Monday, June 30, 2008

Take a Staycation

This concept is not a new one, but it was just a couple of days ago that I heard "taking a vacation close to home" referred to as a staycation. Googled it, and seems I am out of the loop. The Urban Dictionary states "...With the price of gas soaring, a staycation is what most Americans will experience during the summer of 2008." Yes indeed, the price of gas is one reason to stay near home but so is the environmental impact of travel. We happen to live in Banff, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it may be easy for me to say that it is entirely possible to have a great vacation in your own neighborhood. I think with a little imagination that you can have fun anywhere, or at least I can... However, I am going to be the first to admit, that this summer, because all of our family lives in the Northern US and Eastern Canada, that we are going to be flying in a plane for our vacation. I am looking into the Carbon Offset Program by Zero Footprint. I can see where at some point in the future we will stick closer to home but with friends and family far flung, and the travel bug being something under our skin, this will be one of the hardest habits to break. At least the concept of a staycation gets people thinking about hanging out, spending money, and exploring their own backyards.

Many Great New Recipes

It has been awhile. We are in the process of moving into our new house. We are making it easy on ourselves by having two places for more than a week so we can paint, strip wallpaper, etc at the new house, plus bring small carloads there each time we go. It is about 1.5 km from here. This has left plenty of time to cook and eat to the normal standard. Not a take out pizza yet! This means I have much to share, including some new recipes.

First, I love asparagus. I usually just steam it. But, tonight, I discovered that I love it best when it has been grilled! Andre was putting corn on the grill so we decided to put the asparagus on. Very simple. I washed it and cut off the woody ends. Then I laid it in a single layer on aluminum foil, brushed it with olive oil that I had put fresh ground pepper and sea salt in, then Andre put it on the grill. Once on the plate he sprinkled on freshly grated parmesan. YUMMY! Next time I might try this recipe, because I think the asparagus "rafts" are too cute!

Looking for a light summer meal? This is a must try from one of my favorite online recipe guides, Vegetarian Times. Potato Onion Frittata is great cold, room temp, or hot. It makes for really great leftovers, too.

For dessert here is an amazing sorbet! Here in Banff it is, finally, feeling like summer. Pineapple Coconut Sorbet is the next best thing to sipping a Pina Colada. This is super simple to make and you actually can add rum to make it a frozen pina colada....

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dishwashing, The Clean Way

Ok, so we have finished up our poluting, offensive, not-so-healthy dish washing detergant, which by the way, in liquid form as not doing a very good job in our ancient, non-efficient dishwasher. Just in time for making a change. We are in the process of moving to our new home, which although it was built in 1980, came to us complete with new energy efficient (and stylish at that) appliances. I am excited and ready for the challenge of making our dishwashing detergant and handwashing soap. I should not really say "challenge" as it is easy-peasy. That is if you can find the materials, which was a snap at our local small grocery store. They seems to carry everything that a planet-conscious DIYer needs. I know, we are lucky. I will put the recipes here, hoping that you, too, are able to find the contents...

These recipes are from the book, Green Clean.

Dishwasher Soap
1 part Borax
1 part Washing Soda (mine is Arm and Hammer)
Container any size

Mix in the container and use in place of commercial detergant. You may find a soap film on your dishes, if you live in a hard water area. Add a bit more soda if this is the case.

Liquid Dishwashing Soap
Castile Soap (I use Dr. Bronner's Almond Hemp, which is in a liquid form)
Distilled White Vinegar

If you have bar soap, grate it and add to the dish water. I plan to just add the liquid soap. Add vinegar to the rinsewater to give glasses extra shine.

Both of these products have an indefinite shelf life.

On a personal note, I am vow to do my best to wash dishes in the sink the "proper" way, meaning by stopping the sink, filling with soap, water, and dishes, then rinsing. Right now, truth be told, I am the person who just let's the water run, albeit very little water, from the tap as I wash the dishes. I am afraid of sticking my hands into water I can't see through, and of unidentified "floaties" but, I know, I know, that is what rubber gloves are for. I promise, I will use them!

Cloth, Not Plastic

Ok, I am back online for the time being thanks to our neighbor's wireless connection. Thanks, guys.

Friend and owner of Silver Spoon Children's Boutique, Pam Currie, was in the news again this week. Pam spearheaded a campaign for the town of Canmore to ban plastic shopping bags through municipal bylaw. While the bylaw didn't pass at town council, Pam did receive a lot of publicity for this awesome cause, which has made many people rethink their habits. This recent article in the Rocky Mountain Outlook is entitled "Plastic bag usage down in Canmore". The manager of Safeway doesn't have specific numbers but said there has been a marked difference in the number of bags the store has distributed in recent months. There has been an increase in the sales of their .99 cloth bags (which are cheap and not very well made or durable, like the jute ones we can get for $1.99 at Nester's in Banff). Sobey's manager said it is the same for their store, and that many people are asking for their groceries in recyclable cardboard boxes that the store's products came in. This is awesome! I was proud of Pam before but now I see her as a roll model for people who think that one person can't make a difference. Of course they can!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Man Down...

or rather my internet while we are moving to our new house. Big mix up, long story, but I will be posting again soon...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Monica I am Not...

My mother, my sister in law, and Monica from the sitcom Friends, all have one thing in common... they love to clean. Or maybe it is the results of their efforts that they love the most. Either way, I lovingly refer to them as cleaning geeks. They get very excited when they find a new product that works better, faster, simpler. I, on the other hand, do not enjoy cleaning. Don't get me wrong, I don't leave food out to rot, nor are we unable to see ourselves in the mirror for the dust, and we can see the floor... We have a clean house, just not an overly sanitized. I have always avoided the chemicals that come with cleaning. It was not something, until I became pregnant 3 years ago, that I even consciously thought about. I had just avoided most chemicals up until this point because I knew that I will spend the whole time I was using them holding my breath and gasping for air. So I didn't use them. I just don't trust these chemicals. And I think they are unnecessary. In fact, I know they are. I wipe my counters with a wet baby washcloth. I change the cloth each day but other than that I just use water. No one in my family has gotten sick from all those scary germs you hear kids trying to pronounce on television. We are a very healthy bunch. I don't wash my daughter's toys in bleach solution, and she puts them in her mouth all the time. And in our house we don't use antibacterial anything. The hand sanitizer that I did use when in Haiti, is now only used for removing pine sap from clothing. And air freshener? I am the most suspicious of that. I know many people who Febreeze the hell out of their surroundings. This makes my skin crawl and my lungs seize. Should our kids, pets, and ourselves be inhaling this stuff? I can understand that occasionally you don't want to leave the bathroom without it, yet all you need to do is strike a match, blow it out, and flush it. As you can see, I have given these things some thought but what I never really "got" until yesterday was that there is a natural alternative to most of these crazy chemicals. I mean, I do use white vinegar and baking soda to clean my toilets. And I did start to use diluted vinegar in a spray bottle to wash my mirrors. And I was so thrilled the other day with my vinegar, baking soda, and scrub brush treatment on my shower and tub that I almost could see Monica's love of cleaning. In fact, I went temporarily insane and considered becoming a "natural" cleaning lady for other people! Yeah, I have come back done to earth. But, I know I have only scratched the surface on ways to making everyday cleaning a good experience for myself, my family, and the earth.

Recommended Reading:
Green Clean
By Linda Mason Hunter & Mikki Halpin

Thursday, June 26, 2008

FreeCycle Calgary

I joined FreeCycle Calgary several weeks ago but just got around to posting my first offer tonight. It is for a rain coat and pants that I used to use back in my fly-fishing-in-the-rain-while-living-in-Maine days. Good memories. I hope someone will take it and return it to its useful glory. I am interested to see if anyone jumps on it, since I am in Banff, and most members are in Calgary, over an hour away. The whole point of FreeCycle is to recycle items that would otherwise go to a landfill. The best way to do this is to keep it local, having to ship it or to pollute the environment by driving way out of the way to pick something up is neither wise nor environmentally friendly. As a new member I have no idea if anyone else is in Banff. I will bring it to local Victory Thrift if there aren't any takers. Or, I am toying with the idea of applying for a Banff Group. I think it would be managable for me to moderate it. And I love the concept of FreeCycle. It is brilliant! I would be happy to help people find the items they need and to help them find people who need what they don't. I am going to sleep on it...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Died and Gone to Heaven

I decided to search the net for some vintage wallpaper the other night. Partially for some collage projects but also to actually put on the wall. In a whirlwind fashion we bought a house and start moving in this week!! I am a big fan of loud wallpaper and since our bedroom has two closets with sliding doors, one with mirrors, and the other a blank canvas of white paint, I thought I might spruce them up. I am also thinking I will make a mural using animals cut out of retro wallpaper in Quin's room. Well, it didn't take long for me to hit the mother lode of cool patterns, on sites that both offered designs based on vintage designs AND sites that offer actual vintage rolls. If you are a fan of geometric prints, floral, damask, toile or just serious eye candy, you have GOT to check out the following sites:

Johnny Tapete
This site is in Germany, but they do have an English site. They specialize in vintage wallpaper, curtains, home decor, as well as handmade accessories like hand bags, all of which are made from 1970s fabrics and are one of a kind.

Design Your Wall
This site offers wallpaper, murals, contact paper, all of which can be selected from their designs OR YOU CAN CREATE YOUR OWN!! Now I don't even have to become a wallpaper designer to see my owns dreams on the wall!!

This reminds me of the opening graphics of a James Bond movie...

I decided on this one for my room, so lovely!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tea With the Queen

Come along inside... We'll see if tea and
buns can make the world a better place.
~The Wind in the Willow~

Several weeks ago, my good friend, Kathy from Quebec, came for a visit. She is a children's television writer, and she was working on a play at the Banff Centre, a world reknown centre for the arts, which just happens to be up the road from my house. We had just gotten back from a visit to Minneapolis to see my family and since Kathy is like family, it was a joy to have her be in our area for two whole weeks! We had a blast eating, drinking, chatting, and reminiscing. A mutual friend of ours, Kate from Ottawa, who is a theater director, also came to Banff for one week to work with Kathy on her play. The three of us made a point to go to the Banff Springs for High Tea , something I LOVE to do. Who wouldn't love finger sandwiches, piping hot tea, fruit, scones, devonshire cream, chocolate covered strawberries, creme brulee... heaven! And to share it with two friends, priceless. Next to being a guest at a private reading of Kathy's play, which she started 10 years ago, takes place in Tibet, and is AMAZING, tea was the highlight of her visit for me.

Here is a link to some tea time recipes, as well as the complete recipe for rosemary scones from the same site. I plan to make these very soon...

Rosemary Scones

2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 egg
1/3 c. sour milk*

*(To make sour milk add 1 tsp. cider vinegar to 1/3 cup milk)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using two knives, cut in the butter until crumbly. 3. Add rosemary and lemon. Mix. 4. In a separate bowl, blend sour milk and egg until smooth. 5. Stir the two mixtures until dough holds together. 6. Create a ball with the dough and flatten into a circle on the baking sheet. Cut and separate into 8 wedges before baking. 7. Bake 13 minutes or until tops are light brown. Serve hot. Great with soup.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Featured on Cuteable

Fun! I received a convo on Etsy, from Lynsey of Cuteable. I am a big fan, a subscriber to their blog, and I was thrilled to learn that my work was being featured. The theme was Strength, which is the title of this piece. You can check it out here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Garlic, Yum!

"Garlic is the ketchup of intellectuals." Anonymous

Wow, that makes me feel down right brainy, since in our family, garlic is king. We eat it like it is going out of style, in a culinary way that is. I never really got into swallowing the pills of it or eating it raw. Even our little one has been eating garlic hummus since she was 7 months old and she doesn't bat an eye at the garlicky guacomole we make. The apples doesn't fall far...

PS I don't like ketchup!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Little Artists

Tonight we went to the Banff Public Library to attend the opening for the annual Kid's Art Show. Our little one, Quin, had one of her fingerpaintings in the show. She is only two after all. It was fun to see the broad scope of work from kids from 2 to 16 years old. There were delicious snacks including rice krispy bars, banana chocolate chip bread, watermelon, and juice. QQ was pretty excited and danced around to the wicked cool world music CD they were playing. I think she did understand her artwork was on the wall...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Make Mine Red and Full Bodied...

"Wine is bottled poetry." Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Beautiful Banff

I am lucky to live in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The tourist mecca of Banff, to be exact. My husband is the GM of a ski resort. They are designing a summer brochure and were having trouble finding stock images of our specific area and the peaks near it. They recruited my help and here are a few of the ones I like. I am pretty happy since I never consider myself a landscape photographer...

Get in My Belly

Does anyone know where that quote comes from? My husband says it all the time...

My lovely friend, Sheasy, posted this recipe to her blog and since I LOVE Gazpacho I decided I must post it here. I am going to make it ASAP. Sheas gave it an A+ AND her belly thanked Jo, her cousin whom the recipe comes from. It is that time of year for most that dinner is best when you don't turn on the oven. I say most because while it is currently hitting 40C+ / 104F+ in Ottawa, where we used to live, it is only about 12C / 54F here in Banff. We don't have warm weather until July and August, which is frankly, just the way I like it...


28 oz. can diced tomatoes (low sodium if available)
3 cups tomato juice (low sodium if available)
2 1/2 cups cucumber, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
3/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
3/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp Tabasco

In the blender (or food processor), smooth tomatoes, tomato juice, cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, red onion, shallots, and garlic. Once smooth add red wine vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, fresh herbs, pepper, and Tabasco. Chill before serving. Thanks, JoMama!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Calgary Leads the Country in HATE Crimes

I hate that! I mean, I guess I can't really say that I am surprised. Not to be stereotypical, but maybe there is something to stereotypes sometimes. In this case, rednecks and cowboys are so predictable. I am originally from the states, and Texas is comparable to Calgary in many things, including oil, cowboys, and racism. Of course I am not saying that everyone from Texas or Alberta is racist, that would make me pretty stupid. It would be like saying that because I am an American, I love George Bush, Walmart, war, racism, celebrities, consumerism, and going to church so that I can pass judgement on others. Whoops, did I just say that?

Here is part of the article...
CALGARY - Calgary has the highest rate of hate crimes in the country - three times the national average - according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

The study, which surveyed Canadian police services covering 87 per cent of the country's population, found 892 hate-motivated crimes in 2006 - less than one per cent of all incidents reported to police that year, at a rate of 3.1 incidents per 100,000 people.

In Calgary, the rate was 9.1 incidents per 100,000. Race or ethnicity was the most often-seen motivation in all cities, but particularly in Calgary where 73 per cent of all hate crimes were related to a person's skin colour or country of origin.

You can read more here:

The West Edmonton Mall

I come from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the land of the Mall of America, the largest mall in the states. It takes a lot to impress me mall-wise. Southdale, in Edina, Minnesota, was the first indoor mall, and the movie Mallrats was filmed at Eden Prarie Center. I grew up shopping in both of these malls. The mall I hung out in the most was Ridgedale Mall, which was mentioned in the movie Juno. Maybe this mall heritage is the reason I don't really like malls. I prefer to shop in independantly owned and thrift stores. Chain stores and restaurants are not my favorites, unless they are book and art supply stores. But we did have fun at the West Edmonton Mall. Andre had a meeting to go to today, so we made the 4 hour trek yesterday and spent the night. We stayed at the Fantasyland Hotel, which I mistakenly thought had theme rooms. No such luck. It was theme hallways. We were on the seventh floor which has a stable theme, with a horse painted on each door. Bummer. I wanted to stay in a theme room. The room was large and wonderful, very clean and modern. I can't say I dug eating for two days in food courts, but there were many fun things to see. And my two year old is so amazed by everything right now that it was priceless as always to see a whole new world through her eyes. She could have cared less about shopping, she was too busy sitting in coin operated rides (usually without a coin in them), watching fountains, watching people ice skate, having ice cream, and watching other kids.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What a GREAT Day!

I got so much accomplished. And the nice part that was QQ was here all day. I usually have a difficult time getting much done when it is just her and I, but she is a bit over two, and starting to be interested in her own things for little pockets of time, which gives me more time. I just hope she doesn't stop napping anytime soon.

Today I was able to work on some custom pendants for a fellow photographer. Then, I wrote an article for JPG Magazine, which I uploaded to their site. I am truly hoping that they will feature it in their print magazine, in the issue where they will be featuring Polaroid portraits. Here it is: It is about my series Human/Nature.

The icing on the cake was that I was able to attend a lecture tonight at the Whyte Museum. There were two speakers, Lauren Wheeler of Carleton University presented Imaging Place in Winter: Photographic Albums and Growing Up in Banff, Alberta in the 1920's and Parks Canada's Kathy Rettie presented Studying People in Mountain National Parks. I was interested in going because I hope to write for several grants, including one from the Banff Centre's Mountain Cultures Program, to do a documentary on Seniors in Banff who grew up here and continue to live here. The lectures were both interesting and educational. I like to go and listen to others speak about projects that are similar to ones I am working on because sometimes I am better able to put into words what I am trying to do by listening to someone else speak eloquently about their work. I find that to be one of the most difficult parts of my work. One thing is for sure, I feel blessed to live in Banff, a place rich in history and its own unique mountain culture.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I just found out that Nicky, who lives here in Banff, and whose little one attends library story group with my little one, had a baby girl on Friday! Congrats!

It sure does seem like spring around here (although I think it is almost summer) since almost every woman I see is pregnant...

In art news, I found out that one of the 4 images I had in the Five-Art exhibit in Tampa, Florida, sold. It is a Polaroid called Carrotts. Yippee!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Featured on Etsy Finds

Today I was featured in Etsy Finds, which is in the Storque, and goes out to something like 9,500 subscribers! WOW! Thanks to Pamela Angus, who was writing for Anda. Here is the link,