Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Pancakes. Those buckwheat pancakes. As good as they are, making them for breakfast every morning for the past - I am not exaggerating - nine months got to be a little...old. This week I declared that I could not stand it for another week. And so, gluten-free muffins.

fresh and hot muffins

I adapted a recipe from Michael McCamley's Gluten Free Baking, and I'm really happy with how they turned out. Adding liquid glycerin to the mixture? Yeah, no thanks. And we were out of rolled oats, and I'm very allergic to almonds, so the recipe became more inspiration that outright direction.


For the all-purpose gluten-free flour:
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 3/4 cups arrowroot starch or tapioca flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp xanthan gum

Makes enough for two full batches of muffins with a little left over.

For the muffins
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup scant sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 egg
1 2/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 cup scant blueberries
raw sugar to sprinkle

1. In a food processor, combine first four ingredients until well mixed.
2. Add dry ingredients and process until just combined.
3. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add blueberries, stirring with a spoon.
4. Spoon into 12 muffin cups and top with a sprinkling of sugar.
5. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes or until tops are browned and crunchy and a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for several minutes before serving.

blueberry muffins

toddler approved

I have no idea how these would store: we keep eating them all up at one meal!


Monday, April 22, 2013

blinded by the light

One of the reasons we chose needed to live in this apartment was all the natural light. Every room has at least one window: the dining room and kitchen have extra-wide windows, and the master bedroom and living room even have two and three windows respectively, and south and west facing to boot. After two years in a north-east facing apartment surrounded by highrises, it is amazing to have light pour through our windows, even on dark and dreary days. Glorious.


The living room was outfitted with a rather redundant combination of roller and venetian blinds, as well as some sheers that hung to the sills. Within a couple of weeks the sheers were taken down (we wanted to let the light in, not keep any of it out!) as were the roller blinds. We put the curtains from the old place up on the rods that had originally held the sheers, but they started pulling out of the drywall, and the nature of the room prevents the rods from extending far enough past the window frames to allow the curtains to keep from obstructing the windows. Grr...


After much discussion, we opted to make roman shades. You know, the royal "we". One family trip to Fabricland, one truly fabulous post-Christmas sale, and we had acquired more than enough fabric to make 3 roman shades for the living room. Then began the procrastination. I wasn't terribly excited to start measuring and marking and checking and cutting and pressing and sewing more than 14 metres of straight, boring seams. The prospect was not attractive at all. But now that they are done, I am so, so happy with them.

ooh, fold-y

The upholstery fabric was $3/m. $3!! I lined them with ticking, and mounted them using hook-and-loop tape stapled to 1x3s cut to length and screwed into the lintel of each window. I was fortunate to find this website that gives not only instructions on constructing roman blinds, but actually features a calculator to help with determining supplies and draw-ring placement. I made relaxed shades, which, despite needing to be dressed every time we raise them, I'm really happy about. The drape makes them both a little more and a little less formal than a standard, rigid roman shade.

relaxed roman blind

Now that we have the blinds installed, and we have our new library happening, we can decide what painting needs to happen in the living room. I'd love to get to the point where I can sit down on the couch, look around and say, "Yup: we're done."

living in a library

I've always wanted to have a library.

Ever so rarely - and I do mean rarely - I will take the dog out for her short morning walk. Usually it's Jon who takes her, but last Thursday things were running a little late and I was up and dressed so he asked me to run her outside. As Wembley and I were strolling down the street, I noticed that someone further down the block had put a set of wooden Ikea shelves out on the sidewalk. I grabbed 'em.

We've had four printer-paper boxes packed with books in the storage room since we moved last summer. We've had the top shelf of the built-in unit stuffed with books to the point that nothing was remotely accessible: two and three deep and stacked three and four high, and shoved in at all angles. Ugh.

all together again!

I was going to build some shelves to run the length of the wall at the end of the room, next to the couch. I even had my inspiration photos on Pinterest. I had measurements. What I didn't have was a drawn out plan for assembly, the time, the space or yet the motivation to actually, you know, build them. The books languished in their boxes. But finding these shelves on the street was a fabulous tipping point: I may not have the motivation to dive into constructing shelves right now, but drive out to Ikea and pick up a couple more pieces to extend the scavenged set? Sure thing.

I love them. I don't care if they are rudimentary - actually, I quite like the simplistic look of them - I just so enjoy having access to every single one of my books again. We did a major purge of our library before the move (I'm regretting a few of our omissions now, though) so we don't have so many books that I feel overwhelmed by them. I threw them onto the shelves haphazardly yesterday, so today I got to organize them.

And yes, it really was terribly fun. Who's got two thumbs and is a total nerd? This momma.

the corner

hrmmm, not quite right

from ancient Greece to contemporary China

a space for something special

knitting and kid-lit

reference books

I grouped them by topic. Originally, they were, from left to right, starting on the top shelf: poetry, lecture notes and personal writing; Waldorf, parenting and birth resources, feminist literature and a hodge-podge with Dante thrown in without reason; Classics (plays and epics) philosophy - arranged more or less chronologically, political science - again, more or less chronologically including our copy of The British North America Act (what, you don't have it?), with a photo book of babies and a photography reference manual to add an air of randomness; 

middle shelf: novels, arranged by author and title; a shelf of all religious texts: general religious theory (Otto, Eliade, Paden, etc.), Christian theology, both medieval (Augustine, Aquinas) and modern (Niebuhr, Bonhoeffer, Barth, Frye), devotional materials (Chambers, Claiborne, Nederhood), bibles and concordances, followed by more practical commentary and history (Nishioka, Rutherford, Migliore, etc.) and then what texts I have from or relating to other faiths (Epic of Gilgamesh, The Bhagavad-Gita, Siddhartha, Darsan), and an old hymnal; 

bottom shelf: (hidden beside the couch) the printer; knitting books and magazines and a random assortment of books, including some children's lit; photo albums, large picture books, old school notes, church reference materials (Book of Forms, woot-woot!) dictionaries and a Fowler's, a bunch of Nortons and our collective yearbooks.

But then I took a step back and decided that it didn't make as much sense as I would like. You see, I may anthropomorphize my books a wee bit. I group my feminist lit next to my birth resources because I like to imagine that Hannah Arendt and Ina May Gaskin are enjoying a cup of tea and a chat by sharing a shelf; I have Alberto Manguel alongside Thoreau because I think a dinner party featuring the two of them would be rather awesome. So when I looked at the shelves, it seemed odd to me that my religious texts weren't next to my philosophical texts. So I switched 'em, the top shelf for the middle one, and stuck Dante's Comedia where it belongs, with all the other religious and philosophical texts (I put it there because, while it's poetry, my motivation for reading it isn't merely poetical, but theological in nature. It's a toss up, but it has to go somewhere, and Dante seems more at home alongside Diana Eck and Thomas Aquinas than Ezra Pound or Walt Whitman). 


It's such a joyful sight, all these books. Having purged so many over the past eighteen months, I can honestly say we have chosen to have all these books and have made the conscious decision to keep them in our home. When I look at our library, I don't have that self-satisfied materialistic feeling of pride in my possessions, but rather such enormous potential. There are so many things to read, and so many thoughts that could result from that reading. As a result of unearthing all our books, I've picked up a classic, Orwell's 1984, which I've somehow never read before. And we're all reading just a little bit more than we were last week: it's hard not to feel inspired to read when surrounded by books.


Thursday, April 04, 2013


This past week, I have made a simple but surprisingly effective change to our day. The laptop's shut, the television off, and I have kept myself off the couch except to nurse Bubby.


It has made all the difference. Our days fall into rhythm almost easily, almost without trying at all. The girls play calmly. My patience has increased many-fold.

girls and cups

Dishes are washed. Laundry is hung. Songs get sung. Stories get told. Tidying happens. I'm poring over Waldorf resources, taking notes, making plans. I spend the morning washing up and sitting at the dining room table reading while the girls play alone in the living room. It all just works.

It's putting a crimp in composing posts, to be sure, but it's worth it. So very worth it.


Monday, April 01, 2013

The Seed Babies

Sweet baby seed, so small and so round
Hide down deep under the ground
Under the earth you safely hide
Stay there, now: don't peek outside!
I've dug you a hole and I've put you to sleep
Your leaves will come up and your roots will go deep

This is a favourite verse of ours. The girls will often take turns playing the seed, or sometimes be seeds together, curling up on the floor under a blanket while I recite the verse until I say the words "Your leaves will come up..." when they throw the blanket off their back and spring up onto their feet, arms stretched overhead to be their leaves. 

In the past week I've been seeing a popular meme on Facebook, pointing out that the ancient celebration of the goddess Ishtar (pronounced "easter") was a fertility festival in which eggs and rabbits were common images. "So there, Christians: your holy days aren't so Christian now, are they?" is the general impression I've gotten from the meme. And the point is a valid one: the celebration of the resurrection of the Lord isn't as simple as it may seem. But I, for one, believe in a god big enough and interesting enough that She might choose for the whole resurrection story to play out at a time of year where the pathetic fallacy of the season of new life and rebirth can work alongside those same themes within these holy days. So as we have approached Easter, I have been struck by the desire to have any little gifts we might give the girls this Easter morning represent those same themes, effectively bringing our Waldorf living and our holy observances together.

 Seed babies in the sunshine

I not only brought them together, I stitched them together in felt.

I saw this image on Pinterest and felt an unrelenting need to stitch up similar little Seed Baby dolls for my girls. They're just so cute! I'm so glad that I did, too. The girls love them and I had a lot of fun constructing them.

Seed babies

It's a lot of handstitching. I was able to serge the back seam of the inner and outer face layers, and to stitch the two halves of the body together, but that was all. Every other stitch was made - sometimes painstakingly - by hand. I may have been up until 2am sewing these things. But it was totally worth it.

Seed baby's face and felt cap

The way a Waldorf doll face is constructed is quite ingenious. There is something so satisfying about the alchemy of turning a ball into a face just by running a few lengths of thread around it and giving it a stout yank. I foresee a lot of little dolls in our future. Summer flower children, Mother Nature, possibly an entire Nativity scene...

Easter chicks

I had also found (again, via Pinterest) this post about felt blanket-stitched chicks, so I made two of them, as well. They're simple and sweet, and a great little project to whip up sitting on the couch or driving in the car. I've developed a new love of blanket stitch as a result, too: seeing all those little stitches lined up neatly in a row is very gratifying.

I'm thinking of putting together a tutorial on the seed babies, particularly since I deviated from the inspiration post and tutorial in several ways, but the tutorial linked really is great, though it is originally in Dutch and the internet translator does make some, let's call them inventive, choices with language. Still, the photos and translated text are quite clear so if you are hoping to make your own Seed Babies, you should have no trouble getting the gist of what to do. The inspiration post for the chicks had a link to the tutorial the blog writer had written, supposedly including a printable pattern, but sadly the document link is broken. Boo. I created my own pattern and I'm very happy with it, so I plan to scan it and post it, as well. For now, though, Easter chocolate and sleep. I think I've earned it!

Seed babies


See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

He is Risen, indeed!


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