Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Perfect Crust

I've been baking pies for a few years now and have never found a recipe for crust that pleases me until now. While driving to work the day before Thanksgiving, I heard this fun story from Steve Inskeep's kitchen. The most worried-about part of the Thanksgiving meal, according to NPR listeners, is the pie crust. The secret ingredient turned out to be VODKA. Below is a snippet from the article, but click on the above link for the full story.
Thank you NPR!

Pie Crust
• 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon table salt
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
• 2 tablespoons cold vodka (see recipe)
• 2 tablespoons cold water

1. Process 3/4 cup flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening, and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Haute Chocolate Tea

If you're a chocoholic like I am, this tea, cleverly named Haute Chocolate by Teavana, is a low calorie yet tasty alternative to a milky hot chocolate. Been drinking this for the past few months and it's the heartiest tea I've had in a long time. Very heavy and sweet, I add just a touch of milk and it's perfect. Tastes like I'm drinking my dessert!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Beaver Coptic Book

Should I have put a rooster on the other side? Tee hee! This one will be for sale at the Bobbe Gillis Gallery Holiday Open House next Friday and Saturday!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What Keeps Me Grateful

Is the career unfolding before me, the splashes of color I get to move around the page, wet ink on thirsty paper and a husband who supports everything I love to do, everything that makes me happy, who moves to the pace I set for myself, just to give me the space I need to see things finished. I married a person who wanted to solve problems with me right away. Someone who wanted to work. The person who had me tagged and classified as the middle child from day one. Who knows what makes me tick and knows just what kind of empathy I need to feel loved, listened to, energized and safe.

I am making pies in the kitchen this morning while Doug plays trains and cars with Anton. It is a good life.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Portfolio Center Fall 08 Production Students

Check out the latest bright creatives at Portfolio Center. We are having a blast blending art and technology, as seen in this poster. Just one of the fun assignments in this class. My second quarter teaching it and already I'm addicted to the assignments. Using this stellar Instructables lesson as a beginning point, everyone completed their conceptual self portrait within 2 weeks.
You guys rock!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holiday Open House

Here's where I'm selling my next round of handmade books.

Friday, December 5th & Saturday, December 6th, 2008
10am - 7pm
Holiday refreshments, unique gift selections from visiting artisan, sale items and a raffle for free gifts. Forget the malls! Take a break in our inviting space! Ample, Free, Rooftop-parking!

This event will give you the opportunity to view all the new artwork at Bobbe Gillis Gallery. Plan on visiting the many other businesses within the new BrickWorks complex.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Coptic Cowboys

From time to time, my devoted mother finds vintage books and gives them to me, knowing full well that they'll be sacrificed to the whims of my xacto blade and bookbinding needle. This one's a real treasure and I think will delight any big boy whose got fond memories of his 1950's childhood room decor. The type, color palette and description of equipment is charming and ripe for the gluing. I am still preparing for a book show in December at the Bobbe Gillis Gallery. Look for this one here an come by, even if just to say hello. They are THE nicest people and I plan on pricing everything to fit everyone's tighter recession-friendly budgets.

Friday, November 21, 2008

5-ply Cashmere Around My Neck

Oh, dear god I have met my maker. This lovely hank I got from Knitch last weekend has just about put me over the edge of guilty pleasure. I am knitting up the Folding Triangle Scarf Pattern by Lynn Vogel I mentioned in an earlier post (by the way, she sells the pattern cheaper at her own ETSY site than do other retailers!) with this yummy stuff of gold, pink and green hues. I better stop before I faint with pleasure. The wonderful thing about this pattern is that it's just varied enough to keep me interested, but not overwhelmed. You try a new pattern for a while, almost enough to memorize the stitch, and then you're on to something new for another comfortable go.

Cashmere 5 is made by Art Yarns out in White Plains New York. The 5 strands are usually seen twisted (called plys) but here they lay side by side and do a pretty good job of staying together because of cashmere's fuzzy factor. This color's got a number (#105), not a name and is a lovely mixture of rose, ochre and green and is lovingly dyed by hand. So every hank is unique. Also the more you wear something knitted in cashmere, the fuzzier it gets. Just like the Velveteen Rabbit. :) Cashmere 5 can be described in one word: orgasm.

More to come as I get closer to my happy ending. (tee hee!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Free Plants

I am not as innocent a person as you might think. I steal plants. Let me explain. When I'm shopping for plants, there are always leaves, stems and branches of plants that have been damaged by shopper traffic and have ended up on the floor, waiting for the night's cleaning crew to sweep it away for the trash. The NEXT time you see things like these on the ground, PICK THEM UP and bring them home, recut the stem so you see wet green instead of dried out brown at the tip and either stick it into water, or dip it into rooting hormone and into a pot of rooting soil. If you fail, well then at least you tried. But if you succeed, then you've got a new plant for free!

African violets can root very easily in water. Just make sure the cutting is of a healthy leaf so it can absorb as much light as possible. The above african violet you see here, I got from a discarded stem cutting last year at Lowes. Now it's a flowering healthy plant bursting with vigor and waiting to be propagated again. Yay me!

This bud vase is rooting a leaf from a plant called Purple Passion. I got this sad little leaf from the floor of a busy Publix. I am thinking that this plant is a cousin of the african violet because it has the same kind of fuzz as the other and though it does not flower, its leaves are the MOST beautiful violet and green mixture I've yet to see. They also root in water the same way. You can see some of this color and the roots beginning to grow in the water. They grow very quickly! In a week or two, I'll stick this one in a little pot and keep it on the windowsill.

Today's moral: one mans trash is another man's treasure.
Any questions?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's a Big Boy Chair

Turning two seems to be a real stage for changes. First he got a big boy bed, now he's in his big boy chair! Way to go hunny bun!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mary & Dan are PARENTS!!!

Congratulations beautiful baby boy! We love you!

Photos taken by Stacey Bode Photography.

Fall/Winter Window Boxes

Hallo Friends,

Today I am sick at home with another round of the family cold that's been traveling around our house. I had it 2 weeks ago and just got it again. This time it's worse and I now have a voice like a man's and enough mucus to build a small thatch hut for two.
So I am home sick today which means I'll be knitting, sleeping, drinking and beeeeeloging.

Today's topic will be all about my new window boxes, which I know you've all been anxiously awaiting news of this season's winter-hardy plantings. So here goes.

I went to Hastings Garden Center this year (don't bother going to Lowes or Home Depot as they have nothing new and interesting and no one knows anything about what they're selling, nor do they want any difficult questions from you or any other shopper) and bought the standard pansies (white and purple) to fill in gaps with cheery color. I needed something trailing, so chose English Ivy, which is very hardy and can get nice and full as long as you pinch it every so often. Just don't ever put this stuff in the ground! It spreads like fire and will choke anything it can find. English Ivy is evergreen (lasts the winter) and looks SOOOO pretty in pots and baskets. Nice on your front porch, too. That's what I love about plants. They say, "someone who is capable of love, lives here and takes care of me." Now that's a house I want to walk into. A house filled with love. (Go ahead, you can gag now if you want to. I'm sick, ok?)

So after choosing some standards, I found a variety of really interesting looking plants called Euphorbia. I got three varieties: Euphorbia Blackbird, Euphorbia Tasmanian Tiger and Euphorbia Glacier Blue. They are winter hardy and actually flower for a long time beginning in spring. They are supposed to get really tall, which probably isn't too good for the window boxes. So once spring gets here, I'm putting these babies into the ground where they will live and flourish.

So that's what I do with my window boxes. Every season, I put something evergreen in there, then something meant not to last and just for color, an annual like (pansies for winter or petunias for summer.) What survives at the end of that season, I put into the ground in my kidney shaped bed out front, or by the mailbox, or along my fence. So they cycle keeps going. Someday I'll be one of those crazy old ladies with no grass and all flowers and twenty cats in my yard. Closets bursting with a ten year supply of whatever hobby I'd put aside in favor of the next and no money in the bank. When I die, my estate sale will be a bonanza for the creative person. Just you wait.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Little Bunny

This is the face Anton makes when I read him Runaway Bunny. The first page reads:
Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, "I am running away."

"If you run away from me" said his mother, "I will run after you, for YOU (and this is where I begin to whisper in Anton's ear and he giggles and makes this face and melts my heart every time) are my little bunny."

Sorry folks. I've had a little wine and am feeling sentimental. Sigh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What I Want To Make Next

This Folding Triangle Scarf Pattern is on my wish list. Best yet - it takes worsted weight yarn, which should knit up faster and feel all snuggly around my neck. Mmmmmnh.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Honey and His New Bike

And extra large helmet to fit his extra large head and tight sexy gear to fit his extra large heart.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dougie Fresh Portrait

Doug's birthday isn't until Tuesday and we are celebrating with his best friend (and worst influence) Steven tonight! Should be a blast. Doug got a bike from me and Mom and Dad. But this illustration I did just for him from Anton. Happy birthday sweetheart. Happy birthday Daddy. XOXOXO

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Thank You ArtFolio

Artfolio at Binders was a huge success and MAN was I busy yesterday. I sat in a high traffic area demonstrating book-making techniques. Had a great time and met so many wonderful people that by the time it was over and I was home, I realized I was coming down with the cold Anton and Doug just recovered from. It's always someone's turn to be sick in the house when you have little kids. Ah well. It's all worth it.

So today I am making Doug's birthday present and taking it easy. I think I will take some drugs in a little bit and go lay down.

Love to all,


Friday, November 07, 2008

Holiday Ornament Book Workshop


We're spreading the holiday cheer via a new one-day-workshop at Binders. Please join us and spread the word! Bring your spare buttons, scrap paper and happy selves to Binders in December!

Holiday Ornament Book Workshop Instructor: Anne Elser
Saturday Dec. 13
Fee: $70
Come make your own mailable, unbreakable, and completely unique tree ornament! This little coptic bound book is about 2 inches high that hangs and is fastened by two seperate tiny crochet chains or a narrow ribbon. Accented with a button, the books can hang open or shut. Within its pages you can write a personalized message to your beloved, your own gift list inside, fond memories of the holiday season that year, a tiny portrait or photo of family and friends, or holiday cookie recipes. Your book can be made in an afternoon and will be finished by the time the workshop ends! Make more than one!

Your Price: $70.00

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Spirit of Service


I've just come home from my favorite day of the week - Wednesdays, where I zip into the school by 8:00 and get to make fun things until noon in Production, then off to Binders for bookmaking until 5:00, capping off the day for 3 hours of calligraphy. I still pinch myself every morning when I go to work - to be so lucky to love what I do so much that it doesn't for a split second ever, EVER feel like work.

Hank came in this morning at PC and spoke with my first quarter class about how lucky they are to be in a place where it's safe to fall. Safe to fail. Safe to disagree. Safe to ask for help. I think nothing is harder than art school - pouring yourself into a medium, only to have it dissected and critiqued over and over and over again until it's perfect. This is a beautiful place. This place of conflict. It is a luxury to not be alone.

I am grateful to live in a country who is always, ALWAYS aware of that conflict and whose people are empowered by the ability to move forward. I am grateful for the mistakes we have made as a nation. I am grateful for the voices who spoke in unity to select a man who has put a positive spin on an ugly election battle and who has turned this nation purple. He has called us to action by turning an emotion into a verb. HOPE

And though there is still a little voice in my head that wonders if Orwell's 1984 is in play and that's big brother looking down at me, I am going to dutifully trust in Obama's call to set my cynicism aside and to put a little more faith in my government. I will support him.

Kudos, too to McCain who was so gracious and served us even during the campaign as the man brave enough to battle against such a positive campaign as Obama's. How do you fight a smile? You cannot. McCain sacrificed himself to finish the race and held fast and said goodbye in a way that no one else could.

I am too frickin' busy to post a picture that appropriately honors Obama's victory speech last night. I want to calligraph his speech and paint his face in rich violet hues of eggplant, avocado, red cabbage and merlot. (Can you tell I'm inspired?) I have never been more excited.

Here are highlights from his speech I found particularly moving.

"This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice."

"So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other."

"Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long."

"And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too."

"That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected."

So guess what friends. If we can make ourselves kinder, our friendships deeper, our marriages wiser, our children safer, our decisions wiser, our compassion real, we can do the same for our country and it for us.

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Big Boy Bed!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Anton's most recent rite of passage: the transition from crib to bed. It's very exciting and totally fun tucking him in under the covers. This kind of goodnight ritual is the one I remember as a child and even though it's a little sad saying goodbye to the crib, watching him grow into the next stage is a really exciting step into the future. Even more fun is watching in eagerly slip under the covers.

Doug and I went to IKEA this weekend and spent $300.00 on the whole thing, from bed to mattress, bedspread and linens. Growing up is such an adventure.

Annnnnnnnnd, a BIG congratulations to Obama and to my friends who have pushed so hard to fight for him. I will lean on you for the hope you are generating and will hope myself to better understand your happy expectations. Expect to see a visual tribute to his hard work here soon! Looks like our country has gone through a rite of passage itself.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

To Cry or Not To Cry

Last weekend Doug and I saw Clint Eastwood's Changeling. It was fabulous. He shows great restraint throughout the film and I was never once bored. This film could have been a real tear-jerker. But it gracefully avoided cliches and stuck to the facts.

It was horrifying to watch a woman being treated so cruelly and without respect. Women and children were both devalued in this story.

And I know it sounds cheezey, but it all ended with a message of hope. It was beautiful. Tragic. And so artfully told without overtelling anything.

Clint Eastwood is such the master and from what I understand, he's the best director out there who treats his actors with a great amount of respect. I think he's probably the only honorable man left in Hollywood!

Monday, November 03, 2008

In The Works

Covered by pages from the 1930's children's book "Wiggles", this coptic stitched book is on its way to being completed. Yay!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Bravo to Mary and Dan and all the other Dad's Garage celebs for puttin out this awesome video. Nothin like good old fashioned competition to get the rest of us interested in politics.