Friday, July 31, 2009

it's not over yet

Scratchy polyester uniform skirts are pinned and ready for hemming. What's the rule about length now? Something about fingertips? A weighty packet of info arrived from school today with news of schedules, the always perplexing 6 day rotation, class trips and volunteer opportunities for the upcoming school year. Hold on. Just a minute. It's still summer around here. Enjoy this delightful illustration by Jill Calder, a London based artist.A click right here will take you to Jill's blog. It's great fun. Happy weekend!

photo via Friend & Johnson
artists representatives

Thursday, July 30, 2009

a heat stroke of genius

I was stumped.  A bit numb after too many hours at work, smiling at the cash register. Depleted. What to write about?  Then, as if on cue, Dori called with a perfect Rotten Bananas story.  
It seems that Renee Studebaker, an Austin based gardening columnist, is a glass half full kind of girl.  Instead of bemoaning the daily 100+ degree barrage, she is embracing it.  Renee is sun drying her homegrown tomatoes on a cloth covered baking sheet wedged between the dashboard and the windshield of her truck.  Genius!  

Read her complete story right here along with some nice recipes.  I think you'll enjoy it.  

She also plants plenty of extras for the squirrels.  This little guy was out of chevre so he decided to go green.  
Consider me unstumped.  Thanks Dori.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

pack rat estate sale

Look at these great hats and shoes! Last week it was wall to wall people snatching up treasures at the estate sale of a hat and shoe loving pack rat. Fur and feathers, baubles and beads, the hats were made of every conceivable material. Sadly, most of them wouldn't fit our big melon heads. Luckily, Sophie's feet were just the right size. A bag o fashion pumps = $16. Happy Sophie.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

we make good things

If you've never heard of Creativity Explored, you're in for a treat. Based in San Francisco, Creativity Explored is a non profit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities come to create, exhibit and sell art.

It's a happy place where talent is celebrated. The artists earn the proceeds from sales of their pieces. The online store sells extremely affordable original art that is way beyond cool. Take a look right here.

Be sure to visit this portion of the site. It's a collection of one minute videos of each of the artists. I particularly love Camille Holvoet. Most of the time she paints cupcakes. Colorful, whimsical cupcakes. The piece above, an open letter to the government, was a real departure for her.
Bookmark and pick one video a day to watch. You'll be inspired by each person in a different way. Other favorites include, Mary Belknap, Jessima Garcia, Maria Berrios and Peter Cordova.
By the way, the title of this post was a remark made by artist Loren King in his video. His heartfelt pride makes me smile.

Monday, July 27, 2009

where everybody is somebody

Our Texas tour continued this weekend to my hometown of Hico, population 1,371. The title of this post refers to our town motto. High self esteem comes with the territory. The main attraction was the 123rd Old Settlers Reunion. This week long whirlwind of funnel cakes, corny dogs and rickety carnival rides is a kids dream.

Boisterous family. Flying hands complete the puzzle. Early morning run with my brother. Up with the cows. Pie making with my nieces. It's the process that's important. Smooth meringue or swirly peaks. No right or wrong. Choose your style. Wink catches a wink. Grubby piggies grip teensy flip flops. Friendly chats. Smoked brisket, slaw, cold watermelon, jalapeno cornbread and lemon meringue pie. All delicious. Learning to drive out in the pasture. Late night card games. No better place.

Lemon Pie - Best of Show 2002 State Fair of Texas - Sheala Carroll, Rowlett

2 c. sugar - divided use
1 1/2 c. plus 1/3 c. water - divided use
3/4 t. salt - divided use
1/2 c. corn starch
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 c. lemon juice
3 T butter
1 t. grated lemon zest
4 egg whites
Baked pastry for 1 crust pie

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 t. salt; heat to boiling.
Mix cornstarch and 1/3 c. water to make a smooth paste; add to boiling mixture gradually, stirring constantly; cook until thick and clear. Remove from heat.
Combine egg yolks and lemon juice; stir into thickened mixture. Return to heat; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles again. Remove from heat; stir in butter and lemon zest. Cover and cool until lukewarm.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. To make meringue, add 1/4 t. salt to egg whites and beat until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 c. sugar, beating until glossy peaks form. Stir two rounded tablespoons into lukewarm pie filling. Pour filling into cooled 9 inch pie shell. Pile meringue on top and spread evenly to edge of crust.
Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool at least one hour before serving.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Calories - you don't want to know. Just enjoy your pie.

Friday, July 24, 2009

festive family flags

I told you in this June post that a friend had given me some great fabric. Right away, I knew how to use it. I divided it between my sisters and we all made party flags for our family reunion this weekend.

I made 2 different sized patterns from manila folders.

For speed and efficiency, I stacked several layers of fabric, placed the pattern on top and cut with a rotary cutter. I folded the top inch over for the casing and stitched.

Scads of flags. They're sure to look great.

I also grabbed some of my blue glass bottles. I think they'll look nice on the tables. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

no excuses

Occasionally, it's nice for someone else to do the thinking about what to eat. That's why I loved yesterdays article from Mark Bittman in The New York Times. Providing 101 very simple salad ideas, he removes all excuses for not eating healthfully. The combinations are interesting and quick, making the most of all the great seasonal fruits and veggies. He also provides a few basic dressing recipes to round out the article.
Click right here for all 101 simple salad ideas.

photos: Francesco Tonelli and Tony Cenicola for The New York Times

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

mappy birthday to joel

I recently learned my friend Joel loves maps. Finally! The perfect use for this 1953 silk map I've had in my stash for years. I made Joel a big map pillow.

I stitched a message all wavy and loopy like the lines on the map. Ok, maybe that's as refined as my stitching capabilities allow. Whatever the case, it looks just right. I picked a beautiful navy stripe for the borders and back.

Old map. New life. Happy birthday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the 98 degree airstream take two

The Airstream was once owned by a chain smoking taxidermist in backwoods Texas. Walls yellowed and reeking, Dori and Jim stripped it bare and rebuilt, from the inside out. Now, it's a cheerful and happy space with gleaming surfaces, handmade quilts and bamboo floors. The outdoor deck is the communal area. A place for sharing meals, playing cards, drinking iced tea by day, martinis by night and reading books. In the pitch black, the canvas curtains fall and the deck becomes nature's screening room.

If you have an abundance of basil this summer, try these:

Basil Lime Martini - makes one cocktail

3 large basil leaves
2 T. lime juice
5 T vodka
3 T simple syrup

Muddle basil with simple syrup to release fragrance and flavor. Add all ingredients to shaker. Shake and serve over ice.
Variation - use mint instead of basil

Monday, July 20, 2009

the 98 degree airstream

Dad's big hand makes a fine funnel for pouring peanuts into Coke.
Cousin fun. Aren't kids the best? They don't flinch at the idea of swimsuit Twister. Only kids and maybe college students on spring break would do that. Dragonflies & river rats. Vintage linens make the perfect table. New do's and gambling loot. Gut laughing. Sleeping under the stars with a bold raccoon. Outdoor shower overlooking the Colorado River. Homemade strawberry ice cream. Waving pendants. A mild 98 degrees.

Come back tomorrow for airstream weekend - take two. Food, cocktails, nightlife and more.

Friday, July 17, 2009

in a trailer down by the river

Another charming shot from Mary at itsprettygood. What are you up to this weekend? We're headed for Bend, Texas to camp in a shiny 1972 Airstream trailer. Swimming, fishing, kids, cocktails, puzzles, homemade ice cream and our favorite card game, 99. Can't wait!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

love it to pieces

I hope baby Stella will love this blankie into a threadbare scrap. That would make me very happy. But you never know which blankie a baby will take to. There's no predicting that sort of thing.

I'm almost done. The last step is hand embroidering her name. Alan is great at hand lettering. He draws it out and I trace it over a light box onto the blanket with a water soluble marker. We make a nice team. On this project, I used hand dyed variegated perle cotton #5. I like the nubby feel of it.

I use the stem stitch. It's extremely versatile. Here is a link to a video tutorial if you'd like to give it a try.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

all nighter with harry

Put on another pot of joe. My lids are heavy this morning as we pulled an all nighter with Harry Potter. Sensible? No. But this is what we do. Premiere night. With our always & forever HP companions, Kalynn and Tully.
The build up has been intense. Sadie has been holed up in her room the past few days, barely surfacing for meals, rereading the series and fine tuning her command of the details. I arrived home from work yesterday to find Sadie and her pal Gillian mixing "potions" from out of date spices, old tea bags, snips of doll hair and yogurt. Each potion with a clever name and use.

We always start the evening with waffles. $24 fed all six of us!

Tully wore Harry Potter glasses WAY before Harry Potter wore them.

The long wait over. Another fine memory.

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