Category Archives: Food and Recipes

Apparently…I am crazy when stagnant!

My poor little pup, Toasty, developed some kind of illness in the middle of last week and through the weekend so I stayed home with him…all….weekend. I have really come to the point in my life where I can’t ever stay inside the house for an entire day. I don’t know why…but it makes me insane…and makes me think about how I could be doing a million different things but I just sit there…and watch TV.  It’s bizarre but I think a testament to the human body and mind needing nature, activity and stimulation.

So, I looked at my to do list from last post…let’s see how I did:

1. Update Art Yarn page in the shop with all new art yarns.
2. Finish reading driving manual and look into booking test.
3. Review required updates to pottery guild website
4. Think about trip to US and PR stuff with husband, start a plan.
5. Determine packaging for wooden buttons and start packaging.
6. Dye sock yarn.
7. Photograph and update Ravelry with rebranding on new yarns.
8. Work on cowl pattern.
9. Walk every day.
10. Work on documentation database for work.

Ok, not too bad…I finished 4 of 10 things but also managed to finish a few things not on the list…like teaching the husband to weave the rope rug I have been working on so he can help me and as a result I finished 2 more circles and he finished a couple. Here are mine:

 

And, I made really good food, including lovely beef short ribs. Here’s a photo mosaic of the process:

On Sunday I finally broke down and had to take a walk. Toasty was starting to feel a lot better but still just wanted constant sleep so we packed him up in his own little, cuddly crate and walked the beach. It was a nice, inspiring walk and was very nice in that I felt like part of a busy, artsy city. It was quiet and had freshly snowed.

The swans that I visited throughout the summer were there. I photographed these babies in various stages of their growing up process. Now they just look like baby swans but in an adult size.

There were guys filming a music video, singing and playing guitar. They had a cool, little rolling track that the camera could move farther and closer on.

There was even a lady letting her wee bunny take a run around on the beach. He was wearing a cute, little purple sweater and I even got to give him a little cuddle but I only managed to photograph his butt.

Then I collected a lot of amazing drift wood, some charred and a bit piece that looks like a bird head from Beetlejuice or something. I love it!

 

And there was much knitting hexipuffs for my ever-loving Beekeeper’s quilt.

And, in the shop there is a big new art yarn update! Check out the shop here: http://www.studioloo.com/handspunartyarn.htm

Take a peek at these handspinnies!

Also, I am in the middle of re-branding, dyeing, and photographing a ton of new sock yarn and other yarns. But, my best friend, Mat of Manspun fame has also written a lovely sock pattern for use with my yarn.  It’s called Man-Tastic Socks! and works for men or women. It’s a fun knit and great with variegates, solids or semi-solids!

Pick up your copy here! http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/man-tastic-socks

 

Where the Time Goes – of Raku and Coffee

I am not going to write one of those posts about all the stuff I should be doing next year, beginning right this minute. There isn’t much of a point for me. I have really adopted a life of living every second how I want to, need to. I don’t ever feel much like ‘oh, where does the time go?’ these days. It’s been a very big year filled with a lot of new things – completing an immigration sponsorship, learning to be married, raising a new dog, a brand new job, and a lot of new responsibilities and life changes.  I have about a million plans for next year but the biggest one being about me and my incessant worry about getting things done. Hence the reason I don’t need to write about it. I will do it. That’s just what I do.

Something I am starting to find a lot more important is letting myself be an artist, not a crafter or a maker. I will do more art for art’s sake, not for sale.  I will still be spinning yarn, dyeing, doing ceramics and all the other fun stuff I do, but the items I sell will likely be ever so slightly more limited, or at least created when the mood hits and not ‘oh my gosh, show time’ mode.

The holidays were a lot of fun and I was spoiled to bits – I received a little getaway for February to a hotel I quite like, a yearly membership to Toronto zoo where I like to take pictures and make high-pitched cooing sounds at animals, and many other things…including a Raku kiln built by my husband and father. I am too excited to start making pieces to prepare for a firing.

I went to a Raku workshop in November with the members of my pottery guild and my heart was stolen. What a process! It’s amazing to take something dull and white, get to handpaint it (my favourite way to glaze), and then set it on fire, watch it burn and smoke and then wait only a few minutes until you are left with a shiny, blackened, cooked, smoky, amazing piece of work transformed from chalky, gritty clay. My favourite piece of the day was one I will never give up likely- this bowl.

It was a risky piece as my lack of knowledge of Raku at the time didn’t account for someone having to handle it with tongs, so the lacy bit at the top was worrisome for the instructor, and me. However, what a worthwhile risk! The colour is hard to capture – it’s like an oil spill on cement…with a auburn’ish overtone.

Needless to say, I will be chasing more knowledge about this in the coming year and really taking my time to expand my horizons in sculpture/decorative work.

From the same day, this is one of my favourite shots – my husband unveiling his work with our instructor, Denise.  She is the most amazingly kind, and skilled potter.

Mike is relatively new to ceramics. He has been working with clay for about a year and a half. I decided on a holiday once to send him to pottery classes at my guild and his interest was sparked in a lot of different ways. I have always felt like my husband is drawn to being more of a patron of the arts, willing to support anyone who is doing anything, helping them finance equipment, giving of his time, etc. But, what he may not always realize is that he has a really amazing way of putting a unique touch on anything that he makes. A lot of math and planning flow from him….and interesting fingerprints follow in everything he makes. In this photo, Denise was really interested by the geometric forms, staircase and construction technique in this sculptural vase. It turned out so amazingly and luckily it hangs out in my house.

With one of my families, we do a ‘handmade xmas’ each year and with each year, the spectrum of what to makes feels a little tighter but I take it as a challenge. This year, I was watching a documentary called ‘Bitter Coffee’ about the issues surrounding fair trade and coffee and thought to myself …’hmm…I wonder if people roast coffee, in their own homes? I wonder if that is something people do?’ so I started doing research and found indeed that people do it. It led me to a website called Sweet Maria’s where there is information, tutorials, advice on tips on literally everything relating to coffee. What appeared to be the quickest, and cheapest way to roast our own coffee was the purchase of a popcorn popper – you can actually roast your own beans in an air popper. Although it was intriguing, I started to feel like it was a bit more dangerous and tedious than I desired. Over time, the lid of the popper will melt, and it’s plastic. So, I was sort of steered toward a higher end option. Then I found a Behmor coffee roaster and found it was the mid-range model that would work best for this.  I went to Green Beanery in Toronto. The staff there were really nice and spent time answering our questions and showing us different kinds of coffee and flavour profiles. So, we got started with the suggested Guatemalan Antigua – a good medium roast. I also picked up a package of different coffees from around the globe and some Choco espresso.

We brought the machine home, and did some more reading, and prepared that very night to roast some coffee. It was exciting to have cut out that whole ugly coffee seller market from this process and just do it ourselves from beans acquired in a friendly, fair way. We roasted the Guatemalan first – some for everyone, and then some Decaf for the dad-folk, and some Mexican for the spicy wee sister-kid. Each roast was a new experience, new smells from grassy to nutty, to chocolately…..to that deep roasted coffee smell after the beans settled for 24 hours.

The brains and braun behind the operation was totally the husband. He did most of the roasting, watching and waiting. Coffee roasting is sort of based on a few things..

Pick your roasting profile – the length of time you roast, and how hot. There are a lot of suggestions online and in the documentation you get with the roaster.

First crack – this is when the coffee bean first splits and starts to shed it’s ‘chaff’ – which is sort of like the outer kernel of popcorn. This stuff is what makes roasting coffee slightly dangerous as it can catch fire in the high heat environment of the roaster. It is louder, popcorn like pops.

Second crack – this happens within 30 – 90 seconds after first crack usually and sounds like ‘Rice Krispies’ …little crackles…when the rest of the chaff starts to blow off of the beans. This is the fine line between well roasted coffee and burnt! So, you need to be mindful at this point.

Cooling – the roaster has a COOL button that will blow cold air on the beans. They still roast for a few seconds after this so you have to consider this in the time you are roasting.

Let em sit – for about 24 hours.

Smellllllll…..them….mmmmmm! They smell so amazing after they sit. I even ate a few…and they tasted so fresh and popped in my mouth. But I’m kinda weird.

We are keeping a roaster’s journal of our times, experiences and the smells and tastes of each roast…in an effort to better our roasting. The morning after the roast I setup a tasting. The tasting consisted of 3 small bowls of coffee. The first was just black, the second with milk froth/crema on top. And, the final was good ole milk n’ sugar like a lot of people drink their coffee. We were overall really happy with the first roast and felt like pros to begin with. It was a nice no-curve way to learn something new and cool. Although we aren’t actually pros, we have not burned anything or tasted anything we didn’t like – so I would say overall this is a pretty tame hobby to get in to.

24 hours after roasting…

Time to make some New Year’s eve lasagna with the boy.  More blogging soonish…

Pickled Plans

It was a great weekend – Art in the Open was awesome and there was the most beautiful weather ever – so perfect for Farmer’s market – really cool and bright days.  I managed to get a lot of work done this week and it feels somewhat good. The trick is not looking too far ahead at all the stuff on my ‘to do’ list. All things will come with time.

I bought a big bunch of cukes to make the annual dill pickles and got them canned yesterday. Today I am making Lord Grey’s Peach Preserves out of the amazing peaches I bought.  I have really been feeling the cooking bug lately – more than ever now that I am adding ‘A Salad a Day’ to my diet. One of the highlights of the fresh eating was this zucchini noodle salad that I made.

It was a nice side to the steaks marinated in merlot that Mike grilled. Last year I went to a raw food class and purchased a machine to make these noodles. I love it! It is a great substitute for having pasta and very fresh, palette cleansing and cool for summer. I added little sprigs of cauliflower and then made a dressing from pesto, oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped cherry tomatoes, diced black olives, kefir lime leaves and finely chopped red onions. It was yummy!

I am also really in love with all the fresh flowers at the Farmer’s market. I don’t ever see myself as a flower grower. I think when I have the land to farm I am going to concentrate on fruit and vegetables because they serve more of a purpose. But that just means I can support other farmers by buying their amazing flowers! Look at these!

 

While I am writing I should likely mention that Worldwide Spin in Public Day is fast approaching! Check out events near you here – http://www.wwsipday.com/. If there aren’t any – book your own by emailing me through the website! My event will be on Sunday, Sept. 16th in Mississauga at Hiawatha Park – I can’t wait. I love sitting under the big willow tree and playing with all the fibres and hanging out with friends.

 

And I leave you with Toasty the amazing hand-balancing acrobat!

Bread and Paper

So, poor week went really well actually and made me think a lot about what I am eating and how I want to change that more than before. I recently made a bunch of decisions about food. I am now eating almost entirely organic, farm raised and naturally fed things. I am not eating at any more big box fast food restaurants.  This week brought me to the salad a day idea – I am replacing one meal a day with salad. The funny thing is that naturally you would want to believe that this will be the dreaded meal of the day – but really it isnt! I mean, on day 1 I got to eat this!

I made my own vinigarette with olive oil, pineapple vinegar, homemade raspberry/strawberry jam, elderberries, and flax seeds – put them in a jar and shake and voila! Then I tossed baby spinach, salad greens, and fresh tomatoes in the bowl with some blueberries. On the side some awesome Edwardsburg cheese from Black River and some rainforest crackers – a real addiction of mine.

I have been reading ‘Made from Scratch’ by Jenna Woginrich and rather enjoying it so I thought I would try out her bread recipe – the standard country white loaf bread. I wanted something decadent during poor week, but also something that was very handmade from scratchy ingredients. So, I muscled my way through the 25 minutes or so of kneading to get to that baker’s window with bread where it is just perfect. And here they are – my loaves of love.

Last weekend I was also treated to a really amazing workshop on handbuilding with paper clay, taught by Lesley McInally.  I really loved the medium and I am finding myself really inspired to work with different shapes and textures in clay. It was a great, informative and fun time. Lesley is a great instructor – very giving of her knowledge and experience.

 

I make my return to the Farmer’s market/Art in the Open tomorrow.  I am looking forward to spinning outside and hanging out in the relaxing market environment. The next month promises to be really busy preparing for Kitchener/Waterloo Knitter’s Fair, finishing up 2012’s canning and preserving of food, and trying to meet a few goals before summer passes by.

Now to share a little sweetness before I need to get down to work on stuff…this is what I deal with every time I have a bubble bath – Toasty is a born water dog and always pleads to jump in. Usually he walks along the side of the tub giving me the cutie eyes.

 

Breakfast and the Workload

This morning’s breakfast did not feel like it was part of my week of being poor. Homemade scones, a recipe taught to me by one of my early mentors in life, my first employer at a lovely little tea room I used to work in. Along with it some leftover cheese curd from Black River Cheese which I picked up on my journey home last weekend, homemade strawberry/raspberry jam that I canned in July, whipped cream, and melted chocolate. Chocolate strawberry tea pulled the whole breakfast together.

I have about a million things I need to do – emails to answer about artist talks and workshops, and a lot of prep work for shows. I am spending the majority of today trying to resolve a lot of issues with one of my projects in my real job but then once the work day comes to a close, I need to try to finish up ball winding 20 more of these super complicated, secret yarns that will be released as a line in hopefully a week or so. I am really excited about them but they are by far the most complicated yarns I have ever made. They will more than likely be very limited edition because I really don’t see myself wanting to make them very often. Some things are just like that – you need to give yourself those allowances in life and not make everything you do marketable, or well, marketed.

Another venture I have taken up, along with Mike, is making buttons – ceramic, wood, some highly decorated, some very simple. I have a bunch of lovely exotic wood that needs to be sliced into buttons so perhaps later today I will pull out the band saw. Thankfully my dad was able to turn a bunch of the wood on his lathe and make it much easier for me to work with.

I have also started trying to ramp up enough work to fill up a kiln for my bisque firing this month. I will have a whole bunch of new yarn bowls – some with fibre themes and a big load of my octopus yarn bowls. I will also have a lot more buttons and pendants – all to be completed before the KW Knitter’s Fair in September.

I have been feeling really inspired to create lately and filling up a journal with ideas for all sorts of things I need to make/build/sculpt/create and it feels really good. I am totally stoked that this weekend I am taking a paper clay workshop with Lesley McInally.  I have not worked with paper clay before but I love the look of it and she is an incredible artist who’s work captivates me.

After the workshop it will be time to get my fibre mojo working and dye a lot of yarn. I have to dye up a big load of ‘Candy Sprinkles’ sock yarn, a ton of Bootsie sock and and work on my new line of Bamboo yarns as well as dye up more Bamboo lace. It should be great days of finding a lot of colour inspiration.

Poor man’s Dinner with the Frogs

We have finished the first ‘poor week’ dinner and it was totally decadent and yummy!

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche with homemade chips!

 

I also have to write a little bit about my amazing weekend. My birthday was on August 1st and I sort of had a really long work day that day so it was awesome that the long weekend made up for it. I was totally spoiled in getting a kayak and a pair of binoculars for my birthday amongst other things. I have been dying to learn to kayak since my parents were raving about how relaxing and fun it is. I had heard it was a lot more stable than rowing a canoe so I wanted to check it out. Last Saturday I got my opportunity to learn to kayak – but actually it was sort of natural…no real learning curve…not something I am used to! I definitely need to do it more to get better at keeping my strokes even and my boat straight but I pretty much got the hang of it. I am in love with everything where water is concerned – beaches, boats, the ocean, the great lakes, cleaning up the ocean, and so on…..so this is a nice opportunity to get out on the water and have a whole lot of serenity, as well as see things you can’t see from land. Now I am planning on how to paddle out to all sorts of small islands I have seen and wondered about.

The great thing about my hometown in Prince Edward County (well, one of the great things) is that there are so many places you can get in touch with nature, and well…frogs! I love frogs, and toads. I have since I was a little kid. I grew up in a really small village mostly filled with seniors while I lived there, so I had to find a lot of ways to entertain myself and ended up doing so at the local pond catching and releasing frogs.  I dropped by one of my favourite ponds while back home and found a few cutie pies! These frogs were really docile, mostly bullfrogs, not fast and furious like the leopard frogs.

 

 

Poor Week and Summer

It’s about time I update this blog. Admittedly I am so bad at blogging – I blame life…and well, Facebook. Somehow it seems so much easier to chicken-tap a little writing there. I have truthfully been taking a hiatus from a lot of places I used to write – Ravelry, and so on. I just feel like I want to spend more time living, not writing about living – so that’s what I have been doing.

But, this blog is sorely missed and I want to re-focus some of my wasteful energies to it. Because I have something to write about today, it seems about time.

This week I am decidedly poor. Well, not really, but I am doing a little project on ‘making due’. I have had a whole bunch of expenses with a lot of business stock ordering and preparing for lots of upcoming shows so my bank account is sort of complaining back to me. I am not truly too poor or anything like that but I am not wanting to spend money right now. I am just feeling anti-spendy. Mike and I have decided this week that we are going to not do a big grocery shopping – we are going to eat what is in this house. We might cheat to pick up some essentials though – eggs, milk, butter. But that is it – only those staples.  This will be a 7 day project and I will be doing little updates with our meals and what happened.

Today’s lunch was the first of these ‘poor man’s paradise’ we are creating. We found 2 frozen burgers in the freezer and had some hamburger buns left over from the BBQ the other day – so Mike BBQ’d them and I was tasked with making a side dish in the time it took him to BBQ. So, I came up with a salad made of…

– Cubed watermelon (leftover from a few days ago and packed nicely in the fridge)

– Pumpkin seeds (from the freezer, organic)

– Grilled pineapple (the rounds from a can, asked Mike to grill them for me while making the burgers)

– Elderberries – (from the farmer’s market – last year, frozen)

– Rosemary and apple mint (from my front porch herb garden)

The salad was really yummy and the elderberries melted and gave a bit of a nice coating on the grilled pineapple. It was really refreshing.

I will be posting a big huge art yarn update in the shop on Friday. Here’s a sneak peek:

 

Noodles and Doodles and Such

It’s hard to believe that Rhinebeck and Maryland vacations have come and gone and once again I am up to my ears in show preparation and loads to do but I am doing it with as much love and passion as I can and trying to just breathe when it comes to real world work stuff and stress. I have come to a bunch of big decisions as it relates to my future, further education and career moves – it’s too early to talk about now but I am already feeling warmer inside thinking about big changes.

Rhinebeck was fantastic – I got some great fleece, lovely yarns and some sweet gnomes from http://www.goinggnome.com/ who are probably my very favourite gnome felters. I myself have been working on loads of wet felting and I am planning on expanding my own wet felting knowledge and figuring out more techniques so that I can invent my own and add to my educational repertoire a bit. I also got to spend a bit of time in Catskill, NY and did some great antiquing – my biggest find were some amazing old doll mods.

Maryland was quite relaxing and filled with loads of fun. I got to see some a great Shonen Knife performance at The Ottobar. Also, The Degenerettes and The Quarantines were awesome.

I was totally stoked at just how energized the performances were. Shonen Knife are such a fun group – they really love what they do and it shows so much, and they just put on a really fun, high energy and happy show.

I got to have a nice day of relaxing going hiking at Susquehanna state park, one of my favourite places, and that was really great. It was a lovely fall day and it was gorgeous. I came across a lot of really lovely mushrooms, some big spiders and even a little red salamander.

Then we went to an amazing haunted house at Eastern State Penitentiary and it was freaky, but fun. It was cool because we got to see the cell corridors, which were creepy and learned a bit about just how terrible prison life was back then when things were really a lot more about punishment and penitence and not at all about trying to make people heal and become better. There was Al Capone’s cell and the a weird story about Pep the dog who did a life sentence for killing the governor’s wife’s cat.

We also did some antiquing in Ellicot city and in different parts of Philadelphia, went to PA dutch country and kitchen kettle village. We ate too much good food and hung out with friends. It was overall a great time.  I have learned that shopping at Wegman’s dangerous. I can never leave there without spending a fortune. Also this time I found awesome baby cake making machines and picked up one for making mini donuts and one for making whoopie pies. The website of the people that make these, and have fun recipes is http://thebabycakesshop.com/ but I have been winging it and just making up my own.

The one in front is a carrot cake with raisins, with a cream cheese icing, rolled in crushed chocolate covered almonds. The one in back is a devil’s food cake with a fudge icing rolled in ground candy cane Hershey kisses and ground candy canes. They were awesome.

And, the boy brought me flowers. This has been a nice weekend.

Up Anomaly’s Creek

Summer is really winding down quickly here in Ontario. It has been really chilly but I am not bothered – it’s making me want to update my Fall wardrobe and wear scarves and go to evening outdoor events where you can bundle up with hot cider and listen to live music – that sort of thing. Nesty.

I think sometimes when I am trying to give a name to my blog posts that I get sort of frazzled ..trying to figure out how to give a title about everything I am going to write about so it ends up looking like ‘Random Art Show, Some Food Stuff, Dog News, etc’ so from now on I am going to raise the stifling curse on myself and give random one-liner names of words in my head at the time. Why is it important anyhow?

So, the Kitchener-Waterloo knitter’s fair was a great success. My wares looked lovely in the generous booth space and there were many patrons, and overall nice people. I got to meet some people I know from Ravelry, in person and with the boys there to help me, it was not overwhelming at all. I really started preparations for the show ahead of time so I set myself up for success on the big day. Here are some shots of my booth!

The overall booth

Hand Dyed Yarn Wall

Candy Sprinkles Yarn and Fiber Goodies

Octopi Yarn Bowls, Test tubes of Beads, Bamboo Lace

Stitch Markers, More Bamboo Lace, Buttons

So, I think I am all finished for canning season this year, except husband is going to try to pickle some insanely hot Thai green chilies that we used 4 ounces of in our salsa. The salsa turned out completely yummy. So, for this year I did huge loads of salsa, canned whole tomatoes, canned chopped tomatoes, plum butter, strawberry jam, candy apple jelly, dill pickles, and rhubarb marmalade. Today is farmer’s market day though so one can never be sure if something else might catch my eye. I am thinking something apple, but not apple sauce would be nice.

Mat and I have started podcasting again, after over a year of not doing so. So, for Muststashyo listeners, you can download the new episode here: http://www.muststashyo.com/ We are working away on the next one too and it will be recorded and uploaded on Sunday probably.

I also have a massive yarn update on it’s way – a new link called ‘Wink Wink’ of hand dyed worsted yarns perfect for hat and cowl projects. And, I have the new Fall 2011 Bootsie colours as well as some new merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn. Here’s a peek:

Bootsie sock yarn

Wink Wink Worsted

Lastnight was a lot of fun too – I went to the Brampton Indie Artfest at The Rose Theatre and we saw The House Plants, The Shuffle Demons, some great art installations, heard some poetry slamming, ate organic cotton candy, and saw a lot of smoking hipsters. The best part of the night would have to be The Shuffle Demons though – they sounded great and reminded me of when I was a kid and used to hear them playing their music from across the street. There was a little old lady who lived across the street from me as a kid and the least sax player/singer of the band was married to her daughter.

I am heading back for a second night tonight to see Lily Frost and some other acts. Anyhow, the work day beckons and I should listen.

PS! Worldwide Spin in Public Day is this weekend – so find an event near you! http://www.wwsipday.com/