me what you thought.

I hope you enjoy it, I'm off to go work on the sequel now. Cheers!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pass The Peas, Please!

 If you’ve grown peas before, you might already be familiar with the little green marvels. But if you’ve never grown peas and want to give them a shot, there’s a few things you should know.

  •  You CAN grow peas in planters. So if your soil is questionable, or maybe even absolute crap, if you live in an apartment, or you rent and can’t get permission to have a garden, or you can’t bend over like you used to… don’t despair! When the peas get big, provide with some sort of support to climb on, even if it’s just twine or string strung between sticks. (Peas aren’t proud, they’re happy as long as they have something to climb on) 

  • When the temperature goes up, provide them with shade. That might mean moving the pots they’re in or devising a support system you can drape darker old sheets over during the hottest part of the day. (Again, this doesn’t have to be store-bought or look like something from the pages of Martha Stewart magazine. Do what works for you without cutting into your budget) 

  • Water them every day. Not only does this result in plumper peas, but the plants can withstand higher temperatures and pest invasions better. 

  • If you have the room, for pots, planters or another row in the garden, plant more than one crop, but about a week after the first planting. This is called succession planting, and it ensures you’ll get more than one harvest. Depending on how many you’ve planted, you may or may not get very much, but every single fresh pea on your plate is better than canned ones from the grocery store. And speaking of harvest… 

Harvest in the coolest part of the day. Keep your peas in a baggie or a bowl in the fridge until dinner time. If you must have them cooked, only heat them until they’re warm. Don’t boil them to death! You’ll have boiled all the vitamins out of them, ruined their consistency. My favorite way to have peas is raw, but not everyone agrees with me.

 This is by no means, a complete list. Just a few tips I thought I’d share in the hopes of getting more folks growing a classic and much-loved vegetables.

Have you grown peas? Do you have any tips to share with us? Sound off in the comments section, we’d love to learn from you! (If you enjoyed this post and want to see more like it, enter your name in the box to the right and we’ll let you know via email when there’s a new post.)

Friday, June 17, 2016

That's My Kind of Fine Art!

The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land. — Abraham Lincoln