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Archive for July, 2011

zucchini bread

In the planting this year we decided to add a few zucchini plants

zucchini bread

to the mix. They were put in near the middle of the two properties and to the west of the parking lot. We actually have planted a blueberry patch there as well, but the shrubs are small enough this year that there was room for the zucchini plants, and a few other squashes. (and likely next year too, since the blueberries are not fast growers) While we put in a number of plants, we haven’t been drowning in produce, mainly due to the drought conditions. (also we like eating the little ones) There have been a few that we missed picking when they were small so I broke out a recipe for zucchini bread that I hadn’t made for a really long time. It’s tasty and easy to make but is one of those things where you use if you’re growing them yourself, or you have friends who aren’t properly monitoring their own crops since it works well with the oversized fruits. I took the easy way out and used the food processor to get a nice even grate in a couple of minutes. This recipe is lightly spiced with cinnamon and mace and the zucchini doesn’t add any noticeable flavor but gives it a really rich and moist texture. I baked the batter in our mini-loaf pans, rather than the full-sized ones so they are more of a mix between a large muffin size and a full loaf. It makes them easier to share!

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young robin

Robins are the birds I most see around the grounds.

juvenile American robin

We knew we had at least one breeding pair since they nested on the porch of the house this spring, but that round was up and about almost two months ago. I was out checking out he tomatoes yesterday and found this fledgling hanging out in the clump of aster flowers, to the east of the baby bed. It looked like it was being taken care of, but it may have gotten out the nest and been unable to make it back since it doesn’t have the full set of feathers yet. I didn’t get too close and, while it noticed me around, I didn’t have any adults yell at me to keep away. (then or this morning, when I checked back on it) I was a bit surprised to see another round of chicks and looked up their breeding patterns, and this one is likely from the last of 2 to 3 clutches they’ll raise per season. (apparently July is the end of their breeding season) We had seen the first round of four healthy looking chicks but I’m not sure if they were able to manage that many in this round since it’s been so dry. The robins were the ones who have been pilfering my blueberries and they have been hard up enough I even saw one eating some of the red currants. Hopefully, finally getting some rain will make it easier for everything to get by. (although I’m sure the chick didn’t enjoy getting rained on)

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We have collections that just sort of happen and then there are times

Stonecraft chalkware owlet in basket figurine

where it’s a deliberate decision. The collection by chance is more common for us but we recently got in a big group all at once. When Mother was out hunting she lucked into a chunk of what was a huge collection of owls. Apparently the person had been building their collection for over 60 years and they had an amazing range of owl figures. She didn’t take them all but was able to make a selection of some of the best ones. The oldest that I’ve been able to confirm the date on is from the 1920’s and the most recent was the late 90’s. The collector clearly took good care of the group and all, while they were a bit dusty, are in excellent condition. They are such a mix and so much fun that I’m listing some of them in the Etsy shop. (not all of course since some are too recent to qualify) This is one of the sweeter ones. It’s an English chalkware piece by Stonecraft and is a cute little owlet in a woven basket. I love his slightly suspicious glare. He’s up on-line and also out for viewing in the shop so I’m sure someone will succumb to his charms soon.

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Tomato update

The weather has continued to be hot and dry. We’ve only had a couple of short rain

"Black Krim" tomato plant, July 2011

sprinkles since late June. We are on a well here, and while we choose not to water the lawns, I have been trying to keep up with the tomatoes. The four cherries that are on the balcony require daily drinks but I can usually manage to wait a couple of days between watering the main bed to the east of the shop. The plants that are in the raised baby bed have been a bit more demanding but at a least they are being productive. Well, some of them are. The photo is of a variety called “Black Krim” and it has set an amazing number of fruits. If they are tasty then I’m going to go for several plants of it next year. Unfortunately, a yellow Brandywine that went into the same bed is struggling. It appears that an ant colony has settled into that corner of the bed and the tomato is having trouble getting enough water and nutrients. We’re going to have to look into ways of getting rid of the colony next year that don’t involve the use of any harmful chemicals since it is a food production space.

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This is a very traditional etching. It’s of the Anne Hathaway house,

Anne Hathaway cottage print in vintage frame

(Shakespeare’s wife) in soft brown tones. It is signed in pencil by the artist and it came with the tag from it’s publisher, which I attached to the back. (according to the tag, the artists name is C. Dickens, but I’m guessing it’s not Charles!) The frame is vintage and has a bit of wear to it that I think adds to it’s charm. The mat is modern and archival, but it doesn’t have the white line typical to them since it’s what’s called a rag mat. They are solid all the way through and don’t have a “right” side. They work well on pieces where the strong division from the white line would be distracting. I really like them for vintage works since the paper of older pieces tends to no longer be a crisp white. A standard acid-free bevel would make the paper read as a bit dingy so the rag mat is perfect. The finished piece has a very period feel to it but it would work in a range of interiors.

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A while ago we had a little bunny rabbit come in that was made

Gobel's salt and pepper set

by Gobels, the German company that is famous for their Hummel figurines. It was the first time I realized that they had a whole group of things that other than the cute little boys and girls that make up their typical line. Recently Mother came back with another of their pieces. This one is a trio that makes up a salt and pepper shaker set. The squirrel, pine cone and leaf are all separate. The holes that allow the flow of are usable sizes but very discretely placed so you don’t necessarily realize right away that they are shakers. (it has been pointed out that an acorn would be a bit more appropriate than the pine cone but I think they went with it so the size would be more even. The bright colours are fun and it has a great sense of personality. It’s the sort of thing that would appeal to not only Gobels collectors but anyone with a fondness for cute salt&peppers.

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I always love getting brought a framing challenge.

antique boat half-models in frame

This was a case where the client had a trio of antique boat models. Not the really decorative, super detailed ones, but the actual, plain wooden half models that would have been used by boat makers. They range in ages and sizes and don’t have a great deal of inherent value, but he liked them and wanted to display them in an appropriate manner at a reasonable cost. He also wanted the overall look to lean towards traditional and for it stay light and not too boxy. The thickness of the largest boat would have required the construction of a box, behind the frame, if the group was to be enclosed. Considering that the models are solid wood, with wear-of-use, and that was something he wanted to stay front-and-centre, we decided not to glaze them. This also opened up the frame choice options considerably. The most recent likely dates from the 1920’s so it fit using a vintage frame. (the one we went is actually probably a bit older than two of them, but it still works) The frame had some minor damage to it’s surface but was generally in good condition and very solid. I restored the most noticeable of it’s dings and then sealed it with a beeswax finish. That will allow the client to control the level of gloss. The models were attached to a solid piece of masonite that had been covered with a vintage topographical map. The map also had little value so it was suitable to use as a background. I sealed it with a few layers of a spray designed for artwork, to help protect it. The finished piece is light, airy and timeless in the design. It’s also a good example of how to frame in a way that, while not archival, is still respectful of the pieces but doesn’t break the bank or treat them as more than they are.

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The weather has changed from a cold and rainy spring/early summer

east tomato garden, July 13, 2011

to really hot and dry. We’ve only had a couple of days of rain in longer than a month. As a result I’m having to do a fair bit of watering to try and keep up with tomato garden. They love the heat and are growing so fast you can almost watch them stretch, but need lots of water to keep them from becoming wilting drama queens. I’ve also used all the cages and spirals we have on hand as well as sending a few up the trellises that follow the stairs. We need to get a few more. I’m also experimenting with mulching the bed this year. We’re up to four in pots on the balcony but they are much smaller than the ones we’ve had the past two years. The balcony tomatoes are all cherries and we had been buying these giant ones, usually in the end of May, from Grobe’s Garden Centre, between Kitchener and Guelph. The problem this year was they apparently had a furnace failure in one of the March storms and the plants froze. The ones they had were about half the size we were used to. At least they are finally getting going and it looks like I’ll have 2-4 cherries to pick in the next couple of days!

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I’ve found that working on collaborative art projects has often

Three of Gears, Regresty Tarot deck

been a great way to push myself into trying new techniques and ideas. It’s been a number of years since I’ve been part of an active group so it’s been really fun to get back into some things through the Regresty site. Yes, it’s a humour site, but they do some great fund-raising and charity work as well. I’ve been contributing items to the monthly shop but also recently signed up to take part in a larger project. It’s the creation of a custom tarot deck based around some running jokes on the site. (and the Rider-Waite deck designs) Considering how raunchy many of the jokes are, it most decidedly deserves a mature content warning! The hope is to get it printed, in a limited run of 1000 decks and then sell them to support the charity. To raise the funds we’re signed up on a site called Kickstarter which lets people pledge support for artistic projects in return for tangible rewards. It’s a really cool concept for funding and nobody gets charged unless the full amount is reached. It’s also doubling as a way to pre-order decks, since it will such a limited run. I’ve played it pretty straight with my card, which is the Three of Gears (3 of swords) It’s not finished yet, but this is how it’s looking so far. I’m hopeful that we’ll manage to actually get it printed, but if not, it’s been a fun challenge to be part of.

Edit: And the project has been fully funded so it WILL be going ahead! I’ll share some pictures when my copy arrives!

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I’m pretty grateful that Mother is happy to go out and be our primary “picker”,

vintage glass clown

most of the time. She loves the hunt and we don’t disagree about the suitability of most of her finds. There are a few things I have issue with however and the most typical for us to end up arguing about is her fascination with clowns. I admit, there haven’t been all that many that have come in, and yes, they have sold, so I generally cave on her insistence about putting them out. Not that I’m in the group who are really scared by clowns, but they do tend to creep me out a bit. This is the latest one she’s found and he’s a solid piece of lamp-worked glass. The colours are bright and clear and his condition is pristine, no chips or cracks but that doesn’t help my feelings all that much. He’s out and I’ve just made sure he’s turned away from where I work at the desk and it’s not as if I have to sleep in the store or anything so I should be safe. The clowns seem to have a small, but dedicated, fan base so I’m sure he will find someone who will feel the need to take him home and I hope it’s sooner, rather than later.

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