Sunday, December 22, 2013

Curried Shrimp Chowder

Yesterday, my husband and I sat down to do some meal planning for the coming week and round out our grocery shopping list.

Every so often, Tim likes to make clam chowder. He has not made it in awhile, and floated the idea. I like his clam chowder very well. Usually, we buy a couple of cans of clams, which is fine. But this week it morphed into something else.

It started when I suggested that we use some sort of firm white fish instead of clams. But when we got to the market, their white fish didn't look all that great. But they had shrimp! But I had to promise to peel them.

Today, while we were out and about, I asked Tim, could we add curry powder? Tim responded, I don't think it would work with the milk, but maybe coconut milk? I said, that sound great!

A plan began to develop in Tim's mind.

He sautéed onions and garlic in one pot, and cooked about 2-1/2 pounds of small red potatoes (cubed) (unpeeled) in a separate pot, so he could drain off the starchy water. When the potatoes were fork tender, he added two cans of coconut milk to the onions and added the potatoes as well as some cardamom, turmeric, cumin, salt, and black pepper. When that was heated through, he added the shrimp and simmered just until the shrimp were pink.

It was very tasty, but I'm not sure it conforms to the strict definition of chowder.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Ornaments

Between one thing and another, we didn't get our tree up and decorated until a couple nights ago. But now it is all lit and decorated and festive.

Over the years, I have acquired quite the assortment of ornaments. When my sisters and I were kids, we would receive typically one new ornament each Christmas, such as these three. The first two I kind of remembering getting while I was in grade school. The third one, the elf, I've had for so long I don't remember how old I was when I got it.

Some of my oldest ornaments I must have made, possible at Sunday school. Styrofoam seems to be a popular craft item.

In the above picture is also one of my oldest ornaments, the little red horse. Here is a better angle.

It used to have a curved, gold-colored horn on its head. That fell off quite some time ago. I'm not sure why I never tried to fix it, and now I'm not sure if I even still have it. I may have to look carefully in the bottom of the box where I store my ornaments to see if it is there.

Several ornaments are made of straw, and I believe come from the Scandinavian tradition.

One of my favorite ornaments is this sled that my dad made out of popsicle sticks and painted silver. 

This year, for the first time, I put up some ornaments that came from my mom. I remember a few of them from when I was young. As I recall, I wasn't allowed to touch them because they were so fragile, such as this glass horn.

Quite a few ornaments were gifts from various people over the years. This bird is the first ornament I can remember being given by someone who was not a member of my family.

Her name was Tina Caloroso. She was in my Camp Fire Girl troop when I was in fifth or sixth grade. She was a student at my school, but she was in the class for hard-of-hearing kids. Whenever I hang that ornament, I wonder about her — where she is, what she's doing.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Exotic Birds

Yesterday, a customer came into the store with her macaw, named Maia.

It was the second time she had come in, since I began working there last August, but I gather she is a semi-regular customer who comes in from time to time.

The first time, after she left, I thought, "I should have taken a picture with my iTouch!"

The second time, I didn't miss my chance.

Maia is a very accommodating bird.

She showed her "eagle wings."

More than once.

She is friendly. She willingly used my arm as her perch. Her grip is not uncomfortable at all. Her claws look sharp, but her grip is relaxed and does not pinch.

And showed her eagle wings again.

Pretty bird.

Later in the day, another customer came in with her little parakeet. It was chirping loudly and insistently, apparently because it was hungry. I was able to snap just a couple of pictures before she had to leave.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Yesterday afternoon, for no particular reason other than that I had the time and I've been wanting to do this for awhile, I made baklava.

Some time ago, I bought a package of phyllo dough and used half of it for something else that was, shall we say, less than successful. But no matter.

Since then, the other roll of phyllo dough in its box had been taking up space in the freezer.

For several years now, baklava has been one of my favorite desserts. I think I became most familiar with it when it would show up in Christmas gift baskets at the place I used to work. I absolutely love the honey-infused juiciness when I bite into a piece.

Anyway, I found this recipe. Seemed simple enough. The only ingredient I had to purchase was the walnuts. And since I had only the half package of dough, I cut the quantities in half.

It turned out to be one the quickest, easiest things I've ever made.

And without doubt, one of the most delicious.

Fresh out of the oven
In their individual cupcake papers

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dave's Sox

If this year has been any indication, it can take anywhere from two or three weeks to a couple months to knit up a pair of socks. Granted, they're never the only project in progress, and I have been known to set them aside to work more exclusively on something else.

However, I am happy to say that it took me less than a year to make good on last year's Christmas gift to the members of my sister's family, as reported here and here and here.

This included one false start, where I got nearly to the end of one sock originally intended for Elaine, before concluding that it simply would not fit her. Not sure what went awry — I had made a swatch. In any event, I had to start over.

Earlier this week, I mailed off the last pair to my brother-in-law Dave. And this morning I received this:

Before I sent them, I took a photo of them flat — or sort of flat anyway. I couldn't find my sock blocker inserts.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Strange Things Found in Thrift Stores

This morning, Tim visited a nearby Goodwill store in his continuing quest for an old-fashioned, manual wind-up watch.

On an earlier excursion, he had picked up this object.

It customarily lives in the kitchen near the cookbooks, and occasionally serves as a mail holder.

It now has a baby.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Yesterday at Green Lake

Now that the clocks have been turned back, it's not pitch black when I go to walk around Green Lake in the morning.

I would have posted these photos yesterday, but I encountered technical difficulties transferring them from my iThing to my computer.

Looking west across the lake

One of two resident herons

Monday, November 11, 2013

Flower Basket Wall Hanging

After I finished painting the spare bedroom this past summer (before and after pictures), I needed to make something to prettify the corner with the cover to the circuit breaker box.

It needed to be a tall, narrow piece, because there is a window just to the right of the cover.

I don't remember how I decided on a wall hanging with flower basket blocks. However, I didn't care for the flower basket blocks I saw in my reference books. The specific pieces showing the floral print were too small. So I came up with my own redesign, which features two large pieces showcasing the floral print, spilling exuberantly out of the basket.

Two blocks would have been sufficient, but I went ahead and made three, even though the bottom one is hidden by the dresser.

Who knows, maybe someday it will hang somewhere else where the third block is needed — maybe the back of a door or a high-ceilinged room.

For a view of the entire wall hanging, click here.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

At the SAM

Today we went to see the exhibit of Peruvian art at the Seattle Art Museum. It was extensive and quite impressive. Photography is generally not allowed in these special exhibitions, and anyway, I had forgotten my camera.

After we were through touring the Peru exhibit, we wandered through some of the other galleries on the fourth and third floors. Most of the items we had seen before, but there were a few new acquisitions.

On the third floor, there was a small gallery with some recent acquisitions of modern pieces that draw on aboriginal influences. They may have been included in an exhibit we saw last year, but I can't say for sure.

However, one piece really caught my eye. I took two pictures of it with my iTouch, one of the whole piece and one close-up. The photo of the whole painting did not turn out well — it's a little blurry.

But the other turned out well enough.

Unfortunately, I neglected to make a note of the artist and when it was painted, and this particular piece is not featured on the SAM website.

The entire painting is about 4 feet tall by 8 feet wide, and covered with these elongated teardrop shapes. I can't imagine how long it took to create it. When you see the whole of it, the way the small dabs of white coalesce into these flowing waves is amazing. There is a sense of movement, but it is smooth and soothing, even meditative.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Modern Quilts

Also at the Quilt Festival exhibit was a display of modern quilts.

Here is a good explanation of what modern quilting is. And here is another blogger's thoughts on the subject. The first and third links at the end of her post are also helpful (the second leads nowhere).

These quilts contrasted quite noticeably with the rest of the exhibit, primarily in their stark minimalism.

I have yet to decide what I think about the modern quilting movement. It reminds me of the class in modern art I took last spring. The instructor had a concise way of summing up art history.

Classical art — This is art.

Renaissance art — This is art!

Modern art — This is art?

Some modern quilts I like, some not so much, but by and large they don't make me say "Wow!"

To any quilt-y readers: I'd like to hear your thoughts and opinions about modern quilting. 

Solid Love, Kelly Smith, St. Louis MO

Scattered, Katie Pederson, Seattle WA

Bull's-Eye 1, Colleen Wootton, Clinton WA

Detail, Bull's-Eye 1

Fireworks Quilt, Tara Faughnan, Oakland CA

Detail, Fireworks Quilt

Oddballs, Alissa Carlton, Los Angeles CA

Untitled, Lindsay Stead, Toronto, Ontario

Box of Rain Quilt, Karen Anderson-Abraham, Santa Barbara CA

Detail, Box of Rain Quilt

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


These quilts have been blogged about elsewhere, and I don't have anything to add.

Except to say that I illustrated the step-by-step art for the book that inspired these, so I played a small part in creating the ensuing hilarity.

All I can say is, quilters like bad puns as much as anybody.

What follows does not include very single quilt, but I think they are representative.