Thursday, December 27, 2007

"joncher"= strew, scatter across
i just read this new word in a saddening context. it was referring to bodies being scatter across the street in a bombing in Pakistan. "Des corps jonchaient le sol après l'attentat de jeudi."
This bombing killed Ex-President Benizir Bhutto, as well as 20 bystanders this morning. I am disturbed to read of death and bodies of the dead being described in such a casual way, as if they were no more than clothing scattered across a room. in the reporting there is too often disregard for the sacredness of an individual's life and death.

when will the suicide-bombings stop? when will we have world leaders that are come to power through merit rather than corruption? when will citizen's voices be heard in ways other than through violence?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

in canada, today is boxing day. in french "le lendemain de Noël" (lan-de-ment).
no, it doesn't refer to the sport. here's an explanation of the origins of boxing day for you american folks, according to wikipedia :

Boxing Day is a traditional celebration, dating back to the Middle Ages, and consists of the practice of giving out gifts to employees, the poor, or to people in a lower social class. The name has numerous folk etymologies[3]; the Oxford English Dictionary attributes it to the Christmas box; the verb box meaning: "To give a Christmas-box (colloq.); whence boxing-day." Outside the Commonwealth, the day is celebrated with a different name.

Folk etymologies- The more common stories include:
- It was the day when people would give a present or Christmas box to those who had worked for them throughout the year.
In feudal times, Christmas was a reason for a gathering of extended families. All the serfs would gather their families in the manor of their lord, which made it easier for the lord of the estate to hand out annual stipends to the serfs. After all the Christmas parties on 26 December, the lord of the estate would give practical goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each family would get a box full of such goods the day after Christmas. Under this explanation, there was nothing voluntary about this transaction; the lord of the manor was obliged to supply these goods. Because of the boxes being given out, the day was called Boxing Day.
- In England many years ago, it was common practice for the servants to carry boxes to their employers when they arrived for their day's work on the day after Christmas. Their employers would then put coins in the boxes as special end-of-year gifts. This can be compared with the modern day concept of Christmas bonuses. The servants carried boxes for the coins, hence the name Boxing Day.
- In churches, it was traditional to open the church's donation box on Christmas Day, and the money in the donation box was to be distributed to the poorer or lower class citizens on the next day. In this case, the "box" in "Boxing Day" comes from that lockbox in which the donations were left.

Unfortunately, capitalism has managed to ruin any charitable implications Boxing day once may have had. Now it's a huge, crazy shopping day. Everything that didn't get sold before christmas goes on sale, and consumers go nuts. as if we really need more stuff after all the things we've got for christmas! again, according to wiki, " In Canada, Boxing Day 2005 was the single largest economic transaction day ever in the history of Canadian commerce (according to Visa). Individual big box stores can even gross over CAD$1,000,000 on one single Boxing Day."
And despite being a statutory holiday, since i'm a retail slave, i'm heading off to work. on the bright side, at least the christmas music won't be playing anymore!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Its weird to think back, it doesn’t seem so long ago yet it does, when I was still living at home. When we were all together.
We’d go to church Christmas eve, sing, light the candles during silent night and the church would be all aglow, and feel warm and safe and perfect. We’d go home, make fondue, this is of course was in the years before I stopped eating half the food groups. Mum would read a book with beautiful watercolour illustrations and a happy message. I’d have lit the candles, the tree was decorated with out favourite ornaments. The ones we'd made in preschool. The orange one, ben made, shaped like a ginger bread man, made of baked play dough and the head is a round picture of his head, so cute young smiley. The white half foam snowball with my picture in the centre, with a horrible boy bull haircut and a gappy smile, sequins around the edges and a green pipe cleaner to attach it to the tree.
Christmas morning, I could yell at ben to wake him up and he wouldn't even be grouchy. We’d open the stockings and the presents and eat pastries from rachel’s and drink hot cocoa. We’d load up the car. Usually me last one to get with all my projects for the day together- my knitting, beading, books. At 125 hollywood, the fire would be crackling already when we arrived. Gram and gramps would have a prickly little tree up with doily starched white ornaments and coloured lights. we’d eat and eat and eat- that beautiful cherry round bread from aunt marilyn. and hard cheddar and crackers and nuts and toffees and norie and I would eat a whole box of mandarin oranges just by ourselves. We’d open more presents, we’d play scrabble, do puzzles, call cousin joe. remember how he’d send us those crazy gifts like fake fingernails and farting machines and worms that pop out of tubes? In the afternoon we’d be so warm and full and sleepy in the sun of the huge windows. So happy, so satisfied.
In that moment, I guess I never dreamed that it would or could be any other way. It’s so different now, its not worse, its not that we’re not doing good things, not that we’re not a family anymore. But I do miss it. I miss our family all living on the same continent, in one house. I miss being in goshen.
I'm learning that i can miss all this without wanting anything to be different from how it is, right now.
merry christmas, dear family and friends. my love to you all.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve: Réveillon de Noël or La Veille de Noel

we just got back from christmas eve mass at the Notre-Dame Basilica. the church is beautiful and the choir was nice, but i missed 8th street mennonite style. warm, loving, community, candles during silent night...

anyways, merry christmas eve. love.

Friday, December 21, 2007

jeesh, i already missed a word of the day. so, i'll make today's a whole phrase:
j'ai la flemme= i'm a blue/nostalgic

this doesn't, however, reflect my current state of mind. my mum's here, and we've had a fun day exploring around the plateau and up to jean-talon market. one of the best parts of the day was coming out of the cold and chowing at Aux Vivres, vegan restaurant. Check out this mouth watering Portabello mushroom sandwich with sprouts, tomato, home made vegan mayo, pickles, lettuce; plus baked potato wedges (with homemade ketchup) and an amazing salad of grated carrots, beets, radish, lettuce, spouts and homemade dill dressing. mmm mmmmmm

here's another pic i took of paper hanging in a beautiful Japanese paper shop.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

fond (noun m), pronounced "fon"
= bottom, base, background
- dans le fond= in effect
- au fond= deep down, inside, at heart
- à fond= all-out, as all get-out
- respirer à fond= breath deeply

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

i'm starting to get excited for christmas. today we had a party for Maison de l'Amitie staff and volunteers at Casa Corfu Buffet, and everyone was wishing each other "joyeux fetes," and it made me realize that it's coming pretty soon. the Buffet was nice, it was good to talk with and get to know more the people that i've seen around or only worked with a bit. as for the buffet thing though, i'm really not a fan. you get into this mentality that you have to just keep eating and eating, even when the food isn't that great. but thankfully, since there weren't that many tasty vegetarian options, ate a lot of veggies, which doesn't do too much damage, right?
what i'm really most exited for in christmas' coming, is some of my family coming! thursday, (only 2 days!!) mum flies in. she'll be here over christmas. then a couple days after christmas dad drives up to stay for a couple of days. i'm sad that i don't get to see more of my family brother b., gram c., p. m. j. n., and j. and a. but at least we have phones and at least i won't be alone here for christmas. i'll also miss seeing 8th st. family, but at least i'll be skiing with some of my most favorite representatives in a few short months!
drum roll please...!!! i'm launching a new feature to my blog. in addition to my sporadic posts, each day i'm going to feature a french word i learned. i'm mostly doing this because i hear new words all the time, but since most of my french practice here is oral, i never learn how to spell them. so by posting them, i'll have to learn how to spell them correctly, and be more likely to remember them as well. yeh! aren'y all you dear anglophones out there are excited to improve your vocabulaire with some random french words? hope so!

thanks to the weather, i learned this word today:

pelle (nf)- shovel
pelleter (v)- to shovel

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Adventures with Angie!
My fabulous friend angie came for a visit Tuesday- Saturday . Here's a run down of our activities:

Tuesday night after Angie arrived and we dropped her stuff at my place, we headed around the corner to Else's pub for hard apple cider and lots of catching up on one another's lives.

Wednes. morning we caught the bus up and around the mountain over to Cote-de-Neiges where we visited the Oratoire St. Joseph and their funky exhibit on 250 Christmas crèshes from around the world. The funniest thing at the Oratoire were these little cards they were giving out- on one side there is a photo of the founder Brother Mareau, on the back is a hole under which there is a small piece of blue fabric, below the fabric is text that states "cloth which has touched the bones of Fr Moreau, Founder." I don't know much about catholicism, so any explanation of why little pieces of fabric that have touched bones are meaningful, and not completely creepy would be appreciated!
Wednesday afternoon we headed to Frip-Prix. The name of this store is a play on words of the french term from used clothing store, Friperie. We had overwhelming success! Each of us got at least 5 great items, including some almost new shirts, and a fabulously ugly bright green sweater.

Wednesday evening we went to Jean-Talon market, which is much smaller now and in a building with removable walls. We picked up some brussel sprouts and when we got home we roasted them with garlic, olive oil and oregano. Paired with some left over split pea soup and bread it make a comforting and delicious super.
Thursday afternoon we headed across town to Happy Tree Yoga Studio for a nice Hatha Flow class.
Thursday night we went out to eat at Du Pain de l'Inde . This restaurant is now in competition with Pushaps for my favorite Indian resto in montreal (and indian being my favorite cuisines, therefore my favorite restaurant in motnreal!). Pain de l'Inde (Bread of India) is a small and warm little restaurant. I was drawn to it in the first place because of the beautiful fabric hanging in the front windows. The menu is simple. Ang and I went with the Thali plates, which are a sampling of 3 dishes plus rice and a huge piece of naan bread. The owner is equally warm and friendly older indian man. he sat down near us to chat for a while and kept bringing us tea, and even gave us free dessert. We ended up staying in the restaurant for almost 3 hours, and not at all due to slow service. As we were leaving, the owner welcomed us to come back soon, promising to sit down a have a beer with us next time. Later Thursday night we walked over to Suite 88 Chocolatier . Suite 88 is in my neighborhood and i've passed it at least 20 times but never went inside until i heard it described on a website as "the Tiffany's of chocolate shops", yet still affordable. When you walk in, it feels like you're in a modern art exhibit of chocolate. The chocolates are arranged in zen-like formations on white plates under glass cabinets. And Oh! are they good. The sales lady gave us a delicious sample of a dark chocolate and honey truffle. We found a few gifts for friends including dark chocolate and cayanne bars, green tea and white chocolate truffles, and candied ginger covered in dark chocolate. I don't think i'll be able to pass Suite 88 without my mouth watering ever again.

Friday morning we slept in and then ventured around the plateau. We went to a local craft show on St-Joseph, and then headed over up to Fairmount. On Fairmount we went to my favorite bagel shop, cleverly named Fairmount Bagels. Its the first wood fired bagel shop in montreal. They've got a fabulous selection of bagels including spelt/buckwheat, rye, muesli, cinnamon raison, roasted garlic, blueberry, cumin, and of course their signature sesame.

Friday evening was the highlight of the week for both of us. We met up with some of my friends from work at went to Cabaret Mado . Mado deserves a blog entry all to herself, but to give you a quick idea. Mado Lamotte is the most famous drag queen in montreal, and probably all of canada. She has a club where she hosts a Cabaret Friday and Sat nights. At cabaret a number of queens perform dance numbers to different pop music. Mado hosts the whole thing telling jokes, stories and working the crowd. We had a great time, and were in awe of these women's costume and talent to dance in 5 inch heals. We got a table right in the front, and we even were the subject of one of Mado's jokes! so see Mado workin her magic, just look her up on you tube .

I'll conclude with my favorite photo from the week-

Thursday while walking around downtown we got the opportunity to take this pic. i'll leave an explanation up to your imaginations.

Thank you so much for coming to spend the week with my ang, i had a blast!!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Holiday Feast-ivities!

Last night we had a HUGE holiday feast. All afternoon that kitchen was full of music, cookie and pie baking, ham roasting, soup simmering, laughing and general merry-making. My roommates and I all invited a couple of friends, and everyone brought a dish to share- we ended up with quite the feast: Split Pea and Butternut Squash Soup, Chickpea Salad, Edamame bead and mandarin salad, roasted turnip and apples, maple glazed ham (for those carnivore types), broccoli salad, homemade buns, Moroccan oranges, maple glazed apple pecan pie, cranberry orange cookies, ginger bread cookies, chocolate clusters, milk candies, du vin rouge, and homemade eggnog!
It was a fabulous mix of friends, food, and lively banter.
After cleaning up a bit, we bundled up our full bellies and went "tobogganing" (with cookie trays and plastic sheets) on the mountain. It was a fabulous night.

Here recipes of what i made for the feast:
Split Pea and Butternut Squash Soup
- Olive Oil
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 1 + Tbsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tsp tumeric
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup split yellow peas, dried
- 4-5 cups water and vegetable bullion
- 1 medium butter nut squash, peeled and diced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Sour cream and chives (to garnish, and thus - optional)

Place a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, and cumin. Cook the onions until they start to caramelize.
Add the bay leaves, tumeric, water and peas. Lower the heat to a simmer (185 degrees F) and cook until the peas are soft, about 90 minutes give or take 15 minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and diced squash. Raise the heat until the soup comes to a light boil (210 - 212 degrees F) and cook for 20 minutes. At this point, remove the bay leaves and star anise. Puree the soup either through a wand or a blender. Return to heat and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.
Top with sour cream and chives and serve.
Serves 4-6
Cranberry Orange Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg until well blended. Mix in 1 teaspoon orange zest and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the orange mixture. Mix in cranberries and if using, walnuts, until evenly distributed. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cookies should be spaced at least 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons orange juice and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the tops of cooled cookies. Let stand until set.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Its weird that this is my first post about yoga since it is such a big part of my life. I took my first yoga class at the ymca when I was in grade 7. I loved it from the beginning, and continued to take classes when I could and try a few moves at home here at there through high school. Since starting university, I started taking classes ever semester both on campus and off, and really started to deepen my practice. By “deepen my practice” I mean that yoga started to affect my day to day life- the way that I carry myself, the way that I think about my body, my perspectives, my ways of dealing with stress, the way that I respond to others…
One book that helped me to start integrating this things in my life was Living Your Yoga: Finding the spiritual in everyday life. It’s a very interesting, thought provoking read that I recommend to yogis and non-yogis alike. You definitely don’t have to have done any yoga to take some really valuable ideas and tools from it. One thing that especially sunk in from the read was importance of living in the present. To me this means being fully immersed in the moment that you are in, giving it your full awareness and attention. When I’m doing yoga asanas (poses) the act of being present becomes most clear for me. When it’s a difficult pose, presence almost becomes effortless because I my thoughts are completely in my body, coordinating my movements, breath and energy. Presence is not something that I achieve for a duration of time. I get snippets of full engagement in the present between stretches of memories, planning, worrying, reminiscing, all of which are ways of living in the past or future. Through continuing my practice of yoga however, the snippets can become longer, and my focus steadier, my mind calmer.
Today I visited Heaven Yoga Studio in the west island of montreal because I’m looking into their teacher training program. I’ve been thinking of doing teacher training for about a year now. I don’t think I’ll become a full time yoga teacher anytime soon, but I would like to teach a class or 2 a week to share yoga with others as it has helped me develop so much.
I’m really excited about the training Heaven offers. It’s a fusion of Anusara , Ashtanga and Hatha Flow. I’ve studied all 3 types, and have appreciated elements of all three, and tend to mix them all when I am practicing on my own, so the style taught is perfect for me. The training includes history, philosophy, anatomy, teaching principles and methodology. Even after just one class, I feel confidant that karen , the studio director and teacher, is very well trained and a talented teacher. I’m planning to apply for the intensive teacher training in august 2008 and am really excited to be taking this step.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

mission accomplished. hot water and patience did the trick. i was even able to ride it home and it was kind of fun biking in the snow. makes me tempted to try winter biking eventually... too bad a don't have my semi-truck like Gt Palomer anymore, it handled really well in snow, could have been really good in montreal if i could have winterized it.

in other news, i'm still keeping busy even though i'm finished with my class-work is going well, although i'm not getting as many hours as would be ideal. have a meeting and planning for MIE this week and some work to do for MA language program.

i'm getting super excited for this weekend and next week. this weekend holiday house party- decorating our adorable 3 foot tree (which is making our living room so nice and piney) ((pictures up soon)). and, next week a good friend is coming to visit from waterloo! it will be tons of fun to show her around town.

my bikecapades

conditions have worsened for my bike retrieval. I was working all weekend and i wasn't able to get it. monday was going to be the day. BUT, sunday night "un tempet de neige" descended on montreal. covering us in 2 feet of snow.

still, after my final class at mcgill for the term (whoopie!) yesterday afternoon, i was ready and determined to retrieve my bike. I waded through the thigh deep snow with a thermos of hot water in hand to get to my locked bike. i pulled out my key, jammed it into the icy keyhole, and started pouring water over the shaft of the lock. it seemed to be working, but still the key wouldn't turn. in my impatience, i pulled the key back out, and noticed that as i had been jamming it in, i had bent the rather flimsy key a bit. without thinking i tried to bend it- AND IT SNAPPED! S*&^ D**^#@^^%$(*&**FFFF
I walked home defeated yet again. luckily, my lock came with two keys, so its not as bad as it could be. but i think i'm going to try to get the 2nd copied before i go breaking it. today i'm going to go try a third time (hopefully the charm). i'm going to try to warm the lock more slowly, and not jam the key in. the worst part is that if i ever do succeed in unlocking my f-ing bike i'm going to have to trudge with it about 2k back to my apartment, and then carry it up 3 flights of stairs. pauvre pauvre moi.

Friday, November 30, 2007

i haven't brought my bike in for the winter yet. optimistically, i was hoping that there might be one last warm spell before winter really set it. actually, mostly its just i've been too lazy to carry it up the 3 flights of stairs to the storage room. so, this afternoon i i was running a bit late for class, and it was sunny, so i figured, why not use my bike one last time before december?
well as a descended from the plateau towards the mcgill getto, the sky started looking less sunny and the wind was ripping at my ears. i peddled as fast as a could, wishing i was walking and generating more heat rather than losing it. anyways, i made it to class on time.
however, when i got out of class an hour an later there was about a half inch of snow on the ground. and when i went to unlock my bike, my sturdy U-lock was frozen solid, i could hardly get the key in. to make a long story short, i walked home, and my bike is still sitting on campus.
any suggestions of how to unfreeze a u-lock would be ever so appreciated.

bon weekend!

Friday, November 23, 2007

its been a busy last couple of weeks- starting the new job, keeping up with the other job, finishing up last papers for the school term, and working on MIE stuff. i just haven't had much energy to write something interesting or reflective on here. so, how about another recipe? i made this one up myself! tell me if you think i should make some adjustments.

spicy sweet potato fries
- 1/4 c+ olive oil
- 1/4 c maple syrup
- 1/2 t cayenne red pepper
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 t salt
spread over
4-5 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
make sure that all potatoes are coated, if it doesn't seem like enough, just add some olive oil.

bake/broil on high heat (400) until golden brown and crispy on outside and soft on inside. turn them over ever 5-10 minutes. should take 30-45 minutes to bake.

p.s. congrats saners!!!!!!!!! josiah is beautiful. i can't wait to meet him a boyne!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

smashing the fluffy pink duck

no, it wasn't real. yesterday was my housemate amy's birthday, and normally on housemates birthdays we make a meal or go out to eat. but amy said she wanted to drink beer and smash a cute pinata. this was a brillant idea. we had a blast!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Home-made Yogurt!

Nothing goes better with a bowl of home-made granola than home-made yogurt. Oh my my.
Making yogurt is about a scientific as I can get. I’m talking sterilization, bacteria, monitoring temperature, incubation…
No, actually, its pretty simple.
1. heat milk to kill any existing bacteria. I recommend putting your pot of milk, inside a pot of water which you place on the boiler, less risk of burning. Heat it 180 degrees F.
2. let milk cool down to between 110-120 degrees. Add 1/2c powdered milk if you desire thick yogurt.
3. next add, in a jar put several Tbs of fresh, plain yogurt (or from your last batch). Add a couple Tbs of your warm milk. Mix. Then add the rest of your milk. Mix.
4. heat your oven to about 125 degrees, turn it off but leave the light on. Put in your jar of milk + bacteria.
5. Now give your milk some privacy, the bacteria are basically going to have a big orgy and reproduce like there’s no tomorrow. In about 6 hours, they’ll have transformed your milk into delicious yogurt!

For more detailed directions I recommend consulting this fabulous wiki how page .

And as always, I recommend organic, hormone free milk form happy free range cows.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saturday, I spent the afternoon at a brainstorming and planning session of MIE (Mouvement Intercultural pour l'Environment). MIE is a new non-profit org that was envisioned by several workers at Éco Quartiers . In Montreal, each borrow has an Éco Quartiers that serves to educate constituents of recycling programs, provide composting materials, do environmental education and conduct workshops on environmental issues. MIE was created because several Éco Quartiers workers felt that environmental education is often not culturally sensitive and applicable for different cultural communities in the city. Here is MIE’s noble mission statement:

Intercultural Movement for the Environment is an environmental non-profitable organization that aims to incorporate culture as a part of environmental thinking, and integrate environmental consciousness in all cultural communities. Our role is to provide a platform that allows for active dialogues and exchanges of knowledge between all stakeholders, and at the same time, foster home-grown environmental culture. We welcome diverse points of view, ask for cultural and political sensitivity from all members, and place emphasis on communication.

I see great value in the mission and aspirations of the organization, and I’m really excited about its potential! It seems like a perfect fusion of my interests of anthropology and environmentalism. So I jumped right on board- I have taken the position of Secretary for the brand new board of directors of MIE. It should be a fabulous experience of learning how starting a non-profit works, reflecting on and promoting environmentalism and multiculturalism, and getting to know a diverse group of people who have similar interests to me. As secretary one of my tasks is getting/keeping the MIE blog updated. So check back there soon to hear about our plans and up coming events!

Friday, November 02, 2007

what does a language assistant coordinator do?

This has been a busy week for the MA Language Program . It has been registration week for the next 6 week session of French and English classes. This means that we have certain times when new student can come in. They complete paper work, take a written test and then spend 5-10 minutes chatting with a professor to determine which level they should be placed in (we have 4 levels). My job in all this was preparing and copying forms and tests, information to hand out, registering students in classes once their level was determined, taking their money. Once all registration was finished I’ve been entering all the data on students into our database and making attendance sheets and the like.
The MA program fills a special need in Montreal. Although there are lots of language schools around, many of them are targeted at business people and aren’t very affordable. Likewise, the adult education commission has some great programs, but these are not available to those without permanent residency. The MA program is fairly unique in that all of our teachers are volunteers. Therefore prices of classes kept low, at only $65-85 for a 6 week session of 8 hours of class a week. We also offer a substantial discount for refugees, only $25 a course with proof of status.
I really enjoyed work during registration this week seeing the broad demographic of students joining the program. There is such a diverse group of people both accessing the service and volunteering to make the service possible. A large majority of students enrolling are Mexican, but beyond that I registered Haitians, Chileans, Cubans, Sudanese, Algerians, Guineans, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Americans, Canadians, French, Columbians, Brazilians… such diversity must make for interesting classes, as most of the classes are conversations based. Furthermore, many of the teachers are immigrants as well.
Overall, I’m finding it to be a great job. I get the opportunity to work in primarily in French, interact a variety of people, see the inner workings of a non-profit and the hours are quite flexible. Definitely better than working at McDo’s!

Monday, October 29, 2007

no longer unemployed!

actually i've had one very part-time job for a couple of weeks now. i'm the assistant coordinator for the langue program at le maison de l'amitie. and i'll continue with that, 8 hours a week, throughout the year. friday i recieved word that i got a second job at lululemon athletica . they are a clothing/supply store specializing in yoga. (benefits include 2 free yoga classes a week at different studios in town!). i start training next week. it will be full-time over the holidays, which will make coming home for the holidays pretty challenging, but i'm going to do my best. i really want to see you, dear goshen friends and family. stay in touch, i'm homesick.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

the greyer side of montreal

for the last couple of weeks my friend suzanne and i have been talking about going to this mysterous "schmataland" i heard about in a low-budget shopping guide:
"Chabanel Street Just north of the Metropolitain between St-Laurent and du Parc is schmataland. Montreal still has a large textile industry, most of which is located in this district. Here you’ll find factory outlets that sell to the public directly, but only on Saturday mornings."

so we set out a little after 10, a bit painfully early after my 2am friday night, plus it was raining. but we were determined to find those deals, or at least have a bit of an adventure.

well great deals we did not find, but we did have quite an amusing adventure.
so schmataland is a street full of industrial buildings and out in front of some of them there is a guy or two handing out fliers, "huge sale on floor 7", "designer samples on floor 3, suite 307" etc. so we venture into the these big industrial buildings, take the lift up to such and such a floor and there are just these big rooms full of racks of clothes. they might be designer samples, but definitly not from 2007. most of them might have been stylish oh about 10 years ago, or if you're 60 and still think its the 90s.

but we did find some other interesting shops. like this one where retailers must come to get their maniquins.

or this one- great deals... if you're a stripper!

i did buy one item, very appropriate given the weather. i invested in this great strippy umbrella at rona on the way home.

after a nice long cozy nap, i'm ready to head back into the rain to take a friend for dinner at this little mauritanian restaurant .

Friday, October 26, 2007

Meet my new friends, Les Vers!
I’ve finally got my apartment set up for vermicomposing . Susan, “the Worm Girl,” who has a sweet little vermicompost business that I found on craig’s list , delivered them last night.

My pound of friends came in a nice Rubbermaid bin with a tight fitting lid and little holes around the top, which are then covered in a cloth.

The worms can eat their own weight in organic scraps a day, so the worm girl said that’s about a yogurt container full. You rotate where you feed them each day so they move around the bin in a circle. The worms reproduce every 2-3 months so eventually you can start feeding them more or give some to a friend to start a bin.
If you’re in the montreal area and want to start vermicomposting, I recommend getting your worms from The Worm Girl . She sells a pound of red-wigglers for $10 or will get you a whole box ready for $25. It’s a way better deal than going through the EcoQuartiers. They charge twice as much and you get stuck on a waiting list for at least a month.

If you want learn more about how it all works here , here , and here .

Composting is a great way to reduce how much you’re adding to the landfill and help grow lovely plants to make you some oxygen!
Regular updates to follow!!
wish me luck...

the last couple of days i have been study and waiting. studying for my environment and culture midterm (worth 40%!). and waiting for a call whether or not i got the job that i interviewed for tuesday.
the studying and waiting are almost over. so now i'm on to anticipation. my midterm is in an hour and i should be getting the call this evening. i've just got to remember to keep breathing. the hour of yoga i just did helped calm the nerves a bit.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

how to spend a sunday afternoon in montreal?

i've been told countless times about the sunday tam-tam (drums) circle on the mountain and have been meaning to go every weekend since i arrived. today, the weather was perfect, i finished my studying and walked towards to mountain, camera in hand.

heading though Parc Jean-Mance towards the moutain.

so i was expecting a circle of 20 or so people, sitting in a neat circle, all drumming together. maybe some people dancing around the outside or just listening. but as i approached i could see this was certainly not the case...

a sense of community in such a huge crowd.

i felt like i was in some weird time warp between 1960s woodstock days and some happy time in the future where people of all races, ages, backgrounds come together to play music and dance.

there were families, young people, old people, people who had come alone, people who had come together. there was little talking, mostly just the rythm, the smell of sweat, weed, and autumn leaves.

i don't know if i've seen so much eccentricity all in one place. but while people were such individuals, so uniquely interesting, there was a common rhythm, a shared beat, a shared place, a shared outrageously beautiful autumn afternoon.

apparently the sunday tam-tams are quite famous. you can read about them on wiki, montreal city site, city noise and even see them on youtube.

you can see more of my photos on flickr.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday Decompressing

after a stressful week of school and job searching it was with time to...
sleep in, chat on the phone, clean room and cook!

Cranberry Scones
- 2 T ground flax mixed with 3 T water (vegan egg replacer)
- 3/4 C plain yogurt
- 1 C cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 1T orange juice, or orange zest
mix, then add
- 2 T sugar
- 3 cups whole grain flour
- 1 t baking soda
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 1/2 salt
cut in 3/4 c cold margerine
add- 1/2 cup pecans
with a round cooking cutter cut into circles and place on grease cookie sheet.
mix 1T white sugar and 1T cinnamon and sprinkle on top
bake for 12-15 minutes

Big pot of Lentils Francais
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 med. onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
saute until soft, then add:
- 2-3 carrots, chopped in rounds
- 1-2 stocks celery, chopped
- 3-4 C water and a bullion
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 t dried thyme
- 1/2 dried rosemary
- 1/2 t pepper
- 1 C french lentils (the ones that are small and bluish brown)
bring to boil and then simmer till tender, 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Over the last couple of years I’ve been steadily reducing my meat consumption, and in the last 4 months I’ve become ovo-lacto vegetarian (meaning I still eat some dairy products and eggs occasionally). When people ask why I’m veg, I usually respond “there are a number of reasons but that biggest reason is the environmental effects of eating meat.” A lot of people look puzzled with this response. Here’s a bit of an explanation of the connection between reducing your carbon footprint and reducing meat consumption:

Acccording to’s guide to greening your meal “Meat is the most resource-intensive food on the table and eating less of it can be the single most green move a person makes. Producing meat requires huge amounts of water, grain, land, and other inputs including hormones and antibiotics, and leads to pollution of soil, air, and water. A pound of beef requires around 12,000 gallons of water to produce, compared to 60 gallons for a pound of potatoes.”

Not convinced yet? Here are some other stats:
• A meat-based diet requires 7 times more land than a plant-based diet according to
• According to the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization , livestock production is responsible for more climate change gasses than all the motor vehicles in the world. In total, it is responsible for 18 percent of human induced greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to methane, manure, deforestation to expand pasture, fertilizers and pesticides for feed crops.
• In Latin America, 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.
• Animal waste accounts for 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.
• The meat industry is immensely resource intensive and accounts for 70% of the water pollution in the US. (
• Livestock production is at the heart of almost every environmental catastrophe confronting the planet – rain forest destruction, spreading deserts, loss of fresh water, air and water pollution, acid rain and soil erosion.

Being the single most green move a person can make, I’m really disappointed that reducing meat consumption is not more center stage to the current environmental movement. I guess that might be due to the fact that vegetarianism is a bit more controversial than changing the kind of light bulb you use. But most of the concerns people have about vegetarianism are misconceptions. For example, with a little effort and nutritional planning you can get plenty of protein on a vegetarian diet. Not ready to give up meat all together? Start by just trying to eat meat-free just one day a week. Even small steps make a difference. Also, if you do continue to eat meat, consider switching to free-range, organic meets (these farms are usually smaller and don't load their animals up with antibiotics and hormones).

Ready to go veg? Check out this link for a free vegetarian starter kit! Or here for vegetarian recipes.

and just in case you like to make moral choices based purely on asethetics...
Check out this summary of where 2008 US presidential canidates stand on environmental policy!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I just created this delicous stir fry for lunch! all made from locally grown, seasonal produce of course.

Autumn Stir-Fry

1 large sweet potato, cubed
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloved garlic sliced
1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained
2-3 inches fresh rosemary and oregano
a few dashes of salt and pepper

put all togehter in large frying pan with 2 Tbs olive oil and cook on medium heat, stiring occasionally until potatos are soft and browning. serve over a bed of fresh spinach or quinoa.

makes 2 servings, total prep and cooking time 15-20 minutes.