DIY Summer Fashion Series: imagine/sketch/create (part two) – Studies for a blue jersey dress

June 30, 2009
Fashion sketches - Studies for a blue jersey dress

Cymbria Fashion Sketches - Studies for a blue jersey dress to wear on a romantic dinner in Banff, Alberta

Like to take a peek at part one?


Quick and easy spaghetti sauce doubles as a chili

June 30, 2009


You’ll need…

– 1 jar of any spaghetti sauce
– 1 can kidney beans (rinsed)
– 1 can chopped tomatoes
– 1 package ground beef (1 pound)
– 1 package sliced mushrooms
– 1 bunch spinach (chopped)
– 4 tomatoes (rough chopped)
– 2 onions (rough chopped)
– splash of ketchup (1/4 cup)
– chili powder/oregano to taste

My husband loves spaghetti, while I’ve never been much of a pasta fan. I came up with this cheap and easy, one pot, recipe (in a Safeway parking lot no less) to satisfy us both. It works brilliantly over noodles or as a stand alone, fresh tasting, chili. You can play with the proportions to vary the consistency, and add some grated cheddar for extra flavour.

To make… Brown ground beef in a large pot, drain, set meat aside. Cook onions and mushrooms over medium heat in same pot until just softened. Add remaining ingredients (plus meat). Bring to boil, then remove from heat. Season to taste. Enjoy!

Note: Be sure to use your largest pot, because this recipe makes a veritable vat of deliciousness.

A ‘Sign’ of our times…

June 29, 2009

A 'sign' of the times on a Monday morning in Calgary

A 'Sign' of our times - as seen on a Monday morning in Calgary

Our Albertan economy is finally feeling the pinch after decades of unchecked growth. Everyone knows someone who has lost a job, or worse. About a month ago on a rush hour city bus, I overheard a conversation between two well dressed business men. One was lamenting over how his high risk investments had virtually vanished.

“Why did you buy into them in the first place?” the other asked.

The man’s answer was spoken matter of fact, with an honesty not often heard on public transit, especially during rush hour…


He shrugged his shoulders, and quickly changed the subject.


The best way to stay motivated during this time of economic flux, is to push forward with our career plans using creativity to set ourselves apart. Make a list of all your soft skills (ie: social, organizational), to add to your more easily resuméd hard skills (ie: Microsoft Office, masonry). Try to make connections between both sets to expand your general skill set. You’ll be surprised to discover what services you can offer as a uniquely experienced human being, rather than simply a _______ graduate with x number of years working in _______ . Now is the time to market yourself creatively, as a whole person, as… You!

Speaking of marketing…

To my dear SavingCymbria readers, and to those of you just breezing by, I am now available for all your Creative Problem Solving needs. Freelance writing and design (fashion commissions, graphic design, & web applications) are my specialties, along with photography and general creativity consulting for both individuals and businesses. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and thank you all for dropping by!

It's time to get creative with our personal marketing!

It's time to get creative with our personal marketing!

More snow in June?

June 26, 2009
Couldn't be!

Take a closer look... Achoo!

Calgary weather has a cruel sense of humor. Like the uncle who insists on pinching your cheek in front of your fiancé, it doesn’t knows when to stop the joke. After this little incident, I had to do a double take to make sure what I found this morning was the kind of  fluff that makes you sneeze rather than sniffle. But somehow, this city always gets the last laugh. While I was taking a closer look with my camera, I was just about mowed down by a crazed morning cyclist. Touché, Calgary…touché.

Dancing our way into history at Calgary’s Greek Festival

June 24, 2009
Greek Dance Troop Kyklos from Edmonton takes the stage

Edmonton dance troop Kyklos takes the stage

Greek culture is a celebration of tradition and family, with a history rich in art, food, and – as three blonds discovered at Calgary’s Greek Festival – lively dancing. Of our three family trees, mine has come the closest to Grecian soil, but that’s only by way of my step-mother’s ex-husband. Needless to say, we’ve never been invited to any family reunions. We’re always up for a party though, and as we quickly discovered, going Greek guarantees a great time!

Greek Festival LogoThis year’s Festival was attended by thousands and took place under a giant white tent in SouthWest Calgary, next to the Hellenic Community Center. The late June air was filled with the wonderful smells of honey drenched pastries and spit roasted lamb. I can still taste the sweet warmth of the Loukoumades on my tongue when I close my eyes – and yes, they’re just as sensational as their name. After a delicious meal, we took our seats third row from the stage, having no idea we were to become stars of the show!

Click Here to read the full, unspeakably embarrassing story of what happened next…


A Fathers Day card for the ages

June 22, 2009
Portrait of a genius (spelling notwithstanding)

Portrait of a genius (spelling notwithstanding)

Less ear glitter, but no less a genius

Less ear glitter, but no less a genius

When you make your own cards, topping last year’s is always the challenge. My father, a Canadian artist/inventor/philosopher, is the first Jack of all trades (since ol’ Leo) to have mastered them all. For this Fathers Day, I took inspiration from another master, then added a touch of glitter glue and an inside joke. It would take a long essay, for which neither you nor I have the patience for, to explain the layers of meaning in this seemingly (not to give myself too much credit or anything~wink) simplistic artwork. But I will say one thing: notice the eerie similarity in the eyes of the two men, made infinitely more eerie by the fact I only referenced the original at the colouring stage. Soon, the world will recognize my father, but until then, a little glitter glue goes a long way.

Wondering about Mothers Day?

A personal apology to Dorothy…

June 22, 2009

Coming up to the last tee box of a Saturday morning nine, one of my freshly introduced foursome, dear Dorothy, told us how she had never once hit the short par three’s green in 15 years of playing Shaganappi.

“Today’s the day,” she said, and promptly topped the ball straight into the rough.

The other two women played it safe, as in nowhere near the green. I shot last, taking a chance on my moody 5 hybrid rather than my usual 6 iron. I’ve never hit it so clean, and the ball sailed singing all the way to the very center of the green.   

I’m sorry Dorothy. I really am. But my ego has to say a little thank you, because you set me up for a shot that – with golf’s wicket sense of humor – couldn’t possibly have gone anywhere else.