Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ready for Some City Time

Tuning up for my trip to the big city (Seattle), we went to PechaKucha last night. It's fun, edgy, urban, arty. Very un-southwest. Very wonderful. It's just what we Taosenos need now and then, to help us feel like we're not on a island, isolated from the rest of the world. We love it here, but we do get island fever...

In a nutshell, PechaKucha was started in Japan, and has found its way all over the world. A pre-selected group of "Creatives" each take their turn onstage for a short presentation of their work. They get 20 slides, 20 seconds each. That's it. Talk fast, move through it, boom, finished. Next. Last night we had painters, a photographer, a yoga instructor, a tattoo artist, an architect, and a spoken word performance duo. It was fun, exciting, inspiring, and everyone I talked to loved it.

The event was held at the TCA, who's newly expanded lobby is the perfect place for art and gatherings.
There was a DJ. Very hip.

Lots of friends meeting up for the fun.

Chatting, mingling, and networking are part of the appeal.

Deborah and I were just feeling silly.

This little beauty was inspired by the DJ's selections.

She danced, and danced...

...and danced. So cute.

I have no plans to get on that stage, but I do plan to attend PechaKucha Taos #4 in the fall. Find one near you, or come here for ours. And now, I need to pack. I'm ready for Seattle, and bummed I can't be there tonight for their version of PechKucha. If you live there, go! I'm leaving tomorrow morning, and I'll be checking in as I travel. See you out there!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Airflow


This is a picture of Taos Mountain, taken from the end of my driveway,
on a beautiful January day.

This was taken yesterday evening, from the same spot.
I kept doors, windows, and curtains closed all day yesterday, to keep the heat and smoke out of the house. It worked pretty well, all things considered. It was cooler inside than outside all afternoon, and the air was breathable. After sunset we opened things up even though it was smokey outside. The house was hot and stuffy, so we needed some airflow, even if it was bad airflow. 

It's not so bad this morning. Hazy to the southwest, but we can see the mountains, and the sky directly above is blue with a scatter of little white clouds. The wind is calm right now, but will probably kick up later in the day, which of course is bad news for the firefighters, and also for Taos, which will likely again be filled with smoke.

I think it's starting to wear on people. It seems to make us feel edgy and cranky. Apart from the obvious physical reasons, I think it's because we're feeling, and breathing, and absorbing the fear and sadness coming from the fire. Not just form the people who are displaced and worried about their homes, and the firefighters who do battle 24 hours a day, but also from the burning trees and terrified animals in the area.  Kind of woo-woo, I know. You know me...

My sister was joking (I think) about breathing through a wet washcloth. When I woke up in the wee hours this morning, coughing my head off, that wet washcloth seemed like a pretty good idea. I think I'll keep one on the nightstand tonight. And it's about time to close up the house again for the day. I'd take a deep breath and make the best of it... if I could. The best I can do is let out a deep sigh.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fire and Water

The fire in Los Alamos is not near enough to Taos to be a fire danger here, but the smoke hangs in our air in an eerie way, and the news coverage is sad and disturbing. The wind tends to blow from there to here, so even though the authorities assure us that there's no danger, there's a lurking concern about what might happen if the nuclear lab were to catch fire. It's not worth panicking over, but I think it's worth wondering about, and considering what we would do if the air quality were to be... compromised. We don't really have much potential for natural disasters here. No earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes. We have Los Alamos, and right now, it has me feeling kind of edgy and distracted.

I had planned to make beads today and tomorrow, but I just can't. I can't add any more heat or flame to New Mexico right now. Besides, I can't concentrate. I'm too distracted. So next beads will be made and posted after I come back from Seattle in mid-July. I'm leaving Friday. There's so much to do.

Yesterday Rick and I went to the rio with some friends, for a little picnic and some relaxation by the water. It was so nice to get away for a little while and refuel for these next few days of packing and preparing for a trip. As I keep track of the news on the Las Conchas Fire, and busy myself with laundry and packing, I'm holding on to a little bit of yesterday; relaxing with friends, and hula hooping in the Rio Grande. When things get weird, it helps to act silly...



Monday, June 27, 2011

Banana Grand Marnier Pancakes

One of the perks of Rick's job at the Sagebrush Inn in Taos, as the guy in charge of ordering for all the bars and restaurants, is the sales reps like to give him samples. The other day he brought home a bottle of an orange liquer that's similar to Grand Marnier. And this, of course, made me think of pancakes.

Years ago, on a camping trip, my friend Roger made the most amazing breakfast for everyone in our group. Banana Grand Marnier Pancakes, cooked in a cast iron skillet over an open fire. Or maybe it was a camp stove. I know for sure we were outside... Anyway, I've made these at home lots of times since, and thought I'd try a batch with the new "orange juice."

Before we start, I want to tell you that this was not one of my biggest successes. In fact, they didn't work out well at all. But because I know this is a good recipe in the right hands, and the right pan, I'm sharing it with you anyway. If you make these, and they look pretty, please send me a picture and I'll add it to the post.

Here's what you'll need: bananas, nuts (pecans are the best I think), butter, and lots of it,
the pancake batter of your choice, and a bottle of Grand Marnier.
Go for the real stuff. Nothing else works as well for this.
I used an enameled iron skillet, which is not non-stick, but is healthy to cook in.
I sprayed it with organic cooking oil stuff, and added Earth Balance "butter," because this is
 a vegan version of the recipe. So, get the butter hot and melty, throw in the sliced bananas, nuts, and a big slosh of Grand Marnier. When it starts to thicken and bubble, which happens quickly, pour pancake batter over the bananas.
Let it cook slowly, so the batter has a chance to set up while the gooey goodness on the bottom caramelizes. When the edges start to dry and the center forms little bubbles, peek under the edge and see if it's browned enough to flip.
Now comes the hard part. This is where I always go wrong.


I am the Queen of Scrambled Pancakes.
I could blame it on the fact that I used vegan butter and made a batter without eggs,
which probably had something to do with the sticking and the non-binding, but honestly,
this is how my pancakes have almost always looked, with very few exceptions over many
years of trying. Pancakes are not my strong point by any means.
But if you are a good pancake cooker, you will have no problem.
Make these. You will love them.


Rick loved them. He stood there eating and feeding me bites as I cooked batch after batch.
We never made it to the table, and I never got a pretty one. I just kept cooking,
and wishing I had a non-stick frying pan. Even the fancy Italian ceramic-coated
"non stick" pan didn't work for me, so I guess I'll just call it Bad Pancake Karma.
Either that, or officially invent a recipe for Scrambled Pancakes.


Here's a good cleaning tip, when you make a mess of your enamel cookware. While it's still hot, sprinkle the pan with a generous dose of baking soda, and add water to cover the stuck food. After a few minutes it will wash right off without scrubbing.
And if you want to borrow Lucy, she will gladly clean up any
leftover pancakes you might make.



Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Night Beads

I was going to post these tomorrow morning, but I have time now, so might as well. Remember, I'm leaving on Friday for Seattle and parts beyond, and will be back on the 18th of July. All beads sold this week will be mailed on Wednesday. Here you go!










1 (above)
NOT a bracelet bead. Please see the description to the left.
This measures about 15 mm across.
$25
~~~


2, 3, 4 (above)
Bracelet Beads
Please see description to the left.
"Naked" - $20
"Silver" - $30
Please specify!
~~~


5, 6, 7 (above)
Bracelet Beads
Please see description to the left.
"Naked" - $20
"Silver" - $30
Please specify!
~~~

8, 9, 10 (above)
Bracelet Beads
Please see description to the left.
"Naked" - $20
"Silver" - $30
Please specify!
~~~


11, 12, 13 (above)
Bracelet Beads
Please see description to the left.
"Naked" - $20
"Silver" - $30
Please specify!
~~~


14, 15, 16 (above)
Bracelet Beads
Please see description to the left.
"Naked" - $20
"Silver" - $30
Please specify!
~~~

17, 18 (above)
Bracelet Beads
Please see description to the left.
"Naked" - $20
"Silver" - $30
Please specify!
~~~





Saturday, June 25, 2011

Taos Farmers Market

If you're lucky, you live in a community that has at least one farmers market. When we lived in Seattle, my first beads sales venues were the weekly markets. I'd make the rounds to 3 or 4 markets each week, all summer long, and grew to love market life and the people who lived it. Here in Taos we have the Red Willow Market on Wednesdays, which I haven't been to yet, the Sunday Market, which was pretty small last time I checked a couple of weeks ago, and the Taos Farmers Market on Saturdays, which I absolutely love. Over the past few years it's grown into a happening weekly event, with live music, palm readings, children's activities, and of course, loads of beautiful fresh local produce. Rick and I went early this morning, and looped through the booths twice, filling our basket and stopping to visit with friends. It doesn't look like crafters are allowed to sell here, like they do in Seattle, but that's OK with me. I'd much rather go to support the local growers than to try to sell beads alongside arugula and radishes.

This is our friend and neighbor Uschi. She grows the most beautiful greens.

Uschi also grows gorgeously colorful root veggies and other wonders of nature.
She gave me my first kohlrabi last week. What a treat!

The Scone Man was there. The one that's missing here would be Rick's.

Greens everywhere.

Our friends from Argentina recently started this empanada business, and named it for their daughter Lux.
They assure me they're working on a vegan "hempanada" with kimchi. I can't wait!

We got some wheat sprouts here, and a bag a fava beans to either sprout or cook up in some delicious way.

Vegetable Art
 
Morels aren't cheap, but they'll sure make a nice treat for our Saturday night dinner.

Beautiful bread of all kinds.

The newspaper seller keeps an extra chair handy so friends can stop and chat.

There's lots of shade and seating, so shoppers can rest and enjoy a burrito or espresso.

T-shirt, hat, and basket sales help support the market.

Live music today was the popular and talented Tina and Her Pony.
That's Tina on guitar, and her pony plays cello.

The Hanuman Temple offers fun for kids each week. Last week it was a puppet show, and today they were making felt flowers, fruits, and vegetables to decorate their banner. I made some lovely felt chard. Big kids are always welcome.

The crowds seem to be growing each week. It's nice to see such a good turnout.

Here's our haul for this week, which is supplemented by a personal delivery from Uschi mid-week,
and sometimes from other friends who's gardens are producing like crazy all of a sudden.
Now get your own sweet self to the farmers market near you. And if you make it to the Taos Market, I'll see you there!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Picnic Table Upholstery

We've had this old wooden picnic table forever, since our early days in Seattle, so sneaking up on 20 years now. Rick keeps scraping it and sanding it and painting it with ever thicker layers of turquoise paint, but the Taos sun just trashes it every summer. Poor old table. We still love it, and believe in fixing and using what we already have whenever possible. It needed help, but clearly more paint was not the answer.
Yes, of course my dog has a beaded collar, but she prefers to call it a necklace.
The first thing I did was move it over to the porch on the shady side of the house. Duh! It's not just better protection for the table, but a much nicer place to sit and eat. I have no idea why we didn't think of this before, but the thought has been thunk now, and put into action.

So yesterday I was looking at the peeling paint, and realizing that Rick will have no time to deal with it again before fall, I took the job into my own hands. Of course my hands do things quite differently than Rick's do. Mentally searching the house for something-I-already-have, I remembered the oil cloth I bought a while back, to protect my dining room table on Craft Days, and to use as a table cloth on the picnic table. Looking at it all spread out, I thought about the wind that would constantly blow it away, and our meals along with it. And that's when my mind went to the staple gun, the perfect solution to all sorts of problems.

In no time I had the table and benches neatly wrapped and stapled, sealing in the peeling paint and splinters, and giving us a clean, smooth surface to set our plates and elbows on. It's perfect. I love it. And maybe someday I'll get up the guts to reupholster that darn cushioned chair I bought at a yard sale... 30 years ago.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today's Beads

~~~
1, 2, 3, 4
NOT Bracelet Beads
See the description in the column to the left.
These measure about 15-18 mm across.
Bigger beads with smaller holes!
$25 each



~~~
5, 6, 7
NOT Bracelet Beads
See the description in the column to the left.
These measure about 15-18 mm across.
Bigger beads with smaller holes!
$25 each



~~~
 8, 9, 10
Bracelet Beads
See the description in the column to the left.
Please specify:
"Naked" - $20, or "Silver" - $30



~~~
11, 12, 13
Bracelet Beads
See the description in the column to the left.
Please specify:
"Naked" - $20, or "Silver" - $30




~~~
14, 15, 16
Bracelet Beads
See the description in the column to the left.
Please specify:
"Naked" - $20, or "Silver" - $30











Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Always Learning


I ran across a website this morning that looks like it might be useful to me, and I think to some of you too. It's called Crafting An MBA, and it's something like what business school might look like if it were geared toward crafters, designers, and makers of cool things. I know I'm not the only one who's been running my little business for years, always looking for ways to improve. I have no intention of going "back to school," but since I think one of the most important things in life is to keep learning, I do plan to read more of what Megan Auman, the author of the site, has to say. I hope some of you get something useful from her too!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And now, who wants beads?

1, 2, 3
Bracelet Beads
See the description in the column to the left.
Please specify:
"Naked" - $20, or "Silver" - $30


4, 5, 6
Bracelet Beads
See the description in the column to the left.
Please specify:
"Naked" - $20, or "Silver" - $30


7, 8, 9
Bracelet Beads
See the description in the column to the left.
Please specify:
"Naked" - $20, or "Silver" - $30


10, 11, 12
NOT Bracelet Beads
See the description in the column to the left.
These measure about 15-18 mm across.
Bigger beads with smaller holes!
$25 each