Friday, December 11, 2009

Recycled Wrapping

I love White Elephant parties, and I'm so excited to be attending one tonight. Our instructions were to wrap our present, but not in holiday paper as this was not a Christmas party. A White Elephant present is a wonderful way of recycling (or re-gifting) unwanted presents, and I thought the wrapping should follow the recycling theme. So here's my idea on recycled wrapping paper:
For my present I taped a page from a coloring book on the sliding glass door (my answer to a light table), taped the paper over top, and outlined with a sharpie pen. Then I wrapped the present, used some old unwanted yarn to crochet a ribbon, and tied it around a box of crayons that was part of a promotional hand out I got this summer.
For Paul's present I used the same ironed out craft paper, and attached some unwanted practice pieces (leftover from my attempt to learn how to crochet flowers) to the chain ribbon I crocheted, and ta-da!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A day to remember

Yesterday Heather and I joined hundreds if not thousands of citizens to line South Tacoma Way to pay our respects as the bodies of the four slain Lakewood police officers were driven to the Tacoma Dome for their memorial service. We stood for over three hours before reluctantly we had to leave, and the processional went on for another hour after we left. So much to take in -- the numerous police agencies from California, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Minnesota to name a few. There were representatives from the Indian Nations of Puyallup, Menominee (Wisconsin), and Tulalip. The DEA, Department of Corrections, US Customs, and Homeland Security along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

It was a sad day, knowing that four families had to formally, and publicly say goodbye to their loved ones. It was a proud day to see how the community rallied behind the police. It was a humbling day to see the national and international support of the four fallen officers, their families and fellow police officers. And it was an experience I hope to never again witness.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Craft Fairs and Fundraisers

Today I went to the Tidefest in Gig Harbor, a fundraiser for their high school. Several people I know had booths at the event, so it was fun visiting with them as I did a bit of Christmas shopping. As always, my tour started with my friend Charan, but it was nice to see Mark Hudak, Dan Barnett, Ron Carson, and Susan Thompson -- potters all. There was a wonderful mix of painters, sculptors, woodworking, textiles, and crafts.
Afterwards I went to Bridgefest, a yearly event for the N. 21st Street Business District. Sonja added a fundraiser and silent auction with all proceeds going to the families of the four Lakewood police officers who were killed in an ambush last week. I had fun purchasing some chocolates and buying a T-shirt. KIRO TV was there interviewing Sonja, and unbeknownst to me took footage of me selecting chocolates which was aired on the 5:00 o'clock news. Ooh! I'm famous!
Lucky for me I ran into Rick and Heather at Sonja's so I had good company as I looked through the shops. Then we stopped at Upper Crust where I ordered some lunch to bring back to Paul. Rick and Heather split the special of the day: Chicken and Dumpling Soup -- all you could eat! Of course we couldn't pass up sampling their wine flight while we were there. What a fun way to spend the day.

Busy Day

Thursday I drove my mom to the airport to see my nephew Billy and his wife Sarah off on their new adventure -- a three year contract with Boeing in Hungary! I marvelled at Sarah's cool as she negotiated with the counter agents who seemed bent on keeping their pets from making the trip. Luckily all was settled in the end, and Billy, Sarah, and their two dogs and two cats are now happily settled in Hungary.

Then I dropped my mom off in Puyallup, drove into Tacoma, and off I went with my friend Jennevieve to Seattle. Jennevieve had a meeting with a private school to learn about a art project for an upcoming fundraiser. If her bid is selected she's offered to hire me as a contractor on the job (wow!). Anyway, we spent the afternoon collecting information on the project, and doing a walkaround, taking pictures of the project space. Wish us good luck!

Wheat Meat

My friend Brenda and her husband Brian are vegans, and she invited me over one day to learn how to make Seitan (or wheat meat as it's commonly called). I was happy to accept even though I'm not a vegan. I am also not a big meat eater so I enjoy finding meat subsitutes whenever I can. It was a very interesting process: wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, all sorts of spices and vegetable stock kneaded together into a dough that's cut into balls and then simmered in vegetable stock -- pretty delicious stuff. I wish I could say I made all sorts of delicious recipes from my share of the day's work, but honestly I just sliced it up and made sandwiches -- yum! Anyway, I have a standing invitation to come back anytime to make more. Soon as the holiday rush is over I plan on taking advantage of that offer.
The best part were the vegan cupcakes that Brenda had made for us to snack on!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Paying My Respects

My conscience wouldn't leave me alone. It had been urging me since Sunday to go to the Lakewood Police Department to pay my respects. The entrance to the police station looked just like it did on TV. I grabbed the flowers that I had brought, and walked over to the corner. People were quietly milling around to look at the flowers, candles, balloons and stuffed animals. Every once in a while an officer would be embraced, and condolences given. I laid my flowers down without the card I had purchased -- I just couldn't come up with the right words. I put the bouquet down right next to a drawing done by two school aged girls -- I would guess third or fourth grade by the writing. It was a picture of four headstones with RIP across each one. The grass was colored green, the sky blue, and above the picture three sentences written:

I'm sorry that you're dead. I'm sorry you were gunned down. I'm sorry that you're not here.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday, and what a lovely day I had. Paul took the day off and it's a treat when I get to spend the whole day with him.

The day started with a delicious breakfast prepared by Paul.
Next we were off to Clay Art Center to investigate whether to repair and update my kiln or buy a new one, and I got to pick up a couple new tools to play with.

Afterwards Paul and I stopped at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber for a brown-bag lunch and discussion on "Transportation in Tacoma for the 21st Century". Then it was back to the house to pick up Kevin. The two of us went to to see "The Men Who Stare at Goats".
We returned home just long enough to unwrap some presents, and then we were off for dinner at one of my favorite places, Europa Bistro.
It was quite a while before we were seated (oops, should have made reservations) but the owner kindly offered us a glass of Sangiovese while we waited. Dinner was fantastic and we finished it off with a slice of heaven in the form of cake (courtesy of our wonderful waiter).

There was another cake waiting for us at home so off we went. We did a little song, I blew out the candle, we somehow managed to eat a teenie-weenie slice of cake, and then I was ready for bed. Thanks to Kevin and Paul for putting it together, and to all my friends for their good wishes. What a wonderful day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tin Shed Love

Monday Kevin and I gave Lisa a ride home to Portland, and that gave me a good excuse to introduce Kevin to my favorite place to eat, Tin Shed. Kevin didn't look too excited to be eating outside in rainy November, but I assured him the patio was enclosed and there would be overhead heaters to keep us warm. We had a good visit waiting for our food to arrive, and then kept our attention to more important matters until our plates were clean.

Studio Tours, 2009

November is Art at Work month in Tacoma, and the Studio Tours are easily my favorite event. Unfortunately this year presented the same problem I have every year -- how to get to all the studios I want to visit. This year we were on a very limited schedule so we were able to stay longer at each studio.

First we went to see Claudia Riedener at Ixia Tile Tacoma. She had a wonderful display of her tiles, and an activity area where people could carve their own tiles. Kevin decided to carve house numbers. It'll be fun to see how they tur
n out. I spent quite a bit of time in the yard visiting all my old heads. See there was this project about five years ago, and I lent my face to be cast, and I made the mistake of giving the cast to Claudia so my image has made it's way on top of mermaids, concrete heads laying around her garden, clay images on the side of pots, etc. It's creepy and funny all at the same time. I also discovered that one of Claudia's tiles are in the book 500 Tiles. Pretty impressive!

Next stop was to see Jennevieve Schlemmer a painter/mosaic artist/sculptor/ public artist. Her studio was filled with many examples of her work, but I was drawn to the make a pet rock station where I admit I probably had more fun than the kids. Jennevieve just started a new business on Etsy, Raven meets Crow, animal art with an urban touch, and her inventory is expanding every day.

After my fingers dried we were off to see Brenda Groboski. Brenda is a fiber artist who spins and dies her own yarn using materials from wool to dog hair, and she has TWO shops on Etsy, Afghan Artistry, and Naturally Spun, and a blog. Her husband Brian had some paintings on display also.
Our last stop was to see Bill Colby, a master print maker and a really funny guy. By the time we reached his studio there was only about 20 minutes left till closing so it was a bit of a rush. I was so interested in what Bill was saying I forgot to take pictures. He was a Professor of Art at UPS for over 30 years, has been included in Who's Who in America, and has work spanning almost 50 years. Really impressive man.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Learning to cook: My New Year's Resolution

I graduated from high school and moved out on my own at 17. I was a responsible teenager, had a full time job, paid my bills, and cooked for myself. I could scramble eggs and make pancakes for a weekend brunch. I ate filling lunches by heating Campbell's soup and grilling a cheese sandwich. When I tired of Kraft Mac N Cheese and Hamburger Helper I moved onto more gourmet meals like Tater Tot Casserole for dinner, and so I survived. After a year or so it occurred to me: I didn't know how to cook, and that I really wasn't comfortable in the kitchen something I'm sure I inherited from my mom.

I don't think my mom is comfortable in her cooking skills. Even now after preparing our family recipe for spaghetti for almost 50 years she still pulls out the recipe card to check measurements and ingredients. We never really cooked together since she discouraged anyone being in the kitchen with her which, in her defense, was a very cramped space. Mostly I learned to cook by following recipes, or cooking with my dad, who never followed a recipe. His specialty (besides getting every pot and pan dirty) was leftover soup where we'd open up the fridge, pull out whatever caught our eye and made soup with it. Since then I've always been jealous of people who can create tasty simple food effortlessly with no thought of a recipe or measuring. Maybe it's just my perception that people can cook that way, although I have seen a few pull a wonderful meal seemingly out of the air. Over the years I've tried that magical style of cooking, and have most often failed (which my longtime friends can unfortunately attest).

My cooking skills have improved dramatically since marrying Paul, and I love to see my old friends shocked looks as they exclaim, "This is good! You made this?" when they've come for dinner. I'm addicted to cooking shows and love to try new recipes but have never reached the level of intuitive cooking I've so longed for, and lately I rarely cook for anyone besides my husband and son. I test things out on them all the time, but despite their reassurances I'm rarely satisfied with the results. On the other hand, I hate to cook for anyone else. I get easily flustered, and still cannot plan a meal where all the components are ready at the same time. So I decided to go to culinary school -- until I saw how much it cost. I mean, come on! It's not like I want to do this for a living (although I still fantasize about owning my own little neighborhood cafe), I just want to cook well, and feel confident in my skills. So I've decided to learn how to cook the old fashioned way. That's right -- I've ordered Julia Child's Mastering French Cooking (the two volume set!). It's my Christmas present to myself, and since Amazon is still in the pre-ordering phase I probably won't see it until Christmas. I know it isn't an original idea, but I'm doing it anyway! I'm not promising to complete Volume One in a year, but I will post pictures and details about the experience!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I love to use little bowls when I cook. I cut, measure, and put everything in their own little bowl so they're all ready to go. I also like to pretend I'm on a cooking show so you'll usually find me talking to an imaginary camera person as I'm preparing the evening meal. I never said I was normal.

So tonight we're having vegetarian enchiladas. I have a ton of brown rice to use this week, a half of a red pepper and yellow onion -- sounds like enchiladas to me. I used to have a rocking recipe for enchilada sauce, but dang if I could find it so I just threw something together. Wasn't half bad if I say so myself!

Enchiladas Estoy Desperada

Enchilada Filling:

1 15 oz can pinto beans drained
2 cups (approx) cooked brown rice
1/2 small yellow onion diced
1/2 red bell pepper diced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 flour tortillas

Enchilada Sauce:

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp flour
1 6 oz can tomato paste
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups vegetable stock (or water)

Saute bell pepper and onion, cool and mix with rice and beans. Set aside.
Heat vegetable oil over medium heat, add flour. Cook for a minute or two stirring constantly.
Add Chili powder, Oregano and Cumin and cook for a minute or two stirring constantly.
Add tomato paste and cook for a minute or two stirring constantly. Add about a 1/2 cup stock/water to keep from burning.
Add remainder of stock/water and salt.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, and cook until thickened, about 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Assemble enchiladas, top with sauce and cheese. Heat in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yes, I'm still alive!

September has really been a whirlwind -- I can't believe it's almost gone. Paul and I took a vacation smack dab in the middle of the month, and it seemed like we were gone for ages. We were actually only gone for eight days, but that's a long time away for us.

Anyway, first we went to Washington DC (well Fairfax, Virginia actually) to visit Paul's daughter Anne. She's moved there to pursue her nursing and to be closer to her boyfriend, John. It was a walking vacation, let me tell you. They have a great transit system, so we just hopped on a bus or a train, and then just walked, walked, walked. Paul's got the pictures on his computer. I'll add them eventually.

Next we were off to Minneapolis for a tile conference I was attending. The conference was fabulous, and I was surprised to see how well represented Washington State was. One of our instructors, Carol Rose Dean, lives on Vashon, and there were five other students from Western Washington. While I was in class Paul spent time with his brother Tom and family. Tom is the environmental writer for The Star Tribune, and had just returned from an assignment on the Isle Royal. Tom's wife Anne Landreman is an artist who also teaches art at Diamond Path Elementary, a school of international studies. They were great hosts, and we had lots of fun.

So we're happy to be home. I'm working on a project for the City of Tacoma, tile inserts for a concrete bulb-out on 6th Avenue. The project has been on hold for two years, but hopefully will go through this time. The construction portion is going out to bid this week so fingers crossed!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Tacoma SIT IN

On a beautiful sunny thursday afternoon I along with approximately 40 others decended onto Tollefson Plaza at the request of Lance Kagey for a "flash mob" art project. You can read about the particulars here and here. Hope you enjoy the photos!

My chair and the finished result:
Lynn arrives ready for business!

The "Mob"

And The Results: