Friday, February 27, 2009

Featured Blogger- Donna Pool

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I’ve been a little bored with the usual format of doing these posts so I thought I’d try something a little different. I wanted to do a little more than just introduce Donna and show off some of her wares, I wanted to dig deeper.

So I read a lot. Both blogs. I took snippets of posts here and there, ones that touched me, made me laugh, one almost made me cry and anything else I felt really revealed who Donna is as a Mom, a blogger and an artist.

These are out of order and out of context  and not complete posts (I provided the link to the entire post). I hope my selections reflect upon Donna accurately and I hope she sets the record straight if anything does not.

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Grandma

100 years. She told me once how she used to pick cotton as a child of 6 or 7, with the hot Oklahoma dirt burning the soles of her bare feet as she dragged that long sack of cotton behind her. And yesterday, I was ordering flowers for her over the internet and now I'm sharing the story with all of you. 100 years...amazing....

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Sharing the joys of old cameras

Somebody had posted a couple of blurry pictures of an old camera, and asked if anybody knew what it was. The fun thing was ...I knew! I recognized it as an old Russian rangefinder. I grabbed my old camera price guide off the shelf and looked it up. Sure enough, it was Russian Zorki 4, made from 1956-1973. I can't tell from those pictures, but if it has a lever wind instead of just a knob to wind the film with, then it's a Zorki 4K.

I don't know if anybody else with an interest in old, obscure cameras will read this...but I got a kick out of it!

Incredibly nimble fingers

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Meeting MLK Jr.

I remember once we were introduced to a very nice black man. I guess it stuck in my mind (I think I was 3 years old) because we didn't encounter many black people in my white neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. But I remember how my father spoke with such respect as he introduced us. Clearly, this man was somebody special and I was told I would remember meeting him. And I did.
I was much older before all the blanks in my child-like memory were filled in and I realized that that man was Martin Luther King, Jr. He was on his way to a meeting of the Atlanta Pastor's Conference, and my parents told him about my grandfather who would also be there. We later heard that my grandfather did meet him there and when Dr. King heard his name he said, "Oh, I just met your three beautiful grandchildren in Dallas!"
I remembered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and he remembered me.

Childhood memories

My dad used to tell me that he hoped I didn't grow up and write a book someday. He often noticed me quietly observing the crazy show that was our family and shuddered to think of what I might remember and what stories I might tell!
It's true that I remember a lot of details about my childhood. I can tell you which friends lived in which houses on every block I walked between my house and my school. I can tell you where each of my homeroom classes were in that school and all of my teachers names.
I told my sister once that I could close my eyes and tell her exactly what we kept on each cubbyhole in the closet of the bedroom we shared when we were kids, and I closed my eyes and began to list them for her. She dropped her jaw and said "How can you remember all that?!" That's when my brother-in-law interrupted and said "WHY do you remember all that?!"
I don't know why my head clung to so many little details back then and yet now I go into the next room and forget why I'm there. Funny how our minds work once we turn 50.... But it seems many of my most enduring memories are about Christmas holidays.

Work Ethic

I love doing custom orders. It reminds me of when I worked in bookstores and customers would be looking for that perfect gift for a special someone but they didn't really know what they wanted. I was pretty good at asking just the right questions and making just the right suggestions, and I loved it when their eyes would light up and they'd say, "That's it! That's perfect!"
When doing a custom order for an Etsy buyer, I can't see their eyes light up, but I do enjoy working out the details with them. Taking their vision they've described to me or adapting the shop's banner and fine-tuning the design till I get their buttons just right and they convo me with "That's perfect!"

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Success Story (this is the one that made me tear up)

"She's waking up sir. We haven't told her anything yet."
Those were the first words I heard as I was waking up after an emergency C-section. When my husband said "She's doing better" I knew two things. First, that the baby was a girl, and second, that all was not well, just yet. She spent her first eleven days in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit...the NICU...and has continued to grow and thrive ever since.
Today, we dropped her off at the airport for a two-week trip to Japan, part of an exchange program sponsored by her high school. She's become a very accomplished anime artist, fascinated with all things Japanese for years now. To say she's been excited about this trip is the ultimate understatement.
I turned 50 a few weeks ago. I have an Etsy shop and I'm always making something new to list there (and hopefully sell). I guess you could call me an artist. But my most creative effort, by far is my two beautiful, artistic, daughters who know how to love and laugh.
That's my success story.

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Donna’s Etsy Shop

Newer Blog

Older Blog

Donna’s Flickr

And because I had so much fun with yesterday’s post I made a Wordle of Donna’s blog profile, which is at the top of this post.

Joys of Wordle

Many thanks and curses (addicting) to RikRak Studio for sharing this fun little application.

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Enter your own text (my ode to The Joys of Jello), paste in a link etc, randomize or customize. FUN!

Warning: you can save your Wordles to their gallery but there is no search function! Save the link immediately or do a screen capture (which I just learned for the first time today) so you can find it again.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

German Home Cooking

Sorry to disappoint all those waiting for the second installment of crepe paper that never came. For some reason I decided that completing my taxes (I was behind by a couple years) was more important lol. But I have finished! Yay! And I owe a lot. Boo.

Making fun of food always perks me up so I thought I’d share more from the lovely book that brought you Pork Paperweights.

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The delightful German Home Cooking by Dr. Oetker (1963). And for you, my special readers, the Special Issue for English Speaking Countries!  The photographs in this book are actually very nicely done, it’s just some of the food isn’t that appealing (that pork again).

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Is this a feat in food engineering or what? Every olive and carrot in place. But how do you serve the thing? Surely that towering mass isn’t for one?

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I love the slightly drunk-looking Sputnik display up there. I’ve never seen baby corn as a speared hors d’oeuvres before. Oh you clever Dr. Oetker! The cake in the foreground is a savory concoction of ham and onions topped with rye bread and cream cheese. Too bad, it looked so much more appetizing when I thought it was cheese cake.

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I adore this! Look at the adorable platter! How sweetly garnished! Look at the little egg and tomato toadstools at the bottom! Complete with little spots. Great photo and the food actually looks delicious! Thumbs up Dr. Oetker.

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This looks pleasing as well. Except the glasses are filled with a sort of gelatin drink. But the Orange Cream looks wonderfully refreshing and notice how carefully the orange slice was peeled and nestled into the whipped cream. Mmmm. But wait, here’s an even better dessert…

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Well that wasn’t so bad! I don’t know if I’m disappointed or relieved but nevertheless, I always have plenty of regrettable food photos up my sleeve for another day.

Ta ta!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gay Decorations

I thought I’d give you all a break from the food pics for a while and mix it up a bit.

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This is Gay Decorations with Dennison Crepe Paper, 1956.

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Back when crepe paper was still cool and not so flimsy you could do all sorts of things with it. This booklet gives you suggestions and directions for every type of crepe they sell.

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By far, the coolest are the streamers. Forget today’s birthday parties with a few strands of droopy crepe tacked to the walls or thrown over light fixtures. This is the serious stuff.

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Whole gymnasiums were decked out with crepe. The booklet even gives you  precise diagrams for different sized halls. Pictured above are the different crepe products they offer. See that large roll on the bottom. That’s 600 feet. So you can do this…

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Think of all the hours (and ladders) it takes to do this. I’m impressed. Hopefully it wasn’t just wadded up after the dance and thrown out!

I have another Dennison craft booklet for the younger set I’ll share tomorrow. Unless I can’t resist the compulsion to share more ugly food for Mardi Gras :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pork Paperweights?

I was originally going to do a sort of Wordless Wednesday post with this photo but that wasn’t quite right. Rather it leaves you…speechless. So perhaps I need to do Speechless Saturdays where the image is so revolting or utterly ridiculous that no words can describe it.

Here is my Speechless Saturday photo;

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But see the problem is I have to comment on this. Look at it! These are not paperweights but cubed pork and a pork loin encased in perfectly clarified gelatin. Awe-inspiring isn’t it?

I’ll say no more other than I’ll share more of this book later.

Bon App├ętit!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Retro and Vintage Clip Art

 

I love clip art and am always delighted when I find good retro images. A few years ago I found this wonderful stack of vintage clip art at a favorite bookstore. I had never seen these before and bought the whole pile.

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They are from a monthly clip art publication called Clipper Creative Art Service. Mine are from 1966-67. There are too many styles and types of images to include here (plus it involves actually cutting them out) and the pages are too large to scan in entirety (12x18).

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Each page will have several images, each in about 4 different sizes – you have to remember this was before the Xerox was common!

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On a facing page they have wonderful mock ads showing the many ways a business could use the image.

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Also included are fonts, textures, seasonal etc. You can see some more here.

I also rediscovered some retro vectors that I thought I had lost when my old laptop died.

bathtime_detThese are from Mister Retro and I highly recommend any of their wares.

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I am sooo happy to have these back! They also have a site dedicated to retro fonts, Font Diner, most of which I bought as well. Some very talented and easy to work with guys.

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I can’t wait to put them to use!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Creative Living with Reynolds Wrap

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This is one of my favorite possessions. It is the oddest, most redundant book ever. A full 128 page book on uses for aluminum foil. I mean really, can’t that be summed up in, say, a 8 page booklet? A few succinct sentences?

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Apparently not.

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Thank goodness for this book because I never would have thought of lining a tray with foil. These guys are seriously on the bleeding edge here.

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OooOOo, a foil placemat! How….utterly inventive!  And what in the hell is on those peas?? The book is not only divided into sections of the house but also months of the year.

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It truly boggles the mind why someone thought that the single topic of this book – wrap EVERYTHING in aluminum foil - needed 128 pages and full color illustrations.

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This (above) is the crap we get for January and February. February’s decorations include the “Lincoln Log” on the far right (wft??), Presidential Portraits, Valentine Punchbowl (by lining any pot or pan with foil), the Cupid Mobile and, for Washington’s birthday, a “cherry tree”. Riiiiight.

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I would really like to see someone wear a foil Easter bonnet.

“Spring is here, and aluminum foil is ready and waiting to help you make it memorable”. I can’t tell you how humorous I find that statement.

By the tone of this book you’d think aluminum foil was the duct tape of 1968. If you can’t foil it, f@ck it!

Hey, if you ever need ideas for what you get your parents for their Silver anniversary email me. I’ll look it up.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A little more Jell-O

More images from Joys of Jello. I’m trying to decide which ones to make next. What do you think?

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Rainbow Cake

Pineapple Cheese Dessert

Ring-Around-the Fruit

 

 

 

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Grasshopper Pie

Fruit Pie Unlimited

Frosty Pie

 

 

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Or how about

Avocado Strawberry Ring

Citrus Surprise

or Ribbon Salad?

 

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Or perhaps the impressive

Under-the-Sea Salad

 

 

 

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The Sunset Salad could be nice too.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Jelly Dreams!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hooray for Crochet

I found a pile of craft booklets at a Goodwill for only a few bucks, mostly knit and crochet. Ranging from the mid 50’s to the 80’s there are some real gems in here. So I decided it was time to learn to Crochet. My mother has crocheted for years so I had her give me a lesson last week. What do you think?

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I am so ready for the big time. Don’t even try and stop me. Just because I gave up on knitting after 4 scarves doesn’t mean I don’t have stick-to-it-ivness. Yesterday, potholder. Tomorrow….

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(Shhhh! I know that one’s a knit but don’t destroy a dream, ok?)

What really inspired me was some beautiful lace, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself or anything. So perhaps the guest bath could use a little fixing up with this ensemble…

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Hey! I’ll wear my new sweater in there! Matchy-matchy!

But in all seriousness *cough* I love this bedspread. I mean where else would you be able to pile up those pillows! Sometimes I wish my house was a little more girly. I have no place to pile up ridiculous and unnecessary pillows. Poor me.

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But if I did make that bed set I’d have to make this to match.

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Suddenly I’m craving Rainbow Sherbet…

But for reals I do plan on learning crochet. My mother, my aunt and I are planning a week at the beach (the rainy, cold Pacific NW type beach, not the fun in the sun type beach) and I’m demanding another lesson. Perhaps I’ll even come home with that Swan toilet tissue cozie!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jello – part 3 – Inconclusive

This is the 3rd of the 3 gelatin desserts I chose for this week. Today’s recipe was the Crown Jewel mold, also called Stained Glass, or Broken Window Glass. It is another basic Bavarian dessert from the Joys of Jello cook book.

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**Crown Jewel Dessert** (directions are for the dessert on lower left)

  • 1 package (3 oz) each Orange, Cherry and Lime Jell-O
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup pineapple juice (NOT fresh!!)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package (3 oz) Lemon Jell-O
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Prepare the three flavors of gelatin separately, using one cup boiling water and 1/2 cup cold water for each (I omitted the lime for a more Valentine look). Pour each flavor into an 8-inch pan and chill until firm, or overnight.

(appropriatley enough, my only pans are heart-shaped!)

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Then mix pineapple juice and sugar. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Dissolve lemon gelatin in the hot juice; then add 1/2 cold water. Chill until slightly thickened.

Cut firm gelatins into 1/2 inch cubes (this can be done the day before).

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Prepare whipped cream; blend with thickened lemon gelatin. Fold in gelatin cubes. Pour into 3 quart mold and chill at least 5 hours or overnight. ***

This is where it got interesting. Perhaps it didn’t set long enough or maybe Jello isn’t as firm as it used to be, but there were indicators that this one might also collapse under it’s own weight. I completed it at my mother’s house and we were ready to quickly snap a picture in case it did. Not altogether attractive but it held together. Barely. I’m not joking. This thing seemed to be at the uttermost limits of the liquid/solid line.

Watch this quick 12 second video. (still figuring out the whole posting a video thing)

Then we started having fun with it. It looked like a Jello autopsy.

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This last photo looked to me like a cheese pizza fell out of it’s box into a pile. This got us (ok, me) started on designing a Jello pizza – a graham cracker “crust”, cherry Jello, chilled in a round cake pan for the “sauce”, lemon Bavarian for the “cheese” and another red Jello chilled in a small can (a la cranberry sauce) and sliced to make the “pepperoni”. Hmmmm.

Anyway, back to the mangle corpse of the Crown Jewel. This was a huge mold and the three of us only had a few bites. What to do with it? We scooped half of it into a couple dessert glasses (saved again!) and brought them over to the neighbors who, get this, were just talking about wishing they had Jello for dessert. They were beyond happy. The rest went into a Tupperware and sent home with another neighbor who stopped by and also happened to like Jello. Who knew! I now have some test subjects. All I have to do is cook over at my mother’s house when I get that Jello urge.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Jell-o part 2 – Success!

 

After yesterday’s rather entertaining disappointment, this one was a delightful success. Here is my inspiration photo. The mold I had that matched best was too large (my collection is still modest) so I chose one that was the proper volume.

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This is a basic Bavarian – Jello to which dairy is added (usually whipped cream and sometimes cream cheese).

Here is the recipe from Joys of Jello:

*Basic Bavarian*

  • 1 package (3 oz) Jell-O Gelatin, any flavor
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup cold water or fruit juice
  • 1 cup whipping cream

Dissolve Jell-O and sugar in boiling water. Add cold water. Chill until slightly thickened. Prepare the whipped cream; stir 1 1/2 cups into gelatin until well blended. Pour into a 1 quart mold (about 4 cups) or serving dishes. Chill until firm, about 4 hours. Garnish with remaining whipped cream.  ***

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Easy! This can also be poured into a pie crust. I was very happy with this one and I dressed it up a bit for some Valentine’s Day flair.

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I don’t add the extra fruit juice and I minimally sweeten the whipped cream. These desserts are so sweet already and adults are more likely to eat some if doesn’t taste so candy-like.

I was very excited to bring this over to my step-father as he loves Jello desserts but…how do you transport something like this??

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So now my gelid pride and joy sits in the fridge, drying out with no one to eat it (I still have yesterday’s experiment to consume don’t forget).

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I guess I’ll consider it a little present to myself every time I open the fridge. For me?? What a surprise! Or maybe I’ll see if it’ll hold up until my husband returns at the end of the week.

Since I couldn’t transport this one I’m going to make another for my step father – a tall Crown Jewel Dessert! I’m bringing my camera!