Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Illustrating a Bob Marley Quote

These ATCs were mailed out to Raleigh, North Carolina today.

Are you asking what an ATC is? Here is the explanation.

They are miniature  works of art about the same size as a baseball card. Originating in Switzerland, the ATC movement was a spin-off from the mail art scene. Produced in a variety of media, the cards are traded or exchanged.

The small group orchestrating this swap picks a monthly theme. April's theme was rain. I browsed through my rainy day photographs and paired them with a Bob Marley quote - 

The top two photographs are from New York City this past March, the one below is from San Miguel de Allende in February 2012.

While the quote is generally attributed to Bob Marley, research indicates the words may originate in a Turkish poem entitled I Am Afraid by Qyzzirah Syeikh Ariffin.

As often is the case, once you start looking at the background story, it gets more complicated.
Ah well.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Charmsters - Re-Purposed Charm Swap

 If you are a long time reader of this blog, you know that I often find treats in my mailbox. This post serves as eye candy for people interested in handmade charms.


I belong to a Yahoo group called Charmsters. It was created by Laurel Stevens in 2007. We are a group of a little over 100 people that make and swap charms through the mail. Jean Brederode and Erin Keck became our group moderators in 2011 .

Participants sign up for specific swaps that interest them. This Re-Purposed swap was hosted by Nancy Clark.  Something on these charms had to be recycled, up-cycled, or re-purposed. Once we mailed her our submissions, she sorted the charms and shipped them to participants.

Here is a pictorial record of the contents of that swap.

Our hostess Nancy Clark made this charm using smashed metal buttons. She has an etsy store - renewedintent.etsy.com

Using some form of resin, long time charmster, Zhulia Abrok fashioned this postage stamp charm.

Laura Oneil re-purposed discarded gift cards. She packaged them with laser cut stationary and paper towel that achieved green color soaking up left over dye from Easter egg coloring.

 I have dismantled my share of vegetable steamers and often purchase them when I see them at garage sales, but have never cut up the individual leaves like Glenda Griffith did. She even used her husbands grinding wheel to round the corners.

Another long time member of the group, Lori Guerin used an old sewing machine bobbin to create this charm.

Minette Miller combined a small ornate key and some floral bead components to fashion this charm.

Marjorie Grace-Sayers combined gears and a brad to produce this steam punk inspired charm.

Erin Keck added an amusement park token to her steam punk mix.

Eunice Oakley decorated and beaded an industrial washer to create her charm.

Bella Richey gathered together an assortment of beads to assemble this charm.

Lots of tiny little goodies came along with the Barbie shoe charm that was marked renew your sole/soul.

Katie Margolis glammed up this chess piece with a wee bit of paint and some beads.

Susan Zacher got her game on and combined a translucent red poker chip and a Lotto game piece.

Denise Hase put together 3 beads and a washer for this charm.

Pen barrels painted silver and end caps make for a cute little bird house charm designed by the imaginative Jo Morrison.

The only charm missing from this line up is my own. The plan is to feature that in a future blog post. Hope looking at these creative interpretations makes you look twice before tossing that odd object. It might just be perfect for another use.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Most Imaginative Macaron Flavors in New York City

It was a rainy Tuesday in March when I discovered Macaron Parlour on St Marks in the East Village. While this discovery did not cause the clouds to part instantly and the sun to burst forth, it sure did brighten my day. 

First there is the charming and helpful owner, Simon Tung working the front counter. He encouraged my photo taking and explained the many flavors.If you want to see an example of the multiplicity of varieties click on the link below.


Selections vary with new and sometimes experimental kinds finding their way into the bakery lineup.

Selecting which macarons to purchase is a sweet agony to endure. Giggity did make the cut. It has ingredients that make it resemble the most upscale Snickers bar on planet earth.

The Elvis was left for another tasting as bananas are not my favorite flavor.

Candied bacon with a maple cream cheese filling, odd and trendy as the combination sounds, gets my vote as a solidly delicious choice.

As someone that has sampled some of the best macarons in France and tried them wherever I find them here in the states, I would definitely recommend a visit to the Macaron Parlour should you find yourself on the lower east side of New York City. Your mouth will thank you.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rhubarb - No, it's not red celery

For some, asparagus heralds the arrival of spring, but rhubarb is what tells me the days are getting longer.

The bright red stalks are now available at my local grocery store, even if the checkout clerks born and raised here in the south have no idea what this particular item is.

"Is that celery, ma'am?

"No, it's rhubarb"

"How do you spell that?" as they attempt to look up the correct produce code.

Growing up in Wisconsin, rhubarb was homegrown and prolific. Where I live now in southwestern Virginia, soil ph is more acid and it does not get an adequate interval of winter chill making it difficult to raise, so storebought will have to do. While there needs to be at least one rhubarb-yellow raisin custard pie for it really to be spring, this is an easier and delicious way to kick off the culinary arrival of the season.

Stewed Rhubarb with Yellow Raisins

3 -4 Stalks of rhubarb
Handful of yellow raisins

Wash and trim rhubarb. Slice rhubarb crossways into pieces between 1/4 and 1/2 inch long. Put about 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Add raisin and simmer a few minutes to plump. Add rhubarb and about 3 tablespoons sugar. Simmer until rhubarb is tender, a scant 5 minutes. Taste and adjust level of sweetness, adding more sugar if needed.

Serve warm or to my preference, chill and spoon over vanilla ice cream. If you are virtuous, you may substitute vanilla yogurt. One can make just plain stewed rhubarb, but the raisins pair so nicely, it is a shame to leave them out.