Thursday, September 20, 2012

.easy canning labels.

I'm really not a huge fan of the labels that come packaged with home canning jars, and recently, my aging printer has ceased to accommodate label formatting. Most importantly, if I've put in hours to lovingly preserve my fruits and veg, I'm not going slap some ugly pre-fab label on my jars.

I came up with this idea with the help of my friend, Shandy. I had most of the supplies I needed, but wasn't sure how I wanted display the text. Shandy suggested using magnetic stamps and a spare lid, which obviously lines up perfectly with the other jar lids. The result of our collaboration is a series of cute, uniform and easy to read labels.


- Scrapbooking paper
- large hole punch
- magnetic alphabet stamp set


So easy, it's silly! My large hole punch is from a craft chain and is only a few millimeters larger than a standard mason jar lid. Simply punch circles of your favorite patterned paper and using a spare lid, arrange your alphabet stamps, apply to ink pad and press onto your circles of paper. Once the ink has dried, centre the circles on your jars and hold in place with one finger as you screw the sealer band on. That's it! Super cute canning labels with minimal effort and investment!

Monday, August 13, 2012



When I first started this blog, I had envisioned it as a vehicle for reconciling my insatiable love of all things domestic and my passion for feminism and what that meant for my identity.  Mostly, I've veered away from the political and have instead focused on crafting, baking and whatnot.  However, I've now reached an unexpected point in my life where I find myself needing an outlet to reflect upon my current situation and to share my struggles, both internal and external.

When I met my partner almost a decade ago, we were both somewhat shocked when we realized that the effect of simply being together had inspired in us a desire to have children.  I had never wanted children, and granted, I was only in my early twenties, but I saw children as a sure-fire way to stifle my career (hah!) and that just maybe, I wasn't cut out for the whole parent-thing.  I was also overwhelmed with a certain sense of feminist-guilt, that I wasn't being radical enough in my seemingly hetero-normative lifestyle.  Now I wanted to children?  It's not that I don't think, or didn't think, that feminists could or should have children, but that having children was a particular brand of femininity that I wanted no part of.  And then I met my partner, and for the first time, I think I understood what 'biological drive' meant.  Being in our early twenties, however, we both wisely agreed that we should finish schooling and secure some semblance of a career before embarking on parenthood.  Besides, there was no rush, right?

I've always been fairly brazen about certain aspects of my biology.  Part of what my feminist identity means to me is that a woman's biology should not be a source of shame or embarrassment; purchasing tampons should not be a painful or humiliating experience.  And yet, the longer we try to start a family, the more part of me wants to hide under a rock and retract all announcements of, "we're trying to start a family".  A painfully recurrent sentiment I hear from other women who are trying to conceive is, "why didn't anyone tell me this was going to be so hard?"  If our sex-ed classes had taught us anything, it was that the moment you so much as think of discontinuing birth control, you will miraculously find yourself  "in the family way".  The longer that I'm on this journey though, the more I realize that there is a wealth of information about reproduction that is not only not common knowledge, but certainly not discussed.  It is estimated that 16% of heterosexual Canadian couples will experience infertility, according to the soon to be defunct Assisted Human Reproduction Canada. Miscarriage occurs somewhere between 10-20% before the second trimester.  Once a woman hits 35, her reproductive capacities start to do a swan dive.  I'd never heard these statistics before we'd started to try to start a family.  Now, these facts occupy a large corner of my mind and pop up into the forefront of my thought with annoying regularity.

"Stop stressing and it will happen" is a phrase that makes me seethe.  Well-meaning individuals will dispense this advice along with, "it will happen when its mean to happen."  This 'advice' is infuriating for several reasons.  Firstly, events do not occur because they are "meant to happen".  The universe does not give a shit about you.  Events occur due to the laws of physics and probability, not because I calmed down, made a dream-board, and thought positively.  Obviously, being a complete stress-case will not improve one's situation, but ignoring issues will not simply make them disappear either.  Secondly, what works for some may not work for others.  Just because your cousin got pregnant without trying does not mean that everyone will get pregnant without trying.  An ovum has a shelf life of between 12 and 24 hours after it springs forth from its ovary.  Sperm, if they are working properly, have a shelf life of about 72 hours, give or take.  On average, a couple trying to conceive has a 20% chance each month.  So, yes, some planning is actually involved, specifically if you haven't had success after the first few months.  Finally, being told to "stop stressing," is stressing me out. The feelings of failure can be overwhelming some days, and then to top it of, I'm failing at being a positive ray of sunshine?  "The Secret" can kiss my barren-ass.

So, there.  Its public knowledge.  We are experiencing technical difficulties.  We are the 16% of Canadian couples.  We are struggling with infertility.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

.fizzy flowers.

I think my love of flower-flavoured confections started with my Mom. In fact, I know that's where it started. She loves these tiny, jujubeshaped, chewy, rose-flavoured candies called Soap Gums, and often, as a kid on the hunt for sugar, they were the only treat to be found. Eventually, I grew to love not just Soap Gums, but other floral-infused sweets like violet pastilles and rose-flavoured Turkish delight. Over time, my love of all things flowery grew. I make a mean batch of lavender short bread, and simply adore flower and herbal flavoured sparkling beverages that are sold in gourmet and high-end grocers. However, I detest spending good money on products that are easily made at home, and floral sparkling waters are often only sold in single serve bottles and cost more than an average can of pop. I decided to try making my own floral sparkling water, and I was quite pleased with the results.

Rose Sparkling Water


1 cup rose water (found in middle eastern grocers or in the 'ethnic' food aisle)

1 cup organic cane sugar

1 squeeze bottle

sparkling water

Step 1: bring the rose water to a boil and immediately stir in the sugar. Continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved; do not allow to boil. Once completely dissolved, remove from heat and let cool.

Step 2: Pour syrup into a reusable squeeze bottle

Step 3: add a tablespoon (or more, depending on your tastes) to a glass and top with sparkling water. Garnish with lime.

I usually keep lemon-lime sparkling water in the house, and I found that it worked well with the syrup. The syrup should keep for up to 2 weeks, if not more, in the fridge.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

.tomato dowsing for spring.

On the heels of a surprisingly mild winter (despite Weather Canada's deep freeze forecast), a tentatively mild spring seems to be approaching us West-Coasters. The unpredictable nature of living on the coast can make planning for your garden a bit tricky.

Last year, garden centers were practically bare on May Long Weekend, a holiday that usually marks the true beginning of gardening season. The season never really took off either; my tomatoes started to produce in early August and lasted well into November, which resulted in some rather mealy fruit. Other years, spring's first crocuses have popped up in mid-February. What's a lay-gardener with a penchant for the nightshade family to do?

Given the fairly balmy winter, I've decided to throw caution to the wind this year and start my tomatoes a little early. The recommendation is to start tomatoes indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost, which according to my mother's almanac is in May. Now, last May was unseasonably chilly, but for those of us hugging the shoreline, a frost was nowhere to be found. As much as I may not buy into a 'gut feeling', I'm going with my coastal intuition this year and follow my internal planting guide. With a bright, south facing kitchen window, the worst case scenario for my tomatoes is an extra week or two hanging out in my breakfast nook*.

*Also known as my kitchen/dining room/recording studio.

Friday, December 23, 2011

.gifts from the heart.

I love gifts. I love giving them, and I love receiving them. I love hunting them down around town, trying to find just the right sentiment for just the right person. I love making gifts specifically for a certain individual. I love wrapping them in reused gift wrap, or in shiny new gift bags. Gift giving is the sauce. So when people decry Christmas as an over-commercialized, materialistic, capitalist holiday, I feel slightly wounded.

Growing up, Christmas was never just about the gifts. Christmas was a magical, glowing heart in the middle of the dark, unyielding winter. There were cookies to bake, ornaments to make and hang, and seemingly unlimited Christmas specials to watch repeatedly. I know it's cliche to say so, but Christmas was a manifestation of magic for me. My mom had me convinced that Santa's elves were out and about, checking Mr. Claus' naughty'n'nice list one last time, and tinkling bells were evidence of the elves presence. Gifts were merely a cherry on top of my month-long magic sundae.

I never quite understand why those who deride the giving of gifts don't simply opt out, or change their own gift giving and getting habits. This year, I set a limit on the money I'd spend on gifts for each person, choosing tokens that were more of 'toppers' than anything else. Then, I baked three types of sweets and tucked them inside tins and placed each memento on top. Next year, I might not spend anything, or I might not bake anything. The point is that no one is twisting my arm to engage in gift giving. I choose to participate because I absolutely revel in the delight of the receivers, and in the winter months, we all need a bit of cheer.

A sour friend once snarled, "why only at Christmas? Why only once a year?". I view the holidays as such: I love cheesecake, and will usually pick it over any other dessert, but it's a special treat. If I ate it everyday, or even every week, it would cease to be satisfying. Instead of looking forward to a creamy treat, I would probably start gagging at the thought of one more serving. Christmas is a rich, delicious treat. I look forward all year to savoring every carol and light filled moment, just as I look forward to constructing the perfect Halloween costume, or planning the perfect vacation. Gift giving or receiving is only what you make of it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

.first cocoa of winter.

There's nothing like a mug of hot cocoa on a cold, damp winter morning, in a not-so-well-insulated house. With the longest night of the year behind us, a long, chilly winter still lays ahead. I don't have time to wait for my house to heat up, or for spring to arrive, so I make large batches of "instant" cocoa and store it in a large tub. This recipe is quick and easy, and tastes better than any store bought variety. A cup of this sweet treat is sure to warm you to your toes faster than your furnace will!

Easy Instant Cocoa
5 cups powdered milk
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt

- Mix 4 tbsps mix with boiling water in a mug, stir, and revel in the deliciousness!

Sometimes I add cinnamon to the mix, or tiny marshmallows. Or, if you like a more fiery brew, like my friend Chris, try adding some dried chilies!

Monday, December 12, 2011

.The Holidays.

Full disclosure: I fucking love Christmas. Hence, this entire post will be dedicated to that most sparkly, rum soaked, turkey stuffed of holidays.

There are many reasons why I love Christmas. The most simple reason being that the time of year evokes warm and fuzzy childhood memories of a simpler time in my life, when the most pressing issues on my mind were whether or not Santa knew about that vase I broke

(but successfully hid), and if I should change out of my snow-suit into dryer apparel.
In recent years (oh, say, the last 10 or so), Christmas has taken on a much more "adult" appeal: mulled wine and spiced rum (more on the rum later...), baking your own choice of Christmas cookies, booze-soaked crafting session, and decorating your tree however you want. There's something magical, even as an adult, about running around and preparing for gatherings, however small or informal. I still peek out the window every morning hoping to see a snow-covered west-coast lawn.

My current, favourite holiday treat is decidedly hot-buttered rum. I've posted and professed my love for mulled wine, and the warm, grapey beverage still has a spot in my heart. However, with one of the coldest winters on record bearing down on us, I needed something with a little more "stank". The best thing about my current recipe, is that it can be made in advance and refrigerated, either in a mason jar, or, rolled into a log.

Bunny's Hot Buttered Rum
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups demerara sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch ground clove
  • pinch salt
  • Sailor Jerry's Rum
  • boiling water

Mix butter, sugar and spices together. I use my hands to get the job done. Pack mixture into sterilized mason jar, or roll into a log and wrap in wax paper and refrigerate.

Add about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and add 1 - 1 1/2 ounce rum to a mug, and top with boiling water.