Sunday, April 17, 2011


I realized that women have very limited empathy towards other women, when it come to menstruation. This is a bit counterintuitive because you'd expect them to be full of empathy, seeing as they know exactly how it feels. And, in fact, that is the first emotion than always arises between two understanding women in a situation when one of them has her period. This empathy however is rather limited because, despite the fact that women have experienced more or less the same thing and know what it is like, they have also experienced on a regular basis, having to go through day-to-day tasks while having their period. So basically, women do feel a sort of sympathy for each-other, but they also feel that others should be able to go through what they go through.
Thank God for that, I suppose, because other wise, all women would do is go to little sympathy groups and never get anything done.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


What makes a human being human? What is it that makes us who we are? When can we say that someone is “less than human”? I’ve just had an amazing conversation with my mother about my homeland: Russia. I’ve always loved Russian culture but this made me look at it from a completely other angle… For the first time (despite all my history lessons, I had not truly understood this before) I understood some of the horrors that happened in that place called USSR. For fifty years or so (and this is the worst period, it doesn’t mean it was too much better before and after), people had no “life” as we know it, it was constant fear for survival. Generations of people lived in fear. Fear, as my mom phrased it, is what destroys anything humane in us.
The whole discussion started with us pondering on the fact that Russian people, at least those of a couple of generations before me, and most who are still living with an old-fashioned mind-frame, love to be sick. Not on the surface of course, you ask anybody and they’ll tell you they hate being sick. And yet, as my mom puts it, that is all people talk about, and all they constantly attend to. Healing this; soothing that; going to see a number of doctors; if nothing is the matter, then it’s the “practice” treatment of vitamins and the such. People live lives in a self-destructive manner. People, good people, have a destructive way of loving others. My mother was trying to explain this to me and to make some sense of it herself, and concluded that generations of people living in fear simply produced this type of person. I suppose there’s some truth in this; half a century of fucking around can shape a people into something like this. Sadly, Russia is not the only example of this, it’s just the one closest to me.
But to go back to the original question… if fear destroys what is human in us, what IS human? Emotions, I think, an active participation in our environment, curiosity… I’m not saying other animals don’t have this too, but it seems to me that this is what we have more of. When you think of it, human beings are to this world, like the trouble-maker is to an elementary school. We mess up oh so much, but at the time we’re the life of the place, experimenting, loving, hating, laughing, crying, biting into life, doing everything with vigor. To me, at least at the present time, at midnight on a Sunday, this is what it is to be human, what it is to live. Experience life, not just let it pass us by; act on our desires, take the steering wheel instead of the back seat.
I think, a few minutes before my death, I’d like to be able to look back at my life with a smile, knowing that I’ve spent it well, that I deserve a rest, that there isn’t anything I missed. Until then, I want to go on living each day craving more knowledge, more experience, more beauty, more creativity, more… This is, to me, what it is to be human.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I’ve just had a revelation.
I think I may be closer to truly understand the difficulty of teaching. It is only my sense of challenge and a deep love for children that stops me from turning back here and now, giving up teaching as a useless enterprise, that is bound to fail no matter what you try.
For my sociology of education class, I’m reading a book by John Holt, called “How Children Fail”. It illustrates the mindboggling gap between an adult’s perspective and a child’s perspective. A teacher might think they’ve got a fool-proof strategy to catch the student’s attention, interest him and make him think. Well, tough luck, the student finds it pointless, confusing and unknowingly finds countless techniques of figuring out the “right” answer without understanding what we want them to understand, or thinking in the way that we want them to think. This however, although highly interesting, was not what lead to my revelation. My own experiences did.
I am also presently writing a short essay on education and was thinking of important factors of education that have little to do with the class material. Things like learning how to learn, creativity, social skills, self-esteem, to name a few. Now if anyone has studied in the international school system, you might frown slightly and start rummaging your brain, thinking, why does this sound familiar? No…? Do any of these ring a bell? “Apprendre a apprende” “Homo Phaber” “Environment” “Comunaute et service” and “Sante et formation sociale”. That’s what I thought too… and I was astonished to see find that, while I found all of this to be utter rubbish while I was in school, I find now that it’s a splendid idea! Once again… an adults view about what children perceive is out of tune with reality. You see, the people in charge of reforms, special school systems and the like, might have the best intentions going in, but unless they truly understanding how children feel they can only make half-blind guesses at the effective way to teach them.
This being said, all this work is not going to waste. My younger sister, who incidentally is studying in the same system but at an elementary rather than high school level, finds these teaching strategies as interesting as anything else in school. She doesn’t have a particular passion for “apprendre a apprende” or “santé et formation sociale” but unlike me, finds them quite tolerable and engaging. Maybe the mistake in my particular experience with the international school system it’s age inappropriateness.
Can I show kids what I find important in a way they can relate to? Challenge accepted! 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Of snow storms and srawberries

It's snowing in Montreal. A thick white carpet covers the streets. A young girl sits in bed with her friend the laptop, typing away. A colourful string of lights illuminates the room. (said room is a mess, but we'll ignore that fact till the morrow). Our damsel collects her thoughts, pondering on the next line. Why did she start writing in the first place? But of course! Exhausted after her busy day, she sat quietly with a friend, exploring the wonders that the internet holds, and realized that she is tiered no longer. What more natural thing to do, than type away (especially if your fingers keep mixing up keys, your mind mixing up words and your imagination mixing up ideas). For instance, let's examine for a moment where the strawberries in the title came from... This is a most noble and ambitious quest! Perhaps a tad bit too ambitious for our young friend, who is at long last willing to succumb to the beckoning calls of sleep. Let her drift away into the ever-changing, unexplored waters of the dream world. Let her sink into the soft and soothing form that is her pillow. Let her be shielded from the elements, while deep in slumber she regains strengths. Let her be for she will likely make more sense in a more rested state. Let her be, we shall learn of the strawberries that trouble her so upon a different hour. Let her be and think not of what is not meant to be thought. You too my friend, be free. Go, frolic away, fast as the wind. Slide away, smooth as the river. Go. Be. Or if being pleases thee not, than be gone.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wallet Tutorial

By popular demand on crafster, I finally made the tutorial for my wallet. =)
Good luck, and feel free to ask questions if you have any!

- Two types of fabric: one can be thinner, with a nice pattern and the second more sturdy but plainer. I have no idea what’s the name of the fabric I was using, but it was canvas-like and stiff. I imagine denim will do the job, or anything else you can find.
- Zipper
- Magnetic (or other) clasp
- Glue stick
- And whatever you use for your sewing

Fabric Pieces:
(s) = sturdy fabric (p)= pattern fabric
measures in cm

2- 18.5 x 19 (s) this will be your base
1- 18 x 16 (p) this will be your coin pocket
6- 18.5 x 4.5 (p) these will be your card slots
1- 18.5 x 16 (p) this will be your bill pocket liner
2- 10 x 2~ (s) this will be the base of your strap *
2- 10 x 2~ (p) this will be the outer part of your strap
2- 18.5 x 16 (s) one piece will be for your bill pocket and the other for your coin pocket *
4- 9 x 2 (p) these will make the ribbons around your wallet.

~ Or larger depending on the size of your clasp.
* Do not leave leek

Step 1:
Cut out and label (very important!) all the pieces you’ll be working with. Don’t forget to leave a leek unless otherwise mentioned.
Step 2:
Insert zipper and pocket 1cm from the top of a “base” piece
I, myself, followed an amazing tutorial for this part, here’s the link:
Since my sturdy fabric was… well sturdy, I couldn’t fold over such a small piece like shown in the tutorial, so I just cut it right along the edge of the rectangle and later “covered it up” with some acrylic paint. What you can also do is cut it along the edge and (before sewing on the zipper) make a contour with the patterned fabric.
NOTE: make sure your pocket is sewn on with the pattern on the inside. (the first time around I made the mistake of having it inside out and had to improvise a solution)
- Onto the back of the coin pocket, glue the piece of sturdy fabric intended for that purpose. This will make the wallet less flimsy. 

Step 3:
Make the top 6 card slots.
- Fold over one edge of your 4.5cm pieces and sew a straight line close to the edge. 
NOTE: before sewing along an edge, iron the fold first.
- Repeat for all the other card slot pieces.
- Now, starting with the top slot, sew the pattern fabric onto your base; sew on the second and third slot making sure that the third is 9cm from the top.
- Sew a straight line in the middle to separate the 3 long slots into 6 shorter ones. Leave the outer side as it is, it’ll be taken care of later.

Step 4:
Make bill pocket.
- Fold the lining fabric in half and iron (fold the 16 cm side). Once again, the patterned side needs to be inside.
- Fold over and sew the two top edges. One as is, and the second one with the sturdy fabric inserted into the fold. 

Step 5:
Sew on card slots onto the sturdy fabric of the bill pocket pocket following step 3.
Make sure the lining fabric is out of the way, you don't want it sewn on as well, you want it dangling behind for now.

Step 6:
Attach bill pocket to the base
- Now that your card slots are sewn on, glue the back of the lining fabric to the back of the sturdy fabric. (the half that's touching it when it's folded) Glue the other half of the lining to the base of your wallet. make sure that the bottom of the card slots is aligned with the bottom of the base.
- Sew on the upper edge of the bill lining to the base (the edge that's not sewn on to the other strip of sturdy fabric)
- Now sew along the sides of your entire base, in this way, closing the sides of all the slots and bill pocket.

 What it looks like from the back
 *Note, when I took this picture I had not yet glued the sturdy fabric onto the back of the coin pocket.

Step 7:
Make a pattern on the outer side of your wallet.
This is done on the piece of “base” fabric (18.5 x 19) that we haven’t touched yet.
I decided to just sew on a solid rectangle of patterned fabric, but if you have other ideas, feel free to improvise!

Step 8:
Make strap and add the magnetic clasp.
- Round off one side of both sturdy fabric pieces
- Glue each of the patterned fabric pieces over a sturdy fabric piece.
- On one half of the strap cut slits to insert magnetic clasp, leave the other intact.
- Insert magnetic clasp on strap. There is a bit on clasps here It’s fairly straightforward.
- Sew both sides of strap together. You might have to do this by hand. My machine couldn’t work around the clasp.

Step 9:
Finishing the strap.
- Secure the strap on one side (18.5 cm side) of the “outer base”.
- On the opposite side, secure the second half of the magnetic clasp.
- Both clasp and strap should be centered lengthwise and about 3cm from the side. Before sewing it on, make sure the strap is long enough to go around without being too tight.

Step 10:
Sew both sides of wallet together.
- At this point I cut the leek of both sides of my wallet, leaving them 18.5 x 19cm. You can cut a bit more or less depending on your zipper or anything else that may have gone wrong/changed in your design. Don’t worry about the flailing ends.
- Glue the two sides of the wallet together
- Fold over and iron the leeks on your 19 x 2 pieces of patterned fabric.
- One by one, glue and then sew on these “ribbons” all around your wallet. Make sure you get the strap out of the way when you're sewing the ribbon around that edge.
- Wash off any glue that might be showing and you’re done!

It’s really not as complicated as it sounds, bear with me, this is my first wallet and first tutorial. I would love to see what you guys make of this! And please feel free to comment on my tutorial (not enough detail? Too much obvious info? Pictures?) and add any suggestions you might have!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Anything is possible if you set your mind to it

Even making your own wallet!

For a while now, I've noticed that my wallet was falling apart and I wanted to find one with more card slots. Then, just the other week I discovered ... and fell in love! All the nifty projects on that site inspired me to get my ass off the couch and take matters into my own hands...

So here is my first home-made wallet.

I was amazed at the amount of measuring, calculating, planning, re-planing, and on-the-go fixes this took! This gave my brain cells some long-needed exercise. But despite (and in a way, thanks to) all the complications, I had a LOT of fun making this.

Measures 19.5 x 9.5cm

12 card slots
Coin pocket with zipper

Pocket for bills

Magnetic clasp

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fresh, fresh exciting!

I love spaghetti with tomato sauce, or, frankly, any other sauce. However, any sauce I buy invariably ends up moldy somewhere in the back of the fridge. This is mainly because I'm the only one in the house who consumes it (and partially because I sometimes loose things in my fridge). I tried buying smaller quantities of the stuff, but somehow, I can never manage to eat if fast enough. So I found my solution in making fresh sauce.

I once got the craving for pasta and, realizing that there is no sauce in the house, but that there are tomatoes underhand, I decided to improvise. The first time I did, I was in a hurry and simply diced a couple of tomatoes and threw them on the pan, along with fresh parsley. Not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, with some grated parmesan (and when I say some, I mean a small mountain of it, because it's just so damn good) it was quite next to restaurant-style delicious.

Now, when ever I make pasta, it has to come with the fresh, home-made, tomato sauce to which I add an ingredient or two every time. (Today's magic ingredient was sweet onion, giving it a subtle and marvelous taste) However, despite the fact that my recipe grows and changes a bit every time, I try to keep it simple, fun and fast to clean because, usually when I make pasta, I'm starving and I want food now, not in an hour!

Try experimenting a bit on your own, you don't always need a recipe to tell you what to do, to make something worthwhile!