I love to read, and books are my Kryptonite. I do try not to accumulate them, but this is a fairly hopeless task. Of course my local library is a great resource, there is no way I could afford or store all the books I borrow from there. But there is one slight problem, the folks at the library insist on taking time off for Christmas and New Years. And what if I was stuck in the house and didn’t have anything new to read? Well I went down to the library and stocked up in anticipation of the holidays (and the snow and cold). It would be a disaster to have time on my hands and no books.
The wonderful thing about the library is that they stock a wide variety of titles, in all sorts of genres, fiction and non-fiction. So I can always find something to carry off and peruse, even if I don’t intend to read the entire book.
And here is what I carried off: a sort-of biography, graphic novels, classic and modern British mysteries, a cookbook, craft book and essays. I have varied tastes, what can I say?
And then there are my books.
These are the books I got in England, I bought the two end books, the middle book was a gift.
And these books were all Christmas presents (from me, to me). I had pre-ordered the bird book is from an artist that I know from the internet. The other two books were recently recommended by a member of my women’s art group. I saw them and thought ‘I must have my own copy’ (I do get greedy sometimes). I think that it is lovely and comforting to be surrounded by books, whether it is a temporary thing, like the library books, or a temporarily permanent thing, like the books I own.
I admit that I love anything that has lots of sugar and butter in the recipe (although it does not necessarily love me back). One of my friends has taken a lot of classes at a local cooking school, and she talked about how much fun this was. So I decided I might give this a go, especially as the class used my favored ingredients. And I found out how simple it is to make toffee, particularly if someone else does all the prep work. 😉
They had toasted and chopped 10 1/2 ounces of almonds and separated it into chunky bits and dust. We put 8 ounces of butter, 8 ounces of sugar, 3 ounces of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a pan and took it over to the induction stove top.
Here it is boiling merrily away. Then we put in a candy thermometer, gave it a stir from time to time, and 25 minutes later it looked like this.
It is boiling hot at this point, so we carefully tipped in the large bits of almond (saving the fine particles for topping), and spread it out on a half sheet pan. Then we sprinkled 7 ounces of chocolate chips over the top. As it was boiling hot, the chips quickly melted and we slathered them over the top and added a fine almond dust over everything.
It doesn’t really look very appetizing at this point, in fact it looks rather like a large cow pie (although it smells much better).
Now it looks delicious! As there were several groups of people in the class, we made different flavors of toffee and got to take home some of each. So I have white chocolate raisin toffee, dark chocolate coconut toffee, dark chocolate and milk chocolate toffees. Now all I have to do is package this up for friends and avoid eating all of this myself.
I am not much of a fashion plate, I typically spend about a minute to decide my fashion choice of the day: is it a short sleeve or long sleeve black shirt, is it denim shorts or leggings. Then the ultimate deciding factor: is it clean enough to wear? But I do enjoy looking at fashion, and when I am on holiday I like to stay in a very fashionable neighborhood.
This was the view from my recent vacation flat, an atelier with worker bees busily making incredibly gorgeous clothing. I’m not sure who’s design workshop this was (maybe Carolina Herrera or Stella McCartney?), but I found myself envying the people who would wear this and I wanted them to make one fitted to me,
And right around the corner is this ready to wear boutique of a designer. I admit that I like the dark coat, but I would probably balk at the price for such a utilitarian item.
This is much more to my taste, although as they are not in plain black, I don’t think I could wear them. (Also, I would probably resemble a sack of potatos rather than a goddess). But I would definitely cut this fabric up and use it in a quilt. Right in front of this shop the Petticoat Lane street market was going on, where one could buy a man’s shirt for 10 pounds (more my price range). 😉
Just up the street from the flat was this tempting display (okay, now I am being sarcastic). Pretty much everyone has stocking cap for when it is really cold, or when one needs to rob a bank or gas station, but I suspect that this one might cost a bomb. The hooded puffy jacket with the skirt might cause one to think that one was a recently escaped mental patient, so I think one should leave the price tags on the outfit. (Does this remove the doubt? I doubt it.)
In some places football is more than a sport, it’s more like a religion. But as I grew up in a city with a fairly awful professional football team, and went to university with a terrible college football team, I never became a fan. (Except that football is a great excuse for parties and boozing, so I guess I am a fan of sorts, sometimes). My college was playing against the local team, and my friend didn’t want to go, so I thought ‘what the heck (or something quite similar)’. I had been to a game of the same two teams about 30 years ago, so perhaps it was time to do this again.
And as this local university is a military academy, they had a military pre-game show. It does require a certain talent to be able to jump out of an airplane and land in the center of the stadium.
It’s a lovely stadium, the sun was shining, and we had been drinking delicious Bloody Marys in the parking lot.
The teams had to do a bit of running about before the game starts, so there was no excitement just yet.
Whenever the home team scores a goal, a squadron of cadets comes out and does the same number of push-ups as the score. And the score was rather large at the end. 😉
Halftime means that a marching band must come out, but I must say that I found their outfits rather drab, even though they were excellent musicians. (Marching about in formation is certainly something everyone in the military does.)
After the game was over, I realized that I had not taken any pictures of the actual football players. So here’s a picture that shows some of the football action on the giant stadium screen. When one is at an game, the players are the ants down on the field. When one watches at home, the television cameras always bring the action close. And this game was being televised, so there were camerapersons racing up and down the sidelines. All in all it was an interesting experience, but perhaps I shall wait another 30 years before I do this again.
We here we are, just past the month of Inktober ( a month in which one does a drawing, in ink, every day of the month). This year I decided that I would give this a go. Why? Well not because I am good at it, rather that I am bad at it, but hoping to become better. And here are a few of the results.
This was one of the first drawings that I did. The subject is Wyatt B. I did a pencil sketch first, then used ink brush pens to make it truly inky. I’m a novice at the pen, and I half like this, and half don’t. I think I over-worked the picture, but it does look like Wyatt.
This sketch is of Freya B, done in an extra fine Sharpie, so I don’t think it came out too bad. I usually draw dogs and I think this may be the first time I ever drew a cat.
This is a portrait of her brother, Thor B. I did these first three drawings from photos that I took, as I am not fast enough to do animals from life.
As I usually draw pictures of dogs and since there wasn’t a dog handy, I made this from a photo I took in front of a fancy butcher shop.
I didn’t have any interesting photos to work from, so this is what I saw on the nightstand.
Once again I didn’t have a photo, so this is a drawing of part of the living room. I worked hard on getting the proportions right, but I am obviously not very good at shading and filling in the backgrounds. Perhaps that is something to aspire to when the next Inktober comes around.
When I was a young teen (which would put this at a very large number of years in the past) I loved to walk the 2.3 miles to the local art museum and draw. What I didn’t love was people coming up to me and asking what I was drawing. (It would be the thing in front of me.) So I was careful not to disturb these artists at work, but I did appreciate that they all were taking the time to get out and about and do the work of drawing what they saw. Well done, random people.
This seemed to be an organized outing for this group of folks, as there was a large number of artists working on the same bit of statuary.
This solitary artist was making a large drawing of a small object (and doing a fine job of it too).
This young woman was in a different part of the hall of statues. It’s a lovely thing that the museum provides these chairs (I used to just sit on the floor to sketch).
I don’t know why I think this, but I somehow got the impression that this young woman was doing this for a school project. Perhaps it’s because the statue is so ugly.
This brilliant portrait of Sir Francis Drake was done by a five year old artist. I wish that I had been this talented at that age. I did tell her how much I admired this picture too.
Just off a very busy street, this fellow was doing more than a sketch. He was painting the scene (there is a bit of license taken with the view, the sky was not very blue on that day) and I imagine that it must be hard to concentrate in this busy setting.
So I say bravo to all of these artists. Out there in public and pursuing their muses.
A reliable sign that it is officially Fall (besides looking at a calendar and the appearance of pumpkin spice flavored everything) is when the chili crop is ready. There are roasting stands for green chili, and bushels and ristras (chili tied up in string) of the red.
So this is what they look like when they are fresh.
And this is what they look like in a dried ristra. Well, what happens next? To use this for more than decoration, one removes the stem and seeds, boils them for a bit in some water, whizzes them up in a blender, strains the pulp, and uses this to make a pot of red chili (or one starts with the frozen pulp from the grocery store which is much easier).
And voila, a pot of New Mexico Red Chili. Actually, this one is not very traditional, because it contains beans. A traditionalist would serve the red chili and beans separately, so that one can put together a bowl to one’s taste. But I made this particular pot for a reason.
My group of ladies made pots of chili of varying kinds as part of a charity fundraiser (mine is the puny pot on the end) held in a member’s empty barn. I did try to make this a mild batch, but it didn’t taste right to me until it was fairly spicy (oops). And the chilis ranged from hotter than mine, to one without any spice (I don’t know if one could even rightly call this chili).
And here is a very traditional recipe, from a cookbook published in 1971 by M’s favorite restaurant in Mesilla, NM. And what I made was somewhat similar.
The mild-ish was a lie.
But a good time was had by all on a perfect Autumn day, trying all the variations and permutations of this humble dish.
Operating on the theory that any photo can be improved by adding a pterodactyl, I had decided that this years’ photographs of the parade should include Pteri. There is a certain sameness to every years’ parade, we can only guess at what year the pictures were taken by the changes in the hairstyles of the spectators (although it is easier to guess which photos are from the distant past, they are in black and white).
One can always tell when the parade is going to start (never on time), some sort of police vehicle leads the way with ear-splitting sirens blasting.
Shriners are a service organization (made up of mostly old guys) that are an essential part of any parade. Besides marching around (or riding, often in tiny cars; as I mentioned they are mostly old guys) they do raise money for a children’s hospital. On this day one of the old guys fell off the float (he was okay) and this delayed the parade for a bit.
To be a proper parade, there must be floats. And a float must have lots of crepe paper, possibly tinsel or glitter, and people throwing candy to the crowd. And I must say, there was a delicious variety of candy on offer (we gave the bits that we didn’t like to nearby children.)
Because this is a large gathering of people in a sparsely populated area, the politicians were out in force flogging their wares in the hope of securing our votes. In this particular parade anyone who wants to can participate, but, politicians have to pay $100 to be in the parade. This thrifty group has the placards of several additional candidates on the truck. The main politician is making a big deal out of her maiden name, to show that she is the third generation of this political family to be running for office, (no, apparently we can’t ever get rid of political families).
And a parade is as good an excuse as any to ride one’s horse down the main street. There really is no other reason, as there are no businesses in town.
Then it was on to the main business of the day. Free food (courtesy of the cattleman’s association) and a chance to visit with old friends and former neighbors.
Well I have taken the annual visit to M’s relatives in this tiny town during the 108th festival. And because I go there on vacation, I always have a really good time, and take tons of pictures of the same views that I always take. If I actually lived there I am sure that I would not enjoy it half as much (because it is so far from stores, libraries, swimming pools, doctors and other trappings of civilization). But then again, maybe I would get used to it. And I really never tire of the view.
I stopped right on the freeway (motorway) off-ramp and snapped this picture as soon as I got to town (the word ‘town’ is used rather loosely).
The local cemetery is up the road a piece.
And this is what one sees if one takes the road out to the canyon.
But this is my favorite view, with the permanently parked truck rusting away into oblivion.
Here’s a factoid about the place. It’s just a wide spot in the road, but I love it so.
Sprouting up like mushrooms after a rain (not that we have had much in the way of rain), why it’s the tents of a local art festival. It’s a chance for starving artists to meet with the tight-fisted public, and perhaps flog a little art on this beautiful sunny day. (For some reason there was no dinosaur art represented, go figure.)
And the fair is located at a downtown park, usually empty. But for today the park’s main attraction is a giant rotating circle that sprays water onto children (no dogs allowed) and perhaps a stray pterodactyl or two.
Hey Pteri, I think that you really need to do something about that breath.
Perhaps a small treat will do the trick. Yes, that’s better.
What’s that on stage right now? It’s Pteri pretending to be the star of the show. However you slice it, Pteri is certainly the best pterodactyl of the day.