As seen in Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts, 2011

September 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Posted in art, Christmas, country life, faith, family, food, knitting, Life, love, recipes, relationships, shopping, socks, Vintage, weight loss, Weight Watchers | 9 Comments
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Read my blog on Kindle. You can also find my funny short story for knitters, “A Matter of Perspective” at Amazon for Kindle.

I have another “As seen in…” to report, dear readers. Interweave Knit’s Holiday Gifts, 2011 issue will hit newsstands on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 and our Knitter’s Eye Charts are featured in the issue in the Gifts for Knitter’s section.

They wrote to me earlier in the summer, and of course I was very excited to learn they wanted to feature our Eye Chart in the issue. Both Interweave and Vogue (Vogue Knitting Fall 2011) had me send them a copy of the Eye Chart for a photo shoot … I am looking forward to seeing how Interweave Knits approached theirs.

We were in good company in the Vogue Knitting magazine. The piece focused on knitting related art for the walls, and ours was in the number one position on the page. It is a little difficult to get my hands on some magazines out here in the country, so if you get the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2011 issue and spot our Eye Chart in there, I would love to hear your report. If you do see it and can send a photo — that would be something along the lines of awesome.

I am soooooo close to finishing the scrunchie, slouchy socks for little Sweet Pea and publishing the pattern for you guys. There are so many things to do, and I just need this one year of my life to have twice as many hours in my days … please, pretty please.

My son just released a few beautiful retouched vintage/antique maps he’s been working on. He is such a hard working guy, I admire him very much. He sent me one map as a surprise for my birthday back in early August. It was a map of one of the villages we live near (we live sort of between two villages). The painstaking retouching he did on that map was amazing, and he had it printed especially for me on watercolor paper. The printing was exquisite, the colors rich … and the retouching he did was impeccable.

The three he has released on his blog are of Brooklyn, New York, and Los Angeles. I had to order the Brooklyn map for my husband because of the boats and ships in the harbor — he is a boat kind of a man. It was a nice surprise for him when it came in the mail this week, and we both loved being on the receiving end of my sons carefully thought out, aesthethic packaging. The whole experience of being his customer (not just his mom) was a great, and it makes me proud that my son is this kind of an artist and business person.

One more thing, a while back I promised to share my Black Bean Hummus recipe … and I missed doing that. I wanted to share it with you now in case any of you want to give it a try this holiday weekend. It is super simple, and so delicious!

Black Bean Hummus

1 can black beans (14 oz size) — not drained, keep the liquid
4 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup walnuts
pinch of sea salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
a big handful of Cilantro (optional)

Grind up the walnuts in your blender until they are very fine–I used a hand-operated chopper to do this.

Put the black beans, with the liquid, in a blender. Add lime juice. (Or, if you prefer to use a hand-held immersion blender, put the beans with liquid and lime juice in bowl.)

Add salt, cayenne pepper and Cilantro (be sure to wash the Cilantro first).

Blend until somewhat smooth — doesn’t have to be perfect.

Add the walnuts and blend more.

That’s it. The hummus is ready to dip some tortilla chips in. If you are on Weight Watchers, you will want to measure out just about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the hummus along with only one serving of tortilla chips. Even with the measuring, this is very satisfying as a mini-meal for Weight Watchers and is only a few points, as long as you do measure and calculate points before you munch!

I’ve lost 13 pounds now, and it feels great!

Hope you have a beautiful holiday weekend!

~firefly

Recipe: Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

August 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Posted in country living, family, food, gardening, recipes, weight loss, Weight Watchers | 5 Comments
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New! Get my blog on Kindle.

And, too good not to mention … Flying Junction is having a Buy Two, Get One Free sale on all paper prints in his online store.  Plus, free shipping.  Gotta love that!

This is my Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan recipe … shared with love.  I hope you give it a try.  It is especially good if you can get your hands on eggplant from a local farm market rather than at the grocery store.  I have noticed the eggplants we buy at the farm stand are more tender and have less seeds than those I can find in a grocery store.

This recipe serves two. It is quick and simple to prepare, Weight Watcher friendly, and a tasty way to enjoy fresh eggplant. The recipe calls for breadcrumbs; if you are using this as a Weight-Watcher recipe be mindful what you use for bread crumbs. I have made this recipe using homemade bread crumbs tossed in olive oil and Italian herbs, baked in the oven until browned. However, while dieting I bake the bread crumbs without tossing them in oil. Or, try buying store-bought bread crumbs that are only toasted bread (read the ingredients and pick a brand that just has “wheat bread” or something like that for the ingredients).

Ingredients

One medium-sized eggplant
4 tsp olive oil
1 to 1-1/2 cups any marinara sauce*
1/2 to 2/3 cups prepared bread crumbs*
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
Thick-sliced mushrooms, any amount you choose to use

(For items marked with *, if you are following Weight Watchers, decide on amount to use based on the PointsPlus values you can allow for this meal.)

Preparation

Grill mushrooms until lightly browned on indoor grill.

Cut eggplant into 1/2″ diagonal slices. Rub olive oil on both sides of eggplant slices. When the mushrooms come off the grill, set them aside and get the eggplants grilling. Grill eggplants until tender but not mushy — this will not take very long, so watch them closely.

While eggplant is grilling, heat up marinara sauce on stove top.

Once eggplants come off the grill, arrange them on two plates. Spoon marinara sauce over the eggplants; sprinkle grated Parmesan over marinara sauce and top that with bread crumbs, followed by mushrooms.

That’s it — simple, and quite delicious. Healthy, low-calorie, satisfying!

~firefly

Summer in New York, I love you

August 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, family, food, knitting, Life, love, marriage, recipes, relationships, shopping, summer, travel | 1 Comment
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Dear Summer,

I must apologize to you, for I have failed to appreciate your beauty and sweet virtues in times past. Is there an explanation for my less than enthusiastic greeting when I saw you approaching, all too often, in the deserts of Southern California? Was the fault all mine, or were you part to blame? Little does it matter now, for I am delighted by my reformed attitude.

Now, as you approach, my heart races as you beckon me to join you outside for a barefoot walk across the soft, green lawn freshly washed in rain. You, oh summer, are a tender treasure anticipated by all … here, in a wondrous land known as upstate New York. The brevity of your landing, the thrill of your warmth, the abundance of your crops. Oh, we long for you the many months of winter and early spring and mourn the loss of you when you are but half spent.

Oh summer in New York, I love thee as I have never loved another (summer). I know I can endure our parting, confident you will one day return.

Yours faithfully,
firefly

Sorry, about that, I just had to get it off my chest. Most of my readers know that I did not enjoy the near-constant summery climate of Southern California. Many people living in Los Angeles thrive on that constant blue-skied heat, but not me. Perhaps if I had been born in Los Angeles the climate would have been a part of me, but beginning my life in North Carolina with four distinct seasons I never acclimated to Los Angeles and its lack thereof.

The first year (five years ago) in upstate New York I continued to resist and fail to appreciate summer. My heart yearned for autumn and winter and I was delighted with both. It was wonderful to be able to bundle up in coats and boots and other trappings of winter. When temperatures went below zero in January, I thought it was awesome. I love the snow, I enjoy storms and wind and all things “weather”. When summer returned my second year, I enjoyed the feeling of warmth on my skin, but I also had to have air-conditioning to be able to work from home, sleep at night, and survive the humidity of the very hottest days of summer.

This year I finally have a healthy frame of mind about summer. Summer in New York, at least here in upstate New York, is a treasure. She is anticipated eagerly as spring wears on. Before she quite arrives people jump on every chance bit of sunshine to run outside and do something, anything out under a blue sky with a glint of sun. When she arrives in earnest, people are already regretting her inevitable demise and doing everything they can possibly think of to take advantage of the little window of opportunity to get something done out of doors. By the time summer is half gone, though people are still enjoying the beauty and the warmth, a sense of melancholy does begin to wash over us, ever so gradually. It is a sweet melancholy though, because we know she will be back for another round of romping and growth as the circles of life and living continue.

The last couple of days have almost seemed like early autumn; at this moment it is nearly 11:00 a.m. and it is only sixty-seven degrees outside. We have big fluffy clouds with blue skies and a lovely breeze. It reminds me of the weather we had for last year’s Artist of The Oak Art Trail, and I know we have a shot at such a lovely day again for this year’s event.

I am newly born to summer, and happy to be loving it again. I loved summer as a child, and I love it today in New York.

Thank you, New York.

Speaking of New York, my son is sending me something special for my birthday (it was this past Monday) that will commemorate my life’s journey that led me to my little piece of heaven. I can hardly wait to see it, and will photograph whatever it is and share it with you all. It will probably arrive today, after my blog is posted, so I will have to post it next week.

By the way, this week he (FlyingJunction) released a great new collection of NYC Subway Roll Signs. The one pictured here is my favorite, but there are five new signs which you can see on his all-new website.

While you are there, be sure to sign up on his email list if you like his work. He won’t spam you, he won’t send you lengthy or cheesy emails, and he’ll never share your info. Plus, I think I’ll sponsor a giveaway right here and now. Go to his website, check out his posts (they are pretty cool sneak peeks into his studio an design process), and join his mailing list. I’ll ask him to hold a drawing from any new email subscribers over the next few days and the winner will receive their choice of any one of my fine art photographs of peonies or day lilies from my fine art Etsy store. Entries for this drawing will end midnight August 14, 2011.

I’m so happy he started a blog, and I think you will enjoy it too … so please do give it a try.

Speaking of blogs, many of you have participated in some surveys over the past several months that I was holding for a client of mine. I have been writing and designing for him for six years now and over this time we have become friends as well. We speak on the phone once a week, and I always love our conversations. His name is John Antonini, and he and his brother Orlando are financial advisors with a pretty incredible background in business. They have started 26 businesses, including a couple of banks — one of the banks went public. They know things that I just wouldn’t have ever thought of when it comes to handling financial decisions — whether personal or business related. I get this wonderful side benefit of working for John of learning quite a lot from him.

I’ve been telling him for quite some time that he should write a blog because I know people would want to learn from his experience and would benefit from his particular perspective. I was telling my husband recently that there are things John thinks of about how to structure your life financially that most people just wouldn’t have any reason to know about on their own. They are also CPAs, so they help with taxes but as I have pointed out to John — tax preparation is something they do, it is not at all who they are. In their area of expertise, John and Orlando are seriously smart guys, but with a great sense of humor.

Well, the good news is that John has started his blog — he’ll be posting once a week for now. I’ve even got him using Twitter and Facebook now and he’s is starting to gather email addresses so he can let people know when a new blog is out or when there is something timely and important regarding finances or taxes that we should know about.

I recommend John’s blog to you, not because he is my client, but because I very honestly respect his knowledge and strategic way of thinking about things, backed by a great foundation of knowledge from real life experience, not facts he learned in books. As a matter of fact, I suggested he call his blog “Real.Life.Experience.” –which he did.

And just one more thing about other people’s blogs … I was tickled to come across “Farmer Julie” at her blog, which I found via BlogHer.com. There is a little bit of similarity in our stories, and I thought you might enjoy her as well. So, here’s to Farmer Julie and what I hope is a good read for you.

Oh, and how about my knitting? Lame though it may seem, I am still working on that second sock for little Sweet Pea.

Recipes? Here is something to try whether you are on Weight Watchers or not: Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesean … I will publish it over the weekend in an email campaign. so pick up some eggplant, marinara sauce, and fresh grated parmesean cheese and be sure you are on my list.

Thank you for taking the time to read with me today, and I hope you have a great week and weekend.

~firefly

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