I've had a few commissions lately that resulted in some very interesting books. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, commissions are really fun. I love working with other people's visions. It's challenging and I always learn a thing or two.

"P" Book: 10x12 coptic bound with collaged P.

Wish Book for the Clay Coyote Gallery: I used a screw posts for this one, so the pages will be refillable. It's a new binding style. It worked well and I well use it again. The pages are lettered in the upper corner. I used "carbon" paper with the Papyrus font (there logo uses that font) and prismacolor pencils.

5x7 Wedding Album: A sweet little guest book for a wedding. I used watercolor pencils for the names on the first page.

10x12 Swirl and Star Album: This one was sent off this morning. It was a fun project. I love the heft of the 10x12 books, I use two boards for each cover. Thanks, customers!


March is Lame and Food is Good

March is the worst month of the year.
It's so long.
It plays with your emotions.
The warmish thaws, the jubilation of going on a long leisure walk outside without a winter coat, all that squashed, the next day, with a big dump of snow.
Depression and hibernation, welcome back.
Usually Peter starts to beg about moving somewhere warmer in January, I can hold out until March and then I'm the one checking the forecast in, say, Mexico. But really, I would be happy if I could just spend Jan-March there.
That's all.
Then we can move back to good ol' Lake Wobegon.
This was just on Saturday!!!

I refused to leave the house today, so Fredrik and I cooked and baked and painted and colored and puzzled and read and on and on, so many things. It may seem obvious and cliche, but I've recently discovered the creative satisfaction I get from cooking. As days go by and I don't have time or energy to work in my studio I start to feel a little dreary. I then find myself spending more time in the kitchen, and even feel a little upbeat. Even with this weather a pleasant mood came about.

Today we made a yellow cake. Now, I know it's going to sound really pathetic having just talked about how creative I am in the kitchen, but I've had this gluten free Betty Crocker cake mix in my cupboard for over a year and I wasn't about to head out to the grocery store to get any ingredients - and I'm already thinking about depleting our food reserves since we'll be moving in less than 2 months- so that's what we made. Plus, I AM baking with a 3 year old.

The cake turned out fine. A little sawdusty, but still reminiscent of "real" box cake mixes (if I can remember correctly back to the last funeral I attended when I was still eating gluten). I think it was all the vanilla. But, despite the lack of great flavor, it had a good texture, and that's a feat with GF.

I knew the boxed yellow cake would have to be saved by frosting, and we only have this supposedly healthy sugar in the house (turbinado I think) which seemed not very likely to work. Doesn't one usually use powdered sugar for frosting? I thought about pulverizing the sugar in the cusinart, but didn't want to go to such a length for frosting. Also, we were almost out of butter thanks to the full stick in the cake.

So, I heated a double boiler, added about 3/4 cup chocolate chips, a few scoops of peanut butter, and a little whole milk. It was good, actually. And quick. Fredrik helped spread (eat) it and it tasted like melted peanut butter cups. We ate the cake later with banana slices which was really really tasty.

For lunch we had another "creative" adventure. Chicken and Rice. Seriously, I'm so darned creative. My little sister was telling me how she makes chicken and rice regularly and I thought, hmmm, I've never made that. I don't know how you are supposed to make it, but I just did it, and it was good and FGH ate it like it was the finest meal ever served in this house (besides raw cake batter).

I did it all on the stove top in my beautiful Cazuela pot from the Clay Coyote, which, may I say was a huge splurge that I do not regret at all. It's pottery for the stove top, hello! It just makes food taste better. Especially things like chicken and rice. I mean, really, cooking in metal or glass? Try artisnal flameware pottery.

I'm guessing most chicken and rice recipes ask for some sort of canned soup. I used vegetable boullion instead. And brown rice. I'm not a stickler for brown rice, but it was good here. I threw in some chopped onions and celery and dried herbs, than 4 chicken breasts and later, with about 15 minutes to go, I topped it all with broccoli. Last time I made it I covered it with carrot sticks. I think we will get four meals out of this and it was one pot, pretty much no mess at all.


Farm to City to Farm (and Lake)

It's official!

We are moving back to the country.

In two months we'll be packing up for farm living outside of Hanska, MN, just 14 miles south of New Ulm. The past two weeks have been a blur of driving, researching, planning, strategizing, budgeting, and stressing. This is Peter and my third real estate purchase in our 9 years together, and I think we fretted the most about this one. Getting older makes you wiser and more of a worrier, I guess.

So, yeah.

This summer we'll be:
1. Moving to a new community
2. Starting a new job (Peter)
3. Planning a new farm business
4. Having a Baby
5. Living without any income for 3 months

This new place is just gorgeous, 10 acres on a lake! The house is 115 years old, but it's been updated (to a point). There is plenty of room for home improvement projects, but nothing major. I'm thinking a few coats of paint, a few less layers of wallpaper, and removal of (cat) hairy carpet will make everything just dandy.

As for the outdoors, I'm going to get organic certification started (there is a 3 year transition period), some perennials in the ground, and some chickens in the barn. But that's it. Well, a big garden for ourselves. But really, we'll have too much going on to do more. But it would be nice to put up a hoop house. Oh, lord.