December 1, 2011
We jumped on the Christmas tree bandwagon a little early this year. We justified it because we have a great window to display the tree and since we’re in Texas during a week or two of December, we wanted to enjoy it for a couple of weeks. We are a sad case when it comes to Christmas decorations. I really don’t like purchasing things like that. We’re really not into decorating for holidays. We don’t have kids, so thematic decorating seems a bit weird. We always get a wreath and sometimes a tree. This year it was totally our intention to invite our friends over to have a party to make ornaments for our tree so that we would have handmade decorations that meant something to us. Life gets in the way and it seems like everyone is too busy this time of year. I was a little sad about this but I’ve moved on.
In the Christmas decoration box I found a couple of things that warmed my heart. A couple of handmade christmas decorations made by my great-grandmother Sparky. She’s no longer with us but she was a hoot. With a name like Sparky you better have personality to back it up and she did! Anyhow, I don’t know how I came into ownership of these decorations. I think it was after by grandma Barbara passed away. I always remember these in her house when we would visit for the holidays, so they must have come from her.
The decorations are both handmade wall hangings. They’re very old too. They weren’t in the best shape so I tried to do a little repair work. They are made out of felt, gold tim, sequins and beads. I was struck by how much love was put into these. I feel like they really mark a passage in time. We don’t make crafts like this anymore. Crafts that last and are passed down. They really brought me back to being a little girl. They’re just so sweet. They make me think about my family more than I thought they would.
I love the wall hanging pictured above. It’s made of 5 vignettes that were patch worked together. There is so much detail in them. I’m really inspired by this particular craft. It’s all stitched together and there is some kind of paper stabilizer on the back. There is even a little tag on back that says “Handmade By Dorothy Flower” (Sparky). I keep wondering how I could modernize this a little but still keep the vintage feel. I think the key is the hand sewing of many little sequins and beads.
I suppose this craft was meant to hold Christmas cards or maybe letters to Santa. I just love the Santa face. Have you ever seen a happier Santa? Look at those cheeks…all sparkles! This is all made of felt, gold trim, sequins and beads.
I’ve had his tiny stocking that Sparky made for me for as long as I can remember. It’s made out of all her normal materials. I’ve held onto it for all these years. I guess my point is that these crafts, as silly and happy as they are , have been around for at least thirty or forty years. They represent a simpler time and transport me to another place. I almost got rid of these last year because they were in bad shape with pieces falling off and very creased from being folded. With a little love and gentle hands I was able to repair them and spend a nice afternoon with both my grandma and great grandma! Think twice before you throw anything like this away, your kids may want them!
September 21, 2011
Holidays are around the corner. I hate to think about it but since i make a lot of gifts I have to start early. Last year I made a few small things but we mostly bought cookbooks and craft books for folks. We had lots of fun wrapping presents. I thought I’d share some of last years gifts and ideas for this years crafts to get the ball rolling!
We love to cook and we’re vegetarians so generally we love great vegetarian cookbooks! We hate to come across as trying to indoctrinate others to our lifestyle. We gifted the Cooking Light Way to Cook Vegetarian Cookbook to one of Peter’s sisters who loves healthy recipes and vegetables. It’s a nice book with great photos along with the instructions.
I’m a craft nerd. I love craft books. We gifted to arts and crafts books last year. We got Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts for Peter’s other sister. It has lots of basic crafts but lots of really useful crafts laid out in simple Martha Stewart style. It’s jam-packed with gift ideas! For our niece who is into fashion and art we got a book called Fashion Designers Sketchbooks. It’s filled with fashion designers concept sketches. It’s goes inside the mind of someone who is creating a collection. It shows process and how designers get from point A to point B. We paired it with sketchbooks and a nice Pitt drawing pens.
We bought some H&M outfits for the little one. We bought a nice cheese board and cheese cutters from CB2 for Peter’s mom since she enjoys entertaining. She also wanted a vintage wooden ironing board for her craft room. Low and behold my grandmother had one collecting dust in her closet. She gave it to us to pass along. It had a cover with it but it was old and crusty so we bought some nice fabric to and gave it to her with the old cover so she could sew a cover for it herself.
Music is always a good gift. We like to pick out CD’s, yes CD’s, and give four or five as a nicely curated box set. One year we picked out prints for everyone. We bought some from Etsy and some elsewhere online. We framed them and matted them. We tried to pick things that were thoughtful and unique to each person.
I made some purses, some knitting needle holders, and aprons in the past. Last year i just made a few little things. For all the women I sewed little lavender filled squares with fun fabrics and presented them in little handmade pouches, The pouches could be used later for carrying jewelry while traveling or thrown into a purse for an extra pocket.
This year I have some ideas, most of which I can’t share yet. The one I’m willing to share is for our niece. I saw it on Craftgawker and then visited the original blog. It’s a project to make these fabric wings for a little girl . I think they’re magical. Has anyone made these yet? I’m dying to do it.
September 20, 2011
When I head north to Big Sur my heart swells knowing that I’ll be rhythmically winding around the edges of cliffs that drop off into a rocky mountain landscape. Around each bend an enchanting view reveals itself without noise. No imagery shouts at you, it just welcomes you. The water’s edge invites you to breathe, the mountains remind you of your size, and redwoods create a canopy of protection that keep out any agendas you brought with you. Big Sur is a place that calls me when I need healing.
Some days the morning fog settles over your soul and gives your heart a new story to tell. Seeing landscapes in layers can mimic the complex layers that we carry within us. When nature reveals her layers to us, bathed in morning light and dripping in heavy fog, the contrast of emotions can leave us breathless for a moment. For me, this is a moment of meditation that breaks through all our layers of emotional crust. This is how I heal. It may only be a brief glimpse of a ray of sun casting light off the mountain and into the sea but it can change something in us.
This summer has been really hard. I’ve struggled creatively, professionally, and personally. I can feel paralyzed when all three circles overlap and show signs of stress. I think most people experience this feeling at one time or another. The pressure to have a career is intense. It’s double intense when you haven’t a clue what you’d like to do in life. It’s triple intense when you’re 35 yrs old and everyone you know is a success. It weighs heavy on my heart. This summer I felt like it was the heaviest it’s ever been. It became near debilitating.
My creative life has suffered for a while. In my current job I teach art. I teach kids to trust themselves and their creative choices. I teach them to own their art and create with confidence. I then come home with great ideas and no action. Sometimes there are obstacles blocking my path that just need money and time. Other times it’s just me blocking my path. The more unhappy I am in other aspects of my life the more my creative life suffers. When that outlet closes up, I close up. I think this is true for many artists and creative types. It’s our life blood. Work is just a means to support creative life. It gets tricky sometimes because if that work drains us it can affect our creative life. For me, the two circles have lots of overlap.
My personal life overlaps with both of the other circles all the time . It’s been stressful. On the one hand, I have the greatest husband, friend, and supporter. I’m so lucky in that department. I’m grateful every day that I get to wake up next to him. For everything that I’ve done wrong in my life, this was the one thing I did right! He knows me at my deepest core. On the other hand, I’m just pretty miserable with other aspects of my life now. I don’t like living in the valley. I hate my commute. I’m pretty stressed everyday . It’s taxing for everybody and on my body. Getting older isn’t easy. I’ve spent tons of time at the doctor getting poked and prodded and having tests done. This has added a whole new layer of anxiety to everything.
I know I’m not the only one out there that feels the heaviness of these three areas of life overlapping and making life hard at times. I do yoga, I meditate, exercise, eat right, and try to land on the side of optimism. Sometimes, it’s not enough to break through our layers. The healing process is different for everyone. For me, it was nice to hit the road with friends and wind through redwoods and listen to water crash on rocks. I may not have broken through all the layers but I was able to start cracking them open.
My suggestion for anyone needing a reboot ni life is to take a road trip. It would be awesome if you could go by yourself or with a trusted partner. Unfold into nature and peel back the layers of anxiety and stress. A great place to start is in Big Sur, Ca. Drive up Highway 1 and visit the elephant seals in Sam Simeon. If they don’t make you laugh you’re not human. Continue on up to Big Sur and go camping in the redwoods. Take day trips to all the beaches and visit local businesses. Have a drink at Nepenthe and a coffee and pastry at Big Sur Bakery. Take photos, write, draw, paint or just look out into the sea. As Big Sur reveals itself to you, you will recover a piece of yourself in the process.
August 18, 2011
We’ve taken a lot of care with this move to make sure that our new space wasn’t filled with IKEA furniture. It’s not that we don’t appreciate IKEA, It’s just that we practically lived next door to it for three years. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s great for when your just moving in and need some staples like hangers, curtains, etc. It’s horrible for breeding furniture in your house. I swear I would go to bed and wake up in the morning and the cabinet would breed with the bookshelf and a new hybrid cabinet bookshelf would be in the room. It happened in every room. Soon after the finishes on the furniture would start to bubble or peel. We would swear to ourselves that we would just save up and get the piece of furniture we really wanted instead of constantly disposing of stuff we bought on a whim. Our old 550 sq foot apartment was jam-packed with horrible mismatched storage solutions. Our house was only made up of a series of walking paths between storage solutions.
When we finally decided to commit and move, we also decided not to bring any of the IKEA with us. We would’ve loved to keep our old sectional but it didn’t fit. Well, the bookshelf that houses all our records also came with us. We got rid of everything! We sold it all with the promise of investing in more non-disposable furniture. I was so surprised at how easily we just let go of stuff. It was a nice cleansing process. The cherry on top was that we made some decent cash! We scrimped and saved and purchased items thoughtfully. We were also very patient. With our diligence and our creativity we’ve begun the process of creating an ever-changing space that feels cheerful, creative, and more mindful. Our dining room and living room are pretty much done but will always be tinkered with.
For now, here are some before and after photos of the living and dining rooms. Maybe it will inspire some makeovers somewhere else out in internetland…maybe it won’t but we had lots of fun putting it all together!
In the dining room we put up floating picture ledges to create a wall of impermanent art. If there is one thing we’ve discovered about ourselves, it’s that we change things around a lot. Art is always being moved around. The walls in our last apartment can vouch for that! these shelves give us the opportunity to create multiple new installations. We don’t have much for it yet but now we can keep collecting more prints and interesting pieces without having to think about where to place them!
To make this chalkboard, we simply had hard board (found in the paneling section) cut into our desired dimensions at Lowe’s. We created another chalkboard for the kitchen with the extra piece. It was about $6-$10 bucks. It comes in 4 ft X 8 ft pieces. Make sure you have a car that fits your cut pieces! Then we just painted it with chalkboard paint. We did two coats over two days. Then we let it sit for four days. Then we primed it with the side of a piece of chalk. If you don’t do this the first thing you write or draw will be there forever. We bought chalk and an eraser at Michael’s. We hung this directly into the wall with 6 screws. We plan on adding some molding to the bottom to create a chalk rail. If you have carpet you’ll should be mindful that chalk creates a lot of dust that travels to the floor. until we create a rail, we’re just using white chalk.
My dad made the table and benches for me close to 9 or 10 years ago! I love this table.
In the living room we built our own love seat at The Sofa Company. This style is the Rupert. We had them add buttons on the pillows to make it look more mid-century. The bookshelf, rug, desk, curtains and curtain rods are all from West Elm. The mini wing-back chair was from the clearance store that H.D. Buttercup used to have in Culver City.
We moved one of the benches out of the dining room to create more space. We’re using it as a temporary coffee table. I think we need to sell more of our stuff off before we can buy one anytime soon! this works for now. I’m all about repurposing furniture before buying it.
The next rooms on the agenda are the bedroom and the guest room!
July 26, 2011
it’s been hot. very hot. when it’s hot i crave gazpacho from Le Pain Quotidien (pictured above). i owe this great this great discovery to my good friend amie who always knows where to find delicious gourmet foods. in a moment of synchrony a few years ago, we ran into each other at farmer’s market in santa monica. i was walking around with my mother-in-law pauline and amie wanted to grab some lunch, so we tagged along. as always, she had the perfect suggestion for the moment. this is when i met the gazpacho i have grown to love so much. the reasons for the love are plentiful. something about the smooth texture of the purée with all the flavor notes just sings. the mango also sweetens the bowl and cuts some of the garlic and tomato acidity. the cucumber is delightful. the avocado, if you choose to add it is a great final touch. it’s also served with two types of rustic bread and butter. this cold soup paired with a mint iced tea on a hot day is difficult to top. it’s always consistently good. i personally can’t afford gazpacho everyday in the summer. peter and i went on a mission to recreate it as best we could this last weekend. we looked up some recipes but they were all chunky and had weird additions. we wanted it to be super fresh. we had some non-negotiable elements we wanted to make sure to include in the recipe. the soup texture was very important. no onions because peter hates them. i wanted to make sure that we had mango and cucumber sliced into the purée for texture variation. i think we knocked it out of the park. it was so delicious. if you have leftovers, it’s even better the next day. it seems that many people on the internet are searching for how to make this. hope this helps!
this is what we came up with. it’s a blend of a few random recipes on the internet and whatever we could remember from the Le Pain Quotidien. for us, the most important part was the two different textures. smooth soup with some sliced cucumber, mango slices, radish slices, and avocado slices. nothing about this recipe is static! feel free to play around with it! it’s an easy one to riff on. it’s really healthy too. enjoy!
makes about 5 small-medium bowls
10 on the vine tomatoes
2 japanese cucumbers or 1 regular cucumber
1 yellow, red or orange bell pepper
1 large jalapeño
2 large cloves garlic
2 large radishes
1 handful of flat leaf italian parsley
1 handful of cilantro
1 handful of basil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white grape balsamic vinegar or substitute with red wine vinegar
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
Dice and salt the tomatoes. Drain and reserve liquid.
In a food processor, finely dice/mix (almost purée) 1 cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeño, 1 radish, ½ a mango, parsley, cilantro, basil, garlic and tomatoes.
You’re going to blend this mixture next. I just find it easier to blend if it’s all been diced.
In a blender add the the ingredients you just diced, oil, vinegar, and the juice of half a lemon. Puree.
Add the reserved liquid from the tomatoes as needed to reach the desired consistency. You may want to transfer to a large bowl and use a hand blender at this point.
Julienne the remaining cucumber (cut ½ inch in length), slice or dice the remaining mango and thinly slice the second radish. Add to soup and chill in fridge. It’s ready to serve when it’s nice and cold.
*Optional: Add sliced avocado before serving.
Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with a lemon wedge. Serve with crusty gourmet bread.
July 20, 2011
moving has been great for peter and myself. we’ve gotten out of the house more, recommitted to our creative paths, taken on new challenges, reconnected with friends, and really found a space to breathe. our old apartment was so small and our furniture so big that it just weighed us down. there was no room to do anything, especially for people with as many hobbies as hipsters have clever t-shirts. it just felt like our creative and social animals were dying!
this summer has been pretty lovely so far. we’ve been out and about!
there are some simple pleasures in los angeles! often, longtime residents like myself become jaded by the plasticity of the energy that seeps out of every crevice of this city. it’s hard to find substance in a city that asks you to wear a mask all the time and where everyone wants to put on a mask. we forget that we have a beautiful coastline and mountains nestled into that coastline. we have amazing music venues like the hollywood bowl and little neighborhoods that offer you something outside of your hood. there are so many great restaurants and gastropubs popping up that are serving fun food for decent prices. our farmers markets are awesome and the bbq weather has been perfect! every weekend there is some sort of festival promoting food, art, music, craft, or all the above. when i transferred some photos to my computer this morning i was looking at all these great moments.
our culture has trained us to move on. i just did all these activities recently, and already the pace of the city has made me forget the moments. i guess the lesson always lies in gratitude and remembering that creative and positive moments are sleeping all around us, we just have awaken and feed those moments!
go out and rediscover your city or just try to appreciate it! not everything is plastic here. most things but everything!
summer days phase 1:
bbqing at our friend chaz’s house
renegade craft fair (los angeles historical park)
playa del rey (my old stomping grounds)
the tripel (awesome post beach beers in playa del rey)
free subway rides (personally i loved carmeggedon!)
staring out my new window
so excited for phase 2 because it involves camping in big sur!
July 20, 2011
this is a lovely light summer meal that i stole from Whole Living magazine. it’s a recipe for raw zucchini pasta. this recipe serves two. it was really good and fresh! it’s great if you’re in need of a detox or need a break from cooking in the kitchen during this heat! the best part is that it’s really simple and you can riff on it however you’d like. it should please your vegetarian and vegan friends alike, just don’t serve with cheesy garlic bread like we did. yes, i realize the cheesy garlic bread counters all the healthiness of the raw pasta but i live for hypocrisy!
This is the recipe from Whole Living magazine:
8 oz cherry tomatoes ( we used the heirloom cherry tomatoes from trader joe’s)
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced ( i went light on this because we get crazy garlic dreams if we eat too much!)
¼ cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp torn fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling ( we may of used walnut oil or a combo of both)
1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise, slices cut into ¼-inch-long strips
sea salt (we used trader joe’s pink himalayan Sea Salt in the grinder)
in a bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, basil, and oil. season with salt. let stand 20 minutes. toss with zucchini and garnish with basil.
voila. so easy and fast!
June 25, 2011
we made a delicious pizza for our fancy friday meal in our new kitchen. we started fancy fridays in our last apartment to have a nice sit down meal with a friend or two. sometimes it’s just us. it’s a great way to decompress and catch up with friends or each other. we had a long hiatus from fancy fridays because we didn’t have a dinner table at our old apartment. we’re bringing it back since we have the perfect space for it now! i think everyone should have fancy friday at home. reconnect with your friends, your partner or family over a nice fun meal!
this weeks meal was the mini-zucchini pizza with a lemon basil pesto.
the flavors are amazing! i made this up on the fly while i was at trader joe’s picking up some wine. i was craving summer flavors and pizza. try this one at home! here’s the rough draft of my recipe!
baby zucchini –lemon basil pesto summer night pizza
garlic & herb pizza dough from trader joe’s, in the refrigerated section. i’m sure you could use any type of pizza dough. for the trader joe’s dough, take it out of the fridge and let it sit for about 20 min. after letting dough rest, sprinkle area where you’re going to roll out dough with masa harina or flour. roll into desired shape, i prefer rectangle.
lemon basil pesto:
fresh basil, start with 1 cup to 1.5 cups of basil leaves
1/2 of a lemon
olive oil, i start with about a ¼ cup.
a handful of marcona almonds ( the salted skin-on ones from trader joe’s work great!) you can use regular almonds too or walnuts or pine nuts…any nut you like.
1 large clove of garlic or 2-3 small ones, crushed
about a cup of “quattro formaggio” cheese from trader joe’s. you can sub parmesan or another cheese blend. the quattro formaggio blend is asiago, parmesan, fontina, and mild provolone cheeses.
a little salt is optional. this is not a science. taste as you go…add more or less. this pesto would also be great tossed on a pasta!
i use a little kitchen aid chef’s chopper.
chop the basil in your mini processor.
add your olive oil (start slow…less is better than more and you can always add more). blend/chop again.
squeeze half a lemon into mixture. blend/chop again.
add almonds.blend/chop again.
add garlic.blend/chop again.
add cheese. blend/chop again.
taste and if it’s awesome, set aside. if not start adding more of the flavors you like.
i blend and chop often to make sure everything is the right consistency.
this way i know what ingredients to add more of.
a bag of baby zucchini from trader joe’s. (or any type of zucchini available to you) sliced into thins. i use the side of a cheese grater that lets you cut slices. you could use a mandolin or cut by hand.
goat cheese crumbles (for sprinkling)
pink himalayan salt (or sea salt) optional
quattro formaggio blend or your choice of cheese (you decide how cheesy you want it. keep in mind there is also cheese in the pesto!)
olive oil with red pepper flakes soaking in it. (enough for drizzling or brushing pizza)
spread the pesto on the pizza dough.
top with desired amount of cheese.
layout zucchini in desired formation.
sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles.
bake according to directions on pizza dough. it said 8-10 min. i did about 15-18 min at 450 deg until goat cheese crumbles browned.
sprinkle with pink himalayan salt and drizzle or brush with red pepper flake infused olive oil.
crack open some wine with friends and eat!
June 23, 2011
the breezy corner of our new kitchen gets a tremendous amount of light. i love a bright kitchen with windows, so we’re pretty lucky. the tricky part is that it’s a corner window. i’ve never really hung curtains in this type of situation. it’s tricky.
for the time being, i’ve hung one rod on the main window that has a gorgeous view of the parking lot. everyone stares into our unit after parking their cars. i wanted to have fun sheers that put a bit of a buffer between us and the public. i was able to reuse one curtain i made from our old apartment. this set off the design for the second curtain. the second curtain was maddening to put together. all my fabric and sewing supplies are still scattered around the apartment in boxes.
i’ve managed to make two curtains, but my question is about the third. what do i do? will three of this patchwork sheers be too much? they let in wonderful light and really change their look throughout the day. the curtains are really the only color in the kitchen. everything is white on white on more white. should i break it up with one simpler grayish sheer curtain with a strip of patchwork at the bottom? or should i just go for it and make it fun?
i think i will take a little space from this project. i always have to remind the kids i teach that it’s okay to step away from your painting for a while and take a break. it’s okay to stop and come back to it with more energy. i think i will follow my advice today!