Monthly Archives: November 2009

A Lunch Basket

Again with the feeding as an expression of love; a little mid-week (mid stress and exhaustion) lunch date. Chickpea Curry tries to save the day, and if it can’t save the day it’s at least going to fill you up.

My bike not only carries a basket, but makes a basket the most practical choice for ferrying things (or more often than not, food) about. You can “pack” a basket in a way that you can never do with a back-pack, and it rides in its own purpose-built carrier.  My bike transforms the basket from a sad anachronism  to a cheerful and useful option. More picnic style outings have been inspired by this little basket than I can count. Some people would think I’m making this up, but I swear I feel differently about a lunch packed in a basket than one in a bag. It’s a small thing, but it lifts the spirits. And we can all use that sometimes!

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Ongoing Autism Art Classes

I haven’t written much about my autism art classes, even though I’ve been doing two sessions a week. I am enjoying them, though they are definitely a challenge, and it’s sometimes hard to know how I’m doing! Any art class is made up of individuals, but this seems even more obvious in the autism art classes. I try hard to find something for each child, something to engage each special interest, but this can be tricky. Moreover, the needs during the actual class time are sometimes such that it makes fully attending to each child individual experience impossible. I’ve given it a lot of thought to see if there is any better way of doing things, but so far I can only think to keep doing what I’m doing. And of course, it may also be that “success” in this context is going to feel different. But enough  analyzing.

Last week for my 6-9 year old class, I set up a wire sculpting area. One of the kids had noticed a little wire sculpture hanging on the wall of the studio and commented on it a few times, so I thought that might interest him. A selection of wire, beads and buttons. He seemed initially quite excited that we were going to work with wire, and was engaged for about 15 minutes. After making an “alien face” he ran into some troubles with the body. (too much wire, some tangling, and just not sure how to proceed, I think) Unfortunately, we were having a bit of a “situation” in the classroom at the same time, so I wasn’t able to help him out, or he may have continued working. But that’s life.

My younger class (preschoolers) has been a bit more conventionally successful and the kids have enjoyed a range of activities. They are very busy and some move quickly from station to station and back again, but I’ve been able to tell that they are really enjoying it, which makes me happy! There is a love of all things liquid. And scissors. And feathers. And trucks in paint. Today food colouring dropped on coffee filters was all the rage. I sometimes feel a bit guilty that this is not a special art activity, more a common craft, but that fades away when I hear them exclaiming with excitement over the colours.

So, no fancy pictures, no stunning finished products – it’s an ongoing process, and I know I’m learning.


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Stir-up Sunday

It’s Stir-up Sunday: the day when one traditionally makes Christmas pudding. That is, if one likes Christmas pudding. I don’t. But I like the idea of it, and the tradition. I’ve only every been involved as a “stirrer”, when Mum made puddings, but I haven’t made my own, for obvious reasons. This year I decided to mix it up a bit, and to stir-up some panforte instead.

I first came across panforte two years ago, when I was introduced to it by Mimi at The Loop. “This” I thought ” is something I can get behind.” It’s a wonderful concoction of nuts and dried fruit and spices and cocoa and sugar and honey, with a long history. Has to be tasted to be believed, I think it is fair to say, and more than that, the idea itself is simply delicious. Last year I made panforte for us, and to give away as gifts. This year I was determined to make my panforte on Stir-up Sunday, thereby getting at least one of my feet in the tradition.

Of course, I only realized last night that it was Stir-up Sunday today. It seemed like there was a lot going on this weekend but I said I was going to stir my panforte, and damn it, that’s what I would do! Not quite the sentiment, I’m sure, but never mind. After a hasty trip to the bulk barn I toasted nuts, chopped dried fruit and boiled honey and sugar.Just to muddle with the traditions some more, I threw in a coin. (2 p, incidentally, because we didn’t have any Canadian change we felt was big enough to be safe!)

Then, as tradition dictates, we both had a good stir. And Gary made a wish. I forgot to make my wish so I had to make it after. Then the oven was all heated and ready and I realized it was time for us to go over and give my father supper. But finally, the panforte is done and cooling on the counter, waiting to be wrapped up and stored away till Christmas. A new tradition.



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Following the success of the yogurt making, I tried my hand at some yogurt cheese, or labneh. Thursday has become my yogurt making day, but this week I found myself with yogurt left over, so I was happy to put some towards a cheese experiment. I put 2 cups of yogurt in a cheese cloth and hung it to drip into a bowl. I left it there all day (well, I actually checked on it at fiddled with it, but essentially left it…). Then I dumped it into a bowl. It firmed up a little once I put it back in the fridge. And that was that – a lovely spreadable cheese! I must say I love the lines of the cheesecloth on the cheese. Very rustic.  I saved the whey (the liquid that comes out) because I’ve heard you can use that for cooking to add a little nutrition. Today I mixed up a little with some chopped onion, salt and pepper. I’m excited to experiment with it some more!


Filed under food, making

Art Eco: The Birch Forest


Branches on the overhead. Not the best, but the only photo.

Just back from a fun (yes, and exhausting!) day at the Art Gallery’s Children’s Festival: Art Eco. I was working in the Young Learners Studio. There were many exciting and wonderful things going on all over the gallery, so I really tried to make sure the activities I chose were accessable to the VERY young. It’s a good thing I did because we were almost over-run by the two-and-unders!

We used pieces of corrugated cardboard to stamp trunks and branches on lovely pieces of wood veneer. The corrugated part of the cardboard looked a lot like birch bark.


Small pieces of rolled up card and sponge were perfect for making leaves. Of course, it was an open activity so we had a lot of abstract work, and “a digger” but there were some beautiful pieces. It’s funny – I felt the younger children (3 year olds) did the nicer work. While I was walking home it occurred to me that the younger children approached the art making by thinking “What is a tree? It is a stick with other sticks and some leaves on”. The older children who came in worked more along the lines of “What is a picture of a tree? It’s a trunk with a bumpy green bit at the top.” They may have made very obvious tree representations, but the first approach captured more of  the “tree essence”. Well, I thought so anyway. Here are some beautiful birch forests.



We also made some simple recycled flowers using egg cartons, pieces of scrap fabric and centres from old magazines. They were fun and easy.



For the last activity I cut out a bunch of “recycling arrows” and set them out for the youngest participants to colour with pastels and paint. I’m glad I did, since this was perfect for those who just needed to get busy. All in all a pretty good day. I only wish I had more of a chance to look around at the other activities in the gallery!

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Little Polar Bear

I feel like there has been a dearth of creative blogging recently. I’ve actually been quite busy on the workshop/class front, but that hasn’t translated into any blogs, for various reasons. I did a lot of prep for a stuffed animal workshop that didn’t happen in the end because of a scheduling mishap (hopefully we will reschedule). I also did an autism arts outreach class and forgot my camera, and the same thing with my class this morning! I’m doing something tomorrow at the Children’s Festival at the gallery, and hope to bring you a blog about that!

In the mean time, here is another little Christmas ornament I whipped up. It’s a little polar bear holding a traditional Swedish “paper heart”. I’m not entirely happy with the face but I think he’s cute enough.


So far I’ve only been using “basic back-stitch” for the embroidery, but I have a book with some more advanced stitches I may try. Until then, things will go on looking pretty rustic, I think!

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Rainbow Haven Beach


I love going to the beach “off-season”. Mainly because my idea of the beach is a quiet and wind-swept expanse, without (and this is most important) lots of people. It’s something easily forgotten, a destination easily overlooked for fall and winter days so when the idea occurred to me this morning I thought we had to act on it. Off we went to Rainbow Haven Beach.




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