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Monday, August 31, 2009

In my studio with Mom last Wednesday. [I wish the doors behind us were shut...but it is good storage!]

I'm holding a tomato from the garden outside the studio. I was fun to show her my creative space. I was at work for three days of her visit. She needed a creative project. We used the embroidery designs from JoAnn of "Pieceful Afternoon" who had a giveaway recently... so Mom stitched this bird on a towel for me!

I'm off to work this morning....will post more about the past week soon!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Around the corner from the new shelf in my studio is this water color of an angel. I have her just inside the back door which goes out into the garden. It is still early morning but reflections glimmer on the glass surface on top of the painting.

Outside, an ornamental glass bauble "dragonfly" in the garden flits over the basil and French marigolds.

A small summer squash is growing under large green leaves.

A "black" ornamental pepper plant hides the garden "caulifower" teapot. One round red "pepper" shows the effect of all the recent rain. It is splitting. [Click on the photo for a closer view.] Our weather has been glorious for the last few days, sunny and cool. The garden is still producing cucumbers and ripe tomatoes.

This is a fun week here. Even though I am working for the next 3 days, my mother is here for a visit. She enjoys seeing the sewing and quilting which I do in conjunction with my job.

Our son, Andrew and his dog are stopping by for a few days on his way back to his school. This will call for my cooking and baking some special meals. We started with the French yogurt cake last night, which is also making a delightful breakfast this morning!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Changes to my art space/sewing studio.
Last night we hung this shelf, a gift from my friend, Cheryl. I had painted it turquoise before we hung it. Filling it with little objects was lots of fun!

One object is a retablo of St. Teresa, painted by my sister. You can also see (click on the photo for closer look...) a crow feather and ATC (artist's trading card, 2"x3") of a crow and a girl drawn by an artist in Russia.. a nesting doll also from Russia, artwork by Tammy Mimms, little African beaded dolls, a painting by a Southern folk artist whose first name is Jesse Lavon(it is of a quilt sale at a rural church),a "bellsnickle" black papiermache cat, and a photograph of a friend in her office....

Meet my friend, Macrina Wiederkehr. I've treasured this photo for a number of years! The little Amish doll was a gift from me. I was hoping to find the secret to a SIMPLE, PEACEFUL life, and had been reading about the Amish. Macrina is a spiritual director , poet and author of 7 published books. She has just opened a blog, poetically named, "Under the Sycamore Tree" . I know you will love visiting with her through her posts!

Now I have some other friends coming to see my quilts and studio this evening. I'm off to find a recipe for a tuna pasta salad AND to tidy up all around here! LOL!

Friday, August 14, 2009

A sunny, not-too-hot day. The geranium as seen through the screen door.

Inside, on the sun porch,I am painting two small canvases in acrylic, not my usual watercolor! [so it is harder for me!]

Yesterday's project in the next photos, a new sofa covering for the sofa in my studio.

Outside the studio door, the tomatoes are turning red! Yeah!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's in the crock pot today?
I chose this one as I have fresh cilantro and want to use it. [We also have the Southwestern black bean and rice salad I posted a couple of weeks ago....July 25th, I think] to work now, dinner will be ready when I come home!

Cuban Ropa Vieja
From Woman's Day November 1, 2006

Photo: Dasha Wright

2 cubanelle or Italian frying peppers, seeded and sliced
1 cup sliced onion
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 Tbsp each olive oil, cider vinegar and minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2-lb boneless chuck steak
1/3 cup coarsely chopped alcaparrado (we used Goya), or 1/3 cup pimiento-stuffed olives plus
2 Tbsp chopped capers
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1. Mix all ingredients except steak, alcaparrado and cilantro in a 3 1/2-qt or larger slow-cooker. Top with steak; turn steak over to coat with mixture.

2. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours or until steak is very tender. Transfer steak to a cutting board. Remove and discard bay leaf. Tear steak in shreds using the two-forks method. Return shreds to cooker; stir in alcaparrado and chopped cilantro and serve.Ropa vieja means "old clothes" in Spanish. This famous Cuban dish is so named because the shredded beef resembles clothes so worn that they fall apart. Alcaparrado means green olives, often stuffed with pimientos and capers mixed together.

Monday, August 10, 2009

For anyone wondering about doing one of these layered, "lasagna" gardens. Here are the
current results we have had. See the garden above, yesterday morning.
I have lots of green tomatoes! These were planted before May 15th and should finally ripen at any moment. [We had two tomatoes from the Cherokee Purple heirloom about a month ago, they were delicious! I'm ready for more!]
It has been an easy garden to plant and maintain. Probably needs more hours of sunshine.
We have zucchini vines and flowers but no zucchini are forming. The cucumber has wandered, climbing everywhere and has so far given us 7 cucumbers in 6 weeks....more on the way, slowly!
The bell pepper plant produced one pepper ( to be fair, I moved it just as that pepper was developing. It seems to like the move ( it was under the tomatoes and cucumbers). I know I have planted a lot of things too close together....not knowing which would "take off" and grow.
My marigolds and ornamental pepper plant have thrived. The basil has done alright ...'though lots of it never came up....maybe need better seed? The rosemary is doing well too, it has been fun finding recipes for using some of this.
To sum up, I would say that this is a easy (no digging or tilling) fun way to garden (almost no weeding) and if you have a sunny place you could grow vegetables. If your yard is shady, try coleus and impatiens and experiment!
I used nothing chemical....just the layers of organic material, including mushroom compost. Fish emulsion has been the fertilizer if needed. (of course being new to this, I'm not always sure when it is "needed"!) I removed the few visible garden pests (hornworm and Japanese beetle) by hand and no more followed (thank goodness!).
Pest update a few days later....another intruder showed up, the bright yellow spotted cucumber beetle and what I think were the "matching" worms....bright yellow too with spiky black "hairs". All were dispatched by a gloved hand! Uck!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A quiet place to rest and "be" after a little work in the garden.

I found a bird's nest on the ground and saved it for garden on a shelf beside the studio door (which leads out into my garden). [The "lasagne" garden is an easy method, just a bit of watering and readjusting the support poles and tomato cages and one is free for the day!]

While sitting and resting in the morning breezes I was beside this bright orange red impatients.
I became aware of a presence and a whirring sound. Not moving, I slowly looked that way.
A hummingbird was right beside me, checking out these flowers, I'm afraid they don't have much nectar to offer. It is time to hang up our feeder for these hungry creatures!

A Route of Evanescence
With a revolving Wheel--
A Resonance of Emerald--
A Rush of Cochineal--
And every Blossom on the Bush
Adjusts its tumbled Head--
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy Morning's Ride--
-- Emily Dickinson

Thursday, August 06, 2009

This is the weekend for the opening of the movie we've been waiting for..... I've been reading the book, "Julie and Julia" bu Julie Powell. Next, I need to read, "My Life in France" by Julia Child. I understand that it is a movie which parallels the lives of two women being fearless and "overcoming" their of them through BLOGGING (about her cooking)!
I have been enjoying cooking more that usual this summer. Being able to eat well and regularly is not to be taken for granted these days. We are grateful and blessed!
Our local paper had a magazine section called relish yesterday. They have lots of information about and a recipe or two from Julia Child [including a trailer of the new movie!]. They also offer a bi-weekly newsletter on line.
I am hoping to see this movie with several good friends who have fearlessly eaten each others culinary masterpieces for a number of years! LOL!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Andrew! [Our son]
Here he is as a 10 year-old at the rock gym and later on a climb somewhere in the Western hemisphere (below). Andrew is now in school to become a chiropractor, and is married to a wonderful woman, Mary. We love them both and are thinking of them today!


Having a different schedule this week, I have the day off. So I headed down to my chair in the garden this morning, journals and coffee cup in hand. [Watercolor above from my garden journal of a yellow-shafted Northern flicker. I was delighted to see these "new" (to me) birds in my backyard a couple of weeks ago. I didn't know what that "polka-dot" bird with a red cap could I did some research!]

Before I could sit and write, I had to lift and tie up heavy, fruit-laden branches of the tomato plants. Here is the garden about 9:00 a.m. after they were tied up to the bamboo and the wire cages.

While tying back the branches, I discovered two cucumbers hiding under the large leaves!
Here they are with dark coleus for accent.

I'm thinking that this garden is rather too shady for a vegetable garden, the large oak tree next door casts a long shadow. I think the garden is in sun barely 6 hours/day. If it were sunnier, I think I would be harvesting more. But is is fun and what we get is delicious!

I made another change in the garden, pulling out all of the purple plants, perilla, except those in the concrete "greenman" planter. I need the space they were taking.

Finally, here is a photo of the flowers beside my garden chair.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Forever improvising...and "making do", my creative side gets going on solving a problem.

The west side of our sun porch just bakes in the late afternoon and evening sun, and the reflections on the glass table make having an evening meal out there less than wonderful. I had been thinking of getting a bamboo roll-up shade for that side of the room.

Yesterday I sat there and thought, "at least I could hang some fabric...."

In my stash downstairs was a 2 yard piece of floral print. There were already nails above the windows where we had white fairy lights. I moved the fairy lights to another side of the porch.

Using clothes pins and grosgrain ribbon along with the nails which were waiting, I was able to make a simple window treatment which works simply by tying and untying the grosgrain ribbons.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


I started with the recipe on p. 52 of this cookbook by Camilla Saulsbury for her "citrus-scented olive oil cake". I cut the recipe in half as I didn't want a large Bundt cake. Then I started making a few other changes. [Recipe below]
I think it came out beautifully and was a great cake for a day when I didn't want to run to the store for butter, the olive oil [EVO] I had on hand!

Adding the rosemary was the first change I thought of. It goes great with the lemon!

1 c sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
1/2 c. + 2 T. all purpose unbleached flour
3/4 c. fat free milk
1/4 c. cornmeal
2 large eggs
1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 t. each baking powder and salt
1 T. grated lemon zest
1/4 t. baking soda
1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. ground coriander
1 T. fresh rosemary, finely minced
Glaze: 3 T. orange marmalade, 1 T. balsamic vinegar, 2 T. orange juice [stir, and pour evenly over cooled, inverted cake].
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan (9x5) with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk the sugar,milk, egg , olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and rosemary.
In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, stir until just blended.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake 50-55 minutes or until cake tests done.
Cool on a rack. Spread marmalade glaze over cake.
Here is another olive oil cake recipe...sounds good! [Hmmm...Do you think olive oil cakes could possibly be a healthy part of the Mediterranean diet????]

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