Friday, October 26, 2012

Queen Anne's Lace Pressed Flowers in a Frame

The Queen Anne's Lace Room.
In an earlier post, I explained how I was inspired by Queen Anne's Lace and September colors when re-decorating my oldest daughter's old bedroom.

Queen Anne's Lace happens to be one of her favorite flowers; fortunately they are prolific here on the farm. They will help us fill out her wedding bouquet next summer!

So we gathered an armload of blooms for this project, and on the way back to the house, added some Russian Sage to the mix.
No fancy flower press in sight, I pressed these the same way my Grandmother did: between sheets of wax paper slipped between the pages of several large books. I stacked these on top of each other and stacked on about 20 pounds of weights for good measure.

About a week later they were finely pressed and ready to use.

I drew inspiration from an online "how to". Here's a link

I chose a background paper that would be a good contrast to the white of the flowers, but a more neutral background would have worked also. I played with composition, trying out many ideas. The flowers were not as fragile as I expected, but a pair of tweezers makes handling them much easier.

You can often bend the the stems very gently to get things where you want them to go. I also decided that if there were too many leaves in one place, I would just pinch them off. They are easy to glue back later if you change your mind.

I used Elmer's glue when it was time to fix the design. The final picture is not exactly the design I chose, as a few flowers landed slightly off the intended spot, and once on the paper it is difficult to move them. I just worked around it. This was part of the fun.
The frame was a Goodwill find. It had been water damaged, so it was a challenge, but affordable.
I don't expect this to last for decades. Dried flowers tend to turn brown over time, and I am not going to wait for it to be an eyesore before replacing it with a new creation. In the meantime, I have hung it far from the window where it will be protected from direct sunlight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Music for Welcoming the Rain

After a record-setting dry summer, the rains have finally returned to Oregon.

The rhythm of the rain seems to call for a certain kind of soundtrack. Subdued, contented, but not too sleepy.

Here is a playlist of instrumental music that I need to hear when the roof beats and the outside world begins its wintery meditation.
Roger Kellaway Cello Quartet

1)  Upscale Jazz Cello
     The whole album is an experience.
     My favorite track: Morning Song
     Mood lifting energy. Inspiring performances.

Bukkene Bruse:The Stone Chair  

2) Deep Magic: Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle:  
Numedalshalling (Halling From Numedal)
Link above takes you to recording online, link on left goes to Amazon)
    Ear stretching harmonies, and a wonderful example of the voice used as an instrument, often heard in this genre. 

3) Soothing Harp & Flute:  
Month of January /When the Snow and Frost Are All Over
    Serene, but with a subtle chill in the air. (one of my own recordings)

     Anna Holbling: 
Two Violins and One Guitar, Vol. 2

4) Classical Chamber Music  
Handel: Sonata in C minor: III. Andante
    A gently rhythmic major key theme, cadencing at the end to a minor key (to transition to the next movement), ending wonderfully unresolved.

5) Sublime Guitar:
Hypnotic & sensual.

Piano: So Much Music!!!
    This may be the perfect sound for a good drizzly day.

6) Solo Romantic (classical genre, romantic period)

Consolation No. 3

Here is a link to a  live performance so beautiful, I want to live in this moment. 

 7) Solo Classical -- nearly any Mozart Piano Sonata. Here is an elegant performance.

Piano Sonata No.16 in C K.545 "Sonata facile" - 2. Andante

Michael Allen HarrisonMatter of Time

8) New Age Piano ensemble


9) New Age Piano ensemble


Friday, October 5, 2012

Pear & Whole Wheat Bread for Bread Machine

This bread is lightly sweet and very moist. Now that the pear trees are finished, I am going to try it with grated apples.

I started with the recipe for "Fluffy Pear Bread" on Sparkpeople, and made some modifications.
The loaf I made tonight was almost too large for the machine!

Pear & Whole Wheat Bread for Bread Machine

1.5 cups finely chopped pears
1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tb. butter, (I separate into smaller slices)
2Tb. brown sugar, packed and heaped a bit (maybe a tsp. more?)
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg ( or less, according to taste & freshness of your nutmeg)
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used a high quality locally milled brand)
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached)
2 3/8 tsp yeast

Put everything in the machine in the order listed, select "sweet" setting. I chose the lighter crust.

I also help the machine at some point in the initial mixing if some of the flour does not get mixed in.

When the machine beeps to signal the opportunity to add extra ingredients, I check the dough for texture. The first few times I made this, the dough seemed sticky, so I have added a little flour to the original recipe's ingredients. Today it seemed a little dry, so I added a teaspoon of water.
The pears were very soft, almost overripe. If they had been firm I would have cut them much finer.

I have children's liquid medicine dispensers in my kitchen for things like yeast, salt and vanilla. This looks like "just a smidge" over 2.25 tsp of yeast to me.