Jeongja details – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Jeongja- Edmonton, Alberta, CanadaA few days ago I shared an image of the Jeongja (a traditional Korean pavilion) located on the Royal Alberta Museum grounds in Edmonton, Alberta . The building in its entirety is beautiful, however when you look closer and examine the details it is stunning.

Jeongja detail - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Jeongja are traditionally built of wood and stone. Nails and screws are not used as fasteners, but rather they employ traditional joinery techniques.

Jeongja detail - Edmonton, Alberta, CanadaFloral motifs are a popular design element in decorating the Jeongja.

Jeongja detail - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The designs are often painted by hand.

Jeongja detail - Edmonton, Alberta, CanadaThe Jeongja are constructed at locations that celebrate where people and nature come together, and are often built in locations where full advantage can be made of impressive views.

Jeongja detail - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Little Stitchings – Part 2

Onion skin eco-print  silk leaf on arbutus dyed silk.

Onion skin eco-print silk leaf on arbutus dyed silk.

My decision to work on “little stitchings” has been a good choice of direction. It is allowing me to test different combinations of dyed fabrics together and play around with stitching patterns without making a big commitment. I am discovering some combinations I love, and others, not so much. The eco-dyed onion skin silk is definitely a favorite as is the other “mystery” piece of eco-dyed silk that I am using.  I predict there will be a lot more bundling and steaming in my future.

Marigold dyed silk leaf on the "mystery" eco-print silk.

Marigold dyed silk leaf on the “mystery” eco-print silk.

It is difficult to know how much detail to stitch into the leaves; I am tempted to do more but I am afraid it will be too much once it is all pieced together. Perhaps I should just plan to add more stitching once it is all assembled. Working on the “little stitchings” has become part of my evening routine. Once the children are in bed, my husband and I sit down to watch an episode or two of the British television series “Doc Martin” and I stitch. Downsizing the project has been a good choice.

-37 Degrees Celsius (with windchill!)

crabapple tree

I have spent a good part of my life living on the Canadian prairies. The prairies can be a lovely place with big skies and panoramic views, but the downside of living on the prairies (other than yahoos in their trucks)  is winter.


I am in the province of Alberta, and there are some interesting little quirks that you encounter when having a discussion with an Albertan. The first one that comes to mind is discussing distance; for some reason Albertans do this funny little distance to time conversion. For example, if someone asked “How far is your cabin?” I would reply “Two and a half hours cross-country or three hours on the main highway.”. Everyone here does it. I am actually ashamed to admit I don’t even know how many kilometers away the cabin is.

fence with snow

The second little quirk came to mind as I was writing the title for this blog, and that is the discussion of windchill. Ask anyone in Alberta what the temperature is on a cold wintry day and they will answer “minus (whatever the number is) with windchill”. Now admittedly, when it is cold outside and a wind blasts through it does make a difference to how cold it feels. However, it is quite funny how no one can just answer with a temperature, it is always “with windchill”.

snowy footprints

I decided to share some very local pictures from today as I was stuck at home with sick children. A couple of the images are so local that I just opened the door of the house (after forcing a very stiff and frozen handle!) and shot. The furthest image is 30 paces away from the door (well it was cold outside!). I thought I would share what -37 degrees celsius with windchill looks like and celebrate some of our quirky Albertan ways.


Jeongja – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Jeongja, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

One of the interesting things about living in a very multicultural country is that you can have tastes of other cultures without venturing far from home. I had the pleasure of photographing this Jeongja, located on the grounds of the Royal Alberta Museum, this weekend.

The mix of detailed architecture and crisp white snow makes for a stunning image. The contrast of the exotic styling surrounded by the wintry Canadian landscape makes the scene more memorable as the combination is a little unexpected.

A Jeongja is a traditional Korean pavilion built as a place where people and nature can unite. This Jeongja was a present from the Gangwon Province (Korea) to Alberta in celebration of Alberta’s centennial. Alberta and Gangwon Province share a “twinned” relationship that was originally focused on agricultural cooperation.

‘Ksan Totem Pole – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ksan Totem Pole

The ‘Ksan Totem Pole on the grounds of the Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

This weekend we decided to do a mini road trip to Edmonton and visit the Royal Alberta Museum. The grounds surrounding the museum are as interesting as the museum itself. The ‘Ksan Totem Pole is one of the features outside the museum.

The Beaver.

The Beaver.

This totem pole, created in 1983 in honour of Universiade (the World University Games), was carved by Earl Muldoe with assistance from Chester MacLean and Victor Mowat.

The Strong Man carving on the Ksan Totem Pole.

The Strong Man carving on the ‘Ksan Totem Pole.

The totem pole, that is 37 feet in height,  is carved from a red cedar log and in the style of Northwest Coast Native art. Figures depicted on the pole include: Strong Man, the beaver, the raven with a frog in its beak, the bear holding a salmon, and the owl.

Little Stitchings – part 1

Eco-dyed leaf on arbutus dyed silk. The leaf measures 2.5 inches by 2.25 inches.

Eco-dyed leaf on arbutus dyed silk. The leaf measures 2.5 inches by 2.25 inches.

I have been thinking a lot about my approach to fibre art recently, perhaps I am thinking mostly about the logistics. I have been wanting to do a larger piece, but every time I start plotting the piece “real life” gets in the way. The other night I was really frustrated as to why I am not getting around to working on a large piece and then I reflected on what the last seven weeks have been like. We’ve had: seven people with the flu, followed by a toddler with an ear infection, Christmas, 10 days away on a trip, a week with a child with high fevers, a child who may or may not have a broken arm (we need a second x-ray), and we currently have two children again with high fevers……plus running a photography business on top of all that. I think I have figured out why not a lot of fibre art is happening (yeah, call me Sherlock!). So I have decided to change my plan of attack.

Blackberry dyed silk on marigold dyed silk. Circle is 2.25 inches in diameter.

Blackberry dyed silk on marigold dyed silk. Circle is 2.25 inches in diameter.

I have come up with the idea of “Little Stitchings”. I have decided to work on small compact pieces, no bigger than 6 inches by 6 inches, with the idea of being able to eventually combine them into larger pieces. I have started on stitchings geared towards two different final projects, one with geometric shapes and one that is nature based. Both projects are using naturally dyed silk and  eco-dyed silk fabric, with the stitching threads being silk and bamboo.

Arbutus dyed silk on marigold dyed silk. Circle is 2.25 inches in diameter.

Arbutus dyed silk on marigold dyed silk. Circle is 2.25 inches in diameter.

I think this new approach will allow me to feel like I am accomplishing more, plus it will give me the freedom to work on the pieces anywhere due to the tiny size. I can see a lot of stitching going on in the school parking lot as I pick the children up from school!

Happy Birthday Blueberry Cupcakes

blueberry cupcake

Birthdays are always an event around our house. One of the big decisions for the birthday boy or girl is the type of cake they want to have for their big day. In the past we have eaten more chocolate cake than I care to remember, it seemed to be the cake of choice for many years, so I was thrilled when our daughter said “I want blueberry cupcakes!”

Okay I have to admit I have never before had a blueberry cupcake. I am not even sure where she came up with the idea for a blueberry cupcake as children turning five don’t tend to spend a lot of time reading cookbooks or scanning the internet for recipes. But she asked for blueberry cupcakes, so that is what I made.

I took a white cake recipe that seemed to have many alterations pencilled in, added in some blueberries and topped it off with a buttercream icing. Quite honestly I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, and with all the alterations to the recipe I had no idea how many cupcakes it was going to make. Luckily it only made 24 hearty cupcakes.

This gave me a great opportunity to add another image into my food photography portfolio. I am including the recipe, inspired by my now five-year old, below.
blueberry cupcake

Blueberry Cupcakes
(makes 24 cupcakes)

2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
4 eggs
6 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

– pre-heat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit

– line muffin tins with paper liners

– cream together the sugar and butter

– add in eggs one at a time

– stir in vanilla

– combine flour and baking powder together and then add to the creamed mixture

– stir in the milk until the batter is nice and smooth

– gently add in the blueberries

– spoon the batter into the cupcake pans

– bake for 20 – 22 minutes

Abandoned Pond

Bower Ponds, a winter skating area, is completely deserted on this chilly January day.

Bower Ponds, a winter skating area in Red Deer, Alberta, is completely deserted on this chilly January day.

Frigid winds.

A sunless day.

An abandoned pond.

The depths of winter are upon us.

A Taste of the Past – Grandma’s Banana Bread

banana bread

I’ve been wanting to expand my portfolio for a few years, and food photography has been one of the items on the list of things to shoot. I actually used to do quite a bit of food photography, maybe too much, when I worked in the U.K.. A Christmas hamper company was one of the main clients for the company I worked for and we would literally shoot Christmas dinners for 6 months of the year.

Blogging has given me a reason to expand what I shoot beyond portraits, weddings and a few commercial jobs. It has been refreshing.

banana bread

The images today are of banana bread from my grandmother’s recipe.

I will admit this is actually the second attempt shooting banana bread. The first attempt was last week when I made the loaves one afternoon while our older children were in school. I pulled the loaves out of the oven just before picking them up from school, we got home, they smelled banana bread and the rest is history……my shooting subject became the after school snack. This time I was sneaky and I made the loaves and shot them after the young ones had been put to bed.  I still had to fight off a very attentive husband who kept saying “That smells so good!”, and followed me and the loaves into the studio to “help”.

banana bread detail

As this recipe makes very good banana bread, I am also going to share the recipe with you. My grandma used to put walnuts in the bread, but as schools have all gone nut free, my loaves are made without the walnuts so that we can pack slices into our big kid’s lunches. I have discovered that oil can be substituted for butter in a pinch, but butter definitely makes the best loaf.

banana bread

Grandma’s Banana Bread

3 or 4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups flour

– Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Mix butter into mashed bananas.
– Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla.
– Sprinkle baking soda and salt on top and mix in.
– Add flour and mix in.
– Pour into a buttered 4″x8″ loaf pan.
– Bake 1 hour.

Prairie Sunset

The Oxbows, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

This was a magical moment of lighting this evening.

The sun was setting fast. I wanted to try to capture the sunset before it disappeared but we were in the middle of the city. I did not want urban rooftops and power lines littering the beautiful painted sky. We started driving south, trying to get out-of-town. The sun was dropping, and then I saw what I needed…haybales.


A prairie sunset.