Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mincemeat, The Sequel

"Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, the bones are in the trash.
We've eaten everything in sight including turkey hash!
As we waddle up the stairs and climb into our beds
We all have secret sugar plums dancing in our heads....
Oh! Christmas is coming, and we are getting fat,
Cause we're eating too much of this and that!
(Lyrics by Jean Perry ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRcAIkcL028

    The mincemeat was glistening in the jar, and Thanksgiving morning my adorable youngest granddaughter, who must have inherited my affinity for early rising, joined me in the kitchen to make mincemeat tarts.
Ania is a pastry whiz, and is here cutting little leaf toppers for our tarts

      We baked 48 tarts, by rolling  pastry into little balls, and pressing into mini muffin tins. Each tart only holds about a tablespoon of mincemeat mixture, and is then topped with a small pastry leaf. Sharing one tray with friends, the rest were readily consumed after our feast later in the day.
      So as promised, here is the recipe for the Mincemeat itself. It is taken from "Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course" BBC 1982, converted to American from British measurements, and tweaked a little for personal preference by yours truly.
Home-made Christmas Mincemeat

 1# cooking  apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
8 oz butter
2 cups golden raisins
1 cup raisins
1 cup zante currants
1 cup candied mixed peel
2 cups brown sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
 1/2 cup brandy

Mix all ingredients except brandy in a large bowl very thouroughly. cover and let set for 12 hours. Place in an open roasting pan and heat in preheated 225° oven for 3 hours. This prevents fermentation. Allow mincemeat to cool, stir in brandy and spoon into clean glass jars. This mixture keeps for months! 
   
“No Fuss Piecrust”
Instant pie crust on the push of a button!
Ingredients List:
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons dry white wine (or 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon vinegar) 
Directions:
Place flour in bowl of a food processor; chop cold butter into small (1/2”) chunks. Process on pulse until mixture is the consistency of coarse meal. While pulsing sporadically, slowly add 4 tablespoons wine or water & vinegar mixture.  Process just until mixture is the consistency of large dirt clods.
Gather clods by hand, gently pat into a ball and let rest 15-20 minutes before rolling.
Makes enough crust for 1 deep dish topless 10” pie, or 24 mini tarts.Don’t try to double recipe, just keep mixing more as you need it. Save all scraps to ball up and re-roll, rather than mixing scraps into new balls.

With just a little effort, these glistening little treats will fill your home with amazing home baked fragrance, garner you untold compliments from guests, and get your taste buds in the old fashioned holiday spirit, for sure!

Visions of Sugarplums!
  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Making Mincemeat Out of Snow!

     Just in case you haven't heard, the Pacific Northwest is now the home of Mother Nature's deep freeze... I'm not sure why, because she could have just left it up in the Artic, or the Himalayas, or the European Alps... but just like most women, she isn't content unless she is rearranging the furniture.

Pottery studio in snowstorm 11/21/2010
     Of course, she chose to bring us the deep freeze on the day that  I had set aside to do a little late autumn tidying of the exterior premises and catch up in my studio! The snow just didn't want to stop, the temperatures have plummeted into the teens, the roads have been turned into skating rinks, and on top of all of that we've had blustery winds and today's windchill factor has our thermometers hovering around the 10 degree mark!
     Extreme weather calls for extreme action! Spirits need lifting - check. Cooking lifts my spirits! House needs warming- check. Cooking warms the house. Thoughts need organizing- check. Peeling, dicing, juicing, and measuring organizes my thoughts.
     So what to cook? The holidays are coming and a traditional delight for me is mincemeat. No, not that horrible stuff you buy in the little box and reconstitute, or the nasty  filling sandwiched between two layers of soggy crust from the freezer case. Growing up I always liked the idea of mincemeat, I liked the smell of it and I sort of liked the taste.. but there was just too much of it! And THEN, in 1982 we moved to England.
     Our first Christmas there, we were invited for a  holiday drink to the home of some folks that over the years became close, dear friends. In a typically, traditional English Country Christmas way, they served us a beautiful tawny sherry and the most luscious little mincemeat tarts that have ever melted in my mouth. Eureka! Mincemeat isn't supposed to be serve an inch thick in a 2-3 inch wedge! it is supposed to be  served in little 2-3 bite tarts, nestled in buttery crust and sprinkled with sparkly sugar crystals!
     My quest for the recipe began that afternoon. Flipping on the "telly", I caught a cooking show presented by Delia Smith.. (English version of Rachel Ray). Promptly went to the bookstore, bought the companion book to her tv show, and lo and behold, found the recipe for "Old Fashioned Christmas Mincemeat".
From that day forth, mincemeat making happens around here a little before Thanksgiving. People who dislike mincemeat find they can't eat "just one" of these little tarts, and those who like mincemeat devour them...
Clockwise from upper left: apples being chopped into tiny dice/ lemon and orange zest / finished mincemeat. Left: going into the oven for "sterilizing", and Right: finished and ready to put into a jar.
     So, Mother Nature, you may bring us an icy blast if you wish, but our house is warm and toasty and oh! so fragrant. We made mincemeat out of snow, and got the added benefit of natural room fragrance to boot! There's nothing that gets us in the mood for the holidays like the smell of apples and lemons and oranges and raisins and cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice. Mingled together and shining like jewels in the little tart shells, our table will be graced by fragrant, tasty, tradition.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Picasso!

     Pablo Picasso has come to Seattle! And a very dear friend of mine took me to see him! Well, at least we saw a huge collection of his wonderful masterpieces which are being closely guarded by SAM- Seattle Art Museum. If you never go to another art exhibit in your life, make sure you make the effort to get to this one!
     Organized in chronological order, this collection tells the story of Picasso's life, from his early academic style in his birth country of Spain, through the early experimental period as he travelled back and forth from Paris to Barcelona and to Italy, traversing the cubism period and into his final, deliberate manner producing variations on work of friends and contemporary artists such as Matisse, Manet, and Velazquez.


Chat saisissant un oiseau, 1939 (Musee Picasso, Paris)
       Trancending the artwork is the story of a passionate, sensual man, who was mystifyed by women. The wives, mistresses and lovers in his life dominated his artwork, tormented his dreams, and influenced him in ways which always left a mark on him and his work. 
      One of the things that wasn't discussed much in art appreciation class "way back when" was the evocative, emotive and erotic aspect of Picassos work. He depicted the human body and the full range of human experience through color, entwined limbs, disconnected limbs hanging in limbo,  and flattened perspectives. No aspect of the human form nor human experience was left unexplored.
       Picasso has been acclaimed as "one of the worlds greatest artists", the "greatest artist of our time",  and the "father of contemporary art".  I only know that I was deeply moved to see this monumental collection so wonderfully exhibited, and enjoyed by so many people. Almost as much fun as seeing the Picassos close up and personal, was watching the audience enjoying the work. I saw one lovely couple, arms entwined, nuzzling one another while whispering about one particularly erotic piece! I can only imagine what they were thinking...

Femme au fauteuil rouge (Marie Therese) 1932 (Musee Picasso, Paris)
      The exhibit will be hung until January 17, 2011. Southwest airlines has great fares to Seattle in the winter,  so if you don't live within driving distance, you still have no excuse. And.. by the way, the Bourscheidt B&B is acclaimed for it's warm hospitality, personal limo service and gourmet dinners!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What a reunion!

     Everyone should attend a high school reunion at some point in their life. My assumption is that the later in life, the more satisfying and enjoyable that reunion will be. I just returned from Phoenix, AZ, where I graduated from Washington High School in 1960.  The students in the class of  '60 (in Phoenix at least) were perhaps at the end of the golden age of "teen-age-hood". We didn't struggle with drugs, alcohol wasn't much of an issue, and "sex" mostly consisted of necking in the back seat at the local drive-in theatre. Boys still usually paid for dates. When your date was flush, you cruised Central Avenue and had a burger at Bob's Big Boy but if money was a little short, you cruised Central Avenue and had a burger at MacDonald's!

Ande Lange's Ford Fairlane (Alyce Anderwald Ely photo)

Looking over the archives of the Ram Page school newspaper (Alyce Anderwald Ely photo)

     Fast forward fifty years. The bloom of youth is now camouflaged under wrinkles, a little extra body mass, and the wear and tear of years of success, failure, trials and tribulations of marriage, careers and child-rearing. Refreshingly honest, we 68 (+/-) year olds are what we are, and there is no sense pretending any longer, or trying to make an impression on each other. More than 10% of us no longer walk this earth. Some were lost in Viet Nam, some taken by accidents which happened while pursuing what we loved most, some by their own hand, or accident or disease.

       When becoming acquainted with old classmates, the amazing thing to me was that even though the present face didn't look familiar, as soon as I saw the name tag, the face became recognizable. It is something about the eyes.... Stevie Collins said it first... it's the eyes. When you gaze on a face you haven't seen in 50 years, but you knew the face and name way back then, it's the eyes that give away the identity. 

Trying to get the class of 60 together for a photo was like herding cats! (Alyce Anderwald Ely photo)
      Our reunion consisted of a tour of the Washington High School Campus, a class of 1960 dinner dance, and a barbecue for members of the graduating classes of 1957-1961. During our campus tour, we learned that libraries have fewer books and are called media centers, and that classroom teachers now use smartboards instead of blackboards and digital clickers instead of pen and paper for test taking.  Our "dinner- dance" was really a social hour, dinner, and talk, talk, talk! Saturday night's barbecue included a classic car show.which was a memory jogger in itself. To see a nearly 70 year old guy crawl behind the wheel of his bright shiny vintage buggy and turn the key, was to see the years melt away with the revving of those pipes and the face of a triumphant 18 year old emerge.
     We hugged those we remembered well but hadn't seen for years, talked until we were hoarse, vowed to keep in touch and to be sure to hold another reunion in 5 years or less.
 The take away message from our 50 Year Reunion is this:
 Life isn't getting any longer..
 It's time to be checking off those items on your bucket list!
What? No bucket list? then you'd better make one!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friends and Fun - The Perfect Fall Day

     Following our unending summer of gray, who knew that fall could be so glorious? Autumn sunshine, steeped in hues of gold and bronze, brings along soft breezes with just a hint of chill in the air. The fragrance of damp bark and moss blends with a wiff of wood smoke now and again, and the crunch of leaves underfoot encourages us to linger a little longer, savoring each moment to make it last as long as possible.
     On Wednesday four of us set off for Bloedel Reserve, a garden treasure hiding discreetly down a winding lane on Bainbridge Island. www.bloedelreserve.org. Bloedel is the sort of place that can be visited any time of year, in any weather condition, because it allows us to experience  a blend of northwest natural landscape at it's finest, and the changing of the seasons in the cultivated areas of this beautiful estate.

Leaves just beginning to turn in mid-October
       The grounds on Bloedel encompass about 2 miles of easily walked trails, and we leisurely strolled along, completing the loop in about 2 1/2 hours.  As groups of four women are bound to do, we chatted about special plants that captured our attention and relied on one another to help with identification of unknown species. We paired off back and forth as one or two would slow to examine a certain plant more closely, or gaze in wonderment (new word for me) at yet another one of mother nature's magnificent offerings.

Fallen log draped magnificently with fern


A glint of sunlight on a sapphire-blue lace cap hydragea

     The warmth and camraderie that abounds from sharing a beautiful day in the company of kindred spirits is a gift we must remember to give ourselves as we all go about our busy lives. Making time to enjoy the company of others helps us understand ourselves more fully. My companions on Wednesday are new friends I'm just getting to know, and learning, through our myriad differences, we share much in common.

A beautiful trestle bridge ove a small canyon provided the perfect perch for a picture of my friends.






Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blogging!

I love getting on the computer and researching, and putting my thoughts into words. As I haven't been doing any serious free lance writing of late, I thought the perfect solution was to set up a blog. I could write about anything on my mind, add some photos and publish! How hard could that be? I spend a couple of hours at the keyboard everyday anyway, and it will only take a few minutes to "blog" every day. So if that is true, then why is it nearly a month has passed since my last entry?

There are certainly lots of themes floating through my head. Daily life affords plenty of opportunities for taking pictures which seem to add interest to my verbose meanderings. And I have a close friend who chides me occasionally about updating my blog. Could it be that I set up unrealistic expectations that I would make an entry on my blog daily, when perhaps less frequently would be more reasonable? Perhaps managing my time more effectively and finding the most ideal time each day to write is the key to consistent blogging. Most likely, however  the real reason has more to do with self discipline and follow through , and losing the habit of procrastination.

So, to blog or not to blog.  I like the idea of a blog, and can see lots of practical uses for maintaining one. So for the time being, blog I shall, and hereby make a committment to myself and my readers ( whoever or however few they may be) to  make an entry at least a few times each week. We shall see where this takes us all...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Garden Wisdom

 
 

One of many beautiful Japanese maples in the collection
 
Road trips with the girls are always so much fun, and yesterday was no exception. 12 members of my local chapter of the Northwest Perrennial Alliance http://www.northwestperennialalliance.org/ trekked to the Elizabeth C Miller garden  http://www.millergarden.org/located in the "Highlands" area on the northernmost fringes of Seattle. The Miller Garden is a closely guarded treasure, open by reservations for tour groups only, and limited to 500 visitors per year. About three acres of the five acre Miller estate are in cultivation, showcasing Betty Millers love of Japanese maples, dozens of varieties of ferns, rambling tapestries of groundcovers and hundreds of plants that thrive in a woodland setting, both moist and dry.
As a gardener who struggles with enough  direct sunlight to grow colorful flowers, I was most interested in the amazing array of foliage plants that choose to spend their days luxuriating in the cool lushness of shade. A misnomer of shade gardening is that all shade plants prefer moist conditions, but at the Miller garden, we learned that many actually prefer dry feet!

 

Head Gardener Greg holds us in rapt attention as he weaves the story of the garden.


As the number of persons and vehicles permitted for tours is so limited, and the time frame so strict, we hedged our bets by stopping at Swansons Nursery for fall sale shopping and lunch before our visit to the garden. Lunching together gives us an opportunity to socialize a little and get to know one another better. Alexis Cafe at Swansons offers a wide array of beautiful, delicious and healthy lunch choices. Trying to trim a few inches off my middle in preparation for my 50 year High School Reunion, the end of October, I was most grateful for the wonderful Greek salad on the menu. Having discovered Dr Oz's "Your real Age" website lately, I learned Greek salad is a pemitted choice for lunch on the "You on a Diet" link. As the discussion came around to wellness, fitness, weight-loss, etc, I shared a recipe I found on http://www.realage.com/ and since several of my garden girlfriends asked for the recipe here it is:

Mediterranean Chicken and Herbed White Beans -2 servings

Chicken Ingredients:
2 bone-in chicken thighs without skin (I used breast meat)
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
8 pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped


Place each serving of breast on it's own large square of aluminum foil, mix remaining ingredients together and  spoon over chicken. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. While chicken is baking prepare the following:


Bean Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15 or 16 ounces) white beans, rinsed and drained
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mixed herbs, your choice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper (optional)


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; cook 5 minutes or until heated through. Carefully open chicken packets and transfer mixture to two serving plates; serve beans alongside chicken. YUM!


Bon Apetit!
 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's About Time

Where oh where does the time go??? My loyal mate sets up the coffee pot before bed every night so I wake up early (sometimes just a little after 6AM) and always get to pour a fresh cup of fragrant, deep roasted eye opener. Meanwhile, the computer is warming up and while enjoying those first few sips of  "joe" I open my email account to see what is going on in my little world... not much usually, though. World Market, Pottery Barn and Michaels are all featuring sales of the century; Ooh La La is enticing me with bargains on all sorts of things I don't need; Southwests "Ding" wants me to fly to places I've never heard of and oh! there is a note from an old friend, one from a daughter, and a notice about garden club. Tummy growling, I head back to the kitchen for more coffee and my cholesterol lowering breakfast of oatmeal, walnuts, cinnamon, and low fat milk, all drizzled with a splash of flax oil.. (don't laugh! I lowered my cholesterol 40 points in 3 months eating this concoction) and the good news is, the taste grows on you! Suddenly it's 9:30AM- Yikes where have the past 3 plus hours gone? I'll just betcha' that as we get older, the new atomic clocks we buy with the big numbers so we can see them from across the room are revved up on atomic time. I can prove this, because after putting the oatmeal dish to soak in the sink (loyal mate does the dishes and objects to chiseling cement-like goop off the sides of my bowl), I head down the hall, make the bed, get dressed and make my to-do list for the day. Now the clock says 11AM, and we all know it can't possibly take 5 hours just to check email, eat breakfast and get dressed. So either the clock is running at the speed of light or I'm losing a lot of time... So! Today I decided to keep closer tabs on my minutes and hours, and I really put them to good use.  Now if I could just find my glasses!

Lillipution studio  is cozy, bright, easy to heat and just the right size for me!
      Just to prove that I used my found time productively, I worked on pottery all afternoon today. I took this picture after tidying up, so I thought you'd like to see  my studio while it is relatively clean. It's 12'x16' feet, houses a rolling work table, slab roller, spray booth, potters wheel, 6' counter with sink,  and lots of shelves.
      Below is a shot of some projects left to dry on the deck. Drying clay is the biggest challenge a NW potter faces, so these few warm dry days are most welcome.
Leaf motif greenware drying in the sun
      Members of the Harbor Gardener chapter of the Northwest Perennial Alliance will be visiting in a couple of weeks to make clay projects with leaves from their gardens, so these pieces will give them an idea of items they may like to create. Now I see it is already time to go to bed, and in a few short hours the cycle will repeat itself, time spinning ever so rapidly into the future, while I'm jogging along, trying to keep up. I think it's about time to learn to fit my life into the time I am given, rather than trying stretch time to fit my life. Yes, it's about time!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Enjoying the best Robert Redford has to offer...

Today has been another first....A beautiful visit to Sundance resort under crystal blue skies while enjoying delightful company!  A 3.5 mile hike to the dramatic Stewart Falls.  Not only was it invigorating but gave me renewed confidence in my ability to march up a mountainside in blazing heat, thankful for the shady respite offered by lovely groves of scrub oak along the way.  Sundance sits at about 6,000' altitude which takes its toll on a respiratory system that has been living at sea level for the last 5 years!


As these words note, this is a harsh yet incredibly beautiful part of our country.  Formed by many processes including glaciers, the views on our hike were breathtaking. 



What relief we felt once we arrived at the base of these 200' falls.  




Anyone up for coming to the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011?!?!?!?!?!?
P.S. Thanks to my sweet and spunky friend Maddy for the use of her camera as mine is back home in Gig Harbor.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Losing a friend

There is nothing which forces us to face our own mortality like losing a friend. Our dear Clay Jackson lost his fight with cancer on Tuesday, August 3, leaving behind our beloved Susan with a broken heart. What joy to have known them as a couple. Soulmates. Best friends. That sort of elusive relationship that everyone hopes for, but few actually find.
Clay knew no stranger, approached life with enthusiasm, joy, exhuberance and passion. Everyone who met him liked him, because he made everyone feel so valuable. Clay wasn't afraid to express his feelings, and he was compassionate, complimentary and always congenial.
What a lesson we can learn from Clay who set an example, even in the face of looming terminal illness, of joy and good humor. What a lesson we can learn from Susan, of dedication and loving care even when she was sleep deprived and suffering from the loss of her loving man and the overwhelmingly huge change that would take place in her life.
Those of us who have the privilege of being invited into their inner circle, have been given the gift of meeting Clay's family, too. All of them, kind, loving, exuberant, larger than life personalities who embrace those who loved Clay as their own.
The experience of watching Clay's life slip away over these past few months has made me mindful that it isn't how long we live that matters, it's how well we live. It isn't that we love, but that we love to the fullest extent of our being. And that we remember to laugh out loud, from the inside out, a laugh that takes our breath away- to laugh at ourselves, our foibles, and share laughter with others about our human frailties and the pure comedy of life in general.
Rest in Peace, dear Clay - you will live long and large in our memories of you. 
    

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How time flies....

Where oh, where does the time go??? Here it is August 1 already- and although I try not to complain, we are having the lousiest summer weather on the face of the planet! The tomatoes are barely setting on- a few are about walnut size- hopefully we will have a long warm fall, or the garden will be a bust this year!
    That's not exactly true... we had a bumper crop of snow peas, when they finally got started. The March seeding resulted in moldy seeds that never sprouted as the soil was just way too cold and wet. The May seeding grew quickly, then went from blossom to huge pods in two weeks!

The last of the snow peas which will be in a salad tonight!

The carrots are performing admirably, and the second seeding of YaYa's are coming along nicely, but some little critter is eating the tops . Now it's time to think about planting the fall crop of beets, parsnips, late letettuces, and winter squash... I wonder if I'll bother? The cucumbers are just now beginning to flower- on the 1st of August! So much for global warming! At least the good old reliable zucchini type squash plants are producing! I planted Cocozelles this year... the bees love the blossoms! I love them, too- especially stuffed with goat cheese mixed with chopped peaches and a little fresh basil!

The garden has been full of pollinators this summer!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Keeping Clam -Day 2

There is absolutely nothing better than clams and mussels fresh from the water!
I left these in a cool place in their clean saltwater to purge overnight.

Recipe "Clams and Mussels Provencal": Saute coarsely chopped garlic and fresh green onions in olive oil. Add 1 28 oz can good quality plum tomatoes, chopped coarsely, and a handful of fresh garden herbs- I used oregano, thyme, marjoram and parsley tonight. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Srub clams and mussels, de-beard the mussels. Place in a wide, shallow pan, add a small amount of water, cover, bring to a boil , reduce heat and steam gently just until all shells have popped open. When ready to eat, gently add the shell fish and liquid to the tomato sauce. Blend and spoon sauce and tomatoes over shells. Spoon clams and mussels  into bowls, ladle tomatoes and herbs with plenty of broth over shellfish, and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juice.
                                               
                                             
Crocosmia "Lucifer"- now why in the devil do you think they call it that??? This plant is amazing. It is as tall as I am! and speaking of tall- look below. 
The sidewalls on the studio are 7 feet high! This wild digitalis looks like it's going to top that!!! Whew!  Long daylight hours from late spring to mid autumn are a benefit of living this far north. Plants grow larger here, and when 15 hours of daylight is combined with 80 degree summer temperatures, you can almost watch the plants grow. Our spring has been so cool this year, that the vegetable garden is getting a slow start. Usually we have a warm autumn, with some summer flowers contiinuting to bloom until October ..Amazing!                                                                                                                

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Keeping Clam

One of the greatest pleasures of summer is heading out to a favorite clamming beach with a daughter and a friend to engage in the primal pursuit of hunting and gathering ones own food. Nevermind that one now must carry a license for the privilege, and that forged garden trowels and plastic buckets have now replaced digging sticks with stone points and animal skin bags. The pleasure and satisfaction that come from succesfully harvesting food from the wild, and the camraderie of those engaged in that effort is surely carried in our genes.
Favorite clamming beach  Tide -3


A bucket of manilas.
The daily catch limit is 40 clams per person. Minimum size 1 1/2 inches across. We purge them overnight in saltwater, saute onions, garlic, celery and herbs in a big pot, add a cup of dry white wine, add clams and steam just until they open. Remove clams to large bowl, reduce juices in pan to about half, add a little butter or a few drops of heavy cream. Pour bubbling sauce over clams...  I love to soak up the sauce with a crusty baguette when the clams have been devoured!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Priceless Treasure in Our Own back Yard

Olympic National Park covers over 600,000 acres of incredibly beautiful and diverse ecosystems. It is located at the northwestern most corner of Washington State, and it's bounderies wander between pristine wilderness beaches and lush verdant rainforests. There are trails for equestrians, wilderness backpackers, day hikers and those confined to wheelchairs.
Giant Western Red Cedar trees tower hundreds of feet into the air, some as much as 16 feet in diameter at their base. What a thrill for children to be able to see what an old growth forest looks like!

Winter storms toss giant logs like toothpicks onto pristine sand beaches.
 Life abounds in the little pools left behind at low tide.
Rock stacks are formed by the continuous action of the waves as the land erodes and is reclaimed by the sea. In many ways it is refreshing to visit a place so remote, that cell phones cut in and out and wifi service is next to impossible to find. What refreshment of the spirit occurs when one is unplugged for a few days!
Take a few days and see what this amazing gem of a park has to offer. There is a little something for everyone, and the blue skies, babbling brooks, unending beaches, clean uncrowded campgrounds and well marked trails make this park a true gem- right in my own back yard!  
  

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A highly successful weekend -

    
     Exhausted from a weekend of peddling my pottery at the Gig Harbor Garden Tour, it's a great feeling to know so many folks support such a worthy cause. The Garden Tour benefits the Adult Literacy program through Tacoma Community College.  I was assigned to set up my booth in the beautiful Keiter garden in Canterwood Estates where we had nearly 600 visitors in 2 days.
     It is possible that pottery shows away from home are becoming too labor intensive for me to continue. Packing a couple hundred pounds of pots, loading them in the car, lugging them to a set up site, displaying, rearranging, selling, wrapping, packing, lugging back to the car, unloading and unpacking back in the studio just takes too much out of this old girl. The part that is most enjoyable is the interaction with folks who like my pottery. When my pottery is purchased and carried away it is an affirmation that people like to connect with the producer of  handcraft, and are seeking handmade as an alternative to mass produced. At this writing, I'm looking forward to a garden-party-style open studio in August- right here at home.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Summer consists of 3 fine days and a thundershower" Old English saying


Funny- I have 3 varieties of lilies and they are all orange!

     The sun is down on Day 2 of TWO (count 'em TWO)! full days in a row of sunshine!!! I was finally able to stop drying pots in the oven, get a glaze firing done last night, and a bisque load has just fired off so will get glazed tomorrow. The Gig Harbor Garden Tour is this weekend, so I've been scrambling to get as many plant markers, pots, bird feeders and leaf art finished as possible. Hopefully the weather will hold thru the weekend.
     Taking a break from the studio, I wandered around the back yard and snapped a few pictures of thngs that are starting to bloom. We have a pretty spring garden, but then there is a long green stretch until the summer flowers start to pop... It would serve me well to make some notes and consider bloom times when visiting nurseries.

Who remembers when we used to wear pink and grey together?



Two leaf platters fresh from the kiln!

     What pleasure warm weather brings- bare feet, short sleeved t-shirts, capris, ice tea, cool meals, fresh fruit, clamming- and sleeping with the windows open. Two days into summer (but who's counting)???



    
    

Friday, June 18, 2010

House full of Family

What a riot! One daughter arrives with family in tow at 10PM- the other needs to be picked up at midnight... never mind that my bedtime is 10:18PM! Thankfully daughter arriving at 10 agrees to drive to SeaTac to pick up daughter at midnight- of course the least I could do is ride along. It was a nice ride- detour at interstate, but otherwise uneventful, and chatty all the way home. Everyone found beds- hide-a-bed in living room; air mattresses in library, couch in office and the daughter staying for the weekend and SO (significant-other) in guest room. Morning was good fun- everyone being quiet trying not to disturb others in our 1600sqft space...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Incredible Recipes

I love to cook- and my very favorite recipes are those that look and taste as if you have spent hours slaving over them, but in reality they are so fast and easy it's almost like magic.
Over lunch the other day, I promised some friends I would share one of my favoite "Out-of-thin-air recipes" (a phrase coined by my daughter).
This recipe is for Lava Cakes- decadent oozey chocolate emerging from the cakey crust when pierced with the fork. We served these to some visitors from Germany the other day- I told them they were "Mount St Helen's Cakes" The lava oozing from within, the strawberries and whipped cream representing the fruits and flowers now growing the the flanks of the volcano, and of course, the snow on the top!
http://www.recipetips.com/recipe-cards/t--2937/lava-cakes.asp

Bon apetit!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010









The Intrepid Harbor Gardeners

Gardeners Day Out

Early in the day we enjoyed the elaborate and much loved Julia Graham garden, trekking up and down beautifully adorned pathways on the gentle slope, finding delight in every twist and turn. Beautifully framed vistas of water features, interesting plants, colorful pot combinations and comfy seating areas brought oohs and ahhs from each of us.

We found amazing prices and friendly staff at Todds Nursery, and enjoyed a yummy lunch and great camraderie at Windmill Bistro. The split pea soup of the day was sublime! Shopping at Windmill gardens is always a treat, and the 12 of us soon began to see that space in our vehicles became a premium as trunks and back seats were loaded with leafy, blousy, "must haves" for our gardens.

Later, as the skies darkened we shivered under our anoracs, shared umbrellas and huddled under any shelter available while lightning flashed, thunder roared and hail pelted the roof of Plant Passions little shop. While assembling for our final picture of the day, we all agreed on how much fun we had, how nice it was to make new friends, and unanimously, we had indeed, "shopped 'til we dropped".