this post should have been done way earlier as these were the presents that Lee made for Maxine and Asa for Christmas.
he did a fabulous job!
we ordered these sock monkey socks- (in XL)- which came with 2 pairs of socks (you need one pair per monkey) and instructions of how to make the monkeys.
the socks were a bit late in arriving, so Lee had only one day to make them.
what we learned: it's not really a beginner project!! he did really well, and did them 90% on his own, but they took a LONG time! but the kid stuck with them- right on.
and his brother and sister were very pleased.
we have grown wheat grass in our Easter baskets in the past, but we won't be this year as we will be in Florida visiting my dad at Easter!
Suna has some nice instructions here.
you may see in the description of my blog that i write about urban Island living. in case you're new here...
I live in a very wonderful and unusual community on Toronto Island- a 10 minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto.
We are approximately 750 people living in 262 houses on one end of a long skinny island in Toronto Harbour. The remaining 90% of the Island is a city park- large expanses of grass, trees and beaches. Our Island is car-free except for the occasional service vehicles (park maintenence, garbage trucks, deliveries). Most of us use bikes and carts to get our groceries etc on the mainland. (here's how i get groceries) Our houses are small and close together, but we generally like it like that. We lease the land from the city, but we own our houses. Our houses are part of a community land trust (here's a decent explanation of how it works) and are bought and sold at replacement cost value. if you want to read more blog posts about our Island life- go here. Or especially this post about our community- one of my favourites.
the Island community of today is much different, and smaller, than it used to be. There used to be a real whole town on the Island- with hotels, stores, a baseball stadium (where Babe Ruth hit his first run!)
attractions like a diving horse and amusement rides
In the early decades of this century, there were houses at Hanlan's Point and Centre Island in addition to those at Ward's Island and, later, Algonquin Island. Residents numbered in the thousands and there were many more commercial establishments serving the community and visitors than there are today.
Michael O'Connor opened the Island's first hotel in 1833. He catered to the growing number of Torontonians seeking an escape from city life. For these people the Island was a place where they could relax with long walks and sporting events or dance and socialize. Even in winter, people came to fish, skate and sail their iceboats. By the late 1870s, Hanlan's Point had become the "Coney Island of Canada" with a vaudeville theatre, dance halls and a large amusement park. In 1897, a baseball and lacrosse stadium was built on the site of the present-day Island Airport. It was here that Babe Ruth hit his first major league home run! And it was during this time that numerous cottages began to appear, as city residents embraced the landscape and lifestyle of the Island. By the turn of the century, Hanlan's Point had grown to be a "summer suburb of the city" and this it remained for more than 50 years.
Similarly, Centre Island was once home to many people and to businesses of every description: a pharmacy, a "Parisien" laundry, a movie theatre and a barber shop, among others. Cherokee, Mohawk and Shiawassie Avenues were just three of the sites of homes described as "new antique" and "Venetian inspired," bordering as they did on the Island's lagoon system. It was here, and especially on the lakefront, that large Victorian summer homes were built by Toronto's leading families seeking refuge from the summer heat and proximity to the Royal Canadian Yacht Club.
The part of the Island we live in is called Ward's Island. The houses on Ward's today are mostly small cottages that were built from the seasonal tents of the early 1900s- the low-rent summer vacation places. Again, from Delwyn:
The Ward's Island community began in the 1880s as a settlement of tents. A writer for the Ward's Island Weekly reports that the intent of campers was to "keep it simple." Residents envisaged a "city" of tents, each having a slight individuality, yet standing together as a whole. The first summer colony on Ward's in 1899 consisted of just eight tenants, each of whom had paid a fee of $10 ground rent for the season. By 1913, the number of tents pitched had increased to the point where the city felt it necessary to organize the community into streets. The evolution from tents to cottage structures progressed in stages with the building of floors, the addition of kitchens and then porches, resulting in the creation of the homes you see today.
This is an aerial view from 1911:
this is our street in 1929
and here are some Ward's Islanders back in the day. people built kitchen sheds onto the backs of their tents. You can see the tent roof rising up behind the shed roof in this photo.
so what happened to the thousands of residents, shops, hotels and attractions?
With the establishment of Metro Toronto Council in 1953 came a radical change in policy toward the Toronto Islands landscape and its residents. Following in the footsteps of Robert Moses, chairman Fred Gardiner wasted no time in instituting the "modernization" of the area. With the transfer of Island lands and leases by the City to Metro came the rapid removal of businesses and the systematic demolition and burning of homes. With the last of the Lakeshore houses gone by 1968, residents on Ward's and Algonquin Islands rose up in protest. The fight to save their community lasted over 20 years until the 1993 establishment of the Toronto Islands Residential Community Trust and the procurement of 99-year land leases for residents.
Someday i'll write about the "Save Island Homes" 20-year-long protest- for which i am eternally thankful.
For the next Island Life post, I'll show you some of my favourite Island houses.
This was a wordy post but I hope you enjoyed a bit of Island history!
(all the photos were from the City of Toronto archives, via)
this week i have been:
about this film and the issues it raises
probably by now, most of you have seen it.... but i am wondering what you think
i have been hearing about the controversy for the last couple of days but i hadn't actually taken the time to watch it until today. first, i was extremely moved by it. it seemed to me to be extremely hopeful- people using social media to effect change for the better in the world. second, i went online and read some of the criticisms. and there is a ton of criticism out there. one of the best pieces that tried to dissect the video and its controversy was this one.
only time will tell if this is real social justice activism or a fad designed to mimic the real thing. we will see if Joseph Kony is captured and brought to justice and what difference that makes to people in Africa. until then, in the words of the article i linked to above,
What could possibly be the problem with raising awareness? How on earth can it be a bad thing to call attention to the fact that a horrible war criminal is still at large?
my neighbour Sean Tamblyn has an amazing website of his Toronto Island photography:
today he posted a video of the lake during our recent high winds- a dramatic montage of what could be the ocean- click on the photo to watch it on his site
and while you're there- check out some of the Island wildlife- birds galore, beavers, foxes, coyote, amphibians.
amazing to think we have all these critters so near to the city!
some of my favourites:
i have been meaning to post this awesome change since the fall when we did it...
our living room (which basically means the whole house) has been a gorgeous golden ochre colour since we moved in in 1999. And the living room before that was the same colour. Sort of a Van Gogh wheat field colour. i was getting pretty sick of it.
for a few years i have been wanting to paint and have been looking for the perfect green. We found it in Benjamin Moore's Jalepeno Pepper.
so here it is:
(with these photos you get a little taste of 'corners of my home'- do you remember that meme on the domesticity-crafty blogs? it was so nice. i always wanted to do it but my corners are too dirty...)
the day after my man finished painting he was in the city and he saw this street car go by:
paint the town GREEN! it is my favourite colour....
so- cloth snack/lunch bags!
we've been using these for over a year and i highly recommend making some. i use them for sandwiches, muffins, apple slices, etc.
these are just straight up fabric without a liner or anything. I didn't want to use plasticized fabric because i don't like plastic but i was worried things would dry out in fabric bags. (if you want to buy, we had these bags given to us once and they were great. they are food-safe plastic fabric but SO EXPENSIVE)
the kids usually eat within a few hours of leaving home and the food stays moist and fresh. i turn them inside out to wash and dry them.
the design- it is a copy of the old plastic fold lock top bag and very easy to make. I take a long rectangle (about 6" x 16") and serge (or zig zag) each short edge. then i fold it in half wrong-sides-together, fold down the top layer's top 2 " or so, and serge (or zig zag) down each side. The edges are finished at the same time as the seams are made. each bag takes less than 5 minutes to make.
i made a bunch of these last year and as the supply has started to dwindle lately i made some more today. ~i also did a bunch of other random sewing today- when Asa came home today he said- "Oh! Was it your making day today, Mama? :)
one night someone really didn't want to eat his spinach salad. I offered to blend it up (a familiar idea as we make morning veggie/fruit/chia/Greens+ shakes every day) and a new dinner vegetable option was born.
the crazy thing is- the kids are eating SO much spinach this way- dark leafy greens!- yum- and they hardly realize it. every time one of them drinks 2 cups of spinach it makes me so happy.
here's how we do it:
for 3 kids:
(i have this blender - which was expensive but we use it every day and it was so worth it)
(watch out for green mustaches)
i am going to try to blog every day this month. I have never before attempted this feat, but i realize i want to put some energy back into this space. i missed the 1st, but here she goes....
my days this week:
listening to Sinead O'Connor's new album (it's fantastic)
watching Treme - 2 seasons in two weeks!!
this show is has so much heart. i just loved it- i can't wait for season 3. to me (a transplanted American) it really captures the best and worst of the US and of Americans and the tension that exists in American culture and society. it's horrible and joyous at the same time. it actually makes me a bit homesick.
cooking Fresh restaurant's Thai Noodles
image via this blog
here's a link to the recipe on Cookbook Cooks' blog- i always freeze half the sauce for another meal
(btw, i think i have told you how fantastic the cookbook from Fresh restaurant is but I'll tell you again- yummy vegan fare)
exploring the Sistine Chapel with the kids
have a great weekend!
from this little guy
to this big one
faster than i would have thought possible
you are growing into a fantastic young man. Even though I can't take (too much!) credit for what a great kid you are, when I see you out in the world i feel we are doing something right. i thought I would be sad as you left babyhood- but i love having an older child. Dad and I are so lucky to have you, our eccentric roommate.
PS--for Lee's birthday party with his friends, i couldn't resist making him something fun- I made these cake pops
i am embarrassed to tell you how long it took me, and how many batches of white chocolate i ruined trying to melt and dip them before giving up and dipping them in icing sugar frosting... hats off to those bakers who make those perfect looking cake pops!! they are harder than they look!
these were so fun to make!!!
i made them using freezer paper stencils and bleach.
this one, for our friend G for his birthday, was made using the postive space cut-out, and spraying bleach all around it.
for the next two items (both for Miss Maxine!) I used the negative space cut-outs, sprayed bleach, rinsed and damp dried, then ironed on the postive space cut-outs and did another round of bleach.
the boys will make their own t-shirts in a workshop I'm teaching on Sunday- I'll post their results when we get there...
not too long ago i made some more needlefelted creatures. i was trying to make them for christmas presents, but every one i made Asa or Maxine BEGGED if he/she could keep it. so in the end, i only gave away 2- a white dove for my dad, and a pig for Asa's teacher. (both were finished the night before I had to give or send them, so i have no photos!)
here's a fox (we had a fox or two on the Island last winter)
a penguin (in the habitat that Asa made for it, and with his friend penguin that Asa also made)
a mouse (Maxine claimed this one- the cat likes it too)
and an Angry Bird
please excuse the copyright infringement!! this is not my usual style, but my little guy was desperate for and Angry Bird stuffy. so i made one! and thank goodness, he actually thinks it's cooler than the 'real' ones.
I have said this before, but I feel so lucky my kids think homemade=the best!
you might remember this monster suit from a few years ago? (he looks so little!!) well, it's finally too small.
(photo shoot at the St. Lawrence Market!)
and I have to share this video- a perfect job for grown-up Asa!!!
it is really funny- it has one swear (the B word) in it but otherwise child friendly (well, if you don't mind hot half-naked men- but in a good way) and the kids LOVE IT!!
the image in my new banner (look up!) is of houses and bikes and bike carts from our Island- showcased in an amazing pebble mosaic newly installed in front of our community clubhouse.
the mosaic project was spearheaded by my neighbour, artist Kathleen Doody, who drew in lots of other community members for the creation and installation of this gorgeous work. (the project and how-to's are documented here) (kathleen instructed me in this method for our garden stones we made last year)
we were feeding a neighbour's cats over the holidays- I had the brilliant idea (pat pat) to set up all my sewing stuff over there so I could work on my Christmas sewing. It was so great! I didn't have to worry about curious children or leaving a mess out- just work and then walk away leaving it all set up. must be what it's like to have a spacious studio...
aside from the Christmas jammies and bathrobe,
a dog coat for my mom's dog (Butterick 4885)
i learned that dogs are even harder to photograph than children
i also sewed matching dresses for Maxine and her new dolly
this (sort of dark) picture is the only one I have as Maxine tried it on only the once: unfortunately as a pattern for Maxine's dress I used one of her dresses that is basically too small and I hadn't realized it. so that is a shame unless I can get some more fabric. it was from Joann's and it's this super cute owl print corduroy:
Maxine's new dolly is a Canadian girl (well, they're actually Maplea Girls but the are the equivalent of the you know-who-dolls in the USA).
she LOVES HER!!!!!
her name is Saila and she is from Nunavit. (The girls are all from different provinces) Max also got a bunch of clothes for 'her girl' (she calls her 'my girl'!) and spends hours daily dressing and undressing her, and making up stories about her. I enjoy brushing her hair. (someone else in the family also enjoys braiding her hair but he won't let me say who.) and i have to say I'm looking forward to making more clothes.
someone asked me, under his breath, 'live vicariously much?' and this may be completely true, but who cares?