Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 19, 2010 - Fall Apples

Love the fall. Love apples. Here's one of my favorite recipes. Last year I made this apple cake while on Washington Island with my friend Carol. Brings back good memories and I promised to get her the recipe. So why not post it and let everyone enjoy it. This is from the Silver Palate cookbook. Maybe next week I'll post a great apple pie recipe.

Chunky Apple Walnut Cake
This makes a very large rich cake so you might want to make a half recipe in a smaller pan if you don't have lots of people to share it with. The glaze is amazing but the cake is excellent without it. But try the glaze the first time out.

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon of cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
3 1/4 cups coarse chunks of peeled and cored Rome Beauty apples (or your choice)
3 tablespoons of Calvados or applejack
Apple Cider Glaze (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, beat vegetable oil and sugar until thick and opaque. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Sift together all-purpose flour, cloves, cinnamon, mace, baking soda, and salt, then stir in whole-wheat flour. Add to oil and egg mixture and mix until well blended.
4. Add walnuts, apple chunks and Calvados all at once and stir batter until pieces are evenly distributed.
5. Pour batter into a greased 10-inch round cake pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Let cake rest for 10 minutes, then unmold and pour glaze over warm cake, or cut cake and pour glaze over slices.
10 - 12 portions

Apple Cider Glaze
4 tablespoons of sweet butter
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
6 tablespoons of granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of Calvados or applejack
4 tablespoons of sweet cider
2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons of heavy cream

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in both sugars.
2. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook for 4 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour while still warm over warm cake.
Makes 1 1/2 cups of glaze

Enjoy in front of a fire on a brisk fall evening. Cheers. m

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 6, 2010 - Spring

It's been too long I know. First of all Happy Birthday to my niece. The big 30. Have a great day.

Today I mowed the lawn for the first time. It's been an amazing spring. Don't remember one quite like it. It started a month early. Usually I'm not mowing until late in May. The leaves are all out, the flowers have bloomed, and the temps have been very mild. Usually we jump from cold to hot in a week but not this year. Is this global warming? Not bad. Of course we seem to be some of the lucky ones. I don't envy many others who are dealing with tornadoes and flooding.

Today I started to play with some fantasy lamp ideas. Taking photos and figuring how to merge a lamp into them. It's simple but maybe I can come up with some surprises as the project goes on. Right now I'm trying to use images I have on hand. But as I explore I may try to take new photos with a specific concept in mind. Ultimately I may be able to translate these into a real lamp idea. We'll see how it goes. Have a great week. m

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29, 2010 - The measure of a life

I am 19,358 days old today. Or 464,592 hours. Or 27,875,520 minutes. Or 1,672, 531,200 seconds or thereabouts. Just thought you'd like to know. This calculation is based on the Gregorian Calendar created in 1582 and later adopted in 1752 by Britain and the eastern part of what is now the United States. In case you were wondering. Have a great day but don't get too caught up in the numbers. There are better things to do with your time. m

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21, 2009 - Snow and a lamp

Early Saturday, first day of Spring—snow. Very appropriate, in Wisconsin that it. But it's the kind of snow I like, only on the grass, gone fast. I'll take it.

I'm kind of fascinated by the trend toward creating functional items out of wood. Combined with new technologies it seems wood might be able to do some new and amazing things. And of course it's renewable. It's interesting, now that we have global warming and dwindling wood resources staring us in the face that we're suddenly figuring so many more ways to use this renewable resource that's been around for millions of years. The radio I posted a few weeks ago is a great example.

I got the following photos from a e-newsletter called designboom which featured a new series of lamps from Asaf Weinbroom. The lamp designs focus on unifying concepts, mechanism, joinery and new technologies using wood as the main material. The lamps have a mass produced aesthetic and the one-of-a-kind warmth that comes from a handmade product. The shades are created using a unique lamination technology producing a very strong cone made from thin layers of veneer. I'm sure there's more great designs to come. Have a great week and bon voyage Katie and Dave. Hope you have a great trip. m

Monday, March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010 - What do yo think?

Here's a new lamp idea. Let me know what you think. I created this image based on old bowling post cards and then put it through a Photoshop filter. I think it looks pretty good. m

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 7, 2010 - Cool wood radio

I wandered into one of my favorite stores in Madison, Century House—one that has actually displayed my lamps from time to time—and saw this amazing little radio made of wood. When do you see that? At first I thought it was some kind of cool toy, the details were so simple, the wood so smooth and rounded. But it's an actual radio with the most current mp3 playing compatible electronics. The design is very simple but every detail is a treat to the eyes and you can't help but want to touch and feel the smooth beautiful wood. A smooth rounded wood peg through a metal loop holds the back panel on. I don't know why but this may be one of my favorite details. It's obviously manufactured but at the same time hand made. There are even small wooden ends on the connector cables. As a designer and fan of industrial design I was smitten. Of course having no money in this lovely era of frugality means smitten is what I will remain.

So I did some searching on the net and was surprised to see that it's all over the place including stores like Anthropologie. Here's the scoop; there are 3 radios in the product line; small, medium and large. They range in price from $200-$300. Designed by Singgih Kartono for Magno. Each tree used to create these radios had one replanted in its place, as Antropologie touts "making each song played sound just a bit sweeter." Don't you love marketing? The wood is not coated with anything but oil and needs maintaining. Yes, a product you actually have to care for. Not an easy proposition for most of us.

The product was also made as an attempt to improve the Indonesian economy, creating jobs for local woodworkers making wooden commodities needing relatively low skills. This falls into a new category called "New Craft." New Craft attempts to utilize existing systems and technology with the most important factor being to use well managed human resources. To learn more about the designers vision for producing this sustainable product check the Magno Website.

I also want to send out a big Happy Birthday to my mom and my good friend JoAnn who had a great art opening last night at the Commonweath gallery space as well as a fab party afterwards. Loved it. Have a good week. m

Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 28, 2010 - Something new

Howdy. It's been too long I know. What can I say but it's winter and everything in me goes a bit slower. The temps are very slowly rising and although I have sympathy for those out east getting more white stuff they can handle I'm not missing it here in Wisconsin. But then I'm not a huge winter sports participant. There are many here who love to get on the slopes and the ice rink. Judging from the piles still out there I think they're pretty happy. With only one big storm in December it's been pretty normal here. The temps do seem to be lower than the average but next week there's hope of reaching almost 40. I hear birds singing and steady drip of melting snow. Music to the ears.

I've been making lamps for 5 years now. Didn't know a thing when I started. I know a little more now. I've pretty much kept to the same materials of wood and paper. This year I'm in the need for some new inspiration and ideas so it's a year of exploration. I'm not planning on doing any art fairs in 2010, sorry, unless of course something comes up out of the blue. I'm just not good at the outdoor art fair thing. It's hard to display lit lamps in bright sunlight and the weather is a never ending source of anxiety for me. My lamps are basically box kites when a big wind hits. Except their tendency is to crash rather than fly. So this year I'm in learning mode and the first is glass. It's taken me way to long to start exploring this very flexible medium.

I'm starting simple. The photo above is my first stained glass project against a rather stark winter background. It's pretty good for my first time. There's a few rough edges. I'm taking a class at The Vinery here in Madison and hope to take a few more. Fusing is next on the list. I have to say it went better than expected. But then I didn't push myself too hard with the first project in terms of difficulty. I just wanted to learn the basics. My next step is to start thinking about how glass might be used in some of my current lamp styles, the first and most simple being the Iotta box lamp. But down the road I'm hoping to find new and imaginative ways to integrate wood, paper, glass and any number of materials to create something unique. I'm definitely getting inspired.

My biggest challenges were: 1) Choosing the glass. There's a lot to choose from and I'm used to just flipping through paper swatches to find what I want. 2) Cutting the pieces to fit. I did pretty good but this is where practice and experience are really going to help. I was surprised at how little pressure is needed to score the glass. 3) Soldering is definitely a challenge. Getting a smooth rounded bead is not simple. But the good news is that you don't have to get it right the first time. You can re-melt the solder and strive for something better. Overall I'm pretty proud of my first project. I'll keep you abreast of my next project, in fact I'll be working on a pattern today.

Talk to you soon. Next posting will be about some cool products that use wood in some unconventional ways. m

Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19, 2010 - Well, it's unique

I like to bring you the latest in lamp design. Here's one that seems to be getting some attention. It's called the Less Lamp. It's designed by Jordi Canudas and when you bring it home it's a sealed egg of a lampshade. Only a little light escapes through a hole in the top. Your job is to use the specially designed pick hammer and chip away until you're happy with the result. You can poke a pattern into the shell or chop off a chunk. A truly interactive lamp design. Only $875. You better get it right the first time. m

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Januray 16, 2010 - Transitions

sometimes we stare too long
at the door that is closing,
that we don't see the one
that is opening.

What little of 2010 has passed has given me the feeling that this is a transition year for me. Actually the feeling has been building for awhile now. It's time to stop looking at the closing door and look for the one that's opening. So bear with me as over the next string of posts I explore, with the hope that it leads me to…well, something new. m

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Januray 10, 2010 - For a friend

A very good friend of mine called early this morning to tell me her mother had died. It was quite sudden as her mom seemed to be in quite good health. What went through my mind are all the stories she's told me about her mom—how she often had to go because she needed to get her desk organized but it just never seemed to happen, how on a visit she was intensely determined to show her daughter that a little elbow grease could get that pesky commode absolutely clean and almost killed herself to make it so, how on a visit she and her grandson got along so very well, without any of that family angst that my friend felt on occasion. I wish my friend and her family much sympathy and also the hope that over the next week they will find and revel in all those wonderful memories of their mom and celebrate her life.

In honor of my friend here is a list from the Dalai Lama called Instructions for Life. Please take it to heart and take a minute to remember those you love. I'm sure many of you have seen this before but it never hurts to remind yourself.

1) Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2) When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
3) Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others, and taking Responsibility for all your actions.
4) Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5) Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6) Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7) When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8) Spend time alone everyday.
9) Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
10) Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11) Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12) A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13) In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
14) Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
15) Be gentle with the earth.
16) Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
17) Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18) Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19) Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.