Saturday, June 30, 2007

the grindstone

I'm working steadily away on fresh projects, fresh canvases, fresh feasts (the 4th is on the way, after all!) to share: I offer the above (exhibit A) as some proof that my silence indicates that there is much being done around here, if I haven't much to show for it.

However, my real reason to post today is to pop in and thank those of you who have been leaving comments. I don't know how these blog things get out - some kind of word-of-mouth or interested clicks or maybe even a label search? But I am so excited to learn that there are individuals out there who have been reading. Thank you! And leaving such kind, thoughtful comments - again, thank you!

I'll be leaving now, but rest assured, I'm off to plan this week's menu (including something tasty and exciting for the 4th) and then I've painting, sewing, befeathering and quite a bit of reading to do, as I'm behind schedule on R.F. Foster's history of Ireland.

my best to you, dear readers, whomever and wherever you are!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I tried, but I couldn't get all of it in! here's most of it:

from top: swedish rye sliced thin and wasa; three different mustards; gorgonzola; havarti, gouda, sheep gouda, gruyere, salami, and cucumber slices; pickled beets; herring in mustard sauce; gravlax with dill; split pea (and ham) soup; swedish meatballs with turnip and potato mash and lingonberries; strawberries; Anna's ginger thins; steamed asparagus in raspberry vinagrette with chopped pecans.

not pictured: akvavit, salmiakki, the other wines/alcoholic drinks, Swedish lingonberry drink, whipped cream for those berries, candy dish piled to overflowing with three types of black licorice.

looking at this picture makes me wish we could eat it all over again. yummmm

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Solstice Skirt

whew! I just managed to finish my solstice skirt a couple of hours before our Midsommar Celebration on Saturday. This innocuous piece of clothing is my reconciliation between where I'd like to be and where I am. Seattle's scandinavian culture finds expression in the floral motif that I lifted from a photo of a 12th C. Danish textile. Santa Barbara sings in the exuberantly bright Mexican colour palette. Or that's how it seems to me.

The skirt is a lightweight 100% linen. I designed it in winter, when side panels contoured to my hips and gathering under each panel was something I hadn't seen anywhere. Now, it seems I merely anticipated a summer trend, but oh well. There is a hidden zipper at the center back seam, with hook-and-eye at the waistband. (this back-shot is blurry - my apologies! - but that "seam" you see is the interlaced band over the hip panel, not the hidden zipper)

Embroidery is in cotton, and I owe Janet over at Primrose Design a debt for her inspiring Stitch School. The seaming on the sides of the hip panel is covered with interlaced band stitch in purple and pink, and palestrina (spaced out) trims out the side panel when it meets the gathered fullness of the skirt. The hem is worked in the same two stitches.

The flowers utilize satin stitch, basketweave (or "woven filling stitch"), chain stitch, back stitch, and raised herringbone. It took me a long time to figure out a simple solution for transferring this pattern to the fabric: I simply traced it onto Solvy water-soluble interfacing, and laid it on top of the skirt. I embroidered ,then gently tore away excess, then soaked the skirt for about 30 minutes to dissolve the Solvy. It's sad that it took me something like 5 or more days to think of this, seeing as I'd purchased some Solvy to play with just a few weeks prior

coming next: a post for Natalie - the Midsommar smorgasbord for our party! It was delicious!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I made myself wait

until I'd actually completed something to show you. Apologies for the pause in posting. You'd think this summer-thing would leave me with heaps of time on my hands, but I'm surprisingly busy currently, what with the reading and the cooking and the cleaning, and the party prep. Yesterday, I finished the 20 some-odd feet of bunting that I was making for the party. A good way to use up fabric scraps (one of my goals on my summer list), festive for the party (yellow and blue for Sverige), plus I really like the idea of washable, reuseable party decorations. And is it just not too cute for words? I mean, really! Mine took a bit longer than some other versions out there as I decided to back my little bunting flags in the same fabric, which vastly increased the amount of pinning, sewing, pressing flat, and trimming of corners. However, these won't fray, so I think the extra time was worth it for being able to wash and reuse these without them getting tattered.

They're quite simple to make, just triangles sewn together along two sides, trimmed, flipped right sides out, pressed, and zig-zagged into a long thin strip of silk that has its own raw edges tucked under and pressed before sewing. I spaced mine about 2" apart on the silk.

In other news, check this out:

tomatoes! we're almost there... and plenty of basil abounding for when they're ripe.

Finally, something new to try. I picked up Donna Hay's Flavours cookbook at the library last week. Not too shabby - a bit meat-heavy on the dishes, but some interesting ideas. And we do eat meat once or twice a week anyhow. We made the "fresh salmon and lime cakes" and split it for dinner on Monday, with a fresh green salad on the side. By the time Cass had skinned and chopped the salmon, I had everything else in the bowl, so needless to say, it goes together quite quickly. We were out of wasabi and substituted some dijon, but agreed that next time, we'll make sure we have the wasabi in it. And perhaps some more ginger, too. Did you know Trader Joe's sells a ginger puree these days?

fresh salmon and lime cakes

  • 1lb salmon fillet, skin removed
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 Tbl fine rice flour (we used mochi flour we had on hand)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded (these were great. next time we'll use three. and maybe a shot of lime juice)
  • 1 Tbl finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp wasabi paste
  • 3 Tbl chopped fresh chervil or flat leaf parsley (we used the latter)
  • oil, to shallow fry

Remove any bones from the salmon an dchop into 1/4" dice. Combine the chopped salmon with the egg white, rice flour, lim eleaves, ginger, wasabi paste, and chervil or parsley. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan over medium heat to shallow-fry the cakes. Place 2 Tbl of the mixture into the hot oil and cook for 35-45 seconds each side, or until lightly golden. Drain on absorbent paper and keep warm in a low oven while you cook the rest.

Serve with lime dipping sauce:

  • 1/4 c. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbl brown sugar

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl with a whisk or fork until sugar is dissolved.

enjoy! I'll be back soon with another post: there's another needlework project in the works currently, I just started another canvas, and the Midsommar party is this Saturday, so lots to share, hopefully soon!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

in the light of day

fever dream. oilbar and pencil on canvas. 30 X 40. 2007

Finally! It's daylight. And although daylight is doing some horrid washing-out of the lovely pinks and purples of her lovely profile, at least there is a picture. She's done. It sounds weird and conceited, but I am so so in love with this painting, particularly the shadows of her sweater. I don't really know how it happened, but it looks good! She's hanging over Cassidy's table, and her hair is just the same colour of the warm mahogany. She sings. Welcome, welcome.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

more florals

This top is something I started a while ago - no longer certain if that was winter or spring break. Either way, I can't say how glad I was to finally add the silk border at the hem and call it done. The floral print is a lightweight silky fabric that I received in a swap. It feels like poly, but it could be rayon. Not my favorite fabrication, but I did like the print and there was *just* enough to mock up this light summertime top. Trimmed in navy dupioni. The straps make a kind of "racerback" on the front, arcing in from the shoulders. I'm satisfied with it. Finally, my homage to Anthro's spring "Print" catalogue is ready to hit the streets.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

summertime and the eating is easy

chickpea and sundried tomato salad (with grilled eggplant steaks)
1 1/2 c. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2-3 fresh sage leaves
2 sprigs fresh marjoram or thyme
1 medium red onion, diced
champagne vinegar
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
salt and pepper
2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
10-12 sundried-tomatoes packed in oil, drained and diced
2 Tbl chopped parsley
Drain and rinse the beans and place them in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover generously. Add the sage and marjoram or thyme. Boil gently for 50 to 60 minutes, checking to be sure the beans are cooked until tender, then drain.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Drop the chopped onion in the boiling water for 15 seconds (that's right, seconds), then drain and splash with a bit of champagne vinegar to bring out the red colour. Set aside. Combine the red wine vinegar, garlic, 3/4 tsp. salt and a few pinches of pepper in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil.
Toss the chickpeas in the vinagrette as soon as they have been cooked and drained. Add the onion and sundried tomatoes and toss. Marinate for an hour (or several). Add the parsley before serving.
(For grilled eggplant: slice eggplant crosswise into 3/4 - 1" steaks. Place in a large plastic bag. Add a few Tbl. of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Shake quickly to coat evenly - the eggplant will immediately absorb any oil that touches the cut surfaces. Cook over hot coals until tender, about 4 min/side.)

Friday, June 1, 2007


haunted. oilbar and pencil on canvas. 30" X 40." 2006.

after much worry, and not a few tears when I thought they might have disappeared, Haunted (above) and The Messenger (a bit further below) arrived safely at their new home. This marks the first time that I've sold work outside my family, and also the first time that my paintings have contributed to providing me the lifestyle I dream about: the funds they brought in, paired with the loans I've squirreled away throughout the year, comprise just enough for me to live a lean, but job-free summer. I've been unemployed before, so I know how to live - even thrive - simply. The gift of time is amazing, I'm still having trouble believing it's really going to happen.

So that's it. Goodbye, little ones, and thank you. I will miss you. But you're in good hands, you are loved already.