Monday, October 11, 2010

Thankful for Grover

It's Thanksgiving in Canada, today.  And I am working hard on assignments and reading (no, I haven't really caught up - I've never been a successful skimmer, I pretty much have to read every word...) but on my way to my university log-in page, I travelled through the land of Yahoo! as a portal and lo' and behold:

Maybe because I'm fried or maybe because it's educational and my brain has turned to 'teacher'... But I think it's some friggin' hilarious.

So I am thankful for opportunities, my family and friends who are patiently tolerating my present but absent state of being, and Starbucks for being open when all buildings on campus were locked tight.

Next post:   Man, We Need Groceries Soup

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Falling Socks

Little tip:  If you want to show off new socks, resist the urge to wear them immediately and wash them before photographing.  They look weird when you do that and not amount of faux-artistic photo-styling will make them look less lumpy.  :-)

My new rule for non-reading, non-eating time is that I have to keep my hands busy so I can get away with keeping up on a small handful of tv shows and movies without feeling like I'm wasting time.  I started these way back in August. At the time, I had just finished my chunky sweaters and moving from 10mm needles to 2.5mm needles almost induced second sock syndrome before the first was even finished.  It was painfully slow to me. I quickly began the second and proceeded to try that "two socks on one long circular" process.  Fiddly and seems to take a long time but I have two finished socks that are exactly the same size.  Phew!


I haven't been following my iFriends as closely as usual - I only seem to get blog time about once a week.  I am starting to manage my time better and have even polished off a few books.  Thanks for all the encouragement!  Some of my classes are fantastic; some... uhmmmm...  I will spare you the ranting.  I have  found myself on the general council for the student society, joined a number of committees, and with a school friend had a fantastic lightsaber fight with our phones.  I owe a few emails, and they are coming up. Right after my midterm. :-)

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

After these messages...

...we'll be right back!

Yup.  The avalanche/onslaught has begun.

Tip o' the 'berg.  Tip.  O'. The. 'Berg.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Orange is for Organizing

Going back to school is a great excuse for finally cutting into my long-stashed Jessica Jones canvas.

In my getting-ready-rampage (and trust me when I say rampage…) I finally traded in my had-it-forever-never-really-bonded-with-it cell phone for a smarter one and picked up a few things to make traveling with technology easier.
Now I have a whole lot of messy accessories and am overwhelmed by faster technology so I had the incredible urge to kick it old school ( ha!) and sew my own cases and cover my headphones with zippers based on this tutorial.  Apparently I didn't take an after shot...  but you get the idea.  I get tangle-free headphones.  (Great project for keeping your hands busy if you're indulging in some DVD watching and don't want to feel guilty for not accomplishing anything since you're watching DVDs and not reading textbooks.)

For my Eco-foldy speakers:

For my home-based screen cleaner and cloth:

And for my screen and USB travel sets, one for my purse and one for my mammoth bookbag:

I made them up as I went along and pulled any button that would fit the lacklustre buttonholes...

Ah, tidy.  Nerd rep intact.

I also made a dress but I don't have a verdict on it yet.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I am later posting this than I had intended.

Try as I might, I can not successfully photograph this sweater by myself, in any light, or with help, since almost everyone I wouldn't feel strange asking to photograph me wearing a sweater, to show off the sweater and specifically the sweater, is currently in Montana.  Or white-water-rafting in BC.

So after three weeks of attempts, I resign myself to posting this one.  Just this one.

The front is straight and without much detail.  It's the back that really made me happy (and also makes me feel a little like Thandie Newton in The Chronicles of Riddick...)  What you can't see in the photo is that it's actually quite a dark brown, bordering on black, that the single ply wool, though gorgeous, will probably pill like the dickens, and that I screwed up the pattern.  I misread the chart and did the small cable repeats on every eighth row instead of every fourth.  I realized my mistake as I started the first sleeve.  Sleeves and pockets have the correct cable repeat...  I should've known it was knitting up too fast but I decided that 9mm needles will have that effect.  Very cosy.  And very simple to do, provided that you are literate, or at least paying attention.  I'm satisfied with the result

Vogue Knitting, Early Fall.  Twilleys' Freedom.  Notes:  I used way more yardage than the pattern called for even though I knit to gauge on the specified needles.  Then, since I had cleaned the yard shop out of Twilleys when I originally purchased the yarn, I had to wait several weeks while my favourite knitting shop tracked some more down for me. (Thank you, Charlene!)  One more thing you can't see:  the slightest colour variance on one and a half sleeves, two pockets.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes.  It was a happy birthday Monday for me!  I inhaled an angelfood cake.  No fork.  True story.  :-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

From Awful to Aaahhhh!-ful

I am in Edmonton and have discovered the perils of online hotel bookings.

At first, I drove up and found out that the difference between a good part of town and a dodgy one is less than a block.  Then I had that sinking feeling as I parked in the check-in zone and walked in.  It was dark and grotty.  It was dirty.  It smelled. The carpet was buckled.  There was a large tank of green water with what I can only assume were fish behind the algae.  The front desk staff, two of them, were both arguing with customers, one of which was an unattended child left to his own devices for the day.  In my writer's imagination, I'm sure I heard the crackle-snap of a dying fluorescent tube and a malcontented fly.  This picture illustrates the general impression it made on me, though the picture is far more cheerful:

I became uneasy.  My room wasn't ready yet so I left my bag at the desk and went to get the school clothes I was supposed to buy with some birthday money I got (Are you ever too old for birthday money? Thanks, Mum!).  I traipsed through stores I usually have success in but couldn't focus enough to really invest in much.  It was crowded, most of the salespeople gave the impression of being annoyed and almost everything I liked was over-budget or not available in my size.  And I kept thinking about that place...  And I knew I couldn't stay there.

Then the wheel spun back up and when I collected my bag from the [chain hotel to remain unnamed unless you're travelling to Edmonton, in which case, email me], the evening shift front desk clerk was very understanding and didn't charge me any sort of cancellation fee.  I think he sensed I might cry if he said I had to stay there, in Stabby Town.  (Yay for Gary!)

Needing to stick relatively close to downtown, I wandered a little over the river and found the Metterra on Whyte Ave.  Whyte is the loveliest artsy indie strip in Edmonton and if I hadn't been a half-hour drive from it when I lived in Edmonton, I would've had a much different relationship with the city.  The staff has been wonderful, the lobby is gorgeous, they have lovely little perks, I can walk to all the cool shops, restaurants, and my favourite little grocery store in the city.
At the end of a long corridor, I entered this beautiful and tranquil space.

The windows run the length of the room, the brightest and airiest hotel room I've ever had the pleasure of staying in.

There's even enough space to do yoga if I wanted to.  That is, if I weren't wearing the bathrobe and lounging on the comfy bed with tiramisu from the restaurant I had supper, oh so happy that I booked a grotty little room somewhere else.

This is the view:

The haze in the air is the forest-fires burning in British Columbia, not smog.  The smoke hit Saskatchewan two days ago...

And the powder room.

Because I know you wanted to know.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Birth of the Life - 100

I disappeared for a while, lost amid the transitions.  I was hijacked, distracted, and more than a little intimidated by the idea of a hundredth post.   For 100,  I had no desire to write about the latest sweater (though I will), about gutting my closet like the victim of a Roman campaign, a fabulous little meal from a borrowed kitchen and the hands of student chefs (though I will), or relate another anecdote from my button story (but it's coming).  Nothing seemed right to me.  It's a milestone, albeit a somewhat arbitrary one, and I felt the need to mark it.  And after running into an extraordinary teacher today in one of my favourite art gallery/cafes, I had the moment where I figured it out.

There was a sessional lecturer in the Department of Drama that used to teach a theory on breaking down plays, scenes and monologues.  To absorb a piece, it needs to be broken into manageable chunks.  The Birth, The Life, and The Death.  Easily identifiable but still too large.  So you take it further and each chunk has its own Birth, Life, and Death.  The Birth of the Birth, The Life of the Death, and so on.

I'd been in a funk and now I find myself in a swirl of creation and transition, and running break-neck trying to catch up.
I am winding down at the best job I've ever had and winding up to a period of intensity and learning.
I am two weeks from 32.
I am 6 days from the first anniversary of CitricSugar.
I am 4 and a half months from becoming an aunt (and the word from the ultrasound today is Nephew!)
I am no longer who I was _____ (then, before, ago, earlier, once, yesterday).
I am a woman with curlers in her hair.

I am passing out of the Death of the Birth and into The Birth of the Life.

My life.  And I can't wait to get to it.  I had focussed too much on what was already behind me.  The conversation I'd had at the cafe sparked ideas in my brain and sitting in my car after on-campus errands, it struck me.  Time to redirect my attention and ABSORB.  Embrace the metamorphosis!  (Not to imply that I plan on waking up as a beetle tomorrow....  Kafka, anyone? No?)  This is a transformative time and like a photo taken in a mirror, it's tough to get the right perspective.  But it's possibilities that excite me.

I always become a little introspective and often maudlin around my birthday.  As odd as it is to say, one must always remember the future.

You never put curlers in your hair for the present.  :-)

Thank you for joining me for 100 posts of CitricSugar.  Soon, one hundred and one...
Much love, Carly

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ex Libris

It's a long weekend here and I've been whacking away at my to-do list like machete-wielding action hero traipsing through the jungle.  I've also had to battle giant tropical wolf-spiders.  Okay, not so tropical but lightning-fast and definitely unwelcome in my bedroom!
On the list:  Get books under control.
Because I am a nerd and I am accumulating tomes, textbooks, and tutelage at an alarming rate, I decided I needed to start putting my name in things.  I might fail to recognize one of the new books as my own until I've ravaged it cover to cover or it might be swiped by someone less diligent about getting to the bookstore before they are sold out.  And I'm a lender.  I lend things.  Then I forget to get them back.  Also, my inner five-year-old likes putting her name on stuff.
However, I didn't want them to be overly fancy, with trees or etchings, or too young, with balloons or giraffes.  A simply pretentious Latin phrase would do for me.  But I couldn't find ones I liked.  So I made some.  Sixteen to a standard sheet of pretty paper - you can't really tell from the photo, but it has flecks in it.  I took time to find the right paper - I could've used a self-adhesive sheet but I hate how the glue eventually discolours the paper and fuzzes out the inks.  Also, expensive.  Also, without nostalgia of "lick'em, stick'em" bookplates of my childhood.  They apparently don't sell "lick'em, stick'em" in my neck of the woods.  I looked.  Twice.
Two glues were tried - wrinkle-free glue stick and quick-drying, photo-safe glue from the scrapbooking aisle.  I have to say that I liked the liquid much better and it seems to have much better hold.
If you would like your own Pretentious Latin Not-Fancy BookPlates, I made you some too.  And you can use the sticker sheets if you want to.  I won't judge.

Too much.

Pretentious Latin Not-Fancy BookPlates. Click for download.  (Via Scribd.  Because I'm a book-nerd and less a computer-nerd so that's the only way I know how to do it. :-)

And you know the nerd labeled this one....
I also went all kinds of Goodwrench/Martha Stewart/Mr Clean on my car on Saturday.  It was sweet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another Sweater. I know...

Please forgive the "I'm so cool" facial expression.  I was thinking about cookies.  The eyebrow is definitely saying, "Cookies? Hmmm...  Mmmm.  I love cookies."  I only ever stop thinking about cookies when I'm preoccupied with cake.  Cake trumps cookies.  True story.

Clearly, I've been keeping my hands busy.  Otherwise, I find it hard to sit still and pay attention to things.  My only rule lately for making clothes is that it has to be something I can wear for teaching, or made entirely from materials I already have on hand.  So while I *did* buy yarn for this one, I can wear it to school meaning it passes muster.  Saw the colour - brown and green and pink all together -  and become irrationally and inarguably convinced I needed to have it.

Vogue Knitting, Early Fall 2010.  Cropped cardigan. Knit on 10mm needles.  Took very little time.  Baby alpaca, two strands held together.  It's  SO soft, maybe a little too soft for this project, but you live, you learn.   (And you can't stop rubbing your arms for the tactile pleasure of a cozy knit beneath your fingers... If beds were made from alpaca, none of us would ever get out of them.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Scott's Chicken Wings

This recipe was passed onto me by Scott.  Scott is my good friend's sister's boyfriend. (uncle's cousin's dermatologist's paperboy - which makes us as close as Helmet and Lonestar.  Spaceballs, anyone? No?)  I met him once when a large number of us went carousing.  But before we caroused, there was wine.  And tapas.  And these incredibly, ridiculously easy and delicious wings.  I begged him for the recipe.  Begging works.
Chicken drummettes or wing tips, or go crazy and get both
Lime juice, about one cup for every 20-30 pieces of chicken  (You can use the RealLime bottled stuff.  It'll be okay.  It's not considered cheating. But using lemon juice would be.  Use the lime.  Do it.)
Montreal Steak Spice.
Yup.  That's the good stuff.

Marinate your chicken in the lime juice for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.  We were lazy today and used ziplocs so that we could turn and flip and toss without a lot of mess.  (Little did we know...  Mess will find you other ways...)
Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Place your chicken pieces on greased or lined cookie sheets.  Sprinkle liberally with Montreal Steak Spice.
 Liberally!  With intent.  In fact, just to be sure, when you think you've added enough, turn your cookie sheet one-eighty and check there is no nekkid chicken from the other angle.

Now, I will point out that I over-crowded my chicken today.  Try to only marinate as much chicken as will reasonably fit in your oven.  Also, use a rimmed baking sheet, especially if you plan to over-crowd your chicken.  Why? You can either cook your chicken on rimmed sheets or use one to hold the scrapings of chicken juice-turned-charcoal from the bottom of your oven.  (I did say that mess finds you in other ways...)

I had made these wings before on a non-lipped sheet without incident but today..., today, I over-crowded and it bit me in the ash.  We had three fans going for a half an hour and had to interrupt cooking for a quarter so just use rimmed sheets.  Do it.

Bake your wings for 30-35 minutes.  Flip and be a libertine once more with the steak spice.  Sprinkly wantonly!  Return to oven for another 30-35 minutes or until chicken is browned and beginning to crisp.

Serve with napkins.
Also goes nicely with a side of sports, particularly if your team is doing well.  Go, Riders!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Just a Button

I don't know why I picked it up but before I'd even thought about it, it was in my hand, mused over, and dropped into the pocket of a puffy black coat two sizes too big.
Sasha asked me instantly what I'd plucked from beside the curb on a busy street during lunch hour in a city where sidewalks are really only a guideline.  Sasha was what our teachers called her;  she was actually Alexandra, but Sasha suited her better, so that's what stuck.
"Looks like a button," I said, and ran to catch up.  Riad was almost at the door of our second stop on our cathedral tour and was annoyed that he was again waiting on the girls.  He threatened us with snowballs later but honestly, Kazan had been there for centuries and two minutes wasn't going to affect his day all that much...
The three of us, Canadian, Australian, and Lebanese, were part of a fluctuating gaggle of foreigners studying in St. Petersburg.  It's funny how foreigners collect other foreigners in foreign countries and socialize more intensely with them than with the  people of the country hosting, but our informal model of the United Nations gave us a unusual sense of camaraderie.  Our group collected everyone;  our nation was one of misfit explorers.  We developed our own language, our own customs, our own sense of inclusive identity.  We also supported our collective delusion that we were cool.  Well, we weren't bad.  :-)
The very next night, my roommate Fiona (who can be one of the funnest people on the planet) and I were in the metro when something came spinning into my peripheral vision, pinged against the wall and dropped at my feet.  A button.  I grabbed it immediately as clearly the universe was trying to tell me something.  Fiona looked at me like I was crazy (I get that a lot) and scolded me about picking up random items off a public floor.   She shook her head when I explained about the button from the day before and said, "Alright."
It was weeks later when the third button appeared.  Our Swede, Fred,  had found a shack/tent/restaurant/folk music bar up the beach and decided we needed to eat supper there.  We took Jose, who was only with us for a brief two weeks - but like I said, we adopted everyone.  He was from Panama and raved about how he adored Canada.  I loved him immediately. (If my father had been Panamanian, I'm sure he would've been just like Jose...)
We weren't far from our student dorm when I looked down at my feet and saw a button in the sand.  I shrieked and found myself needing to explain why such a thing was marvellous.  Fred joined the camp that thought I was crazy but Jose listened intently and embraced my impulse.  "You have three now.  Three's definitely a collection!" he said with a smile.  (Did I mention that I loved Jose?)  From then on, we couldn't stop talking all the way down the beach and through supper about things much bigger than ourselves.  Fred was bored, I'm sure, but he was politely bored.
The fourth appeared at my feet on my way home from buying groceries a few days later.  I'd never noticed buttons just lying around before and now they were finding me with wild abandon.  But into my pocket it went.
I made way too much food as usual, and with Fiona nowhere to be found, I called up to Fred and Mike's.  Mike was presumably on a cracking adventure downtown with the absent Fiona but Fred was definitely hungry.
"Jose left today.  And he left you a present."
"What?" I said. " I met him once."
"Oh, it gets weirder..."
When I buzzed Fred onto our floor,  curiosity stuck my head out the door until he came around the corner. He walked toward me with his hand outstretched.  On his palm rested a button.
"He found it on Nevskiy Prospekt today.  I was with him.  I would've kept walking but he insisted I bring it to you."
I smiled.  I'm sure now that Jose had understood then what I was just beginning to grasp.  There was something going on and I just had to believe.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Swimsuit Cover-up

Not much to say today but I did have a knitting finish last week (and two knitting starts - seriously, what is wrong with me?).  It's almost too late for "lakeside" frolicking as the weather is starting (somewhat) to level out.  We've had rain Thursday, Friday and into the wee hours on Saturday but the rest of the weekend was dry.  (Yay!)  Of course, we're expecting another dousing tonight...
All 145lbs of Niece Dog wanted to help but she's useless with a camera.  Unless you need it to be eaten, in which case, she would be outstanding!  She was visiting this weekend and is a little clingy, which can be comical since she leans against you in "hug" mode and can push you over without meaning to do so.  Strangely enough, the above photo makes her look small.  She's actually standing 500yards behind me and had Tokyo for breakfast.  :-)
I'm satisfied with the fit but the linen/cotton blend I used had some unusual dye-shifting during initial blocking.  Once sewn together and and rinsed (Twice!!), I still can't seem to get rid of the odd saturated spot, but you can't really tell unless you're close up.  Now that it's washed, it's also quite stiff and needs to be taken down to the river for some old-school beating against a rock.  Anyone have any recommendations for softening stiff fibres?  I'm trying to avoid the dryer if I can...
Pattern from Vogue Knitting Summer 2010; I can't find the label from the linen...  It's been that kind of week.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Holiday Weekend at the "Lake"

Oh, how I dream of spending summer weekends at a cabin at a lake!  Trouble is, I don't have one.  This Canada Day weekend, the lake came to us.

Tuesday, we indeed got the storm predicted for the area.  It came with torrents, hail and a tornado watch.  The street flooded all the way up to the garage door of the house and into the cars of anyone unlucky enough to have parked in the street.  It's not that we don't have storm drains.  We have three on this corner alone (which is why the street is graded towards them) but we've had so much water this year (3 to 4 times normal), the drrrains, they canna' take it, Cap'n!!  Local farmers are considering changing crops to rice, bamboo, and freshwater algae.

Then came Friday.  That's when I took the above picture.  And these ones:

You can see one of the eddies.... there's a storm drain these somewhere...

Saturday wasn't too bad.  I baked.
I knit.
Sunday, it started raining again.  It hasn't stopped.  So I'm trying to enjoy the scenery.
In related news, the 'Riders won their home opener in an overtime squeaker.  Maybe seeing green reign triumphant isn't all bad...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Five minutes.

This is the start of the downpour last Wednesday.

The rain here has the power to scrub away those pesky sidewalks.  :-)  SuperDeluge's sidekick Humid McHugsYouToDeath has been thwarting the hair rescuing efforts of straightening irons throughout western Canada.

I only mention it because it stormed again this weekend and we're "due" (ha!) for one tonight.  I predict a province-wide "Hat Day" tomorrow....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Absent. Minded.

I have been quiet.  So quiet radar couldn't have detected me.  I wasn't moving.  I wasn't lurking.  I wasn't even online.

And I missed it.

It's a treat to me to get a little bit of time to sit and read, to think and commiserate, to opine and admire, and to share, to be part of this delightfully weird and inspiring community connected by wi-fi and cable but joined by more than that, even if it's a laugh, a tear, an invisible hug for a stranger who shares a passion for the same obscure candy from childhood, or  a thank-you for a tidbit of advice or a heart-rending story, a powerful set of words, an incredible photograph, a project, a slice of life so very different and so very similar to your own.

 I wasn't absent-minded;  I was absent.  And I minded.

My world has been like a box of pieces.  Nothing's fallen to pieces;  it seems they've simply arrived that way.  It's exciting, the assembly, but pieces seem to take up far more room in their original state.  I can't wait to see what they become.

Distractions have been many. Anticipation of tiny, pudgy arms. (No, not from me. But I do get to knit with wild abandon and look forward to many squoodges and fat-belly kisses with the added bonus of relinquishing said fat-belly when it poops or starts to cry!  YAY!)

The wettest spring since 1874 complete with all the climatological consequences for migraneurs.  When my head hurts, it is far easier to knit  and block than to read and blog.

Registering for classes and applying for student loans - I've only been gone from university for seven years and EVERYTHING is different or being renovated.  (I've already cased the bookstore so I'm ready come August.  Me = Nerd.)

Tackling a massive to-do list that I am determined to conquer before September 1st, including a stack of actual printed-on-paper reading!  I am adding the odd 'easy-to-check-off' item to the list like Go For Coffee (or vodka) with So&So so that I can eat my coffee cake and check it off, too.  ( I add a very square check-box beside each entry on the list.  Me = Anal-Retentive Nerd.)

I've spent the last couple hours catching up on other people's lives.  I still have a few more to check in on. And some emails  to which I've wanted to reply. But I plan on adding my blog-reading and -writing respite onto the permanent list of things I want to do.  Insert very square check-box here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sweet Nostalgia; Random Connections

On the street where I grew up, like the streets where everyone else grew up, you could mark seasons by the sounds.  Summer brought the whir of lawnmowers, the subsequent clank when one mower would pick up a rock and send it shooting across the sidewalk, the clickety-tap of neon-coloured beads on bicycle tires,  or engines revving as teenagers took to drag-racing down the stretch after curfew.  In winter, metal shovels scraping against cement driveways, toboggans dragging on asphalt behind sixty-pound children wrapped in eighty pounds of scarf, and tinny, choking engines trying to turn over.
Regardless of the season, you could hear the kid across the street firing hockey pucks against the garage door.  But the timbre and pitch of the bang would let you know if it were a crisp autumn morning or a balmy spring evening.  It was a constant reminder that it was an ordinary day in an ordinary neighbourhood.  To this day, the sound is comforting and bittersweet.
Tonight, that kid from across the street hoisted the Stanley Cup.   Ordinary day for me.  Extraordinary day for him.
They put residential speed bumps on the stretch, we moved to a crescent, and most people have replaced shovels with snowblowers.  But no matter the season, there's always a kid banging pucks against the garage.