Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Josh Birthday Card

It seems that paper has become my art medium of choice. The feel of it, the smell of it, everything about it. It's so old fashioned. A couple of weeks ago was my brother Josh's birthday and for the occasion I decided to make a sort of book-card.
I cut up paper to make the pages. I started with "J", then "O" then "S" then "H".  In the end it looked like this....

Oh, the fun of playing with paper and an exact-o knife!

     I bound all the pages together with a blue cover that had J on the front side and an H on the back. I wonder if Josh will actually use his book. No matter, I had a blast making it. Does anyone else like paper as much as I do?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fabulous Carrot Cake

     I hope everybody have a wonderful thanksgiving. Our thanksgiving involved a smoked turkey and all the traditional trimmings. It was my job to provide a dessert and I chose to make a carrot cake. This is an old recipe,  given to me by a college roommate twenty years ago and it is still the best carrot cake I have ever eaten. It’s super easy to make, too!

Best Carrot Cake Recipe
1/2 cup Oil
2 cups Sugar
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
3 Eggs
2 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
2 Teaspoons Salt
2 cups shredded Carrots
2 cups Walnuts (optional)
1 cup crushed Pineapple plus the Juice! (obviously from a can)

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

Frosting (Very Important Part)
8 Oz. Cream Cheese
4 Tablespoons butter
3 cups Powdered Sugar
2 Teaspoons Vanilla

      I decorated it with a little cake decorating set that I purchased at whole foods along with some natural food coloring. Being all natural, the food coloring never did reach the bright green color I was looking for, despite my dumping almost the whole bottle in the frosting. I used very thinly sliced carrots on top and added some amaretto soaked cherries for a pop of color. The cherries turned out to taste great with the carrot cake. I feel like it has a sort of baroque look to it. Did anyone else bake something fabulous?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bike Adventure

     Yesterday I took my bike on the Metra to Lake Forest to visit a friend doing an artist residency at Ragdale. It was the first time I’d attempted this. What an adventure!             
     I rode my 1960 Raleigh Sports because my dutch bike would have been too heavy. Glad I did because there were lots of stairs to get up to the Metra platform and also big steps to get the bike onto the train.
My Raleigh at the Lake Forest train station

    The down side to taking this bike is that it has no rack so I had to carry my computer and stuff in a backpack. Sigh. I love my panniers. Then it started to rain like crazy as I rode, thundering and lightnig. Turns out my coat, contrary to what I thought, was not waterproof. It was a cold, wet ride on the train.
   For others of you thinking of bringing a bike on the Metra, don't make the mistake I made. I didn’t realize that you need to bungee your bike in the bike area, and for a while I teetered unsteadily while I leaned against my bike during the train ride.

Luckily another bicyclist got on and insisted that I take one of his extra bungee cords so that I could secure my bike. Many thanks to the unknown biker! 
    All was well once I disembarked the train because the sun reappeared and Ragdale has dryers.
Raleigh at Ragdale

      My artist friend popped my clothes in the dryer and in half an hour I was able to change out of her borrowed sweats.
    I spent a lovely day writing with her in her studio. “Everyone needs a mini retreat sometimes,” she told me. It was awesome to have all that time to write, enjoy nature, and a good company.

    Too soon it was time for me to go. Back at the Lake Forest station this sign hung in one window,

                                             followed by this sign in the next window. Ha!

Ominously the clouds gathered once more. Sure enough, after I got on the train, the heavens opened up and it poured down all over again. My arms and legs were soon soaked, but the knowledge that I had lots of dry clothes waiting for me at home made riding in the rain, even with water dripping off the tip of my nose, fun.
My Raleigh at the charming Lake Forest station

All in all, the trip was stressful at times but I was glad I did it. Has anyone else had a bike adventure?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gypsy and I go for a ride

     Every once in a while I decide to take Gypsy to the park or dog daycare and not use a car. Instead we go by bike. It is simply too far to get to daycare by walking. We could walk to the park, but that would mean a two hour commitment or more since it takes a half an hour to walk there and then when do we have time to actually enjoy the park?

     I’ve found a nice route to daycare that isn’t heavily trafficked, going through quiet neighborhoods. So it’s a pleasure to take her in the trailer instead of the car. 
     We hook up our Burley trailer (which is not a dog specific trailer) to my Omafeits via a connector that is attached to the rear wheel hub. Gypsy wears a harness while in the trailer, and we hook the harness to a pair of straps that are tied to the trailer so that she can’t jump out, even if she wanted to. The trailer is sturdy and handles Gypsy’s weight well. My husband did a great job of training Gypsy to like the trailer when she was a puppy and now she jumps right in and away we go!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Black Belt Karate Cards

      This past weekend four of my fellow karate-ka took their 1st degree black belt test. I was only able to catch the last hour (which is sparring) but it was still great to see. Traditionally they are given gifts or cards in honor of the occasion. I made the cards myself for the candidates and thought I’d do something a little different. The outside of the card says Osu! That means lots of different things, most literally striving with patience, but it is also a term of respect, so I thought it was appropriate.

Inside, I made a cutout of the Seido karate symbol, which is a cherry blossom that has two circles inside it. Then I stitched the two pieces together. I think they came out beautifully. I hope the candidates enjoyed getting the cards half as much as I enjoyed making them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ladies Who Bike and Brunch

Ladies Who Bike and Brunch

       This past sunday I met up with a group of ladies for brunch. The ladies came on all kinds of bikes and the commonality is that we all connected through a locally based blog that I follow called Let’s Go Ride A Bike. Two things that I love to do, biking and brunching, what could be better?
       It just so happens that the woman who writes the blog, Dottie, owns a dutch bike like mine. The same as mine, actually. It’s a Workcycles Omafiets (which means grandma in dutch) and I love it. It’s a work horse in bike form.
       After brunch we had our picture taken as a group by Martha, who has a blog called Bike Fancy. She had taken a picture of me for her blog a couple of weeks ago.
Me and my Oma

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My, Grandma, what big teeth you have!

     The husband and I spent a fun evening saturday night cruising down Clark street dressed as a flapper (me) and a soldier (him), mingling with the thousands of costumed revelers. We saw six Where’s Waldos, not sure why he was so popular.
      Sunday was no less exciting, at least for Gypsy. I’d had an idea for a costume on friday and spent that afternoon going from vintage store to halloween store to find the outfits.
      So on Halloween day Gypsy and I went as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf dressed in Grandma’s clothes. It was hilarious. I stocked my basket with treats and kept feeding Gypsy to get her to accept wearing a bonnet.
      We went to our local pet store (Kriser’s on Belmont) and  had a portrait taken. That was fun, and the really nice photographer even let my husband (who is a serious photographer in his own right) take some photos. The photographer was excellent with Gypsy and the only difficult part was keeping her from rolling over for a tummy rub in the middle of the shoot.
      Later we returned to the pet store to participate in the Pet Costume Contest and Gypsy and I won 1st prize! That was super exciting, more for me than for Gypsy. She’ll be excited later when I open up the gift basket of treats that we won.
      By the end of the day, Gypsy had learned that the bonnet meant lots of treats, and when we put our costume back on to visit a friend, she couldn’t get her head into that bonnet fast enough.
      It was an excellent Halloween.

Monday, November 1, 2010


     November is here and last year I participated in the National Novel Writing Month frenzy. It was quite inspiring in some ways, but this year I am going to pass. I am in the middle of revising what I wrote last November and the frenetic pace doesn't make for great work.
     What I will miss is the little counter that kept you accountable for having to write every day, so I decided to add it to my blog anyway and update it every day for myself. I may not be participating in NaNoWriMo, but I have a counter and that makes me happy. Of course the 50,000 word goal is arbitrary, but I decided to leave it there.