Wednesday, July 30, 2014


::Salad every night- this is the first year that I've grown lettuce that actually turns into heads for me- I suppose I've spaced them well enough apart- My nephew was shocked to see me pull up a head of romaine by the roots- he'd assumed I'd just take a few leaves here and there- but I'm enjoying the novelty of having a head of lettuce from my garden that looks like it came from the store- so I'm pulling away- must plant more this week so we can have some in fall too.

::Kittens Sasha and Lolly have made our place a lot more cuddly these past few weeks- we thought they were girls, but now that they've grown up a bit I think they're actually both boys- either way Lolly and Sash are both unisex names I suppose...

::The herb garden is thriving- and so are my little 'potions' as K calls them- so far this year I've tinctured Yarrow, and a trio of Monarda, Echinacea, and Thyme for winter colds- I made some last year and it works amazingly well, frequent small doses at the first sign of the cold- and it takes care of business.

::Borage is growing everywhere in the garden- and it's so lovely to see the plants buzzing with bees- also lovely are a few bright blue blossoms in your drink. Borage is a ancient curative for melancholy, which is not hard to imagine when you look at the beautiful flowers.

::The herb drying is in full swing- Chamomile flowers, Thyme, Monarda, Yarrow, Dill, Milky Oats, Plantain and Nettle have all graced the screen so far- still to come: Summer Savory, Oregano, Sage, Echinacea, Licorice Mint, Motherwort, Peppermint...

::Cut flowers every week, now that things are really blooming- my current favorite are bright blue Bachelor's Buttons and creamy white Yarrow.

::The Wheat and Barley are growing suprisingly well in our garden- next comes the hard part deciding how we're going to harvest and thresh it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Anna (Nan) Cheney

Anna Cheney, Portrait of a young Man, 1936, (source)
Anna Gertrude Lawson Cheney (1897-1985), studied at a bunch of different places, Newcombe Art College, the School of Medical Illustration, Johns Hopkins. She studied with Lilias Torrance Newton (whose influence is strongly seen here I think), Aldro Hibbard, and was a close friend of Emily Carr. She painted landscapes and worked mostly on the west coast of Canada.

I think this portrait is superb- I love that slightly off feeling in portraits. It's obviously not trying to capture an exact copy of the person- and though it's close to what he looked like I'm sure- you wonder if his neck was really that long, and nose quite so perfect. I think though- this style of portraiture is often much closer to capturing the soul of the person- or the feel of them- you get a sense of presence that you don't always get with a more exact image. It's terribly intimate, as I think a painting of another person should be, sometimes a technically perfect portrait feels cold to me- this exudes warmth.

Friday, July 25, 2014

In The Garden: July 24

Morden Blush Rose

Morden blush rose opening- so pretty.

Wild Bergamont- Monarda Fistulosa



Lacinato Kale

Sparrow eggs

Summer is flitting by- but some milestones are here- snap peas, lettuce, flowers blooming, the weeds are overwhelming. It's getting under control, slowly, I had a day without the kids this week- and it was amazing how much stuff I got done- I kept looking at the clock and thinking that time was moving in slow motion. It's heartening to know that one day I'll actually be able to look after this enormous garden. This year things are not pretty- I think it'll still produce enough food and all that- but it's not super photogenic, except in the close ups. Hope your summer gardens are going well- or even just your summer is going well- I'll try to post a bit more frequently- until then- cheers!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Florence Wyle

Florence Wyle, On The Land, 1914-18 (source)
Florence Wyle, Noon Hour, 1918-19 (source)
Frances Wyle (1881-1968) was one one of Canada's finest sculptors, she studied Anatomy in Chicago and that brings a strong sense of reality and correctness to her figures. You can see their bodies outlined through their clothes- and sense the tilt of the pelvis, the bend of the knee, the curve of the calf.  She was an exceptional sculptor in her time- and the first female sculptor to be accepted to the Royal Canadian Academy of sculpture. She also worked closely with her partner Frances Loring.

I find it really interesting how in this period of Canadian history there are several accomplished female sculptors- Wyle, and Loring, and Elizabeth Wyn Wood- it seems sort of odd- but I think that artists tend to get ideas from each other and bounce off of each other's successes. It's such a solitary pursuit- but also when you find a contemporary that you get on with- your work snowballs off the other person's and (hopefully) theirs does off yours. It's a unique thing- but each person is better for that communion.

Monday Inspiration 2014 is all about re-discovering Canadian Artists. After completing a bachelor of fine art from a Canadian University you would think that you'd be well versed in Canadian art- but actually -not so much. Ask me about renaissance, or abstract expressionism, and I'm well versed, but beyond the Group of Seven or Emily Carr I'm a bit lost when it comes to my own countrymen- (let alone country women!). If you can think of someone I should look up leave me a note in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, July 11, 2014

July Photo Challenge: portraits

I just had to include four photos in this challenge- sorry! I'm always taking portraits-what mom isn't? They're my favorite (my thesis for my Fine arts degree was portrait based- an unfashionable thing to paint these days- but I love it). Any how last year I did a challenge the involved taking portraits of my kids weekly- and it did force me to get creative and think a bit outside the box- while also focusing on composition, and lighting etc. I noticed a huge improvement in my photos just from being mindful about things like that- and I see the same thing with this challenge. Of course it's easy to take dynamic portraits when your subjects are so...ummm...Dynamic?

I always take a ton of photos and sometime the outtakes are the best- the ones from that first flower crown shot are hilarious- they deserve their own post. If I only took one or two photos I would miss the best shots. Also if my kids are goofy (if! when, more like) I'll sometimes shoot between their poses instead of while they're posing- when they're killing themselves laughing about the thing they just did it makes for great genuine captures.

Posting along with A personal Photo challenge- check it out over there!

In the Garden: July 10

Oh Lordy- things have been crazy here the last two weeks or so (or maybe they're crazy all the time and I've just realized it- as one of the chief 'makers of crazy' I'm not always clear on when things are 'too much'). Anyhow. On to the garden. It's suffering from the crazies right now- lots of non-weeding going on- it looks a bit feral which is okay sort of- but things are going to start suffering for it soon if I don't get the weeding going here.

Two weeks ago I was going to write a post about weeding and how this year- it's more like thinning than weeding, because the volunteers are awesome and so game to grow. We companion plant- which means that things sort of grow all over the place- borage with tomatoes, plants that pollinators love- calendula, bachelors buttons, etc. are let to freely roam where they will- so long as they don't interfere with the things meant to be growing there.  It's messy looking to some- but really beautiful at the end of summer when the flowers are all in- and helps things grow well too. This year the plants that self seeded are really awesome (free plants always though right?)- here's a list:
tomatoes (though we don't keep these ones because we don't know what varieties they are)
Summer Savory
Red Poppies
Blue Breadseed poppies

I've been letting these beneficial plants grow where they will- and only weeding them out where it's too much. The best example of this is what I was weeding two weeks ago; Sunflowers down the center of the row- with cucumbers growing at the base (I'm hoping they'll twine up- but I have no outside source of this working- so stay tuned), that's what I planned there- and that's all growing fine except some volunteers got in and I managed to weed it before they took over so it's quite charming now- summer savory at the bases of the plants, dill ferny and lovely between stocky sunflowers, Lavatera growing up so that I'll have bright pops of pink between the yellow of the sunflowers, and the light green of the cucumbers- if it works out it will be utterly fantastic.

So in some spots the weeding is more like thinning plants, and in others...well... it's more like pulling the leg hairs off of the jolly green giant. Just ripping 'em out by the roots and tossing them over your shoulder. My Carrots and Beets are the worst hit by the weeds so far- showing through patchy and thin where I've pulled out the mallow. I've got lots of volunteers of beets and carrots throughout the garden- so I think we'll be fine- though I may start some more because they'll have enough time to get to a decent enough size I think.

Otherwise we're eating lettuce and the peas are blooming- can't wait for them! the spinach is bolting, and the greens are taking off- the beans are in bloom too. We've also had our first ever giant pick of strawberries- with enough to freeze some and eat in the house, as well as the kids raiding the patch when ever we're out there (it's baby A's first, and most frequent stop in the garden).

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Sarah Roberston

Sarah Robertson, The Red Sleigh, 1924, (source)

Sarah Robertson, The Blue Sleigh, 1924, (source)
Sarah Robertson, (1891-1948)- was a landscape painter who studied under William Brymner- and was a member of the Beaver Hall group. There's a great and thorough bio of her here. I love these paintings- so serene and calm, things are crazy here right now- big family gatherings are happening, storms are knocking trees down- the buzz of chainsaws fills the air, my spirited child is being oh so spirited- and it's really, really a lot. I was thinking of not posting, and then thought better- and I'm glad that I'm just throwing these up there- they have a haunting solitary feel- that seems just like what I need right now, I'd like to transport into the body of the woman in the red sleigh- if only for a minute.

Monday Inspiration 2014 is all about Canadian artists. Each Monday I'll pick a new one to profile- If you can think of any that you think I ought to look up- please let me know in the comments- I'd love to hear from you. You can find a list of the artists I've done so far here.