All posts by brenda

About brenda

visual artist, writer, professor, gardener

100 Things (Part 2)


So here we are – ready to begin my version of the zero project . 100 Things (nØt 101 that just seems like one too many). I’ve provided some tips for greater productivity and there are forms as well.

You Will Need:

  1. a few hours + 2.75 years (kidding – plus as much time as you want)
  2. a cup of tea
  3. a pencil
  4. some clean sheets of unlined paper (I used dotted sheets for my Brain Dump)
  5. coloured pencils (this helps colour-code as you identify common elements)
  6. printables (see more below) and/or (lined) sheets of paper for The 100 List
  7. ruler
  8. eraser
  9. camera to photograph 100 List (I save it in the cloud for easy access)

In my first post, notice I started with lower case Roman numerals i, ii and iii, etc … and then I added numbers 1, 2 and 3, etc … as with most things, before diving in, there’s some preliminary work to do. In order to do (i), I knew if I was going to write the 100 Things posts, I would have to get my list started and in order to do that I had to start with a Brain Dumps AKA Brainstorms, (ii). And I knew I had to set a deadline (iii).

I managed to get number 1.) partially done – I’ve purchased my host (SiteGround) and Elegant Themes (Divi), along with Chelsea’s Start a Profitable Blog Course on How to Set Up a WordPress Site. I’m not an affiliate and haven’t done the course yet so you will notice changes to the site over the next few months … but Chelsea has free courses and shares lots of information on her website. This meant I was able to get a feel of for her style of communicating and I liked it so I invested in her course. I like the idea of supporting a fellow Canadian and she’s from a small island – how exotic.

I’ve also downloaded some of Leslie’s free printables and have been reading her posts on switching from blogspot to WordPress because my garden blogs are on blogspot and I might want to import some of those posts at some point. Unrelated (but not really) I purchased Leslie’s Journey to Clean Course because she has such in-depth to do lists. I love a good To Do List AKA Activities Pages (see below where I talk about them). Again. I am not an affiliate.

With some research and resources under my belt I feel better prepared.



Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 4.36.02 PM.png

“The strongest and most mysterious weeds often have things to teach us.”
― F.T. McKinstryAscarion, from the Chronicals of Eileron #4

As a gardener, I know I can’t just show up in my garden of paradise yelling to myself

‘Hey OK – I’M HERE – NOW What?’

There are preparations to be made beforehand.

I visualize what will greet me, decide on tools, gather & dump what I think I need into a big straw hat (after writing it all down on a post-it that I stick to my iPhone & that, too, goes in the hat) so I don’t forget a thing. I have my hat, my phone (my notes on my phone and post-it notes on the face of my phone), my fancy yellow string, the right boots, my favourite secateur, etc.


Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 5.16.38 PM.png

then I go and do the work


take pretty pictures to post


So yes – there’s preliminary work to do. For the writer’s out there, it’s like the story within a story, of sorts – well maybe this part is more like the story outside the story if I’m to be real. So before starting to do any actual work on The 100 Things List, I want to make sure I lay a good, solid yet simple foundation.

In my next post I’ll talk more about the creative process and how its’ stages relate to one another. I will be using right and left brain strategies to move forward. Knowing them and which order they are in means that if I get stuck, I can always go back and check where the process might be clogged and decide on next steps. I want to be thorough. After all, this will consume my next 1000 days … that’s about 2 and 3/4 years.

The first task, before creating The 100 Things List, is to dump everything onto paper.

this is a right brain exercise – go wild – don’t censor anything – write it all down  
 try to get things written on the right sheets of paper if you have two or more big categories you’ll be working on

but don’t worry if things land on the wrong sheet, this can be changed later


Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 5.07.37 PM.pngii. Brainstorm Sheets
FullSizeRender 20.jpg

These are my everything – my lush garden awaiting a weeding

pen to paper – edit later

The minute I decided I was really going to do this, ideas started rolling in like wildfire and I didn’t want to lose any of them so I grabbed a clean sheet of dotted grid paper for my HOMEwork projects and Erin’s free Calendar Content Printables  for my BLOG and Business Planning … I wrote it all down … everything that came into my head (circles, colours and Roman numerals happened – big ones, small ones, etc) … I carried it around with me for a day or two or twenty – if you can do yours in an hour – give yourself a hug – it’s ok if you just want to do a few projects – all these tactics will still work … keep writing … later I posted my sheet where I could see it and continue adding to it.


If you are following along, run off and find your 2017 To Do list … see if you missed anything

 … not late for 2017 … early for 2018 …


and then

I begin ‘The 100 Things List’
Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 5.51.39 PM.png

I use the Activities Page mentioned in my first post and I start culling from the Brain Dump and try putting things that go together near one another on my list … again, I keep writing.


This is where I pulled out my coloured pencils and began using them to colour code more things that I could tell were alike (you can see my dots and green circles in the margins if you look very closely). These were things I decided I want to do first …

Rhythms and patterns begin playing themselves out. I extrapolate from them and later I can time block chunks of similar things into Project Sheets and onto a Schedule.

I want to write a book and there were some things on my list related to this.

I want to continue my art practice – ditto.

From here I can refine my list even further. I have a sense of where I might want to begin … but at this stage while I am anxious and though I feel like I’m ready to hop right in, I also know I want to have a solid plan in hand.

I live in a small space and it’s a little tight in here at the moment … a little like a cross between a messed up rubik’s cube and a Jeu de taquin, one of those annoying sliding tile puzzles, downstairs right now since bringing 25+ years of teaching supplies home at the end of the Summer. My parents downsized and moved into a seniors residence a few years ago and I brought a few of their boxes of treasures home and I recently let go of my off-site drawing studio so art supplies are organized but need to find a proper home. I have a Spare Room but it is in need of a declutter. I just joined a gym so some folding exercise machines will be going.

There are some other things, too, that I felt that needed to be dealt with in a timely fashion though – some of this surfaced around HOMEwork projects and potential issues that might require some new appliance purchases. I have been in my condo for almost 18 years (and all but my stove which is another song & dance story – I’ve only used it twice – more on that in another post) are showing signs of wear & tear. So while they are still operational, any one of them, or all, could go on the blink any day now.

I’ll be starting downstairs soon so I’m ready to bring new appliances in when necessary.

Forewarned is forearmed.

I also take measures to keep this unedited list in a safe place … my binder, which I keep right beside me. For convenience (and for safety), I also take a photo of my lists and store them in the cloud and on my iPhone for easy access when I’m out.

Welcome to my World

Right now, for me, my list … though rough – it’s ready


… but really – as rough as it is right now – it’s perfect just as it is!

And here’s why it’s perfect … it’s not too precious – I can read it and I can see my process … I like that I can just use everything on my ‘beginnings of a list’ as a guide and I can even write up ‘My Perfect 100 Things List’ after I do ‘all the thing(s)’.

Maybe even frame and hang it.

Now that would be precious.

Do I sense a calligraphy project developing?

Bit of a cheat … but it’s art and art steals from life.


If you’re thinking of following along and doing your own list of projects, grab a sheet of any old paper and let it all land on the page – or pages – know it will be just perfect as is. It can consist of projects you’ve been meaning to get to, habits you’ve been wanting to track, fun things you haven’t done yet … it’s totally up to you! It doesn’t have to be 100 things either … I changed zero project to fit my whims.

I’m sure I’ll be doing some form of it forever.

It would be loads of fun to do some of this with you!



 right brain/left brain/right brain



100 things in 1000 days

I know. I know. I am not the only person doing 100 things at the moment



soOo glad I came across THIS now.


I’ve rounded off the number because when someone tells you they have 101 things to do, it sounds like they’re frazzled. I am putting a positive spin on it. And secondly, well … 100. It’s rounder – right.


Celebrating now … 

I wasn’t 100% sure how to begin my time off now that I’m not working. Now I am. 

Continue reading 100 things in 1000 days

Zucchini Marmalade

This is an old post from my gardenbre days … written in my 4th year of gardening at the allotment. I’m beginning my 10th year now! Wow. How. Time. Flies.

Two pots on the stove. A reminiscence AND a segue into a January 2017 post to follow.

In the small pot at the back are yellow and green tomatoes from my last garden haul, chopped & simmering, providing a nice colour change to the red pastes and it tastes quite fresh. It supposedly has a lower acid content than the red which is good for anyone with dietary issues … like my mother.

In the big pot at the front is a zucchini marmalade. I slightly altered a recipe I used from the cosmic cowgirl who said she got it from the BerNARdin Guide to Home Preserving magazine which I bought at Canadian Tire along with most of my canning gear (the cosmic cowgirl’s post doesn’t exist now so I’ve linked to this recipe). Instead of using fresh ginger and putting it into a cheesecloth bag with the pith, I sliced candied ginger in syrup and added it directly into the zucs, oranges, lemons and sugar. Even after hours on a slow boil, it only gelled to a little beyond a syrup but enough that it was spreadable and not pourable – there was little liquid left … just enough that I was able to spoon it over the top of the slaw to cover it. I will use it as a condiment with cheese and foie gras.

At back are jars of dark tomato sauce that was in the slow cooker on high for 3 days total (I would only have it on high for 2 days if I did it again – I think) or maybe on low for 3 days). That said, I still need to taste it on pasta to see if the flavour is too deep. It’s a work in progress. I will dilute it with the other sauce if necessary. I like the colour and think the layers of flavour will prove to be good so it was worth the experiment.

For this batch of San Marzano tomatoes, I made a simple syrup using organic golden cane and threw in a dash of pink salt harvested in the Andes Mountains. The salt gives it a bit of caramel taste. I poured the boiling syrup over the tomatoes and let them stew for over an hour then placed them in the dehydrator on high for a few hours with thick cut zuc chips dipped in syrup as well (eaten – so not shown)!

There is not a whole lot to say about a pot of pure chopped tomatoes slow cooking and filling a home with the rich smell of Summer harvest as the shivers of Autumn begin … hmmm

… or maybe there is …

I have finally figured out a system for labeling – writing directly on the lids with a laundry ‘sharpie’ works well with the metal lids because they can only be used to seal the jars once (I’m not sure yet how I’ll label my Tattie Lids which are reusable – I have to find a label that stays on yet is easy to remove once it’s done it’s job – the ones I got a year ago from Lee Valley already look like they’ve lost stickiness.


All in all – yesterday’s annual first day of water bath canning went well. There are dirty dishes galore piled on the floor waiting for some soap and water … and the kitchen, dining and living rooms look like a pack of wild animals were let loose to party in them … other than that … smooth as dupioni silk!

Note to Self – get a gel mat for the kitchen sink/stove area. Woah was Me & my aching back!

Citrus Marmalade

The Food in Jars Mastery Challenge 2017

had me at their first deliverable …  Marmalade

IMG_3163.JPG2 oranges/2 lemons

1-1/4 cups of water

1-1/4 cups of organic sugar

Boil for 1 hour and 45 minutes

This was my first time making it and I’m quite happy with the results. My absolute favourite is the Bon Maman Whole Slice Orange Marmalade  which I first discovered in Paris … later I found some at the Atwater Market in Montreal, Quebec. There were no recipes I could find using whole orange slices so I’ve patched together a few recipes .

FullSizeRender 2.jpg I started off using two medium-sized organic oranges …


FullSizeRender 3.jpgThen I sliced them about 1/4″ thick and found that about 2 and a quarter cups of water was enough to cover them in the pot I used.

After googling a few recipes, I discovered the reason many people boil their citrus first is to get rid of bitterness and since it’s the the bittersweetness of marmalade I love so  much … what a win-win when I discovered what must be the simplest recipe on the entire internet. Basically you just use enough water to cover however much chopped citrus you’re using …

FullSizeRender 4.jpgthen add the same amount of organic sugar as water (be sure to measure that H2O)!


FullSizeRender.jpgand boil it all for as long as it takes … to pass the wrinkle test. My batch took 1 hour and 45 minutes exactly until the surface of my last sample wrinkled … see Note on Setting Point by Christopher Robbins (no not that one – different spelling Pooh).


IMG_3198.JPGWhat you need to know is at about 10 minutes in, I took the best orange slices out … I did this to stiffen them up so they could be standup bits for the sides of the jar while I poured the jam rather than having it all be one floppy-ploppy marmalade mess.

Leave it to Rachel Koo, one of my favourite chefs, to not only have a video using dehydrated orange slices because I’m using this part from her Orange Marmalade Tartlets recipe; but also she’s got one masterfully layered recipe using these and slices of fresh citrus and marmalade for tartlets – garnished with double cream and yogourt.

And yes, Rachel pulled her slices out after 5 minutes, but because I wanted to make sure they were really sweet, I gave mine twice as long in the boiling sugar water before placing them on parchment paper and into my toaster oven for about half an hour at about 200°F. I turned them over twice (and I know Rachel used a silpat baking mat and she didn’t flip hers but I was pretty sure they would surface dry faster if I did).


IMG_3189.JPGWhen I took the best orange slices out, I realized I didn’t have a whole lot left in the pot of boiling sugar water so I thinly cut and peeled 2 lemons I had on hand to toss into the mix.


So here we are – ta da!FullSizeRender.jpg

Since taking this photo, I topped the jar up with more syrup and it’s produced a nice layer of gel on top … sweet!

This is the most fun I’ve had since the holidays … plus all the running back and forth to the stove every 5 minutes doing patch taste tests (and no Mr. Robbins didn’t suggest taste tests to go with the wrinkle tests … but heck I do)!

FullSizeRender.jpgand there’s lots left over on the chef’s plate …

FullSizeRender 33.jpgand so I powdered up some of the organic sugar and covered some of the remaining slices to use someday as garnish on that tartlet of Rachel’s.

One of my favourite ways to use citrus marmalade is in a crepe suzettes flambe´. In this video, where the chef uses raspberry puree, I’d use one of the sliced oranges as a garnish on top rather than as a base. I also think rather than straight up whipped cream, I’d use Rachel’s double cream and yogourt combo, if anything … it really does stand on it’s own. Stay tuned for that recipe!

Here’s where and how to submit your marmalade (just remember to do it before 25 January). There’s also a closed FaceBook support group to cheer you on. If there hadn’t been, I’m not so sure I would have been as cool, calm and collected doing this my first time … who am I kidding, there wouldn’t have been a first time probably 😉

Here is the Food in Jars List of Challenges by Month


Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 1.16.51 PM.pngAnd last but not least, Food in Jars has an amazing post on Trouble Shooting your Marmalade Making should things go sideways!

A Few Words of Advice

so nope – don’t post on FaceBook (or anywhere else for that matter) that you might be starting a blog if you haven’t written your first blog post yet


 … soups on

 soups on .JPG

yup – the photo is upside down and is making me dizzy

gotta go

… that’s all for now folks!

off in the far distance … sounds of stirring of some pots prevail