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?