Thursday, October 29, 2009


This morning I was enjoying the leaves falling off the Mulberry trees and this afternoon I was watching snow fall. As I upload this the sun is out again and the sky is mostly blue. Crazy weather. I made this very bad mash up of the video that I shot on my little camera. Quality sucks. I'd like a little video camera, but for now this is all I've got! It gets the point across.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Decoration progress

I'm not sure I can call it progress, since the bones of the room still need so much work, but I got an email this morning that my curtain fabric shipped. I ordered a peach/grey dupioni silk from Denver Fabrics. I'm won't know for sure if I love it until it arrives, but I have a picture of what it should look like in my head. (I know, that's pretty dangerous with online fabric purchases). Oh well, it was on sale for $7.98 a yard. If it turns out to be too garish I can return it, or use it for pillows or something.

I went back and forth for awhile on the idea of pink toned silk curtains, wondering if I should go with grey or blue instead. Since I picked up paint samples though, I've leaned towards grey walls, and therefore grey curtains would be too much. Blue curtains would also be a little too cool for the room, as its only bright for a couple of hours in the afternoon. So peachy pink curtains should lend a bit of warmth and a lux factor. The overall idea is a mix of clean lined modern with a little bit of luxury. We'll see.

I'm working with this plan in mind, and favoring the color scheme on the right. Making those virtual decorating boards really helped me solidify what I want. I still need to figure out the bed, but I have the rugs, curtains (soon), hanging lights, paint color chosen (a little darker than what is shown), and access to the artwork if I use my own photo (such as the grafitti image on mom's board), and a bedside table. Obviously I don't have the gold leaf Eames chair, but hey-- its for inspiration.

This is a little backwards, but the inspiration for the table and curtains are the following:

(Source unknown, has been in my inspiration file for a long time. If you know please tell me).

via de Gournay (the wallpaper of course)

The last is the table that I picked up at my neighbor's garage sale. Its not quite as elegant or French as the tables above, but it is solid, has fairly elaborate brass hardware (partially removed here), tallish legs, and a drawer. All of which were desired. Painted blue and with a custom mirrored top, I think it'll do nicely. I'd still like a more modern/sculptural bedside table as well, but haven't found one that I like since the Urban Outfitters mushroom stool sold out. A couple are available via ebay, but for more than I want to pay.

So, progress of a sort.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


This morning was the perfect day to go to the Bosque School to see Patrick Dougherty's installation, which was done in conjunction with the Land/Art initiative that's going on this Fall. The weather was perfectly sunny, which popped the yellowing leaves of the cottonwood trees against the blue sky. We were meeting a friend who is always a little late, so we took time to stop at the Oxbow Overlook which is just down a neighboring street. The colors have changed so dramatically since I was last there in late August.

The oxbow this morning, all the reeds have gone dormant, but the cottonwoods are turning their brilliant yellow.

Back in August when everything down at river level was green and the mesa was as sandy and non-green as usual.

These pictures really don't do the Dougherty installation justice, because I can't capture the smell of the coyote willow (which is what he used to weave the structures), and because my camera just isn't good enough to deal with the contrasting light conditions of sun and shade. The photos from inside the structures came out particularly badly. However, I think you can get a sense of their scale and the playfulness of the big faces. Very cool.

The fall color along the irrigation ditch was gorgeous too.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Harvest: stragglers

Since our first, and only so far, frost on the first of the month killed most of the tender garden plants our harvest quantities nose-dived. However, in small amounts we've still been getting a little produce. It looks a lot different than it did a couple months ago.

All of the foliage on the tomato plants died, but the fruits were undamaged by the cold. They've continued to ripen on the vine, and every couple of days there have been one or two to pick. Last week I got our last zucchini, a tomato, and a couple dwarfed cukes.

The artichokes and cardoons weren't damaged by the frost at all. Now if only I could find a recipe for the cardoons that sounded inspiring. They were so bitter the last time I tried to cook them that I've kind of ignored them, but I know that I should try again.

This morning I decided that I'd better bring in the butternut squash or risk it getting soft from sitting in the soggy (and cold) mud for much longer. I picked all of it, even those that hadn't developed the best color. Hopefully they'll finish ripening in storage. (I have no idea if they can do that-- not a winter squash expert).

Meanwhile, the kitchen garden hasn't been hit with a frost, and we have more swiss chard than we could possibly eat. First up, tonight's enchiladas.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quick note

Last weekend I bought an old Southern cookbook, Treasured Southern Family Recipes by Geddings de M. Cushman and Ora Lou O'Hara Cushman (1966), at an estate sale, and it must have been stewing in my mind. Last night I thought that making chicken with biscuits and gravy was just the thing to battle the cold and the damp. It turned out wonderfully, but I didn't take any photos. The chicken was leftover from Sunday, when I roasted it slathered in a lemon juice/garlic/rosemary/tiny bit of lavender slurry. Since I used the drippings and fat from the roasting pan to make the gravy it infused it with a slightly different taste than normal cream gravy. (Which is good, because the kind of white gravy with pieces of sausage in it that you'd find at the average cafe, has always made me gag).

On the side we had warm homemade applesauce, and a simple sauteed cabbage dish that I LOVED. I just threw in some onions to brown, added the chopped cabbage and a tablespoon of dijon mustard, and let it cook down and start to brown a little. Had I not been cooking four dishes at once I probably would have added a little more spice, maybe some fennel seeds in addition to the salt and pepper.

Anyway, its still rainy and very gloomy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rainy Day

Its raining. Seems to be letting up, but it came down with a vengeance, including hail! Brr, its giving me a chill just thinking about it. I've been drinking tea non-stop all afternoon, which really isn't much of a departure from a normal day, but it seems particularly appropriate today. A photo taken a few minutes ago once it let up a little. Looks a lot like this photo, but with more yellow leaves, particularly on the ground.

I've been photographing meals, cooking projects, garden updates and a home project here and there, but am way behind in posting them. In the spirit of the gloomy weather today I'll focus on the cooking projects. First up the result of all of those apples I showed a few weeks ago.

Applesauce! Our recipe is about as simple as possible, core and quarter the apples (and peel if you don't have a food mill). Fill a large heavy bottomed pan with apples. Add about a cup of water, cover and cook until apples are soft, stirring occasionally. Once soft, mill to remove skins and grind into sauce form. Return to large pan, sugar and spice to taste. We usually use very little sugar, because good ripe apples hardly need it, and a little cinnamon. Then process as your canning manual instructs. Leaving the skins on during the initial cooking makes for a slightly pink sauce, which is lovely. (Assuming you used red apples, ours were McIntosh). Yum!

Next up a meal from a week or so ago. I'm not a vegetarian, but this TLT Sandwich, from 101 Cookbooks, is so good that I make it every couple of months. I think it would be a great recipe to try when you are having friends over for a barbeque and want an option for your vegetarian friends. Wish I had one right now, the spicy tempeh would really help beat the chill.

The recipe calls for roasting cherry tomatoes, but while fresh garden tomatoes are on-hand, I never bother.

Assembled and served with a salad from the Fall garden-- lettuce, lots of herbs, carrots and tomatoes.
The kitchen garden wasn't affected by our frost a few weeks ago, so the herbs are all still going strong. For this salad it was a selection of tarragon, italian parsley, thai basil, and garlic chives.

As I wrote this I realized the perfect thing to listen to would be The Splendid Table podcasts, that I'm also way behind on. For anyone not already listening to it, but anticipating missing Gourmet Magazine, you'll love it. It even has Jane and Michael Stern, so you won't miss out on any of that super fattening food they recommend, as you travel around our lovely country.

Now I'm off to feed the dogs, and maybe feed myself some of that applesauce.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall harvest recipe: beets

A week or so ago I harvested beets from the garden.  

When I was a kid my mom would make borscht a couple of times a year, and I loved it.  I LOVE* beets in all preparations, so its not surprising that a simple beet soup would be one of my favorites.  Though part of my ethnic make-up is eastern european, borscht is not something that my family ever made, its just something my mom adopted for her cooking repertoire.  There are lots of variations on the recipe.  Some people use beef broth as a base, some people puree the soup at the end, some people eat it hot, some cold.  Our version is really simple, and we leave it un-pureed, and eat it hot, with extra caraway seeds and a dollop of sour cream as garnish.  Here is our recipe:

Simple Borscht

5 medium beets, peeled and diced into half inch chunks
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced as above
1/2 small onion, diced finely
1/2 of a small cabbage, finely sliced
1 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1 Tsp. vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste
appx. 8 cups water

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and add onion and allow to soften.  Add beets and potatoes and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add cabbage, marjoram and caraway and cook for a minute or so.  Add water, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and allow to cook until beets and potatoes are soft and tender, about 1/2 an hour.  Serve with good crusty bread-- rye or pumpernickel are especially appropriate.  Garnish with more caraway seeds and a dollop of sour cream.  

*When I was in Italy a few years ago my favorite anti-pasti was roasted or steamed beets with parmiggiano cheese grated on top.  I was so happy at the easy availability of pre-cooked beets at all the super markets, that my friends actually packed me off onto the over-night train from Paris to Milan with a package of beets as a going away present.

Cozy recipes

I've been on a real cozy food kick now that the weather is getting cooler.  Who isn't right?  The other day one of my friends was talking about wanting to find more lentil recipes, and it reminded me of one of my favorites, tomato and lentil dhal with toasted almonds.  It comes from a detox diet cookbook that I bought in the super-clearance section at Borders many years ago-- not because of any desire to do a detox, but because its recipes just looked really tasty and healthy.  I have since done the detox once, and found it made me feel fantastic.  I think the recipes in this book-- The Detox Diet Cookbook, by Nicola Graines-- made the diet much more bearable than others I've seen.  Its totally vegan, but uses a lot of spices to make the dishes palatable. This dish is totally cozy food-- hot, thick, and rich.  Best of all its really fast and easy to make.

Tomato and Lentil Dhal with Toasted Almonds

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 carrot, diced

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp yellow mustard seeds

1 in piece fresh ginger root, grated

2 tsp ground tumeric

1 tsp mild chile powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 cup split red lentils

3 1/4 cups water

5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or can of diced tomatoes)

juice of 2 limes

4 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup (1 oz.) sliced almonds toasted, to garnish at end

Heat oil in heavy-based pan.  Saute onion until softened, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic, carrot, cumin and mustard seeds, and ginger.  Cook for 5 minutes stirring, until the seeds pop and the carrot softens slightly.  Stir in the tumeric, chile powder and garam masala, and cook for 1 minute, stirring to make sure spices don't burn.  Add lentils, water and tomatoes, and season well with ground pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the lime juice and 3 Tbsp cilantro.  Cook for about 15 more minutes to make sure the lentils are tender.  Serve and garnish with the remaining cilantro and the toasted almonds.

Excellent with a dollop of plain yogurt on top, when you aren't detoxing of course.

Dog knows best

This morning I looked out the window to see one of the dogs standing in the middle of a raised bed.  When I went outside to shoo him away, I noticed a carrot, pulled from the earth and lying abandoned in the middle of the bed.  Over the weekend I found a carrot lying in the middle of the path, and thought my mom had dropped it when she came out to pick.  Apparently not. Apparently, one of our dogs needs more beta carotene in his diet.  Since he'd already had it in his mouth I gave it back to him, and he proceeded to run around the yard with his prize before settling down and eating the carrot, discarding the green top when he was done.  Super weird, fairly naughty, but rather cute.  Did not get a photo of it however.  

A little while later I decided to add a couple little carrots to my lunch.  A simple cheese sandwich topped with garlic-y refrigerator dill pickles based on this recipe from Design*Sponge.  (I add a garlic clove or two to each jar before sealing).  Yum.  Sometimes you should follow your dog's lead.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Musings

I saw these last week and forgot about them, but I love these skull desert plates from Pottery Barn.  They intend them for use at Halloween, but they have kind of an awesome Goth vibe that could be good all year.  Or certainly for Day of the Dead.  They also had pretty awesome Glitter Skulls that could totally join my decor any day.

Today I spent about an hour in Sephora trying to find a good orange/red lipstick, and left dissatisfied.  The best option was Nars Heat Wave, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.  I decided that part of the problem could be my skin tone and the fact that my lips are pretty pink naturally, which toned down the orange-ness a lot.  Then, since I wasn't fully convinced it was the right shade, and I more or less want it just because of how awesome this girl looked in it with that trench coat (Camille from Childhood Flames, the girl on the left in the first photo) I decided that I shouldn't pay $24 bucks for it and should look for a drugstore brand.  So the search continues.  

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Display idea

I really liked this vignette seen on the inside front cover of the latest Flor catalog, though they cropped the image for the web.  Its better in the catalog because you can see the upper row of dolls, but I don't have a scanner, so unless you have the catalog you'll have to take my word for it. I like idea of hanging a group of items so closely like that, so that their color and texture really make a combined impact.  I do not collect dolls, or much of anything, but I'm filing this away as an interesting display technique.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

They come from above...

Its Balloon Fiesta, a time of year beloved by humans and hated by dogs.  (Well, hated by some humans too.  It can cause some pretty gnarly traffic jams).  My dogs were just skulking around the kitchen whimpering, so I knew one must be overhead.  Living in the southern part of the city, the balloons are often looking for a field to land in by the time the make it this far, and are therefore floating just above the treetops.  They travel so quietly that you can often hear the voices of the passengers in the gondolas.  Terrifying for dogs, for whom balloons seem like stealthy giant birds that hiss at them from above.  (The gas jets turn on and off at regular intervals that really do sound like breathing).  For us humans however, they are lovely.  Rather like fireworks-- you don't remember how lovely they are until you see them rise en masse and float through the skies.  The one that just passed wasn't particularly low in the sky, and I didn't think to snap a photo, but here is one from last year.  Just above my mom's roofline.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Things I want today but can not afford.

Fairly practical items:

The Andi hobo from JCrew.  Indigo, on sale for $149.

The Sprinkled Chiffon top from Anthropologie.  Grey, $128.

Totally impractical items:

Lanvin headband by Boring Sidney @ Etsy.  $80.

And this is too awesome not to mention, the Boris cloche, also from Boring Sidney. $75. 

And I'd like this to be my office.  From Elle Decor, March 2009.  Anne Becker's apartment:

Okay, now I have to go look at something nice that I already own before I depress myself.