Monthly Archives: October 2012

Blessed Samhain – from Fairy Berry and us

Before anything else, I just wanted to wish you all a blessed Samhain.  Hold close the ones you love, and remember well those who have already passed from this world.  As the world enters the dark half of the year, gather close to share stories and memories, and soon we’ll return to the light.  Brightest blessings, may your lives be filled with warmth, caring, and many wonderful new memories to share in the future.

Now…  I want you to say hello to Fairy Berry.  The girl was just thrilled when I finally let her see the ponysona costume I’d created for her.  As I helped her into each piece, she’d run to the bathroom to see how it looked:  and with pants, sweater, two wigs, and ears, that was several trips to check out her reflection.  So she was quite happy to show it off while I snapped a few pictures before she headed to school this afternoon.  It’s totally adorable on her, and the wings worked just as I’d hoped:  they actually flap as she walks, skips, and hops along.  😀

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – DIY

We roast pumpkin seeds every year.  Along with carving the jack-o-lanterns, it’s part of our rituals on the eve of Samhain (or Halloween, if you prefer).  As we were boiling our seeds, a few questions started coming in on FB – where I’d been sharing videos.  So I figured a blog post was in order.  Which brings us up to date.  😉

Home made, roasted pumpkin seeds are my very favourite Halloween treat.  Candies, chips, chocolates may be nice…  but nothing beats the yummy crunch of pumpkin seeds done right.  And to be honest?  I find the process of harvesting the seeds, washing, boiling, drying, and roasting them to be very zen.  I just enjoy the whole thing, which only adds to their natural goodness.

Tonight we’ll cover the basics, and by the end you’ll be on your way to developing your own way of seasoning and enjoying home roasted pumpkin seeds.

We were rather grateful that Damon had purchased two great big pumpkins this year, as we discovered our first one was partially rotten inside – which meant we wouldn’t be harvesting anything from it.  It still made a good jack-o-lantern, but I wouldn’t have trusted anything to be edible.  Thankfully our second pumpkin had such a wealth of seeds that we’ll have as many from one pumpkin as we often get from two!

So, the obvious steps to this process:

  • harvest your seeds
  • wash your seeds

freshly harvested and washed pumpkin seeds

Now, this next step is the one that seemed to generate all the questions:

  • boil your seeds

Yes.  I boil my seeds.  I didn’t always though, and I had the same problems many people report when doing their own home roasting.  The seeds were tough, and inconsistent.  I started boiling them six or seven years ago now, and it makes a world of difference.  My pumpkin seeds are crispier, lighter, and more flavourful.  It’s definitely worth the extra step.

I use a medium sized sauce pan, and add a couple of inches of water.  Roughly enough to cover your seeds and allow for an extra inch or inch and a half of water.  Bring it to a boil and add your seeds.

This is also when I add my seasonings or spices.

We try something different almost every year.  It’s fun to experiment with different spices or seasonings.  This year we kept it pretty simple and went with a tablespoon of garlic powder a teaspoon of salt.  Seasoning salt works nice, and things like dill pickle popcorn seasonings are even pretty good.  Try taco blends too.  There are lots of options – I’ve yet to find a dud.  LOL

Click the links below to watch the progression of our seeds as they boil:

All told, they boiled for about 25 minutes.  You’ll notice the colour change, then keep boiling until most of the liquid is gone (the steam clouded the iPhone lens):

seasoned and boiled - pumpkin seeds

At this point you have two choices.  You can pop them directly in the oven (on a buttered, oiled, sprayed cookie sheet or on parchment paper)…  or you can dry them first.  If I know I’ll have time to babysit them I’ll often pop them in the oven.  Kid kid has a hard time having the patience needed to dry them out any other way.  So at 350 degrees it will be between an hour and an hour and a half – and do watch them carefully because cooking time varies.

We didn’t get started on the process until the evening (we usually start on them in the afternoon), so it means I get to do them up the leisurely way – which I prefer.  I spread them out on a sheet to dry, and then put the girl to bed.  Which is where we are now:

the boiled pumpkin seeds, spread on a cookie sheet to dry overnight

Tomorrow morning, when they’re nice and dry, I’ll pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes.  The house already smells yummy from having them boil, but tomorrow will smell even better as they roast.  I’ll pull them out to cool for a wee bit, and we’ll have my favourite treat.  Some we’ll bag up in a ziplock to keep in my bag as a treat for when we’re out and about and happen to feel snacky.  But most of them will get eaten before they have a chance to be bagged…  though…  I will stash away a small handful or two, just for me.  LOL

So that’s it!  That’s how you make the very best homemade roasted pumpkin seeds – from scratch.  Follow the steps I’ve outlined here, and they’ll be perfect, every time!

Joyous Samhain and Happy Halloween!

A few photos, and a brief update.

I’m exhausted.

Seems I start blog posts like that more and more often.  It’s true though.  Halloween is exhausting normally, with all the parties, sewing, crafting, pumpkins, treats, etc.  But add in caring for puppies and trying to get ready for the big move?  Yeah.  I’m exhausted – and being sick all weekend didn’t help.  And yes, I just plowed on through…  too much stuff to do, too many events to take it.  It’s Halloween, remember?  😉

Yesterday we gave the pups a new bed.  Their first “big dog” bed.  It’s still in the nursery, but we took out the Nature’s Miracle litter box that serves as a newborn bed (and containment), and brought in the doughnut bed.  It’s all cute, and pink, and silky soft.  And the boys love having free reign of the entire nursery now.  Mom likes having a nice comfy spot too.  So it’s a win all around.

Today I spent the afternoon working on the girl’s Halloween costume.  Yes, yes, yes…  I know she was Merida…  but that was her Halloween PARTY costume.  On Halloween itself she’ll be dressing up as Fairy Berry – her My Little Pony persona.  For those who don’t live in Saskatchewan, YES.  One costume for indoor parties, and a different one for trick or treating is necessary.  It’s darn cold out there at night with the snow.  Soooo….  LOL  I found these cute little iron on strawberry patches, which ended up saving me some time.  Instead of having to create both the Fairy Berry plant AND the strawberries that grow on it, I only had to create the plant and just iron on the berries.  MUCH easier.  Then it was just a matter of creating wings, sewing them on, upcycling a wig into a tail, and BOOM.  Fairy Berry costume.  Well…  I bought her some pony ears too.  Can’t very well be a MLP without the ears.  So tomorrow it’s pumpkin carving in the morning, ballet in the evening, one more sleep, and it’s the big day.  YAY!

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Oh!  And tonight was the Avenue Community Center’s first Family Mixer…  the Creepy Queer Halloween Family Fun Night.  We had a great time.  Got to see lots of familiar faces as well as many new ones too.  And the kid had a blast playing with the many children all close to her own age.  It really was wonderful.  I’m looking forward to many get togethers in the future.

My BRAVE Family!

For Denyse’s annual Halloween party we decided on a Disney Pixar Brave theme.  However, with our being in the middle of moving house I knew I wouldn’t have time to sew three costumes this year.  So we hit the great “interweb” to hunt down whatever we could find – to help lighten the crafting load.

After a couple of days it became apparent that we weren’t going to be able to find anything movie accurate – which was a bit of a drag, but that also gave us a bit of freedom as well.  So instead of being Merida, Queen Elinor, and King Fergus we are Merida-inspired, Queen Elinor-inspired, and King Fergus-inspired.  LMAO  That also meant I could buy a red tartan to make Damon’s costume at half the price a more authentic blue/green tartan would have been…  and when you’re buying four meters of something, that adds up pretty quickly.  Yay for thriftiness!

With Lily-Ann’s naturally curly red hair, she’s a total natural as Merida.  And she was only too proud to tell anyone who’d listen how she doesn’t need a prince to find her happily ever after.  Now, because kid kid’s curls are all really pretty soft spirals, I had to do some twisties in her hair overnight.  We left the bottom as is, but twisted up six bunches of varying thicknesses up on top.  I just twisted each section until it formed tight little twisty piles and then secured each with two bobby pins.  It gave her the fly-aways, and crazy tight spirals that Merida sports.

Lily-Ann as Merida, a perfect fit with her naturally red curly hair.

The toughest part of my costume was finding a wig.  Seriously, if you need a long brown wig for Halloween you are S.O.L.  I ended up settling for what you see here.  It was the best I could find – even after hitting two Halloween specialty stores and a costume shop in addition to several general stores.  Apparently they figure no-one wants brown hair for Halloween.

Merida and Queen Elinor, I love this photograph.

I have to admit, with ordering our dresses online I was expecting to have to make alterations once they arrived…  but I didn’t have to sew even one stitch on either.  Considering I’m a whopping five foot nothing?!?!?  I was amazed.  If I need a period dress again, I’ll definitely be heading to HolyClothing.com a second time.  The girl’s dress was less of a shocker, but still…  for straight out of the package, it fit pretty darn well.  🙂

So, that’s us this year.  We didn’t go on a photo safari… it was just too darn chilly out.  So these were taken in my parent’s back yard.  Thanks Auntie Risa!

And here’s one more, just a snapshot I grabbed of Lily-Ann at the party, being cute with a stuffed snake:

Oh, and yes…  the little stuffed blackbear is from the Disney store.  You can flip it inside out and it looks like one of the triplets (we call him Hamish) but the girl wanted him to stay a bear for our pictures.  🙂  My mom gave him to Lily-Ann on her birthday.

Saying Goodbye to The Wiggles!

Tonight, The Wiggles hit Saskatoon on their way across Canada and North America on their farewell tour.  Thankfully my parents nabbed two tickets for the show, so Lily-Ann and my Mom got to see one of the last performances of Jeff, Murray, and Greg (Anthony, the blue Wiggle, will be continuing on along with the new cast including the first female member of the gang).  This was their second Wiggles concert as they also went to see them during their Birthday Celebration tour a year or two ago.

The girl is sad that so many of the Wiggles are moving on, but I explained how nice it will be for them to be able to spend more time with their families, and she did think that was a good thing.  She also liked the idea that her new baby cousin Leandro will get to grow up with a whole new crew to sing along with.  So we talked a little about how we can be sad about something, but also happy about it too… all at the same time.

At Pop Pop and Grams’ house with her bone for Wags, her rose for Dorothy, and her cash. All set for The Wiggles farewell show!

My favourite story from the night though, had to be from after the show.  Lily-Ann didn’t have an opportunity to give the bone she made to Wags, or the rose (a silk one, from our wedding) she brought to Dorothy during the show.  My Mom had noticed that some of the kids had just put their items up on the edge of the stage as they left.  So the two of them made their way up to the front.

The melt-bead bone her Daddy and I helped her make for Wags the Dog.

Now…  Lily-Ann is one fast kid.  All kids are fast, but she’s even faster than most.  Super smart, and agile to boot, she has a way of getting through spaces and human traffic that others couldn’t even imagine.  So it’s no surprise she beat Grams to the stage.  However, my Mom hadn’t anticipated what the girl did next.

Lily-Ann didn’t set her gifts on the edge of the stage where the other kid’s items were left.  Oh no.  She climbed onto the stage herself, wiggled under a velvet rope, up onto another level of the stage, and snuck back behind the curtain…  and just like that, she was back stage.  She got to see all the props and sets and actors and dancers, and stage hands, and then the stage manager noticed this fiery little redhead bobbing around in awe and excitement.

Apparently he was very sweet with her.  He told her that Wags and Dorothy were sleeping, but that he would be happy to bring her rose and hand-crafted bone to them.  And that was good enough for the girl.  🙂

So in addition to an amazing show, and a couple very cool momentos, she has a very unique memory of getting a real behind the scenes look at a show that few get to see.

Thank you, for TWO DECADES of dedication and enthusiasm you’ve given to so many children! Music is an amazing gift to give, and you’ve done just that. Good luck in the future, and thanks again!

Family Photography at Dusk

Dusk is a time of day often neglected by photographers.  The poor light tends to cause folk of our ilk to shy away in favour of brighter times, especially considering dusk is shortly after the “golden hour” with it’s beautiful warming rays.  However, dusk can be a lovely time to shoot.

The low light of dusk creates images reminiscent of yesteryear, with it’s last filtered rays of sunshine…  It is exceptionally moody, creating romance and intrigue.  Especially during the late Autumn or early Winter when rosy cheeks and noses only add to the feeling of crispness.  Here are a few photos from a recent shoot to inspire you to get out there and create during this mostly ignored time of day:

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My thanks to the St. Onge family for braving the chilly air in search of these shots.  It was a pleasure working with you!

5 Girls & 7 Boys – Gender and Sex in a Kindergarten Class

On Thursday my attention was drawn to a new part of the daily routine for the girl’s kindergarten class.  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something to have it changed.  Today was my first chance.

A simply drawn boy wearing a baseball cap, and holding a bat and ball, coloured blue with the word BOY.  His counterpart in pink with a pretty dress and holding a flower with the word GIRL sits beside him.  Both on the bulletin board next to the calendar, a counting chart, and other simple items used to subtly teach the kindergarten class basic numerical skills.

boy and girl clipart

The teacher touches the head of each student she deems as “boy”, counting as she goes.  “Seven boys.”  The number gets written on the wipe off board under the picture representing “boy”.  She then touches the head of each remaining child, counting.  “Five girls.”  That number gets written on the board too.  An addition sign gets added between them, and everyone counts on their fingers.  “Twelve kids.  Seven boys and five girls makes twelve kids.”

Now, my ideal kindergarten is gender neutral.  At this age there really is no reason at all to discuss “boy” or “girl”, what each means, and how we each fit into societies gender binary – at least not at school.  At the very least, if it can’t be a neutral space, it should be a equal space.  And these disgustingly stereotypical figures are far from that.  If we must count girls and boys, we need to ask the children “Who identifies as a boy?”  Then count the raised hands, marking the result under the word (no picture) BOY.  “Who feels like a girl?”  Then count those raised hands, marking those results under the word GIRL.  But I think we can do better.  Why reinforce a false binary by bring gender into question at all?  After all, there are more than two sexes, more than two genders (and the terms boy and girl can refer to either gender or sex, which just further muddies the water).

Why not ask “Who likes baseball?” and “Who likes football?” and add those two numbers.  Switch it up, and the next day ask “Who likes veggies?” and “Who likes fruit?”.  Every day of the week could be a different pairing of questions.  After all, we don’t need to come up with the same answer every day.  Some kids may vote yes to both, some may not raise their hand at all.  This way we practice our early math skills, learn something interesting about our friends, AND we don’t reinforce any false notions about gender or sex – which have no place in a kindergarten class to begin with.

I spoke to kid kid’s teacher about my concerns today, and I’ll be honest.  I’m not sure she understood my concerns at all.  She thanked me for bringing them to her attention – but it was very much a canned response…  what one could expect from someone who has never really given much thought to their own gender or sexual identity, someone with CIS privilege, who has lived in a very small, heteronormative box, their entire life.  While I don’t hold this against her, it does mean it may be time for a little educating.  Issues of gender and sexual identity are vitally important to the health and safety of our young people (and the adults they will become), and even something as simple as being told they are BOY…  simply drawn with a baseball cap, bat and ball, coloured blue…  can hurt, when that child knows -inside- it’s not right.

Brief puppy update

I’m down and out with a bad cold, so this post will be brief. I just ranted to give a quick puppy update. 🙂

Tony is now walking. Bruce is definitely a long coat. Rogers has is a sable (just like his two half sisters). Thor? Well, he’s just his same old squishy adorable self.

Night all!

Wear Purple, Be Fierce!

 

Wear Purple, Be Fierce - Spirit Day in memory of those who have lost their lives because of homophobic bullying.  Wear purple, send a message of hope.

Boot Camp Begins!

Boot camp.  It’s a concept we’re likely all familiar with…  but what do you think of when you hear it?  Probably the army or even fitness nuts, neither of which you’d find me anywhere near.  But Shauntelle’s sleaze-free self-promotion boot camps for creative types?  Yep.  That’s right up my alley.

Okay, so the timing could be better.  Between puppies, moving house, Halloween costumes, and my photography, I’ve got a lot on my plate.  As an involved parent I’ve always got a lot on the go.  It’s just (as my 18 year old sister would say) how I roll.  After all, when it comes to putting ourselves first, let’s admit it, there’ll always be reasons why we don’t have time.  So, I figure, it’s high time I MAKE time.

My photography is my work, my “day job”, and I’m very lucky that my business is something I’m so passionate about.  There are a lot of things I do (as you are all well aware), but I really do need to get better at this whole self-promotion thing.  Let’s face it.  It’s not fun.  And while I’m totally awesome – I really am.  LOL  I really am a fabulous photographer…  my work is unique, the experience I give my clients is superb, and I have a vision that is unparallelled in the market today.  I know it, and people who have worked with me know it, but I need to get over the sleazy feeling involved with self-promoting if others are going to realize it too.  That’s where Shauntelle’s boot camp comes in.

I need to learn how to better promote my work and my professional identity.  Her boot camp is designed to help me do just that.  To get over that near-prostitution feel of writing an “all about me” blurb, to know where to put my efforts, and how to get the most out of said efforts.  It’s not easy making your way through life as a professional creative – of any type.  What we really are selling is ourselves, and that doesn’t always feel great.  Seriously, if I could take the promotional end out of the photography, I’d be a happy camper.  But I can’t.  You can’t run a business without promoting it.  So that’s what led me up to today.

Wish me luck.  My first assignment is part way done, and due tomorrow afternoon.  Here’s to feeling sleaze-free while learning to promote myself and my photography!

 

 

Check out Shauntelle’s “Sleaze-Free” boot camps at:  http://sleazefreepromotions.com/you-me-4-weeks-action/

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