Studio construction update

Not a terrifically sexy title for blog post, but what can you do? The studio is a work-in-progress and a little messy at the moment, but the final product is going to be terrific. This is my favorite view – the opening for second floor sliding glass doors looking over the alpine garden.

amys room

The roof has been sheathed, insulated, and prepped for the metal covering. Window framing is in place to allow cutouts, and the windows themselves should arrive tomorrow. This is the view down the driveway.

view from the driveway

Slowly but surely. . .

studio south side


Happy pie day

pie pie pie crispMmmmmmm. From bottom to top:

Pumpkin pie, recipe by Fannie Farmer, variations: no additional milk (evaporated milk only), homegrown pumpkins roasted and pureed, not from a can, 4 eggs not 3 (to make up for the lesser amount of milk, and accommodate the fresh pumpkin texture). I’ve been unable to find accurate versions of my 1950’s edition FF recipes online, so I’ll post them later.

Apple pie, recipe by Martha. Variations: Locally grown, fresh picked Cortland apples were very juicy, added 1 Tbs tapioca and let the filling ingredients sit for 15 minutes before added to the pie shell, doubled the amount of spices.

Maple pecan pie, recipe from Martha as well. Variations: twice as many pecans. The original recipe only takes 1 1/4 cups and that’s too high a ratio of pecans to filling for my taste.

Pear and cranberry crisp with gingersnap crumble, recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Variations: added some local dried cranberries for texture and sweetness. This was a new dish for me this year and it got great reviews.

Oh, and there were cream puffs in honor of R’s birthday. Fannie Farmer’s recipe for the pastry, with creme anglais filling and ganach top from The Professional Chef.

cream puffs

New work

I’ve finished a 16″ x 20″ study of the front room at Thuya Lodge. There’s a lot going on in this small space and I think it’s a good choice for a larger painting – 32″ x 40″ would be very large for me.

Thuya Lodge study - The Rocking ChairWhen I finish a painting I often study enlarged random sections of the digital image. Do the individual brush strokes make sense of the shapes? Is the color pure and purposeful? Do the edges where colors meet perform well? I fall short of the mark of course, but it’s a helpful process on the long road to improvement. Below are the sections I chose to examine on this piece:

random detail ceiling

random detail lamp

random detail lamp 2

Seaweed harvest

I went down to the cable beach this afternoon to harvest seaweed. The road was in pretty good shape for a gravel slope after all this rain.

Beach Rd Beach roadThe hay is in from the meadow, exposing the giant granite boulders that pop up here and there. The mountains in the distance are across Somes Sound on the other side of the island, in Acadia National Park.

Beach Rd meadow and CadillacHigh surf and strong winds from Hurricane Sandy pushed long barrows of seaweed onto the beach. I harvested six contractor bags of fresh kelp and bladderwort for the garden.

Seaweed harvestI also brought home six gallons of seawater and tomorrow I’m going to experiment with making my own sea salt. The surf close to shore was full of seaweed, but the water was warm on the incoming tide so walking around in squelchy shoes wasn’t too uncomfortable. My Merrills will be fine after a night of drying in front of the woodstove.

Drawing waterI prefer to harvest rose hips after the frost, but here it is early November and we’ve only had a few nights below 35F. This year I waited too long and the cedar waxwings and other fruit-eaters have beaten me to the wild roses. I may look in other places tomorrow, or perhaps add some late pears and apples for a mixed batch of jelly.

Rose hipsTomorrow – a post about boiling down a kettle of seawater!


Over time

Late in 2009 we cut down a dozen spruce trees and a lot of scrub in the front yard. Over the course of just a few days we went from a dark, 40′ tall forest screen to a flat front yard in full sun, dotted with huge stumps and torn wild raspberry bushes. There isn’t much soil here and dirt is expensive to truck in, so we made set out new garden beds with seaweed gathered from a local beach, 3 yards of biocompost, and a lot of cardboard and small deadwood in our first attempts at hugel-kultur. This photo was taken in early June 2010. The spruce tree stumps are clearly visible, as are all the rocks that were too big for me to collect in a wheelbarrow. TheĀ  boulder at top left looked even bigger after we took down all those trees.

garden before photo in 2010That year I started to read about “macro-culture”, sheet mulching and the practice of planting the entire garden to a purpose – including the paths and surrounding areas, not simply the beds. Over time the sheer plant density builds soil, holds moisture and insect life, and provides shelter for root systems. It is a popular system for marginal soils in desert areas and eroded hillsides, and I thought it might be helpful on our mix of never-cultivated rocks and clay. I stood in the same spot to take this photo yesterday and I think the idea might be working. . .

garden after macroculture


Happy Birthday, Harriet Louise.

In honor of my mother’s birthday, here are a few of my favorite photos. You can imagine her with auburn hair, brown eyes, and I believe the checkered dress was green and white. She’s standing by the east porch of her parent’s house on Jerome Ave. during the summer of ’48.Harriet 1948Harriet and her fiancee, Dwight, in the “front parlor” in 1951.

Harriet and Dwight 1951Harriet, Dwight, and Amy at the lake, 1955.

Harriet Dwight Amy 1955Happy Birthday, mom!