Saturday, January 31, 2009

AADL rocks

I can't get over how great the Ann Arbor District library system is. They have figured out every modern convenience. The hours are great. You can track everything online, due dates, holds, etc. All your notifications come by email—they send reminders when your materials are due. You can reserve anything on the web site and it will be waiting for you in easily accessible shelves near the door. They have terrific new material that I wouldn't expect to find, like Mason-Dixon Knitting and the Alabama Stitch Book. There are multiple self-checkout kiosks. You can even check out framed artwork — and not just dorm room Monets. They have all kinds of unusual prints and original art. Amazing! I am used to libraries that can't even afford to be open on Sundays, have barely moved beyond the card catalog and have little new material. What a great resource! There. That's my two sense.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The best shrimp ever!

This is a recipe we keep going back to -- probably once a week even! And it just keeps getting better. It's adapted from a recipe at epicurious from Ken Hom's Foolproof Chinese Cooking. I've doubled the sauce, added snow peas and changed out black bean paste for chili-garlic paste.

Spicy Sichuan-Style Shrimp
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 Tb finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1-2 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • snow or snap peas
For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3-4 teaspoons chili-garlic paste/sauce
  • 4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Cilantro sprigs, to garnish (optional)
1. Heat a wok/large heavy saute pan over high heat. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the ginger, garlic, and scallions.

2. Stir-fry for 20 seconds, then add the shrimp and snow peas. Stir-fry the shrimp for about 1 minute.

3. Add the sauce ingredients and continue to stir-fry for another 3 minutes over a high heat. Garnish with cilantro and serve at once.

The best!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Comparing apples to oranges

I am posting this lovely tangerine because it brought some cheer to my otherwise cheerless afternoon. I made the rounds at the local temp agencies today and could hear the crickets chirping. It was a rather demoralizing effort. Thankfully, I went to the busiest agency first: there was one man with me in the waiting area. He had been laid off from GM after 30 years. In the second agency I visited, the lights were literally turned off in the front office as one woman worked in a back corner. My only other experience with temping was in New York. Manhattan will always have actors and newbies, and my temping was during prosperous times. You can imagine the contrast. I know I shouldn't compare, but …
So here's to comparing lovely bright tangerines with stems intact to the Big Apple.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Yeti saved my Gocco!

Today I spent the whole morning working on hand-printing cards of a little house in snow. I cut out shapes from cardboard, which didn't work — I kept getting the corrugated lines which I didn't like. Then I moved on to styrofoam. Pretty easy to cut. The result was okay. But then, as I was applying the final touches of hand-painting the snow, I realized something awful. The freakin' houses didn't look like houses. They looked like Yetis! Some like King Kong. Only one kinda resembled a house. Bummer. Well, not a total bummer. Everybody likes a Yeti. But I felt like I wasted a whole morning. I added eyes to this one to really show off the Yeti-ness:

My little disaster turned into an afternoon of pure bliss! I dusted of the cover of my highly-prized, yet never touched Gocco printer. I had gotten the full B-6 kit for Christmas a couple of years ago, but it only came with 5 screens and 10 bulbs. Since Gocco has discontinued production of their printers, I have been saving my Gocco for THE BEST DESIGN EVER for it to be worthy of using my limited supply. I've had the darn thing for over two years. What good is it if I'm afraid to use it. So, today was the day. I love it! I'm totally hooked. I immediately ordered more screens and bulbs despite being jobless (oops!I couldn't resist!) Have a look:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Low-tech printing methods

I've been having difficulty with printing methods. I want to make art that I can easily share with others. But I don't have a decent printer. My drawing style has a lot of line work with thin, delicate details that reproduce well on high-quality digital prints, but this is pricey if you are not doing it at home (and to purchase that kind of printer is REALLY pricey!) So, that said, I've been exploring/rediscovering more basic hand-printing techniques. This means a very different way of thinking about the design. In some ways, the limits will be good for my work and will let me focus on other things. So… here's my latest experiment with the good old-fashioned potato stamp:

Monday, January 26, 2009


I've been trying to come up with a Valentine card that's not too schmaltzy. I picked up a huge stack of old Martha Stewart mags that someone had left in the free area at the library the other day and this image is inspired by an article on collecting old hooks. It was a beautiful layout, but I think maybe my card is too obscure. I can't decide. I have a Gocco printer that I have yet to use. Because the supplies are so hard to come by, I'm hesitant to use it unless I'm really happy and sure about a design — I don't think I'm there yet. I'll keep working on it!