Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Step Forty: A step back in time!

Dearest Sylwi,

Inspiration for today's Step came in the form of a 'sort of' anniversary! :-) My husband proposed to me in Paris, nine years ago today... I know it's not an 'official' anniversary, but I still like to remember the day and call it an anniversary. It drives my husband mad sometimes. He finds it hard enough to remember all of the other birthdays and anniversaries, without me adding to the list with made up ones! heh heh!

Anyway, the day was very romantic and funny and we have such great memories of it. Nine years ago, right now, we were standing on a bridge in the middle of Paris, the sun going down behind the Eiffel Tower, me a bit drunk (I knew something was up, so had insisted on a mini bar crawl on the walk down to the bridge to give me some Dutch courage!)

I was in such a fluster as he proposed that I couldn't stop talking and changing the subject, until he eventually told me, quite rudely, to "just shut up!" :-) He proposed with two rings - one was a cheap, 'back-up plan' ring, in case the real engagement ring wasn't delivered to him on time.

So, jokingly, declaring that 2 rings was fairly unnecessary, I pretended to throw the real ring over my shoulder into the Seine... and being a bit drunk and flustered, I really almost did! I managed to fumble it back into the safety of my arms though and to this day, we still laugh about his face when he thought I'd thrown it off the bridge! Yipee for happy memories!

Although, on reflection... and I do mention this to him often ;-) ... in all of the excitement of almost throwing away my engagement ring, I don't believe I actually said, "Yes!" to getting married. Hmmm... maybe there is still time to get out of it?! ;-)))

Browsing Flickr for images of the Eiffel Tower, I came across the gorgeous Photostream of pilllpat (agence eureka).

Full of beautiful French inspiration, it was there that I found a paper template of the Eiffel Tower. 

I had meant to make a 3D version, by cutting 4 sides and gluing them all together, but doing one side took longer than I expected, as I got a bit taken up with adding thread and pinholes and playing with the beautiful shadows...

I poked the pinholes on the wrong side, by mistake, so they look a bit messy here! *sigh* :-)
With time running out, I then somehow got side-tracked and made a pop-up card, instead! ha ha! :-) (Welcome to the random workings of my mind!)

It all went rather horribly wrong and didn't turn out at all as I envisaged, but in the true spirit of 52 Steps, I'm saying, "Who cares?!" Vive l'imperfection! heh heh! :-)

It was such a lovely surprise to see that you beat me to posting today. You did an amazing job of catching up. I can't believe we're at Step Forty, either! :-)

Gosh, I feel happy, sad and panicky about it, all at once! Happy that it will soon be over and I won't have to stress every week about what to do. Sad that I feel I've come so far and learned so much and that it will soon all be over. Panicky because I don't know what I'm going to do for the remaining 12 steps, but I feel like I should make them count somehow! ha ha! :-)))

Lots of love, hugs and kisses to you,


Step Forty: Red and the peripheries...

Dear Fi,

These days I dream of living in a different place, where instead of snow in October there is a warm breeze on my sunny (but not too sunny) patio, where I am sitting and reading another book from my long list without beginning and with no end. 

In this place time does not run in fast spirals, instead it is only a concept of my mind and  I can befriend it. So, there is time for everything. There is a time for Life... 

And the life is quiet but vibrant. Everything has certain role and meaning like a ritual. I live in this world which I have created for myself and I am surrounded by beauty, so my mind is peaceful yet energized. I notice the light in people’s eyes and my lips wear this type of smile... like they know some secret and they try to make space for me to find it out.

Is that too much to dream for?

Love :*

“Red” is a title of the collage above and “the peripheries” are my thoughts... totally incoherent with the artwork ;)

FORTY!!! :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Step Thirty Seven {Finally!} - Two me’s.

Dear Fi,

I wish I could tell you what this altered photo is all about. However, it would be hard since I have no clue...

This, and the fact that this project was spread across two pages of my Moleskine was probably the reason for the long delay with posting it. Not only was I not sure what and why “two me’s” (early signs of schizophrenia maybe?) but I knew that it would take me a while to scan and put this together properly and this is mostly why I avoided doing the task. I lost photoshop when my Mac died a few months ago, so I decided to do my best using Picnik. Fortunately, as you probably noticed our 52 steps taught me to give up on perfectionism ha, ha. 

The most important part is the fact that finally my super late 37th step is posted, and that is what counts ;) at least for me!

No my Dear Fi, I won’t try to analyse my creation. The only thing I can add is the song. This song stayed with me for weeks before, during, and after creating this piece. This is the only explanation I have...

Love :*


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Step Thirty Nine: Expressive drawing - Part Two {Little Helper Edition}

Dear Fi,

Expressive drawing again (because it is addictive!!!).
However... no words, just pictures.

Love :*


My dream was to make my first video for this step... maybe another time. I can at least share the music I wanted to use for the video - the one I’ve been listening to lately :)

My Little Helper :)

Step Thirty Eight: Expressive drawing - Part One...

Dear Fi,

It’s me, Sylvia. Do you remember me? Ha, ha. 

I laughed when I read your last post. It took me three weeks to realize that my problem with late posting is not a problem with doing the step but with finding the time to write about it, and to upload pictures. Usually when I finish my project writing about it is the last thing I want to do. So, if I want to post and at the same time keep going with the crazy pace of my life I need to reduce words. 

I did the steps and I actually did them on time, but it was too much work to put them together. Tonight I hope to upload pictures from step 38 and 39, so I don’t feel bad about myself (and so you can see that I’m still alive). Step 37 will need to wait, because I didn’t have time to scan my project, and I cannot find it right now ha, ha.

How did this happen to me, that I cannot find myself anymore? I feel so misplaced at times. I did feel that very strongly for the last three weeks, but yesterday brought some interesting changes. I feel calmer now. So, there is a hope that I won’t go totally crazy before the end of this year.  

I learned about expressive drawing through the National Center for Creative Aging. I became a member and wanted to learn more about aging and creativity as a part of my professional development plan. They sent me a message about this cool class. I watched the video and got crazy. I though about you my Dear. I hope you will love it too :)     

Anyway, no more words.

with one exception: 
Love :*


Step Thirty Nine: Celebrating origami with paper fireworks!

Dearest Sylwi

No words this week, just pictures! :-)

I could write an entire post on how tired, empty and 'oversubscribed' to everything I'm feeling at the mo... but I won't! heee! ;-) Instead, here's a pretty, distracting, little origami project for this week's Step.

Inspiration came from this amazing tutorial video from jonakashima on YouTube. Beautifully clear instructions and ...with a little patience, (not my strong point, grrr!) ;-) surprisingly simple to put together!

Origami Firework (by Yami Yamauchi)


Lots of love,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Step Thirty Eight: A 'Fairytail' Ending :-)

Dearest Sylwi,

Where are yooooooooooou??! :-) Please come back! I miss you.

This week's step was a strange one for me. The influence came from a trip I made at the weekend to see my Grannie, who has Alzheimer's.

The other day, I read someone describe an Alzheimer sufferer as "the opposite of a ghost". Their body remains, but their spirit has long gone. I'm not sure I truly believe that, as I could strongly feel my Grannie's spirit, even though it could easily be described as "not being there".

Or, maybe it was just the comfortable familiarity of being surrounded by her things - her furniture, the vases and photographs on the shelves, the way her room smells of warm sunshine, coffee, soap, geraniums and biscuits, with a base note of hospital detergent... I found it difficult to determine the difference between spirit and memories. It's certainly not something to dwell on in the moment, or you would be overcome with feeling sorry for yourself, which is surely the most unhelpful emotion in these situations.

Anyway, it was a strange couple of days and when I returned I began sewing this illustration, free-hand. Almost as if it was a page from a storybook... I don't really know why I chose any of the individual elements, or if it particularly makes any sense, it was just what came pouring out of my head! :-)

It felt like a comforting story - where the spirit goes on ahead, like my dogs do on our walks... I lose sight of them for a while, but they're always standing there, waiting for me when I round the corner.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Step Thirty Seven: Step by Step Sushi :-)

Dearest, darling Sylwi,

If you could only see what I had planned for today and how woefully short of the mark I am, you would laugh very hard and long. I had sooo much planned. I wanted to do a Japanese themed 'step' and had big visions of the actual project that I created today, plus an elaborate photoshoot - all styled with Japanese props, a collage of patterns, and a couple of other ways of presenting my project that I wanted to try.

Instead... I managed the basic project and then these very simple pics have sat on my computer screen all day, since about 11am. It's now getting on for 6pm... and I'm trying to write this post in-between all the nonsense I have to get done today. I think I'm currently averaging about 10 words an hour! hee! :-) Maybe next week, I can produce the other parts to this step that I wanted to do...?

The inspiration for today's creation came from The Complete Book of Sushi, by Hideo Dekura, Brigid Treloar and Ryuichi Yoshii.

I've been desperate (for a very long time) :-) to make sushi, which I LOVE! Well, all sushi apart from anything that involves sea urchin - yeuch! :-)

I had a go a couple of months ago and the results weren't terrible, but I'd really like to improve my techniques and with something so creative and fancy, practice is the only way to get better.

So, here's what I got up to for today's step.

First, I placed a sheet of toasted nori onto a rolling mat... using toasted nori is (I think) very important. Last time, I used untoasted and oh my goodness, the texture was so rubbery, it was inedible. It was like biting into a car tyre! :-)

At least, I think it was because I used untoasted... or maybe it was just a bad brand of nori. Apparently, the different qualities of nori in Japan are akin to paper - you can buy all kinds of different grades, from cheap to extremely expensive.

Anyway, this time, working with toasted turned out brilliantly.

I prepared the sushi rice early this morning and have a bunch of instructions on how I did it, but most sushi rice packets have instructions on the side, so it's easiest just to follow those.

Once cool, I began spreading a thin layer of rice onto the nori. To stop the rice from sticking to my hands, I regularly dipped my fingers in a bowl of water to keep them moist. 

Last time, I made the mistake of making my fingers too wet and unfortunately, this transferred to my rice and nori. It all ended up a bit soggy and unruly! Thankfully this time, I knew to shake the excess water off my fingers before applying them to the rice and it worked perfectly.

At the top, I pushed the rice right to the edge and at the other end, I left a line of exposed nori (not covered in rice) about an inch wide, along the bottom of my nori sheet.

I made a groove along the top of the rice and drew a very thin line of wasabi paste along it...

Then it was time for the fun part - the filling! 

I didn't have time to go to the fish shop to buy fresh fish, so I bought some precooked prawns and added avocado and chives. I wondered if the filling would be too soft, so added some cucumber for crunch.

Then it was time to roll...

... all the way over, tucking in the edges of the nori as I went and lifting the edge of the mat up...

Once rolled, I dabbed some water along the one inch exposed part of the nori to act as 'glue' and sealed the sushi shut. Once sealed, I slightly squared the edges of the roll...

... and then it was time to cut! 

Using a very sharp knife and wetting it with water frequently, I cut even(ish)! sized pieces... 

A friend was here for lunch, so it kinda went, "the big one, that's for me, this little one, that's for you, this next big one, that's for me..."  ;-P

... then a quick arrangement on the plate with a blob of wasabi shaped into a leaf... and I mean quick! I barely got this shot, before pieces began disappearing off the plate! :-)

I could not believe how delicious these were and how fast my friend and I wolfed these down. They were supposed to be for lunch, but I finished making them around 11am and by 5 past 11, they were all gone!

It was so wonderful to get creative with food. It felt as though so much love and care goes into these - it makes them super special. The freshness of the ingredients, the beauty of the presentation and how delicious they taste make them hard to beat!

The possibilities are endless as well. Vegetarian sushi, raw sushi, traditional sushi with raw fish - all the different ways to roll them; inside out, hand wrapped, thin, thick, upside down... oooh, I have an addiction coming on! :-)

I'll be back first thing tomorrow morning to catch up with your post and also to comment on last week's post. I've just seen it today, as I was uploading this post. *sigh* I know, you told me you'd uploaded it, but I haven't had a chance to visit all week. I can't wait for tomorrow, to spend some time browsing your lovely work. I Misssssss Yooooou! 

Lots and lots of love