Archive for September, 2012

During a visit and garden tour last week,

homemade crab-applesauce

I noticed that my aunt had a tree that was just covered with beautiful crab apples. I sampled one and, while expectedly bitter, it also had a lovely flavor. She was kind enough to let me go home with a good supply and I took a couple of days to figure out what to do with them. In the end, I played it safe and went for a simple applesauce. Mother used to make it often, when they still lived in Newfoundland, since they had a small standard apple tree that was often productive and applesauce freezes better than the straight fruit. It was first time for me making it however and she had never done crab apples. (I had considered a few other options but trimming AND coring a couple was enough to convince me to find another way) It was very straightforward. All I had to do was trim off the stems, blossom ends and any bad spots. Then they were simmered in enough water to cover. I wanted to keep our options for use open so no spices or sugar was added. After they had softened the whole thing was run through the jam mill. It removed the tough core bits and left a beautiful smooth, rose-coloured applesauce. The flavour is good and, while it has a refreshing hint of bitterness, it has no need for the addition of sugar. It’s also noticeably thicker than most standard apple-sauces. It expect we’ll end up using it on more savoury than sweet dishes but I think it would be great with a vanilla ice cream.

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Our first year here, we planted a clump of purple aster flowers

fall asters with honey bee

next to a small spruce tree, on the east side of the store. Each year they’ve done well, but would always flop over due to their height and a lack of nearby support. It’s a big enough cluster that the fallen section would create a bare patch under it. This year, I tried to plan ahead and put one of the barrel hoops in it’s centre, in the late spring. It seems to have helped. The clump has still splayed out a bit, but the hoop has kept most of it up and the surrounding ground cover is doing better. It’s also easier to appreciate how pretty they are, now that we can see them.  When I went out to admire, I was surprised to see the flowers were just covered with honey bees. There is so much goldenrod around that I didn’t think they would bother but I’m guessing the asters are especially tasty!

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I’m going to away from the gallery until Sunday. Not to worry, we’ll still be open! I’m just not going to be around for framing consultations. I’ll also be away the following Saturday, the 29th for the Handmade Culture Show at the Stratford Library. Have a great weekend!

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Next Saturday, I’m going to be doing a small show at the the Stratford Library

Kittenfly altered stuffie

as part of Culture Days. In preparation, I’ve been working on more of the mutant stuffies since I got so cleaned out at Fanexpo. Like everything I make, every batch is a bit different and these are no exception. In this round there are a few pieces where the alterations are less a matter of merging two or more animals but more of altering a single piece. This was one of the second type. (although, it’s wings did come off another stuffie) The base is an adorable Gund kitten. I shudder to think what it cost, when first bought, but it was in such pristine condition that it clearly never did more than sit out on display. The pink nose and ears were a perfect match to the pink tones from the butterfly wings so all I ended up doing was grafting the wings to it’s back. (and made sure they had a secure wire support so they would be pose-able) The cuteness factor was pretty high and when I left it in the store, after bringing it over to show some friends, it got snatched up. I don’t normally talk about things that are already sold but This one was too cute not to share. (and I’d already taken and prepped the photo so I’m going to use it!:)

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I recently found a group of wooden lace-making bobbins.

decorated bobbins

It looks like only a few of them are actually old, but it’s hard to tell for certain since they are one of those specialized areas of study that I’m not up on. All had been decorated with beaded accents on their ends. I’m a bit of a purist, when it comes to using materials that are period appropriate, so when some of them turned out to be plastic, I couldn’t just leave them. A number therefore, had their decorations re-done, with a better mix of beads. It was a good way to showcase some of the more interesting wooden ones, from the stash, since they are rarely one of my first choices for jewellery.

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a pale cricket

We have a ton of crickets hopping about, at this time of the year.

recently shed cricket

(they are pretty loud too) They are the standard black garden crickets so, when I was out working in the garden I was surprised to see one with some different colouration. (and it was a very large one as well) My first thought was that it was some sort of albino or other sort of sport. I was pretty excited about it until I did some quick checks on-line to discover that the light colour is usual for one that has just upgraded to a bigger exoskeleton. The shedding process means that the new shell is soft and pale until it hardens. It also explained why it was so sluggish and easy to photograph. So, it turned out not be rare or exciting, but it was an educational experience.

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I’ve been working on a whole new batch of Steampunk

black and silver necklace with vacuum tube

influenced jewellery. Now, all the ideas that have been percolating since the last big bout of jewellery creation, are finally getting made I had a made some ornaments with the vintage radio tubes and kept having requests for them as pendants but it wasn’t possible to use them that way, with the hanging attachment I’d come up with for the ornaments. After a bit more thought, I was able to figure out a way to create a secure jewellery hanging loop for the tubes. That done, it was easy to go ahead and incorporate them into some designs. Most of the tubes have fittings and interiors that tend towards silver and black so this industrial looking finding with a rough silver background and black accents made putting the design together pretty easy. (it was in the stash, but I’m not sure about it’s age) A mix of black and clear glass bead strings further echo the look of the tube. The finished necklace has a bit of drama, but isn’t too extreme to be worn regularly

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This necklace is far chunkier than I almost ever make.

steampunk necklace with carved tigers eye

The chain was in the stash, but it was getting ignored, due to it’s large scale. What made the difference was realizing that it’s colour was a match to a lovely rose gold watch case. It was one of the pretty, ladies cases that were so popular in the 20’s to the 40’s. This one had a great shape and was big enough that it also was the exact size to fit a vintage carved tigers-eye cameo. The case works well as a setting for it and the band loops are decorative as well as making excellent attachment points. From the bottom, a string of beads, including some more tigers-eye, giving it a bit more length and interest. The finished piece is dramatic but would look good with a wide range of clothing styles, if you have the fashion moxy to work it!

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The altered stuffies I’d had on hand came with me to Toronto

gift sketch of Dino-dog altered stuffie

for Fanexpo and a most of them found homes. One of the later ones to go was the Dino-dog. It’s always hard, creating things and then letting them go. The stuffies are especially difficult due to the cuteness factor and how each one has such a distinct personality. Everyone has tempted me to keep it for myself, only a firm grasp of the reality of my storage space got me to put them up for sale. Some people understand the difficulty involved in handing them over and, in the this case, his new owner appreciated his character and was excited enough about him that she drew me a picture to remember him by. It was so sweet of her that I had share!

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This summer’s drought has affected so much of the garden.

raspberries, Sept. 2012

Even the raspberries are having a hard time. They’ve survived and, while shorter than usual, have set their typically large fruit clusters. The thing is that they are running way behind in terms of ripening. We’re finally up to getting a handful or so of berries a day but this is nearly a month later than we’re used to. What we need is a good rain for them to get the production really rolling. Of course, we’re back in drought conditions, but there is some hope for rain next week. (at the moment It think we have the possibility of rain every day next week, but only one has it with a probability of more than 50%, so I’m not holding my breath)  If the fall runs as warm as is predicted, we may still get a decent harvest, but the canes can’t hold up to a solid frost.

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