rice rebellion

i looked at the rice and it looked back at me, undeterred.

a tumbleweed rolled by like a high noon shootout.

"alright, rice," i said. "it's either you or me. there's not enough room in this town for the both of us."

the rice stared, unblinking, taunting.

"i'm gonna turn up the heat on you, and you're not gonna know what hit you. you'll behave then." i warned.

but that rice was more hardy than i'd prepared for. it withstood boiling water, it withstood heat. it even held out through the ancient time-proven technique of steaming, coming out only partially done; clumpy. sticky.

i put it back on the heat to try to break it, make it succumb to my will... but to no avail. this rice was no ordinary rice; no bones about it. it's survival instinct was unparalleled to anything else i've cooked. steak, turkey, tikka masala... all have fallen in the sight of my kitchen utensils. but this basmati was something new. something unprecedented.

alright rice, mark my words: you've won this battle. but the war has just begun.


featured artist: jennifer kahn

every monday, i've decided to run a weekly feature of etsy artists on my blog, and it's with this goal in mind,
i have had the distinct pleasure of interviewing miss jen kahn of jennifer kahn jewelry about some of her gorgeous work as well as her journey into the entrepreneurial world of selling such masterpieces.

i absolutely love how rustic and rugged so many of her pieces look - not to mention - she works with Precious Metal Clay (PMC), which is a medium that i've yet to attempt working with because i've heard it can be kind of tricky. not only has she mastered it, but she's mastered it with style and has managed to make it look oh-so-easy (and gorgeous, too - have you noticed the beautiful merchandise photos?!)

how can you resist?

01. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Miami, FL. I spent my childhood in Marietta, GA. I moved to Westchester, NY at age 10 and lived there until 18. I went to the University of Vermont and slowly worked my way up the East coast, despite hating the cold. During my senior year, I worked at a gallery in town that sold jewelry artist Celie Fago's work.

In 2000, I took a class from her and became her apprentice through 2 semesters of Independent Studies, allowing me the money and time to work with PMC. When I graduated I became a live-in apprentice and I've lived here (Central, VT) ever since. I’m also her teaching assistant and accompany her on trips all over the country and abroad. I sell my work at an outdoor Artist Market in Burlington on Saturdays during May to October and also in my Etsy shop, which keeps me super busy.

02. What first made you want to become an artist?

I've always made things, always loved working with my hands but I didn't take it seriously until college. I was an English Major and I wrote poetry but I didn’t know how that would have real world applications. I loved my art classes more than anything and my teachers were very encouraging, so I became a double major in English and Art. I took every art class available but nothing quite struck me. I knew I liked working small and I most liked the working properties of clay. After working with PMC for awhile, I knew I wanted to be a jewelry artist.

03. Tell us a bit about how you first discovered PMC - how did you find it? What were some challenges about it that you overcame?

As I mentioned, I saw Celie's work at the gallery that I worked in. She was the featured artist of the month and they had a wall of photos of her working with PMC and a display showing a lump of PMC and her finished work. "This made that?" was all I could think. I couldn't believe such a material existed and it was coming along in my life at a time when I was looking for a medium that really satisfied me. I loved that you could work it like a clay but that the finished piece was pure silver. I also loved jewelry so the idea of making my own was very exciting.

Initially, I ordered some and started working with it in the air, sculpting a little moon. It was drying and cracking before my eyes and the whole experience was very frustrating. I asked my pottery teacher to fire it for me and he was a bit put off using the huge kiln to fire this tiny little cracked moon. I took Celie's class a few weeks later and learned to work on top of Teflon (a non-stick surface) and under plastic wrap, to delay the drying and cracking. The pieces were fired in a small jewelry kiln. By the end of the class I felt confident about working with this strange stuff. Over the next year of meeting with her and working with PMC I got hooked. She taught me everything she knew, so my learning curve was really small and before long I was coming up with my own techniques.

04. How did you make the transition into selling your pieces?

Even before I touched PMC, I knew that I wanted to (some day) make a living from making art. While I was working at Frog Hollow I was trying to figure out what wasn't being made, what niche could I fill. I was very aware of the overwhelming amount of art in the world; I wondered how I could ever make something original. What was so appealing about PMC was the idea that it’s new and that anyone working in it was a pioneer, breaking new ground - at the time, there was only one book on the subject.

I had found my medium and was off and running. I started selling a few pieces in some local galleries and boutiques. Having the foundation of working in the gallery, I understood about price points and marketing. I love selling my work myself at the Artist Market and in my Etsy shop.

05. Where do you get your inspiration?

I'm influenced by both ethnic artifacts and current fashion trends. I'm fascinated by the way things are put together: patched, hinged, riveted, stitched and often incorporate such connections in my pieces. I gather inspiration from a pattern on a textile; the texture of a leaf; beautiful, old rusty things. I'm constantly trying to fuse old and new, industrial and natural, urban and ethnic.

06. Apart from creating things, what do you do?

That’s a good question, not much else! I play with my dog – Kiwi, a long haired Chihuahua. I love watching movies (although I’m usually working while I watch). I love spending time with friends, going out to brunch, going out dancing to live music and um… shopping!

07. Your blog has a link for your mentor - can you tell us a bit about that?

Celie is my mentor! I made both of our websites. (You can check out Jen's site here and Celie's site here.)

08. If you could learn to work with any medium that you don't currently work with, which would it be?

Does a musical instrument count? I wish I had the ability and time to play (and play well) flute or mandolin or djembe drum or didgeridoo.

09. Do you have a favorite handmade item that you have purchased?

I can’t think of any one thing but I love handmade hats scarves and clothes.

10. What's your favorite piece that you have created?

This is a hard question because different pieces are special to me for different reasons. My current favorite pieces are from my Modern Relic collection. I make ancient looking “relics” from the new BronzeClay and set them in PMC settings.

I developed a technique for setting stones in PMC (after firing) and often make Chinese turquoise rings and pendants. My journey necklaces are very close to my heart. They are made up of found objects and each necklace contains a central piece that I've made PMC. I’m very proud of my fabric earrings. This was the first attempt I've made at jewelry containing no PMC and they were accepted as a project article for a Lark book on fabric jewelry coming out next year.

11. What undiscovered artists would you recommend to the world?

Some great friends with amazing work:

12. In five years, where do you see your work/yourself?

Thinking in these terms frightens me. I just hope to keep evolving my work (and myself) and see where the road takes me.

13. What is the best advice you have ever received?

Celie told me early on that it’s important that every part of a piece has been thought about. She would say that the back is another opportunity for creativity. For this reason, many of my pieces are reversible. It is a joy to watch people turn my pieces over and be surprised by the other side.


five up, for julia

julia over at red otter did a post of lists, and dammit, now i want one too.

top three things that i wish i could buy, if it weren't for the fact that i just dropped moola on new boots:

01) fungi micro-sculpture by element clay studio
02) organic shapes earrings by jen kahn
03) enamel feather earrings by jewelry by natsuko

five things i'm doing this weekend:

01) being taken out for a belated birthday dinner
02) schlepping around in my jogging pants.
03) visiting my old friend duncan, who's hosting a housewarming-slash-halloween party
04) finishing up a painting
05) dyeing my sisters hair

the weekend forecast looks incredibly rainy, so my top five rainy-weather essentials are:

01) a fantastically relaxing yoga class to get you mellow and in sync with the weather
02) a good book (and good golly, i sure have a few of those to get crack-a-lackin on...)
03) tea and a royal gala apple, eaten in silence while listening to the raindrops on the roof
04) a warm sweater and comfy pants
05) a pantry stacked with food to cook, so you dont have to go out!

i'm pretty happy with where i am right now, so my last five-list will just be top five rainy day songs. in no particular order:

01) narrow daylight - diana krall
02) dogs - damien rice
03) souls - chantal kreviazuk
04) transatlanticism - death cab for cutie
05) they stood up for love - live (acoustic version)


friday list of awesomeness

not much time to post, but here's some new oldish pics that i've recently revisited:
1. metal door, 2. mailbox 7107, 3. upsie-daisy, 4. artefacts, 5. exposed brick, 6. ferris wheel, 7. maple leaf, 8. gaby hearts

something else that i love:
a super-cool 1930's party over at a cup of jo. i need to have one of these. like, right now.

finally, some more belly laughs. cause they're good. let's kick back and relax, and enjoy the weekend with a little demetri martin. one of my student staff pretty much threatened my life unless i checked this out, so i did, and have been spending night looking through more of his stuff. hilarious!

who has fantastic plans for the weekend?


the secret philosophy of ju-jubes

when i was sixteen, i was living and working at a resort for two months; kind of like the movie dirty dancing, minus the dirty dancing and the whole pregnancy bit. it was a fantastic summer. it was there that i was starting to grow up a bit more and become more independent; i was making new friends and getting away from the group i was hanging out with in my high school in the city; i was learning how to live life a little bit more on my own terms.

despite the fact that our meals were included with our room at board at the lodge, one of our favourite things to do was to take a cab into the nearby town and go 'grocery' shopping. there was precious else to do during our time off aside from lounging around the fire pit or down by the lake, so every we'd have to get off of the property and cab the 11km back into 'civilization' (which was a town of about 13,000 at the time). our shopping trips were an exercise in unhealthy eating; we'd buy pop tarts, chips, cookies, peanut butter and loaves of bread, pop, and loads of candy from the bulk foods store. any snacks that we could keep in our humid bunk rooms without risking them spoiling, came home with us.

one particular favourite of ours was ju-jubes. we'd lay on our beds trying to keep cool, fans on high-speed (trying not to move lest we break a sweat) and practice tossing the jubes into our mouths in that lazy aloof way that only teenage girls can perfect; bored with the monotony of the world and ever-waiting for their lives to begin.

for the first little while, i'd pick out only the colours that i liked; red, and orange. not yellow, never green, particularly not black. however, one afternoon (and i'm not sure if this was the result of the long morning picking balls from the driving range or the trauma from recurring chicken-a-la-king on my dinner plate), i was feeling rather philosophical whilst playing my ju-jube tossing game. i'd noticed that the red ones, no matter how delicious they once were, no longer elicited the same measure of satisfaction as they once did. nor orange.

after a few minutes of thoughtful chewing, i sat up and looked at the bag of candies. my tastebuds were obviously tired of the orange and red monotony; there was very little variety in there. the only cure for this, i decided, was to re-integrate the black, yellow, green jubes back in with the rest. i took it one step further, even; i envisioned life to be like my bag of ju-jubes. you may not really like the yellow or green ones, and absolutely cannot stand the black jubes, but without them, the reds don't taste as good.

i'm always reminded, now, of that summer, and my ju-jube philosophy. it's ridiculously simple and forrest-gumpy, but it's going to be one of those things that sticks with me for the rest of my life. you may not always like 100% of the ju-jubes that life throws at you... but if you only ever got the colours you like, you'd never truly appreciate them to the fullest. since then, i've never taken a ju-jube for granted.

i hope you all have a red jube kind of day.



what a great birthday.

punkin picking was successful; i'm the proud owner of two wonderfully round and fat punkins that are excited to become jack-o-lanterns. i love the autumn. i made sure to be up bright and early both days this weekend so that i could drink in the early-morning sunshine (sunshine's at it's freshest in the early morning, you see), not to mention so that i could enjoy the most of my weekend. sleeping in is nice and all, but getting up early gives you longer days... which defaults to longer weekends.

by the end of sunday, i felt like i'd had a week off of work. exhausted, stuffed to the brim with birthday fajitas and tiramisu, a small arsenal of books to read (in defense of food from christian and little cakes from the whimsical bakehouse from jess), a fantastic new leather bag that i've been craving for months now (thanks mike!) and a slew of other oh-so-kind gifts, i went home happy with a brain full of new memories and a camera full of new pictures.

that's my kind of weekend.

mosaic courtesy of elisa bett


ladies and gents, please rise for the graduands

today: on this gorgeous autumn day, we went to convocation for jess - she's all grown up and ready to be a teacher! a special lil guest attended as well - i like to think that he got an honorary degree. he's not ours but i have a sneaky suspicion he would have liked to have come home with us. what a sweet face!

tomorrow: birthday celebrations for me, including punkin picking. can't wait. haven't carved a punkin in years. it's gonna be great.

beautiful thing: early-morning amber sunlight flickering between the trees as i drive through the back roads, with a fresh layer of frost on the ground. fall is most definitely in full swing.


food for thought

mike and i managed to score seats to see
david suzuki speak at his cross-canada campus lecture series tonight. talk about awesome - he's an incredible speaker with a ton of information and advice on how to not only implement sustainable change in your individual lives, but also to spread it.

he covered the whole gamut of eco-information, along with a forecast of the outlook for the environment and humankind as a whole and what we can do to affect change individually, as well as within society and the world. he highlighted the importance of voicing your opinion to your local politicians and, more importantly, to exercise your right to vote. it's a fact: politicians don't listen to anyone except those who actually get out to cast their ballots. (it's just a shame that voter turnout is so low lately - particularly for yesterday's election. 59%?! come on guys, are you freakin kidding me? man up! you can't blame your parents entirely for the state of the environment if you didn't even show up at the polls to elicit political change when it was every inch within your constitutional rights to do so.)

it's scary (but important) stuff. for a species that's survived and propagated based on it's intellect and ability to plan for the future, we've certainly opted to ignore our instincts when it comes to our future existence on earth. when exactly was the moment that we sped past the point of no return with reckless abandon? when did we become so consumed in our quest for more/faster/richer that we've disregarded any warnings to slow down? it's disgusting how short-sighted humans can be.

the points that suzuki mentions on his site are simple little things that aren't going to change your life drastically, but could be part of a crucial step to helping us stop this speeding train before it's completely off the tracks. i've a few things that i'm going to try out, including working a meatless day into my week and finding ways to reduce energy consumption. my lil meatball car is a fuel efficient vehicle and i currently take the bus to work (which also saves me a lot of money). his recommended points aren't ridiculously hard. check them out. which ones do you think you can implement this week?

and oh - for God's sake, get out there and vote already.


crisis, catastrophe, and rhubarb pie

ok seriously now, it's beginning to feel like all i'm hearing about is doomsday. if it's not the slumping (no ... disgustingly hung over and deadbeat) economy, it's global warming. if not that, it's a looming water crisis. if not that, then
mike's busy filling my paranoid head with stories about the latest zombie flicks and end-of-the-world stories.

trust me, you don't want to get me started on zombies. ugh.

either way, i came across an incredibly refreshing blog called sad guys on trading floors via the ever-resourceful jennifer jeffrey, and couldn't resist sharing it with you.

now - i'm not the kind of girl who laughs out loud. don't get me wrong; i love to laugh. i just am the kind of super-quiet-stealth-mode laugher. i'll laugh out loud when something catches me off guard or when it's just too funny to keep it all in. either way, this is out of character for me.

but these pics are just too funny. once i start laughing out loud, i can't stop. the fact that i was wiping tears from my eyes with no one around to laugh with me just made it all the more funny. think like fail blog and then multiply it by ten.


enjoy your tuesday!

(for the record, mike doesn't think it's that funny. he just doesn't get it my ridiculous sense of humour.)


the biggest beautiful thing

lying on the couch last night, stuffed up to the eyeballs with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, asparagus and beans. feeling so full that i could barely even think about leftovers of any kind in a positive light.

then remembering how lucky we are to complain about being too full.


and in a flash, it was gone

it's been a bit of a busy week.

my mind goes round and round and round in circles... from the etsy shop to grad school applications to work to thanksgiving. lather, rinse, repeat.

am looking forward to a restful weekend. am looking forward to a brain-regroup.

most of all, am looking forward to a huge helping of turkey + stuffing, followed by a slice of pumpkin pie. if that cant fix your woes, nothing will.

have a fantastic weekend everyone, turkey-filled or otherwise.


cubicle fever

stapler suicide by dreadsky

so my cubicle at work is pretty small. and i'm the kind of girl who needs to organize everything in front of me so that i can prioritize and see what needs to be done. it needs to be on my desk. (in tidy piles.)

oh did i mention that my cubicle is pretty small?

i'm on a mission to get everything off of my desk and arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner. how? i've yet to figure that all out. i have a feeling it's gonna take some thinking outside the box.

does anyone have any recommendations of inspirational sites or sellers who might be able to help me out? all that i can find online is the same old boring beige, beige, beige. one of my favourite sites to check out is see jane work, but it doesn't have the breadth of selection that i'm looking for.


yet not alone

I am too alone in the world, and not alone enough
to make every minute holy.
I am too tiny in this world, and not tiny enough
just to lie before you like a thing,
shrewd and secretive.
I want my own will, and I want simply to be with my will,
as it goes toward action,
and in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times
when something is coming near,
I want to be with those who know secret things
or else alone.
I want to be a mirror for your whole body,
and I never want to be blind, or to be too old
to hold up your heavy and swaying picture.
I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere
because where I am folded
there I am a lie.
And I want my grasp of things
true before you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I looked at closely for a long time,
like a saying that I finally understood,
like the pitcher I use every day,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that took me safely through the wildest storm of all.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. by Robert Bly
photo via anataman


be still. live. breathe.

this has been my mantra for the past little while - inspired partly by a paraphrase of a quote from enough by john naish, and partly by something that came to me while lying on the beach last august. i'm kind of loving it. (the breathing, and the living, that is). even when it's stressy.

i've also been hearting dandelions. the writing is a little bit teensy when you view it online, but i'm pretty happy with this one. of course, more to come.


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