storm day

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

peonies from our gardens - from the photography archives

Enough already ! Enough of the white, the wet, the icy, the cold. Sigh.

School was dismissed just past lunch because of the weather. Tiny pea sized pellets of ice had changing into blowing fat flakes of snow and the big yellow buses lined up to take their charges home, many who live miles and miles out into the country and on very secondary roads. I came home and retreated to the nest for a nap and read with my current book - all afternoon. Uh Huh ! Got up again at suppertime long enough for a snowy walk with Winnie Dixon and to do the dishes. I should have shoveled some but didn't feel like it, so I puttered a bit, just long enough until I felt justified in returning to my nest, to the always safe & cozy nest of down and flannel, with a big cup of tea and more of my book, to retreat to the lives of other people. Sigh. Monday's & me ... I guess it really was a storm day.

20-30cms of snow yesterday. Thick, wet, heavy snow. So much snow school is canceled again today. Shoveling is top of the list this early morning ... after of course, a walk around this very snowy village with Miss D.

11:00 am - Phew !! Now this explains a lot !! check out your biorhythms here.

more signs of spring

Monday, March 30, 2009

Miss D and I had our first beach and frozen pasture walk of the new year

We never did meet up with Carol and tres handsome Duke (you can see in the photos of Miss D she is gazing off in the direction he would arrive from ... hoping to see him off in the distance). In a phone conversation later we came to the conclusion that while we were on the beach they were in the pasture and when we were in the pasture they were on the beach. Funny. Regardless Winnie and I had an amazing long hike and it's good to be back walking in our heavenly place.

This weekend - two days of full on blue sky, sunshine and warm temperatures. My first few loads of laundry hung out on the clothes line which all winter hung loose inches above a large white drift of frozen snow. Is there anything better than the smell of clothes or pillowcases fresh from the line ? Our big windows all opened wide for a time so that the fresh spring breezes could blow in on us. The gardens and petite forest around this old brick house absolutely filled with chattering birds all busily building their nests. Spring is here ... or was here. Today we're having freezing rain and ice pellets currently, later this morning turning to snow with a possible 20cm accumulation (a lot). Lovely.

I'm off to high school later this morning for the afternoon which I'm thinkin' will really help me to blow through yet another Monday.

DS Sunday No.3

Sunday, March 29, 2009

more veg than pasta - pasta primavera

Dim Sum Sunday rolls around again and this week the theme is pasta. I did break my new rule of only trying new recipes for DS Sundays as this is an old standby of mine. Pasta is something I don't eat often mostly because of my tendency to eat too much of it when I do make it. Years ago I came up with the solution of adding a 3-1 ratio of vegetables to pasta - that way I could still have generous portions all the while enjoying oodles of fresh vegetables.

More Veg than Pasta - Pasta Primavera

1/2 bag of pasta- I used gemelli (twisted fat short noodles) pasta*
olive oil
1 large garlic clove minced
1 small onion
6-7 button mushrooms (or any mushrooms sliced)
1 large carrot ribboned* with a vegetable peeler
half a head of broccoli cut into small pieces
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1/4-1/2 cup whipping cream (Uh Huh !)
salt & pepper to taste
grated parmigiano reggiano
fresh basil for garnish (if available)

*zucchini ribbons be a great addition or strips of bright red pepper, green or yellow beans, fava beans ... fresh asparagus would be delicious and is almost in-season here - add any of these additions along with the ribbons of carrot.

* do try and find dried pasta that is imported from Italy - it's SO much better than our North American made pasta. I stock up at the Italian Market when I'm in the city.

Cook pasta al denté in well salted water reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. In a large high sided frying pan sauté onions, mushroom, garlic in olive oil until they just begin to caramelize. Add carrot ribbons and wine or broth and continue to cook until carrots begin to wilt (1-2 mins). Throw broccoli in with pasta toward the end of pasta cooking time and cook very briefly - until bright green and still a bit crunchy. Drain pasta & broccoli well and add to the pan of vegetables and broth. Add whipping cream turn heat up and stir until sauce thickens slightly. Mound in shallow bowls and top with ground pepper, parmigiano reggiano and torn basil. Yum.

And if that's not delicious enough ...I had a hankerin' for some lemon goodness. This Lemon Pudding Cake is tres easy and perfectly lemony. I LOVE lemon desserts and this is one of those magical pudding cakes which, while in the oven baking, divides in two - the top layer light-as-air lemon sponge cake with creamy, tart, lemon custard pudding underneath. Sigh. And Hey ! is that real whipped cream on top ? You betcha ! As MLou says (and I totally concur!!) - fresh whipped cream should always be an optional accompaniment - to any & every dessert.

lemon pudding cake

Lemon Pudding Cake (from the Fannie Farmer cookbook)

2 tbsps. butter
7/8ths cup of sugar (I used powdered sugar 'cause I was out of granulated)
3 eggs separated
1 cup of milk (I used 1%)
1 1/2 tbsps. of flour
the zest of one lemon
the juice of one lemon (should give 1/3 cup)
whipped sweetened cream for topping (optional of course)

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a bain marie (a larger casserole filled with hot water in the oven that the smaller casserole sits or baths in)

Beat the butter, gradually adding the sugar until incorporated. Beat in egg yolks one by one. Add the milk, flour, lemon juice & rind and beat well to mix. Don't panic the mixture will have a slightly curdled look. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and gently fold into batter. Turn into a 1 1/2 quart casserole or baking dish and set in the bain marie. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Let cool, serve topped with a healthy blob of whipped cream. Unbelievably good !

Hey ! where's that girl that was goin' on about no dairy, no gluten, no sugar ? Wink.

Miss D and I are off to the beach this early morning to walk with Carol and Baby Duke (who's now a full grown bull-in-a-china-shop teenage & tres handsome boy). The seagulls are singin' up a storm this morning, it's low tide, the harbour is as still as glass and it's an absolutely spectacular morning. I'm takin' my camera.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

yesterday's early morning walk along the harbour

1. secretly shelter (as of fugitives or criminals)
2. keep in one's possession; of animals
3. hold back a thought or feeling about
4. maintain (a theory, thoughts, or feelings)

Lavender & vanilla bubbles this early morning - what a lovely combination. The temperatures are predicted to rise today to +6-8 and the forecast - mainly sunny (pluses are very good and much welcomed) and the sunshine will continue on with the job of melting all this remaining white and cold.

I've promised myself that today I will houseclean :-( I realize that I will come up with every possible excuse in the book to avoid this necessary evil to-do. Surely CE building is much more important than vacuuming (the tumble weeds of hair that you find in a house with three cats and one dog) I will try to convince myself. Oh, I'll get to that tomorrow I promise her (daily). But alas even I can't stand the squalor any longer. Sigh.

I am meant to be a kept woman. Kept by a busy team of seven invisible mute valets or at the very least by one weekly housecleaning dynamo - No. 4 on my Dreams Do Come True (uh huh ! they really do) list. But for today I will play the role of HD*, I will remain focused and I will continually chant, under my breath, a favourite mantra of mine action = motivation = more action (uh huh also very true) and I will reward myself later, for all of this HD* action, with some afternoon CE* building and a pot of tea back here at the teak topped desk - once my chores are tout fini. Mama's loves a deadline.

The birds are awake and busy outside in our garden, Mr. Calico Love has just arrived atop the TTD* with a chirp and mad purrs and I'm off to visit the lands of Lavender & Vanilla

HD * - Housecleaning Dynamo
CE*- Creative Empire
TTD*- Teak Topped Desk

pas de rushing

Friday, March 27, 2009

mama's got some new tools ... and the always keen, most excellent DA*

I'm still rushing. Even though I'm sitting here at the teak topped desk, breathing deeply, sipping my coffee, enjoying the peace, the quiet and the darkness of another early morning - in my head I'm rushing and I hate rushing. It seems I have a lot on the go at the moment. Many little growing bonfires that all need to be tended to and don't get me wrong it's all Fantastic and this busyness helps keep me from drifting out into that choppy deep water. For the first time yesterday I could imagine having an assistant (oh ! pardon ! I do mean "another" assistant - sorry Oliver no slight intended) the only snag of course would be the salary part. Fortunately my current DA* works very cheaply - pats, sweet kisses and a constant supply of Whiskas Temptations and he's good to go ... and never, ever complains.

With tourista season looming and several (4 or 5) retail opportunities abounding - the latest arriving via email yesterday from this tres cool shop love me boutique in the city. I must get super organized and there is much work to do. And all of this retail stuff - quite a separate CE* venture from the Lands of Etsy and of my well paying, need-to-keep-on-top-of day job - designing mostly photo frames for Customer No Uno.

New tools and art supplies arrived this week from Mr. Purolator. I made a "merci !" stamp for my kraft mailers using old hand me down lino-cutting tools and Speedball's super easy to cut, cuts like buttah, Speedy-Cut. I'm just warming up to tackle the (much harder to cut) piece of linoleum that also arrived in my art supply package. Unfortunately the Speedy-cut doesn't come as big as I would like so I'm going to try and make a lino-cut of my Everything Reminds Me of My Dog (and you all know who I'd be talkin' about - uh huh ! that sweet Noodle ! of course).

You sure can tell spring is here by the sound of all the birds singing in our big yard this early morning. Very happy sigh ! They're back and we're so glad.

*DA - Design Assistant and red retriever in disguise
*CE - Creative Empire

merci beaucoup !!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

crows in the back garden

It's still winter here. Sigh. Snow and ice and cold.

I'm a bit wound up this early morning. In a good way. It has been a week of busyness, of rushing around, of excitement poppytalk (scroll down to see us), then even more excitement - how design 2 hours, last night, of telephone brainstorming with my tres creative and fav nephew Michael who's workin' on building his own Empire and lots + lots more full throttle building of my own (CE). Oh yeah ! and a morning spent hangin' out in the din of teenagers in their art classes at the high school. Holy Cow ! they're loud ! (and quite sweet & tres fascinating) says the girl who spends her days with the mostly mute les Chats & Missy D.

This morning I'll be brief 'cause I really want to get goin' and have a lovely long relaxed walk with Winnie Dixon before I get back to this old brick house and tackle the first item on la list - cleaning up this very messy teak topped desk and getting ready to begin another new day.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the tres lovely and much loved Missy D (Winnie Dixon)

My girl - she does love to bask.

Yesterday was a day - a day of flat out busyness all day and into the evening and when all was said and done- not much to show for it at all. Don't ya hate those days. Things worked on, laboured over really, just don't quite turn out the way you'd hoped, then your forced, begrudgingly, to chock that time spent up to process & practice. Sigh. I feel sleepy this early morning (but I thankfully have my big steaming mug of coffee) and another busy day ahead of me. Off to the high school for the morning, then an apt after lunch for a hair cut, a few errands and then back to the teak topped desk for an hour or two of pm Empire Building.

Hey ! We're (and I do mean the big ol' We - even including this old brick house/cottage) featured today over at most excellent, most favourite (& Canadian to boot) design blog Poppytalk. Hooray !!! Merci Jan !!

can you say fetching* ?

*Miss D's beautiful Fall/Winter 09 collar came from this great etsy shop. She has her eye on this beauty for Spring/Summer 09

A gorgeous song heard this early morning while lingering in the land of bubbles & scent. I hadn't heard it in a long while and it reminds me of summers and drivin' in the car to the beach with the windows all rolled down and of my big red boy - Jake. Makes me cry big fat tears of love. Newfoundland singer songwriter Amelia Curran

my current MO

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A favourite scarf I wear as a turtleneck

My latest MO - turtlenecks

Not my latest Modus Operandi
but my latest Mild Obsession. A soon to be regular segment on this blog since I have a slew of latest Mild Obsessions. Thought I'd share some of them.


and the higher, the softer, the fleecier, the cozier - the better. I find I don't want to wear any other kind of top. I have a favourite homely, moss green, fleece Eddie Bauer pullover that I bought second hand 6 years ago at Frenchy's (a tres famous second hand haunt in these parts) and I swear if I could wear it 24/7 I would. I take it off, wash it and put it back on again. Ahhh ! The wardrobe of the self employed designer gal - it's Casual Friday 7 days of the week 'round here. I have it on now and the turtleneck is stretched up high totally covering my neck, chin, mouth and part of my nose. And I've recently discovered the scarf-as-turtleneck pictured above (which I wear all day around the house until bedtime especially on days when the homely, moss green, fleece number is being laundered). Austen's been knitting beautiful neck warmers - Cowls - over at Stripey Pebble - now there's a knitting project that I might actually finish. It's kind of like an adult security blanket for me and it's also the part of my body most affected by being cold. And it's been a very cold and long winter. It's snowing here as we speak.

I'm posting this entry without my morning coffee. Sigh. Back to the nest to kill some time until I can warm up the car and get ready to go have my blood work done.

I'm back - coffee's brewing, blood work taken, schools are canceled and there's a wee March blizzard happenin' outside. Snug as bugs we are.

concierge & coffee

Monday, March 23, 2009

Concierge M. Oliver avec house guest

From the recent photo archives - Feb 14th weekend to be exact. A Peter Wash impersonator happily ensconced dans la chocolate brown guest room avec morning coffee and most excellent 29 Black Street concierge. Was there ever ? Is there now ? a sweeter cat in the whole wide world ? We sure don't think so. He's here beside me right now - Mr. Calico Love helping me compose my words, purring madly, soft as can be and smelling, as always, of fresh laundry.

Tomorrow (early morning) I will attempt to get myself to our little village hospital by 7am without any morning coffee (spooky organ music dramatically sounds in the background - loud & terrifying) Sigh. It must be done. I'm having the super duper blood work taken. The fast for 12 hours (not a big deal) nothing by mouth (except petite sips of water) kind of blood work. I can do it, I've done it before. I will likely drive, the 97' teal coloured Ford Escort wagon, and bring my aluminum travel coffee mug with me so that Coffee & Me can be reunited ASAP. And this from the girl who dared to suggest, only days ago, that she might consider no coffee for 6 weeks (a chorus of evil cackling laughter can be heard).

I'm mentioning it now because I'm not sure how it may effect my early morning blogging ... but I'm thinkin' it may just put a tres large wet damper on things. Back to the nest I go, coffee in hand, this early morning to await the magical land of bubbles & scent.

Yipes ! I just remembered it's a Monday. Sigh. there's that darn organ music again.

DS Sunday No.2

Sunday, March 22, 2009

la lobster roll

Plan C. or C is for Crustacean.

It's Dim Sum Sunday {No. 2} and the theme for this week is shellfish or crustacean. Hmmmmm says the girl from the tiny Nova Scotia seaside village. Initially I was thinking scallops - scallops are good, not too expensive if you buy just a few and usually readily available at our little tiny village grocery store. Sadly this week no scallops were to be found and after taking a quick peek at the frozen foods selection and finding only product of Thailand raw jumbo shrimp I thought Well, I guess I'll resort to Plan B. I'll tweak the rules and cook seafood - fish. Salmon to be exact. Lobster didn't occur to me. It's not lobster season (yet) and even though the price of lobster has gone way down I rarely ever buy lobster ... and you can be sure that you would never ever find me plunging live creatures into boiling water. I have some issues with lobster (more on that later*).

As we walk each night along the harbour's edge (Miss D and I) I always spend at least some of that time pondering the ice ... and the melting of it. This is a little fishing village and the ice in the harbour is another harbinger of spring round here - the receding ice very much like spying the first dandelions and crocuses. Lobster season starts May 1st and in order for the season to begin without a snag the ice in the harbour and out into the Straight must be gone. In a round about way, which is always my preferred way of thought, I've been thinking about lobster. It amazes me how our little harbour which was frozen so solid all winter long - a big, cold, white expanse of flat, snow covered, thick ice - is now once again mostly open. Big flat cakes of ice gently sail back and forth on the tide, the water's sparkling again and filled with ducks and it won't be long now until the harbour is completely free of ice and lobster season will begin again.

Since I spent the entire day (I'm not kidding) and into the evening working on my new etsy shop I devised Plan C. & decided to re-post this Crustacean recipe.

Tres delicious, it must be summer by the sea food

lobster roll
buttered and grilled hot dog bun
smidge of Dijon mustard (because I'm on a bit of Dijon kick at the moment)
garlic chives from the garden

The key ingredients to any good lobster roll are mayonnaise (never salad dressing) and a buttered white bread hot dog bun and it must be the kind with crustless sides because you butter these bready sides and grill each side in a frying pan - so the outside of the bun becomes crispy, browned and buttery like the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich while the inside stays steamy and soft.

* Quite a famous & fascinating article published in Gourmet Consider the Lobster on the ethics of eating lobster by the late David Foster Wallace. Whole Foods has a ban on selling live lobster - you know those giants tanks you see in many seafood places stuffed with live lobsters 5 or 6 deep crawling all over each other, claws banded and useless and tres sad.

** apparently if you place the live lobsters in the freezer for 1-2 hours before cooking this will kill them much more humanely

The lobster photographed above was given to me, a gift - already cooked and ready to be eaten. I wouldn't want to waste it would I ? I'll admit to the extreme wishy washy-ness of my lobster politics. Would I wear a vintage fur coat if given to me as a gift - No ! not on your life.

Hey ! the new 29 Black Street shop is open. All originals !

update speaking of harbingers of spring - Winnie D and I spied a pair of red winged blackbirds on our walk this early morning (actually we heard they're distinct trilling call first). Normally a marsh and pasture bird they've stopped by the petite forest in our backyard this morning for a little visit. (and don't I sound like a birding geek ?- oh yeah and the song sparrows are back too ! ) A great animal totem blackbird is ... especially for us Cancer gals.

pros & cons

Saturday, March 21, 2009

matted, avec envelope and sealed with love in cellophane

good things come - la motto here at 29 Black Street
but ya have to dream the things and you must believe in them ... and I do

I spent 90 minutes revising my new 29blackstreet etsy banner yesterday morning and getting the shop home page set up. That's about 75 mins more than it should have taken. Sigh. Anyone who has an etsy shop knows well that the fun part of etsy is creating all the wares to put in the shop. The not so fun part (made much worse by technical ineptness on my part) is the actual setting up of the shop, the taking of photos, the scanning, the resizing and uploading, the shop policies, the shipping options ... and on. However I do know now, because of shop No 1 , that once it's all said & done - the feeling of immense satisfaction will be tres gratifying. So ... with that in mind I will keep calm and carry on today setting up this new (properly named) shop - the 29 Black Street shop.

I'm at the thumbnail stage of another project for customer No. Uno which means $ dans la bank account. Big Phew ! I'm scheming, planning and creating Lil' Art to sell round these parts come summer and tourista season. People travelling around love to pick up a little somethin' somethin' that's from here - either created by a Nova Scotia artist/designer/craftsperson or perhaps a depiction of - a reminder of their visit and I do plan to offer both. We're talking white wire 5x7 card spinners filled (hopefully) with Lil' Art cards and Photo Art cards to place in 3 or 4 retail venues (to start). Watch out ! Mama's been plannin'. It's all tres exciting and I have much to do to get ready for all this. I definitely need to make la list.

I'm also beginning the creation of the ultimate, super duper pros vs cons list of
Do I Move (Or Do I Stay for a few more years) - stayed tuned for that excitement. So far we have ...

Con - this gigantic geezley yard-can you say overgrown, wild & tangled more than double lot? and the upkeep & maintenance there of - I think I need to lie down.
Pro - the spectacular sunsets over our little harbour that I watch each night from les studio window. Absolutely beautiful and I feel like I've lived here all these years and I only lately have really begun to appreciate them.

bonjour spring !

Friday, March 20, 2009

a tiny life No.4 - 5 x 7 collage, gouache & ink

It's finally (finally !) been feelin' a little bit like spring round here ! We're going to have a few more days of minus temperatures and then by Wed. back up to more seasonal temps. My sunporch is completely out of fire wood so today, for an hour, I've promised myself to go outside and pitch some wood in. I still have another cord of wood under the requisite, country living, gigantic bright orange tarp in my front yard. Oh so tres chic yard & garden decor ! It will be lovely to have a fire or two this weekend and warm up this old brick house.

I saw four bald eagles yesterday !!! One soaring high in the sky directly above me as I left the doctor's office and then later when Miss D and I were out for our suppertime walk, we saw a parent and two nearly full grown fledglings playing and feeding out on the ice. They take my breath away, I feel so lucky and honoured when I see them and I do believe that I noticed them both times yesterday, really was a message meant just for me. A reminder that Everything really will be OK and that yes, he is still here ... hangin' round with us.

The eagle is a symbol of the zenith. A great reminder of your own ability to soar to great heights. Eagles are messengers from heaven and are the embodiment of the spirit of the sun. More on animal totems here.

Thursday's are book delivery days at our little library. The day of the week that new books arrive and any books that you might have ordered (through our tres fantastic online Nova Scotia library system) - since I'm constantly ordering books I read or hear about I always make Thursdays my library day and as you can see - yesterday was a banner library day.

Currently reading - Songs for the Missing- Stewart O'Nan

library junkie

Phew ! just saved another mouse
(caught in a yogurt container and taken outside - Hey ! don't forget your scarf and mitts lil' mouse) from the jaws, claws & sadistic ways of these two. Les fierce(est) tag team - don't for a second let all that cuteness & love fool ya ... sigh ... there's never a dull moment.

a healthy brain

Thursday, March 19, 2009

uh huh, uh huh

'cause anything & everything is possible.
I know this to be true.

More Lil' Art ready and waiting for new shop opening - this weekend ...for sure.

PBS is in the midst of another pledge drive, you know when they telecast all those great self help shows back to back with breaks along the way to ask for money (which I would send them if I had a little more because I do so love PBS). Shows like Wayne Dyer and the Power of Intention, Suzie Orman's Woman & Money, Heart Health Yoga and Sunday night I taped a 90 min show with Dr. Mark Hyman called The UltraMind Solution.* The show was very interesting and among the 7 keys to optimum brain function (emotional resilience and mental clarity) nutrition is huge. Dr Hyman explains how sugar (and he's talking about the big S sugar meaning refined carbs as well as m&m's and cupcakes), gluten (wheat, rye & barley) and dairy (oh ! say it ain't so) can result in an allergic reaction and be the major cause for depression, anxiety, memory loss, lethargy etc .... Dr James Gordon in his book UnStuck (another fabulous book on dealing with depression) says the same thing and they both suggest a 6 week stint eliminating those three things from our diet (and I bet coffee's out too). Just to try it, for 6 weeks to see if you feel better, if you feel different. As someone who does battle with my emotions on a daily basis (often several times in the same day) wouldn't I love to see ... if there was a difference. Who knows maybe M. Invincible might move right in and stay for the summer.

Dairy and coffee would be the hardest for me. I am, without question, psychologically addicted to my morning coffee and I do love, love milk and cheese. Gluten would be hard too and no sugar ... well that's just plain sad ;-(

Pondering a 6 week elimination here at the teak topped desk this early morning ... just to see ... I honestly don't know if I could do it and how sad is that ?

* I just ordered this book from my library. Hooray !

owls & dogs

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hugo & Morella - collage, gouache & ink

Two more sweet little owls. I have a feeling you'll be seeing a lot of owls so I've decided to name them. Li'l Art Owls - all originals, matted and attached to a bright white heavy card with a matching envelope, sealed in cellophane and waiting to show up in my upcoming etsy shop update. Hey ! What's up with that shop update anyway? You may have wondered. There's been a tiny delay as Mama's been workin' hard trying to rustle up some big paying work from Customer No Uno - that and the fact that I'm taking this opportunity to set up a new etsy shop with the proper name 29blackstreet - the shop name I meant to have ... you may have noticed my current shop is called sablack77 - meant to be my username never a shop name. It's all about building the brand. Wink. Building that Creative Empire, tiny bit by tiny bit. Cause ya know ... Mama's got a plan ... and it's a big one.

Have you read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle ? I finished it Monday night and oh what a great read it was. A near perfect book. A big, nearly 600 page, story that gently pulls you through it. The big sadness (and there is sadness) is subtle and in the author's own words - intentionally impressionistic - sadness was my biggest fear reading this book. You know I don't mention Jake nearly as much as I used to here on this blog but I do still miss him terribly. When I think of him, when I really think of him, with that deep concentrated thought, the kind you reserve for trying to conjure up someone or something who you know you'll never see again - I still feel as if the air has suddenly been knocked out of me. It's often when Miss D and I are walking around this little village, she'll have stopped deep in one of her olfactory investigations and I stand nearby waiting for her and often looking up at the sky and I'll think to myself if I could only have one more visit with him. Oh the things I would tell him ... I love that dog more than even I can fathom. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is about dogs, not just about dogs, but dogs play a central role in the book. Yesterday while working away at the teak topped desk I listened to Oprah's 90 minute web cast * book club conversation with the author David Wroblewski with lots of questions via Skype from readers and book clubs from all over - and it was absolutely fascinating and added many more new layers to my understanding of not only the book, the story and it's characters but of the author and the art & craft of writing. I highly recommend listening or watching this book club web cast if you've read this book and loved it.

it's a lavender land of bubbles today.

* also available as a podcast through itunes


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

seems someone think's it's quittin' time

Sigh. Mondays. Me and Mondays we don't get along that well. If there's a day of the week that I'm bound to beat myself up about all the things that didn't get done, all the things that should have been done, a day marked by a mysterious lack of enthusiasm and/or productivity - you can be darn sure it was likely a Monday. I can't figure out why that is ... and I guess I won't spend too much time trying to. Maybe I should see if I can't turn Mondays into something else - another kind of day - say maybe my housecleaning day Smirk ... or a housecleaning morning at the very least. A girl's gotta have a housecleaning day every now & then. Now there's a thought.

All I can say this early morning is TGIT !! - Thank Goodness it's Tuesday - and the plan is to make up for lost time. So ... we better getta goin'

and hey there handsome ! love ya

DS Sunday No.1

Monday, March 16, 2009

spicy, hot, sweet - caramel ginger chili chicken

I've decided that for DS (Dim Sum) Sundays I will only cook new recipes. I heard someone talking on the radio once about how boring our meal planning can get, how we basically keep rotating the same ol' tired (and often true) 10 or 12 recipes and I am guilty somewhat of that. I love to cook so I have no excuse not to shake things up in the 29 Black Street kitchen and DS Sunday is the perfect chance - much like a having dinner party for recluses - I get to show off my culinary skills and imagination but don't have to houseclean for guests.

Caramel Ginger Chicken a la Martha via Bobby Chin I found this recipe a bit fussy, more work than I'm used to and tres sweet. Mid way through the cooking process I was having some serious doubts - as anyone who's cooked with fish sauce knows it smells a lot like stinky feet - then add a cup of brown sugar, caramalized, and you're smelling candied stinky feet. I was becoming quite concerned but adding the final fresh chili, the handful of chopped fresh ginger and a big squeeze of lime juice brought everything together and canceled out (thankfully) any aroma of pieds. All that said - it did taste very good, and much like something I'd have in a restaurant in the city ... lots of heat, loads of ginger flavour (a current fav of mine) and really very delicious. I served it on brown rice* cooked with a handful of raisins in chicken broth and I had my virtual dinner party dans my living room, on a TV table, while watching a previously taped episode of my latest strange & weird TV obsession - Say Yes to the Dress - what's up with that ?

Next week's DS Sunday theme is shellfish and crustaceans. Hhhhmmmmm ponders the girl who lives by the sea. This week I've already decided to cook on Saturday and post on Sunday since Sunday is my much loved goof off afternoon and evening I don't want to be sweating it out in the kitchen getting ready for a dinner party. Way, way too much pressure for a Sunday soir.

*only because we have a current ban on white stuff here at Black Street - would be much better on steamed plain sticky white rice.

I "so" rock !

Sunday, March 15, 2009

a tiny life No.3 - collage, watercolour & ink - 5 x 7

This small (5x7) original collage & watercolour painting is now tucked into it's cellophane sleeve and waiting to show up in the next shop update ... any day now.

I gotta say ... I am having way too much fun and all this frantic CE building is keeping Worry & Fret at bay. Just as it seems that I can't practice deep breathing and deep brooding at the same time. Who knew ? It seems I'm also unable to cut, paste, paint, draw and feel anxious at the same time. Hallelujah !! I'm in between paying projects at the moment - design assignments from customers No Uno and big fish Chicago company - and it's high time I tried once again to see if I can't rustle up another new customer or two. Most companies, I find (in the 7+ years that I've been doin' this self employed designer gal thing) want a freelancer that can work from their workplace (so they can keep an eye on you I'm assuming) - not someone far away in a tiny sleepy village by the sea. But I also know if I can just get my foot in their giftware/home decor door - if they would just try me on one project ... well, I'd be in like flint. So that's a big To-Do on la list for this week.

I had quite a day yesterday. Aside from my ongoing CE building I wrestled with a radiator early in the morning (in my office) spewing hot scalding water. Uh Huh ! heart pounding, WTF ? Racing up and down stairs searching for the proper tools to stop this leak. Many, many sodden bath sheets later, furnace turned off and a bamboo skewer stuck in the hole I thought I was home safe only to find water leaking through the ceiling and into the main floor. Sigh. Cleaned up the water, found the vice grips, tightened the stop the water leak screw - and disaster averted You rock ! girlfriend ... or so I thought ... only later in the day to relive the morning's heart pounding angst. After lunch I was drawn to a mystifying crackling sound coming from my living room. Oh great !! the old-as-the-hills ceiling light fixture in the dining room, the one that earlier had water dripping through it - was crackling. Uh Huh !! Crackling. !! And I could smell that horrible burning electric smell. OMG !! Pulse elevated to thumping and what TF to do ?? OK calm down. Google to the rescue ! race upstairs and type in water leak through light fixture - turn off the breaker (especially if you have old ancient wiring !!). Rush back downstairs and down into the basement. Meanwhile crackling continues from said ceiling fixture. Several years ago I updated the electrical in this house from fuses to a breaker panel. Something that's never been done however is to label those switches. So ... I raced up & down the basement stairs oh 20 times (heart pounding now not only from fear of fire but also from mega increased aerobic activity) until I found the right breaker switch. Power off finally to that wet ceiling fixture and the crackling stopped and thankfully our house did not burn down through the night. Big friggin' PHEW!

You so rock sister ! Now I'll be the first one to admit (in my post feminist thinking) that I wish there was a handy man who lived in this old brick house. A super man, dressed in jeans and plaid flannel, who would leap up out of his recliner and swoop into action to deal with these ongoing old house crisis' that occur ... but sadly n'est pas ici and when all is said and done I do feel very proud and capable when I just - handle things. Things I don't believe I can handle I continually do handle - even though the stress of it nearly kills me. My heart is pounding again as I type this.

Can you say condo ?? - Condo - condo - condo - that's right - sing along with me
oh ... yeah... it's quando - quando - quando isn't it ?

Bubbles & scent are callin'

ps - Today I'm participating in the first official Dim Sum Sunday a foodie's blog meme - check out the details over at The Karmic Kitchen

this mess

Saturday, March 14, 2009

a tiny life No. 2 - collage, ink & gouache

The teak topped desk is a disaster zone this early morning ... I was able to scrape a small section clear with room enough for my elbows and my big fat Starbucks mug of coffee. Bubbles & scent are a pourin' and directly after Winnie D & I arrive home from our walk around this little village in darkness & moonlight the very first thing on la Saturday list is to tidy up this messy desk.

The thing is this mess is really a very good thing, it's a mess of rampant unbridled CE* building. All day yesterday I kept saying to myself - Stop ! clean up a bit before you carry on with round two of Li'l Art - but no, I was not able to stop myself - the ideas were flying out of me so fast & furious that I could not stop my much loved red mechanical pencil from drawing, drawing, drawing. Madly working out the next batch of miniature collage paintings ... just as I finished up one drawing another idea would land dans my busy little head and then another and another. Phew !

Each little idea most often hatches first as a tiny thumbnail, a very rough sketch in my day planner. Then I'll do an actual size pencil drawing and when I'm happy with that I go over the pencil with a black drawing pen (also much loved and couldn't live without). I work until I have 6 designs drawn in pen on tracing paper and then I tape the tracing paper to my lightbox and tape a heavy sheet of watercolour paper on top of that - then ... the magic begins. The cutting, the pasting, the painting and more bits of drawing until each tiny piece of art is ready to be scanned, photographed, signed & matted, then attached to the bright white greeting card with special double sided framing goo, sealed lovingly in cellophane sleeve avec it's lovely matching white envelope ... and poof ! ready to be displayed in my etsy shop.

Shop update Sunday or Monday with loads & loads of new stuff ... all originals !

CE* Creative Empire and the building there of

lil' art factory

Friday, March 13, 2009

bon jour No. 1 - li'l art card

-13C with the wind feels like -23C this early morning. What's up with that ?
and Hey ! You ! what did you do with Spring. Big (long drawn out) Sigh !

I'm layered up in fleece and flannel this early morning and am about to hop in the hot land of bubbles and scent. I've just stoked the fires and turned the rattly noisy wood stove fan to the rattliest and noisiest setting hoping I can warm up this tres cold old brick house.

Things were hoppin' here yesterday atop the teak topped desk, actually they've been hoppin' all week. It's kind of my art therapy. Feelin' like you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders ? Feeling blah, blue, down, sad, fetched up, in a funk, worried, hopeless, fretful and/or bleak ? Turn as many sections of your brain to the off position as you can muster, gag that little voice in your head with packing tape, get out the art supplies and draw, cut, paste, paint and create. And suddenly Oh my goodness Ver (most excellent DA*) will you look at the time ? ... Ahhh do declare it's 6pm and time for Missy D and I to go for our evening walk around this little village. Another day got through ... and with something to show for it.

Introducing new items dans la etsy shop this weekend ! - Li'l Art Cards - all originals - collage, gouache and ink drawings, signed, dated, matted ready to frame and attached to a beautiful blank bright white heavy card and sealed in a cellophane sleeve avec perfect white envelope. Is it original art or a greeting card ?

Hey ! it's both !

* Design Associate - just in case you thought I might try and take all the credit