Dec 30, 2013

Mad world

Sigh... my Holidays are almost over.  I did manage to read a book, after all!  It was a children's book with lots of pictures but it was an entire book and it was EXCELLENT! 
"A Coyote Solstice Tale" is the story of Coyote and his friends getting together to celebrate and a little human girl showing up, having fled the horror of Holiday madness.  The animals are introduced to her world and then return to the safety of the forest.  Beautifully told in rhyme, this meaningful story is very relevant to our times and clearly outlines the crazy consumerism that's ruining the Holiday.  I highly recommend sharing this story with your loved ones.

We also saw "The Purge", which turned out to be much better and far more thought-provoking than I had hoped.  We were in Los Angeles for Hallowe'en and could have gone to "The Purge" walk-through attraction but were turned off by the violence.  Well, the movie was far more meaningful and interesting, but of course very violent (although NOT gory).  It  speaks about apathy and indifference and how people ignore the things that are very wrong all around them until they're forced to confront them.  Creepy and uncomfortable, definitely watch the extra "making of" featurette to start the discussion going!

Dec 29, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I just, finally, updated my website (better late than never!) and added a few images to my flickr page (you can see it here: ).

(That's Cere and Bella, they're still looking for their forever homes.  If at all possible, they'd like to be adopted as a pair.  Yes, Bella will eat ANYTHING.) 

Dec 24, 2013

Christmas with Krampus and rats, of course

Chuckle... well, it's true... or a good dose of Krampus!  Thank you, Rose, for Krampus-ing my Yule, your friendship is a true gift! 

Rose visits all the most interesting places in the United States and spots Krampus everywhere!    At a paper show, she found this die cut "scrap".... 

At a gingerbread competition she caught Krampus terrorizing two kiddies!  That's so unbelievably cute! 

And in a shop selling glass ornaments!
And now he hangs out in my tree, thank you Rose! 
Happy Holidays!

Rats are also everywhere in the house this Season, and I have to thank Cathy who adopted Gryphon the Rat a few years ago for not only sending an adorable rodent card but taking the time to affix a rat stamp!!!  Wow.  That's so thoughtful, I love it!
I am blessed.

Dec 21, 2013

Moving toward the light

Happy Solstice everyone!
  (This adorable image is from Bat World Sanctuary.)

And to help Mother Earth at this darkest time of the year, would you please consider sending a letter to the British Colombian government to demand they respect provincial parks and protect them from the energy companies that only want to line their pockets?  Visit the Valhalla Wilderness Society's website for all the details but I've included the letter I sent and the addresses/emails so you can just go ahead and use my letter as you wish. 
  Essentially, the government wants to change the Parks Act so that development can happen within park boundaries.  They also consider reducing various parks' boundaries.
  Thank you, and what you do DOES make a difference so please take action and voice your opinion.

Premier Christy Clark
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Phone: 250 387-1715, Fax: 250 387-0087

Hon. Mary Polak
Minister of Environment
PO Box 9049 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
Phone: 250 387-1187, Fax: 250 387-1356

Hon. Steve Thomson
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
PO Box 9049 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
Phone: 250 387-6240, Fax: 250 387-1040
To Premier Christy Clark,

 With concern, I recently read that research permits are being given to energy companies to investigate within protected areas for possible drilling and pipelines.  Furthermore, the Park Act may be amended to allow pipelines to run through provincial parks. 

It would seem your government is willing to sell off our parks to development.  This is shocking and extremely short-sighted.  The short-term gains of allowing such development within park boundaries, such as jobs and energy, are nothing compared to the irreparable damage that will be done to the environment (not to mention the loss of tourism dollars). 

Please leave the existing protected areas in tact without boundary reductions. Further, I urge you to support adding more territory to our parks system.

Our parks are places that are important to and belong to all Canadians, irrespective of where they live.  Indeed, they have universal value that transcends the value they hold for a particular nation, and must be protected for all inhabitants of the planet including generations to come.

Please protect our parks and support them for the health of our entire planet.  Please uphold the Parks Act and enforce it, with no research permits granted and no pipelines within their boundaries.

                                                          Thank you,

Dec 14, 2013

Creative touches

 You know, it's impossible to find cookie tins with Krampus on them.  I mean, really, doesn't everyone want to send treats to their loved ones in Krampus tins?  So I made my own:  Mom brought home these tins from the Dollar Store and I added the Krampus images.  So there:  Krampus cookie tins!  

As you may be aware, Christmas just isn't my thing and the more it gets crammed down my throat the more I grow to despise it.  I do NOT want to hear Christmas music all November and December and if you have your tree up before December 1st, you're way too early!  Anyway, no, I have never made any Christmas themed critters and this December I'm making 3 Day of the Dead bears.  I want them to capture the celebratory joy and solemn beauty of the Dia de los Meurtos, so I'm starting with creating unique paw pads for each.  
 The traditional black bear will have hand-drawn skeleton bones on his pads, the traditional white bear will have warm tan pads embossed with an organic pattern and the Hallowe'en/Day of the Dead bear will have fun, hand painted candy corn pads.

Because there are only 321 days to Hallowe'en!

Dec 10, 2013

The bats at Salthaven

Isn't he gorgeous?!  This is the bat we rescued on November 25th, Megan was kind enough to photograph the wee fellow, a Big Brown, who is now feeding himself and being housed with another male.   

Here's another stunning photograph of a bat rehabiliated at Salthaven earlier this year, so handsome!

And here is a Hoary Bat that was also in Salthaven's care.  Look at that face, what a cute smile!

Don't know what to get that hard-to-gift someone on your Xmas list?  Consider gifting a sponsorship for the care of a rescued bat, or an eagle, or a fawn or an injured owl.  Just visit Salthaven's Critter Care page to see all the neat things this sponsorship will deliver to your loved one, along with the knowledge that you're saving members of your chosen species!  What an awesome gift! 

Dec 9, 2013

Baking for the Holidays: Reward Doggy Cookies!

and after...

For my Willow and her cousins Mocha, Zima and Merlin, with love!

Go ahead, make some!  Show your pup how much you love him or her!  Here's the recipe, and double it up!  Go on.  If you get sick of cutting shapes, just cut squares.  Honestly, your pup doesn't care what they look like:  these smell and taste GREAT!

This recipe is from the book "Baking for Your Dog: Tasty Treats for Your Four-Legged Friend" by Ingeborg Pils, the best dog recipe book I ever laid my hands on. 

Dec 4, 2013

Better be good!

Merry Krampus Night!  
December 5th is Krampus Night, when the old fertility demon-turned-St Nic's buddy comes clumping into town to lay his switches on any deserving, naughty children!

Here's a very cute little video and song to tell you all about it: 

All together now! 

The Krampus Song by Jordan Dobbs Rosa

Every year on Christmas Eve
Children fear his name
He looks a lot like Beelzebub
But they are not the same
He travels 'round with Santa Claus
St. Nick ain't his friend
He comes from the northern Alps
Of rural Switzerland
Because he's Krampus, Krampus,
I'm telling you all about Krampus
Krampus, Krampus,
Swing your birch switch high

With matted fur and sheep's horns
Frankly dear he smells
Accompanied by the melody
Of rusty chains and bells

He'll scoop you up and throw you in
His nasty burlap sack
He rears back with a cane and switch
And takes a Yuletide whack

Krampus, Krampus,
Don't you know about Krampus?
Krampus, Krampus,
Swing your birch switch high

No X-Box games... or candy canes
Made of peppermint
He brings the pain of another cane:
Corporal punishment

So if the kids misbehave you'll do well to remember
To don the garb of Krampus on the 5th of December
(That's the traditional day for us to celebrate)
Krampus, Krampus
Look out kids he's Krampus
Krampus, Krampus,
Swing your birch switch high

Krampus, Krampus,
He's the anti-Santi Krampus
Krampus, Krampus,
Swing your birch switch high

Merry Krampus everybody!

Of course, in the Alpine regions, they have Krampus Night where you REALLY do need to watch out!  You can read someone's Krampus experience by clicking here.  

This awesome image is by Brian Leblancart.

I know I'd like to send Krampus to a few houses... Anyway, we've got a bundle of switches on our front door to welcome Krampus and will be celebrating.  
So Merry Krampus Night everyone!  

Nov 26, 2013

Our bat rescue!

What are you looking at here?  Why, it's the bat we rescued yesterday!  Early in the day I received a call from work about a bat that was in our building!  Clinging to the projector screen cover, it was distressing to my fellow employees and it was only going to become a nuisance if he started flying around.  So, on a ladder with a double layer of gloves on and some help, I firmly grasped the screeching little guy and got it into a kitty litter pail!
Now what? 
At first we thought he'd died, he was laying on the bottom of the pail and even stroking him with a stick didn't cause a reaction.  I was already trying to figure out how we could determine if he was really dead when we found him like this, clinging to the pail's edge!  Yippy!  
So today we handed him over to the great folks at Salthaven Wildlife Rehabiliation and Education Center where they will house and feed him over the winter and then set him free in the spring. (Thank you, Jason and Megan!)  
Look at those little feet!  Judging by his size, I'd guess he's a Big Brown Bat. 
November 27 update from Megan, Volunteer Coordinator at Salthaven: 
"He is an adult male and weighs a hearty 15 grams. He seems to be in good health and is only slightly dehydrated which is pretty normal when coming out of hibernation. He will be rehydrated and kept in isolation for a few days then introduced to some of the other bats we have in care. Thanks again for helping the little one!"

Nov 25, 2013

Food is love

Food.  I love food.  And I express love through food.  I make food for the people I love and send food to the people in my life that I value.  Food is love. 

This is a closeup of Mom's birthday cake, a plum flan: 

It looks a little like the Utah landscape near Kanab, hills and valleys, cliffs and rivers... a thing of beauty and yes it was delicious!

I've been thinking a lot about food in the past months as a friend has just had rather extreme surgery by choice and was, post-surgery, very limited in the kinds and quality of foods she could eat.  This led me to realize how social food is:  we get together to eat in a restaurant, we make special foods for special occasions, every Holiday has its own iconic foods, we show people how much we care for them by making their favorite meals, we gift food to people we want to make feel special, we say "thank you" with a gift of food...  So how much does your relationship change with a person who has a very restricted diet or basically can not eat with you or anything you could possibly offer?  What do you do instead?

I love food.  I love experimenting with food, trying different flavours and I love gifting food.  So I had a really hard time, antisocial as I am, to re-define my understanding of its role in my friendships.  If there is no food, no shared food pleasure, no food distraction, what is there?  Luckily, the friend is a gem and worth any little discomfort or awkwardness that might arise and we'll work it out.        

While some pieces of love are delicate and difficult (like these squiggles), others require a group effort (like a gazillion yeast organisms helping you out)

and still others (like these thumbprint chocolate cookies with Caramilk centers) are flat-out ease and comfort!

So, enjoy!  Savour!  And realize how lucky we are to be able to appreciate food as more than just a necessity.

Nov 20, 2013

In the beginning...

We were at Michaels on the weekend, with our trusty coupons.  Did you see us?  We were the ones buying everything NOT Christmas, all the orange paper, orange ribbon, Monarchs, etc... and the huge 2 x 3 foot frame for my Trick 'r Treat poster.  It now is framed, hung and gorgeous!  

This poster is an inspiration, we're already planning what we'll do for Hallowe'en 2014!

Well, our entire Los Angeles trip was an inspiration and I've started working on three bears that will be Day of the Dead bears.  The male will be black, the female white (oh so soft!) and traditionally decorated/dressed.  The third will be orange, a Hallowe'en/Day of the Dead mixture.  All will have removable paper maché masks. 
Perhaps a little too ambitious but it's brewing:  how about a creepy caged rat?  I'm drawn to this creature made by etsy artist YoltansArt and since I already make rats this could be a very cool new extension of my critters to make a Hallowe'en prop for my haunt in 2014.  We'll see...      

Nov 11, 2013

Hollywood Forever!

Mom and I were in Los Angeles from October 28th to November 4th and had an incredible time experiencing, among other things, Hallowe'en and the Day of the Dead!  I've written an extensive report on my website, you can see it here:, just scroll down and click on the Day of the Dead poster. 

We brought home quite a few goodies...

...but upon leaving the Cemetery after our tour, I salvaged two marigolds.  They had been part of the Cemetery gates' decoration and were headed for the garbage but now they're drying and I will use them next year to attract my beloved lost ones home for our Dia de los Muertos in the backyard...

Oct 30, 2013

Happy Hallowe'en!

Happy Hallowe'en everyone!

This adorable image is from Maggie Rudy's blog:  She makes these incredible mice and their world all by hand with pain-staking detail and imagination!  Love the mouse skeleton in the window!

 How's this for elegant Hallowe'en attire?  (bat cape by Kate Bellando)

Enjoy this most magical night!  Booo!

Oct 26, 2013

On the other hand...

... we Canadians adapt.  From 10:00 to noon today in our local mall there was a trick or treat and activities for the kiddies.  So on a rainy, snowy (again!) morning the kiddies wore their lovely costumes and trick or treated up and down the mall in comfort.  There was a princess, a turtle, a faery, a pirate, a shark!!, Ironman, a black cat, etc...  Mom and I went to see what a success it was and were absolutely delighted that the little ones got to enjoy a warm, dry, totally fun Hallowe'en trick or treat, with a craft area too where they made little decorated trick or treat bags. 
  The shop owners seemed to be pretty excited too, standing in their doorways with all manner of treats, some were even dressed up!  It was a Happy pre-Hallowe'en to be sure! 
  This lovely display was in the Credit Union shop, isn't it boo-tiful!  Bravo!

Oct 25, 2013

Really scary!

In Canada, sometimes you can make snowmen for Hallowe'en!  Doesn't that suck!?  And wear your snowsuit under your Hallowe'en costume... sigh.  It snowed yesterday, REALLY snowed, not just a sugar sprinkle.

  At one point, it was slushing from the sky, huge sloppy blobs... It still hasn't all melted away, although by around 5:00pm today most of it was gone.  We had 7C but the darn stuff won't melt!!!  Ack!!! 

It just does NOT go with my Hallowe'en decor!!! 

Sigh.  Willow seemed to like it. 

Oct 23, 2013

Feeding the monster

Every year I splurge and get one or two Hallowe'en magazines.  This year, for my money, I went with the Taste of Home: Halloween Special.  (I saw the Martha Stewart and I have all of her previous Hallowe'en specials but this year's issue didn't have anything for me.)

There's a nice article called "Spooktacular Sips" on Hallowe'en beverages, something I don't have many ideas about, but the winning feature was a Day of the Dead party!

Here are two recipes from the issue to make your own Day of the Dead celebration:

And then here are two pizza ideas, proving that even if you have no time you can make something spooky just using your cookie cutters!

And for dessert?  How about eerie white bone cookies?  Or spider-webbed treats?  Nothing says love like a gorgeous box of gifted sweets... or human body parts.  Body parts are good too.

Oct 21, 2013

Fall delights

Apples!  This year there are lots everywhere!  We collect ours off the ground on the trail behind the cemetery; there must have been an orchard there and the apples are of different varieties.  Pesticide free, and there's something special about foraging for your own food!  So with a pile of apples we needed a new recipe... This one is easy and delicious, and (I later realized) gluten free too! 
(The bits in italics are what we changed from the original recipe.)

Baked Apple and Almond Pudding


Serves 4-6

Baked Apple and Almond Pudding
 1 lb (450 g) Bramley cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (or use 8 apples)
 4 oz (110 g) ground almonds
 2 oz (50 g) soft brown sugar (4 oz if using 8 apples)
 4 oz (110 g) butter, at room temperature
 4 oz (110 g) golden caster sugar (or brown sugar)
 2 large eggs, beaten
Round, ovenproof baking dish with a diameter of 8 inches (20 cm), 1¾ inches (4.5 cm) deep, buttered.


Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Place the apples in a saucepan with the brown sugar and approximately 2 tablespoons of water (or 4 tablespoons if using 8 apples), simmer gently until soft, and then arrange them in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. (or use pressure cooker for 1 1/2 minutes, include juices)
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy and then beat in the eggs a little at a time. When all the egg is in, carefully and lightly fold in the ground almonds. Now spread this mixture over the apples, and even out the surface with the back of a tablespoon.

Then bake on a highish shelf in the oven for exactly 1 hour. (or only 30 minutes if you used the pressure cooker)

This pudding is equally good served warm or cold – either way, it's nice with some chilled pouring cream. Once cooled, it will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.