Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kitchen Cure: Week Two

OK, so I started week two of the Kitchen Cure with finishing week one's tasks. Hey, it was a big task. I had to clean out the fridge and the pantry and throw away everything expired and consolidate and clean, clean, clean. This supposedly wasn't the "deep" clean that we are going to do next week but I went ahead and scrubbed everything down and now it is all spotless. At least, these two small items that only take up a fraction of my whole kitchen are spotless. It took me about 6 hours, but it was quite satisfying. My pantry has twice the amount of space as before and the fridge, well let's just say the fridge doesn't have any oozing green goo anymore. (I think it was originally spinach.)

The pantry: I know, did I really need to keep that giant thing of Kahlua? We never drink it except around the holidays. The biggest shocker, while checking expiration dates on canned goods, was to find out my Trader Joe's organic garbanzo beans are manufactured in Russia. Really now, Russia? I rarely shop at Trader Joe's anyways, but now I feel slightly repulsed buying from that shop. I understand my coconut milk coming from Thailand, but doesn't California grow a lot of garbanzos? Food for thought.

The fridge: This was more like a science project, cleaning out the leaking veggie goo and dried on sauces off the shelves. Normally, I don't like to use a lot of plastic bags. But now note all the nice bags keeping the produce off the shelves. There must be a compromise somewhere....cleaning more often perhaps? And making sure to eat everything we buy? That's too much to think about right now.

Week two has two tasks. The first is to go through all of your small appliances and figure out what you really need. This one was easy since I actually did this when we remodeled our kitchen. The only things I am getting rid of are the juicer (anyone want a nice juicer?) and the tea kettle. I realized the plug in tea kettle probably uses less electricity than the one that goes on the stove and heats the water faster anyways. I am also thinking of getting rid of our salad spinner, albeit, to replace it with a better one, so I don't think that counts.

The second task is to plan a project you want to finish in your kitchen. Considering it took me over 15 months to mosaic the back splash and I only finished it 2 months ago, I am going to pass on this one and be satisfied with the mosaic.

Monday, October 26, 2009

San Francisco Getaway

What do you think of when you think of San Francisco? Chinatown. Fisherman's Wharf. Streets of San Francisco? I personally think of the Chevy Chase/Goldie Hawn movie Foul Play, a fun and campy romp up and over and through the city. I also think of big art museums and sports stadiums and prisons. But what else is there to be seen?

I am tagging along on my husband's business trip to San Francisco next month. I will have 3 whole days by myself and need to find things to do. Plus, I need to find a few nice things for us to do in the evenings. I haven't been to San Francisco in years. The last two times I went were just weekend trips, so I didn't get to see so much.

Obviously, I will be heading to the spectacular Academy of Sciences. Also, there is a Maurice Sendak exhibition going on at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and a show about the art of Sleeping Beauty at the Cartoon Art Museum which looks pretty interesting.

Now those all sound nice and artsy and good. But I need ideas for funky shopping and delicious restaurants. I am a little overwhelmed by all of the options! Any suggestions?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gluten Free Quiche with a Potato Crust

A good friend of mine can't eat any gluten. He isn't one of those no-carb fanatics, he actually gets sick if he eats anything with gluten in it. And he frequently points out that the gluten-free products taste disgusting. And as I am obsessed with feeding people, it always makes me flinch when he beings his own food to parties. So I decided to find a good gluten-free quiche recipe to make for him. It hasn't been easy.

The first attempt was crust less and seemed almost like an omelet instead of a quiche. (I used this recipe at 101 Cookbooks) Then, I figured out a delicious, super simple crust.

This can be easily adapted to use whatever you have on hand. The first time I made it with zucchini, this last time I made it with broccoli. The key is a really tasty cheese. I used Swiss cheese once and it was fairly boring. I like to use a 14" springform pan, but you could easily use a pie plate or other deep tart pan.

Gluten Free Quiche with a Potato Crust

2 medium russet potatoes or 3-4 small red potatoes
olive oil or butter
1 or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, coarse chopped.
2 cups fine chopped broccoli (a mix of florets and stem is nice)
1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
heaping 1/2 cup shredded parmesan or parmesan/gruyere blend
1/2 cup chopped shallots
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
1/3 cup additional yummy cheese to put on top (could be parmesan, gruyere, goat, etc)

Set oven to 350 F.
Oil or butter 14" springform pan.
Peel potatoes and slice as thin as you can. Lightly coat both sides of slices with olive oil. Layer in pan, making sure to overlap all the slices. I used half slices around the edge of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, blend together broccoli, ricotta, parmesan, shallots, and garlic and salt and pepper. At this point you could add other seasonings or fresh herbs. Mix in beaten eggs.

Scatter rosemary over par-baked crust, then carefully pour filling into potato crust, making sure not to disturb your potato slices.

Bake for 35 minutes. Sprinkle top with additional cheese and bake another 15-20 minutes until quiche is set. Zap under the broiler for extra browning if you desire.

I want to try this again with ham and gruyere and maybe carmelized onions. Or you could put carmelized onions on top. Gets me hungry thinking about it.

Buttons and More Buttons

I never thought about using buttons in my art until a couple of years ago when my friend Lynn offered me a big bag of them. She had been cleaning out her own studio and knew she was never going to use them. I am very bad at passing up free art supplies, especially shiny, brightly colored art supplies. So I used a few immediately in a mosaic and then forgot about them for over a year.

I only thought of using them again when I was making a large wire bird sculpture for a show this last summer. My Big Tweet sold right away and I decided this could be a good direction for my sculpture.
But the buttons started to run out fairly quickly when I expanded into my Raven Meets Crow shop and started making a lot of wire sculptures. So I turned to the source most reliable for bizarre, out of the ordinary objects: Ebay.

12 pounds of buttons. Around 6000 pieces. Who would have ever thought that you could order such a large selection at once? Unfortunately, I had to clean them because they were slightly greasy and had a musty, funky sort of smell. Maybe that is just vintage plastic aroma, who knows. But now they are clean and the colors separated, ready for me to start crackin' on some new work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Work!

I have been busy getting stuff up on my Raven Meets Crow Etsy shop as well as preparing for the Tacoma open studio tours coming up the weekend of Nov. 7th & 8th. I have a lot of new work. First off, I am making ornaments. Now honestly, I am not a Christmas type of person, but I am a sucker for hand-sized sculptures. A lot of people have been telling me they like my larger Button Scavenger pieces, but want a more affordable option. So here you go, these are for you.
It was nice when I first posted these a few days ago and the blue one below sold within five minutes! That gives me hope.

Also, I have been working on more limited edition prints and some really cute gift tags/wine tags. Those I am still working out the kinks. More pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kitchen Cure: Week One

I can't resist a project, especially a kitchen project. I just signed up to be part of the "Fall Kitchen Cure"--It's being run by The Kitchn which is a part of the Apartment Therapy family of blogs.

Basically it is a 4 week, get-your-kitchen-spic-and-span boot camp to get you ready for the holidays. First assignment, take photos of our kitchen with all the cabinets and fridge open so you can see your messes and share it with the rest of the group. Also in week one, you are to do a basic, go through everything sweep and wipe down all of your cupboards. They say this is just the warm up, but really, how often to I clean all of my cupboards? I would say we are starting with the deep clean.

I am looking forward to seeing other tasks and other member's photos. I especially am interested in whether there will be any interesting ideas for organizing the pantry, my biggest problem.

Also, the blog keeps mentioning that we are going to make our kitchens "healthy" and I don't think of my kitchen as unhealthy at all. (Even with my compost bin overflowing, it's all natural!)

Hmmm, I'm not giving up, though, I will see this through. And there is still time if anybody else wants to join up. Over 2000 people have signed up so far: that's a big group!

Sign up for the Kitchen Cure!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Life Before Computers

I am writing from my husband's computer. I do not want to be writing from my husband's computer, but this morning I got up and turned my laptop on before I got into the shower, and when I got out of the shower, I discovered that it still hadn't turned on properly. It kept trying to turn on and then saying it needed to go in safe mode and when I tried to put it in safe mode, it would just reboot and start the whole process over again.

It is not the end of world (except for the fact that most of my work files are on that computer), I am just waiting for the computer repair shop near my house to open so I can trot it on over. The files can always be recovered if the computer cannot, but it is such an incovenience, a bother, a headache, a supreme annoyance.

Of course, the first question Trevor asked me when I called him was, have you been backing up your files? Of course I have NOT been backing up my files. The external hard drive we have for backing up files is connected to his computer and his computer has to be on whenever I want to back up files. So I am supposed to run upstairs and turn his computer on to use it. But I hate the idea of his computer running when it is not being used, so I tell myself, oh, I'll just back up those files later, and then I never do. (Note to self: when I get laptop fixed, or new computer, hook external hard drive to my computer!)

I can get the etsy work done that I wanted to get done today on his computer. But it will take me oodles of extra time. I have ten new items to photograph and list today. IF I download my photo editor to his computer, IF I download my digital camera software to his computer, then maybe I could get it done eventually.

I like my workspace. It is a complete mess and it has my paperwork and litter all over it, but it is my mess and my space. Trevor's desk is messy in a way that disgusts me (not sure why, really, it's not that much dirtier than my own space). He also allows the cats on his desk, something I do not (I don't even let them in my office) and one of the cats is pacing on the desk right now, trying to weasel her way onto my lap. It's funny what we take for granted. How ever did I function before computers? I have to admit, being 36, I can't really remember life without a computer.

So, instead of trying to get everything to function on Trevor's computer right now, I am going to go outside and work on cleaning my studio and run over to home depot to look at heaters and oh, yeah, drop my computer off on the way and hope it won't be gone for too long.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hitting the Links: We Love the Giveaways!

I have been thinking for a little while about doing a giveaway on this blog. It seems all the rage on so many blogs I frequent. I just went to 3 blogs in a row and they all had giveaways. And the last one is especially lovely and one of the ways to enter is to post her giveaway on your blog. (or you can just comment on the post to enter)

So I'll keep thinking of a good giveaway. In the meantime, head over to Michelle My Belle by Friday to enter to win one of her lovely treasure keepers! (And tell her I sent you!)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Busy Bee and Open Studios

Fall seems always to be a busy time for me. It especially feels like it this year; I look up at the calendar, and whoosh!, weeks fly by without me even noticing. And now I feel like things are really starting to creep up on me. I am on Tacoma's Artist Studio Tour this year (Nov 8th) and I just realized that is very very soon.

It's nice to have an open house. You have an opportunity to show your work and meet people that frequently have your same interests. You have the chance to hopefully make some sales or make some connections that could lead to sales.

But you have to have a nice, snug, clean studio to start with. And you have to have lots of nice, new interesting pieces to show off. I have been working hard on my new Etsy shop, RavenMeetsCrow, so luckily this year the product side is not a huge concern. It's the studio itself that is the concern. Having to clean is really good, because otherwise you won't, like last year when I decided not to be on the studio tour because our back yard was ripped up.

Currently my studio is a mess. I mean a big mess, like a tornado tore through with no warning or chance to batten down the hatches sort of mess. And being an artist that likes to work with found objects, frequently I keep things for years--thinking that very soon I will have a grand idea of what to do with them--and then I have mountains of junk to move. Some of this stuff truly is junk. Not the kind of stuff I can donate to Goodwill and feel good about myself, but garbage, plain and simple. It's stuff I should have known better than to be hoarding: old automobile repair manuals (kept for the pictures), bags of half set concrete and grout, dozens of plastic plant pots, hundreds of old scratched record albums I thought I could use in a project (turn out vinyl is very brittle), and boxes of boring tile people have given to me since I make mosaic art, they assume I want their off-white cast offs!

Instead of showing you a god awful picture of my studio in full cleaning mode, I will show you a picture of my new print I am selling on RavenMeetsCrow.

I will save the studio pictures for when it is nice and clean!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Delightful Spinach Salad

Our favorite little sandwich shop, Rosewood Cafe, make a really delicious bacon and blue cheese salad. The only problem with it is that they use a green leaf lettuce, and not spinach. And I love spinach, so I hunted around for a "classic" spinach salad.

I adapted this recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook. Their cheese croutons were a revelation. I might make all of my croutons this way from now on. Also, they had bacon in their recipe. Normally, I am all for bacon--I had some organic chicken pesto sausage I served on the side instead.

Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola Croutons
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1 Tablespoon butter, at room temperature
4-6 pieces rustic bread-the thicker the slices, the less you will need.
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
scant 1/4 cup mayo
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons real maple syrup (or honey)
1 pound baby spinach
1/2 onion cut into very thin slices
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 350 F.

Mash together Gorgonzola and room temp butter. Generously spread on your bread slices and then cut slices into 1" squares and arrange on baking sheet. Bake until turning golden, about 12-15 minutes.

While croutons are baking, mince garlic and then mash it together with the salt to make a paste. I used my mortar and pestle, but you can use the side of your knife on the cutting board.

In food processor, blend garlic-salt paste, mayo, oil, vinegar, and maple syrup. Toss spinach and onions with the warm cheese croutons and dressing. Serve eggs on the side.

I also made a bruschetta with the last of the garden tomatoes and basil.

Theoretically, this should serve four, but we love spinach, so we ate about 3/4's of it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Little Ricky Gervais Love on a Cold Friday

One of the funniest people on the planet, Ricky nursery rhymes.

ok, and one more for laughs.