Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Heading for the Hills

Mountains, actually.  The Rocky Mountains.  I'm off, later this week, for the winter wonderland tourist town of Banff, Alberta.  It's four days of relaxing and keeping warm in the very chilly surrounding of snow, conifer and icy rock.  Oh, and did I mention that we are staying here....?

The Banff Springs Hotel.  Yes, a castle in the mountains.

My husband is the current president of the local chapter of the Canadian Homebuilders Association, and they are holding the annual conference at the above hotel.  I was invited to join him, leaving our boys to hang out with grandparents.

So what's the wife of the president to do while her husband attends meetings?  Why, anything she pleases!  Frequenting the Spa, knitting by a fire, reading, making use of the hotel's gym and pool, window shopping in downtown Banff, skiing or even snowboarding*...

I promise to take lots of pictures :-)

best,
Ursa

* I've never been snowboarding, but heck, it might be worth a try!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

News about Gaia's Colours

For those of you who frequent my blog, you'll likely recall back in January when I was mysterious about "things shifting"?  Well, the time for the big reveal has come.  I, the indie dyer that is Gaia's Colours Fibre Arts, am shutting down my small dyeing business.  The full details and explanations are posted over at the GC blog.  I am sad about it and will miss the many delightful crafters who were so appreciative of my work.

I must move forward, however, especially into working seriously on my first screenplay, which is almost complete in full detailed outline, and so close to being ready for the actual writing of scenes.  My mentor here in Victoria is really pleased with my progress so far - it's a real story in the making!

On a side note, I've discovered a fabulous new word processor for Macs - OmmWriter Dana.  Simple and beautiful!

best,
Ursa

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cutting down the carbs

No, I'm going all Atkin's Diet on y'all.  But I am changing how and what I eat.  I have been pretty good about my diet - all organic veggies and fruit, local food as much as I can find/afford, making most of what we eat from scratch, etc.  However, I have been doing some reading online, and decided to cut out most of the refined/starchy carbs from my day-to-day diet.  This means most breads (except the odd bit of the sprouted grain "made without flour" Ezekiel kind), and other baking unless I do it myself, avoiding most flour products, really.  I already don't eat white rice, well, only rarely in take-out sushi, and can watch what types and how much pasta I eat too.

Now, this avoidance of flour products makes eating things like wraps and burgers at home challenging.  However, I've figured out a decent substitute for buns and such - lettuce!  Yes, the lovely, large leaves of a Red-Leaf or Romaine are tasty and easy to work with, plus it's an extra "veggie" serving.  I'm not talking Iceberg lettuce here - it has to be a darker green leaf type.  Even chard would do!  So healthy!

I just finished a very yummy, albeit messy, venison burger, from Vancouver Island deer (22grams of protein, 7grams of fat, and 157 calories), my home-made organic hummus, organic romaine lettuce,  organic local sunflower sprouts, organic avocado, local cheese, and a little mayo (the only "bad" thing in the burger).  It was easy to put together - just cook the patty, add the cheese, and layer into the lettuce leaves.

I could see this becoming a tasty habit!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Recipes: Hummus

I used to buy the locally-made store-bought hummus, but no more!  It's dead easy to make and I whip up a batch every week.  I like to dip it with carrots and other raw veggies, use it in wraps instead of salad dressing, or as a condiment for a burger, or, of course, with pita bread.  You can make it super garlicky or minimally so.  As with many of my recipes, I don't usually measure, but go by taste, and taste as I go along.  However, today when I made a fresh batch, I did measure what I used, so I have a guideline for you.

Ursa's Homemade Hummus
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans, soaked eight hours, then cooked (don't add salt until the last few minutes, or it won't cook properly), rinsed and drained.  If using canned chickpeas, buy a 28oz can, rinse and drain.
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil (start with 1/4 cup, and if more moisture is needed, drizzle a little more at a time)
  • Juice of one lemon, organic
  • 1-2 large cloves of garlic (add more if you like it strong!), minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp (approx) fine sea salt
Directions:
- Using a food processor, add chickpeas and minced garlic.  Start blending.  Slowly add the olive oil and lemon juice, adding more olive oil if needed.  Let blend for approx two minutes.
- While still blending in F.P, add spices and salt/pepper.  Blend for another minute.  Taste to see if more of anything needs to be added.  I always add while blending, a little at a time.
- When tasting good, and nicely blended, scrape out of F.P. into a container.  Keep refrigerated when not in use.  Lasts about a week.  Enjoy!

* Note: Most recipes call for tahini in hummus.  I don't often have tahini in the house, and even when I do and add a tbsp or so, I don't find that it adds anything to the hummus.  It's up to you if you wish to add a tbsp or two of tahini to this blend.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wheel meet again...

My Louet S17 spinning wheel is not happy with me.  It's been sitting in a corner of my dye studio since last summer, shooting me with both daggers and puppy-dog eyes.  Last night we had a conversation that went something like this:

The Wheel: Why don't you use me?
Me: Because I have a business to run, children to raise, food to buy and prepare, and many other things to do.
The Wheel: It's that Knitting, isn't it?  The Knitting has taken you into the fold - I know it! Admit it!  
Me: Um...
The Wheel: The business, the kids - they're just a smokescreen!  The Knitting is the One True Path for you, isn't It?  It's demanded that you put no other Crafts before It!  The Ashford Loom and I know -  it's all about exclusivity now, don't deny it!
Me: Well, I do use fibre for all three of you, but in different ways.  I love you all, just differently.
The Wheel: *sniff* And do you promise to use me soon, with that same loving touch and glow you have for the Knitting?
Me: Yes, I promise.
The Wheel: Good.  And will you talk to the Loom?  She is such a DRAMA Queen!

12 in 2011 "club"

After a knitting friend from my local knitting group, Melissa, aka MisoCrafty, posted about her joining of the "12 in 2011" project on Ravelry, I have been thinking about doing it too.  The basics are that you make your own "kit", like in a yarn/fibre club, for the entire year.  You are to take a pattern and yarn that you already have, team them up, decide on 12 of them that you'd like to complete this year, and bag up each pattern and it's needed yarn into it's own "kit".  Then you have 12, at least, projects all ready and lined up for completion.   Since I have plenty of patterns/projects and their necessary yarns already ready, it is just a matter of putting together my own 12 for this year.

I have a handful of these kits bagged up so far.  I'm rummaging through my Queue on Ravelry, pondering what other patterns/projects I am committed to knitting this year.  It's a bit of a challenge.  How will I know what I really want to knit this year specifically?  Okay, so I know some of them, but 12?  So I will persevere.  And post again with the line-up, once it's all decided.

What about you?  Do you have enough patterns & yarns to put together your own kits for a year?