Look at this healthy bounty!

the yield from my small box from door to door organics.

so, spring rolls around again.  i’ve been remiss in adding new content to this blog, though it’s not for lack of desire.  i have a few special projects that i’ve worked on between entries that i will probably go back blog about… at some point.

i meant to be a writer.  an artist.  i think this blog is the closest i’m going to get to the writer part, other than the press releases i put together for my indie record label.  the label has understandably taken a great deal of my energy over the last few years- it’s truly a labor of love and it certainly is a creative project, but it doesn’t quite satisfy my inner artist.  i’ve really felt the drive to dive more actively into other passions this year- writing, art, and reading more.

the label is staying put, it’s just that i’ve got to work on getting back to the core activities that satiate my own desire to create, as opposed to just focusing on supporting the art of others.  i’ve been thinking about taking an oil painting class to get back into the groove.  and i never stopped taking pictures and traveling all these years- there’s lots of great story fodder there.

there was a moment when i started a travel blog, and another for random musings, tumblr style, but i think that i might just stick with pretty little thing.  i kind of like the simple format- photos of things i like and some words to make whatever it is seem more real to whomever chooses to spend a few minutes reading this.

the picture above gets my mind going.  i want a paintbrush to start swirling colors around!  i finally decided to give this organic produce delivery service a try on a coupon deal for first timers.  i’m very bad at selecting fruit and vegetables and i know that i need to incorporate a lot more of them into my life.  it’s not that i do not like them; it is just too easy on a work night to heat up a veggie burger or other convenience food.  i thought that by giving this a shot, i would force myself to eat a little bit healthier and try a few new fruits and veggies in the process.  i’ve had other people’s prepared dishes with artichoke, mango, kale, etc., but i’ve never tried to cook and eat some of these things on my own.

everything arrived packaged up in a big brown box which will be picked up for recycling by the company when my next delivery is made.  i took great pleasure in opening up the box and checking out my goodies.  everything was in great shape!  I enjoyed some delicious strawberries straight out of the container as i unpacked last night.  this morning, i scrambled up an egg and enjoyed it with chopped kale and red pepper from the delivery.  i also added some basil from my garden and some tomato that was on hand.  yum!

it’s sad to feel so far removed from the art of putting a meal together from scratch, from fresh ingredients.  i spent a good hour prepping all of the leafy greens and veggies so they’d be ready for use all week.  there was also a bit of a learning curve figuring out how to properly store the items i was less familiar with, but the work was relaxing.  i felt like taking care of my purchase was taking care of myself.

now, all of this is in no way going to keep my from my local farmers market.  and it probably won’t eliminate the need to pick up a few other items at the grocery store from time to time.  especially since i’m only going to splurge on this every second week.  what i do hope is that it gets me back into the groove of spending time considering the food choices i make and getting enjoyment out of preparing meals.  here’s to colorful eating!

i always intended to be a farmers market shopper… there is something so beautiful about the fresh fruits and vegetables lined up and ripe for selection.  perhaps it appeals to that side of me that likes to sort my sewing thread, m&m’s, and skittles by color.  for whatever reason, i never really followed through on my desire to shop for fresh, sometimes organic foods this way until last weekend.

last sunday, i decided that i should proceed to my local market with urgency in order to procure fresh blueberries for the purpose of making blueberry pancakes.  being the novice that i am, i didn’t realize that blueberries were pretty close to being out of season, but i went anyhow and lucked out.  i found two vendors with pints for sale.  i opted for the ones that the bees were hovering around reasoning that those must be the sweetest.  i am pretty sure i made that theory up on a whim but it sounded quite convincing at the time.

i took my purchase and stopped at the grocery store on the way home for some fresh whipping cream.  you read that right… not whipped cream, but the liquid stuff that becomes whipped cream with great effort.  i got in, unpacked my purchases and decided to attack the cream first.  i spent a good long bit of time beating the crap out of it with the electric mixer until i got it to resemble the stuff that comes out of a can (but not really).  i tossed in some sugar and mexican vanilla.  a good start!  pretty yummy!

then, it was time to rinse, sort, and de-stem the blueberries.  they were way ripe, the very, very last of the season so they were practically bursting in my hands, staining them aubergine in the process.  there isn’t much more that’s special about my process… i made buttermilk pancakes, tossed in the fruit, and cooked them up.  then, i put a nice dollop of fresh, vanilla whipped cream on them in lieu of syrup.

blueberry vanilla deliciousness.

blueberry vanilla deliciousness.

it was a success if i do say so myself although you can see for yourself in this photo.  i must say, these babies were fantastic! and the funny thing is, i’m not even that much of a blueberry fan. it was a good thing i enjoyed them so much though because i had plenty of leftovers for the work week ahead.

so today, i decided that it was time for additional Pancake Fun.  i thought long and hard about what i could do to augment another batch of of pancake batter and decided that it should involve nutella and apples.  due to a couple of late nights, i wasn’t even out of bed until 12:30pm and  as i arrived at the market the vendors were all packing up to go but i was in luck because the fruit guy was still there and he had a batch of honeycrisp apples with my name on it.

he had been in conversation with a customer, woman on the verge of elderlyness.  they saw me approach and i apologized for interupting them.  the woman remarked that “i’m sorry” is one heck of a name and asked me what my actual name was.  i think that the blue sky after several days of rain may have had something to do with it, but i found this to be slightly endearing instead of annoying.  i told her my name and we had a conversation about the plethora of apple varieties.  i paid and thanked the farmer and his customer.  i turned to leave and she said “praise jesus”.  so i was pretty sure that these pancakes were going to be pretty darn good, too.

apple cinnamon buttermilk panckaes w/nutella... a/k/a the praise jesus cakes

apple cinnamon buttermilk panckaes w/nutella... a/k/a the praise jesus cakes

i got back in and sliced up an apple as thin as i possibly could and dumped very generous amounts of cinnamon into the batter.  again, no big stretch of the imagination on what happened next… but i whipped up another big batch of deliciousness.  these suckers were about an inch thick and bursting with that oh so wonderful apple cinnamon scent.  they got a dollop of nutella and a swoosh of whipped cream (the lazy, cheaters kind this time around) and then they were done.

in theory, the nutella was a great idea, however, in practice, i think simple is better.  i think that the apples and cinnamon are fine on their own or with just the slightest bit of the chocolate hazelnut spread for dipping. definitely more of a dessert style breakfast food.

where will my culinary adventures lead me next weekend?  i’m thinking peaches and i only hope it’s not too late!

the five dollar button.

October 1, 2009

you paid five dollars for a button you ask?  yes… actually, it was more like $5.95.  and in canadian dollars, no less!  but it’s no ordinary button you see.  it was another treasure acquired on my recent jaunt to toronto.  did i need a button?  no.  but when i saw it, i had to have it.  it was smoothly polished and bright kelly green.

the five dollar  button.

the five dollar button.

it was not symmetrical and it had flaws… a notch, a warble.  but you could see the grain and it felt so pleasingly smooth and cool to the touch.  so i bought that button with not even a trace of shame.  as the cashier wrapped it up she told me that it was made from environmentally sustainable vegetable ivory.  ok, perhaps that’s why it was priced on the uppity side.  i wouldn’t have cared if it was polished monkey kibble… i would have purchased it anyway.  but knowing that it is made of an environmentally friendly material is kind of cool, too.  and i know just the project for this button.  you’ll see…

moving along… i started a project for my five year old niece today.  she began kindergarten this month and is, how shall i say… into it!  she explained to me by telephone that they let the kids play, “but not very much”.  she also recently had to take her first note home from the teacher after taking the liberty of enjoying a stick of bubble gum without permission.  oops.  i probably created a monster.  i hear echoes of fiona sweetly saying, “aunt shannon, can i have a piece of orange gum” reverberating between my ears and find the story endearing in a way that i cannot quite describe.  i picture her boldly chewing away with much glee in her heart after making such a grown up decision.  first, the memory: oh, i have gum! second, the decision: i will chew this gum right now! and third, the unabashed chomping, oblivious to the fact that this may be inappropriate.  sometimes we have to learn lessons in the most precious of ways.

anyhow, i stumbled upon this adorable brown corduroy featuring blue and green hearts in an argyle pattern so i’ve decided to make a jumper for her.  she really loved a summer dress i made for her so i figured i’d put something together for fall, too.  i haven’t been at my sewing machine in a while.  mostly because cutting material is the biggest drag ever.  but this afternoon i cut  the pattern and pinned it so i’m pretty much ready to whip it all together.  while i was getting organized i went through my thread stash to pick a color and it gave me untold pleasure to line these up like the hues of the rainbow.

oooh, pretty!

oooh, pretty!

i cannot help myself.  ordering their bold colors and uniformly sized little cylinders was deeply satisfying.

fiona’s aunt is a little out there.

i have a little problem…

September 30, 2009

i kinda like to make stuff.  and as much as i like to make it, i also love perusing fabric, yarn, and craft stores to find stash worthy items to work with.  i’ve got to keep my hands busy and i’ve always had an appreciation for the feel of lovely fibers and a penchant for graphic design.  this kept me squarely focused on scrapbooking for a number of years but it seems that i’ve become more of a hobby generalist.  in other words, there isn’t a crafty thing that i’m not interested in.  well ok, perhaps i’m not into whittling or lanyard making, or making clothing for ceramic ducks… but i do make soap.  i make jewelry.  i like to sew and i especially like to make bags… lots ‘n lots of bags.  i still scrapbook and i also knit and crochet and i’m proud to say that i’ve finally branched out and can handle whipping up more than scarves.  i did not acquire skills beyond the realm of the scarf  without much poking and prodding by my close group of friends, those lovely girls who make up kNAC, or, the knitting advisory council, our own take on stitch ‘n bitch.   then there’s also the writing, occasional baking, frequent attempts at amateur photography… basically it never ends.  i never met a hot glue gun i didn’t like and i never met a mess i couldn’t clean up.  at least in the crafty realm.

so, here we are.  i intend to share with you whatever it is that i am working on or stumble across.  those beautiful things that i just can’t seem to keep my hands off.  (watch it, valerie sue).  objects that i can make something special from.   something that lasts and matters.

so, let’s get started then…

queen street west loot i tracked down over labor day in toronto

queen street west loot tracked down in toronto over labor day weekend.

check out the fabulous swag i found in some of  toronto’s amazing fabric and yarn shops along queen street west. the reddish yarn in the upper right hand corner instigated an instant fondle (IF) at the store.  nothing was going to pry that bad boy from my hands.  i actually left that store after exploring just 25% of it because i knew any further time there would spell certain financial ruin.  as for the fabrics, i am a sucker for adorableness, dots, and amy butler designs so i will put this yardage to good use.  i’m thinking that the chicken one is begging to be used as some sort of kitchen accessory.

i guess we’ll just have to wait and see what sort of transformations this stuff undergoes in some future post…

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