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Redheads Writing in Cafes #3

After an amazing weekend of wandering around my hood Saturday and talking about creative projects on Sunday, I am back to regularly scheduled writing in cafes. Today’s cafe writing is in the very popular Junction writing spot and office for many creatives, Full Stop. In the summertime, you can enjoy the air-conditioned inside or the sunny back patio! It’s a wee bit chilly today for a patio, though I am looking forward to this alternative once it warms up a bit more.  Who knows, there may even be a few posts of Redheads Writing in Cafes… on a pub patio with a cold, crisp cider replacing the cuppa joe.

As I mentioned, I had another amazing weekend with my fella, along with discovering or rather re-discovering some creative pursuits of days gone by. Many years ago on a planet far, far away, I went to college and got a diploma in Graphic Design and another in Photography. I especially adored black and white photography. Adored it! I loved every aspect from taking the photo to the dark room to the finished print. I was an avid photographer for a few years; until I had to make a choice. A horrible choice.

When you are an artist, you take on a variety of jobs to pay your bills. On many occasions, those jobs don’t pay enough and you have to either get additional jobs or sell things to be able to pay for essentials such as rent. When you are faced with possible eviction, you have a tough choice and in my case, it came down to selling my equipment.  My thoughts at the time were, ‘I can always buy second-hand equipment again when I can afford it.’ Sadly, that never happened and I still regret that decision.

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Fast-forward many years later, I started to get the itch again and began my quest to get a DSLR camera. Owning one would be two-fold for me. One part using the camera for vlogging and one part to start taking pictures again.  My plan was to start saving funds and eventually when I could afford it, buy myself a camera. Apparently, the universe and three amazing people had other ideas and I received a camera for Yule. I had absolutely no idea I was getting this gift.

Since receiving the camera, I have been taking many photos and video footage around my home, mostly playing with all the of the settings on the camera. This weekend I took my camera with me for a stroll through High Park.  The cherry blossoms on the Sakura trees were about to bloom and I wanted to get some shots and once my fingers gripped the body of the camera, it felt like there was nothing stopping me and something that was hibernating for quite a long time, woke up again. I shocked myself that I remembered everything about exposure, composition, lighting and other fundamentals. It was like meeting up a with an old friend again and everything just flowed again as if no time had passed.

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Since reacquainting myself with my old friend the camera, my mind has been bursting with ideas. As I walked to Full Stop, I was putting together an idea for a photo project. As I stood in line waiting to order my coffee I was sketching out, in my mind, an outline. The moment I sat down at a table, I started writing it all down. I personally feel that photography and writing go hand-in-hand. Quoting a fellow writer and photographer John Oughton “They do go hand in hand. Both require sensitivity to the world and careful examination of its phenomena. If you look at the two Greek words that make up “photography”, it means writing with light.”

When I was originally learning photography, I was inspired by a photographer named Ruth Orkin. She was self-taught and passionate about her craft. I am once again reading and researching her and in awe of her legacy. Though her style is very different from mine, it’s her passion for her art that is truly my inspiration.

Owning a DSLR has opened up another route for me in my creative journey. Each day when I wake, I feel like I am bursting at the seams. I am excited to see where I go with this creatively. My style of photography and vision is much darker than the photos I am posting in this blog entry, those photos will come later. I feel that I still need to learn all the ins and outs of a digital SLR. Though much of the functionality of taking a picture is the same, there are many more bells and whistles. This, of course, is all part of the adventure.

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Till next time. Fully caffeinated, this Redhead out!


Reblogging from Killer Kitsch

Ever since I can recall, I’ve wanted to be a Flapper and even to the point, as a young child I would often ask my mother to dress me like one. In my early days of high school, I would mix styles of punk, Edwardian and Flapper. A look that made a fourteen-year-old stick out […]

via Silent Movies Are Good For the Soul — Killer Kitsch


Redheads Writing in Cafes #2

Guilt. Why do I feel so damn guilty walking away from that very large pile of laundry? Why is it taunting me, making me feel like a bad person for ignoring it? I swear it was staring me down as I walked away, it was yelling at me as I grabbed my laptop and exited the building. Why is there so much guilt?

Yesterday I had the honour of being photographed by the amazing and incredibly talented Lisa MacIntosh. Lisa is not only an intuitive photographer but a wonderful human being. She has photographed musicians from all over North America for her Great Hall Series and many inspirational women, including Amanda Palmer, for the ASK series. Being included in this group of women is the biggest compliment anyone has given me. She will be working on the ASK series for the rest of the summer, please keep checking her website to see who else she includes and for more information on the ongoing series.

Lisa and I are both full-time artists, who work for ourselves and mostly work from our homes. We chatted about this and how easy it is to become distracted by the many chores and tasks involved in our households. One of the greatest traps when working from home is this exact issue. When I ignore these tasks, I start to let my imagination go to dark, dark places that include German Expressionist Silent films ala Metropolis, where my laundry and dishes revolt. Remember the below scene. No one wants their laundry to animate and attack them. No. One.

Metropolis

When the weather is shite, being able to sit on your couch, or at a dining room table, desk or workstation of choice is comforting.  You don’t have to deal with the rain, sleet, snow, ice, wind or unbearable heat and humidity. Better yet, public transit in the rain, sleet, snow, ice, the wind or unbearable heat and humidity. If it’s your thing, you can stay in your yoga pants, pajamas all day or in my 1930s vision, stunning dressing gown. Your time and schedule are your own… until the laundry starts yelling at you or the dirty dishes start wailing or… or… or… Just walk away! Cover your ears, your eyes and just… walk.. AWAY. Trust me, this is so much easier said, than done, especially when you are running out of clean underwear.  This is why I’m in a neighbourhood coffee shop, writing.

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Today I chose The Good Neighbour. A cafe that is a short walk from my home, that has cute, artsy baristas behind the counter. They also have delicious coffee. In a pinch or when I am too lazy to walk to the grocery store, I have picked up a bag of their dark roast beans. Bonus: free WiFi.  The one downfall (or is it), they don’t have any vegan sweet treats (not to worry, Bunners is a two-minute walk away). They do have sandwich items that can be made Vegan on request.

This week I am back to working on short stories. I have two new ones I am drafting and a couple older stories that I need to revisit and edit. I am hoping to get those out the door… erm… via cyberspace by next week. One of them may or may not include sharks.  I am hoping by next week that it warms up enough that I can sit on a patio to write or head to the park with a book to read and a notebook to write out character sketches. Generally, I do all my writing via my computer, character sketches, I prefer to write out by hand. A bench in the middle of the trees and greenery or by the water would be a perfect spot for that. I’m not sure if anyone else experiences this, but when I am sitting near the water, my creativity opens up.

Sitting in this cafe, I have momentarily escaped from the laundry… I have not escaped from the shark that is currently stalking me. It might be time to feed. It. SHARK!  I leave you with this Peter Benchley trivia.  After the success of his book and the release of the movie Jaws, Peter became filled with dread and guilt over the fear he created towards sharks. He spent the rest of his life and his widow continues on with assisting with advocating for oceanic conservation.

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Interview: Lizzie Violet

Check out this interview I recently did with Life With More Cowbell. 🙂

life with more cowbell

Lizzie Violet—photo by Anna Lozyk Romeo

Happy International Women’s Day! Today’s post is an interview with an incredibly talented, hard-working, gutsy and generous woman in the Toronto arts scene.

Lizzie Violet is a writer, spoken word artist and horror aficionado—that “dark little girl with the crooked grin” who took her finely tuned, quirky sense of observation and love of zombie lore, and wrote it down. Evocative, darkly funny and sharply drawn, her writing ranges from hilarious and poignant personal storytelling, to socio-political observation, to chilling tales of the supernatural and deadly creatures from beyond the grave.

LWMC: You first become attracted to horror when you were a kid, staying up late with your dad watching old horror movies on TV. What was it that hooked you?

LV: Apparently, I liked to scare myself. Even as a young introverted kid, I figured out how invigorating an adrenaline rush felt. Even more…

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Not Vegan Now Vegan

Recently we had a house party for my boyfriend’s birthday. I made an array of hot h’orrorduerves. The table was filled with many delicious vegan dishes such as loaded nachos, complete with nacho sauce, guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Cauliflower BBQ sauce wings, spring rolls, blue cheese dip, spicy sweet chili pepper sauce, cheese ball with chives, veggies, dips, hummus, cupcakes… all homemade. Did I mention… all vegan? 

The one thing that caught everyone’s attention was the Cauliflower BBQ sauce wings. Everyone thought they were actual non-vegan wings. Even after I let them know they were not, they still tried them. Loved them. You know that you were successful when everything was gobbled up. All of the homemade food was gone, platters cleaned off, with the exception of some dredges of sauce and a wee bit of the cheeseball.  

Quite often I am asked for the recipes for the dishes I make. Either by those who have eaten them or by those who have viewed pictures on my Instagram account. I do often use recipe books or recipes from the YouTube channels or blogs I am subscribed to. More often than naught, I do make things by just tossing ingredients together. This is a skill I learned from my Grandma Betty. A skill that can frustrate others, when you describe a recipe as a handful of that and a pinch of this. It’s definitely time to start writing these things down.

Similar to knitting, I learned to cook when I was ten. Partly out of necessity (to help out my working parents), partly because I loved to experiment with food and cooking was the ultimate experiment. I have always loved cooking and creating recipes. The end results may not always be what was expected and it’s true that our failures, even in the kitchen, teach us to be better at what we are attempting to learn or create.

I was blessed to have two Grandmothers who were amazing cooks. I learned different skills from both of them. Their passion for cooking and baking also became my passion. I learned how to bake bread, tarts, shortbread and pies. I got to watch them smile as they rolled out dough or kneaded bread. Every once in awhile I still get a waft of baking bread and nostalgia.  

A few years ago my Aunt Margie copied Grandma Betty’s cookbook and my mom gave me a copy of Grandma Carrie’s recipes. Over time I have been converting them to Vegan recipes. I think it is time to start sharing these recipes.

As I mentioned above, In the beginning, I didn’t have cookbooks to guide me along. I learned how to cook by watching how others cooked. This was pre-YouTube, pre-internet. I KNOW. A time BEFORE the internet! Once I learned the basics, I needed to know more,  I wanted to expand my knowledge. This is when cookbooks came into my life. Very often, I would borrow cookbooks from the library. Eventually, I started receiving cookbooks for gifts and then began my collection. A collection that continues to grow.

When I was a child, I grew up in an omnivore household. As a teen, I started to experiment with being a vegetarian and became a full vegetarian when I move out at the age of eighteen. Eventually, I became Vegan.  When I did, I purged my cookbooks. I didn’t give them all away and if you looked at my collection, you will still see non-Vegan cookbooks. I still use those cookbooks… and convert recipes to Vegan ones. I have the Betty Crocker Cookbook my mom gave to me when I was a teenager.  I also love to collect vintage cookbooks. These can often be vegan recipe conversion inspiration.

My personal style has usually been a horror-themed dinner party menus. The last few parties we’ve hosted have been less on the ghoulish side and I think I need to get back to being more of the horrific hostess. In my collection of cookbooks, I have horror themed or dark themed cookbooks. My next food related blog post will be of that theme. I have also started a food-related blog. You will find all of my future food-related posts at www.notvegannowvegan.wordpress.com.

Recent Dinner Party Recipes:

Bbq Cauliflower Wings and dip recipe – http://www.hotforfoodblog.com/recipes/2014/2/11/cauliflower-buffalo-wings

Bbq sauce — https://www.mynaturalfamily.com/recipes/paleo-recipes/paleo-bbq-sauce/

Cheeseball — https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/it-doesnt-taste-like-chicken-10448229/cranberry-thyme-vegan-cheese-ball-4676771509

Sweet Chili Sauce recipe (one of those toss items together and see what happens)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup  water
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 garlic (minced)
  • 2 -3 red chili pepper or tsp of chili flakes
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp cornstarch + 1.5 tsp water

In a saucepan add water and sugar. Heat and stir till sugar is dissolved.

Add garlic and chili pepper or flakes.

Add vinegar.

Add cornstarch mixture and stir till thick.

As it cools down it will get thicker.

YouTube Channels:

These are some of the YouTube Channels I watch. It is a beautiful mix of healthy and how to make Vegan junk food.  For those of my readers who are from Toronto, I will note which ones are from Toronto (easier for getting supplies).

Hot For Food (Toronto) 

It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken (Toronto) 

The Edgy Veg (Toronto)

Buddhist Chef (Montreal)

Those Annoying Vegans (the first half of the video is the recipe, second half is about Veganism) 

Cooking with Plants 

Deliciously Ella — (also she’s got a cute British accent) 

Raw Food Not Gross (she isn’t just raw food/she is super kooky and fun) 

and here as well, though her own channel is way more fun 

Vegetarian Baker 

The Vegan Zombie (because Zombies)

Vegan Black Metal Chef (because fun) 

Be Healthy Be Happy 

Sian Brown (A very talented musician)

Cheap Lazy Vegan (Canadian) 

Nikki Limo’s Tasty Tuesday’s  

High Carb Hannah 

Sweet Potato Soul

Websites and bloggers (most of these sites you can also subscribe to their newsletters):

Thug Kitchen — www.thugkitchen.com

Minimalist Baker — http://minimalistbaker.com/

It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken (her website has a tonne of recipes, she only does videos once in awhile —  http://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/  

Chocolate Covered Katie — (her brownies are to die for) http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/

Mary’s Test Kitchen — http://www.marystestkitchen.com  

Pickles ‘n Honey — www.picklesnhoney.com

Avocados and Ales — https://avocadosandales.com/

Oh She Glows — http://ohsheglows.com/

Vegan Richa — www.veganricha.com

Fried Dandelions — http://www.frieddandelions.com/

I’m also on Pinterest and have many recipe boards. In case you needed the extra inspiration. https://www.pinterest.com/lizzieviolet/ 

 


Feminist Icons Who Shaped Me

“The world was hers for the reading.”

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I grew up in a small town, in an old Victorian, surrounded by trees. I sat in corners reading books. Every occasion, whether a birthday or Christmas, a good part of my gifts would be books for reading or writing in and art supplies. Always art supplies. My mother insisted that her children express their inner artist.

I am the oldest of four children. Four children so incredibly different in many ways. My younger siblings didn’t grasp onto art. They preferred sports, video games and television. I continued to sit in my room, or in a corner, a porch and eventually a cemetery, reading and writing. I read everything I could get my hands on. Often rereading my favourites, till the books started falling apart.  I read fiction. I read non-fiction. I was often wandering the rows of books at the library, looking for subjects such as Flappers, The Suffragettes, books with strong female characters. Even as a young girl, I was already curious about the history of women.

At eleven years old, my mother gave me a copy of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Immediately, I fell in love with Francie. Her independence, her determination and her sass immediately caught my attention. She had a dream and was going to fulfill it. A dream that in a man’s world, may have been impossible. Francie would be the first feminist character introduced to me, with many to come.

Our lives are shaped by the people and events around us. Women, especially strong women our inspirations. Bell Hooks, Mary Wollstonecraft (mother of Mary Shelley), Jane Addams, Susan Anthony, Christabel Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst, Maya Angelou, Virginia Woolf, Susan G. Cole, Emily Howard Stowe, Nellie McClung, Gloria Steinem to name a few. For me, most of my inspirations came from fictional characters. Strong female characters. As a young girl, I would watch reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show with mother and The Addams Family, horror movies and westerns with my father. All of my inspirations weren’t just fiction, there was also Betty Smart, my grandmother.

Francie Nolan, Mattie Ross, Mary Tyler Moore, Morticia Addams. The four corners stone’s for me and four very different females. Their backgrounds, personalities and stories are completely different, but what they stand for, is the same. Strong, independent, outspoken women who stand for their beliefs and do not back down. They stand up for what is right. Fight for what they believe in and through their sass and determination make sure they are seen and heard. Fearless.

The recent loss of Mary Tyler Moore reminded me of how important it is to have feminist icons and heros influencing and guiding us. How important it is to teach young girls and women that they need to stand up for their rights. Marches in Washington and around the world have proven that we are not going to let anyone stop us from living our dreams or respecting our own bodies. Something has re-awoken this up in us. A small minded man, trying to bully us has added wood to our fire. A sea of pink hats is a beginning, but to ensure our futures, we need to do more. We need to channel our inner Francie, Mattie, Mary and Morticia.

Francie, Mattie, Mary and Morticia have helped to shape me into the person I am. Determined to live my dreams. Not willing to let anyone quash them. My hopes, dreams and respect for my body will not be determined by a man, even if he is a ‘man’ that is in charge of a country. We cannot stop fighting. We cannot stop sending our message. Sometimes we also need a reminder that being a strong woman and a feminist is important. Whether those reminders come in the form of a march, watching your feminist inspiration on media or reading your copy of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn for the millionth time, do it. What the world needs right now, are a lot of Francie’s, Mattie’s, Mary’s and Morticia’s.

“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.”

Margaret Sanger

 


Taking a trip to the other side of Menopause Mountain & giving no f*cks in the hilarious, frank & inspiring The Big ‘What Now?’

life with more cowbell

Ever wonder what the view was like on the other side of menopause? Or perhaps you’re already there and you need to hear from someone who gets it. Everything but the Kitchens Inc. invites you to join Sandra Shamas and The Big ‘What Now?’, running at the Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre.

Through anecdotes, and thoughtful, sharply funny riffs and musings, Shamas takes us on a personal history tour of life after 50. Having made it to the top of Menopause Mountain—and leaving alcohol, caffeine and memory behind—Shamas enjoys and explores the brave new world of post-menopause as she tears down the assumptions and expectations that render invisible women ‘of a certain age.’ There’s a new sense of clarity, relief and release as menopause burnishes and tempers to an authentic self—and the sheer joy of giving no f*cks.

The storytelling is hilariously entertaining, fierce and fiery at times…

View original post 416 more words


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