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Archive for July, 2010

Dear Loyal Readers (of which there are approximately two),

Please excuse my absence from the blog this week! I wanted to post more images from my childhood sticker book (my unicorn shinies page is to die for), a recipe on Thursday, and a “this moment” photo from the week today, but I didn’t.

My excuse? I was finishing my latest children’s book, a second hi-lo chapter book for Orca Book Publishers… putting in hours reminiscent of my college all-nighter essay-writing days (ie. staying up until 4a.m., except now I have a baby so that’s a really dumb idea). I was just so determined to get the blasted thing done, and I’m really happy with it. I’d been writing it for waaaay too long (since I was newly pregnant with Keaton), and it is so very wonderful to have it all sent off to my editor. Who knows, my publisher might want it, they might not, but it’s a satisfying feeling to know that it’s now in their hands and our of mine. Phew. And now I am so excited to finally be able to start something new!

But first, my little family and I are off visiting the various grandparents in Chilliwack, Vernon and the Kootenays for the next almost two weeks. I’m so looking forward to days filled with river floating, drinking & eating, lolling and other fun summery-ness.

Love,

Christy

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I recently took my prized childhood sticker book off the shelf, dusted it off, and flipped through it. There were the shinies, the small scratch ‘n sniffs, the large scratch ‘n sniffs, the fuzzies, the puffies, the googly-eyed puffies, the fuzzy puffies… I remember so carefully organizing them into this archived hierarchy of stickers. When I got to the end of the book, there they were. My pride and joy – the Wacky Pack section. Save the best for last, I always say.

Remember these? My friends and I were totally obsessed with ’em back in the day (the mid-1980s). News would spread around school that a new Wacky Packs set was out. Squeals rang out around the playground. Then, after school, with adrenaline racing through our veins, we’d gather up our sweaty handfuls of change and run to the Husky before they all sold out. We’d tear open the waxy little packages of rectangular stickers, and maybe stuff that cardboardy pink stick of gum in our mouths. We would pour over each and every Wacky Pack sticker. And we were never disappointed.

Here was my absolute, absolute favourite one:

Brilliant, right? Like seriously, how do they come up with this stuff? Black leather diapers for the newborn delinquent? Hardy har har! I imagine a bunch of bored, middle-aged coywriters at the Topps Corporation trying come up with this stuff.

“Okay, People Magazine… what can we do with that… what did you say, Stan? Pimple Magazine? Good, good, let’s brainstorm on that a little…”

Anyway, I found this lil’ Wacky Packs history quite interesting:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wacky_Packages

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I’ve made pizza a few times the past two or three weeks, but we just gobbled it right up and I forgot to take photos of it. So, I drew one instead. It doesn’t look nearly as appetizing as this recipe actually is, though. Actually, it doesn’t look very appetizing at all. It looks more like something you’d see under a microscope, like a bacterial culture. Or maybe like a biology textbook photo of rods & cones in your eyeball. Oh well. As you can see, I still draw like I did when I was twelve.

Anyway, I’ve recently discovered the wonders of instant yeast, and so I went googling around to find a good pizza crust recipe using it. And I totally struck gold with this one, which I found on the Wheat Foods Council website.

I’ve tried a few different pizza dough recipes over the years, and this one’s the best I’ve ever tried. No fail, I’d say. It makes a soft, velvety dough that you can throw and twirl in the air like the pizza chefs do in the movies. Top it with some sauce, cheeese, veggies (I like arugula, zucchini and tomatoes) and meat (if you’re so inclined – I’ve drawn chorizo rounds above, can’t you tell?).

Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour (or, for a fluffier crust, use 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat
1 package active dry yeast/instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot tap water (120 – 125°F)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F

In large mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, yeast and salt. Blend in water, oil and honey or sugar. Stir by hand vigorously until all ingredients are well mixed; about 3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise to desired size (I let it rise about 15 minutes).

Knead for a few seconds on a floured board, and roll out to desired size. Place dough in greased 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan or 12 to 14-inch pizza pan.

Add pizza sauce of your choice and your favourite pizza toppings; bake in oven 15 to 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and toppings are done.

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Heather (left, looking very va-va-voom) & me at the Vancouver Folk Festival this past weekend.

Heather and I have been best friends nearly half my life – since I was 18. Since then she’s become a sister to me, and she is a very significant, inspiring figure in my life. I can’t even imagine what a huge, clueless dork I would be if Heather hadn’t come into my life in my most impressionable years, with all her wonderful influences. (Well, I’m still a dork, but I would have been a way huger dork if I didn’t know Heather!)

Heather is one of the most magical people I have ever met. No, let me rephrase that. She is the most magical person I have ever met. There is no one else like her in the world – which is too bad, in a way. The world would be a much better place if there were more Heathers. She is a singular, pure, brilliant, enchanting spirit.

We met across a crowded room, in a poetry class at college. I thought she looked like a young Mia Farrow with her short, blonde, gamine haircut. She thought I looked “ageless.” And we told each other so at coffee break.

Heather & I back in the day. This photo was taken inside her lovely old blue Volvo. I think we were on one of our nighttime drives to Whonnock Lake.

And a friendship was born. We both lived in Maple Ridge at the time (my hometown), and we developed a weekly ritual (often many times a week), of meeting at the local public library and then going to Subway, where we would discuss the importance of pepper on a cheese & veggies sub, and other things. She lent me her Bjork Debut and Cub CDs. We went for walks in the woods. We frequented Roots, the sweet little Maple Ridge health food store, for various types of tea. We went for countless wonderful drives in the countryside at night, sometimes stopping to lay on the hood of the car while stargazing and listening to Brave New Waves on CBC. We baked elaborate strawberry cakes and read each other poetry. We hung tin foil stars from tree branches and lay under them on an old quilt. We drove to Fort Langley on warm summer evenings and drank lattes at Wendell’s, the cute bookstore/cafe there.

We also developed, for many years, a ritual of daily phone calls – I remember the call that started it all: “Oh my god, Christy! Michael Stipe shaved his head!” (This was 1994.)

Before you go thinking she’s some dreamy fairy girl, I should add that Heather is totally hilarious and tells a fart joke like none other. And I love her darker, twisted, mischievous side.

Heather has an amazing personal style and design aesthetic that I have always admired. Receiving a present from her (and I have been the lucky recipient of many!) is a thing to behold, all wrapped in tissue paper and bundled with nubbly yarn, acorns and fern fronds. A staunch protector of nature, Heather spends hours hiking in the woods and volunteering for conservation organizations. The beauty of the natural world has intertwined with her incredible artwork, her fashion sense, her decorating, and the way she lives her life.

For the past six years I’ve been lucky to live just two blocks away from Heather – how cool is that? She and her lovely husband are moving into a condo that they bought, but luckily they’ll still be in the same neighbourhood, less than a 10 minute walk away, right next to Stanley Park. Which is a good thing – if I go too long without seeing her I get a terrible case of Heather Withdrawal, which involves depression, anxiety and the shakes. She has this healing quality about her, and I feel sparkly and fresh just being in her presence. Good thing I see her pretty often!

Life with Heather is dreamy, fun and fabulous. And I can’t imagine it without her.

You can visit Heather’s blog, and see an example of her beautiful artwork here.

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…than edible flowers, rhubarb, zucchini (the fun round ones!), farmer sausage, kale, fennel and arugula (used tonight on homemade pizza – recipe to come) from the local Farmers Market? Dang, it’s ridiculous how much I love the FM. It says summer to me, like baseball games and Freezies and trips to the beach.

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Rather than featuring a recipe per se, I thought I’d talk summery drinks today – my favourite libations that keep me hydrated and all sauced up during those hot days.

– Belgian raspberry beer & Fruli strawberry beer (found in the Single Serve Beer section of our local liquor store)

– Prosecco

– Fresca, grenadine & a shot of vodka – Joshua & I have dubbed this the Gainsborough (the name of our apartment building)

– Malibu & Coke (oh early twenties drinking memories, come back to me)

Rhubarb soda (I am addicted to making it)

– Iced honey bush tea with lemon balm & lemon slices

As you can see, this list is heavily weighted on the alcoholic side of things. I wasn’t able to drink last summer on account of being pregnant, so I think I’m making up for it now!

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Okay, so let’s discuss. Like I mentioned in my first post about my recently rediscovered age fifteen journal, I was a superior, stuck-up little snot who disliked pretty much anything popular or mainstream. I prided myself on being so different from other kids my age, and liking exotic things like Woody Allen movies, e.e. cummings’ poetry and African music while they were all watching Wayne’s World and listening to New Kids on the Block. (I probably would have had more fun if I had just gone with the flow, but alas.)

Inspired by Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik books, I was a big fan of making these “Things I Like/Things I Dislike” lists. Let’s face it, I still make these lists in my notebook. Lists are so much fun, n’est-ce pas? So, as you can see, the #1 disliked thing is diseases. I am, and have been as long as I can remember (hence the childhood visits to various psychologists), a complete and total hypochondriac. This is followed by two pretty commonly disliked things, spiders and liver. No big surprise. Not sure why I disliked avocados so much (shockingly misspelled on the list… I never wanted to be caught misspelling anything – I was supposed to be a “smart kid” after all!), but I sure do like ’em now!

And then for much of the remainder of the list we see a pattern of what I was so opinionated about back in the day – popular things. “Airheady” and “cheerleadery” things, apparently. Also, “sleazy.” It’s interesting to analyze exactly why I felt this way. I had this need to disassociate myself from the rest of my peer group, but at the same time, I wanted to be pretty, wear Benetton or Esprit clothes, and be cool. I was always too shy and socially awkward, though, so I cultivated a “quirky girl” persona that seemed to work pretty well for me.  In case you’re wondering, the “Jim” mentioned here is my stepdad Jimbo – a very cool guy who for some reason at the time I didn’t like his macho talk. Probably went with the whole dislike of the mainstream thing.

And then on the next page of my “Things I Dislike” list we have the classic pineapples on pizza, more hatred of the mainstream, and also commercialism and materialism. I was clearly on a warpath, wasn’t I? Oh, and then there’s “boys my age” underlined. Hoowee, I wonder what happened that made me feel so strongly about that! Can’t remember.

In case you’re wondering what was on the “Things I Like” list (just a wee bit too embarrassing to print, and too many insider/family details to attempt to explain), here’s a selection: my family, Spud (our now dearly departed, somewhat vicious family dog), Woody Allen movies, folky things, long hair (not on men), country-style houses, Simon & Garfunkel, doggies (I seriously wrote “doggies” – WTF?), acoustic guitars, sandwiches, comfy hand sewn quilts, peaches, naming babies, antiques, Greenwich Village (not that I’d ever been there), bohemian clothes, classical music, the word “groovy,” Diane Keaton and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Was I a fifty-year-old trapped in the body of a fifteen-year-old, or what? Antiques? Quilts? Country houses? Oh, it’s all very, very funny to revisit this stuff. Stay tuned for more!

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