Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Birds of Paradise Project

My dear friend Denise sent me this clip from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.  It is beautiful, fascinating, weird and wonderful!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

And if your appetite is whetted and demands more, here is a 53 minute video with more of these spectacular and magical birds.

More information may be found here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boules and Baguettes

Last night my friend Denise took me to a bread baking class at The Pantry at Delancey.  Delancey is a restaurant in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood that is owned by Brandon Pettit and his wife, Molly Wizenberg.  Molly wrote one of my favorite books, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, and she has a wonderful blog, Orangette (and a new little one which has slowed down her posting, understandably but alas).

Chef Jennifer Altman was the instructor of this wonderful class, and let me tell you, that woman can bake!  She is a great teacher, and not just because she has the knowledge and experience of the pastry chef she is, but because her passion for artisan bread comes bubbling up out of her and infects everyone in the room with her enthusiasm and love of bread.  In my opinion, that is what makes a truly, seriously good teacher.
Chef Jennifer Altman
 Chef taught us to make levain and poolish and then we made baguettes and Pan de Campagne.  To say that the loaves were good is an understatement of gigantic proportions.  This bread was the stuff of dreams.  The crust!  The aroma!  And OMG, THE TASTE.  

When Chef put out several loaves, warm and aromatic from the oven, for us to sample, this is what was left in under two minutes.  And this last, lone piece didn't last more than a nano second after I managed to snap this picture.  (And I didn't get it, either.  RATS.)

I had such a good time in this class.  I now have many new ideas I want to experiment with for my levain.  (See my previous post to read about my sour dough bread experiments.)

Thank you, Chef Altman.  Thank you, Denise!  Thank you to all at The Pantry.  It was one of the most delicious and entertaining classes I have ever taken.

Now, I want to go make some bread.  Pan de Campagne with toasted walnuts, to be precise!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Day I Broke the Bus

So there I am, in San Francisco.  Waiting for a bus.  You need to understand that I do not, generally, ride buses.  It's just not in my day-to-day routine.  I don't commute.  I haven't been on a bus in over three or four years, as well as I can remember.

So, this bus comes, the one we think will take us to the art store we are trying to find.  We think.  My friend gets on and is chatting with the bus driver and then they are both telling me to put in $2.  So I try to stuff a $1 bill.....into the coin slot.  I did a really good job, too, of stuffing that $1 bill into the coin slot.  I did not see the insert-a-bill thingie to the right of the coin slot.  I did not know that buses had insert-a-bill-thingies.

So then the bus driver sees me with a $1 bill in my hand and points to the insert-a-bill-thingie and so,  I do so.  Since he says nothing about the $1 in the coin box I don't think to mention it, either.  I just followed my friend to a seat and sat down.

A while later the bus driver starts fussing with the coin box.  Then he is mumbling and shaking the coin box and I think to myself, "Hmmm...wonder what's wrong."  Then it begins to dawn on me that what is wrong is that I stuffed a $1 bill into the coin box....Ooops.  Big ooops.

A minute or two later he calls out in frustration, "Who stuffed a $1 bill in the coin box??!?"

I can report that he was utterly surprised when I answered, right away, "I did.  I didn't know.  I'm sorry."  and then I added, needlessly, "I don't usually ride buses."

Then I sat back and braced myself for the expected lecture, the one with sarcasm and (perhaps) some pithy remarks about my ancestry and/or intelligence.  But no.  None of that.  He was an exceedingly kind and patient man who only said, "Oh, well.  Happens all the time.  Don't worry about it."

Which of course made me feel even worse.

The happy ending is that the bus really did take us to the art store we were looking for, the repair man came to fix the coin box, the bus driver told me to stop apologizing and relax---that it really did happen all the time, and we rode another bus back to our hotel on our return and I knew where to put the bills and I didn't mess up the coin box.

Still, I want to say to Dear Mr. San Francisco Bus Driver that I am truly sorry and regret I added to the frustration and stress of your day.  And that you are truly a gentleman and a gentle man.  Thank you for your kindness.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Headin' South

I am off to the Bay Area at an ungodly time in the morning.  My girl friend and I are taking a little break---a four night getaway.  We'll have time with my daughter and her family and time to "do" San Francisco.  There will be shopping!  And laughing!  And playing with the grandchildren.  And it will be so good to get away for a bit, enjoy time with my good buddy and see family.

We'll talk again soon.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Handmade Journal for My Africa Trip

I wanted to make my own journal for my trip to Southern Africa in the fall.  Frankly the idea was daunting but having taken Mary Ann Moss' online class, Travel to Venice, I felt that it might just be possible I could turn out a journal that would make me happy.

I found fabric for the cover that delights me!  It has guinea hens and geometric designs and is in the colors of Africa.  It is just what I wanted for the cover of my new travel journal.

I decided that this time the journal needed to be big.  On my last safari trip I had a terrible time deciding which photos to use for my daily pages.  There was so much to see and I had been lucky enough to take lots of good photos, but because of the small size of the journal I worked in, many photos had to be excluded.  Not this time!  I have (probably) way too  many pages.  Better too many than not enough, right?

I used five signatures of six pages each.  The paper is a mixed lot----some vintage, some pages composed of vintage ephemera,  some heavy book weight text and one sheet in each signature is 140 pound cold press watercolor paper, my favorite.  I used what I call signature "wraps" for lack of a better work on each of the signatures.  It's the stripy paper you can see in the above photo.

Here is the book completed with the spine sewn in the Double Diamond stitch that Mary Ann taught in her Travel to Venice online class.  It nearly drove me bonkers working with five signatures at the start, but by the second set of diamonds it all came together and was much easier.

some of the vintage ephemera I used through out the book

these are vintage postcards

I used the original end papers from the old book I cut apart to use for the construction of the journal.  I liked the old design so much and I knew they would fit perfectly as I used the covers (cut from the book text) for the substrate of my covers.  The title page has a copy of a vintage luggage tag for Victoria Falls, which I will be able to visit on my trip. 

This is a real bill from Zimbabwe.  I bought several of these from a local shop (Fabric of Life) that sells lots of free trade imports from all over Africa.  It seemed so improbable that there would be an actual one hundred trillion dollar bill that I just had to have a few.  I put one in each of the nieces and nephews Christmas cash envelope and they were a big hit.   I gave one to Nonie for her journal and saved the last one for my journal.  What you can't see from the photo is that I sewed it in upside down.  Alas....
If I'd wanted the journal to be perfect I'd have bought it, right?

This transparency here is one I printed using one of my photos from my last trip to Africa.  I believe this shot was taken in Tanzania.

I used another copy of a vintage luggage label for the last page of the journal.  My trip will end in Cape Town next October so it seemed appropriate.

Now I have to be patient and wait for autumn!  That will be the hard part.