Monthly Archives: January 2016

friday favourite: Koi Water Colors

Sketching gives me a great excuse to buy more sketchbooks, Faber Castell PITT pens and watercolour sets.


This is my new favourite Koi Water Colors Pocket Field Sketch Box. Big name for a small portable pack with a removable tray, LOTS of colours, back thumb loop to hold and look like I know what I’m doing…and a watercolour refillable brush.

Thanks Maddie for the recommend:-)


empty-the-vegetable-drawer soup

Similar to our post last week about fridge frittata, this week we bring you empty-the-vegetable-drawer soup. I receive a daily briefing from the NYTimes (which makes me feel important!) and they posted this One Hour Winter Vegetable Soup as a good thing to make during the blizzard that was sweeping up the east coast last weekend.

I cleaned out the vegetable drawer and found some parsnips, carrots and a sweet potato. I chopped them up and let them simmer in water for about 40 minutes. When the vegetables were soft, I pureed them with my hand held immersion blender (which is a game changer when making soups or applesauce!) I added some cream and salt and pepper and had a delicious bowl of hearty soup.


what a word

It’s January, there’s still time. Not for resolutions. Something much simpler.

Have you thought of a word for your year? A touchstone. Something to remind yourself about what you want from the year, from yourself, something you want to share with your family. An outlook.

It is easier to come up with one word than a list of 10 things. But I think it takes the same effort to practice your word every day.

Here are a few of the words we know are on people’s mind, cork board, day book, journal and sketchbook. (We are practicing handwriting as part of a new Sketchbook Skool online course called Expressing to present these year word ideas.)

Do you have a word for the year?


fridge frittata

I make one of these almost every week.

There is inevitably a night when I don’t know what to eat, and have various items approaching compostable state in the fridge. (But I am definitely trying to throw out less food to help bring down the ridiculously high rate of food waste.)

That usually means it is time for fridge frittata.

I saute any combination of vegetables – mushrooms, green onion, broccoli, asparagus, leftover roasted root vegetables – in a pan that can go in the oven. If I am lucky there is some bacon or back bacon waiting to be used up too. Cooked pasta makes it even hardier. Just open the fridge door and look around.

I add a few beatened up eggs, usually with a little pepper, and pour that over the softened veggies et al. When everything is just about set…I top with the most important ingredient – cheese. Feta, grated cheddar, gruyere, whatever partial block you have hanging around.

Broil the whole bit until the eggs have finished cooking (no jiggling) and the cheese is bubbling and golden. If you are organized enough, you can add a green salad and some toast to round it out.

I usually make enough that I cut in pie wedges and freeze for easy breakfasts during the week.

Try one for a dark mid-week winter night.

If you like to follow a recipe, here’s a basic frittata recipe from the Egg Farmers of Canada.



a quick hat

This is a quick hat to make that I knit in a couple of days from a pattern on Ravelry, a knitting website.

The pattern is called Baa-ble Hat and is an easy fair isle pattern which is knitting-speak for carrying more than one colour to form a pattern – in this case, a row of sheep! It was so quick I think I will knit a few more. Let me know if you want one and I will make you one if you let us post a picture of you wearing it!


friday favourite – boots

I have a love/hate feeling towards boots. Love them. Hate trying to find ones that fit. This year, I think I hit the jackpot.

Burgundy Blundstones – stylish enough for work, practical for winter travel wear. And these Portuguese-made Bos & Co wool lined beauties. Great for deep snow and dog walking. I love the knitted patch on them.



drink your salad

It’s January and the time of year when many of us are trying to maintain or increase our salad consumption. Here’s an idea…drink your salad!

I make a smoothie every morning that has about 3 cups of kale and spinach in it. And what’s even more impressive—it tastes good!

I start with about 1/2 cup of frozen wild blueberries in the blender. I add about 1 1/2 cups of water (or coconut milk, almond milk or milk). Add 1T ground flax seed, 1/2 banana and apple or pear, a few cubes of ice and then several large handfuls of greens. Blend it, drink it and relax because you already had your salad for the day!


colour me calm

Adult colouring books were hot items on this past holiday season gotta have gift list.

coloured pencils 2

I have seen the computer-generated flowers and intricate designs that are supposed to be as good for you as yoga. They don’t really do it for me – kind of sterile and predictable.

But it was the one my brother got at Christmas that just might have got the meditative colouring hook in me.

Fantastic Cities is a beautifully sketched book of cities all around the world by Ontario artist Steve McDonald . I watched my brother go zen-like with his row of perfectly sharpened pencils as he filled in architectural details of rooftops in Germany and windowsills in Manhattan. He even humoured me, taking a break and letting me have a go when his fingers got tired.

At first, colouring within the lines felt like cheating or regressing from the sketching I’ve been doing over the last year or two where I actually have to draw and paint the images I create. But there I was, happily lost in the repetitive motion. As I held my nose to the page to differentiate fine details in the sketch, I realized I was also learning more about the art of sketching. The proportions, the angles and the layering.

I’ve started a sketch-a-day “challenge” for myself in 2016. And now, I’m waiting for Amazon to deliver my new set of pencils and my very own copy of Fantastic Cities.

Between colouring, sketching and weekly yoga, the mellowness may be overwhelming.