Friday, May 29, 2009

Art of the Month: May

Sarah's Dream, Hazel's Home 2006, quilting, applique

Tomorrow is Hazel's 7th birthday. Her mama, a wonderful friend and former circle mate of mine had a dream of breastfeeding her in blackberry bushes before she was even born. This piece was done for a quilt show challenge. The theme was "There's no place like home". The other elements to the challenge were that they give you a bag of fabric, feathers and other items, six of which must be included on the piece. I see the largeness of Sarah's figure to represent the universal mother, the earth, and the grandeur of a mother's love and sense of protection.
There are many things I would change about this piece now. But it is still my most ambitious art quilt project to date.
I can't believe that Miss Hazel is already 7 years old. Time goes so fast...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Anniversary

This week marks my blogging anniversary. It's hard to believe that a year has passed already.
This blog is a wonderful creative outlet for me, not to mention a memory keeper in its own right. I want to thank everyone who reads and follows this blog and I feel that the journey has just begun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Here comes the rain

Today it's raining. We've had a strange amount of sun this winter/spring and the rain feels soothing to me. Although I also feel permanently in foggy head mode. Besides wanting to take a nap I want some inspiration and some "me" time. My lack of free time in the last few months has put my trance work on hold. This has been hard for me. I did celebrate Beltaine but I have felt a disconnect internally. Hopefully I can remedy that today and do some meditation. I offer this poem up to the rain spirits.

The Rain
by Robert Creeley

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this
something not so insistent-
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-lust
of intentional indifference
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Last December I wrote a post about the first of the three R's Reduce. Today I'll talk about the next R: Reuse. By the abundance of garage sales, thrift stores and charity shops it is clear that there is a culture for re-using in North America. Some call it junk, while others call it treasure. I fall somewhere in the middle. Beyond washing out sandwich bags to use again, and turning old clothing into blankets what can we really do to re-use as much as possible? I found a huge list of ideas at this site. Personally I run through ideas in my head as I'm standing in front of the garbage can or recycle bin. Can I use this for something? can I store this in an appropriate place until I need it? Some of the obvious things that I reuse are produce elastic bands and twist ties, glass jars from tomato sauce and old toothbrushes for cleaning hard to get to areas. A problem with some of us, myself included, is that we can hoard things waiting for the chance to reuse them and then we never do. So I think when we are out at garage sales we need to remember to really be honest with ourselves....will I really use this? After all we don't want to add to the problem while trying to solve it.

*graphic found here

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Learning the Art of Bread Making

One of my long terms goals was always to make my own bread. I'm not sure where that came from, maybe it came from watching Little House on the Prairie as a child, maybe from my comfort food cooking genes or perhaps my fascination with everything vintage and made directly with the hands...
I'm a romantic when it comes to food...I like to bake from scratch. Beginning at the end of last year I began my journey in bread making, I started with my Granny's famous pan rolls. They were not perfect but close enough to build my confidence. Recently I stopped buying bread at the store and began making our everyday: sandwich, toast and general snack bread. I was nervous about this. Yeast is a tricky thing, so is kneading, letting it rise and perfecting the baking time. I can be a scatterbrain when it comes to cooking. I've never made a soup that I didn't scorch and I always over boil potatoes. Yeast bread always seemed so complicated and specific. But I did it. And I think I'm slowly getting the hang of it. A few weeks after my first attempt I read Amanda's post on bread at SouleMama. It was so inspiring. She expressed her emotional attachment to making bread so beautifully.
I've kept up on it and have found a recipe for brown molasses bread that is great. Some of my mishaps with how the bread turned out has been due to my penchant for changing the flours I use. I try to use whole grain, whole wheat and spelt flour and that doesn't always work with any old recipe. But as they say in the song: I did it my way. While perfecting this technique is a long way off, I do feel that I'm getting into a rhythm of working bread making into my weekly schedule. Learning the feel of the dough, learning the timing for rising and most of all developing a taste for fresh bread in which I know where all the ingredients came from. Not to mention the fabulous smell that fills the house while it's baking...can't beat that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Zen in Floor Washing

This week I finally got my kitchen floor washed. (applause here)
I don't know why it was such a challenge to do for the last couple of months but it was done and is already dirty again (of course)
My approach to cleaning is somewhere between my mother's and the "dirty hippy" method. Clean very well when you do, try to keep things tidy in the meantime but you will not find me scrubbing floors or washing dishes at 11:00 at night when I should be in bed.
Having a child has made my cleaning methods go even more Zen. How often can you pick up after a 17 month old? He has a fascination with all cleaning tools and wants to help me, do it himself or some variation on that with all things I try to clean. While I was cleaning the bathtub he wanted to get in the tub so he could have the sponge. He gets upset when I take the vacuum out of his hands so that we actually suck up the debris on the floor. Last time I washed the floor I spent most of my energy moving him away from the water bucket.
This time I decided to go Zen. Let the water fall where it may and relax. I showed him how to rub the floor with a sponge and let him have full access to the bucket. After all I already have the mop out, I need water on the floor anyway and I use non-toxic cleaners. Go for it little man, have a blast. He proceeded to fill up the sponge with water and squeeze it out all over himself and the floor.
The results of this slippery endeavor were a very wet pair of socks (mine) a soaked pair of pants and socks and indoor shoes (him) and a clean floor.
Mission accomplished.
Changing my socks and his outfit was a small price to pay for the pointless stress of trying to keep him away from the process. I'm not ready to try this with toilet washing but it works great on the floors!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book of the Month: May

This book was a gift to me and was my first foray into reading about parenting. Luckily it was right up my alley. Under Pressure: Rescuing our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting by Carl Honore is about the challenges of parenting in today's over-scheduled, stimulated and controlled world. Honore helps parents to think about the lifestyle and values that they have and what they may be "teaching" their kids.
Honestly written and well researched Honore includes himself in the masses of driven parents. His own urge to enroll his son in an art class to hone and polish his talent with drawing is met with his son's cry: "Why do grown-ups have to take over everything?"
And Honore attempts to unfold that question along with debunking myths about safety, perceived betterment through extracurricular activities and the ever present quest to buy everything for our kids. In the chapter Extracurricular Activities: Ready, Set Relax! he consults an American Pediatrician who claims that 65% of his patients are now victims of over scheduling listing symptoms of: headaches, sleep disorders, gastric problems caused by stress or eating too late and fatigue. And all these things are inflicting children who are shuttled from one activity to the next all for the ultimate goal of a happier and more accomplished life.
Throughout the book Honore gives examples of families who have realized their hectic lives did not work and have taken steps to change. He is not out to demonize parents but rather to uncover the truth behind cultures that push children too far, too early. The chapter that struck a chord with me was called Safety: Playing with Fire. It made me realize the cost of over-protecting your kids. A cult of child safety as he describes it, a bubble wrapped world so that nothing can hurt our precious ones but at what cost?
The goal of this book goes hand in hand with our own goal of raising healthy and happy little people. We all need to take stock of the pace of society and let our kids be allowed to play, relax and enjoy the precious childhood that is so quickly gone.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Just a little Green

Yesterday was not my best day. Sometimes a day will present you with emotional challenges. Things inside were set churning over an email. Imagine that...
For most of the day I tried to keep my head above water, going into deep emotional states is not conducive to raising a small child. As the fates would have it my son was in a great mood and took a break from the teething induced tantrums that we'd been dealing with earlier in the week. So while my inside felt like a storm of angry bees the world around us was fairly calm. After nap time we went for a walk to our neigbourhood park. On the way I often felt worn out as it is mostly uphill but I knew that it would get better, I just had to keep going. We come into the playground area of the park through a natural woods trail. This is my favorite part. The trails are like a portal for me. They offer a chance to let go, smell trees and plants, hear birds, see light dancing with many shades of green. From the time I enter the trail until we reach the opening to the large green field that joins the playground I decompress.
Kyan had his usual long jaunt on the swings and then he played in the sand. I sat on the edge of the sand area and felt the earth beneath draw out my unease. The shades of green all around me, bright young grass, buds and new green leaves, moss on the sides of the trees all gave me comfort. Inside I wished I could go into the underbrush and brambles off the forest path and sit by a large tree. I felt that green would protect me. I could let all of it go and just be, become one with the forest and blend into the green. Fade away to anyone else's view and re-emerge when I had more strength again.
I could not do this of course. My little man is not capable of letting me fade away too far just yet. I felt better after our walk and playtime regardless though. Nature is a healer, it can renew and embrace us. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to sit for those few minutes, even amongst the other park goers, and let the earth and it's beauty soothe the turmoil inside.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tales from my Garden

An herb/leafy green that has caught my attention as of late is Sorrel. I never heard much about it before I saw some of the blood veined variety last fall. I purchased it because it looks lovely, and the tag said it is good in salads, soups, sauces and with fish. Unfortunately it did not make it through the winter. While at the Van Dusen Plant Sale two weeks ago I saw some of the regular/garden variety and picked it up. I think I may get some more of the blood veined variety as well because it will look beautiful in salad. I did add it to salmon last year and has a unique flavour.
According to sorrel is rich in vitamin A, it has calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. In a language of herbs list sorrel is associated with: affection.
Brenda Hyde wrote an informative piece about sorrel at Old Fashioned Living. Including some great sounding recipes.
I have an up and down relationship with herbs. I love to look at them, and I've worked with some quite a lot. I have tried to grow several with no luck. Lavender and I have had some issues and as I've mentioned our winter was harsh last year leaving most of my potted herbs dead. Rosemary, thyme, mint and oregano are the four that I am most familiar with. What I look for when choosing herbs to grow is multi-purpose ones. I need them to be versatile especially if I'm going to use them for cooking. So sorrel has become my herb of the year. I see myself trying out some recipes and especially adding it to salads for colour and flavour. I have not looked into any magical properties as of yet. I am intrigued by it's association with affection which makes me think of including it in some bouquets, the possibilities are endless.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Beltaine in Pictures

The forest, a lake, three gorgeous boys, ribbon wands and a moss covered fairy mound.
What more could two pagan mommies ask for?