Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh No Voodoo

Look what happened!?

Something went wrong in the mysterious world of codes and html and my previously very nice and fancy blog template get royally messed up.

Originally I was going to cancel everything - forget about blogging, and sink into vast recesses of the Internet - but some people have told me they actually read this thing.

Now, while I figure out codes and voodoo, I'll leave it pretty plain.

I'll be back later with a real post. Now that I've got more initiative.

While you wait, please enjoy some lovely Christmas photos that my friends and I took. We waited until Santa was off-duty at the mall and then raided his little house.

The baby is the piece de resistance.

Here I am being the ghost of Christmas past...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tales from a family vacation...

So I went to Victoria, like I said, and I did eat at The Noodle Box. It was very delicious I promise.
I also got to spend some quality time with an entire side of my family that I never see. This included a family reunion with 18 participants.

Some highlights:

- going on a short hike to the top of Mount Erskine with a few cousins, my parents and some aunts and uncles, getting lost on the way back, hilarity, stumbling home four hours later.
- my uncle getting a rainbow pottery rock cod fish from his brother on the west coast and my mother on the east coast. Hilarity. My grandfather looking around the table and proclaiming, "This is why the call me the cod father."
- A wonderful dinner with my granny at a pub called the Canoe, getting 'the Fleet' which consisted of 6 different beers and splitting them all with her.
- Spending a lovely evening with my cousin, drinking homemade apple cider with his friends, enjoying the Fantastic Mr. Fox (which all of you should go see! Its a Cluster Cuss!)

A family tale through photos:

My Dad, on the way to Salt Spring,

Cod Father!

Mount Erskine,


I'm Alive!

I promise! I was away in beautiful Brittish Columbia for a week, and collecting myself over these past few days. I have pictures coming of course - of my trip and of my doilies. Christmas would not be the same without snowflake doilies.

So stay tuned - until about 5:00 Atlantic time when I get my act together.

Until then, please enjoy my my not so strict tradition of Tuesday's with Indonesia and I will share with you my new discoveries.

First of all: Indonesia is a go! I have finally booked my tickets through my grandmother's 'magic' travel agent, who definitly had some kind of sorcery going on to get me these prices. Flying out of Vancouver March 2 (after I train accross Canada) to Bangkok. I have no idea what I'll be doing and where I'll end up in Thailand but my goal is to be in Jakarta two weeks later. I fly out of Jakarta and back to the love of my life April 18th.

I have had to narrow down where I want to be in Indonesia, and I think Sulawesi will be my main destination.
This area includes the Togean Islands. Which among other things include a couple dozen tiny islands to explore, and apparently beautifully deserted beaches.

They also are home to this beast: the coconut crab.

I am attracted to these islands (more than the multiple other islands that have pristine beaches and barely there tourist industry) mostly because they have 'deserted resorts' and volcano islands that I could easily wander around and have some misadventures in.

Finally, I am looking into volunteering somewhere. As I am not too keen on Englishteaching (which tends to be the primary focus of many 'community development' programs...) I have been trying to find environmental organizations to help out. I originally wanted to wwoof but that seems nearly impossible given there is no national wwoofing organization.

But I found the Indonesian Wildlife Rescue (which happily operates out of northern Sulawesi). For a international volunteer program, its actually pretty inexpensive, and they clearly state how they use your donation. It seems like a pretty excellent option - I'll get to look after (aka shoveling shit)some beautiful animals...

Bentu and Is

Spotty the leopard

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things I did, at some points in time....

So I really have been crafting.
I swear.

I made this hat. It was supposed to be slouchy, but I never really listen to yarn size and thus, it turned into a beanie. In the end I re-did it, trying to alter the pattern in an attempt to make it more slouchy - but it was even uglier.
So I gave it away.

I also found a bunch of really old dried up red peppers in the back of my fridge. I decided I'd try to plant them and see what happened. This is what happened! Now mind you we haven't gotten any peppers yet, but nearly all the seeds sprouted into nice, spicy, little plants.

Also, Jean Poutine, my kitty, is going to be little forever! Thank you crack house upstairs! The vet told me that because he had what you might call a deprived childhood he is stunted!

A dream come true - really. Although the vet did give me a funny look when I said that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm (kinda) a model! But who isn't...

So this may be a little different than what I've been posting on here (Indonesia. Indonesia. Indonesia.) And I would be posting about the Indonesian Togean Islands right now but I couldn't find the pictures I wanted (to steal) and got fed up with the whole idea.

I haven't been posting many crafting things either - I'll get to that I promise.

In anycase, my friend Maria came over last night to take pictures of me. Since she is a 3rd year photography student, and I am nearly always around, I tend to be called on to be a 'model' a lot. In fact people who work at the Craft College stop me and say "Are you that girl from the City Hall exhibition?" or "Do you know Maria?"

I'm not saying I'm any good at it, I'm just saying I'm in a lot of photos. Maria is really whats awesome about these photographs, and I thought I'd share some of her talent on here.

I'd give you here website or something, but she doesn't have one.

(Now I'd like to point out I was wearing a top here - I can't explain where it went in this picture. But I was wearing it for sure)

I did a nude-y photoshoot with her too. Not really scandalous at all. But I don't want those pictures out there so much on the internet at large. Not that I'm showing anything other than my back and bit of crack (not even my face!). My mother always said, "Never take photographic images of you naked or doing drugs" and considering all the scandals out there lately I think thats really good advice. Thanks mom! I'll appreciate it when I'm president!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

....Wednesdays with Indonesia?

So I recently found out that Lonely Planet will come out in January with the first book on indonesia since 2007 - my copy. Good think I bought it....

In anycase, I'll probably by this new one so I'll actually know how giant babies, terrorism, and earthquakes have affected prices. I need to know if I can still get by in beach huts for 5$ a night.

This weeks little snippet is filled with my dream islands. The Alor Archipelago. These islands are remote - even farther East than those islands I talked about last week. They are right beside East Timor if you need a better geological reference. They were still headhunting up until the 1950s. Pretty exciting.

In anycase I have a really big interest in Lamalera - the people that surprizingly still hunt whales and even more surprizingly are allowed by all the environmentalists and anti-whaling organizations.

But if everyone hunted whales like this than I imagine a lot more people would be allowed to:

Now I don't really plan to go there and have a go at stabbing a whale. But I just thought this little tid-bit was pretty interesting - and I think I've already fallen in love with the Alor's - even without seeing it.

Although I do understand the problems with Lonely Planet guides - and believe me they are many - I can see that parts of this Indonesian one are very humble. Many times sections actually refer you to 'Mr. Jim' or 'Dive-Master Dave' or any number of famous local personalities that are aparently the best source for information. When hotel/guest house listings mention how 'Baba Yosef' is a really excelelnt chef - it sort of makes a difference. I automatically are more drawn to these places - they seem far more personable than the resorts and 'Hotel Florida's' that seem to be everywhere. I suppose it's all probably different now - but I can dream.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Boxes of noodles

I'm going on a little trip with my family in late November, to my favorite city on the West Coast - Victoria, BC!

All I have been thinking of (I mean besides seeing all my relatives...) is The Noodle Box. I just want a stomach filled with multi-culturally influenced Asian food as soon as possible. The end of November is too far away. I have a ridiculous plan to stuff my face at least once, and to bring at least 3 take out boxes home with me as carry on. Is that even allowed? I've seen people bring live lobster... so I assume I'll be able to bring dead (but delicious) noodle boxes.

I blame this obsession on watching an unhealthy amount of Top Chef.

These are the three menu items I've already started drooling over:

SPICY PEANUT BOX (available with rice)
Indonesian style peanut sauce, wok fried with peppers, Asian
greens, crushed peanuts, herbs, sprouts, coconut milk and
lime on ribbon noodles.
NOODLE BOX CHILI PLUM (available with rice)
Hokkein noodles, wok fried with peppers, Asian greens,
sprouts, and green onion, tossed in our own sweet chilli plum
CAMBODIAN JUNGLE CURRY (available with rice)
Spicy curry broth with rice noodles, simmered with ginger,
mushrooms, peppers, asian greens, sprouts and finished with
mango, herbs and lime.

As a side note, my grandmother house is beside this beautiful ravine. Last time my family went for a little visit it was in the spring... so here is a little picture I found of my dad in the BC jungle.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Textophobia and Tuesday's With Indonesia!

Okay okay, Late again!

Tuesday's with Indonesia is brought to you by Komodo Dragons, found on Rinca, Western Flores and of course, Komodo Island.

(landscapes from Komodo)

Nowadays Komodo National Park is considered one of Indonesia's main attractions - I mean who could really pass up the opportunity to visit a dragon. But from the available information the government and park have taken amazing precautions about dragon oriented tourism. Yeah!

I love David Attenborough quite a bit, you know the old grandfather voice-over on every BBC nature documentary that's been made in the past 60 years. That's the man. Way Way Way back when, around the time that Indonesia was still probably thought of as native backwaters, the BBC and Attenborough actually went to Komodo Island. Traveling wasn't quite as easy back then and the "Zoo Quest" series they were filming led Attenborough into a few harrowing situations.

Attenborough tells of danger on the crew's hazardous boat trip with a gun-smuggling captain and the terror of erupting volcanoes. He also depicts for the listener some of the incredible sights he and his team witnessed - breathtaking butterflies, taking tea with Charlie the orang-utan and the the voyage to the little-known island of Komodo to capture the elusive Komodo Dragon. David Attenborough's early adventures are sometimes life-threatening, often hilarious and always totally absorbing.

Excellent. If I end up in these islands - expect to see me galloping around with a herd of Dragons.

On another strange note:

I'm pretty sure I have a very mild form of Textophobia - the persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of certain fabrics. I really really really cannot stand touching felt, the fabric on the ceilings of cars, fleece and increasingly cotton.

Lately I've been folding laundry or making my bed and constantly want to clench my teeth, moisturize my hands, and resist the urge to shiver. Although I am not afraid of these fabrics - I definitely don't want to touch them. Strange for someone who is making a quilt, likes to felt, and is currently crocheting with wool.

If you can image nails on a chalkboard, scraping your fork against a plate.... this is what I experience with felt. My mother has told me I didn't even like doing crafts with felt when I was little.

I hope it stops freaking me out, and starts to lessen. What if I can only surround my self with silks in the future!?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday's With Indonesia

Oops - I'm late!

But I was doing Indonesian related things yesterday, I went to the travel clinic and got an injection for Typhoid. Luckily I've had about a million vaccinations in my life, so thats basically the only one I need (unless you count the shot that costs 165$ x 3 - which is both ridiculous and impossible).
So other than getting shot up, I've been reading about the Nusa Tenggara region in Indonesia. On my never ending quest for finding the perfect deserted island - I've been looking up the tiny Gili islands, and Flores.
The Gili Islands are just west of Lombok (one of the islands east of Bali) and are advertised under things like "No Cars, No Motorbikes, No Problems" - exactly what I thought. They also aparently have a large Irish bar and an authentic sushi restaurant. Excellent things to add to a deserted atoll right?
If I was a diver/surfer these islands would be even better - maybe I'll learn to surf! Mostly I'll be looking forward to eating, relaxing and biking around this island... I can picture myself here:
Next on this list is Flores - one of the larger but less visited islands. The tourist focus is mainly wandering around the traditional villages, sunsets and a volcano named Kelimutu. Although I still have really mixed feelings about traditional villages as 'tourist destinations' I do believe that these villages may be better off then what has happened (and what I avoided) in thailand. I don't plan on actually making this the reason I visit Flores though.

The volcano(s) on Flores tend to have strange colour changing pools that remain a mystery to science. Some older pictures show Kelimutu with a black, a white and a red lake but now they are white, green and blue.

The best part for me about this island is the need to hire a guide to basically see anything. I'd like this. One on one tourism. I'm assuming the guy in the photo above is a guide. I hired a moto and driver in Cambodia and it was great because your guide knows a million interesting places, has crazy stories and there is no set agenda. You get to wander around with someone who speaks the language, is usually super funny and actually wants to get to know you.
There also isn't an agency/corportation taking money - just the guide so hopefully the tourism actually benefits the people more then it does in exploited areas.
I want to go here!

Monday, October 19, 2009

T-Shirt Quilt Step One, two, and three

I have been a bit crafty lately. I decided to take all of my old t-shirts that I'm really attached to and make them into a t-shirt quilt. You really only need so many t-shirts in your life anyway, but they always have such strange memories attached to them... so I almost always find it really difficult to throw them out or give them away.

A quilt means I can save them forever! And my kids (or probably my nieces and nephews) will see how awesome I was when I was a teenager!

T-shirts! - I have 12 in mine: 3 by 4 makes a double I think
Batting!- You can get really cheap bags that come in a pre-set size (twin, double, queen etc)
Backing! - Enough to cover the back of your quilt. The sales lady helped me find something that was triple wide so I wouldn't have to have seams down my back
Piecing material - I am using the same material as my backing, because I am lazy about trying to match something to 12 different t-shirts and also because my budget wouldn't let me go crazy. This is going to be used to fill in the actual blocks cut from the t-shirts so they are all the same size - good luck figuring out how much you'll need. I just bought a shit-ton.
Fusible/non-woven/medium weight interfacing! - to make the t-shirts usable.

You'll also need:
A sewing machine!
A rotary cutter!
An iron! (I just bought my first one ever!)
A cutting mat!
Clear block ruler.
and thread!

Step one:

I sat down and actually figured out which t-shirts I was going to use. I ended up needing three, so I stole a few from our most recent clothing swap and also one from my mom.

(Some of my treasured old rags)

Step two:

Maybe a professional would tell you to do this in a different order but this is what worked for me. I cut out the print from each t-shirt, and tried to do it in a way that I got the largest sized block I could. I didn't try to make them all the same size at this point - I just wanted to see what I would/could be working with. You can always regulate their sizing later.

Knits (t-shirt material) is literally horrible to make a quilt out of. It stretches like no ones business, and is pretty heavy. So even if you did some how succeed in cutting a perfect square or rectangle block out of it, your quilt would eventually turn into a pulled-out, ugly old rag if you used it more than once.

The solution is to buy fusible, non woven, medium weight interfacing. You get to iron it on the back of each shirt (glue side down!) and then suddenly the fabric makes a lot more sense.

(A shirt with interfacing on it)

Step three:

(my non measured pieces)

Spread your pieces out on a floor or huge table. Move them around and put them into the order you want for the finished product.

I measured each block and figured out what size I wanted the finished block to be. I usually tried to do it so I had roughly an inch on all sides of the image. Write down the measurements for each block or else you will cry later!

(I drew it out a poorly to scale version showing which shirt was where, and how large the finished piece would be because I am a visual person)

So from here you can figure out the widest and tallest pieces (one was 12" wide and another one was 11" tall). I want a border all around each shirt for consistency's sake so I figured out that a completely finished block would be 14" x 14". This means I'll have to cut borders for each shirt and all the border pieces will have to be customized for all my different sized shirts. Annoying, but at least my finished blocks will all be the same size in the end.

So before you cut: WAIT!
Make sure you add 1/4" to all sides of every piece you cut for sewing allowance. This will mean that a shirt piece that is 10" x 10" finished will actually be cut 10.5" x 10.5"

Man this probably makes no sense what so ever.
I'll post more steps later, but I'm tired already.

In any case here is my first 14"x14" block... just so you can see a finished one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I joined swap-bot awhile ago, because I am pretty cheesy and really like to get snail mail. If you haven't heard about it, its a place for people to join/create swaps which can be either electronic (and boring!) or postal. Its got a strange rating system to make sure all packages are sent and on time - but I guess thats a good thing even if its way more nerdy.

So far I've joined two swaps and gotten 2 awesome packages in the mail. I was supposed to get three - but I'll cross my fingers and hope my partner isn't being a lame dropout.
I think I'm going to find another one, because I got some really awesome stuff. And I also understand what other people will expect from me and what equals an awesome package.

Anyway - one of the swaps was based around colours: ie - send your partners something yellow, something black, something green, something red etc.

I sent a tiny heart I had hand felted to a lady in Lithuania and she jazzed it up a little bit. I thought I'd share our handiwork - although the creative bits are definitely hers <3

I wonder what she will use it for...

Tuesdays with Indonesia (and Cambodia)

Since I'm really bad at blogging, I'm going to start something: Tuesdays with Indonesia. Hopefully brought to you on every Tuesday, although surely it will be late on more than on occasion.

I hope to talk about the things I am reading about and interested in - which is mainly trying to find some non-polluted, untouristy beach to lay on and also try to find an alternative village to live in. They exist! Apparently the brother of a friend is working in one - and although they haven't heard from him since the earthquake, he is coming home soon - once Sumatra turns the power on.
Anyway today's post is brought to you by

Borobudur is a Buddhist temple, laid out like a complex tantric mandala and comprises something like 60 000 cubic meters of stone which were carved, transported and erected around 800 AD. No easy feat. Its survived the earthquakes, even disappeared for centuries under volcanic ash, and more recently was restored after a group of extremists explored an anti-Soeharto bomb in the middle. It is one of the finest temples in Java according to my guide book and I think I want to see it at sunrise.
Interesting choice considering I really hate trying to wade through people selling me things, and I hate being in the same location as a bunch of old Europeans wearing Tilley Hats. I really really hate Tilley Hats. But this spot is supposed to be very similar and awe inspiring as Ankor Wat in Cambodia - which I really loved.
Here are some pictures from that little trip (Now mind you these aren't the best pictures I have, but those are lost on some archived photo CD somewhere and these just happened to be online):
All around and within the temple complex are entrepreneurial/poverty stricken Cambodians trying to make a living off their small plots and herds of tourists. Most children we met begged us to buy things from them - anything. But these guys were pretty awesome. We played strange made up games with them for a little bit.
Tuk Tuking around the expansive temple complex was cheaper if you squished everyone into one tuk tuk.
This picture is infamous. I sent it into the Study-Abroad program that sent me to Thailand and they put this picture into all of their Thailand brochures. IDIOTS. Although idiots that paid me! Advertising for Thailand with something that is so obviously Cambodia is a little bit sad.
(Speaking of people trying to sell me things: I ended up leaving the temple complex with a million shitty postcards, that really nice scarf around my arms and that straw hat ha!)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Birthday Buoys.

This weekend was lovely. My friend Kristen celebrated her 23rd birthday with a mini road trip to New River Beach, which isn't exactly a warm beach in the summer let alone at this time of year - but it is always beautiful.

We spent the day chucking rocks at other rocks, picking up rocks and looking underneath, and climbing rocks. Really it was fantastic. The best game ever was chucking rocks and seeing them break open against bigger rocks. They bounced like little 25 cent bouncy balls. Nothing is better then a picnic on a lonely beach with friends, fire, and beers.

I found a really good buoy (man if fucking smells) under a huge beach rock. It was at a weird angle where you probably couldn't see it from 99% of the surrounding rocks so good thing I was exploring. Its now (smell or no smell) living in my kitchen. What the hell do you do with a yellow and green buoy (and a boy with an 80's rude cool fleece)?

I also figured out my timer and took some excellent group shots