YA novels: love will absolutely save everything

I am going to blog about City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls, by Cassandra Clare, together, since I read them back to back and the storyline continues right through without break.

After my major eyeroll that The Mortal Instruments series continues after the initial trilogy, I got over it and delved into these books. Clary, the heroine of the piece, is training to be a Shadowhunter (a half-human, half-angel warrior) and is super excited she finally gets to make out with her blindingly good-looking boyfriend, Jace, guilt-free now that she knows for reals he’s not her brother. That plotline was just so majorly icky, but apparently not a theme Cassandra Clare is willing to let go of any time soon.

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Retro-inspired and handmade: To die for baby knits

I love knitting – and knitting baby clothes is extra fun, since it doesn’t take as long as adult-sized clothes. Just as you’re starting to get bored as hell of a stockinette stitch, you’re finished. As much as I love how relaxing knitting is, how soft the yarn feels, the idea of creating my very own clothes, I equally despise sewing – namely, the sewing together of knit pieces into an actual garment. So I finally got out the needle and thread last night and finished (or started to put together) a few pieces I’ve knit for my little guy. This reindeer retro-inspired sweater with shawl collar is my absolute favourite.

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The scary thing about labour is people telling you you should be scared

I started reading Birthing From Within, An Extraordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation, at the advice of my doula. Now, my doula is awesome. I can already tell you I know she is going to be invaluable when it comes to the birth of my first child. She is chill, down to earth but also sees the benefit in getting away from the medicalized births many women have, which I appreciate.

She warned me the book was a little hippy-ish in terms of some of the ideas (not her actual words) but she really recommended it. I was down for a little hippy wisdom – I am, after all, spiritual, right? I could also find the spiritual side of childbirth.

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Designing for men

Just wondering, is it considered sexist to talk about “designing for men”? I wrote this article for the Calgary Sun this week. I think a lot of the tips translate down to: men like things to look good and don’t buy shit. Um, so just like women? Should there be gender lines drawn between “design” and “man design?” I think the creation of the ubiquitous man cave has made it so; now we need professionals to tell us that our old junk doesn’t make for good design.

Anyway, I did write the article, so here it is – how to design for a man (or, if you are a man, how to design.)

Photo courtesy Decorating Den

When it comes to designing a man’s room, don’t think about a cave in the basement. What really makes designing work for men is quality, high-end furniture, warmth and textures. Men like their décor to be tasteful and comfortable.

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Book reviews: The Kitchen House and The Vanishing Point

The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom, got pretty solid reviews around the table at my book club. I think most everyone enjoyed it, although we spent some time picking apart some parts of the characters and plot we thought we could (of course) improve. The premise is based around Lavinia, an Irish orphan who becomes an indentured servant at a Southern tobacco plantation, is taken in by a family of black slaves who work out of the kitchen house.

A great deal of the themes in the story revolved around racial issues:
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Cleaning up with Science!

After my southern baking for my bookclub (which went over fantastically, by the way), I was left with a pretty big mess on my hands. My pot, used to boil sweet potatoes, was a disaster. There was a thick layer of sugary burnt goodness stuck like adhesive to the bottom and it was going nowhere. This is how it looked after soaking for two days:

I wasn’t looking forward to spending hours scrubbing at that, and potentially scratching and damaging the pot. So, I turned to science. I found this “recipe” online – it’s basic science stuff you do in elementary school, which never fails to impress me.

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Southern comfort

My Canadian spin on creating southern-style comfort food, in appetizers.

Cornbread and Sweet Potato Pie as bite-sized treats

I’m hosting my bookclub tonight. Our book this month was The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom, a novel that takes place for the most part in the deep south of the U.S. One thing that really struck me about the book was the description of the food – all of it rich, tasty and comforting. So I wanted to recreate some of the dishes for the meeting.

I wanted to make a cornbread that could work for either savoury or sweet. My failures at making dough have already been documented, so I went with a recipe that seemed straight-forward and fairly easy.
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