Saturday, April 30, 2011

in my home: quote board

Words fascinate me. They carry so much significance in just a combination of letters and spaces. Well chosen words can change inspire, challenge and teach. In homage to the written word, the chalkboard I hung in our kitchen has become our quote board. Our tradition is my husband and I take turns picking a favorite quote and writing it on the board and we leave it up until we can say it from memory. The current one is my contribution. Prior ones were:

"Who, being loved, is poor?" -Oscar Wilde (from me)

"God never made an ugly landscape. All that the sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild." -John Muir (from my hubby)

It's my husband's turn next, any suggestions?

Friday, April 29, 2011

cookie of the month club

Eating sweets and baking them are two of my favorite pastimes. For Christmas this year I thought I'd try to share those joys, so I gave my grandpa what I called the "Cookie of the Month Club." The Cookie of the Month Club (me) promised to deliver to his door one dozen fresh baked cookies each month. This month we are running a little behind schedule and out of new recipes. So far we have had:

January-Classic Chocolate Chip
February-Chewy Oatmeal Raisin
March-Classic Chocolate Chip
April-Snickerdoodles? White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut? Peanut Butter?

photo: from Jules Food

I found a new recipe for snickerdoodles at Jules Food blog. She has all kinds of other wonderful and quirky recipes like Cherry Lemon Essence Cake or Peanut Black Salt Caramels. Hope these snickerdoodles taste as good as they look!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

bit of blue

 Love this new necklace! Finally had time to sneak in some creativity! Watch for it coming soon in my etsy shop!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

in my home: the reading chair

This is the reading chair. It is much more productive than it's neighbor, the puffy blue napping chair, which is on the other side of the living room. It has seen lots of coffee, a few pages of the gigantic Autobiography of Mark Twain & quite a bit of Real Simple & Sunset. Positioned right next to the slider to our balcony, it has just the right amount of natural light. The whole corner is home to some of my favorite items. The fabulous lamp next to it came from Matilda's Mouse & the pillow cover I found at a local antique barn, Rusty Creek. And of course the lovely orchid plant which was a gift from a friend. I smell the coffee is ready-think I'll head over there now!

Friday, April 22, 2011


Put together the first batch of beckley tags for the etsy shop with my new best friend: the mini hole punch.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

painting: orchid tree

It has been a busy week! Wow! I have had little time for personal creativity, so I am left to reminisce. 

Since I was little I have had a thing for painting. Maybe it's the immediate results or the bright colors or the vast area that can be changed in such a short period of time. Most recently I was inspired by the beautiful purple orchid tree outside our back windows. The tree is at least 20 feet tall, with a wide canopy of big green leaves and covered with oversized reddish purple flowers from winter thru summer. It feels like I'm living in a tropical jungle and in the evenings the sunset sets the blooms aglow.

The painting above is my tribute in oil on canvas to my beloved tree.

Monday, April 18, 2011

work in progress: Bright Bouquet Top

Sewing is not an easy endeavor. My clothing projects are mostly alterations or combinations of old clothing which in theory was less difficult than starting from scratch. However, I am working on my second clothing project and it's really testing my patience.

My favorite fabrics (like the one above) are light and silky which feel great but are the most difficult to work with. It's always slithering away from where I want it. So for today it remains a work in progress.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

nature walk

I spend a lot of time inside wishing I was outside. Lately the weather has been beautiful and I just couldn't take it anymore so I hopped the back fence for a walk in the neighboring field.

The air was fresh and wind was blowing the tall grasses like great ocean waves. I watched a tiny black bug ride the swells atop a blade of grass, totally unfazed. Brilliant yellow and orange flowers with petals like butterfly wings dotted the hillside, little wildfires in the grass. A crimson ladybug crawled upside down across a slender stem. 

I could hear traffic and the sounds of normal life in the distance. But everywhere I looked there were all sorts of wonderful, fascinating things moving and living and happening on this one tiny patch of ground. All of it as oblivious to lists of things to do, deadlines or staff meetings as I often am to it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

old bananas

"You know, you don't throw away a whole life just 'cause he's banged up a little." Tom Smith, Seabiscuit

Not just a good philosophy for life, it might also summarize the invention of banana bread. This weekend we had a couple of haggard looking bananas awaiting this noble fate (or the compost pile). They looked unappetizing on the outside-but their insides were still good. 

The recipe I used comes from a cookbook I was given as a bridal shower present. It is full of recipes from all of my friends and family and the banana bread recipe was from my dear friend Jenni who developed it in Costa Rica (no wonder it's so tasty!).

Costa Rica Banana Bread Recipe
from Dos Chicas Bread Co.

1 1/2 cup flour (I do 1 cup regular flour and 1/2 cup wheat flour)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup orange juice
3/4 - 1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 bananas, mashed

Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Mix all of the dry ingredients together first.

Then add the eggs, oil, orange juice and the mashed bananas.

Mix well but let the batter stay a little lumpy. Pour into lightly greased baking dish (I use a 1 quart loaf pan). In the oven it goes!

Bake for 45-55 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

You'll be so glad you didn't give up on those old bananas! 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

new necklaces

This week's project was putting together some new necklaces which will be in my etsy shop shortly. The majority of my pieces are combinations of recycled bracelets, earrings, pins, necklaces, bits of chain, etc. Working with a finite set of supplies (colors, shapes, quantities) challenges me by it's innate limitations. Sometimes things just seem to work perfectly together. But other times I have to tuck away a few special beads or a great old pin, saving them until I find their as yet unknown complement.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

bread pudding

This week I snuck in some time for one of my favorite hobbies: baking. We had some wheat rolls that were on the stale side so it seemed the perfect intersection of pleasure and necessity to make some bread pudding. Bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts quite possibly because the ingredients are suspiciously similar to those for french toast.

Another reason to love bread pudding is that it's also quite easy to make. This recipe comes from the New Pillsbury Family Cookbook. Well, it was new in 1973 when it was first copyrighted. It's a copy of the same cookbook that I watched my mom cook out of for years when I was growing up so it's full of nostalgia as well as good recipes.

2 slices (2 cups) soft or dry bread cubes
1/2 cup raisins
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups milk

(For accuracy, let it be known that I rarely follow recipes exactly. I put in extra bread cubes and doubled the vanilla)

First preheat the oven to 350°F. Then cut the bread into cubes.

Next, place the bread cubes in a lightly greased 1 qt. casserole dish. Sprinkle the raisins over the top. Combine eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and milk; beat well. Pour this mixture evenly over the bread cubes.
Set casserole dish in a baking pan with about 1 inch of hot water. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.
Makes 4 to 5 servings.
 This has to be one of the tastiest ways to recycle! 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

balcony gardening

Sometimes we take our food for granted. For many of us, picking out the perfect head of lettuce at the grocery store is as hard as we work to acquire our food. Half in an effort to be eco-friendly and half just to see what happens, our tiny balcony has become home to an equally tiny garden (with help & inspiration from my green thumb dad). It's not only a pleasant surprise to see all the green out the window, it also comes in very handy to have fresh vegetables at my fingertips.

Above are photos of my lettuce and broccoli, who live in cozy quarters with some peas, strawberries, carrots, cilantro, celery, cherry tomatoes, spinach and rosemary. In their midst is the somewhat offensive compost pot which receives periodic offerings of coffee grounds, edamame shells or other green kitchen scraps.

Vegetables may seem like a simple thing, but the challenge of sustaining a life, giving it just the right amount of care and attention, has been more rewarding than I had anticipated. What could be better than helping something grow and change and in the end quite literally enjoying the fruits of your labor?