Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the tastes of summer

last thursday i checked out a new farmers' market in the neighbourhood. it wasn't as good as my favourite one (which i sadly still haven't made it to yet) but it was still nicer than the grocery store aisle. check out all those pretty colours!


and tonight's dinner i'm dubbing "adventures in sushi". i guess that makes it sound like it was a little dodgey but it actually all turned out really well. i've made maki rolls before but this was my first time making inari sushi. it certainly won't be my last...so easy with those little pre-made wrappers! we stuffed ours with rice, avocado, and carrots. mmmm...so good!! here's a blurry picture...we were too hungry to take a perfect one...sorry! (for non-sushi eaters, that's wasabi in the dish in the middle of the plate. we mixed it in some temari sauce for dipping).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

catching up on books i've read

it's been awhile since i mentioned the books i've been reading. summer is an especially good time to get into a good book so i thought this little list of the last 3 books i've finished might help someone choose a new one to delve into.

way back in april i finished up "a spot of bother" by mark haddon.

even though i had a hard time getting into this book, i did enjoy it in the end. it's quite different from haddon's other book "the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime" which i thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. a spot of bother is about a neurotic man and his dysfunctional family. all in all, i enjoyed it and would recommend it.
my rating: 7/10

my next read was very different..."the secret life of bees" by sue monk kidd.

my goodness...i can't say enough about this story! i absolutely LOVED this book. straight from the beginning i was instantly hooked. i haven't felt that pull since i read "lullabies for little criminals" last summer. googling around to find the image of the book cover, i found out that there's going to be a movie version of this book coming out in october 2008 and paul tells me it's coming to tiff in september. i can't wait!!
my rating: 8.5/10

and the book i finished up at the end of june was "love is a mix tape" by rob sheffield.
i think paul liked this book a little better than i did. this book told the true story of how sheffield met and fell in love with his wife and then dealt with losing her. i don't want to say much more for fear of giving too much of the story away. however, this story surprisingly didn't draw me in the way i expected it would. overall, meh.
my rating: 5/10

right now i'm reading "black swan green" by david mitchell and even though i'm only on page 62, i'm quite enjoying it. i've recently come to the realization that my favourite kind of book is a work of fiction where the main character is a child or teen. such is the case with "black swan green". not sure if being a teacher has something to do with why these stories speak to me or not.

anyhow, i'll be back for quick review of "black swan green" once i've finished. fair warning though...i'm a terribly sloooowwww reader.

our date with david sedaris

on thursday night, carla and i went to see david sedaris at the indigo at bay and bloor. he was making an appearance there to promote his new book. carla and i got there at just the right time (an hour before it started) because we ended up with a pretty good spot where we could see him quite clearly. we're pretty sure the guy who introduced him said that there were 800 people there!
david sedaris is reading

he read a story from "when you are engulfed in flames" plus a bit from a new book he's working on. then he read a bunch of really funny entries from his diary. the last part was left for q & a, which i really enjoyed because he ended up telling a few stories to answer each question. so instead of a short 1-minute answer, i swear each answer ended up being almost 10 minutes long and thoroughly entertaining!

he's so naturally funny and witty, carla and i left feeling like we just really wanted to spend an evening at the movies, maybe dinner too, with david and his boyfriend hugh.

ps. if you want to hear a great interview with david sedaris from the same day, you can go here and right-click on the podcast for thursday, july 10th. his interview begins about 1/3 of the way through (after william h. macy).

Thursday, July 10, 2008


yesterday paul and i went on a day trip to stouffville, just outside of toronto. it was such a nice day! we started by going into the town of stouffville and wandering around the downtown area. we went into the latcham gallery and a great little thrift store where i finally found something i've been searching for forever (the glass jug top left). then we headed to applewood farm where we did some strawberry picking.

there were a few goats and sheep at the farm and i was so excited to be able to pet one and feed it some dandilion leaves. i wanted to stay there all day and hang out with the animals.

we ended the trip with lunch at a new-to-us restaurant called the graceful vegetarian which is located right behind the pacific mall. we had vegetarian dim sum and i loved every bit of it! my favourite was the (vegetarian) bbq pork steamed bun. mmmm...doughy goodness. (sorry, i was too hungry and impatient to take pics)

i did some gardening when we got home and then made a yummy (and super easy) dinner of faux tuna sandwiches with salad (using lettuce from our garden).

this is the tuna we buy at king's cafe in kensington market.

if you look in the bottom right hand corner it says "borax free". that worries me that the other kind we sometimes buy might be loaded with borax. who knew that was the secret ingredient to mock meat???? ;)

and for dessert....strawberries and whipped cream of course!

Monday, July 07, 2008

i had an itch to go thrifting on friday...it had been a few months since i'd gone and for some strange reason when i get an itch to go, i usually end up finding some good treasures. friday did not disappoint!

- 3 cute new scarves... one is even yves st. laurent and another is by vera with a sweet little print of carrots and peas. woot!
- a pretty luxurious rust coloured cable-knit scarf/shawl...holt renfrew brand. double woot!
- black skirt
- 2 issues of the sadly defunct "blueprint" magazine which i was too cheap to let myself buy when it was still around
- a white porceline dish for displaying my jewellery at shows (3 compartments, maybe for brooches and hairpins?)
- 2 retro oblong melmac-type dishes
- skinny belt
- a small wooden dish for storing my jewellery when i'm not wearing it
- and a happy apple!

here's a closer look:

Friday, July 04, 2008

peek inside my makeup bag

after reading about some of the toxic chemicals in cosmetics about a year ago, i've been trying to make some safer choices with the beauty products i buy. since i'm on a pretty strict budget, i didn't immediately throw away all of my "toxic" stuff...just started slowly replacing them with better choices once they were used up. since i've been doing this for about a year now, i realized that most of my daily products have been replaced. thought you might want to take a peek at what i'm using these days and maybe it will give you a starting point to make some safer choices for yourself.


maybelline waterproof liquid eyeliner: not exactly "safe" but i refuse to give up my black eyeliner. this one isn't the worst of the bunch so i'm ok with it.

the body shop lip & cheek stain: i only use it on my cheeks and it's my "stranded on a desert island" product.

the body shop concealer pencil: a bit "dry" for using under the eyes. i'll probably replace it with a creamier product once it's gone

weleda everon lip balm: smells amazing!

the body shop loose powder: i had a hard time finding safer compact powder so i went with this. it's ok but i still prefer pressed powder.

the body shop aloe calming facial cleanser: i love this! i was a dedicated "cetaphil" user for about 10 years and it broke my heart to have to switch but for me, this is just as good.

the body shop aloe soothing day cream: love this too! paul even uses it. i even use it under my eyes without any problem. really gentle.

badger sunscreen, spf 30: this is a new addition within the past 3 weeks. the sun protection is great but it leaves the skin with a noticeable white cast. after it warms up a bit on the skin i can usually rub it in better so it doesn't show.

giovanni 50:50 balanced hair remoisturizer: good stuff

giovanni 50:50 balanced shampoo: takes awhile to get used to the fact that it doesn't foam up but that's because it doesn't have sodium lauryl sufate (not a great ingredient). it works well though.

kiss my face olive oil soap: we use it as a regular body soap in the shower. it costs next to nothing ($3) but literally lasts one whole month! it's like magic!

- still need to replace my deoderant with a better choice once it runs out.
i'm certainly no expert in the area of cosmetics and toxic ingredients but here's a few tips i follow almost religiously now.

1. i've learned you can't just assume if a company has a few safer products everything in their line will be too. for example, you see above that i use some body shop products but unfortunately most of their line is pretty toxic according to the cosmetics database.

2. just because you can buy it in a health food store doesn't mean it's "safe". likewise, just because it's expensive as hell doesn't mean it's safe either. try researching those expensive department store brands or lines carried by sephora. it's kinda scary.

3. i avoid anything that has "fragrance" as one of the ingredients. unless the ingredients list essential oils , chances are the product has synthetic fragrance and that includes pthalates which are potentially unsafe. unfortunately you'll never see pthalates listed in the ingredients because it's considered a company's "trade secret" and they don't need to give that info up. evil!
* and i should mention a couple of things in case anyone is wondering: one...i am definitely not getting paid to endorse any of these products (i should be so lucky!) nor do any of my friends/family members or i work for any of these companies. two....i've found all of these products using the incredibly useful cosmetics database resource (a non-profit organization called the environmental working group runs the website).