My creative space. 20th Feb

I may have gone a little quiet and retiring around this here blogosphere, but life away from the computer has been as busy as ever.  One reason for my absence and obvious flouting of the ‘post a week’ challenge rule is the drawn out accreditation process which we have just gone through at work which seemed to send all previously calm employees into a panicked frenzy of policy applying and paperwork updating.  For one week nearly all people over the age of 5 who I came into contact with throughout the day had the crazed look in their eye of cattle being sent to the slaughter.  Accreditation came and went and I felt the entire centre breathe out as the (not-so-scary, but unnervingly impassive accrediters) left the building and life promised to return to normal.

What followed for me has been a week of creative pursuits including, but not limited to; giant mermaid drawing, tropical island arranging, playdough making, healthy meal cooking, baking, sock knitting, wool untangling, plant potting and growing, and my first foray into fleece dying and felting. It is times like these (when I have received a request for a life-sized mermaid ripe for decorating) that I think back to the sheer abstracted pretense of creating art at art school and wonder just what my tutors would say about my artwork gracing the wall of the kindergarten (and simultaneously feel thankful for all those life-drawing classes I took).

High and low art distinctions aside, I know that I feel happiest when I am creating and I cannot think of a better weekend than one where I am engaged creatively the entire time.

Come close….I need to tell you a secret….  I hate zucchini.  Before you scoff and make dismissive hand gestures believing me to be exaggerating, please believe that I honestly do hate it.  It reminds me of mucus.  Mucus wrapped in green skin.  When I was younger and lived at home with my parents, my mother would hand over the giant marrows which grew in our vegie patch when their gargantuan proportions rendered them inedible, and happily walked away safe in the knowledge that I was about the beat the life out of the odorous things with a handy wooden dropper while the dog ran around my ankles and tried to catch the flying fragments of zucchini in her mouth.  Clearly, the dog had more appreciation for the taste of zucchini than I ever did, and, growing up in country Tasmania I had little else to do with my childhood/teenage angst but take it out on poor defenceless overgrown vegetables.

Despite all this I do still eat zucchini, but I go to great lengths to disguise it from myself.  I play a clever game of hide and seek where the zucchini gets cut up into miniscule pieces and distributed through a flavoursome sauce or deep within the recesses of a pie, so it came as a surprise to myself when I decided that I was absolutely going to cook zucchini fritters this week.

P looked on dubiously as I grated my way through 3 zucchinis and mixed them up with a bunch of herbs, spices and fetta cheese.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by how well they held together throughout the cooking process (my previous experiences with fritters have ended in a fragmented mess), so, spurred on by small victories I cooked up the entire batch and made the yoghurt dip to boot.  The end result was, admittedly, delicious and I ate my way through nearly the entire batch before I realised that I should probably leave some for P (oops!).  I will definitely be making these for myself the next time I feel like cooking something made entirely out of an ingredient I hate.

Because of the success of my zucchini fritters I felt compelled to continue my culinary activities while kitchen karma was good, so I followed up with the less-than-healthy gingerbread men.  A and I have been discussing making gingerbread men as a cooking experience for the kinder kids, so I thought I had better get some practice in and make them for myself and the growing number of 20-something year old males standing around our backyard.  I looked through all my recipe books only to discover that I did not possess a gingerbread recipe at all, so I turned to google and settled on this one.

I would recommend this recipe to anyone who likes their gingerbread spicy like I do, and it certainly passed the test with the male folk.

ps.  I chose to ice mine in pink and blue because I felt that yellow or green gingerbread men would look jaundiced or gangrenous rather than tasty, and my decision to use these gender stereotypical colours is in no way indicative of gender identities or roles within the community (although, I did consider mixing the two colours together to make purple transgender biscuits…but that’s getting a little too politically correct for confectionary in my eyes).

Question:  Can raw fleece be coloured with food dye?

Answer: Yes. If you add vinegar and put it into microwave for about 5 minutes.

I have it in my head that I desperately want to have the kinder kids merrily dyeing and felting raw fleece (this is part of my working in a Steiner kindergarten fantasy), so I thought that I had better try it myself first before I present this activity to my very experienced and mess-hating mentor.  I rummaged through my wool stash to find the fleece that I knew my sister had left in my care (to spin, I daresay- although I have no idea how to) and soaked two small pieces in food dye, water and vinegar- occasionally heating it up in the microwave and stirring it.  About 30 minutes later I had dyed fleece!  The next challenge was to work out the process of felting, so, a lot of googling later, I sprayed my little lumps of fleece with soapy water and rolled then around in my hand, pulling them this way and that.

My initial goal was to create a kind of mat, or flat fabric which could be used for dolls clothes, beds, playspace mats etc. However, what came from my hands were these small and strong organic shapes which had my mind racing with possibilities of having baskets of these little items around the kinder for the children to incorporate into their free play.  I think that I will need to write up a detailed plan of this process and exactly why children should have open-ended natural materials which seemingly have no purpose in order to get the go ahead on this little project, so fingers crossed I can be convincing (and get my hands on some more fleece!)

What has been happening in your creative space this week?