Saturday, February 28, 2009

Miss Winnie Dixon dans la sunny afternoon guest room

It's +7C and very windy this early morning. Mild temperatures plus strong winds equals melting - big time. The only sound we hear this morning, aside from the wind, is the sound of dripping. Drip, drip, dripping. Melting. Yesterday the snow removal crews patrolled the streets of this little village making sure all of the snow banks were pushed back so that curb side gulley's were exposed once again and all the drains on every street were open and clear of ice in anticipation of this mild weather and rain. Of this big first thaw.

I overslept by half an hour this morning tres unusual for me. After spending two full days pouring through decor magazines, online home and gift stores and design/decor blogs this morning I will put fav red mechanical pencil to tracing paper and hope that many wonderful new ideas come flowing out. I will unplug my internet connection for as long as possible - for it can be a terrible distraction and time waster for me when I have a deadline to meet. Today (and tomorrow) I need to draw, draw, draw and see how many new frame collections I can come up with.

I'll make a batch of dog cookies for Miss D, change the sheets & bedding in our nest, do a little cooking, I'll run a couple of errands and then I'll be back to the teak topped desk to draw some more.

ice & snow

Friday, February 27, 2009

our harbour one late afternoon walk this week

It's the land of ice & snow. It's been a hard winter, it's been a long winter ... and then I think back and remember past winters and I'm sure we've said that other years. We do love to complain about the weather, especially winter - it's a Canadian tradition. This winter has been constant and steady, no big thaws in between our big snows and bitter cold snaps. It's been continual snow, ice and cold since way before Christmas ... and we're sure ready for spring. The fisherman will tell you they don't remember the last time the harbour was so solidly frozen and so early in the season. Snow covered ice as far as the eye can see. Even though we're still buried under ice & snow spring is definitely in the air - the time changes next weekend and we're beginning a three day stretch of above 0 temperatures (hooray !).

My coffee brewed at the proper time this morning. It's 5:30 am and here we go again another brand new day. Think I'll take my second cup of coffee back to the nest with les Gang and do a little plannin'

4pm 4am

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oliver taking a well deserved 4pm break dans la teak topped desk

It's tres exhausting work being the most excellent, super attentive, always hangin' around design assistant and by 4 pm - when the sun is low in the sky over our little harbour and filling les studio with that wonderful pre dusk golden sunshine - well that's the time to stretch out, have a break, touch base and lets recap our day.

I spent another few hours at school yesterday which Miss D is not too thrilled about. Isn't it amazing how dogs have that psychic sixth sense- they just know when somethings up. The last two mornings when I have dared to be thinking of leaving this house without her she has followed me around like a little black wiry magnet, glued to me as I puttered and prepared throughout the morning for my 11am departure. And oh the look on her face as I put my coat on. The say it's not true face. The you can't be thinking of leaving without me face. Ears perked forward waiting intently to hear those two words she loves so much. Do ya ? Do ya Miss D ? Do ya want go in the car ? Do ya want go for a walk ? Do ya want to come with me ? If it begins with Do ya ? Miss D always says Yes ! With bells on.

Today I'll begin the process of brainstorming new scintillatingly exciting frame ideas for customer No Uno. Monday they're having their latest new season style/trend meeting and I'm planning to submit as many idea boards as I can muster. Once again parts of the brain will be turned to the off position and I will spend today and tomorrow going through stacks of decor magazines as well as hunting online for inspiration. If all goes well by weekends end I'll have several well thought out concepts boards drawn up and ready to present.

I'm up drinking coffee at 4am this morning. Once again I've accidentally bumped a button on my coffeemakers timer while setting it and the brewing time happened an hour earlier than it's supposed to. Don't ya hate that ? I stood momentarily in the dark kitchen this early morning pondering my next 4 am steps and finally decided Oh the hell with it, I'm awake we might as well start this new day.

And finally ... No this has not become a cat blog ... or an Oliver blog. I promise photos of non-Oliver scenes and events are Coming Soon ! Wink.

teak topped (5am)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

blog central avec most excellent and constant companion - Oliverl

This is the picture you would see if you were here with me, with us, as we blog each early morning here at the teak topped desk. It's still dark outside, we sit and type by the light of the desk lamp and the glow from my beautiful (and much loved) 24" imac. Uh huh that's exactly how Mr. Oliver sits (or poses) each morning, little paws placed perfectly together, face as sweet as can be - my much adored miniature red golden retriever ... just hangin' with me, waiting patiently for an assignment or hoping I'll ask his opinion Hey Ver, what's another word for tidy ?

And speaking of tidy - neat as a pin, spruced up, spic and span, well kept, un-cluttered and well ordered. I am so loving the sparse, clean, wide open surface of the newly super tidy teak topped desk. I am determined to keep it this way.

I really enjoyed school yesterday. This was a tres good idea on my part (if I do say so myself). Most of my time I'll be helping the students out with their projects and in a spare period I'll be cutting mats to frame their artwork for the upcoming student art show plus I'm already signed up for the prom decorating committee. Now how fun will that be ?

Bubbles and scent and Miss D are waiting.

Uh huh! he really is that perfect ... my Ver Ver

teak topped

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

command central - la teak topped desk avec les assistants

Super tidy, super organized - including desk drawers which are practically bare and contain only much loved and tres useful items and tools of the trade. Many of which I discovered I had multiples of - how many stainless steel 18 inch rulers does one designer gal need ? 3 or 4 it seems. Oops ! I do see from these photos that the windowsills which are large, deep, sunny and best suited for cat lounging still need to be cleaned off. And since I'm in between official design projects and yesterday was a snow day so school was canceled I continued on this remarkable purgapalooza* (kick - dare I say) that I've been on since MLou's wondrous kick start of this freeing and tres empowering process. I spent the afternoon (3 hours) organizing my 2008 financial stuff. All you self employed people know what I'm talking about. The sorting and unfolding of every crumpled receipt which had been stored in that large shoe box was gone through, itemized and placed neatly dans proper labeled section in the 2008 accordion file folder ready to send off to Connie the accountant. Phew ! Connie tells me every year that my financial package is one of the neatest and best organized that she receives - be still my heart ! I tell you there is a neat freak livin' inside this girl and she's just bustin' to get out.

I'm amazed at how all of this makes me feel. Gradually as the rooms in this old brick house become bare and spare, organized and neat as a pin I feel like I'm becoming stronger, more confident and much more hopeful. And this lovely old house - who's rooms are all big and open with high ceilings and lots of giant large windows - is looking absolutely beautiful.

I'm going to school today, my first day - with the Grade 9 art class. Hooray !

* purgapalooza linkage

more Mr. O

Monday, February 23, 2009

it seems we love him even more than you do

Big ol' swoon. We do love him ! way more than we love our own guys.

We love him, with an asterisk. The broad-band smile, the Lincoln-esque bearing, the sense of the man as avatar of multiculturalism–it all makes Barack Obama the perfect U.S. president in the eyes of Canadians. Heaven knows we've been waiting. When the motorcade rolls down Wellington Street next week, or pulls up at Rideau Hall, you can expect dewy eyed kids to line barricades with paper flags, no matter how foul the Ottawa weather. Eighty-two percent of us say we approve of Obama, the polls indicate, and the number requires a moment to digest. Never mind American politicians. Who's the last "American" we can say that about ?

MacLeans - Canada's Love Affair with Barack Obama - Feb 23rd 2009

It's a snow stormy, blizzard conditions, wintry weather early morning Monday here at Black Street. Everything is canceled, it's too stormy even for the snow ploughs to be out on the roads. I was supposed to begin my first 3 hour stint volunteering with the high school art teacher today (two half days every 8 day cycle). I'll be working with the grade 9 students helping out with whatever projects they're currently working on and I can't wait ! I think it's going to be loads of fun and really good for this solitary designer gal to get outta Dodge for a bit and practice my tres rusty social skills and I really like teenagers. Plus I get to take my lunch both days and hang out in the lunch room with new adults - how exciting is that ?

Back to the nest with OliVer in tow.

sunday sighs

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oliver in the nest of down & flannel

And where you'll find me this early morning. With my second mug of coffee and journal, bubbles and scent a pouring and I'll be planning this most favourite day of the week - Sunday.

Second floor purgapalooza continues - now that I've got the knack of it. A rapid fire three pile sort. 1. Keep 2. trash 3. donate/yard sale - every item picked up quickly goes into one of these piles to be dealt with later. No pausing, try not to hesitate or ponder too long, no trips down memory lane, no answering the phone or checking email. It's about quick instant decision making until you've gone through everything. This exercise is to get you started (which is by the far the most difficult part) and on your way to a pared down, clutter free existence. Hooray !

I'll make corn chowder after lunch, Miss D and I will walk the streets of the village later with Maggy Sue & Deb (the snow is too deep for dog legs at the golf course these days), I'll have an afternoon nap because Sunday's are most definitely for napping, and by days end all of my financial affairs will be totally organized and filed away safely dans le accordion file folder ready to send off to my money gal Connie. And later I'll listen to Rex and Cross Country Check Up and the question for Canadians this week is How big of a crush do you have on Obama ? (I'm paraphrasing) I know my answer - Huge giant crush ! We love him. Wink.

Big Sunday sigh.

ness & winn

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nessie Ness hangin' with his dog Miss D

You may remember that our Bleet-Ness was reared by retrievers and I can't quite figure out if it's that he's just plain in love with dogs or perhaps he believes he is a dog. None the less he's completely smitten with Miss Winnie Dixon. Jake was Bleet's Mama and Nessie adored that big red dog almost as much I did/do. Bleet fell instantly madly in love with Jake from the moment he laid eyes on him that fateful dark & stormy winter night many, many years ago. Very much like my own experience back when I first met the Noodle dog - t'was love at first sight - he was just that kind of dog ... Kindness & Comfort dressed up in handsome red fur.

Hey ! Miss D's got a tres chic new collar from this fantastic etsy shop - collarbones
we totally LOVE it !!! she looks tres beau wearing it. Why not support handmade !

Don't you love it when a cat gets the tip of their tongue stuck out and they forget to put it back in ? Too sweet. Happy Saturday !

thumbnails to finished

Friday, February 20, 2009

thumbnail sketches of little photo frames

from long, long ago ... the very first project I did for customer No. Uno way back in the spring of 02' eek ! nearly 7 years ago. Goodness where does the time go.

Mmmm left a comment recently asking a bit about this thumbnail drawing process of mine so I thought I'd explain - with visuals of course. These little idea thumbnails are small - these two groups of sketches fit on an 8.5x11 page. I work on tracing paper so that I can fold the paper and see through the back to trace and make these little miniature drawings perfectly symmetrical. I was given art direction with this particular project to look at and be inspired by silver turquoise jewellery. I use a mechanical pencil (much loved and red in colour), and a kneaded eraser initially and I try as I might at this stage to not think too much about what I'm doing. I like to put my brain on a kind of creative cruise control and draw as many ideas as time allows. When I'm happy with the little pencil drawings I then go over the design with my fine black ink drawing pens (drawings scan much better in black) and shade areas with an HB pencil and smudger to show relief and dimension.

I hear many designers say No matter how many ideas that I come up with - my first idea is often the strongest - usually my best. Perhaps back in the day when I was a graphic designer this may also have applied to me but now that I find myself drawing product and with the incredible wealth of inspiration and reference material dans la www - I find the more ideas that I draw the better the ideas become. When I've used up my allotted thumbnail drawing time - most often self imposed. I then scan these little drawings and send them via email to my customer (who I've never met or seen in 7 years) she takes my drawings to a meeting where they discuss and critique them and make their choices. For example No. 2 make a 3.5x5, No. 8 a 4x6 and so on. I often do pages of thumbnails per assignment - my thinking the more they have to choose from the more final frames that they'll pick. Which is true. And the more drawings they pick the fatter Mama's invoice will be.

I then enlarge the drawings to actual size, print them out and do final, perfect, much more detailed actual size drawings on tracing paper, scan them and send these - first as a clean drawing and then I'll mark all the production instruction notes regarding relief, dimensions etc on the clean finished drawing - scan again and send this final technical drawing.

Are you asleep yet ?

It's raining and mild ... and time once again to get goin' and begin another new day.

Eames & Obama

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eames postage stamps

Hooray ! A gift from sweet Anya in Colorado. Miss D and I received a little care package all the way from the mountains in the post the other day. An assortment of gourmet doggie treats and many tres thoughtful goodies for Mama - including this particular fav - a sheet of commemorative Charles & Ray Eames postage stamps. We designer gals, we do love our postage stamps - our little miniature teeny posters. Big smile and a big merci Anya !

Hey ! Obama's comin' to Canada today and we're all a flutter. We're jealous, we've got a big ol' crush and believe me we're so not used to crushin' on American Heads of State - this is all tres new and oh so exciting for all of us. He'll spend 6 hours in our capital city Ottawa with our Prime Minister Mr. Dull & Conservative Stephen Harper who breaks out the blue v-neck sweater when he's feelin' a little wild & crazy. Bored Sigh. We're totally embarrassed by his complete lack of cool. Live coverage (of course) on all Canadian networks radio & TV. It's all tres exciting. Apparently the streets of Ottawa are a total buzz and the city hasn't seen this much excitement since the Queen's last visit. Oh my !

I'm taking these next two days off from the teak topped design command centre to work on more of Peter's clutter control. Les office and les finances, Wooh Hoo !!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

sleeping dog on a bench - Polaroid circa late 80's

This photo was taken while waiting for the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. A weekend road trip adventure to Cape Cod with friends while I was living the young designer's viva la loca - cheap & easy - life in downtown Montreal. This fav Polaroid was unearthed during this weekend's purgapalooza.

Well my tres challenging current design project is finally winding down. Yesterday the Patron Saint of Design Brilliance - St. Concepta finally shone her gorgeous and much anticipated rays down onto me. Can I hear a hallelujah please ? With large portions of my brain in the off position (for thinking too much is a sure way to screw things up) yesterday, my last and most difficult to scale thumbnail was created, sent off and almost instantly met with oohs and ahhs and this one is SO beautiful. Uh Huh ... now if only I could figure out how this happens ???

The funny thing is this last design, the 5th in a series of 5 has been (since mid week last week) my bane, my thorn, my I'll never come up with something that I'm happy with let alone something my customer is happy with and yet this morning as I ready myself to create the actual size final drawing of this 5th design, the time when I get to flush out all the little tiny bits and pieces of style and pattern of a concept mostly realized - the fun part - this one of all 5 designs - has become the one I'm the most pleased with and the one that I look most forward to drawing in all it's detailed glory. Go figure. It's the Murphy's Law of Design.

I've decided as a reward to myself for finishing up this project this Thursday & Friday I'm going to continue on the clutter control and declutter my finances. I'll go through ALL my financial paperwork (and there are piles of paper - that self employed person's save every little piece of paper pile) and get that organized and figure out myself a proper budget and do some filing.

Mama's gotta make room for Madam Abundance (M. Invincible's paternal twin), who's due to arrive any day now.

Miss D & the butterflies

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Miss D in the sunny window with the *butterflies

Back to the nest this early morning with my coffee & Oliver. I'm going to get an early start to this new day. It's a quiet, mild (hooray) Tuesday morning here at 29 Black Street and Mama's got some plannin' to do. Wink.

*Butterfly 2008 calendar from Cavallini

purgapalooza - blow by blow

Monday, February 16, 2009

uh huh ! finest Belgian chocolates & pink tulips

Have nothing in your house
that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful.

William Morris

MLou arrived before 6pm laden (as she is want to do) with Valentine surprises pour moi. A big pot of pink tulips, a collection of my favourite bubbles and scent accoutrement's from the LUSH store in the city, the biggest, baddest giant bag of Starbucks coffee beans that I have ever seen and a red multi layered box of les tres fine Belgian chocolates. Holy Cow ! Spoiling me Rotten • Wait there's more -
A bag of Thai take out for our dinner. Shut Up ! The freshest, most delicious veggie spring rolls, green coconut curry, pad thai, and a medley of vegetables with plenty of fresh ginger with perfect steamed rice • Be still my Asian food lovin' heart • We sat in my dining room near the fire had a perfect dinner and chatted and planned our attack of the clutter which would begin in earnest the next day.

A memento is not a memory
Peter Walsh

A big mug of coffee delivered bedside around 7am to MLou and Oliver, the concierge of Black Street who'd been keeping her good company, in our chocolate brown guest room. More gabbing and chatting and drinking coffee until 9am. The breakfast of cinnamon bun clutter champions fresh from the oven - delish !! and highly recommended by all • introductions to Peter Walsh and his Declutter Bible - It's All Too Much - and by lunch time the dark cloud area of my living room/dining room (which had previously been a huge pile of dusty can't decide what to do with stuff and two bookcases overflowing with a combination of buried treasures and lots of couldn't care less abouts) had become open and bare and beautiful • that's the thing about clutter - the treasures become lost among the excess which was definitely true in my case • break at 1pm for a walk with Miss D and back home for hot bowls of chowder • kitchen cupboards and the cookbooks/cooking magazine bookcase next on les agenda • I've been saving every Gourmet magazine, every Donna Hay, Bon Appetite, Martha Stewart, ancient Vogue Australia Entertaining (a fabulous cooking magazine) since time began. 4 shelves of mostly dusty cookbooks now paired down to 2 shelves of much used and treasured. I parted with all of the Bon Appetite's and kept most of the Gourmet's • We got rid of chick pea flour and arborio rice which had been stored in mason jars since 1998, extra dishes and mugs who never leave the darkness of my cupboards will now have the chance of daylight and freedom in someone else's kitchen • another walk, in darkness and gently falling snow with Miss D, home again to Black Street for hummus and crackers and another delicious dinner of broccoli salad and cheese fondue by the fire with Belgian chocolates for dessert. Sigh.

A gift is not an obligation
Peter Walsh

I came downstairs in the morning to ready our coffee and walked around the main floor of this old brick house. My big open kitchen and the big beautiful living room dining room space, now tidy and sparse and neat as a pin - and I love it. I really am that kind of less is more person and I had myself buried with things. As you know I detest and am horrible at housekeeping - I was born missing that gene (for sure) so a house with minimal stuff that's tres easy to fling a vacuum around and swipe a dust cloth over flat, empty of stuff, surfaces is how I need to live. I like tidy, I love organized, I love the feeling of space. And now I have it - in spades ! • We finished up the kitchen, MLou vacuumed every nook and cranny and every crack and crevice. We piled neat and organized boxes of give away/yard sale items, along with a few pieces of furniture who's time has come, out into my big spacious sunporch. My front porch is now home to many bags of recyclables and a few bags of trash and I would guess that we easily eliminated half of what we tackled. I have to say I did not have that much stuff - but I still had many, many things that meant nothing to me - if they mean nothing then what are they doing hanging around gathering dust? • We bundled that girl back into her car around 2:30pm so that she would be sure to get back to the city before darkness.

This whole experience (aside from the comfort and love that I feel spending lovely big chunks of time with my friend MLou) this weekend purge - to me feels like the purging of an old me. A me who has felt continually overwhelmed, most often sad, desperate much of the time and trapped in a place that I didn't know how to get out of. Stuck in my memories and the past. It's not just about the stuff - it's about how that stuff makes you feel, how it can weigh you down, how it messes up your home, obliterates who you really are and makes you feel shame. MLou is showing me the way out, she knows which path to take. And this morning I feel strong and happy and very loved.

What more could this girl ask for ?

Merci MLou.

purgapalooza day 2

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Peter and I in conference dans sunny hallway

a momento is not a memory

gifts of pink springtime from the city

breakfast of clutter champions

be mine

Saturday, February 14, 2009

my funny Valentine

Hello handsome


Friday, February 13, 2009

MLou & Miss J

A stop along the beautiful sunlight dappled Cavendish Beach walking trail

Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it's you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it

Hey ! You know the words - it's the tune I'm singing this early morning. It's kinda like Christmas morning ... only much, much better 'cause that girl arrives later today for a full weekend of great food, scintillating non stop chat-a-thon and a big ol' Purgapalooza (the project for this weekend). MLou's been practising her best Peter Walsh impression and in her ongoing attempt to help me get ready to sell this house, to extremely lighten my load (by more than a half I would guess) in preparation for my big change - to my new tiny life - the new teeny, tiny life with a big huge heart that's waiting for me just up ahead around the next corner.

My new life within walking distance to that girl. How fantastic would that be. Shut Up !! It's all I think about ...

This old brick house is a big house and considering it's size and certainly compared to those other hoarder types that you see on Oprah and such I don't really have that much stuff. But, what I do have is still an awful lot of non-essential stuff, junk really, junk that I'm attached to for some unknown reason, stuff I have a very hard time parting with. I am a hoarder there's no question, thankfully I'm still at the point of being a fairly Junior variety and now I have Peter Walsh's Canadian associate coming to help me. The Clutter Calvary is arriving before dark tonight. Hooray.

My dream is for my next house to be less than 900 square feet. I want to feel like I'm living in a large hotel room. As long as there's room for the teak topped desk and the nest of down & flannel and a dog bed or two ... I know I'll be happy.

I have been so busy drawing, drawing, drawing all week (that project is now going very well and nearing completion) that all my get ready 'cause we're having company chores have been left for today. Those darn valets are still AWOL so Mama's gotta dig out the vacuum cleaner. I have a whole day ahead of me to putter and clean and tidy and cook. I'm making haddock chowder and The Black Apple's cinnamon rolls. Happy Sigh. Bubbles and scent are awaiting.

ps. thanks for all the funny cat stories !!

a delicate subject

Thursday, February 12, 2009

who me ?

Sweetest, most excellent design assistant & miniature red golden retriever - Oliver

Also Mr. Oh! Oh ! I think I'm going to be sick. Quick let me run over to the rug or hop up on an upholstered chair. Sigh. Cat puke 'tis today's delicate subject from More Life with Cats.

Warning - this post is not for the faint of heart or the squeamish.

An excerpt from the much lauded* Essential Cat Rules - Chapter 13 - Illness.
* A must read for all cats and the humans who share a home with them.

If you have to throw up, get to a chair quickly. If you cannot manage in time, get to an Oriental rug. If there is no Oriental rug, shag is good. When throwing up on the carpet, make sure you back up so that it is as long as the humans bare foot.

When you get sick in the house, you should hover around the general area until a human spots the mess. You should act as if you are guarding the stuff for the human and then quickly vacate the room.

If taken outside, you should take every opportunity to scarf down as much grass as possible (while not being spotted). After ingesting a "critical mass" amount, whine and scratch at the door to be let back in the house. After entering the house head for the traditional illness locations and let it rip.

If the urge strikes at night when your human is asleep, you can retch as loudly as possible so that the human will wake up. That failing, choose a location where the human's bare foot is likely to find it. They don't see very well in the morning and need assistance in locating the mess. If the human has neglected you by leaving, cover the fruits of your labors with whatever is handy, such as papers from the desk. That way you can soil another object besides the carpet.

I've done some research (of course) and I think it's because Oliver eats too fast and it's actually more of a regurge (cat lover term) than a puke. And sometimes it's a kind of combo hairball and barely digested kitten kibble - my Ver's a grooming nut not only does he groom himself fastidiously but he takes care of all of the L'il Man's grooming needs as well - which is tres sweet to watch. When he's about to throw up he always makes that distinct frightening sounding, yowly, drawn out meow that alerts me that it is coming and that's not so bad. It's gross yes, but a big wad of sudsy wet paper towel and we're good to go. What's a drag is when you come across these eruptions, sometimes a day later, when I've been busy at the teak topped desk and didn't hear the warning signs - only to find a waterfall of dried cat barf on the arm of my cushy living room chair spilling down the side and into the crack between the chair and the cushion. Thanks Ver.

or on your freshly made, a day ago, bed. Yuck.

or on a pile of neatly folded laundry just in from the clothesline. Gross.

Here's another gem from More Life with Cats - How to Give a Cat a Pill - please do not drink beverages while reading this. I once (thankfully only once) had to give the big fat Nessie cat a pill. One small pill. When it was all said and done I felt as if I'd been wrestling with an angry cougar.

bread making

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the most delicious bread I've ever made

Weekend bread making. I prepared the starter Saturday morning and then made the bread Sunday while talking to my sister on the phone - our regular Sunday morning chat. Multi-tasking and my cordless phone - this girl's best friends.

Wheat Bread with Yogurt Starter - makes 2 large loaves
Adapted from this great cookbook Bread for all Seasons p142

Yogurt Starter
1 tsp. active dry yeast
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups of tepid water
2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups all bran buds
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup brown sugar, honey or molasses (I used molasses)
1'3 cup of olive oil or melted butter
1 tbsp salt or to taste
3-4 cups whole wheat flour
2-3 cups all purpose flour*

Fruit & Nut variation
1/2 cup sliced and toasted almonds
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
8-10 dried apricots diced
8-10 dried prunes diced
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup raisins
or any 2 cup combination of fruits & nuts.
Sunflower seeds, pecans, dried cranberries ...

Starter - mix ingredients in a large glass or plastic bowl or jar, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for up to 2 days. Starter is ready to use after 12 hours. The longer it stands the tangier (more sour) it becomes.

Dough - pour boiling water over bran and oatmeal and let sit until mushy and cooled to warm. Add, this mixture to starter in a very large mixing bowl, add oil or butter, molasses, salt and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Gradually begin beating in the flour beginning with the whole wheat. Continue adding flour until the dough is soft and still slightly sticky (try not to add too much flour) dump the dough out onto the counter and begin kneading. Knead for 10 mins or until dough is smooth but still remains a tad sticky. Melt 2 tbsps butter and generously grease a large bowl, plop dough in and generously grease dough as well. Cover loosely with a buttered piece of plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise until doubled twice. Punching down dough in between risings.

Turn dough out onto work surface and divide in half. Shape one piece into a loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap and tea towel. Scatter fruit and nuts onto work surface and with the other piece of dough knead in gently all fruit and nut pieces making sure they seem evenly distributed. Shape dough into another loaf pan, cover. Let rise again approximately 45 mins. Bake in a 375 degree oven 35 -40 minutes or until loaves are browned on top and sound hollow when tapped.

* my all purpose flour amounts are approximate - you may need more - continue to add flour until the dough seems workable (kneadable). Wink.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Em, Jake and a very young & trim baby Dixon

I think that's a big ol' full moon high up in the sky and shining in on us this early morning. I guess it was full yesterday. Missy D and I love to walk in the moonlight so we won't linger here this morning. I'm still in the thick of les tres challenging design project. Challenging in a mostly good way, but by times also challenging in a frustrating way - sometimes I get such a crystal clear image in my head of how I'd like design to be, to look and I don't quite have the drawing skills to put that idea to paper. I'm struggling with that dilemma at this time.

Tidy desk, portions of brain turned to off position and we'll carry on. We'll rock on !

LOVE her voice

lewis & clark

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lewis and Clark 1804 by L. Edward Fisher

In 1802 Jefferson had sent ministers to France, offering to buy New Orleans, the vital port at the mouth of the Mississippi River. But instead, Napoleon Bonaparte, preparing for another war with England, had made a counteroffer: he would sell the entire Louisiana Territory, all 820,000 square miles, to the United States for $15 million. It was a sum nearly twice the federal budget, and although he questioned his own constitutional authority in doing so, Jefferson readily agreed. For just three cents and acre, the President more than doubled the size of his country with a single stroke of his pen.

At least on paper, half of the west now belonged to the Unites States. But as Lewis left Washington on July 5 to join Clark and proceed to the eastern shore of the Mississippi to make final preparations for their long journey, no one knew for sure what Thomas Jefferson had just bought.

Lewis & Clark -The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns

I've had to put Garp aside for awhile because this new bedside thriller I'd had on order arrived Thursday at our little village library. The lavishly illustrated companion book to the Ken Burns PBS documentary Lewis & Clark and their amazing journey of exploration. It's an inter library loan coming from a library somewhere else in Nova Scotia meaning I can only have it for 3 weeks with no renewals. It's absolutely chock full of amazing paintings, illustrations and maps from that time period, historical photographs and is peppered through out with reproduction pages from their journals ... as many as 50 unique and tres diverse native peoples called this grand place home at that time. Can you imagine the spectacular beauty the Corps of Discovery would have come across - all those lands and wildlife untouched and unspoiled - pre white man ... it must have seemed truly incredible.

We were now about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden; the good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment yet to determine ... [yet] entertaining as I do, the most confident hope of succeeding in a voyage which had formed a da[r]ling project of mine for the last ten years, I could but esteem this moment of my departure as among the most happy of my life.

Meriwether Lewis
from his journal April 7 1805


Sunday, February 8, 2009


The project I'm currently working on has a strong based in historical ornament and style bent to it and as a result I've had to do a lot of research. I do have a fine collection of books from Dover Publications - as far as I know the premier place for inexpensive, copyright free, historic style & design reference material. Google, of course, is also a best friend and I've spent much of this particular project scanning, hunting & searching for both reference and inspiration. A fantastic sight I found ages ago, I can't remember where but thankfully I bookmarked, has the most incredible assortment of historic clip art - check it out here.

I love this particular octopus - animal totem meaning - intelligence & camouflage

Housekeeping is not a strong point with Octopus totem people. Wink. Perhaps I've finally found my true totem - that darn team of valets are still away on holiday and we're having company next weekend (guess who - uh huh, uh huh - that girl is returning). Yikes ! all I've been thinking about is what we'll have to eat, what will I cook ?? - I'm planning to make this for our breakfasts of (clutter) champions and she's mentioned - let's have fun-due since it is Valentine's day !! pshaw, we'll say, to those 4 food groups.

It's all mild (hooray) and dripping this early morning and Missy D and I have gotta get a goin' and start this most favourite day of the week. Sunday ... Sun-yeah !

Drawing, drawing, drawing.

and hey !! it's Darwin's birthday ...
scroll down and listen to a few of the tunes from Darwin the musical


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Winnie Dixon leads the way on our late afternoon walk along the harbour

I do love the blue and golden warm light in late afternoon on a winter's day, black button noses, long, long shadows and sweet silver muzzles frosty with ice.

I'm afraid the teak topped desk is tres messy this early morning. I am mid project with my deadline a loomin' but am very happy to report that the creative breakthrough muses have arrived, much later than usual - but better late than never as they say. First thing on the agenda, when we've returned home from our walk around this little village in darkness, is to prepare this work space for optimum scintillating design creation - neat, tidy and organized. My fav red mechanical pencil loaded up with .03 HB leads, kneaded eraser well kneaded, fresh sheets of tracing paper and one more design, in a series of 5 to come up with. Then it'll be fine tuning & tweaking and onto finished drawings. Thank goodness for excellent radio programming all weekend long and a forensic thriller audio CD from the library to keep me company.

Hey !! MLou's been blogging again. Photos of my new stomping ground. To be magically settled into my new teeny 721 square foot abode on the outer edge of the city, with trees and lakes all around, within walking distance to that girl, for Missy D and I to be joining she and Miss J on these new spectacular walks is the image and dream I am holding tight. 'Cause this girl's gotta have a new dream, and the more I think about this one - the more it feels right.