The Ups and Downs of Higher Education

Today's post is off the topic of beer. It will focus instead on some new developments in my attempt to earn a college degree.

Yes, it's true. I ain't never got no college degree. Plenty of school, no degree. This is what happens when you study topics like fashion design and culinary arts. You realize midway through that you will never be the next Christian Dior or Thomas Keller (or Auguste Escoffier). And, because you don't want to be some cog in the machine of either industry, you stop these courses of study. And then decide years later that a nice, stable BA is the best option (especially since your employer will pay the lion's share of it). However, you are able to make a lovely dress and an amazing, interesting meal to eat it in.

Earlier in the year, I decided to take the Spring and Summer terms of school off. In order to buy a house and get settled. Now, my time is up, and I will be returning to the world of scholastic achievement this fall. I have my classes, and I finally requested an audit of my transferred credits, to take a good hard look at what I still need to take to finish up at PCC and move onto PSU.

The good news? PCC took 53.5 credits from my previous education. Sadly, they did not take any of my fashion design or culinary core classes. Apparently, the ability to properly convert a dart to gathers or make a perfect chicken veloute are not necessary to complete a degree in Business Administration. Who knew? Likely (I still need a degree audit to confirm) most of these credits will take place of elective and Arts & Letters credits.

The bad news? As I was registering for classes, I realized that my math placement test scores had expired. So,  I retook them. Did a little better than last time. Then, reviewed what math classes I need to take to finish up. Initially, 10 classes. Then, I recalculated.


7 freaking math classes. I am required to take 3 classes that have math 95 as a prerequisite, including Statistics. So, because I tested into math 60 (introductory algebra), I have to take math 61,62,63, 95, and the three post- 95 classes.


I love math, and will be taking a class every term. Maybe two per term, once I have completed the classes that have to be taken consecutively.

One more bit of good news? Student discounts! I renewed my PCC id this term, and was able to pick up a year-long Portland Art Museum Student Pass for $15 (the cost of one regular admission). I went this past Friday  to take in the Lachaise (never have I felt so wide of waist and narrow of hip) and Cyclepedia (Skipper looks kinda uncool now) exhibits. Plus, I found out the the Portland Symphony has student tickets for $10. Yay! Cheap culture! Now, I just need to find a ballet company with cheapo student tickets, because taking ballet classes (resuming September 19) is simply not enough.

Cheers, and have a genteel weekend!

I'm In, and So Excited!

Just yesterday I received the word that I was accepted into the Homebrewed By Design project. I am thrilled, and cannot wait to see my label!

Cheers, and enjoy the weekend!

Happy Mead Day (Part Two)!

Hate is a strong word, and I try to use it very sparingly.

That being said, I admit that I hate bottling. It is messy and boring. As I have told many customers at the shop, "if I have a thousand things that I want to get done in any given day, I add bottling to my To Do list for the day. Guaranteed that everything else on that list will be completed, simply to avoid bottling." I do not lie, I have employed this trick frequently, and it works every time. However, I NEED to bottle today. Why? Because I want to work on "The Pub Room".

The Pub Room, before shot

Clementine has a cute little dining area with a sliding glass door that leads to the full-length back deck. I have stored what used to be my spare counter space (a potting bench that is pub table height), chairs, the fridge that I will use for a kegerator, plus an extra freezer (more on that later on the What a Good Squirrel blog). I have named it "The Pub Room".

Currently, The Pub Room is stuffed with, well, stuff. Including two meads (Fig Vanilla and Lavender Gooseberry) and two long-agers (Flemish Red and Sour Rye Peach Ale) that need to be bottled. Today, I tackled the meads.

The Fig Vanilla, bottled

Now, that muck on the bottom of the carboy? This is bentonite clay, which clarifies meads (and wines) in a shockingly speedy manner.

Beers (needing priming sugar and a fresh yeast dose, thus requiring more time) will be bottled later in the week.

Other news?

On a slightly sad note, I gave notice at HBX yesterday. Much as I have enjoyed my "hobby job", the time required by home ownership, my career, and my impending return to scholastic pursuits simply do not allow it. I will miss the people (and the discount), but this is the best decision for now.

On a happy note, my hops are doing well and have started growing cones:

And lastly, my neighbor got a new puppy, Holly.

Is she not the most adorable little scamp?

Cheers, and have a lovely week!

Happy Mead Day (Part One)!

Good morning, and Happy AHA Mead Day! Celebrate bees and their contribution to the brewing world: beautiful, golden, delicious honey.

What, prey tell, is this coppery lovely you see beneath?

Why, this is a Fig Vanilla Mead (fermented with Port yeast and aged on oak chips) that I will be bottling in honor of this day. My recipe/process:

Fig Vanilla Mead (original brew date 10/14/12)
3 gallon batch

9 lbs. Clover honey
1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient
1 1/12 tsp. yeast energizer
Port yeast
Original gravity = 1.100 (oh my!)

  • 10/23/12 Racked atop 2.5 lbs. Mission figs.
  • 11/9/12 Racked off figs and onto 1 oz. (light toast) oak chips.
  • 12/21/12  Racked off oak chips and onto 3 vanilla beans (which had been steeping in spiced rum for several months) and new oak chips.
  • 1/20/13 Racked into a fresh fermenter, off oak chips and vanilla beans (to finish). Split and added one vanilla bean back.
  • 3/3/13 Final gravity = 1.00 (approximate ABV = 13%)

Tasting notes (per the Brewmistress Log in March):

Pleasant full fig flavor, round and fruity with a vanilla finish.

Aaaand, coming up in part two? I bottle this exquisite creation, taste it again, and explain what the muck on the bottom of the carboy is.

Cheers, and enjoy (or make) some mead today!

Thai Gose

Since I achieved the illustrious rank of homeowner, life has changed quite considerably. Notably, my commute, which has nearly doubled. This is actually rather nice in my book, as there is little better than a cool, quiet pedal into the office. Gives one time to ponder the important things: how to achieve world peace, To Do lists, and new brewing recipes.

As I was riding in one morning, a revelation hit. Thai-inspired Gose! Gose is one of my favorite styles: light, a little salty, slightly sour, and gently spiced. And so much fun to say, "go saaaah". Also, I have found them to be quite versatile. I have done a plain Gose and a Gooseberry Gose. Both turned out lovely, and I was a bit sad when the last drops trickled down my throat.

So, back to the Thai Gose. I will be starting with this recipe as a base, omitting the coriander and substituting Sriracha salt (so easy, so good. Instructions here.) for the sea salt. Also, to be added into the secondary fermenter:

2 oz. grated ginger root
10 Kaffir lime leaves, bruised
3 lemongrass stalks (frozen and chopped)
15 Thai basil leaves, bruised

It will be amazing or a horrid atrocity. We shall see in a few weeks. Now, if the sun would break through the clouds, I could start to brewing!

Cheers, and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Brewing at Clementine Cottage

About a month ago, I allowed myself to finally brew. After weeks and weeks and weeks of nonstop yardwork, I decided to take an afternoon to make some beer. Because I like beer. And I love to make beer. Which may have been hinted at once or twice on my little blog.

Since this would be my first all-grain batch, I came up with a brilliant system. Heat water on the propane-fueled burner, mash in the tun on the shelf, release the wort from the mash tun, and sparge. Easy peasey, right? Bwahahahaha.

After I paced around the scary propane tank for about an hour, reading the nasty warnings about "blowback" (what the hell does that mean? And if it incinerates my house, will my homeowner's insurance cover it?), I lit it up, and got my water to a full rolling boil. Once it was back down to the appropriate temperature, for whatever reason, I decided to bring the mashtun down from the shelf, fill it with water, add the grain, and then lift it back onto the shelf. I did not think this through. 6.5 gallons of water plus 12 pounds of grain equals about 64 pounds. Strong though I am, this is simply not an amount of weight I can handle to lift above chest height. So, it sat on the deck until it was time to strain.

And then it piddles off the side of the deck into the kettle
So, because Brew Day One was a little stressful, just getting the process down, I did not take a gravity reading. Nor did I for Brew Day Two (a Saison with lavender and orange peel). But tomorrow is Brew Day Three: Thai Gose, made with Sriracha salt, plus additions of fresh lemongrass, Thai basil, ginger, and Kefir lime leaves (all in the secondary, except the salt, which will go in the primary). This time I will take a gravity reading.

Cheers, and have beautiful weekend!

A Bit of a Farewell & Why I've Loved Blogging Here

art. house. mum.

Well, I've really been concocting this post in my head on and off for the past few months... but to get it done I think that the key will be SIMPLIFY!

Basically, I'm intending to close down Art House Mum.  And I've opened a new blog, Red Ink Rodeo, more as a fluid portfolio of my art and design than a family blog.

But as I farewell Art House Mum, I want to take a minute to salute what blogging here has been for me.  As with most things in life, blogging here didn't work the way I expected it would.  But it worked in different (and better) ways.

Oh darn it, here's a list of good things that came from blogging at Art House Mum.

I made new friends.
I connected with old friends.
I learnt new skills
And gained new confidences.
I did a few professional development-ish things.
I had the chance to celebrate the tiny little things that are the big big things in the long days with toddlers.
And in doing so I was able to hook into the values and value which gave me reason to be a dignified full-time stay-at-home mum (I still am).
And, well, during a patch where it turned out that I had terribly low iron levels (which I was unaware of at the time), blogging gave me an activity which I could accomplish with minimal exertion of physical energy (I could only see this value with hindsight once I discovered iron tablets... but that's another story).

So, I know that there are enough Mummy bloggers out there to drown a fleet of whales, but well, I'm glad that I've been in the ocean for this period of time.

Thanks for having me!

And drop on over to Red Ink Rodeo when you feel like a little art in your day.

Talk soon, g

Triumph Over Trash

Well, hello! Goodness does homeownership suck up a lot of time! You buy one, blink your eye, and nearly two months have passed since you've actually updated your blog. And why is that? Because there has been no time to indulge in the hobby that you so love. Yard work, more yard work, unpacking, and organizing have been the Brewmistress pastimes of late. But, I have made myself a goal to get enough "house stuff" done this week to allow another brew day next weekend. My aspirations run high.

Now what about this triumph over trash? I am glad you asked, as I can share a wee bit of knowledge recently gleaned. As an apartment dweller, one has the luxury of a dumpster at their disposal. Rain or shine, the wonderful sanitation engineer will come each and every week to haul away all of the unmentionables one has chosen to dispose of in said dumpster. The same does not hold true of a single-family residence. Portland is super environmentally concerned, and we have weekly pickups of recycling and yard waste/compost, but trash is only claimed (at most) every other week. Normally, this would be fine, as I pride myself on the small amount of refuse that I produce. However, moving seems to create an abnormal amount of garbage.

The week I moved into Clementine was a week of no trash pick up. Plus, the prior owner left her moving-out trash (with kitty litter, naturally). So I waited ever so patiently until the following week, and put out my landfillables. Imagine my surprise when I came home Friday night to find a full trash bin. So I called. The friendly customer service representative patiently listened to my complaint, and asked if she could place me on hold while she contacted the driver. I agreed, even while thinking, "right, the driver is totally going to remember MY house, and why my trash wasn't emptied". But I waited. She came back on the line and told me that she was unable to contact the driver, but made the super-helpful suggestion that "maybe my trash was not...(pause for the proper phrasing of the following) free-flowing enough".

I have anal-retentive trash. Not fly-by-the-seat-of-its-pants trash. Uncool homebody garbage that does not wish to see the wide world of a landfill.

So, I decided to test the theory that my garbage was packed too tightly into its container. I tipped the container on top of itself. AND I HEARD ALL THE TRASH FALL TO THE TOP!

Apparently, my trash is not type-A, and is plenty free-flowing. Cool trash. Adventurous trash that wants to see what the world has to offer.

I never called again, because describing this exercise would have officially made me a crazy person, and all I could hope to gain was a couple dollars. But since then, every time my trash is emptied, I do a little jig of joy while I drag the empty can back into my driveway. And I feel a sense of triumph.

Now, I promise all my house-making tales will be moved to What a Good Squirrel.From here on, I promise the Brewmistress Log shall be committed to the noble art of zymurgy.

Cheers, and have a beautiful week!


Christmas 2013

The lavender at Clementine Cottage is going wild. So, friends and family, just know that you be will be receiving lavender sachets or jelly for Christmas this year.

Cheers, and have a lovely weekend!

Fruit on the Wall

art. house. mum.

I finally got these great words up on our walls.  It was perfect timing really, as a few days after I hung it there was a Kids' Talk at church about how our lives bear fruit which is evidence of the kind of tree (person) we really are.

I always appreciate the graphic (and short) nature of Kids' Talks and this one was so easy to remember and talk about later because Mr B had three of his kids stand up the front with him holding branches cut of real trees... firstly branches off a dead tree, secondly branches off a rose bush, and thirdly branches off a mandarin tree complete with a fruit waiting to be picked.  I don't hear many sermons these days, so it is nice to at least carry a bite sized idea home in my mind and heart.  Thanks Mr B.

And here's how our fruit is hanging now.  It's a good list to breeze through... but a bit uncomfortable around the bit where it gets to "Patience"  and then positively squirmish at the "Self Control" end... Thank goodness it's not about being perfect, but being MADE perfect.


Three Things...

art. house. mum.

1.  A Happy Birthday...  with a home style party of close friends... and a very homemade cake.  Not Pinterest-worthy, but still declared "The. Best. Cake. Ever." by Hope, and seconded by Sammy's "Yeah.Yeah. My Wocket Ship!"

2.  A new pet worm found while Papa was planting a hedge.  It took some serious negotiations to secure the release of the poor thing... he may have been loved to death otherwise... and he's got work to do in our garden!  (The photo was a major part of the negotiations... I may have promsied to get it printed out too...)

3.  Pumkins!  The stack is now happily diminished, but what a joy to pull up a vine and find a stack of food just waiting to be shared...


It's Like Riding a Bicycle Right?

You don't quite forget how. Tomorrow shall be my first brew day since January 27. Which is an eternity ago.  Plus, it will be the Brewmistress's first ever five gallon all-grain batch. With her brand new mash tun. Doing a Nelson Sauvin IPA (because she has 6 ounces of Nelson hops in the freezer). Plus, she gets to meet a brand new baby! Big day all around.

*Sunday update* I did not brew. I had the best of intentions, got my yeast ready and everything. However, Saturday was so beautiful, and the first of such days after two weeks of good hard rain. So, instead, I did all kinds of yard work and finished my garden planting. So, I am now shooting for next weekend.

Cheers, and have a lovely weekend!
art. house. mum.

Ever since I inherited this painting I have wanted to reframe it.  Not that I had any issues with the frame.  But the colour of the linen slip was too dark and it seemed to lock the painting in a box.

So today I took the painting in to work with the idea of looking at reframing it.  We had only just begun looking at frames when my friend commented that the fillet would be easily re-coloured...

Re-painting a slip is an easy job to do at home if you have the paint... and I really don't mind the frame itself.  So that was my afternoon sorted.  I just used some left over interior acrylic house paint.  Honestly, I think that I will jig the colour when I have another free afternoon but in the meantime I feel like the painting has been given a new lease on life.

... It deserved a new lease on life.  It's an oil painting of a building near where I grew up and it has a tonne of meaning for our family.  The artist is Douglas Pratt, a Brisbane impressionist who lost his job as an engineer and was forced to fall back on his art to support himself.  Aint art grand.


Three Things... Colour Inspiration

art. house. mum.

I was getting this group of cards together for a project and was struck by the beauty of the jumble of colours.

I hope you find them as intriguing as I do...

Wishing you and yours a great week!  g

life lately..

Sekalinya ngeblog ngapain? ya narsis dunks..
Ritual sehari hari sekarang adalah miting, diskusi, dan justifikasi.. yang berarti melakukan pendampingan untuk user2 yang membutuhkan tim legal untuk menemani mereka negosiasi dengan klien..
Tampang boleh profesional, kemauan boleh maksa, kepentingan perusahaan boleh diperjuangkan tapi klo udah ketemu kamera.. narsis boleh donk tetep jalan..
Ngebaca salah satu blog.. mumpung masih bisa .. :)

The Magic Hour

art. house. mum.

It wasn't just the cotton that we enjoyed on our farm day... Check out the magic light.

And I had forgotten to take my camera... these are phone photos...

Isn't it fun to play with light?



art. house. mum.

I go to a great Bible study group where we use the KYB (Know Your Bible) studies.  It is one of the coolest things that I do.  

The studies have been sparking thoughts in my mind about what being a Christian is. I grew up as a Christian and part of me hates the word (sorry, but it's true).  Admitting to being a Christian is such a loaded thing.  So much culture of so many different types is associated with Christianity and so many people have such strong associations with Christianity and the Christian church.  Obviously, not all of these associations are good. And many people seem to have really strong, emotive and conflicting feelings about Christians.  Me too.

But what KYB lately has been reminding me is that the important thing is following the man of Jesus. 

I feel relieved with that thought.  If other people find it easiest to throw a label on me, then I guess that the best fit is "Christian".  But in my heart I just want to follow Jesus.  The way that he viewed the world was and is revolutionary.  And the people who I see puting his teaching into practice are the people who I genuinely admire. 

Jesus told his followers to 

  • Love their enemies
  • Be generous and not to tell anyone about it
  • Care for others before themselves
  • Be peacemakers
  • Talk to God
  • Be humble
  • Look past cultural boundaries
  • Take care of the disadvantaged
  • Be responsible
  • Be smart

There's a lot which I have missed in this list but it's not a bad start is it?  Just imagine if we all lived like that!

So anyway, I've been inspired lately to get back to the roots of what I believe and look more closely at the teachings of Jesus.  When he left the earth (crazy, hey, going up in a cloud after rising from the dead... don't be fooled by people who tell you that Christians are conservative and unimaginative) he said that he would send someone to guide his followers and give them good counsel, the Holy Spirit.  And he said that by believing in him (Jesus) they would have access not only to freedom from their own failures, but also to the Holy Spirit.  And the Holy Spirit would be evident to others by the way they would live their lives... the fruit of the Spirit.

So I thought that it would be great to have one of those designer lists made up... one that lists the fruit of the Spirit.. something to encourage our family to be striving to live lives that shine.

I'm planning on getting this one printed onto canvas so I've made it to fit on a 40x55cm canvas.  You are welcome to click here to download a PDF image.  It's a big file but that's so that if you want to print it for a 30x45cm you shouldn't lose any text in the edges.  If you plan on printing more than one or two for yourself then drop me an email to confirm permission, especially if you intend to sell them.  Thanks.

Cotton Day

art. house. mum.

There's something good for the soul about driving out of town to spend a day on a farm.  How cool to be invited to show the kids a cotton harvest in full swing.

After some laying down of the law (safetly first!) we got on in and started helping out.  Okay, I'm kidding... we gazed at the fields in awe; we gazed at big machines in awe;

we gazed at some more big machines in awe; 

the kids picked cotton to try to help a broken-down picker (hmmm, well their heart were good); 

they embraced the hard work of helping push all the cotton out of the picker bucket into the module builder (read softest jumping castle with the best outlook ever); 

jumped in the aforementioned piles of soft and fabulous cotton (my photos just don't do the fun of this activity justice... but if anyone ever invites you to jump in cotton you should definately jump at the chance); and generally lapped up the perfect weather and magic twighlight light.

Thanks guys!  This is the stuff that famliy memories are made of... Sammy's still carting around his little bag of cotton...


Little Steer

art. house. mum.

This is a little steer who looked like he had the softest ears. 

I had such fun painting him and I'm glad to say that he's gone to a happy home in the mountains.

I hope he's bringing joy in his new paddock...



art. house. mum.

One of the important things that I keep in my handbag is my glasses.  These things let me see clearly.  And when I saw this glasses fabric I loved it.

Perfect for the new handbag which I was aching to make.  I learnt so much making the last one that the challenge of a new one sounded like fun.

So here's the next step, a brainstorm, a list and a mantra of "if you don't do it then you don't know what mistakes you should avoid next time..."

The dreaded cutting began (I hate that you can't unpick the cutting), the sewing began, and so did the mistakes!

But still, with perseverance, a little unpicking and some long moments stitting still and thinking, finally I had a handbag to wear on my shoulder.

There are things that I got wrong... like the tension of the stitches, but there are things that I got right...

And tonnes of things that I learned.

And again I am enjoying the creation which tucked under my arm is so darn functional and funky!

Somewhere To Hide Some Nappies

art. house. mum.

The simple truth is that lovely fabric begets lovely things.  (I'm pretty sure that "begets" is the wrong word there but I'm choosing to leave it... it sounds poetic and deep.  I like it.  Sorry.)

This is one of those projects which I discussed with a friend, looked at some great patterns for, then decided to freestyle with my own concocted pattern.

It's just a simple nappy wallet for a friend who's expecting twins.  I hope that it makes her smile when she manoeuvres her big old double pram into a change room somewhere and deals with one or more of the never ending stream of dirty nappies.  My twins specialised in synchronised pooing.  Not sure if others do too...

May we all find beautiful fabric to brighten our hearts as we do our most disliked jobs.


Craft Revival

art. house. mum.

As daunting as the first term of school was, I think that maybe the first school holidays were scarier.

We survived.  Though it did take us a few days to get back into a routine (we were all pretty tired by the end of term hype... there may have been some chocolate induced highs and lows in there too).

Pretty soon we were back into the groove with the craft box being emptied onto the kitchen table like the good old days.  

I might get frustrated with the clean-up, but I sure do love these faces of concentration and the fervent discussions that happen while these girls are crafting.  It's a serious business.

I can't quite remember now why she had to make a boat... but it was extremely important at the time.

And this (obviously) is a princess.  Who ever needs a reason to create a princess (or a mermaid, for that matter).

And the boy... yes, well, I'm just taking comfort in the fact that these days he isn't eating the craft materials.  We all have different passions!


The Sticker Chart (Mark II)

art. house. mum.

In all its glory.  Here is the second sticker chart (up cycled from the back of the first sticker chart... I'm classy).

Current behaviour being targeted includes landing wee and poo in the toilet; staying in bed in the morning until papa fetches them; doing chores with a good attitude; and anything where a mum or a dad need just a little bit of leverage to encourage good decisions.

As yet, there are no rewards for getting any number of stickers on the chart and apparently the kids haven't realised that that is what other families do.  And you may notice that the paths of the stickers aren't too closely aligned.  I am really trying to enforce the idea that this is not a competition or a race, but a chance for us to give the children who we love so much a few small things to encourage them to be the best that they can be quite separate to whatever anybody else is or isn't doing.

Isn't life an adventure!