Monday, September 27, 2010

{Wolf Yoga} How to avoid injuries

If you weren't aware, I also write a Yoga/health blog called Wolf Yoga in which I explore different yoga medium and write about health stuff. I haven't updated it as frequently as Purple Carrots and Fairy Smoke but I plan on starting it up again - probably with one post a week on average.

My most recent article might interest the athletes amongst you since it gives important information on how to avoid injuries by modifying your workout routine.

Read about it here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

DIY - Apple Sauce

When September rolled around promising cooler weather (lies, all lies), I felt compelled to write about apples. You can read my previous apple themed post here.
To continue on this theme, here is my fail proof recipe for the best apple sauce ever (no additives or preservatives).

Pink Perfection Apple Sauce

What you need
1 pot (medium size)
6+ apples
1.5 cup of water
knife, cutting board
Blender (Hand held works great)
Wooden spoon
and, the secret ingredient :
Raspberries *optional but oh so delicious!

How to : Set yourself up nice and comfy-like either in the kitchen or on the couch in front of your favorite TV-show - I'm into Bones right now, fascinating stuff although gruesome at times but I digress. Bring your apples, cutting board, knife, peeler, and pot.

NOTE: Although I wash the apples to remove any grime that may have accumulated on them during transport, I peel them as well. Why? For two reasons: one, I don't like bits in my apple sauce and two, apples are covered with pesticides and such sprayed on to ensure the beauty of each apple. These chemicals are not water-soluble (meaning they don't wash off with water). I don't want them cooked into my apple sauce. OCD? Maybe.

Peel the apples and cut them into pieces (the smaller they are, the faster they cook and the easier it will be to turn them into scrumptious mush). Make sure you remove the apple core and seeds, you don't want to eat these. Place pieces into pot and head back into the kitchen.

Pour the water into the pot (it's not an exact science, I pour enough in to cover the bottom of the pan by an inch).

WARNING! Do not completely submerge your apples. Doing so would only result in having very diluted apple sauce.

Add the raspberries. You don't need many - half a dozen or so. Put the pot on the stove and let it simmer for 15min. Don't go to far or you might forget about it and you need to stir it from time to time. During the entire process there should always be water in the pot, if you see that it's running dry, add some - no big deal.

Once a happy cooked apples and raspberries smell emanates from your kitchen and fills your household. Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool.

With you trusty hand held blender turn your concoction into a smooth and delicious sauce. Either eat it up now or transfer into Mason jars and refrigerate for later enjoyment.

Voilà! Apple Sauce! Or as we say in French, Compote de Pomme!

To sum it up:
1-Peel and cut apples.
2-Place apples and raspberries in pot.
3-Add water and let simmer for about 15min.
4-Take the pot off the burner, and let cool.
5-Blend and eat. Voilà!

Let me know what you think.

Take care!

Merci Steph pour ta recette que j'ai maintenant fait mienne.

Friday, September 24, 2010

{Fun Facts} Kodiack Bears

The Kodiack bear also known as the Alaskan Brown Bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) is the largest living land carnivore.

EDIT: For clarity sake, I did some added research. The Polar Bear (Ursus maritiumus) is larger than the Kodiack bear (up to 12 ft and 1600 lbs compared to a max of 10 ft and 1500 lbs for the latter). BUT, it's considered a marine carnivore not a land carnivore because it spends most of its time on sea ice in the Arctic.
American Museum of Natural History - North American Mammals display.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Calvin on Ritalin

I am a great fan of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. If you have never read this amazing comic strip I urge you to at least Google a few strips or rent a copy at your local library. It's amazing.

Hobbes is Calvin's imaginary best friend and just happens to be a tiger. Calvin has an incredible imagination which makes it hard for him to stay focused in the mundane world. I mean who wants to go to school when you could be exploring space and fighting evil aliens or dinosaurs, right? Together they get into trouble, have amazing adventures, talk about life, hate/love girls and are simply hilarious in their social satire. Seriously it's a must read.

While going through my endless list of blogs that I follow (there are so many awesome ones out there it's hard to keep up) I found this comic strip that really rang true. I don't know if Bill Watterson is the true author of this strip as neither I or my Wolfman has seen it in the anthology but it makes a good point.

The pill Calvin is most likely referring too is Ritalin or methylphenidate. This is a common pill taken to control hyperactivity and help with impulse control. It's a central nervous system stimulant used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) among other things.

As a camp counselor, I have dealt with kids on Ritalin and kids that are taken off Ritalin for the summer. From what I've seen, Ritalin, slows these kids down a great deal; some become lethargic. Hyperactive kids are a handful (I had 10 of them at one time) and I understand the need of calming them down in the context of school but it's still a sad state of affairs.

These graphs provided by and show the alarming rise of Ritalin use not only in the US but across the world. In 2000, one out of every 8 children in the US was taking Ritalin. What does this tell us? That something is wrong with our children? Or that something is wrong with the system? Do all these kids really need to be on Ritalin or are there alternatives that have not been explored because of time or monetary limitations? So many questions left unanswered.

These graphs only show the rise in Ritalin intake in the population but there are other drugs out there like Adderall and Vyvanse that are used to treat ADHD.

What is your take on pills?
If you are in contact with Ritalin, do you continue the treatment during the summer months?

Isn't that food for thought. Who said comic books weren't thought inducing.

Take care!

References: Ritalin. [On line] Adderal.[on line]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

{Trivial Tuesdays} The Largest Mammal on Earth

Goodness! I know it's Wednesday but it has almost been a month since the last Trivial Tuesday. I have a few promises to keep so here goes.


What is the largest mammal on earth?



A. 13
The Blue Whale
(Balaenoptera musculus

This amazing and mysterious animal has an average length between 20-30m and can weigh over 190 tons. I saw this life size replica at the American Museum of Natural History last week. It's impressive.
In the words of David Attenborough: "[...] it's far bigger than even the biggest dinosaurs. [...] it's tongue weighs as much as an elephant, it's heart is the size of a car [and] some blood vessel's are so wide you could swim down them."

It feeds almost exclusively on krill, small shrimp-like marine crustaceans, and a lot of it. The Blue whale's stomach can hold 2 tons of krill. Its sieve like baleen plates allows the Blue whale to swallow large gulps of water and push the water out through the plates without loosing the krill.

The coloration of this huge animal is what intrigues me most. It has a a grayish-blue mottled back and a light underside. This coloration is generally considered camouflage for most other aquatic species because it reduces the individuals visibility; a dark bark to blend in with the ocean depths and a lighter underside to blend in with the sky (if viewed from below). Great if you are expecting to be attack from the deep but what would attack the biggest living thing on earth? How about a Colossal squid? I'll muse about this for a little while and get back to you.

Blue whales own the seas. They have been spotted all across the globe except in the Mediterranean. Not much is known about their life cycle or their migration patterns. They bear one, 7 m 2.5 ton, calf which remains with the mother for 6-8 months.

Here is a clip from the Blue Planet, I strongly suggest that you watch the entire documentary.

Take Care!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

{Reduce, Reuse & Recycle} Rubber Bands

As everyday items go, Rubber Bands are one of those things that no one seems to buy but everybody has. They usually linger in the bottom of our kitchen drawers waiting for a new purpose and usually found only at the end of it's life, perished and useless.

We can all think of things to do with bran-spanking new rubber bands. If not, visit They have managed to compile a list of 52 uses for Rubber Bands.
Incredible, right? Some are actually quite interesting, or at least worth a try. My favorite is number 30 - A sliced apple keeper. The concept is simple enough, once you've sliced up the apple, put it back together and secure it with a rubber band. This will keep the pieces together and stop them from yellowing. I'll let you know how well this works.

Real Simple offers us yet another usage for our Rubber Bands - Earring Backings. This is a wonderful idea. Yes, I am fully aware that you can buy 20 of those little Earnuts or butterflies things for under 2$ but the objective here is to reduce and reuse.

What you need: a rubber band, scissors

How to: Cut your rubber band in half - you now have a long strip of rubber. Cut the strip into squares - these are you're new backings. Once you've selected the perfect earrings for your outfit, secure them by pushing the end trough a rubber backing. Voilà!

What do you think? Would you be willing to try this out?

As for me, I'm sticking to my clip-on and/or screw-on vintage earrings.

Take Care!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

{Being Green} The Fabric Gift Wrap

The Fabric Gift Wrap
{image via Chewing the Cud}

After reusing wrapping paper, newspapers, brown paper bags and colourful magazine adds, I adopted the fabric gift wrap in 2009 and have been applying the concept ever since. I figured I should do my part in spreading this trend when it popped up in this month's issue of RealSimple (I absolutely LOVE this magazine).

The Concept: Use fabric to wrap presents - no more pricey gift bags and non-recyclable shiny wrapping paper. Easy peasy!

What you need: A square piece of fabric large enough for your gift.

A bit of history: This trend may very well come to us via Japan where fabric wraps are a cultural staple; they are called furoshiki (meaning "bath spread"). The word comes from historical use of transporting clothes while at the public bath houses but the concept dates back long before the Edo period (1603-1868) when fabric wraps were called hirazutsumi meaning "flat folding bundle". The term furoshiki now extends to all fabric wrappings. Applying the principals of origami to fabric, you obtain the perfect wrap to transport gifts, lunch boxes, grocery shopping or even home decor.

Here is a great Youtube video showing multiple ways to wrap with fabric.

Your Options: 1- Chewing the Cud
RealSimple introduced this wonderful new online brand/company which produces many eco-conscious products such as their stunning selection of organic cotton fabric wraps which are on sale for 12$ (click here).
Great for a wedding or a very special gift, but with the number of gifts I wrap from Christmas and during the August-September birthday rush, this is not an economical viable option. (I am however saving up for the I Weelie Like You fabric wrap - I'm in love!)

2- Thrift store/Garage sale scarves

Going with the reduce and reuse strategy, hitting up your local thrift store, or even your Grandma's closet, you can find jewels for a fraction of the price. This summer during the Repentigny's (my home town) garage sale weekend, I bought 10 gorgeous satin scarves from the nicest old lady for 50 cents each! What a bargain!

Which ever option you choose, fabric wrapping is the way to go to reduce the amount of wrapping that ends up in the landfill.
If you are web savvy enough to be reading this, then you can certainly check out more creative ways of tying your fabric wrapped parcels readily available through Google Images and Youtube. I particularly enjoyed this jem - a gift wrapped in a shirt and embellished with a brooch. {Image via Countryliving}

The only thing left to discuss, is whether or not it's okay to ask for the fabric wrapping back. Is the wrapping part of the gift or not?
What do you think?

Take Care!

"9 Problem-Solvers of the Month." RealSimple. September 2010: 60

"Furoshiki". Wikipedia. Aug.22.2010. {Online}

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Don't You Just Love Apples?

Hi All!
Sorry for the long wait between posts. Summer has wrapped up successfully. I've managed to instill some kind of appreciation for the forest into 44 little minds and have learnt a great deal myself. One of the biggest lessons was that after a full day of running around with kids, I barely have the energy to crawl into bed. I tip my hat to all the prolific parent bloggers out there.

In other news, we have successfully moved into a tiny Harlem apartment near hubby's Hogwarts-like new University. Although out guest room is still filled to the brim with boxes, the internet fairy has finally come to grace our home with high speed connectivity to the World Wide Web. Oh Joy!

Right let's get on with the posting. This being my first NYC post, I figured it should be about apples. For two reasons, the first being well this is the BIG APPLE and the second is because I really love apples and hubby and I will soon be heading north for an apple picking party!

For your enjoyment, a little something I wrote a while back and has come into season again.

An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away

North America was built on apples and its derivatives. Legend has it that a certain Johnny Appleseed traveled the United States of America in the 18th century sowing apple nurseries that he would give to the newly arrived settlers. At this time, apples were mostly used to make cider, an alcoholic beverage made by the fermentation of apples. At a time where prohibition didn’t allow for other spirits, this sweet beverage was greatly appreciated by the settlers after a hard day of taming the American wilderness.

Eventually the temperance movement also got cider banned. An intensive marketing scheme was then put in place to save the apple orchard. This is when the slogan “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” came in to play and Americans started to eat instead of drink this abundant fruit. This slogan is not just a huge conspiracy to save the apple
industry; they are actually good for you. The high levels of antioxidant compounds help reduce the risk of cancer. Certain compounds found in apples could protect the brain from the damage that triggers Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and like most fruits, it contains Vitamin C. It is also said to help with heart disease, weight loss and cholesterol levels.

How about a bit of Natural History?

Apples were artificially spread across the Americas as they are not native to this continent; they are originally from Kazakhstan where the wild variety, Malus, dominates the forest and grows to heights of up to 6 feet. Each tree is intrinsically different, producing apples of all shapes and sizes. Malus is the epitome of genetic variability as every single seed contains the genetic instructions for a completely new and different variety. This heterozygosity allows apples to rapidly adapt to new environments successfully and explains why they have managed to fool so many of us into thinking they belong. Each tree has the possibility to produce thousands of new varieties because each apple contains five seeds so that when you cut the apple through its equator there is a star shaped positioning and each tree produces hundreds of apples per year.

If you follow this reasoning, the Macintosh apple that so many of us enjoy is a chance discovery. How do we conserve its characteristics if seeds produce a totally different fruit? The answer is cloning or more precisely grafting. This technique developed by the Chinese was first d
ocumented in 5000BC and consists of selecting a shoot of the desired plant (scion) and encouraging it to fuse with the roots of a stock plant, in most cases another fruit tree. Most commercial apples are derived from five original trees: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Macintosh, and Cox’s Orange Pippin. The first Mac was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1870 yielded its last crop in 1908. The Granny Smith was the first green apple to be enjoyed as a snack as the general tendency was red is good, green was bitter and unripe. It was found by a certain south-eastern Australian named Mrs. Smith in 1868. If you think about it, each Macintosh or Granny Smith apple you eat is genetically identical to that of a parent that lived 100 years ago. This genetic stagnation is problematic as it stops the apple from adapting to the ever changing predators that attack it. As a result, apple orchards are one of the cultures that require the most pesticides.

History has shown us that relying on a genetically poor culture is not a very wise idea; many shall remember the 1840 potato blight in Ireland that caused the death of
thousands from starvation. Potatoes are not native to Europe; they come from Central America and are generally vegetatively propagated by planting pieces of the tuber. This means that your potatoes are genetically identical. When a fungus attacked this homogeneous population there was no resistance possible and it was wiped out. The impact of the loss of an appreciated apple variety is not nearly as catastrophic (unless it's your livelihood) but this means we won't be enjoying Macintosh apples for ever. So appreciate them while you can and indulge in this season's harvest by snacking and making tarts, pies, and other delicious desserts!

What is your favorite apple based treat?

I must admit I am quite partial to apple slices dipped in caramel. OH boy oh boy oh boy!

Take Care!

Michael Pollan - The Botany of desire
Apple via

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