Friday, July 29, 2011

This Moment

"this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. "

-Amanda Blake Soule- over at Soulemama

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A little facelift

We've put in a new Kitchen Island, finally, and I'm in love. It's bigger than the other one (which shall go picture less on the blog- but we'll just say that it matched the cupboards and was a solid chunk of a thing with a tiled top- a bumpy tiled top- very in style for when the kitchen was re-done- but losing a bit of it's designer edge with time), so anyhow- the top is wider and longer on this table- but it feels much more open and spacious in the kitchen because of the open base.  It's an old dukhobor work table that was stripped when we got it- it's made of oak and birch which is unusual- they didn't usually work with oak, so the legs and stretchers were probably re used form another mission style table (they would have turned the square legs to a more traditional style). And the man built the base out of an oak table top and mouldings from an old family homestead.

I love the warmth it brings to the space, and the colour of the wood and the usability of a smooth top, and honestly the extra four inches make huge difference- the girly can stand at a chair and lick batter off a spatula help, and I can still work, it's funny how these little changes make the whole space feel so different, so much more like our house. I always feel a bit funny about them though- this house was my In-Laws before it was ours, my husband grew up here- he did the kitchen re model with them the first time, and so it's always a bit awkward to suggest changes- this time though after we got it in the house he stood back and said -it's funny because it looks like it's always been this way, and I have to agree- never has a change needed less adjustment, I guess we were just really ready for this one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From Seed

I'm loving my containers this year- I didn't fuss over them like I usually do- taking hours to decide what would be best- what colour scheme, I just bought a ton of Lobelia, and pansies, and violets and grew some petunias and sweet peas from seed. I put them in and stopped fussing- well okay I fuss a bit, bu only when I feel like it, and I also bought some sweet potato vine- which is a must have- so easy and pretty.

But I'm especially proud of my petunias, these two are the only ones that survived I don't know what I did- too much water- too little water? could be either really- and the fact that one is white while the other is the veined pink I bought is also a bit mystifying- (albino petunia? who knew?) but regardless- they are growing and spreading and will be lovely, and they're the first petunia's I've ever really liked, so yay for starting form seed!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1962 (source)

Mark Rothko, Yellow and Gold, 1956, (source)

Mark Rothko, N0. 9, (source)
 I love the way these paintings deal with colour, the way that they appear deceptivley simple, non fussy blocks of colour. The way that the paint is applied belies this simplicity, and creates a depth of colour that is masterful, and complex. The texture of the paint is what does it for me- I love the way that paint will brush over itself on canvas (it only does it on canvas-because of the rough weave) leaving little areas of the colour that you laid down before, to pop out against the top colour. It makes a painting infinitley fascinating to me, to find these little spots where the medium is glorified, where the things that you use to make the image are as important as the image itself.

I think that's where artists and non-artists lose each other when they're talking about abstract art.  Artists love making art- they love the mediums, and they appreciate when other artists expose that passion. I had a painting prof who would love it whenever anyone in a crit said things like " I love that little blobby bit of paint"- he would Exclaim- Yes! that's how artists talk- they say things like " I love that blue, or that brushstroke is cool" it's so simple, it's not always about content- sometimes it's just about the paint (though a painting that is just about paint is a sort of comment- and partly why abstract expressionism is so important).

See here's the thing, the Renaissance paintings that are held up in such high esteem by non-artists are beautiful, and representational, and lifelike (in some cases)- but they're smooth as silk- there are no brushstrokes, no choppy areas, no 'painterly' mannerisms. When I've seen famous paintings up close, things like the Sistine chapel, Raphael's paintings, even the Mona Lisa- it's always a bit of a disappointment- because they look exactly like the images you've seen in books, there's nothing to discover by seeing in them in person- no insight into the artist- no lovely bits of blobby paint or subtle texture. On the other hand- Abstract Expressionist paintings take on a whole new quality in real life- they take up space- they shift back, they seem luminous, the colours jump against each other- you can see where one layer of paint was put on top of the other- they have life. A Pollock on the page is nothing- but in person it's an amazingly intricate web of paint, that seems to push back into the wall in some spots, and jump out at you in others.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In the Garden

So far this garden has impressed me- we've had more rain than we know what to do with, we live on the Souris River- (in Wawanesa actually- which you may have heard about on the news)- we're up high on the banks of the river so we're fine here, but it's been a rough year for anything that grows. Our garden is also in the lowest spot in the yard- purposely so that in our usually dry summers we'll have plenty of moisture, but when it's wet- it's wet, and this year a lot of our seeds actually just rotted in the ground instead of sprouting.

We planted the whole thing into mud and hoped for teh best while we went on holiday- and when we came back I was a little unimpressed, things were not looking so good- except for the portulaca, and the red root pigweed, and the thistle that is. Anyhow- the man got out the rototiller and cleaned things up a bit, and I started hoeing and mulching, and fertilizing, and replanting, and now it looks good, more promising, like we might actually eat off it.

We planted our tomatoes without really hardening them off- things were a bit desperate and stormy, I couldn't set them outside without the wind beating them up, and I had to get them in the ground before we went- so we just dug them in deep and hoped, and it seems like it worked out. We put out 76 tomato cages the other night, so I guess we'll have a few tomatoes to freeze. Also this is the first year that the patty pan squash are starting before the zucchini is- and we're excited about that- Patty Pans are one of our favorites. The Swiss Chard is producing too- growing every day and big enough to steal leaves for Pizza, and salad.

We even have a broccoli head that will be ready in the next day or two, which is so exciting I can't even tell you- also the things that I replanted have popped up -Kale and Carrots, and radishes, some Borage and Nasturtiums, Peas and Beans. It's all looking amazing now that the heat has come, and the soil is starting to uncement itself too- with some mulch and some light watering helping things along.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Is there anything better than ripe strawberries? Maybe sweet little cheeks and fingers sticky with strawberry juice (and other miscellaneous grime- by the looks of the pictures- this girl could be a poster child for tide-but  I figure she's got years to worry about being clean so she might as well live it up now). These few berries  are among the only ones we have gotten out of plants I bought two years ago.
I don't know what the deal is but it seems like I can't grow strawberries. I've tried to get them to sucker out and multiply but I've still just got those first five plants I bought. I transplanted them this year out to the big garden, and they will get a lot more sun out there- plus I've mulched them to keep their roots cool- and I will fertilize regularly this year too I promise. I would love to have a big strawberry patch- and guessing from N's reaction she would too- she had those plants picked clean in seconds, and before you could say " may I have that?" she was nodding her head and smacking her lips saying " mmm mmm, yummy, stawbewy".

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Lee Krasner

Lee Krasner, Thaw, 1966, oil on canvas, (Source)

Lee Krasner, Gaea, 1966 (source)

Lee Krasner was part of the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York- one of the only females that were part of that particular movement, along with Helen Frankenthaler. She is perhaps best known for her husband though- Jackson Pollack, his own fame and lifestyle no doubt overshadowed her work, and after his death she managed his estate, which would have been a daunting task. I think her works are a beautiful mixture of soft and hard - the colours are feminine but the black lines that surround her work (and reappear in her works) lend their strength to the soft colours.

The shapes themselves are repetitive curves and rounds, very soft even when she's depicting landscapes and high rises- in Gaea the shapes seem strongly symbolic of breasts and mouths, it's an interesting juxtaposition, and this abstraction of the female form  when done by a female artist has a different effect than when done by a male artist, while the segmentation of the female form in De Kooning's Woman  I  makes her seem overwhelming and foreign, in Krasners work the symbols seem to be a reflection.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


We came home just in time to catch the end of the peony blooms- which I was so grateful for- they are one of my favorites- so sweet smelling and lush- there are not a lot of large blooming flowers in our yard- and the peonies make up for that to me.

I made some peony water for baths from the petals- it only keeps for a week though I may try to freeze some for a winter time pick me up- I got the recipe from my copy of Growing and Using the Healing Herbs- by Gaea and Shandor Weiss (1985, Rodale Press) a thrift store purchase that has come in very handy.

Recipe for Peony Water
taken from Growing and Using the Healing Herbs

1/2 cup macerated peony petals to 1 cup cool distilled water. let sit for 30 min. then gently heat for 10 min, strain and store in the fridge for up to one week.

The scent of this stuff dissipates quickly in a warm bath- a facial/body spritz would be a great use of this too.

Friday, July 8, 2011

This Moment

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. "

-Amanda Blake Soule

Joining along with Soulemama this week, happy weekend to you all!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Home Again

Sunset at Magic Sands Beach

Ohia Tree Flowers

Plumeria in the (warm and refreshing) rain storm
Well- we're home again, and refreshed after our trip away to Hawaii, (the Big Island). It was nice to get away from all of our regular daily chores and work- but it was also a nice reminder that we're very happy to live where we do- even if it is only warm half the year. Hawaii is paradise for sure- palm trees and white sand- people are friendly, the Avocados grow to be as big as your head- and the Bananas are small and tasty. The Big Island especially is very laid back and relaxed, it's a small town feeling that is so comfortable, and there's lots to see and do. For the first two days there we had made up our minds to move over there- but by the end of our stay we were missing home, and so happy to be back in our own place, with it's big open fields, and late summer sunsets.

See, things are different down there so close to the equator- the sun sets at 7 pm every night, which at first didn't bother me- but now that we're home I appreciate that extra sunlight in the summer. I love how the seasons shape our lives here- and how we're surrounded by vast areas of land- I started to feel a bit claustraphobic on that island way out in the pacific- even though it is huge in it's own right. And because it's a volcano you're always on the edges- near the water- and it's amazing, and beautiful and slightly terrifying to know how isolated you are out there, maybe especially so for us prairie dwellers.

We started talking to people who work in our fields, Ag. research and local artists, and It was eye opening to know that these areas which receive quite a bit of funding from our government- don't get any there. Maybe it's different on the mainland- (as Hawaiians call the continental U.S), but by the end of the week we realized how hard it is to make a living there- how insecure it is, and I left feeling grateful for our government- socialist as it is- I suspect that even our conservatives are socialist by U.S. standards- and I like it that way.

When all is said and done though- Hawaii is so beautiful, and the culture of the native Hawaiians is so complex and intriguing, surviving in such extremes of nature- between volcanoes and the huge pacific. It is truly breathtaking to experience.