Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sewing Basket Nostalgia

Does anyone mend anymore?  I mean take needle and thread and sew up a hole?  Just curious.

My sewing basket.  (I'm particularly fond of the old-fashioned scissors case, made and embroidered by some forebear.)

How well I remember when my grandmother would come over to our house and ask what she could do to help, and my mother would haul out The Mending.  Holes in socks, frayed table cloths and linen napkins, pants with scraped knees.  I loved seeing her get out the sewing basket and start to work.  Often, she'd hold up a needle and ask me to use my Good Eyes (as she liked to phrase it) to thread it for her.

I've had this 50 years ... a very useful gift someone made for me.

So, my question again is, do people still mend?  Or do we 1) wear clothes with holes in them, 2) throw them out, or 3) take them to our local version of Experienced Goods and let someone else deal with the torn and tatty places?

And then do people these days even know how to darn?  You know:  setting down rows of stitches, then interweaving the thread across them. (Particularly good for holes in the elbows of sweaters.)

These days, I find I mostly sew on buttons or mend holes in socks.

This is my darning egg which is really handy for mending socks.

Whether a lost art or not, mending seems a satisfactory task.  Meditative, too.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Decorated Eggs

These amazing eggs were decorated by an artist friend of mine.

Here are cockatiel eggs and a goose egg (with a chicken egg for comparison)

... and goose eggs from geese she raised.

And these beautiful eggs (below) were done by a family member who used a wax-resist (batik) technique called pysanka.

Spring, here, is finally getting started.  There are even a few daffodils up ... in sunny places.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Watercolors on Copy Paper

Maybe because art was her passion, my mother very consciously gave my brother and me quality art supplies to work with, even when we were quite young children.  She gave us each our own red sable brush.  Winsor Newton watercolors to share.  And good paper, not kid stuff.  The good paper was important, she said, because if we produced something that we wanted to keep, the paper would be worthy of the painting.  But, as well, using quality goods was also important for helping to promote our self-esteem.  So, both my brother and I turned to painting early on, even, as I remember, when we were somewhere around four and five years old.  (My mother also bought me a set of oil paints when I was six and showed me very carefully how to wash out the brushes afterwards and clean off the palette.)

Okay, what I'm getting around to is that after I took up painting again when my adult years took a turn, I got out some good brushes, paints, paper, and set to work.  (I'm talking about watercolors here; I also did oils, but that's a different story.)  But though I turned out some satisfactory pieces, there was something about the paper I didn't like.  The picture lacked the brilliance I wanted ... and the paint just seemed to sink into the paper.  Until one day I decided to use what I would call crummy paper--in fact, copy paper which we used to call typing paper.  You know, just regular 20-pound 8½" x 11" paper. 

Using this freed me up.  Since it wasn't "good" paper and I could simply toss it afterwards with no remorse, I could crazily slop around to my heart's content, not worrying so much what the outcome would be.  I didn't even mind that the paper puckered when it got wet; I liked those places where the paint then pooled.  I even found that the paper was "acid-free for archival quality."

For want of a subject, I did a series of flowers from my garden.  

Here are some.


Balloon Flower

Another Pansy

Day Lily and friends

Sweet William

Yet another pansy

Don't switch to copy paper exclusively, but try it for a change and see if it isn't liberating.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Santa Fe Eats

On my recent trip to Santa Fe, I tried out some new eating spots--both new to the town and new to me--and also returned to some old favorites.  I consider the diversity and quality of restaurant fare there to be top notch.

New spots:

1.  Izanami features "Japanese-inspired seasonal small plates."  Newly constructed at the 10,000 Waves Japanese Spa a few miles out of town.  Very airy, high ceiling, Japanese lanterns, comfy booths, tasteful decor, classy food.

After miso soup, my entree here was sushi rice, 2 pieces of chicken, a topping of slivered veggies, and a ginger dipping sauce.

Dessert was panko encrusted banana with a caramel sauce

2.  Midtown Bistro.  Highly popular. As soon as the lunch hour arrived, it filled with reservation holders.  A bit noisy but a pleasant atmosphere.

I got the half-sandwich/cup-of-soup special with a small mixed green salad.  The sandwich was roasted pork loin with caramelized onions, fontina cheese, and honey-mustard aioli.  Key lime pie for dessert.

3.  Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen which features organic, gluten-free, and sustainably farmed items.  Another very pleasant atmosphere.

I joined two friends here for supper.  I got the duck breast with roasted veggies in a sauce of figs and cherry mead.

New spots for me but not new to the town:

4.  La Choza.  Where the locals go for quality New Mexican food.  Tons of cheese, chiles, beans, and fried rice.  It fills up early on with families.

Posole, beans, and a blue-corn tortilla enchilada

5.  Burro Alley Cafe.  Right in the heart of town, easy access, bright and airy, good menu.

I got a chicken crepe for lunch.  Check out that BLUE sky!!
Old favorite spots:

6. Zia Diner.  Always dependable for breakfast, lunch, or supper.  In the Guadalupe Street area.

7.  Steaksmith's on the road out of town.  My friend and I happened to be there on a Thursday evening which turned out to be mariachi night.  4 guitarists, 2 violinists, and someone on the trumpet, all sharing the solo singing spots.  The steaks, of course, are fabulous and the mariachis great fun.

Mariachi Sonidos del Monte

8.  Harry's Roadhouse.  A long-time favorite very near Steaksmith.

My friend and I stopped here for take-out dessert.