Tuesday, April 26, 2011

close up

i just got back from a muddy bike ride. i wavered all day, as the weather was being a bit tempermental, sunny and bright one minute, pouring rain the next. but i'm glad i went - i got very wet and very dirty, but the sun made an appearance at the end, glimmering through the trees as i rode through puddles on the trail. now the bike has been hosed down, i've been showered, and my clothes have been laundered, so we are all clean and ready for another ride soon.


the light is so good this time of year. in a few months, the glaring summer sun can be a bit flat, often blowing out colours. but right now, even in the middle of the day, colours are rich and crisp. here then are some shots from beachcombing and tidal pool exploring of the other day. so many starfish clinging to rocks and laying vulnerable and exposed on the sand, rich purples and the odd pink one.


a bleached sand dollar shell tucked amongst the rocks. there were also a few black, fuzzy ones, eagerly awaiting the returning tide.


as we meandered along, we disturbed a few gulls hunting along the water's edge. they left an upturned sea star behind. it seemed like it still might be okay so i tucked it back in the water. i supposed it's just the cycle of life either way - starfish can be pretty ruthless predators themselves, once the tide comes back up.

holding on

tucked in the sand, nearly hidden, were a few small sea anemones. i'm not used to them this way, normally seeing the firmly holding on to rocks, and nearly stepped on some before i spotted them.

tiny anemones

our little walk provided much inspiration for stitching. my mind is full of ideas, but my body is feeling restless this week, having trouble sitting still to work on anything longer than a few minutes. what do you do when you're having trouble focusing?

ochre star

Monday, April 25, 2011

on this easter monday...

while a bit of light rain falls, and i am back at work, i thought i would go back to the gorgeous sunny saturday we had.

low tide, mountains and a sailboat

A and i went down to the beach in the afternoon, with the tide far out and still dropping, and roamed along the shore. a good mix of open sand, rocks, and tide pools allowed for lots of exploring options. the wind was quiet and the bright sunlight made it feel almost like a summer's day - almost, as i kind of feel those running around in shorts and tank tops were maybe a little ahead of themselves. but what do i know?

low low tide

the sun felt so wonderful on my face - i think i even got a little flush of colour on my skin. and i scrambled over rocks and crouch down peering into pools to take many a pic. later this week i'll share some close ups of the sea life, mainly starfish.

low low tide

while i love exploring the beach here, i often compare it to the wilder, exposed coast of the west side of the island, or the increasingly ragged coastline as one heads north (for an example, see Annie's recent post). i dream constantly about relocating somewhere a bit more exposed, open to the elements, and isolated. someday...

purple and green

speaking of exposed beaches, i think i'm nearly done the beach scene i've been stitching for, well it seems like ages. i'm leaving it for a few days, to pass by and eye every once in a while. i find it good contemplation to sit with it a bit, make sure it's what i was going for. but i will share soon. hmm, all this talk on and off about it, makes it sound more special than it surely is. nothing in particular, just took some time to come together. but now that it's nearly there, my mind can find room to focus on some other projects. soon.

vancouver island mountains

Sunday, April 24, 2011

sour cream banana coffee cake

because if you can't have cake for breakfast on easter, when can you?

banana sour cream coffee cake

while i love sweets, i've never been a big cake person. and i make cakes even less often than i eat them. so it was a bit strange yesterday evening when i suddenly had the undeniable urge to make some coffee cake. but it's so darn good, i thought i would share it here. i've made the recipe once before, and i think it's from an old issue of martha stewart living. but i'm not sure which one, and i can't find it online. so here is how i make it:

heat oven to 350 F. lightly oil a 12 cup bundt pan.

for the sugar mix:
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c sugar (i used raw cane sugar)

combine above in a small bowl and set aside.

for the cake batter:
1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar (i suspect i used quite a bit less than this; i used a mix of raw cane sugar and agave syrup)
3 eggs
2 ripe bananas
8 oz/250 ml sour cream
3 c flour (i used half whole wheat, half all purpose, plus a generous dose of chia seeds)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. reduce speed and add the remaining ingredients (wet first, then dry) and beat just until smooth.

sprinkle a third of the sugar mix on the bottom of the pan. drop in half the batter in big spoonfuls. sprinkle with another third of the sugar mixture, top with remaining batter, than sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture.

bake 40-45 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. cool on a wire rack before cutting.

happy easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011



a bit of time spent out on the lawn today, working on a stitched scene, reading whole living, drinking a smoothie, and peering up every once in a while to watch the hummingbirds coming in to the feeder. hope you're having a good weekend too. we just came back from the beach and now seems like a good time to start some dinner.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

currently reading...

it seems like i have quite a few books piling up on my bedside table this week, and i thought it might be fun to share some of them here. feel free to chime in with what you're reading or recommend!

currently reading

i've mentioned before that i love books about the west coast - history, ecology, etc - and right now i'm reading the collector, by jack nisbet, which is about the botanist david douglas, and his explorations in the pacific northwest in the 1830s. i'm finding it pretty interesting so far, realizing how many hundreds of plants and animals he documented and "discovered", besides the douglas fir, whose cone is featured on the cover. "collector" is a very apt title, as i'm slipping back and forth between fascination and mortification on the techniques of that time. common practice for botanists/naturalists seemed to be all about preservation (of plants and animals specimens, to take back to england) but with very little note for conservation (ie picking all samples of a plant that could be found, with little regard for leaving some be).

the second and third books in the pile, books #1 and #2 in the bone collection, by jeff smith, were actually picked up for my nephew, for his birthday next week. but i didn't think he would mind if i started reading them, and i finished the two over the past three evenings. they are graphic novels, telling the story of the three bone cousins and their many adventures, and i really enjoyed them. there are actually nine books in this first series, so i am thinking i might have to get the others at some point to read.

like so many others, i am a big fan of heidi swanson and her food blog, 101 cookbooks. i've been reading it for a few years now, and last year i picked up her other book, super natural cooking. it is one of my most used cookbooks. i was thrilled to hear she had another book coming out this spring, and my copy arrived this week. super natural everyday is looking really good so far, although i haven't had time to make any of the recipes yet. but i highly recommend checking out her website if you are not familiar with it, and the books are a great extension of that. all the recipes are vegetarian, with a focus on whole foods that incorporates lots of interesting ingredients while still being very approachable.

bottom of the pile is a library book, one that i wanted to check out before purchasing. so far, handmade living, from lotta jansdotter, is a beautiful look at clean scandinavian style. i think she describes her style as swedish, with influences of asian and the west coast, and that is a mix that definitely appeals to me. lotta's own printed fabric is featured throughout the book, and that along with recipes and decorating ideas makes it a wonderful feast for the eyes.

so, what's on your bedside table this week?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

red sky at night...

red sky at night

remember this? i started this piece way back last july and stitched away on it quite a bit until it was nearly completed. i hadn't know quite what i was going to do when i started stitching the red, pink and orange strips together, but then felt something developing as i had a rippling sea and a tiny little boat. then my original binding idea didn't work out as i wanted, and i put it aside for a little bit. and so it has sat for about nine months, until yesterday i decided to pick it up again. once i got going on this white cotton binding, it was just a matter of carefully stitching away until it was finished up today. i think the wide white binding really helps the rich colours of the piece pop,

red sky at night - detail

"red sky at night" plays on the old nautical saying, "red sky at night, sailor's delight / red sky in the morning, sailor's warning", showing a little sailboat working it's way across a gentle swell with a fiery sky behind. it is completely hand stitched, including the binding and two loops on the back for hanging. a mix of fabrics in shades of pink, red and orange make up the sky, stitched in a circles in several colours of thread. the "ocean" is folded and rippled like the real sea, with pinky red yarn stitched to show the reflecting evening light on the surface of the water.

red sky at night - back

"red sky at night" will be available in the the shop later this afternoon. while i'm still working on my other big hanging, i'm realizing i haven't made any animals for a little bit and i might try and do a few this week. i bought a new reference book last week just for whales, which has been giving me lots of ideas for some of the lesser known species. shop work may be somewhat waylaid by the semi-promising forecast this week though, as i've been spending too much time nestled into the couch. i need to try and get out on my bike, tear up some trails and remind myself how out of shape i am!

red sky at night

Thursday, April 14, 2011

shore fragments

if you've stopped by here once or twice before, you may have gathered that i like to take beach macro photos. heck, i now have a growing set on flickr devoted to just that. my fascination with the close up world of tidal life has been around since i was a kid peering into tide pools. and really, i was peering into tide pools as recently as last weekend - it's still a favoured pastime.

fragment no.1

so it seemed only natural to me to try and recreate these tiny worlds in some stitching. this little piece is a start, thanks to the inspiration provided by Margie's fabrics. i've got ideas for a whole series, although i don't have any timeline, number, or end date in mind. just a focus on little stitched glimpses of shore life, and so i'm calling them "shore fragments". this piece is no.1, a trio of ochre stars clinging to the exposed rocky shoreline, bit of seaweed and barnacles surrounding them. it is all hand stitched, and measures about 4" x 12", with a bit of braided cord at the top for hanging.

fragment no.1 - detail

the colour on this piece felt like a bit of a departure for me, as there is no blue in sight. it's not that blue is necessary, but it does often seem to predominate when at the shore (gee, i wonder why). when getting up close and personal though, there is so much other colour to be found, and it was fun to play with that here. on top of the wonderful natural dyed fabrics from Margie, i also purchased a big bundle of hand dyed linen from Carol at yorktown road, leftover scraps from all the amazing bags she makes. so i'm feeling a bit flush with gorgeous natural fabrics these days, and eager to start using them.

fragment no.1 - detail

what are you up to this weekend? A is coming home tonight, after being away for almost two weeks, so i'm looking forward to some time hanging out with him. the forecast looks somewhat promising, so with luck there will be some outside time. i'm progressing very slowly on the bigger beach scene i'm stitching, but i feel like it's nearly there. soon, i hope.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

argyle for amanda...

argyle for amanda

as mentioned before i've been knitting a new toque for my friend amanda, who is incidentally a very talented crafter and busy mom. this past weekend i got to give it to her, and happily it fit great and worked well to protect against the strong winds of the west coast.

more details can be found on my ravelry, but to sum it up it is knit with blissfully soft blue sky alpaca, and is based on the chart for elinor's vespergyle mittens, with a braided edge. i had some doubts about this hat along the way, including whether it was too busy, or if i had enough yarn, but in the end i think it turned out just as i hoped.

argyle for amanda

i had hoped to make myself a new cabled toque for our west coast trip as well, but sadly i got too cocky and it didn't turn out. speeding to finish in a few days, i thought i had made it when just an inch or so shy of the top i realized the fit was completely off. still debating if i will try again or just write it off and start something else.

my house is filled with the smell of fresh granola - a new cooking experiment. i hope it tastes as good as it smells. A is away a lot right now for work, which always makes it harder for me to eat properly. but tonight i made a dinner of brown basmati, beluga lentils, black beans and a quick homemade salsa (canned tomatoes, bell pepper, jalepenos and garlic) and a sprinkle of feta. yum. and there are leftovers for a lunch of two, which is always a bonus. what are you cooking this week?

Monday, April 11, 2011

fresh air...

washed up

home again, home again, jiggety jig. as i ease myself back into the everyday rhythm of life and mentally prepare for heading back to work tomorrow, i thought we could all use a few images to bring a breath of fresh air into the start of the week. it was a wetter than desired weekend, but beautiful nonetheless (always). plunged into the cold ocean for a bit of surfing (with thick neoprene to keep warm), walked down long expanses of sand bent against the wind (and sometimes pouring rain), slipped between ragged trees in a rainforest, watched perhaps too many movies, drank my fair share of wine & ate too much chocolate, and laughed many good long belly laughs. and my camera kept busy snapping all the lush scenery to be found.


beach scene

swamp lantern



cabin view

mussel shell

sunset, middle beach

sunset through the forest

evening storm skies

and i wore sandals! the air is fresh with the spring and warmer weather and i'm hoping to carry my renewed spirit into the rest of the week.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

a stitched photo...

tomorrow i am headed out to the west coast of the island, for an annual "girls" trip i do every spring for about eight years now. a few girls, a cozy beachside cabin, a few bottles of wine, and perhaps a bit of surfing and definitely lots of beach exploring - it's always a great time. the crew of women varies each year, except for my friend who organizes the whole thing, and me. the spring date usually coincides (give or take) with her birthday, although this year we are about a month late. hopefully that means warmer weather will prevail, although we have often been surprisingly lucky in march.

surfer girls

anyway, i wanted to bring her a little present, as i usually do. this year i thought it might be fun to bring something that was actually somewhat commemorative of our annual trip. i printed out a photo i took of some of our surfing crew about three years back, in black and white to add a bit more timelessness to it. i faded out the bottom of the sand to leave a bit more white space, and then i started stitching.


some bull kelp, a seal, and a bit of a border grew on the photo. it was fun to be stitching on paper, so completely different from working in soft, pliable fabric. i only stitched in black thread to keep this fairly monotone, but i'd like to try some colour in the future. it could also be interesting to work in a much larger size - this is only an 8x10 sheet of bamboo paper. i've put it in a simple white frame for her. i hope it will be a good memory of our times at the beach, especially now that she lives far away from the ocean.

stitched photo

wishing you all a relaxing weekend - i'm looking forward to three days without work and worries.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

wordless wednesday

forest edge


an energetic walk

low tide, gartley bay

except, not entirely wordless. sorry for the lack of interesting posts - honestly, i haven't had much to say lately. hopefully that will change soon. these are just a few shots from a walk in the woods yesterday, enjoying a bit of fresh air and sunshine. the wind was strong and shaking the treetops, and i found a big patch of stinging nettles to pick and take home for eating. yum.

Friday, April 01, 2011

cuteness to end your week...

oh so cute

over at everyeskimo, regina has a regular feature called "friday fuzzy", where she ends the week with some adorable creature or other. this week i thought i would join in, as we could all use a little cute now and then, right? i visited my parents yesterday evening for dinner, and spent a little time in the field with the new crop of lambs. they are a fairly complacent crew this year, three boys and two girls, three white, one black and one suffolk, all fairly relaxed about the girl following them around with a clicking black box stuck to her face. they are getting so big already, but i hope you'll enjoy their sweet little faces (and bums, below!). if only i had video to capture their furiously wagging tails.

wagging tails




their muddy knees are unavoidable right now, as the ground is wet everywhere. more sunshine in the forecast for the weekend though!

muddy little knees

sorry there hasn't been much crafting shared lately. i'm working on several things, but nothing is particularly photogenic right now. soon, i promise. wishing you all a happy weekend.