It started with the figs last week. I’ve heard fresh figs are very hard to find in the market and very expensive. Now that we have two fig trees, I can see why. Ripe figs are quite perishable, being in perfect form for just a day after picking. They can be kept in the fridge a week but do get softer. Like bananas, figs can be eaten when super ripe but they turn winey.
Every year I tend to give away our little fig harvest.
I love sharing and I’m just in the right place at the right time and there are people to give figs to. But this year, there was no one. So to do the figs justice, I determined to celebrate each and every glorious one. Such richness, oh my. Figs are liquid gold, honey that grows on a tree, a king’s dessert!
The fig trees nearly died two years ago from the cold winter. I’m so thankful we have figs again on one of the trees.
We were out of town so I missed the peak ripeness of some of them and several had already dropped. I picked all the ripe figs from the tree.
Look at this basket of amazingness! I wish they weren’t so perishable.
My entire breakfast that day centered around the first ripe fig with Julianna cheese. (posted on Instagram)
But still, there truly is nothing finer than just one perfect fig.
If you only have one fig, enjoy it slowly, plain, with nothing else at all.
But if you have more figs, then it’s fun to go further. Which started my search for the perfect compliment, a flaky barquette to cradle a fig and other flavors.
…to be continued…
I don’t know what gave me the idea but I was eating a tortilla one day a couple weeks ago and thought it would be great to make a weaving of colored tortilla strips.
It took a week or so to hunt down colored tortillas. We found the green Spinach Wrap tortillas at Whole Foods and the spicy Habanero Lime tortillas at Trader Joes.
The first Woven Tortilla was made of strips of white and orange tortillas. I cut them with kitchen shears.
The Habanero Lime tortillas were a little smaller than the white Mission tortillas. I ended up using the center section of two Habanero tortillas to get enough strips that were long enough.
It was almost as easy as weaving paper strips, but tortillas are more fragile. None broke but I treated them gently.
Brushing the woven tortilla mat with olive oil helped the pieces stick together.
They still weren’t very stable though so I had to slide the woven piece into the skillet using a big spatula. Once one side was browned on medium heat, I placed another hot skillet over top and flipped it over. That was tricky! The tortilla mat still folded in half and it was a bit of work straightening out the strips.
Once they were lightly browned, the tortillas were more crisp and held together better. I slid the finished tortilla mat out of the skillet and onto the plate.
Topped with black beans in a taco meat nest, scoops of guacamole and sour cream and a sprinkling of white cheddar, the Woven Tortillas looked and tasted wonderful!
I tried another method of weaving that stayed together easily. Instead of cutting the white tortilla into strips, I cut slits in it with a knife, then wove strips of colored tortilla through the slits.
This time, I brushed olive oil on the white flour tortilla before weaving so the oil would help hold the pieces together. That worked great.
Treating the tortillas gently so the one-piece white tortilla didn’t split at the ends, I carefully wove orange Habanero and green Spinach tortilla strips through the slits.
These take time so I recommend weaving them ahead of time, wrapping air tight and keeping the woven tortillas in the fridge. Brown them on medium heat right before serving.
Lunch was festive and delicious!
You can read more about Baking for Neighbors Day on this post. Today was BFN for the 4th neighbor and I sure enjoyed it!
It has been a long time since I baked for neighbors. I got a bit derailed when we got an anonymous note in the mailbox over a year ago. An anonymous neighbor put a pretty blue envelope in our mailbox. Inside was a cute card with dogs on the front. And inside the card was written “Keep your #$%&* dog out of our yard. We’re tired of it dragging your recycled beer bottles into our yard too. You’ll be glad to know that we’re moving because of you. #*#%@ “… etc.
If that neighbor knew us, they would have known that we’ve never owned a dog. They would know that we don’t drink and we do our own recycling so there are no bins of bottles. If our neighbor knew us, they would have known that I broke my back and was doing a great job of recovering. And they would have known how much I love to bake.
So instead of being discouraged and scared of meeting that anonymous neighbor that hates us, I decided to keep going with Baking for Neighbors. Today I handed the fourth neighbor a loaf of steaming hot, fresh from the oven, Sourdough Grain Bread.
When I handed her the foil-wrapped bundle, she was surprised and delighted. That made me so happy! I guess she’s not the neighbor who put that note in our mailbox.
I’m all encouraged now to keep going with BFN Day! Four neighbors down, 67 to go. ::big smile::
“Did you drink anything today?”
“Yes… I think I did… I had a cup of coffee… maybe two…”
One of my sons is keen on proper water consumption and I really appreciate his healthy diligence.
I keep a Water Counter on the refrigerator. You can check out the tutorial here.
To help curb my coffee intake, I made two Latte Magnets. From now on, it’s two cups of coffee a day max. Coffee is no substitute for water. In fact, caffeine actually dehydrates you and flushes fluid. So for each cup of coffee you drink, drink one or more cups of water to stay hydrated.
The magnets were first coated with gold acrylic paint.
Here you can see the finished magnets, as well as my test painting right on the tray.
For the test, I made a puddle of gold acrylic paint on the paint tray. Immediately after that, while the paint was wet, I used the tip of a toothpick to lightly dab on blobs of white gesso. The gesso was carefully dabbed on top of the wet gold paint, not mixed in. Then I used a toothpick to draw through the gesso and gold paint to make the design. The test worked great so I did the same thing on the magnets and let them dry overnight.
To make the design, I dabbed on two small blobs of white right next to each other for the heart and long thin “smilies” under, for the leaves. It only took one sweep of the toothpick down through the center to make the design.
Now when the water counter on the refrigerator just has two cups of coffee in it… that means drink more water!
Life is complicated and one day a couple months ago I became extra conflicted. I just didn’t know what to do and was almost paralyzed with insecurity and fear. What should I do? I had trouble figuring out what was good, what was right, and how to please everyone. Nothing seemed clear. Even when I found a task that seemed ok, I quit as soon as it seemed fun. Really? Now how dumb is that, to intentionally sabotage something good?
But then a new thought suddenly filled my mind. That day, instead of doing what seemed good or fun… a clear thought came to mind.
“Do what is beautiful.”
Enjoy the photos slow. Look close. Each pine needle, each curled leaf, each thirsty root.
Do what is beautiful.
I breathed in deep, remembering the smell of pine and forest.
And there, sitting at my computer looking at photos, breathing deep suddenly seemed beautiful.
Everything started to be beautiful!
Washing dishes is beautiful.
Strength is beautiful.
Resting is beautiful.
Sacrifice is beautiful.
Never giving up is beautiful.
The slate from my childhood hangs on my dining room wall. I had not written on it for over a year and it was time for a change. Writing new words on the slate is doing something beautiful.
I started with a pencil sketch.
I sketched out the words to make it all fit.
I erased and edited.
My sketch seemed off and I wasn’t happy with it. It took me a while to figure out that I wanted to do “what is beautiful” not just “something beautiful.” It was such a small change but it made a big difference to me. So I erased again and penciled in Do What is Beautiful.
I picked out a handful of chalk colors to make the drawing.
But I ended up using only neutral colors.
I’ve never minded the scritch and scratch of chalk on the board and even enjoy the dust on my fingertips.
Do you see the tally marks in the lower left corner. Count them… there are
37 tally marks. I made them as I worked on the chalk drawing. Each one of those tally marks is when I erased something on this chalkboard and had to do it over. 37 times I made mistakes or had to straighten a line, or erase or start over. I left the tally marks on the drawing because they represent what is beautiful.
The last part of the message is to Never, Never give up. Never giving up is beautiful.
If you’re at a loss of what to do, do what is beautiful. You will know. And never, never give up.
She sketched the princess in her sketchbook while I was busy in the kitchen. I didn’t even notice what she was drawing until it was all done.
A couple weeks came and went and she turned seven. For her birthday, my mom and I got her a sewing basket filled with notions. She was thrilled with them!
My mom also got her a stash of amazing fabric. Oh the color! Oh the sparkles and sheers! She wanted to look at the fabric right then but the other party goers were waiting so we had to move on.
She visited again and we got out the sketchbook. For the first time I really looked at her drawing. What a splendid imagination she has! I was amazed at how much her sketch looked like her doll so I told her we would make the princess dress for her doll.
I asked her to explain the picture to me.
“The aqua thing that goes around her back is flat and sticks up. You know, like the things that queens have.” I had no idea.
“The skirt goes like this,” she gestured in the air. I couldn’t understand. I scrunched up fabric and said “With gathers? Like this?”
“No…” she slowly said. “But that’s ok if that’s how you have to make it. It will still be ok,” she said with a tiny sigh of resignation. She had high hopes in my skill but I wasn’t as confident.
We spread out the fabrics that her Great Grandma got her for her 7th birthday. What a surprise to see that so many of the fabrics matched the sketch! It was important that the colors and sheerness match so we dug through my bins of fabric too to find all the pieces.
We discussed the components of the dress and drew preliminary patterns. We planned how the dress would be constructed so the doll could still get it on and off, where to put snaps, which sheer pieces would be sewn together. That was complicated! She didn’t want a skirt and top, it HAD to be a dress.
While I worked out the patterns, she played with her sewing basket.
She had to go home but I continued working on the dress. First I made the underskirt from a lovely ruffle fabric. I also drew out the pattern for the throne based on her sketch and Grandpa cut it out and nailed it together.
She visited several times while I worked on the dress. It took a while to make because I was baffled by the construction. It would have been easy to stitch on the doll but I was making a garment that would withstand a little girl’s playing, complete with snaps. I wish I had taken photos of the construction. While I worked on the dress, she painted the throne and she told me more about the dress.
“The skirt is pointy on the sides,” she said. “That’s what makes it pretty!”
“I love the hearts on the purple part. But that’s ok that they aren’t on my sketch. But I can add them if I want to.”
We still have to upholster the throne and make the crown. She picked out the fabric for the throne but I have buy little black buttons so we can properly tuft it. Or perhaps we’ll paint brads black. In the meantime, I finished the dress.
She loves it!
The Princess Dress turned out exactly like she envisioned!
I decided to pleat the sheer purple layer instead of gathering. Unknown to me, the little lines she drew on her sketch were pleats! I didn’t understand her explanation of them so she’s thrilled that I figured it out. Yay!
The back is just a little puffy, precisely the way she wanted it, and the aqua collar is one piece that is attached at the sides and loose across the back. I stitched wires and horsehair braid in the collar so it keeps shape. To get the dress on, the collar is slipped over the doll’s head. Then the back is closed with three snaps.
It was important to match the colors in the sketch. But even more important were the “points on the side, to make it pretty.” To make the “points” on the side, the outer pink lace layer is made of three pieces, seamed at the side. It is lined with netting, with horsehair braid at the hem to keep the edge stiff all the way around.
After seeing how adorable this dress turned out, using colors and fabrics I never would have thought combine so splendidly, I can’t wait to see what else my granddaughter designs. I love her style!
Loving her dolly the Christmas I gave it to her.