Dec 16, 2014

Wizard School is BUSY!!

Seriously.  Who would have ever thought crystals and magical flowers would take up so much time?  In the best way possible, though.  In the meantime, I picked up this sweet little mid century sideboard from an estate sale in Edmonton.  I'm having her painted white in the new year. Apparently it was handmade in the 1950s by the owner of the house we bought it from.  

Reveal to come in the new year.... 


Aug 26, 2014

Mid Century Calgary Exhibit

Hey, hi there!  Remember me? And how I disappeared after that garden hose review? (must admit - low point in my blogging career).  It's been a busy summer: watching bees on my flowers, learning to play the ukulele, saving old buildings - the usual fanfare. Am also going back to school this fall for a three-year program in natural medicine in Edmonton (wildcrafting, herbology, aromatherapy, iridology, general wizardry etc). The program is out of the Northern Stars College of Mystical Studies, which despite its Harry Potter-esque name, is apparently one of the best of its kind in North America. (I get to take a class in mushroom hunting next summer - rad).  

Apart from this big shift, I'm also speaking at a cool Mid-Century Modern Exhibition at the Kerby Centre in downtown Calgary showing from September 10-11. The exhibit features 55 of the city's best Mid Century buildings and some kick-ass architectural models from the Canadian Architectural Archives. Please drop by if you're in the area! 


Jun 8, 2014

Hose Review

If anyone would have told my 20-year self that my 30-year self was reviewing a garden hose, she would have likely strangled me with a hose.  But it wouldn't really work because garden hoses in the past kind of suck.  

I am fully aware of the corny factor of this post but in all seriousness, this is an important and well used tool in my yard.  And because we have gardens on all sides of our house and only 1 hose, I'm constantly hauling awkward 50' hoses around the yard, which I tend to just leave in the middle of the yard. We have perpetual snake shaped impressions on my lawn. 

I'm not usually one for As Seen on TV products, but this one intrigued: 

I am tired of tugging and lugging…

So I dashed over to Canadian Tire, which, as an aside, I forgot how awesome it is. 

The version I picked up was NOT $19.95 [liers] as claimed above but 49.99 for 75 feet - which easily covers all of my gardens.  

Made from 'super strong webbing' the hose does do as it says and is light to handle, easy to move around and seems to adapt well to a range of nozzles. 

One note of warning, it apparently doesn't weather well in the sun, so be sure to store out of the direct sun.  And if you're highly impatient like me, remove the nozzle to drain as it seems to take an exorbitant  amount of time to drain.  Other than that, I'm hooked!  

I swear it will be cooler post next time…. 


May 20, 2014

Bringing Light

I'm currently working with a Life Coach.  If you don't have a life coach, you need one.  They are your personal go-to for health, relationships, gaining life balance, and psychologist- all in one.  It was also my Life Coach who was instrumental in diagnosing me with Lyme Disease. (That's what last year's mystery disease turned out to be - whoopee!!)

Anyhoo - my Life Coach is big on bringing 'light' into your life.  Finding your light, living lighter, lightening your home. Because of her, I have small pretty things around my house, on my keychain, and in my office that make me smile. 

I also got picked up this little piece of light a couple of weeks ago. 

Her name is Pixie.  She loves sunshine and sleeping on my head. 


May 9, 2014

Winter Wonder$*#$land

No, no.  This is not just an old post that I was too lazy to finish.  This is for realz. After a particularly brutal and unforgiving winter, and an equally nasty early spring, the plants (and humans) are finally starting to feel safe enough to emerge.  

Looks like winter right? EHHHHHHHHH - wrong.  It was March 31st. 
The crocuses and snowdrops are out, along with  miniature irises that are too cute for words. Too bad they were demolished by last week's snow... 

The spring bulbs (ie. tulips, allium, and daffies) are poking through (no blooms yet) and everything seems to be tentatively ready to explode. A couple of the earliest ones that seem to do well here are prairie crocus, succulents, berginia, and forsythia.  

Prairie Crocus and Creeping Jenny - April 

Meanwhile, this is happening everywhere else. 

Boo hoo hoo.  Tough life west coasters.  Wanna see Calgary last Saturday?

Calgary is one of the most volatile environments I've ever lived in.  The winters are consistently cold - like consistently colder than the freezer cold.  Spring is a moody bugger. Spectacular warm days followed by -10 and 6" of snow. We can't even plant anything until May long weekend.  Then a short intense summer with light until 11pm. It's a wonder anything grows here ever. 

Even the one legged flamingo looks winter weary

Monster Karl Foresters (still sleeping)

Planting at our neighbours on one of our warm days in April

The tomatoes are settled into the window ledge and will remain a fixture there until at least June 1st. 
There is an undercurrent of resilience and hope in this town. Hopefully it will rub off on me one day...


Mar 18, 2014

Fridge Island

I always brace myself here for water in the Spring.  Especially after last year's tragic flood in Southern Alberta. 

June 2013 - Calgary Source: Beacon News
Despite being in a semi-arid desert, the spring melt is a nerve-wracking time for home owners here. This past winter was brutal, not unlike everywhere else in Canada and the US. Weeks of -30 temperatures and piles of snow that haven't yet melted from October.  And did I mention that I have an aversion to cold weather? Think it's my Italian blood… 

So quelle surprise when we noticed our four-year old marmoleum peeling up in the kitchen a couple of days ago.  And even more of a surprise when it started spewing out white coloured glue. The kitchen is on a raised main storey so outside water was impossible.  The culprit?  A slow leak in the water line for the ice cube maker.  That I've always poo poo'ed because I'm a water snob. It's been slow leaking now for about 6 months.  And in that time, the slow leak has worked its way under the marmoleum and spread clear across the kitchen. Rad. 

Jason had to rush home from work, ambulance-style to pull up the flooring, whilst four little beans were running around and my nanny hovering over him telling her about how she needs a new garage door. Needless to say he's quietly drinking in a corner right now. 
Salvageable? Waaah!

Fridge Island. See that phone? I accidentally pocketed leaving work today. Dork. 

No clue yet if the floor is salvageable.  Hopefully.  Until then, we'll have to live with fridge island and no floor.  Maybe I'll join Jason in the corner. 


Feb 23, 2014

Room Reveal Preview

A sneak peak at the design of an upcoming room reveal! 

Stay tuned!

Metal enamel plate from Louche Milieu

Feb 18, 2014

The Distracted Chef - Chocolate Fudge

Welcome to the first instalment of what I hope will be regular posts of my adventures with gluten-dairy-sugar free cooking.  I'm a decent cook, but rarely consistent.  And many of my recipes fail.  Miserably. But the ones that do work out, are worthy of posting here.  

I've been reticent to post recipes as I'm not terribly skilled at food photography (there's always some random dirty cooking implement in the picture) and I have no idea how to post printable recipes.  So you're just going to have to deal with the graphic presentation of an 8 year old until someone feels sorry for me and tells me about some great app that does it all for you (wink wink). 

Last year when I became severely allergic almost all foods, we had to make a drastic shift in the way we ate (note 'we' - poor family).   We now eat about an 80% whole food diet, save for the occasional McDonalds fries ( I KNOW - they're the worst! - but they're so yummy). I make homemade peanut butter, hummus, granola, almond milk and am experimenting with crackers (code for not one successful recipe). Our groceries consist now of mostly organic fruits and veggies, gluten-free flours, strangely concocted sugar substitutes (lacuna, yacon syrup), unpasteurized local honey, fermented things, locally sourced grass fed meat and eggs and whoa, hey, no money left in our bank. ha ha. 

I also take courses whenever I can. I had the opportunity of attending a GF-DF-SF chocolate course last week (yum!). The 2 hour session was lead by talented local chef and holistic nutritionist, Amber Romaniuk, who recently published a cook book called Amber Approved.  Besides the recipes being gluten, dairy, and sugar free, all the ingredients are available locally in various natural food stores in Calgary (Community Natural Foods, Market 17, The Light Cellar and Blush Lane). I've made a few recipes so far and even my youngest approves (she loathes anything healthy - oh the irony - I will expand in this in a future post - she kills me).

Today's post is on the Chocolate Fudge that Amber made in the course.  Apparently it only takes her about 10 minutes to prepare and cook the fudge.  It took me an hour.  And I stained one of my favourite shirts, burned my tongue, and got a piece of coconut stuck in my eye.  

Chocolate Fudge - from Amber Approved


1 cup coconut butter (I made my own - 3 cups of organic unsweetened shredded coconut - in the Vitamix for about one minute until it turns shiny and liquid - WARNING - don't look inside the Vitamix to see if it is blending properly) 
1 cup coconut oil (Costco has the cheapest organic coconut oil in the city) 
4 tbsp raw cacao powder (high in magnesium, increases brain power, libido, and increases alkalinity in body - Light Cellar has a good selection)
1/3 cup of raw organic unpasteurized honey (antibacterial properties - I prefer honeys from the Peace River area in northern Alberta)
1 tbsp organic vanilla extract (Superstore has an inexpensive brand - Simply Organic)
2 tbsp lacuma powder (sugar substitute - caramelly - good for fudges and ice creams)
1 tbsp Maca (sugar substitute - good for levelling out progesterone and supporting adrenals) 

Add ins
Chopped Hazelnuts 
Cayenne - for my spicy readers
Dried Fruit 
shredded coconut

1. Line a 9x9" baking dish with parchment paper (do this before you start cooking - not during) 
2. Add coconut oil and butter to a medium size pan on medium to low heat until melted 
3. Add honey, vanilla, maca, lacuna powder, and cacao powder and whisk until smooth
4. Once mixed in, do not leave mixture on stove while you line baking dish then get distracted by incoming FaceTime call. Otherwise the mixture will burn and you will need to start again.  If so, repeat steps 1-3.
5. Pour over parchment paper in baking dish and freeze for 1-2 hours 
6. Pull off parchment paper and cut into desired serving sizes

Makes about 12-16 medium pieces of fudge. 

Making coconut butter

There were a number of varieties of cacao to choose from at the Light Cellar.  I chose this one because it was cheap.  

Always good to keep in stock in case the neighbour needs to borrow some. ha ha. 

Lacuma Matata.  Couldn't resist. 

Total blogger recipe fail.  Digging in before I take the requisite 'after' shot. I think the girls got into it in the freezer before it was done too. Apologies to the food stylists out there. 



Feb 12, 2014

Reason # 2062 Not to Paint Your Wood Paneling




Jan 3, 2014

How to Become an Urban Hippie (in 20 easy steps)

Amidst all of the heartache and turmoil in my 2013 (it really was the worst - hence only 6 POSTS last year), I managed to shift my life in a new direction. My lone new year's resolution last year, perhaps out of desperation or boredom, was to become a hippie. Over the course of the year, sometimes consciously, other times intuitively, I started to change my life.  A few days ago, we were having dinner with some friends and one of them was laughing about how I managed to replace my serious coffee addiction with peppermint essential oil. And he commented how I really have turned into a hippie and asked if I had dreamcatchers in my house (as a joke).  I have 4 of them.  How does one not have a dreamcatcher in their house with kids?  They capture bad dreams! I guess I achieved hippiedom. If you too would like to become an urban hippie, here is a comprehensive list of how to reach your dream... 

1. Start with a couple of dreamcatchers. Preferably big ones.    

2. Replace all of your glassware with mason jars.  Don't actually use them for canning.  Instead store things like nuts and goji berries in the fridge (non-hippies store these in their pantries). Replace all your water bottles with mason jars and put green coloured drinks in them when you go to yoga class.  

3. Join a yoga studio.  (I like this one: Yoga Santosha) Make sure you buy a crystal bead bracelet before you go. Hang out in the lobby with the other yogis when you're not practicing, sipping on your green smoothie.  This is your new soul family. 

Lobby of Yoga Santosha
4. Take all of your money, and give it to alternative health practitioners.  There's lots of them out there, so you will need lots of money. Revel in the extra whack of Christmas cards received from your rad alternative health team. 

My team: 
Naturopath: Integra Naturopathics (Dr. Arnel is highly recommended) 
Craniosacral Therapist: Ann-Marie Church (she's amazing, and the only one doing myofascial release as well) 
Acupunturist: Dr. Cam Forester at Prema Sai (also wonderful) 
Life Coach: Dr. Chelsea at Center for Healthy Living (truly gifted)
Osteopath: Dr. Kathy Teal at Integra Naturopathics (gentle and thorough) 

5. Buy anything that these alternative practitioners recommend.  And keep using it even if it isn't working at all. Start all of your sentences with "Well my [acupuncturist/naturopath/craniosacral therapist/intuitive therapist/life coach] said..." 

6. Take the rest of your money and shop at local organic markets (because we don't have Whole Foods here yet - ahem).  Be sure to buy everything local, even if it means eating root vegetables and pork for 8 months. My favourites are: 

Market 17
Blush Lane
Community Natural Foods
Kingsland Farmer's Market has a good selection of organic meat and fish
Light Cellar 

7. If you are a gardener, switch to biodynamic gardening.  So you can start growing vegetables/flowers with with cycles of the moon!  You can buy a calendar here: Stella Natura. Be sure to bless your seeds  and walk over your garden beds in bare feet before planting. (I had an amazing garden last year, btw)  Classes for biodynamic gardening are available here: Alexandra's Butterfly Garden.  Alexandra is really gifted and has this incredible straw bale house that she teaches out of that her husband built west of Calgary. She also has a sweat lodge on her property.  I need to be her best student. 

8. Consider a backyard chicken coop and a beehive until your husband reminds you that you live in the inner city.

9.  Cut out wheat, sugar, coffee, alcohol, and lactose permanently to achieve anti-inflammatory and pH neutral status.  Say you are happier and healthier without it.  Eat kale chips and drink bone broths. Make your own peanut butter and hummus in your new $700 Vitamix. Reluctantly buy Gwenyth Paltrow's cookbook, It's all Good. Ponder why you are never invited over to friends' houses for dinner anymore.

10. Go to crystal stores a lot.  Bring your kids.  Staff LOVE kids at crystal stores.  Especially when you buy 3 times as many crystals for all the ones they break. Buy crystals that speak to you or are pretty and match your decor.  Carry small crystals in your purse or in your bra. My favourite: Earth Gems on 17th Ave

11. Create a space for meditation and reflection. Have your partner make you a daybed made from old crates and fill the space with crystals, candles and Buddha.  Then don't ever use the room.  

12. Spend lots of money on 21-day free online meditations.  Especially anything by Deva and Mitten.  Partly because of their names.  Great spots for meditation classes: Canadian Meditation Institute and 7th Chakra on 17th Ave

13. Sage your house regularly to rid the environment of negative energies.  Buy an abalone shell and a eagle feather to store the sage for some mysterious reason. It's all about the props, baby!  Buy sage and props here: Nurture Health and Wellness 

14. Buy a dehydrator.  Did you know that dehydrated apples last for 20-25 years?  Prepare for apocalypse. Dehydrators available here

15. Source ridiculous food that isn't sold in Canada.  Like Great Lakes Gelatin. So you can make these.

Source: Meatified (I wonder if the blogger meant that one at the bottom to look like it was murdered?)
Aren't they cute?  And they heal your gut lining! 

16. Who needs western medicine? All things can be cured with apple cider vinegar, honey, and flower tinctures!  My favourite vibrational medicine is here: Senses of the Soul (and local!)

17. Buy 15-20 different natural deodorants as you transition away from nasty aluminum-based regular deodorant. This one rocks (At least no one has told me otherwise).  And it's Calgary-made!  

18. Read as many alternative health books as possible. If someone recommends it, it must be good. Add it to the pile. Ditto for websites, Facebook pages, or classes. 

19. Become a Young Living rep: Young Living Canada 
Wear/diffuse essential oils at all time. Ignore all 'scent free zone' signs. They don't apply to natural oils!  
And add holiday to the lavender fields in Mona, Utah to your bucket list.

Young Living Lavender Farm, Mona Utah
20. Blame all of your mood swings on solar flares and the transition into the Age of Aquarius. For fascinating energy reports see: Senses of the Soul Blog

Good luck!