Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Creme Brûlée

sugar sprinkled on top....
Duncan has been asking for us to make Creme Brûlée for EVER.  

Arta tried one summer, but it was too hard to get the sugar to caramelize on tip just using the oven.  

And then, this Christmas, while on the hunt for a wooden paddle to beat fondant, I found creme brûlée kit, so under the tree it went for Duncan.  :-)
applying the heat!

He has now worked the whole thing through twice (yes, that means working with a vanilla bean, making the custard, baking it, and then caramelizing the sugar on top!)

It was the surprise hit of the holiday season.  I mean, seriously, what kid doesn't want 4 ramekins, and their own mini blowtorch!?


ready to eat!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Christmas Sweater and Tocque

Finally, after year of waiting, i decided it was time to get a sweater! (given that we live in an area known for it knitting).  Some of you may have got the book Yetsa's Sweater from me in the past.  It is a really fun read on Cowichan knitting.

If you don't know much about Cowichan or Coast Salish sweaters, here are a few links:

They are the sweaters that were part of the 2010 Olympic scandal (since the olympics crew used the cowichan designs for official sweaters, but then sent them off to be manufactured in China rather than by the Cowichan and salish knitters)

Typically, the sweaters are knitted using three colours of natural undyed wool (just the colour of those sheep: white, black and grey).  Lately, little shots of colour have been appearing there too!

My new sweater, knitted by May Sam

May Sam (one of the elders over at the First Peoples' House on campus) agreed to do it for me.  We talk about the possible patterns (i.e. whales, eagles).  I asked her what she was enjoying knitting these days, and she said she had just done a few sweaters with a Bear pattern that  her nephew had made for her.
my sweater, ... and kiwi looking for ball under sofa
Bingo!  Having grown up with the bear skin that my dad brought back from the north, what could be better!?   I know, I know... that would be a polar bear, vs. a brown or black bear (more local to here), but those of you 'in the know' would know that the guy who mounted the polar bear skin did not have the mould of a polar bear head handy, so instead used a plaster cast for a black bear, creating an odd hybrid!   All that to say, bears are in my blood, so it was a perfect choice!  
the matching 'bear' tocque
I also ordered a matching tocque...and she said she would put a pompom on top.  Most of the Cowichan hats have some litre doodad on top, so that seemed fine with me.  But I never anticipated that the pompom would be so gorgeous!   It is some magical swirling of the three natural colours of wool, and is about the size of a lime.  wow.
now THIS is a pom-pom!

May says she teaches a workshop on pompom making.  I think i might have to sign up!

Anyways, it arrived on Steve and my anniversary (27 years?!), so it was a perfect gift to myself.
Here are some photos of me modelling it!  Note the bear paw prints on the front.  Given all the writing I have done about nursing mothers, I find it absolutely amusing to refer to this as my 'bear-breasted-sweater'

My 'Bear-Breasted' sweater!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Eyes and Ear(ring)s

The students in the Inuit Law and Film (Legal Theory Workshop) class once again produced a really rich variety of final projects. I was warned by one member of the class (Brittany Goud) that her proposed project would require my active participation.  I agreed that I would be willing to give it (whatever it was...she was closed-mouthed about it).
laying out the materials

I have now participated!  I also took a few photos along the way to capture the 'installation/participation art' nature of it. 

What Brittany had delivered to my office was a lovely pink box with instructions on the front (to go to a webpage and start watching before opening the box). I cheated and opened the box first, but I still could not figure out what would be required from a visual glance at the box or contents alone.

half way there!
So.... the website is here:  

If you go there, you will see a kind of DIY/How-To video for beading an earring.  The box contained all the material I would need to make a giant earring (made out of foam tubing, covered by colourful duct tape.

As per the visual instructions (no words, only sound is the soundtrack from Nanook of the North), I laid out the material and began working...

...what it should end up looking like....

Success!  I did it!
I gotta say, it has been MANY years since I was a serious beader (I am now referring to my pre-teen and teen years at the Shuswap, where I spent the summers beading rings and necklaces), and I was a bit panicked about it.... would I be able to follow the video (particular since she use NO WORDS...)? 

It was great fun. 

Here is a photo of the completed earring hanging on the is alongside a drawing by Peter Ragee, that I bought in Iqaluit last summer. 

Generally, there are two drawings usually there: the first (hanging) has the hunter waiting for the seal. The second of the companion drawings captures the moment when the hunter GETS the seal. 

I took down the second in honour of Brittany's project:  in her video, while she uses the music from Nanook, she actively did not use any of the music where there was an 'actual' kill (keeping instead the part where the actors are on the hunt.)   I am now thinking of my earring as 'the kill' (hahah).  I think that is in part a kind of auditory reference to one of the articles we read during the term, Kulchyski's "Hunting Stories" (double play, both on 'hunting', and on the search for stories). 

Now I am left with the question: does my success with the earring mean I am a good student, or rather that Brittany is a good teacher? :-)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

hammer on a drum!

centering the cedar ring on the deerskin
A while back, i made a contribution to a fundraising drive for the film "Fractured Land" (which follows a fabulous UVic law student who is doing work on water and fraking in his territory).

Part of the fundraising package (done through crowd-funding) was a "Drum-making Workshop" in Squamish, with Tsawaysia (Alice Guss)  In due course, I got the notification re the workshop.  I also realized I could sign up the rest of my men (Steve and the boys) to come with me.  

Alex getting set up, Steve providing commentary
Steve's failed attempt to help Alex tighten the drum
Unfortunately, I then realized it was being held the same weekend as the Junior Varsity Football championships.  That is, I suppose, a 'win-win' (or 'lose-lose', if you prefer).  It was clear that we would be heading over to the mainland, but I didn't know til the last minute whether the weekend would involve a family trip to Squamish to make drums, or a family trip to Vancouver to watch Alex in the Provincial football finals.  Well... last week, Alex's team lost in the semi-finals, so drum-making it was!

The whole group
There were some moments of high-drama, such as when steve tried to 'help out' with alex's drum, only to accidentally break the inner ring.  We decided that was typical project-management!  hahaha!  All was well, as Alice Guss (who ran the workshop) was fabulous, and showed/helped Alex how to restring the inside without having to restring the whole drum.  Success!  In the end, our drums are all drying nicely, and will be ready for the next protest march (or sing-a-long at the lake this summer!)

our family drums!