Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Statistics and Algorithms

K.B. Sterling, circa 1980

I've already done two retrospective posts on Facebook, and now, here I am, about to do one here on the blog. I'm not going to apologize, however, because I find these periods of looking back to be informative and comforting.

The interesting thing is that the automatically-generated memes don't really allow for much thought or explanation. For example, my Facebook slideshow didn't make much of one of the major events of my year: the premature and unexpected death of my friend K.B.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fear of Commitment

Our kitchen, the day we bought it.
We're about to take on a big project, but I'm feeling really ambivalent about saying the word, "Go!"

Monday, December 29, 2014

Good Christmas

As I sit here enjoying my turkey sandwich, I've been trying to figure out what made this Christmas so different from other years. So much better.

It wasn't that I didn't make an all-in Christmas dinner (including egg-wheat-dairy-free variations for one daughter). And it wasn't that I didn't make elaborate to-do lists. (See photo above.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Oh, Interwebs!

snowtime from Иванов Вячеслав on Vimeo.

Hat tip: IFL Science

Welcome to my periodic round-up of things I've found online that make me smile, cry, laugh, think, shout, or drop my jaw. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Forest Follow-Up

The ground in this photo should be covered in snow, but it's not. Instead there is a swath of mulch where the City took down trees in our small forest, in an effort to stop the emerald ash borer from completely decimating the green space.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Oh, Interwebs!

Alex S. MacLean's aerial photographs of Detroit are captivating.
Welcome to my periodic round-up of things I've found online that make me smile, cry, laugh, think, shout, or drop my jaw. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

When You Live With a Sensitive Butterfly

Some weeks ago, I mentioned that Stephen and I had decided to become leaders for a Family Connection program that had helped us understand and help a family member who struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder, also known as emotion dysregulation. Last weekend, we attended that training.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Liminal Spaces

Bridges in the forest at Frank Ryan Park
I recently learned a word that describes one of my continuing artistic obsessions: liminal.
liminal (adjective)
1. of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oh, Interwebs!

Patrick Dougherty creates fascinating scultpures out of branches and grasses.
Welcome to my periodic round-up of things I've found online that make me smile, cry, laugh, think, shout, or drop my jaw. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pasta Primavera

I've been so preoccupied getting the cookbook ready that I almost forgot that I owe you a recipe!

Back in November, I posted a list of recipes that I still had to prepare and asked you if there was one you were most eager to see. That post only got one comment, but it was a request for Pasta Primavera. So here it is.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Questioning Christmas Cards

Visit for Christmas cards this holiday.

That preview shows the last Christmas card Steve and I have sent -- and that was two years ago now. Last year, I was exhausted enough that I had quit my job, and was doing my best to make as many of our gifts as possible. At one point, I had fantasized about creating individual watercolor cards for each person on our list.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fresh out of the oven! -- UPDATED

UPDATE: now includes preview and link to order iTunes version!

DING! The Sibbald Family Famous Recipes Cookbook is DONE and we have ordered enough copies for our little family.

The book is available to you, now, in two formats: print or PDF. (I'm still waiting for the iTunes book to go live.) Here are the links.

Oh, Interwebs!

Stephen Orlando's photos capture the hypnotically repetitive motions of kayakers, canoers, and swimmers
as they paddle through the water, turning their movement into beautiful woven braids of light. 
Welcome to my periodic round-up of things I've found online that make me smile, cry, laugh, think, shout, or drop my jaw. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Handmade Christmas

Merry Catmas!
Last year, I focused on making as many of my gifts as possible. Most of them were well received (though some I gave to the wrong person). I've re-posted the page that has links to all of the instructions, including the massive failure of the candied pecans.

A Handmade Christmas


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Douchebag Genius

Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago, Illinois
If you've watched the Steve Jobs movie, then you know that brilliant people can be total assholes. The obsessive drive that leads to innovation doesn't always come with great social skills. Frank Lloyd Wright, architect extraordinaire was one of those douchebag geniuses.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Nananeye's Muffled Pup - UPDATED

Muffled Pup is a ground-beef meat pie baked in a biscuit crust.
Today's post is actually a recipe for a meat pie, but it requires a bit of a preamble. It is from back in the days when Steve and I were just starting out. Now for the explanation of the recipe's name:

Monday, December 1, 2014

Take-aways from My Trip to Europe

Winkie, me, Pat at le Château de Gruyères, Switzerland
It's been almost two months since I returned from my big European adventure with my Aunt Winkie, and three things that I discovered on that trip have become part of my everyday life.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Oh, Interwebs

See more pictures that dog owners will understand at Pleated Jeans.
Welcome to my periodic round-up of things I've found online that make me smile, cry, laugh, think, shout, or drop my jaw. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

This is why I hoard.

The other day, my computer informed me that the hard drive was at 90% capacity. It cautioned that its performance would begin to slow down.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pea Soup

I will never be able to say "pea soup" without hearing the crickets (surely they aren't cockroaches!) from Rescuers Down Under. Despite that, it is one of our favourite recipes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Grammar Ninja: Who's and Whose

Since none of you has sent me a grammar question (one wonders what it is you do all day if it is not pondering grammar), I am compelled, nay, obliged, to come up with a topic of my own choosing. So here's today's discussion: who's versus whose.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A-glamping we did go!

Almost immediately after my return from two weeks in Europe, my husband Steve and I took off for a little retreat together. Earlier in the fall, I had stumbled upon a Groupon deal for "glamping" (a portmanteau word for glamour + camping).

On further investigation, it turned out that this experience was for a stay at les Refuges Perchés, which literally translates to "perched shelter."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Oh, Interwebs!

Wishing a thankful Thanksgiving (next week) to my American family and friends. Here are some pictures of what dinner would look like if it were plated by some famous modern artists.

Welcome to my periodic round-up of things I've found online that make me smile, cry, laugh, think, shout, or drop my jaw. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ding-ding! We have a winner!

I am beyond happy to say that we have found a diet that Kane doesn't just tolerate but is really thriving on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

French-Canadian Classic: Tourtière du Lac-St-Jean

Tourtière du Lac-St-Jean
Most Canadians are familiar with tourtière* - a meat pie made with ground meat and spices. It's so popular that you can buy it ready-made in grocery stores. This is not that tourtière.

This one is a feast of game meat in big chunks, slow-roasted in a pie crust. It is a recipe big enough to feed a whole extended family, and it takes most of a weekend to prepare and cook.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fun with Corpses!

My sinuses are killing me. Seriously. but I'm about to pass out, so . . .
Well, okay, "bones" is the more accurate word, but "fun with bones" doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

Anyway, People had an article about these ancient bones that were removed from catacombs as early as 1578 and chronicled by Paul Koudounaris. Assuming these bones belonged to saints (because, why else would they have been preserved?), the gentle peasants saw fit to adorn and treat these noble skeletons with the respect they deserved.

To modern eyes, this is just ridiculous and a dreadful waste of sapphires, but here they are anyway.

I looked at these grotesqueries and immediately thought of captions for them. So here, for your pleasure, are my takes on these old bones.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oh, Interwebs!

Moss Balls or marimo (Japanese for "ball seaweed") is a species of green algae
that grow into large green balls with a velvety appearance. Found on Amusing Planet
Welcome to my periodic round-up of things I've found online that make me smile, cry, laugh, think, shout, or drop my jaw. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Up Next

Back in May, I highlighted Borderline Personality Disorder and mentioned that a family member struggles with this disorder. What I didn't mention in that post is that Steve and I have decided to become leaders (trainers) for the Family Connections course for people who have a loved one with the disorder.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Murphy's Law strikes again.

I'm still working on the cookbook project, and am making good headway. I've decided not to share every recipe here, especially if the recipe is fairly straightforward. But today's recipe warrants a blog post -- not so much because it's fancy (quite the opposite), but because a full-blown comedy of errors took place in our kitchen this afternoon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Traveller in Her Own Land

Captivating skies over highway 407, heading east.
Although I've written about my last full day in Switzerland, I still haven't brought you up to speed on our (relatively) local travels since then. There's something about visiting another country or region that casts a real contrast with what you're used to.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Comfort Food: Irish Stew with Dumplings

Stew is one of those classic "peasant" foods that make me feel like I'm sitting in front of a crackling fire with a wool shawl wrapped around me and a mug full of wine. Ideally, there would be a baby asleep on my lap, and a dog snoring lightly at my feet.

Ah, sigh.

On the day I saw my first fluffily floating flakes of snow in Ottawa this year, I pulled out my biggest pot and started an Irish stew simmering in the kitchen. Then I added dollops of dumplings, and we all sat down to a hearty meal.

Since you couldn't be there with us, I decided to share the recipe here. I've learned a lot of lessons about stew -- all the hard way. I hope this post will save you some scorched pots and leathery meat.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Oh, Interwebs!

This may be the worst accidental panoramic-photo fail I have ever seen. See more on
Welcome to my periodic round-up of things I've found online that make me smile, cry, laugh, think, shout, or drop my jaw. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Challenge Accepted

Front cover of the Sibbald Family Famous Recipes Cookbook
More than two years ago, I decided to turn our hand-written, heavily soiled family recipe book into a proper cookbook with photos and stories and personal notes. Since then, I've encountered corrupted files, obsessive perfectionism, and loss of enthusiasm.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Last Day

Swiss countryside as seen from a moving train.
On our last full day in Switzerland, we spent a lot of time in moving vehicles. We took a train from Nyon to Lucerne (and back) and a ferry around Lake Lucerne. It was foggy and sometimes rainy, and I took a lot of pictures through the windows of moving vehicles.

I really need to stop doing that. Although the human eye can ignore specks, drops, and reflections on windows and adapt for some of the movement and actually see the magical scene, the camera cannot. But it's so hard to resist!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Not at all lost.

This was our welcome to Geneva on the day we went to visit the Geneva home of the United Nations, and it should have been a warning.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Where I'm From

Top: Christine
Middle: Wynn Anne, Patricia
Bottom: Andrew, Stewart, Douglas, Harvey
This was originally posted in December 2011, but I was reminiscing and thought I'd share it again.

I am from chenille bedspreads, from Barbie dolls and banana-seat bicycles.

I am from seven children crammed into a back-split, semi-detached house in suburbia with pear trees growing along the back fence and open space beyond; an open-concept school at one end of the street and horses out to pasture at the other.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tummy Troubles

Poor Kane.
FECAL ADVISORY: This blog post concerns our dog's digestive troubles. I have not been so concerned about bowel movements since my youngest child was toilet trained. If you do not like this subject matter, move along. (Get it: move? Haha!)

I have lost track of various attempts we have made to find a sustainable, healthy diet for him that does not give him diarrhea.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Grammar Ninja: Loving Latin

Whenever I see spelling or grammatical errors, I have to remind myself that not everyone took Latin for two years in high school and for another year in university. (I also studied Old Norse for a semester.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

(More) Chocolate, Cheese, Churches, and a Château

The Château de Gruyères, Switzerland
When I first started writing about my trip to Switzerland with my Aunt Winkie, I mentioned that the four words in the title of this blog post really summed up my experience of Switzerland. Today's post really makes that clear. On our trip to Gruyère, we visited a dairy, a castle, two churches, and a chocolate factory. All on a beautiful, clear, sunny day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

One Step Forward

Kane is happy as long as he's in the same room as we are,
but he doesn't think it's fair that the cat is allowed on the couch when he is not. 
I love those reality shows where designers go in and completely revamp a room, from ceiling to floor. It's such a satisfying, dramatic metamorphosis.

But in the real world, I expect that very few people completely redecorate and refurnish a room in one go. Even when we were a family with two professional incomes, that never happened. Instead, we change out one or two pieces at a time, hoping eventually to achieve a room we're happy with.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Day of Rest

Flowers on my sister's balcony.
By September 28th, Winkie and I had been travelling for 11 days.

Our hosts, both in Holland and in Switzerland, had been very thoughtful about giving us time to lie down on comfortable beds and feeding us healthy, hearty meals, but we'd had a steady stream of full days, so it was very welcome to spend a day mostly at home.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Long Way Home

You lookin' at me, biotch? 
Dairy herds in the Swiss Alps only stay up in the mountains during the warm months. With the cold weather of autumn, the cattle are herded down the mountain passes to lower fields, where they are kept in barns and fed hay. The alpages have become seasonal festivals in these rural villages, celebrated in local folk art and are referred to as la Poya.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


There is something about being on a peak in the midst of a vast mountain range that evokes a feeling that defies being put into words. That is what it was like to be in the Swiss Alps.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Medieval Meanderings

Yvoire, France calls itself "village fleuri" which roughly translates as "flower-bedecked village,"* and it is an apt description. For someone like me, who is inordinately fond of flowers, it was a real treat.

Monday, October 20, 2014

If you can't lose it, decorate it!

If you can't lose it, decorate it.
Someone gave me this set of napkins (as a stocking-stuffer, I think) and I just love them. Recently, I realized that the rule applies to more than just clothing. It also applies to home decor.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Switzerland: Chocolate, Cheese, Churches, and Châteaux

Puccini chocolates, Amsterdam 
Those four words cover many of the highlights of my trip to Europe with Winkie; luscious chocolate, piquant cheese, massive churches, and spired castles seemed to be just around every corner. In Holland, every morning began with large wedges of cheese served with toothsome bread; every evening finished with wine and a small bit of exquisite chocolate.

It was not much different when we got to Switzerland. There, a fresh loaf of crusty bread was always on the table, and cheese, "double" cream, and chocolate were never far away.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Road trip!

Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady), Antwerp, the Netherlands
One of the things many North Americans can't get over when they visit Europe is how close everything is. Drive for an hour or two, and you can be in a different country from where you started, not a different state.

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