Sunday, March 27, 2011

Farmers Market: for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

While lately it has been raining every day here in Portland, we're on to that time of year where there are also amazing periods of sun every day between the showers. So I stepped out early this sunny Saturday to go to the PSU Farmers Market, the largest in Portland. The plan was to gather all the root vegetables I needed (luckily they were all in season) to make borscht for dinner.

Obligatory picture of the radishes and chard here... set in front of a sage green Victorian house, this is the first inviting view you get of the market when coming from the north.

I gathered our beets, our parsnips, and our cabbage, and set off to try some of the many cooked food and bakery booths that also lined the perimeter of the market.

A handful of local bakeries were represented in tent form, and at least half seemed to be vegan/gluten free... (okay, I'm not really either, it's just nice to see them available). In the end, I was won over by Two Tarts. Their display was just too irresistible: about a dozen small cookies you could choose from for 80 cents each. The possibilities of mixing, matching, and collecting a bagful of inch-wide cookies was too cute to walk by.

I got five. (check out the bite-size of the raspberry/almond macaron.)

For a larger plate lunch, I avoided the long line and deep fryer of the Pine Street Biscuits booth (this time), and went to Verde Cocina.

[Verde Cocina at the Farmer's Market = lunch]

A giant hot plate was constantly in use, roasting fresh vegetables. Acquired: veggie gringas: two soft corn tacos filled with sauteed carrots an onions with a side of mixed beans and mixed greens, all covered in red molé sauce. Vegan, gluten free, and delicious!

Oh, and the borscht worked out great that night. I love making eastern European dishes as it makes me feel a little more connected with my heritage. I think we may try to do a bunch for Easter this year.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Consignment and Art with a Pop

What's that? Behind the unfortunately-reflective glass? It's my prints! In the window of a real brick-and-mortar store!

I'm happy to say my cards and prints are now available for retail sale in both Green Bean Books and Mississippi Treehouse, two Portland shops at which I am also lucky enough to teach art classes.

Speaking of classes, this week held two messy toddler art classes at Mississippi Treehouse! (a double-whammy for spring break, the usual Tuesday class was also held on Wednesday).

We sang and fingerpainted and stomped on a floor covered in bubble wrap. We also poured paint onto our sensory table... which was wrapped end-to-end in butcher paper and bubble wrap for an audible printmaking experience with hands, sponges, paper towel tubes, blocks, and even a pine cone (insert joke about "Pop-Art" here).

I love the effect of the paint on the bubble wrap. Looking forward to more finger painting at the Treehouse next Tuesday. No tools; just a pure hands and paint experience. It will be nice for the younger crowd of toddlers we've been getting.

There's nothing quite like spending a busy and playful morning with almost-two year olds to put one in a good mood...


Monday, March 21, 2011

A (Semi) Daily Painting

It's been a while since I posted a daily painting, but I've been working on a few... in between teaching and being somber about the world.

[2011, acrylic on panel, 5" x 7"]

I love painting white objects, and discovering all the secret colors and tones within the white.

Custom-made shadow box frame for this one (and a few others) by Matt McCalmont of They work so well for my mini paintings. I love the Swedish Fish framed. I'm so thankful to have Matt as a resource; it's near impossible to find a store-made shadowbox frame (without glass)... he makes my substrates, too. Local in Portland.

But seriously, can I borrow someone's home that has a cute kitchen with pattered wallpaper, maybe with a nice houseplant, to photograph my work in? This off-white stucco of my apartment just isn't doing it justice.

I hope to gather and frame a collection of my "food themed" paintings and have a show in a cafe or coffee shop over the summer!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Search for Cherry Blossoms

It has undoubtedly been a sad week for the world, and it's been difficult to concentrate on anything but Japan for a while as the uncertainty continues...

The rain hasn't helped the mood much: Here in Portland we're having the rainiest March since the 1940s with over 200% normal monthly rainfall... and it's only halfway through the month.

So when we were met with some sunshine today and the forecasted promise of no rain until the afternoon, I thought it would be appropriate to head down to the waterfront to see if the Japanese Cherry Blossoms were in bloom and reflect a bit.

It's been a cold prelude to spring, so the long line of cherry trees right on the Willamette banks weren't in bloom yet. It was still nice to get outside and have a walk along the Esplanade.

[City of Bridges]

[Maritime Museum in a Riverboat]

[A Cormorant surfaces briefly ]

I did find some blossoming trees down by the streetcar tracks in Old Town, and some more in the South Park Blocks. As I made our way to them, I crossed paths with a mother and her young daughter, who said as she pulled her mom along "OK, keep your eyes peeled for blossoms, mommy!"

It was nice to see others doing the same thing I was.

One last stop I made was a park I had always wanted to visit, it being a Portland landmark of sorts. I had just never had a chance before...

...because it's two feet wide and in the middle of a highway.

[Mill Ends Park]

Mill Ends Park, at the corner of Naito Parkway and SW Taylor, is the "Smallest Park in the World." It was planted by one Portland resident and writer Dick Fagan (long-lost relative?) in 1948 because he wanted to see some green outside of his office... or, according to Fagan himself, because he caught a leprechaun, wished for a park, and received the smallest park in the world from the literalist, trickster imp (clearly a long-lost relative). Whichever story you believe.

A highway was built around the park in 2007. The plants temporarily uprooted and potted elsewhere... then replanted in the same spot when the highway was completed, so it's been in the same spot for 63 years as of this past Thursday. Visitors change it up every season with different little trees and flowers; today it held pansies, shamrock confetti, and a green plastic frog.

Portland has many quirky "World's Biggest," "World's Smallest," or "Most per Square Mile" claims that are always an source of odd pride.

Going to try to catch that Super Moon tonight and hope that the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere makes the world seem a little brighter.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Strawberry Cinnamon Mini Muffins

I used a bakeware coupon for the craft store Michael's yesterday to get a mini muffin pan, and splurged a little shopping today by getting a half-off (read: half-bad) container of strawberries. I vowed to put them both to good use, and I baked.


The recipe I used is really a mix of various muffin recipes I found online, and yields twelve mini muffins--perfect for the size of our muffin pan. Double it for twelve medium-sized muffins.

Strawberry Cinnamon Mini Muffins

Dry ingredients:

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Wet ingredients:

1/2 an egg (yep... we mixed it and poured out half... for the sake of halving a normal muffin recipe and not messing it up. A whole egg is probably fine)
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tbsp and 2 tsp melted margarine (we used a dairy-free butter substitute made with flax seed oil, and it worked fine. Sometimes when baking, butter substitutes don't work, but this seemed to!)
1/2 tsp vanilla.

Preheat oven to 400.

Stir together dry ingredients, and throw the strawberries into the dry mix. Stir gently, coating the strawberries with flour (Pam from The Love of Cooking points out that this keeps the berries from sinking to the bottom while baking. It worked, as you can see!)

Beat egg (if you want to be exact like us, pour out and save half :) and stir in milk, vanilla, and margarine.

Slowly combine the wet mixture into the dry, folding with a spatula rather than stirring. Fold in all together with as few whisks as possible; if the ingredients are too well-mixed, muffins form glutens and will be hard.

Spray a muffin tin (non-stick may be okay as-is. We sprayed a non-stick and they popped right out as if we had placed whole muffins in there when they were done). Spoon into tin, and bake for 12-14 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean!

For a topping, I melted a mix of margarine and brown sugar and dipped the muffin tops in it before coating them with more spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar...)

Enjoy, and end by checking out the best musical muffin website on the net:


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fine Art Prints now Available!

I have made some giclees (archival fine art prints) of my paintings available in my etsy shop!

Giclees are high definition prints made using a six-to-eight color process with archival inks. Mine were sent away and printed on thick, textured watercolor paper. I'm pleased with how these came out, after a few trial runs.

So far I am selling 5" x 5" images (a little over 6" x 6" with white border on four sides). These three are up now:

[Homes for Mari]

[Pink Macaron]

[Sunshine and Sidewalk Chalk]

I wonder which of my paintings I should have made into giclees next?


Monday, March 7, 2011

Homemade Play-doh

What's that mint green blur?

It's homemade play-doh, of course! (Or shall I say play dough, to avoid copyright issues?)

The dough is for a toddler art group to play with at Mississippi Treehouse, where I offer art experiences for toddlers 13 months to three years on Tuesday mornings!

But who is really too old for play dough? This is just like the real stuff so listen up! You'll have it made in ten minutes!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil (olive, vegetable, etc).
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
food coloring (or spices like cinnamon, or powdered kool-aid!) to color.

I doubled the recipe above and it made a six hearty 1/2 cup "servings" to play with. More than doubling it at once is tough; this stuff cooks fast and it would be nearly impossible to stir quickly enough if you trebled or quadrupled it. Better to make a few batches if you need more!

Mix dry ingredients in a pot and stir. Add about half of the wet ingredients (1/2 cup water, 1 tbsp oil)

Stir well (a wooden spoon or spatula works well) and heat stovetop to low. Stir continuously, slowly adding the rest of the wet ingredients. Within minutes the dough will thicken up-before it's too think, it's a good idea to add a few drops of food coloring so you can mix it in while it's still mostly wet and easy to stir. (You can always make plain dough and add different colors at the end when it's done, just knead it in. You'll probably get raw food coloring on your hands, though, which stains. It won't stain once it's integrated.)

Stir, stir, stir! Within about five minutes of turning the heat on your dough will simply firm up and form a ball in the pot. When it feels like, well, play dough, it's done! Take it off the heat, let it cool, and then knead it to make sure there are no flour clumps, etc. Store in an airtight container; it can keep for months+.

I used 8 drops of green coloring and 2 of blue, so if you want your colors to be more intense, you may need to use more than you expect. It wil be sceneted if you used kool-aid or spices to dye it!


Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Opening of Connection, and a Walk in the Woods

It's been a relaxing weekend after a busy First Friday show!

There was a great turnout for the opening of Connection at the Art Department this Friday (the first artist there had to turn earlybirds away at the door until the rest of us showed up to finish setting up)!

The ten artists and five pieces filled up the space well, as the pieces were mainly large and interactive... providing a fun time for visitors. Some of our work is definitely a little scuffed up from all the "play," but this is exactly what most of us wanted and it was fantastic to see our creations being explored, used, and appreciated in a way often not allowed in the gallery setting.

[Our piece, "A Journey," ready and literally asking to be played!]

Inside our game box (made by me) lie four beautiful ceramic jars (made by my colleague and partner for this project, Daniel), along with a set of instructions. Each jar holds three appropriated texts from children's stories, science books, novels, or works of theatre and poetry. Some were typewritten on scrolls, some bound into small books. Some were simply crumpled paper, and, fortune cookie-like, revealed a message inside to the curious player.

The texts vaguely lead the player from jar to jar, text to text, hopefully imparting some whimsy, nostalgia, or message of personal meaning along the way. The instructions state "play until satisfied."

The ending is, after all, often of less import than the journey.

[Elsewhere in the space, B and P's "Blue Tent" and I and M's walk-in "Tabernacle" proved popular photo-ops throughout the night]

[Our game being played!]

Connection comes down Friday (p.s.--a big thank you to Anna [the same friend who supplies me with homemade ice cream every month!] for the vinyl wall text. Love it!)

Saturday was sunny, warm, and a time to take it easy after the opening. Perhaps a walk through the trees...

Right now, I live closer to the city of Beaverton than downtown Portland. Beaverton can feel like a busy suburb and notoriously poorly planned, but has a few redeeming qualities such as chain stores that can be hard to find in PDX proper (Staples, a giant Fred Meyer, JoAnn's Fabrics, Michael's). To be added to the list: Tualatin Nature Park. I found this large temperate rainforest nature preserve in the middle of Beaverton a welcome way to spend Saturday morning. The best part? A few of the paths were paved/wooden boardwalks. This is a good thing because dirt trails in most other areas we explore (Wahsington Park, the Portland Audubon Society) are up-to-your-ankles muddy... sometimes all through the year (even, inexplicably, in the summer when it hasn't rained for weeks) but especially in March. It was nice to have a place to listen to the birds and enjoy the green everywhere without, well, slowly sinking.


Friday, March 4, 2011

First Friday: Connection

Yesterday ended with a wonderful set of bookmaking classes at Green Bean. But more on that later....

... because now I'm preparing for my (first) First Friday opening at an art gallery downtown! Nine other artists and I will be presenting Connection, collaborative work at the Art Department on SE 9th and Main tonight. Several months ago, we divided up into five pairs to create new work specifically for this exhibit.

[Read the press release on the Art Department's website!]

My partner and I created a piece about the intersection of instruction and choice that functions as a playable game; here are some sneak peeks of my half of all the bits and pieces that lead the viewer/player through our environment.

Come down at 6:30 to give it a play and check out what all my colleagues made, too (I know I'm excited to see what everyone has been working on for the past few months!)

Sponsored by Full Sail Brewing and a local wine merchant. Opening 6:30-10:00 Friday, March 4th, runs through March 11th.