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Monday, January 18, 2010


that second video should have been:

Airports and Airport Security

As you know in 5 days, I'll be on my way to the warmth & sunshine of Cuba....the island next door to Haiti!
Because we'll not be stopping in any US airport we will be allowed 20 lbs of carry-on luggage. But with "fruit of the boom" terrorists about, it's sometimes difficult to know exactly what the new airport rules and regs are. So I thought I'd look to see what I could find.
The first u-tube has to do with the inner workings of an airport....Vancouver airport getting ready for the Olympics to be exact. This video is uniquely Canadian complete with Canadian references (Belinda Stronach is a politician while Michaelle Jean is our Governor General):

Now the next one has to do with security. Please remember that Rick Mercer is a Canadian comedian. If you're nervous about the whole situation, please understand that neither Rick nor I mean to give any offense. My personal idea of airport security is a lot more stringent than what we're doing. If anything we should be more like the Israelis. By that I mean racial profiling and security measures taken before you step foot inside an airport. However if you can't laugh about the situation, you might as well hide in a bunker for the rest of your lives. Let's get on with life & hope for the best:

Friday, January 15, 2010

End of the cheeses and cheeseboards

I apologize for not showing you the finished cheeseboards sooner. Ken had to fly to Edmonton on family business so in his absence I'm trying to get our new entryway finished. I still had to get the final compound layer on the bare drywall; then sand it all down.
Generally it takes 3 coats of compound with a sanding in between each coat to cover the edges, corners and screw holes to produce a finished wall. If you've ever done this type of work, you know the kind of mess it creates. Not bad enough that the fine compound dust flies off each wall worked on and coats better than a long forgotten layer of dust, I have mine as well as all three animals tracking prints throughout the rest of the house.
Today I primed the raw drywall then because I'm finally in the home stretch, I continued on and painted the ceilings (the entryway was constructed in such a way that requires me to paint the foyer as well). Hopefully tomorrow I can get the walls painted. They may need two coats to cover properly. Then I'll need to give the house a thorough cleaning to get rid of all that dust....that's between a shiatsu massage and a tanning session. I'm going to be a busy girl!
So back to the cheeseboards: I'm not happy with the whole wheat crackers. So next week, I'll make some saltines and at the same time I'll show you how to do easy-peasy grape bunches.
Since I like to multitask, at the same time, I could do more pears. I have an idea for a more realistic looking pear skin.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Re: Winter.....

Just a few photos for all my blogging friends across the pond. These are from Quebec, one province east of Ontario. I believe they're from last year:

a typical Canadian form of transportation, not however a typical parking spot LOL:
and lastly, here's what the typical Canadian thinks about winter:
Obviously I'd rather have warmth with my sunshine. Obviously I'm not a typical Canadian...
We've had a few minor setbacks with our vacation....quickly resolved and hopefully not an omen. We fly out of Pearson airport at 3:40pm on the 23rd. So in 10 days as of today.....but who's counting.
So let's see, that's how many hours?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Are you sick of winter yet?

Look at the color of that water! And on both sides of the hotel!! Four star no less!
I'm told that for the end of January the daytime highs are between 75-80F (23 -27C)and the lows no less than 60F (15C).
See that palm tree? That's where I'll be 10 days!!

2 more Cheeses

Herb Cheese and Pepper Cheese
Basically to make either of these cheeses, use the fimo clay proportions for Brie.
Roll into cylindrical balls, coat in liquid fimo and roll in either black pepper or herbs.
Bake for the recommended time & oven setting for your brand of clay.

Danish Blue Cheese
This is a crumbly cheese with distinctive green moldy looking veins.

1 part translucent
1/8 part leaf green
1/16 part navy blue
4 parts leaf green
1 part navy blue

Do not mix either of these too much; leaving bands of blue showing.
Roll into thin rope and bake for no more than 10 minutes so that the clay is underdone & crumbles easily.
Chop finely. You could use a grater. However this will give you uniform pieces. Much better to chop.

Cheese clay proportions:
2 parts white
3 parts translucent
1/2 part champagne
1/16 yellow

Condition well and gradually mix the chopped "bacteria" into the "cheese". You can also add some semolina if you choose.
Form into a cylindrical ball.
After cooling in the fridge, it can be cut into segments and conditioned using your stencil brush.
Bake for the recommended time & oven setting for your brand of clay.

Still to come: Edam and American Cheddar.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More Cheese Tutorials

French Brie

fimo color proportions:
1/8 yellow
2 champagne
3 white
3 translucent

Condition well.
Roll out at maybe your 3rd setting from the thickest.
Cut one long strip 1/4" wide and two 1" circles.
Stand the strip up around one of the circles. Press tightly.
Meanwhile take the rest of the unused "cheese" and mix with liquid Fimo to a creamy consistency.
Fill your hollow cheese with the "creamy brie".
Cover with your remaining cheese circle.
Carefully seal all seams.
Coat your cheese with more liquid fimo being careful not to have any puddle. Roll in talcum powder.
Definitely harden in the fridge for a good hour!
When hard, take a scribe or thin knitting needle & carefully indent some parallel lines across the top of your cheese.
Slice into segments. Remove any creamy cheese that has leaked out too much.
Bake at the recommended time & setting for your clay.

Swiss Cheese

fimo color proportions:
1/8 golden yellow
1/8 orange
1/2 champagne
1-1/2 white
2 translucent

Condition well.
Roll out on your biggest pasta machine setting.
Slice into one long strip. Then, into DH portions.
Take your ball tools and texture all sides.

Bake at the recommended temperature for your clay.

On the cheeseboard, there are now: Dutch Gouda, Red Leicester, Swiss Cheese, French Brie and the Yorkshire Wensleydale with Cranberries.

Hopefully there'll be room for some American Cheddar, Dutch Edam & peppered Cheese as well as some crackers, grapes and/or pears.


....forget anything I said in the prior post entitled "Misery Loves Company"

If these are Britain's new defensive driving techniques, I'm glad I live in a country where people know how to drive in bad weather. .....well except for a few bozos who forget from year to year.

2 Cheeses Tutorial

Mild Dutch Gouda

waxy covering:
1-1/2 parts ochre to 1 part golden yellow

1/8 orange
1/8 golden yellow
1/2 champagne
1-1/2 translucent
2 white

This cheese took me quite a few tries to get right. Make sure that you mark your proportions used each time because who knows when you might need that shade for something else.
When trying something new, always mix the darker clay a little at a time into your lighter clay. Never the other way round.

Condition well. (I think I'm developing blisters on the sides of my thumbs. Fimo is one of the hardest clays when fresh but also one of the best for caning. You could wrap it in paper and flatten with a mallet; condition using your pasta machine or use the heels of your hands.)
Form into a cylindrical ball. My actual cheese was 8" diameter by 3-3/4" thick.
Roll your waxy covering out at about setting 2 or 3 of your pasta machine. Wrap your cheese in your covering the same as you did for the Wensleydale cheese. (Cut a long strip the height of your cheese sides and 2 circles for the top and bottom.)
Smooth out all seam lines.
Chill for an hour before cutting your cheese into segments.
Bake for the recommended time for your brand of clay.
Use a matte varnish for the waxy covering and the same varnish diluted with a little water for the actual cheese.

Red Leicester Cheeseagain using fimo Sorry didn't buy this one; you'll have to make do with a stock photo.
3 parts golden yellow to 3 parts orange to 2 parts ochre
semolina (approximately 1/8 tsp per 1" sized ball of "cheese") as little or as much as you feel necessary to show a crumbly cheese.

Condition well and form into a cylindrical ball making sure all seam lines are smoothed over.
Use a stencil brush to texture the outside of the cheese.
Chill for an hour before cutting into segments
~~don't forget to texture the cut sides~~
Bake for the recommended time and settings for your brand of clay.

Clean your work table! There's sure be semolina granules left behind.
The cheese board looks to be filling up rapidly. ....and here I thought I'd made it too big.

Friday, January 8, 2010

While we're on the Subject....

of TV cancellations: I'm hearing rumors of Jay Leno's show being cancelled. I hope not! It's the only show Yuki watches!


...the mailman's just been! I've received 2 long awaited parcels.
The first one came from Cat, "the Gypsynurse". I entered one of her competitions and here's what I won:

Green bangles to remind me of the green of grass; Green Goddess hand and body balm made with tea tree oil & shea butter; a sweetly smelling soy candle along with a Paris "carte postale". All wrapped up in silver paper and sealed two adorable vintage looking stickers. How cool is that!
Cat very generously offered me my choice from her Etsy store. It's well worth a visit. Just click here.
Her blog is also worth reading....whether she's writing about family histories or just about toiling at work. Take a look.
Cat, thank you sooo much for your generosity! I promise to return the favor ...just as soon as I learn to make Hostess Twinkies in miniature! LOL

Now before I show you my other parcel, let me just take a minute to show you the things I received from the ATM Christmas swap.
from Cia:
from Christina:
from Cate:
from Minigirl:
and Anne Mari:Thank you so much ladies! In return I sent them: a grocery basket with a wreath for their front door, wrapping paper and enough goodies to fill 2 Advent plates like these:

...and now are you ready???? Take a look at the card all the way from Amsterdam!!

Inside were not only my 3 pillows but also a fourth showing little Yuki!
The top pillow shows my Tzie, a Shih Tzu that I had for 14 years until she was snatched by dognappers from in front of the house. A medium once told me during a psychic fair....without being asked! and with more details than she could ever have known, that I had a small black and white dog following me. I'm glad because even after all this time I still think about her.
Then from left to right: my current dog Luna-Lei, our new kitten Yuki and finally Puppy Cat. Puppy was a Maine coon who only lived 2 years before dying of cardiomyopathy. This largest breed of cat is genetically prone to heart disease.
Elly, how can I ever thank you!!!!!!! I'll always be grateful!

Elly not only does beautiful needle work, like my pillows. She's also a dollmaker and very talented miniaturist! Please take a look.

Misery Loves Company

Where's the Global Warming we've been promised?

I'm reading from all manner of blogging friends, unaccustomed to the amount of snow and cold that they've experienced lately; seeing some gorgeous photos of British countryside and hearing tales of intrepid expeditions to Tesko's aka the grocery store, written in polar expedition style.
And all I can say is "love those photos!" ...all the while chortling secretly because to us over here in Canada the snow that they're moaning about would be considered just a light dusting and their -10C temperatures would here be known as balmy.
I know I should be graceful and sympathetic to people unaccustomed to this type of weather. I should commiserate but I also know that all too soon I'll be seeing photos of spring flowering gardens while I'm still stuck in the doldrums of winter.

So I thought I'd post some photos of a "real" winter like the one at the start of this post; that was just a small sampling of what our winter was like last year. Snow started falling in early November and never stopped until March!
Here we have Luna modelling winter fashions that no self respecting Canadian (hairless) dog would be without. flannel Pj's. Note the fashionable 2 button rear "flap" for easy access when a quick trip out-of-doors is necessary.

Eh? What's that? ....sure, I'd love to see more photos of your poor frozen palm trees out there in your garden! Eh? No, you must be mistaken. I'd never laugh at your predicament!
What's that? You heard that there's a turn around predicted in your weather forecast!!? Well good for you.... damn!
OK Luna, I know you have to go badly but just wait until I get your snowshoes fastened! Have you got your shovel handy?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Years Resolutions

Normally I never make resolutions since I never keep them. We'll see if this year'll be any different.
In 2010, I want to become a better figural sculptor. I started to teach myself anatomy after my first sculpt looked more like an ancient elf than a baby. My second head sculpt actually looks like a child..... a bit big and more work needed but I'm happy with my progress.
The other big goal is to work my way thru both of Angie Scarr's books. I only hope this won't conflict too much with getting into a bikini this summer.

Starting off easy:
My cheeseboard... made of cernit (granite), is 1-3/8" in diameter and 1/16" thick. I added an inner ring for realism.

Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese with cranberries....mmmmm, highly recommended! Mild with just a hint of sweetness.

Here's my tutorial using fimo:
waxy covering:
4 parts bordeaux red to 1 part navy blue.
cranberry pieces:
4 parts bordeaux red to 1 part navy blue and a hint of carmine red. Bake and grate into slivers.
4 parts white to 2 parts champagne to 1 part light yellow. (I used a half inch ball of white to make 1 cheese)
Condition well and include some of your baked slivers. Roll into a ball. Flatten to 1/4 inch thick. My real life cheese is approximately 2-3/8" high and has an 8" diameter.
Roll out the waxy covering and cover your cheese smoothing out all seams. The easiest way is to cut a long piece the height of your cheese sides and 2 circles for the top and bottom of the cheese.
Chill in the fridge for about an hour.
Slice & lightly texture the cheese (not the covering) using a crumpled ball of tin foil.
Bake at the recommended time for your brand of clay.
When cool, paint the waxy outer wrap with a matte varnish.

Bon appetit! ....oh and don't overindulge, we have Camembert/Brie, Edam, Swiss and Danish Blue Cheese coming up.
Over at city-o-clay, a yahoo group that I belong to, many of the members are introducing themselves. I thought I'd do the same thing here. There's a lot of people who subscribe to this blog....many more then I ever thought possible! Here's my story:
I'm a miniaturist new to the world of doll houses and to clay. I never knew this hobby existed before 1-1/2 yrs ago. It appeals to my creative urges and the more deeply I delve into it, the more pleasure I get from it.
As a child I was never without a pencil in my hand. Any candid photos of me back then always show me drawing. Neither my mother nor my stepfather had any artistic sides to them; my biological father....who I got my talent from...had died when I was 3. I still have a wooden church that he made as an advent calendar, using scavenged wood. It has little window shutters that can be opened to reveal brightly painted "stained glass" windows.
By the time I reached high school, an educator told me that I didn't have enough talent to make a living from my art. Looking back, I'm not sure if he was being honest or merely suggesting I look elsewhere to my future. In any case I had no encouragement and I have never drawn since.
I had an unhappy childhood and so, like many girls my age, married the first man who came along. Unfortunately I jumped out of the fire and into the frying pan. But for a few years while my kids were small and I didn't go out to work, I enjoyed crafts and making things with & for them.
One year I made a salt dough creche with 3 wise men looking down at the baby. Because we lived in a very tiny house, when Christmas was over, my only storage option was the attic. By the following Christmas, the heat from the attic must have weakened the dough and my wise men were all looking straight up to heaven. At least that's what I told my kids...
Then my husband died and I spent many years, trying to earn enough to survive on. I went back to school; worked two jobs. Artistic inclinations were the furthest thing from my mind.
Ten years ago I met my soul mate...the other half of me. There is an alternate story of the garden of Eden in which it is said Adam & Eve were one entity. When they were expelled from Eden, as their punishment their soul was torn into two and ever since, each of us while on earth looks for their other half to make their soul complete. As I said I've found mine when I met Ken.
And for five years now I've been on "early retirement". I finally have the time and the encouragement to be artistic again. I wish I had been able to go to art school. Who knows what I might have become. But wishes aren't horses...
So here I am. And if this story does nothing else, maybe it'll stop one other child from being told that it's not smart enough or not good enough to do something. We, all of us, need sunshine in our souls.
Thank you for the encouragement in your comments. And thank you of thinking enough of me to follow my ramblings.....