Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour and Pesticides in Canada

Tonight marks the global movement of Earth Hour. My original grand visions of a get together were lost into thin tonight will be simple and hopefully relaxing. There have been some opinions circulating on the web about how "green" Earth Hour really is. That burning paraffin candles is not good for the climate since paraffin is a derivative of crude oil. (You can read more about paraffin candles vs. soy candles here.) That people may only participate to be "trendy" and not because they really want to make a difference. While it is very true that paraffin wax is bad and everyone should be educated on the truth of what is in these candles, I think those that are putting down this movement because of candles are missing a very big point. The scale of Earth Hour in the very short time that it has been happening is amazing.

"Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness."

In a mere two years look at how this has changed things. This is about spreading the word. Talking, sharing and learning from each other. For some of us who are doing our best to make our global footprint smaller this day is not huge in terms of our everyday impact. What it is for us all is a chance to unite in a simple way. Unplugging your life for a hour is not rocket science. Anyone can do it. If all you have are paraffin candles then burn them. If you can afford more eco friendly candles then more power to you. If you do this because your best friend or a celebrity says it's the cool thing to do...who cares? You are still doing it. And the earth regardless of an hour's tiny contribution in the grand scheme of it's life span will thanks you regardless. I thank you. Thank you.
Please turn off your lights, unplug your appliances and feel thankful that at 9:31pm you have power to turn back on. You will not be alone. Earth Hour: tonight 8:30pm to 9:30pm. In all time zones, all over the world.

In other earth activist news please head on over to the David Suzuki Foundation website and fill out a quick form letter to send to your governmental representatives regarding the work towards banning pesticides across Canada. Ontario and Quebec have already banned these harmful chemicals and more work is being done to extend this ban across Canada. This is an easy and effective way to let your elected representatives know that we want these chemicals gone. You can make a difference. Hey, I'm a the glass is half full kind of gal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy Spring!

Not a day too early spring arrived on Friday. The weather here was a bit bizarre. A thunderstorm for five minutes, (a rarity for the west coast) lots of rain, a brief hour of sunshine and then back to rain. Below is a pic of our front birch tree adorned with rain drops. Despite being blurry I thought it was a spring invoking image. The evening of Equinox we had a Welcome Spring potluck bar-b-q. And In honour of the season I made potato salad. While making it I thought it was very festive looking and took some photos of it too.

I've decorated the house with bunnies and eggs. Spring cleaning is happening bit by bit. This year the arrival of spring has refreshed my spirits. We have lots going on and a lot to look forward to this year.
My mother and grandmother arrive this Sunday for a week long visit. It will be my grandmother's first visit with me here. It will be great to have them here. We'll be low key because my grandmother's knee bothers her, so lots of walking will not be possible. But just having them here will be wonderful.
We are in the process of planning two family trips this summer. One will be camping on one of the Gulf Islands. We are planning to be there for the Summer Solstice which is making my heart sing. The Gulf Islands are untouched by the busy pace of the city. We can lounge on the beach, hike, canoe, visit local artists studios and sample great food. My hubby is a bit apprehensive about camping but I have an inkling that he's going to love it. Our other small get away will be on another Gulf Island with my in-laws. We'll only be there for the weekend but they are renting a cabin for a week. Again we'll be able to enjoy island life and have a short get-a-way. Last summer we didn't vacation at all, so this will be a treat for us.
My very generous husband traded in his Petro points for a $25 Amazon gift card and said, pick some books for yourself. That is the best gift he could ever offer me! I chose 3 from my wish list, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and The Way of the Green Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. I'm very excited to read these (but I do have a huge list already waiting in my bookcase. What a dilemma!)
I've been a bit behind on my posting and my blog reading but I will get caught up eventually. I think I have gotten rid of my blues for this month. I'm on to the exciting developments that spring can bring. Future posts will include my final Making Artful pillows post, an evolution of my garden post, and an update on my creative projects list.
I hope you are all filled with the magic of spring and are renewed by the sounds and smells of the earth waking again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fighting the Blues

longing for spring

As the Spring Equinox approaches I find myself a bit down in the dumps. I'm not sure what the source is, monthly cycles, fatigue, just a bad mood? As a parent I find that it is crucial to not pour my crap onto my son, or my husband for that matter. I try to keep it out of my tone, out of my face when interacting with him. He probably feels the change in my energy but he doesn't need to see it overtly.
I hope that the equinox will shift my gears. Perhaps I'm feeling tight inside my shell, I want to break it open and stretch out my spring limbs. I also have been feeling a call to spend some time in nature which has been ignored so far for various life reasons. Not just a park excursion but a real forest walk. Where I can't hear cars or see houses.
My to do list is long but my motivation is low. Somehow I need to shake off these blues.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Book of the Month: March

I'm getting back into the swing of my monthly features. This month I have chosen a lesser known book called: The Hospital For Wounded Angels by Jennifer Dickson. This is an art book. Photographs taken in the early 1980's of various gardens in Portugal, Italy, England and France interspersed with snippets of poetry. Dickson also includes research, journal entries and historical information about many of the gardens featured. The real appeal of this book to me are the stunning photos taken without filters or double exposures ( and since it is the 80s no Photoshop or digital photo magic either)
She focuses on statues like the terracotta statue of Daphne, from the Villa Garzoni and Brigit's Urn in the Lost Garden in Derbyshire. They have a mystical quality, timeless and evocative. You can't tell when it is. It could be the 1500's or 1925. It could be yesterday. The beauty of this book is that it allows you to look at the pages and piece your own story together or follow the story that Dickson was inspired to tell. I recommend this book to anyone who loves European gardens, villas and history. If you have a penchant for choosing your own adventure and looking into photos to uncover layers of meaning, this is a book you'll love.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

bib evolution

Well in two weeks, give or take a few days I have completed my first creative task. The bibs are done. I made six...although true to form I could not stick with the original pattern. The first bib was done as the pattern recommended. For anyone looking for this smock/bib style here is the link. After making one I realized that this was one hard core bib and that in order to save some time and preserve bias tape (I didn't buy enough) I would alter them so that they were more simple. Attempt number two is the one that looks the strangest...
It still covers a lot of area but is rather oddly shaped. Number three was the cutesy fabric so I still made it a big one. Number four was almost right but too square around the neck. And by number five I finally got it right. I just wanted them to be durable and darker in colour so that stains won't show as much. I also chose to not go with a plasticized cotton as it called for in the pattern. I would rather have them be comfy and soft than repel moisture. I lined them as well, the first three with denim and the last three with an old bed sheet. If you decide to try the original pattern I disagree with the advice that the wider the bias tape the better. I would say that narrower would be easier around the corners. It was my first time using it though, so perhaps there were some tricks I didn't know.
In case you couldn't tell I'm a bit of a rebel when it comes to patterns and following directions. Hence it takes five tries to get what I'm after. I have made progress though, the old me would have randomly cut up fabric and wasted time fiddling around for hours before getting one that worked. It's nice to have this done.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Making Artful Pillows: Step Two

Here is a supply list for making your artful pillows.

-Scissors, if you can get sharp fabric scissors. This helps you have a clean and hopefully straight (although they rarely are in my case! lol) line.

-Sewing machine. All that you need to sew are straight lines so this can be done by hand if necessary. It will take you longer but if you don't have a machine you can still make pillows relatively easily.

-Thread, you want thread that will match your fabric. If you want the seams to show then you may want to pick a contrasting colour rather than one that will blend.

-Pencil or pen. You will need these for drawing your lines on your fabric before cutting. If you are using a dark fabric then you may want to get a tailor pencil in white or blue that will show up on a darker colour.

-Iron & ironing board. You want your fabric to be nicely pressed so that you can make exact cuts and seams.

-Fabric and pillow forms. As I mentioned last time square forms are what I use and are the easiest to make. 16" square is what my measurements will be based on.

-Straight pins and needles. Straight pins will keep your fabric in place while sewing. You only need separate needles if you are sewing by hand.

-ruler/measuring device.

When you have assembled your tools you can pre-wash your fabric if you think you will be washing the pillow covers in the future. After drying you can iron out your fabric and make your cuts.

Each pillow needs three pieces of fabric cut to the following sizes:
Piece one: 17" x 17" (front)
Piece two: 17" x 14" (back flap A)
Piece three: 17" x 12" (back flap B)

Happy cutting. I'll be back in a few weeks with the next step.

P.S. If you want to make any embellishments, embroidery or iron on transfers etc. on the pillows you should do that after making your cuts to the 17" square piece. It is much easier to do it now rather than after you have assembled the pillow cover.