Thursday, July 23, 2009

more summer bounty

before mixing: a panzanella-esque salad of chopped tomatoes, red bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, marjoram, greek oregano, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Topped with a puree of tomato, bell pepper, and garlic. Cold cooked shrimp and homemade garlic croutons were added before serving.

a plum galette, before baking. It's a bit of a crummy photo because it was snapped at 1:30 am.
Some guy tried to break into our house Monday evening at about 5:30pm. I was here when it happened - note: the ankle straps on the shoe redux held up just fine as I ran at the guy, yelling my head off (that is, before it dawned on me that he still had the open utility knife in his hand that he'd used to cut open the screen of our bedroom window; then I stopped). He ran off .We probably won't see him again. Still, I'm having a hard time sleeping through the night without jumping at noises and shadows. So Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I stayed up and arranged plum slices instead; I figured I may as well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lulu, meet Chloe (another tale of shoe redux)

A shoe DIY like I've never done before. I bought a pair of Lulu Guinness wedges second-hand without trying them on (when will I learn?) and with my narrow feet, of COURSE they were too wide (again, when will I learn?). Swapping didn't work, so I faced the unpleasant prospect of donating them and just losing the cash I'd dropped (only $45, but still, that's a lot for me) or trying to sell them.

OR. I could try and fix 'em up so they WOULD stay on. Does anyone else remember those super-cute black Chloe wedges from a few years back, with the big leather ties at the ankles? I sure did. And so I DIY'ed my Lulus to make 'em more like Chloes. And it seems to have worked!

Here's how I did it (illustrated - click photos to enlarge and see detail):

Materials: wedge pumps, leather ties, studs, exacto knife, shoe goo.

1.) align your leather tie where you want it to sit on the shoe. Press a stud into the strap near the bottom edge (but not quite AT the edge, you need something to cut into!) so that its pointy ends mark where it will go.

2.) still holding your strap in place (fyi, I made little pen marks on my shoe to use as a guideline for where the strap went), now press a stud in near the top edge. You want it to be close enough that it will help hold the strap near the top of the shoe, but not so far that the prongs overshoot the edge of the shoe itself.

3.) lay your strap down flat. Press another stud roughly halfway between the marks for the top and bottom studs. Set all studs aside.

4.) Using a fresh exacto blade, gently cut through the leather strap to the backside. My straps were made of nice kidskin leather left over from when I cut a pair of $5 thrifted elbow-length gloves into tiny little gloves that just covered my palms. (a la SJP in that SITC movie - or was it just SITC? I've seen very little of either, really, but I loved those tiny black gloves!) Anyways, I cut a kind of balloon shape with the longest tails my leather scraps would allow, and sewed them into these straps (the bottom of the long thin tube was still open at this point; I didn't bother to sew them shut).

5.) see? Just gently poking the exacto blade through the leather on the back. THe hardest thing was keeping those two layers from shifting (hence the tension as I hold it), and not punching the exacto blade through too far, which I did at least once on every strap.

6.) Once you have all your cuts made (I had twelve per strap: each of the 3 studs had 4 prongs), work your stud through from the front to the back of the strap.

7.) The hardest part is getting the tips worked through the back. I suppose if you were using a single strip of thicker leather, you would have an easier time of this. Work them all through once, just to make sure everything lines up and works. THen take them out (I know, it's sisyphean).

8.) Open those windows! Now, uncork your shoe goo and gently press a little INTO the tube. Wrap the end in paper towels (to absorb and wipe away the excess) and gently press the ends of these tubes shut, sealing them together with the shoe goo.

9.) Add just a dab of shoe goo to the TOP of the strap, where each stud goes in - one little dab where the center of each stud will be.

10.) Prepare to get that shoe goo on your fingers (which you are NOT supposed to do, according to the instructions). Press the studs back through the strap again, pressing tightly from the back so that the top of the strap is adhering to the underside of the stud. Wipe away any excess shoe goo that may have squelched out the sides of the studs with paper towels.

11.) Here's what it looks like on the reverse. Make sure those points are all exposed - press them through if they aren't. This is also a time to make a little shoe goo repair to any large cuts where your exacto blade slipped and cut a huge slit in the leather - apply shoe goo, wiping away excess, over each of these on the underside of the strap. Let the straps dry at least 24 hours, and up to 72, before applying them to the shoe.

12.) Step 12: shoe torture. When I applied the straps to the shoe, I first placed them against the shoe and pressed, so the points of the studs' prongs pressed a little mark into the side of the shoe. I then took my exacto blade and made little cuts into the shoe for the prongs to go into (note: if your prongs can go THROUGH the shoe, so much the better. Cut through the shoe, push those prongs through, and use needle-nosed pliers to press the prongs down tightly against the inside of your shoe.) My studs' prongs were too short, so I just made little knicks in the leather to help each prong find its proper place.

13.) Open those windows again. Slather the back of the strap with shoe goo, and place, feeling the prongs kind of click into the places you've cut for them in the shoe. Secure the strap to the shoe - I used two clothespins per strap, and a rubber band to hold the bottom of the strap against the curving underside of the shoe. Yes, I am slightly damaging the leather with the rubber band and I feel bad about that. But at least I am salvaging the shoe to wear again!.

14.) Let these cure - again, 24 min before removing pins, and up to 72 before donning the lovelies.

17.) Don the lovelies and giggle at your own cleverness. I haven't worn these OUT yet, so I'll keep you posted as to how well this crazy DIY holds up. FOr now, it's looking good!

Monday, July 13, 2009

string around a finger

I want to remember to make this again. We had a surprisingly autumnal/wintery dinner this evening, and it was delicious. Think how great it would be in autumn! I had a lot of things I needed to use up: a baked sweet potato, waiting to be made into the tart, and blueberries (for the tart and other things), figs (only four of them were still good), and kale going to seed in the garden.

So I chopped up the good figs and cooked them with the blueberries - and cooked the blueberries down a bit more this time. No cream on hand, so a small splash of nonfat milk (didn't want to think the potato too much) had to suffice. I used less sugar overall, and less brandy, and cooked the sweet-potato-custard in this frozen (thawed) pie crust for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F while I cooked the berries. I cooked it for another 20 or 25 after adding the berries on top - basically, until the pie crust was all nice and golden brown.

We had it with dinner: slices of local Essential Bakery walnut bread, roasted beets (his were dressed with horseradish vinagrette, mine were dressed with a simple lemon juice vinagrette) and crumbled chevre, roughly chopped steamed kale topped with a gruyere cheese sauce and nutmeg, and a glass of merlot.

Oh, and candles. Seems a must-do for a quiet dinner for two, curled up on the couch, food spread across the coffee table, sipping and eating and chatting.

Yeah. I think this will be pretty fab in autumn, too.

Friday, July 10, 2009


You told me not to make a fuss, but it really wasn't a fuss; it was my pleasure.

Dinner: roasted peppers wrapped around either a.) smoked mozzarella and basil or b.) chevre and chopped herbs; a big bowl of fresh-picked peas from the garden (crisp and uncooked, just de-stringed); a bowl of vegan yam and sage gnocchi topped with olive oil, salt, pepper, a touch of parm and a generous sprinkling of chopped thyme blossoms.

... and dessert:

Lemon-curd strawberry tarts with lemon thyme and lavender. Pastry crust has a touch of lavender and the faintest bit of cinnamon. I decided to take the time (aka: fuss over it) to make them pretty.

Three bottles of wine, lots of candles, and a long card game that kept the three of us at the table (me wrapped in a blanket) long after dark. (When night fell, Cassidy took down the patio umbrella and they watched the stars by candlelight between hands.)

These are good days.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

a good day.

happiness is finally getting things done. Nearly completed this canvas on spring break. Then got a few glazing coats in during a crazy spring quarter, but didn't get the final coat on until today.

Olivia Bee is my hero. She's simply amazing, so talented.

sanctuary. oilbar and acrylic on linen canvas. 24x24. 2009.

and after I finished this, I ate one of these, with butter and honey. And a whole pot of Harney and Sons' Bangkok tea. With cream and sugar. (yum) :

lemon cream scones (see beth hensberger's the bread bible). flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, cream, eggs, cinnamon.