Sarah Raymond is a writer and artist from Toronto, Ontario. Her young adult novel, Signs of Martha, comes out in spring 2011 with Great Plains Publications. Scroll on down for musings on writing, art and other perils of domestic life. Homemade drawings included.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Squash Leaves Dominate Veggie Garden

If Adam returned to the Garden of Eden, I wouldn't recommend a fig leaf. One of these squash leaves would cover him up like boxer shorts.

Actually, these monster leaves are hiding lettuce plants in their cool shade. Maybe you can spot the nasturtium too. I grew up in rural Ontario, where no one needed space-saving tricks. This lettuce-under-the-squash-leaf trick is my new favourite. It came from Elaine of the Young Urban Farmers.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Comfort Doll

On the sidewalk last year, my neighbour told me about comfort dolls--small dolls you make and send to ICROSS in B.C. The organization sends the dolls as packaging for donated medical supplies and also for gifts for kids in countries ravaged my war and poverty.

Most dolls are knitted. I wanted to make a doll, but knitting makes me so sleepy and frustrated because the job never seems to end. So I designed a pattern for a sewn, hand-embroidered doll. This girlie is made from upcycled, wool sweaters and Ecofill. I made about half a dozen. Time to kiss this baby goodbye.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

First Harvest: Garlic Scapes

If I waited a week, these garlic tips would have burst out in purple flowers. Instead, I snipped them, chopped them, and whirred them in the blender with olive oil and parmesan. Presto pesto. The scapes tasted milder than full-fledged bulb garlic.

Thanks to Farmer Elaine (Young Urban Farmers) for the tips on dealing with scapes. Dinner was yum, and now our garlic plants can work harder to beam energy to the bulbs in the ground instead of those perky but useless flowers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Favourite Book about Writing

A blue ribbon to Anne Lamott. Bird by Bird is a warm and intimate conversation about the craft of writing and about daring to be honest.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

1st Runner Up for Fave Book about Writing

I adore any drip of ink that falls from Lynda Barry's pen.

What it is
(Drawn and Quarterly, 2008) is jam-packed with illustrations, anecdotes, memories and clips of philosophy about writing. It's a celebration of image and word-making in a full-colour mix of watercolour, ink and collage.

In the last pages, Ms. Barry gets down to business and distills some of her workshop exercises. I tend to suck at exercises from books. I rebelliously nestle into the pillows and refuse to be bossed around, but Ms. Barry tweaked my interest. Her 7-minute writing exercise turned into an hour-and-a-half long sketchbook/writing trip down memory lane. What it is makes you want to write.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2nd Runner-up for Fave Book About Writing

I picked up On Writing by Stephen King book for next-to-nothing in the lower level of Union Station in Toronto. I almost died of happiness. Almost missed my train, too.

This book traces the journey (challenging, but not at all frightening) though a writer's process. Don't get me wrong. I can't watch more than five minutes of a Stephen King movie without running from the room and singing "Oh Susannah" with my fingers stuck in my ears. But I was gratefully absorbed by Mr. King's frank discussion of how he writes, lets his draft percolate, and edits.

Even if you can't swing a deal in Union Station, I'd recommend this book for anyone who loves to write and is curious about how a prolific scribbler works through a novel.

First runner-up coming soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seed Sorting and Possible Menaces

Here's Farmer Elaine (not her official title, but I like it) at her insta-veggie lab on our back step.

Friends and neighbours stopped by on the weekend and let me gush about my vitamin-rich paradise sponsored by the Young Urban Farmers. A few visitors sounded skeptical about opening one's yard to "strangers", but tapping on my laptop to the music of Elaine and Rosie's backyard laughter is the least of my fears.

Other, darker perils do concern me. Bet you a bushel of tomatoes that this very minute a raccoon is sitting in our silver maple, emailing her four thousand best friends about an upcoming all-you-can-eat buffet at, oh, say about peak-harvest time.

Doubt I'll get an evite.

Farmer Elaine, with tricks up her slightly-soiled sleeve, isn't worried. I'm keeping an eye on strange movements in the silver maple.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Latest Fun Read: Glister and the Haunted Teapot

A mysterious package lands on Glister's doorstep. What is it, Daddy? A haunted teapot? Yikes! From his teapot-grave, a ghostly author-wannabe emerges to finish his first novel. Is perky Glister up for the job? She’s got exceptional typing skills, and she’s a natural with plot development, but the teapot’s wordy ghost is sucking her life away. What’s a girl to do?

Glister and the Haunted Teapot is charmingly written and illustrated by Brit andi watson (Image Comics Inc.).

Rating: !!!!! (5 exclamation marks for fun-ness.)