Archive for March, 2012

Letter To A Best Friend —MAV

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I call this post: Letter To A Best Friend.

Hilary,

I love the way you keep everything in your home in its place.

I love the way you cherish things.

I love that on every dresser top there is a small art show.

I love that you have a pink perfume sprayer.

I love how you arrange things.

I love that you have so many little treasures.

I love that you have plants hanging in your bathroom.

I love that you make every day seem so special.

I love that spending time with you lingers on and on.

I love you.

Maria

: : :

When I travel to Portland, Oregon I am lucky enough to see two dear friends: Stephanie and my friend, Hilary. Hilary and I have known each other almost 20 years. I thought her home might inspire you as much as it did me.

p.s.
Hilary,

I hope you don’t mind that while you were out at work I crept around your flat and took these photographs.
x, M

Revisiting Winter Essentials —SCB

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

It was truly fantastic to have MAV here last week. It meant so much to me to have her sitting at my table, to see her playing with my kids, and to walk together to my neighborhood coffee shop. My big regret was that the weather just did not give us a break. It was wet, cold and dismal the entire time. The picnics and hikes and vistas that I had planned to share with her will have to be saved for the next visit.

Portland did manage to show off some color. Trees and bulbs are resiliently blooming despite the rain and cold and sleet and snow (!) we’ve had these past few weeks. I think maybe the blooms are all the more brilliant against the grey sky. I am feeling a little less resilient than the blossoms, however, and am ready for the sunshine that is in the forecast (for one day, but we’ll take it).

I know that much of the country is actually experiencing unseasonably warm weather. Many of you are breaking out your favorite sandals and tanks, uncovering your grills, and planning your gardens. I am happy for you; you give me hope. In the meantime, I am revisiting my winter essentials and survival techniques (the photo above is from 3191 Quarterly Issue No. 2 last year—unfortunately out of print).

I am gathering up all those spring blooms and bringing them inside. I am baking cookies to have with my nightly whiskey. I am lighting candles in the middle of the day and loading up my cart with citrus (along with the few early spring vegetables I have been seeing). Final piece of my own advice I plan to follow? Get outside no matter the weather. Have a great week, everyone.

—SCB

0 Miles Apart —MAV

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Guess what?

I’ve traveled 3,191 miles since the last time I wrote to you. I have been eating delicious meals, building very tall towers, drinking good strong coffee, seeing inspiring art, baking in Steph’s kitchen and working happily on the next issue of 3191 Quarterly. It’s so nice to be here in the other Portland!

—MAV

0 Miles Apart —SCB

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I am so excited that MAV is here from 3191 miles away. Love being 0 miles apart. Chester the cat is her biggest fan. We’ve been eating, hanging out, exploring (despite the completely dismal weather Oregon is offering), working on Issue 7 of 3191Q, making plans—I don’t want it to end!

That last photo is MAV spotting 3191Q at Anthropologie (you can find it at all their shops, I believe, though this one just had one copy left).

—SCB

Toast Saves the Day —MAV

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Let me start by telling you this fact:
last night I had a little too much red wine.

Now that that’s admitted I can tell you this little story … I am curious if this sort of thing has ever happened to you.

For various reasons we have been in serious “fridge clear-out” mode in our home all week. Thusly, without eggs, milk, yogurt (gasp!), cereal or any of the other standard breakfast items stocked in our house, we have been eating oatmeal for the last several mornings. When I woke up this morning, with the before-mentioned slow-to-process-wine-head, I just couldn’t bear another bowl of oatmeal!

But what else is in the house???

I stood, groggy, with a slight headache, looking around the kitchen. Ugh! The cupboards were fairly bare except for grains, crackers, nuts and that damn oatmeal. Forget it! Until in the corner of the counter I see a 4-day-old half-loaf of bread which I had been too lazy to dispose of yesterday. YES! Toast! My savior!

I use a knife to saw through the stale bread, put a little water on it (this will soften it when warmed) and pop it in the oven to toast right up. But what fixings??? We don’t even have butter!

Hey, wait a minute … there were leftovers from yesterday’s work/studio lunch. Thank goodness we had a big meeting that we had to cater. Yes, yes, there they are in the fridge! And to think I nearly threw them out! Very small bits of turkey, cheese, greens, one tiny tomato, half of an avocado. Oh and how about the old small spoonful of peanut butter which is in the very back behind the maple syrup? And thank goodness for honey!

Yes! Now we’re talking! I ate like a King.

Thank you, strong coffee and happy toasts. Leftovers save the day! And my aching head!

—MAV

Cast Iron Cookware —SCB

Friday, March 9th, 2012

When we remodeled our kitchen, I didn’t ask for a pot rack. I was happy with our large drawer storage. But this past Christmas Jack gifted me an 18-inch cast iron skillet, and it quickly became the workhorse of my kitchen. Just the other day, I made a giant dutch baby in it for breakfast, followed by roasted potatoes and corn for lunch burritos, a big batch of granola for the week in the afternoon and a roast chicken and vegetables (MAV and I share our roast chicken recipe in 3191Q Issue No. 5) for dinner. I’m not sure how I lived without it until now, but that thing is a beast to lift in and out of a cabinet or drawer. A place was found for a hanging pot rack, and Jack built one from plumbing materials. I love having all my cast iron at easy reach.

Most of my cast iron came from thrift stores or estate or yard sales. I look for quality pieces, made in the United States. Usually, I prefer pans with a nice seasoning already intact, but last week I came across a rusted little aebleskiver pan for just a few dollars, and I couldn’t pass it up.

Information on seasoning and re-seasoning cast iron pans abounds all over the internet. Techniques and proper oils are hotly debated. As with most things, I like to keep it simple and accessible. I am not an expert, just simply an enthusiast.

To refurbish my pan, I gave it a good scrub with Kosher salt to remove all the debris. Then the rust came off with steel wool. I rubbed the pan with flax oil (animal fat or most vegetable oils work fine), removed all the excess with a paper towel and placed it upside down in a 450 degree oven. I left it there for two hours. The rest of the week, every time I was heating the oven I would repeat the oiling process and the throw the pan in with whatever I was baking. Soon, the pan had a dark black, glossy surface. Last Sunday, I gave my pan its trial run with great results (I am still in search of the perfect aebleskiver recipe, but the pan performed beautifully).

Now that I’ve had my cast iron re-seasoning success, I am ready to bring some more pots in need of TLC. Think I still have room?

—SCB

Favorite Studio Supplies —MAV

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

recycled clipboard (and pink is on my wish list) + recycled colored paper

In the studio, with chaos all around, my attention divided in too many directions and lists and lists of “to-do’s” sometimes it’s the little things (things you usually find in the back of your supply closet or bottom of the box marked “office” that’s been sitting in the basement) that keep me going …

lamy + delfonics pens

organic hemp twine

florescent spike tapes

watercolors

… and going and going …

—MAV

Leap Day Snowshoe —SCB

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

What did you do with your extra day this year?

Jack and I decided to celebrate Leap Day with a mid-week excursion up to Mt. Hood. We love the mountain, but never feel we have enough time to get away. How could we deny the extra day we were given this year? We made it a snow day.

We went on a long snowshoe hike through a Narnia-like forest. It was not intended to be quite so long, but we took a wrong turn and ended up on a trying slog through deep snow. Boy, was I glad when we found the blue diamond trail markers again.

After our hike, we drove the winding road to Timberline Lodge (it’s exterior made famous in The Shining). A WPA project, the lodge is full of hand-hewn furniture, loomed textiles, murals, ironwork, sculpture and other handcrafted amazement and has, for the most part, stayed rooted in another time. We had the place mostly to ourselves except for the cowboy-themed wedding (men in spurs and ten-gallon hats and women straight off the set of Deadwood) going on in the lobby. We played shuffleboard, drank whiskey and marveled at all the details all evening.

The next morning, we headed down the mountain—slightly sore, well-rested and grateful for the extra day.

—SCB