February 28th, 2015

Ukrainian Egg: February 28th, 2015

A couple of years ago, Solomon learned to make Ukrainian eggs at school.  He kept one, somehow, intact. He was always vehemently opposed to getting rid of it, but today he volunteered to dispose of it…which may or may not have to do with the fact that he’s about to start an after-school art session of Ukrainian Egg-making.

He has very much caught onto this letting-go-of-mementos process.  He reminded me that I should take “a few” pictures.

Dramatic, no?

Dramatic, no?


The best part about this egg, though, was how long it took him to pronounce Ukrainian properly.  For ages he called them Euchre-ainian. It was an adorable anomaly for him – he was incredibly precocious with language (full sentences at 18mos) and very precise in his pronunciation.  We kind of loved it.  The mispronunciation is now long gone, but this picture will always remind me.

And now I need to go consume some chips before I let them go for the entire month of Motivation March.  So long, flippant February!

Day 121 Scorecard: 605 down, 1,220 to go


February 27, 2015

Food Waste: February 27, 2015

Tomorrow is the last day of February.  I know this is not news to anyone (unless you were thinking this was a Leap Year, in which case: surprise!  You were wrong!) but I am nervously eyeing the next calendar month, mindful of my plan to stick to Motivation March.  This, naturally, led to me pondering junk food, and how hilarious this term is because everyone knows that junk is something you throw out, not into your body!

But we do throw out a lot of food in this country.  We ‘junk’ a lot of food.  Here in Nova Scotia, we are fortunate enough to have an awesome publicly-funded composting program.  This is wonderful, but much like the reduce, reuse, recycle of other stuff, compost should be the last choice.  Any farmer would be happy to tell you all about how it makes them cry real tears to see all the lovely food they laboured so hard to grow just turfed out to rot.  And they have a great point.

Solomon also had a great point, when we were grocery shopping together a year or so ago.

“So we chose the food we want and then give money for it, right?”

“Uh, yeah”

“So, really, we’re basically just eating money?”


Therefore, tonight I thought I would share 5 ways to waste less food!

1. Buy less food.  Seriously.  Buy what you need and not that 20lb bag of carrots that are on super-special and you know you’ll never get around to eating before they go bad.  As with de-cluttering, the first rule of avoiding waste is avoiding bringing it in in the first place.

2. Buy from someone you know.  Or at least from a farmers’ market (if you can).  Trust me when I say this ups the guilt quotient tremendously.  It’s quite something when your farmer friends come to your house and give you grief, personally, about the squash on the counter that you hadn’t eaten yet.  True story, I’m looking at you, Josh (and Trish, our lovely and wonderful friends who own and operate the fantastic CSA Taproot).

3. Plan ahead.  I’ve read all kinds of tips and pointers about this, all over the Internet, but they all boil down to that one simple point.   Maybe having a set number of meals you rotate through works for you. Maybe planning a week’s worth of meals works for you.  Maybe you live next to a market that is open everyday so you can plan meals on a daily basis.  Whatever works for you, just do it.

4. Eat your freaking leftovers.  This is a thing, people, there are actually people out there who believe leftovers are a category of food that is somehow less desirable than what the food was before it was magically transformed into leftovers.  I don’t know when this happens: if you get called to the phone during a meal and it cools off and you re-heat it, is it leftovers?  What about if you are pulling an all-nighter?  When does that chicken pot pie become leftovers?

Some of you will be saying “really? there are people who don’t eat leftovers?” and others will say “no, I will not eat leftovers and you can’t make me.”  Take a second and think about going to a restaurant and always ordering enough food for 2 or 3 people, and then throwing out the extra helpings.  What kind of moron would do that?  Many people say they don’t “like” leftovers.  This reminds me of my favourite joke I used to make when my sisters and I did dishes after supper:

Sister who is drying “Gross [slips dish back into dishwater] there is still crap on this!”

Me “you ate that crap for dinner!”

Leftovers are what they were before.  Isn’t that amazing?  Often, they are better than the day they were made.  If you don’t believe me, eat some leftover lasagna.  See?

If you are really, truly, never going to eat your leftovers, bring the leftovers to me. Or invite in someone who looks really hungry.

5. If you have kids, I have no advice.  Kids are notoriously picky unless they have the terribly bad luck of living in a country where obesity is not the problem, starvation is.  Keep portion sizes reasonable and get your farmer friends to harass them into eating more!  That’s all I’ve got.

Here are some real bits of advice: soup is a great place to put produce that is just on the brink of going bad. The freezer can be your friend: if you don’t want to eat the same dinner two days in a row, just freeze the leftovers and pretend it’s a whole new meal in a week! Produce that looks ugly tastes just as delicious as the pretty stuff.*

Day 120 Scorecard: 600 down, 1,225 to go

*or even better – that weird looking carrot is a heritage variety that didn’t ship well so it wasn’t bred to look a certain way, just grown because it has amazing flavour.

The birthday of Mike.

Collected Costumes: February 26th, 2015

I’ve always enjoyed themes and patterns.  For instance, the year Max was born, I sewed him an incredibly elaborate skunk costume for Halloween.  I sewed his second and third costume and then gave up.  Solomon also got his first 3 costumes lovingly hand-stitched by his loving mother. Clara was a panda, then a mouse…and then she found the Nemo costume and overpowered my powers of persuasion and that was that.

Today, I am sending the mouse costume on its way.

This is how it looked when she first wore it, way back in 2009 (she was 1 1/2 years old at the time):

She has since moved on to more stereotypical girl things, including learning how to hold a doll less precariously.

She has since moved on to more stereotypical girl things, including learning how to hold a doll less precariously.

For some strange reason, this costume was a HIT in this household, and many a child (whilst visiting) would cram his or her body into this costume, well beyond the point of comfort.  Clara, for her part, wore it over and over again for at least the next two years. It got so we needed to hide it sometimes.  Let’s just say it was well loved.

Here is what it looked like tonight, just before I smuggled it into the 5 Down box:

Not so cute any more...

Not so cute any more…

Please don’t hate me…but the first word that popped into my head was “ratty.”

It does look like hell now, but I’m still going to donate it because apparently there is something irresistible about it.  In fact, please don’t tell Clara (or Oliver, or Sam, or even Neiley) that we’ve donated it.  I don’t want a kid revolt over here…

Everybody just needs to back away from the mouse costume and no one gets hurt.

Incidentally, given the outrageous success of this costume, for Christmas 2013, when Clara begged for a Ninja costume, I thought I’d make her one myself.

See the C, lovingly stitched on?  The mask, bandana, and hood?  The fussy, nasty, impossible-to-deal-with fabric?  See the LOVE?!?

See the C, lovingly stitched on? The mask, bandana, and hood? The fussy, nasty, impossible-to-deal-with fabric? See the LOVE?!?

That’s Clara, Christmas day, 2013, otherwise known as the very last time she wore this costume until September of this year, at which point it was about mid-calf and visibly uncomfortable.

She suggested I make a new one.

Uh.  No.

I don’t even know what happened to it, it may have been torched or something.

Day 119 Scorecard: 595 down, 1,230 to go

February 25th, 2015

Diminishing Returns: February 25th, 2015

Today has been a day of much writing and much, much, much too much researching.

One thing I decidedly need to let go out of my life is the (perceived) need to research to death.

Again with the law of diminishing returns…

I am too tired to write much more, so I drew you a picture instead.

I am too tired to write much more, so I drew you a picture instead.

Also a reminder to note when I have reached the “enough” phase (in everything, not just in work).

Day 118 Scorecard: 590 down, 1,235 to go

February 24, 2015

Poetry of Stuff: February 24th, 2015

One of the lessons I’m trying to learn/teach myself, is the art of letting go.  I am experiencing a teachable moment, right now, as WordPress decided to go “pear-shaped” as a gal I know would say.  I had completed today’s blog post and all but about 20 words vanished into the ether.

So, here is the reproduced-from-memory (and re-typed poem).  Call me Hemingway.

I knew there was a poem that perfectly expressed what I am trying to do in this blog*.  When I finally stumbled across it**, I did a quick google search to see if someone else had already posted it on the Internet. That was when I discovered that the poet in question, Philip Levine, died 10 days ago, on February 14th.

Edited to add: Mike thinks it is important to make it crystal clear that (a) I did not author the poem, Philip Levine did and (b) I did not have the poem memorized, I consulted the book again and typed it in again.  I hope no one other than Mike was confused…

Without further ado, then, here is the aptly named poem:



Two old dancing shoes my grandfather

gave the Christian Ladies,

an unpaid water bill, the rear license

of a dog that messed on your lawn,

a tooth I saved for the good fairy

and which is stained with base metals

and plastic filler.  With these images

and your black luck and my bad breath

a bright beginner could make a poem

in fourteen rhyming lines about the purity

of first love or the rose’s many thorns

or the dew that won’t wait long enough

to stand my little gray wren a drink.


Day 117 Scorecard: 585 down, 1,240 to go.

* to write interestingly (if not in rhyming lines) about the everyday objects that clutter up our lives.

** in the best anthology of poetry ever.  Modern Poems, whose two editors both died between finishing the book and the book being printed, lived in Korea and Montreal with me and has survived every book purge I have ever had.  It will never go 5 Down.

February 23, 2015

Spring Scheming: February 23rd, 2015

So January was buy-nothing month…and February is when-will-this-Winter-ever-end-it’s-enough-with-the-snow-already month.  I thought it was about time I reveal the scheme I’ve been cooking up for March.

March is going to be the bad habits down month.  Okay, so I’m still working on the name.  See, I’m always saying how the running lets me eat whatever I want, but it generally forces me to make good choices because otherwise the junk will make me ill when I’m running.  Unfortunately, this connection took me about 3 years to accept.  I’m a slow learner when it comes to saying no to delicious food.

So, I have gotten somewhat better at food choices.  I almost never go to a fast food choice (maybe once every 3 months?) and I never choose the deep-fried option.  That said, I have some very bad eating habits that not only keep me from being as lean as I could be, but also make me feel not so great after (both physically and psychologically).  I have decided that, for the month of March, I’m going to be accountable and I’m going to 5 down some foods out of my diet.  So far, my list consists of:

1. Chips (this is my Achilles heel.  I kid you not: 2-4 time per week, I am ashamed to say…),

2. Mini Wheats (I think I may die without that shot of cold hard icing on every bite…every single day),

3. Popsicles/Fudgsicles (Ice-cream I could forgo forever, but popsicles?  Rarely is my freezer devoid of frozen treats on sticks),

4. Lattes (made with my Tassimo, but chockablock with sugar, and environmentally dreadful).

… and I need to come up with one more thing.  I’m sure it’s my brain rebelling and refusing to select one more thing.  I do so hate to turn down food.

My beautiful and talented friend Nicole (who is also exceptionally incisive) asked “but what does this have to do with getting rid of stuff?”

It’s a fair question, because Motivation March (hmmm) doesn’t strictly involve divesting myself of stuff, but then neither did Buy-Nothing month.  I think the answer to this question is that our project is not just about the physical aspect of down-sizing, but it is also about being mindful of our actions, developing good habits, and paying attention to our choices.  I think I thought of Buy-Nothing month as money-discipline, whereas March will focus on self-discipline.

The second aspect of March is that I am going to do some form of exercise every single day.  Running 4x per week, and other stuff in between.  I’m going to make it up as I go.  I’m open to suggestions and invitations to your favourite exercise class (if I can squeeze it in).

So far I’ve talking my running partner/lovely friend Lori and my beloved husband into joining me.  You should join us, too.  The more the merrier (or, maybe, misery loves company?).

The family holdout.  I think she has taken to filling her bed with toys so she can guard them against possible stealth purging.  Where is the trust?

The family holdout. I think she has taken to filling her bed with toys so she can guard them against possible stealth night-time purging. Where is the trust?  Grandmothers: you can stand down.  She’s got this.

Day 116 Scorecard: 580 down, 1,245 to go


February 22, 2015

Mugging: February 22, 2015

It’s Oscar night, which obviously means I’m writing about mugs.

Okay, there really is no connection at all, but I’m fairly focussed on the Oscars, so you’ll forgive me a little bit of rambling, I hope.  For the record: if I were allowed to vote, I would vote for Boyhood for best picture.

So I have a bit of a problem when it comes to mugs.  I LOVE mugs.  I love them too much.  I love them to the point that I scour used stuff stores, yard sales, whatever, looking for odd, interesting or unique mugs. Unfortunately, I also seem to attract an assortment of less interesting mugs, and they seem to have multiplied on my shelf.  Solomon has been after me for days to get rid of them.  Maybe even weeks…

My family will laugh at me for getting rid of the Cora mugs.  As I mentioned yesterday, Cora is my favourite restaurant of all time.  They are kind of a shoe-in, though, in that they make breakfast food which is my favourite kind of food.

Truth.  TRUTH.

Truth. TRUTH.

When we lived in Montreal, we used to eat a Chez Cora (as it is called there) as often as I could convince Mike to go…and every time I visited my ObGyn when I was pregnant with Max.  That doctor was thoughtful enough to locate his office 2 doors down from a Chez Cora.  I know.  He really was a great doctor.

In any case, you can imagine my joy when, a few years after we’d moved here, Cora announced it would be opening a restaurant a mere 5 minutes from my house!  Oh, the unadulterated joy.  Assuming that everyone would be as overjoyed as me (and, remembering the long line-ups at most Montreal locations except the secret one we stumbled across one day…but that is another story) I planned to be there early on opening day. Then, they announced they would be giving out FREE mugs.  I talked my mother, father, sister, and brother-in-law into joining me for the moment it opened, assuring them there would be hysteria along with the free mugs.

First, I got the opening time wrong (whoops, 7:00am is not nearly as crazy as 6:00am), and then I  got the line-ups very, very wrong.  I think we were one of 3 tables.  It’s since gotten far, far busier.

Snickering up their sleeves a little, my sister, her husband, and my parents, all happily donated the mugs to me.


The mugs are too small.  They hold half of what I like to have in an average cup of tea or coffee.  I’ve held onto them all this time.  But now, now that I’m letting go of bad decisions and admitting my mistakes, now I’m ready to wish them well.

I still love you Cora, I swear.

Day 115 Scorecard: 575 down, 1,250 to go