Friday, November 26, 2010

Queen Street, Toronto

Queen Street, Toronto, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
I'd forgotten I had this picture on my cameraphone till a few days ago. I love this shot, mostly because it's so different from where I live. The old style poles with all the wires for transit, the tall buildings with narrow frontage, the commuters on bicycles. I live in a part of the world very much entrenched in car culture, with poor public transit and hardly any bike lanes to speak of, at least for commuters. I don't know how many times I've been on my bike and thought "well, great. Now where am I going to park and lock this?" or "how am I going to get from x to y without getting smucked" as the path abruptly ends at an intersection with no pedestrian or cycle access, forcing you to take illogical detours. 

In another part of Toronto,  I especially liked this - an older gentleman doing his shopping on his bike, with high-rise handlebars, no less! Perfect.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Cooking: 14 questions


Tammy asked her sream-of-consciousness questions about cooking at Daisy Yellow. These are always fun, so here's my responses. Thanks Tammy!

a. Does what you cook say something about you?

It says that I'm erratic and influenced either by time, scheduling, and whatever was on sale at the supermarket. Also, that I try to reproduce really good stuff I ate at some restaurant in a distant city.

b. How do you keep track of your recipes, your notes on how to make them?

Really badly - I have a binder of pages torn out of magazines, and stuffed into that binder are loose sheets printed off the computer. Many are sticky and crumpled. I really need to fix this. Next year.

c. What recipes do you measure precisely, and which do you guesstimate?

With the exception of finicky baked goods, I guesstimate everything. Even when trying a new recipe, like the baklava above, I treat the amounts as guidelines, and often think "oh, they can't possibly mean that".

d. Are there dishes you make quite well, but never eat?

scalloped potatoes, due to my cheese intolerance.

e. What portion of your recipes [that you make at least annually] were passed down from a previous generation?

My mother mostly cooked Filipino food, which I hardly ever cook or eat with the exception of one dish. However, there are a lot of dishes that my sisters and I cooked together growing up, and that might constitute a quarter, say, of our regular repertoire.

f. What dry spice do you find yourself replenishing most often?

cinnamon, chili powder

g. What is the messiest dish you make (biggest clean-up)?

My late MIL's perogies with potato-onion-bacon filling. Completely worth it.
Also, latkes.
oh! and the Pioneer Woman's Onion Strings.

h. What is the largest, most varied [number of dishes] meal you make each year?

Probably my book club Christmas party. Which probably shouldn't count, as it consists largely of frozen appetizers from Costco slid onto a baking tray. Okay, Christmas dinner then. Or New Years. No, wait! Any meal held at my mom's house in the summer when the families are gathering.

i. What's the wierdest thing that will be served at your Thanksgiving [holiday] table?

not on purpose, but this year my daughter drew a happy face on the mashed potatoes:

thankful for: happy mashed potatoes

j. Have you taught your kids to cook?

sort of - we tend to have a cook-along approach, which is how I grew up - we cook together.

k. What do you always seem to burn?

chicken stew, or any other stew using flour as a thickener.

l. What dishes do you typically bring to a party or pot luck dinner?

usually my husband is in charge of pot luck stuff, thus, tabbouleh or black bean salad. And my daughter has taken over baking duties, so lemon squares.

m. Which of your creations do your friends/family RAVE ABOUT?

my husband's turkey stuffing. Nobody in my family raves about my cooking, as I rank a distant third, if that, to two of my sisters. However my friends like it when I bring home-made salsa to events.

n. Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla cake?

Chocolate. Always.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Frills prompt: spheres

spheres, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
I hardly ever go to movies at the theatre, never mind on opening weekend, with the exception of Harry Potter. While waiting for the movie to start, I worked on Tammy's No-Frills prompt, Sphere. Inktense pencils, dry, in a moleskine cahier, because that was the flattest thing to throw in my bag.

Again, possibly my subconscious is on the holidays, because now they look a little like tree ornaments to me, though that wasn't my intention.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why I bailed on AEDM, and why that's OK

I'm in the final stages of writing, editing, and assembling my thesis for my MSc program. Those of you who have done this do not need to be reminded how obsessive and all-consuming this process is, and even if you haven't, you can pretty much relate it to any other life project that occupies every waking thought, and even many of your sleeping ones (when you can sleep).
frogs and ducks

I did think that AEDM - art every day month, hosted by the lovely Leah Piken Kolidas - would fit in just fine, given that even in this nervy, obsessive state, I still need to scribble. But although this technically fits into the theme, I don't think it really fits into the spirit of the thing. I'm doing maintenance, sanity saving scribbles - but I'm not really evolving a process, or growing skills. With regards to art, that is. And I am OK with that, because although what I am doing doesn't fit into AEDM,  NaNoWriMo (national non-stop writing month),  NaNoJouMo (national non-stop art journal month), or NaKniSweMo (national knit a sweater in November month), I'm driving towards the end of Write a Thesis in Three Months Based on Research over the Last Two Years, and I'm pretty happy with that.

Nevertheless: when my retinas are burned out from staring at the computer screen and I'm taking a break from giving myself carpal tunnel syndrome, this is what I do:

shape grid
(while watching Reality TV in an Toronto hotel room - good Lord! I never knew half these programs existed! I did get a kick out of Mantracker, though.)


drawn leaning against a pillar while visiting the Terracotta warrior exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. I was really captivated by this terracotta archer, kneeling in wait for his turn to shoot his wooden crossbow that seems not to have survived the millenia. Whoever carved his face must have modeled him after someone in real life; somehow he seemed more vivid, more real than the other figures.


drawn from the website, while on break at work


and finally, a bit of a test - I got some Platinum Black Carbon Ink from Jetpens - one of my Flickr contacts recommended it as a fountain pen ink that could hold up to a watercolor wash, much better than the otherwise excellent Noodler's Bulletproof black, which lifts and muddies when washed.  It's as good as she said it was - I'm happy with how clear the colours stayed when washed over here. I can see myself using this ink a lot for drawing in the future.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

tronnah-22: Friday prompt: grid

tronnah-22, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

Am still on the road - I'll probably work these up into a mosaic when I get home.