Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Canadian Christmas: mock cherry (cranberry) pie

I have no idea if this recipe is a Maritime food tradition, per se, but my Christmas holidays are incomplete without it, and it features one of the great wild foods of of eastern North America: the cranberry. Regional magazine Saltscapes have printed a version of it, attributing it to author Lucy Maud Montgomery, so I guess it has a little Canadian food cred. My Nana - my maternal grandmother - made it every Christmas, and now so do I.

This time I used organic fresh cranberries grown in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, Quebec, and a handful of leftover craisins along with the raisins. You can do this with frozen cranberries too, of course. The recipe from Saltscapes calls for chopped fruit, but I use the cranberries and raisins whole.

Pearl Lantz Schofield's Mock Cherry Pie Filling 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pearl Lantz Schofield's Pumpkin Pie recipe, made from scratch

Today we used my Nana's recipe to make pumpkin pie from a wonderful Riverbend Gardens pumpkin that was a gift from my friend Owen. It was scrumptious, although probably not special to anyone outside my family. Here's her recipe:

spice mix:
cinnamon 1 tsp
nutmeg 1/2 tsp
ginger 1/2 tsp
allspice 1/2 tsp
dash of salt

1 egg

1 cup pumpkin (fresh* or canned)

1 cup milk/cream blend
1/4 cup sugar (this amount seems low, don't you think?)
or, substitute 1 cup sweetened condensed milk for milk-sugar mix

Whisk all ingredients together and pour into a pastry pie shell. Bake 375F for 45-60 min, until the filling is firm.

*To prepare a fresh pie pumpkin: cut in half, scoop out the seeds, roast the flesh 350F for 1h, let cool, and puree. For more details (and a delicious-looking fancier alternate recipe!) check this terrific post out. 1 pie pumpkin (the little smooth ones) will usually yield enough for two pies.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fall 2013 Slow News Summary

I'm back to regular life, and gradually catching up on all the writing I've been putting off! I'd like to thank my friends and followers who stuck by me through my foray into covering the municipal election for the Local Good, which we did on the principle that engagement with local politics is consistent with locavorism. I know my twitter and Facebook feeds were pretty #yegvote-heavy from August through October, and I'm sure anyone not in Edmonton who is still following me was muting the hashtag by the end. Here's a summary of what I learned in the process. It was pretty interesting, but I'm delighted to be taking my other interests off the back burner. Speaking of...

On sustainability and environment:

Let's start with the bad news. Arctic sea ice is not recovering. Ice on Arctic islands is melting for the first time in 44000 yearsOver 80% of terrestrial ecosystems are at risk from climate change, and ocean acidification likely means all ocean ecosystems are also at risk - and many marine species are already under intolerable pressure from overfishing and plastic pollution. The global food supply is also at risk from climate change, and National Geographic's interactive sea rise map demonstates that unless we can turn things around, many of the world's coastal cities will eventually end up underwater. The most recent IPCC report (even with revisions) is very clear that climate change is anthropogenic and only drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions can prevent unprecedented consequences. The somber tone and stark language being used by scientists trained to speak conservatively with lots of caveats is striking; it brings to mind cold-war-era language around the possibility of triggering a nuclear winter.

So, we have an enormous challenge ahead of us, an enormous responsibility to bear - and an enormous opportunity. The solutions we create as we build our cities and live our lives and move toward a zero-carbon-emissions future will need to be innovative and exciting. Let's do this thing.

An augmented-reality sundial bench by Joshua Barnes, shown at London Design Festival 2013, via designboom. An app allows users to record memories associated with the shadow cast by the dial.
On slow design, slow making, and slow home:

Balmaseda ‘Tafoni jacket’ at the ‘Art of Slow Fashion’ event in New York (photo by Abigail Doan, from her wonderful LOST IN FIBER Tumblr)
On slow fashion:
On slow food:
On slow travel:
On slow living, slow parenting, slow money, and so forth:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Harvesting and Preserving: Green Tomato Mincemeat

This post is part of the Canadian Food Experience project (also on Facebook) proposed by my friend Valerie Lugonja, who is a board member of Slow Food Edmonton. The project began June 7th, 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us. 

My October was bananas, thanks to municipal election madness over at the Local Good's blog, so this month you'll get a two-fer: my preserving post and my harvest post, all in one. A childhood harvest memory that I cherish, and hope to recreate next year here in Edmonton, is having such a bounty of tomatoes from my mother's garden that we couldn't possibly eat them all. Usually, Mom planted three different varieties: a cherry tomato for salads, a plum tomato, and one other. I remember the flavours but not the names - I'll have to ask her which cultivars they were (update: Mom says she planted the Beefeater and Scotia cultivars). There would be big brown paper bags of them lined up on the windowsill over the sink, to induce them to ripen, but inevitably we'd need to use them up before they all had a chance to get red. So, it was always my maternal grandmother's Green Tomato Mincemeat recipe to the rescue. It makes a wonderful pie filling, and since there is no actual meat in it, it's suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Photo via Rhubarb & Honey who shares a very similar recipe!
Pearl's Green Tomato Mincemeat

3 pounds (10 cups) green tomatoes
3.5 pounds apples (Gravenstein apples would have been used)
2 cups brown sugar
1 pound seeded raisins
1 pound seedless raisins
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup apple juice
2.5 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp nutmeg
2 lemons, grated and juiced

Cut tomatoes in quarters and blend; drain.
Add chopped apples (not peeled!) and other ingredients except lemon juice.
Cook slowly 2-3 hours adding apple juice as required.
Add lemon juice just before bottling.
Can be frozen or canned.

(Sorry, no photo - I haven't had a chance to make this yet! I'll edit this post to add photos as soon as I can, but I wanted to share the recipe right away.)

PS: Oooh, look, Valerie posted her green tomato mincemeat recipe too, with the most mouthwatering photos. Her proportions and spices (candied ginger!) are a bit different from my Nana's, be sure to compare them!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Indigo Vat Party, and Sharpening The Synthetic Vat

On Saturday, I had a few friends over to play with indigo. I provided the space, food, reference books, whatever equipment I had lying around, and some clothes lines; Lesley brought synthetic indigo stock solutions and her equipment; and everyone brought their own fabric, clothing, and yarn to dye. Deanna also brought three of her students in a high-school fashion course. It was so much fun!!

Fresh vat of white indigo. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cider 101 with Shovel & Fork

On Sunday, I got to take a cider-making course with Chad and Kevin from Shovel & Fork. Lucky me! If you are in or near Edmonton, you need to check them out - they do all kinds of fantastic skill-sharing courses, from kitchen gardening to butchery. With their permission, I'm sharing a few photos from the course. Naturally, for the complete details, you really ought to sign up the next time this is offered.

We started the rainy morning with a quick chat about fruit choice, then some of us picked apples from Kevin's tree, while the rest worked at the fruit crushing station and cut the larger apples. Those are adapted garburators that we're using to crush the fruit. You can also go old school and use a 4x4 and a bucket. Don't used a steam extraction juicer, which cooks all the great flavours out of the juice.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My Cherished Canadian Recipe: Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies

While I have lived in Edmonton since 1994, I grew up in Nova Scotia, in a family that has been in that part of the world for generations. I've mentioned my family background before, a mishmash of South Shore German and Swiss, Annapolis Valley English-via-Connecticut Planters, Parrsboro-area English-via-Massachusetts Loyalists, and a series of adventurous brides who crossed The Pond from England to make new lives with dashing sea captains. The recipe I'll share today comes from my husband's family. His dad's people were English sailors who stayed in Halifax when their time in the Navy ended, and Gaelic-speaking Scots whose families came to Cape Breton during the Highland Clearances; his mom's folks are Acadian French who found refuge in the wilds of New Brunswick and married Quebecois families after the Expulsion. (Some early Acadian families are also Metis by blood, although records are so scarce that mitochondrial DNA tests are often the only evidence, and the Metis families were integrated into Acadian culture, instead of developing a distinct culture as happened on the Prairies.)

Molasses was a kitchen staple in the Maritimes as a result of the trade triangle between the Caribbean, Nova Scotia, and Great Britain. We shipped timber out - or turned the timber into sailing vessels - and the ships returned laden with molasses from the sugarcane plantations. (Rum is the favoured distilled alcohol of the Maritimes for the same reason.) For more on the history of molasses as a Canadian food, check out this great post from Bridget Oland from earlier in the Canadian Food Experience series.

This soft molasses cookie recipe is a family favourite that is now at least 120 years old. It came from Mrs. Archie Legere, an aunt of my husband's Acadian grandmother, who operated a hotel at one time (at least, according to the notes in the margin of the recipe card made by my husband's Aunt Lorraine Miller). I believe it originally would have been made with butter instead of shortening, and been written with imperial measurements instead of the metric provided by Aunt Lorraine (who was a high-school home economics teacher). 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Canadian Food Hero: Chef Craig Flinn

Full disclosure: I've known Craig since high school in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, when we sang together in the choir. He's a funny, easy-going guy with a rich, deep singing voice. But for today's Canadian Food Experience assignment - to choose our Canadian food hero - I chose Chef Craig Flinn because his dedication to cooking with fresh, seasonal, local food and celebrating Canada's rich, varied culinary heritage was my first real exposure to slow food. His first cookbook, Fresh & Local, remains one of my favourites after years of use, and his other books get regular use in my kitchen at home. If you're visiting Halifax, his trio of restaurants on Barrington Street - Chives Canadian Bistro, Ciboulette Cafe, and newly-opened lunch spot Two Doors Down - are an absolute must. While Craig is one of Nova Scotia's culinary stars, he's not as well known as he really ought to be outside of the Maritimes. Let's change that.
photo courtesy of Chef Craig Flinn (via his Facebook feed)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Slow News Summary: the summery edition

There's so much great stuff to share from the past couple of months! Let's get right to it:

On slow design, slow making, and slow home:
On slow fashion:
I love this idea, via Nutfield Genealogy: an old family recipe, woodburned as it appears on the original recipe card, into a cutting board. 

On slow food:
On slow travel:
On slow living, slow parenting, slow money, and so forth:
  • In praise of slow tech - as in older technologies that force us to slow down, think harder, and focus our creative energy.
  • Another take on slow tech: high tech, but human-centred, following the slow food tenets of "good, clean, and fair". What an interesting alternative to the low-tech/handmade version of slow tech!
  • Scott Laningham on The Slow Fix, with an interview with Carl Honore
  • A review (en francais) of the gorgeous-looking SLO magazine.
  • Diane MacDonald on Slow Consulting.
  • Australia's Storyology talk slow journalism.
  • American friends, check out Slow Flowers to find florists who design using US-grown blooms. (Here's hoping they expand their reach to the rest of North America.) It's from Debra Prinzing, who literally wrote the book on local bouquets.
On sustainability and environment:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

U of A Surface & Textile Design course

Lucky me, last week I got to go to the world's coolest summer camp!

As part of the University of Alberta's Residential Interiors certificate program (which I'm still gradually completing), they are offering a handful of courses as one-week intensives (instead of a weekly evening class), including Surface and Textile Design. Our instructor for this very hands-on studio course was fibre artist Lesley Stafiniak. We learned wet-felting, needle-felting, shibori, batik, and silk-painting techniques, watched a documentary about natural dyes, and discussed pattern creation techniques. My mind is still buzzing with all the possibilities.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Regional Canadian Food: Hodge Podge

I really wasn't sure what regional food I should write about, so last week, I asked my many expat friends what Canadian foods they miss. The answers were really interesting (and might provide ideas for future posts). Along with many, many varieties of junk food for savoury and sweet cravings, here are some of the things that were listed:
- for the Prairie folks: Taber corn (the super-sweet corn grown in Taber, Alberta), saskatoons, Alberta beef, green onion cakes, pierogies, cabbage rolls
- for the maritimers: seafood (crab cakes, fish cakes, scallops, mussels, lobster), Hodge Podge, blueberry grunt, donairs
- butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, cucumber / sweet pickles, maple syrup

Hodge Podge

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Slow Movement and Privilege

Privilege is problematic.

It keep us divided from each other by cocooning us in invisible comfort. Inside its walls, it is easy to assume that everyone lives as we live and thinks as we think. It whispers that anyone who is Not Like Us must not be trying hard enough. It is the nice guy explaining in the comment section that men should be welcomed to the women-only bicycle ride. It is your employer not giving the woman in the next cubicle more responsibilities, because she's just going to leave the company when she gets pregnant. It is your grandparents saying that racism no longer exists because there is a black president, and your kids' school only including the pre-contact life of first nations communities in their curriculum.

If you are reading this blog post, that means that you are part of a tiny fraction of humanity who can read and have internet access. Bloggers and social media users tend to forget that we are a subculture within that tiny fraction of humanity. We are so privileged.

One of the most troubling problems in the slow movement is its lack of diversity. People who are talking about applying slow movement ideas to various disciplines - or who talk about environmentalism, or bicycle infrastructure advocacy, or any of a number of similar topics - are mostly over-educated white people like me. The slow home hashtag is used by architects and interior designers, and we tend to assume that home ownership is the norm. We need to talk about slow home for renters. Slow design is still a term mostly used by academics. The term slow travel is mostly being used by young people who travel - often college kids with the resources to travel around the world, or digital entrepreneurs who can work while travelling. The slow fashion hashtag often skews toward talk of luxury design, or things being custom-made - or on the flip side of that, being inexpensively handmade but with a huge time investment. The slow food movement is portrayed from the outside as being about expensive restaurant meals and overpriced farmers' markets and ridiculously time-consuming gardens, instead of being about good, clean, fair food that starts locally. Even minimalism, the most diverse of the related topics, is essentially a philosophy born of privilege - "too much stuff" is the ultimate first-world problem.

Even the conversation following the (brilliant) Salon post on Pollan's possible sexism and the issues of privilege in the slow food movement has tended to turn into arguments over feminism, or whether the DIY movement is actually disproportionately female, or comments pointing to worthy slow food projects being done in partnership with communities in need - instead of examining the critique that the ideas of the slow movement seem largely irrelevant if you lack the means or the time to adopt them. (Note that I said they *seem* irrelevant, not that they *are* irrelevant.)

"We Are Better Together" art print by Ello Lovey on Society6. LOVE this.
How do we broaden the reach of our conversations, and find ways to tell our stories and share our ideas outside our little subculture? How do we describe the ideas and projects of the slow movement for a different audience with different concerns? How do we answer - or acknowledge and address - charges of privilege or elitism? How do we include other cultural traditions in the mix without colonialism or cultural imperialism? How do we, to imperfectly borrow a term from feminism, create an intersectional slow movement?

There are no easy answers.

Maybe, we can make a start by acknowledging our privilege, and being mindful of it. We are lucky; we can use our privilege as a tool to help us make changes that those who haven't been as lucky might be unable to make alone. (And yes, if you dig a little deeper, 'luck' itself is a social construct that lets us feel more comfortable wearing our privilege, but that's another whole blog post.) If we create projects after careful consultation, charrettes, or co-design processes, we can make change *with* communities instead of *for* them, on their terms, with their trust and support and ingenuity. We are better together, and we can create brilliant things and elegant solutions by truly engaging with each other as equals in the design and planning process.

Also, perhaps we can make a start by taking our ideas out into the wider world. We can talk about the great things we can do on a limited budget, with limited time, with limited resources, or in different cultural contexts, but that does no good if we only end up talking to people like ourselves. We need to be engaging. We need to make our work relevant. We need to do more than academic papers and blog posts and art shows and conferences. We need to share our ideas through demonstration projects and street art and pop culture. We need to think big and scale up. We need to showcase brilliant projects and put conceptual designs into production and into peoples' hands.

Tell me: what else do you think we need to do to broaden the appeal and the usefulness of the slow movement?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dyeing silk with blueberries, logwood, and onionskin

Time to make some end-of-schoolyear gifts for the kids' teachers! 

I started with a dozen 8m/m 11" x 60" Chinese habotai silk scarves. (I know, not at all local, but great for gift-giving and a nice size to allow me to experiment with different dyeing techniques.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Community Building: Throwing A Block Party

All the houses on our four-year-old cul-de-sac have now completed construction and been sold, so the timing is right to start a neighborhood tradition and make friends with the neighbours. At a Christmas get-together, the idea of a block party met with enthusiasm, so I decided to get the ball rolling and start the process. Once the idea was out there, several of my neighbours banded together as an informal planning committee, and things fell together easily.

Here's what we did:

Friday, June 7, 2013

My First Authentic Canadian Food Experience: Wild Nova Scotia Blueberries

This post is part of the Canadian Food Experience project proposed by my friend Valerie Lugonja, who is a board member of Slow Food Edmonton. The project began June 7th, 2013, and has a Facebook page. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us. 

I grew up in Nova Scotia. My family were there for generations, going back to the early 1600s. My mother's side is a mix of Dutch-German "foreign Protestants" and English-by-way-of-Connecticut Planters who settled in the South Shore and the fertile Annapolis Valley. My father's people were English-by-way-of-Massachusetts Planters Loyalists (one was tried for recruiting for the British Army during the Revolution!) who forsake the land to become sea captains based on the Parrsboro shore and brought home their brides from England.

One of my earliest food memories is picking wild blueberries with my parents. Each tiny wild blueberry is an explosion of flavour, unlike the larger high-bush blueberries. We kids would just use our fingers to pick, and inevitably eat more than went into our buckets, while my mom supervised us and kept us entertained with stories of watching her colour-blind father pick whole buckets of green berries when she was a child. Dad did the bulk of the picking using an antique blueberry rake made of wood and tin shaped like this one:

blueberry rake, photo via

Thursday, June 6, 2013

DIY denim Bermuda shorts

This slow fashion tutorial is so easy, even I couldn't mess it up:

1. Take your formerly-favourite boot-cut or flared jeans that are suddenly looking tired now that everyone is wearing skinnies. (Or, someone else's that you scored at a thrift shop - look for good quality denim with no inside-the-thigh damage from wear.)

2. Cut them right above the knee. If your jeans are like mine, you'll be able to tell where that is without measuring because the knees are just a little worn - but you may also wish to measure along the inside of your leg from crotch to knee, mark that measurement on the inside-of-leg seam of the jeans using tailors' chalk, then cut. (Save the offcuts. You'll use them to creatively patch another favourite pair. I'm thinking I'll use boro embroidery as my inspiration for that project.)

(Want shorter shorts? Try measuring the inseam of a pair whose fit you love, then adding a couple of inches to give you room to roll the hem.)

3. Hem as desired. For now, I've just been rolling mine up to hide the raw edge. If yours won't stay rolled up, you can use iron-on hem tape, turn them in and hem, or bind the edge with a pretty ribbon.

4. Bonus points if the jeans were too small and you updated them by inserting a ribbon panel along the outside-of-leg seam. (I did this as a teenager, and I'm planning to use the trick for a couple of my daughter's favourite pairs to extend their life.)

Et voila! You now have a pair of the on-trend denim shorts that every shop seems to be flogging this summer - and you've extended the length of time you'll wear a favourite piece of clothing.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Slow News Summary: Spring 2013

First slow news summary since February. Are you ready for all this link love?

On slow design, slow making, and slow home:

As expected, slowLab have relaunched their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Their end product will be the Slow Design Knowledge Platform (a web-based learning tool, community hub, and research incubator) - and their pledge rewards are absolutely the coolest. I've signed up for the collaborative Slow Design Reader and the ability to host a Slow Dialogue in my city (details to be announced soon!), but I'm also coveting the exquisite porcelain cups and wishing I had the cash to travel to their location and do an intensive workshop. Sigh. (BTW, if you were one of their supporters on Kickstarter, you should be aware that your credit card was never actually charged and that you need to repledge if you want to support them.) Oh, and if you happen to be in NYC for Design Week 2013, they're doing a brilliant HUMAN CHAIR project that you can participate in:

HUMAN CHAIR #slowhuman from slowLab on Vimeo.

On slow fashion:

On slow food:
On slow travel:
On slow living, slow parenting, slow money, and so forth:

On sustainability and environment:

The monarch butterflies are in trouble. Plant more milkweed! (If only the fix for the massive declines in honeybee populations was as simple to implement.)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bioregional dyeing in Alberta

Lately I've had my nose down, researching what fibres and dyes I can use for my projects that are completely local (I'll save my thoughts on regional fibres for another post.). Although I have used commercially-made acid dyes to dye fabrics in the past, my experience with natural dyes has been limited - so, I'll be blogging about it as I learn. I'd love to grow the dye plants that can be grown here in USDA Zone 3, and also take a bio-regional approach by foraging for dye plants that grow wild here.
rose hips and bark from today's walk
There is basic information about natural dyeing using local plant materials here and here and some inspirational photos here; I'm also now doing more detailed research using the books from this amazing bibliography. Oh, and this link talks about traditional natural dyes used by first nations artisans for porcupine quills, which may provide some more ideas for bioregional dyeing.

My dyeing set-upI'm hoping to work outside when the weather is good, but the ventilation is good in my kitchen when I'm working with nontoxic dyestuffs. I already have pH paper, a big enamel lobster pot, a thrifted glass casserole dish, thrifted canning jars, tongs, a dye measuring spoon, and a set of Majic Carpet acid dyes with formula books in my rug hooking stash. Oh, and a propane camp stove in my backpacking box, and a clothesline that needs to be installed. Yesterday I visited a local art supply shop and added a tjanting tool for batik work and a natural indigo dyeing kit, and ordered some goodies from Maiwa in Vancouver. There may be some additional instuments that are part of the materials for the Surface & Textile Design intensive at the U of A in July (so. very. excited.). I still need to look for second hand: more dye pots, slotted spoons, bowls, and measuring spoons - made of stainless steel or enamel or (if I get lucky) copper - and a kitchen scale and hot plate.

Dye sources I will plant in my new garden (many are also food sources, yay!):
  • Rhubarb leaves (note: poisonous!)
  • Hollyhock 'nigra', for the blossoms
  • Heather
  • Woad (I have ordered seeds from Wearing Woad in BC - a noxious weed here so they *must* be harvested before going to seed)
  • Carrots (I have seeds from Cubits in Ontario)
  • Beets (I have seeds from Cubits) (too highly fugitive)
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry tree and/or pear tree - for the leaves
  • Blackberries - for the leaves, berry dye is fugitive
  • Marigolds, for the blossoms (which coincidentally are our city's official flower - no idea why, since they're not exactly local)
Dye sources to forage locally (many of these are wild or invasive):
  • dandelion
  • goldenrod
  • big basin sagebrush / Artemesia tridentata
  • curly dock / Rumex crispus
  • sheep sorrel / Rumex acetosella (this can give a beautiful green)
  • tansy / Tanacetum vulgare
  • horsetail / Equisetum arvense
  • fennel / Foeniculum vulgare
  • St John's wort / Hypericum perforatum
  • prickly pear fruit
  • elderberry
  • Canada thistle / Cirsium arvense
  • common mullein / Verbascum thapsus
  • prairie sunflower / Helianthus petiolaris
  • rose hips or petals from the wild roses that flourish in the nearby ravine
  • bark from dead lodgepole pine (on a trip to the foothills) or birch
  • fallen leaves from birch or trembling aspen
  • acorns from burr oak (which is planted as a shelterbelt tree on the Prairies)
  • there may be more on the noxious weed list that I can experiment with
  • certain lichens and mosses grow in abundance in the woods near me, so they might also be worth trying
In addition, I can collect wood ash from the weekend bonfires the teenagers have down in the ravine, and dig a little of the red clay that's everywhere here to use as a source of iron. I should also experiment with using our hard local water instead of distilled water to see how it changes the colours I get.

Reference books I am using:
  • Harvesting Color, by Rebecca Burgess (2011) 
  • A Weaver's Garden, by Rita Buchanan (1999)
  • Wild Color (Revised & Updated), by Jenny Dean (2010)
  • Eco Colour, by India Flint (2010)
  • The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing, by Eva Lambert & Tracy Kendall (2010)
  • The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes, by Sasha Duerr (2010)
  • Alberta Agriculture's Weeds of the Prairies (2000) for plant identification

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What are you making?

My YEGhead: planting seeds & watching them grow. Metaphorically.
Via Make Something Edmonton on Facebook.
Tonight is the launch party for the amazing Make Something Edmonton project, and I was lucky enough to grab a ticket before it sold out. Hopefully today's snowstorm won't prevent me from going!

In the spirit of the event, I thought I'd make a little list of what I'm making:

1. The Local Good. I've been on the volunteer board of directors of this amazing grassroots organization for several years now, and I am extremely proud of the work we are doing to make it easy to find the amazing local projects, businesses, and events in Edmonton. In our early years, we noticed that we'd met lots of people doing similar projects with common goals who were not aware of each other's work, and we felt that the best way we could make change was to bring them together so they can exchange ideas, create collaborations, and make amazing things happen. All our projects, from our events listing and blog, to themed Green Drinks networking events, to the Good Hundred Party and educational panel discussions, are based around the simple idea of fostering community by making it easy for people with common values and interests to find each other.

2. My bicycle blog, Loop-Frame Love, which I co-write with a rotating cast of collaborators. There has been a lot of heated rhetoric around bike lanes in our city lately; this project makes a small difference by showing that cycling in this city (and my co-bloggers') is not just for hipster messenger dudes on fixies, weekend warriors on mountain bike trails or training in pelotons, and wierdo commuters on hybrids wearing safety orange. There's a wonderful community of year-round bike-culture bloggers in Edmonton, and we hope that ours adds to the diversity and approachability of cycling voices in the city. So far our biggest contribution has been the Critical Lass rides we organize for female cyclists in street clothes, on a route suitable for novice riders, to promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity. Although there are other social rides sans politics and testosterone in other cities, we were the first in the world to take the tongue-in-cheek name "Critical Lass" for ours, and that name is now also being used in bike-culture model cities like Chicago and Seattle. LFL has outgrown our Blogspot space, so this spring we are relaunching as, and we've just recruited fabulous new co-blogger Emma; we're also planning monthly Critical Lass rides and our first-ever Kidical Mass (for families).

3. This blog! If you're visiting from my twitter feed, this is where I explore the slow movement and all its facets, and gradually figure out shape my encore career will take. I know it involves slow design and slow craft, so it will be all about Making Something Edmonton - but I'm still finding my voice. Another ongoing topic of this blog is using my standard suburban move-up home as a slow home renovation case study, and an upcoming post will talk about creating an annual block party with my neighbors to build community in my neighborhood (where most residents have moved in in the last two years). I will also be planning a slow movement themed unconference as a collaboration between this blog and The Local Good this autumn, so stay tuned for details on that!