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Archive for January, 2012

I have quite an eclectic mix of books to share today.¬† I actually allowed myself the pleasure of devouring a few fiction selections in the last few weeks, and devoured they were! ūüôā¬† I also discovered a new non-fiction favourite and attempted some projects from a crochet book.¬†

I told you I would come back to this.  The author describes the Renaissance Soul as a person who is multi-passionate.  The kind of person who loves change, variety, and moving in new and different directions all the time.  (She had me from the title РI know who I am!)  I absolutely love this book!  It has been instrumental in helping me to find focus, weigh priorities, deal with my want to do everything and all at once, and with more than a little help from Michelle Ward, is helping me to design a life and business that fits my dreams and personality.  A must read for anyone who struggles with balancing diverse interests and passions.

Ok…I know I’m a little late in picking this one up.¬† (After all, the book was released years ago and the movie hype has long died down.)¬† But I’ve never been one to do something when everyone else is anyway….(hmm…or at least not since I left high school…)¬† I thoroughly enjoyed this book.¬† I have not seen the movie, so was not tainted by visions of actors dancing in my head.¬† This book takes you an a journey, lets you spend a year in the life of the author, and allows you to meet a host of wonderful people in the process.¬† It’s not a high-action, can’t-wait-to-see-what-happens-next¬†page- turner, but it’s honest, engaging, and satisfying.¬† I will definitely be seeking out more from this author!

This was a book that I loved, until I actually started trying to make one of the projects in¬†it.¬† I love¬†all of the full-colour photos, the wide range of projects, the fun and casual writing style.¬† Where I ran into problems was in trying to follow the patterns.¬† And perhaps I just happened to pick the project with the most errors, but errors there are.¬†¬†Enough errors¬†to fill¬†two pages on the errata link (although I believe these have been corrected in the 2nd edition), and¬†then I discovered some that¬†were not on the errata list at all!¬†¬† Although I gained a lot of¬†crochet practice and was really proud of myself for not only finding the errors, but¬†figuring out how to fix¬†them (After all, I’m no expert¬†crocheter)¬† in the end,¬†it just seemed like too much¬†work and time¬†when there were other projects I wanted to tackle, and I gave up on the book.¬†

This was a fun read!¬† Especially if you are a fan of food tv (which I am!)¬† The characters are interesting, the story enjoyable, and I was happy with the ending.¬† It’s one of those books that makes you smile and then you pass it on to a friend so they can smile too (which is how I ended up with my copy, which I then passed on to my mom!)¬†

What books are on your nightstand?  Please share your favourites in the comments Рyou can never have too many books to read!

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I discovered these videos¬†over at Cold Antler Farm¬†and just had to share them with you.¬† Even if you aren’t a gardener you might get a kick out of them!¬† This is definitely the way I want to plant potatoes from now on!¬†¬†ūüôā

Enjoy!

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Thursday was one of the most amazing days of my life. 

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Michelle Ward, the “When I Grow Up Coach” for 6 super exciting, super productive, hours.

And I finally know what I’m going to do when I grow up!¬† (Or at least what I am going to work towards for the next couple of years!¬† Not being pinned down to one specific thing is one thing that I have learned is important to me!)

I have to admit it was a little surreal at first.  Michelle is someone I discovered at the Etsy Symposium, and then have been following her blog ever since.  So I am used to seeing her on my computer screen.  But to actually talk to her, one-on-one, it was a little bit like meeting a celebrity at first (not that I have ever met a celebrity!)  And still being a Skype newbie, the whole idea that I can see and talk to someone at the same time still blows my mind (I still own a phone with a cord attached to it, remember?)  But it was well worth a few moments of shyness and jitters and feeling like I am on the Jetsons!

So how did this all come about?

Well…two reasons.¬† I’ve always felt like I never really knew what I wanted to do “when I grew up,”¬† not because I lacked ambition, but more because I had too much!¬†¬† I wanted to do everything!¬† ¬†I liked to sing and dance and act and play the piano and write and I was passionate about food and healthy eating and creativity and kids and animals and the environment and the outdoors and on and on and there just didn’t seem to be a university program out there where you could “major” in everything! ūüôā

I kind of fell into teaching (a story for another day), and I enjoy it (most of the time!) and I am passionate about it, and I love my students, but I also still love so many other things including gardening and writing and sewing and cooking and I am always looking to learn something new.  And teaching is a job that, if you do it right, takes up most of your time.

This year, teaching part-time, has opened up a world of opportunity for me – 6 days a month to do whatever it is that I want to do.

And I feel like I have been spinning my wheels more than ever.  Running in circles because there are so many things I want to do and I keep starting a bit here and then a bit there, and never really feeling like I have accomplished anything.

Then in walks Michelle Ward with a new program she needs a guinea pig for.¬† And oh, how I love to be the guinea pig.¬† (You’ve got a pattern to test, I’m your girl!¬† You want someone to edit your cookbook and try out the recipes – pick me, pick me!¬† You’ve got a brand new program you want to launch, but someone has to be willing to walk through the learning curve with you, I volunteer!)¬†

So I jumped at the chance, and it led to some of the best hours of my life.¬† We spent some time talking, some time working, and all of the time getting closer to the focus that I have been longing for.¬† I discovered that I am a Renaissance Soul (I’ll save explaining that for a later post) and we develop a plan that is going to allow me to move forward, but always leave room for learning new things.

For the first time in a long time, I am really excited about my life and where it’s going.¬† I know what I want to do, I know what I am going to do to get there.¬† Whew!¬† What an amazing feeling!

And a lot of what I am going to do is going to involve this blog, and Artisan in the Woods, and I can’t wait to get working so I can share all of this awesomeness with you!¬† There are exciting things coming!

Have you ever had a day like this?  A day that leaves you energized and excited and ready to finally move forward? 

When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.
— Nancy Coey

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman

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It has finally decided to be winter.  The ground outside is snow-covered, the temperature has dipped into the negatives, and with added wind chill today and tomorrow I am going to want to spend my time inside next to our cozy wood stove.  But despite the chill, the promise of spring has already entered our household.

The seed catalogues have arrived!

If you are not a gardener, then the arrival of a spring catalogue in January may be nothing more than junk mail to you, and perhaps laughable in its early arrival (which is what I did when the Spring/Summer Sears catalogue arrived at our doorstep before Christmas!)

But to me, the arrival of the seed catalogues marks the beginning of a new planting season.¬† And in my mind, one of the best parts (because there is no actual work to be done yet, just dreaming!)¬† ūüôā

And so, I will cuddle by the wood stove, and contemplate what delights will grow in our garden this year.  Will it be a new type of yellow beet?  Will we brave the green caterpillars and try cabbage again?  Oh the possibilities that good earth and a few seeds will provide!

Was that the scent of spring in the air?

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I was lucky enough to enjoy two Christmas dinners this year with all of the trimmings.¬† One with my husband’s family on Christmas day, and one with all of my family on New Years Day.

In my family, Christmas is the one time of year when there is not a bit of room in the fridge, and the fridge in the basement gets stuffed full too.¬† Dinner is always a feast, with lots of leftovers (which we like to call “encore presentations.”)

There are a few creative cooks in my family, and we enjoyed many variations on the theme, with lots of creative dishes featuring key ingredients found in various containers in the fridge. 

But there were still sweet potatoes left over.¬† I thought of making muffins, but we already had sweet potato bannock as well as several other types of bread.¬† I thought of making some type of fritter with them (maybe with some finely diced apple and cinnamon?), but as I had just made a batch of fritters with the white potatoes, it seemed like something else would be better suited.¬† (although I kind of like the idea of an apple/sweet potato fritter and might¬†still try it sometime….)¬† In the end, I went looking for a recipe for Sweet Potato cookies, as with several cookie monsters in the house, our Christmas cookie selection was quickly dwindling.

I found a recipe, made a few changes (of course) and yum!  We had some beautiful, moist, cookies.  I especially enjoyed them warm for the oven, but they kept well in a cookie tin for a few days (and the sweet potato flavour intensified as they aged.)

Sweet Potato Cookies

based on this recipe

  • 1 cup cooked, mashed, sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2¬†1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Turn oven to 375.  Mix potato, milk, butter and egg and beat until smooth.  Stir in remaining ingredients.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet (or cook on a non-stick mat).  Bake for 15 minutes. 

Enjoy!

 

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Inspiration

I am very influenced by the books I read and the movies I watch.  I am not sure whether it is because I have such a wild imagination, or if I just love a good story, but I come out feeling like I know the characters personally (or wish I did.)

For instance, after seeing “You’ve Got Mail” I really wanted to open a bookshop (I know, I know, in the movie the bookstore goes out of business, but it didn’t stop me wanting to have one of my own!)

Reading “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy had me wanting to throw on an elven cloak and head out on an adventure.¬†

And let’s not begin talking Harry Potter….. ūüôā

Today, while working on a crochet project, I sat down and watched Julie & Julia.

You have perhaps already guessed what I feel inspired to do.¬† Read more about Julia Child, try some recipes from her cookbook, write a blog about it (oh, wait, that’s already been done….)

What it really reminded me of was how much I enjoy cooking and reading cookbooks, and how I really would like to do more of it again.¬† I never actually finished working my way through my Nana’s recipes, and I also have a shelf full of cookbooks with delicious recipes just waiting to try.

Not so long ago, I used to try to¬†make one new recipe each week.¬† I did this for a long time, but when life is busy sometimes it is just easier to go with the old standbys.¬† But I am inspired today to get back in the habit of trying new things.¬† It probably won’t be Beef Bourguignon, but hopefully it will still have me saying “Bon Appetit!”

Do you ever get inspired by a movie?

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