Wednesday, July 31, 2013


It's a Jamboree in this kitchen.  The jam making frenzy is winding down and I thought I'd share my findings.

I made several kinds, with different pectins.  Peach, blueberry and strawberry I made the old fashioned way, with the old fashioned liquid pectin, results: very nice, three stars.  I keep them in the freezer and they still spread just fine on request.

Then yesterday and today, it was red apricot, and sweet cherry, made with the supposedly no cook pectin, all I could find in the store.  Result: nice,  two and a half stars, different texture from the cooked variety, but flavor still okay.

And the last one to go: tomato/lemon, which is a wonderful breakfast jam, well they all are, well I eat them any time, where was I, oh yes, I used the no cook pectin, but followed the old timey Amish recipe anyway, with the cooking and the mixing and the removal of the seeds, etc., except that what I had were grape tomatoes, so this is an experiment, since they're not as juicy as the big ones.  Result:  very very nice. Much better than previous years when I used big tomatoes. And cooking the pectin didn't seem to hurt anything. Four stars!!

In all these recipes I halved the instructions, mainly because I only had half as much fruit in my prep anyway.

Stop me before I jam again!  I have enough now for me, for little gifts here and there and for cheering food in winter, if it lasts that long.  But there again, maybe I'd better get some pectin on the shelf now in case I want to jam in the winter using frozen fruit, when there's no pectin to be had.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Coda to Field Trip

For folks who want to know more about the bronze animal heads in the previous post, take a look here:

Same sculptor as created the Birds Nest at the Beijing Olympics, evidently.  I liked the Birds Nest a whole lot more!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Field trip

The heatwave now gone, I decided it was time to Get Out again, and went off to spend the afternoon on the Princeton U. campus, mainly at the art museum.  I've been going there for many years but never went on an official highlights tour before, so this time I did.

I was in the company of older people from all over, as well as students from Indonesia,China, and Australia, and the museum volunteer docent was a retired doctor I used to know when he served as advisor to a board I served on many years ago, dealing with lowcost dignified funerals and end of life care.  He was a very good doctor, and some of what he said at board meetings came back and helped me in the last few years of my own life.

One odd thing, to get back to the art tour, was that he concentrated on the narrative of the artworks, which to me as an artist is the least important aspect of the whole thing, composition and balance and harmony and all that being the pressing issues, but it was interesting to hear people's response, and how they seemed to like that.  So that was educational as well as folkloric.

I'm spamming this over to Art the Beautiful, because of the pictures here, taken in the Roman gallery of the museum, and of the Woodrow Wilson gardens, which you are welcome to see as possible design ideas.  

I did a couple of shots of a third century Turkish marble mosaic pavement with (narrative!) painting of Hercules and Dionysus having a drink-off, I think.  But the interesting part was how familiar the floor design motifs were, now that we've seen them in all sorts of quilts and needlework contexts.  This pavement is about 25 x 25 feet or thereabouts. 

I definitely am interested in seeing what stitching and beading can do for a couple of these ideas, and you are welcome to do so, too!  It was a bit like reading Shakespeare and thinking gosh, he's full of quotations!

I stopped off at the Woodrow Wilson gardens on the way out of the campus.  WW was president of Princeton, before he fell by the wayside and became President of the USA. This was his house and  gardens, lovely design in all seasons, and absolutely mobbed with tiger swallowtail butterflies today.  Very appropriate in view of the tiger motif of Princeton.

Then there was the Woodrow Wilson School of Government, with a whole new series of strange huge animal heads installed outside, news to me, and clearly a big attraction for visitors, since I had to seize the chance when there were few people around to get a pic.  I remain mystified as to their significance and origin.You can see the scale from the people I included in the shot.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

LIly and Call Me Michelle in partnership

What with one thing and another, I needed to do something different, so I decided to finally finish the Dolliver sweater dress that has been on the needles since shortly after the trip to the alpaca farm.

So here's Call Me Michelle, posing elegantly in her alpaca gear, courtesy of Alpaca Lily, whom we met at the farm, and whose picture appears on the tag that came with the yarn.

Protesting that we're in the middle of a heatwave, why get into cosy alpaca gear, she was mollified when I reminded her that fashion shoots always take place in the opposite season from the clothes. Models in heavy winter gear are usually passing out from the heat in July, and bathing suits are organized to be shot in midwinter, when disguising goose bumps is an issue.

Can't believe how long it took me to finish this item, but I feel better now that it's done.  My inner compulsive can now pipe down.  But now Call Me Michelle is wondering if I have enough yarn left for a nice hat...for her, that is.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sadness and excitement all on one day

I was out watering the plants on the patio against the scorching heat when my friend from down the street, who's moving away, stopped by,and explained that since it is so hot, I should take liquids to stay hydrated.  And gave me a bottle of wine, cracking up laughing.  And a box of rainbow cookies.  And a giant box of Whitman Sampler chocolates.  This is his goodbye gift.  

Moving on Thursday, to the great sadness of the whole neighborhood.  Longtime friend to Handsome Partner and me, visited faithfully right to the end of HP's life, said goodbye while he was dying, shares a birthday with Handsome Son.  Many connections.  But he needs to be nearer his daughter and granddaughter, so he's moving. Not all that far, next state, but I doubt if we'll see much of him.

So I plunged into art after I got back from the farm with great goodies, and if you want to see what happened this afternoon, go here:  Art the great healer!

Now I have to go eat a giant salad of Jersey corn, Jersey cucumber, Jersey onions finely minced, and Jersey tomatoes, all the first of the season.  And maybe a little glass of white wine in departing friend's honor.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Second storey work, neighborhood style

No pix of the second storey work in question, because I was far too nervous worrying about my neighbor trotting up to my roofline on his new ladder, in flipflops (!) to clip off a stray cable that the chimney workers left sticking out, trailing down the side of the building and looking awful, but clipped to the soffit so you couldn't tug on it from below without tearing out the soffit, too.

So his girlfriend and he showed up on the patio, and set up the ladder and I begged them to wait a minute, since I was under orders to summon my handywoman in crime from down the street to make sure all went well.  She arrived, having abandoned her husband in the middle of assembling a ceiling fan, much to his dismay,and all went well. 

But my high anxiety about the ladder, and the neighbor and the flipflops rendered the use of a camera, even with the shake function on, impractical.

I returned the favor by helping him prune his foliage, name escapes me, so it looks nice, not all cut about.

Then I went back to listening to Plutocrats on CD while I stitched my latest goldwork and bead piece.  Which you can see here:

Shortly after that while I was wondering whether I could tolerate going out in the heat to an art opening locally where I have a piece of work in the show, when another friend arrived and needed to give me various bits of news which couldn't wait.  

So I figured the person in front of you has priority, and I made a pot of tea and after she departed put flamenco guitar music on.  It's all go in this supposedly quiet neighborhood.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Show and Tell for the Township

Not my township, but the one where I often go to the library.  Today was Vehicle Day, where one of every type of police vehicle was in the library parking lot, ready for little kids to swarm all over, set off the sirens and lights, play driver on the big fire truck, find out what squad cars have in the trunk (answer: big case of first aid and other supplies), see into the ambulance,  and generally have a great time.  The kid who set off the siren right into my ear, causing temporary deafness, was a civilian about thirty years old, though, but with a slightly youthful sense of humor...

Boiling hot and humid day, police in uniform good naturedly lifting kids up and down all morning, probably thinking the regular beat is a bit more peaceful. 

Friday, July 12, 2013


Today is Manhattanhenge: the day of the year when the rays of the setting sun align perfectly with the street grid of Manhattan.  At least they will if if stops raining and clouding.

The Dollivers decided they needed to celebrate this annual phenomenon with a Dollhenge tribute.  Dressed in sunworshipping gear, despite the threatening rain,

they got into formation.  Note that Blondie Firstborn, owing to the great delicacy of her complexion, special snowflake you know, insisted on keeping her hat.

Elton was a bit puzzled about what music should accompany this.  He jettisoned his entourage to paw through his sheet music for Druidic items.  Planet Suite?  a bit beyond his range.New World Symphony? nah, short a few instruments.  So he figured that since the original henges were about rocks, the Druids no doubt loved rock.  So he burst into a great retro rendition of Rock around the Clock, amazingly appropriate when you think about it, with thanks to Bill Haley and the Comets.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Teeth and toothsome

So the morning was spent at the dentist getting an expensive piece of work done and listening to his accounts of how he can't afford a vacation because he had to go to a family wedding on the other coast last year, with family of six in tow, and this year his daughter's graduation from law school, another cross country event with six in tow.  As he worked I wondered if he knew that this morning I waved byebye to any vacation this year for me, on account of the work he was doing...but it's very well done, and I'd rather have a functioning mouth and car, did I mention the car needed urgent medical care, too, than most things.

While I was listening to his recital, I was wondering happily what would be in my farmshare today.  The weather has been so unpredictable, what with blazing sun and massive downpours, that the farm people said, sorry, we don't know what we'll be picking but we'll do mystery baskets and you'll like them.  Which indeed I did.

Today it was lovely blueberries, cucumber, green beans and a whole bunch of redskin potatoes.  So the usual farmshare cooking and chopping and freezing frenzy ensued today.

Now I have blueberry jam in the freezer, along with the strawberry jam of a couple of weeks ago, and a supply in the fridge, big bowl of finely sliced cucmber in vinegar for ze Eeengleesh teatime sandwiches, steamed potatoes ready to make into potato salad, bowl of steamed green beans for salad, too.  Happy camper here.  All is well chez Liz.

I had enough blueberries to make half the usual recipe, and it worked so well I think I'll do that from now on.  Smaller batches really do set up well and work terrific.  I have developed a taste for my own bread, thin sliced, with cucumber, and other slices with a nice spread of homemade jam.  I think I'll make a few more small batches over the summer and freeze some of each.  A friend is already on the lookout for prune plums at her farmers market for me.

And I believe corn is up for next week's farmshare.  Now that requires only a single minute in the microwave, then strip off the green soft leaves and the silks, bit of butter, big shake of black pepper, gourmet food.  And I'll strip kernels and freeze them for winter use.  They taste marvelous at Thanksgiving, hard as it is to realize that will be here at some point!

Clearance, and celebrating with flowers

My doctor gave me final clearance to get on with my life yesterday.  Evidently whatever she found has gone away, and I have no health issues now,yay.

So this calls for a quiz (I know, once I get on something, I get on it)

I'm a snapdragon!  I guess I shouldn't have asked...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summertime and the minutes are draggin' says I'm a Cool History / Lit Geek.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get geeky images and jokes, and write on the nerd forum!
This is my brain on long hot days when I can only get out for a little while, and my art needs a rest, and I've read all my libe books...turns out I'm a Lit Geek, that's what kind of nerd I am! Save me before I test again!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth! from my little corner of America the Beautiful

Hot, thundery, sunny, July day, when I'm very thankful that the signers tolerated this kind of heat and humidity in Philadelphia all that time ago, dressed in warm woollen gear, all the doors and windows shut against spies, to argue out the documents we love today.

Here's the International House of Dolls, posing outside my little bit of America the Beautiful to wish you all a good day!

Elton played a great rendition of every Sousa march he could remember, then America the Beautiful, my choice for national anthem, if I ever get to be queen, and slipped in a bit of O Canada in honor of Canadian doll, and Canada Day earlier this week.  And he played us out, and his backup chorus of small dolls harmonizing along, with Summertime.

The Dollivers sat on the review stand, aka red chair, waiting patiently for the parade to pass, before finding they were the parade, and they join me in wishing you a great day, with all the freedom you can handle, whether or not it's your Independence Day.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Garden Pix in Response to Overwhelming Demand From Blogistas

This year's growing season has been either boiling hot or torrentially rainy and floody with thunder, lightning and tornadoes thrown in, so it's amazing I have anything going out there at all.

I'm posting a series of pix, both patio and out front,

in the form of a guessing game.  You can spot: sunflowers, nasturtiums, marigolds, oregano, rosemary, basil, orange mint, lavender, leaf lettuce, Boston Fern, ficus benjamina, dracaena or diffenbachia, never can remember which, crown of thorns, begonia, spider plant, all in containers.  To be fair the last few are largely hidden in the cherry tree, where they go to camp for the summer.  And there's daylilies, the everpresent pachysandra, spearmint, and other things, growing in the ground.

So if you've finished your crossword puzzle, see if you can Spot the Plants!! no prize for the winner.