Friday, August 26, 2011


The Babe turned two this week, and I almost can't believe it. She's so grown up she blew out her own candles- without prompting. She is changing and growing and becoming more and more complex as a person, and I don't know how really. It all seems a bit magical. She says things and learns things that I don't remember teaching her- like putting recycling where the recycling goes without help, or correctly identifying a summer squash as a squash. And when she does these things I am flabbergasted, seriously I just want to send the moment in to the newspaper or something, (Two year old Yells "Quash" when she sees her mother holding a papaya pear squash!).

Just lately she's starting calling for people by saying " Mama,I want you!", and waking up saying words- just seemingly random words- "Boys", "milk in cup","Dada", "Ferna-Cat"- I assume that this is what she's dreaming about-and I know it's not really extraordinary- but it just makes my heart flip over, and burst with pride. She's utterly amazing this girl, and she's got so much going for her- I imagine every parent feels this way- we all know that our kid is a miracle child, and they are in their own way, or just to us- and that's all that really matters.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Twenty Nine

I am 29 today, (just writing that made a little bit of sweat break out on my upper lip), I'm not usually maudlin about birthdays but this one is a bit tough, I feel like I should be a grown up by now- and in a lot of ways I am one ( mom? check, homeowner? check, degree? check, responsible? check), but I'm also not quite what I thought a grown up would be. I didn't expect to feel so much the same, so much just like me- and then I'm not so surprised as well- who else would I be?

I am aware that evaluating oneself on one's birthday is a bit trite, but it also seems to be inescapable, for some reason. And even though I'm admittedly, no questions asked a Grown Up Lady, ( I suppose I have the right to be flattered instead of insulted when I get carded now? am I old enough for that yet?), I find that I've spent most of this year reconnecting with the girl I was as a child- helping to get back in touch with what I loved about myself as a kid.

This year I did the Artists' Way, and I took part in workshops designed to make artists better at running their own businesses, and I loved them both probably because they asked things like "what did you love to eat as a kid?" and "what qualities do you love about your 10 yr old self?".  I think that's it's amazing how those things remind you of who you are, and who you wanted to be- when you were just you- not the responsible version of 'adult' you.

So now today I find ,myself thinking "what would my  10 yr old self think of my 29 yr old self?". And when I ask that I feel like I'm doing okay- I'm pretty sure my 10 yr old self would aspire to be like 29 yr old self. She would look up to this 'grown up lady'- maybe she'd wish that she had a few more animals around, and possibly wear a bit more trendy clothes, but otherwise- I think she'd say I was not too bad, maybe even a bit of a role model.  And really, despite all of the things that I wish I was better at- or that I aspire to that I haven't quite gotten around to yet, what more can I ask for than that?

(the drink above is what I'm going to enjoy tonight- my new favorite summer cocktail-a Honeysuckle Lemon Balm. mix equal parts White rum, with Lemon juice and a simple syrup made of Honey, add muddled mint or lemon balm leaves, and lots of ice- garnish with lemon slices)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In the Garden

The first (unbelievably cute) baby butternut squash,
The glossy, beautiful yellow sunshine squash,
The incredible growing yellow zucchini,
The incandescent light under the leaves of the patty pan squash
Watermelons which look like they'll (possibly, maybe) grow big enough to get sweet,
The first blush on the tomatoes,
The fiery orange zinnias,
The 'Fairytale' eggplants.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Lucian Freud

Girl with Kitten, Lucian Freud, 1947, oil on canvas (source)

Girl with Closed Eyes, Lucian Freud, 1986-87, oil on canvas (source)

Large Interior (after Watteau), Lucian Freud, 1981-83, (source)
 Lucian Frued- the grandson of Sigmund- was well known for his nude paintings- which I didn't include here- but hey are worth looking up- Benefit Supervisor Sleeping was sold for 17 million pounds, which was the highest known price for a painting by a living artist, that particular painting has a lushness about the background that really appeals to me. In fact that's what I love most about his works- The backgrounds, are for the most part- incredibly painted.

The patterns in the couches- the peeling paint on a wall- the slightly off kilter- wavy look about them, really make me intrigued. I appreciate the feeling that's imbued in each work- they all feel as though they're painted in the same lighting- the same room- the same environment, but they're so richly painted all throughout the work- not just the subject- you don't for an instant get the impression that any part of the work was secondary. I think that's extraordinary- there's a great quote here- from the model of Benefits Supervisor Sleeping- and it gives credence to the idea that he didn't 'finish up' any part of the work quickly- apparently that work was done in nine months- and he took a longish break in that time because she got a tan! and he didn't like it.

I appreciate that attention to detail, and there idea that making art is work- that it's a craft- that you spend time doing, and perfecting. I strive to have that sort of feeling in my own work as well- though sometimes I do hurry through (the flip side of procrastination dontcha' know) and I do think my works are worse off for it, or maybe just my peace of mind about a piece is worse off- At any rate- I think Freud had it right with the way he made art, taking care while making it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

In the Garden

I started preserving some of our bounty this weekend, it seems like finally we can eat from the garden and have some to spare - a relief because we were hoping to eat mainly from the garden for most of the winter, like we did last year. So I took the big leaves off the Swiss Chard- one of our most versatile favorites- we eat it on pretty much everything- and blanched and froze them, and then cut up some of the brighter Chard stems to freeze as well. We grow Bright lights swiss chard which is a mixture of lots fo different coloured chard- striped pink-yellow a beautiful orange stem with choclatey leaves, andf the standard white and red stem too. I like to put the stems is soups instead of celery- they're prettier and tasty too.

Then I did some Golden and red beets- which are so lovely- I peeled and sliced and steamed them, then froze them on trays so that I can just pull out what I need for one supper. Is there anything dirtier than beet processing? Man, my fingers are still a bit grungy looking. These beets are so sweet though, they're going to be such a treat in the winter, and there's still moree out there- I just picked the big beets and left the little ones out there to grow a tiny bit bigger before I do them (more Beet fingers to look forward to YAY!) I also froze the greens from the beets, so yummy.

Things are coming along out there in teh garden- the first Tomatoes were ripe this week- and I'm going to have to prune them back a bit ot make sure I can find the ripe ones, they\ve bushed out like crazy again- and I seem to have missed the window for keeping them compact. We also have an eggplant starting and the peppers are getting huge, can't wait for refd peppers- hope for a warm fall for me!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Adventures in yogurt

 I've been making yogurt lately, and I've been wondering why it's taken me so long. I started with my mom's old salton yogurt maker- which has the cutest littel glass cups, and makes one quart of yogurt split into five jars. The first time I made it It was a wierd sort of consistency it tasted okay, and all- but it was wierdly gelatinous, so after another morning of searching on chowhound I found this post- and the yogurt gods smiled on me.

I wasn't heating the milk high enough- so after heating the homo milk to 185 degrees- then letting it cool to 110/105 degrees- I stirred in the starter (Astro yogurt- all natural, balkan style original, plain yogurt- 1/2 cup), and let it sit in the yogurt maker- but as I checked it wasn't quite getting warm enough- only 100 degrees, and I wanted 105 degress, I'm sure it's not such a big deal- but instead I poured the yogurt into a pyrex nesting bowl, (the second smallest)and zapped it in the microwave for 45 seconds, then put that bowl into the largest nesting bowl, which I filled with hot tap water- to give the yogurt an insulating water bath- I stuck a thermometer in the yogurt and covered with saran wrap- and then stuck the whole thing in the microwave to sit, checking every hour or two- warming it up as needed- for twelve hours.

It was good yogurt- tangy and smooth- and creamy- but I thought I could do more- so I strained it to maek greek style yogurt- after an hour in the strainer int he fridge (a regualer strainer over a bowl- lined with a coffee filter), it was so delicious, lots of water came out and I was left with yogurt like sour cream- tangy and rich.

I was also looking around online a bit more- and found that if you leave the yogurt overnight in the strainer for two days- it becomes like cream cheese, tastier though- especially when mixed with dill and green onion. It's addictive, and oh so excellent on crsuty french bread. Also I used store bought yogurt to make this 'creamcheese'- the above mentioned Astro brand of plain yogurt- so no need to mess around with making yogurt yourself to indulge in this treat.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wardrobe Malfunctions

The wee munchkin has been adventuring with clothing lately. Now, I'm not the sort of Mom to fight about clothes- and I have to admit I'm kinda proud that she's taken such a rebellious attitude to the dictates of clothing so young, I think it shows spirit, and I like that. But really it's a bit much sometimes, I mean most days I get her into a shirt- and something to cover up her privates- but I can't guarantee what that something will be. Some options so far have been a shirt- buttoned up around her hips with the sleeves tucked inside to make pockets, my pajama pants wrapped with the top in front and the legs tied around her chest in a big bow on the back (that was seriously stylish- but left a little to be desired in the 'covering up the privates' area), a tea towel, and mittens, just mittens.

Needless to say, I can't let her go out like that- she needs something to keep the dirt out the cracks when we're in the garden, if you know what I mean. So usually I just force her into some sort of bottoms (skirts with shorts under them are my new best friend), and deal with the tantrums by distracting her- which usually stops her from frantically pulling whatever it is I put on her off. This has all come about because we're potty training, and she's doing really well- a few accidents here and there- some rough days, but overall, she's almost completely done with diapers, and I think she enjoys the freedom, so she's making the most of it.

Today when we went outside N picked her own outfit- by grabbing whatever was around and trying to jam her legs into it- a pink hoodie-(apparently when your arms and legs are roughly the same length your wardrobe opens up quite a bit), which actually once legs were in sleeves, and it was zipped up- met my requirements to go outside, and so we added the swim shirt that someone had dropped off for her, an outside we went- she was very happy with it- and so was I really.

It's hard to know what to do with your kids when they start to exhibit their own will, especially with something like clothes. I'm awed that she has the ideas she does- that she doesn't see the fact that something was made for your top as a limiting factor I feel sort of bad for putting these bounds on her- but at the same time- saying 'you can wear whatever you want as long as your privates are covered up' is not exactly restricting.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Inspiration: WIlliam Moorcroft

William Moorcroft, Eventide Pattern, (source)

William Moorcroft, (source)

William Moorcroft, Orchid, (source)
Moorcroft Pottery can be a bit confusing, because it's still made today, not by William Moorcroft of course, but by a pottery that uses his name and his style- they continue his tradition if you will. And it's all beautiful stuff- but it's not all made by William Moorcroft- and it sort of makes me see the issues with Art pottery, and originality, and capital A art. Because Pottery is not necessarily an 'original' unique piece- often it's part of a set- and that set is replicated- you can order more Orchid patterned vases if you break one- it's replaceable- and therefore- somehow less special- or valuable- or something like that.

I still love art pottery- I love William Moorcroft's original works, but I do find the new ones a bit overly Glossy- or smooth. The thing I love about art pottery was this stubborn refusal to leave out the the marks that show how it was made- there are inconsistencies in the glazes, fingerprints, smudges. The things that I love about Painting, the things that show me that this piece was made by a human- but that are a little less acceptable somehow on pottery.

I think Pottery has always held a sort of smooth mystique- perhaps stemming from Chinese pots- which look manufactured- they are so perfect, but they are made by masters. And that's the ideal- because of course it means that you've mastered your craft and I respect that, but I still love a pot that looks worked- and much like the abstract expressionist movement- art pottery was very much about the medium, Glazes run, and scorch and bubble, it's an unpredictable medium, fingerprints are too easily preserved, and I like that.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sweet Peas

I'm getting immense pleasure out of these Sweet Peas. I've been bringing them inside as often as they wilt to encourage more blooms and to enjoy their sweet scent. I've now got a constant bouquet going, small though it is, the smell wafts up from the table when you sit down, (next year I'll put innoculum on the seeds before I plant them for sure- also I'm going to start some inside to get the blooms a bit earlier.) 

I love the way they look outside too- trailing up sticks from the garden which gives them a nice natural looking support- the Lilac branches I stuck in in early spring are working the best because they've got so many little branches to support the vines. And they're really not distracting at all, which was my only concern about using them as Sweet Pea supports. I also love the combination of colours of these flowers, I'm usually fairly picky about matching flowers, but these blooms are so lovely and soft, the colours all seem to go together.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Inspiration:Alex Colville

Alex Colville, French Cross, 1988, (source)

Alex Colville, Soldier and Girl at Station,  1953, (source)

Alex Colville, Prize Cow, (source)
Alex Colville is a great Canadian Artist- and I would guess is mostly unknown by Canadians- (I didn't know about him until art school)  he's responsible for some of our more artful coins- the centennial ones, with the lone animals on them- you can see them here. He was a war artist, and part of the east coast realist scene, His paintings are part of the fabric of our country (and worth quite a respectable chunk of change), and these are all reasons to know the man, but I love his work for it's subject matter.

The ambiguity of the scenes he chooses to paint- the moments that he captures all have a liminal feeling to them- as though they are just on the cusp of the action, right after or right before the sh*t hits the fan. The quality of light in his works is ethereal and transcendent, The way that the subjects are painted is dream like, they remind me of the way the world feels when seen through a dense fog. These paintings make me mindful of the magical qualities that can happen in paintings, the worlds you can create, and become entranced by.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bucket Hat

So I finally caved and made N a new bucket hat- I really wanted to use that tweed-y print and I think the blue flowers are so fresh, I love the way it pops.  It was actually very simple- I made up a pattern based on one of her store bought hats, and then sewed it up- it's a bit unwieldy on the inside hat because I didn't topstitch the inside and outside together except at the brim- because they're slightly different sizes at the crown- and this way it's reversible. I think it'll be a good fall hat as well as summer- and best of all N loves it.

After a couple of birthday sewing items for N, I'll also be putting the sewing machine away so that I can start making some more pots and mugs and paintings. Now that I've made the hat I think I am truly done sewing for summer, and Christmas and fall craft shows are looming on the horizon.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Edible Weeds: Chickweed

Our summer has been very late this year- and I was so wishing for homegrown food that I've stooped to eating the weeds. Chickweed is a pretty little weed mind you- and only really a weed in the sense that I don't plant it- it grows in wet shady environments- like grass, and it also seems to seed itself in all my garden containers, I used to pull it out- aiming to look like I had really good weeding skills, but now I leave it- because this winter I found out that it's edible, and tasty.

So when my mesclun mix seeds rotted in our wet soil- I found myself stretching our salads with the things we usually don't eat- (the above salad has violets in it as well as chickweed- and they taste really nice- I've been trying to think of what they taste like- but purple jellybeans is about the closest I can come to it- they're floral and violet tasting-yummy).  Chickweed has little leaves, and succulent stems and tiny white daisy like flowers- which are a bit tougher to eat. It's a refreshing taste- and is especially good when tossed lemon and a dash of salt and pepper- we've been eating it on burgers in stead of lettuce and it's so good crispy and tart.

I also have been letting it grow in my planters and I love the way it fills in the empty spots and even trails down over the edge- very pretty with it's leggy stems and small flowers, I just pinch it back a bit to try to keep it under control so that it doesn't choke out the things I actually grew. It takes a bit of adjusting though- to the mindset that weeds should be gotten rid of, that black dirt is a sign of productivity, I've been hearing more and more about biodynamic gardening, which holds that some deep rooted plants bring nutrients and minerals up into the top soil so that the plants you grew can access it. And I need to read more about this- because honestly it's making me feel a little guilty about weeding.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Willem De Kooning

Willem De Kooning, Untitled, 1947, Pastel on paper. (source)

Willem  De Kooning, Woman, 1949, oil on canvas with charcoal and enamel. (source)
De Kooning's work is a little on the crazy dream-like side. It's not actually my favorite type of art- I feel like the marks made by him are a little violent- and that mixed with the distortion of the female body makes me uncomfortable- it's a little too graphic somehow- and I'm not saying that I don't appreciate it- it's just not my favorite- content-wise. But visually I like the works- I like the vibrancy of the marks and I like how the pastel colour choices contrasts with the aggresiveness of the women figured in the works, and the solid blackness of the lines. I also love the medium- Pastels, which are so transitory, and easy to smudge, they create a sense of depth on their own, just from their own dusty quality.