Tuesday, May 31, 2011

June Journaling!

I've accepted Run With Scissors' 30 Day Journal Challenge!  Starting tomorrow, I'll make an entry in my brand spankin' new art journal every day, and I'll post them here.  As soon as I heard about the challenge, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

In high school, I fell in love with dip pens.  I had zillions of nibs and just couldn't use them often enough.  But at some point, I lost all of them and tucked the hobby away in the back of my mind.  Today, I went shopping for a brand new set of nibs, a new journal and inks!

I chose a landscape layout journal, two inks, four nibs and a beginner's calligraphy book, so the lettering can look as nice as the art.

This is the ink I'm most excited about!  It's a deep, rich orange colour and it's bergamot scented!  I've always wanted to try scented inks.  This is going to be a huge treat. Bergamot makes me think of a hot cup of earl grey tea, so there was really only one choice for the other colour. . .

Tea brown!

I think the tea themed inks will go really nicely with the cream coloured pages. 

And here we have the pen and nibs!  I can't wait to use it every day! June is going to be a fantastic month.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Growing, growing, growing. . .

I said that I would post twice a week, but here I am, nearly two weeks since my last post.  Well, this is embarrassing.

I haven't been completely idle for the past two weeks, but pretty close to it. Truth be told, it's because I've been feeling a bit down lately.  My co-op prospects are running dry and I've been missing my family on the mainland quite a bit; I haven't seen most of them in about a year and a half.   

But I'm not going to fall back into my old rut.  I'm going to apply for one last position, and I won't take it personally if I don't get it.  It's a tough job market, and it's hard to compete with more outgoing and experienced people.  The job I have pays for what I need (and a little bit of what I want), and it will be really nice to have a stress free summer with lots of free time.  And that free time and little bit of "what I want" money can get me to Vancouver to see my family in the next month or so.

Like a lot of. . .  well, a large portion of the world, we've had a less than awesome few months weather-wise.  It's been a cold, wet May, but thankfully most of the plants in my garden are doing okay.  Since my last post, the beets have germinated and are looking very healthy!  I planted a mix of three varieties, and I can't wait to see what comes out of the ground in the next couple of months.  Most of the peas are growing very quickly, too.  I bet they'll be as tall as me by the end of June.  The peppers, kale and one of the tomatoes are doing just fine, but I'm not sure about the other two tomatoes.  They've hardly grown at all, and they're already trying to flower.  Luckily, they're indeterminate, so they should keep growing and producing more flowers later in the season when it warms up (knock on wood).

I'm really excited to watch the garden explode when it warms up.  As cheesy as it sounds, I'm looking forward to growing with it, too.  It's going to be a good year.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kale Chips Recipe

Good morning!  I hope it's a beautiful spring day where you are.  Victoria is warm, grey and drizzly.  It's a great day to stay inside, watch the cherry blossom petals blow in the wind and listen to the birds sing.

Grey days are just perfect for cooking, then curling up to snack on your homemade goodies with a good book.  The best, easiest, tastiest and healthiest snack I know how to make is kale chips.  They're savoury and crunchy like chips or crackers, but they're made with a healthy green veggy and cheesy, B-vitamine packed nutritional yeast (AKA, catnip for vegetarians and vegans).  What's not to love?

This recipe serves one or two people.  I'm kind of a bottomless pit, so I'm usually content to eat the whole batch.


Curly Kale, about 3 big leaves
Olive Oil (I like plain ol' olive oil, not extra virgin), about 2 tsp
Nutritional Yeast Flakes (some stores will call it Red Star or engevita yeast.  Powder is fine if you can't find flakes, but the texture won't be quite the same), about 1 tbsp
Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 350F.

Wash and dry the kale.  Discard the tough stem/centre rib and rip the leaves into bite sized pieces.  Place the kale on a baking tray, sprinkle on a little bit of oil and toss to coat the leaves.  It might look like you need more than 2 tsp when you're sprinkling the oil on, but you probably don't.  You'll see when you toss the kale that you have enough.  Spread the kale out in single layer on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle on the salt, pepper and yeast. 

Pop the kale in the oven for about 7 minutes, but keep an eye on it. When the kale has shrunk quite a bit and is looking crispy, pull out the tray and flip the kale over.  Return it to the oven for about 3-5 more minutes.  If the edges are starting to turn a little brown, they're done!

Put the kale chips in a bowl, let them cool for a second, then turn on a good movie and start munching away.

Feel free to mess with the seasoning.  This would be great with Cajun spices.  Or you can use sesame oil instead of olive oil and top it with some chili flakes, sesame seeds and Asian spices. 

Now, I'm off to make a big batch of these and stuff my face.  I hope you give them a try, too (let me know if you do!).  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Books, Beaches and Birds

Hi everyone!  Sorry for the delayed post.  My goal is for at least two posts a week.  I'll be better about that in the future.

The last week or so has been pretty good.  I'm finished classes for the summer and sill looking for a Co-op job, so I have lots of free time.  After seven days a week of class or work, it's a nice change to have any at all.

I started reading Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I'm on the fourth chapter, and I'm very happy with it so far.  I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close last year, and it was wonderful.  I love Jonathan Safran Foer's quirky writing style and touching, lively characters.  Both books were suggested to me by two lovely friends, Kaitlin and Elyse, who happen to have really awesome blogs.  You can find Kaitlin at Gold Finch Anchor and Elyse at Microfiche Slide, if you'd like to check them out.

On Thursday, I went down to the beach to read and generally enjoy the scenery.  It's only a five or ten minute drive or a relaxing 45 minute walk to the beach from my house, but I don't make it down all that often.  That's another thing that's going to change.

I've also been spending a lot of time relaxing at home, discovering Netflix and working on a super-secret-project for a friend.  I'll be sure to post the results. 

About a month and a half ago, I set up a bird feeder up in front of my living room window.  I was starting to think that the birds would never use it, but they finally discovered it this week!  And they're ravenous little guys.  I've already had to refill it once, and it's almost empty again. 

I think that the birds are male and female house finches.  I've never seen house finches before, so I'm really excited. I'm sure they've always been here, but I'm awful at spotting birds that aren't in plain sight.

I'm already planning another post for tomorrow, so you'll hear from be again really soon.  Stay classy, blog readers.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Story is in the Soil

It's the first day of May, and it sure feels like it.  The weather in Victoria hasn't been wonderful this spring, but this weekend has been fabulous.  Birds are singing, the sun is shining and there is a gentle breeze.  Today is perfect for gardening.

Looking at my backyard, you can tell that the elderly lady who owned the property before us took good care of it when she was still able to.  There is a terraced rock garden filled with overgrown rosemary, various ground cover plants, a few bright red and yellow flowers, some rhubarb that just wont quit and more weeds than I care to count.  There is also a garden plot that the previous tenants in my suite put in.  When I moved in, it was still in pretty decent shape and even had a few carrots left in it.  But after two years of (my) neglect, it was filled with grass, dandelions and stray flowers.

Today, I brought the garden plot back to it's former glory.  I thought about doing the same for the rock garden, but it's full of big black spiders that scare the bjezus out of me.  I'll save it for another day.

Here's what the garden plot looked like to start with.  Sort of, at least.  I didn't think to take a picture until after I removed a bunch of flowers and dandelions.

Yikes.  I spent about five hours in the garden, and with a little help and advice from my dad, I turned it into this.

There are two rows of snap peas in the very back.  From left to right, the front is hot peppers, super sweet cherry tomatoes, Cherokee purple tomatoes and black krim tomatoes.  In the very front, I planted red, gold and candy cane beets.  They should germinate in a few days.  I also planted some kale in a tiny corner of the rock garden, which isn't pictured.  There's still an eggplant sitting on my windowsill waiting until June to go outside, too.

It was a lot of work, but I'm really happy with the results.  I'm really looking forward to tending to it every day.  And in a couple of months, I'll have some really great, really fresh organic veggies!