Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Goodbye Shampoo!

I have a few friends who pick on me for turning into a "dirty hippy" these last few years, but I am a clean hippy I swear!

I keep seeing friends and bloggers mentioning going "poo-free", a phrase I will probably never use again because, well, ew. The idea of switching off shampoo was intriguing to me, if a bit frightening. I naturally have rather greasy hair. I was in the habit of washing it at least every second day, often every day. But the more I read, the more it seemed like a really great idea. I won't even bother trying to explain the science behind it, other bloggers have done that exhaustively and very well. See here and here.

My biggest concern wasn't the possibility of having greasy hair during the transition (that's what bandanas and hats are for), it was of my hair smelling like vinegar! I have a very sensitive nose, and that would drive me mad. The post that finally sold me was this. Tea scented hair? Yes, please! For my conditioner I use Earl Grey and for Andy's I use chamomile. Once my hair is completely dry, the vinegar smell is gone, and there is a faint tea smell. Lovely.

If you're interested, the amounts I use per batch are:

Shampoo: 2 Tablespoons baking soda to 2 cups water
My conditioner: 3 Earl Grey tea bags, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 cups water
Andy's conditioner: 3 chamomile tea bags, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 cups water

I poured the mixes into recycled water bottles, and used a nail to make a small hole in the lid. Shake well before each use. It only takes me a couple of squeezes to wash my short hair.

Andy and I both had the same reaction the first time we washed out hair with the soda shampoo, it's like cleaning the soap scum from the bath tub. All the residue from your normal hair products is washed away, leaving you with just your hair, as it should be. Andy said it felt like his hair was clean for the first time ever. You won't know til you try it!

And how is my hair looking? Fantastic! I haven't even had a problem with it being greasy. I'm washing it every three days now, and it's never looked better. My hair looks and feels so healthy, and it's so much more manageable. I'm pretty sure that as my hair adjusts, I'll have to use it even less often.

Forget eight dollar a bottle shampoo. I'm sold on baking soda and vinegar. Not just for volcanoes anymore.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Gatineau Park

With this beautiful change of weather we've had, I've been itching for a good walk in the woods. When we lived in New Hampshire, this was always the time of year we would climb Mt. Cardigan, which is just gorgeous. So I started poking around trying to find somewhere nice to hike around Ottawa. When I found Gatineau Park, I was so excited. It looked perfect.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure Gatineau park is spectacular, the problem is (as we discovered), that to get to the the real woodsy parts, you have to drive. We don't. It's only an hours walk from our house to where the park theoretically starts, but then it's a few more hours of walking down a hard paved bike path until you get anywhere you can really hike, and you're never out of earshot of the road. So I was pretty disappointed. We still had a nice day of walking, but it didn't satisfy that need for dirt paths and quiet.

Regardless, we had still had fun, and I got a few nice shots. I saw a brown preying mantis for the first time.

Such a cool little guy. I barely missed stepping on him. Looked just like another leaf in the road.

 The walk getting to the park was nice. This is one of the prettiest views of Ottawa.

Across the water in Gatineau, no that is not a real coyote.

Duck, duck, goose?

View of the city from the edge of the park.

What a fantastic tree. The bark looked like elephant skin.

Milk weed puts me in a happy place.

And, finally, a video of my wonderful man-child husband. Warning: contains obnoxious giggling.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Bike Rescue

Last night I rode my bike to the grocery store to grab a few last minute ingredients for dinner. I locked my bike up carefully outside like I always do. Ten minutes later I came back to find the entire bike rack with four bikes attached had been pushed over, and my bike was squished at the bottom of the pile. After much struggling I managed to right the rack and untangle my bike, however, when I went to unlock it, my key wouldn't fit into the lock anymore. It was definitely my bike and my lock (there aren't many other bikes with canning boxes strapped to the back), but it was just not coming free. It looked like someone had tried to pick my lock and jammed the mechanism somehow.

I texted Andy to come down and give me a hand, but to no avail. We just could not set her free. It was getting dark, so finally we had to give up and leave my poor bike there for the night. I was not happy, to put it lightly.

I sent out the call for help on Facebook, and a lovely woman I used to work with in Kingston said she had bolt cutters I could use, and she would send them to Ottawa with a friend of hers who was coming to the Farmer's Market.

This morning Andy and I set out again with some bike lube, tweezers and screw drivers to see if we couldn't get the lock unstuck before we had to cut it. Luckily my bike was still where I left her. There was also a firetruck sitting right next to the bike rack, and a couple of firefighters sitting beside it, probably on their lunch break. I was a little concerned they might think we were trying to steal my bike, though it would be pretty ballsy to try to steal a bike in broad daylight in front of two firefighters.

We poked and prodded for about twenty minutes, while one of the firefighters was showing a mother and her tiny son around the truck (too cute). Then he called out, "I can cut that off for you if you need me to." MY HERO! He pulled out a massive pair of bolt cutters, and a couple minutes later off it popped. It's definitely a good thing he was there, because after watching a strong firefighter struggle to cut that lock, I know there's no way I would have managed it!

So hurray for the Ottawa Firefighters! My saviours of the day, week,  YEAR.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Pumpkin Spice Buns

I had been dreaming of cinnamon buns for days, waiting for Sunday morning so I'd have an excuse to make them, and so Andy would be home to make sure I didn't eat them all myself. Come Sunday morning, however, I was feeling a bit more creative and kept eying a tin of pumpkin in my cupboard. It might be a few weeks early, but fall is calling to me. So I split my dough in two batches, half for regular cinnamon buns and half for experimental pumpkin buns.

The pumpkin buns? Glorious. And I was happy to discover the few that were left over were even better cold from the fridge.

The dough I used was from Chickens in the Road's cinnamon bun recipe (including the egg and oil), though it took a lot more flour. Damn Ottawa humidity.

The filling I just made up as I went. I didn't measure anything, but this is a pretty good approximation.

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix well by hand. Keep in mind that amount is for half the batch of dough, if you're doing a full batch, double the recipe.

Roll out your dough to approximately 12" x 8".

Brush surface with melted butter, then spread your pumpkin mix evenly, leaving a little space around the edges.

This is my other batch I did more traditionally, with brown sugar, cinnamon, currants and walnuts. Also delicious.

Starting with the long edge, gently roll your dough into a log, pinching the end to seal.

Slice the log into eight even pieces (cut the log in half, then each half in half, and then half again).

Place your rolls close together in your baking dish. Let rise for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, start preheating your oven to 350°F.

Bake approximately 30 minutes, or until golden on top, and cooked in the middle (pry two apart with a couple of forks, if it's stretchy and doughy give it a little longer).

When slightly cooled, drizzle with a mix of icing sugar and a little milk. I didn't have any on hand, but these would be fantastic with cream cheese icing. Actually I think next time I make these, I'll try spreading a layer of cream cheese before the pumpkin.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sneak Preview

I've been making an effort to pretty this place up a bit. Not too bad, so far. I'd really like a much deeper level of customization then what I have now, but Blogger doesn't make it that easy. For what I'd like to do, I'll have to edit HTML, which I know some basics of, but anyone who's gone into the "edit HTML" has noticed it's a bit wonky in there. At least compared to what I'm used to. Of course I haven't done anything with HTML since 2004, so maybe I'm just sadly out of date. I will figure it out eventually though. For now, this will do me.

Anyways, I just wanted to put up a couple of pictures of the project I'm working on right now. I've been teaching myself to crochet over the summer, and this is my second full project.

 It's going to be a small throw/baby blanket, mostly because the thought of making a full blanket, right now, intimidates me. I love the colours so much, but they really don't go with anything in my house, so I'm thinking I will try to sell it on Etsy (assuming I can make myself part with it).

 This is the first project I completed. Again, a baby blanket. This one I made for a friends newborn. All organic cotton, and so soft. I love the organic cotton, but it's just too pricey to use all the time.

I love teaching myself new skills, learning from my mistakes as I go. It can be a little frustrating some times, but I find the information sticks with me better than it does if I'm taught all the proper ways to do things from the start.

Although, it also means I look back at each project and lament how I could have made it better. Like if I'd known about blocking before I'd finished my first project, it would have been so much nicer.

Wibbly-wobbly (timey-wimey) edges!

And, of course, now that I'm half-way through my second project, I discover how to join as you go, which would have made things a lot easier. C'est la vie.

Regardless, I am quite proud of how much I've learned and accomplished in just a few months, and I can't wait to learn more.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Tea & Oatmeal

Earl Grey tea and Scottish oatmeal on a chilly September morning. Perfection. Really, I don't think it gets much better.

(Well, okay, it would be better if while I was taking this photo, there wasn't a prostitute trolling outside my apartment...)