Monthly Archives: August 2011

West Marin Sunday Drive (Part 2)

In addition to the familiar Route One signs, creative and interesting signs were in abundance.

Gallery Route One (GRO) was open once we moseyed back down the street.  The Box Show is really a marvelous exhibit and we enjoyed it as much this year as we have in previous visits.  “So just what is The Box Show?” you may ask.  This is from the Box Show site:

  • The Box Show is the major fundraiser for our non-profit enterprise, Gallery Route One in beautiful Point Reyes Station.
  • 150 artists gets the same sized pine box. You can do anything to the box you want to as long as the box remains in the final piece.
  • The box can be modified, however it cannot be any wider than 30 inches, mostly because of the constraints in the gallery. There is no height restriction.
  • No live animals, toxic materials, or batteries.
  • That’s it!
  • There’s a silent auction on all the boxes until 2 pm on Sunday, September 18.
  • All of the boxes fall under the auctioneer’s hammer during the exciting Live Auction beginning at 3 pm!
  • You need not be present to win, but bid high and often!

The gallery has a small section of gifts and items for sale.  I picked up a new bumper sticker and some buttons, one of which I wore to work today: Just StART (with ART in red).

I also saw picture frames decorated with rolled pages from magazines, much like the one I did for Day 14 of the 30 Days of Creativity project in June.

Of course all of this strolling and gazing had worked up our appetites (again) so we went to Cowgirl Creamery for picnic goodies.

Sitting under an olive tree, we feasted on wonderful cheeses, fresh bread, pate, salami and tomato salad.

It was such a beautiful day we decided to leave Pt. Reyes Station and take a drive to Inverness along the shores of Tomales Bay.

This old wreck of a fishing boat, the “Point Reyes” made for interesting photos.

We rounded out the day with a Geocache found near the graffiti covered bridge on Platform Bridge Road.

It was a really lovely day for both of us.  Thanks for stopping by.

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West Marin Sunday Drive (Part 1)

Rem and I enjoyed an outing to Pt. Reyes Station Sunday to see the wonderful Box Show at Gallery Route One. It is well worth a visit if you live in the area and will be up until the closing party and live auction on Sunday, September 18.

We usually get our picnic knapsack out but we didn’t even bother with that.  I had a fleece (that I never put on), a baseball cap, my camera, a fanny pack and some water.

It was a beautiful morning.  The fog had rolled back and the Nicasio Reservoir (see first photo) looked lovely.

We weren’t the only ones heading out to Pt. Reyes Station.  We passed loads of bicyclists making the trek and found many more in town.

Most of them were in line at the Bovine Bakery or outside eating in the sunshine.

I like the attitude of this bakery as much as the wonderful pastries.

Regulars keep their mugs on a shelf marked “Private Cups”.

Moo?

Rem decided on the Morning Bun Coffee Cake – too big to consume in one sitting.

I was happy to see the “petite pastry” plate and chose a Chocolate Croissant and a mini Morning Bun.

I shared.  (OK, yes, it was a good thing that I went to Jazzercise AND had a big hike on Saturday).

We strolled down the street and were welcomed at the Pt. Reyes Community Garden.

Toby’s Feed Barn was our next stop.

I was delighted to see yarn bombs by artist Streetcolor.  I mentioned yarn bombs here.  They’re so cheerful and unexpected.

We wandered in and out of shops waiting for Gallery Route One (GRO) to open.

I snapped a little portrait in a shop window then browsed and found a birthday gift for a friend. I found a card that I want to copy in a future post.

Still to come: picnic lunch.  Thanks for stopping by.

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Cool Tools #1

Ever since taking Creative Seasonal Cooking last summer with Tom Hudgens, I’ve been wanting to get a Mandoline Slicer.  Actually, I wanted one before that but the desire went from something idling in the back of my mind to something more pressing and urgent.  I knew I didn’t need a mandoline and in our small apartment kitchen with limited storage space it was probably not even a good idea.

I can spend a little more time and care and cut veggies with a sharp knife.  Or drag out the Cuisinart and shred a whole bucket of coleslaw…if I want.

But I kept looking for the kind of mandoline Tom used in our class. Just in case I happened to see one. It was kind of a mint green and retro.

We used it to make a fresh, delicious Summer Squash Carpaccio with Pecorino, Almonds and Mint, (check out the recipe on his Whole Hog Blog).

Other people in the class hand the same kind and said how it was the perfect mandoline.   I don’t know the name but remembered it was Japanese.  I looked in a local hardware store that has a pretty good kitchen department.  They didn’t have one.  I thought about ordering one online.  But decided, again, I really didn’t need one.  Although if I was going to get one, I should get that one.  Because it was really good at cutting super thin slices.  Oh, and Deb on her blog, Smitten Kitchen mentioned getting a “lovely little Japanese one” that “works like a charm”.  And I love Smitten Kitchen.  I figured she probably had the same kind as Tom.

So a few weeks ago I was in the Japan Center in Japantown in San Francisco and I remembered that mandoline and thought sure I could find one.  I DID find one.  And I bought it.  But it wasn’t the same kind. 

In fact, this one takes up more space than the one I coveted for so long.  But not that much more space.  And I’ve figured out a cupboard that I can keep it in.

I like it.  It’s fun.  I’m planning on making my own pickled ginger. I’ll probably try the Smitten Kitchen recipe for Cellophane Noodle Salad with Roast Pork, doesn’t that sound delicious?  I know I’ll make Summer Squash Carpaccio.

But I wish I’d just gone ahead and ordered the Benriner!  In the meantime, I’ve got this one and I’m slicing and dicing.  Back and forth. Back and forth.

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Hiking with Molly

My sister and I hike together just about every Saturday.  A few weeks ago she had a headache so I set out on my own.  Well, I wasn’t alone because every Saturday I pick up Molly, my parents Tibetan Terrier, and she comes along.  Usually it is Kathleen with her long-haired Dachshund, Ruby, and me with Molly. Molly is a wonderful hiking companion and in the picture above, is anxious to get out of the car and get going.

The morning was foggy so I decided to take a trail that we don’t usually hike in the summer as it doesn’t have much shade  and can be pretty sunny and warm.  Hidden Meadows trail, on the flanks of Mt. Baldy, offers a nice hike with beautiful views of Mt. Tam and not much traffic.

I started to notice flowers I don’t usually see.  Maybe it was because I don’t usually hike the Hidden Meadows trail during this season or maybe I was more observant with my camera in hand.

The hillsides had gone from green to gold which also highlighted different flora.  Bright yellow wildflowers caught my eye and I stopped again for another photo.

Molly seemed to wonder why I kept stopping to take pictures.

The fog had burned off but a cool, marine breeze kept us comfortable.  A whole hillside of the yellow flowers had me stopping for photos again.

Soon after taking this picture we passed two large groups of hikers as we moved uphill on the trail and they hiked down.  About two dozen people – more than we would typically pass if we hiked this trail every Saturday for a month.  As their conversation faded I was content to return to my own thoughts and Molly’s company.

Molly scrambles easily up and over or down and under the various rocks, branches and other obstacles on the path and I do my best to keep up.

As the trail loops around hillsides Mt. Tam comes into view and then is hidden again behind a curve.   It makes me happy every time I see it.

I don’t know what these green fruits are but I liked how they looked.

Hiking without conversation I think of many things: the peeling bark on this Madrone made me glad I am diligent about wearing sunscreen.  I also thought about my family, work (this was before the start of a new semester at College of Marin), and of blog posts (Cool Tools  – about some of my favorite kitchen or crafting tools, for example) I may write some day.

Near the end of the Hidden Meadows trail, we veered off the route we knew onto a branch-less-traveled.  I could see a glimpse of Phoenix Lake as we continued on this new-to-us path and knew about where we were, but it felt like a mini adventure.  Hiking an unfamiliar path made me focus more on my surroundings and got me out of my thoughts.

Molly and I returned to the car, tired  from our hike but I know that I was also rejuvenated and relaxed from the experience.

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Newsprint Nails

When I first saw this on Pinterest it caught my attention.  Then my friend Andy posted it on Facebook and I got the idea that THIS manicure was just what I wanted for tomorrow, the first day of the fall semester at College of Marin where I work as an Administrative Assistant.

I admit mine isn’t done nearly as neatly as the picture that got me interested, but I think it is fun and different and they make me smile when I look at them.  Someone who is better at doing their own nails would almost certainly do a better job but I rarely wear fingernail polish because I’m always messing manicures up.  I chip them or stain them with ink or get glue all over them.

Here’s how to do these if you want to give it a try.

Supplies:

Light Colored Nail Polish

Clear Top Coat

Rubbing Alcohol

10 Small Squares or Strips of Newspaper, big enough to cover your nails

Small Paint Brush

Polish nails with 2 coats of light colored nail polish – I used a creamy off-white.

When polish is dry, wet nails with rubbing alcohol.  I used a small paint brush for this step but saw on other sites the suggestion to pour the alcohol in a small bowl and dip your fingers into the alcohol to wet the nail.

Press a piece of newsprint over the nail and smooth it down.

Carefully peel off newsprint – type should be on the nail, printed in reverse.

When you’ve finished all nails, cover with a clear top coat of polish.

Several times the newspaper stuck in the polish.  I used the brush and more rubbing alcohol to remove as much of the bits as I could but some just got covered over with the clear top coat.  Once they were dry I smoothed down a few bits with a file.

Thanks for checking out this post.

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Polished Stone Paper

The Polished Stone technique is very simple, really beautiful and effective but it does take special paper to create.  I think it is worth it.  The photos really don’t show off how gorgeous it is.

Rubbing alcohol on glossy paper causes the ink to spread and blend with the metallic ink showing a vein-like pattern so the end results look something like a slab of polished marble or other stone, depending on your color choices.

Supplies:

Glossy Paper (I get mine from Stampin’ Up!)

Re-inkers in both metallic such as silver or copper, and rich, jewel-toned colors

Rubbing Alcohol

Cotton Balls

Clothespin to keep your fingers (relatively) clean

Optional:

Ink Marker(s)

Air Spritzer Tool

Instructions:

Pinch a cotton ball in a clothespin.  This is your daubing tool to apply the rubbing alcohol and ink to the glossy paper.

Get your cotton wet with the rubbing alcohol.  Next put about 3 drops each of 2 or 3 colors of  ink on the cotton ball and then put a bit of metallic ink on the cotton.  The consistency of the metallic ink is thick and comes out kind of painty rather than thin and drippy and you just want a dab of the metallic ink.  Too much of the metallic ink will take away from the end results.  Silver will give a gray cast to the paper if you use a heavy hand.  Better to start with less and add some later if you think it needs more.

Now start daubing the cotton ball all over the paper. Just keep dotting the ink onto the paper until you are happy with the results.  If it seems a bit dry, put more alcohol on the cotton.  If you want more color, add more ink.

For this example I had a piece that was turquoise blue and I wanted to add some green.  I dotted on the green ink using a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol.  I didn’t want to completely cover the turquoise and I wanted it to be softer and more blended, so I went over it with just an alcohol-dampened cotton ball to achieve this:

In the same way, if you’ve put more metallic ink on your paper than you want, you can start with a clean cotton ball and plain rubbing alcohol and go back over your paper to remove and/or spread out the metallic ink.

I decided to try an additional step I’d seen on other sites:  adding a fine spray of colored ink while the alcohol is still wet.  Using a colored marker and an air spritzer tool like this:

Dot an alcohol-dampened cotton ball on your paper and working quickly while the alcohol is still wet, spray ink over your polished stone paper.  This pictures shows how it looks:

You can see Carson on the computer daubing away as she creates polished stone paper.

Here’s to Skrafting, Polished Stone and inky fingers. Thanks for the visit and come back again.

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Skyping + Crafting = Skrafting

The other night I crafted with my friends, Carson and Jean.  We did a beautiful technique on glossy paper called “Polished Stone” which I will show you in the next post.  We chatted and laughed and had a great time crafting together.  The only problem was I didn’t have enough of the paper I needed for this project.  Too bad because Carson and Jean had plenty and were happy to share except they are in Washington and I’m in California.

Of course we could have been working on different projects but it was fun to be doing the same project at the same time even though we’re hundreds of miles apart.  Thanks to our computers and Skype and a little planning we had the supplies to work on our polished stone paper while we caught up.  We had a little hiccup with the technology but once that was worked out, it was almost as good as being together in one room.

Consider “Skrafting” with friends who live far away and you may find that the distance doesn’t seem quite so great.

Thanks for stopping by!

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More Posts and My Favorite Socks

I’m planning on writing more posts.  I think of things I want to write about but then I feel like if I’m not going to write a post very often it should be a long one and then I don’t write at all.  So I’m going to try and write more often but write shorter posts with a few longer ones.

Today I’m writing about my favorite pair of socks.  I love these socks.  I received them as a gift for my 5oth birthday from my friend Jane.  They remind me of Jane and that’s a good connection.  They remind me of the wonderful birthday celebration I had –  another good connection.  When I put them on they make me happy and I always feel a little invincible (is it possible to feel a little invincibility?).  They say LOVE and HOPE and PEACE and FAITH and JOY on them so I feel as if those words, wrapped around my feet make me stronger and a bit like Wonder Woman and her bracelets, like I can deflect things when I wear them.

But best of all, they have just the right amount of elastic so they stay up but don’t bind and they’re very comfortable.  I love my socks.

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You Should Make This Pasta!

Pappardelle Pasta with Broccolini, Feta, Pine Nuts and Lemon.  Last summer I took a wonderful cooking class with Tom Hudgens, author of The Commonsense Kitchen and a College of Marin colleague and friend.  Every class culminated with a shared lunch of all the wonderful, creative, seasonal food that Tom had just taught us how to make.  This pasta is so easy and so delicious that it became part of my regular repertoire of dinners for but then I forgot about it for awhile.  I saw pine nuts at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and remembered this pasta.

A note here, this is really Tom’s recipe – I’ve hardly changed it at all.  I just like it more lemony than the original which has lemon zest but no lemon juice, so I’ve added lemon juice.  This is a great one-pot dinner because the broccolini goes into the same pot as the pasta to cook.  I use more pine nuts than the original recipe but if you are serving it as a side you can go with the smaller amount.   I usually don’t use the chile pepper flakes – but I include them for those of you who want a little more bite.  The recipe is wonderful exactly as written but it’s also great if you don’t have pappardelle pasta.

I made it last week with bow tie pasta and broccoli. Although the recipe calls for broccolini it is equally yummy with broccoli.  In fact, I’ve even substituted toasted, slivered almonds for the pine nuts and even though it isn’t quite as good as the original, it’s really still a very satisfying combination.  What is crucial in my opinion is pasta, feta cheese, lemon zest, olive oil and a green vegetable plus some toasty nuts.  It makes a big, comforting bowl of pasta.

Pasta with Broccolini, Feta Cheese, Pine Nuts & Lemon

(barely adapted from The Commonsense Kitchen, Tom Hudgens)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
8 oz. pasta (Pappardelle or other shape)

salt (for the pasta water)

1 lb. broccolini, or sprouting broccoli, or broccoli

2 to 4 oz. pine nuts I love this pasta for dinner by itself so use the greater amount of nuts.  If it is part of a larger meal, you can use fewer pine nuts (Trader Joe’s has dry-toasted pine nuts)

extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (sheep’s or goat’s milk, if possible)

1 lemon (zest and juice)

black pepper to taste

pinch of hot red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Cut the broccolini into large bite-sized pieces – in half lengthwise and crosswise is just about right.

If the pine nuts aren’t dry-toasted , toast them in a dry pan over medium heat until, they are golden brown.

Bring 1 1/2 gallons of water to a rolling boil, and add a heaping tablespoon of salt. Throw in the pasta, and boil, stirring frequently, until the pasta is almost, but not quite, cooked through. Add the broccolini to the pot and cook until pasta and broccolini are tender.

While the pasta and broccolini are cooking zest the lemon then cut lemon in half.

When both the pasta and the broccolini are cooked, scoop a bit of the pasta water out of the post and set aside. Drain pasta and broccolini.

In a large bowl (or I often use the pot in which I cooked the pasta), combine the pasta and broccolini with a splash of olive oil, a bit of the pasta water, 2/3 the feta cheese, pine nuts, lemon zest, squeeze on juice from one or both halves of lemon as desired, add red pepper flakes if using, and black pepper to taste. Now put it in the serving bowl, top with remaining feta and serve.  You can also set aside a bit of the lemon zest and pine nuts and sprinkle those over the finished dish.

When I make this dish I use one of my very favorite kitchen tools, a microplane grater.  It is incredible for getting loads of zest off a lemon and if I splurge on a chunk of good Parmesan cheese the microplane grater makes a fine, snowy pile.  It is also a good tool for grating fresh ginger.

I made this pasta for my friends, Carson and Ian, last year when I went visit them with their new baby boy, Eamon.  Here is Eamon from that night in June of 2010.

One last note: I usually buy fat-free feta cheese and have used that in the pasta recipe, but Tom recommended some Israeli sheep’s milk feta from a place called “Pastures of Eden“.  He found it at Woodland Market in Kentfield and said it was probably the best feta cheese he’d ever tasted.  I bought some today and it is incredible!  It is creamy yet still crumbly, tangy and salty.  It was marvelous in this dish.  If you are looking at a specialty shop for feta cheese, keep an eye out for it.

UPDATE: I found the Pastures of Eden Feta cheese individually packaged at Trader Joe’s.

Thank you for stopping by.  Now go make that pasta!

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