Sunday, May 30, 2010

We Ate This Cheesecake

This is no ordinary cheesecake. The crust is made with chocolate wafers and the cheesecake part has goat cheese in it. I grabbed this cheesecake recipe from Delish.

It was easy and yummy, no doubt about it. Three out of four of us each ate two of them.

And check out those jazzy new dishes I have. I have wanted to buy new dishes for a while and I found these cool red crackle dishes with black bases as Fred Meyer's, believe it or not. There they were, two boxes of a 4 setting/16 piece dish set, sitting on a lonely clearance table. So now I have 8 dinner plates, 8 salad plates, 8 bowls, and 8 mugs. We didn't really need new mugs, but I took 6 mish-mashed ones out of our cupboard and put them in the donation box. I love this red and black combo; it goes quite well with the kitchen. The whole shebang for 8 settings was on close out for only $40! Considering that I was looking at sets for $300 and up, I am pleased as punch with my new dishes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Late Spring in the Garden

I know I should be slaving away in my art studio at all hours right now to get ready for my upcoming art show, but I just can't stay out of the garden right now. May and June in the garden are my favorite months of the year.

The front yard is getting very full and grown in and I have to trim, weed, and weed some more.
One of the Clematis is doing very well.

And my California poppies have really taken off this year.

The cats love to roll around on the concrete.

The other day I was working in the garden and this teenage boy walked by--he has walked by everyday for at least three years and we have never talked--and out of the blue he says, "Your garden is my favorite garden that I walk by." That was nice of him to say that!

Have you ever heard of ice plants? They are a type of succulent that I love to plant and the bees love them too but every year they die and I have to buy more so this year I decided not to plant them again. I propagated all of the blue fescues from seed. They grow really well in our climate. Same goes for the blue oat grass.

The alliums are my favorites.

I just bought two yards of the stinkiest compost I have ever smelled and am starting to fill in the planting areas. I love the dark brown color.

The back yard is less than a year old in its current state so it is not completely filled in yet.

The plastic tarps I plan on leaving at least through the summer because we had some very invasive weeds back here and I want to make sure they are dead, dead, dead! The Ginko tree seems happy. And you can just see our eco-grass that is starting to sprout.

Every time I turn around, it seems like 10 new weeds have sprouted up! I think gardening is 5% planning, 5% planting, and % weeding!

Epicurean Walking Tour in Portland

My friend Joel told me about the Epicurean Walking Tour in the Pearl District of Portland over a year ago. It always looked fun, but usually we only run down there for a day or two and there never seemed like enough time.

Also, I admit I was slightly hesitant in thinking it might be a little touristy or cheesy. After living in Seattle for so many years and always seeing those silly duck tours, who can blame me? Also, the tour is $59, not cheap. But on the bonus side, it focuses on organic and sustainable eating, it takes you all over the Pearl, and you get to eat and drink the whole time. So I paid online and met up with my group on the library mezzanine at the Heathman hotel. (I wish I had thought to take some photos inside the Heathman, because it is gorgeous and I might want to stay there next time. )

We started at Cacao (connected to the Heathman Hotel) and had drinking chocolate (pictured above). 72% cacao--man, that was delicious. By comparison, Hershey's chocolate is only about 8-10% cacao.

Then we went to the Elephant Deli and had a delicious tomato orange soup and I ate it so fast I forgot to take a photo!

Next, the famous Pearl Bakery. We usually stop there to get a loaf of olive bread but this was fun because we went in back and tried all sorts of sweets and breads. I especially liked the Gibassier.

A plate of treats at the Pearl Bakery.

In Good Taste: This is a cooking shop that holds classes as well and we sampled some Pinot Noir and a few spicy condiments. I bought some of the Madras Curry mustard and Black Truffle Sea Salt.
The Tea Zone. I loved this place and brought Trevor back for breakfast the next day. We sampled some nice green and black teas.

But what I was really impressed with was the Darjeeling infused French 75. They have a whole menu of cocktails with tea-infused liquor. Yummy! Another woman on the tour had a "Smokey Robinson" that was basically a Whiskey sour but infused with Lapsong Souchong.

Hot Lips Pizza is a local institution known by college kids for their cheap and delicious pizza. But they focus on obtaining local, fresh ingredients and even make their own sodas. They also recycle and compost everything.

What is a walking food tour in Portland without a stop at a McMenamin's? I have been to a lot of their restaurants, and honestly, I am not the impressed with their beer or their food. They have these amazing old buildings they turn into hotels and brewpubs, but I say skip the beer and order a cocktail instead.
Ended the tour with gelato. Now, I have to admit, and most of you might already know this, but I hate ice cream. Do not like it at all, never have. And gelato is awfully close to ice cream, but I also have to admit I managed to eat the pistachio one without making a face.

Not on the tour is the Rogue Brewery. (at least not on the 10AM tour-they have a 2PM tour as well.) But 5 of the 6 of us on the tour really wanted to sample their gin and whiskey so we headed there on our own. It was a nice way to finish off the tour.
Six hours later, I was back in the hotel room, and I couldn't believe I waited so long to go on this tour! Our tour guide, Nan, was a hoot and the tour itself was 4 1/2 hours. Pretty good value. Plus, I dragged Trevor back to both the tea shop, the Pearl bakery, and Cacao. Next time I want to do the afternoon tour.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Necklace...and a Road Trip

I am heading off to Portland for 3 days. I have a list a mile long of things I want to do.

1) Pick out my dream neighborhood to live in.
2) Eat at Porqueno--I have heard so much about this little Mexican taco joint and I can't wait!
3) Go on an Epicurean walking tour. That's right. Eating, walking, drinking, more eating, it sounds exciting and I have bought my ticket. I will tell you all about it.
4) Get myself to Powell's Home and Garden Bookstore on Hawthorne. I've been to the City of Books and the Technical Store, but not any of the other Powell's. I figured it is time to branch out.
5) Visit Good Stuff, also on Hawthorne. A treasure trove of vintage/interesting junk.
6) Trip to the Alberta district.
7) Check out the latest exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Craft.
8) Saturday Farmer's Market.

OK, that's a big list and that's just the for sures. I have an even longer list of the maybes. We are staying at the Hotel DeLuxe, one of my favorite Portland hotels. (we love their bar, the Driftwood Inn) And since we have a Museum of Glass membership here in Tacoma, we get a discount plus free valet parking. Double score!

I decided I needed a new necklace to wear in the greenness that Portland is. So I sat down and got to work.
It lays right over the collarbones. I like.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making Space in the Studio

My studio is always a mess. I believe this is a healthy sign of a studio that is functional, not decorative.

But lately, I have been working on several different kinds of projects and realized that despite the nice large size of my studio, it suffers from a lack of work stations. I want to have one area to do jewelry, one area for painting, one area for tin sculpture, and one area for concrete and mosaic work. That way I can keep things set up if I am working on multiple projects.

I decided to put a long work bench at the windows along the west facing side.

My dad had a great idea for a simple counter that is basically a frame held up with angle braces. Quick to make and install.

Then we just made a quick little shelf for storage underneath. It took us about 4 hours to make it. It would have been even faster but of course we had to go to the hardware store again because I forgot the peg board.

It's starting to look more functional here. I still need to keep cleaning out stuff but it is hard because I will always think of a use for something after I have donated it or given it away.

I am making wire birds like crazy for my art show next month.

I am also going to be showing my jewelry too and I have been having fun with tin and found objects.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Change Happens

Healthy changes are coming to HouseInsideOut in the next month. After hemming and hawing since the beginning of the year, I have decided to start a separate, art only blog connected to my website and keep this site as a home, cooking, and garden blog.

I am hoping for the transition to be fairly seamless, but things might look a little ugly around here as I work out all of the kinks. I am excited about a new format for both my art website and this website.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Save the Date!

Save the date!

Thursday June 17th I am having a gallery show at Madera Architectural Elements here in Tacoma. It's called Raven Meets Crow (after my etsy shop) and is completely dedicated to bird sculptures and one big raven painting.

I am working hard getting pieces created and am pretty excited about having something to crow about. Okay, that was a bad pun since at least half the sculptures will be crow and raven sculptures. That was a really bad pun. I should just delete it and you would be none the wiser, but I am slightly nerdy, so I will leave it as is.

Madera Architectural Elements (MAE) is a fantastic art alliance I am a member of that specializes in custom building artistic elements for buildings. That's where I focus on my mosaic work, not my sculptural or painting so much so this show will be a nice bridge between the two.

The opening will be 5:30-8:30 and will be up for a month but that evening only I will also be showcasing some of the new jewelry I have been making out of tin as well.

I have been having a lot of fun with my found materials. The red bird above has a lot of sequins on it as well as tin and some of the black bird's feathers were made out of old record vinyl. All of the birds will be new, none of them will go to Etsy unless they do not sell at the show.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

36 Things: Propagate Sedums

OK, I had to give myself one or two easy things in my list of 36 Things I Want to Do Before I Turn 37 and transplanting sedums has been something I have been meaning to do for years.

As you can see, I am not very good at thinning out my succulents and keeping them pretty.
The only thing I that kept me from doing this sooner was a) the weather and b) the belief that I needed special soil or something to activate the roots on the sedums when I transplanted them.

Well, I went down to Gardensphere (The are the same people that helped with our backyard garden design) and they set me straight. Being succulents, they just need a lot of drainage. I was told I could just take my normal compost mulch and mix it 50/50 with sand and I would be ready to go. I made it even fancier by adding some pearlite as well.

I divided the soil out into small 4" pots. I always save nursery pots, I own about 200 of them!

Then I carefully separated the "chicks" from the "hens" and pulled out other random sedums from all over the front yard. I have so many in our rock wall, I probably could have filled all 200 pots and then started a sedum selling business.

These look very alien to me, but in a good way.
It's interesting how the roots are almost as large as the plants.

Then I carefully set them in the pots and covered their little roots with more soil and watered them well. Now I just need to wait and let them do their thing. I am planning on giving these away as gifts at my garden dinner party for 20.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

36 Things: Throw a Dinner Party for 20

I love having people over for dinner. I like to plan guest lists, I like to plan menus and figure out decorations, and make pretty invitations. (Maybe I should have started a career as a wedding planner.)

One of my absolute favorite items I set as a goal on my 36 Things I Want to Do Before I Turn 37 is to throw a dinner party for 20.

Now I have not done this item yet; I am just in the planning stages. I am thinking sometime at the end of July. I need to plan for sunshine in the garden since I cannot seat 20 people in my house! I am thinking about gazpacho and grilled shrimp and cheese toasts. And Sangria.

However, the very first logistical problem that came to mind was not the food itself: I know I can cook for 20 people, I have a friend I can twist an arm or two to help, and I plan on hiring at least one waiter for the event. What I am most worried about is tableware.

My dishes are old. And ugly. My black dishes are what my sister gave to me when I was 17, so that's some 19 year old plates. My other plates are cheap ones from IKEA and badly chipped. I know it is time to buy new dishes. I am an adult, damn it, I want nice dishes. Only I would like to buy nice dishes to serve 10, not 20. So, while my desire for new dishes is strong, I thought I should try and be economical about this party. I could always rent dishes, but that is not so economical either, so I am starting to think I should turn to fancy plastic for the dinner party.

Plastic? Not gross throw away Chinet. You know, pretty melamine plates that are all the rage. They can go in the dishwasher, but not in the microwave. I thought I had brilliant brainstorm. I could have pretty dishes at a minimal cost.


Melamine dishes, it turns out, are pretty darned expensive. Oooh, but they are gorgeous.

These are probably the best priced I have seen. They are from Crate and Barrel and $19.95 if you buy a set of 4 different colors. They look a little too Luau themed for my taste.

I really like this Tangiers line from Bongenre that comes in a lot of gorgeous colors, but they are $54.00 per set of 4. (Remember, I need 20!)

This Eden Floral dinner plate from Zak Designs is not bad, coming in at $7.47 per plate.
Also gorgeous are all the plates from French Bull. The Splendida plate at the top of this post along with the Mosaic one below are both $11.00 each.
My hands down favorite are from Freddy&Ma. You can chose your own pattern out of dozens and dozens. I immediately found a bird pattern I want, but these dishes come in at $15 a piece. You can also customize your own totes or pillows or even upload your own artwork! I could go crazy at a shop like that.

Now I am starting to think regular dishes might just be more economical than melamine. I need to make a decision soon since I could spend days just looking at all of the beautiful patterns and I need to move on to important things like invitations and menus.