Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adventures in Dining pt.1

As a treat to ourselves, while my sis is out of town, Mom and I decided to try this restaurant we've been passing by for the last several months, called Pico Bello. Attractive looking enough from the outside, it had its look upgraded by the addition of a giant banner proclaiming it to be the #1 Italian restaurant in our 'burb, thanks to a reader poll of the the local paper. What could go wrong?

Well, we go inside, it's about 5:30-ish, and there is no one in the joint except one dating couple and a waitress who looks bored and apathetic. She tries to seat us in a small table, but eventually lets us take a booth, where she hands us two menus, the kind that are printed on heavy card stock and folded in three. Clearly not the world's most expensive effort at selling food. While the waitress lingers for a moment, I quickly flip open to the centre, where I notice half of one column has been entirely scored out with a Sharpie -the pizza section. When I queried the waitress, she confirmed that there were no more pizzas available, then skedaddled.

We lingered for a few moments over the menu trying to decide, when I noticed another disturbing trend -- all the entrees had had their prices increased by at least 2.00. But not with a Sharpie --no, this time, the offending digit was re-traced over with a blue ballpoint pen. Which gets me to thinking. I understand that restaurants have to raise their prices, hey, everyone's got to make a living. But what kind of cheesy place changes it over 1/3 of the food choices with various implements, and doesn't reprint the menu? What would it cost them? $50.00 max if they go all out. There was only 5 booths, 10 tables, so maybe you need 25 copies. How much would that cost to print up on a new sheet of paper? Even if they laminated it, you're still looking at less than $100!

Add to that, pizza is one of the cheapest Italian dishes you can make. Why nix the entire pizza department? I understand that there is a Panago within a block of there, but they don't offer dine in options, and you do. Heck, you could arrange a deal where you take the order, get it from Panago and produce it in your restaurant, none the wiser! If you are going to go out of it entirely, definitely reprint the fool menu!

As it went, the menu issue was just too much for our overly suspicious, Kitchen Nightmares-watching natures, and we made our excuses and booted it out of there for Vera's Burgers.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A momentous day

I'm rather tired so I'll keep this short. Today, I saw my sister off on her trans-Atlantic journey, after walking the equivalent of 12 nautical miles trying to keep her busy while we waited for KLM to take its sweet time checking in baggage.

More seriously, I had an altercation with the neighbours behind and to the right of us during a nightly doggie walk, when their 2 Jack Russell Terrier dogs decided to try to attack ours. Thank goodness ours were unharmed -- indeed, they came out literally without a scratch on them thanks to a timely intervention by the owner's 7 year old son, my dog's general cussedness and my pulling them apart. Me however, I'm pissed as a nit, due to the attitude of the owner, who claimed that there was no problem, because "our dogs have never bit anyone". After watching them DO IT!!!! Lady, you have earned yourself a phone call into the SPCA, which I will be doing promptly tomorrow. (they were closed by the time we got home.) (Calm down, Laney, the commandant survived with all parts intact and only her dignity upset. She's waiting for a rematch, methinks.) Needless to say, I will be avoiding that street for the next several weeks.

Creativity wise, I attempted making a pattern I found off of Ravelry, with disgusting results. The pattern is written in martian, honestly. Ripped it out 4 times, then gave up, and decided it was time for bed anyways.

Oh and in the ironic portion of the evening? CSI tonight featured someone who had RFID tag inserted into them voluntarily...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

She's Leaving....On a Jet Plane

As I write this, my sister is sitting beside me eagerly counting down the hours till she hops on a plain for Great Britain. It has been an interesting experience these last few days, watching her bounce off the walls and hop up and down with excitement. Our floors have never been so reinforced--any nails that would have even thought of popping up have been driven down by the eager soles of her size 5.5 feet.

As much as I kid, we are going to miss having her around here. Mom will likely be a basketcase....excuse me, worrywart. I hope she remembers to phone religiously, or I will be scraping mom off the walls with a pancake flipper daily. (Boy, the walls are getting a workout!)
As for myself, it's going to be strange not having her here to talk to. But I expect her fur babies are going to try to make up for that fact. Kinsey (cat) is very vocal when she feels she is being ignored, and Gemma (dog) is the look-at-me-not-at-the-other-pets commandant type of dog. In a loving, adorable way, of course, but still.

I plan on distracting myself from her being gone by trying to focus on getting various projects done, creative wise. Including, hopefully her "I will never be knitting these blessed things again" knee high socks. They're beautiful, but I don't think I've ever picked back so many times on a project in my life. That includes the sweater she asked me to knit that I ended up rejecting after screwing up the tuck stitch too many times to count.
However, despite the 6 stitches forward, 10 stitches back speed with which they have been made, I have actually made some progress on them, thanks to my determination, persistence, and a shoutout to an angel on Ravelry who had actually made them despite pattern errata, and lived to tell about it. Some photos for your visual confirmation of my progress:

I have finally finished 3 out of 4 charts for the left hand sock; the right is being ripped back to the beginning of chart 3 -bollocks-in order to fix some unseen errors. So, the pictures are a bit behind. Perhaps I will find the time today to get her to try on the left so I can update further.
I also have to guesstimate the projected length she needs to have added as she wants these to be above the knee. Sigh. A knitter's work is never done.

I hope Elaine has a lot of fun on her trip -- I'm sure she'll be blogging about it, keeping in the tradition of other Jane Austenites who have also done a 'life journey of Jane' trip through England. However, she better keep in close contact --- that pancake flipper is looking none too sturdy, and I don't think it'll withstand much parent-removal.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Let's Celebrate Pirate style!

Ahoy mateys! I'm hoping you all took time out to acknowledge that most festive of days, September 19th. No, it's not Secretaries Day --- as if. It's Talk like a Pirate day. And as a card carrying descendent of the dark side of British seamanship (according to family legend, that is), this is a day near and dear to my heart.

Other wacky observances to be found in September are:

Turn off your TV week --September 20-26 (ironically, this is also the week that most major TV shows are premiering this year)

September 20-26 is also National Clean Hands week, National Singles Week, National Tolkien Week, and Build a Better Image Week . Not sure whether the Clean Hands are supposed to be promoting using Purell, or politicians trying to keep a squeeky clean image("I never had sex with that man/woman/goat, honest!) However, that goes hand in hand with the Build a better image week, I guess, so anything goes.

So for those wanting to ensure you celebrate properly, scrub your hands thoroughly, create an on-line dating profile (singles)with a photoshopped pic of yourself (better image) swearing that you think that JRR is da bomb (Tolkien). Who knows, you just might get a lasting relationship out of it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good for what ails you

I've been laid up with a cold the last couple of days. No real help for it unfortunately, but one of the downsides it is my mental processes are not what they should be. So, the universe is letting me know that now's the time to watch a whack of YouTube videos! And since this is a blog about being creative, I'm going to use this space to laud the clever clogs that made the following production: A Very Potter Musical.

Gentlemen and Ladies, house-elves and hippogriffs. If you have any fondness at all for the epic battle of the Boy who lived against He Who Shall Not Be Named, I urge, nay I implore you to grab a tub of popcorn and a bottle of Butterbeer and sit back and be entertained. Just make sure that you press "play all" so you don't have to miss anything.

Thanks go out to for the great find.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Speaking of turtles...

What is the difference between a turtle , a terrapin and a tortoise? According to the all-knowing, long may it reign, it depends where you are speaking from.

British language refers to turtles as seagoing critters, terrapins as the same but from brackish waters, and tortoises as the landgoing versions.

American English is both more and less clear. Turtles = all freshwater and some landroaming critters that look turtle-like, sea turtles for those oceanic ones; tortoises is only for those members of the tortoise family, Testudinadae, while terrapin refers to only one species: the diamondback terrapin.

Our Aussie firends have cut to the chase and use only 2 terms: turtle for all forms of water-living turtloids, and tortoise for the land dwellers.

Apparently, if you want to be a cool daddy-o and impress your veterinary friends, the latest term, encompassin all the turtle/terrapin/tortoise brethren there are, were, or ever will be is
chelonian. Which makes it sound like you are keeping some Star Trek reject in your basement:
"Before I went to school today I made sure that my chelonian, Duuuuk Zsup, had plenty of yummy bugs to eat. Unfortunately, his home planet still has not called us back. "

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Turtle Power

No, I haven't been hibernating for the past several days. Instead, I have been making yet another baby gift for my prodigiously procreative pals. And that means turtles, turtles (Rah rah rah, turtles turtles Ha ha ha --mmm I love Turtles). My current favourite stuffed toy pattern is the Sheldon tortue by Ruth Homrighaus. I just finished making my 3rd turtle in about 6 weeks.

What I like about it is that you get a really cute little stuffie in a lot less time that it takes to make a baby sweater, but (hopefully) impresses the parents to bits. One turtle I figure takes about 10-12 hours, including the sewing up, which is a bit more than average due to the multilayered nature of the toy. Yes, you guessed it, it comes apart for washing. Talk about coming out of your shell!

And the best part of it? People have literally fallen in love with this doll, taken the pattern and invented costumes for the darn thing. Everything from SuperTurtle outfits to pirate gear (Arrggh mateys). I haven't had time to sit down yet and make a set, but you can bet that the pirate gear is going to be joining my queue of things to make.

Here's my collection of turtles so far


In the spirit of this blog, I decided to try something I haven't done for 2 years. I made a little movie of one of the turtles and set it to music, using Windows Movie Maker. I've used iDvd and Garage Band before, so the technology was pretty familiar. I think it worked out pretty good. Here's the results:

Having used both the PC and Apple versions of movie making software, I have to say that Movie Maker is like the Dollar Store version of Apple's iLife suite. Both will give you the same basic merchandise, but Apple gives you so much more flexibility in terms of attaching sound bites and extending images, as well as visual effects. If I was buying a new system, iLife would definitely be one of the deciding factors.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Let's start at the very beginning....

So, what exactly is holistic creativity?

(adj.): Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.

cre/a/tiv/i/ty (noun): the ability to create.

Okay, so that definition is as clear as mud. Sounds very high faluting, and like all gibberish illustrates little. Here's where I'm coming from.

  • I believe that creativity is as necessary as breath, water and FDA-approved snack food.
  • I believe in the arts being an important part of everyday reality, not a segregatable option.
  • I believe in Einstein's lesser known Theory of Creativity, which states that "Imagination is more important than Knowledge"
  • That children should be trained in creative arts the same way that they do physical education, with an equal importance given.
  • And I refuse to believe in the myth of "I could never do that, because I'm not creative."

One of the best compliments I ever received was from my brother when he told me that I was the most holistically creative person he ever met. Hence the name of the blog.

But as I spend more time thinking about it, holism is an important, neglected aspect of our world. We got into global warming in part because we separted out the positive parts of our post-industrial world (ka-ching) from their potential consequences (destruction of the planet ).

We cordon ourselves off, into little segments, like some crazed version of a human pie-chart, with 2% going towards "the finer things in life" like art, music, and other creative impulses. Never realizing that by pigeonholing being creative as something we only do on alternate Thursdays from 3 to 4 p.m. that we make it easier for ourselves to gradually eliminate that aspect altogether when "more important" things crop up. But just like the impacts it has on the planet, this dis-integration isn't good for the soul. I'm guilty of this myself, which is the second reason for the blog. So for the next while, I am going to work on embracing my creative side in all aspects of my life, becoming more holistic and less specialized.

I recently became an avid fan of A Year of Slow Cooking, where the author made a New Year's resolution to use her crockpot for an entire year and journal about it. I aim to do the same thing with this blog, only focusing on doing something creative every day, in any aspect of my life. I'm trying to get back in touch with a part of myself that I have lost along the way, and recapture some of my artistic skills that I haven't used regularly since college. As I go along, I will also be trying ways in which to expand my interest in creativity into the educational field, as I am a newly minted teacher. Everything and anything will be fair game to be posted (and hopefully photographed), so who knows what will hit these pages. And having said that, let's get on with the show!