Art as a purpose

news and some kitchen tips

Hello! I've been working on a website to sell my artwork and it's finally up and running: zephyrdear.com. I've also created an Etsy site, here. (!!!)

Now, here are some of my favourite kitchen tricks. Maybe they'll come in handy for your winter baking.

Storing Citrus Zest: I love adding zest to baked goods, but don't always have fresh citrus on hand. Instead, I keep sugared lemon and orange zest (separately) in the freezer so that it's always available. Here's what I do: when using a lemon just for its juice or when eating or juicing an orange, I first use a microplane to remove the zest. I put the zest in a jar and add a spoonful or so of sugar, just enough so that the zest doesn't all clump together (lemon zest tends to be drier than orange zest). That's it. Then I keep the jar in the freezer and can scoop out a teaspoon when I need it to add to cookies or muffins or whatever. I always use organic citrus for zesting.

Vanilla Sugar: I can't bring myself to compost used vanilla beans when they still have aroma to offer (which they do). After using a vanilla bean to flavour a creme caramel or other dessert, I give it a good rinse and then put it in my jar of organic cane sugar. I keep adding beans as I use them. The sugar preserves the beans and over time takes on a very vanilla aroma.

 

November

Ah, yes. It feels like it's been ages. I've been lying on the floor drawing in the evenings lately, drinking tea and listening to Discworld audiobooks and fending off the rabbits (who enjoy pencils and watercolour paper for different reasons than mine), instead of lying on the floor typing and drinking tea and fending off the rabbits from the keyboard. It's pretty relaxing. What I've created is a series of black and white pictures that are waiting to be painted or coloured in. My intention is to get prints made and give them away or sell them to give people something relaxing to do on these dark chilly evenings. I'd love to hear what you think about this! On a sidenote, I am sitting in a puddle of long November light. Jeremy is making french toast with panetonne in the kitchen, a gift from my wonderful mother. She also brought us homemade apple butter, and exquisite handmade jewellery for me - thanks Mum!

I'm enjoying this time of year much more than I thought a November could be enjoyed. I love arriving indoors all pink-cheeked and invigorated from the cold. I love snuggling in my wool blanket and my thickest socks. I love thinking about everything I would like to bake. I love the nuthatches and chickadees, downy woodpeckers, flickers, purple finches and others that come to our kitchen window. I love watching squirrels stuffing themselves and the earth with prized nuts, and I love seeing the syrupy light sprawl sideways across the water and through the trees.

grey sky and colour

I've been doing my best to learn from a disappointing experience. The art prints I was so excited about are here, and they're alright, but they don't look anything quite like the originals. Somewhere in the scanning the colours got blown out and greyed and the print shop declared watercolours too elusive to reproduce accurately. So I have these wonky prints (maybe I could sell them for cheap?) Has anyone else had a similar experience? What worked?  We've had overcast sky for much of this past week- some days soft like grey flannel, others overbearingly bright but not sunny. The garden has been rocketing along with little assistance from us, and providing tender salads and pockets of colour where before there was dry dirt. 

My patient husband made me take a painting break today. I'm so glad he did. Taking time for myself, especially time for doing art, is something I really need to work on. It's so easy to prioritize all the never ending house and garden tasks, imagining the beautiful peace I will have when it's all done, but the hours  just keep slipping by. 

       

Golden

I'm learning the tides on my walks to work, and also the short seasons of the flowering plants that inhabit the dry, rocky margins of the shore. Already the long grass has cured to deep gold and I haven't seen the otters frolicking in it for over a week; they drift lazy in the kelp beds instead. The camas and California poppies are almost done, giving way to stonecrop and Nootka rose.  We drove up island to Nanaimo for an evening road trip adventure this week, through shady maples, lush farmland and tall Douglas firs. Now, I know that Nanaimo has some ugly strip malls going on, but the winding streets of the old city centre are pretty charming, and a road trip (with some good pizza at Torta Luna along the way) was just what we needed. 

This has also been a good week for visits. My beautiful, talented friend LA came to the island for a brief visit from the mountains, and we walked and walked, and ate very well indeed. My dad came by my work this morning, and on Sunday we went over to Salt Spring Island to visit my family there. The day was hot and sunny, perfect for drinking coffee, walks down to the beach, and my stepdad M's homemade cider. The salmonberries and honeysuckle were ripe, so I snacked as we walked, leaving a trail of orange trumpet flowers along the roadside. 

I brought some of my watercolour paintings into our local print shop this afternoon. It's part of working towards my dream of having an etsy shop up and running, and selling art prints and mobiles and jewellery, and whatever else I'm drawn to create. Yay!

I hope everyone out there is having a rich and vibrant May. 

PS I'm changing the title of this post because whenever I look at it (just what we needed) I get that old song in my head, even though the words are a little different, and that is perhaps not what we needed.

       

all things considered

Well, I'm without a computer for a little while. My laptop had a flash encounter with a mug of hot peppermint-nettle tea and a rambunctious silver rabbit, which, all things considered, is not a bad way to go. Hopefully it's just the keyboard that's been affected and it'll be geeked back into working order over the next few days. I dug out my ancient MacBook G4 the night of the incident, but the internet seems to have left it in the dust.