Friday, January 30, 2009

Our upcoming show... Arashi Daiko's 25th anniversary!

Well, I've been pretty sloth-like with my resolution to be blogging regulary - and we're only into week 4 of the new year. Sheesh, must be a record, even for me.

I haven't been a total sloth though, since our taiko group, Arashi Daiko, is crazy busy preparing for our 25th anniversary concert on March 13, 14 and 15. I've been working on our flyers that you can see below - these are the designs on postcard ads/flyers that we'll be leaving around the city, one side in French, one in English. If you live in Montreal, and would like some to hand out to friends and family or to leave at your favourite café, please leave me a comment here; we'll also have posters ready very soon :) Please click on it to see it more clearly!

Here's the French:
And here's the English:
One of our group members, Yukari, did the beautiful kanji character of "Zenshin" that you see on the poster. She painted many versions, all of which I though were equally beautiful, but it proved to be quite a challenge for the Japanese members to choose the final version that would appear on our advertising.

We chose the title Zenshin for this show, to represent the journey and evolution the group has undergone over its 25 year existence - we continue to enjoy the process and are grateful to all that have made the group what it is today. Zenshin can also mean one's whole heart, gradual progress, and it can also refer to "ancestors." It just seemed like the ideal word to encapsulate Arashi Daiko, although I'm sure I lose much of the subtlety and nuance to the word since I don't speak the language.

I might be blogging a lot about this show in the next while, since it's taking up a big chunk of my waking hours...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday cat blogging with a Boston terrier bonus

I work from home, so my cats are used to having me around. I think they really noticed it during the holidays when we were out pretty much all the time since we didn't do any hosting this year. I haven't been taking many photos of them lately, and they so hated the little Santa jacket we put on them last year that I didn't have the heart to do it to them again this year. So here is the photo greeting we sent out last year (it's clickable):

Cats seem to hate having anything covering them - they do that funky get-it-off-me walk when something that is not normally there is touching their legs or body. Both Chibi and Ebi really hated it - lifted their legs high to take a step and then paused before taking another uncomfortable step. And yes, I admit to laughing at them. I'm a meanie, I know.

Dogs, on the other hand, seem to like wearing jackets and sweaters. I don't quite get it. Sierra, my niece's Boston terrier, is the sweetest little thing, and look how she loves the two new additions to her wardrobe - umm, actually the only pieces in her wardrobe.

Posing, and looking pretty spiffy in a sweater that my sister-in-law, Karen, knit for her.

And in her seriously-cold-outside coat, with faux-fur collar, and booties.

I spent my holidays with these two cuties - lucky me!

Will be back with some craft-related posts next week!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

For my siblings out west...

Preparing a fish might not be too exciting for you all, but this one is really a beaut! This post is for Nancy, Mike and Ron, my siblings who live out in western Canada, and do not get to see our New Year's feast... We got an absolutely gorgeous red snapper this year from our favourite (and only) place to buy all our New Year's fish and seafood, United Seafood .

My brother, Doug, got to work on it when we got home, propping up the tail and head to give it a nice arch; he also holds the fins and mouth open with toothpicks.

Below, it's ready for the oven.

Above, he is out of the oven and cooked. If I was 8, I would have played with the eye once it was plucked out; would've scraped off the outer soft coating to reveal a transluscent bead-like centre. But alas, I digress, and I am not 8 years old...

And here he is on our New Year's Day table!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What does this year hold in store?

Happy New Year everyone!

I took a break from making stuff - well, more of a break from making stuff I sell. I did quite a bit of making of the baking and cooking type, and of course, plenty of eating. LOTS of that. That combined with not playing taiko for 7 weeks has resulted in a rather mushy body with some areas that seem to move on their own. Jiggle, jiggle. I'll be getting back into shape quickly enough (I hope) with intensive practices for our upcoming concert and my own little home routine.

We continued our family New Year's (Oshogatsu) tradition over at my sister's new apartment, where she moved last August; I think she had New Year's at the back of her mind as part of her criteria for selecting a place - somewhere big enough to accommodate our sprawled out preparations, all the food, and our guests. It ended up being the perfect place - a great size and layout for a party. We had enough room for two buffet tables, so they actually look a little sparse in the photos - I think we could have completely filled the one table and it would have been nice. Images are all clickable to see them a little better. Sorry for the glaring plastic wrap!!!

On this table: sushi platters (maki, inari, nigiri, ones with caviar - don't know what you call those), peel and eat shrimp, kazunoko (more fish eggs), chashu (BBQ pork), kinpira gobo, red snapper (check out that curved body! That'll be another blog post on its own), tako.

Here: nishime, maguro, won tons, bean salad, fruit salad. The cows (ushi) standing ready for the year ahead...
The newest and least helpful member of the family, Sierra. Points for cuteness though.

Doug, slicing salmon for nigiri sushi.

The octopus, or tako, was actually cooked the night before. We had to get two this year, since they were so small (one three-pounder, one 4 pounder). Slow-cooked to perfection, Doug's tako is never rubbery - thanks to Uncle Yosh's recipe!

The inarizushi (seasoned fried tofu pouches stuffed with sushi rice) crew this year included, JF, Yukari (my friend who is a potter) and Yumi, a visitor from Japan. Yumi was a staff member with Kodo, the taiko drummers on Sado Island, where she is from.

Here I am rolling maki - I'd be fired if I was working in a restaurant for slowness and poor technique. I might get points for good ingredients.
New Year's celebration was wonderful, although we were missing some family members due to illness. The best of health to everyone!__________________________________________________
My craft show season was great, my best ever sales-wise, and I'm looking forward to a good year. I'm preparing my application right now for a summer art festival here in Montreal - not sure if I'll get in to that one (mostly fine arts, but around 30% of participants are artisans/craftspeople) but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. I'll let you know how that goes when I get some news.
Will be cleaning up my studio (it's in a very scary state right now), taking inventory and trying out some new materials. Will also try to get my Etsy shop back into shape, since I've been a very bad shopkeeper. *whispering* Oh yeah, will try for a consistent blog too...