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.