Thursday, December 23, 2010

Its The Happiest Season Of All

The Christmas Vacation has now offically started for me, as I just finished my last shift at work (last night), and my last gym workout (this morning), until after the big day!
I am loving how dedicated I have been at attending the gym daily for the last 3 weeks straight (cept for Sundays, cause I girl needs a break). I've been mostly running on the treadmill for at least an hour each day, and then working out my arms on some of the weight lifting machines. I like my routine, which allows me to push myself in different ways each day, and see how far my body can take it.
Today I even got myself there on time for their Thursday Hatha Yoga class, which was quite a little treasure, as I haven't been able to fit in yoga into my days for the last few months. I love how yoga makes me feel and how the right teacher can make you see poses in a whole new light, and push your body furthur than you thought possible. I am going to try to attend more classes in the new year in addition to my time at the gym, but I know that I must take little steps towards this, so as not to stress out and stop everything entirely which is what I have been prone to do... many times before....
Well on the note! I would love it if you (readers in the abiss out there), would push me along in my journey in bettering my body so that I don't fall off the band wagon once again. Either leave comments, or if you know me in person, offer to work out with me or even just tell me your proud of my new healthy habits :) It would mean the world to me!
Now to get on with the elephant in the room, which is that today is offically Christmas Eve Eve, and I am as giddy as a sleigh bell, that all the festivites are here at our doorstep.
I love Christmas like none other, and if it was a person, I would snatch it up and marry it so fast, just so I could keep it with me all year long.
I love all the random acts of kindness, the togetherness of friends and family, the warm heart of the home, the bringing up of hidden happy feelings, and the glow of a city covered in lights.
I wish you all the most merriest of Christmas's, the most happiest of holidays, and above all love in your hearts for one another this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Waste Not" Exhibition at the Art Gallery

In a world of consumerism and greed, want and need, the artist Song Dong's piece "Waste Not" portrays a culture that thrives on its possessions. Bars of half used soap, balls of twine, dirty water basins, forgotten childhood dolls, all became a work of art, and an act of healing for his family who lost their father.

Frugality is a virtue for Chinese culture, so growing up in a home where every item had the ability to be used, reused and recycled as something new, made it hard to throw away your day to day household items for fear that they might be someday useful. "Anything that could some how be used, should be used as much as possible" states Dong of an entire generation of Chinese people.
The collection at hand came together as an act to pull his mother out of depression after their fathers death, when a need to keep everything in case of use, became an obsession. Song Dong was able to give his mother a space to be an artist, with a decades worth a collections. This allowed her to have a job and a purpose for all the stuff she wanted to find a reason to keep, thus bringing happiness into her life once again.

"Keeping those things was useful, wasn't it", she gladly tells her son, as if an end to her collecting madness has come full circle. With this exhibit they now have the space to start anew, as a decade of used items have come out of their home, and into their new purpose as art. 

Walking through piles of thoughtfully placed and organized articles of ones life in material form allows you to look at your own possessions which we horribly label our "stuff". Especially this time of year, an exhibit like this speaks to each of us who filling their Christmas tree skirts with brightly wrapped surprises, only to later be broken, lost, forgotten, or worst of all un-used.

I am as guilty as the next person on this front, although maybe this is a lesson for us all to find the hidden presents in the items that have already seen their way around the block a couple of times, or that will withstand the test of time. I encourage you to give the gift of experience, as our memories are something that we can carry with us and don't take up space in our landfills once they have lost their purpose in our lives.

Song Dong's exhibit is being showcased at the Vancouver Art Gallery until January 16th.

My Kitten Fundraisers Got Some Press

Thanks so the charming and talented Meghan Mast, word of my kitten fundraisers got press this week on an online and interactive newspaper called Open File. Check out the article here for all the info!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Simple Pleasures from a week worth living....

I thrive on the simple pleasures in life, and here some, just to name a few :)

The little messages from a best friend in Japan, telling me "did i ever tell you that i love you? i dont tell you enough. <3mwah!"

Waking up in a apartment where a beautiful Christmas Tree has been baking in warmth and love. This place is a home.

An advent calendar giving and recieving 24 days of love before Christmas

Paper cranes, painted dinosaurs, nerd poets, christmas lights, getting your bed made for you, childrens books, hand making gifts, and love unmeasurable...

A best friend to which I can work, play, workout, snort, go on dates with and poke fun at...

And a love who shows me he cares everyday :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pen Pal Writing Club

I have found yet another rare gem in this city, and it is a club for folks like me who thrive on the written word delivered in a snail like fashion.

I been on the pen pal band wagon, since I first took to it in the 4th grade. Her name was Jessie Moore, and she was my teachers niece who lived on Galiano Island, was home school, and was apparently in need of a little lift in her life. So our class was chosen to each write her a letter (which at that age is a great experience and lesson), and we made a memberable trip to the post box.

Since then I have found pen pals through relatives, old roommates, classmates, friends who have moved across the globe, and most proudly through strangers.

I love everything about the art of pen paling and to find a club that caters to and embraces my passion with welcoming arms, is a rare sight to see. In a world of emailing, texting and facebook, the act of creating a relationship with someone in the form of a letter, has fallen by the wayside.
I understand all the arguments against it : Too slow! Unreliable! Impractical!...but think of all the wonder that goes with it.

I am proud to say that I no longer receive any mail that is not a letter from a loved one, and I receive one at least once a week!
No more bills, junk mail, or newspapers, just pure unadulterated love.

Now back to this pen pal find of mine :
Assembly of Text is quite possibly the cutest store in Vancouver (or at least on Main street) The walls of this teansy store are lined with handmade cards, rubber stamps, buttons,and ready made shirt prints (just to name a few), and the back is a full wall of filing cabinets filled up to the brim with all sorts of stationary materials.

On the first Thursday of every month, the store opens its doors to the letter enthusiasts a like, and hosts this fabulous club for two hours. And for the entirety of those hours, the single room is packed with people of all walks of like addressing envelopes, typing on typewriters, and eloquently positioning stamps upon letters. Running along the middle of the room is a tables filled with 10-15 typewriters, all of different makes and sounds, and when they all come together they make the most beautiful orchestra of cackle, that resonates through the space.

I've only been twice now but it is safe to say that I am hooked. I even walked away with a couple of early Christmas gifts to myself that have made me more than over joyed. I picked up a rubber stamp set of birds, nests and leaves, to add to my ever growing stamp collection. And more importantly I picked up a new type writer ribbon for my room mates beautiful, black, classic typewriter, which I have now stolen, and fallen in love with. There is something about the act of pounding your works purposefully into the parchment and having to really think out your words before you type. Pure art!

Hope I have inspired you to send a letter to a long lost friend, or at least send a Christmas card some one specials way this holiday season :)

Love Nymph

Monday, November 29, 2010

Britt's Heavenly Brussels!

For all your brussel sprouts nay sayers out there this ones for you...
I must admit that I was once one of you, who would continue on along the Christmas buffet food lineup, and not even give this vegetable a mere second thought, but truth be told I have been living off this brussel recipe for the last 2-3 months straight. Morning, noon, midnight snack, you name it these brussels are my friend, my craving, my comfort food.
So when I was asked to make them for an Ugly Sweater Thanksgiving Dinner party last Friday (my sweater featured below), I sprang at the chance to share my love, with the world :)
Directions to success :
- First peel and mince around 6 cloves of garlic (I prefer my breath to ward off evil creatures of the night after this meal, so use your own discretion), then saute in pan with a generous amount of butter, until starting to brown.

-Meanwhile cut off the end of your lovely brussels, remove any darkening leave, then chop them into quarters, and then they are ready to be thrown in the pan. Flip them around, until they are covered in butter and leave them be for a good 5 mins so that they soften up a fair bit.
-Come back to your pan, and stir them up, add salt, and lemon juice, and then let them sit for another 5 mins. Since you are not technically steaming them, they are going to take a bit to tenderize, so be patient!
-For the last portion of your cooking, add butter, salt, and lemon as you see fit. They should start to brown, and get soft. At about 5 more mintues taste test those bad boys and see if they need to get a little less crunchy still. The should partially melt in your mouth :)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Taking the UK by Storm

Tales of 2 weeks of exploring including countless amounts of castles and cathedrals, green rolling hills, and family quirks, will come soon :)


My hibernating tendancies have taken over a fair bit more than normal, this past winter month. Nothing seems like a better plan than to sit cozily in front of my fire, swaddled in quilts and entertained by the pages of a good book. Contentment.
However this is how I have a love/hate relationship with winter, as my otherwise semi social ideals fly by the way side, during these chilly snow filled *crosses fingers* months.
Tonight I succeeded in venturing out of my cocoon, and right down to the Legion for some worthwhile singing adventures, and found myself surrounded by others who had not seen the light of "social friendships" in ages. It is important to have these moments to show you that you are not alone. That there are others like you, to which social gatherings, sometimes just doesn't measure up to the comfort of a warm bed and a good Christmas movie on the telly.
I love these people.
People who you don't have to talk to for months on end.
People who don't care if you haven't attended the latest social gatherings.
People who down right let you know that they are glad to see you, and understand how truly hard it was to get out there, because they had just experienced it themselves.

I guess all I am trying to say here is embrace the season however you see fit. Go for a snowy walk, catch the occasional concert, meet up with friends.... but don't feel bad for hibernating every once in a while. Thats just silly.
Take the time to listen to the snow fall, and play a match of scrabble :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nates Mushroom Gravy!

Since becoming a Vegetarian I have been getting my Nate, to make me his famous Mushroom gravy! Its great with Tofurky, Yorkshire puddings, and any other veggie treats! Bear with me, as he has never had to put his recipe into words before. It is still pretty choppy, so please feel free to message me with any questions and I will try to help you out! Enjoy!


4-6 Portabello Mushrooms
1/2 Bulb of Garlic
I Small Red onion
Red Wine



-Mince garlic and onion, saute for a bit until either caramelized or golden brown.
-Use a food processor to grind up mushroom until almost a pasty consistency (very fine), but don't let them been to mushy, you still want them to hold some shape (almost sand like).
-Add the mushrooms to the onion and garlic, and let simmer until sweaty. Then add a cup of red wine and 1/2 cup of Braggs (or to taste). Then let simmer.
-Make vegetable stock (enough to fill a sauce pan 3/4 to the top)
-Make a Rue (which will be the thickening agent and binder to your gravy) consisting of a cup of butter and white flour melted together and mixed into a thick paste (almost to the consistency of a dough). Add slowly to wet mix while stirring with a whisk. Mix it all together and it should start to thicken into gravy.
-Spice to taste! (Recommended spices; sage, salt, pepper, and oregano)

Hope this works out for you!

Harvest Cupcakes that fill your home with warmth and cardamom

I made these perfectly delicious Harvest Cupcakes last month from the Alive Magazine and want to share the recipe here with you : If you haven't already checked out the Alive Magazine, I would totally recommend it as they have tons of seasonal recipes and health tips, and are a free print at your local organic grocery store.
These cupcakes a totally vegan on their own (my first attempt at vegan baking!), but the recipe also recommends a cream cheese icing that you can add on top with orange zest, which is also very tasty!
You can see below how happy these cupcakes made me, but to see for yourself you should try and bake them! - Nymph

Spooky Cloth Pumpkins!

This Halloween I pleaded with my mother to make me a recreation of these "stuffed pumpkins" which used to adorn our house every Hallow's Eve. She agreed naturally but under the condition that I aid in the creation of these magical gourds. So for you learning pleasure here are the pumpkins we created step by step :

Materials :
- 2 Halloween fabrics that go well together
-Sewing Machine
-Old pens for curling jute
-Elastic Bands
-Cotton Stuffing
-Sewing needles and thread
-Green fabric (either plain or with simple designs)
-Thicker sticks found outside
- Glue Gun

 1.) Pick two Halloween fabrics that look well together, and take a rotary cutter and cutting board (if you don't have scissors will work as well but just be a little bit harder), cut out 2 squares of each (4 in total that are all the same size). The squares should be approximently 26 cm by 22 cm, but as long as the squares are the same size, they can be off by a little bit.
Serge or sew on a machine, each opposing color's longer side together so that all the "fronts
are facing the inside (as shown above). And then sew a loose running stitch on the sewing machine around the top and bottom, so that when a loose thread is pulled the future pumpkin will bunch.

2.) Something that you might even want to get prepared before you start but definitely before you get any furthur is to grab your pens and wrap jute tightly around them (then fasten them with an elastic band at the end), soak them in water and then leave them on a towel to dry. You should also blow them with a hair dryer to speed up the drying proccess because they do take a long time to dry, and should be bone dry when you remove them from the pen or else they will lose their curl quickly.
3.) Then back to your pumpkins. Take that loose thread that you created at the top and bottom, and pull on it gently from both sides carefully (be careful not to break the thread), until you have a pretty closed bunch, which you can then sew (only do one side at this time!).

Take a sewing needle, and thread (you can either use the thread that is already attached that you were just pulling on to bunch up the fabric, or use some new thread), and pull the thread around the gathered fabric a few times, making sure that all the bunched ends are not tucked in (very IMPORTANT!), and then sew through the gathering a couple of time and then tie off. What you are trying to achieve here is that this will not some apart as it is a real pain later if it does, just make sure it is all tight and if you were to flip it the other way there would be no ends sticking out. It doesn't have to be pretty just functional.

4.) Next flip it the other way around (so you are looking at the pretty side!), and then start pulling on the other loose thread gently so that it starts to bunch as well (now it is actually starting to look like a pumpkin). Don't close it too much right away as you will still want to be able to fit your hand into the pumpkin to stuff it and that is what you will do next.

Stuff the pumpkin, but not so that it is super plump (unless that is what you are going for), but just make sure that the stuffing is evenly dispersed in the fabric before starting to sew it up. Again either take the thread you were just pulling on to tighten the pumpkin or some new thread, and pull it as tight as you can and then start sewing it around the top to make sure that the pumpkin won't open up again on its own. Once tight, but not fully closed cause you still want to fit your stem in there, tie it off. And see how you feel about your pumpkin? Is everything in working order? Should you tighten anything? Any loose threads? Your almost done!
5.) Grab some your green materal and cut large circles out to be you pumpkin leaves (don't worry about the circles being uneven because they are ment to look natural).

We found it was a nice effect to use scissors with a serated edge so that the fabric would have more texture to it. But I would only use ones that are ment for fabric or else they will just get stuck in your blades.

6.) Take your pumpkins, cut green fabric and sticks that you have found outside, glue gun and get ready to assemble. Place the fabric over the pumpkin hole, and press in with the stick. No need to make a hole in the green fabric for the stick, as you just pull it out again once you like how it sits and looks and put a fair amout of glue into the stuffing and return the fabric and stick back in to set. You can cut the green fabric up a little more to make it more realistic or shorten it at this time.
Now back to that jute. Is it totally dry? Don't kid yourself, because you won't be happy with the results unless it is. But once it is just simply tie the jute around the stem and watch it bounce joyfully around your new cloth pumpkin.
As you can see I made alot of these beautiful little pumpkins (I was doing a fundraiser for my kitten who broke his femur), and I hope you enjoyed learning about how to make them. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about them, or share some of your own festive crafts!

A new space for a new outlook...

Having come into a new time in my life, full of change, courage and compassion, I believe it is time for a new blog that may better suit my needs. So here is a link to my old work, and well read on for some of my new :) I look forward to shareing my life with you.