Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Paint in circles



Woah, wait, what? Katherine?

Yup. Sometimes it slaps me in the face so hard. I have learned a lot of ways to become aware of when I'm experiencing it, and I have learned to do what I need to do to keep being a good, functioning human being.

One thing I do that I think is a good defense against depression, is to retreat to a safe place instead of a really dark place.
I find myself pining to be somewhere else. "Somewhere else" is almost always one of these two places: in the Alps in Switzerland, or at the dock by the lake at sunset. 

I like to recreate these places with my beginner painting skills. I want to recreate the feelings of peace and love and tranquility that I experienced as a child and/or teenager in those places. 

I'm so fascinated by the mind. Specifically, my mind. Several years ago, my anxiety was rampant. It controlled every single aspect of my day. 

Thanks to some serious health re-organization, feelings of anxiety have been very dormant. Yay! 

But WHAM. The other side, the sad side, the slow, numb, "I don't want to do anything ever" side surprises me some days by just taking over my mind. 

Here's a cool fact I've noticed: it is almost always directly proportional with the cloudiness of the sky. Actually I don't know if that's a fact, or something I made up because it feels poetic! I am 99% sure that I'm directly affected by the sun and lack-thereof, though.

I like to remind myself that sad days are OK.

I realize this post is a bit scatter-thoughted, and not very concise. Maybe I will continue in point-form!

Why I feel sad:
-situations in my life
-life hands me a lot of "no" all at once
-I start to remember all the "yes" and then I feel guilty for being sad and that makes me more sad

What I do to feel better:
-continue with my tasks of the day
-clean something
-be around people that are more energetic than me
-go to yoga
-call my parents and tell them all my insecurities (this sucks at first, but once it's out, it feels good)

What I want to do with my life:
-I want to help
-I want to share
-I want to create

I've been mulling over a bunch of topics that I want to write about and share through this blog.  A lot of them are deep, heavy, and hugely personal. This post is step #1. 

I'd really love to open a dialogue about these kinds of things, and if you're reading this right now, it means I had the guts to hit "publish" regardless of my fears and inhibitions about sharing stuff like this on the World Wide Web. 

What this post isn't: 
-a cry for attention

What this post is:

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Hey friends! Today I'm going to talk about food.

Gaspacho with loads of fresh parsley

A good while ago, I started to wean myself off dairy. I'd had a wide array of health issues, with no real cause or solution according to the doctors I went to see. I'd decided to go off the book and figure some things out on my own, for my own healing. The initial removal of dairy was strange, since I'd drink milk in my tea and cereal every morning. I also had a real soft spot for cheese. 

Top Left: Italian quinoa salad Top Right: Southwestern sweet potato salad Bottom: Squash and beets (used in next photo)

I did it though, and even though I'm sure diary sneaks its way into some of the foods I eat occasionally, I don't make a huge fuss about it. I usually just get a headache or a stomach ache. 

Roasted beets, spaghetti squash, kale, pepitas

I stopped eating meat, too. This was gradual: I stopped eating beef after a terrible food poisoning incident, (or it may have been the flu; I'll never know!) and then pork, and a few months later, chicken. A month or two after that, I had my last piece of fish. I haven't had any meat or fish since then, and maybe I won't. But maybe if I'm in Japan and there's fancy sushi, I might? I have no idea. 

Drying mint to make tea!

"So are you totally vegan?"
Nope. I would say that I'm not that word. I am a vegetarian, but I prefer to not eat dairy. Do I eat eggs? Occasionally. I don't buy eggs. I eat eggs if they're from Vicky's farm, or being served to me in a context where I really want to eat them, like on the Camino. Sometimes they're available to me, and they come from healthy happy chickens that I may or may not know personally. 

I totally eat honey.

Sweet and Sour veggie soup

How do I feel? Amazing.
If you knew me before I took my health seriously, you'd know what a massive change I've made in my life. I was constantly sick, headaches, migraines, fatigued, allergies, stomach aches, etc. Also anxious, depressed, very unfit, and grumpy.

Burrito bowl with rice, corn, salsa, cilantro, peppers, spinach, avocado

At this moment in my life, this lifestyle is working. If I want to start eating more eggs one day, I will. If I want to eat something else one day, I will. 

When it comes to health and nutrition, I don't think anyone has it truly "figured out". I like how this is working right now, and I'm going to stick with it. 

The one hurdle I'm trying to figure out is this: I train pretty frequently and hard for triathlons. I do eat enough, but I always crave oatmeal cookies! 

I love eating plant-based foods, and I'm certainly not sick of it yet!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


This is Sturgeon Lake, where I spent every summer as a kid and teenager. Not as a cottager, but as a local, since this is where I grew up!

In the summers from when I was about nine to seventeen, each day I would boat across the lake with my brothers in the early morning (it was probably not that early, but we were lazy teenagers) to go sailing at the Sturgeon Lake Sailing Club. 

One of my best friends lived across the lake as well, so in the afternoons I'd boat there myself and we'd hang out, eat nachos, play cribbage, and listen to India Arie. 

I'd been in this lake loads of times, but always with a lifejacket if I was in the middle of the lake. I have one of those silly fears of open water and fish touching my feet or sharks or something. 

Last year I swam across the lake for the first time, in a wetsuit, with my dad in a canoe beside me. 

This year, I swam across and BACK, no wetsuit, with my dad and mom in a canoe beside me again. It would be unsafe to swim across this lake without boat support. It's a big lake and very busy with big boat traffic! I actually experienced a lot of "boat waves" while swimming across and back. It sucked swimming into them, but swimming with the waves must be what body surfing is like. 

What will I swim next summer? The length of the lake? Oh, probably not something that far. But who knows!

Monday, 7 September 2015


Hello friends!

Summer is ending, and some of us are headed back to school tomorrow. This summer was excellent. I feel like I did so many things, and experienced so much! In June, I made myself a couple of dresses. I didn't photograph every step of the process, but I can talk you through what I did!

The first dress I made was with a very soft stretch knit. For the top half of the dress, I used my home-made shirt pattern (from THIS post!) and then a full circle skirt on the bottom half. 
To make a circle skirt, cut out a big circle of fabric (radius is the length) and then cut out a hole in the middle for your waist, the circumference of that hole being your waist measurement minus an inch or two to take into consideration the seam allowance. 
I had a lot of tinkering to do on this dress, since the circle skirt was a lot of fabric and weighed down the top quite significantly, stretching down the waist. I had to raise the waistline up quite a bit, and also cut off nearly two inches of the skirt just to get rid of weight (and length, since I'm not super tall)

It's so soft and I love wearing it!

The next dress I made from some very old fabric. I remember when I was about 8 or 9, my mom took me to fabricland, as she so often did!. Right near the entrance was a bolt of this cherry fabric. There was also a cute dress made from the same fabric on display on a dressform; I guess one of the ladies who worked there at the time had made it! I really liked it, and so did my mom (a rare occurance in those days!) and she bought me around 1.5m of the cherry fabric.

Fast-forward ~20 years, and I finally used it! I used the exact same pattern as THIS dress, for which I also used old fabric from the 90s.

Penny decided that the perfect place to sit would be right on top of this flannel...

I did a longer waist on this one, since I am surprisingly long-waisted for my height. I did a slightly shorter hem, to keep the proportions right for petite me!

I hope to sew up a few more things before school gets pretty busy. I have been knitting and painting, so stay tuned for blog posts about that!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Running Tee to Cycling jersey DIY

Everyone knows that the best part about some running races are the technical tee you get with your race kit. Last year, the Sporting Life 10k in TO had the best t-shirts! I still wear mine every week. 

This year the shirts were not bad at all, but when I picked up my kit, they had only size M, which isn't so great because I'm an XS. Instead of crying about it, I decided to do something about it.

First, I folded it front/back-wise and compared it to a better fitting shirt (the one from last year!) to get an idea of how much fabric I'd have to take in on the sides.

Weirdly enough, that "new" size corresponded perfectly to the side panels of this shirt, so I just cut along those. 

I also decided to cut off the sleeves, which were conveniently attached in a "raceback" style already, so I didn't have to hem the raw edges after.

This is what it looks like, sides cut out, and sleeves as well. 

And then I made an incredible discovery: I could use the sleeves as a back pocket! 

 I ended up attaching both sleeves together so that it fit across the back. I attached it first along the bottom, and then threaded some elastic through the top.

Notice how the bottom is already attached? 

I did the side-seams along with the side-seams of the front and back of the top itself. I also sewed down the centre so that I'd have two pockets, instead of one giant one.

Et voila! 


And back!

And my backside too!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Making a new T-shirt from old fabric

As you may or may not know, I (mostly*) gave up buying clothes. The main reasons for this are humanitarian and environmental. The clothes that I can afford are all made in Asia, probably in terrible working conditions. The environmental impact of these industries is also pretty butts, so if I can make a small difference by not contributing, I will! If I could afford all locally-made things, I would! Luckily, I know how to make a lot of things myself.

Over the past year, I've accumulated lots of new-to-me clothes through swaps and hand-me-downs (thanks to my cousins Carolyn and by proxy, Diana! Oh, and my aunt Lisa!). My closet and dresser feel bountiful in so many ways; I rarely feel the need to buy stuff. 

If you're about to do a closet-purge, get in touch with some friends and have them over for a clothing exchange party. Everyone brings old stuff, y'all go through it, take what you like, and then donate the rest! It's win-win-win. 

Recently, I've been craving a new shirt.

Oh this shirt? I made it!
Back in my teenager days, I sewed a lot. I liked sewing my own clothes so much, that my first real job was at the local Fabricland in Lindsay, ON. (My first "not" real jobs were cutting grass and stacking hay. True story). Working at a fabric store, but being a busy grade 11/12 student with university prospects, meant that I was able to buy a lot of fabric at a low cost, but didn't always have the time to follow through and actually sew it all up. 

Over this past Christmas when I was visiting my parents, I scoured the basement for my old fabric stash. I found these stretch knits! I don't know if asian-inspired Hawaiian prints are in right now, but I like it! I had an idea for a two-toned raglan tee. I'll show you what I did!

I had this old t-shirt that fits me really nicely in the arms/shoulder area. Actually, it fits me nice all the way around the whole thing! It's really worn out, and the stripes/colours aren't my favourite. I decided to use this shirt as a template for the perfect fitting tee.

Luckily I had some tissue paper from a pea coat I bought from Laura Petites in January*. 

Since my tissue paper stash is really quite spare, I decided to make only one pattern piece for front and back. That way I have extra tissue paper for the next project, whatever that will be!

I drew a line where I wanted the contrast top/bottom to happen.

There are two pairs of scissors because one is for fabric, the other is for paper/everything else.
FYI, keep your fabric shears for fabric only! They'll last longer and stay super sharp.

I love cutting out patterns. I think this is my favourite part about sewing!

This was so easy to sew, as it was so few pieces. I attached the yokes to the bodices first, and then front and back. 

I did a simple (lazy) hem around the bottom, sleeves, and neck. Hemming is my least favourite part about sewing. I'd rather be a pattern-cutter any day! 

And it's done! I love the way it drapes over the shoulders, and the neckline scoops and boats!