Sunday, March 31, 2013


N: Still cold here- no need for rain boots just yet.
A: Trying to figure out how to get at the camera, a very serious business indeed.

My favorite from last week- this cute fuzzy head- so sweet and small.

Posting along with Jodi, as usual.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Winter Sowing

Scabiosa Seeds

Lavatera Seeds

We've been doing our winter sowing for the last few weeks, a few milk jugs at a time, and I'm overdoing it as usual, I think I said I'd do 15 jugs this year- and at last count I'm up to 19, and I have a few more things I'd like to start that way. If you've never heard about winter sowing, it's really very cool, and handy. The basic idea is that you put seeds outside in mini greenhouses- made out of milk jugs mostly, and then allow them to scarify (which is softening the seed coat) by freezing and thawing, when the weather is perfect, they will sprout. I use Kevin's instructions, and they are really good- though I've found that because he's located in a  balmy zone 5, and I'm a zone 3a on a good day, I have to adjust times, I'm about a month later than he is. I'm not really sure that it matters, because my plants are not likely to start growing before it's really truly above freezing anyhow.

I've had pretty good success with a few things, sweet peas did not really work out to be any earlier than the ones I planted as seeds. Some things did really well though- Bachelor's Buttons, Cosmos, Calendula, Larkspur and Bells of Ireland all did really well last year. This year I've got some new things- I have no idea if they will work or not, but here's what I've got planted so far: Big Bluestem, Yarrow- white flowered, Echinacea Purpura, Gypsophila- 'London Market', Calendula, Nigella 'Persian Jewels', Bachelor's Buttons, Monarda 'Lemon Mint', Cleome 'Rose Queen', Cosmos 'Bright Lights', Cosmos 'Sensation mix', Scabiosa 'Mourning Bride, Lavatera 'Silver Cup', Larkspur 'Giant Imperial Mixed'.  Still to come: Creeping Thyme, Oriental Poppies, Angelica, Matricaria, Joe Pye weed and Lovage.

I think that should be enough flowers- I love cut flowers, and always grow zinnias as well- but directly from seed, as they don't transplant well - they always bloom in August for me- sometimes late July, and I think that's early enough. I'm not growing sweet peas at all this year- as the seed pods are poisonous, and N really loves to nibble outside and peas are a favorite for that- and sweet pea pods are just too similar to edible peas.  Also similar and poisonous are Lupins, which I love, but will wait a few years to plant- apparently they winter sow really well too.

Monday, March 25, 2013


This is one way that N has found to burn off some steam in winter- bed jumping, which usually has me cringing each time she lands, but it is a good energy burner. Also good: Simon Says (which usually just devolves into me telling her to act out different animals- she does a great chicken), Follow the Leader, me pretending she's a pillow or blanket and 'sleeping' on her, me pretending she's a dead tiger and eating her (that one is purely her invention, and I have lots of unanswered questions about it; why a tiger? am I another tiger? if so why does she want me to use a knife and fork?). I also sometimes randomly ask her to do jumping jacks.

I am hoping that the predicted warm temperatures of next week will bring puddles and melting snowmen. Did you folk who live in warmer climes know that you can't actually build a snowman when it's too cold out? the snow needs to be wet to stick together, and our snow is mostly just dry, because it's so cold, so all winter there have been no snowmen and no snowballs, warmer temperatures will make it more 'melty' and hopefully allow at least one snowman before it all melts away.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


A dress up party; N was the Queen, A was the Prince, Nelson the cat was just...observing, possibly in a "keep your enemies close" frame of mind. This week has been a bit crazy with the teeth coming in- sharp as razor blades and driving the little one nuts, also she is totally in the stage where as soon as you turn the camera on, she rushes towards you and tries to grab it- expect a lot of closeups in the coming weeks, probably of tiny palms.

My favorite pic  from last week, I love the way it's composed.

As usual joining in with Jodi.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In the studio

I know I said I would do a weekly post about what is going on in that newly minted studio of mine, but certain events have kept me from it. We were in a car accident a couple of weeks ago, and so I've been taking it a little easy in the studio. (We're all okay, the kids especially are completely fine, K and I are recovering quite well- just the usual sort of stuff, the car however, is not recovering, so that's a real bummer, because we'd only had it 3 months or so).

Anyhow- I've been carving some mugs, making them with a wider base and a straight sided cylinder shape instead of the small base with slanted sides which I was making before. The small based mugs are awfully tippy, there is some sort top to bottom width ratio that I am missing out on there I think, and I don't have the uninterrupted time at the moment to work out a better angle- I may do that in the future. The wider bottom gives the mugs a really stable feel, originally I felt like the straight cylinder was a bit clunky, but it's growing on me now, and I really like it as a shape for carving, it has an appealing straightforwardness. Also it makes the rim quite even, without losing the charm of hand building so I like that.

I've also been carving a few of them too- which is much less time consuming on a small scale, and I really like that, I like the lavishness of a hand carved mug, something a bit extra special for an everyday purpose, I think that's where functional handmade items shine.  I've also been tinting some slip and doing some Sgraffito work, some little tests, which I'm pretty excited about, they don't photograph well at all- because the slip needs a firing to make it darker, but it's basically coloured slip inlaid into the clay body, I'll show some images when/ if ever I get the kiln fired.

For the record this is what the majority of time spent in my studio looks like:

I really love the idea that it takes ten thousand hours of dedicated practice to become masterful at something,  at the rate I'm going, I'm sure I'm mastering something... though it likely isn't ceramics. Whenever I meet up with someone who asks me about what sort of art I've been making lately, I have to resist the urge to point to my kids and call them art.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


A lilac branch that N found broken off in the yard- it's so far produced leaves,
which I think is all we can hope for, and they are such delicate, lovely, leaves.

I'd just like to point out that on the official first day of spring, it was -27 degrees in our part of Manitoba, how's that for harsh weather? On the bright side the sun is lovely today, shining directly down our hallway, and in our bedroom windows, I love tracking the way the sun shines through the year- and am trying to find hope in the way that it's slowly tracking it's way towards the garden, to shine on that northern part of the yard all day long in the summer, also from this point in the year there is more sunlight than darkness during the day, guaranteed.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


N: holding the water/wine glasses from lunch, this was a rare calm part of the day, I was genuinely surprised to see these calm blue images on the camera, because I only remembered the strife, the time outs, the endless whining, the (oh man, are you sure you're just three???) eye-rolling, tiring for all, but thankfully some angelic moments remain, and I was lucky enough to catch them.

A: those legs kill me, they are so darn cute, and muscular, and chubby, and don't even get me started on those tiny round toes...

I love this pic from last week- those are the precious moments.

posting along with Che and Fidel

Sunday, March 10, 2013


N: Ridiculous amounts of snow- the yard is covered with snow higher than she is- it feels like it's going to be September before it all melts, and until then we're confined to the lane for play area.

A: This was a brief happy moment for A on the sled, otherwise she was not too impressed about it all, and it ended up being me carrying her in my arms while pulling N and, occasionally the cat ,on the sled. After which N had enormous fun trying to get the cat to pull the sled, until I stepped in and reminded her that we don't put things around animals necks, the cat was relieved.

Posting along with Che and Fidel

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Inspiration: Katsushika Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai, Great Wave off Kanagawa, Thirty six views of Mt. Fugi, no. 21. (source)

Katsushika Hokusai, Hibiscus and Sparrow, 1830 (source)

Katsushika Hokusai, Kingfisher, Carnation, Iris, 1834, (source)


N: yes- that is a crumb stuck to her cheek- I took this picture after she'd eaten breakfast, and then some leftover chicken and potatoes, and then waltzed into the office holding a huge piece of buttered bread- which she polished off in no time. I think this kid is on a constant growth spurt. She's pushing us a lot too these days- figuring out her limits, and ours, which is a tiring business that, I guess, is part of being three. I can't help but think that things will be easier when the weather warms up and frustrations can be aired outside, sunshine and a fresh breeze (not to mention a wallow in some mud) can do amazing things to tired spirit.

A: Growing, growing, growing, and this week crawling! At 5 3/4 months, really, really, one hand in front of the other, honest to goodness, moving around. And yesterday she started trying to pull herself up on things, Goal oriented, this baby. I had another photo of her two tiny cute teeth- but I picked this one because it shows her piercing gaze- this one, it looks like she can see through to your soul with those big blue eyes, and makes me feel confidant that she will be the sort of woman who doesn't put up with crap, this makes me happy.

My favorite photo from last week:  Modern Nomads with Kids- what a complex look on that cute face

posting along with Che and Fidel

Friday, March 1, 2013

Forcing Spring

I cut these branches from an ornamental cherry (or at least- that's what I think it is...but I'm just guessing) that is really full of blooms in the spring, to see if I could force them inside. That was about two weeks ago- and they have finally started blooming! This was a nice thing to do with N as well, and very easy- just cut the branches and bash up the stems a bit around the bottom- to help with water absorption, and then sit patiently and watch the buds start to swell and burst into bloom. We had some good talks about dormancy, and how the tree will 'wake up' in the warmth of the house, just like it will outside in spring. Also bashing the stem of the branch makes the green cambium layer visible- so I used that to show her that the tree is still alive, even though it looks dead. It was a good easy seasonal garden activity, that only required minimal attention from the 3 yr old, and was easy for her to understand.