Friday, August 1, 2014

A blast from the past

This plate has been in my life for as long as I can remember.

SAM_2669The beautiful lettering spells my name in Hebrew I spiraling line emerges from the first letter of my name and becomes the spinning path of a dreidle.  I love the dynamic energy of the design. I also always admired her sure and beautiful handwriting.  It’s just gorgeous.

 

This plate was made for me. As a Chanukah gift  from my parent’s friend Rivka. as you can read on the back of the plate it was given to me in 1963. I was two.

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My sisters each got their own plate with their own names  cleverly incorporated into a Chanukah design. I remember eating latkes from these plates when I was very, very little.

 

Rivka and her husband Shlomo  taught in the Hebrew School in Quincy from 1958 until I think 1964. My parents and Rivka and Shlomo were deeply fond of one another. While they lived in Quincy, Shlomo completed his BS degree and also got his engineering degree from MIT.

 

After they left Quincy they both went on to both have successful careers in their chosen professions. I last saw then in perhaps 1965 when we visited them in their apartment in Queens.

 

My parents visited them at their beautiful home in the mid 1980’s. When I exhibited my work a couple of weeks ago, one of the people who visited my booth was a dear friend of Rivka’s. She gave Rivka my phone number and we spoke.

 

The last time she saw me, I was essentially a toddler…but yet we spoke as if we had last seen one another a few weeks ago. I loved how her story of her time in Quincy was the same as my parents’ story of their relationship, of people who for a period of time become family to one another.

 

The conversation felt like a gift. I also realize as I look at this delightful plate that the way Rivka combined text and image was deeply influential in my worn work.

We are taught in Pirke Avot that we need to acknowledge or teachers even if we just learn a verse or a word or even one letter from them. So I want to thank Rivka for teaching me a playful way to create a ritual object out of just an object. Rivka’s decoration turned a simple ceramic plate into a way for a child to engage with the  rituals and customs of Chanukah.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A small home improvement project

Our shower curtain had seen better days, lots of better days. It had actually gotten sort of disgraceful.

 

I have been on the lookout for replacement fabric. The other day I thought that I might approach this problem of a needing a new shower curtain like a regular American and just go buy one.

 

I went shopping. The shower curtains I found in the two stores I visited just looked depressed to me. If I didn’t hate them so much I might have bought the two that we needed.

I am very aware when I make something for the household, as opposed to making a garment for myself , that I have to think not just about what I like but what the people who live with me would like as well. It just isn’t fair to have something frilly if I share my house with my sons and my husband.

 

Fabric Mart had black and white seersucker gingham on clearance. Seersucker can be awfully sweet, but the black and white  saves it from being too adorable.

 

I ordered six yards of fabric. Our bath tub is longer than the usual and our rod has to also go around the front of the tub.

While I was ordering fabric I bought a mystery bundle as well.

 

The fabric arrived today. I cut the gingham into three two yard lengths. I sewed the three lengths together.

 

One of the fabrics in the mystery bundle was a pretty lace. I cut three strips to be the header of the curtain.

 

I used the insertion I had bought earlier this summer to hem the bottom.    I sewed strips of black braid to the top .

 

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The check goes well in my bathroom.

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It isn’t too feminine, despite the lace.

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Best of all, It doesn’t make me sad to look at  my bathroom.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Small Sunday Adventure

Yesterday we had a few hours before an afternoon commitment. So we went to this pier on the Hudson and went kayaking.
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You can’t take on the whole river, but you are welcome to paddle  between piers 95 and 97. A few minutes before you would have seen my husband and me paddling around.
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Seeing both the city skyline and even New Jersey from the surface of the river was pretty wonderful.
Then we wandered our way home. Eleventh avenue is where all of the car dealerships in Manhattan  are. After we crossed 11th avenue one of the windows had a wonderful display of model vintage cars.
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On our walk east to the subway we passed this really ugly building.
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It’s awesomely bleak, and yes, it is public housing. It probably could have been made less awful without spending more money.

Now that Manhattan is beginning to turn back towards the waterfront, there are now several buildings that look like ships facing the water. This is just one of them.
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I was able to peek inside the open windows of an 1870’s church.
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This older church, probably from the time of the Civil  Wars was across the street.
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When it was built it was probably something of a country church, but the city has grown up around it.

I loved the shadow cast by the fire escape.
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Today I went back to work.

Friday, July 25, 2014

DIY Cardamom Infused Non Dairy Ice Cream

I swear, it tastes like it is made with cream.

 

But this pictorial recipe will show you how to make this incredibly delicious dessert.

 

In a pot, place a few pods of cardamom

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add sugar, 1 cup

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salt, 1/4 tsp or the amount that fits in that tiny space in your palm

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How much you ask?

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That much.

And

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yes, the full can.

 

Then

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Simmer for about 30 minutes.

 

Then, let it cool for a bit, puree in a bender  and put into an ice cream maker. That’s it.  If you don’t let it cool, then you risk some of the hot liquid jumping out of the blender top like mine did today and burning my wrist.

Yes,It tastes really decadent and mysterious and very, very milchig/dairy. It is worth the burned wrist.

You’re welcome.

What to make when my youngest comes home for a visit

The answer to that implied question is Lokshen mit Kaese noodles with cheese made with kale noodles.

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My youngest is working as a counselor at the camp my husband attended fifty summers ago. The same camp where my sister worked as a baby sitter and as a counselor, where my aunt worked as camp librarian and teacher and where my cousin worked as a teacher. I worked at a different branch of the camp for two summers.

I believe that my son took the job purely for mercenary reasons. What I think my son didn’t expect, and I certainly didn’t expect is that this job as a counselor to rising fifth graders made him grateful  for his parents and his teachers who were mostly patient with him during his years of maximum bone headedness. 

I think my son now gets why we yelled at him, now that he has to explain to a group of ten year olds why using a Super Soaker is a really bad idea inside the bunk.

This is not what I expected from this summer.

It was delightful seeing him last night. I made him one of his favorite meals. It is very comforting food.I made this batch  of noodles with kale because my youngest tends not to eat vegetables. I finally figured out how to properly grind up the kale .

Green Lokshen mit Kaese

Cook one cup of frozen kale ( collard greens or spinach are fine here too)  and allow to cool

Puree the greens in a blender with two raw eggs

Put three cups of flour in a large bowl

Add the egg/greens  to the flour mixture

begin mixing with your hands

Add one more egg and  knead the mixture until it is a smooth mass. If it is sticky mess add a bit more flour. It’s important to knead the mixture well to develop the gluten in the flour. cover the bowl and go away for at least an hour. The dough needs a rest. You can also put the dough into the fridge over night and roll it out the next day.

After you have leaned you counter , and let the dough rest it is time to roll out the dough. Old cook books talk about rolling noodles out on a noodle board. a flour dusted tea towel is a great substitute for a noodle board ( ( and I don’t exactly know what a noodle board is ). That is it makes rolling the noodles out easier and clean up is easier as well.

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Cut the noodles in a shape that makes you happy. I use a pie crimper to get a rippled edge. A pizza cutter is fine, a plain sharp  knife is fine as well.

Let the cut noodles sit for 20 minutes or so before you boil them. You want the outer surface to dry a bit before cooking. These noodles cook quickly and may be done in 5-7 minutes.

Drain the noodles when they are done. return them to the pot with a healthy knob of butter. Add more butter if you are feeling decadent, less if if  are not. Turn the heat under the pot to medium. Let the butter melt. Add about a pound of cottage cheese (no, not  the low fat kind) to the pot and stir. If you have farmer cheese or ricotta cheese in your fridge you can add that. Then break three eggs and mix them well, add them to the pot and turn the heat down to medium low. Add salt to taste and lots of black pepper.

Serve with a green salad, because all of that dairy NEEDS a green salad to balance it out.

Yes you can use a different vegetable puree. I have made beet noodles and I suppose that in the fall I will make orange squash noodles.

 

My son claimed that he wasn’t hungry after his late afternoon snack of half a dozen dinner rolls with cheese. But he did sit down with us and eat a few servings of Lokshen mit kaese.

After doing four loads of laundry, watching TV, playing Guitar Hero and sleeping in his own bed, he went back to camp.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today’s Ironing Tally

Well, not counting the three dress shirts, it’s five table cloths.

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They are from top to bottom, 

  • A 1940’s era printed cotton  60 inches square, from my mother in law. The print is of pots and pans.
  • A circa 1970 hand woven cloth that had been my mother’s.
  • Another 1940’s era cloth from my mother in law. I have mended it several times. It is a large scale vaguely Hawaiian floral print.
  • A table cloth I made out of blue and white printed home dec fabric. I had stained it badly and dyed it with Rit dyes to mixed success. I don’t love the dye job.
  • A heavy cotton waffle weave. It is a bear to iron. I bought the fabric. I have no one to blame but myself for this choice. It looks good on the table.

 

Why so much ironing? Because it was hard to get it done from the ER last week.

Why do I bother ironing my table cloths? It’s a matter of storage. Un-pressed clothes are space hogs.  If I didn’t press the cloths, my life would be worse with generations of table cloths tumbling all over my dining room.

 

My head is now full of my daughter’s health issues(she’s not critically ill but the medical mystery is as yet unsolved), the situation in Israel and the fact that my child hood synagogue will soon be demolished.You can see what is in the path of the wrecking ball here. No wonder I knocked my iron to the ground twice today.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Brightly colored memories

Growing up my parents used to regularly take us to visit museums and galleries in Boston. it was with the same reverence that they used to take up to visit Design Research in Cambridge.

 

The late 1960’s and early 1970’s were a time when really wonderful innovative design was coming out of Scandinavia. Visiting DR (as the store was called) was a heady visual experience.

 

One of the joys of our visits was checking out the Marimekko fabrics.  My mother had basic sewing skills and used to buy a half yard top cover a square down pillow she had inherited from her mother. My mother would hand stitch  the simple cover.

 

In the early 1970’s one of my sisters learned how to sew and my parents bought her a sewing machine.  My sister decided that she wanted to make herself a dress out of Marimekko fabric. It was an expensive endeavor. Today a yard of Marimekko fabric costs more than $50 per yard. I seem to remember the cost as being $25 per yard, although I might be mistaken.

My sister purchased a Vogue pattern that could be made with just a yard of fabric. It was a simple darted shift with an extended shoulder that made a simple cap sleeve.

 

My sister, a perfectionist worked carefully. I remember one magenta dress with orange and red concentric circles and a green dress where she added the optional bell sleeves. My sister was thin in those days. The fashion for skirts was short, even at the Orthodox day school that we attended, so making a dress out of one yard of 60 inch wide fabric was doable.

Today, those of us who love the look of Scandanavian design but aren’t ready to pay $53/yard for fabric to be made into a summer dress, IKEA is a great alternative.

I went to IKEA a week ago Sunday to buy racks to use at the Women’s League show.  I found the racks I wanted in their damaged/last chance/seconds room. I also found a length of terrific fabric that cried out to be made into a summer dress.

IKEA fabric is always a bargain, but this was three yards for $10.  I brought it home.

 

I made this dress.

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Yup it has 1973 written all over it.

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I could have seen several of my teachers wearing it

(OK with short sleeves, because while short skirts were acceptable at my school sleeveless was verboten, or with a white rayon cardigan worn to cover the shoulders)

 

I didn’t make this with a short skirt. I can’t carry off a short skirt.

Wearing this dress I am filled with nostalgia. My mother bought a few Marimekko dresses ( on clearance) that she treasured. She always used to say that they were cool to wear and wore like iron.

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I love the crazy green and the giant leaf print. I feel; like an academic wife from 1973 when I wear the dress. It makes me feel like I have to start a co-op day care center before I go to the anti-war rally, and after I get home from the consciousness raising group.