Sunday, July 28, 2013

Halloween in July with Crepe Paper

Halloween is coming! Halloween is coming! A quick trip to the Hobby Shop yesterday and...they are putting out all their Halloween items! Which means I am not that far off in my timing of starting to list my Halloween items on Etsy. I have hats of all sizes and some lovely vintage postcard hangers.
   I have also started to list my vintage inspired one of a kind crepe paper hats. Crepe Paper used to rule the holidays in the first half of the 1900's. You'd celebrate Halloween by donning a hat and a crepe paper costume. I guess you would also hope it didn't rain on your way tot he party!
   The good news is you can get this hats now and use my anniversary discount-better hurry, I'm sure these won't last long!

What other Halloween decorations do you guys want to see on the Etsy site? Would you like a "how to" so you can make your own hats??

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Heat Wave, the Weather in general and Art HIstory

 This past week most of the U.S. was baking in a heat wave. Here in Chicago, it was 108 with the heat index. Not only was it hot, but the air was downright thick and soupy to walk through. When you wake up at 5:30 and you step outside to get the paper and break out in a sweat, it's hot. You couldn't even cool off in the lake, the water there was 78 degrees.
   Whenever the mercury rises and people say stupid things like, "Hot enough for you?!".....seriously my only options I have to reply are to say "No, I'd actually like it to be as hot as, wait the surface of the sun!" or to punch them in the face. Well, I can't actually punch people in the face, so you just nod and smile and say something stupid like, 'Yeah...its really something".....
  I was thinking (which is very hard to due in the heat, I have no idea how anyone in the 1800's managed anything in wool and hoop skirts with no air conditioning and Ice tea)....what the thermometer would look like if it was visual instead of numerical.
     If you want a visual representation of the week, this is pretty much what it felt like. Anything over 90 is pretty much going to melt your face and maybe your watch.

Salvador Dali-  "Persistence of Memory"

Most of the time in the summer it just feels like this....
It's hot, but hey, upper 80's are nice after a winter of freezing your butt off and shoveling snow. 

Mark Rothko- No. 8

When the weather is in the 70's to low 80's it's tolerable enough to go outside, maybe have a picnic, go out on one of the many lakes in the area. 
Auguste Renior- The Boating Party

In the late summer, early fall the temps are in the 60's to 70's, pleasant harvesting weather. 
Pieter Bruegel the Elder- Harvesters 

Spring is normally marked by 60 degree weather, maybe some 50's, either way it feels warm after a long winter! What other painting could better represent Spring???

Sandro Botticelli- La Primavera

One of the nice things about living in a state that has seasons is watching the leaves change color. I still collect leaves and iron them on wax paper to ship to friends who are less fortunate and don't get to experience the bright colors of fall. But, when the leaves start to turn, it's a sure sign that the weather will be turning colder too...

Ando Hiroshige- Maple Leaves at the Tekona Shrine

Then it happens...winter comes! It's fine at first, 40s and 30's aren't totally unbearable and you get snow. White, fluffy, untouched, first snow. 

Ansel Adams- Half Dome Apple Orchard Yosemite

Anything below that and you just might freeze in place; especially when the wind chill hits those below zero temperatures!

Alberto Giacometti- Walking Man

So, whenever you are feeling the heat, just take a look at some art to beat the heat! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Postcard Show

   I went to the annual Post Card and Paper Ephemera Show at the fairgrounds this weekend. Every year I go and drool over the Halloween postcards that I will never ever be able to buy. I can justify buying a lot of things, but not a $100 postcard.
   If I ever find a *working* vintage typewriter I would definitely pay $100 for it! It seems like people only sell sad, broken typewriters. Having someone tell you that it "probably works" if only you "buy some new ribbon, fix the keys and fix the return bar"....Well that's like saying "Here's a perfectly good laptop, it just is unable to save any of your work, but you can probably have that fixed"......

Here are my favorite things I bought at the show.....

Bought these from my absolutely favorite dealer at the fair. I don't know his name, which is strange since I've bought quite a few pieces from him. All of his stuff is real vintage and his prices are reasonable. 
  These were new to the show and they just jumped out at me. So, some of the pave stones are missing, big deal. I would think that these would be late 1950's, early 1960's since space themed jewelry and home items were all the rage. 
   They are screw backs, so they are slightly annoying, not as bad as clip ons. 

Other favorite buy: Vintage postal air mail stickers! Think I may need to copy these and start attaching them to my LWA pen pal letters. Or my Letter of the Month letters.....or maybe I'll just make them into really cool shrinky dink pins. 
  I should have gone back and bought more of these little guys. I think I bought them more out of sheer graphic design love than anything else. 
  The Colonial Airways System tag is from the lat 1920s and is from a Canadian Mail carrier. I loved the Art Deco lines and the constellation on the background.
   Any kind of air mail sticker always makes me a little tingly, silly, right? Mainly the tingly happens when I open my mail box and I see a letter with an air mail stamp (why can't we go back to the stickers?! Probably the same reason I didn't get an "I voted" sticker in the last election- $$$$). 

If anyone is interested in getting a letter with a lovely air mail sticker (a copy of one-sorry, saving the originals), let me know! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cheesy Chard Fritters

      I love fritters. Whether its potato pancakes (latkes), corn fritters, carrots fritters, zucchini fritters.....everything seems to taste better in a batter and fried up in oil. At least now I can say that the judges on "Chopped"explain that the vegetables' essence and juices are sealed in.....right....

   I am no vegetarian, but Deborah Madison sure makes it tempting in her new book, "Vegetable Literacy". Including a really tasty recipe for Swiss Chard Fritters. She calls for ricotta in her recipe, being out of ricotta, I substituted cottage cheese. I used the same amount, I just blended it until it was creamy in a food processor. I also did not use beet greens or beets to top my fritters with. I like my beets in a chocolate cake (you probably know that from the cake recipe I blogged about earlier).

   Deborah's book is more than just a cookbook; it's also a gardner's friend. All recipes are grouped by vegetable family and she lists varieties, kitchen wisdom, what to eat with the vegetable, how to cook and freeze and growing tips as well.

Chard, Ricotta and Saffron Cakes

10 to 12 cups trimmed chard leaves
2 pinches of saffron threads
1 cup white whole wheat pastry flour
1 tspn sea salt
1 1/2 tspn baking powder
1 cup ricotta (see above for substitution)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 c milk
2 eggs
3 tblspn olive oil plus more for frying
sour cream to serve

Don't be scared by the amount of chard in this recipe-it does wilt when you cook it! Not as much as spinach does, but a lot more than kale does.

Wash the chard-leaving some water on the leaves-like in the picture above. Cover and cook the chard in a pot over high heat until its wilted. This does not take long, under 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it!

When the chard is wilted, put it in a colander to cool and drain.

Cover saffron thread with 2 tablespoons boiling water and set aside. 

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the ricotta, parmesan, milk and eggs until blended. Add the oil and the saffron and then whisk in the flour mixture. 

Put the chard in between two paper towels and gently pat down to get out any excess water. Take it out of the paper towels and chop the chard finely and stir it into the batter.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Drop the batter in by the spoonful into the hot pan. You can make large or small cakes-mine were more medium sized. 
Frying up the fritters

 The batter is thick so it will take a bit to cook. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes, flip over and cook another 3 minutes. DO NOT press the fritter down!

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

These make a good appetizer or could be a side course of a meal. Or you could just eat them over the stove, hot out of the oil. There's nothing wrong with eating a fritter straight out of the pan-just don't burn yourself!