Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Once Upon a Time, I was a Designer

I am unearthing more long forgotten possessions while cleaning out my sewing room closet.  By the way, it is a large closet.  I live in an old house and this closet could be a small bathroom.  And that closet was stuffed - literally.  When my oldest son and his wife came home for Christmas last year, we put a bed in the sewing room and shoved all manner of things into that closet, pushed a bulletin board up against the avalanche and heaved the door closed.  Everyone was directed not to open that door on pain of death.  While I am cleaning out the closet, the contents have filled the rest of the sewing room.  I should have taken a "before" picture.  You would have been disappointed in me.  I am ashamed.  However, I am making progress towards an efficient, highly labeled and sorted, organized closet.

Anyway, I digress.  What was I talking about?  Oh yeah, long forgotten possessions.  I found my markers from college!  My Prisma Color markers used for my design projects that stood upright in a neat little spinning carousel.  Every Interior Design major was required to buy a set.  I think they were around $70 back then.  Smelling their marker fragrance as I opened the caps to test them transported me right back to the early 80s at BYU.  Six of the markers actually still had juice!

Finding my markers took me on a mini reminiscence.  I wanted to see my renderings from college.  I knew they were in the back of my bedroom closet in their large black portfolios.  I dug them out. (Another closet to be cleaned.)  They were a little water damaged from when the roofers didn't tarp the house well enough during a rain storm, but that's quite another story.  Anyway, there were my projects.  I remember many a night burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline drawing at my drafting table while my roommate slept.  I photographed some of them to share with you.

A monochromatic project... a kitchen on plain old fodder.

A more traditional sitting area.

A formal dining room sketch in pencil.

I loved this house.

A living area in that house.

A converted shed in chalk and marker.
Looks like a place my artist, garden-loving, mother-in-law would like.

I don't remember doing this sepia of the house where we lived in college.  This was an old four-square on the corner of 5th west and University Avenue.  Our apartment was the upper right portion of the building.  Two apartments on each floor and one in the basement.

With this project, I tried to go against type and do something ultra modern.  Is the grey and mauve color scheme a dead giveaway that it was the mid-eighties?

A ski lodge... see the white snowy mountains out the window?

The kitchen in the ski lodge.

A country townhouse.  In the 80s, American Country was starting to take over.  Everything was Nantucket and stencils and grape vine and mini print wallpaper.

Gotta love the "Lotus" chair in pencil.

And if this doesn't scream 80s, I don't know what does.
Busy, busy, busy.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane with me.  It was fun remembering those long lost projects.  And lest you think I am an artist - which I most definitely am not - these renderings and elevations were drawn with the help of a perspective grid.  There are lots of tricks that they teach you in school.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rainy Days and School Board Mondays always get me down...

Had a school board meeting tonight.  Came home with my stomach wound in knots.  It's happening more and more.  Maybe I'm just getting too old for this.  Or maybe the number of controversies increases as dollars for public schools decrease. 

OK, this guy wasn't at our board meeting tonight - not this one, anyway...  And no, our parents did not look like this.  The parents who spoke during the public comment portion of our meeting were respectful and thoughtful and they didn't yell, but they were unhappy.   Nobody wants to change elementary schools and that's exactly what we are proposing by realigning boundaries. 

And it rained all day...

And it's Monday...

Bubble Wrap!

Well, step by step I am getting closer to opening my Etsy shop.
The bubble wrap and packing peanuts have arrived.  

Pretty soon I'll open my mailbox to find RubyLemons hang tags, stickers, business cards and satin tags.  YAY!  I can't wait.  Unfortunately, I still have to take care of some of the business red tape end of it... like a license and record keeping.  That's the part that doesn't interest me much, but I know it's necessary.  I'm anxious to get going, but everything seems to take three times longer than estimated!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lost in a Fabric Coma

It has been three days since I posted.  Those three days have been filled with the other side of my brain activities (other than watching a few episodes of The Office.)  I have been helping my sister with the books for her Bed & Breakfast (Honeybee Inn - check it out online).  Anyway, I have been entering receipts and I need to get up there to Horicon and do some more today.  Yesterday I spent almost the entire day on school board stuff... meetings and a lot of talking on the phone to put out fires and explain things.  I just kept being taken from one thing to the next.  There's always something controversial in the school district.

This morning, once I decided to make a blog post and started sorting through some fabrics and pillows, my brain just shifted.  For the last three days I kept thinking that I should do a post, but couldn't think of anything.  Now that I am in the creative zone, I can think of a hundred posts.  It's kind of like that left brain - right brain test they have on YouTube.  The spinning woman - which way is she turning?  One day, my daughter and I actually saw the spinning woman reverse directions before our very eyes when we started thinking math problems... it's freaky.  Try it.
So that's what I think happened to my brain this morning.  It switched from left to right when I dug out this box of fabric scraps from my sewing room.  I am cleaning out my sewing room - an endless task.  My mother gave these quilt scraps to me when she was cleaning out her sewing room.  We come and go, but stuff goes on forever.
My mother, the famous labeler, enclosed this explanation for the origin of the scraps.  Her Aunt Eunice was quite old back in 1979.  I can tell these scraps span decades from the early 1900s (at least) to the 70s.  Once I started digging in them, I lost it.  I soon entered a fabric coma.

I laid out some of the blues.
Pinks - aren't they cute?
Greens - see the seven dwarfs?
Yellows - some look modern, but they aren't
Reds - not so easy to find
Purples - what to do with all these fabrics???
Turquoises - infinite variety

Help, someone send the fabric doctor!  I'm lost in a fabric coma!  These combos only started to scratch the surface.  I could have kept going.  There are hundreds of fabrics in that little box - each one more interesting than the next!  Oh it feels so good after all the bookwork and meetings and emails and phone calls.
And my favorite piece?  For today (yes, today - it might be a different one tomorrow) for today, it's this little beauty which looks to be from the 30s.  I'm a sucker for red and turquoise.

OK, that's it for fun - gotta get up to the B&B and do the books.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cookie of the Month - Frosted Sugar Cookies

Every year our school district's scholarship foundation hosts an auction to raise money to help graduating seniors with college expenses.  This auction is a very well run event which has grown so big it is a sell-out every year.  It features a silent auction, raffles, a superb sit down dinner and a voice auction for larger items run by a professional auctioneer.  It's always a lot of fun and sure brings in the big bucks.  I have donated various items over the years, but now I am the cookie of the month lady.  For the winning bidder, I deliver a batch of fresh cookies once a month for a year.  I've baked chocolate dipped macaroons, whoopie pies, pumpkin chocolate chip, peanut butter kiss, chocolate mint dots, carrot cake sandwiches, chocolate chip pecan, oatmeal raisin, m&m, and frosted sugar cookies... to name a few.  At the auction each year, I provide samples for taste testing.  This year's winning bidder informed me that while everyone else was wild about my chocolate chip pecan samples, she was won over by my sugar cookies.
I got this recipe from my friend, Jill, who said it came from her sister-in-law, Shirlene.  Where Shirlene got it, I don't know - but it's a good one.  And although I'm not normally into superlatives, this is the best sugar cookie I've ever tried.  They turn out the way I like them, anyway -- soft, chewy, flavorful.

To make the dough you'll need:
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. lemon extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
6 cups flour
I start out with softened butter (and yes, I get the "lightly salted" standard butter in the dairy case - unlike Martha's always required "unsalted" which is beyond me, but I'm no expert) and sugar.  Certainly not required for this cookie, I love the "baker's" fine sugar.  It's nothing more than a texture thing.  Maybe I just like the way it pours or dissolves faster.  I don't know.  Stupid.
Anyway, mix it up good on medium speed until it's lighter in color.
Then add the eggs (room temp), vanilla and lemon extract.
Not reconstituted lemon juice like ReaLemon -- extract, like this.
Anyway, whip the heck out of it until it's smooth and shiny and wicked.
Now it's time to add the dry ingredients and call me lazy, but I just don't sift... and while I'm confessing, I don't usually add "half at a time" when called for.  Just dump it in.  However, be careful when turning on the mixer because it will ploof out of the bowl.  (So much for my wisdom)
Mix it up, but don't overdo it.  You'll get a thick yet soft dough that's not too hard on the mixer.
I divide this dough four ways and wrap it in plastic wrap.
...flat and square-ish so it's ready to roll out.
These get put into the fridge overnight.
When it's time to roll out the dough, I use my rolling pin and knit sleeve.
I know, the first time I heard of a rolling pin cover, I thought it was pretty crazy, too.  But the dough never sticks and you don't have to use all that flour all over your counter (which can also toughen up your dough).
And ya gotta love that crazy woven look it leaves on your dough!
Anyway, roll your dough a good 1/4 inch thick right on parchment paper cut to the size of your cookie sheets.  I keep the dough thick because I like my cookies soft and chewy.  Today I am making circles and doughnut shapes.
Peel the dough away from between the shapes.  I don't move my cookies - just the dough in between.
Then just put the parchment right onto your cookie sheet.  What did we ever do before Airbake?  If you have taken a while to roll and cut out your dough and it is no longer cold, just pop the cookie sheet back into the fridge for a few minutes.  Bake for 10 minutes at 375.  Since I'm not a crispy cookie gal, I don't like to see browning on the edges.
I usually just slide the whole parchment off the cookie sheet and onto the counter for cooling.  When cooled, the cookies come off the parchment super easy.  This recipe made 68 cookies which measure 3" across.
Now it's time to decorate.  Of course your imagination is the limit when it comes to decorating cookies.  You can do a royal icing border and flood the cookie with glaze for a real designer look.  Heck, once I made some ridiculously intricate pierced and decorated cookies that I'd seen in a Victoria magazine.  They were museum pieces when they were finished.  They should have been coated with polyurethane and hung by a ribbon.  Nah, life is too short.  These cookies are for eating and for my money, the best frosting for eating enjoyment is a good old butter cream.  So, for this recipe I will use my sister Barb's butter cream frosting... because she is the best cook I know.
2 cups butter
1 cup shortening
2 tsp. vanilla
2 lbs. powdered sugar
3 TBs. milk or cream
pinch of salt (I do 5 shakes)
There is no mystery to the making of this frosting.  Just put all the ingredients into your mixer and blast away for 10 minutes on high.  This makes a lot of frosting, so you might want to halve it.  I divided it up into five bowls and randomly chose turquoise, yellow, peachy pink, purple and brown.  I think I saw a fabric earlier in the day with those colors and the combo stuck in my mind.
Using a standard decorating bag and round tube, I piped loops and zig-zags onto my cookies.
Let the frosting set and dry for an hour or two and you are good to go.  You won't want to stack them because the butter cream will smoosh, but you will be able to gently lean them on each other with parchment or waxed paper in between.  YUM!  Enjoy your chewy, soft, buttery sugar cookies!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wall Candy

For what seemed like a long time during my teenage years, the main wall in our turquoise kitchen was decorated with an orange fishing net. My mom had strung it up in sweeping fashion and tangled and dangled various ocean shells and starfish in it.  At the time I don't think I appreciated the artistic and complementary color scheme of the orange and the turquoise or the sentimental use of those shells collected along the beach in Florida where my mother's parents lived. That wall decor was creative, personal and colorful, but I don't think I appreciated any of it.   I remember asking my mom one day how long she was planning to keep the orange fish net up.  Her reply?  She said, "It's so hard to find something that I really like... something that I want to look at every day - I don't want to change it too often."
That's the way I feel about my soda bottle vignette in my kitchen.  It's been there for a long time, but I'm not tired of it yet... at all.  I love my soda bottle vignette.  My kitchen is kind of 50s diner modern.  I have three Stewart's Key Lime soda bottles in an old wooden Pine River cheese box next to some Davy Crockett Fire King pieces.  I like the complementary color scheme of the green against the red.  By the way, Stewart's Key Lime is very yummy.  We used to drink it every so often and just replace it with three new bottles until Stewart's changed their bottle design and it didn't look so vintage.  So these bottles have been there for years.  I'll bet all the fizz is gone by now.
 And even though Disney came out with it's Davy Crockett series before I was born, I still grew up knowing that theme song by heart and watching Fess Parker as Davy on Sunday night's "Wonderful World of Disney."  The Davy Crockett plate, bowl and mug are sentimental.
I never get tired of my kitchen wall decor.  I think my kitchen wall is creative, personal and colorful. and I don't plan on changing it any time soon...  which proves I am my mother's daughter.
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