Friday, December 31, 2010

Many blurry happy babe

also I've figured out how to get a non-blurry photo,

chocolate- of course- garaunteed to slow down any kid, at least temporarily.

and, as proof that it is really the season of peace- the cats give a demonstration of good will (albeit short lived)

hope your christmas was fun and family filled.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Hi- it's been busy around here- sewing, cleaning, baking, decorating, egg nog imbibing. Also my posting has been limited by the fact that N wants to see the camera every time I turn it on- so most of my pictures look like this:

Or this:

But anyways...Merry Christmas to you all...I wish you blurry and joyous photos.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great Art: Kristen Perrott

We've finally hung some art that we bought this summer- It was done by my good friend Kristen Perrott as part of her thesis exhibition "core samples". The show was phenomenal and the pieces are show stoppers, they're clay, which she's molded into the rectangular (or circular) wall hangings, with lots of textural elements, but the form itself is just the beginning. She glazes each piece multiple times, depending on the outcome and adds to it- or covers up as she goes- a piece might go through as many as eight firings. For those of you who are unaware- when you glaze a piece of ceramics you're never quite sure what it will look like- the place in the kiln, surrounding chemicals, thickness or method of application all affect the end result, so it's a bit of a risk firing ceramics, it can be part of the thrill of clay.

Kristen was a painter first, and the thing to me that is remarkable about these ceramic pieces is the way that they mirror the method of painting- not just in form- because they are primarily pieces that attach to a wall like paintings, and are viewed in a similar way, but in the way she's working with it. Her glaze applications are 'painterly', and through her multiple firings she's found a way to make her work reflect that.

The finished pieces are beautiful, appealing works of art, that can be and are appreciated by anyone, but the method of her work makes them intriguing to artists as well, which is a major feat. It is a fantastic and rare thing when art can appeal on so many levels, as this work does, and it's deeply satisfying to hang such work where I can enjoy it daily.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Slow days

Hi all, I'm having a few slow days around here- not that they're really slow we've been busy- but they're not really blog worthy-plus my oven's been broken for the last week and it's getting me down- no Christmas baking! seriously?? Not to mention that sourdough starter just sitting there in the fridge. The new element for the oven should come in the next day or two, it's the second one we've ordered- our stove is old-maybe 20 years old I'd guess-and the first element we got was the only one like it in all of Canada, but it wasn't the right one, so now we're on element number 2, and this one better fit, or K's going to have to make it fit.

I tried to lessen the pain by fixing up some marshmallows (cinnamon flavoured- so good) and hot chocolate on a stick- but it only took the edge off a bit- what I really need are some sugar cookies (preferably moose shaped like my new cookie cutters that I was saving for Christmas) and a roast chicken, or baked ham, or pulled pork shoulder. Oh well, my niece got an easy bake oven for her birthday- how long do you think it would take a light bulb to cook a turkey anyways?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

'Tis the season

It's the first year that I've decorated outside the house- and I'm loving how festive it feels- it really didn't take very long, but it's gone a long way towards our holiday spirit. The inside of the house is still a work in progress, but we'll get it decorated soon enough. What's making you feel festive this year?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Friday

Now if only I could get this little babchia would make me some perogies...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sourdough goodness

My starter sitting pretty with a layer of yeasty smelling liquid (called "hooch" in sourdough lingo) bubbling on top.

I've been working on my to-do list, and it's still a work in progress- but it's been happening- knowing that I have to tell you all something is helpful. My Sourdough is progressing the most though- I've got a starter- and I've tried to recipes- neither of which were fantastic, but together they would have made a good loaf- so it's a good starting point.

The idea behind sourdough is to capture wild yeast with your starter, and then use that to raise your dough, instead of commercial yeast- that's what gives sourdough that sour taste. As you can imagine wild yeasts differ from place to place which is why true sourdough (with no added yeast) will taste differently depending on where you are. However it can be tricky to produce a nice textured bread with wild yeast alone.

To make sourdough you need a starter- which is essentially a colony of wild yeast in flour and water. I made my starter using these directions- it's very simple- you mix flour and water and then let it sit in a warm spot stirring and 'feeding' (discarding some, and adding fresh flour and water) daily until it gets the desired amount of funkiness (4-10 days)- then you refrigerate it.

When I made a dough using no added yeast it only rose slightly and then it was kind of-doughy, I'm not sure if it just needed a bit more time to rise or if it would ever rise on it's own, but the flavour was really nice, it even smelled like great sourdough despite the denseness. The next bread I made was similar but it used commercial yeast as well- and it didn't have the same tangy flavour but it was a nice texture. I think the big difference in these two recipes is that in the first you let the starter sit out of the fridge to 'proof' before you use it- the longer it proofs for the deeper the flavour. In the second dough it doesn't specify to use proofed starter.

Somewhere in these recipes there is a great sourdough bread- perhaps I need a proofed starter in the second- or a little yeast in the first- either way it needs a bit more experimenting, but it's definitely on the way.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bathtime Blues

We've been having a bit of a problem lately- N is not pleased about having baths- at all-in fact to say she's 'not pleased' is a bit of an understatement and doesn't really do justice to her fury. The best way to explain her recent attitude is that it's as though the bathtub is full of boiling oil- or she's been possessed by a demon. It's all a bit much- but I've been trying to help her through this- it started after a bath time 'helper' poured a little too much water over her head- she got scared and ever since that she's hated baths. At this point I think that the incident was too long ago (about a month) and so now she probably just remembers that now she hates baths- and acts accordingly.

I've tried getting into the bath with her- which worked for a while- but now I can't get her sit down in the tub, even if I'm in it too, and she stats screeching as soon as I get out- and she climbs out of the tub herself, which is dangerous even when she's not blind with anger. Plus, frankly, I'm kind of sick of having to strip down every evening for bath time, also I don't want that to be her new normal-(mommy having to have a bath with her)- so I'm a bit anxious to just start getting into the tub with her every night as a way to solve this, but maybe that's what I have to do?

Has anyone else dealt with this? How do I get her to relax and enjoy bath time again?

Friday, December 3, 2010

My little mimic

I've been repeatedly shocked at how often looking at my child has served as a mirror for myself, but this is probably the most hilarious thing- 'talking' on the phone while drinking coffee. She always walks when she's on the phone (we've given her an old one to use- without batteries), and occasionally she also pretends to drink coffee at the same time, it's darn cute, this multi-tasking mimicry. And I know, she's my kid so I think it's all cute, but I have to say I'm really impressed with her ability to copy my postures and phrasing- she makes sounds as though she's waiting for the other person to talk, laughs occasionally, says longer phrases mixed with short ones, leans on tables, it's a very convincing performance.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One Small Change: December

Well, it's no surprise that this month's change would have to do with Christmas, this year I'm going to try not to buy any more Christmas paper goods- wrapping paper and wrapping accessories, cards, napkins, paper plates, even bows though I know they're not paper- still they're disposable, and I have enough of them.

In addition to cutting back for the environment's sake- this will help me on a personal mission to de-clutter, I have tons of wrapping paper, and bags- I inherited some with the house, I've saved all the baby and wedding present bags, it's taking up precious Christmas storage space and its time to start fresh anyhow. I love the idea of pretty packages, but this year I'm just going to make do with what I've got, which considering the size of my stash, is actually quite a bit.

It's a small sacrifice so I'm adding another one- no plastic toys for N this year- none from us anyhow- it'll be fabric or wood, or handmade in the hopes that it will cut down on some of the noxious toys we've got here. This is part of a bigger ideal of mine- no plastic toys, but it's a tough one- some of the toys we have are great- educational, long lasting, durable, quiet- even though they are plastic, I' d love to have a fully natural toy chest- but it'll take some time- in the mean while I'll take a few small steps towards it.

How are you making Christmas more Eco-friendly this year?

Thursday, November 25, 2010


This Oxalis was a gift from a friend, when I got it it looked dead, all crackly vegetation and dry dirt, but my friend assured me that it would start growing again, that it was simply dormant. He knew this because he'd had another one, and just when he was ready to get rid of it, it started to put up new shoots. I think it's beautiful, this system that nature has. The idea of dormancy, that one could rest and collect enough energy for the rest of the year, or that after having spent so much of your energy living-a period of quiet is required before you can start again. It's a nice thought, and one that I come back to again and again as the days shorten, and we spend so much time in darkness.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ahhh... The Mommy Wars...

I've been following the debate surrounding Erica Jong's article in the wall street journal critiquing Attachment parenting, mainly for being too demanding on women, and not allowing them the time to be involved in political activism, in fact she calls it a tool for the political right. Now, I don't usually rant in this space- but excuse me just this once.

I've been noticing this trend for a while- that the tenets of attachment parenting come under attack for being too hard on the mothers- things like Baby wearing, breastfeeding and co-sleeping all exist under a microscope, any possible danger is weighed so carefully and the practice is questioned. These things make life much easier for the mother, you can either carry your kid everywhere, or put it in a sling, buy food for it or breastfeed it, wake up at night and disturb your own sleep or sleep with the kid, it's not about fashion, or a choice, because for most women the choice is not there, they can't afford child care and so if you have a child you care for it,- in whatever way is easiest for you, it's that simple. I have a theory that these practices are so challenged in mainstream society because they are so politically challenging, they challenge the way we look at individualism, and food supply, and western ideas and ideals.

The assumption that Ms. Jong makes is that women who are at home raising their children (especially the ones in the "prison" of attachment parenting), are operating only in the private sphere, she assumes as do many academic feminists, that mothering takes place outside of the public sphere- meaning that it does not affect our public institutions, politics, economics, or practices. I would argue the opposite, the raising of children is most definitely a political act; in the ways that we sort out the challenges of feeding our families, divide labour in the home, and shape our children's viewpoints. While they occur in the private sphere, these actions affect the public sphere in many ways.

The personal is political after all- a mother who buys organic, and cloth diapers, and breast feeds, one who raises her children to know how to solve conflict in a gentle manner, or even to cook is affecting how our world runs. Not to get too Marxist here, but the idea that women's unpaid labour somehow exists outside of the political is naive at best, and it does women a great disservice- it assumes that the work that falls to women (and likely always will-unless someone figures out how to get a man pregnant), such as mothering, is less important than paid work outside the home. It assumes that the only way for women to affect change, and to impact the world we live in, is to put aside 'women's work' for 'men's work', and that argument is a dangerous one.

Okay, rant done, thanks for indulging me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Time to-do's

Hi there, I'm Angela, and I'm a procrastinator, and not just with unpleasant things. I say that I want to do stuff, simple stuff, like make sourdough bread, or clean out a closet- then it takes me months- or years even- to do it. Don't get me wrong, I get stuff done- but I always seem to p have a few things that take forever to get done, when they shouldn't.

And so, I'm going to write a list of things I want to finish- and you all can hold me to it- all of these things must be done by Spring, some things must be done sooner, and some things will be ongoing. My hope is that by writing it all down in a public place I'll be shamed into action, and just get it done.

so here goes, I've tried to go a bit easy on myself, so bear with me:

1. Make good Sourdough Bread- this will require some experimentation, I've tried but not really produced a great loaf, and it's my favorite type of bread.

2. Make Mozza cheese, I recently bought some rennet, and while this will probably also require experimentation, I'm very excited about it.

3. Organize and finish decorating N's room- I know, she's 15 months old for god's sake- see what I mean about procrastinating- I started this room when she in the womb!!!

4. Give my wardrobe a makeover- I'm sick of schlepping around the house, It's fine to wear house clothes (yoga pants, hubby's sweaters, painting clothes) around the house when you don't spend roughly all your time there, but when you work from home- plus stay at home, it gets to be a bit much.

5. Finish decorating the living room. -I need to hang some art, and make some cushions, and arrange my shelves, it's not too bad in here- but I have projects and plans and they're hanging over my head.

6. Establish a studio practice for clay- One where I work a little every week at least- maybe only a couple of days a week, maybe every other day, but I need to set myself some time where I do this work, it's important for so many reasons, and this is possibly the biggest thing I can do to avoid the major meltdown of working that always happens for me before a deadline.

Okay that's it- I promise to post about my progress- and you all can keep me in line- in person or in the comments- deal?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snow Day

Sorry about the hiatus- we were away for a short trip out west- and then once we were home we got sick, a short cold by all accounts, but a rough one- even K was down for the count and he usually toughs out a cold by watching war shows and drinking hot toddies for an evening (if you can call that toughing it). N still has a few sniffles, but everyone is feeling much better, so I actually got to some of my fall cleaning- right before we finally got some snow- well more than some actually- lots of snow which fell in big fat flakes, and reminded me why I love winter.

And allowed us to give N her first taste of Snow, she wasn't a huge fan of being bundled up- but I've been letting her walk around in her snow boots for a bit (is there a more Canadian skill?), so she has the hang of that at least. The snow wasn't cleared in front of the house so she had a hard time walking around, but she seemed to enjoy it- she was surprised that it was cold when she touched it to her face- ooh how fun is this winter going to be?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Remembrance

This is my Grandma and Grandpa- both passed on now- on their wedding day in 1942. My Grandpa fought overseas in the Second World War, my grandmother waited anxiously for letters from him, my mother had to wait until she was two before she met her father. It's hard sometimes to remember how close we are to that war, how many people were truly affected, and the impact it had on us, all of us. This picture does that for me, the fact that my grandfather was married in his uniform brings it all home, the sacrifices, and fear, and pride that were all part of that time period, things that I don't have to deal with, and things that other families deal with even now, sadly. My heart goes out to anyone who has a family member in the military, I hope they're safe and sound.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Fog

This fog has hung around our house for the past few days- I'm taking it as a sign that winter is on it's way- even though the forecast is only calling for a touch of snow. When the yard is like this, it feels like we're separate from the rest of the world somehow, as though you'd need some sort of password to get through. Despite its potential gloominess, I love this weather, it makes our home feel even more like a sanctuary to me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Work

"Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."- Albert Einstein

"I put all my genius into life; I put only my talent into my works."- Oscar Wilde

"Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it."- Buddha

My house is slowly emerging out of its clutter. It has been a long process but I actually think we're at the halfway point right now- maybe slightly more disorganized than organized, but we're working on it. Hence the inspiration today; work around the house has me thinking of divisions of labour, unpaid work, paid work, the prices of continency work, the differences between work from home and work at home.

And work from the university me taking heart in that Oscar Wilde quote- not that marking papers requires any talent- but it is something that I just have to do- not to fulfill myself or anything- but just to get it done and out of the way, so that I can put myself into my other jobs- parenting and home, art and cooking.

When I worked outside the house, I used to say I'm working around the house today to mean that I'm doing housework-cooking cleaning, sewing etc.- but now I do my work for pay from home as well, it all feels hectic- there is no Monday to Friday- the part time hours that I work for the university happen in spurts all day long- so there is no designated evening and weekend cleaning. Such is the predicament of the person who works from home, it's a balance I find difficult to maintain in all honesty.

I had to turn down some work last week- and it's still not quite sitting right with me- I think it's because I could technically have done it- I could have put off my laundry and vacuuming, window washing and cooking and got the work done, but instead I stepped back and realized that the money wasn't worth it- the client wanted a lot of attention in a short period at the drop of a hat, and I can't do that, not right now, anyways, not while I have other demanding clients- such as my kid, and myself to think of. It's a hard thing to turn down work, but I think it might just be the biggest bonus about being your own boss.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Play Time

N was given this Kitchen when she was very small, and the other day we set it up for her, not sure if she was old enough yet- but it turns out that she is most certainly old enough for it. She hasn't played with anything else since we put it up. She walks around carrying a salt shaker and a fried egg on a plate- gives mama and dada tastes of her soups, and loves stashing things in the oven.

It's a great play set because it works with her other toys as well, and it's all natural soft wood- which I love, I think I need to get busy making some felt food toys for our little chef!