Friday, June 11, 2010

The sweeet smell of privet

Aaaaaahhhh. I've been breathing deep all week long hoping to catch the scent of privet in the air. I didn't have to look hard — it seems to be everywhere and at its peak.

I only discovered this scent a few years ago when I moved to the east end of Long Island. Driving down the country roads in late spring — yes, there are still country roads on parts of Long Island — the air is often thick with the sweet, flowery scent. The Hamptons are famous for privet — there it marks status and is often used to build huge towering fortresses of privacy. Here in Ann Arbor, you may have to smell for it but its abundant in a much less formal way.

I found this privet hedge on Miller and it led me to this most wonderful tree in the yard behind.

These photos don't do this tree justice. It is the perfect hideaway fort. Or setting for a private, twinkling candlelit midsummer dinner … dreamy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Indieana Handicraft Exchange preview

I'm excited to be traveling to Indianapolis this weekend for the Indieana Handicraft Exchange. I thought I would give you a little preview of some of the vendors I'm particularly excited to see.

Can't wait to find some new favorites, too! Come on down and say hi if you're in the area. Saturday, 12-8 p.m. at the Harrison Center for the Arts. I'll be outside in booth #84 near the stage. See you there!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Advertising works

Fubar Cut-Metal Gig Poster in Ann ArborI want to see this band. How could you not? A handmade, cut-metal gig poster? You have to want to see them. "Fubar is going to play some very fine dance tunes," is what it says. The metal lady says, "Do the funky chicken." The sign is for an event in October 2009. That's how long I've been walking by it. I've got my eyes out for upcoming gigs by Fubar because this sign always makes me chuckle and do the funky chicken in my head. Imagine what they do in person.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Creamy Asparagus Pasta

Creamy Asparagus Pasta recipeWe get the most amazing cream cheese ever as part of our Old Pine Farm CSA. It comes from Greystone Farm and Creamery in Chelsea and is made with sheep's milk. It has a distinctive sour tang that is addictive. Last month I went a little overboard though, and found myself with a heap of it about to pass its expiration date. I also had a generous bunch of asparagus and was wondering what to make. I came across this fantastic-sounding creamy pasta dish over on Smitten Kitchen and made a few variations for what I had on hand. The Smitten Kitchen version uses goat cheese and tarragon, both of which would be divine. You could make endless variations really. And it's great leftover straight from the fridge — I'm eating some right now!

Creamy Asparagus Pasta
Serves 6

1 pound spiral-shaped pasta
1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 Tb chopped fresh mint plus more for garnish
6 to 8 oz. cream cheese
Fresh lemon juice to taste

Cook pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until it is about three minutes away from being done (according to box instructions). Add asparagus and cook until just slightly tender, about two to three minutes more. Drain both pasta and asparagus together, reserving one cup of pasta water. (I just dip a glass measuring cup into the pot before I take it off the stove to gather some pasta water.)

Creamy Asparagus Pasta recipe
Meanwhile, combine olive oil, lemon zest, mint and cream cheese in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add hot pasta and asparagus to the bowl and toss well until thoroughly combined and creamy. Add a few splashes of pasta water if needed. Season generously with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Creamy Asparagus Pasta recipeAs for asparagus, I know most people go for the ultra-skinny ones, but I prefer a good medium size stalk with some thickness. Not honking thick, mind you, just substantial. And if you look closely in the photos above, you might spy a garlic scape or two. I've been throwing them into just about everything since their season is so short-lived. If you haven't tried them, you should be able to pick some up at the farmer's market near you for a couple more weeks.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Circus of Life

Hello all! I had a longer post in the works for you today, but with Blogger acting up and it now being early evening, I think I will share this lovely gem with you and save the longer post for tomorrow.

Chicalookate recycled card catalog card notepad: The Circus of Life

I have been looking for a little notepad to keep in the car. On Sunday, I accidentally found myself wandering through the Ann Arbor Artisan Market and stopped to visit with the lovely Kate of Chicalookate. She is the master of repurposing the wonderful and unique into the newly
wonderful and unique. While we were chatting, I glanced down and the little beauty above just jumped out at me. It is a notepad made from a card catalog card (is that how you say such things?) for a book called La Cirque de la Vie, by Claire Goll. I'm pretty sure this means the Circus of Life — and even if it doesn't, that's what I will think of it as. How could I resist a Circus of Life notepad?!? (Plus she's selling them for a song. Tsk, tsk, dear Kate.) Check out her shop filled with recycled kitschy goodness!