Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring ahead to new inspiration...

Spring is just around the corner, and since many of my textile items are geared for winter, this may be the last chance I have to showcase some of my yarn items. So, I thought I'd share a photo of a special order request that I sold at my Etsy store - actually it was my very first sale!!
A nice lady loved my handbags, but wanted a handy, attractive way to keep track of her cell phone. This is designed to hang from a purse handle, and the short chain handle has a lobster claw clasp so it can be changed from handbag to handbags quickly and easily. It's fully lined with black satin, and is held closed with two small magnets to keep the phone safe and sound.

I was thinking of making up one or two in fabric for summer. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Food for thought...

Growing, preparing, and enjoying food is one of the lifelong gifts given to me by my family. No matter how varied my creativity has been, and will ever be, cooking is what I've always enjoyed, and what I'll always come back to. I can't stress how important good nutrition is, so you can look forward to a lot more posts about food, and more importantly, good nutrition, in the future.

For now, I'd like to share a very basic pasta marinara recipe that is so fast and easy, it can almost be classified as "fast food". It's great when you need to get a meal together in a hurry after a busy day, and can be done in the time it takes to cook the pasta. But, it's a far cry from what we know as fast food!! This is substantial, nutritious, and more importantly, it's good, "clean" food - all the flavor and color comes from the ingredients themselves, and nothing else. On top of that, it's also very inexpensive to prepare, and for those who have gardens, the only expense is the pasta.

Pasta Marinara:

*1 large can of whole of chopped tomatoes. (or about a dozen or so of fresh, washed, and halved plum tomatoes - remove the green part of the stem). Plum tomatoes are best for sauce, but regular tomatoes can also be used, but will need to "cook down" more due to the higher water content)

*Olive oil - light or virgin - about 1/8 - 1/4 cup

*One medium onion - finely chopped

*4-6 cloves of fresh garlic, (more or less to taste), or chopped garlic from the jar. (fresh is really better)

*1-2 bay leaves (fresh is great, if available - Turkish or sweet Florida bay are the best)

*About 1/2 tsp of dried basil. (a bit more if using fresh)

*About 1/4 tsp dried oregano. (a bit more if using fresh)

*A pinch of dried of chopped fresh peppermint leaves

*About 1 tsp dried parsley, (more if using fresh)

*Salt, pepper to taste

*Optional - finely chopped fresh or dried hot pepper flakes - to taste

*1 lb of regular or thin Spaghetti

*Put a large pot of water on the stove on high heat. While this is coming to a boil, open the can of tomatoes, (or, if using fresh, remove the green stem and halve the tomatoes), and start peeling and chopping the onions and garlic.

*When the water is almost boiling, start heating the olive oil in a shallow pan. Add the chopped onions, and sprinkle with salt. (no garlic yet - it will burn!!).

*The water for the pasta should be boiling now, and while the onions are cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water, and give it a stir.

*Keep the heat under the onions fairly high. When the onions are soft and just staring to brown, add the chopped garlic, cook for a few seconds, then add the tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, and spices. If fresh tomatoes are used, place them cut side down, and slip the skin off when it becomes soft and easy to remove.

*Give the pasta stir and check for doneness.

*Continue to cook and frequently stir the tomato mixture. If you're using whole tomatoes, break them apart with a fork or any available chopping device until they are in the size pieces you want.

*When the pasta is cooked, drain it well and return it to the pan. Coat it with enough olive oil to keep it from sticking together, (a couple of tablespoons is sufficient), and give it a stir. By now the sauce should be done.

*Dish out the pasta and top with sauce. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh chopped parsley and grated cheese if desired, (freshly grated cheese is really the best!).


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Going Greyhound

My husband and I share our home with at least 2 Greyhounds. Currently we have Penny, (above right), our own "forever" hound, who has red brindle patches on one side and white with ticking on the other, and her foster sister, Suzie, (top left). Suzie is one of many racing greyhounds who have lived in our "finishing school", or "halfway house for dogs" before moving on to their next life as happy family pet.

For those who don't know much about greyhounds, above all, they are an ancient, regal breed, once kept only by royalty. There are drawings of greyhound-like dogs on the urns and tombs of Ancient Eygypt, and the greyhound is also mentioned in the old testament, (Proverbs 30:29-31). The breed is also portrayed by Homer, author of the Odyssey. The only one to recognize Odyseus upon his return was Argus, his greyhound.

History lesson aside, once off the track and into the home, they learn their housemanners, such as learning that it's not OK to steal food from counters, learning new sounds, places and faces, becoming familiar with children, eating treats given by hand, and even how to negotiate stairs. After hanging up their silks, these former competative athletes need to learn their "house manners". Few know the meaning of "play", but quickly learn to enjoy their squeaky toys and chewy bones. It's not that greyhounds are dumb, they just have never known anything other than life at the track, where there are few toys and no stairs. Adapting to the sounds and routines of family life and mastering an uncertainty about public places are a few of the issues involving the retirment transition.

Greyhounds are quick learners and eager to please, so acclimation goes quickly. They are affectionate, sensitive, loyal, and typically very well mannered and obedient. This is because they have spent their whole lives in close proximity to humans, and their purpose was to please their caretakers. Once off the track, one seldom hears a greyhound barking, and they aren't typically noisy in this sense. Our foster Suzie, will bark at other dogs, and greets us with her friendly "ROO's".

Retired racers are typically 2-5 years old, and are either younger dogs who didn't perform well as racers, or older athletes who's racing career has peaked. A racer can have as few as 1 or 2 races, or well over 100. We've even seen one who's had over 200 races. These are usually particularly good athletes who have reached and maintained Grade "A", an accomplishment of only a select few.

Because retired greyhounds are more mature, they are less active, but will sprint around the yard and are quickly satisfied with that. They're jokingly called "40 mile per hour couch potatoes". The one thing that Greyhounds are NOT, are outdoor dogs!! They naturally have little body fat and a thin coat that does not protect them against weather extremes!!

Finally, I want to address issues concerning Greyhounds, and alleged abuses they may endure during their working lives. While it's true that the industry enjoys a certain degree of disrepute, (some rightfully earned), and while the track accomodations are generally sterile and sparse, there are a majority of tracks that are immaculately clean, well run, and whose canine residents are treated very well. In the end, it's foolish to poison the family breadwinner, so to speak. A retired greyhound doesn't lie when he or she is re-introduced to their former track caregivers and greets them with a wagging tail and slurpy kisses! I've seen the mutual joy in these reunions between dog and caretaker, who remembers the dog by name - no easy feat when one is "keeper" to hundreds of dogs over the years.
During my early days as foster Greyhound provider, I too, was concerned about track conditions, and the life the dogs may have led prior to joining us. It didn't take me long to find a site that took me through a day at the track, and greatly eased my mind. You might be surprised, as well:

Friday, February 20, 2009


Tonight I'm going to see a play "The Rimers of Eldritch", which is being performed by our local Community College, and is directed by my step son-in-law. I did a bit of research on the play, and thought I'd share what I found:

The play was written by Lanford Wilson in 1967, and according to and Arts For Life, Wilson was born April 10, 1937 in Lebanon, Mo. Wilson is an openly gay man and many of his plays contain gay themes and characters. He began his career in the 1960s at the Café Cino writing one-act plays. From there he moved to doing off-Broadway places with the "Balm in Gilead" and "The Rimers of Eldritch." He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for his play "Talley's Folly" and later started the Circle Reparatory Company.

"The Rimers of Eldritch" is a mystery about a small town where a murder has taken place.Martin Gottfried, a well-known theater critic, said this about the play:"It is a simple one. A mystery, really. A man has been murdered. The mystery is, who he is, who murdered him and what were the circumstances? And to solve it, Wilson looks at the outsides and insides of his tiny, Middle Western town. He looks at a middle-aging woman who falls in love with the young man who comes to work in her cafe. "He looks at a coarse, nasty woman mistreating her senile mother, who is obsessed with visions of Eldritch being evil and headed for blood-spilling. He looks at a tender relationship between a young man and a dreamy, crippled girl.

But Wilson sees far more than this. He is grasping the very fabric of Bible Belt America, with its catchword morality ("virgin," "God-fearing") and its capability for the vicious. "He senses the rhythm of its life and the cruelty it can impose. He understands the speech patterns of its loveless gossips, its sex-hungry boys, its compassionless preachers, and its car-conscious blondes."In the end his portrait of Eldritch is full length, and the truth of its revelations will be pondered long after the stage lights have dimmed and the play has ended. " he said. "The Rimers of Eldritch" was also made into a television movie in 1974 and starred Susan Sarandon and Rue McClenahan.

I'm still getting to know my way around here, and wanted to post a photo vintage promo of of the movie with Sarandon and Rue McClenahan. Alas, I can't figure out how to do it... For those who are interested, here's a link to it:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Etsy has a wealth of talent, much of which constantly reminds me that I have far, far to go. Treasuries are a great way to promote, but hard to get - there is a very high demand and lean supply. Adding to the rich tapestry is an Etsy team called "Artists of Color", whose work is so vast that it would take several treasuries to even scratch the surface.

So, until I land a treasury, or perhaps instead of, I've decided to showcase several shops here. I can't think of a better way to add valuable material to my fledgeling site. Please join me in paying tribute to the abundant contributions that this marvelous race has given our nation in celebration of February, Black History Month!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fast Forward

One day things something clicked into place. After watching a freeform crochet purse project on a DIY program, I found a source of wonderful novelty yarn, picked up my crochet hook, and started to create my *own* version of free form handbags. I adorned them with vintage jewelry and ribbons, and if I couldn't find matching ribbons, I made my own from fabric. When I brought a batch of purses and scarves to a local boutique to sell, shoppers loved them so much, they were making their purchases before I even left the store. Friends and neighbors who bought handbags also wanted matching hats and scarves, so I made them too.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Getting to know you...

Hello everyone. By way of introduction, my name is Pat and I'm very new to blogs, cyber networking and the like. I appreciate your patience, as I slowly make my way through it all. For the life of me, I'm trying to figure out how people have enough time and energy to put together such lovely blogs and websites - since I'm struggling to understand the very basics...

As a bit of a background - I've always love creating. I was very fortunate to have been raised by industrious and self-sufficient people who's creativity was more for practicality and a means of survival than for it's own sake. Both my parents sewed, and my grandmother taught me how to crochet and knit, and despite all the good examples, I was never very good with design - but loved the mechanics of creating.

A good deal of what I'm selling is textile art, but I'm also having fun making jewelry. I'll be posting more jewelry, but for now, I'm focusing on the promotional aspects of cyber selling, and loving the challenge