Thursday, October 25, 2007

happy halloween!

last weekend we had a pumpkin carving party. We had some 15 (more?) people, and 11 carved pumpkins at the end. I made a feast, we stuffed ourselves, and got to carving. I think the best part of the evening was being told, "This is so disgustingly cute, it really shouldn't be this much fun."

So there you have it. Proud to be bringing the joy back to graduate students and young professionals everywhere. That's right, people, it's time to kick back, risk looking silly, and enjoy yourselves!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

forward thinking

my sewing machine died two days ago with an utterly dramatic sparking plug and fantastic running pell-mell (despite the pedal being untouched). Truly, I don't think Sarah Bernhardt could have done it better.

I'm in the process of shopping for a Singer. My last was a New Home, and 15 years old now. We could rewire the plug, but it's been through a lot of abuse, clacks loudly and frequently gets tired (at which point, all sewing is DONE for the day, as it will just snarl thread, snap bobbins, and chew fabrics when it is out of sorts), so I think it may just be time to move on to my next relationship.

In the meantime, however, I'm still trying to work on solstice gifts, in order to bank time for that lap quilt I'm really hoping to finish on time. Here's what I did tonight: amythests knotted on cotton cord, silk ribbon ties, with a vintage silver leaf charm and some sparkly bobbles just for fun. I really like this one, the stones feel large enough to be embracing a bold/primitivist/earthy trend, and the feather is perfect for my intended recipient. I think this would be particularly lovely next spring, with a crisp white - or better, black - blouse.

Anyhow, I hope she likes it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I set a place for you

dear family (parents, brother, cass, cass's family and girlfriends C, E, N, K, L - am I forgetting anyone?):

tonight I had planned a special dinner, an entree I last made in Seattle. I consider this dish special because - according to the NW Best Places Cookbook, from whence it is drawn - the chef who created it dreamt it up on a sunny beach in Hawaii while feeling homesick for her native British Columbia (to whence she has since returned). It's a northwest dish at heart, and tonight I made it for the first time since leaving the great wet north, feeling great sympathy for the homesick Canadian when she first came up with it.

Somehow, Santa Barbara and I are in synch tonight - the night of all nights that I cook my homage to home - as the patchy clouds this morning built up, greyed out, and broke rain upon us by evening. Rain! Even now, I hear the cars outside and the familiar wet sound of water on the pavement as they drive along. We are at the end of harvest, the time of cornucopia, the time of thanksgiving, and I am so grateful for all of you.

So tonight, I set a place for you, wishing we could all be together, feasting, keeping merry and warm against a cold, dark, and wet exterior. I poured you a lovely glass of Kenneth Volk's Negrette, all blackberry-licious and wonderful. I made you a salad of fennel and mushrooms, marinated in balsamic and garlic, and served over endive and arugula. And finally, I brought you a chicken breast coated in mustard and fresh herbs from the garden with a crunchy coating of chopped hazelnuts, swimming in a blackberry-raspberry sauce.

Berries, mushrooms, hazlenuts, red wine. On a northwestern evening, wishing we all could be there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


our newest little friend, who was driven inward by the coldish nights (and perhaps the coyotes?) to seek comfort among the macadamias and walnuts in the cupboard. We have to keep an eye on her to keep her out of trouble!

I'm so inspired by the great work of Lisa Congdon, that I thought it would be fun to use up some of the scraps from my coat for a project like this (plus purple velvet and grey cashmere). This was a total blast, and it was nice to work on something small for a change - I've been able to put time in over several evenings, when I'm too tired to read anymore, and it's satisfying my creative needs just fine.

I hope her future owner likes her when she turns up this holiday season! For now, we just have to keep the cat away, as Zaha is convinced this toy must be meant for her.

Monday, October 8, 2007

the perfect study partner

when you're sick, that is. Yes, I'm talking about soup. Good, old-fashioned, soup. Sunday morning witnessed bread-baking (oatmeal-bulghur, one of my favorites for its crunchy bits of bulghur, comforting oats, and fantastic crust), two stocks, and a soup from one of those stocks. Above is early in my morning - the bread rising in the background, and the mushroom stock for this week's risotto simmering away. It was just so pretty with the red onions and the fresh sage from the garden.

I do love to get up early on a Sunday morning and make stocks and bread. The stocks warm the house up (I also like to pretend that there's a need for this. Oh, I can't wait for winter, I miss my foggy mornings) so the bread can rise, and Cass always wakes up (eventually/finally) to ask, "Hey, what smells so good?" It's like a nice big house hug. And hugs of all types are nice when one is sniffly and sore-throated and head-achey and generally feeling rather pessimistic about the near future.

I had some vegetables I had to use up yesterday, so I thought I'd share an experiment that turned out delicious: potato-mustard soup. It was more like creamed mustard greens when I was done, but still - Cass and I devoured all of the small pot in one sitting.

Stock: Simmer about 8 c water with vegetables (1 red onion, peeled and cut into six wedges; two garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife; about 4-6 oz baby carrots) and herbs (I used a good 5-6 inch sprig of rosemary, two smaller sprigs of marjoram, and several small sprigs of thyme). Cook until about 4-6 c. of liquid remain. Strain out vegetables and herbs and set aside.

In same pot (sans stock), saute one shallot, chopped, and one red onion, chopped, with thyme and 2 Tbl (approx) of olive oil until onions/shallots are softened, about 5-7 min over medium heat. Return strained broth to pan and add 4 small potatoes (baby red potatoes, small yukon gold, peruvian purple, whatever you've got), chopped, to the pan. Simmer until potatoes are softened, about 20 min.

Pour soup base into blender and puree. Set aside.

Rinse soup pan and fill with water. Bring to a boil. Add one bunch mustard greens, stems removed, and boil for about 10-15 min or until a bright green (the longer you boil, the softer the flavour, but the lower the nutrients!).

Drain mustard greens and chop. Return chopped greens to pan with pureed soup base, add several good pinches (or shakes, in my case!) of crushed red pepper, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve with parmesan if your doctor hasn't put you on a 30-day no-dairy sensitivity test diet (rats). I can vouch that it's darn good without, too!

enjoy over homework, and regain energy and pep for the rest of your day!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Miss Beautiful Wonderful

Miss Beautiful Wonderful. Oilbar on canvas. 30 X 40. 2007.

Well, that certainly took longer than I'd expected. Foolish me, I thought at first that animals would be less work than people. With all that fur? I know, funny, right? What on earth made me so presumptuous? Maybe it's this lovely head-butting/nuzzling type thing that Zaha is doing to my arm right now - it inspires confidence in the best way. Poor darling, I had a bad day and she hasn't had nearly enough snuggle time as a result. So this is how I finished my summer. Having put this up on the wall, I feel justified and satisfied with the work I did, which is a pleasant and new feeling.

Those of you who read one of my all-time favorite blogs (and daily dose of cheer) will recognize this image, and will know how the events of this summer changed my feelings about it. I had this long personal thing written out, but somehow it felt thoughtless, like I was making this all about me. Suffice to say, the reactions I get to Miss Beautiful Wonderful are surprising, if only because they are exactly what my reaction was when this shot was first posted on Posie. In some respects, I feel like I failed to capture my sadness in painting this, but in other ways, I feel that to impose my sadness on this would have been a crime. So I like that it has a life and meaning of its own - because I won't always look at this and feel sad, and so I wouldn't want it to be sad forever - and I like that it conveys its own unique life independent of my tumultuous emotions at the other end of the oilbar.

This was painted entirely to Sarah McLachlan's I Will Remember You for the obvious overtones of goodbyes, but also for the gentle reminder that all things must grow, change, leave - and though partings are painful, we ought not to weep forever for what is lost, but eventually to recall with joy the times we passed together.