Tuesday, March 30, 2010

primary colours

I made Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) for the first time this weekend at home. I spent about 10 hours straight doing it. I tend to be obsessive about things like this, and it's so easy to get lost in such a meticulous process. I could have gone on forever, if not for the cramp in my hand and the black spot burned in my vision from staring at a candle flame for 10 hours. After all that time I finally feel like I'm kind of getting the hang of it, so I'm going to try some more this week if I can find the time. I'll post more pictures of my process/results soon, but for now here are some of the egg dyes as I prepared them. From top to bottom: gold, navy blue, scarlet. Look at the crazy metallic gold in the scarlet dye! It disappeared when it dissolved. I ordered all of my supplies (egg dyes, kistkas (the wax drawing tools), beeswax, egg blower thingy) from a great website called Baba's Beeswax from BC.

Monday, March 29, 2010

sprouting peas

I am growing six kinds of peas this year. Most are snow or snap peas, but one is a shelling pea (the biggest group of green ones in the picture). I pre-sprouted them this week. I started on Saturday by soaking them in jars of water for 24 hours and then wrapped them in wet paper towel and put them in a container on the radiator. I took a peek this morning and most of them had already sprouted! Luckily I found a little time to plant them outside today before the sun set. It did get set before I could cover them with netting to keep the birds and squirrels away, so it was a bit of a fiasco (to say the least) to manage that part in the dark, but I think the tangled mass of netting I covered them with should do the job for now.

garden progress

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago in the backyard. Andrew built me a couple of new raised bed frames and we had some soil and manure delivered. Little bits of green are starting to pop up in the yard - the garlic I planted in the fall, tulips, and even the sedum is coming back to life. I've been working back there whenever I can and it is so satisfying. Even shoveling manure was fun. Next weekend I'll finish making my pea trellises, which is even more fun!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Photographs from here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

brunch highlights

I enjoyed a perfect brunch date the other day with some dear friends at Saving Grace. Some highlights: the most refreshing and beautiful drink ever (soda with fresh lime juice) and the Finnish postage stamp sugar spoon.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

first sprouts

The thyme and purple ruffles basil sprouted last night!
So so tiny (I stuck my fingers in the top shot to give a sense of scale).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

what claudia wore

I am totally dating myself here, but this just made my day (found through Refnery 29). It's a fashion blog about the Babysitter's Club - more specifically, an homage to its most uniquely stylish member: Claudia Kishi.

Did anyone else read The Baby Sitters Club books when they were kids? I totally ate them up. This blog causes the best kind of nostalgia overload. I love it. Here's a choice outfit quote from Claudia:

"Anyway, I wore the coolest tuxedo I'd recently bought in a thrift shop, including a silky, piped shirt and a bright red velvet cummerbund. I removed the shoulder pads from the jacket, which made it really slouchy (I love that look). Then I bought a pair of white socks with silver glitter.

I decided to wear a pair of red sneakers to match the cummerbund. I swept my hair up and fastened it with a rhinestone barrette in the shape of a musical note."

Amazing. I need to read some of these again.

*A little nugget of Babysitter's Club trivia I happened upon a while ago: the actress who plays Kristy in the BSC movie is Sissy Spacek's daughter. I love Sissy Spacek.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

tulip death

These red tulips I had became more beautiful and strange as they died. 
The petals acquired the most luxurious silky sheen and translucency that revealed a bizarre inner structure.

Monday, March 15, 2010

planting seeds

I got my first seeds of the year started tonight. Peppers (sweet red ones and jalapenos) and eggplant (two types: 'fairy tale' and 'kumari sri lanka'), as well as some herbs including parsley, basil, spearmint, lemon balm, and thyme. I always do my indoor gardening on the dining room table, so now the dining room smells like earth (and I love it). In case you're curious about the crumbly beige stuff in the centre of each pot, it's vermiculite which has really good aeration properties and water holding capacity, providing an ideal environment for the seeds to sprout and their first tiny roots to easily move through. It probably isn't necessary, but I followed this tip from the Square Foot Gardening method (which I also refer to for plant spacing), and it seemed to work really well last year. So now they are on the radiator, warming up and getting ready to germinate. You can rest assured that the moment a shoot pokes through I will photograph it and share it here. One of the best things about starting plants inside from seed (aside from having so many more options of varieties to choose from) is that you get to watch the whole process of their early growth in such an intimate way. It is so satisfying and so fascinating (to me, anyways) and I'll be taking you all along with me through the process - whether you like it or not;)

Saturday, March 13, 2010


The lovely Melinda was asking me about this specimen today, so I thought I would take my answer a few steps further here and tell more of the story of acquiring it and the process of how I made a painting of it. 

Hessonite is a type of Garnet and this one has a bit of Asbestos on its bottom. This little specimen is one I got from a wonderful mineral shop in Bancroft, Ontario last summer. The old Chinese man who runs the shop makes these little hand written vellum tags for them, showing what they are and where they are from. A lot of the specimens in the shop are also from old collections and already have old handwritten or typewritten notes with them. I bought a few of these as well and they are so special! I love that sense of human history attached to the specimens. This shop (I don't know what it was called) is such a surreal and magical place - a mix of mineral and fossil specimens and Chinese antiques that seems like a location in an old novel or something - and I really hope to go back sometime this summer. Bancroft calls itself 'The Mineral Capital of Canada'. They have an event in the summer called the 'Rockhound Gemboree'(he he) which I really should try to get to this year.

so... here's some of my process:
 I position the specimen in a light tent and set up my DSLR on a tripod with a macro lens. There are some pictures of this part here. I usually take at least 40-60 shots of each specimen because the tiniest shift of angle or change of light reflections completely alters the look of the image. In some cases a specimen has several 'good sides' and I may end up doing more than one painting of the same specimen at some point, although I haven't yet. 

Then I pick my favourite shot (such as the image above), and use photoshop to blank out the background, since even though it is already white, there are often weird shadows and usually the putty used to hold the specimen in position is showing.

And here's the final painting. The colours are always a little off in the painting from the original digital photo, mostly because my main reference is an ink jet printout, which changes the colours somewhat from how they appear on the screen. In this case, the printout had deeper red tones and higher contrast. Also, I am not super exact about proportions, because I don't really have to be for it to still look right. It's not like a portrait, where if one eye is a fraction of a millimetre off, it doesn't quite look like the person. I don't usually like to show the painting and photo together, because I just notice every little inconsistency and assume that everyone else will too. But, I know that it isn't really important for the painting to be an exact replica of the photo, as long as I manage to capture the qualities of the specimen in an effective way. This one turned out alright, but it was one of the most challenging pieces I've done yet and I'm not entirely satisfied with it.

* oh, and the painting is close to the size you see it on the screen - 6x6 inches

coast island habitat, 1878

from here

Friday, March 12, 2010

braid revelation

Erica recently posted this link (apparently guided to the link by Anabela). All I can say is thank you ladies from the bottom of my heart for expanding my braiding horizons in such a magical way. I might just have to do this to my hair every day (as long as I can wake up 15 minutes earlier in the morning to allow time to do it). It's not even hard to do! It is just a bit time consuming. Although, I suppose if I did it every day I would get faster at it;)

perfect shoes

I stopped by the Eaton's Centre on my way home from work yesterday to buy some fancy Aveda conditioner in an attempt to salvage my dry scraggly hair, and I accidentally bought shoes too. oops. They just called out to me and they were too perfect to resist. The leather is so soft and buttery and they are so comfortable and will be perfect for spring and summer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

a new painting in progress

I want to finish it today, but I think I'll have to wait until the sun stops beaming blindingly through the window. 

spring? is that you?

Friday, March 5, 2010

starlight rainbow

 There's not a whole lot to photograph in my house right now, especially at night. So, I keep taking pictures of what is left of my party decorations. I have discovered that they look especially awesome through the lens of the crappy camera on my laptop.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

wood wood spring

This collection from Danish brand Wood Wood is my main spring/summer wardrobe inspiration at the moment. I'm starting my wish list: old relaxed jeans with rolled hems, a loose blazer, silk blouses, simple light cotton dresses that aren't too girly (I hope to make some)... and I've already found some frumpy shorts.

I love the pink jumpsuit. I bought a jumpsuit from a thrift shop in Thunder Bay at Christmas, and haven't yet decided if I can pull it off. It is pretty similar to the one in this picture actually. Well, maybe a bit more like something my mom would have worn in 1991, but it fits perfectly and only cost about a dollar, so I couldn't resist. But it may be a bit to hipster for me. Maybe I'll take a photo of me wearing it, and you guys can give me an honest opinion. It is very much a summer garment, so I still have some time to decide if I want to wear it in public - although I guess modeling it on this blog would be pretty public ;)