A Life of Varied Endeavors

Category Archives: Friends, Family, Musings – Rah-Rah!

May Little Altars – an elephant and beads for me

Little Altars - Elephant May (2 of 4)Here was May’s project.

Once again, my own collected and unfinished treasures provided the inspiration for this month’s Little Altars spot.  Since I was making the spot “for myself” meaning my exchange this month was with me, myself, and I, this was an interesting and sort of indulgent endeavor.  Some sort of serendipitous spell came over me as I wondered around my little places of projects and treasures, and I pretty quickly came up with something that I thought I’d really like.  Nice when there are very few false starts, and that’s what happened this time.

I’m an elephant fan, so the opportunity to use an elephant bead that I’d probably never put on a piece of jewelry was a plus.  And the flat beaded disk has been teasing me to do something with it ever since I made it.  Of course it was supposed to be part of a larger project, but now it’s in a perfectly happy place, pretending to be a water place for the elephant.  Both now live on top of my currently favorite play materials: watercolor paper, watercolors and gouache.

Little Altars - Elephant May (3 of 4)

Little Altars - Elephant May (1 of 4)

It’s Chanterelle Time! Thanks, Dr. Doug!

Dr. Dougs Famous Chaterelle SauceOnce a year, I get excited about chanterelles, and even though I love them just for themselves, there is one reason in particular that I celebrate their presence: Dr. Doug’s Famous Chanterelle Sauce.

When I moved to the Puget Sound area in the mid-1980’s, I worked in downtown Seattle, and was able to make convenient trips to the Pike Place Market. On one trip, I picked up a Market newspaper, and this recipe was in it. I was from Hawaii, and knew nothing, nothing, nothing about mushrooms, much less chanterelles. (I still know pretty much nothing about them, but these days I have smell memories every fall when mushrooms and chanterelles come in season.)

This is the best chanterelle recipe I’ve ever had. We make it once a year (it’s an indulgence). Some years the chanterelles are harder to come by, but this year I guess my timing was good and the harvest was plentiful; we will be able to splurge on more chanterelle experiments.

Today, for the first time, I searched to see if this recipe was on-line and if I could find Dr. Doug.  Yes!  He’s got a blog and a website and a most interesting life!  Go see Dr. Doug Leen!  From there, don’t miss his blog!

Here’s the recipe in a cut-and-paste version.  If you are gluten-free, this is great as long as the hoisin sauce is gluten free.

Dr. Doug’s Famous Chanterelle Sauce 

Dice and fry 1/2 lb. of bacon until crisp. Add l lb. clean chanterelle mushrooms, cut into pieces. Fry for ten minutes, or until water in the mushrooms is evaporated; drain. Add pulp of two large beefsteak tomatoes, 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (available in Chinese groceries), and 1 cup of cream.  Lower heat and cook sauce until reduced and thickened (or if impatient, add 1 teaspoon cornstarch). Serve over your favorite steak – great over whitefish too. Enjoy!


Little Altars Project

NancyStrahle Center Collection

I’m participating with several other willing adventurers (10 others to be exact) in a project organized and inspired by Peg Gyldenege.  She’s calling it Little Altars, and we are all filling the compartments of a “letterpress drawer” that each of us purchased.  Once a month, beginning in January, we are completing a section.  Intended to allow us to play with things that inspire us and have meaning to each of us, it’s also going to be a mutual recharge, as we all inspire each other.

I wanted to participate for the inspiration, for the play, for the community, for the let-go.  It’s also a great way to celebrate a transition to retirement – something I am admitting to and focusing on! (Let’s hope it works!)

Our first date for completion was January 26th, the full moon.  We will complete a space by each full moon, sending the contents of a completed compartment to a fellow artist for installation.  To see the first month’s work and all the artists participating, check out Peg’s blog at http://wildhairstudio.blogspot.com/.

This little space gave me the opportunity to give a home to some little treasures of mine; things that aren’t made for more than this, ideas I’ve played with, little things I am fond of.  It uses a dried orchid blossom, some dried leaves, a few handmade magnet hooks with sterling wire and buttons that I made years ago (an Idea I am still keen on developing), a small fold forming experiment, a copper chain that I love (reminds me of a maile leaf lei), a rough ruby, a little madrona branch collected on one of my daily morning walks, a shell collected by a friend in Mexico, a press-formed and colored experiment on copper, and a scrap found-copper-shape that I  embellished with riveted colored copper circles.  The pieces are all held on by magnets to a covered sheet of steel.  So, by nature, each item can be rearranged!

Catching up!

For the last couple of months I’ve been mostly focused on finishing tax returns for clients and their businesses.  I’ve also been trying to keep my Etsy activity alive and well.  And three or four weeks ago I began a stone-setting class at Pratt in Seattle.  As well, I’ve begun participating more closely with the Hardy Fern Foundation (I’m new on the board.) It’s great to finally have time to catch up with some pictures and this blog. 


A bountiful crop of huckleberries

Today is really October 23rd, but I’m posting this as of the day I took these pictures and picked huckleberries – September 17th.

Evergreen huckleberries 900pw P1030779

Bowl of evergreen huckleberries

We’ve had this huckleberry bush for maybe 25 years. It’s on the west side of our house, and it got happier over the years when the afternoon shade from the maple and cedar trees got deeper.  So both time and more shade have given us this truly lovely bush that’s about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.  I try not to trim it so it has the most opportunity to produce fruit.  This year, we picked at least a quart of huckleberries, and left LOTS on the bush, which the birds are now enjoying (along with the bright red fruit on the Korean Dogwood nearby.) I keep my elephant ears (colocasia) in pots next to this bush during the summer.

Evergreen Huckleberry Bush - vacinium ovatum

Evergreen Huckleberry Bush – vacinium ovatum

In the spring, I posted pictures of the blossoms on this bush – I think maybe of even the same branch.  Pink blossoms to blue-black berries.  So nice to see this tranformation!

Evergreen huckleberry blossoms are now berries

Evergreen huckleberry blossoms are now berries

This morning, as last Sunday morning, we made (gluten-free) Buckwheat Huckleberry Pancakes.   I used the buckwheat pancake recipe from Bette Hagman’s book, The Gluten-free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods.  Great recipe.  This week I used a little less buttermilk than the recipe called for, and added the huckleberries still frozen. What a treat!

Vacinium Ovatam fruit -evergreen huckleberries and Colocasia - elephant ears

Vacinium Ovatam fruit -evergreen huckleberries and Colocasia – elephant ears