Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eye of the Dog Art Show

I shared a booth with Claire Buck at the Eye of the Dog Art Show this past weekend. I'm realizing now that I should have taken pictures of:

Claire and I in the booth
Claire's beautiful jewelry (I'll be getting a pair of her earrings soon!)
The property and buildings at Eye of the Dog
All the cute doggies that hung out at the show
The other exhibiting artists and their work (several clay artists whose work I coveted)
Beverly and Billy Ray, the artists who own the property and are so welcoming
The band playing Friday night and everyone huddled around the fire pits in the cold

I feel like without all of those images it is hard to really imagine what a cool place Eye of the Dog is. Beverly and Billy Ray live on the property, which is outside of San Marcos in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. They built the art school last year and are just getting started on this part of their vision. They are really inspiring people and have made a life of their art. We first met them and bought work from them at shows around the metroplex, including Main Street here in Fort Worth and the Randy Broadnax show in Dallas. Mom has two small wall pieces of Billy Rays'. When mom and dad bought land in San Marcos we sought out Beverly and Billy Ray and our first visit to their place was last Thanksgiving to check out this show. Once we started talking with them we realized how welcoming and supportive they are. This time I realized what a wonderful community of artists and friends there are in that area. I just love the atmosphere and camaraderie they have going at their place!

As is typical in Texas, the weather switched rapidly from the 80's on Wednesday to the 40's on Thursday. The coldfront blew in on Thanksgiving day within about 15 minutes. Friday night at the show we froze our toes off and spent as much time by the fire pits as possible! Saturday warmed and turned out to be a perfect day.

Here is the blue sky through the mesquite tree behind our tent
I captured this gorgeous sunset Saturday evening

In a totally random way, Frank ran into our old friend Jonas at the show on Friday night. Having lived in San Marcos for a while now he seems to know everyone, including Beverly and Billy Ray. We were so happy to have reconnected with a friend and are looking forward to hanging out with him whenever we visit my parents' place.

This view is from Jonas' beautiful piece of land

Edited to add: Frank took this picture with his phone and sent it to me yesterday. It kind of gives you a feel of how the show looked at night with the fire pit going.
Eye of the Dog Art Show

Here are the rest of my pictures from the show and our weekend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving and Art

I'm off, so I would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

I am spending time with lots of family and dear friends tomorrow. I have always loved Thanksgiving. I love the baking and cooking, and the eating. I love that it is festive but not as stressful as Christmas. I love spending time with my closest family and friends. And I love this time of year! I feel like I missed some beautiful weather while I was in California, but it has continued to be a beautiful fall. I hope to get out and take a hike in the woods soon and enjoy the changing leaves and brisk fall air.

I am making this Almond Toffee Tart from Our Best Bites for Thanksgiving again this year. It was a big hit last year and so easy to make! I highly recommend this recipe!

Don't forget to come join the festivities and shop some great art this weekend at Eye of the Dog in San Marcos if you are in the area. I'm sharing a booth with Clare Buck and it should be a fun event.

Sleeping Dog Studios are home to Beverly and Billy Ray Mangham, who are amazing artists and all around awesome people. The fact that they are in San Marcos is one of the things that makes my parents moving there okay with me. I mean, I can't be too upset about them moving away when there is so much great stuff in that area, right?

Polvorones Recipe

Frank surprised me with this book, My Sweet Mexico, for my birthday. I had seen it in San Fransisco and told him about it. I love the theme, the layout and photos, and was sold when I saw the Polvorone recipe. I became obsessed with Polvorones earlier this year and couldn't find a recipe anywhere. The ones that we buy at the local Mexican bakeries are crumbly and not too sweet and go great with afternoon coffee. I was glad to see that the recipe in this book did not call for lard, but used butter instead. I new that this recipe would be the first one that I tried out from the book.

Here are a few of the many other desserts that I want to try out in this book.

Mexican Opera Cake

Impossible Flan
Tres Leches Cake

The Polvorone recipe calls for making clarified butter, something I had never done before. Once you make it and strain it, you add the sugar and let it cool.
You then whip this mixture.

The only other ingredients are Flour, Almond Flour (ground Almonds) and Vanilla. This all comes together into a very crumbly dough.

The recipe has you roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter. I couldn't get the dough to hold together so I just formed the cookies by hand, patting them down and around the edges to press the dough together.

The final result is a very crumbly, but melt in your mouth cookie. These have a finer crumb than the ones we had purchased. The recipe calls for superfine sugar, but I think I might try it with regular sugar to see what the difference would be. They are really yummy and perfect with my afternoon cappuccino!
Polvorones/ Mexican Wedding Cookies

1 1/2 Cups unsalted butter
1 Cup superfine sugar
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup Almond flour
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Sifted confectioners sugar for dusting (I skipped this step)

To clarify the butter, cut into pieces and melt in a saucepan over low heat. Skim off any foam and discard. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes or so, until the remaining milk solids sink to the bottom. Gently strain the butter, making sure not to include the solids.
Measure 1 Cup.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, combine the warm butter with the sugar and refrigerate until it solidifies, about 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and whip until thickened. Stir in all-purpose flour gradually, using a spoon to spatula, then add the almond flour and vanilla and combine. Knead, still in the bowl, with the palm of your hand until it starts to come together.

This is where I departed from the recipe and formed the cookies individually by hand. I made them pretty large and ended up with 1 dozen cookies. The recipe calls for making 2 dozen and I will probably make them smaller next time.

Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I used silpat) for 10 to 12 minutes (my larger cookies too 15 minutes and I rotated the pans halfway through). They are ready when the edges just start to turn color, the tops will still be pale.
I skipped the last step of dusting with powdered sugar, but I might sprinkle with regular sugar next time or add it before baking. They are definitely great with out it though.

Allow to cool and enjoy over a plate or napkin, unless you want to make a big mess of crumbs!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My new hat

My new hat

I got a package in the mail from my oldest friend Gretchen yesterday. She always gives thoughtful gifts and this year was no exception.
This adorable earflap hat is by Delux and is from Double Dutch Boutique in Baltimore, Maryland.

Super cute, I feel very stylish now.
Love you G,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chicken Caldo

I made my version of Mexican Chicken Soup (Caldo) last night. I could not be more simple, and in my opinion, could not be more delicious. I think this recipe will be on heavy rotation this winter!

Frank's mom made this for us for my Birthday. Her version uses bone-in Chicken legs and thighs. Frank and I both prefer white meat, and I find it easiest to buy frozen breasts, so that is what I used. I simply boiled the breasts frozen and the water became my chicken stock. After the chicken was cooked through I shredded it and set it aside while I added Peeled, Cubed Potatoes and Peeled, Chopped Carrots as well as a bit of Red Bell Pepper. All of this boils with the shredded chicken until the veggies are tender. I add salt and pepper to taste and some chopped cilantro at the last minute. At my Mother in Law's house we had lemons and squeezed them into the soup, but we didn't have any last night so we went without.

Adding salsa to my bowl of soup is practically part of the recipe, so I made up a batch of Hope's salsa. Once again, deceptively easy and oh so delicious!
I also made Spanish rice, which we add to the soup. This is not essential, but is a yummy addition. I don't have a recipe to suggest here as I don't feel I've perfected this recipe. I think I need to get a lesson from my Mother in Law because her rice is always great.


A little privacy please

I have two new window coverings, both handmade. I made the DIY window film above, inspired by instructions on Design Sponge. You just draw on contact paper with a paint marker and place it on your window. Cheap, easy and pretty, I love it! I may do this to more windows.

On my office window mom made me some lovely white linen curtains a couple of weeks ago. I'm trading off a bit of light for privacy, but I can still push these open to let in more light.

Speaking of light, I love what the light is doing in this picture.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My personal couture seamstress

Yes, I have a personal Couture seamstress to sew me party dresses that fit perfectly! She is also known as my awesome mom, Connie Akers. My mom is just too good to me. When she moves away to the Hill Country I'll be going through withdrawals. I have mentioned before that I do love to sew, but I can't make fitted things for myself. Perhaps if I had a dress form I could, but mom just makes it look so easy. She knows where to take things up to make them fit just right.

My bridesmaid dress for Robin and Chases' wedding is one of those custom fit items. We used Vogue 8494 (purchased for $3.99 at a Joann sale, of course!) and made a wearable muslin. I did do the sewing on the muslin version, with mom helping me to fit it perfectly. We didn't take the muslin apart, but transferred the changes to the pattern pieces directly from the dress. That part was a bit tricky, but worked out in the end. In my opinion, this pattern is too complex for a casual sundress, but does fit like a glove and is quite flattering. On this version I had cut a larger skirt to accommodate my curves and we put some pleats in to easily fit it to the bodice.

Here is my muslin in a striped Seersucker.
It looks much better now that it is ironed and hemmed.
vogue 8494 in striped seersucker

The dress for the wedding needed to be Navy and I found some great fabrics at Golden D'or in Dallas. They have an annual summer sale and I got my fabrics during that. I got a Linen Weave Silk for the main fabric, Silk Dupioni for the contrast bands and Silk Organza for the pleated ruffle (my addition to the pattern).

I was so nervous to cut into the fabrics because they were so nice.

As I mentioned before, my seamstress (mom) did the sewing on this one. I was just too worried about messing something up and the dress had to be perfect for the wedding!

Here is the completed dress. I love the weight of the Linen Weave Silk, I think it would be considered a suiting weight. It really has a nice structure to it without being uncomfortable, and fits so well. We did view B with the contrast bands and added the organza pleated ruffle to the bottom. For the ruffle we doubled the organza and used a pleating board to make the pleats. We ironed it really well, took it out of the pleating board and stitched the pleats down to keep them in place.

Navy bridesmaid dress

Ruffle detail
Navy bridesmaid dress detail

Dad and I in front of the paper moon at the wedding.
This is a good view of how the dress fit me.
dad and I at Robin and Chases wedding

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Birthday Weekend

I had a wonderful birthday weekend! On Saturday Frank and I went to the Japanese Gardens here in Fort Worth and the weather was just perfect. We try to make it at least once every fall to see all the amazing colors while the leaves are changing. I may be biased, but our Japanese Gardens are fabulous. Frank and I visited the one in Golden Gate Park in San Fransisco and were underwhelmed after being spoiled by ours. I always find the Japanese Garden here to be a magical place, no matter what time of year we visit.

Fort Worth Japanese Garden

Fort Worth Japanese Garden

Japanese Maple

Koi in the Japanese Garden

Fort Worth Japanese Garden

Fort Worth Japanese Garden

Fort Worth Japanese Garden

My birthday weekend

Saturday evening we celebrated with some of my favorite people and had an impromptu outing. We were able to see Jeff Bridges perform songs from the Crazy Heart soundtrack with T Bone Burnett. I was right up front with my friend Penny and it was a great show.

Jeff Bridges!!!

We continued celebrating on Sunday at my Mother in Law's house. She generously cooked for us, making her fabulous homemade Salsa, Chicken Caldo and Spanish Rice. Yum!
I didn't get pictures as I was too excited to eat my soup. I will have to make it at home soon and share the recipe with you.

Thanks for all the birthday love! Though I do feel older, need an eye exam and some serious wrinkle cream, I couldn't feel more loved.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My sweet baby and constant companion

I had a great Birthday weekend and will share pictures soon. In the meantime, today is my sweet old lady Malta's Birthday! Malta is 15 today, and I have had her since she was two months old. Malta and I have been all over the Western US together on road trips, and she is the best dog I could ever wish for. She follows me around the house and stands next to me to get scratches (she's doing that right now). She's a little grumpy and can't go for very long walks anymore, but we are lucky that she is in great health overall.

Here she is not too long after we got her.

Here she is more recently. She hates the camera and this is a rare clear shot of her.
Aw, my Malty

Love you old girl!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My birthday and a present for you!

Frank and I circa 1999

Frank and I on my 24th Birthday, November 12, 1999. Look at those baby faces!
We had only been dating for two months when this picture was taken. Two of my best friends, Jennie and Susan were there with us to celebrate. Taken at Cosmic Cafe in Dallas.

Today is my 35th Birthday, wow that's hard to believe. In my head I'm only 30 or 33, depending on the day. I have been only half joking that I want wrinkle cream as a gift.

I'm having a special promotion in my etsy shop to celebrate my birthday.
If you spend $50 or more you get a free pair of Saucer Studs.
Buy something for yourself and save these as a Christmas gift, or double up and keep them all!

Saucer studs in three sizes

You will get to chose from my three sizes of Saucer Studs (Petite, Medium or Large), just mention at checkout which size you would like. If you don't make a note of it I will include whatever size is available.
This promotion with go through next Wednesday, November 17th.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My honey

I was out of town on mine and Franks' six year wedding anniversary. When I got home week before last he had these flowers, a card, and this photo framed for me. I took the picture on my iphone with the Hipstamatic and texted it to him from California. He had it printed for me and it turned out great! He read tips online that said to tell the photo printing people that you don't want any color correction on your Hipstamatic prints. This one is black and white so it didn't matter, but I will keep that in mind for future prints.

This is the image that he had printed.
landscape with buster

As soon as I got back in town I was planning my friend Robin's bachelorette party and doing wedding errands and crafts with her.
I haven't figured out what to give Frank for a belated anniversary gift.

Here we are on our honeymoon in Belize. I think we look so happy!
(and I had a tan!)
By the way, that was the best and cheapest meal of our trip.
We had the lobster burrito at this hole in the wall spot, and it was so delicious.
Lobster Burritos

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Flowers

A bonus to helping out with a wedding is bringing home some beautiful flowers! I have these all over my house and am afraid I'm getting spoiled.

Flowers in my house!

Flowers in my house!

Flowers in my house!

Flowers in my house!

Flowers in my house!

Flowers in my house!

Flowers in my house!

Flowers in my house!