Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Ah, the last post of 2008! I would have written sooner, but we had various power outages and other excuses. I was sitting here today, though, and I realized that if I put it off any more, it will be next year. Wow.
Hope everyone had an excellent Christmas! We had a fabulous Christmas here in Bridgetown, although it was not quite white. We had big storms on either side of Christmas, and there was a foot of snow on Christmas eve, but it was all gone by the time we woke up on Christmas morning. Mom and Errol came down for the night, so we had a nice family Christmas - Jai made up a huge turkey for Christmas Eve dinner, with Grandma's recipe for perfect stuffing.
Everyone, including the cats was completely spoiled.
Christmas Day we headed over to Brandon and Jo's, with a bunch of friends, and had turkey dinner #2. There's something so yummy and festive about turkey dinner. Theirs was delicious, and also came surrounded by excellent company.
Plus, check out this set that Jo found for me at a yard sale. I think they are the coolest little things.
Oops, I just realized that I only have time for a quick update, since we are due at a friend's house in ten minutes (luckily they are only a three minute walk away!) Anyway, our other piece of major news is that we finally are getting somewhere on the house renovations again. It's been so long that we are totally used to living in a construction zone, but we're both feeling really excited about getting it done again. And rearranging all the furniture gave us some new ideas about how we want to use our space. It's all very exciting.
Anyway, here's a picture of us drywalling the ceiling,
And our new ceiling fan, which we're hoping will move the heat from the wood stove all around the house.
I'll post more soon, with baby updates, and all that goodness. Until then, Happy New Year! And may you be blessed, in 2009, with the ingenuity of a hungry squirrel...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Snow days!

Hello! Well, we had our final Christmas Show in Annapolis Royal last weekend. It was relaxing and fun, and the weather was great, so that was pretty good. There are so many talented people in the area that it turns out to be a really good show, usually, and we know many of the people that come through as both buyers and sellers, so it is quite a social one day event.
This week we had two snow days, so Jai and I got to take two whole days to just hang out and relax, which was super nice. And what did we do with two whole days? We made cookies!
Yum. My Grandma's famous sugar cookie recipe with real butter icing and pretty silver balls. We got our tree all set up, although we haven't decorated it yet. It's another perfect Nova Scotia tree that we purchased at the farmer's market for $20. I think that's the most we've ever paid for a tree here, but still seems like nothing to us, who came from the land of $65 being a cheap tree. We're hoping to decorate it tonight, if there's time when we get home from a community dinner our friends have organized.
Work-wise, I am still working on finishing up the last couple of commissions that had to get put off when we got Christmas-season crazy. Jai's bowl of tops is seriously dwindling, and it's almost time for both of us to get back to some serious work in the shop. 2009 looks like it will be a super busy year, as I have one confirmed show in Annapolis Royal, and a couple of others that are exciting possibilities. Also, there are two juried international exhibitions that I have committed to applying for in the early months of next year. Whether or not I will be accepted doesn't really matter at this point, but it is good to have goals and deadlines, so that I continue to push myself to try and make new and interesting things. It is so important, and sometimes so difficult, to make the work feel refreshing and interesting to me, never mind to other people. Anyway, what that means is that it is time, once again, to sit down and get familiar with my sketchbook.
Other than that, everything is going well. Jai and I have our ultrasound on Monday, so we're pretty excited about that. We're not going to find out if it's a boy or a girl; we decided to be surprised. I'm still feeling pretty good, as long as I make sure to take time to rest (which I've been doing a lot of, this week!) I think I'm starting to show a little, but not so much that I have had any strangers come up to me and say anything.
We're hoping to get our Christmas packages wrapped up and sent out this week, and our Christmas cards written and sent out as well. I can't believe it's less than two weeks till Christmas!
"Little by little, one travels far."
`J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Breaking out the Big News

Hello! I'm back, as promised, with another update.
It's been another busy work week for me, making two custom boxes, as well as working my regular shifts at the cabinet shop and a surprise shift at the post office. Above is a pic of one of the recently completed boxes, and below are some of the new books I made to take to our Christmas show.
I tried out some smaller, coptic bound books to make it so we could have a broader price range, and I am really happy with them. I met a professional bookbinder at the show who said he would show me how to do endbands if I look him up next time I'm in Halifax, so that was pretty exciting, as I tried to figure it out on my own from a photo of a finished endband, and had mixed results.
Jai was busy, too, but he did make time to begin to finish our renovations on our library/living space. We started this ages ago - actually, this is the first room we started when we moved in - and we are both really looking forward to having it done. The ceiling and the way that the walls will attach to the dining room have been holding us back, ever since we took the wall down to have the woodstove put in. Anyway, we still haven't totally figured out how we're going to solve some of the problems, but at some point, you just have to begin. So we cleared the room out, sealed it off, and Jai finished taking the ceiling down.
And, saving the best for last...
The word is out, so I think it is safe for me to start writing about this...
Jai and I are having a baby at the beginning of May :) This is another reason for the less frequent posts, as I have been super ridiculously tired by the end of the day, most days. I'm definitely feeling better now, though (I can actually stay up past 10 o'clock again!) and really, I feel pretty lucky, as other than the exhaustion, so far I've gotten off pretty easy, compared to some of the stories I've heard! So that's it, that's our big news - probably the biggest news we'll ever have.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Christmas Show!

Hi!!! (Finally!) Sadly, I don't have a lot of time to write tonight, but I thought I better sneak a minute to post a small update, at least. This last weekend was the NSDCC Christmas Craft Show, which is the main reason why it has been so long since I wrote!
Our new booth worked great, and was super easy to set up. We got lots of compliments on it, so that was pretty nice. Friday was a slow day for us, lots of people browsing through and paying us with compliments. Then early Saturday morning Nova Scotia was hit with a huge blizzard. We couldn't even get the car (we tried to borrow Mom and Errol's SUV) down the street, the snow was so deep that the car was bottoming out, and then we couldn't even get it back in the driveway. The plows didn't do their their cul-de-sac, so Jai and I loaded up all the stuff we wanted to bring and hiked out to the nearby Superstore to catch a cab. We made it eventually, but there were quite a few vendors that didn't, and hardly any customers at all. Halifax was basically shut down, they weren't ready for the snow at all. We saw a bus full of people stuck in a snow drift in an intersection, and our cab driver was saying (among other, more eccentric things) that he had seen a plow that was stuck. Yikes.
Anyway, despite Saturday, which was spent visiting and making new friends, mostly, I am going to count the show a success. We made some excellent contacts, so keep your eyes posted here for some exciting new updates.
And my whirligigs were a big hit, which is exciting to see. So it looks like I will be making lots more of those in the near future, and I'm looking forward to that.
And, yes, I had a birthday on Sunday! It was great, and nice to be able to visit with some family and eat home-made birthday cake.
Anyway, I have a few pics of our booth, but not too much of anything else, so I will try and post again soon with more photos, and some more news!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hello!  Not much news to report around here, again.  I'm afraid the next couple of weeks will be more of the same as we bust our butts to get ready for the big Christmas show.  Plus, I'm still working outside of our business five days a week, and this week I am subbing some yoga classes for one of the local teachers who is under the weather.  Whew!  

I have found time to finish up six books this week, but not time to photograph them!  Imagine in your mind six beautifully bound books in assorted woods and sizes.  And Jai has been trying extra hard to find time to make some tops.  Hopefully, it will all pay off in the end.  Fingers crossed!
That is a whole tray of in-production bookmarks, which are thankfully finished now :)

Have a great week!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Colours

Hello! Ah, it's been so long, but I haven't forgotten about you! We've been so busy over the last couple of weeks, it's a little bit nuts. On top of all the regular work, and trying to get ready for our Christmas show, after a year of being on "the list" I finally got a call from the Post Office. I applied for what I thought was an actual job there last year, went through the interview, was told my name had been added, and then I never heard from them again... until now. Apparently this is very common, but it was a bit of a surprise to get that call. Anyway, so far I've been working a couple of days a week at our local Post Office, but I'm just their "casual" person, so basically I am on call. I'm having fun working there, though. And I can see the Post Office from our house, so it's nice to get a little bit of work so close to home.
Speaking of getting ready for the Christmas show, Jai and I have spent the last couple of weekends working on our booth. Luckily, Stephen is letting us do it in his shop, because there's no way I could build it in ours! Plus he has this nifty clamp carousel, and since I (perhaps foolishly!) decided we would build it out of solid wood instead of plywood, we needed to glue up forty-two panels before we could even get started!
Other than that, we don't have a lot of news to share. Our Mac miraculously fixed itself, somehow. That was a relief - if only the car could have done the same! Jai finally got his wholesale order finished up and I shipped it out this morning. It feels good to get that out of the house!
Last night we had Carolyn and River over for a nice dinner. Jai made Mulligatawny soup for the first time, and it was delicious. He reminded me that it wasn't actually the first time we had made that soup. Last time we tried it was several years ago, when we were first starting to cook actual meals for ourselves, and we were both such picky eaters that we eliminated about half the ingredients and ended up with soup that may as well just have been chicken broth. It was much better this time!
Tonight, I am off to the theatre where Jai works as they have started up their film society movies again, and we have started up girl's night out again. Last time it was "The Stone Angel," which was a pretty good movie, but quite different from the book I remember having to read in high school. Jo and I were joking about how much we hated that book, but she read it again before the movie, and said she loved it this time, so I may have to give it a second chance. Good old Hagar. Tonight it is "The Visitor" which I know absolutely nothing about.
Anyway, my point was, it hasn't been entirely all work and no play, it just feels like it sometimes :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's funny because it's true...

Hello! No pictures today, because our beloved Mac has crashed! Jai spent very many hours yesterday trying to fix it, and talking on the phone with support guys, but all to no avail, so far. He says he thinks he can fix the computer, but he's not sure if he can save any of our stuff off of it. This is unfortunate, because we didn't have anything backed up. We talked about it sometimes, but...

Anyway, that is today's major bit of news. Luckily we still have the laptop, so I can sit here and update the blog, and we can still get into our e-mails. Although, I was saying it might have been nice to have a day or two that were e-mail free, with no guilt. I feel like I've been spending a lot of time lately answering questions for people who may or may not end up ordering custom items. Wouldn't it be nice if makers could just spend all their time MAKING things? Oh well, I don't want to sound ungrateful, since it's nice that people are finding us.

We got confirmation of our spot in the NSDCC Christmas show. We'll be in booth # 405. It looks like a good spot, so I'm very happy with that. This week, I've been working on doing up some smaller marquetry pieces. I took the camera out a couple of days ago, and shot all sorts of photos of branches and leaves from around our yard and the park behind our house. So far, I've finished two pictures, and I'm all set to start on a third. They were pretty fun because, relatively speaking, they go so fast. Some of the bird pictures have upwards of 40 pieces individually fitted together, and with these there might only be ten or twelve. It's a little less taxing on my brain, and I'm happy with the results. It was Sarah's idea to make some smaller marquetry pieces that people could find a little more affordable. We'll see! I wish I could post some pics, but I'll try and remember next time.

The days are definitely getting cooler, and already it's at the point where we need to start a fire in the shop if we are going to be comfortable out there. Jo and I did a Frenchy's run last week, and everyone is looking for sweaters and scarves. Sarah and Rachel and I are trying to get back into our routine of knitting together once a week, and I'm hoping to knit myself a new scarf before it gets too much colder. The days, however, have been beautiful and clear. I know I've written about this before, but I just really can't overstate how much I enjoy the cyclical nature of the year here. I know most Canadians are used to this, and it's only because I grew up in Victoria, where we get two really long, drawn out seasons (spring and fall) that kind of mush into each other, that I find it so fascinating. But I love feeling the nature of the world around me change. I love how things are getting colder, and I know that Winter is coming. There's a lot more anticipation of what's coming, and appreciation for what is, when you get four distinct seasons. Things are ending now that won't be back until next year.

Speaking of which, tomorrow we are hoping to get down to the Annapolis Royal Farmer's market, since it's the last one of the year. I bet the whole market will smell like apples. I'm hoping someone there will be selling Honeycrisp apples, straight off the tree. I can't wait until we are growing our own! They really are the crispest, juciest, sweetest apples I've ever tasted. If you get a chance to try one, don't miss it. They make most other apples seem kind of bland in comparison. And they'll only be available for the next month or so, so I feel like I have to eat as many as possible while I can. Kind of like mandarin oranges when they first start appearing on the shelves, and they're so good that we eat multiple oranges a day. Only these are locally grown, so they're even better. Anyway, clearly somebody should be paying me to promote local apples!

Oh, and I don't often talk about politics, but we do have an election coming on Tuesday, and there is a lot of really interesting talk right now about the role of the Arts in society. Some Canadian artists are creating some very interesting pieces in response. I had to laugh yesterday while I was driving home from work and listening to the good old CBC. They played a skit by Jane Testar about a little girl who wants to grow up to be a concert pianist. It's very hard to find, the only way I could get it was to download a podcast from CBC's Comedy Factory called Testar-Sterone. Anyway, I did manage to write down one of my favourite moments from it, so I'll leave you with this:

Girl: But, then I can be a pianist, right, Daddy?
Dad: Absolutely, sweetheart. A pianist, a teacher, an administrator of a small arts festival, and a waittress at The Keg, all at the same time!

Friday, October 03, 2008


Our amazing friend Brandon has built us an all-new web-site, so if you haven't been to our Sleeping Forest Studios site in a while, hop on over and let us know what you think!
I tried to add a link, but it kept trying to find a blog. Anyway, there's a link in our menu on the right side of the screen :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008 update!

Hello! Yes, we're still here. It's been a while, I know. Thanks for the notes of concern. Mostly, I just got lazy :)
I was downed for a whole week by a truly nasty cold that has been making the rounds. Luckily, Jai didn't get sick, because that might have been trouble! Oh well, it was a little bit enjoyable to have an excuse to eat all that soup. I sure do love soup.
Then there was a week-long delay after I realized that I forgot to change my camera format from RAW, after taking all those wedding photos. I'm sure if you have the right software, it's an easy fix to convert RAW images to Jpegs, but apparently we don't have the right software. So Jai converted some of the photos for me, and I'll probably throw the rest out. Some of the Ciderfest events, you will just have to picture in your head! :)
We haven't been up to much around here. I went to do the Nova Scotia Designer Craft Council (NSDCC) jurying a couple of weeks ago. Things were a little frantic around here for the week before that, as I was trying to get some new pieces done to replace the pieces we put in the Trees Gallery. Anyway, we passed the jurying (whew!) so now we can officially call ourselves juried members of the NSDCC, which does carry some weight for those who care about these sorts of things. Plus, now we can do the NSDCC Christmas show, which is supposed to be one of the best shows in Eastern Canada. So that's a whole lot more to get ready for. From now until after Christmas, we are going to be supremely busy.
Also that same weekend, I got to be the photographer's assistant for my cousin Emma, who does wedding photography. I had done one other wedding with her, years before, but it was super fun to do another one. I'm hoping she'll ask me to do more. Here's a link to the album - I took some of those pictures! Anyway, that was actually a super fun way to spend the day, and the food was pretty delicious, too.
And, after that, it was pretty much lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. We did get out to see some of the Ciderfest activities that happened here in Bridgetown. Ciderfest is Bridgetown's big annual cultural festival, and this year was it's 25th anniversary. There was all the traditional activities like pancake breakfasts and pig roast dinners, but I didn't get to any of those. We did get to the giant pumpkin weigh-off, though. That was really fun, there were lots of giant pumpkins, and the biggest one weighed 651 pounds! We grew pumpkins in the garden again this year, but the biggest one we got, you could easily hold in the palm of one hand.
After the pumpking weigh-off, there was movies in the park. National Velvet for the kids, and The Quiet Man for the adults. So Jai and I took a couple of quilts and our big winter coats down to the park, and cuddled up for The Quiet Man. It was a little cold, but they provided hot chocolate and popcorn, and the movie was pretty fun. There's something so nice about sitting under the stars, huddled under a blanket, sharing a little moment like that with your neighbours.

Other days there was a night party on main street, where they shut down the street to traffic, and put out a bunch of carnival games and a main stage where they held the finals for Bridgetown Idol. Unfortunately we missed the end, so I can't tell you who won. The next day, there was a bunch more events on the main street, including a petting zoo and free cider giveaway. We kind of missed the Rubber Duck race down the river, as we waited on the bridge, with all the other people from away, and it happened down by the park. Oops. We did make it back to the park in time to catch the cardboard boat race, though, and I'm so glad we did.
The boats had to be made of carboard and tape only, and there were all different categories for different age groups. It was so much fun to watch them go, and of course there were a few contestants who ended up swimming most of the way, dragging their soggy cardboard boats behind them. Everyone got cheered on equally.
Other than that, things have mostly been quiet around here. We've both been pretty exhausted, but trying to get more work done. Summer is almost finished here. We had the peaches off our tree (yum!) and now the frosts have begun. The leaves are starting to go the most spectacular colours, and there have already been a few nights when we lit a fire in the stove to warm up. Another season change is upon us, and it's almost time for me to knit a new scarf. I'll try and drum up some news in the week to come, so you don't have to wait so long for another update. Until then, keep well!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Beans and Stuff

Hello! I'm a little behind on posting this week. It felt like one of those weeks where we were constantly on the go, although looking back, it is also one of those weeks where I don't feel like we actually accomplished much.

The sad news first . . . Our car is toast. The second shop we took it to called yesterday to say that the motor was not fixable, and a new one would cost $3500, just for the part. This has left us in sort of a quandary (ok, I admit that I'm not totally sure if that is the right usage for the word "quandary" but I'm going to use it anyway, because I feel like it should describe our situation.) We only paid $2500 for the car in the first place, and we only bought it almost exactly a year ago - not exactly a good value, in the end. We aren't really in a situation to buy another car at the moment (or to fix the one we have!) but over the last two weeks, I have put $70 of gas in the truck, when I would have put $20 in the car. So we can't really keep that up, either. Hmmmmmm. Yup, quandary. (Maybe.)
Anyway, on the postive side, my beans are done! This is a giant bowl of the beautiful black beans that we grew in the garden. It's probably only enough for one or two meals, but it was just a small patch of the garden, and they were so much fun to grow, and harvest :) The kidney beans are coming along, but they aren't dry enough yet. Mmmmm - home-made garden chili. I can't wait! Plus we have been enjoying all our home-grown watermelons. It's amazing that something so juicy came out of our garden!

We finished scraping one side, and most of the back of the house, so we finally got some primer on. Then it rained for a week (still raining as I type) so we haven't gotten any further on it. That is a HUGE project that we are still hoping to finish this year, but it's starting to look a little iffy. They say we are about to get the remnants of Hurricane Hannah, so I think we're in for a little more rainy weather.

We did get a little work done in the shop. Jai has been making more tops (of course) and some pens that were a custom order.

And I played with bandsaw boxes, finally. I never was able to get 4" poplar, so I had to get 8/4, and glue it together. It's a bit of a pain, but in the end it works just as well. This is my first finished box, and I'm hoping to make more soon.

Also, still busy making books. I finished up this walnut one:

And my friend Jo gave me my first custom order for a book with this amazing picture of her father to draw on the cover. I started it already, and really love how it looks. I'll post pictures when it's done. The whole process of working with these old photos is just so enjoyable.
I also started a book with some cutout silhouettes in the cover. I had done several of these in the old style of book, and they were always popular, so we'll see if the same holds true or not. I started with a cutout of some maple leaves, in a birdseye maple book, and it is coming together nicely, so far.
We've got one week till the NSDCC (Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council) jurying. I will be taking three products that are representative of what we make, and submitting them for a judgment from peers. Wish us luck! I'm not sure yet which three products to bring, but I have to decide soon, because there is pages and pages of paperwork that has to be done on each one. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Canning Shenanigans...Canninagans!

Hello! I had a bunch of computer work to do today, and photos that needed to be uploaded, so I thought I would take a second to write here as well.
Things are going good here. Still no word on our car - our mechanic has narrowed it down to some timing problem inside the engine, but doesn't want to take the engine apart, so he's going to find someone else to do it.
On the bright side, though, we did some canning this week! We started with dill pickles, which were pretty easy, and lots of fun to do. Although I think next time, we could get the jars a little fuller, I think we did pretty good for a first try. And the jars look so pretty!

Since they were so easy and fun, I thought I would do peaches the next day. Sarah and I had been to a local orchard, and split a bushel of seconds to do our canning with. And now I've learned my lesson. I will not be buying peach seconds next year, no matter how cheap they are. The ones that weren't mushy and filled with ants were rock hard and tiny. I did about a quarter of the half bushel (about 20 peaches) and then gave up. I was blanching them to get the skins off, but, I think because they weren't ripe, they wouldn't slide off like they were supposed to. They kind of mushed off and tore and shredded. Then they weren't free stone, so they didn't come off the pit easily, either. So between the stuff that stuck to the skin, and the stuff that stuck to the pit, I had about 1/4" of mush. Luckily we had some Ontario peaches which were big and juicy, so I used those up as well, and they worked just like they were supposed to. The skins came off easily and they were easy to slice up. Then I almost canned them in salt water instead of sugar - luckily I had recruited Jai by that point, and he stopped me before I got too far! When they were finally finished, hours later, I ended up with only two jars of peaches, and I was feeling pretty discouraged, although I know they will be yummy later.
We had a big pot full of sugary peach water left over, and I didn't want to dump it, but couldn't think what it would be good for. And then I remembered the ice cream maker! We bought it on sale 90% off in the sidewalk sale at Home Hardware last summer, but never used it. We took the sugar & peach water, and some home-grown frozen strawberries that we blended with some of the rock-hard peaches, and dumped the whole thing into the ice-cream maker. Twenty minutes later, we had the most delicious peach-strawberry sorbet this planet has ever seen.

And then it was all worth it :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

There once were two Ladies...

Hello again! Another week has passed...

We've both been working a lot. Here's Jai in the Summer Toy Factory:

The weather this week has been beautiful - I would even venture to say Perfect. These are the kind of weeks we have to store up and savor later. I have been taking lots of pictures outside, partly just as an excuse to be out there, and still be doing something semi-productive (heavy emphasis on the semi.)

Our car has been in the shop all week because for some reason it won't start. They've had it all week, and still can't figure out what's wrong with it, so it looks like they will have to tow it to the dealership in Middleton for further testing. Big sigh. Anyway, that's meant that I've had to drive the big brown truck to work all week. If it wasn't so darn expensive, I would want to drive it all the time. It's a lot slower, and a lot noisier, but somehow it's a much friendlier drive. You're high up, and bumping around all over the place, and for some reason when you drive a big old farm truck, lots of people wave at you as you go by. So that's been enjoyable, if a little hard on the pocketbook.

Jai made a delicious tomato soup, right out of the garden the other night, with homegrown tomatoes, leeks, and basil. I'm a little disappointed in our tomato crop this year, I was hoping for a lot more, but the ones we got are mighty tasty. I'm hoping to get some pesto made up this week, and to sun-dry (well, oven-dry) some of the paste tomatoes. The more food we can store away, the better.

I've been continuing to work away in our own shop as well. I've made some new books using vintage photos. These two some of you out there might recognize:

That is my Step-Dad, Errol, when he was a little boy, and my Grandma and her twin sister when they were little girls. So, I just spoiled the surprise, but if either of you are reading this, I do plan on sending these books out to you. Jai and I were wondering if this is a service someone might like - I can take an old favourite photo of a family member, and turn it into a customized photo album/journal cover. I don't really know if that's something we could sell or not, but I thought I'd put the idea out there...
I also did a book cover titled "Jimmy's First Day" which is based on an old photo I found in the antique store in Bear River. Fun!

And last but not least, my latest masterpiece:
The words say:
There once were two Ladies who set sail in a small boat on the vast Sea. They didn't know their destination, so they followed the path of the Moon for night after night. Eventually they reached the end of the Earth, and stopped to look over the edge.

This is my first real Automata, and I love it! The photos turned out pretty good, but the best part is turning the crank, and watching it come to life.

"An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn't take his education too seriously."
~Charles F. Kettering (1876 - 1958)