This is a lovely tutorial by Esther on her blog “whollyKao” for making stamps with pencil erasers. I’ve seen this before, but this is by far the most beautiful! Thanks Esther!

whollykao

Howdy! I told you this tutorial was going to be about making stamps out of pencil erasers…right?

Well, let’s cut to the chase. I saw this tutorial on Creature Comforts a while ago, and thought it was a fantastic idea. It’s an easy and cost effective way to spruce up cards and packaging. I tried it over the weekend and had a lot of fun using the stamps to make little cards.

Did I mention that this is a great way to use old no.2 pencils you have lying around? Yup, even if the eraser is dried out and leaves streaks on your paper when you try to erase. The only caveat is that the erasers need to be new (never used), so that you can have a flat stamping surface.

To make your stamps, you will need:
-no.2 pencils with new/unused erasers
-X-acto knife
-ballpoint pen
-stamp pads
-paper…

View original post 262 more words

Paula Begoun/The Cosmetics Cop

I first came across consumer advocate Paula Begoun about fifteen years ago; she focuses her attention on “beauty products”, including skin care, makeup, and hair care.  She started out by writing books such as, “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me”, and “The Beauty Bible”, and has expanded to web sites like Cosmetics Cop and Beautypedia, a PBS series, speaking engagements, and radio programmes.  I’ve saved a lot of money by reading her books, and combing her web sites for information.

In some ways, I do find it rather off-putting that she is now sporting her own line of cosmetics and skin care, however, her consumer advocacy does not seem to have suffered as a result, and she uses legitimate scientific research sources, not “claims” and anecdotal nonsense to back up the information she shares.  I have actually purchased a few of her Paula’s Choice skincare products, and have been extremely happy with them; I am a huge fan of her 2% BHA exfoliating liquid.

Beautypedia is now offered for free, and has reviews of thousands of products.  Cosmetics Cop has myriad articles for information, and is the place to purchase “Paula’s Choice” products.

Best falafel I’ve had in decades

Recently had the most wonderful falafel wraps I’ve had in over 25 years — at a bargain price — at a great little take-out/eat in student oriented place in Hamilton’s Westdale.  Basilique offers a wide variety of foods, served by delightful staff; I can only recommend the falafel, as I ordered it twice, it was so good!  They offer great student discounts for McMaster students, and even accept McMaster student Meal Plans as payment.

Lu Guang (卢广), freelancer photographer

Amazing Pictures, Pollution in China.

This collection of photographs is stunning, and mind boggling.  Lu Guang recently won the $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his documentary project “Pollution in China”  at the 30th annual awards ceremony of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund.  The event took place at the Asia Society in New York City on October 14, 2009.

Robert Genn’s “Painter’s Keys”

Canadian painter Robert Genn shares thoughts, quotations, and wisdom about art and creativity twice a week in his e-letter “Painter’s Keys”.  It never fails to inspire, or provoke thought.  It costs nothing, and contains no advertising or spam-like material!  I have been receiving this newsletter for several years and have found it to be of tremendous value in my artistic and creative journey.  Mr. Genn’s web site is a terrific resource for artists of all kinds, as well as an archive of all of the Painter’s Keys letters.the Painter's Keys Artist Community

Paper Stars…

Niall learned how to make beautiful waxed tissue stars at school, so I went in search of instructions online; it was a very difficult task! Here’s a red one that Niall made:

Eight-pointed Red Star

Eight-pointed Red Star

How to Fold a Tissue Paper Star Ornament
These stars are made from coloured wax paper, commonly used for making paper kites. When hung in a window, the light shines through the layers of coloured paper with a stained glass effect. Spread some joy by following these simple steps.

Steps

  1. Cut the paper into rectangles or squares. The more precisely the paper is cut and folded, the more accurate the angles of the design are when you are done. A good size for a rectangle is 1.5“x3.5” and for a square about 3.5“x3.5“.
  2. For an eight pointed star, use eight rectangle pieces of paper. Fold each piece of paper as follows:
  3. Fold it exactly in half lengthwise (along the long axis). Unfold. You will use the crease as a guide for the remaining folds.
  4. On one short end, fold each corner so that the short edge lines up with the center crease. You will end up with a square point on that end of the rectangle. Repeat at the other end of the rectangle.
  5. On one end, fold each creased edge to the center one more time. Kind of like when you’re folding a paper airplane.
  6. You will end up with a single, square point on one end of the rectangle and a double-folded, narrower point at the other end. Once you have all eight pieces of paper folded, layer them side-by-side in a circle, with the square points all matched up in the very center. The folded edge of each square point will line up with the center crease of the point next to it. Use a glue stick to glue the points together. You may also want to glue your final folds down so they don’t pop open.

Tips

  • Crease your folds sharply and make them as exact as possible.
  • Kite paper can be found in some hobby shops and online. It comes in many different colours and is much sturdier than tissue paper.
  • Use your imagination and try different folding patterns to make points.
  • Layer points more closely or further apart for different sized stars and different patterns. Square pieces of paper make different sized points also.
  • Hang your star in a window where the light can shine thru it. The pattern of lines that the folds make are often just as pretty as the colours and the way they mix!

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Fold a Tissue Paper Star Ornament. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Update: I just discovered a lovely, beautifully illustrated tutorial for these stars at the  “Duo Fiberworks” blog.

Vaishali’s Super Store: Indian Grocer

Finally found an Indian grocer that has all the ingredients for the cooking that I want to do (and more)! I’d just about given up. Vaishali’s Super Store is located in the west end of Ottawa, at 62 Wylie Avenue, in a little strip mall, perpendicular to Carling Avenue. You’ll miss it if you blink while driving past; it’s just across the street from the big Famous Players Theatre complex, near Bayshore.

The variety of spices and herbs is mind boggling, as are the legumes, pulses, and rice. Fridges and freezers contain a small number of fresh vegetables/fruits/peppers, curry leaves and fresh herbs, as well as a large selection of prepared foods and meals, condiments and ingredients. Rows of shelves contain jarred, canned, dried, and powdered pickles, condiments, sauces, and other ingredients and foods. I was especially pleased to find Surati Sweet Mart treats at a very good price (half the price of my local health food store)! In addition to food items, one can find cooking utensils, incense, movies, and cosmetic products.

The owner was particularly helpful and kind in helping me find the items that I was having trouble locating. I appreciated that he expained the proper pronunciation of the words that I pointed to on the shopping list that my friend had written out for me, and that he told me a little about the products (especially spices) that he was helping me find.

I enjoyed our trip to this store very much, and we will make it a part of our regular shopping!

UPDATE: On our most recent visit, we purchased freshly made pakoras, samosas, and kachoris from the front counter display — absolutely delicious!  We didn’t even get as far as home to eat them with condiments 🙂  They smelled so incredibly  divine that we ate the pakoras while sitting in the car in the parking lot, then had to go back into the store to buy some more!

Ant Moats at Lee Valley Tools

I plant flowers in my perennial beds specifically to feed the hummingbird families that come back summer after summer, but I also like to hang hummingbird feeders in the front and in the back of the house. I discovered this clever Ant Moat at Lee Valley Tools that solved my problem of unintentionally feeding the nearby ant colonies:

No matter where you hang your feeder, the ants cannot get to it as long as you keep the umbrella full of water! No more ants in the sugar-water reservoir, no more ants crawling up the pole or the walls of the house to get to the feeder…nada!

UPDATE:  Not only do our Ant Moats keep the Hummingbird feeders ant-free, but they provide the small birds in the neighbourhood a perfect place for a drink or a quick bath!  An unintended but enjoyable dual function 🙂

Chickadee Enjoying Hummingbird Feeder Ant Moat

Home Made Ant Bait

(ingredients as per Ed Lawrence)

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon boric acid

Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water. Add the boric acid and stir until dissolved.

Take any pint-sized plastic container and cut small holes into the sides at the bottom to allow ants access to crawl inside. Dip cotton balls into the solution, and place inside the container. Seal the container with the lid, and place the container on a pathway that the ants are using.

The ants will eat the solution, and take it back to the other ants in the nest, where it will “build up” and eventually destroy the nest. The solution can be refrigerated and stored for a couple of weeks if it is carefully labelled.

T-shirt Bags

tshirtbag.jpg

While looking through the Martha Stewart web site for a recipe, I came across instructions for a cloth shopping bag made from a t-shirt. They’ve got to be the easiest directions and design I have ever seen for creating a home-made bag — I think that just about anyone could make this, and it’s re-using an item that just about everyone has (and at some point, wants to get rid of).

Here’s the one that I created out of an old over-sized t-shirt that I couldn’t bear to throw out, as well as one that my 11 year old made out of a size 6x t-shirt that she loved:

tshirt-bag.jpg

 

Egli’s Sheepskin

steeringwheelcover.jpg

Egli’s Sheep Farm in Minnitaki, Ontario (near Dryden) makes this wonderful sheepskin steering wheel cover. It helps to keep my hands warm in the winter, and cool in the summer, and it doesn’t smell or off gas like synthetic materials do.

My first cover lasted for many, many years before it needed replacing; upon purchasing a new cover recently, I was surprised to find that the price was only $19.   Egli’s Sheep Farm and Animal Park carries a mind-boggling array sheep products that are manufactured both on and off site.

Vision TV: Promoting Diversity and Understanding

Vision TV is an award winning Canadian non-profit television station that promotes diversity through its programming.

It offers drama, comedy, phenomenal documentaries, current affairs programming, music, lifestyle programming, special events programmes, and independent faith and cultural programming (the variety is astonishing and pleasing to our family, and we have learned a great deal about world faiths and cultures through this programming).

Arghand Soaps

soaps1g.jpgArghand soaps are gorgeous to look at, beautifully scented, heavenly to use, and are carefully created by hand at a co-operative formed in Afghanistan to try and rebuild this war torn country. The artisan soaps resemble stones, and feel lovely in the hand. The lather is rich, creamy, and profuse. Update: This soap is incredibly long lasting! It does not disappear or dissolve quickly like so many handmade soaps tend to do, making it very economical.

Sarah Chayes, a former war correspondent for American national public radio, is the founder of the co-op. One of the co-operative’s main goals is to wean dependence on the opium poppy onto local licit crops which are used in the production of Arghand Soap. In a Guardian interview, Chayes is quoted:

in the long run, “this is the only way to beat heroin,” she says. “We have to re-weave the economic fabric of the country … so that people will have too much to lose from a return to war.”

“The Power of One: Making a Difference in Afghanistan“, World Vision’s page dedicated to Chayes and Arghand includes audio interviews. “Life After War” is a documentary film, shown on CBC Newsworld which chronicles Chaye’s journey.

The Arghand web site has a list of retailers in Canada, and the USA. I purchased my first order of Arghand soap via mail order from Planete Monde, a company in Montreal which has just begun to sell via their bilingual web site. My order arrived extremely quickly, it was well packaged, and the customer service was superb. I found it interesting to note that Planete Monde’s business partners opened their brick and mortar store after hearing Sarah Chayes being interviewed on CBC radio! Oresta’s Organic Confectionary in Ottawa also sells Arghand soaps via their web site. Oresta’s packaging includes a lovely little tag describing the Arghand Co-op and the ingredients, as well as a colourful photographic bookmark with the same (which makes for nice gift giving). Oresta’s service is extremely quick and friendly; I will be a repeat customer!

The New York Times has a blog written by Sarah Chayes: A Voice From Kandahar. At the time of this writing, the most recent post was dated August 1, 2006. The updated Arghand web site offers the writings of Cheyes from May 5, 2005 up to the present in a link entitled “Notes from the Field”; it is incredibly worthwhile and enlightening reading.  Update: Ms. Chayes now has a web site that consolidates much of her writing (unfortunately as of August 2011, the site seems to be gone).

Flying Spaghetti Monster

A response to the Christian Fundamentalists’ push to bring “Intelligent Design” into the science curriculum of American schools…

fsm_b_1600x1200th2.jpg

“An elaborate spoof on Intelligent Design, The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is neither too elaborate nor too spoofy to succeed in nailing the fallacies of ID. It’s even wackier than Jonathan Swift’s suggestion that the Irish eat their children as a way to keep them from being a burden, and it may offend just as many people, but Henderson, described elsewhere as a 25-year-old “out-of-work physics major,” puts satire to the same serious use that Swift did. Oh, yes, it is very funny.
— Scientific American

“Continuous Journey”

While driving, I was listening to a CBC radio interview with the wife of film maker Ali Kazimi and heard the most soul stirring music being sung by Shahid Ali Khan. When I got home, I searched the internet until I learned how I could purchase this music from Kazimi’s film “Continuous Journey”, about Canada’s shameful refusal in 1914 to let a shipload of 376 South Asian passengers (many of them citizens of British India) into Canada.

The sound and music CD was discovered at Improbable Music, and features Shahid Ali Khan, Kiran Ahluwalia, Ben Grossman, Ravi Naimpally, Mark Korven and Philip Strong. You can listen to a short clip at the web site. When I listened to the film maker’s wife speak about Shahid Ali Khan singing the piece that I heard on CBC Radio, she said that Kazimi asked him to sing about longing for home etc…you don’t need to know the Pakistani language, you can hear and feel it right down to your bones.  I recently discovered a  quotation by Shahid on CBC describing his music, “The duty of Qawwali is to reduce the distance between the Creator and the created”.

“Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead” by Habeeb Salloum

arab-cooking.jpg

“Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead: Recipes and Recollections”, by Habeeb Salloum

is one of the best books I’ve bought in ages. I have been reading this cookbook in my spare time, and as my bedtime reading! I am learning about a part of Canadian history that I knew sadly little about from my education. I am also learning much, much more. The book is sprinkled with Arab proverbs, and stories about the author’s family and growing up on the prairies.

The recipes are extremely easy to follow, very simple, and have been producing absolutely delicious food in our kitchen. The many photographs are helpful in showing what unfamiliar dishes should look like when one is finished cooking them! As an “infoholic” and book lover, I love the thorough index.

I am truly thankful to the author for this marvelous volume.

To read an excellent description and review of this book, go to CPRC Publishing (a university press). You’ll also find the author’s bio, a table of contents, and even a sample chapter. Available at Amazon,from the Cookbook Store and McNally Robinson.

Spring flowers

img_2443-copy.jpg

I love to plant indigenous flowers in my flower gardens. Above is some Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), started from a single plant shared with me by a fellow local gardener. It’s always the very first thing to come up in the spring.

In addition to creating extraordinary clay work, Canadian potter (and gardener) Eva Gallagher creates hypertufa planters for succulents and alpine plants. They survive the cold winters extremely well. The planter below is what is blooming in my garden at present (there are still no leaves on the trees).  The planter was purchased with the “sculptured” succulent garden already planted.

img_2446-copy.jpg

A Musical Interlude…

One of our favourite quotations finishes the Nickelback video that used to be in this post (the video is chock full of film clips and trivia about several of our “heroes”):

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
~Margaret Mead

Stash Tea’s “Double Spice Chai Black Tea”

Yum! A combination of black tea and spices, with double the amount of cloves, cinnamon and whole cardamom as their regular chai tea. Available as loose tea, and as tea bags. It’s almost as good as the masala tea from my favourite Indian restaurant!

stashtea_1942_259150179.gif

The ingredient list:

Blended black tea, ginger root, cinnamon, cinnamon oil, clove oil, cardamom oil, allspice, nutmeg, clove, cardamom, and coriander.

Movie Review Sites (pre-screeing for kids)

Over the years, two sites, Screen it! and Kids In Mind, have been very helpful to me in previewing movies — without actually having to watch them myself — when deciding whether or not I think that I want my children to watch them.

The Screen It! site is a little difficult to find one’s way around, and one might assume that it’s an just advertising site (it’s just not attractive or well laid out!), but it is well worth one’s while to spend some time figuring out how to find the reviews. They offer detailed content listing in many categories for every movie they review. Each category is then assigned a rating that summarizes the quantity and degree of the content. Here’s a link to the page that describes just what they do, and how to use it. Here’s another link that will take you to the page where you can type in the title of the movie you’re interested in reading about. You can use the site for free, or buy a membership and get added benefits.

The Kids In Mind site is a quite different and compliments Screen It! very well. Beside the title of each movie, the site gives a rating from one to ten in three categories: Sex/Nudity, Violence/Gore, and Profanity. They explain objectively, in detailed list form (from the beginning of the movie to the end), why a film rates high or low in a specific category. They do not recommend ages for viewers, or comment on artistic merit, but rather leave that up to parents based the parents’ own value system.

I particularly value these sites because neither of them are associated with any religious or other organisations.

Bhusu and other delicious stuff

60 year old Surati Sweet Mart (Surati International Food) makes the most addictive, delicious Oriental/Indian snack food I’ve eaten. I crave it.

bhusu2.gif

My favourite is Bhusu, which is a spicy, crunchy mix of chickpea twigs, crispy rice, nuts, raisins, and other bits and shapes. You’ll even find the odd hot pepper. They recommend it for a morning or evening snack, but I will eat it at any time!The parent company makes a wide range of other products. Their organic whole foods are made from traditional family recipes using natural ingredients, with no preservatives, no artificial flavours, colours, or MSG.

Illiteracy of the Media…

Listening to CBC Radio’s “The Current” this morning, I learned of these two websites: PR Watch and Source Watch. New York Times writer Andrew Revkin, author of “The North Pole Was Here”, was underlining the fact that the media is scientifically illiterate, and often generally illiterate about other things that they report on. Definitely not “new news”, but very refreshing to hear it being discussed by the media! You can listen to this story by clicking on the Current link above and scrolling down to the “Listen to The Current: Part 2” link on the CBC page.

CBC — Canada’s public broadcasting company — is definitely one of my favourite things!

Rick Mercer challenges the “Traditional Values” crowd

This video from CBC Television’s “Rick Mercer Report” ran during the big same sex marriage debate in Canada — thankfully same sex couples now have the legal right to be married in Canada.

You can visit Rick Mercer’s web site and blog at: www.rickmercer.com/, his older address is here.

Western Creamery

Delicious, “back to basics” cultured dairy products! Pressed cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, baking cheese, and maslanka buttermilk.

creamcheese.jpgThe cream cheese tastes exactly like the homemade stuff that I used to buy at the kosher bakery near my apartment in Toronto (actually, all of Western Creamery’s products are certified kosher). Their cream cheeses are natural cheese products, made without stabilizers and gums, and the sour cream is made without additives and preservatives — the taste and texture is noticeably different from all other brands we’ve tried.

The Western Creamery website has nutritional information as well as recipes and other information.



Cahoots: at last!

Cahoots is a women’s magazine that is for thinking women; it is humourous, thought provoking, enlightening, and full of great, relevant information, poetry, and art. It stands out from any women’s magazine I’ve ever picked up! You can find Cahoots Magazine in Chapters/Indigo Bookstores across Canada, and at magazine and booksellers, or by visiting their website.  Update:  Cahoots is no longer producing a hard copy of their magazine but remains online.

The infamous “Dear Dr. Laura letter”:

Years ago, my brother sent this to me; I still love it.

“Why Can’t I Own a Canadian?

October 2002

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,
Jim”

Chicken Nuggets: processed or home made?

Which would you choose?

NOTE:  This video is no longer available at Youtube, however, it is available right here at Shoutfile! 

Processed food is a huge problem in our “Western society” in my view; educating people, especially young people, is key to avoiding processed food. The demonstration performed by Jamie Oliver captured on this BBC video accomplishes this brilliantly!

Snowflakes!

This is the coolest web site about snow…it has everything from amazing photographs of snowflakes to information about snowflake physics. Created by created by Kenneth G. Libbrecht, Professor of Physics and Chairman of the Physics Department at Caltech, it is an exciting site for children and adults!

Update February 8th, 2007: Dr. Libbrecht was a guest on Martha Stewart Show today. On the Martha Stewart web site, along with a quick “Snowflakes 101 Lesson”, he gives instructions on how to preserve your own snowflakes!

A terrific copyright info site for artists:

I discovered this web site in my search for copyright information regarding art work. The text below is from the FAQ page of the R.I.G.H.T.S. site:

What does R.I.G.H.T.S. stand for?

Redistribution In Graphics Has To Stop.

In its early stages, R.I.G.H.T.S. primarily was designed as a basic primer for copyright issues regarding the unauthorized use, theft of, or redistribution of graphics. However, now in its fourth year online, R.I.G.H.T.S. has made every attempt to address other protected intellectual property and the respective copyright issues addressing text, music, fonts, brushes, etc.

What is R.I.G.H.T.S.?

It is a collective stand that copyright owners throughout the internet must take in an effort to establish a clear, concise and direct global understanding that unauthorized redistribution of copyrighted property is illegal.

R.I.G.H.T.S. does not advocate the reactive process of “seeking or searching out” redistributed material; instead we promote a more proactive approach of educating the potential violator BEFORE the infringement occurs.”