Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kitty Schmidt's Kittyville Hat

I finally finished the Kittyville Hat from Kitty Schmidt that i knit from Debbie Stoller's SNB book.

I first saw this hat actually on a fellow girl scout in our troop. When I asked mom where she got this hat she said ' I knit it from this book'. I had the same book and started to knit this hat. It's pretty easy, very much an intermediate hat. I want to knit more, especially from Malabrigo Yarn. This color is Ravelry Red
The cold weather has inspired me to start knitting again. It's been a while, a casualty of having so many hobbies. Oh well, what can i do?


If you have teenage girls prepare yourself for an addiction to the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. Darling daughter is hooked on this series and we have scavenged every library and book store to find all the books. There's a lot of them and they will want to read them in sequence so plan ahead.

Simply Sublime Bags

This one somebody made from an Ikea pillow case. I have this exact pillow case...hmmm......

A friend at work loaned me this fabulous craft bookSimply Sublime Bags by Jodi Kahn. Darling daughter immediately took on to this new style of no sew/low sew purse making and made her own no sew purse.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fine Arts Academy!!

Darling daughter wrote an essay, filled out an application, submitted grades, auditioned with her cello and waited........

Her 'Congratulations' letter came with foil confetti stars so when she opened her letter, stars flew out! How clever! We are so excited that she got in and she will be able to go to High School with the friends she grew up with.

The Fine Arts Academy (FAA) provides a program for students across the city to pursue an accelerated arts curriculum as fine arts majors. FAA attracts a diverse student body from across the metroplex. The Academy community includes students from all AISD middle schools and many private and parochial schools. The idea for a Fine Arts high school for Austin was inspired by Ruth Denney, who founded Houston's High School for Performing and Visual Arts after retiring as a professor at UT Austin. Partly as a result of Denney's involvement, the Fine Arts Academy was embraced by UT College of Fine Arts (COFA) from its inception and a strong partnership with COFA continues today.

By creating a high school with a fine arts focus for Austin, the Academy has created mutually supportive partnerships with arts organizations and artists across the region.

It was in consultation with UT College of Fine Arts (COFA) that curriculum design of rigorous arts coursework was initially developed, incuding one of the few non drill-team based high school dance programs in the state. Here, advanced dancers study both ballet and modern dance, inviting guest choreographers to set pieces included in productions. As upperclassmen, all music majors study Piano followed by Advanced Placement Music Theory and Art majors enroll in A.P. Studio art classes as well as Advanced Placement Art History. Upper level dance majors are gaining experience choreographing and staging productions. Senior theatre majors often direct and stage productions and at the Academy, may choose to major in technical theatre. The first classical guitar studies program was established at FAA, and has since expanded with significant curriculum and coaching support of Austin Classical Guitar Society. Many other instrumentalists from wind ensemble, orchestra, and piano receive weekly professional coaching provided by the Austin Chamber Music Center. Vocal and instrumental music ensembles have each performed on the Carnegie Hall stage and there is an annual master class for chamber orchestra led by two Italian maestros and sponsored by the local chapter of the Neapolitan Music Society.

The exceptional work of FAA music faculty and students received national recognition: GRAMMY Signature School 2005 for Excellence in Music Education and Recording Arts. National recognition has also come from orchestra, choir, and band performances in Carnegie Hall. In Summer 2007, theatre students performed and participated in educational events at the Fringe Festival at Edinburg, Scotland and a summer collaborative in Costa Rica staffed by UT professors is being created for our high school musical theatre students. Three of 27 Texas Young Masters (two art majors and one classical guitarist) chosen state-wide by Texas Commission on the Arts were from McCallum and received renewable grants for summer art studies in-state, nationally, and abroad. Academy graduates in all strands are attending colleges and universities acrosss the US, and many are receiving significant scholarships.

The success of FAA is now well-known due to work of dedicated faculty and the recognitions earned by Academy students in every strand. MFAA's future is evolving as we expand our faculty, curriculum and fine arts facilities. Most recently, we have added two masters level teachers, one in classical guitar and one in dance. The recent addition of a technical theatre major to train students in "behind the scenes" theatrical world of lighting design, set-design, and robotics has added depth to the theatre arts curriculum, and adding a major in musical theatre is on the horizon.
The future is bright for FAA!

Orchestra Strand
Our Orchestra program was started in 1953 with the opening of the school and has had a history of highly qualified and dynamic orchestra directors. Today the program has grown to close to 100 students participating in three performing orchestras, a double bass ensemble, and, with the support of the Austin Chamber Music Center educational outreach, numerous other quartets and ensembles. Director Ricky Pringle, who previously taught in the Houston suburb of the Woodlands, is in his seventh year with the these orchestras. Under his leadership, his string orchestras have consistently received top scores at UIL concert and sight-reading competitions. String orchestras also add wind players to compete in the UIL Full Orchestra competitions each year, where they have also been very successful over the years. When the orchestra moved into the new orchestra hall in spring of 2007, years of trophies finally had a place to be displayed along with photographs of previous orchestra dating back to the 1950’s.

One of the signature accomplishments in the past six years of Mr. Pringle’s work at the Fine Arts Academy has been wonderful collaborations of our orchestras and string ensembles with other Academy students/directors in other strands, such as dance, theatre, and vocal music. For example, Chamber Orchestra with our combined choirs have performed masterworks including Schubert’s Mass in G, Handel’s Messiah and Vivaldi’s Gloria.

Over the years, our orchestras have frequently provided live classical music for Academy dance performances, and as an outgrowth of that, some of our orchestra members have studied dance and appeared on stage in both musical theatre and dance productions (as dancers) and others have joined the choir as singers for special performances. In a recent production of the Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex, a string ensemble performed on stage to provide significant music/dramatic support.

Two of the performance highlights were Carnegia Hall performances. The Chamber Orchestra performed at Carnegie in June, 2007 and the Fine Arts Academy choir and orchestra performed together on the Carnegie stage in June 2009.

After only a week of rehearsal with music that had not been performed for over 200 years, the Chamber Orchestra was the first student organization to perform in the Long Center’s Dell Hall. The performance, A Neapolitan Revival, the Lost Music of Italy, punctuated a weeklong master class studying the Neapolitan Masters of 18th Century Italy.

Maestro Gioacchino Longobardi and Alberto Vitolo arrived at the Fine Arts Academy a week before the concert to introduce the music students to the Sounds of Naples. The master class presented a journey that explored the instrumental repertoire of the 18th century Neapolitan School of music. The selected works represent each of the four conservatories established in Naples, beginning in the 16th century from among the greatest Neapolitan composers, Jommelli, Durante, Scarlatti, Leo, and Pergolesi.

Longobardi and Vitolo are recognized as leaders in their field for transcribing Neapolitan masterpieces for contemporary performance. Together, they transcribed the scores from original manuscripts and instructed the students on the different bow and string skills that were used 500 years ago. The students had only a week to learn the music theory and history and to rehearse the compositions before the concert. “The students were really challenged in a lot of ways because they only seven days to learn the music. It is a huge responsibility on the musicians,” said Lanier Bayliss, director of the Fine Arts Academy. “It was a really professional experience for them.”

Almost 500 people attended the lecture and concert including Dr. David Nuebert, principal bassist for the Austin Symphony, who exclaimed “what an amazing performance, the orchestra really shined tonight.” Former orchestra student Gonzalo Hernando said, “it’s hard to believe they only had a week to work on this program, they sounded really good.”

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm not bragging or anything, but these beauties are, well, beautiful!! Napa cabbage and rutabegas at their best. I made stir fry with some of the cabbage, saved some for slaw and 'Put By' the rest in the freezer after blanching them. They will be used later in soups. The rutabegas I will use throughout the winter with carrots and/or potatoes as a 'Rutabega Bake'. The rest I will cube, blanch, freeze. I have made some really delicious 'bakes' by boiling potatoes with rutabegas, drain, mash with butter, herbs,sour cream, sprinkled with fresh parmesan and baked in oven til toasty:)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm still crafting

I realized I haven't posted about crafts in awhile thus doing a disservice to this blogs namesake. This is an embroidery pattern from Sublime Stitching. I love her patterns and used her pattern for last years Christmas gifts.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Capitol Area Food Bank

Darling Daughter and I had the opportunity to volunteer through Little Helping Hands at the Capitol Area Food Bank. Instilling altruisim in children starts with volunteering. 5 lb of carrots per bag x 5 bags of carrots per box x 6 boxes of carrots per layer on crate x 5 layers of carrots per bundle x 4 bundles equals 3000 lbs of carrots bagged and sorted by 30 'little helping hands' in two hours.

Only Child = Self Entertainment

Darling Daughter has a talent for entertaining herself. She is very low maintenance. I realize this is probably not a politically correct term for describing a child but it is what it is. I am always in awe of how her 'only-child syndrome' has helped her develop the qualities of imagination and curiosity. Oh yeah, she's a pretty good chess player too! She came very close to winning a chess game against her daddy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Craftiness Craft Fair Schedule

David will be at Shorline Christian Church Saturday, November 7th, for their holiday craft fair. Come shop early, avoid the crowds, boycott the mall in exchange for some handmade goodness!

Christmas at the Caswell has also started, now thru November 15th.

Friday, October 30, 2009

PRESTO! I mean, pesto

I had no idea making pest was so easy. Cuisinart + basil from garden + minced garlic from a jar + parmesan + pine nuts = PRESTO! and pesto**

Fresh the documentary

A food documentary will be showing at the Paramount Theater called Fresh. It's about the positive aspects of moving our food culture from factory farming to local producers. Joel Salatin will be there of Polyface Farms and was also featured in The Omnivores Dilemma. It will be showing December 5th and I will be going:)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Craftiness Update

Bianca had the great opportunity to volulnteer with "Little Helping Hands" at the Child Protective Services Office "The Rainbow Room" which is staffed by volunteers from "Partnerships For Children" They sorted baby formula and dated them with expiration stickers. The Rainbow Room is a place where social workers can go and grab emergency items in a pinch. When a child is removed from a home they are usually removed with MAYBE a few items in a bag. If the item is an infant, the need is even greater of basic supplies until the child can be delivered to a foster home, usually just a few hours later. The Rainbow Room is a neccessity in this crazy world and is completely staffed by volunteers and supplied by donations only!! Bianca and I are very interested in volunteering here regularly and is a good charity for Bianca to organize supply drives when she earns Leadership Hours for Girl Scouts.
The radishes are starting to mature. I don't believe I have ever had a radish until I started growing them. They are kind of peppery and crunchy. There are many radish recipes at if you need ideas beyond the dinner salad.
Darling Daughter and Moonlite in a tender moment.
Pretty Butter Crunch Lettuce that I spared as an ornamental. Lettuce grows great in pots and this one I really like the looks of but I will definitely harvest a few leaves for a BLT.
"Caitlin's Beet". That is the name of the larges beet I have and it is going to my coworker named Caitlin who is uber excited to try her first beet.
David is getting ready for the Christmas At The Caswell function. The Austin Junior Forum runs a craft fair at the historic Caswell house. All handmade items beautifully displayed among antiques. It feels like you are stepping back in time.
Gardening in pink Crocs. They are comfy, airy and you can hose them down when you are done.
It's garlic planting time. Check out this crafty gardeners post about her love of garlic.The Fortex Green Bean reaches almost 9 inches!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Craftiness Update

It was time for us to clean out our closets and regain control of our storage situation. It's amazing how much stuff we accumulate over time and just shove in a closet somewhere when we have no further use for it. It was liberating to free old stuff from it's dark, dusty imprisonment and find a new home for it. It's a practice in recycling locally too. The unsold stuff went to Goodwill who employs the traditionally 'Hard to employ' members of our community. Everybody wins from the little girl who benefitted from Biancas fashionista style, the man who looked like he really needed a free pair of boots, the guy who unloaded our car at Goodwill, my pocketbook. We also had a mystery helper just in case there were any uninvited mice to the yard sale.

There is lettuce upon us! This stuff grows great here in the fall. This is loose leaf lettuce mix from my garden. It grows in beds and in pots. I am going to plant some more in places that didn't germinate. It grows fast, 28 days.

Here are two beautiful earring trees made of Cocobolo and the rash that accompanies it when Dave works with this wood in the summer time. His sweat reacts to the rosin in this sawdust and causes contact dermatitis. I call it Coco-bo-loco dermatitis.

Darling daughter went to a Ukranian Egg Decorating event with the Girl Scouts and came home with these lovelies* The Ukranian way with Pysankais thru wax resist and strong dyes. They layer their resist and dyes until they come up with stunning creations.

My darling nephew and I went to East Austin during Austin Museum Day and came across some stunning art work. The first is a mural across from a local cafe the next set is a mosaic mural at an intersection. I am continuously amazed at the passion and talent in this small, eclectic town. Hard to believe it's the capitol of Texas. I would have imagined the capitol of The Lone Star State to be more like Dallas/Ft. Worth with daily cattle drives downtown.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What Did Kids Do Before Technology?

Bianca has always been an avid reader which comes in handy when your bored:)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Farm House Delivery

FarmHouse Deliveryis a local organic farm delivery service here in Austin. I have found it somewhat difficult to go 100% organic in the past due to access and costs but it is getting easier to make the transition in Austin. This company is a great example of the innovative leadership we have in sustainable agricultural practices in this area. Their delivery service make it possible to have locally grown organic produce at our table. The cost is on par with our organic supermarket called Central Market in Austin and it is delivered to our door. We don't have a say in our produce bushel but they do give you ideas and recipes to use. The big advantage of this system is it pushes me out of my comfort zone in regards to veges and allows me to experience vegetables I have never tried before. My parents idea of vegetables growing up was whatever came in a can on sale so my produce experience has been quite limited. The unknown produce bushel invites me instantly into a culinary adventure that is only limited to my imagination.
My bushel includes a package of purple okra which I roasted in an oven at 375 degrees next to my highly processed frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu (remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step:) It was smokey, crunchy and even darling husband really liked it on top of his salad. This is a huge step for him because he will tolerate a salad but other than that he has already decided he doesn't like vegetables. As for my flourishing vege garden he comments, "Let me know when you learn to grow pizza!"
I also received tomatoes, fresh black-eyed peas, corn, pumpkin, sweet peppers, Texas Pears, summer squash, cucumber, eggplant and buttercrunch lettuce. I was able to order duck eggs, goat and bison meat as extras. With the duck eggs so far I sauteed the sweet peppers and onion to make an omelette topped off with mozarella cheese. I ate this with whole wheat toast with homemade blueberry jam. It really was delishes and satiating.
The duck eggs have a really hard shell and you really have to give it a good whack to get to the good stuff. Commercial chicken operations feed lower calcium feed in order to save money so their egg shells are thinner. Also, ducks need harder shells because they are larger birds and if they brood on weak eggs, they would be crushed.
Next up is the squash and pumpkin. I roasted the squash and made curry squash soup. It is delicious, I really like this recipe which you can find here. I stored them in two 32 oz freezer jars to enjoy next month when the weather is cooler. So healthy too. Healthy eating can be much more delicious than highly processed food. It's also nice to know exactly what goes into your dinners. If you are really interested in what goes into your food, the junk you buy in the supermarket or the junk you buy in the drive-thru, may I suggest reading Deconstructing Dinner website or subscribe to their podcasts if you are wired-up. For a great article on "Why Grass Fed" is best, click here!

Last up is Pear Dutch Baby dessert made from the Texas Pears. Texas Pears are more fibrous than the type you buy at the supermarket and eat fresh. They are used in cooking or sliced up to put in salads. It reminds me of bread pudding in texture. It really is as good as it looks in the picture.