29 March 2009

challenging weekend

Kiddo made this weekend... difficult. It was hard to be too grumpy about it because it all stems from her bout with the flu. Still, would like to just leave this experience out of the precious memories file.

The weekend wasn't a total write-off. I found my stash of knitting needles and more yarn among the boxes that came home last weekend so I made a list of the needles I own. I also found four little balls of wool that have been lingering in my stash for ages...


I spent a couple of hours searching through patterns at Ravelry but still don't have any good ideas for how to best use the wool... any input would be welcome! While I was poking around on the site, I realized I hadn't logged in for well over a year and there was a message from a moderator wanting to feature my Ma Cobb Hat photo on the feature page from January... oops. Anyway, while I was there, I also stumbled across the notice for this year's Victoria Fibrefest -- something that has been on the periphery of my radar for a couple of years. I may try to get to some of the events this year... who knows?

The sun was out today and Hubby took advantage of the weather to build another raised bed -- now we need dirt! While he was finishing that off and working on converting a pallet to a new base for Kiddo's tree fort, I worked on turning some of the ground inside the raised beds and pulling out some of the grass and weeds.

Oh, but the most exciting news (and subsequently some of the most frustrating): we made two sales from ThoseDeWolfes' etsy store (yay!) but I suck at estimating postage and Canada Post sucks at making shipping affordable so we lost some of the profit from each sale to shipping costs. Sigh.

27 March 2009


Feeling a bit better today -- yesterday this house was flu central and no fun at all. To combat that, today I have been searching for some amusing diversions between naps...

Justine Lai is getting a lot of press for her latest project; she is painting herself having sex with every American president, in order. She began in 2006 and is up to the 18th president; several are quite graphic in content so click with care. The series is called Join or Die.


Think you know Star Trek? Or maybe you're an expert on erectile dysfunction medications, having read all those spam messages. Either way, test your knowledge with the Star Trek Character or Erectile Dysfunction Pill quiz at Mental Floss. I only got 40%. I think that's a good thing.


Through Craft, I flagged a couple of tutorials that caught my eye: one for a laundry sack from I Have To Say and one to convert a vintage suitcase into a portable craft centre from Bitter Betty Blogs.

25 March 2009

the post that wasn't

I had a whole post written while I was trying to fall asleep last night. I didn't take notes, however, and I can't even remember the subject; I'm sure it was clever.

Instead, I am just going to think about my seedlings and ponder what I need to start next....


21 March 2009

The Garden Takes Shape...

Ahhh. We had enough of a break between rain that we could put up the greenhouse, finish one raised bed and build one of the two others. The greenhouse, unfortunately, is not one I would recommend. It has a "no-tools-required" aluminum pipe and plastic hub frame with a plastic/vinyl cover that is a pain-in-the-backside to put together. We'll see how it performs. We still have to fill the beds, of course, but I'm very happy with the progress today. Here's the before and after shots of the area we were working on:


Align Centerafter

And an overview of the back garden area; there's one more bed to be built more or less where the palettes are sitting:


I have been watching the sun paths for the last month and I think there will be enough hours of sun in these areas for most of my plants... I may have to resort to putting tomatoes in mobile containers... we'll see.

I'm also pondering the front yard where I plan to put potatoes and pumpkins... again, we'll see.

20 March 2009

Happy Equinox!

Spring is here, HERE! Finally here! And in between rounds of pouring rain there has been sunshine pouring in the windows today. But, best of all, I am almost over my cold (touch wood).

Before I forget, I wanted to mention that the other day I came home to find a consolation prize from Canada Writes -- a lovely pen and a certificate:


Back to today, I failed to sleep in and got up a bit grumpy but I got laundry in anyway and put on the coffee and just got on with the day. At 9:30, headed out the door with Kiddo for a trip to the Bug Zoo and lunch at Pagliacci's with her Granny. Add to that a little book shopping and a quick stop at Cherry Bomb Toys and it turned out to be a pretty good day.


Now Hubby and some friends are about to settle in for the finale of BSG; I'll hang with Kiddo for the duration since I gave up midway through the second season.

18 March 2009

I hate my sinuses.

... but I am not going to bore you with my tales of Head Cold of Ought Nine Round Two, no sirreee. Instead, I am going to dump a bunch of links at you that have been cluttering up my brain of late:

First, some stupid ideas:

Rebranding the SciFi network as SyFy -- apparently to attract more women. UNLIKELY. However, it has given them a lot of press, even if most of it riducules them for the concept. Hopefully it will go down the same drain as New Coke.

VANOC's latest plan to f*#$ over the province: the 2010 Winter Games Integrated Transportation Plan. While I applaud any increase to transit options, I think having dedicated vehicle lanes for what boils down to VANOC cronies is a waste of resources. I also shudder at the burden of extra costs to any company that makes deliveries into Vancouver's downtown core and other "key areas" as these deliveries will have to be done during the graveyard shift during the 3 weeks around the Games. Oh, hey! I guess that means that any business getting a delivery will have to meet the trucks in the middle of the night, too. Way to go VANOC.

The latest in a string of stupid reactions to parents who trust their children was this poor kid in Mississippi who ended up in a cop car because neighbours thought he shouldn't be walking to the soccer field unattended. At age ten. In daylight. The woman rightfully stood up to police, asking them why her neighbourhood was deemed so unsafe that it was necessary to pick up her child, causing the police chief to backpedal.

Next, some fun news:

Kiddo, Hubby and I all added new stuff to our collective etsy store -- Hubby unearthed his Brains on Chains, I built some collage packs, and Kiddo created some Kids Fun Foam Book Kits. I photographed all of it and posted them yesterday.

We have a new toy. Hubby went out to get new tires yesterday and came home with a PS3 (specifically a Playstation 3 40GB Console). (He came home with the tires, too; it wasn't an either/or transaction). He scored the system second-hand at one of our fave haunts (Barclay's Exchange) and once it was clear that the system worked, he went out in search of new games. As a result I happily spent an hour last night getting acquainted with LittleBigPlanet. I expect a game review will follow.

And now, stuff you can win:

Win a powerful new shredder for your office by spring cleaning and sending before and after photos to LifeHacker. Contest ends tomorrow (!!) 19 March

Win a pillow decorated with a cover made from selvedge (the scrap ends of fabric that are all the rage with use-every-scrap crafters these days) just for commenting at the Selvedge Blog. Contest ends 23 March.

Win coffee for a year (or doughnuts, really, as the prize is awarded in Tim Hortons Gift Cards) by entering online at Tim Hortons RRRoll Up Fun. Contest ends 22 March.

14 March 2009

From brownie to volcano

Part of the goal for today's party was to re-create the Volcano dessert from the Rainforest Cafe on a smaller scale. To start, I made brownies last night. It's been a while since I had made brownies so I chose to use the "Best Brownie" recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (13th revised ed., paperback):

6 oz unsweetened chocolate (I actually used semisweet)
3/4 cup butter (my bad, I used margarine)
4 eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (I skipped the nuts)

(Notice that there is more sugar than flour. Not for the calorie counters out there!) Mix the eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar for 8-10 minutes until well blended. Meanwhile, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently. Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture then gradually add flour. When combined, add walnuts. Pour batter into greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Do not overbake! Let sit for at least 2 hours before cutting.

The result was a brownie with a firm crust at the edges and a very chewy centre -- perfect for the Volcanoes:

The desserts were a hit -- as were the build-your-own pizzas, tunnel and tent play structures, and (surprisingly) the punching bags. Fun was had by all but we were pretty happy when 5:00 rolled around and parents arrived to collect their kids.

click here

  1. Went out with Kiddo this evening to see Race to Witch Mountain -- wrote a full review, if you're interested.
  2. Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino features prominently in Witch Mountain, leading me to ponder whether Disney owned a chunk. It doesn't seem like they do, according to the fascinating Who Owns Vegas pages.
  3. Awesome craft of the day? A needle-felted Horny Toad Roomba cover. So want one.
  4. Clever idea of the day? The Peepoo Bag. Yes, it's what you think -- it's for the 2.6 billion people around the world who lack proper sewage/sanitation systems; as it breaks down the waste, the bag turns it into useable fertilizer.

12 March 2009

Happy Birthday, Kiddo.

Yes, today my little Kiddo turns 8 -- halfway to her learner's license (not that she wants to drive) and heading into "tween" territory (she already watches Hannah Montanah and similar shows).

This morning, she opened her gifts, had breakfast, then had a meltdown that quickly ramped up the terror level in the house to ochre. And what caused the meltdown? Her discomfort with the telephone. Her cousin phoned to wish her a happy birthday and she accidentally replied, "Happy Birthday to you too!" which made her angry with herself and angry enough to put down the phone and run off. Sigh.

Among her gifts was a much-wanted hand-held game system. She loves my iPod Touch as much as I do but we wanted to get her something more durable. Initially we were looking at the PSP but after standing in the aisle at an electronics store, we realized that the number of titles and more importantly the number of age-appropriate titles were far greater for the NintendoDS -- so that's what we got for her. We also got her a few games (it came in a bundle with two; we bought one more) and she will be getting other titles soon (her uncle works for a major game developer). As if that weren't enough, we also got her two GBA Video cartoon cartridges an item created for GameBoy Advance that play on the NintendoDS (thank you, Wikipedia for the info and Amazon.ca for the seller!)


In other Kiddo-related news, yesterday evening we had "student-led conferences" at the school -- somewhere between parent-teacher meetings and show and tell. The highlight of the evening was her artwork: one piece was in the form of a Lite-Brite classic display with rainbow stripes on each corner and "[her name]'s work of art" in the middle; the other was a 3D giraffe (all the kids did a version) but, she explained, hers had "mad cow disease" which manifested as a tongue hanging out and limbs stuck out in all directions. Hee Hee :)

10 March 2009

Ten Days of Winter Left.

Ten days.


Yesterday, we had a surprise dump of snow that fell on top of a sleepy city, not yet adjusted to the early time change this year (I really hope, beyond all hopes, that one of Obama's accomplishments is to do away with daylight savings time).

I find myself unsettled this week. I have a lot to squeeze in -- social visits, birthday celebrations, and all the preparations that go with each of those, as well as breathing life into a website or two. Unfortunately, with the renewed cold weather and the dark mornings again, I just don't feel like doing any of it. At least I only have a 3 day work week and next week is short by a day, too, so I can spend some spring break time with Kiddo.

08 March 2009

Busy busy....

After a lot of tinkering and content building, we have a good start on the movie pages at Game-boyz where you'll find me posting movie reviews and news in the coming months.

This week we've also been busy building bookshelves, replacing the awkward pine storage shelves we originally purchased for the basement. Hubby did 90% of the work -- I pitched in by moving the stuff off the old shelves and pushing other stuff around; I also did some of the cuts with the circular saw. The result is a double-sided set of shelving made to accommodate our books -- now we can retrieve the remaining boxes from storage, YAY!

The shelving was one part of trying to tidy and rearrange the house a bit, in part to welcome friends visiting from New Zealand this week and in part to prepare for kiddo's pending birthday party. This weekend, I took two hours to help her clean her bedroom, removing two small bags of garbage, one large bag of mixed paper for recycling and a full load of laundry. Sigh. I also re-worked things to give her a little more space. Finally, I put up some more posters on her wall then mounted another bulletin board and magnet board so she can post all her bits of paper.

Today was a nice day out and about including brunch with friends, a wander through town, and a jaunt through this month's grid (part of Fernwood) before returning home. More puttering, both online and off, capped off a busy weekend.

03 March 2009

Local media tailspin.

We learned recently that CHEK 6, a local TV station for around 50 years, is in jeopardy. Thanks to media convergence, so is the Times Colonist -- a newspaper that has survived 150 years of volatile BC politics and public opinion. Today, we heard that our beloved morning show on "A" (f.k.a. A-Channel, f.k.a. The New VI) is being cancelled. Again.*

Poor Kiddo didn't believe me but then Hudson Mack announced it on air. She was brought to tears -- first sad, then angry. So, we asked her if she wanted to make a video about how she felt. She did. Hubby edited her response in with a spot she did last year during A-Channel's open house:

Honestly, I am stunned by all of this. It really looks like we might have a completely upended media landscape before the end of summer. What will remain? If we are lucky, we will still have one local television station. I suspect Monday Magazine can survive, too, and maybe the other Black Press papers but I do think the Times Colonist may fade into the history books. Radio, too is in danger. C-FAX and KOOL-FM are both owned by the same company that laid off 18 staff from the morning show. C-FAX has been a cornerstone of the community for years -- frequently breaking news -- I cannot imagine it suddenly folding. KOOL-FM on the other hand... meh. Q-100 has a large following and JACK-FM is already run by computer, so both of them will probably survive this downturn, too.

So who will take up the slack? Vibrant Victoria? Maybe. Or the Tyee, perhaps (though it's not local). Or will something new evolve? I'm sure I'll adjust either way. In the meantime, there's slim pickings on TV in the morning and it just got slimmer.

*(In 2006 they pulled the plug just as abruptly)

Reading and Writing.

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
I have been trying to make an effort to read a little more these days. The iPod/Stanza combo really helps -- I just finished reading Rudy Rucker's Postsingular which I quite enjoyed.

These books have been at my bedside recently:

Stephen King On Writing
TC Boyle Talk Talk
Beck & Bineti Gardening Month by Month in BC
Pete Allen (ed.) Amityville House of Pancakes
Peter Biskind Down and Dirty Pictures (on floor/not pictured)
...plus whatever is on the iPod.

Some of these I've been reading on and off for some time, others are more recent additions to the pile.

Of course, on the other side of the coin is writing. I received word today that I did not make the semi-finals for CBC Canada Writes 2009 but I am still pleased to have been in the top 10 of 1500 entrants.

No worries. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I will soon have my hands full of movies to review and now I can focus on finishing some other writing projects, too. I might even enter more contests.

02 March 2009

new yard, new garden, new challenges.

Spring is creeping up fast and this weekend was meant to be garden prep but it was a watered down version due to crummy, cold weather. Still, we mapped out where the raised beds are going in the back yard (three 4'x8' beds plus the odd square one already started) and discussed putting potatoes, pumpkins and edamame in the front yard. We also bought an armload of new seeds, another starting tray, and a simple/cheap plastic-covered greenhouse to start seeds outdoors. (Hubby also wants to grow peppers -- and bananas too, but I think that would require a humid, heated greenhouse.) The structure should easily set up on the cement pad at the back.

I also bought a couple of great gardening books for inspiration -- one of which is packed full of useful information such as how to grow potatoes more or less above ground (mulch!). I'll likely try this method because I hate trying to dig them all out at the end of the season. [I liked the book, Newspaper, Pennies, Carboard & Eggs so much that I reviewed it on Medianook.]

In the mean time, I am thinking I need to build a spreadsheet to figure out where exactly all the plants need to go to get the best yeilds.... so much to consider: soil composition, amount of light, amount of water, pests.... sigh.


Other new stuff: over at Game-Boyz (where I have reviewed the odd game), there is now a movie section. You can look for my reviews to start popping up in there soon. This doesn't mean an end to Medianook, just a new forum.