Another Eloise Wilkin illustrated Little Golden Book, "We Like Kindergarten", found at my favourite thrift store. I've been finding a lot of vintage picture books spanning many decades lately, all of them with "Fleming" written boldly on the cover or just inside. My guess is that Ms. Fleming was a long time kindergarten teacher who has donated her collection of books. It's amazing how little kindergarten has changed since this book was published. Everything is there - art and music, circle time, games, outside play - even feeding the fish. Except for "resting on mats" and those fabulous clothes, you could see this scene in any kindergarten today. They don't rest in kindergarten anymore, but I bet the teachers wish they would.
Way back last week I was tagged to write "Seven Random Things About Me" by doe-c-doe but in the cafluffle of Easter, (complete with visiting family) and then taking advantage of some rare sunshine to get some stuff done in the garden it hasn't been written yet. Better late than never, yes? So here are seven extremely random things about Lisa...
1) I think cauliflower is pure vegetable evil.
2) I make up words (like cafluffle) all the time.
3) I never learned how to drive.
4) As a child my favourite colour was magenta, but now I think it might be grey. Is grey a colour?
5) I don't like bare feet except in bed. No socks in bed, ever. It's a rule.
6) I'm really really allergic to bees, so that might help to explain the "no bare feet ever" thing.
7) Growing up I always wanted to be an archaeologist, but high school chemistry scared me away from it. At the time I thought there was no way I could make it through University level chemistry, but now I'm pretty sure I was wrong. I wish I'd persevered.
The photograph was taken by me on my trip to Cambodia. which is where I always saw myself working as an archaeologist. Bonus random fact about me: If I hadn't met David in 2000, my plan was to work and save some money until 2002 or 2003 and then return to Cambodia for at least a year to work with an aid organization.
A no bake cookie with a chewy candy texture, these chocolate candy cookies are a nostalgic favourite of mine. I can remember barely being able to pay attention in school when I knew I had one waiting for me in my lunch, carefully wrapped in it's square of waxed paper.They don't need the candy eggs to be delicious, it's just a fun springtime thing to do!
Put the following ingredients into a pot over medium to medium high heat and stir to dissolve. Make sure your pot is big enough to allow for the mixture to boil and bubble up.
In a separate bowl combine
Bring the mixture in the pot to a boil and allow to boil, stirring occasionally for exactly 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla carefully, as it will sputter a bit. Quickly stir in the oatmeal and coconut and mix until everything is uniformly chocolatey. Working fast before the mixture starts to firm up, mound it onto waxed or parchment paper, press candy eggs or jelly beans into the top to make nests if desired and then let the cookies cool and harden completely before removing from the paper. It makes about 30 golf ball sized cookies, but you can make them as large or as small as you like. My Uncle Don has a lesson for you all that he learned many years ago - do not attempt to make candy cookies with the plastic spoon you get from the Dairy Queen, but if you do and the spoon dissolves into the cookies, you can still probably feed them to your little sister without lasting damage.
The foxgloves are bursting out with lots of lovely fuzzy new growth. Last year I got nothing but leaves, but they're biennials, so this year I should be rewarded with flowers!
All we could come up with was blue food colouring and brown eggs, but David and I still managed to dye some really unique looking eggs for easter. Not very traditional with their deep teal colour, but we managed to keep it interesting by adding some stripes to some of them that let the natural brown of the eggshells show through. This technique is extremely easy - you could even try it with your children.
Step 1: Find some rubber bands and hard boil some white or brown eggs. Small sturdy elastics are best, but any kind will do. Wrap them around your plain egg tightly. Keep it all tidy and straight if you like, or go wild and put them any which way. You don't have to start with an egg-coloured egg - you can dye it a light colour and then add your elastics and overdye it a darker colour, remembering your colour mixing rules. You could even repeat the steps a few times to make multi-coloured striped eggs.
Step 2: Dye your eggs as you usually do. I use a cup with a big glug of vinegar in it, a big splosh of food colouring and then fill it up with enough very hot water to cover the egg.
Step 3: Once the egg is dyed, dry it completely and then remove the rubber bands. Taa daa! Stripes!
Optional Step 4: Put a tiny drop of oil in your hand and rub all the eggs with it to make them nice and shiny.
Although like many Canadians, I have a pan-European heritage spanning the underclass of many nation builders, Irish is one of the few that didn't get added to my stew pot. But if you're Irish or even just if you're celebrating, I thought I'd better post something for you. I looked around the house for something Irish-y and found nothing. Then I just decided to go for something green and came up empty again. Really? I have NOTHING green? Nope. But then I remembered the oxalis oregana (redwood sorrel) in the garden. Perfect. Not just green but also three leaf clover shaped and it's one of my favourite low-fuss groundcovers for light to deep shade. It's evergreen here, has lovely pink flowers in the spring and it can carpet the ground and keep out weeds in some of the most difficult spots in my yard.
The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is a favourite from my childhood. Even though I never believed in the Easter Bunny despite the best efforts of my family, I still always loved this book and the world it created.
I surely don't when I get such beautiful brown eggs straight from a happy chicken via my organic box delivery service. They may sometimes send me things I'm less than thrilled with, but the eggs never disappoint. Aren't they gorgeous? The service uses different local suppliers all the time, but this week the eggs were especially nice. Huge, incredibly fresh, with giant yolks of a deep sunflower colour and lovely sturdy deep brown shells. I just want to hold one and run my fingers over its curves all the time. There is just something primal and satisfying about cupping a perfect egg in your hand.
When I used to be a tiny, shoebox-sized apartment dweller, I used to dream about having a garden of my very own. I always thought that the best part would be that whenever I wanted a sweet smelling bouquet for the house I only had to step outside into my beautifully tended, weed-free and self-watering yard to pick one. I would picture myself in a flowing linen skirt and a large-brimmed hat, blissfully snipping armloads of colourful flowers to make my home beautiful as the sun shone and the birds twittered. That wasn't quite the scene today as I made my way outside in a miserably cold drizzle, in my still-feeling-under-the-weather sweat pants to rescue this little clutch of daffodils from the spot where our garbage can always gets tossed. I was extremely aware of all the parts of having a garden that weren't included in that fantasy. I was cold. I hadn't showered. My lovely earliest spring daffodils get flattened every year by the cans but I never think to dig up the bulbs and move them. The squirrels ate all my tulips. The snails are working their way through everything else. My yard has 3 giant (GIANT - I'm not kidding) piles of yard waste, construction debris, etc and it is super expensive to get that stuff hauled away. The healthiest looking perennials in my yard are the daylilies that are growing up from these piles even though we just tossed them on top a couple of years ago. Plants are really expensive and we always need the money for something else, so I still don't have roses or a lilac bush or a mock orange or raised beds for vegetables or anywhere to put them since the sunniest part of the yard is where the biggest pile is. The few days of sun and all the rain we got in February caused a huge growth spurt in nothing but the weeds. The ivy I keep thinking I've gotten rid of is back and burlier than ever and sneaking into places that involve crawling around under bushes to deal with. My grass has some weird copper coloured patches. Our neighbours bamboo is making a run for it under the fence and is popping up EVERYWHERE. There's an area in the side yard that really smells like pee (cat, I'm hoping). I could go on, but I won't. Ahhh, but isn't my bouquet nice? That's the only part of the fantasy that has come true so far. I really can go out in the yard and pick something fresh and alive for the house most times of the year. Often it's just a foliage bouquet, but those are beautiful too.
We bought this house in 2003 and the yard was truly a disaster. It's an old heritage house in a rapidly gentrifying urban neighbourhood and although I had a big case of buyers remorse, now I love it and never want to move. The place had been rented for 20 years before we bought it, so everything had been badly neglected, including the yard. When we moved in we mostly had a muddy dog run, a gigantic rotten walnut tree, falling down fences, a few ill placed shrubs, 8 ghastly rarely-blooming orange daylilies whose foliage looked bad for most of the season, vintage garbage, a million rocks and a world class crop of binderweed, blackberries and herb robert. In the 4 summers we've been gardening there has been a huge improvement in the yard and actually most of it really looks good now. Outside projects have always came second to the many things that needed attending to inside the house. We have big plans for the yard this spring. Get rid of the piles once and for all. Keep fighting the good fight against ivy and binderweed (I think I have the blackberry licked). A half-barrel pond. A new perennial bed. Painting the deck. A larger trellis for the honeysuckle. Maybe an arbour if I can talk David and our friend Glen into building it. Lots of hard work, but I actually really enjoy most of it and lucky for me David will help. Just once I should put on a linen skirt and some lip gloss before I go out there...
I've finally been tagged - I suppose in blogworld that means I'm a somebody now! Claudia has set me the task of completing these 4 secrets...
4 Jobs I've Had
4 Movies I Like
4 Places I've Been
4 Places I've Lived
4 TV Shows I Watch
4 Radio Programs
I occasionally put on the CBC while I'm cleaning up the kitchen, but I don't listen to anything regularly.
4 Preferred Foods
4 Places I'd Rather Be
You don't need to hear all the achy, sniffly, mucusy, coughy, whiny details, but (as you've probably already guessed), I'm sick. Ick. I'm not a good sick person. I'm impatient with myself and tend to flop about and complain a lot. At least I didn't start feeling it until Sunday night, so our Saturday of anniversary fun wasn't ruined. We had a lovely day of out-of-the-city thrifting, strolling and lunching, nursery visiting, lounging and magazine reading and a truly fabulous meal at one of my favourite restaurants. For dessert I had the creme brulee (I ALWAYS have the creme brulee) but David had a blood orange panna cotta with creme anglais and a citrus and basil compote that CHANGED MY WORLD. Basil + citrus + sweet = SO VERY DELICIOUS. I usually grow some basil out on my deck each summer, but this year it will be flavouring so much more than pesto!
I'll be getting back to being sick now, and you can look at the lovely flowers that David picked out for me on Saturday. We were married in Mexico, surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden and I carried a bouquet that included ginger like in the middle photo, so these were just perfect.
Studio time has been much more productive lately. I've been focusing on some super simple softies like the bears and these dollies, designed to be hugged by chubby baby arms. I have a real problem with perfectionism and being self-critical and I know that it only hinders me in my creative work, so I've really been working on letting go of some of that drive to get everything exactly perfectly perfect and just play.
As I said in this post, David and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary this week. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to show you some of the vintage wrapping paper I found at my third favourite thrift store on the weekend. Tucked away on a high shelf in the craft supply section I found a big stack of old paper from the sixties through the eighties, and I gleefully brought it all home while only parting with three dollars! It's mostly in small pieces, some of it has been used but most of it has never wrapped a present and there are a few pieces that are still in their cellophane. Even more impressive is that it doesn't smell like a basement, cigarettes or the thrift store! I don't know what I'm going to do with it, but I just had to have it. I'll post a few pictures of the wedding themed paper in the next few days, and you can look for others to show up in the future.
My seeds may be struggling, but I grew these gigantic shiitakes! I let them go a couple of days too long, just to see how enormous they could get, but I'm sure they'll still be tasty alongside tonight's dinner, fried in butter with thyme and garlic. The biggest one is close to 7 inches across and very alien-looking. I know they would have been tastier smaller, and next time I'll harvest sooner, but there is just something so fascinating about growing something that grows so fast you can almost hear it. Does this fascination with abnormally huge food mean competition pumpkin farming is in my future?
Just for you (but not for you, David, since you shouldn't read blogs at work) here is a peak at part of the anniversary card I made for my sweet husband. Yes, today marks the anniversary of the day I was lucky enough and smart enough to marry the man of my dreams. David is absolutely the perfect husband for me and I couldn't be happier to be his wife! Tonight he's making us a lovely dinner, complete with spaghetti carbonara and cheesecake (calories don't count on your anniversary), and then we'll do some real celebrating on the weekend. David hasn't told me what he's got planned but he assures me that fun will be had by all.
The panda was the prototype for the brown bear I made for the baby gift. He's a little wonky, but I adore him. The thing I like best about the panda is that he finally gave me an opportunity to cut into those black corduroy pants that I've been wearing for years even though they make me look like I'm wearing a full diaper... Here's to sweet softy pandas and new pants that make my rear look fabulous!