Monday, March 31, 2014

March Photo a Day Challenge - Part 3

Here is the last batch of photos for the March photo-a-day instagram challenge. I went to visit my sister for a weekend so the first few photos involve her. She was also doing the challenge.

21. Full
It was her birthday so we went for all you can eat sushi.

22. Morning
She has an awesome mix of cheerios at her house.

23. I'm loving...
I was loving the time we spent together.

24. One of a kind
The jewellery set my friend made me using my Murano glass beads from Italy

25. Soft

26. I am here
(mural at a restaurant in the city)

27. Something I made

28. Nostalgia
(cracking that thin white ice in spring takes me back to childhood.)

29. Sticky

30. Fast

31. Faux

Check out:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Movie Recommendation - Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is a 2012 documentary directed by Alison Klayman. It is 1 1/2 hrs. and available on Netflix and it is a very beautiful and inspiring film.

Ai Weiwei is an artist and activist living in Beijing. He was the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics, but after collaborating with architects to design the stadium, he later protested the Olympics. In the film he says, "I am not for the kind of Olympics that forces the migrants out of the city. To tell the ordinary citizens they should not participate but to just make a "fake smile" for the foreigners and become purely Party's propaganda...which is very scary"

His art is always political and symbolic, and can be quite confrontational. The documentary interviews Weiwei, many people who have worked with and for him, and experts in the worlds of art and activism. It's very interesting to hear many perspectives and interpretations of his work, as well as his own explanations for what he's done in his life. 

While his protest of the 2008 Olympics made him internationally famous, it was not well broadcast in China. What made him famous in China was his art and activism after the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. The earthquake killed many students who were in government schools that were shoddily constructed. The government was not transparent about the deaths of the students, and kept the number of victims secret. Weiwei led a team of people to investigate the deaths and collect names. In 2009 he had over 5,000 names of students who died. He published them on his blog one year after the earthquake. 

His 2009 show So Sorry in Munich featured a piece called Remembering, constructed of backpacks to represent the student victims. Chinese characters spelled out the message, "She lived happily on this earth for 7 years" which came from a letter a woman wrote to Weiwei about her daughter who died in the earthquake. 

The corrupt government in China aimed to censor and silence Ai Weiwei and other political activists and artists who chose to speak out. The documentary chronicles Weiwei's struggles with police brutality, having his home under surveillance, and being treated unfairly by authority figures in his country. He uses his art, his blog, and twitter to speak out and encourage others to take a stand against injustice.
He says, "Blogs and the internet are great inventions for our time because they give regular people an opportunity to change public opinion."

When an interviewer asks him, "Do you ever examine yourself to see why it is that you are so fearless compared to other people?" he replies, "I am so fearful. That's not fearless. I'm more fearful than other people... I act more brave because I know the danger's really there. If you don't act the danger becomes stronger."

Another interesting piece featured in the documentary is Weiwei's 2010 piece Sunflower Seeds, displayed at the Tate Modern in London. The work consists of 100 million individally painted porcelain "seeds" and is a commentary on mass consumerism and the idea of "made in China" and Chinese industry.

One commentator in the documentary suggests that the piece is about "eccentricity. It's about the fact that every entity out there is its own thing.What he's doing is trying to capture for people, to make vivid, the sheer diversity of ideas that exists within China if you look closely enough."

In the film, Ai Weiwei's mother says to an interviewer, "One person cannot solve the problems of the whole country. But if everyone ignores the country's problems, what will happen?"

The documentary shows the many injustices Ai Weiwei faced between 2009 and 2011 including a police beating that resulted in him needing brain surgery; unfair house arrests designed to prevent him from testifying for fellow activist Lio Xiabo and prevent him from attending demonstrations; and having his newly constructed art studio demolished because it was deemed "illegal."

In April 2011 Ai Weiwei went missing. He was detained for 81 days. His disappearance sparked a street art campaign and many protests online and in China. 

The documentary ends after his arrest in 2011 but you can read more about his life and work since then online.

I loved this film. It was a beautiful film. I cried, I laughed, and it really made me think. 
If you are interested at all in art, activism, global politics, or just watching a film about an inspiring person, I highly recommend Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March Photo a Day Challenge - Part 2

11. Something Good
(Later Sunsets. like 7 pm instead of 4. a sign of spring!)

12. Partial

13. Fresh

14. Care
I took a photo of a poem a student wrote for me last year. For privacy reasons I don't want to post it. 
(My instagram is private and only people I approve can see the photos I post, but this blog isn't like that. Also the poem has my last name in it.)

15. Evening

16. Beautifully ordinary

17. Today's weather
(super melty)

18. Five years ago
This photo was taken in August 2009 on a camping trip in Northern Alberta.

19. Cropped

20. Letter
A letter my grandma wrote me in January 2011, a few months before she got sick.
"Dear BFF and Ever After That"

Check out :
Part 1
Part 3

Monday, March 17, 2014

Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe

Most of the recipes I make are from cookbooks, Pinterest, or people I know, but my lasagna recipe is one I made based off some I found. It's similar to some that are out there but unique enough that I thought I'd share it.
*This recipe is vegetarian, not vegan. It contains cheese and egg.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 55 mins.

Lasagna noodles
1 package veggie ground round (soy ground beef substitute)
1 can tomato sauce (398 mL)
red pepper
one egg
mozzarella cheese

I like to use the "Italian" flavour ground round and the "Onion, Herbs, and Spices" tomato sauce because it makes the lasagne tasty and I don't have to add any additional spices. 

1. Pre-heat oven to 375°

2. Boil some water in a big pot and once it's boiling stick in about 5 or 6 lasagna noodles.
(How many noodles you'll need depends on the size of your casserole dish. I usually only use 5 noodles but I like to make extra just in case.)

3. While your noodles are boiling, prepare all the other ingredients.
Combine the ground round and sauce in a bowl.

4. Dice about a quarter of the pepper and however much broccoli you want. I usually end up with about 2 cups of vegetables once they are diced.
Combine in a bowl with the egg and about a teaspoon of grated mozzarella.
(You can't taste the egg or sense the texture, it's really just to bind the ingredients together.)

5. Grate some cheese. Again, how much you grate depends on how big your lasagna is. I usually just eyeball it and then grate more if I need it.

6. Strain your noodles once they are cooked. 
I like to put mine in the fridge to cool for a bit so I don't burn myself when I'm layering the casserole.

7. Spray an oven-safe casserole dish with cooking spray.
(Optional but I find it makes it easier to serve the lasagna, and easier to clean later. No crusted on cheese.)

8. Now it's time to layer! How you layer is up to you but this is the way I do it: 

1. Sauce. Cover the bottom of the dish. 

2. Noodles 

3. Sauce (just enough to coat the noodles) 

4. Veggies 

5. Cheese 

6. Sauce 

7. Noodles 

8. Sauce (the rest of it) 

9. Cheese (lots of it!) 

This is how the layers look before they are cooked:

Step 10. Bake for 55 minutes.

et Voila!

Serve with partially burnt garlic toast (or whatever you want) and enjoy!