rhubarbarian

IMG_1731Remember all that garden talk last week?  Mother Nature sure has been working overtime and now there are actual things that we can pull out of the ground and eat.  I’ve never actually prepared rhubarb before, so the burgeoning leaves signaled a challenge for me:  what to do with these strange, red shoots?

As usual, I took my inquiries over to Tastespotting.  If you haven’t used it, you should.  Just enter an ingredient or a recipe and gorgeous pictures and delicious recipes populate the screen.  A search for “rhubarb” didn’t disappoint.

rhubarb01wmFrom left to right, I made lemon-infused rhubarb syrup, started the clock on a batch of rhubarb liqueur (that ain’t water, it’s vodka!), and an orange zest rhubarb compote.

The syrup and compote recipes were derived from the instructions here, and the simple (yet totally in another language) directions for the liqueur can be found here (there’s a bit of English at the bottom).  As I am wont to do I totally screwed around with what actually went in to each one, because let’s face it:  recipes, assembly instructions, authority figures, et. al. are totally boring.

The syrup is going to make its way in to something yummy tonight, relaxing with the peepers and the fireflies on the back porch.

rhubarb05wmWhat’s your favorite rhubarb recipe?  Seriously, tell me!  Because there’s a monster in the backyard and it needs to be eaten!

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buddha of the mesclun mix

Threat of frost over.  Things are finally happening in the garden, with a little prodding from us, a spade, a hoe and a rake.  Here’s a little peek at all the activity happening lately:

blog07 I put a prosperity Buddha in with the mesclun mix seedlings.  No garden is complete without mysterious thingies in it.  Yesterday we found a little, blue marble that had probably been underground for 15 years or more.  JR thinks he could have lost it there when he was a kid.

blog06Prosperity working already.  These salad greens take 3-6 weeks to mature.  So far we put 30 in the ground!

blog02Muddy boots.  Requisite Maine gardening gear.

blog09These are the guard cats.  The photo is deceptive – they look like they are on the lookout but the gray one is actually sulking because the brown one just hit him in the face.

blog04Rhubarb already growing with some perennial seriousness.  A gift from the past gardener, so years of pie + jams to come.  Plus, these bright, yellow surprises that woke us up out of winter slumber a couple weeks ago:

blog03So good + yellow.  When they wither I’m going to make a summer flower garden on top of them with sunflowers, hard red wheat, coneflower, cosmos, marigolds and more.  But secretly I’m waiting for the daffodils to come again.

blog05Despite some nighttime visits from the deer over the snowy months, the blueberries we planted in September are doing fine and buds are already sprouting.  You can see a little nibbled bit to the left of the triple bud.  Evidence of ungulates!

blog01Spinach beginnings.  Can’t figure if these are going in the garden or will stay on the porch.  Nice to have some greens extra close to the kitchen.

And, in closing, I’m sorry, but in lieu of children I just have to:

blog12blog11~~~

What are you growing this year?  Do you have any planting traditions for good luck?

Craft Sale Alert!: West End Craft and Treasure Fest

Well, well, well!  Still reeling here in East Bayside from this weekend’s BIG THAW and so excited about how it turned out.  So excited, in fact, that I decided to hop on, last minute, to a craft fair that will be held in a couple of weeks (May 7) in Portland’s West End at the really lovely Williston West Church on Thomas St.  I remember taking a Tai Chi class there when I was super little with my dad.  What a lovely neighborhood for a spring walk and a stop-in at the fair!

There will be about 15 vendors and the proceeds from the tables will go to The Children’s Nursery School, located in the West End.  Given these are my old stomping grounds I’m happy to help old neighbors out while I peddle my wares!

Please stop by between 9am and 1pm for some good times for a good cause!  Here is some of what I’ll be bringing:

Emergency Instructions - Found images from airline pamphlets

BIG THAW magnet and pins, left over from last weekend!

Music Caps in Pins, Magnets, Necklaces and more!

Set of 6 Bottle Cap Wine Glass Charms

Ooohhh and so much more.  It’s my first ‘solo’ craft show so I’m going to have more room than I know what to do with!  I’m hoping to have my beer bottle medallions (inspired by Mike Cunnane of the Rattlesnakes, Huak, and Sunset Hearts) finished by then, too — a ‘working class’ twist on the wine glass charms above.  See you there!

Ice Cream Trucks: Scourge of the Earth

Really Bad Copy of an image I took on Daytona Beach years ago

Here comes the warm weather:  yay!  Slowly but surely, the days are becoming slightly less painful.  Now, in late March, if it’s windy it’s at LEAST sunny at the same time.  Or if it’s snowing the ground is to warm for any accumulation.  Huzzah!  But do you know what else is happening?

All around Greater Portland and her extending arms of coastline and roadways our neighborhoods are filling with a very familiar, very obnoxious sound:  the coming of the ice cream truck.

Don’t get me wrong — I, perhaps more than anyone, love the concept of a mobile ice cream delivering mechanism.  I appreciate walking down the street and just as soon as I think ‘Gosh it’s hot out,’ some white, big-windowed van pops out from an intersection and all icy, trans-fat related withdrawal symptoms are alleviated.

But. I’ve. Had. Just. About. Enough. of TURKEY IN THE STRAW.  The Entertainer.  And we’re not talking live recordings of American heritage songs, no, we’re talking serious MIDI compositions of otherwise normal and good songs (albeit slightly obnoxious).  And the hurtle full blast through the neighborhood not once, not twice, but upwards of 10 to 15 times a day in the height of summer vacation.

Some more important things to note:  if there were another type of vehicle that drove ominously slow through neighborhoods, small children running willy-nilly towards it, all the while playing the same song over and over again over a loudspeaker (let’s say, for the sake of argument, Kanye’s “POWER” or anything by Bob Seger… just something so specific and not at all related to the actual purpose of this imaginary vehicle) then sure as SHOOT the members of that neighborhood might call in a noise complaint, raise suspicions about traffic safety, etc. etc.

So, heretofore, I propose the following changes:

1.  Less ice cream trucks.  With more ground to cover and less adults to annoy ice cream truck drivers will be raking in the dough and I will be able to keep my windows open in the summertime without jamming pencils in my ears.

2.  A NEW SONG, PLEASE!  Or, even better, that familiar ‘ding ding!’ of the old timey ice cream trucks that existed back in the day, before we sold out the peace and quiet of our neighborhoods for the sake of our children having more opportunities to get fat.

3.  Awesome racing stripes.  This has nothing to do with anything but seriously, how cool would that be?

4.  Better ice-cream-truck-driver-radar.  Either the same guy is driving psychotically around East Bayside all day in hopes that he’ll find more children than the ones who have already bought three choco tacos from him OR it’s multiple drivers overlapping territory.  I have a hunch that it’s the latter because, seriously, have you ever purchased a TwoBall ScrewBall from those guys?  They’re vicious and super shifty.

5.  More options.  I don’t know when Portland’s going to catch wind of what Brooklynites and New Yorkers already know, which is:  food, no matter what kind, always tastes better when it comes out of a truck.  Falafel, BBQ, cookies, sno cones, samosas, kniches, and on and on.  If it’s prepared somewhere sitting atop wheels and purchased while walking it will taste better. So send the ice cream truck through but mix it up a little with some visits from the corn-dog-mobile and the cheesecake-deliverer in between!

I feel much better now.  All this came flooding forth today after an ice cream truck driver gave me a stupid look when I turned left on to a street they were on.  Hello, jerk, it’s March 26th and it’s still freakin’ freezing out.  Go home and wait until the crocuses are out to start annoying me!  And stop looking at me funny.

The BIG THAW

It’s no secret that I’ve been busy the last couple of… years.  No, but seriously, just as everyone else is winding down after the holidays, taking it easy, waiting for Spring to get here Little Eye Designs is starting new projects and venturing in to uncharted waters.

Enter… The BIG THAW.  Wow!  What started as “Hey, we should put on a craft fair, that’d be cool…” became “Oh my Gosh!  We are putting on a craft fair!!”  Saturday, April 16th to be precise, at the Mayo Street Arts Center at 10 Mayo Street in Portland, Maine.  The fair is called The BIG THAW and by clicking on that anywhere in this post it’ll take you to the fair’s site for more info and how to apply.  We’ve already got some excellent people on board, including Kris Johnsen of Emblem Studio and Meagan Anderson, who collaborated once upon a time and made this thing of beauty:

Kris Johnsen. Meagan Anderson. 'Nuff said.

Don’t you love those zebras??  I think they’re cuddling.  We’re looking at a celebration of all things not-winter and we figured it’d be safe by mid-April to hope for good weather!  We’re very excited to be holding the event at Mayo Street Arts, which in addition to being very community and arts oriented has NEVER had a craft and vintage sale before!  So we’re going to debut in that amazing, brightly lit space in what used to be a church.

So for all the info you need, one last time, go to http://thebigthawportland.wordpress.com

~~~

IN OTHER NEWS. I love new materials.  I posted awhile ago about the new findings I’d gotten from bunnysundries on Etsy and how they’re going to change my world.  Last night I poured epoxy in to them and will be shopping for brassy, bronzy chain this weekend to make them shine.  I nearly threw up while I was pouring last night because I’m so excited about how they look already.  Around 6pm tonight we’ll know the truth.  If all goes well this will be a great way to class up Little Eye while staying true to the concept of making affordable, attainable, functional art.  I may strictly do necklaces, rings and earrings with these findings but bottle cap pins and magnets will always be in the product line!  Ohhh, *sigh* photos to come!  Sure hope I mixed the epoxy right…