Finally got the birthday presents finished.  I made a couple of drawing folios for Colin's niece and nephew.  Their birthdays were yesterday and today but we won't see them until Wednesday (so I'm not late).  I'm sure Jared will love it, he's 7.  I hope Brittany likes it too.  She's 13 now.  But Grandma Isobel always says Brittany likes to draw, so I made her one too.  They were very easy and there are lots of examples out there in blog land.  Most have a section all made up for the crayons.  I just left these ones with 2 large pockets to make them more versatile.  Ella picked out the colours and designs.  Jared's folio has a formula one race car.

Ventured outside for the first time in a while and look what I found!  My bluebells are flowering.  I even found a few that are finally spreading.  Bluebells make me happy.  On the way to church in Toronto (for Easter), we always drive by a number of old houses that literally have blue front yards.  Their bluebells have spread so much over the years.  That's what I want!

Since it was so nice and warm out today, we stopped and picked up some of the branches off the grass.  The grass is finally starting to grow, so we need to get it cleaned up, in no time it will be long enough for Daddy to mow it again this year.

We had a nice while outside this afternoon.  Though I'm not sure what that large, bright, yellow thing was hanging in the sky  :)

One last picture.  Ella wanted to share a picture of her bunny from Easter.  She loves this little bunny.  It even sits on her night table overnight.  The best dollar I ever spent  :)


Being the kind Christian person I am I usually do not mock other churches, other people maybe but not other churches.  When I saw this sign outside a local church however, I just had to stop and take a picture.
Seriously?  I'll be taking that as a sign that I won't be attending this church.
Firstly a lesson in acrylic.  Looks like some artists' quality paints are not the same as other artists' quality paints.  This one from Michaels... well what do you expect... has rather a lot of water in it... perhaps.
Still, you know me - turn a disaster into an advantage... slap on some pva and it might give a crackled look to any self respecting digital print.
The same with this one and what a wonderful effect it has given me after applying more glue... I wonder if it will flatten out as it dries.  But it is interesting as it is.


Self satisfaction

Everyone has such pretty pictures to post for this week's pretty, happy, funny, real.  But it is so wet and miserable here I don't know what to post.

My baby girl on her Christening April 2006.


Spare moments with Daddy playing with her Easter Playdoh.



I was trying to get a picture of the river flooding our fields, but the pictures just don't do it justice.  So here is a picture of one of our market garden areas.   There should be peas and beans already coming up and the tomatoes should be ready to plant any day.   I'm not sure when they are getting in the ground this year.  It's almost time to as God to hold off on the rain -until June anyway  :)

Hoping you all are having a nicer day.
As everyone probably knows, I recently moved to a new apartment in Dartmouth. I was so excited and anxious to move but the one thing I wasn't excited about was downsizing my kitchen space. Fortunately Mark and I found a kitchen that was almost big enough to fit our storage needs and is a lot more modern and new than our old grungy kitchen at the last apartment we lived at.

This is the view when you first turn the corner into my kitchen space!

This is all my cupboard space which may be small, but I have amazingly fit all my stuff in there..well, almost!
My tini-weenie oven and fridge, but my oven does not scorch food anymore!

My little dining area!

I know to some of you, this doesn't look like much of a kitchen, but compared to my last house it is a very fabulous one. In the city, space is hard to come by and this is even a huge kitchen compared to a few we looked at!
I don't start work for about another 2 weeks, so foodie updates and recipes will be coming. I have been living off meringues for the weekend getting sugary bursts of energy so I will be posting a recipe for those and some delicious breads and healthy recipes I've wanted to try. 

Until next time,

I finally gave in and tried a new pattern.  I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it turned out.  I haven't had much luck with new patterns lately.  This is a Simplicity pattern and I was able to make the 16 with only minor alterations.  I realize it's a little cool for a sun dress, but soon the disgusting hot weather will return.  I think I'll make this dress again and try the cap sleeve, my bra straps show with the sun dress (before pinning) and the cap sleeve will be just as cool.  It gets so hot and humid around here breezy dresses are a must.

Ella took the picture for me.  Please excuse the mess at my feet, it's groceries that haven't been carried to the cellar yet  :)

Today is my Mom's birthday!!  She's 64.  I'm so glad Mom moved up here when Colin and I got married.  She and Ella have such a wonderful relationship.  Mom is such a help, I don't know what I'd do without her. 
Happy Birthday Mom!!

Will be down to Dufferin

Will be down to Dufferin but have to leave around 4:30pm.  We will have fresh whitefish and lake trout.
The whole family is coming down.
See you tomorrow.....
I am sure you have played a Spot The Difference game at some time or another in your lifetime.  I like to play my own version of it here at home.  I change something in the house and wait to see how long it takes Ian to notice it.  So when he was gone a couple of weeks ago I took this...

and painted it to look like this....

Notice that I even changed out the hardware.  

This little table and matching mirror (not shown) sit right next to a closet that Ian uses every single day.   It has been an entire week.  He still hasn't noticed.   

I have this to show for 2 day's' work... but I am well-pleased. I will call them 'Gems.'  The upper one is a New Zealand gem and the lower one is a 'River Gem.'
I am thrilled to have a technique of printing on curled up bits of glue!
Had the morning with the Wednesday stitchers and this afternoon it rained! It was wonderful.
Off to harp and stitching in Starby's... another wormy creature in the making.
What is it with all the piercings I see on young and not so young people I encounter from day to day?  I can't for the life of me understand why someone would want to do this to themselves...
Really? Forget for a moment the one through the bridge of the nose, is the other a remnant of where his father stapled his nose to his homework?  or is it a DIY project gone awry? You would expect to see this in a hospital emergency room, not the mall.

And this one has HOT written all over it....

...not. Is that an underwear line above the piercing, 'cause if it is, it just doubled that guy"s sexiness.

What possessed this man (at least I hope it's a man) to do this...
I sure hope it was worth the pain.  Do girls even like this?  Am I going out on a limb here when I say "gross"?

I'm sorry honey but I don't think a piercing is going to make that belly any more appealing.

There are some things you just don't want to draw attention to.  

Last night I saw a version of this....

...on a larger not very attractive girl.  Perhaps she was trying to draw attention away from her face.  Sorry that was just mean, true but mean.

Perhaps they did not get those piercings on their own volition.

"I was just walking along minding my own business when this giant shiny thing appeared in the sky.  Next thing I know, boom!, I wake up with this thing in my ear."

Yes, that explains it, Human Tagging by aliens.

Don't get me started on tattoos.


I'm going to make a cheating fruitcake in celebration of the Royal Wedding. I even have some marzipan that I forgot to use at Christmas. Fruitcakes are the traditional cakes for weddings in the UK. I remember that people would cut pieces up of this cake and mail it out it in little cardboard boxes lined with paper doilies to people who hadn't been able to attend a wedding! The fruit didn't need refrigerating and I think one used not to worry about the Royal Icing or the marzipan going bad in transit.

I don't have time for the whole proper fandango of making a British fruitcake before Friday, so I'm going to whip up a Bara Brith -- a Welsh recipe for a boiled fruitcake. I got the recipe from the UK years ago. Here's the recipe for one cake -- actually it's in the shape of a loaf, like in the photo. I think I shall have to use a bit more fruit than is in the recipe below, and perhaps add a tad of cocoa to make the cake look a bit darker and more like a traditional English fruitcake.

(This is for 1 fruitcake -- just double up to make 2)
1 cup of sugar, preferably soft brown
1 cup of milk
4 oz butter or margarine
8 oz mixed fruit
2 eggs
8 oz Self Raising Flour
Mixed spice and cinnamon (optional)


Place sugar, milk, butter and mixed fruit into a saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until fruit has moistened.

Allow mixture to cool before adding eggs, one at a time, and beating in well. Add flour gradually stirring in along with the mixed spices if required.

Place in a lined tin and place in oven 190 C for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
(I translated that to be a small loaf pan which I lined with parchment paper the last time I made this recipe. I looked up to find out that the oven would be 350-375 degrees F)

Bara Brith is lovely just served without anything else but slatherings of butter at tea time! However, this time I think that, with a bit of marzipan and a some of white icing along with the C & W cypher drawn on the top, I could feel like I was part of the Royal Wedding party.

Another week of Yarn Alongs over at Small Things.   This week I'm working on a pair of knee socks for me.  That's right, something for Momma!!  I was much further along when I was in Scarborough, but then noticed a mistake back at the beginning, so out they came.  I do have the pattern nearly finished.  I've also finished the pattern for the February Baby Sweater worn by Lucy.  I couldn't find one to fit a Bitty Baby so I created my own.  I will publish the pattern soon.  I just want to test knit the yoke to make sure the numbers add up properly -math isn't my strong point.

Right now we are reading Fancy Nancy's Elegant Easter.  It was one of Ella's Easter surprises when we got home on Monday.  She also loved the little bird and egg that I knit for her.  I was worried because she kept changing her mind as to which colour she would like.  But when she pulled the bird out of the bag she said it was the 'most beautiful' bird.

Burke-Shyer, Bahk-Shuh? Let's Call the Whole thing Off!!

The English in me is really bubbling to the surface as the countdown to the Royal Wedding has really begun in earnest. Our American TV has gone nuts with little feature stories about all sorts of little details and, of course, has gone a bit overboard with the inevitable and rather tiresome comparisons between Ms. Middleton and the late Princess Diana. But I'm hooked on it all. And I can't get over how the new social media and internet is overflowing with info -- why Clarence House is even Tweeting and there's an official YouTube channel for this event! And a Facebook page as well!

That last part is making me feel quite ancient as I remember listening to the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and her handsome Greek Prince on the "wireless" sitting up in bed suffering from the Chicken Pox!

The BBC America channel is going to be my faithful companion, starting at midnight Pacific Standard Time. I'm promised continuous coverage without commercial interruption. I'll be watching exactly what those who will be watching the BBC in England will be seeing! This decision was reached after a week of cringing at the way many American TV commentators have been murdering the pronunciation of some famous English places. Like "Bucking-HAM" (emphasis on the HAM) Palace and "Burke-Shyer" for the Miss Middleton's county. I suppose "Bucking-um" and "Bahk-Shuh" would seem a weird way to pronounce Buckingham and Berkshire to anyone but those born in the UK!

I do love the mug -- but fear it looks a bit dainty to put in a dishwasher. Hopefully there are some more rugged and less expensive mugs being created for sale.

As you may have noticed, Ella and I went to Scarborough to spend Easter weekend with Auntie Belinda and Uncle Stefan.  We had a wonderful time.

We stopped by Peterborough on the way to Scarborough.  Grandpa Jim and Grandma Linda took us out for lunch at East Side Mario's.  It's Ella's current favourite restaurant.  We had a nice visit and I'm glad Linda had the day off.

Auntie Belinda decorated the house for our birthdays (Grandma and I).  And no, the walls aren't quite so yellow in person.  It's more of a pumpkin and looks quite nice (for her house).

Uncle Stefan and Ella had a great time playing all weekend.  Ella loves having someone who loves video games as much as she does.  Uncle Stefan won the favourite uncle award this weekend with his castle creation.  This castle has everything a good castle needs, including a working drawbridge and secret entrance (don't tell).

Sunday we were able to go to church!!  Easter service at St. Mary Magdalene is always wonderful.  Ella and her new bunny spotted the Easter garden.  Ella did really well making it through the 2 hour service.  Our local church is only 1 hour, and even St. Barnabas in Ottawa is 1.5 hrs.  Grandma forgot snack, but Momma had a couple Easter eggs in her pocket that got Ella through the service.  I wanted to take some pictures of the inside of the church, but as usual, Grandma made a bee-line for the door and I had to hurry along.

It never fails, regardless of when Easter falls, Easter Sunday is nearly always unpleasant.  This year was no exception.  You can't see our new dresses because we had to wear sweaters (or poncho in Ella's case).   This is the park behind church.  It used to be the location of the convent and school.  My Grandma Rees was raised by the sisters at the school when her parents left her behind in Toronto when they went to Winnipeg.  One of my favourite pieces of jewelry is the crucifix given to Grandma by one of the sisters when she finished school.

Ella came home to find quite a change in our Easter garden.  The stone is gone from the tomb, the wheat is growing like crazy, the lilac branches are even trying to bloom!  Ella really loved the eggs hanging on the branches.
I feel very lucky to have landed in Calgary and the Alberta College of Art and Design offers up studio space for 3 months during summer break for the regular classes.
For not too much money you can have access to large work tables and screen printing equipment.
Me? I go because I want contact with like-minded folks.
Last year it didn't work out quite that way as, during June, not many of the artists were not free to work in the studios during the day and were more night-birds.  This year though I am hopeful that there will be some people around when I am, namely the hours 8 - 3.
I am going to be developing my work on digital grounds. I hope to use my own digital imagery which will be more than squeezed, stretched and overlapped to produce abstract art from stuff that might otherwise be quite dull!  Also imagery that I think is already rather exciting will be enhanced by the way I print and screen....  Stay tuned....
To prepare for the residency I am now taking myself back to work I did more than a year ago.  Printing on diverse materials.  Thank goodness I attempt to keep good notes and samples.   These new skins are much larger than the samples I worked before and are from PVA glue, Paverpol and Acrylics.  And I am testing out various surfaces... acrylic sheets, glass, plastics of different types and silicon baking sheets.
This is an old Cricut mat that I am using to re-flatten the skins after they have peeled back from the drying sufrace.  One or two have textural additions of acrylic medium.  They must be within the depth limitations of my printer to be acceptable as skins.


My day started before seven this morning when I heard two of my lovely grandchildren up running around.  How is it possible that a twenty five pound two year old and a thirty five pound four year old can manage to sound like a whole herd of elephants?  Apparently they were trying to be quiet.  FAIL

Soon after, I heard the one year old crying so I got her and discovered that she was not feeling well and wanted nothing to do with anybody but me. This can quite often be the case even when she is not sick and I usually find it endearing but after a weekend with eight adults in the house and four children under the age of four, I really wanted to get my home back in some semblance of order.  FAIL

I babysat all three of my grandkids today and despite the baby being sick, it went quite well especially while Nathan and Emily were here helping to entertain the older two while I tended to the baby, that is until tonight when all three of them decided they weren't going to bed without a fight. I went up two flights of stairs no less than seven times giving at least six stern warnings. FAIL

When it seemed that all the kids were settled I grabbed a spoon from the kitchen and a carton of Kit Kat ice cream from the freezer  and drowned my sorrows in the delicious taste Kit Kat suspended in creamy chocolate ice cream. There was no bowl involved, yes you read it right,  judge me if you must  and yes I know it has like a kijillion calories but at that point I couldn't have cared less and besides I had gone up two flights of stairs seven times people!  I guess now that I have eaten straight from the carton, I can't really allow anyone else to have any. WIN

Spring has been pretty slow to start around here. Instead of showers we had snowstorms and golf ball-esque hail. Following a dreary winter with an equally gloomy April is about as depressing as it gets in Canada. We survived winter and we deserve better than this, dammit.

I guess my pledge to not complain about weather since the Japan earthquake/tsunami can be deemed a failure. My pessimism always seems to shine through. Seriously though, I know in the World of Weather it gets much, much worse than hail and there are bigger problems than my inability to wear flipflops most days.

All the same, the only thing about winter that I find even slightly tolerable is the social acceptability of gluttony. Of eating pasta and garlic bread four nights a week and hiding its remnants under parkas. There is nothing else redeemable about those God forsaken months between Christmas and Easter. So, some good can inevitably come from a lengthy winter - the prolonging of the dinnertime carby goodness!

So today, I present to you the latest favourite in a series of favourites - the Eggplant Rollatini from Veganomicon!

Although a bit of a labour intensive project, this recipe absolutely does not fall into the "too much trouble" category. Just make sure you don't try and make it on some random Monday night during the short interval between Work and BookClub. This is, however, a pretty fantastic Sunday night dinner.

You start by making the three recipes within-a-recipe. The first is marinara sauce, which I always make from scratch on some idle Saturday afternoon and then freeze for future use. I won't tell if you cheat and use a store-bought jar.

The second is the Almesan, a vegan parmesan-ish concoction made of almonds, lemon zest and toasted sesame seeds.

The third is tofu ricotta, which I've made before and quite thoroughly disliked.

This recipe for tofu ricotta yielded quite different results for me though, and despite my apprehension I ended up loving it. I'm not sure if it was the ingredients or if it was the fact that I was more diligent about squeezing as much water out of the tofu as humanly possible before combining the ingredients. Either way, quite delicious and perfect for this recipe.

Once those three things are ready to go, you move onto the eggplant, slicing each piece about 1/8" thick. The authors suggest throwing out the end pieces because they aren't uniform and have too much skin, but I used everything (here at the TIV house we can tolerate a lack of aesthetic appeal but we have trouble getting on board with wasting perfectly good food).

Each slice is dipped in a milk and corn starch concoction...

...then submerged into a breadcrumb mixture...

...and then lightly brushed with some olive oil (bonus points if you have a spray bottle).

Even though fried eggplant is one of the greatest things on Planet Earth, I opted for baking the slices instead - both in the interest of convenience and my own personal safety.

Once they are done baking and are cool enough to handle, it's time to make the rollatini!

Starting with a bright green piece of spinach for each eggplant slice...

...topped with the tofu ricotta, almesan and a sprinke of pinenuts (I can't believe I had pinenuts and saffron on the same grocery bill - apparently I think I am a Rockefeller).

Once the filling is in place, the eggplant slice is rolled up all cute and tidy and then given ample opportunity to swim in some marinara sauce in an oven-safe casserole dish.

Ready to be topped with the rest of the marinara and baked for another 20 minutes or so!



The house smelled so good all day.

And to end off, my attempt at a pretty crappy photo of the inside of each rollatini. Who cares what the picture looks like, try this out yourself the next time you want to impress an omni with just how delicious veganism is.

Recipe found here.