Terrible excitement

Now I have my work cut out for me - as I have a bank of Nudibranchs and sea creatures that I have done the samples for and only need to scale them up up up and stitch.
This samples goes with another sample to create anemones... and I can't wait to add the batik tips and create long lengths of Nudibranchs in fizzy/exciting colours (reach for the NASA launch-pad glasses)!  I wouldn't hold your breath though, I am off to Jasper and the Canadian Rockies for the Easter weekend.
Today on Facebook, of all places, I found a link to the official press release about the postponement of The Play. The director did call me personally yesterday about it all. I am stepping away for a bit to see what happens with this saga. Need to regroup my thoughts and feelings.

I wish I had a better camera, but we've only got a very basic digital.  This is just a few of the geese currently living on the river that runs along our farm.  I really wish I had the camera with me the other day when Ella and I were outside playing.  Something must have spooked the geese and there must have been 1000 of them (no exaggeration) lift up off the river and fill the sky.  It looked like something out of Hitchcock's "The Birds"  :) 

It's a sure sign of spring when the geese come back.  It amazing some days.  When we are outside, sometimes, all you can hear is the geese honking.  It's really quite something to hear.  There is an island a ways down the river behind our farm (it's called Snake River for a good reason) and if you were to sneak down the river the island would be absolutely covered with geese this time of year. 

The other night I think I could hear the Killdeer.  Haven't seen any yet thought.  The darn Grackle's are back.  They are such an annoyance.  They aren't a very nice bird either.  I like the Red Wing Blackbirds, at this time of year, but wish they would disappear once the corn starts to ripen.  Every year it's a contest to see who gets more corn.

I'm really ready for spring to arrive.  I hope we get a decent length spring.  I don't like when we have only a week of spring weather and then we go straight into hot and disgusting summer weather.  Did you guess I don't like humidity?  I'm definitely a cool weather spring/fall kind of girl.

My helper and I made hot cross buns on Monday.  We shared some with Auntie Lizzie and with Grandpa and Grandma.  It's what we give them for Christmas every year - a treat every month for the year.  Elizabeth works and so doesn't have much time for baking, and my MIL isn't well a lot so doesn't do much either, both love to get home baked treats and it's always a surprise.

Ella loves to help me when I'm making bread products.  She likes to make 'bread' with the extra pieces while I'm shaping (or whatever) the other piece.  She's really getting good at rolling -with the rolling pin and rolling up sticky buns. 

I don't use a specific hot cross bun recipe.  I just used my challah recipe and added 1T cinnamon, 1 t nutmeg and 1/2 t mace.  I also added about 2 good handfuls of raisins -not sure how many, just kept adding until it looked like enough.  I don't use citron or other peel because I don't like it.  This is the main reason I make hot cross buns, I hate having to pick through store bought ones looking for peel   Gee I wonder where Ella gets her picky tendencies from?  :)
Despite the warm weather we have been experiencing, we still keep a fire going because the nights are still cold.  Last night, Ian took the ashes out and dumped them where he always does and never gave it a second thought.  Later in the evening when it got dark, I noticed a bright glow coming from outside my bedroom window.  I got up to investigate and discovered that the grass behind the garage was on fire.  I interrupted Ian's weekly conference call and told him to call the fire department.  I could tell this was a fire we were not going to be able to put out on our own and it was way too close to the garage for comfort.  Our cars could be moved out quickly but we have a friend who his storing most of his household belongings in the loft.  
We went outside but there was really nothing we could do.  We attached the hose to the outside faucet and realized that the water to it was shut off so the pipes didn't freeze and burst so I quickly remedied that problem.  It was too little too late.  Sitting next to the garage is my son and daughter in law's car we are keeping for them while they are in New Zealand and a very expensive hot dog cart.  Neither faired well and suffered quite a bit of damage.  The fire department was able to save the garage although we will have to replace some warped siding.  
Here's the clincher, our son and daughter in law's car is not covered under our insurance and because it wasn't  "in" the garage, we can't make a claim.  Daniel and Olivia removed the insurance they had on the car because they wouldn't be driving it. So now they are without a car when they come back.  They will have to try and take it up with our insurance company but since they are all the way in New Zealand, it will be difficult.  I have been on the phone all morning with our insurance company and I am frustrated to say the least.

I know it could have been a whole lot worse and I am most definitely grateful that no one was hurt, that our garage and house did not go up in flames, and that all  is well.  My daughter in law  should be thankful that April Fools only comes once a year.  

Two Sundays ago, Colin thought he'd get a jump on the season and plant a few cool weather crops in his greenhouse.  This is the first we've ever tried planting this early.  As you can see, he's using Ella's old wading pool to start some radishes and green onions.  On another shelf he's got lettuce and spinach.  Colin has draped plastic around the beds (to stop drafts) and has a heat lamp, just in case.

It's a good thing he did, because this is what we woke up to on Monday.  Guess March is trying to go out like a lion after all.  It came down fairly heavily for a while, but was all melted by the afternoon.  We really did need the moisture, but it sure put a damper (no pun intended) on Ella's bike riding.  It was cold.

This is the beautiful sight in my garden today.   And yesterday it was cool enough with just my sweater doing groceries.  I made Ella wear her winter coat, but I was good.  A few more days of sunshine and warmth and my bluebells should be flowering.

They are calling for 23C by the weekend.  That will feel positively balmy compared to the start of the week.  I just hope people don't get too crazy and strip down too far.  I don't need a spring cold caught by someone who doesn't know how to dress for the time of year!  I hope we get the nice weather, I really need to get out in my garden.  There's not much in flowers yet, but the grass is certainly getting a good head start  :)

Back at Capernwray!

Hello friends! 

I said I would attempt to blog more frequently from school, so here I am!  Unfortunately, I'll have to revert to the old days and pictureless blogging, as I can't really access pictures here.  Technology is far from perfect!

That being said, coming back to Capernwray has been fabulous, and I'm looking forward to all the adventures I will have in the last 6 weeks of school now.  Frankly, while I'm doing my best to treasure these last few weeks, and I know it's all wonderful stuff, I'm also kind of starting to be anxious for it to be over, because I have so many exciting things what with Texas this summer and everything.  On the other hand, I know that each and every moment is to be cherished, and time should never be rushed.  Crazy stuff.

Just for today's classes, we had a guy who does a lot of voice acting come in a teach some classes on 'Entertainment and the Meaning of Life', which is fascinating beyond belief, not to mention hugely entertaining.  It's a good reminder to understand th cultural context in which we live, and to really properly comprehend our audience when we go out into the world to be 'witnesses'.  It's a big responsibility, yet somehow God has given it to us.  Also crazy stuff!

In any case, this keyboard is stiff, and my arms hurt, so I'm going to sign off.  Lots of hugs and love in Christ to you all!

Today Andrew was able to set 3 gangs of nets.  Two are near Hay Island and one is at White Cloud Island.  I was able to do the smokers for Dufferin Market.   We are well on our way to making it down to market. 
Last night went out for dinner with the family to Rocky Raccoons in Owen Sound.  It was lovely and yummy.  Sorry, that is the best word I could think of.  It is right on the main street of Owen Sound and he highlights local producers.  Chef Robin Pradhan we have work with making the tandoori smoked fish.  He has a heartfelt,contagious, enthusium for food and the people who produce it.
We have also figured out when we will return to Riverdale.  Riverdale starts on May 18th and will be winding up on October 26th.  The Brickworks will also start on May 29th and will move inside November 6th.  I am looking forward to seeing the Brickworks go all year. 
We also will be attending Slow Food Toronto's Farm to Fair on Saturday, April 10.  It will be at the Gladstone Hotel from 1-4:30pm.  It is a chance to meet with the produces.  Hopefully we will see some of you there. 
Chris and I went out this evening and it beautiful and warm out.  We took some pictures of the last bit of snow we have, some flowers coming up and we caught swans flying above us at the shore. 

Thank you to those who have sent encouraging remarks about my acting opportunity! I have just heard that the production is to be "postponed." Technical difficulties apparently. I have enjoyed all the excitement, research and the idea of a long-held dream of mine to perform on stage. Situation beyond my control, that much I know. I can "wait and not be tired by waiting" for whatever comes next with this project.

My late father was big on Rudyard Kipling and here's an old faithful that I shall be reciting to myself today:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Here is the sculptural form of Kikaigumo Shibori created on a synthetic fabric of unknown fibre content, I thought initially that it was 'nylon' so first it was dyed in Acid dye with little pick up and later with disperse dye which was fine.
The flat-ironed fabric's pattern is typical tie die, except that the spiders' webs are tiny and I feel these are more typical of shibori.

As I am using such a mixture of fabrics that, today, I found myself working with acid, disperse and fibre reactive dyes.... wow I had better not do this when I am tired.


My weekend.

  •  Taking visitors from New Zealand to the sugar bush so that they could discover first hand the wonders of maple syrup production. 
  • Discovering that maple cotton candy, or candy floss as the Kiwis refer to it, tastes absolutely amazing.
  • Having the grandkids here all weekend.
  • Having old friends come for a visit.
  • Tortilla soup, easy to make, feeds a crowd, and tastes delish.
  • Witnessing the blessing of my newest granddaughter.

  • Getting sick just as everybody arrived on Friday night.
  • Missing a baby shower because I overslept having a little nap. (I probably shouldn't have gone anyway considering how I was feeling.)
  • Nearly slicing off the top of my thumb while cutting an onion.

  • That would have been me.  Sore throat, stuffy nose, watery eyes, definitely not a pretty sight. I think I may have been a bit grumpy too but I like to think I kept it all together.
I had been thinking about how to make  Kikaigumo (tool-aided spiderweb) Shibori work in a less antagonistic way...... by which I mean that I want to stop fighting the natural tendencies of the slippery fabrics so that they simply want to stay in place instead of wanting to unravel.  I had come up with a solution and was trying it today when I thought...what I could do is wrap around a last that will stay in... I began working with cocktail sticks.  What wonderful representation of protuberances these will make.
I love the way the meditative actions involved in Shibori allow one to develop ones design or process.

Remember back in the day when mall food courts consisted of nothing more than a pizza place, a hamburger joint, a Chinese-style place, a french fry shack, a fried chicken stand and maybe (if you were lucky) a sandwich maker? Your choices were essentially deep-fried something or deep-fried something. I'm no young bird or anything, but the 1980s weren't that long ago and it's nice to see that progress is being made in the food-on-the-run arena.

You know by now that I obviously don't condone an overindulgence in fast food and as much as I would like to say I am highly adept at managing my time so that I don't ever need to rely on it, the truth is that life often gets in the way of making healthy, at-home meals with fresh ingredients every single night. Sometimes, the convenience (and your sanity) on particularly crazy days is worth more than avoiding fast food. Although relying on certain chain restaurants does call into question the ethics of supporting companies that employ seriously questionable methods of running their businesses and so regardless of the veggie options available to you, you may elect to not partake in them. This is something that is up to each individual vegan, of course.

The good news is that these days there are a lot more options for vegans in the mall food court than a veggie burger and fries from the fast food standards many of us have come to know (and loathe). You may even be able to get something on your plate that resembles an actual vegetable.

While doing some shopping with my mom today I sat down to this meal, from Tandori. It's a mixed vegetable curry, masala potatoes, basmati rice and a garden salad. The staff at this particular Tandori are great for recognizing what vegans choose to not eat and know exactly what is in all of their selections. Sure, it's still fast food, so the nutritional breakdown and caloric content may be a bit hazy. And at $10.00, this meal is admittedly more than the food-court favourite slice of pizza, but at least you're eating real food.

I do wish, however, they (and all the other food court franchises) used more sustainable and easily-biodegradable packaging and utensils.

I'm sure this isn't news to all you big-city folk, but I honestly never thought I'd see the day when my lil hometown would have an Indian-style option and fresh vegetables available in its mall food court...I just had to share!

550 King Street North (Conestoga Mall)
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 5W6
(519) 884-4509

I found THIS on Youtube. Kudos to the creator of this video. I just love how he made her eyebrows so expressive in the animation. In the formal portrait on the left, Dame Agatha is 67. ( I just had my 67th birthday a couple of weeks ago, too.)

I notice that Dame A pronounces the "h" in Hercule! And I always thought it was pronounced "'ercule," like in zee francais. But maybe I've only heard the lovely David Suchet introduce himself as Poirot on the BBC telly versions of the mysteries. In a Belgian accent.

I've got Act 1 lines memorized and am about to plunge into Act 2 today! All my dialog is monolog (dialogue and monologue to some of you guys!), and it takes fierce concentration to follow Dame A's flitting hither and yon of interesting thoughts which seem to come forth in no particular order, although I am trying to make my own order out of it. There's quite a bit of alliteration, which is helping me remember. For example: "Poisoned Passions,"
" Much of what Murder Mysteries rely on for Motivation..." As long as I learn with a super-plummy-posh English accent, I'm doing OK. The lines are taken directly from Dame A's autobiography and she is frank about not wanting to tell her story in a chronological order. She just sort of saunters in anywhere she feels like it in her narrative, and free-associates her personal memories and recollections about her illustrious career.

Woah Life!

Good gracious, life! 

You know those times when nothing really all that interesting is happening but you just have to suddenly stop, tug on the reins a bit, and say "WHOA LIFE!!!"  This past little while has been like that.  I'm in this really weird stage of transition, in life.  Well, the past few years have been like that really, but, yeah.  Now it's just right.  I've been away from home now for a couple months, and now being home, we all keep mixing up the names of where I'm am and where I've been.  Talk of going back to school, becomes 'going home', and yet, it's all mixed up.  I don't mind, really, but it's kind of hitting me like a brick, that while, yes, I'll be home most of next school year, this is only sort of home.  There are other places where I live sometimes, and right now, one of them is Bible School.

Oh yeah, and then there's stuff like income tax forms, insurance, letters, mail to attend to, errands, buying necessary clothes and things...

etc., etc., etc., etc., ETC., ETC.!!!

So yeah.  Oh!  And Texas!  This summer I'm going to be working at a camp in Texas, of all places, as a counselor, for 2 1/2 months.  Crazy stuff.  See, my school is part of Torchbearers (Oh for goodness sake, Sheila; This is my school: http://www.capernwray.ca/ ), and Torchbearers has about 26 schools around the world.  His Hill is one of them.  We often have lecturers in from the various schools, and we had the director of His Hill, who spoke at the end of his time there about their summer camp programs.  For their volunteer camp workers, they basically only take people who have attended school at one of the Torchbearers' Centres the year before.  I fit the bill! 

(Whaa?  I edited this pic, but it won't stay edited.  Blarg.)

I really felt the conviction of the Lord that this was what I was supposed to do with my summer, even though I had very different plans, mostly to do with music and earning money, but God saw fit for me to go to Texas.  The flights are booked!  I'm getting excited.  I know the Lord has a lot to teach me through this experience.

Crazy beans.

Totally awesome and mind-blowing stuff, really.  So I am growing/have grown up!  And yet still growing in Christ.  That will never stop, and I'm so glad.  :-)

Hurray for the Joy of the Lord!

Improvisational Quiltplay!

Inspired by the recent goings-on at Melody Johnson's blog, I decided to have a little play with some pretty fabric today. For those not in the know, this is known as improvisational piecing. That means you cut fabric, sew bits together, slash them apart and sew them together again just as the spirit moves you. Well, there's a tad more to it than that, but basically it's about throwing most of the usual rules out of the window at this point in the proceedings. Points don't have to be pointy, seams don't have to match. The colors of spring sang to me from my stash. This is just one unit of something. More to come if and when the spirit moves me again! I forgot to mention - there's no deadline either about this little adventure. My UFO (UnFinished Objects) quilting pile grows ever taller, but even that's just fine with me as well.

All the deciduous trees are sprouting new bright green foliage, the daffodils are blooming and the rhodies are just about to do their thing as well. Spring is busting out all over, to mess up the words of that lyric a bit! (I think it was "June" and I think the word was "bursting" in the original song. Wasn't it from "Oklahoma?")

On an Agatha note, I read her autobiography - what an interesting life she led. Memorization of one's lines is under way. A rehearsal schedule has been given. That all starts on April 17th. But more details will be forthcoming anon!

I've declared my love for falafel many times here at This is Vegan, so naturally I have been very excited about trying this sweet potato version, recipe from Fat Free Vegan. The base is potatoes, not chickpeas, so obviously they taste nothing like traditional falafels. I mention this in case anyone who wants to try them is expecting the deep-fried variety made famous at street vendors in big cities and not because I think their lack of traditionalism is a flaw. I already have a wonderful authentic falafel recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and so I was excited to find a unique take on the little chickpea'd wonder that could. Variety is the spice of (vegan) life, after all.

I think potatoes have gotten a bum rap in our carb-and-calorie obsessed society. For those who only eat the deep-fried variety, this bad reputation is probably warranted. When you pull a potato out of the deep fryer it practically ceases to be a vegetable, especially if it is the freezer aisle or fast food restaurant variety. These "fries" are usually just a little bit of potato and a whole lot of preservatives, sodium and attempts at flavour enhancement. Which seems kind of strange, because potatoes are so naturally flavourful, but when you pump them full of all sorts of chemicals so that they can have a longer shelf life it's no surprise that flavour is often lacking.

So yes, in that case I would agree that there is something wrong with the potato. But it's not the potato's fault. What's harmful are our attempts at playing scientist and testing just how much junk we can cram into something and still have it be edible. I believe the potato itself, especially the nutrient-rich sweet potato in all its vitamin A glory, is a suitable staple for most diets. That being said, eating an excess of potatoes (or anything, really), even the way that nature intended them to be eaten, becomes problematic if it is all you eat. The potato should never be the only vegetable that makes an appearance on your plate day in and day out (a concept all but lost in our 'meat and potatoes' society).

So, here is a way to eat your potato for the sake of eating your potato and not at the expense of other vegetables. A falafel platter is the perfect way to enjoy a variety of raw vegetables, and that is exactly what we did. I chopped up some bell pepper, red onion, cucumber (a falafel MUST!) and tomato. Susan V suggests serving this unique spin on falafel with a yogurt-tahini sauce, but since I am not crazy about the taste of soy yogurt I made a roasted red pepper and almond hummus instead (recipe in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan).

These little guys make for a great lunch or dinner, but they also heat up wonderfully and so would make a great appetizer or finger food for your next cocktail party. Just whip up a bowl of hummus and arrange these little balls around it - your guests, vegan or otherwise, will love them. We enjoyed them on their own in this manner, but also stuffed some in whole grain pitas.

The recipe is found here for those of you who want to try these out. Let me know how you like it!

I realise that perhaps this spring break would have been a great opportunity to blog a lot, but really, I've been rather busy, and at no time in the near future will I have extra time to blog, nor easy access the the internet, so I figure I don't even need to try to build up a readership!  Ah well, life has been blessed and full the past couple weeks.   I have had some amazing growing times, really, and so I'm going to split this post up into categories!  Here goes!

1.) Cool material stuff!  I got my (early) birthday present from my parents!!!  They contributed to buying me...wait for it... a guitar!!!  I've been thinking on it for quite a while, and I think that while I love classical guitar, I'd just like to be able to strum a few chords to play for worship songs or a bit of campfire music.  Should be a blast, I've already got a few chords down, and some Swiss stickers on my guitar case.  What a pro, hey?

Also, I really love thrift stores.  Seriously!  I need some shorts for Texas (uh... have I mentioned Texas yet?  No?  Well... next post?), so I went to the thrift store and picked up a few pairs for UBER cheap, and low and behold, I now have nice, preshrunk, environmentally friendly, cheap, used shorts!  Woohoo!

2.) Cool God stuff!  I've had some amazing things happen with what God has been teaching me lately.  I won't go into everything in detail, but I've been given some absolutely incredible opportunities and experiences with people and so on, and God has really been working.  Incredible stuff.  The amazing thing is I'm feeling a bit like Jeremiah, because I have absolutely no clue if any of this stuff will ever bear fruit, and for most of it, I'll never know, but I know God knows, and all I want to do is be available to be an instrument in Christ's Hands.  :-)

3.) Cool family stuff!  Just had some wonderful chats with my Mum, and I'm feeling really blessed to have someone like her to talk to about relationship with Jesus, life, and whatnot.  God is good.  I also went out for dinner with my Dad tonight, and it was so worth it.  I'm really happy to be getting our relationship back on track.  God is gracious!

4.) Cool friend stuff!  I've had the opportunity to get together with some friends while I've been here!  I've seen my good freind Mary (the one with adorable babies!), several times, and enjoyed great soul-sharing, which has been oh-so-encouraging.  Also, I've visited with a new friend, and we had a blast on the beach, running around in bare feet and building sand castles!  If only I had photos of that day!  We called our sand castle town 'Whistlblue', for no apparent reason.  I love the beach so!  Met up with my good friend Maria via Skype (we're internet buddies, never met IRL), and last weekend my darling friend Mariah (also a friend of Maria's) got MARRIED of all things in Missouri.  Wish I could have been there for your special day, princess!  Friends are wonderful things.  :-D

So, I'll call the writing quits, and add in some pictures.  Hopefully I can do some better E-blogging (minus pictures, I think.  Boo.) while I'm at school and TRY to keep you updated.  I actually took video footage to post on here, but my camera litterally ate it.  It was fine one day, and the next day it was an 'invalid image'.  *sigh*  So... until next time...

God bless you all!
Hugs in ten-thousand sparkling bubbles,

More on Chickens

Ok, I thought I had covered everything, but my friend Kimberly has asked a bunch more questions that I'm sure others are asking too.

Do I wash the eggs? Yes.  I know some people feel you should leave the 'bloom' on the eggs and have all sorts of claims as to why this is a good idea.  But our chickens lay their eggs where ever they like and the eggs come from the barn with all sorts of 'stuff' on them.  I give them a quick wash under running water in order to cut down the chances of spreading e.coli. around.  That and I think it's disgusting to crack an egg into a recipe that's covered in poop.

How long to keep fresh eggs?   Are you ready for this -an unbelievably long time, so long that we've never had a bad egg.  You may not believe this, but store bought eggs can be about a year old!!  Yep, you read that right, a year.   I forget which show I saw that on, but it was one of those 'investigative news-type' shows that you can trust.  My MIL stores her eggs in the basement (when she gets backed up), it's cool and they keep for months (if needed).  Remember, in Europe people don't even refrigerate their eggs, fresh eggs are kept on the counter.  Fresh eggs are in such demand that MIL's eggs are usually never more than a week old, sales slow a little during the bad weather months.

How soon do they need to be collected?  It depends on the time of year and if you have roosters.  During the winter or without roosters you can actually collect eggs every couple days.  Colin usually goes every day but there have been times he's forgot.  The chickens aren't broody during the winter and so the eggs usually aren't fertilized (not an issue if no rooster) and they just lay around the coop (i.e. not kept warm).  These days when the hens are getting broody and the roosters are doing their 'duty' Colin collects every day.  Soon he will let them set on a few eggs (the Chanteclers, likely not the Bantys).  While the weather stays cool, I wash the eggs every couple days and then refrigerate.  Once it gets much warmer, I'll wash them as soon as they come in.  Here's a picture of one of our Banty eggs.  See how far the yolk stands up in the white, that's one way to tell a fresh egg.

Blood spot in 'organic' store eggs?  I'm not sure whether you can salvage those.  You still don't know how old the eggs are or whether there was a rooster involved.  If the eggs aren't yours (or a friends) I would be tempted to toss the blood spots.  I'm much more cavalier with egg safety (eg., eating dough, meringue) but that's because I know how old the eggs are and the conditions they were harvested under.  I'd be more wary with store bought.
This turned out to be silk organza not nylon...
And I use the word potential because I am the master of understatement.


Tonight I crashed a birthday party for a two year old (it's okay, they're practically family and the two year old didn't mind at all).  Arriving early, I was put in charge of holding the newest addition to the family while the mom and dad prepared dinner for everyone. The phone rang and J. asked if I would answer it.  Since my friends run a business from their home, I decided to act like a professional and not be my usual smart alec self.  The man on the other end asked who he was speaking to so I told him and in I turn asked who I was speaking to.  I was a bit confused when he told me his name was "Jane Doe" (name has been changed to protect the innocent).  "Pardon?" I asked.  "Jane Doe" came the reply.  I placed my hand over the receiver and told J.  He told me to give the phone to his wife as it was probably an advertising salesperson from the newspaper.  I laughed as I told J. how I could have sworn that the voice on the other end was a man's but the name was definitely a woman's.
Later in the evening after all the guests had arrived I turned to J's wife and asked who the man sounding woman was that had called earlier.  "J's mom" she said.  I'll add at this point that J's family were all in the room at the time.  Awkward.
During my City and Guilds in England I was presented with a beautifully turned shibori tool, seen here with some pieces of wrapped fabrics.  The one on the left didn't take the acid dye - perhaps it is viscose. The piece on the right is a nylon that took the colour beautifully and I can't wait to see it unwrapped.

I don't know why this particular fabric isn't photogenic, perhaps the silk is too shiny.  I have tried it in daylight, floodlit and in shadow...  But always the highlights come through on the image over-exposed... is this what happens when you lend your camera out and someone changes settings.... anyway here is Pink Lady's skin.

When Pink Lady is in her normal resting state she is so tactile, that she lived for a while on my shoulder yesterday and has a tendency to snuggle rather like a guinea pig in the crook of ones arm....  Here she is shown extended which she tends to do when provoked.
I asked Colin to give me brief instructions on how to raise chickens.  Well, lets just say they were a little too brief.  I'll try to give some more information here, trying to cover questions that I had before.

First of all, of course is to decide on what breed you want.  Whether you want regular 'run of the mill' layers that are available every spring from your local feed mill.  Or do you want fancy, heirloom, rare chickens.  Or chickens some where in between.

We did a bit of research and after losing our Banty hen to the cold last winter, we decided to go with Chantecler chickens.  I was very interested to get an actual Canadian chicken, especially since they have very small wattles and combs and are quite tolerant of the cold.  We weren't planning on keeping the chickens outside all the time, but I wanted to them to be fairly worry free.  It was hard finding a breeder, especially since last year seemed to be a very bad breeding year - Colin said it was because it was so cold and dim, nothing wanted to grow not even baby chicks.  We finally found some just outside of Fergus so we girls headed off on a road-trip. 

Our little chickies were only a day old and so adorable.  They went peep peep peep the whole way home.  We kept the chicks in a large Rubbermaid storage box (about the size of a horse trough).  Wood shavings in the bottom with a large shallow bowl of water and a dish for feed.  You can see the why mesh on top, you would be surprised how far these little guys can jump and flutter.  I know there are a lot of recipes out there for homemade chick feed, but we buy ours at the local feed mill.  I would think the TSC stores would carry it too.  Colin says it's better just to buy the starter feed instead of dealing with chick death.  The price we paid for these chicks I wasn't going to risk them unnecessarily.   We buy unmedicated feed because it's not necessary to medicate healthy chicks.  Colin only fed one bag then switched to corn.  Being still rather cool, we also had a heat lamp hanging over the box, but not too close.

A few weeks later they got moved out to the barn.  Colin had to put up some smaller fencing in the old chicken coop or they would have escaped.  They were very happy to get to the bigger coop, they are growing very quickly.  Although the pigs give off quite a bit of heat, we still had a heat-lamp in the coop for the little ones.
This is our 'little chickes' now.  They are so big and sturdy looking.  I love the brown ones.  The hens are all quite shy.  We have 3 roosters, they are not shy!  We can hear the crowing across the yard.  The one rooster is really trying to get himself into hot water -literally!  The one rooster is very aggressive.  So much so, that I can't gather eggs any more.  Only Colin goes in.  Now that the chickens are bigger we don't buy feed.  Colin feeds them our corn, usually he grinds it a bit so they can eat it easier.  He says cracked corn can be purchased from your local feed mill, if you don't grow your own.  He also feeds the chickens oyster shells.  This keeps them from breaking eggs and keeps the egg shells nice and sturdy so I don't break them. 

The barn has lights, and we leave a light on for the chickens so we have eggs all year round -don't want to buy year old stuff from the store.  This summer (after cropping) I hope to get Colin to build a door in the wall and an outdoor run for the chickens.  I'm not turning them loose because I don't want to feed the raccoons, coyotes, skunks, and all the other predators!

Oh yeah, just in case you don't know: you don't have to have roosters in order to have eggs.  If you don't have a rooster you really don't have to be concerned with little blood spots, I just scoop that spot out and use the egg.  But, if you have roosters and it's getting towards spring and the hens are going broody, you must must must be sure to gather the eggs every day (not a worry in winter).  Colin was busy for a couple days and I got a rather unpleasant surprise when I went to use those eggs.  I threw out nearly a dozen!  Now I candle the eggs before using.  But that is just a spring time problem.

Hope this answers any questions you might have.  If I left anything out, just ask and I'll find the answers.
I finally found one of the pictures I wanted to post a while ago.  It's one of the Knitting Madonna's, not the one I'm thinking of, but still...

Visit of the Angel, from the Right Wing of the Buxtehude Altar, 1400-10
Visit of the Angel, from the Right Wing of the Buxtehude Altar, 1400-10

I'm not sure why this picture is so small.  Follow the link and see it much bigger.
Ombre dyeing or Ombre in blogs, both seem to be very popular and I wondered if I have been subconciously affected... like in subliminal advertising... because what I am producing right now is the fade in fade out look of ombre.... Hey and didn't Tara say Tie die is really in right now... wasn't tie die in and out and in and out since forever... I do want that fade in out look for my Nudes.

Above is the next skin that I have produced... am I pleased with it..... well yeh, der.  And is it Ombre... well it is, if only you could see the entire fabric... OK I'll show you.... this afternoon.
Keep trying, tying and dyeing.

Our Fish Returning to Owen Sound's Market

We found a friend who is willing to sell for us in Owen Sound.  We have made plans for the fish to start in Owen Sound on Easter weekend.  Of course we will be still down to the Toronto markets but Owen Sound holds a special place for us.  That is where we started years ago.  We use to be year round vendors and froze with the other hardy year round vendors on the crisp mornings of February. 
We did this market briefly before all of last years struggles began.  It is nice to return and hopefully pick up right where we left off. 
If you ever find yourself up in the neighbourhood of Owen Sound maybe you could pay the market a visit.  This is their link  http://www.owensoundfarmersmarket.ca/   Our booth is usually outside under the metal roof. 
On another note.  Andrew got out fishing tonight.  The wind let up for a bit and hopefully he can sneak out first thing tomorrow before it is to pick up again.  I was able to smoke the fish today and that will be headed to the city Thursday. 

I couldn't resist trying one more recipe out of Veganomicon before putting it into regular cookbook rotation. Okay, so this is technically two recipes. But it's all part of one meal, so it's not really cheating.

This is a pretty self-explanatory Indian-themed meal so I don't even know how to blog about it; I just wanted to share that it was awesome. If you happen to own Veganomicon, you should give it a try.

I did have a bugger of a time finding tamarind paste. I've heard that it is difficult to find a vegan tamarind paste, as they apparently often contain fish oils. I couldn't find any at all, vegan or otherwise. And of course the week I decide to make these lentils the Asian grocer two doors down from the clinic where I work decides to close its doors.

I did find it eventually, although it says right on it that after it's been opened it expires after 7 days. I'm about to test this theory, however, since I don't plan on using it all up during that tiny window of time and I refuse to throw out a $6.00 jar of spicy paste after only using it once. I wonder if I can freeze it?

Anyway, these are the best lentils I've ever had, and I have loved me some lentils in my day. Small but mighty, their nutritional value cannot be understated - they are full of dietary fiber, have iron levels that are fun to throw in vegan naysayer's faces and just one cup of them contains 90% of your suggested daily folate intake (and believe me, you'll eat more than one cup of these tamarind lentils). Whatever you do though, buy dried lentils and cook them up. It only takes about 20 minutes and they are so much more flavourful than the canned variety.

The tofu that I made alongside the lentils highlights one of my favourite things about Veganomicon. It's not just a book of recipes, but also serves as a vegan cooking textbook, offering advice and guidance as you move about your kitchen. This can be very useful for folks who aren't accustomed to working with certain vegan staples, like tofu.

Tofu is versatile, which is why we love it, but its flexibility is precisely what makes it a bit overwhelming sometimes. A lot of newbie veg*ns are intimidated by tofu (pressing, marinating, grilling, baking, stir frying, broiling, poaching - who's not going to be a smidge intimidated?) and the authors of this cookbook do what they can to present you with very thorough options for preparing your tofu.

My personal favourite way to cook tofu is via the grill. The BBQ is great, but I lived in an apartment for a few years before moving into a house and thus have learned to love the Foreman grill too. Sometimes I love it even more than the BBQ because it's a lot less work to warm a Foreman and clean it afterwards.

If you're grilling tofu I highly recommend freezing it first, letting it thaw completely, pressing it (very important - you want as much water out of the tofu so the marinade can seep in) and then marinating it for at least an hour, flipping often. I don't understand the science behind it, but freezing tofu gives it a much spongier/chewier texture, which I prefer, especially when grilling. It is also a bit firmer and less likely to crumble, which is perfect for grilling whole pieces of tofu like those pictured above.

And don't you dare throw out that marinade (or any marinade) when you're done. You can always spoon a little extra onto your tofu at the very end for an extra boost of flavour, or save it for the next time you do a stir fry. The curry marinade used for this dish made the perfect sauce for the steamed broccoli I paired with kidney beans and garlic at lunchtime today.
An exhibition by Karin Millson
Organic Landscapes: Mountains or Mushrooms

This location is very difficult to photograph, it being in the +15 of The Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts.  The lighting in the display windows is great for my work as it gives the feel of a marine aquarium.  But isn't good for photography.  So my apologies.
In the upper image the glass window to the right hand display area has been opened to arrange the works. Below are some close ups.

Now I am aiming at a bigger space to accommodate the sensitivities of Nudibranchs... ie., particular salinities, water clarity, circulation patterns and with temperature and lighting controls.
Thanks to all at Contextural and the critique meeting last night I am even more inspired and have decided to sign up for the Artists Residency at ACAD (Alberta College of Art and Design).  The group are really a talented crowd who teach me so much and generally keep me buzzing along.

So today I have been working on Pink Lady a particularly delicate Nudibranch (they will all have latin names eventually, I might go for Italian rather than latin as giving organic art forms latin names is a bit passé (don't you think?).  I have continue with the colour swatches of Opulence Acid dyes (see below), Stitched a couple of patchwork squares and done some recording of worm types.... essential as I am getting rather confused and need to get to the dye stage with these creatures as I am losing the plot rather.  I think i have 6 species so far.

Don't ask about the jelly beans.  But let's just say it is allegorical for what goes on in my head for most of my waking hours.