Monday, October 24, 2011

earwoms: Jacob Golden, Baaba Maal, and Ghostland Observatory

Three songs I can't get out of my head:

A song that evokes fall, when the air is crisp and leaves turn brown and blow against the sidewalk, crackle-crunch under your feet. Put it on a playlist next to Patrick Wolf's "Land's End" or George's "Track Through The Woods."

"Television" -Baaba Maal feat. Sabina Sciubba
Has a tripping, babbling brook sort of melody (like Ali Farka Touré-- that's the traditional African sounds coming through from the Senegalese singer) with shimmy-shake beats reminiscent of the Brazilian samba school songs.

Sounds like a black-glitter Goldfrapp with a Mika who decided to be a full-blown rock star. The Austin band often gets compared to Daft Punk, but they decidedly have their own sound. I haven't gotten into the rest of their music, but this song? Make sure you save it for your Halloween dance party.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

cozy scarves: etsy roundup.

One of my favorite things about fall is wearing scarves and jackets and sweaters to stay cozy in the crisp weather. Here are some of my favorite handmade scarves from etsy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

rain and bow.

From my living room window. The weather is quite something today.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

bare walls.

What makes a house my home is books on the shelves and pictures on the walls. But after getting married and encountering what it is like to decorate in marriage, James and I learned more about compromise that is so essential to marriage. (In fact, what we have to work hardest to compromise about is our decorating aesthetic and music tastes.) We do, however, come to a compromise, because this is about making a home for the both of us.

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt
My aesthetic was fairly simple: "If I like it, I'll hang it up." This embodied itself in a vintage ship print of a painting by Gordon Grant, a Gustav Klimt print of "The Kiss," and a black and white diptych of trees in a foggy field. James finds most of it distasteful ("The Kiss" passes because it hangs in our bedroom, and we like to see ourselves in it.)

James's philosophy on decorating our walls is a little more thoughtful: "It needs to make me think of something significant, most likely a person, or a place that I've been. It should trigger memories. Aesthetic taste is completely arbitrary, and I don't often know what it even means to like the look of something." This philosophy is how he makes the judgement of what is valuable and worth using to decorate his house-- what is worth using to make his home a home.

A photo I took from the Grand Canal in Venice. 2003
For now, his philosophy shows up on our walls in the form of meaningful photography (like a photo from our engagement pictures, travel photos of places I have been, and old family photos) as well as an intaglio print from a very close friend.

An engagement picture. Taken by a friend.

There are other things that walk the line, like a silhouette of a lovely girl named Zelma, cut at the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport in October of 1941. I make the case that it is a memento of a city I grew up in, done only a month after my dad was born. The other piece is a reproduction map I bought at the Newberry Library in Chicago, a place I went with one of my best friends during my visit with her during her undergrad. Both of these evoke memories of people dear to me and places I went with them.

Finding pieces of artwork that are aesthetically pleasing to me and also recall memories for James does not happen all the time. For now, as we wait for the art that does all these things we require, we are making memories with bare walls.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

sauteed greens bruschetta.

This can be eaten a number of different ways. Make up the recipe with just the vegetables, and you've got a lovely spinach side dish. Leave out or keep the meat and put it on sliced bread to make a bruschetta appetizer, or dump the meat (or no meat) mixture on some puff pastry and call it a tart. Or, prepare it as you see it here, which will serve as a main dinner course.  Any combination of greens will do; I've used an arugala and baby mustard greens salad mix as well as plain, fresh spinach to great success. A tomato in place of the figs will also do, but the figs definitely taste better. And plain feta or plain goat cheese are interchangeable, as your wallet allows.

Sauteed Greens Bruschetta

olive oil
3/4 small onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
1-2 bunches of spinach, washed
plain feta
5 small figs
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 baguette
1 lb mild Italian sausage

Using 3/4 of an onion, cut in half and slice thin into strips. Begin to sautee in a skillet with some olive oil.

While the onions are cooking, smash and peel the garlic cloves. Mince finely, and press to let the juice run out, as if you were beginning to make a garlic paste. Add the garlic in with the onion and cook until it starts to look like it will begin to caramelize.

Put the sausage (without the casings) in with the onions and garlic and let cook until the meat is cooked through. If you want the meat to be more browned and crispy, you can cook it more, but the spinach also needs to be cooked, so that will add some more time for the sausage to cook.

Add in spinach, and sautee until the greens have wilted. Push the greens and onion and garlic over to the side of the pan and pour in about 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Let the vinegar cook in the pan then mix the greens into it. Do the same with dijon mustard, using about 3/4 of a tablespoon. (Push the greens over, put the mustard in the pan, let it cook for a couple of seconds, then mix with the greens.)

Spread the mixture out and drizzle very lightly with honey. Mix.

Finally, crumble a little bit of plain feta (or goat cheese) into the greens and let cook until the cheese is a little soft. Serve as is (if cooking without the meat) for a side dish, or continue with the recipe.

Cut a baguette in half. Place the greens mixture evenly along the bread, and also scatter the diced figs. Crumble more feta along the bread, on top of the sausage/greens/onion mixture. Bake at 350 for about 6-10 minutes or until the cheese has softened and melted a little. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The amounts given will provide 4 servings.

Monday, October 3, 2011

book plates or ex libris.

Beautiful hand-painted book plates by Bernard Maisner. "Glorious Bugs"

I am an only child, and, growing up, I was often a lonely child. Like so many other lonely children before me, I found companionship in books. I found that I did not enjoy the world set before me, so I instead read, falling into other worlds and other lives, losing myself to the present. Remembering a day in second or fourth grade (I remember the classroom, not the teacher): I was so engrossed in The Wizard of Oz, snatching a few more pages in between lessons when I shouldn't have, my teacher had to call out to me multiple times to get my attention. I reluctantly put away the book and was scolded accordingly.

Olivs Guess's bookplates I found at a garage sale.

So it follows that I would naturally love all things related to books: the art of writing and calligraphy, pens and nibs, blank journals, decorative papers, and white papers of all stock. I learned how to bind my own books. And, finally, shockingly, when I was at the end of my adolescence, I learned that such a thing existed as a book plate. (How did I ever make it so long, loving books as I do, without knowing what a book plate was?)

The book plate in my Etiquette book. (John R. Sealf)

The idea of a book plate complimented the ideas in my head I had about books. The sentiments behind book plates are simple-- to mark ownership and and the pride in owning the book.  Mark Severin, a Belgian bookplate engraver said, "A book without a plate is, to me, like a child waiting to be adopted. A man really loving a book wants to tighten his bonds with it, to honor it, and to treat it with respect. He wants to show that he has had it as a friend and to make it that much different from other copies of the same volume...."*

Book plate of Thomas G. Judd (I bought the book for the book plate.)

Having a book plate in my books also means that I would not have to admonish my friends to whom I loaned my books to give them back or to treat them well. Some book plates perform the task of admonition themselves with simple phrases like "Any one may borrow,/ But a gentleman returns" or "If through respect or love I lend/ This book unto my worthy friend,/ He must not soil, abuse, nor tear,/  But read with diligence and care;/ And when its contents you have learned,/ Remember, it must be RETURNED."* If only those words had been in some of my books I have loaned, then perhaps my cheap (but cherished) paperbacks wouldn't have returned to me with much-broken spines. (One incident happened many years ago, but I still remember how incensed I was at the book's mistreatment.)

So, if I leave you with your interest peaked, go here, to another blog by a book plate lover.

*Quotes taken from a book about book plates, given to me on my 17th birthday. The Art of the Bookplate is by James P. Keenan, published in 2003 by Barnes and Noble, Inc.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

klimt's treasury.

In the vein of putting together looks from disparate sources, here is a just-made treasury on etsy:

Click here to see more.