Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you had a wonderful day, filled with cheer and warmth and good food! I spent the evening at a Friends pot luck which was lovely and cozy. I ate too much, and didn't regret that for a minute.
I did actually brave the Black Friday madness to run a few errands. Luckily some of them were in Chinatown - where apparently Black Friday doesn't exist? Because I had no problems there.
I came home and checked when the first day of advent was and it's today! Well, then I think it's appropriate to spend Thanksgiving weekend decorating. I knitted my Christmas tree. And then knitted a few more. I found this pattern online and have wanted to try it since last year. It is a lot of fun and the trees look amazing. I will probably try to sell some this coming weekend and Book Paper Scissors, we'll see.
I also FINALLY got my rear in gear and planted over 200 more tulip, daffodil, crocus and allium bulbs. I soaked them in garlic water for a week and then spread red pepper flakes all over the place where I planted them. Let's hope that keep the darn squirrels away. I've been wanting to do some planning of the back quarter. I decided to start with a daffodil trench. Here's the garden before:
Then I dug this trench:
And put the extra bricks along it. I want to have rows like this all the way back with things planted in between. Like vegetables and flowers and stuff. I have to see the the forsythias bloom this year. If they don't they will be fired. I have no use for plants that are supposed to do beautiful things but which don't.
This year I got smart and kept all of my leaves for composting. So all of the flower patches got a nice blanket of rotting leaves. They should be thrilled.
Hmmm, I'm looking forward to making more plant beds. This looks a little bit like my pet python died and I buried it, don't you think?
And the dogs next door? sigh, well at least they are getting fed a bit. Poor Petey (the black and white) doesn't like anyone near his fence. My making this bed just about made him bonkers.
The little one stays way out of his way when he's in a mood like this.
But then sometimes they come begging anyway. Doesn't that look just melt your heart?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A new baby, a Thanksgiving recipe, and Misc.

My friend Rachael had a baby! A little girl, all of 6 whole lbs! I was furiously knitting before her arrival to make sure there were some home made things there for her. I knitted the yellow one first. This is a great pattern and I'd actually really like one in my size. To bad the pattern is for "new born, 6mos and 12mos". Not exactly my size. After I made the yellow one I thought, well that's pretty big. Maybe I'll make a little one that she can wear for about 5 minutes after she's born.
Rachael sent me this picture of beautiful little Isabel:
wearing the purple sweater. Oh she's so tiny! That sweater can' t be more than 6 inches across! I'm so glad there is room for her to grow. I can't wait to meet her. She's not in Philadelphia, so it will be a while.
The Thanksgiving recipe - to-die-for was made today! Oh boy - this is really good.

Pumpkin stuffed with everything good. (that's the title. really.)
1 pumpkin (3lbs)
salt and pepper
1/4 lb stale bread
1/4 lb cheese - Gruyere, Emmenthal etc.
2 - 4 garlic cloves
4 strips bacon -cooked to crisp chopped
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or scallions
1 T minced fresh Thyme
1/3 heavy cream
pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Mix ingredients 2 - 7 together. Stuff into the opened and cleaned out pumpkin. Mix cream and nutmeg together, pour into pumpkin. Bake at 350 for about 2 hours. This is SOOOOO goood!
Yum! You can hear the original NPR clip here. Just click on "Listen to the Story" It's only about 6 minutes - so you should! I will make this on a LOT! and I'm going to experiment. The next experimentation will be to make the recipe vegan. I think the key things are the bacon, garlic and the cheese (I used Gruyere). I can get fake bacon, but the cheese flavor will be interesting to recreate. Although - maybe I'll abandon those flavors altogether and try for, something with coconut milk, pineapple, nutmeg, rice and cashews??? worth a shot right?
Roasting the pumpkin today made me nostalgic for the summer. I really miss being a farmer. Last weekend I cleaned out all of the tomato plants, dumped coffee grounds and eggshells into the soil to help boost it back up. I've been planning on planting my (200) tulip bulbs in new spots, but I realized today, I really miss the fresh harvest. Next year I want to grow all kinds of things. Tomatoes, zucchini, squash, onions, garlic, pumpkins, collard greens, as many herbs as possible... There really is a difference in the taste, a satisfaction in the food that isn't there with store bought stuff. Sigh, it's going to be a long winter.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Happened to October?

Yeah, I'm not sure. I sort of blinked and it was over!
Maybe because I had soOo much to do! Every weekend was occupied. The first weekend I spent at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I was asked to show my artist's books for family day. They thought it would be a kids event. Hmm - won't do that again. Kids don't understand how to handle special books. Not their fault - neither do their parents. However, there were so many other people who came, who'd never seen artists books. One woman was almost in tears she was so happy to see "the future of the book" And she was so excited. There were several people I had very good, long conversations with. It was a feel-good afternoon - that's for sure. Plus I got paid! How nice.
The following weekend (Wed. - Sunday) I was off to Tuscon AZ, for the Guild of Bookworkers Standards conference. But the take off of that trip just couldn't go smoothly. I finally managed to rent the 3rd floor on the Tuesday before I had to leave for the conference and they were itching to move in. So they did and promplty found that the toilet had an issue. Something was leaking and it had soaked the floor under the linoleum. It smelled so bad. So I called the plumber who came on Wednesday and did fix the issue - but the tennents had to deal with the smell until I could get back in town. Fabulous Jeff came and saved the day again. I haven't seen it finished but the tennents love it! A nice new clean floor - how can that be bad? Jeff wasn't sure about the linoleum I picked out he said it didn't really stick. So we'll see what happens with that. If it's not one thing it's another.....
The Conference though,.... It was pretty great. The first thing I did was go on a tour of the Arizona State Museum - and was confronted by a blast from the past.
In one of my past lives I used to teach high school ceramics. I always did a unit on Southwest Pottery. We were led into the showcase room, and there was a vitrine with all, and I mean ALL of the pots I used to show my students to get them an idea of what they were making! What a pleasant surprise. I can't believe I said, "I recognize that pot!" They are really beautiful.

Next we were given a tour of the conservation lab. Jealousy jealousy. What a nice lab. On the tables above is a buckskin suit with real silver thread which is waiting for a display form so that it can hang on the wall in the museum. They also have those great overhead fume vacuums and over head electric outlets! And if I'm lucky I'll get to order one of those amazing tables. It has a hydraulic lift and can change heights up to 8" difference! They are also on casters. sigh. how nice.
They also had a beautiful facsimile of one of the Maya Codices. That's something to look up on Wikipedia. Those books have interesting histories.

There were four workshops to attend, one on 18th Century French bindings, Byzantine Bindings, a Book Arts (she was really a caligrapher who talked about her working process. The books were beautiful), and then a fabulous workshop on the "forensics of the book"! That was really great. And it was in Arizona! The weather had just had a cold spell in Phila. and it was still 90 degrees when we landed in Tuscon at 10pm. I got in my bathingsuit and went into the pool! it was lovely.
I came home on Sunday night and my aunts from California came to visit on Tuesday!
They brought be some beautiful Alpaca yarn. Someone in their upholstery class raises Alpacas and these are some of the yarns which come from them. Aunt Lois had brought me some other colors in the spring. I finally had time to wind them all. They are so beautiful and soft. I've been writing up lists of things I might knit out of them. Hmmm....

It was so much fun having them here! The first thing they did was take a mural tour. Then they came to my work for a ghost tour! They were the hit of the evening that's for sure. We had to discuss them in the meeting the following day with the program committee.
Then it was off to drag them all over town! We did the marathon of Philadelphia.
We took Aunt Alice to see the Maxfield Parrish designed Tiffany mural in the Curtis Building (where the Saturday Evening Post (Norman Rockwell) was published).
We went to the first post office, Ben Franklin's printshop, and where his house would have stood had his silly children/grandchildren decided to tear it down.
We also went out to Amish country on a Saturday and it was jammed with people! I couldn't believe it! We spent money on stuff and they bought me this beautiful lamp. It's been fun having it on.
We did so much, shopping, Bartram's Gardens, and we went to the ballet. And of course we also had time to cook.
We cooked from Ellen Emlen's cookbook:
That is collard greens, cauliflour with whitesauce and broiled chops. So the background is that I found a manuscript cookbook at work. It was in pieces. I fixed it. And then the madness started. We want to publish it. But that is sort of like trying to move a mountain. I guess if you keep at it you can though because we might actually succeed. The food from the book is amazing!
The white sauce is basically cream white pepper and nutmeg - that would make anything good, even cauliflour, and the broiled chop (which should have been "the finest mutton" which ended up being a chicken breast), is marinated in lemon juice with salt and pepper. Then it's breaded in 50-50 bread crumbs and grated parmesian cheese. yum. Aunt Lois will have to let me know if Uncle Ralph was able to recreate it.
Here's the work table for cooking:
And we all had jobs: Aunt Lois working on the collard greens.
Aunt Alice crushing garlic.
It was so nice to have them here. Really fun. It was sad to see them go on Monday. But maybe there will be another visit in the future? :)
Last weekend I was sort of in lala land, realizing how much other stuff had to happen the following week. I had to finish boxes for Katie. She ordered five boxes for a "book" she made from an installation. It is really beautiful. I delivered the first three (four?) boxes on Tuesday and saw close to the final product. Wow it was amazing. And yeah, promptly this past weekend, Katie won a major award at Pyramid Atlantic. ! I'm so happy for her! She's been working so hard. Here's a picture of the project:
I'm really honored that I got to be part of the project.
I also had to deal with the end of the garden season. Lots of green tomatoes. I picked almost 5lbs. of green cherry tomatoes. Then I tried to pickle them. I might have ruined them. We'll have to wait three months to find out.
And this weekend? I cleaned. Yup - I cleaned like a mad crazy lady ALL weekend. I did everything, washed curtains, cleaned windows, vacuumed walls, pulled things down and washed them off, cleaned the fan blades, lifted rugs and mopped under there, got on my knees to mop even so that I could really scrub, scrubbed the grout in the bathroom (it's white again) and I even combed the fringes of the rugs. Poor Jacques. He was outside for the big part of cleaning. When he came back in things just weren't right.

He had to make a new nest on my shell pillow. He was not happy at all.

and lastly, I made a batch of Ellen Emlen's jumbles. At first I thought they didn't work, but they were really good in the morning. butter, flour, almonds, 1egg, sugar and rosewater. You really can't go wrong. Jumbles are the precursor to modern cookies. Nest time I think I'll add some lemon zest.
That's in for October. Maybe I can get back to working on this house! I still want to finish the windows. Things will have to be winterized and the winter project was supposed to be to parge the basement, so that it isn't damp anymore. I'll keep you posted!