Sunday, February 28, 2010

Urban Interlude

It's hard to be young and hip when you're not, but we gave it our best. First, lunch at The Bad Waitress Diner.

Then to the MIA for the "Foot in the Door" exhibit.

Anyone, amateur or professional, can enter a piece of original art that fits in a foot by foot square space. The variety of media and topics is remarkable.

5000 people answered the once-every-ten-years call for entries.

Some hope to be noticed and promote their career, others just want to be noticed. It would be cool to be able to say that your work was on exhibit at the MIA.

Two favorites, conveniently side-by-side were, "Bad Seed" crop art, and a great photograph with notation that reads: "From the Series - Men Wearing Pajamas Playing the Accordion for Disinterested Cats" (Click on the photo to zoom in if you want to see just how disinterested the kitty really is.)

2020 is the next chance for your 15 minutes of fame. This decade's show runs through June 13 and it's free.

We saved the best activity for last. Well, we kind of had to because there was only one show time at the Lagoon for viewing this year's Oscar-nominated animated shorts. Wallace and Gromit in "A Matter of Loaf and Death", from Aardman Animation of Great Britain was our favorite. Runner up, "The Lady and the Reaper", from Spain.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Virtual Vacation - the Monkey Diaries

Last Day - Got in a little beach time before packing up. Sky was overcast just like our mood. Wow. Wish we could stay forever.
Well, it will be nice to see Fluffy. OMG! Fluffy? Did we remember to kennel the dog?!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Virtual Vacation - the Monkey Diaries

Day Five - Feeling a bit blue. Tomorrow is our last day in this awesome place. Wow! Wish we could stay forever.

Blue... that reminds us of the time we took blue at the fair. Hey, we can shake off this mopey mood. We're winners, not whiners! Wow! Let's hit the beach.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Virtual Vacation - the Monkey Diaries

Day Four - Back to the beach. Met some great new friends today. Wow! Promised to Facebook them. If only our own family could be here... hmmm... wonder if it is still below freezing at home? We really should take back some souvenirs. Maybe snowglobes. Hahaha!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Virtual Vacation - the Monkey Diaries

Day Three - Got a bit too much beachtime yesterday with no sunscreen(oops!), so we visited the shell museum/genealogy center to take a break from the rays and discover our roots. Wow! We're multiracial! Bivalve and gastropod make-up. Who knew? Cool!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Virtual Vacation - the Monkey Diaries

Day Two - Hit the beach and went for a sail. Wow...this is living! Checked the weather at home. 6 degrees this a.m., foggy, and ice on the big lake is still 22" deep. Wow! Totally glad we got out of town!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Virtual Vacation - the Monkey Diaries

This week in the land of make-believe the monkeys will be showing us what it would be like if we were on winter break in a warm, sunny paradise.
Just use your we go...

Day One - We explore our new home-away-from-home...

...and scope out the pool scene. Wow! Cougarific!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

As Seen on TV

You love the blog. Now have the mug.

Next Door Laura - It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

Custom crafted in the U.S.A.

Very limited stock.

Call now. Operators are standing by.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Olympic Eating (and Drinking)

My sister was invited to an Olympics kick-off potluck and as one might expect, themed dishes were strongly encouraged. She's very creative, but needed a little inspiration jump-start so we set about brainstorming ideas. Here is what we came up with:


Shaun Whitebean Dip
Stuffed Dick Button Mushrooms
Jamie Salead with Russian Dressing and French Croutons

Entree choices:

Lasagna Harding
Dorothy Hamloaf
Hannah Tetertot Casserole

Accompanied by:

Browning and/Orserve Rolls

And for dessert:

Christine Nesbittersweet Chocolate Fondue or,
Peggy Flaming Baked Alaska

She ended up taking one of her reliable potluck standards, the Seven Layer Salad, with lots of Olympic spirit garnishes. Multicolored sweet pepper Olympic rings, candle torch, Canadian flag, potato Inukshuk, mayonnaise and cheese snow. It was over the top just as she intended. She nailed it and deserved to at least podium. Alas, no prizes were awarded.

Once the creative juices were flowing they just wouldn't stop. We realized that Olympic events are a great source for naming mixed drinks, or for that matter bands. For now we will concentrate on our bar order. Here's what we would be serving at our Olympics party if we were having one:

The Triple Axeltini (side effects - double vision and dizziness)
The Agony of Defeat (straight up double of scotch, bourbon, or whiskey)
The Lillehammer ('nuff said)
The Jamaican Bobsled (rum-based of course)
The Luge (smooth and on-the-rocks - White Russianish)
The Biathlon (hot cocoa with a peppermint schnapps chaser?)
And just for fun, for the duration of the 2010 Olympics, let's rename the classic Caesar (Bloody Mary made with Clamato) as: The Lutz Salchow Shotgun Spin Camel Combination.

As far as name possibilities go this is just the tip of the iceberg, we haven't even touched snowboarding lingo. Gotta leave something for Sochi.

Thanks for hosting a swell event BC. Play on!

Friday, February 19, 2010

As Promised

Neighborhood intrigue is harder to come by in winter when neighbors have hunkered down indoors and are rarely sighted. The great bear scat inquisition of Summer 2008 proved that intrigues often grow in frequency and proportion to the number of persons involved in wild speculation about seemingly small occurrences. So, without that "buzz" going on around the block it is only natural that there is little to report on in the cold weather months. However, that being said, through extraordinary efforts we have managed to dredge up a few mysteries and puzzlements for your consideration.

What is this?

Who ate this? and how do they know which ones cost the most?

Oversight or gauche flaunting of a designer plant's brand?

Were these once orange? Were they intentionally frozen to be used again next Halloween? Will they make it to October?

Could a plate of cookies influence whose driveway gets blocked by this snow?

How many logs did they have to throw on for this display?

Enquiring minds want to know...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's Time

We have sun. Next, warmth, and bare ground for it to sink into. They will come. Really. And then we'll need a plan. Be ready.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back on the Horse

I took a class being taught by a friend and made this bag from a pattern of her design. Mine is a bit cattywampus, but completely usable. It gets points in the "bright" category, and the best thing about it is that it is finished and not in the to-do pile.

Something happened in 8th grade home-ec class. Hmm...almost recovering the memory...nope, leaving it there. Anyway, these are the first zippers I have put in since that grade screwed up my Jr. High GPA. Note: It was a traumatic year, I also did not wear red for a few decades after the clothing unit teacher told us that it accentuates blemishes.

The same teacher, Mrs. Fretz, lived in our neighborhood and her house was painted Cheerio-box yellow. As little-kids roaming the alleyways and asking annoying little-kid questions we asked her why it was such a brilliant hue. She said it was because they had heard that yellow tends to fade. I should have debunked her color theories immediately, or at least by the time I graduated from high school and the house had not mellowed one little bit.

The bag class was a good experience with a wonderful teacher and, as a result, I am pleased to announce that I am not afraid of zippers anymore.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Flower Power Silk

From time to time I delve into my many boxes of silk scraps and put a few together to make small quilts. Usually triangles are involved since that is the shape that many of the scraps are in when I get them. Often vintage buttons are used for embellishment as well as to cover my poor corner seams. This piece had pretty sharp corners so it is buttonless. At the rate of one project a year I may be in the learning phase of working with silk for quite a long time. It is going on a decade already.

The fabrics are beautiful, but the colors I chose don't do much to make the room feel warmer. Next winter when the boxes come out I will "think red".

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter Reading List

This what I have been reading in the last month or so. Also read, and returned to the library; two novels set in Minnesota, Snow Blind, by mother/daughter authors P.J. Tracy and The Cape Ann, by Faith Sullivan; the most recent Isabel Dalhousie story - The Lost Art of Gratitude, by Alexander McCall Smith; and How Trees Die, by University of Minnesota Professor of Horticultural Science, Jeff Gillman.

Here are some books that make nice companions:

The famous gourmand's histoire, and her much-published and sauce-stained labor of love.

Snowflake Bentley, the story of a farmer who learned to photograph snowflakes, is beautifully illustrated with Mary Azarian's wonderful woodcuts. Its perfect partner is Ken Libbrecht's field guide for snowflake-watching.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day


Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

by Carol Ann Duffy - Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom (Royal Bard)

For your heart - I wish for you today a bowl of oatmeal, a valentine, a nap, a walk in the sunshine, a morsel of dark chocolate, a glass of red wine,
and an onion?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hearty Scones

Perfect for Valentine's Day brunch, office treats, coffee klatch, or in a gift basket, these scones were beautifully made by a friend for an impromptu valentine-making get together.

Maple Almond Scones

1 & 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1 T. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and diced
1/4 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. real maple syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg with 1 Tbs. milk for egg wash

Sweet Maple Glaze
2/3 c. confectioners sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 t. real vanilla flavoring

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Using a food processor or electric mixer, combine dry ingredients. Blend the cold butter at a low speed and mix until butter is in pea-sized pieces.
Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, and eggs, and mix with dry ingredients just until blended. Dough will be sticky.

Place dough on a well-floured surface and pat into a disc shape for rolling out the dough until 3/4 " thick. Cut out using a fluted cookie cutter(heart or your choice); and place scones on a baking sheet. Brush the tops with egg wash, and sprinkle toasted slivered almonds and a little sugar on top before baking.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are crisp and the insides are done. Drizzle the Sweet Maple Glaze over the warm scones and serve to your happy guests!

Makes 8-10 depending on cookie cutter size.

This is a modified version of Ina Garten's recipe for Maple Oat Scones.

Here are some of the creations of the day. Vintage, recycled, Hallmark Studio, and...

lots of buttons.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine Flashback

50 years of valentine evolution,and there is still a common denominator. It's a good thing too. Some of us need a little help to express true feelings to our classroom crush, and nothing opens the sentiment floodgates like a cornball pun.

A 50's and 60's decorated-shoeboxful. Lots of diecuts, hearts, and corny messages.

Most of these were sent "to Tommy" from: Diane, Kathy, Donna, Colleen, Dennis, Patricia, Suzanne, Jerry, Betsy, Karen, Harold, Mickey, Barbara, Betty, Suszie, Clayton, Steven, Bobbie, Donnie, Janie, Lenny, Roger, and Gail.

A school exchange selection from the 80's to now. Lots of photos, media influence, and corny messages.

These were exchanged by classmates named: Brianna, Tyler, Sarah,
Ryan, Ashley, Chelsea, Brittany, Josh, Mike, Jessica, Jared, Kelsey, Kyle, Lindsey, and Emily.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Be Mine (or Else)

From the archives - Valentines from the 1930's - 40's and last year.

I'm not your Valentine, but gee!
The whole world knows I want to be.

Would you rather be feared or loved?
I want you to be afraid of how much you love me.

On Valentine's Day my wants are few,
Just three small letters, just Y-O-U.

Want to earn some Shrute Bucks?
Then you have to be my Valentine.

These vintage valentines and others were given "to Myrna" from: Doris, Shirley Jo, Beverly, Kathryn, Orris, Frederic, Esther Ruth, Bobbie, Carol, Lois, Roland, Jean, Dolores, Donald, and Mother.

I love you dear!
There now --I've said it.
My secret's out and you have read it.
But I don't care, I love you so,
I'd just as soon the world should know.

-from Mother

The names we might expect to see on grade school valentines now may be some of the most popular baby names in 2000 (today's 4th graders): Jacob, Emily, Michael, Madison, Joshua, Emma, Matthew, Hannah, Christopher, Olivia, Andrew, Abigail, Daniel, Isabella, Ethan, Ashley, Joseph, Samantha, William, and Elizabeth.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the Mood

Red, hearts, frou frou. I'm fired up. How about you?

Our high school swing choir, the Crimsonaires, sold singing valentines. On Valentine's day they would come right into class to deliver their musical message to a chosen serenadee.

They had a couple of standard selections and bits of each still stick in my head.

I'm sure this song had verses for many of the sweetheart's attributes, but this the one I remember:

Oh my valentine, you have such pearly, pearly teeth.
Oh my valentine you have such pearly teeth...
Your pearly teeth are false love,
They rattle when you waltz love.
Oh my valentine you have such pearly teeth.

And a Frank Sinatra chestnut that some comedian got ahold of:

I'm in the mood for love,
Simply because you're near me.
Funny but, Funny butt!? when you're near me,
I'm in the mood for love.

Let somebody know you love them. Mail those valentines!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Meaning of Flowers

For my birthday I received a lovely little book from my sister. Inside are charming collage illustrations made of plant material, ephemera, and small, interesting objects. While I had my buttons out for sorting I made a temporary embellishment for the bookcover in the spirit of the author's artwork.

Did you know that - "The dahlia suggests the instability of perfect beauty"?

If you have earwigs or Japanese beetles in your garden you will not have a difficult time believing that.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bright Pretty Things

A friend gave me this pretty basket that she crafted from fabric and clothesline. The technique is all the rage right now and people are making them for every purpose from fruit basket, to purse, to snake-charmer's cobra storage unit.

The book It's a Wrap shows you how.

Fitting in with the color scheme is another fun gift,
It All Changed in an Instant, a book of six-word memoirs from the Smith Magazine project of the same name. And...

...the beautiful palette is shared with this Ikea tray and bowls given to me by yet another thoughtful friend, and with my new breadbox (aka junk hiding box) from Target.

Together we can fight the soul-crushing forces of dark, long nights and short, drab winter days with the power of color, light, humor, and clever scandinavian design.