Monday, February 28

making wood oil

wood oil

wood oil

wood oil

wood oil

wood oil

wood oil

wood oil

I have a big show to hang on wednesday ~ so why do I keep finding myself in the kitchen? The renovations are continuing...and continuing. As I write, the water guys are out in the rain drilling through the sidewalk to turn off the water in our 1930's-era pipes, so we can fix a leak in the basement, so we can finish the kitchen...

I'm balancing studio work with kitchen things. I find I'll work on some intellectual, brainy pieces for a while, then go downstairs and find something tactile to do ~ moving my Pyrex back into the cupboards, or unpacking the boxes of tea. Yesterday I helped Tim make wood oil. It was very satisfying to rub the counters and all of our wooden utensils with fingerfuls of warm beeswax and walnut oil salve. There's something about wood that still feels alive to me, and I like how it needs caring for in order to stay at its best. Everything is protected and glowing now.

Wood oil receipt: 

16 oz bottle of walnut oil
1 lb beeswax block

Break up the beeswax block and place about 2/3rds of it in a mason jar. Bring a pot of water to boil and place the jar in the water, until the beeswax is melted. When it's liquid, remove it from the water.

Pour the jar of walnut oil into another clean mason jar, and place in boiling water until warmed through. This helps keep the mixture smooth when it's mixed. Pour the heated oil into the mason jar of melted beeswax and allow to cool, mixing every so often for an even consistency. When its cooled enough to touch it should act like a hand salve, becoming a solid at room temperature but easily scooped out with your fingers. If it's too runny, reheat it by placing the mason jar back in a boiling pot of water and melt, then add more beeswax. It's better to err on the runny side since you can add more beeswax but not more oil (since you use the entire bottle.) How do I know this? Because we had to go out and buy another bottle of walnut oil.

Perfect the consistency to your liking before pouring into smaller jars to cool.

Rub it straight onto your wooden countertops and utensils with your fingers and palms (this is really fun.) Let sit for the afternoon or overnight and buff with a clean cotton cloth before using. It is food safe, smells good, is non-toxic and works great as a hand/ foot/ body salve too. We keep the jars under the counter for easy access.


Do you have any good recipes for salves, balms, tinctures, or infusions? I'd love to know them!


Sunday, February 27

the denim sky

Standing on a hillside covered in snow with animal tracks at my feet, I decided to wait for the clouds to pass so I could take this polaroid. It was almost too warm out in the blazing sun, the sky so denim blue it shimmered. I could hear the sawing of nearby arborists in the trees as they pruned craggy branches on the cusp of spring. The clouds took about twenty minutes to pass by, and I just stood there for all that time, the snow sparkling like fireworks, and thinking about nothing much at all.

It was pretty great.


Monday, February 21

10 things that make me happy

1. getting a massage (got one today!)
2. spackle
4. sunshine
5. books on cd
6. Birds & Blooms magazine
8. a clean bathtub
9. taking the dogs' collars off so they stop jingling and driving me crazy
10. road trips

And that said...I'll be taking a little computer break segueing into a Number 10. I might be found in Boston by the end of the week...I'll be back on Sunday, hopefully with some photos. A mental break is needed if I'm going to be able to think straight when my show's up. I hope you all have a great week!

Now I'm off to eat a scone for dinner and I guess I need to do some packing.

What are your top 3 favorite items to bring when you travel? Mine are: needle and thread to sew things into my journal, a good book that is not escapism but that can be read in short, rich, thoughtful doses, and my travel tea mug. For tea on the go.


Saturday, February 19

italy, ten years ago


It's been ten years since we went on this backpacking trip through Italy. It really feels like yesterday. I packed way too much stuff and remember squeezing toothpaste out on the first night in an attempt to lighten my pack weight. I brought so much film with me too, and a dinky point and shoot camera that worked wonderfully. I knew it inside and out. I've loved to travel ever since.

What are favorite trips that you have made, far-off or near-to-home?

*photos by jenna

Thursday, February 17


I miss my kitchen

It's a little weird not having a kitchen. I keep trying to go use it but it's not there anymore. Today I had to make tea in the upstairs hallway, and yesterday I made a green smoothie on the bottom stair.


Tuesday, February 15


I want to say my prayers and write some new sorts of stories and make a garden and read some books and walk up the hill behind the house so I can see the sea when the weather is clear. And just sit.

That is a lovely pair of sentences I just read in A Book of Silence, by Sara Maitland, which took me forever to finish. In these last wintery days I'm looking for some new good reads ~ any suggestions?


Monday, February 14

happy chocolating

disclaimer: Tim did not buy me this chocolate. My friend sent it to me along with a good book. But isn't this just a lovely sight to see? Chocolate and red plaid. It'll be up over at words to shoot by later today ~ the word is sweet.


Friday, February 11

loosestrife and purple corduroys


me at the lake in ontario

It's a sunny day today so I moved the cat out of the sunbeam on the bed this morning and soaked it up myself. The presence of the sun is such a cheerer. I'm about to walk the dog ~ my car's in the shop getting some work done (these winter roads!) so I'm car-less for the morning. Later I need to work on some framing and matting of pieces for the show opening in just over 3 weeks. The kitchen starts getting renovated on Monday ~ finally getting butcher-block counters! (& new floor & new cupboards) And I think Tim and I, and dogs of course, will be taking a road trip soon down to Florida to do some camping. I grew up down there so it feels like home to me.

That's the speed of my life right now, rather busy and pithy. I found this photo above of myself hanging out by the lake in the 80's amongst the loosestrife plumes, barefoot and breezy. I can't wait to do something like that soon. (looks like I definitely need a pair of purple corduroys.)


Tuesday, February 8

fingers crossed for spring

My PopPop probably took this in the 70's. I've been carrying my old Canon 35mm camera around with some film in it for a couple of weeks, slowly taking a roll to see how it's working. The roll may or may not come out. It's exciting either way.

And, I'm officially up on the art center page for my solo show next month. Look. I guess it's going to happen. Better get crackin.' (the studio whip, I suppose?) I've been in there all afternoon dipping things in beeswax and feeling the wind shaking the windows as the temperature drops in the gloaming.*

Erin posted some perfect thoughts today for how I feel ~ all except for the doing dishes part.

*gloaming: the time after sunset and before dark

Sunday, February 6

orange suns and snowmelt

in seattle, last october

I went to the art museum this afternoon ~ an afternoon of sunshine and silhouette trees, of orange suns and reflections sparkling on the river, of snowmelt and puddles. It felt of spring. I've been noticing subtleties lately, reading In Praise of Shadows, remembering looking at Giotto in Assisi, and Paul Klee in Switzerland, and dreaming again of visiting other countries and being intrigued by other places.

I got to experience that today, peering in at wood paneled rooms moved in entirety from an ancient England, watching the drip-drip of water into the rock cleansing basin at the Japanese tea house. The stone Buddha, smiling for a thousand years. The perfect fresh beauty of the 12th century turquoise Persian dish, set down by the artisan at some point 900 years ago and now there, in front of me, as if time blinked. Imagining how people used to live, seeing the detail of things hundreds of years old as if they were made yesterday, and being awed and inspired by the history of humankind.

It's pretty affirming. Makes me glad to be here doing my thing, just like they all did. Living day to day, looking for the beauty and focusing on the pith of life, as much as I am able. I probably won't be leaving anything behind to last for a thousand years, but I'm happy to be here now, looking forward to when this sand mandala will be made near by me, to making amaranth popcorn, and trying my hand at a flourless lemon torte. ( ~ any ideas on where to find a good recipe?)

What's making you happy to be here lately?


sunshine and primroses

studio desk last autumn

It seems lately that most of my posts here are written in front of the fire with the cat stretching her furry little white legs by my side. It's quite late at night; the dog is asleep in a strange position, kind of like a trussed up chicken. She seems comfortable with it. Much of Tim's and my entertainment around the house involves one or the other of us dragging the other by the sleeve to go look at something one of the pets is doing. Like yesterday ~ the cat was having her Zen moment in the sun amongst the St-John's-wort and the enormous snowdrifts. (side note: Mimi needs her Zen moment each day, otherwise she gets cranky. Cranky includes ambushing the dogs and/or keeping them prisoner in the kitchen by sitting in the doorway.)

I hear it's going to be sunny tomorrow and I am going to soak it in ~ I have a new white primrose in a yellow pot on the windowsill. It looks so fresh and feels like spring. When I can leave the house without tripping over an icy snowdrift I will be contented. I'm going to take myself to the art museum in the afternoon and possibly out to breakfast on the way.

Are you doing anything special for your sunday?


Thursday, February 3



tim & donovan

I found this polaroid from this summer ~ our campsite at our favorite place. It's making me smile just to look at it. There are good times ahead! I cannot wait to go camping again.


Wednesday, February 2

tea and paintbrush

tea with cat.
tea and mimi

I'm waiting on my second pot of tea but Tim has taken the electric kettle to melt the ice out front. This morning I took a walk to see the ice-clad trees, and slid my way down the sidewalk under the drips through a foggy landscape. Cardinals are so stunning against the white.

Back to the house to finish a little painting ~ I kept dipping my paintbrush into my tea. 

altered book page ~ feather

altered book page ~ feather

These feathers are for a show next month.

I think I'll make chocolate chip scones later on, and do a little of this.


Tuesday, February 1

cozy winter


Some people might say that a third pot of tea is too much in one day. But some days just call for it. I made pancakes with blueberries for breakfast, and we're waiting for more snow and rain to begin. The wood has been brought in, Tim just started the fire, and one dog has been walked. We're getting there.

While I sit at the downstairs table and work, I've been watching the birds at the feeder ~ silhouettes of muted color against the snowbanks. They are hungry and flock in when they see me throw seed. It's a cozy kind of day. Tim's all curled up by the fire with a woollen blanket on his lap, reading, and Mimi's doing reconnaissance to achieve his lap.

I'm slowly photographing new work to put into the shop (my art shop, that is) ~

altered book ladder

It is just way too easy to stay on the computer during these long winter days. I keep checking out this blog ~ it's summer in New Zealand.

And I've just started the five week course Get Your Paint On, run by Lisa Congdon and Mati McDonough. Just thought I'd shake things up a bit. I haven't painted in a while.

Also, check out the new words to shoot by ~ it's up.

Hoping your corner of the world is filled with sunshine. :)