Sunday, March 29, 2009

double dose of canada

In the past month I have finished #9 and #10 in my Canadian Reading Challenge list.  Both have been sitting on my shelf for over a year, and I'm glad I finally got to them (that's the beauty of this challenge - I actually get through the books that are piling up).  One thing is for sure though, as much as I may be reading through this pregnancy, I'm having a hard time reviewing what I read.  My knitting comparisons are definitely one step too far for my meandering are decent reviews.  I'm into very, very condensed versions.

First up, The Line Painter by Claire Cameron.  I appreciated the Toronto and Northern Canada references, but for some reason I was suspicious of the "thriller" aspect all along.  I didn't know if the suspense was building to something or whether the story would just quietly play out.  In the end the novel landed somewhere in the middle, and therefore I found it mildly satisfying.  That's not to say I wasn't engaged - I just wasn't able to get lost in the story.  I was very conscious of every move the whole way through, but I had no problem finishing the novel, and I am someone who will abandon a book if I'm not enjoying it.

In contrast, Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb swept me off my feet and transported me into another world.  Someone had mentioned that it took them about 70 pages to get hooked, but I loved this novel from the very first page.  In short, I devoured it.  I enjoyed the regular shifts in time and location, because it always kept me wondering how the main character ended up where she did.  And the characters were full and fascinating, and I really appreciated the insight into Islam, and its differences geographically.  I think almost everyone on the reading challenge has chosen this book, and it is no surprise why.  It just may be my favourite pick this time around.

And now the baby is kicking (or more so, scraping my insides) and my concentration is shot.  Better luck for #11, I hope.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

southern thrifting

We took very little luggage to California, so Jay and I had to have discipline thrift shopping. My only exception was this great aqua enamel pot (with black!).  The Hershey's recipe book and heart-shaped molds were small, packable extras, and they all turned out to be great toys for Sadie in our many hotel rooms.  I found everything at an antique place just down the street from the beautiful San Juan Capistrano Mission - one of our stops along the way to LA.  We had to skip over the "Retro Antique" shopping brochure they had there, which was certainly difficult for us.  I think we'll have to get our thrifting fix a little closer to home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

a simple plan

There is no time like the present to start living a more simple life.

No doubt the economy is scary, but I also have a maternity leave coming up which means we will be living on a reduced income for the next year.  But in all honesty, I find this opportunity exciting.  I often reflect fondly on the days when Jay and I had no choice but to be frugal.  I left university with a large student loan to pay and I chose to come up with concrete strategies to pay the loan off in 2 years.  And not once did I feel like I was missing out.  We enjoyed eating in, never missed cable, lived happily without a car, borrowed movies from the library and spent our time making art with the supplies we already had.  It was simple and very satisfying.

Then life changes and you slip into bad habits.  The current crunch on our time is certainly the culprit for us now because when I had my year's maternity leave with Sadie - and Jay wasn't even working then - we had no problem re-living our frugal ways.  This time around I'm leaving work a month before the baby is due and I'd like to spend that time stocking the freezer with meals (I love the idea of once-a-month cooking), making simple baby items like flannel cloths instead of running out to the store for supplies, and spending quality time with Sadie, figuring out simple ways to enjoy our time together (which is one of the main things I am looking forward to - time with my girl, each and every day).

Oh, and I may make a thing or two.  I have piles of wool and fabric to keep me busy for years, as long as I can manage "making" with a new baby in the picture.  As I write this, my mind is racing with ideas, a sure sign that I'm excited to begin.  Jay is already on board (he's campaigning to quit cable right now) and I think Sadie will embrace it too (she already understands the rule of "stuff" - with her toys, if something new comes in, she happily donates something she can live without).

But I wonder if the library will stock Molly Wizenberg's (aka Orangette) new book?  Okay, at least one more book purchase before the frugal year begins.  I've never been one to limit the written word, especially when life is about enjoying the simple things.

Monday, March 09, 2009

california dreaming

We've escaped to California for a final family vacation as just the three of us.  After a night's delay in Chicago we landed in San Diego and now we're headed up the coast to LA, stopping tonight in Laguna Beach.  But we had a particular highlight today - the seals at a protected cove in La Jolla.  We've never seen so many seals and it was such a treat to see them in their natural habitat.  Not that this image does the experience any justice - what you might think are rocks on the sand are actually seals, sunning themselves during the pup season.

It was simply awesome.  And way better than Sea World.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

laptop cosy

Electronic gadgets are great and all, but can a laptop ever be complete without a cosy?  Of course not.

So instead of teaching myself Illustrator, I've spent time making a cosy for the new - and very helpful - laptop.  This fabric came from Purl Soho, and it really makes me smile (though it may be a touch too cute for Jay's liking).  A simple vine pattern lines the inside and I used two layers of cotton batting for the top and bottom.  A one-button closure seems to do the trick, and the plan was to make this double as a placemat for the laptop when it is in use.  And these days nothing is complete without my favourite polka-dotted ribbon.  I love this ribbon, and I should probably just buy the whole roll from Designer Fabric Outlet.  5 metres at a time seems silly.