Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring-Inspired Ceramics

I've been so busy blogging about nature and fun that I've neglected to post any new artwork. Here are a few new things out of the hopper.

What with all the spring birds arriving and nest building, I've been thinking feathers and eggs. This cup and saucer filled with coffee or tea would be a good way to start the morning.

A hunk of farm-fresh butter would be nice stored in this butter dish covered with birds' eggs.

This covered dish is kind of fun with feathers and eggs. What would you store in it?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dinner and an End?

On a quick trip to Ottawa, my friend Peggi and I found a cute diner for lunch.

We were drawn in by the neon sign.

The place had about 12 booths and looked pretty authentic.

No menus. Two specials: Beef quesadillas or soup and sandwich of the day. Oh, and all day breakfast. Till 3:00 p.m. anyhow (almost all-day!)

So we both went for the chicken salad sandwich with cauliflower-leek soup and coffee for $4.99.

And we split dessert: an apple blossom and ice cream. Delicious!

I looked around and wondered where the Ladies' Room was...

...the waitress said,"Through those doors and around the bowling alley."

Bowling Alley? Sure enough, the diner was in front of a bowling alley and was the snack bar for the place.

My inner Dude (think Big Lebowski) wanted to play a few ends but we'll have to save that for next visit.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring Blooms

One of the first thing that pokes up from under the snow is Winter Aconite (Eranthis). I'm not sure where this came from but as soon as I rake away the leaves, this little, yellow flower appears.

Years ago, when I lived in Toronto, I recall large swaths of Scilla, creating blue lawns in early spring. One time, my parents were visiting me and taking me back for a week at the farm, I dug up a tiny plant that was on the edge of a fence and planted it here. It reminds me of Toronto every time it blooms.

These lupins will be gorgeous and remind me of a trip to Oregon. I purchased the seeds there and now I have what will be tall, blue lupins all over the place.

My mother's daffodils. I transplanted a 10" long row of them into the ditch in front of my house and wow! They've gone crazy!

I noticed this huge patch of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) the other day, growing on the edge of the woods. Very cool plant. When you break the stems of them, the juice looks orange-reddish, kind of like blood.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dim Sum Sunday

Yesterday we were invited to celebrate my Aunt Sylvia's 91st birthday at Mandarin Ogilvie in Ottawa. There were twelve of us for Dim Sum and the lazy susan was doing a lot of spinning with all sorts of things coming off rolling wagons that were whizzing by.

I loved the variety of garlic-infused, steamed fungi.

And I was challenged to eat a squishy, shrimp-stuffed noodle with chopsticks.

I wasn't mad for the order of duck feet that arrived.

Richard liked the flavour and as he said, once you got over the texture, it was pretty good.

There's Aunt Syl almost putting a foot in her mouth!

Duck foot remains on Richard's plate. Yum-o?

Dessert was yummy. I had the mango pudding.

Others had the coconut jello.

And how do you like this for a 182 year combo? Aunt Syl and her sister-in-law Bert, both of whom are 91 and sharp as tacks. After the meal we all took turns telling jokes. Aunt Syl told a few zingers as did Aunt Bert!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Veggie Time ATCs

I'm swapping these artist trading cards today at our monthly meeting. They were inspired from my trip to Florida last January. The veggies are drawn on pages from a "Real Simple" magazine that my friend Roberta's mom, Louise, gave me to read on the plane. It was an article on how to grow and store fruit and vegetables so I drew the corresponding image on the instructions. The rubber stamped names are from an alphabet set I bought with Roberta when we went to a fabulous scrapbooking shop in Wellington, FL.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Exercise and Cake

I've been going to the same aerobics class for eight or nine years now. It's a great group led by a fantastic teacher, Susan, who has become a good friend.

It was her birthday and the last class for the year so we celebrated in the teacher's room of the school where we meet. (I made her a cake!)

Don't we look like a fit, happy gang?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Everything's Coming up Posies

A few years back I decided to turn my grass into a lawn of crocuses.

They pop their heads out even if there's a bit of snow on the ground.

By the time we're ready to pull out the lawn mower, the blooms have faded and died and they can be mowed over.

But right now it's still "tiptoe through the crocus" time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


In yesterday's post I talked about a visit to Jean and Gary's maple operation. As Richard and I left, Jean gave me an ice cream container of maple sap that she had collected from a tree in front of her house.

So today was the start of Ronna's maple operation. I started to boil this pot of sap. When I started this pot was almost full.

I learned from Jean and Gary that maple sap become syrup at 7 degrees above boiling (212F) so I used my trusty candy thermometer to check it.

After 2 hours of boiling and at 219F it looked just like syrup.

So I poured it into a jelly jar...

..and look at that colour!

In the end there wasn't much syrup. The ice cream container on the left was the amount of sap I started with (coincidentally the original flavour of the ice cream was "sugar shack maple.") But I bet my little jelly jar of syrup is going to be delicious.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

...and Lasts

Richard and I went to visit my friend Jean and her husband Gary who produce over 500 gallons of maple syrup a year. They have over 350 acres of land full of old maple trees. Our timing was was the last boil of syrup. To produce syrup, the weather has to cooperate and be below freezing at night and a few degrees above freezing point during the day. It's now getting too warm and once the trees bud they can't be tapped.

The sugar camp is about a mile from their house and has been around for over 100 years. Jean remember her grandfather making maple syrup there.

Once you walk in, the room is filled with the delightful aroma of maple-infused steam. It's heavenly.

Look at that boiling syrup. It takes 40 parts of sap to make one part of syrup.

As the season progresses, the syrup gets darker. That's how it's graded. The darker stuff is mostly for baking but I prefer it's intense maple flavour to the lighter grades.

Here's the just-ready syrup, boiling hot coming out of the evaporator...

...and then poured into a filter to get out any impurities.

Here's Gary checking the syrup.

And here it is, hot and delicious. Wow. I've never tasted hot maple syrup, right out of the evaporator. Unbelievably delicious!


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