Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Carmel-by-the-Sea Coloring Book for All Ages

For months Jan has been working on drawings for his book, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California's Storybook Town Coloring Book for All Ages.

Finally it is complete and the proof has been ordered from Create Space and will be available on Amazon in just a few days!

Here is the front cover,

and the back cover shows six of the hand drawn illustrations featured in the book.

The size of the drawings are printed to fit an 8x10 inch frame if you like your coloring.

So, we wait in anticipation to see the proof!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Visit to Shakespeare and Company in Paris

Across the Seine from Notre Dame is the world famous book store, Shakespeare and Company. The history of the store is very interesting, it first opened in Paris in 1919 by an American, Sylvia Beach. She closed her store in 1941, during the German occupation.

In 1951 another American living in Paris, George Whitman, had collected so many books he opened a bookstore under the name Le Mistral Bookshop. Silvia Beach visited over the first years and as the story goes suggested he rename his shop Shakespeare and Company. The eccentric George created a bookshop where writers could stay a few days for free with rules of helping in the shop for an hour, reading a book a day and writing a one page biography. He called them tumbleweeds. Many thousands have stayed.

Our first visit to Shakespeare and Company was in the early 1990s, it seemed rather odd to me that there were books laying flat on what appeared to be narrow beds. Books were stacked everywhere and aisles were tight.

YouTube has many videos about the store and George's famous haircuts, burning off his hair with a lit candle.

George named his daughter Silvia for Silvia Beach and for years planned that she would take over some day. Here is his story at the front of the store. George died two days after his 98th birthday in 2011 and Silvia has taken her turn.

On our recent trip to Europe we planned to visit the store on September 15, not knowing that was the official launching of the book, Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart. We went to the shop after visiting Notre Dame, this is me with my very special purchase.

When I purchased my book Silvia Whitman was in the store and graciously posed and signed my book.

She signed around the official stamp.

We didn't plan on attending the 7 p.m. event but were still in the neighborhood late in the afternoon and decided it would be memorable so we were first to line up. As we waited we watched the guest speakers and readers arrive. Below is Silvia carrying a Shakespeare and Company bag, the young woman in the yellow and black is a current tumbleweed.

Silvia opened the event.

Editor Krista Halverson was introduced, she is at the right.

Wine and hors d'oeuvres were served in one of the upstairs rooms.

On our way out Krista was available and I asked for her signature also. Wow! I was thrilled to have both signatures signed to Jan and I.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Custom Miniature Home

Recently my hubby had a custom order to miniaturize a home. It is fascinating to watch him do it. The customer sends a photo of the home and hubby saws it out of thin cabinet grade plywood. He primes it and the drawing is transferred to the wood.

Watching him painting the lines is amazing.

He goes back and forth from his well used glass palette to the painting. Various shades of acrylic colors are combined.

Here he is holds it, still more detail and shading to do.

 Now it is finished, photographed, and ready to ship.

A customized miniature home can be ordered from our Etsy shop here.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Zucchini Walnut Buttermilk Pancakes

It is zucchini season and we have generous neighbors who keep us supplied. One of our favorite meals, breakfast or "breakfast for dinner," is Zucchini Walnut Buttermilk Pancakes.

In August 1980, my dear friend Marsha, and I, took a three day self guided geography course tour of "Gold Country." The University of California at Fresno class guided us from Mariposa to Amador City. We spent one night at the Sutter Creek Inn bed and breakfast. Our room was "the library" with two beds and bookcases and just off the dining room. Breakfast was at a large shared table where we all ate family style. They served zucchini walnut pancakes that were so good I had to reproduce them at home.

Add zucchini and walnuts to my buttermilk pancake recipe was a success and I've been making them ever since.

Here are the ingredients, measured out and ready to combine. The zucchini was grated on the large holes of a box grater. Recipe makes 8 to 10 pancakes, depending on size made and serves 2 hungry people.

Below the zucchini and walnuts are folded into the dry ingredients.

The wet ingredients are combined and added then gently folded into all the dry ingredients. Bake on a grill set to 350 F. Spoon the dough on a buttered grill and level off if batter is not spreading.

Bake on first side till holes start to form on top then flip over.

Bits of green zucchini skin can be seen.

Serve with maple or Log Cabin syrup and enjoy any time of day. Full recipe is below.

Zucchini Walnut Buttermilk Pancakes
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Butter for grill and pancakes
Maple or Log Cabin syrup

Measure flour, sugar, soda and salt into a medium large bowl, use a whisk to mix well to combine dry ingredients.
With a spatula fold in the grated zucchini and chopped walnuts into the dry ingredients. The amount of zucchini and walnuts can be varied to your taste.
Beat the egg in a small bowl, add egg and melted butter to the buttermilk.
With a large spatula fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, do not beat, fold enough to moisten dry ingredients.
On a grill, heated to medium, about 350 F. degrees, butter and then spoon batter to size of pancakes desired. Level off if batter is too thick.
Cook on first side till holes start to form, check bottom for golden brown color, flip over, cook till done.

Do you ever have a breakfast meal for dinner?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Sierra Sky Park Fresno California and Video

Sierra Sky Park is the first aviation community in the world, created in 1946 for passionate aviators right here in Fresno, California. The homes at the private airport were built with hangars so the airplane is right there, ready to taxi out to the runway and fly out. The street signs are low so no airplane wing can clip it.

Like clockwork on Saturday mornings some of the pilots take off for breakfast to various places. We live a mile away and have enjoyed the air activity over the years. Any time we have visiting guests we drive them over to see the unique neighborhood.

Sometimes there are airplane gatherings like the one here in 2013.

Last month, late one Saturday afternoon, there was a lot of plane activity leaving Sierra Sky Park and flying over the San Joaquin river going towards Madera, CA. If it sounds like an interesting plane hubby dashes out to see it and I often follow. Well, it was an amazing evening and morning, I had to put together the little clips of what happened. Turn up your volume and maximize the page size for the full effect.

Sunday morning was an amazing sight, there were 28 planes in formation.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Baguettes Have Ears! The Great Bread Quest

In 1990, when we moved to Holland, I fell in love with fabulous breads. Grocery stores sold fresh wheat bread that was wonderfully nutty with natural wheat, not just bread with brown color that was common in the US. The Dutch shopped daily and we could buy half a loaf at a time and have it sliced before our eyes.

In my quest to learn about bread I visited the bread museum in Hattem. It was fascinating to see a big trough that was used a long time ago where a man would walk in it to knead the dough. I bought their bread book. I tried some recipes.

We called a local commercial bakery to ask for a tour. We bought bread at various bakers to try different breads. It was before the internet, I wrote to a US company and signed up for a correspondence bakery course. The two volume book set was huge and boring. I didn't get very far and ended up selling it on Ebay about 10 years ago.

During one of our trips to Paris we had a hotel breakfast of coffee and crispy rolls with creamed honey. I know my eyes rolled back in my head with delight. There is nothing like great bread!

When we got back to the US in 1993 I bought a bread machine and the constant bread making started but who can stand the odd loaves they made?

Then about 8 years ago I discovered a YouTube video on no knead bread. Since then we've baked bread once or twice a week and I keep experimenting. The no knead method is easy but bread is usually heavy but better than purchased bread and so much more reasonably priced.

I've purchased bread book after bread book and oh, so much hassle flipping back and forth to bake. Very frustrating.

Baking and bakery videos on YouTube are fun to watch. The history of Poilane Bakery in Paris is interesting, watch here. Their bread, made in a wood fired oven, is shipped all over the world every day.

My dream has been to make light baguettes with "ears" and a thin crackly crust that sings when it comes out of the oven. Yes, singing is the cracking sounds when they start to cool, I've danced around the kitchen the times I've heard it.

Here is my first true complete success! A touch darker than they should be but unbelievably good. The "ears" are not perfect because I don't have a real lame to slash the dough but a razor blade held at the right angle did the job. Slashes on the back popped open and part of the middle loaf but the one on the left is just right.

My success comes from a Craftsy.com class, King Arthur Flour's Artisan Bread Mastering Pre-Ferments taught by Amber Eisler. I don't have a large rectangular stone to bake on but had a baguette pan so used it and worked out fine.

The loaves "sang" and look at that structure, thin crust and lots of holes.

The batch was for 3 baguettes and large boule, here is my big baby that came out of the oven just before bedtime so it sat all night.

When morning came hubby sliced it and again, thin crispy crust, light and lots of holes.

My favorite breakfast, coffee, a piece of home made bread toast with peanut butter and a thin layer of Nusco, Dutch chocolate paste. Yummy!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Teatime Tales by Angela Webste McRae

The mailman delivered my Teatime Tales this week, I'm so excited! Angela is a great story teller and blogger. Her blog is Tea with Friends. She posts something tea related every day, I don't know how she does it. 

Teatime makes me think of The Tuck Box in Carmel, a charming building built in 1928 by Hugh Comstock. It has been a tea shop since the 1940s. In the 1980s it was always busy and there was always a line to get in. Teatime Tales goes so well by my hubby's painting of The Tuck Box. Makes me want to curl up in the picture with the book.

Now the teapot wall has memories, a little humor, a little story, and a little tea, just enough to brighten my day.

It's time to plan a tea party.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Kite Season at the Castle Shed

Several days ago the neighbor girls were in the culdesac flying their beautiful kites. Hmm, I thought it would be so cute to take a photo of them with their kites in front of the castle shed.

Aren’t they adorable girls?

Hello Kitty had to get in the picture also.

As soon as school is out the girls will be coming to tea and craft time.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Carmel-by-the-Sea Tor House and Hugh Comstock

A couple of weeks ago we made reservations to tour the Tor House again in Carmel. Tours are only Friday and Saturday and it turned out to be a day forecast to be raining but that doesn't stop us.

The drive over Pacheco pass was dramatic with clouds and rain.

Here are just a few of the scenes of our day trip to Carmel.

As we stepped out of the car there before me by the Hog's Breath Inn was a bed of succulents, all dappled with rain.

The Tor House grounds seem to be always windy, turned my hair into spikes! Hubby and I are fascinated with architecture and stories of how they were built. Hawk Tower behind us was hand built by one man over a period of several years.

Our trip was to explore more of the quaint architecture that has made Carmel so famous. Hansel, build by Hugh Comstock for his wife Mayotta's Otsy Totsy dolls, makes my heart pitter-patter.

Even the trees seem magical, looks like a giant's hand with scrapes and warts.

The skies were blue for a while, here we were near the beach.

The sea-lavender, or statice flowers, grow so well in Carmel, love the way they stand in this arrangement by a shop.

This is Storybook Cottage, another Hugh Comstock house.

Vines, hedges and the fireplace frame the window and shutter with the heart cut out.

Charming gates and fences are so beckoning.

By the end of the day it was getting cooler and we took one last drive to watch and listen to the power of the sea.