Seeing Green

March 17, 2012

Here is a celebration of Green for St. Patrick’s Day!

Green candy on my window sill

Green and white striped candy canes

Green buttons

Green thread

Disposable fountain pen with green ink

My favorite sweater, a gift from my friend and colleague Kathy who finds treasures like this at thrift stores.

A new batch of Green Velvet Soup with ham (see my blog post for 12/10/2011 for the recipe)

Green shamrocks on my sister's Bleek sugar & creamer

Watercolor sketch of Bleek sugar & creamer

Seeing Red

February 14, 2012

Here is a celebration of red for Valentine’s Day!

Red candy on my window sill

Red-and-white striped candy canes

Red DMC embroidery thread

Red buttons

Red spools of thread

Hand-quilted dresser scarf in Bear Paw pattern

Three red quilt blocks

Old-Fashioned Ribbon Candy

December 23, 2011

Old-fashioned ribbon candy

Stack of ribbon candy

I have a memory of ribbon candy tied like dangling ornaments from my grandparents’ Christmas tree.  We lived with my grandparents in our old farm house until I was five years old, and then they moved to a smaller, new house on a corner of the farm property.  So this is an old memory.  I have no other associations with ribbon candy — I don’t remember eating it or my mother decorating with it.  So ribbon candy feels old-fashioned to me — I call it “Grandma candy,” like those soft pastel peanut candies or gumdrops.

Ink sketch of ribbon candy

Watercolor sketches of ribbon candy

DIY Gift: Homemade Caramels

December 20, 2011

Homemade caramels

My daughter usually makes at least one batch of these caramels for her holiday gift-giving.  We still use the hand-written recipe that my oldest sister shared with me many years ago.

Card with hand-written recipe for caramels

You do need a candy thermometer for this recipe.  I’ve made a note that 245 degrees F is gives the perfect firmness.

Candy thermometer

I always forget how long it takes for the candy to reach this temperature.  It seems to stay at 225 degrees F for so long that you wonder if your thermometer is broken.

Bubbling ingredients

But persevere!  Eventually the temperature will rise to 245 degrees. F.  It’s worth the wait.

Cutting the slab of caramel into bite-sized pieces

I wrap the individual pieces in waxed paper.




Re-inventing Valentines

February 14, 2011


Valentine candy display


Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.


February 3, 2011

Sweethearts candy

Watercolor sketch of sweethearts

Watercolor sketch of sweethearts stacked

The messages on these traditional Sweethearts candies have obviously changed with the times.  One of the hearts reads “Text Me.”