Friday, March 27, 2009

Surviving a cross-country move

When I was preparing to move last fall, my plants were of great concern. In particular, I had one HUGE plant that was absolutely thriving. It came from a cutting from one of my mom's plants and we always just referred to it as "the purple plant." The only real choice I had to move it was to cut it way back and hope for the best. I let my mom do the honors and into the back of the moving truck it went. In our new apartment, I set it up in our new living room and waited.
And waited.
And waited.
Waited some more.
After several months, it looked like this:

Argh. Despair. My living room back on Long Island didn't have a ton of light, and neither does ours now, so I thought it would be comparable. But no signs of life. I decided to move it to the back room with more sun. Waited a little bit longer, then FINALLY, in January of all times, it started to come back to life. And
now, the purple plant is thriving once again and I couldn't be happier:

New banner in progress

I've been working on brightening up my banner for my Etsy shop and the blog. I replaced the one on Etsy, but I think it's still a work in progress. I can't seem to get the type to remain crisp. It looks fine in my file, but as soon as it displays -- fuzz. I've tried rasterizing the type layers, to no avail… I'll keep at it though. I'm also not sure the colors are 100% yet. I may just work up a new drawing, too, but in the meantime…

Thursday, March 26, 2009

IF: Sub(tract) housing

This is my Illustration Friday for the topic of subtract. I almost didn't make it this week seeing as it's Thursday already, but had a lot of fun with this theme! (Click on the image to see it larger.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why I love this neighborhood

What lovely neighbors who put their bouquets outside for everyone to enjoy! And that purple door — perfect! It may be rainy and grey out today, but I am posting this little bit of daffodil-y sunshine to brighten your day in the way it did mine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

She wanted to be a sailor…

… and so she was
I was having a hard time getting going this morning, so I decided I would try my hand at an ACEO. For those of you not familiar, ACEO stands for Art Cards Editions and Originals. They started on ebay a while back and the only basic characteristic all ACEOs have in common is their dimensions: 2.5x3.5 inches. This often keeps the price down and people have come to trade and collect them. Someone recently suggested I add them to my Etsy shop. So this morning, when I was having trouble gaining momentum on the numerous projects that await, I figured I could handle something that small since I couldn't get up the speed on anything else. And it worked! Along came this lovely striped lady sailor who will be added to my shop, Sloe Gin Fizz, momentarily…

Harissa is hot

It seems like every day I see a new recipe using harissa. Just a few short months ago I had never heard of it, and now, all of a sudden, I know what it is — a spicy red chili paste from North Africa—and I NEED to try it. In Crazy Water Pickled Lemons Diana Henry says that it's traditionally served with couscous and can "just about take off the roof of your mouth." Yum! Spicy is king in this household.

The version we tried last night came from April's
Food and Wine and included this menu: Herb-marinated Chicken Skewers with Harissa, Parsley Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon-Tahini dressing — all thrown together in pitas with a dab of hummus, and a little chopped cucumber and tomato.

Herb-Marinated Chicken Skewers with Harissa
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

• 1 teaspoon chopped thyme

• 1 teaspoon chopped oregano

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

• Salt

• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

• 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

• 2 roasted red peppers from a jar, coarsely chopped

• 1 red Thai chile, with seeds, chopped

• 1 garlic clove, chopped

• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

• Salt

• Hummus, for serving
1. Marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, mix the olive oil with the rosemary, thyme, oregano and ground cumin. Add the chicken and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Meanwhile, make the harissa:
In a small skillet, toast the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds over moderately high heat, shaking the skillet a few times, until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool completely. Grind to a powder.

3. In a blender, combine the roasted peppers with the chile, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and ground spices and puree. Season the harissa with salt.

4. Light a grill. Thread the chicken pieces onto 8 metal skewers. Season with salt and grill over moderately high heat, turning, until nicely charred and just cooked, about 14 minutes. Serve the skewers with the harissa and hummus.

Parsley Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon-Tahini dressing
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 1/4 cup tahini paste, at room temperature
• 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons water
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 4 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves (3/4 pound)
• 4 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
  1. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the pine nuts are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer them to a plate and let cool.
  2. In a small bowl, blend the tahini with the lemon juice and finely chopped garlic. Stir in the water and season the tahini dressing with salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the parsley with the scallions and pine nuts. Add the tahini dressing and toss well. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or plates and serve.
Let me tell you, it was delicious! The harissa is hot, but the flavors of the cumin, coriander and caraway are distinct. Wonderful and smoky.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How much for the whole tree?

I had to wonder when I saw this on the sidewalk during my walk this morning. Also, the tree tapped for sap that I mentioned in my post on Saturday was in action today:

Design the Modern Board 2009 submission

I've just sent off my submission to be printed for the Design the Modern Board 2009 call for entries sponsored by K2 Snowboards and Design Within Reach to benefit SOS Outreach. The submissions will be on display in the Denver DWR studio on Friday, March 27 and judged by attendees to the fundraiser. The winning entry will have a board produced in their design. So if you're in Denver, come on out and vote!