A Happy Accident

My drawing skills are nil, but I’ve always enjoyed blending colors and thinking in terms of design possibilities.  It took me many years, however, to find my creative niche and that was thanks to an industrial psychologist for whom I was doing temporary work.  It was he who said my underlying need to be creative was going to be the source of much frustration if I didn’t yield to it.  “But,” I said, “I’m not creative!”  By walking me through a series of questions, he proved me wrong and from that day forward I feel that life has been one great exercise in creativity.  

WeavingHow weaving came into the picture is a happy accident.  At my girls’ elementary school auction someone donated 6 weeks of weaving lessons which no one bought.  Somehow I ended up with those lessons, and they opened the door to a whole new world.  I never dreamed anyone would want to buy anything I made, but from the beginning that proved not to be true.  

Early on, I concentrated on wall pieces and created large installations for several Houston office buildings and banks.  I won’t go into all the reasons why, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out that wasn’t going to be my direction.

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While trying to determine my next step, I remembered that as a child I loved designing paper doll clothes, mixing patterns and colors in unique combinations.  That led to weaving cloth for garments, and I was thrilled by the results. My first piece was a vest which I sold right off my back.  That led to years of designing one-of-a-kind wearables for clients who valued my work as a means of expressing their uniqueness.

flowers/tablescapeThere were many wonderful moments during that period, but several years ago I burned out on cutting and sewing and began working with designers to create blankets, table linens, accent pillows and yardage for dining room chairs, piano benches, stools, etc. Such work gave me incredible design freedom.

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At the same time, I began focusing, too,  on fashion accessories such as scarves and shawls.  

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These have allowed me to satisfy clients who appreciate having a distinctive piece.

caleb-1-2I never would have dreamed that weaving would become a vocation.  It is certainly not one that ensures upward mobility or a hefty salary, but it feeds the soul and becomes a means of self expression.  For that I will ever be grateful.

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A Piece of Cake

I don’t know what it is about holidays this time of year and coconut cake, but the two just seem to go together.  Over the years, I’ve tried a number of recipes, some better than others but none a total reject.

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My very favorite is a recipe that was in Southern Living some years ago.  It combines several of my favorite things: coconut, lemon and cream cheese.  The cake is not difficult to make, especially if you use a yellow or white cake mix.  If you are really daring, chocolate works, too.  I’ve tried all of these, but I like best making the cake from scratch.

Between the layers is lemon curd.  Again, you can use a purchased curd, but it is so simple to make and the taste of fresh lemon is so appealing that it’s a shame not to use the real thing.   Here’s all there is to it:

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. cornstarch

1 c. boiling water

1/3 c. lemon juice

4 egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 t. lemon zest

1/3 c. lemon juice

2 T. butter

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan; whisk in boiling water.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Whisk about 1/4 of hot mixture into egg yolks; add to remaining hot mixture, whisking constantly. Add zest and juice.  Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened.  Whisk in butter and let cool, stirring from time to time.

The entire process takes 20-25 minutes and you can do it while the cake is baking.

When the cake layers (I make 3) have cooled, spread the lemon curd between the layers and frost with a cream cheese frosting that is 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1 t. vanilla and a box of powdered sugar mixed together.  Sprinkle generously with coconut and garnish with lemon slices, a pretty green leaf or sprigs of rosemary.

More often than not, there is no cake left at our house, but when there is I wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze it.  That makes for a pretty nice dessert next time company comes for dinner.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Munich: A Quick Stop

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The hubby has wanted to visit Munich so on our way to Sicily, we made a quick stop. It was a great place to recover from a sleepless overseas flight and briefly explore a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo trip to Munich would be complete without a visit to Hofbrauhaus, perhaps the busiest place I’ve ever been.  We couldn’t help but wonder if this establishment ever runs out of beer and sausages!

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The area surrounding Hofbrauhaus is teeming with people shopping, browsing, enjoying being part of the crowd

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAor stopping to observe surprising street entertainment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had no agenda in the city, but the Nymphenburg Palace on the outskirts piqued our curiosity.  What a beautiful place!

Some of the apartments in the main building were open for viewing and reflected the opulence associated with earlier times.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs lovely as the palace was, even more delightful were the grounds that provided incredible fodder for the camera!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt every step was a scene waiting to be photographed

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand it was impossible to resist capturing the graceful swans

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that in some positions looked like a sculpture.

The grounds were full of people enjoying a lovely fall afternoon so there was  wonderful opportunity to capture unposed shots.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had not intended to make Nymphenburg Palace our only stop, but it was such a wonder that we spent the whole day there.  No doubt, there’s much more to see in Munich, but it will have to wait for another time.

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Fading Away

As summer fades away, so do the flowers in my garden. That makes me a tad sad as I’ve loved going out and cutting a few blooms each day to place all over the house.  I guess now the grocery will have to be my source for nature’s color.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough they are less abundant, there are still enough flowers to fill a few containers.  I don’t know what it is about old milk bottles, but I’m always drawn to them.    These were leftovers from a yard sale on Isle au Haut happily given to me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe colors of the blooms were all that were needed to inspire tonight’s table setting when neighbors are joining us for a simple dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFifteen years ago we bought our house in Maine, and these placemats and napkins were among my very first purchases.  As you might guess, they’ve been used time and time again as their colors make them a versatile backdrop for so many dishes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis time around the dishes are neutral accented by multi colored glasses (are they really glasses when they are metal?) that were special finds in a local antique, maybe junk, shop. They remind me of some my grandmother had though I think hers had a flared top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinished the table is alive with happy color and again shows how a simple setting can enliven a table.  It just doesn’t take much to put together something that makes any meal seem more special.

P7276266.jpgSpeaking of the meal, our local fish market got a freshly caught halibut this morning so it was impossible to resist getting four steaks that make for a very easy dinner.  The hubby grills them and then the steaks are topped with homemade pesto.  It doesn’t get better than that!

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Out With a Bang

Windjammer FestivalSummer is a very short season in Maine.  July 4 marks its beginning, and when Labor Day comes it’s pretty much over. Summer does go out with a bang at least in Camden where it’s Windjammer Festival weekend, and crowds gather for the last big events of the season.

The midcoast of Maine is home to a number of these beautiful old boats, and many of them come sailing into Camden Harbor.  Some will take passengers out for a sail on Penobscot Bay

while others allow visitors to come aboard to get a feel for what it would be like to live aboard for several days.

windjammerThis year I joined friends on their boat in the harbor to view the windjammers as they came in.  What a sight they are.  In the distance, their sails catch the wind,

but as they near the harbor entrance sails are dropped.

P9021179.jpgKeep in mind these ships have no engine so they are met by a small boat called a pusher that aids them in safely navigating the harbor.

One by one the magnificent ships pass by with excited passengers aboard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand maybe a ship’s dog taking it all in.

The schooners may be the main attraction, but there’s plenty more activity for people of all ages.  I get a big kick out of the lobster crate races.  The key to success here appears to be youth and light weight.  Me, I’d be right in the water before getting started!

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No festival would be complete without fireworks that illuminate the sky and draw shrieks of delight from the crowd.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow I enjoy all that is so quinticensial Maine.

I’d love to know how the end of summer is celebrated in your area.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind