Friday, February 28, 2014

Holy smokes, I made bagels!

Ever since my friend Erin posted a recipe for bagels on her awesome blog, I have been wanting to make them. And here we are, two years later, and I finally did! (Not sure why or how it took me so long... er...)

Anyway, my goodness, they turned out so well! Incredibly delicious, and the house had that cozy bakery smell for hours! The recipe makes eight, and like Erin suggested, I'll definitely be making more than just one batch next time.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

House in the Starry, Starry Night

I recently completed a very special commission, based on my House in the Night, but with details drawn from Van Gogh's paintings. As the colour scheme and the spiraling paisley-esque fabric for the bushes was already reminiscent of his famous painting, Starry Night, I mimicked the swirling shape of his cyprus trees, and for the interior picked up elements from his other paintings, such as Bedroom at Arles, Chair with Pipe, and The Yellow House. I hand-painted certain pieces, such as the woven-bottom chair—which he featured in numerous paintings—and the detailing on the side table, as well as the tiny landscape painting. It was a really fun project, and a unique homage to a brilliant painter!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wintery weekend in Vermont

For the long weekend, Mark and I went to Vermont with a bunch of friends for what has become an annual weekend excursion of wintery fun! You have your choice of skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or just relaxing in the chalet by the fire or in the hot tub. And of course there's always lots of feasting and merriment.

Conditions could not have been more perfect for snowshoeing, as the area had just received several feet of fresh, beautiful powder (which made for a terrible drive down, but was great once we got there).

The first day we went to Gifford Woods State Park, and followed someone's snowshoe tracks along the campground road, but when that trail looped back toward the parking lot, we veered off into the forest following the yellow blazes on the trees. Mark had to break our path, as we were the first on the trail since the fresh snowfall. And in doing so we discovered a bizarre winter phenomenon that occurs when there's this much fresh, powdery snow. 

Because the yellow blazes on the trees were sporadic, and there had been so much fresh snow to completely obscure the previous tracks, it was difficult to know exactly where to create the path. Generally this doesn't matter when snowshoeing, as you can go wherever you want, which is one of the many things that makes it so awesome. But we discovered that when Mark stepped off the trail into fresh, undisturbed snow, it suddenly created a startling and incredibly loud 'fwhoomp!' sound as the snow in a large radius collapses, shaking the ground and the trees in the vicinity and echoing through the air, creating an event that feels not unlike a tiny earthquake. Which, when you're happily tromping through a very quiet winter forest, is rather terrifying. 

The first time it happened, we didn't know what it was, and I thought perhaps it had been a very small, (and very localized?) earthquake, or perhaps there was some blasting nearby, or maybe we had just collapsed a small bridge over a creek far beneath us under the snow. But it kept happening every now and again, and we realized what it was, and then we could actually replicate it. However every time it did happen, it made my heart skip a beat to feel the ground drop beneath me, so the next day we found a trail that had already been made, and followed their tracks. Much more relaxing!

Even though it was a bit out of the way, we came home via the Adirondacks and Lake Placid, and it was so wonderful to see those mountains again, as it's been a while since we were last there. So worth the detour to see my favourite view.

It was such a fantastic weekend, a last hurrah for winter. Now, I am officially ready for spring!

Trailblazing at Gifford Woods State Park.

Snowshoeing at Chittenden Brook campground, Green Mountain National Forest.

My favourite view. Algonguin is the highest peak in the centre, with Wright the first bump to the left
(the 3rd and 4th peaks we've hiked),  Colden on the far left, and Wall Face on the right.

Whiteface Mountain is the white peak on the middle-left. Adirondacks, New York.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I've been Blurbing again...

I've recently been happily (though wistfully) reliving my time in Asia as I turn all of those memories into photobooks. It was daunting to take all of our photos and turn them into just a few manageable books.

Back in the days when I wasn't as ruthless in my curation, our two-week honeymoon in Switzerland became a 10-book series... I know... a bit much, right? I was also a little more snap-happy then. But I still find it hard to choose which photos make the cut, and which ones will gather dust on some hard-drive somewhere, or worse, be abandoned to drift forever in the cloud...

After some very difficult decisions, I whittled down over 20,000 photos into one book of just 81! It was painful, I'm not going to lie. But for all the photos that really share the experience, I used the photos and stories from the blog, which I am increasingly grateful that we kept up. The blog book actually became two, because there was a lot of stories, and a lot of photos to go along with them.

So until I get the real thing in a few weeks, here's a full preview of all three books! (There's a button on the right that allows you to view it full screen.) Enjoy!

Snowshoe in a bog

Conditions haven't been great this winter for snowshoeing. Most of the snow we have, fell in December. January gave us some bitter, bitter days, and a couple of warm spells, which really just led to ice. Not much accumulation to speak of. The trails have been so well-packed that you don't need snowshoes at all.

But last night we got about a foot of lovely soft snow — perfect conditions to get out for a snowshoe. And what a beautiful day it was! It's amazing how a fresh dusting of snow can create the most magical landscape. After spending a bit of time shovelling out the car this morning, we went to Mer Bleue to hike around the bog trail. I love bogs; there's something magical about being out among those old, shrivelled, scrubby trees. Even if the bog itself is entirely hidden...