Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I have been working really early hours, which is nice in that it keeps me away from the dreaded customer service, but it drains this night owl.
Sometimes, on my days off, I just want to laze around and read.
I wrote about a couple of these lazy days here.

Yes, I have continued to work in my garden, but it is slow going, and without a camera it is difficult to keep you up to date.
Soon I'll have some photos.
But the work is rewarding in its simplicity--such a joy to see little green shoots break the surface of the soil.

And I have continued my visits to the chiropractor.
More health stuff soon too.

I don't have anything wonderful to post today, just a hello.
I do plan to cut out a shirt tonight though, and I have some really fun ideas for what to make for The Purse Project.

I have continued to be fascinated with foodie movies, foodie books, and foodie blogs.
Last night I made Skillet Ziti. It was yum.
I also made a snack with garbanzo beans--the first time I've ever liked garbanzos!

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sweet Salty Snack Mix, and more

When it comes to taste, sour is my favorite.
My second favorite, is the combination of salty with sweet (kettle corn, for example).
I haven't tried this snack mix recipe yet, but just looking at it I KNOW it's fantastic.
David Lebovitz is the author of The Perfect Scoop, all about ice cream (the book is on my 'gimme' list).

I have heard his blog gets 5000 hits per day. Holy cow, I can only dream about such popularity.

Here, his recipe for Spiced Glazed Nuts and Pretzel Mix
Glazing the nuts with spices and adding a touch of sweetness, makes this the perfect nibble before dinner with an aperitif. I melt the butter in a large bowl, so I can do all the mixing in that bowl, making one less thing for me to wash as well.

Note that the salt is added after the nuts are stirred, so it doesn't dissolve. And be sure to use coarse salt, which has an appealing, crunchy texture and more delicate flavor than ordinary table salt.

2 cups (200 gr) mixed raw nuts (untoasted); any combination of cashews, whole almonds, peanuts, pecan halves, and hazelnuts

1 tablespoon (15 gr) unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons (45 gr) dark brown sugar (or cassonade sugar)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or piment d'Espelette)

1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt

2 cups (90 gr) small pretzel twists

1. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350F (180C) oven for 10 minutes, stirring once for even toasting.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and maple syrup.

Add the salt, warm nuts, pretzels, and stir until the nuts and pretzels are completely coated.

3. Spread the mixture back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 12 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Remove from oven and cool completely, separating the nuts and pretzels as they cool.

Once cool, this mixture can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week

His recipe for Salt Roasted Peanuts looks amazing too (especially since I'm growing peanuts in my garden!)

Epicurious is a great source for recipes also.
This recipe for Candied Walnuts is excellent on salads.
Substitute those walnuts for the ones in Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pears--this salad is one of those 'go-to' recipes you should always keep on hand in case company comes over. Soooo good.


Video Sunday

This is a fun, silly spoof on Star Wars, called "Store Wars".
It is about organic produce.

The video was produced by Free Range Studios for The Organic Trade Association, 2005.

"Search your peelings, Cuke. You know it to be true."

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pig Noses

Photo Friday is about an hour and a half early this week.

This is a pic from my friend debs' wedding.
Pig Noses
A group of elegantly dressed bridesmaids, donning pig noses.
(no, we did not walk down the aisle like that)
You'll have to click on the photo to enlarge it--flickr doesn't size horizontals well.

I am on the very left, then Tomi Jo, Janice (in gold because she sang at the wedding), and the maid of honor was Tracie.
Our hair is back in ponytails fastened with velvet bows.
We wore velvet gloves, satin skirts, and carried red tulips with shimmering leaves brushed with gold leaf.

The bride and groom were married in front of a Christmas tree at the historic US Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.
Favors on the tables were little presents--black and white boxes of chocolate truffles.

Debs is traveling in Europe right now with her son, so I couldn't ask her to remind me of the year she married, but I'll take a guess and say it was December 1987.

The bride and groom honeymooned in Europe (debs loves Europe), and waltzed in Vienna on New Years Eve.
Ah....so romantic.

Wow, more than 20 years ago.
Time just zooms by...

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Potato Stew--yum!

I am, for the most part, a vegetarian.
And I love potato soup.
Recipes often add leeks, or carrots, but this is the first time it's so unadorned yet full of flavor.
This dish is called Locro de Papas, or Potato Stew.

I saw it made on a recent episode of Gourmet Magazine's Diary of a Foodie.
Watch a clip of the episode here.

I live so close to Mexico's border that I was able to purchase annatto seeds in my local supermarket.
If you can't find them in the Latin section of your store, or at a tiendita (Mexican grocer), I'm sure you can find them online (I know they're on Amazon).
The seeds are used to flavor and color the oil, so when the oil is added to the potatoes, the result is a wonderful orange hue.

Honestly, the avocado is essential. Who knew this combination could be so amazing?!

Locro de Papas
This traditional Andean soup, warm with potatoes, milk, and cheese and bright with cumin and avocado, may be the ultimate comfort food.
2 teaspoons annatto (achiote) seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 1/2 lb russet (baking) potatoes
1 cup chopped white onion
Rounded 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
7 cups water
1 cup whole milk
5 1/2 oz queso fresco (Mexican fresh cheese) or ricotta salata, coarsely grated (1 1/4 cups)
2 (6- to 7-oz) firm-ripe avocados
Heat annatto seeds and oil in a very small saucepan over low heat, swirling pan frequently, until oil is bright red-orange and starts to simmer, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into 3/4-inch pieces.
Pour annatto oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a wide 7- to 8-quart heavy pot, discarding solids. Cook onion and half of potatoes (reserve remaining potatoes in a bowl of cold water) in annatto oil over moderately high heat, stirring, until onion is softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cumin, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water (7 cups) and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes, then mash into broth. Drain remaining potatoes and add to stew, then simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in milk and cheese and increase heat to high, then bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, quarter avocados lengthwise, then pit, peel, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
Serve stew in large soup bowls, topped with avocado.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Arte y Pico

Oh wow, how fun is this?!
Patty at Pipstitch has given me an award!

It's always nice to know that maybe I inspired someone, or made them smile, or got them to thinking.

She says, "The "Arte y Pico" award was created to be given to bloggers who inspire others with their creative energy and talents, no matter whether it be in the form of writing, artwork, design, interesting material, or contributions to the blogger community. When a blogger receives this award it is considered a "special honor" and, once presented to you, it is to be passed on to at least 5 other bloggers who meet the criteria."

Boy, it's so tough to choose.
I currently subscribe to 121 blogs via Bloglines, and that doesn't even represent all of my reading.
I have mentioned a few of my favorites before, so now the question is whether or not I should repeat the favorites, or choose new ones.
I mean, there are SO MANY good blogs out there!

Oh geez, let me just choose some.
Bari J, because her collage style just is awe-inspiring.

Calamity Kim, for the same reason. How does she have time to make so many wonderful things? I just blogged a project from each of these ladies on my purse blog.

How do I choose between Baking Bites, Orangette, and Smitten Kitchen?
I can't. They are all divine.

Oh shoot, I'm already at five.
No, wait!
Well, I was never much of a rule follower anyway.
Oh cool, it says "at least" five.
Can I give it to 121? No, okay then...

If you want to laugh, and don't mind bad words, Finny is your girl.

Want excellent writing about family life and day to day introspection (and excellent photography), Andrea of Hula Seventy.

Excellent writing, often about art and history, there is only one Aubrey, and I am so grateful we are friends.

Melanie, of Jellybean Angel, because she feels like my long lost sister, but her blog has restricted subscription, so I mention it just as a hello to her.

And Pattie, of This is my Summer, because I think we share a special kinship too, and I love the fact that her blog is a scrapbook for her children...little bits of saved memories of day to day life that they will be able to look upon in the future and say, "I remember...".

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Sunday, July 20, 2008


I've been cruising through Flickr, looking for inspiration for The Purse Project, and have been discovering some incredible collages (check out the blog--I found some great stuff to link).
In my search, I came across some other projects that just make my mind start running with possibilities.

Like this stitched paper vest (click on images to go to the Flickr pages, and to view more of the details)

Stitched paper hanging
Originally uploaded by lizziegolden

Or this "drawing with thread"

Originally uploaded by noii's

Tutorial to turn an apron into a tote bag, by Ambrosian Beads.

Ha! Meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting!
(thanks, Pipstitch)

This video, Lion Hug, makes me cry and smile at the same time

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Photo Friday

Pigs at the Fair
One of the frames from several photobooth strips my friends and I took at the San Diego County Fair last month.
Photobooth pics are our annual tradition.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I like to cook from scratch--especially when I bake.
I don't use boxed mixes, and I only use the best ingredients.
I take pride in keeping tradition alive, and I find baking to be soothing.

Once in awhile, however, I'll break my own rules.
I really like these simple danish made with Bisquick and jam.

Recipe here.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fun in the Garden with Recycled Glass

Last month, my mom and I attended the San Diego Floral Association's garden walk.
The self-guided tour of private home gardens included three homes in Point Loma, and three in Mission Hills.
We attended the same tour last year (of different homes), and were so impressed that we had to go again.
San Diego organizations hold a number of garden tours throughout the county starting in the spring, but our funds are usually limited so we have to only choose one or two tours to attend.

I have so many fun photos, I'll have to post about this more than once.

Let's start with this home in Mission Hills.
The family had terraced a steep hillside with a descending path, fountains, and foliage.
They had done all the work themselves.

From the street level, they built a tower in their back patio.
Within, the spiral staircase brings you into the terraced backyard.
Garden Tower

They set up simple rest areas and fountains.
Simple Fountain

Here a simple roof tile acts as a spigot for a waterfall, surrounded by drought tolerant plants
Simple Fountain

Steep hillsides and canyons are too often neglected.
This home owner, however, utilized the space beautifully.
The dirt path snaked its way down and across, with nooks and crannies filled with plants.

But I was most impressed with the retaining walls they built from wine and water bottles
Wine and Water Bottle Retaining wall

Wine and Water Bottle Retaining wall
(click on photos to enlarge)

Wine and Water Bottle Retaining wall
The owner said they drink about three bottles of wine per week, and it just added up.
Talk about a great recycling project!
Note the Blu Italy water bottles in the blue glass are available at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

You can always just add the color and sparkle of glass in your garden, like I posted about before,
here blue glass bottles are placed on the tines of an upturned rake
Garden embellishments

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fruit dressed up for dessert

I went to a home barbecue on July 4 where there was a huge spread of homemade goodies.
I was really intrigued by a dish that was sitting on the counter--we couldn't figure out if it was cheese or cheesecake.
It turned out to be watermelon!
This is such a fun dessert.

watermelon almond tart

The recipe tries to be low calorie by using non or low-fat yogurt, but please, skip that zero flavor nonsense and use French Vanilla whole milk with cream top by Stonyfield farm.
Honestly, low and non-fat yogurt make no sense to me whatsoever.
Flavor and quality, now that makes sense.


Video Sunday

I found this on Jelly Bean Angel.
I had never heard it before, but it's so timeless.
One of the best parts of blogging is finding kinship with people across seas and continents.
Thanks Melanie!

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Photo Friday

Fair with the Pigs, 1991
(click on image to enlarge)
did I really wear that????
Spandex daisy leggings with MATCHING EARRINGS!!
oversized shirt
Fanny pack
braces on my teeth
weird curls in my bangs
Good Lord...
With debs, Tomi Jo, and Tracie at the Del Mar Fair, 1991

Never tear up your photos--you never know how much laughter they'll bring later.
Or how often you'll say "wow...I looked pretty good there!" (uh...not this time, lol)

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance - Bollywood Edition

Wow, how amazing is this? So inspiring.
I love the symbolism.
I love how, as Mia said, dance is a universal language, and so many elements of various cultures intertwine.

I work with an older man who is from India.
He is soft spoken, always positive, wears sweater vests that his mom knit for him, and arranged marriages for his daughters.
He is kind and sweet but shy.
One day we got on the subject of dance, and he raised up his arms and made a motion of such grace and fluidity that I was blown away.
A split second spoke of tradition and culture and sensuality,
Now I am forever fascinated with this style of movement.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Wild horses deserve protection

Make your voice heard: save the wild mustangs in Nevada.
Ranchers are talking about euthanizing.
Story here.


T-shirt Bag (updated)

The latest challenge on The Purse Project was to make a purse using one or more t-shirts.
I started out with three tees: a thrifted green with a cute yoga lady, a thrifted green with a wave design, and my own shirt from People's (an organic foods co-op in Ocean Beach where I am a member) that just didn't quite fit right.
Barb, before
(click on photos to enlarge)

I knew from having recently made Amy Butler's Madison bag that the pattern called for using Craft Fuse, which is a fusible interfacing that is a relatively sturdy stabilizer.
I figured if I used this product, that I could turn a stretchy knit into something that would act like a woven.
So I decided to sew the Uptown version of the bag--a pattern with short handles and an open top (the bag I made previously, the Downtown, had a long strap and a flap).

It worked!
Barb, T-shirt bag, yoga side

Barb, People's tee side

I used the wave tee for the lining as well as the base.
Barb, wave tee base

Because the pattern pieces were so large, they extended into the armhole of the yoga tee.
It worked okay, but I covered one side with a heart cut from the Peoples tee, and a star shape cut from the green lining.
Barb, detail

I used magnets inside the tabs to close the bag, versus the velcro called for in the pattern.
I used four small magnets (two stitched into the corners of each tab).
I also sandwiched a heavy piece of Pellon (similar to Timtex) between the exterior and the lining of the base piece, to give it additional stability (knit is so lightweight, it tends to sag).

I found that stitching on the knit fabric was a bit more difficult than I had expected.
The handles were a problem in that no matter how careful I was, or how slowly I stitched, the seam line wasn't perfectly straight.
"Good enough" is not a phrase in my vocabulary.
Initially I ripped out seams and tried again, but it just wasn't working.
Finally I got an 'aha' moment, and realized I could mask the flaw with a decorative stitch.
Viola! Not only did it look nicer, but it made the handles lie flat also.
So that's my little lesson for this challenge.
And really, that's the point of this whole thing--to try new ideas (in this case, sewing a knit using a pattern for wovens), and see how things work out.
I was able to get a nice straight edge stitich on the top of the bag, but went over it with the decorative stitch anyway, to give more continuity to the look (and to help the lining hang a little more flat too).

A new challenge is posted, as well as the gallery of seven other bags participants created.
I hope you will consider trying the current challenge--Say Cheese!


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Bias tape Birds

Bias Tape Birds pattern, 1969
Pattern to make birds from pieces of bias tape and embroidered details.
Mail order pattern from 1969.

These were intended to embellish little girls' dresses, aprons, and towels.
A quilt would be nice too.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Red Skelton's Pledge of Allegiance

Happy Birthday America!


Photo Friday

Belmont Park
Oh my.
The big Diane Furstenberg sunglasses tell me it was the 80's.
I was camera-in-hand (as usual) at Belmont Park.
The city had just decided they were going to save the Giant Dipper--a wooden roller coaster built in 1925.

The Plunge was also saved--the indoor swimming pool that had been the show piece of the park.
Initially it was part of a gym but open to the public.
They used to host "Dive-in" movies, where you could float around on an inner tube and watch an old B horror movie like Creature of the Black Lagoon.
Now it's in an athletic club, but I don't hear about it anymore, so I assume it's members only.

I had been writing letters to the City Council, and was excited they weren't going to add a hotel or condos.
Ironically, I don't really like what that area has become.
Shops and restaurants have failed, so it's just a big arcade now.
But I still love the roller coaster, all outlined in white lights.

In 2002, the lease was purchased by a private citizen who....plans to build a hotel on the property.
At least the coaster was saved.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

For the love of Reese

It's pretty normal for me to get attached to the dogs I watch.
But not like this.
I would give up my business in a heartbeat if I could call this dog my own.
This is Reese (isn't that a cute name for a chocolate and peanut butter-colored doggie?).
We took a little trip to Fiesta Island.
That's the Sea World Tower in the background.

I just love him.
He's part pit, and I think part chow (he has a blue tongue).
And he is sooo sweet, and sooo smart.

I'm not sure of his history, but I think he was in foster care.
His new owners have only had him two months.
I have never met his owners--have only talked to them on the phone.
They left their apartment open for me to get the key (that's how good my references are).

But I didn't anticipate this guy stealing my heart.
I wasn't available to sit him the entire time they needed me, as I was booked elsewhere.
So I had to drop him off at a doggie daycare/kennel.
I cried.
I called the staff an hour later to make sure he was playing (they must have thought I was nuts).
I'm secretly fantasizing his owners won't be able to keep him...

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