Whoa! Where did October come from?!

music to read by :: October Song (Amy Winehouse)

my favourite slippers and dog

Oh, October. You snuck up on me like a thing that sneaks, and made me and my to-do list look like nothing but sitting around reading. But I still love you.

Yeah. October.

basket of homemade mis-matched guest slippers

The time of year I dig out the duvet, my slippers, the box of miss-matched guest slippers; enjoy a warm fire and tea; and still leave some windows open.

This year, it’s also the time time I look back at September and wonder just what the hell I accomplished.

I plan to blame it on the husband. Why? Because he went to Paris for two weeks and I didn’t. I think that’s good enough reason.


September. Let’s say goodbye with a handshake and a wrap-up.

crappy pic of what is actually a lovely scarf

  • Yoga 2 times a week? Yep!
  • Knit two presents? Yep! A scarf for my sister and one for my mom – where I learned how to knit a fringe. Go me!
  • Knit a scarf for me? Nope. But I did make an awesome snake scarf for the kid.
  • Knit a pair of slippers for the basket? Well, one is a pair in my world so we’ll call this one a win.
  • Donate blood. Nope. And I have no good excuse …. Bad me.
  • Pottery? Did none. But did get a commission for something fun so I do have to get my ass in gear.
  • Food budget? Win! But the man was away for 2 weeks, so ….
  • Holes in bedroom. Uhm …. let’s move on.
  • The books on the living room floor are gone!

awesome snake scarf

  • Organize bookcase in bedroom? I’ve done two shelves.
  • Buy paint? Did I mention I didn’t fill the holes?

And now for October. And while I wish it could list reading, fires, tea, and watching the leaves change …. {{sigh}}

House and Home

  • put front and back gardens to bed
  • plant garlic
  • start the damn holes in bedroom
  • finish organizing bookcase in bedroom
  • paint some trip upstairs


  • yoga two times/week
  • knit one present, one pair slippers, and one scarf, plus a scarf for me
  • donate blood


  • research and design commission. yay!

That’s it! That’s all! Plus, you know, all the other crap I have to do in a day.


How to move books in 10 easy steps

music to read by :: Book Song (Frente!)

Step 1 :: Take picture of mess to be moved. Documentation is important!

1year old mess of books to be moved

Step 2 :: Grab small pile of books and take upstairs

Step 3 :: Stop to knit, because hey! One small pile of books, gone! And that slipper’s not gonna knit itself!

Slipper, started!

Step 4 :: Sigh, grab another pile of books and move it upstairs.

Step 5 :: Decide you are now waaaaay too hungry (having skipped breakfast under the stress of moving these books) and enjoy a piece of toast and a tall cold mug of something.


Step 6 :: Move a couple more books upstairs, remembering to trip over the dog.

Step 7 :: Explain to the dog why you are going from floor to floor with books (while he follows) and not sitting on the couch with him.

poor, confused puppy

Step 8 :: Feel guilty, sit and knit with puppy

Step 9 :: Move remainder of books to now existing book pile in bedroom.

all done!

Step 10 :: Take finished photo and post-process in an artsy-fartsy way – and write blog post – as an excuse to ignore new pile of books in bedroom.


Sometimes, it just takes a bit of perspective

music to read by :: Favourite Things (The Golden Filter)




This first week of September has been pretty stressful here at Casa Vassal. Work and school producing huge stress moments for my husband, and our bank account producing many wee heart attacks for me.

As you know, choosing to be a single income family, in this day and age, creates many challenges plus introduces moments of “not fitting in” and feelings of lesserness (hey! look at that word I just made up! royalties for me!)

My frugalness, born out of necessity, has become a comfortable way of life now, and I can’t imagine being as wasteful as we once were when we were a two income no kid entity. And even before the high tech, high income lifestyle, I was a wasteful – but creative – art student.

Yesterday, I hit a bit of a low in the woe-is-me-i-can’t-afford-what-i-want pouts, forgetting that what I want and what I need are two very different things. Also forgetting that what I want is often fleeting, and that I am – and always have been – happier with things I have either created or repurposed.

Must be the artist in me.

So this is my reminder post. Below are a few of my favourite things around the house, items found or given to me, some repurposed. All are great representations of me and who I really am.

And I really need to remember this when I am bummed out by something as uncreative as money. (warning: photo heavy)

Continue reading


My thumb is turning a light shade of green!

2012 has been designated the year I become less dependant on society to accomplish my day to day. I don’t mean in a “can you drive me to the store” kind of dependant, but more in the “can you teach me how to change my bike tire so I can do it in the future”, kind of way.

It is also my year to live a more sustainable and frugal life.

Sustainable, in this case,  can be defined as

– pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse: sustainable agriculture;
– able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds: a sustainable life

And frugal as

– economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful;
– able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds: a sustainable life

Challenging myself (and therefore my family) to a whole food “diet” has been part of this lifestyle change, as it forces us to purchase foods of one ingredient and for multiple purposes. But I think this challenge falls mostly to the frugal side of things (and healthy. let’s not forget healthy)

For sustainability, I’ve started looking at what I *do* with some of these whole/real foods once I’ve prepared a meal, with the big kick in the head coming when I started planning my garden.

I want to expand my garden this year, to include more foods we eat, both in the ground and in containers. So in March, I started making a list of the plants and seeds I wanted to buy. Then I made dinner and found myself scraping seeds and such into the compost.



Yeah. I’m a city girl …..

yellow peppersAfter banging my head against the counter for a time, I dug into the compost and pulled out some seeds. Then I wandered around, planting the seeds into already existing indoor pots – it was still winter here.

As you can see, my peppers, mentioned in a previous post, have poked their heads even higher and are almost ready for transplant. I’ll separate them out in the coming weeks and nurse them along. I think these will be container plants so I can attempt to over winter them. The jalopeno plant wintered indoors and seems ok, but we will see if it fruits.

I also channeled my inner kid and dug out the egg cartons. A few weeks later and I have quite a few tomatoes (I think they are roma) greeting the sun.

Depending on how many sprout, I will spread them between containers and ground. Last year I managed to keep a cherry tomato fruiting indoors until the new year.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to use my already existing seeds. The past has always found me wandering the garden stores picking up seedlings and transplanting them at home. It has been expensive and not very sustainable – unless, of course, you own the garden store!

My latest “duh” moment came while staring at my green onions. I use a fair bit of green onions making our flavoured yoghurt cheese, and they sit on the shelf on the fridge wilting and looking sad.

Now, they are stored in a jar of water, on my kitchen window sill and just keep regenerating. I’ve been working off of the same bunch for a few weeks now, and they are tasty! I just change the water every few days. I’ve also stuck a few in dirt (inside) to see what happens. Will they  multiply? No idea. City girl, remember.

I’m feeling a bit more “with it” now, in regards to my garden and how to sustain it. I’m looking at our foods closely, deciding if I want to harvest the seeds and try growing the item. I’m also planning a potato bed and an onion container, and am trying to decide if I want to seed potatoes on hand (they are organic), or just buy the seed potatoes and go from there.

Either way. I’m pretty happy that some of my city brain has moved over to allow a bit more gardener room. Hopefully together, they will figure out how to use this city lot to it’s best potential.


Forgive me society, for I have sinned.

It has been two months since I have shampooed or conditioned my hair. This excites me and makes me very happy.

Ever since being old enough to choose my own hair products, I have been something of a product snob; not basing my snobbiness on price, but on name. I was brand loyal and used only a certain shampoo, conditioner, gel, and hairspray. And for many years, I used all four on a regular and even daily basis.

A few years ago, when deciding to move to a more frugal and sustainable lifestyle (I think I’ll be working on this for a loooooong time), I attempted to go cold turkey. No more shampoo, no more conditioner, no more gel, no more hairspray.

Needless to say, my hair looked like crap.

I jumped head first (ha! did you see what i did there!) back into the products, spending lots of cash and telling myself that it just couldn’t be helped.

One day, a couple of years ago, I ran out of hairspray and said, “that’s it. I’m not buying hairspray anymore.” I found that growing my hair long  and employing the power of the headband, along side of the occasional pony tail or sloppy bun, I was free. No more hairspray for me.

But I was still in the shampoo-condition-gel-blowdry daily rut.

I then tried making my own shampoos. It was ok, but I found if I didn’t use a commercial conditioner, I couldn’t get a comb through the knots. No homemade conditioner worked. It just left my hair greasy and in knots.

You see, I have thin, fine, tangly hair hair that leans to the oily side of normal.

So back to the shampoo (to clean), conditioner (to return the oil/smoothness stolen by the shampoo), gel (to protect from the blowdrying) routine.

Once my hair made it past my shoulders, I cut back on the gel and stopped blowdrying unless it was necessary. The minimal blowdrying helped as I was no longer damaging my hair with blowing heat.


People started commenting on how nice, long, and smooth my hair looked. It was nice to hear, but it still bothered me that it was mostly due to the shampoo and conditioner. (ok. and hair colour. i do colour my hair as my mousy brown hair makes me want to vomit. how’s that for full disclosure?)

I also played with the idea of washing with just water.  A lot of folks do this and have great results.

I couldn’t get past day 5.

shampooshampooshampooshampooshampoo-condition! And my hair was shiny nice again!

Earlier this year, I was at a point of being able to shampoo/condition every other day. but it still bugged me. My daughter washed her hair once a week and her hair was just lovely. Sure, she has fine (and lots of) wavy dark blonde – shall we say – tresses. It knots just like mine, but she could probably even rock the dreadlocks. (for the record, I have suggested it. she looked at me like I was insane.)

I was jealous of my 9 y/o’s hair.

So I decided to go basic.

I dug out the baking soda. I dug out some apple cider vinegar. For a few days, I cleaned my hair with about about 1 tbsp of baking soda mixed with water, and did a final rinse with a quarter cup of the vinegar mixed with water.

The results were great! No tangles, clean hair, and well – that’s about it. But a few days into this new regime, and the bottom half of my hair was a rat’s nest. I actually broke my round styling brush while blowdrying.

Not good.

So I volunteered my daughter and cleaned her hair with the baking soda and vinegar.

I decided I hated her, would shave her head and glue the hair on my head. Problem solved.

But she wouldn’t let me.

I finally came to the conclusion that if I wanted this to work, I would have to cut my hair. At the minimum, cut off the many inches over-damaged by long term colouring.

Chop, chop, chop – and I had a nice sleek bob.

I’ve been cleaning my hair with baking soda and vinegar for two months now and couldn’t be happier. My hair is clean, it is smooth, and I rarely blow dry it. I do clean it daily, but can go two days without cleaning it. I don’t really like the short hair and am planning to grow it out. With regular trimming I hope to avoid the over-processed ends.

As an added bonus, I no longer have limp, bodiless hair. It has natural body and very little static.

It’s just hair. All natural, hanging there on my head, waiting until it can be tied into ponytails again.

Life can be frugal and natural and good.

(the 9 y/o is also using only baking soda and vinegar. yay her!)