Woolen Slippers

I donated my old slippers because I didn’t like wearing them. I also thought I had a pair waiting for me at my other house. But when I journeyed there this weekend, found none and felt a faint tingle in the back of my mind, “oh yes, I donated them too because I didn’t love them”.  I am trying to get better about shooing things out of my life that I don’t heartily enjoy. This new habit I’m trying to form has left me slipperless.

Shopping is fairly torturous to me, I avoid rambling around looking for things. I don’t have a lot of belief that anything I will cherish is manufactured in bulk. Thus, when I am disproven it is usually the result of a gift. Fortunately in this instance I stumbled on a work around.

I went looking in my yarn bin for materials to make a crocheted Trotro doll for my niece’s X mas present around the same time I was experiencing slipper loss and just starting to warm up the cabin by woodstove heat.

Years ago I did my student teaching in New Zealand and I still remember the day in the market that I bought some virgin wool. A woman named Nicole made me her confidante. She was in a quandary. She said she had started to raise a few sheep to have wool for her projects. She said she had been naive, she didn’t realize they would multiple so quickly. She promised herself when there were 15 she would find a solution to keep the numbers low. She repromised at 20. She said she now had 30 and couldn’t think of having the lambs slaughtered, but couldn’t kill the old ones either. What should she do, she asked me. Me, a twenty something from America, I had no idea what to say to her. Her wools were soft and varied. Creams to greys and browns and rich charcoal, I could imagine this beautiful flock and the impossibility of trying to decide between them. These are materials I can love. I bought a variety, and way more than this non-consumer could concieve of. When I got it home to my place in NZ n realized my bags were full and I was to depart in a few days I realized I would have to wear it to get it home. I crocheted it into a long sleeveless cloak with a big pocket and traveled home encompassed in the heart of the land of NZ. It stayed that way, for years, I had never intended to keep it in that form, but somehow it remained and went on many more travels with me. Finally a few years ago I set to the task of taking it apart and finally, they are anew


#1 Drawing One Hour

For a long time I have had an urge to draw again. It has been quite a while since I have done any dedicated practice in this art, which feels weird, since drawing was my intoduction to a love of art.

So finally I am trying. I am making no promises, but working on doing something about the itch.

Here is my first recent draw session as the work changed over the minutes. Abstract/ Realism6BCFAFA6-0400-4E56-9431-47FFB5A7D623680E243E-D2C9-4019-B1AB-78DC88522FA87447D63B-6630-46FA-9D81-E9E024EE23A8

Draw One Hour

I am going to try to do an hour of drawing a day as often as I can. I’ve done two sessions. The first one was shorter than an hour, and I will post that one soon. This is the  second time, and I did about 1.5 hrs, but I’m not working on this one beyond tonight since the face is too long and I can’t fix that easily, so onto the next try.5CA87461-F95E-4C26-9D91-95AC61EB86AECB64E416-4662-48E7-83D5-3F4C2BA8CBE8

Kombucha Fireball Cocktail

So this may be too simple to even call a recipe, but I wanted a little sip of something and didn’t have any soda to speak of.  So I just mixed my homemade kombucha which has great zing and some fireball whiskey.  It tastes pretty much like a very smooth straight shot of fireball.  Of course a bit weaker than straight, which I enjoyed.

Just a cocktail idea for you~

Beet Juice Quinoa

This recipe is so simple I probably can’t call it a recipe, but thought it was worth a share. I had some beet juice and water chestnut liquid left from another food preparation, so instead of throwing them out I used them to replace half the water for my quinoa.  It not only gave the quinoa a nice tinted color for an interesting plating, but also was a nice twist on the taste buds.  Also if you live in a dry cabin like me, it’s an easy way to use a little less water and utilize available liquids instead of them going to waste.  This experience has made me more open to trying this again with some other veg. juices.


2017 World Ice Art Championships

The multi block teams only have three days to complete their sculptures, and this year it was in the -40s F while they worked. That’s what I call dedication to your art form.

Although these sculptures are now well on their way to melting, I would like to share a few of my favorite ice carvings seen this March in Fairbanks, Alaska at the 2017 International Ice Sculpture competition. There are a number of categories in which people may compete.  There is single block competition, multi- block, children’s, and amateur divisions.

The image here is a close up of the cage and key part of a phoenix sculpture.  I am so amazed by how even they are able to do the widths and curves.  Just blows me away.IMG_6971

The bee here is also part of the single block competition as was the image above.  This sculptor did such a great job with proportion and texture, which was definitely not true of all the sculptures I saw. IMG_6972

I think this is supposed to be Trump, looking up at Lady Liberty.  My friend thought perhaps he was supposed to be pondering immigration…  (A multi block piece)IMG_6974


The multi block teams only have three days to complete their sculptures, and this year it was in the -40s F while they worked.  That’s what I call dedication to your art form.  This piece below is a close up from another multi block piece, you will see a soaring bird in a later pic that was also from this sculpture.  I am amazed at some of the concepts that are designed for the contest, not all achieve their desired results, but this fetus in the womb was very well illustrated.



One of the last pieces we saw, but one of my absolute favorites was this hummingbird that was being worked on by the man in this picture.  I could hardly believe it when I saw that he was carving this for the amateur competition.  Personally, I think it was one of the most beautiful and elegant pieces of the entire park.  IMG_6988

The picture below is just focusing on how the nature around was transformed through the lens of ice.  This carved sphere inverted the woods around it, and was strikingly effective in it’s use of simplicity.



One of the single block sculptures is shown in the detail below, the entire dragon was done, but I cropped the image down to show you more detail.  The single block competitors I believe are limited to one to two sculptors.  IMG_6957


This single block sculpture shows a bit of the international feeling of the event.  There were multiple teams of Asian carvers, and some Russian and Scandinavian I noticed.  It’s amazing that people travel half way around the world to be outside carving in arctic temperatures.  IMG_6958


Another globe I really loved was this one below that looks like spikes were all joined together, somehow more clouded in their appearance and then having a clearer sphere around them.  Not sure how it was done, but it turned out great.  (just a small detail of a larger piece)IMG_6984


The bear head here gives you an idea how molten the ice can look when carved by an experienced carver.  The union of great sun or lighting can really affect the pieces.  It was surprising to feel the carved ice on some of the mazes and sculptures that were placed throughout the park for a more interactive experience. It didn’t feel wet at all, just very smooth, a unique touch experience, I really loved the feel of it.   There are also a lot of ice slides built for kids to use, and little sculptures for them to climb… in addition to the official sculptures that are hands off. It would be a great place to go with small kids in the winter, tons of spaces to explore and have fun. IMG_6953


I can’t begin to image how this carver was able to create such a thin sheet of ice for the wings and texturize it without having it shatter into a million pieces.  But there in lies the art of ice sculpting.  This was also a single block piece. IMG_6964


This single block sculpture of what I think is a carnivorous plant I took mainly for my cousin’s son, who has a healthy obsession with these plants lately.  Thought he might like to see this larger than life sculpture of something he loves. Hi Seth!IMG_6962


And last but not least, just a simple bird soaring in the sunshine.  If you would like to attend this cool competition in the future or just learn more about it.  Feel free to visit http://www.icealaska.com/www/en/IMG_6978

170206 CC ski to a remote cabin in AK

I forgot there are no lights so we hung our headlamps and Taylor even fashioned a shade over his to disperse the light using one of our beloved Orikaso folding camp bowls.

This past weekend we skied 5.7 miles to a remote DNR cabin we’d reserved out by the Chena Hot Springs in Alaska.

The last time I did something like this was in 2007, my first winter in Alaska. That time it did not end so well.  I arrived to a tiny cabin full of skies and people I didn’t know and quickly realized my “winter gear” of a wool vest and wool skirt were not pro gear for the 11 mile (one way) ski up and down steep terrain.  They had special names for the “type” of cc ski we would need for this adventure.  I had gotten mine a month before at the Play It Again Sports shop in town for about 30 bucks (poles and all)…needless to say someone winded up coming back on a snow machine for me long after everyone else had glided smoothly to the cabin and were busy warming up.

So this time we took it easy.  We got a slow easy start to the morning and ran a few last minute errands.  We ended up hitting the trail around 3 pm and were super happy to discover it was groomed. I tried to phone for trail conditions, but the line is down on the weekends…oops.  As it was the temps were mild hovering around 0 degrees. ( I know this sounds cold if you don’t live here, but remember it’s a dry cold in the interior, so that offsets things.)  The outset looked like this

The granite tors were behind us and sloping hills in from each side.  It was beautiful and didn’t take long to get beyond the sound of cars from the road.  We saw one other skier heading in with a sled towed behind heading for Lower Creek Cabin.  He must have made good time because we never saw him again.  The only other people we saw were about 1.5 miles in and headed back to the parking area on two snow machines each towing a load of kids on sleds having a blast!

We got into a bit thicker trees covered in some fun, fluffy snow formations and a few small portions where it felt like being in a winter wonderland cathedral with the slim trees arching over the pathway.  Rabbit tracks could be seen now and again crossing over the path.

After passing Lower Angel Creek Cabin at about 3 miles in the sun was getting low behind the hills and the conditions for skiing were a bit colder, but also smoother.  There were less straight shot passes and a bit more small hills to keep things interesting.  At this point I got into a bit of a rhythm, and started cruising for the cabin, trying to arrive before dark.  But then I lost track of Taylor so I was torn between trying to get there fast and not being worried that he had been plowed over by a mama moose.  He caught up to me and we arrived to the cabin after 6pm, thankful to find it was still a bit warm from the people who had stayed the night before.  Temps around 50 degrees F inside as we set to stoking and stocking the wood in the sweet little wood stove.  Fortunately people had left fire starter logs and extra wood behind so we didn’t have to start scrounging for dead wood to saw down after the long ski.  We just used a small bit of fire start and saved the majority for people in need arriving to an entirely cold cabin.  I forgot there are no lights so we hung our headlamps and Taylor even fashioned a shade over his to disperse the light using one of our beloved Orikaso folding camp bowls (I’m so sad this company is no longer manufacturing, they were the best!).

For dinner the plan was wild rice soup with dried ground turkey…but we tried to use turkey dried this summer for a trip to the boundary waters, and it had gone stale… so yuck! I will eat almost everything, but this did not make the cut.  So instead we stuck to cookies, rum cream and fireball with summer sausage and cheese to keep us a float.  The morning was better with power waffles (no wheat and some cottage cheese. I will have to have Taylor share the recipe as they are real good and filling.) We made them before the trip and froze some to just reheat on the stove and eat with homemade yogurt and some maple syrup. Luckily one of the far windows was a bit leaky and that ledge acted as fridge for a few of our sensitive food items (like the quiche we ate on the way in and out and some tuna we mixed up for seaweed rolls)

Above you can see us packing up again out bags on the sleeping platforms, (yes we did use sleeping pads for comform) and we were on the trail by check out time noon, and headed toward a relaxing soak at the Chena Hot Springs as our follow up.  I was a little slower the second half of the way out but it took us about 3 hrs each way and we couldn’t have asked for better weather.  No wind and mild temps.  Glad we didn’t book for this weekend though, as temps dip back down to -30 today!  Here’s a few pics from the ski out.