Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

last year

It's hard to believe that a year ago today this happened.

Looking back at the large and small gestures offered by friends and our community I am still in awe of the support we were given. Aside from the huge blessing of our close friends opening their home to us and having the Husband's Mom arrive to help with the move and cleaning; it was the small things that were done for us that I will always remember. The little things that brought tears of gratitude.

A year later, we still talk about fire trucks and alarms (although not so frequently). We have added fire extinguishers and smoke detectors to our home. We have an escape plan in case we need it again and in light of what has happened in Haiti we are getting an emergency kit together in case of something larger and more catastrophic happening.

All in all I'm thankful, thankful for so very much and I only wish I was in a position to do more.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Thousand Words

Today's tomboy isn't afraid to be a Princess:

Or to knock one out of the park...

Or to buck convention...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Go ask Alice....

Here's the thing about Disney's Alice; it creeps me out. Watching it as a child awoke some deep seated anxieties about loss of control that the book just doesn't stir up for me, perhaps it's because the Disney version is so sterile while trying to be surreal (for the record, Fantasia made me feel the same way)...

Anyway, I much preferred the live action versions I saw on TV growing up and the books; maybe that's why I'm so excited about Tim Burton's Alice which opens next month. So excited, that I've been a little busy re-exploring Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Not only have I been going back into the books and re-reading but I've also gotten a little creative with John Tenniel's Illustrations.

Last week I mentioned that I'd gotten out, and had been able to make some art at Blim. Since I've been working a lot with glass and paint (more on that project later); the opportunity to play in Photoshop, work with paper and glue and scissors was like a breath of fresh air.

Generally, the creative work I do is 100% mine; from the drawings and paintings for my embellished cards, ATC's and nursery blessings to the photographs in TMCPhoto. Sometimes you just have to go in another direction to keep the creative momentum going. Making use of Tenniel's illustrations was a great jumping point for me. The Blim workshop was a wonderful opportunity to work with ready made images, incorporating some of the newer things I've been working on at the same time. At the end, I was excited and brimming with ideas, planning another trip to make more!

In preparation for my workshop, I scanned some of Tenniel's illustrations into Photoshop, adding colour here and there, cropping the images into a circular format and resizing them to fit the button diameters available at Blim. These were printed off and put aside for the workshop. I made all my illustrations into 1.5" and 1" diameters just because I like those two sizes. This process took me a full day to do what with the details of adding colour without removing the original lines of the illustrations and keeping the Peanut occupied.

For the workshop, I brought some of the rubber stamps I've been carving, some alphabet stamps I've recently purchased and some markers and ink pads for inking up the stamps. I made use of some of decorative papers and the art and fashion magazines Blim had handy for collage and went to work cutting, pasting and putting my buttons together. Because I had plans to make my buttons into magnets I took the pins off of the button backs before putting the pieces and my art into the machines for pressing.

Of course I went into the workshop with only a hazy idea of what I'd like to do and there were some less than lovely pieces that came home with me (yay for learning!) and also some pretty fantastic ones too. What I liked about the workshop was that as I was cutting and pasting I was also thinking of all the other things I could add to the process. Since then I've carved a few new stamps for more Alice magnets (teacups and skeleton keys were my first ideas) and I'm also thinking about other images too.

Out of the 25 button/magnets that I created, I've put together four sets of 3 buttons that I'll be selling in PeanutButterPie. I'll be listing the first set of three this afternoon and I hope they attract some interest. I know they're already attracting interest on my refrigerator, where I've already put some to good use holding up some of the Peanut's more fantastic works of art.

Are you excited about the new Alice Movie too?

Friday, February 12, 2010

new projects

So I've mentioned one or two new projects I've been working on around here for my sadly empty and lonely looking PeanutButterPie. Up until last fall this shop had a few hand painted and embellished cards, some baby blessing mixed media art works and some Artist Trading Cards.

Over the last few months I've been really interested in working on photography and have been behind the camera more often than wielding a paintbrush or sewing and beading onto a card. Except that's not exactly true because I have been doing a little painting and there has been some sewing going on and a few other things too. I've just been showing off my photographs instead of some of the other things I've had on the go.

It's a little easier to share the photographs because I've been shooting so much lately but I'd like to start introducing some of the other new things I've been working on too. Over the next few posts I'll be talking a little bit more about what else has been going on in my creative space.

First off is the window covering I've been working on for the Peanut's bedroom. This has been a long running project. I started it two years ago when we moved into a two bedroom and the Peanut finally had a room of her own. I've worked on it off and on since the move and I'm nearly finished it. I bought a pre-made curtain panel that fit the dimensions of her bedroom window. I've been embroidering lady bugs onto the panel which has taken a lot of time but I'm down to the last foot of panel.

(I'll be adding photos of the panel in progress later today, I'll be taking the peanut out to pick up some Olympic celery (the only phrase that is bound to get her interested in heading out shopping) and a few other fruits and veg. We're having roast chicken for dinner tonight and I need a few things for stuffing.) Are you working on something that's been a long time in the making? whether because it's a large project or something that gets put aside for a time, what is it? I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm conflicted

On the one hand; I'm just not too pleased about these Olympics that we are hosting. One of the positives to come out of the games was increased housing for low income, and the homeless. This seems to have gone out the window with the high cost of the games (what with going over budget in almost everything...)

The advertisements telling me that the best way to show my support is to chew the gum that has a maple leaf emblazoned on the outer shell. The ones that tell me that the only way to support our athletes is through the purchase of the sponsor's products is a little sickening. And all the billboards and transit ads asking me "Do You Believe?" make me want to just yell out "NO!" out of a sense of rebellion. Don't even get me started on the Environmental factor. How green can these games be when they are transporting truck load after truck load after helicopters loaded with snow to one of the event sites?

On the other hand, how cool is it that there will be so many people from so many places around the world, here? We have a friend who is working for the games; for as long as we have known her, she's been working long hours and grueling days getting ready for the next few weeks. Knowing how much she's put into the games makes it hard to be completely against them.

Then, there's the really awesome art that's displayed around town. I have a friend (well I know a guy I graduated with, and I keep in contact through Facebook) who has some of his work displayed around the city. The library has some really cool installations that we enjoyed looking at and being a part of, and we're looking forward to taking part in some of the other cultural events, and seeing the flame make it's way through our neighborhood. It's kind of exciting.

And the Peanut is seeing all the activity, and the Mascots and talking about the games. As far as she's concerned though, the Olympics are the cartoon that the Mascot's are featured in to promote the games.

So, how do I explain what the games are and how they great and how they are negatively affecting the place that we live in to her? It's hard not to get excited when we see her eyes light up at the sight of Sumi and Miga (she's not to sure about Quatchi). What we want is for her to retain her innocence and at the same time we want her to look at the world and see that there social issues that need to be resolved. We want her to have some empathy for her world and the people in it. We want her to question and to want to make a difference. That's a lot to want for a three year old.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I had a night out

last night.

I've been playing with the idea of taking a workshop at Blim for quite a while now. Last week I finally got around to registering for a workshop.

What's Blim? Well based on their web site:

Blim exterior

BLIM is a Community Based Art Resource Center which facilitates screen-printing, button making, drawing, knitting, local underground audio, film screenings, animation, video, dance, spoken word, visual art, creative workshops, and crafts in the independent field.

Based on my experience Blim is a funky open studio/ retail space with a super helpful director Yuriko Iga; who facilitated our workshop and made sure that the workshop atmosphere was comfortable and enjoyable. I took the collage button making workshop and I am so excited about the whole process and the fact that I can now attend open studio there and have access to the button making tools. It was a small workshop, with only two other participants, so access to the cutting tools and button machines was pretty open. If you live in BC's lower mainland and want to try a little arty fun I give them a big thumbs up! You can find out more about them here.

A few things I'll keep in mind for my next visit:

1.5" button images have to be cut by hand (past participants have used heavy card and glued on paper which has made the 1.5" cutter unusable), I'll have mine done before I go so that I can get right to the machines. If I'm going to collage I'll also have that done to my 1.5" too.

1" and 2" buttons can be cut at the studio, I'll have collage extra's ready for these too so that all I'll have to do is glue extra bits onto my images

I'll make my 1" images a little bigger than I had them (my print outs turned out to be a little smaller than 1").

I did some Alice in Wonderland buttons. I'm planning on altering the buttons to make them into fridge magnets.

I was so inspired last night that I also have ideas for some hand carved stamps that I'll be able to use with the Alice Images and ideas for Alice related photographs....

If all goes well I'll be listing some of these in PeanutButterPie soon. The shop has been sitting empty for months as I've been focusing more on Photography and putting time and effort towards some other new projects that I'll be listing there soon. I've been busy making and creating over the last few months and I'm hoping to keep up the pace. How about you? have you done anything new lately?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Imbolc Card Exchange

So I mentioned last month that I was signing on for the Imbolc Art Card Exchange over at Chasing Domestic Bliss. Well, my card came and I was so pleased with it (well pleased doesn't really cover it). It's so beautiful.

My card was sent to me from Ink'd Indigo and based on her post about making the card, she put a lot of thought and energy into her creation, I even loved the embellishments on the outside of the envelope.

Everything about the card spoke to fire and the strengthening of the sun, from the red and yellow insert inside;

to the collage that really really really makes me think of sitting around a campfire under the stars or dancing around a ritual bonfire to welcome back the sun.

The card is now sitting in a place of honour where I can look up at it any time I want and I have plans to frame it too.

The card I sent out was received too and I'm so happy that my recipient; Lyneya from Doing Something About It likes it. I ended up scanning one of the paintings I did for the Peanut's Bedroom and using a sun stamp I had carved to embellish the inside. I had made a collage lamb, but I pushed it too far and it's now sitting on my workbench waiting to be turned into something new.

This was my first time participating in an exchange, I've always wanted to; mostly because I love the idea of giving something to someone and finding out what they think of what I've made; but also because I love the idea of sharing creative ideas and energies. One of the downsides of leaving art school is that all of a sudden there isn't that communal creative energy to draw upon.

In my last year of art school I made an effort to create a group of people that could continue that energy but it kind of fell apart half way through the year and now I don't really keep in touch with many of the people who were in that group. Those that I do talk to are now only acquaintances, people I only talk to once or twice a year.

Thankfully I've been able to find like minded people through blogging and on Etsy. This exchange was so much fun and if Jen doesn't hold another I may just step in and hold the next one.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Easy Dessert

Lately, (read: every single night for the last two years) the Peanut asks for a special treat after her dinner. The whole "special treat" has been both a boon and a bane in our little household. A boon because she'll sit and try new things, a bane because she's sometimes so focused on her treat that she'll claim that she's full well before she actually is.

On the other hand a treat for her includes a big bowl of frozen fruit so it's not all cookies and cake. Had I to do it all over again I would have never mentioned the term "special treat"; it was born from a moment of desperation that had nothing to do with dinner (trying to coax the Peanut away from the way past closing time playgroup room) but has since become a major part of our dinnertime lexicon.

Growing up, we didn't do dessert on a regular basis; after my Dad's first heart attack the household menu changed drastically, also my Mom was never really a baker, so desserts were in the cake mix aisle at grocery store or related to going to Grandma's house (chocolate cake with Peanut butter icing) until my parents started cooking their own Chinese food in a wok, using recipes from one of my Mom's co-workers. Somewhere around that time my Mom picked up a huge cook book full of recipes from different parts of the world, one of the dessert recipes in there quickly became a regular.

I'm just going from memory here, so amounts may vary but this recipe is so simple and actually lends itself well to improvisation. There are also no photographs (sorry). What you'll be making is a no bake rice pudding so you can plan to make extra rice when you are cooking a rice dish or use up leftover rice from dinner.

What you'll need:
left over cooked white rice (about 3 to 4 cups)
1 can fruit cocktail drained
1 medium sized carton of whip cream
sugar and vanilla for making whipped cream

What you do with it:

Mix your whipped cream until it's light and fluffy. Drain your fruit cocktail and mix it together with the cooked rice. Then fold in your whipped cream. you want the the rice to be well coated with whipped cream but not overwhelmed by it. Let it sit refrigerated for a few hours as the rice with absorb the sweet cream as well as some of the fruit flavours. You can also substitute cool whip if you like but I like the real thing.

As for improvisation you can add a little cinnamon or nutmeg to the cream and substitute other types of canned fruit; all peaches or all pears or use fresh fruit, cut up apples, pears and peaches with seedless grapes. The pudding is light and refreshing so it's a wonderful summer time dish that would be a great finish to a BBQ meal

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Thousand Words

not to make all those of you who are still in the midst of a big freeze jealous or anything

A Thousand Words

this neighborhood is going to the birds

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I want...

One of the problems with cohabiting with your significant other before tying the knot is that you don't often get the really cool kitchen gadget type things as gifts, well, I guess I should clarify that this is the case when you also take a laissez faire approach to creating a registry for your guests.

So what I'm getting at is that when the Husband and I tied the knot 9 years ago we received a lot of towels and very little of anything else. Of course it wasn't all towels, we got a steamer, and luggage and the coolest hand thrown cookie jar from my best friend among a handful of other things that we've put to good use in our home. What we didn't get was a lot of fun kitchen gadgets. We had a lot of things already of course, hand me downs from both sides of the family which I kind of prefer anyway liking the history. So the give away being held at Mrs B's today in conjunction with October Farm is one that I would love love love to win.

Included in this super giveaway are some items that I've been longing to have in the kitchen but just haven't taken the time to get them there; like a cake server and a juicer. Also there are some things that I never even knew I wanted like a bun warmer, how absolutely decadent? and how absolutely would that come in handy since I've started making my own bread and buns?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So with all the cook books yesterday

I completely left out how the weekend went.
Saturday we went to watch the husband's band practice, they'll be playing a fund raising gig at the end of this month and other than watching them play at the guitarist's wedding last August I haven't seen them play together as a group yet. Can I just say that they sound awesome? I can? OK, they sound awesome. The Peanut spent a good portion of the night dancing around with her hot pink ear protectors and new white sneakers, helped out on a few songs by playing the tambourine and generally made everyone in the room laugh.

Sunday was the day that I lost all happy warm feelings towards the neighborhood Shoppers Drug Mart. Last fall, when I was so sick we were in there almost every other day trying to get something to help with the sinus cough thing I had going on, they were fabulous when the Peanut announced that she really had to go potty and let us use their staff washroom, which I was grateful for and because I was so grateful I felt way more loyal to them than say the folks at the Safeway or the Dollar Store. So when the Peanut announced she really really had to go potty while we were picking up some necessities I quickly took her to the nearest employee and asked if we could use their bathroom. I was turned down and told that I'd have to take the Peanut over to the Starbucks.

Her little bladder nearly made it but I was peed on in the Starbucks bathroom and had to jury rig my cardigan as temporary pant legs and skirt on the Peanut. My faith in their customer service is shattered, and I'm pretty sure that if looks could kill I might have been charged with something serious. I can understand not wanting to let everyone into the backroom to use the bathroom but a three year old should be given an exception. Or maybe I'm over reacting?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Speaking of Domestication

Mrs B over at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom is making February Retro Cooking Month. I can't tell you how good this is for me, I've been slowly but surely trying to eliminate processed foods from our pantry and having access to new recipes and ideas is making me a little giddy. ( the geek in me is doing a little dance and clap my hands in glee)

Today Mrs. B is sharing her recipe system, a three ring binder and clip system. It's a great system but it involves collecting recipes on an ongoing basis. I tend to go looking for new recipes when I'm in the mood to change things up a little bit. Take last week for instance.
My parents sent us a large package of meat from one of their cows. I have packages and packages of the leanest, tastiest ground beef I have ever had and there's only so much spaghetti and meat sauce I'm willing to subject myself and the family to. Don't get me wrong I'm a big fan of spaghetti and meat sauce, We eat it often. So in search of new things to make I came across a wonderful meatloaf recipe in a cookbook I took out from the library last week. I'll be copying the recipe into a book I have for that purpose.

When we moved to BC my grandma gifted me with a journal as a going away present. I've never really been very good with writing in a journal so I used the book to collect recipes that I thought I might make. For me, cooking is a form of nesting; when I first came out here, I looked through stacks and stacks of cookbooks in an effort to settle into my new home. I have a bunch of recipes that have become regulars in our home, from apple soup (a roasted apple and acorn squash soup) and shepherds pie to my grandpa's toffee recipe and my great grandma's recipe for yorkshire pudding. The book sees a lot of use and has been subjected to random drippings and the odd steam soaked lid being placed on it. At the end of the day it's one of the three most used recipe books in my collection.

The other book (pictured above) is one my Mom passed on to me when I moved out. It's a vintage book, full of campy classics like Cheese Bombe and Hawaiian Rice. Mostly we used it for cookie and cake recipes while I was growing up but the book is full of useful information for beginning cooks like cooking charts for beef, lamb and pork, BBQ cooking charts and bread making methods.

The last book I'm sharing with you today is one that my Ma in law made for me six years ago. It's an altered book full of recipes from my husband's side of the family. There are recipes from his great grandmothers and some of her favourites as well, including one of the tastiest meat pies I've ever had the pleasure of eating. In addition to these recipes, she also included little stories about the women in her life, random tips about being a woman and notes about where each recipe came from, where she first made it, how often it was made or how good a recipe was.

This book reminds me of the book The Cure For Death By Lightning by Gail Anderson-Dargatz. In the book the main character's mother keeps a journal/ recipe book that she has made from scrap papers and cardboard. It's a handmade book full of mementos from her life as a homestead wife, including scrap bits of knowledge including how to keep a cat from straying, the proper way to pick peas and of course the cure for death by lightning. The book itself is full of magic and mystery. Like the main character in the book, I can spend hours flipping through this book, gleaning bits of knowledge and magic from the strong ladies that have come before. It's a book that the will eventually be passed down to the Peanut.

If you are interested in seeing dome other recipe systems go on over to Mrs B's blog,I'll see you over there!

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