Thursday, 25 October 2012

Kafka Kafka Kafka

I love Kafka- or rather I love Kafka's literature. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have loved him, as he seems to have been a fairly weird and moody person that would have annoyed me to no end. But I love his writing. I love teaching his literature.

And I love mixed media and collage. But I do not love so much the current trends of mixed media wherein one buys stamps, stencils, stickers, paper and ready made ephemera and crap and then assembles it, smears it with paint or whatever and calls it art. That is an insult to real artists, to people who make their own stuff, from scratch, who are original and innovative-- who are moved by an experience and create something to reflect their relationship to things they have REALLY EXPERIENCED. I'm not interested in a bunch of crap they bought at Michael's.

Here is a mixed media homage to Kafka. Because for more than a decade I have been moved by his writings and his persona. Because I am about to embark on the writing of a course that will again, after a 6 year hiatus include one of his stories. Because he was an artist.

xo Jo

Monday, 27 August 2012

Who's bugging you?

I love bugs. I think they are the most amazing creatures. They are so tightly evolved and integral to the cycle of life. They are each unique, beautiful, freaky, lovely beings.

And I like taking pictures of bugs. Ok. I like taking pictures of all kinds of things, but especially things that you can really get up close to and peer into a vastly other world than the one we perceive day to day.

Here are some of the visitors we have been graced with that I have managed to photograph.

Darner Dragonfly:

Predator par excellence. A sharp aerial hunter, they eat on the fly, clearing the air of mosquitoes.

Bumble Bees (possibly the Hunt's Bumble Bee?):
Bees are my favorite. What is not to love about bees? They make honey! They pollinate fruit and veggies. They are the watermark of the health of our environment. And the perceive the world in a very unusual manner. . They live in a fast world. They can see the beating of a bee's wing. They see the world 5 times faster than humans. I like to try to imagine what that would be like. Cool, but woah! Slow down!

And they dance to communicate. What is not to love about these guys?

and another kind, maybe the Bombus firgidus?

Here the two are sharing one flower. That's some nice intra-species diplomacy.

And of course spiders: I think this is a garden variety Orb Weaver. A most misunderstood creature- usually, with only a very few exceptions completely harmless, shy-- just think of Charlotte. Their web spinning is enough to cause me awe. I love walking outdoors early in the morning and catching the glimpse of dew on the freshly woven webs. Delicate beauties.

this wolf spider thought s/he was camoflauged:

And another graceful beauty- some sort of daddy long legs, for lack of a better name? Long jaw spider? I haven't been able to identify it:

Golden rod spider in my raspberries!

xo Jo

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Gettin' Messy with the kids 3: Cloud Dough

This was a lot of fun. My almost-three-year old loved it, as did the baby.

It is easy to make, but the experience comes with a couple of caveats for the parents. Of course, if you do this outside, then there is nothing to worry about!

In a big tub mix flour and baby oil. This is what most of the recipes I have seen call for.
the ratio is 8:1 flour to Oil. We did 1 cup of flour and a 1/4 cup of oil. This seemed to work well.

Caveat #1: Do not use baby oil if you have kids who are "tasters", ie. likely to "taste" the flour. Mine had to taste it, despite my warnings, and they were pretty sour mouthed about it. One recipe I saw used canola oil and the user said it work the same as baby oil.

Play freely and crazily! My toddler was a little unsure about the oily texture at first, but he soon got over it and had a ball.

He had so much fun that he had to climb right into the tub. He then told me "we are having so much fun!" Yes, we were.

Caveat #2: If you do this inside, your floor will get not just dirty, but oily- baby oil oily, which means it will be dangerously slippery-- and hard to clean. This is where using a vegetable oil would probably, again, be a better idea since it is likely easier to clean than baby oil. Of course if you do this outside, then there is not much to worry about.

We got out some containers and filled them, packed them, etc... it was fun. And then we put everyone in the bath.

We will do this again!

xo Jo

Saturday, 25 August 2012

pancakes that don't taste like cardboard

I don't like pancakes. I think they are pointless, tasteless, unhealthy, saucer shaped non-food items.

So, why am I talking about them?

 I found a recipe that I have since adapted to make even healthier and yummier. These are nothing like conventional cardboard tasting pancakes. These are yummy and healthy. My picky toddler will even eat them. I have also made this recipe using an egg replacement since my 10 month old daughter appears to be allergic to eggs, and since she just grabs food from people's plates, I didn't want her to get sick.

Here it is:

In a blender add

1 cup of (uncooked) rolled oats
1 cup of cottage cheese
cinnamon (as much or little as you like)
a handful of hemp hearts
either 6 egg whites, or the equivalent of three eggs with egg replacer (I mix the egg replacer with coconut milk for even more flavour and healthiness)
a dash of salt, a dash of sugar if you want


You may need to add a little bit more water/coconut milk to get the right consistency of batter if you use the egg replacer

Cook as you normally would cook a pancake.

Top with fruit, or eat on its own. They are actually that flavourful- they don't require gallons of syrup to make up for tasting like cardboard!

xo Jo

Friday, 24 August 2012

Gettin' messy with the kids 2: non-toxic fingerpaint

This time we tried a simple cornstarch, water and food colouring recipe. Simple simple simple.

1 cup corn starch
1 cup water
food colouring

I divided this amount amongst 5 different containers and then coloured them.
There were no lumps. It was a little difficult to apply with a brush, which my toddler prefers to use, but was great for "spilling" on the paper and then sliding it around with the fingers.

And it is edible, sort of, if that is what you like, if you were wondering....

The cool thing about this recipe is the texture. When it is moving around, it is a solid, and when it sits still it liquifies. Corn starch is cool that way.

My daughter was way more interested in this than my son today. He was distracted by the mother load of Tonka construction trucks and machines he got to bring home from his nan and grand-dad's house, all old toys that belonged to his dad. Who wouldn't be distracted?

And when it is all over, just compost the whole artistic mess. Take pictures first!

 Overall, this was fun, quick to make, safe and interesting for the kids. I would do this again in a heartbeat.

xo Jo