Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rescued - pt 1

This was one of the pieces that I managed to snag during "Winnipeg's Free Weekend". I still can't believe my luck!

I drove past it on my way to R's house, but didn't have time to stop. I figured that it would be gone by the time I returned from our Costco trip and much to my surprise, it was still there. The fact that I already had two chairs in my car didn’t stop me from trying to get the cabinet in there as well. After a few minutes, the lady who had put it out on the curb came out and offered to hold it for me. (I know…leave it to me to have trash put on hold…) Anyway, R and I returned in his truck a few hours later and it was mine!

The radio itself isn’t functional, so I’ve filled the space with a tiny collage that includes a piece of the original numbered glass. I kept the knobs, though, because they just look so darn cute. Other than that, it's pretty much in the condition that I found it in.

Yay me!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

oh, my.

Crafters, and maybe “green” crafters in particular, are always looking for things to DIY. Maybe some things are just better when they're NOT homemade…

That ain't no granny square she's knitting.

Warning! Before you click, I have to warn ya. It’s girls-only up in there!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Free Weekend Recap

The City of Winnipeg is calling the recent “Free Weekend” a complete success. I couldn’t agree more.(Ok, that’s not entirely true, but more about that later…)

First of all, I should say that I scored big time. Huge. I came out of the 2-day scavenging free-for-all with an antique radio cabinet, 2 lime green and black 50s kitchen chairs, 2 teal and chrome 50s kitchen chairs, a set of brand new cork-backed placemats, and a sweet vintage bread bin. Pictures to follow!

I didn't have much to give away, as I spent Saturday de-stashing craft supplies in a separate event. I did, however, manage to get rid of a big box o' plastic hangers that were left over from my closet makeover.

The thing that I found very weird about the Free Weekend was that despite the positive eco-message that it was supposed to send, it actually seemed to have the opposite effect. Sure we were recycling/reusing/repurposing…but neighbourhoods throughout the city were swarming with people in cars looking for freebies. On our way to the grocery store on Saturday morning, we drove down several streets that were literally clogged with numerous slow-moving and idling vehicles. And, it seemed that most people were out “trolling” neighbourhoods other than their own. (God forbid the guy next door should catch you scamming his old toaster!)

Our landfills may have seen a little bit of relief (for now), but at what expense?! Oh, people are funny.

Monday, September 21, 2009


You know those little stickers on your apples and bananas? The ones with the 4-digit code number? Yeah, those. If the sticker shows a 5-digit code starting with a "9", then what you've got there is organic, baby!

When it comes to the choice between organic/non-organic, it's really up to you. Everyone has their own reasons for choosing organic produce. The following list, however, is a collection of the top 10 "high-pesticide" foods. If there are only 10 items that you buy organic, buy these:

Bell peppers
Mexican cantaloupe
Green beans

Friday, September 18, 2009


You can tell how busy I am by how much love my blog gets (or, rather, how much love it doesn't get). This week has been a nutty one, but things are looking like they should be back to normal soon. I hope! With the mascot at home and our household running as smoothly as a...smoothly running thing. We’re still staying vigilant with our efforts to stay “green”, although some members of our household *ahem* have a bit of a problem with turning off lights and computers. Everything else is going well and I’m pretty happy with our progress. We’ve come a long way in such a short time.

The next big challenge that we are going to have to face is a financial one. Possible circumstances that are WAY beyond my control are going to force us to tighten our belts once again. The irony with all of this "clean living" is that it is crazy-expensive sometimes. We cut back where we can (reuse, reuse, reuse), but I find a huge part of our budget goes to "good" food and household products. I need someone to sit me down one day and tell me why a product with 3 ingredients costs more than a product with 87. And, why it's cheaper to put a chocolate bar or a bag of chips in your kid's lunch than it is to give him an organic apple. But, that's another post for another day. :sigh:

Trimming the power-bill is probably a good thing to focus on. I think that maybe a “lights out” challenge is in order. That way, we can kill two birds with one stone…but without actually killing anything or resorting to needless violence. We’ll save that for the video games (speaking of power-suckers)…

friday faves - organic maple flakes

Equinox Organic Maple Flakes are one of my favourite things in the pantry. They are Canadian, organic, and addictively delish. Just like me! ;-)

The maple flakes are made in Quebec from 100% pure, organic maple syrup. The freeze-drying process used to create them results in small, crunchy, sweet flakes that are fast dissolving, shelf-stable and do not harden in the bag. They are also surprisingly low-cal (about half that of sugar) and lower on the glycemic index than sugar and many other sweeteners.

I'm sure you could sprinkle them on all sorts of things (pancakes, waffles, french toast...), but I like them on oatmeal, ice cream, and as part of a dry-rub for salmon. I find myself reaching for them more and more; any time I need a touch of sweetness, but something with a bit more character than sugar. I've even got the maple flake grinder for when I want a finer product that dissolves instantly - perfect for fresh berries.

Check out the website for more info and recipes.

Friday, September 11, 2009

friday faves - st norbert farmer's market

This week’s Friday Fave is one of my “zen places” – the St Norbert Farmer’s Market in St Norbert, Manitoba. I try to go as often as I can, although sometimes it’s hard to get out there early-early on a Saturday morning. That said, I have never been disappointed by a visit and it's always worth the effort. If figure that since the farmers are good enough to get up early for me, I should return the favour for them!

Waiting for me at the market each week is an ever-changing variety of vegetables (including the radishes pictured), fruits, crafts and baking; as colourful as the people who flock to the market to buy them. The people watching is (almost) as good as the shopping!

I have my usual vendors, but my absolute favourite is my “green bean & corn lady”. I always stop at her stand first and load up on her amazing green beans and sweet, peaches ‘n’ cream corn. If I am lucky, though, she’ll have her “Fred” corn for sale. No word of a lie, it is the best corn in the whole, wide world. Last week, the Fred crop wasn’t ready to harvest, but I still managed to snag two “picked just for me” cobs. It pays to have connections!

Sadly, the season will soon be coming to an end. I have enjoyed watching the progression of the selection – from the first, tender greens of spring to the hard-skinned sturdy squashes and gourds of fall. Each week is a surprise and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store for me. Or, rather, in “market” for me.

(My fingers are crossed for more Fred.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

CSA farm tour - st francois xavier, manitoba

Oooh...this sounds like fun. Too bad it's on a Friday and I have to work. Wuh-wuh-waaaa.

Community Supported Agriculture: A Farm Tour
Blue Lagoon Florascape, St. Francois Xavier
Friday September 11, 2009
Start time 3:00 pm Supper and Networking: 5:00 pm

Come out and learn about the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model in organic vegetable production. Whether you want to grow and market food to your community or you want to support a local farmer through becoming a CSA member this tour will equip you with the knowledge of how to get started!

$25 OFCM-COG Members and Manitoba Farm Mentorship participants; $30 non-members. Includes dinner straight from the garden prepared by Chef Stefan Regnier.
Register online through PayPal or by phone:
Becky Elko, Mentorship Liaison: 204.414.3752

Thursday, September 3, 2009

is nothing sacred?

There has been a bit of buzz recently surrounding the Swiss water bottle manufacturer, SIGG, and their decision to change the epoxy lining in their bottles last summer. The "improvement" came with little (or no) fanfare, and it seems that there is a very good reason why.

For years, there have been rumours surrounding the lining in their aluminum* bottles. Consumer groups have suspected that the epoxy coating contained bisphenol-A , but were unable to prove it. Finally, in this letter from the CEO, SIGG has admitted that the lining did, in fact, contain the hormone-altering BPA.

Understandably, the public feels outrage and betrayal about the situation. SIGG bottles have been specifically marketed as an alternative to BPA-leaching plastic bottles. Consumers have been paying a premium for this product with the understanding that they were making a safer, healthier choice by choosing the higher-priced bottles over potentially dangerous plastics. It seems now, though, that the alternative was possibly just as bad. (While SIGG is admitting to the presence of BPA in the liners, they are maintaining that the liners did not leach BPA. Hmm.)

This is by no means a simple issue; SIGG is going to have an uphill battle on their hands as they try to recover from this PR nightmare. In the meantime, though, current owners of the “old” SIGG bottles can (apparently) swap them out for the new-style, BPA-free bottles.The first step is identifying which you have. If your bottle was purchased before August 2008, then it is definitely an old one. After that date, there is a still a chance a chance that your bottle has the BPA-containing liner. (Items can remain in warehouses and on store shelves for months.) The best way to check which version you have is to peek inside. The new “safe” liners are a dull beige; the old-style liner is “brassy” in appearance. If you determine that you, in fact, have a pre-Aug ’08 bottle, you should contact your local retailer for details on swapping it out for a new one.

*aluminum bottles must be lined to prevent contact between the metal and the liquid; stainless steel bottles do not require a liner. I am not advocating one over the other, but I will say that my own bottle is stainless steel. ;-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

winnipeg giveaway weekend

Great news for (ahem) upcyclers in Winnipeg! They have just announced a city-wide “throw your stuff out on the curb and let people pick through it day”. (It actually has a better name than that, but you get the picture.) The basic is idea is simple; everyone takes usable items that they no longer need and puts them out in front of their houses for other people to take. It’s like a garage sale, except no money changes hands. The only two main caveats are that the items have to be in usable condition, and you have to mark them “free”. I think the last point is especially important because I can see people getting excited and just helping themselves to anything that is not (firmly) tied-down.

The 2-day “event” takes place September 26th and 27th throughout the city. For more information, tips and “etiquette”, visit Givaway Weekend , or call 311 for more information.

On a related note…look what I found in my back lane yesterday! I don’t know the age or the type of wood, but isn’t it fabulous? I am planning to finish stripping it, paint it pale green (distressed, of course), throw some fabric behind the chicken-wire doors, add new knobs, and put it to use in my kitchen. I think the drawers will be perfect for serviettes, parchment paper, twine, etc…and there’s plenty of room for my Kitchenaid mixer and wine rack on top. Hooray for free stuff!