A toast... to toast

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I have a smattering of memories from my days of doing hard time in high school. For the most part, secondary school was pretty forgettable and when it was finally over, I was beyond glad.

Case in point - "the toast incident". Grab a tissue - maybe even a box...


I was nearly sixteen years old. The “in” crowd at school had just accepted me and my best friend into their clique.

Mine was a simple and relatively painless initiation. One of the coolest boys in school - his name was Keith - snuck up behind me, picked me up, flipped me upside down and shook me until all the tictacs I had stashed in my pockets, fell onto the floor.

My friend however, wasn’t so lucky. She had worn loose fitting harem pants that day (a grave mistake in any decade) when a boy named Wade decided to give them a yank – just for fun.  

Halloween was just around the corner and – because we were now ultra cool - we were invited to partake in a time-honored autumn tradition.

I had no idea what The Rocky Horror Picture Show was – so I figured it must be tremendously great. My parents agreed to let me go (what were they thinking?) so off I went to spend the night at my friend’s in-town house.
A plan was hatched. We would all meet at the theatre, each carrying our own well-concealed “supplies” in our knapsacks.

The preparation for the evening was painstaking. We were told to bring toast - lots of toast -  while others were asked to procure rice, bells, rubber gloves, toilet paper and an assortment of other odd items from their parental homes.

We were too excited to question why.

My friend and I sat for hours in front of a toaster until nearly five bags of Wonder Bread had been doctored.

I’m not proud of what happened next.

Naive adolescents, who hail from the country, should never be left alone in the same room as a bottle of peach schnapps. Needless to say, we never did make it to The Rocky Horror Picture Show that night.

Thank goodness our parents had a sense of humor.

While watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show years later, two things occurred to me. One:  dim-witted teenagers should never, ever know about that movie and two: there are far more interesting things to do with a bag of Wonder Bread and a toaster...

Ingrid Falk & Gustavo Aguerre are artists with a vision. Their work of art called "The Toaster" is a large (5 meters x 4.5 meters) work of art which is completely made from slices of toast - varying from light to dark. Apparently, it took several days of work and several friends with toasters to prepare the 2500 pieces of crusty bread necessary to build this gigantic mosaic. No word on how many sticks of butter they went through.
Ingrid Falk and Gustavo Aguerre

Once you've determined that you like toast (I mean really like toast) then you are probably ready for the next step - wearing a piece of french toast necklace. Amy of rapscalliondesign can make one for you.

Soap is nice. Toast is nice. So why not combine the two? That's what soapopotamus did. They almost look good enough to eat, don't they?


Toast with jelly is the inspiration here. Elizabeth of neoitvaluoscol.etsy.com describes her plush toy this way:  "This little toast is so happy to have some fruit jelly rubbed on his belly, he is reaching out for a warm hug to share the love." I for one, find this disturbing. Then again, I'm more of a Cheez Whiz girl.

And finally, nothing says "I love you" more than a portrait made of toast. Laura Hadland used 9,852 slices of bread to create a picture of her mother-in-law Sandra Whitfield. To date, this is the world's largest toast portrait and really, who would want to top that?

Laura Hadland and the world's largest toast portrait.
No, really.

Hamsters always ride shotgun

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

If you were a Canadian kid with access to a television in the 1970s, then you might remember a show called Hammy the Hamster (Tales of the Riverbank*). 

This was a delightful, if not creepy, television program featuring Hammy – a surprisingly dexterous hamster who lived in an old boot, G.P.  – an inventive guinea pig who lived in a house with a water wheel, and a host of other characters including a turtle, a rabbit and a rat – the names of which I can’t remember at this point in my life.

During each episode, Hammy and G.P. went on mini-adventures – building things, visiting places and solving problems. Trust me, these weren’t your average run of the mill rodents. They could drive boats, ride around in cars, move underwater in a diving bell, and operate power tools or hot air balloons – effortlessly, all before breakfast.

Understand… I was an only child, living in the country. Needless to say, I loved this crap.

So hooked was I, that I eventually owned my very own hamster. I named him Hammy and he lived in his own hamster environment complete with running wheel, plastic log and cardboard house. On many an occasion, I released him from his cage and let him run around on the kitchen table.

I fed him toast.

Looking back, my mother was incredibly tolerant. I’m not sure how delighted I would be to share my eating space with a rodent. Take note daughter of mine.

Still, I think hamsters rate pretty high on the cute scale. And I’m not the only one...

According to its maker - JuicyJewelryStore - this hamster ball pendant is "fully awesome." Handmade from polymer clay, he is about .7" tall and sits inside of a plastic ball that measures 1" by 1"


There's nothing strange about this next item. It is a dinosaur costume... for hamsters. Make your Hamster absolutely fierce in this dinosaur costume! Perfect for photos, or Halloween (or only children).

What's better than a hamster? A hamster on your finger, of course... Now you can have your own hamster sticker with glitter suspended in solid resin on an adjustable band ring. Cheap and classy, all at once.
If that last photo got you excited, wait until you see this one. Yes, more hamster rings. Elerronyar makes these and claims they are perfect for tea time.

Keiara Wells fashions all sorts of wonderful glass items from her studio in the United Kingdom. Here, she presents a lampworked hamster angel bead. Heavenly.

And finally, because I'm feeling rather spunky this morning, I present you with "Hamster in a Coma". This is a postcard with an image created by Rina Miriam Drescher. I like it - and not just because it alludes to that great 80s song by The Smiths...

No, really.

*Tales of the Riverbank began in the late 1950s. It had a second incarnation in 1972 and yet another in the mid 1990s.

The pigs fly at midnight

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I was thinking about pigs this afternoon.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

I was thinking about the time we (Geoff, Jan and the toddler) were driving, down a dark country road, when from out of nowhere, pigs appeared. Big, fat pigs. One was at the side of the road, munching on some grass. Another was wandering happily across the lane. And another - was standing right in the middle of the road, looking somewhat stunned, his back end slightly scratched. We tried to use our sleuthy minds to piece together the mystery. Then we saw the pickup truck stopped further up the way -  driver standing in a ditch, talking on his cell phone, while he watched yet another pig poke off into the darkness.

"It'll take more than a bucket of berries to coax those buggers back into that truck." said my husband.

I guess I've always liked pigs - to the point where I actually stopped eating them for a while. I'm back on pork but I still feel a little guilty whenever I eat bacon. But, I've never really thought about pigs as inspiration for art. However, lots of folks have. Here are six shiny, funny pigs with descriptions courtesy of their creators.

Pig Soap by LoveLeeSoaps
These fun, pink pig soaps are ready for bath time! They have the sweet scent of strawberry added and are made with moisturizing ingredients.

Flying Pig Trophy by OliveLoafDesign
This handmade papier mache flying pig is lucky indeed. He's glittery gold!

Beaded Pig Necklace by wildflower2009
A pink rhinestone pig and beaded on leather and felt with a black leather backing.

Paper Clay Pig - alabamalintheads
This little piggy is ready to pig out! She is made of paper clay then decorated with glitter, crackle paint and pastels to give her an aged look

Hillhock is completely hand stitched, upholstered in dusty pink velvet and pink satin, sports two hand carved walnut hooves and two glass taxidermy eyes.

"Oinkshroom" has a sculpted snout and is coated with sparkle glitter. It stands at almost 2" tall and is hand-cast in resin.

No, really.

Full Moon Baby

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When I was 8 months pregnant, my husband and I were given the hospital tour.

“The maternity ward,” said the nurse in a singsong voice, “is a wonderful place to be.” 

She showed us the birthing areas, the shower room and the nurses’ station, complete with flowers and chocolate bon-bons on the counter top.

“It’s never very busy here,” she continued, “so you are pretty much guaranteed a private room and that way, mom, baby and daddy can stay together and be comfortable.”

Reality is such a bitch.

I went into labour on Monday afternoon. My daughter was born on Wednesday night. I don’t fancy doing anything that feels good for longer than one, maybe two hours – tops, so needless to say, being in labour for 48 hours was not on my bucket list.

By the time it was over, everyone involved was elated, and exhausted. My parents – now proud grandparents - drove home to their beds while Geoff, the newborn and I were taken to our room – a semi-private room.

“We’re experiencing a busier than normal November,” explained the orderly. 

The comfy bed that was promised to Geoff during the hospital tour was non-existent. Instead, he slept on a chair he snatched from the nurse’s station.

Complications during childbirth combined with a dose of negligence ("You mean you could walk before you came in?") necessitated a weeklong stay in hospital following the birth of my daughter. So, we did eventually get our private room and Geoff, did get his bed… a cot he “acquired” from some other floor under cover of darkness. Not that it mattered much, as any time we dared to close our eyes, nurses whooshed into our room, waking us up, to make sure we were resting.

Through it all, we delighted in the new addition to our family – a healthy, happy baby girl whose hospital release papers were signed five days before mine. But, on one particular night, near the end of our "stay", we were certain the walls were going to come crumbling down.

I’ve never had a restful sleep during a full moon. At this point in my life, I don’t know if I’ve just bought into the folklore and conditioned myself to stay awake when the sky is bright, or if I am genuinely affected by the position of our Earth.

During our time in hospital, we endured a Harvest moon - or maybe it was a Hunters moon.

Either way. It. Was. Hell.

Here’s the thing. Newborn babies cry. A lot. But no amount of weeping can compare to the chorus of howls that can be heard in a beyond-capacity maternity ward, during a full moon.

Nurses were in and out of rooms all night long. As soon as one baby had settled, another, down the hall would start up - followed by another, and another until the ward was awash in the sounds of tiny lungs expressing extreme discontent. According to one caregiver, it happens every time the moon is full.

By the time 4am rolled around, I decided I’d rather be back in labour.

No, really.

A cockroach can live a week without his head...

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with bugs - and not in a good way. I refuse to camp, hike, bike -- or for that matter go outside, so as to avoid the creepy crawly little bastards. I suppose what I'm saying is, don't read this if you're squeamish about antannae, abdomens, thoraxes or mandibles. Consider yourself warned.


I have a thing about bugs.

The thing is, I don't like them. No, actually I despise them. A lot.

I come by this honestly. My father was the kind of man who meticulously sealed any and all cracks in our houses with a caulking gun (or 10 or 20). So fastidious was he, that there was no way any vermin (not tiny bug nor giant rat) could infiltrate our compounds.

Me, I do my best. Once, when we were "under construction", I (after spotting an earwig) unleashed enough spray foam around a window frame that my bedroom wall started to buckle.

Bugs know I hate them. They do. I know this is true because I am the only one who sees the damn things in our house - usually right before I am ready to go to sleep.

They hide in my shoes - like the ant who bit my toe when I slipped on my flip flop the other morning. They crawl around beside me - like the earwig who crept past my hand as I was drying the dishes the other night. They fly into my head - like the moth who landed on my cheek just as I was putting down my book and getting set to turn off the light yesterday. And they taunt me - like the cockroach the size of Cuba who scurried over my foot in our Texas vacation rental, right before my dad nailed him (her?) with a pack of smokes.

My husband? Nothing. My mom? Zilch. Bugs never crawl on them, creep past them or land on them.

Then there's my daughter, who appears to have inherited the bug-hating gene, despite my best efforts to be brave as I repeatedly read her books like "I Love Bugs". She can spot insects so tiny, spiders so minuscule, that even I can't see them.

Curiously enough however - she is rather partial to slimy critters with no legs such as worms, slugs, snakes, etc. Go figure.

Still, there are lots of people out there who love bugs - adore them even. 

Yen4Yarn makes "popular pins for peculiar people". Pretty, yes... but the spider brooch makes my skin crawl.


Then, there's Steven Kutcher. He is an artist who applies paint to cockroaches, flies, beetles and other assorted creatures and has them "paint" pictures by crawling across paper and canvas. Creative and creepy. Oh dear.

Steven Kutcher
Steven Kutcher
"The appendages are tucked under the body so as not to detract in form or reaction from the striking display of nature's brilliance." This is what Christopher Marley says about his insect mosaics. Shudder.

Christopher Marley

Mike Libby customizes real insect specimens (yes, that says real insect specimens) with antique watch parts and other technological components. I really am going to have to lay down (with a can of Raid®) after finishing this blog entry.

Mike Libby

And finally (because I just can't take this anymore) here are some intricate glass (at least they aren't real) bugs created by artist Wesley Fleming.

Wesley Fleming
No, really.