Friday, October 28, 2011

Moving Day is Upon Me

OK, so maybe we don't have to move as many boxes as this but it sure feels like it.

We got the keys tonight: it is so exciting.  We took possession at 9pm and went over to the new house and walked around and showed it off to our friend Liz and well, it was pretty neat to walk around the house and look at the different rooms and think about all the things we wanted to do.

Tomorrow we have cleaners coming over and we are going to move a few things in and then Sunday is the serious moving day with a moving truck and friends coming over to help.  Our internet is actually supposed to be disconnected by now but it is still on so I get to write this tiny post.  But I might not be back until Wednesday.  We'll see how it all turns out.

Have a happy Halloween and fabulous weekend!

Anyways, time to go to bed before the madness all begins.  Buying a new house is exciting!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

106 Little Birds on Sticks

Our friends Jessica and Steven are getting married this weekend and way before all this buying a house/moving nonsense came up, I told her I would make the favors for her wedding.  She liked the idea of reclaimed tin birds on metal sticks.  It ended up taking me a lot more time to make these than I thought.  But that's always the way it is right?  I didn't want to rush, however, because I wanted them to be perfect for her. 

This is what our dining room looked like for the last 2 days while I was attaching the wires.  I set the wire with epoxy and they had to sit for 24 hours to set in a warm area.  While my studio has a heater, it is not warm all the time so I had to finish them inside. 

My first tests with attaching the wires was terrifying because the first brand of epoxy I bought wasn't strong enough.  Then I tried JB Weld.  While it worked, it was an ugly gray color and looked awful.  Finally, I got the idea to make a spiral out of the ends of the wires and then hammer them flat and sand them to allow a lot more surface area to glue.  Next, I bought some Gorilla Glue 2 Part Epoxy.

Amazing success!  The spiral in combination with the Gorilla Glue did the trick.  I know I went a little heavy handed on the epoxy, but I wanted to make sure it would stick.

Each bird is completely unique.  

I used everything from decorative tins to olive oil tins to cookie tins.  

I couldn't pick out a favorite.  Practically every one I thought, I like this one the best.  Then I would pick up the next one and say, no, I like this one the best.

Phew, she picked them all up today.
Now I can get back to packing because we signed the papers on our new house today and are moving on Sunday!  It's amazing how fast time goes by.  I can't believe we are nearly out of here.  I will really miss this house.  Every time I show it to a potential renter, I think, oh, man, I love my backsplash.  Oh, man, I love our new heat pump.  Oh, man, I love my studio! But now I am going to have a new house to love, love, love!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pesto Couscous Stuffed Peppers

With only a week left in our house and 90 percent of our kitchen in boxes, we are making and eating a lot of "instant" food.  Microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, and cheese and crackers have all shown up on the menu in the last couple of days when they are normally banned in this house.  This will probably continue after we move as well and not only because we may be lazy at unpacking; the oven does not work at the new house and who knows how long it will be before it is fixed? 

When I saw this recipe in the New York Times this week, I instantly knew I could simplify it and make it with the few ingredients and utensils I had on hand.  At the end of October, fresh basil is a luxury unheard of or at least astronomical in price.  (A container of pesto in the freezer is never a bad thing to have.) 

Fool Proof Pesto Couscous Stuffed Peppers
adapted from the NY Times
serves 2 as entree or 4 as a starter

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Israeli couscous (also known as Jerusalem couscous)
1/2 cup prepared pesto, or more, to taste
2 sweet peppers, yellow preferred, halved and seeded
5 cloves garlic
1 20 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in heavy pan.  When warm, add couscous and and stir and cook until couscous starts to color.  Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Drain and mix with pesto.

Meanwhile chop garlic in food processor.  Add canned tomatoes to garlic and puree well.  

Place peppers, cut side up on heavy roasting pan or in lidded casserole.  Fill each to top with pesto couscous.  Pour about 2/3's tomato puree into bottom of pan.  (Reserve left over for another use.) Cover tightly with foil or lid and bake 35-40 minutes.  

Serve peppers on top of sauce.  You can add extra cheese to top at last minute and cook without lid to melt and make a nice presentation. 

 These were filling and tasted delicious.  I thought of a dozen variations that involved spices, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms but those are going to have to wait until I have a fully stocked kitchen once again.

Note: I recommend yellow peppers for looks, but the red peppers tasted delicious too.  Red was what I had on hand.  I am trying to use up everything in our fridge before moving, but that may end up being an unobtainable goal. 

Next, I need to figure out how to use all those little bags of rice and pasta in the cupboard that only have 1/2 cup (or less!) in each of them!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A New Obsession

Uh oh.  I'm at it again.  Like I need one more thing to occupy my time.  But I have discovered the joys of Pinterest.  My sister first invited me to join a while back and I firmly said "thanks, but no thanks" but my will has broken down as I keep seeing it come up on blog after blog and so I asked her to invite me again.

Pinterest is a virtual pin board where people can share images, inspirations, links.  It's all connected through themes and images. And, really, it is a perfect visual candyland for someone like me.  I am looking forward to using it to organize design and garden ideas for our new home. 

Yesterday I had a one on one meeting with my new professor at UW and she said I have all the skills and knowledge I need for my art but I need to find a way to connect it all.  Yeah, well, story of my life!  If she can help me figure it out, she should win a Nobel Prize for Art Therapy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sexy in the Kitchen

I received the coolest birthday gift last week from my friend Rosie: a gorgeous and sexy apron!  All of my aprons are ugly and Ikea cheap.  (except for the cute Paris one my mom bought me but it is a little small.) I have decided I am not going to wear it until we move into the new house.

I always forget to wear an apron and then make a mess all over myself.  Looking forward to looking classy in the kitchen.  Romantic dinner for two, ooh la la!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why do we Choose the Things We Choose to Choose?

Moving makes me look at myself under a microscope.  Why do I have the stuff that I have?  I have been living in this snug little salt box of a house for the last 7 years, 10 months.  That's a long time in one place.  I haven't lived that long in one place since I moved out of the house I grew up in at the age of 12.   In my twenties as I moved from shared house to shared house or studio apartment, I pretty much had to keep my belongings at a minimum since I had no car and needed friends with trucks or station wagons to move me in just a few trips.     

Now, as a "serious" adult, I have my own car (albeit an old Subaru that is on its last legs) and the power to rent a moving truck.  We are moving from a 1500 SF house with a 400 SF studio to a 3400 SF house with a 400 SF studio.  I have the luxury to keep whatever I want.  When I moved into this house, I began to collect things: free furniture, potential art supplies, dishware to serve 20 people at table, and more stuff that I had room to store and didn't need to think about.  But now as I am picking through and packing things, I am purging.  A lot.  And it is satisfying.  I think I have taken at least 30 bags to Goodwill in the last 2 months as well as a big trip to the dump as well as giving away stuff to friends.  And we still have a ton of stuff.  Yet some things I insist on keeping despite their "low value" level.  

Like this Coca-Cola bottle I brought home from Israel.  I was 14 and it was my second international trip.  My first one had been to the UK when I was 12 and that had been pretty enriching and exciting and where I first discovered the Cure and toast holders.  But the trip to Israel to meet my sister's fiance, a Palestinian named Sami, was beyond exciting.  A truly foreign country!  A Coca-cola bottle in a different language!  Something that would have been carelessly tossed away I treasured and carefully wrapped up in my luggage and brought it home with me.  And it has been through eleven moves in 24 years and now is about to embark on a twelfth move.  

I think, somehow, I have always been predisposed to be interested in sculpture.  I don't scrapbook.  A rational person would keep photos of the trip.  Me, I keep a bottle, something physical and tangible that really proves I was there.  It's heavy and has a sensuous feel. 
Why keep it? I mean, I don't even like Coca-cola and really can't stand its symbolism of a corporate power in America.  Coca-cola has done horrible things to expanding economies and has ruined millions of teeth and waistlines around the world.  And yet I love this bottle.  It represents to me the excitement of embarking on something new and totally unknown.  We rarely force ourselves to deal with new situations outside of our comfort zone.  At least, I rarely do anymore.  I can't speak for you.  But this bottle makes me think of new experiences and new places and will be proudly placed in a spot of honor in our new home. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crafty Meetup

I guess it is officially "Make Art From Alternative Materials Week" here at House Inside Out.  I went to a little community arty meet up Saturday morning and along with 6 or 7 other artists, made some cool spoon pendants.  The group was hosted by local artist Michaela Eaves who got the idea from Busily Spinning Momma and it was a great success! (Of course I left my camera at home so all you see is the after photo, but the tutorial is good.)

We all brought a random assortment of spoons.  Turns out these thinner, silver plated ones that I brought worked great for flattening with a hammer.  The we cut off the handles, filed and shaped the bail, glued cut out paper to the spoon and then embellished with paint and shellac.
It was a lot of fun to make something fun with other artists around!  I am looking forward to more of these meet ups!  I am suggesting coffee filter flowers for a project.

Oh Ye Humble Coffee Filter

I haven't even had my second class in my fiber arts program but I can already tell this is going to be one of the most interesting and inspiring endeavors I have undertaken in quite a while.  Our first homework was to create 4 small material samples and 1 large yardage sample using everyday materials to create pliable forms.  I've only finished one of my smaller samples but jumped straight into the large piece.

I just used natural coffee filters and Elmer's glue and really love how it has turned out.  It took about 6 hours to make this 2 yard long piece.  We are not allowed additional surface decoration yet but I was able to play with the filters by folding them to give them a lot of volume and architecture.  

I know there are lots of people that have made coffee filter dresses before (Project Runway isn't the first example by any means) and flowers as well.  I looked up some idea for coffee filter flowers and have some really good ideas to keep in the back of my mind. 

I love fiber arts!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Woman That Knows Who She Is

Last night was opening night at the Seattle Opera for the 2011 production of Carmen and it was fantastic. I consider myself a fan of opera even though I have only been to three: Barber of Seville, Magic Flute, and now Carmen. Barber is a comedy, Magic Flute a romance, and Carmen is a tragedy.  I liked that most of the characters in Carmen were flawed; my sympathies to different characters switched continually through the performance.  I also appreciate voluptuous women. Carmen could not be played convincingly by a stick insect. 

Carmen has everything one could want in opera: a strong female role, a love triangle, rousing music, dancing, costumes, grand set decoration, drama galore, and violence.  My favorite part is that she knows her own self and above all desires freedom and admits who she is and doesn't try to run away from her problems.  While I enjoy listening to opera by myself, going to the opera and dressing up and eating out and people watching and coffee afterwards always makes for a memorable occasion.  We had a bonus last night too.  While we were sipping coffee and discussing the opera at a little restaurant in lower Queen Anne around midnight, who should we see come in but the diva herself, Anita Rachverlishvili, who we just saw perform Carmen had came into the restaurant to eat.  She was a lot smaller looking in person, which I found funny.  We speculated that maybe she layers a lot of costumes on top of one another. 

The above poster is from a 1982 Seattle Opera production of Carmen by David Lund.  I am trying to find a print of it, I think it is gorgeous.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

38 Things: Donate Blood

It's nice to get off to a quick start on my list of 38 Things I Want to do Before I Turn 39 with something that is good for other people and not just me.  I was in the middle of typing up my new yearly list yesterday and already had donate blood on the list when, out of the blue, the Cascade Regional Blood Services called and asked when I wanted to come in and donate blood again!

It turns out I have some rare blood ( B- ) and they wanted me back in asap, but of course they always encourage anyone eligible to donate as much as they can.

Some interesting facts about blood:

Did you know blood only has a storage life of 42 days?

Red blood cells are produced in bone marrow.

Plasma is the liquid part of your blood that moves around your white and red blood cells and your platelets.

Platelets help control bleeding.

Red Blood Cells are round and tiny. About 3,000 red blood cells end-to-end would equal one inch. An average adult's body contains about 25 trillion red blood cells.

Every three seconds someone needs blood.

37% of the US population is eligible to donate – only 5% of those eligible donate regularly.

How to get involved?  Contact your local blood bank and set up an appointment to see if you are eligible.  If you have traveled to countries with malaria, you are typically ineligible for a year.  If you had hepatitis and even if you are not a carrier, you are ineligible.  That's why it makes it extra important that every one who can donate does.

Next time I am at the clinic they are going to do a count of my platelets to see if I am eligible to donate those.  They only have a shelf life of 5 days but it takes a good hour for them to draw the blood out of your arm, bang the blood around in a centrifuge to separate out the platelets and put the blood back inside you.  Crazy, huh?

Healthy Eats and Reads

After my husband and I started to take our running more seriously last year, we decided to subscribe to Runner's World magazine.  Most of my life I have turned my nose away from athletic magazines because a) I wasn't super athletic and thought you had to be obsessed and all muscled out to buy those sort of magazines and b) I thought they wouldn't have anything very interesting to say anyways.

Happily, my assumptions were wrong (about RW, at least) and I am completely absorbed by each Runner's World and read them all cover to cover.  Besides tips for training or stories of athletes or what clothes to buy, they frequently include several healthy recipes.  One that caught my eye this month was Edamame Hummus.  After googling it, I realized that lots of people have already made this, but thank you, RW, for giving me the idea.  We eat a lot of hummus in this family so it's nice to get away from garbanzo beans once in a while.  
Runner's World Edamame Hummus

1 package (16 ounces) shelled, frozen edamame
3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Pour in the edamame. Return to a boil and cook for about 6 minutes, or until the beans are creamy inside and easy to smash with a fork. Drain the edamame and dunk in a large bowl of cold water, about 3 minutes. Drain when cool.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade or in a blender, combine the edamame, tahini, oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the mixture is pureed smooth. Add cold water, a little at a time, until the mixture is creamy.
Serve with pita and crudites.  
OK, let me just admit a few things here.  I made this from memory and so I inadvertently changed several things.  

1) I didn't cook the edamame and thought it tasted just fine.  I defrosted them in the fridge overnight.
2) Didn't add the olive oil and honestly didn't miss it that much although mine doesn't look as creamy as their example.
3) Forgot the salt and did miss it.
4) I doubled the garlic.

To make this cute little shape, I just packed the hummus into a 1/2 cup measuring cup and then inverted it onto the plate.  Maybe a good way to serve it would be with a drizzle of olive oil over the top. 
I was also thinking it might be nice with roasted garlic or cilantro ir olives mixed into it for a little more fusion cooking!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

38 Things I Want to do Before I Turn 39

Well, another year has gone by and that means another list of things I want to do.  This is my third year of The List.  I never quite finish it all, but that really isn't the point.  It is there to get me to think outside of my comfort level and get inspired to create new things.   I also like when I write up a new list because I get all inspired and productive for a little bit.  In fact, I've already made an appointment to donate blood tomorrow.  Yee Haw!

38 Things I Want to do Before I Turn 39

1. Paint a really big painting for our new house.
2. Re-do the floor in my new studio.
3. Have a crafty night with friends.
4. See the Gauguin exhibit at SAM.  I missed this, but purchased tickets to see King Tut!
5. Donate item to an auction.
6. Donate blood.
7. Make a table runner.
8. Throw a themed brunch.
9. Make a balsamic glaze reduction.
10. Make my own bitters.
11. Eat sushi in Seattle.
12. Build a new headboard or platform bed frame.
13. Visit an out of town art exhibit.
14. Visit the Bellevue Art Museum.
15. Finish Novel.
16. Sew a skirt.
17. Run a half marathon.
18. Get off the continent.
19. Host a big dinner party outside in our new garden.
20. Make ravioli from scratch.
21. Create an animated short.
22. Tour a candy or chocolate factory.
23. Make/buy/modify a new coffee table with a mid-century modern theme.
24. Large felt installation.
25. Felt a funky hat for myself.
26. Paint a painting for a friend.
27. Better photo set up for pics on ETSY.
28. Sign up for Outright bookkeeping.
29. Design new garden for new house.
30. GET A DOG!!!!
31. Mail gifts unexpectedly to friends.
32. Make a charm bracelet.
33. Blog 200 times.
34. Perfect a gluten free cake or cupcakes.
35. Paint on silk.
36. Full day at Olympic Day Spa.
37. Pay toll for vehicle behind me next time I drive on the Narrows Bridge.
38. Bike to Point Defiance, run the 5 mile drive, bike home.

52 Weeks of Mail: Week 1

I love the feel of screen printed cards.  This card by Slide Sideways (Two artists from Tacoma, no less) is my first mailing in the 52 Weeks of Mail project!  This is where I send one handwritten card, post card, or letter each week for a year.  Lots of folks are participating; it is not too late to join in the fun!

This week's card was pretty easy since everyone I know is having a birthday this week.   I guess us Libras have to stick together.  So I decided to send this lovely card to my friend Rosie since her birthday is Friday. 

I embellished the envelope as well. 
Yay for friends and mail!

Friday, October 7, 2011

52 Weeks of Mail Starts This Week!

52 Weeks of Mail, the project where you send a piece of hand written mail each week for a year starts this week!  They are trying to get 1000 people participating on their Facebook page: get over there and join! 

I'm very excited because I have decided that half of my letters will be written to my legislators, senators, governor, mayor, etc.  If we all wrote one letter a week, nay, a month to the people who represent us and not based on special interest groups, think of the interesting conversations that could occur!  

Pliable Fabric From Everyday Materials

Last weekend was my first session in my certificate of Fiber Arts course and I have been a little too excited about it to actually sit down and distill my thoughts into any coherent explanation about what is going on inside my brain.   The good and the bad thing about these classes is that they are held in 7 hour long chunks and so you get really, really, inspired and overwhelmed all at the same time.  We spent a good amount of the first day just talking and I am happy to say it wasn't boring talking.  It was interactive, thoughtful, and happy talking.  But then we have to go back and work alone in our studios until the class gets together again 3 weeks later.  3 weeks!  (It's because of the Husky home games.  Class is not scheduled on the same day as home games which sounds like a good idea to me.)

Our first homework is to make pliable fabric out of everyday materials using only one type of fastening per sample.  We have to make a couple of samples with mechanical fasteners and a couple of samples with adhesive fasteners and then 1 large piece of yardage using our preferred material.  It's making us get away from the "preciousness" of art materials as well as get our creative vibes moving.

My first sample is buttons connected with a mechanical fastener (waxed bookbinding linen).  This took a surprising amount of time. 

 Next I am going to try drilling these clam shells and see if I can connect them with either floral wire or jump rings.  I am thinking a sort of chain mail effect. 
It's fun to experiment!  I am also going to work with wine corks (we own a lot), cardboard boxes and packing tape (lots of this laying around since we are in the middle of packing), and coffee filters.  It's unfortunate I can't spend more time on this since we are in the middle of moving but at least in 3 weeks we will be moved and I can seriously focus on this work.