Ruralist

{Locality} The Ruralist

Ruralist

No, I’m not done writing my papers, but I love the Locality series too much to let it drop during finals season. Besides, The Ruralist doesn’t need much introduction or explanation.

The Ruralist was envisioned by my friends Erin Roy and Erin Samuell (no, not every cool person in my area is my friend, but I’m proud to say many of them are). These two with-it and savvy local businesswomen are trend-spotters and with this website, they have become trend-setters.

They realized that there was a need for a curated collection of the best items from the best little stores across rural Ontario (and maybe someday the rest of Canada?), a sort of Etsy for unique finds and experiences you can’t get in the city. This site is for those urbanites who imagine the country as one big pile of cow dung and need the gems pointed out to them by someone in the know, someone who can view those gems through the lens of the personal touch and great design.

That Perfect Piece

It’s for those “ruralistas” like myself and my friends, family, and readers who are from rural areas but refuse to associate with the image of cow-tipping, straw-chewing, “ain’t”-saying hicks. Sure, there are hicks, and we love them for the flavour they bring to our community, but we believe we have culture, too. We have style. We love quality. We are unique and proud of it.

The Ruralist website was soft-launched a week ago, as was their Facebook page, so you can be one of the lucky readers who knew about this project when…! Subscribe to the blog and “Like” the Facebook page to see the eye candy they are posting, and start to get proud of rural Ontario. If you’re not already on the bandwagon, that is.

Ruralist promise

In a few months, the Ruralist site will have a shop aspect to it so that you can click through and see all of the shops across Ontario that have been Ruralist approved, and connect directly to their websites. Meanwhile, there is a steady stream of great photography (Erin Samuell IS one of Canada’s best, after all), lovely design, and an inspiring collection of things to do, see, taste, and so much more.

Oh, and if you search the Ruralist for “Sarah”, you’ll see my face! 🙂 You might even see more of me as time goes by.

What are you waiting for? Rural Ontario is waiting.

~~~

PS: If you (or someone you know) are a rural Ontario business-person and you think you’ve got something the Ruralist editors would love, or you’re interested in purchasing a micro-site in the upcoming Ruralist shopping section, send me a message telling me about your business and what you think the Ruralist editors would love about it. If I agree with you (;)), I’ll pass your message on to Erin and Erin.

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with an extra hour in the day, i would...

Survival of the Creative and Playful

with an extra hour in the day, i would...

There’s always something that gets me through the two most stressful times of year for a student. Last term, it was Pinterest, Diana Gabaldon‘s Outlander series on audio book, and the Conquist game for iPhone. This spring, it’s the discovery of the joy of Tumblr, Twilight on audio book, and DrawSomething for iPhone.

I also take frequent food breaks. On a diet like the Whole30, it’s possible I look forward to the food less than I did when my snacking included things like salt and vinegar Crispers, chocolate, and cheese and crackers.

The ability to look forward to something, even when it seems like there is no light at the end of the papers-and-exams tunnel, helps propel me through the long minutes and hours alone at my kitchen table.

Three weeks and counting…

doing ANOTHER whole30

Whole30: Redux

doing ANOTHER whole30

Yesterday, I started a Whole30. Again. As in, I’m doing a Whole60 (with a little 3-day break in the middle).

If you’re like most people and are very happy eating bread and flour and rice and cheese and yogurt and milk and candy and potatoes and chips and things out of cans, etcetera, this might seem crazy. One month ago, I may have agreed with you. Now, I am excited for another month of strictness–I’ve gotten so used to feeling great (see my last two posts) and I am eager to find out what else I can accomplish through my nutritional boot camp.

This second Whole30 is going to be even more hard core than the first. Before I explain how, though, I have a bit of an announcement: the founders of the Whole30 diet, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, have asked me for permission to direct other Whole30-ers to my new Whole30 Eats section as food inspiration. Remembering how much I relied/rely on other people’s experiences for food ideas, how could I say no?

In the interest of maintaining the integrity of their program, they made sure I got a copy of their Success Guide. You don’t have to have the book to do the Whole30, but it really is a very handy tool, and it showed me where I could make even better food choices. Also, since I am basically receiving an official Whole30 endorsement, I need to shape up and do things the right way.

That means some things will change:

  • No chewing gum. Gum is artificially sweetened, so it’s a no-go on the Whole30. I wondered about that during my first month, but since I didn’t have the Success Guide, I didn’t have all of the details. I may look into other breath-freshening alternatives, or else really try hard not to breathe on anyone. My apologies in advance. 😉
  • Taking fruit out of the spotlight. Fruit tastes great, can be very fulfilling, is a fantastic complement to most meals, but there is so much naturally-occurring sugar in it that it helps keep the “sugar dragon” alive longer. I want to starve that monster to death. So: I will eat less fruit, including trying to abolish the breakfast smoothie, unless I can make an enjoyable version that contains lots of veggies and little fruit.
  • Abolishing the Breakfast Smoothie. I know. My trusty breakfast smoothie. I will be sad to see it go, but I learned in conversations with Melissa Hartwig that liquid meals aren’t the best choice for those trying to lose weight, because the “I’m full” signal isn’t quite the same as when you’re chewing. I also learned that almond butter, which I was going through at a steady pace, isn’t on the Whole30 “go for it” protein list, but rather on the “eating-it-occasionally-is-cool” list. All this, combined with my decision to move fruit out of the spotlight, means that I will be looking for creative ways to get “real” protein (eggs, meat, etc.) into me at breakfast time, along with veggies.
  • No Fudge Babies. These little balls of Paleo goodness got me through some long evenings of reading and studying. However, they fall into the “no-no” category of “Paleo-ified” desserts, which the Hartwigs clearly forbid, lest that “sugar dragon” be allowed to remain alive. When I get an evening craving, I will eat a few almonds and some veggies.
  • Cutting back on the bacon and cold meat. As much as I loved the (additive-free) bacon and smoked turkey that I found at the farmer’s market last month, I realized that neither one is on the “great” list of proteins, and should be enjoyed occasionally, rather than regularly.
  • Fewer almonds. If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ve heard me talk about almonds before. They have been my super snack over the past year or two. While they’re not bad, they’re not on the “best” list, so I’m going to try to rely on them less. When in doubt, eat veggies!
  • New Balsamic Vinegar. I didn’t realize until I read the Success Guide yesterday that my balsamic vinegar (like most cheapies) has sulfites in it. Oops. Sulfites are a “no-no” on the Whole30, so it’s time for a new bottle.
  • Using clarified butter. This is the only “dairy” product allowed on the Whole30. Clarified butter has been melted and the milk solids skimmed away, making it a good fat rather than an evil one. It also helps to start with a good-quality, organic, grass-fed butter. I would venture to say it’s worth splurging on the good-quality stuff.
  • Eating more good fats. There is another diet out there where people eat coconut oil with every meal. On this diet, you don’t have to do that because you’re cooking with coconut oil and coconut milk and olive oil, and eating avocado, etc. I know it sounds backwards, but I’m convinced that good fats can make a lot of difference for a healthy diet. A diet without fats is difficult to maintain–you aren’t giving your body any extra calories, so without good fats, it won’t have much to run on. Besides, coconut and avocado are good for your skin and hair, etc. What did hydrogenated vegetable oil ever do for you?
  • Even more planning ahead. You really have to be on the ball with a diet like this. Especially if you have days like I do this term, where I leave my house by 8:30 am and don’t return until 9 or 10 pm. You have to get creative. You have to spend several hours cooking in order to have containers of good food to take with you when you’re out. You have to be disciplined in your determination to only eat foods you have made, unless you have access to a store or restaurant with Whole30-compliant meals. I don’t, so plan ahead I must. The tough part for me this month is going to be planning for breakfast. The smoothies were pretty easy, even though they took up more time than I had ever dedicated to breakfast on a morning where I had somewhere to be. Now, I have to prepare eggs and veggies… I’ll need even more discipline and creativity for that.

There you have it. My wee announcement, followed by several things that help you think I’m crazier than I was before.

Locality: Fresh Lens Photography

photographing the photographer

At the risk of sounding like my Locality posts are all about my friends, Hayley Morgan, the owner of local photography company Fresh Lens, is a friend of mine.

Not that you need to know that we’re friends to appreciate her skill. Her work speaks for itself.

Florence
Florence

Hayley is one of those incredibly multi-talented people: she can draw, she can paint, she can write, and she can take a mean picture. And those are just in the creative arts genre.

Photography is merely the most recent of her creative endeavors. When I met her, she showed me a drawing of Brad Pitt that could almost have walked right off the page, it was so lifelike.

When it comes to things aesthetic, I would trust Hayley’s judgement 98% of the time. The other two percent of the time, I probably get it wrong. Yes, perhaps I’m laying it on thick, but Hayley has the proverbial eye that sees how something should or could be captured, not merely the way that it appears.

Dapper groomsmen

Hayley is not merely a good photographer: she is also involved in the community. After the Goderich tornado of August 2011, Hayley put together an album of images of the storm’s aftermath and the people it affected. The proceeds from the sale of the full-colour book go towards tornado relief in Goderich. Check out dis.tor.tion here.

dis.tor.tion

The mom of two is also involved with Owen’s Light Mothering Project, an initiative that “financially supports our community’s doula program” (learn more on Hayley’s blog post). Hayley recently donated her time to a fundraiser for Owen’s Light (which you would already know if you read her blog post and came back), a fantastic community initiative. If someday I am so fortunate as to have babies, I would love to have a doula.

baby in a bowl

I will be officially interviewing Hayley at some point, so that you can feel like you have met the woman behind the camera.

Of course, you could always go ahead and meet that woman in person!

To contact Hayley or for more information about her photography sessions:

(All photography in this post is by Hayley Morgan)

stripping truth down to its original lie.

“Stripping truth down to its original lie”

stripping truth down to its original lie.

My friend Keeley is one of my favourite people to talk with for hours. We sit in cafés and talk about the things we are learning, and we connect new ideas with old ones as we help each other round out our understanding of the world.

Keeley is a writer, too, but of a different kind. She is a poet, able to capture unique glimpses of humanity in lines and stanzas.

Recently, Keeley wrote this beautiful and thought-provoking poem that really resonates with me:

reaching-poem

I have often felt like I am broken. Like what I really am is only a reflection of what I present to the world. Like I need to lie to continue to breathe, to cope.

I often felt like this in the months before and after my mom died in 2008.

Feelings like the ones “Reaching” evokes are also similar to the ones that led to my leaving the church several years ago. Falsity. A sense of shallowness. “Masquerading honesty”. “Skewed perception”. (Disclaimer: I don’t believe all church communities are like this. Mine was. Too many are.)

Go back and read Keeley’s poem again, if you can. It’s so nuanced and insightful.

I want to say more about this poem, but I am afraid of not doing Keeley’s words justice.

So I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Keep the Server Happy, Website Edition

This week, I submitted my last final assignment. Finally.

Currently, I’m procrastinating from studying for a take-home exam due this afternoon. Oops.

But it’s once again been too long since I posted, and I’m pretty excited about this final assignment and I want to share it with you. Now.

The assignment, which was for an online class called Writing for the Web, was to design a website with at least 5 different pages to it, incorporating the principles we learned during this course.

I don’t know how my prof will grade it, since I only submitted it for marking yesterday morning, but after receiving some good feedback from my Facebook friends, I thought I’d share it with you. I am thinking of purchasing a domain name for this site and publishing it to the web for real and making it a bit of a hub for all that stuff servers wish their customers knew!

Here’s a linked screen shot so you can go see it yourself:

Keep in mind I’m an amateur Dreamweaver user, and I built this all from scratch, and I didn’t really have the time to finess things too much. It’s a beginning, more than anything.

But – do you like it?

Do you have a restaurant story to add to my “This one time…” page?

I have some ideas for a domain name, which I’m hoping to host as a sub-page to this site, we’ll see. Meanwhile, I could use your feedback about domain name ideas:

Send me your “This one time at a Restaurant” stories for when I debut the website with its own domain name!

Countdown Calendar

On March 1st, my man went to Thailand. Alone. With a backpack. For three months.

Since we met, we had virtually been in constant contact via text message, and the longest we had been apart was for a week this past January.

When Johnathan told me about his plan to go away, I knew he had to. I also knew I’d miss him like crazy. But I have already done a lot of traveling and I understood that he simply had to go and see the world. He needed to have his chance.

After long months of planning, he left two weeks ago tomorrow. He’s been to Bangkok and Kuala Lampur and has seen some amazing things, with so much left to see and do!

Meanwhile, my life goes on as usual. Well, yeah, I’m seeing some people I normally don’t get the time to, and staying up way too late and “reading” books on tape, but I didn’t realize the degree to which I haven’t been on my own in almost a year and a half. My apartment is so empty without Johnathan laying on the couch telling me to get back to my studying!

I’m lonely. Perhaps it’s especially hard considering how much grief I’ve gone through over the past few years. So, I’m in a bit of a distraction mission, filling my days and weeks to the brim.

But when I come home and everything’s so quiet and no one “sees” me quite the same way he does, I needed something tangible, something fun to mark the time.

So I made a countdown calendar and hung it on the wall of my bedroom, and now I look forward to crossing off the days and weighing my accomplishment of getting through three months alone.

I can do it!

 

Remix: Crossing the Property Line

(Sarah Koopmans, MIT 2371, Prof. Jennifer Martin, March 9, 2011

Springtime Ramblings

Today was supposed to be a study-and-do-laundry day, but it’s turned into a be-emotional-and-cry-too-much day, so I’m taking advantage of the inspiration accrued from heightened feelings to share some thoughts with my blog-o-sphere.

Lately, I’ve been sharing most of my great ideas, my daily happenings, my rants, my inspirations, and my emotions with my stellar boyfriend Johnathan, and dividing my time between him, school, and work, plus