Saturday, September 29, 2012

September at the speed of the light

This is my 50th post! Who knew I would find so many things to say, and so many things to learn and do since I moved here!

September has not been an exception; it's been so busy, I feel everything has been done on automatic pilot.
I've always felt that September, for me, was the real beginning of the year. It's the time I take my resolutions, I plan my year, I rework my budget, I take a big breath and get get back in every day's craziness.

So, here are some general news, for those who know me: I now have 3 work contracts at the university, 2 in the chiropractic department (one for the neuromusculoskeletal affections research group, one for a Chair in Knowledge Translation for health, set at McGill University) and a third one in the nursing department in the cardiovascular health laboratory. Tree groups, 3 supervisors, 3 cultures, 3 ways of working, 3 sets of deadlines. I'll get used to it, and anyway, it's supposed to be temporary, but let me tell you that the past month has been brutal on a professional level.

But to get distracted from all that work, I had a lot of options:

1. Get ready for our trip. We both took only a week off this summer, and it was far from being restful, so we are leaving on Tuesday for 2 weeks in Hungary and Romania. I didn't get the chance to organize much, but the good thing with going back to a place where you've spent so much time already is that there is no need to organize. This year, I added a visit to Dracula's castle (my man said he could not go to Transylvania and come back without having pictures of the castle), but besides bringing a few presents, letting people who have access to internet know we're coming, all I have to do is to buy a phone card when we arrive, and let people know we will pass by. AAhh, vacations. I can't wait.

One of the places we are going...I've never seen it in fall yet, I can't wait. 
2. Can. I canned an insane amount of plum jam, grape jelly and tomatoes. All by myself, since my man was busy getting ahead in his studies. He's going to miss the equivalent of 3 classes while we are gone, so he had to spent all his evenings writing papers and homework since he started his class at the beginning of the month. The bad thing with canning is because it doesn't happen often, I forget what I learn from a year to the other. So I have a batch of good grape jelly, and another one that did not "jellify".  The plums are good, but a little runny. And by the time I got to my 3rd box of tomatoes, I had everything under control, but let me tell you that evening of the first box was messy and painful.

3. Sew. I decided to learn how to sew properly. It's been on my to-do list for, like, ever, and I've never done anything about it. I wanted to register for weaving lessons, but I would have missed a third of them while on vacations, so I called a sewing school instead. (Not really thinking I would also miss a few classes, but hey, there was not much thinking done in September, as I mentioned earlier). So I ended up in a year-long class, which I LOVE. I don't know what it is, if it is to put a method to whatever I was doing without knowing how, or if it is just the teacher who is so experienced both in sewing and teaching, but I'm very happy I decided to register. I love how we learn techniques while making something at the same time. I'm making this skirt (model B) to start, and the teacher said that by the end of the year, we will have 2 skirts  2 blouses and 2 pairs of pants.

4. Exercise. I told you, September is the month of resolutions for me. I have not been very good at keeping up going to work with my bike, because I just get so red and sweaty in the last hill that I scared my colleagues. So I decided that since I had access to a gym at the university, I would use my lunch hour to get in shape. I registered to power yoga and aquafit. One of the unfortunate thing about going to that gym is that you have a few people teaching every single course. I know they are kinesiologists, and they know how to tell us to move and what to be careful with, but I do not enjoy that everything is taught the same way. For example, I would enjoy my yoga class to be a little bit more "yogic", and last semester, my zumba class was aerobics with hips. So I think I have to keep registering for classes where I my only expectation will be to move and sweat, such as in the aquafit one. I've also been doing Pilates for the past 2 years or so, and I kept that, and asked my teacher if it could become a little bit more intensive. Hopefully all these, plus my 15-minute walks to and from the bus stop twice a day will give me more energy, which is really my primary goal.

5. Get sick. I managed to get a little sick...but it's okay, I finish my antibiotics today, so  I'll be fine for my trip!

6. Go to funerals. My 84 uncle passed away a few weeks ago. He had had a very good life, so even if it was a sad event, we all managed well. It was great to see relatives I had not seen in a very long time, so all that driving around to get there was well worth it!

7. Start the Farmers' year. I'm still part of the local Farmers' circle (a women craft association) board, and we kick the year with our first meeting at the beginning of the month. I think over 100 members showed up, it was hot in the hall!

8. Harvest. In the past years, we had an urban garden, in containers that my man had modified for gardening. This year, we didn't have any time to take care of our garden, but still planted 2 kinds of cherry tomatoes and some other things, including containers' carrots. (I forget what else we planted, because it obviously didn't work). The fact that we actually planted something this year was due in good part to the fact that a colleague came to visit a few months ago with his young child, and we had to keep that child busy while his mother used my sewing machine to make curtains. So my man showed him how to plant seeds, and it actually turned into a a few very nice tomato plants!

We even got a few carrots!

9. Shop. I got those buttons on Etsy. Love them, but realized they are too big for my Peasy, which I will talk about further in the next paragraph.

10. Go to Montreal. I took a Friday to go to Montreal for ice cream (beet sage ice cream!) with friends, a haircut in an Aveda salon (no aveda product in 3R) a crazy concert featuring musicians I had met at camp this summer, yummy Romanian food, quality time with a little guy I love and an awesome zumba class taught by the best teacher ever.

11. Knit. Yeah, I know, difficult to believe I actually had time to knit something, right? Well, if we count the trip to Montreal + the fact that I take the bus for 10 minutes twice a day, that's about how much time I had to knit in September. Minus the days I chatted with friends who also take the bus, minus the days where my man picks me up from work, minus the few times where one of my supervisors gave me a ride home.

But, yeap, I managed to finish (kind of) my Peasy, which I rename the humility reminder cardi. Or, rather, I will finish it AGAIN today. Why did I need to be reminded to be humble? Well, because after knitting that cardigan quite quickly, without any mistake (well, not any I can see!) lace and all, I was ready to believe that I had become a good knitter. or at least not a beginner anymore. Until I got to the button bands. You, know the easy part, where you pick up stitches, and only knit for a few rows, and bind off, and that's it? I'm not even talking about the other band, where I had to make the button holes, because that went not very well,  but let say, quite well.

So this button band story started at the yarn festival I went to in August, I had a lot of time to knit, and did my first band on the Sunday afternoon. Catastrophe! I did the bind off so tight, it looked like a corset. I undid that. Once, twice, three times. Both sides were never symmetric  Did the bind off 4 different ways.  Changed for bigger needles. Asked my friend and knitting mentor Elizabeth, who told me that I just didn't pick the same amount of stitches on both side. What? That could not have been it? How did that happen, I was convinced I had followed the pattern exactly as it was. Well, I still had to re-do it 2 or 3 times, but I think that now, that's it, it is done. Well, I also realized that I forgot to do 2 button holes, but I didn't have any energy left to panic with that, so I just decided that I would sew the whole thing and wear it as a sweater, and add buttons to decorate. Eventually. That cardigan-turned-sweater is bathing as we speak, because I am wearing it in Europe next week. So I have decided.

Old picture, it is now symmetric!
But wait, that's not the only thing I knitted! I'm also almost done with this hoodie, which I am hoping to bring as a present in Romania next week. the back and front pieces are done, and I'm halfway through both sleeves, which means that tomorrow, I hope to knit the hood, block and assemble on Monday to pack. I don't see a lot of sleeping in my near future, since there is a lot of other things to do before we can leave on Tuesday, but hopefully, I'll be bringing 2 finished objects in my suitcase, and maybe more, but I don't want to talk about it so it get jinxed.

I will take a lot of pictures while I travel, and promise this time I will also post a few on the blog with explanations when I get back. Enjoy the fall, and see you in 2 weeks.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

You know fall is around the corner...

...when you see all the canning supplies getting featured in the grocery and hardware stores. That, for me, means minimally grape jelly, maybe tomatoes and hopefully cinnamon-plum jam.

Last week I went to my in-laws who gave me 2 buckets full of concord grapes. They have so much they don't know what to do with it. I spend almost all weekend transforming them in jelly.

I love grape jelly, and I like it even more since I started making my own. Last year, it turned perfectly. This year, I'm not so sure what it will look like when I open the first jar. Cooking on our 1960's stove has been a challenge. I had trouble getting the right temperature and kept burning myself.

Today was plum jam. One reason I wanted to get plum trees in our garden is because I love plum jam. We did not get any fruit this year, so we got a few kilos at the market last week, which I transformed into a yummy plum-cinnamon jam today.

Tomatoes might happen next week, and I also have beets for an evening this week.
So no time to knit this week.

Canning on our old stove. Not fun.
I might have bought way to many plums
had a few of these last week: organic gin (thanks Cherie!), tonic, cucumber and wild blueberries

Final product: lots of plum jam!