Monday, February 21, 2011

Red berries

625 Berries
We are in a strange in-between time at the moment. Perhaps it's not so strange. Perhaps this uncertainly is life for many people. But I am glad and thankful for it. I'm looking forward to the spring, to a new season, to sending down some roots here. But I'm also trying and hoping to learn to be content always. To see beauty everyday. To learn to wait. Thankyou Lord for sunsets through berries, for grey rainy days and glorious sunshine and for the suprise snow today.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


2010 May Us by Aron
Photo taken at Chris and Charlie's wedding last year by Aron

I boycotted Valentines Day this year (and maybe the last couple). I asked Josh please not to buy me any overly arranged flowers or too sweet chocolates or furry synthetic teddy bears. Instead we planned to go to brunch together. But I spoilt the plans by waking up in a bad mood and tears before breakfast. Like a child I am easily distracted from my self pity by a silly dance and then Josh went to the local market for a few supplies. We ate breakfast in. My mood cheered. And we went out for Vietnamese around the corner at night. I'm certainly not opposed to love, or expressions of love, I'd just rather not support the consumerist culture we live in. I'd rather gifts were given with spontaneity ANY day of the year.

Thanks for loving me in all my difficultness Joshua!

POSTSCRIPT EDIT: Maybe I am too much of a stickler, I'm not sure. Anyhow, my lovely Joshua bought me some tulips post Valentines day and tonight he's cooking a vegetarian vindaloo mmmmmmm.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Starting a new Starter

2010 August bread disaster
A disaster
2010 July Sourdough experiment starts
A little less of a disaster
2010 November bread
A beautiful loaf at last

I think I would describe myself as a tactile person. I like to get really involved in the garden, the kitchen, the art room, and I usually wear the evidence on my face, grubby hands and clothes. I love to experience life through my senses.

I was prompted to try making my own sourdough bread last year after I began researching a low Glycemic Index (GI) diet to help improve my skin. The process of fermentation which occurs in sourdough has many beneficial effects on the flour/grains. I won't be able to explain it very well but this lady over at Nourishing Gourmet has done a lot of the research and explains it well here (will insert link later, having some trouble...)

I had a few failed attempts as you'll see in the first 2 pictures before Natalie's mum stepped in to help. She kindly offered me some of her starter and a proven recipe which helped me to achieve a beautiful loaf. I've since left that starter with my mum who is now regularly making fruity toast which she and dad enjoy for breakfast.

2 days ago I began a new starter from scratch - simply mixing 1 cup of organic rye (organic is preferably as you want to encourage growth of GOOD bacteria which might otherwise be inhibited by traces of pesticide), with 1 cup filtered warm water. Mix well and leave in a warm place in a bowl covered with cheesecloth. Even though it's cold and wet here today it is quite warm beside the heater vent. Each day I mix in equal parts flour and water to feed it. This morning I was excited to see that after only 2 days it has begun to bubble and ferment. Within a week I should have an excellent, slightly smelly culture so I can begin my bread.

Bread making can be a little fiddly for beginners, and sourdough especially as it requires long times to rise in between, but I think this quote sums up nicely why I enjoy it:

“Someone once asked me why I bother mixing and shaping my bread by hand. I didn’t have the words to answer them, nor could I understand why they didn’t just know. I will not let my fingers be reduced to simply button-pressing, dial-twirling or switch-flicking. There is no instrument in my bag of baker’s tools more useful and adaptable that my tow hands, and as long as I can use them to make and shape bread, I will.”

Dan Lepard in the Introduction to his book “The Handmade Loaf".

This afternoons project is my first attempt to make some mozzarella cheese from scratch...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where are they now?

I thought I'd fill in a few details for family and friends back in Oz about where Mr Newington and I are at. It's always difficult to know much or how little to share so I'll try and keep it short and sweet for starters.

We've been here for about 7 weeks now. WOW time flies! Our original plan was to arrive mid-December so we could settle in here in Vancouver; find a place to live, get Josh set up for study with textbooks and a desk and find a job for me.

We left Australia in a bit of a whirlwind; we only found out he'd been accepted into College in the September/October holidays so we hurried to apply for the necessary work and study permits with immigration and to arrange teacher registration for myself. I generally enjoy filling out forms but this kind of paperwork can be slightly painful.  I have a new sense of (can't think of the right word...) respect and understanding for the hardship and uncertainty faced by refugees when filling out paperwork and corresponding in an unknown language. And then waiting...

There were a few hiccups with our application - we accidentally paid too MUCH for the fee for one. Anyhow, we left Australia without our documentation a little nervous about our arrival at Vancouver airport but assuming it would follow shortly after us. Thankfully there were no problems entering Canada as we came in on the proviso that Australians can stay here for 6 months without a visa.

We were welcomed with open arms at the airport by Josh's gorgeous cousin Teresa who has looked after us since then. Tersa, Marc, Seth and Rebecca were all very gracious as we shared their space, their TV, couches, food, computer, wine, car, Seth even gave up his bed for us, for the past 6 weeks before moving into our own place last week. Thank you. It's such an honor to be welcomed and included like old friends.

Josh's course orientation came and went in early January and he started doing the readings and attending lectures and classes for a couple of subjects. He is studying for a Masters of Christian Studies (MCS) (theology) with an Interdisciplinary focus. As far as I can understand Interdisciplinary means a mix of art and culture and history etc. He is hoping to finish it with a thesis. His student permit had not yet come through but we assumed it would be any day now. Unfortunately it still hasn't arrived. The college were very helpful, but in the end he had to withdraw from his subjects.

What this means is he will now start the course in summer, a few months away (assuming our immigration papers are finally through by that time- which they should be). In the meantime I'm not yet allowed to work so we have a couple of months to fill in.

In the mean-time we had arranged to sub-let an apartment close to the uni and town for 3 months, which we've just moved into this week. It's a great little spot.

Although things haven't gone according to OUR plan they're still going along fine and it's a great learning and growing process. My sister asked me what I'd been doing all this time,  which is a good question. I like to keep myself busy, and I take a great sense of joy from seeing the work of my hands, however I don't want to do THINGS and keep BUSY just because that's what people do.

We've spent some time exploring, the city, the woods, the suburbs. We spent time celebrating and indulging at Christmas. We've made new friends and caught up with old friends. 

Last week we bought for me a great 80's snow boarding outfit at an op-shop (thrift store or Sally-Ann is what they're called here) so we're planning to hire boards and go again tomorrow. Update: we went yesterday. I have the bruises and sore bum to prove it. There hasn't been much fresh snow here lately and ice is HARD. It wasn't long before I was in tears and planning to throw it all in in true toddler tantrum style. Thankfully Josh is patient and by the end of a long day I'd made vast improvements and was snaking down the mountain, having a blast, (mostly) in control, weaving, slowing down, turning and occasionally landing on that poor bottom of mine with a hard thud. I've also been reading lots and hope to fill you in on that some time.

As we are getting around on foot or bus it also takes longer to do things like shopping. Especially if I take my camera. I'm always wandering off track looking at interesting things.

I also have a habit of going shopping for a FEW food items and coming back with more than I can carry. I'm pretty stubborn* about not using plastic bags and was walking home recently with a full back pack and arms full of bags of red lentils, French lentils, sultanas and more, when the sneaky red lentils slipped and exploded on the road. A friendly man helped me gain a little dignity by offering a plastic bag along with the mandarins he had just bought. I love friendly stranger encounters.

*A character trait I've become more aware of in myself lately. Something that can be good and can have pretty negative consequences. Something I'm working on and learning from...

I've never thought of myself as a writer but I find lately I've had lots of time to think. Josh and I have had some great talks, and new experiences provoke new perspectives so I have lots going through my head I want to put down somewhere. I don't assume people want to hear these musings but it does no harm for me to air them and no one has to read.

Ok I said short and sweet. I'm off to buy some milk for our morning coffee. Filtered of course, because that's the North American. Remind me to tell you another day about the lovely coffee lady I met at the markets. A cute story.

UPDATE: As of last week we have a WORK PERMIT and STUDENT PERMIT in our hot little hands! Hallelujah! Trip to Seattle coming shortly.

 Proverbs 3:1-20
My son (and daughter), do not forget my teaching, 
   but keep my commands in your heart, 
for they will prolong your life many years 
   and bring you peace and prosperity.
 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; 
   bind them around your neck, 
   write them on the tablet of your heart. 
Then you will win favor and a good name 
   in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
   and lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways submit to him, 
   and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; 
   fear the LORD and shun evil. 
This will bring health to your body 
   and nourishment to your bones.

Honor the LORD with your wealth, 
   with the firstfruits of all your crops; 
then your barns will be filled to overflowing, 
   and your vats will brim over with new wine.

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, 
   and do not resent his rebuke, 
because the LORD disciplines those he loves, 
   as a father the son he delights in.

Blessed are those who find wisdom, 
   those who gain understanding, 
for she is more profitable than silver 
   and yields better returns than gold. 
She is more precious than rubies; 
   nothing you desire can compare with her. 
Long life is in her right hand; 
   in her left hand are riches and honor. 
Her ways are pleasant ways, 
   and all her paths are peace. 
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; 
   those who hold her fast will be blessed.

By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, 
   by understanding he set the heavens in place; 
By his knowledge the watery depths were divided, 
   and the clouds let drop the dew.