Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Day in the Museum

I went to see a closing exhibition mapping the history of photography making in NGA (dark room style that is). I am always curious to meet the people from the past (oldest picture was from somewhere in 1800's), to see how much they look like us, only the fashion is changing a bit. I am very happy we are living in the era of digital photography and emancipation, the manual processing must have been very expensive in the time of platinum and silver developing salts and I suspect girls did not get to play very often with cameras either. So I celebrated the fact I can :), the east wing of NGA is very encouraging.

Than I went through one quick circle around the paintings of The Chester Dale Collection exhibit which opened last month, just to see what interesting is there. That one is running till July 2011, so I will go and spent more quality time there latter, preferably without so many strangers around (aaaaand with W.).

All inspired I made some more pictures before heading home,

and than I found this amazing old building.

It is somewhere behind the Howard University and I only hope I would be able to find it again in some better weather. I was freezing cold to spent more time there at the moment, so that is just a preview too :)

It reminded me about all the mosaic tiles I was looking at recently. I may end up making some little mosaic piece for garden, having all the sample and leftover tiles and grout in hands.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fall Glory

I got taken by the beauty of the last year leaves. I have noticed them while snow-walking dogs in the Wheaton park today morning, they shined the way through to catch my attention (it was impossible not to notice quite frankly).

I discovered today a very subtle art of paper creations, I found a papier mache boats of Ann Wood and I think I have seen the fragile ribs of her boats in the veins of those leaves. I found a fellow admirer of floating (in the air) objects in her:). And I found a great source of inspiration, I just instantly fell in love with her artwork .
It was very bright morning :)

They though so too, they were smiling all the way ;)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Forest, Mid-Winter

It was sweater-only weather this Sunday, so I packed our pack and took them to the nearby park for nice walk. And I wanted to find a willow tree, to get fresh branches for my green & white flower wreath. Well, that was the plan, but when we got there snow was still kind of deep,

so I got soon tired of being pulled of the narrow uneven path by those two energetic ones; they are 9 and 8 years old and not showing any signs of slowing down, I am happy about that since I was neglecting them a bit in these past months. And there was no willow tree in sight, I do not know what happened to them, I thought there used to be some....

The air had kind of pre-spring feel in it though, snow is slowly melting now and it smelled just like I remember from the late-in-season skiing trips from childhood, even the sun and blue sky did show up for a moment, so I was glad we went, especially since we were the the only visitors there that afternoon ...

By the time we were ready to go home, the sky looked gloomy again,

the winter is not done with us yet I guess. And I got little cold sickly today, so it was probably not really sweater weather either :(.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

(Sometimes) It's Just a Perfect Day ...

We had calm and peaceful weekend. I made a pre-Valentine crepes with heavenly delicious jelly from Hawaii for breakfast on Saturday, with the poetic name Hana Passion (we got it in small stand halfway to H. on Maui).

I thought it was just the right time to taste that one. If I did know how good that stuff is, I would have stock on it, now we have to go back to get some more :).

Not having any new snow to shovel, we had time for bit of culture, we went to see the National Geographic's exhibit of Chinese terracotta warriors.

It was interesting experience, it makes you thing what a waste of human energy it is to build such a monumental army just to feed a paranoia of one person ... If they had channeled all that creativity into something useful, they could have changed the world. But at least I had opportunity to see "frozen" life from 200 years B.C., I love a mystery book series from ancient China by Robert Van Gulik featuring the judge Dee; seeing those clay man there gave some real faces and shapes to my favorite characters.

We visited the exhibit with our friend R (we were his first official lunch guests in his rebuild home that day), so afterward we stopped for cup of hot chocolate in recommended place on 14th & Q street,

I left with two samples of some exotic chocolate concoctions,

one with sea salt and one with Indian spices, they are both surprisingly good. We were leaving just when the sun was setting down, I could not resist to capture the soft pink colors (how very Valentine!).

I did some more baking trials from LRB bread book on Sunday. That one is quite elaborate Kugelhopf thing, it is fine yeast dough swirl with chocolate filling. Making process is somehow time demanding (the resting time for dough and sponge, not the mixing itself), but the result is definitely worth all the waiting.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow and the City, Part 2

We had the two major snow storms in the past week (they say the whitest winter in the history); the first one started on Friday evening and we had 28 inches by Saturday afternoon. Sunday was glorious blue sky day, so we walked around to see how are the neighbors (some of them on the surrounding streets did not have electricity for days) and how the Silver Spring mini town center is coping with the calamity. They did good job, our street was ploughed by Sunday nigh (not the case of DC though), above ground Metro was not running on Monday and I could not make it to the office through the snow and ice on Georgia Ave in my low sitting Silver, the moment we started to drag belly I turned it back home. So here was the first snow day "off" for me.

The second storm came on Tuesday and lasted whole day Wednesday. Unlike the first one with the heavy watery snow, this one was more like real blizzard, with winds up to 50 mil/hr. We were little worried we are going to loose power or one of the giant trees behind the house will fall over, fortunately non of the mentioned happened. This time the whole office closed, my second snow day in a week (government guys have not open till Friday midday). I made it downtown on Thursday, after shoveling the snow load off the Silver for the second time in couple of days (some workout that was). The city was soooo pretty in lunch time, that was my reward for making it in :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I made some progress with my spring wreath during the very snowy last weekend (we had the record snow fall for recent times, and there is more to come tonight). My grandma used to enjoy embroidery a lot and I remember how tedious it looked to very inpatient younger me, I thought it very improbable that I would ever try. But I loved the pretty colors, I liked to play with the shiny cotton threads, to put them together to test how they would match together in wild combinations. So last time I went home to Czech (I will always call it "home" I guess, does not matter that I have new home here for so many years) I brought the big bag of my grandma's embroidery cottons with me. I can still smell her house when I open it, almost like she is watching over my shoulder. Hope she would like what I am doing with it :). I as well got myself handy the Mary's Thomas Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches I have found in small museum store next to Dupont-Winterthur Gardens in Delaware (I cannot believe it is more than year we visited that wonderful green place, we simply must plan a visit for spring!) and here is the result :)

With this project, I am definitely (re)discovering how very satisfying the embroidery craft is. I made the felt flowers as sort of sampler, to explore what can be done. I took the pictures in the evening light just after the snow stopped falling, in front of the house

and I was so excited how gentle and subtitle the little petals looked on the fresh snow ... I still have to come up with some final arrangement; I may use some thin willow branches to weave a wreath and attach the flowers to it, although I like how the plain white background brings up the greens and the fine structure of crochet lace and stitches.
I made this scarf quite fast sometime in fall, of the angora/mohair/wool mix I got from the Laramie yarn studio. It was just about 200 yrds I think, barely enough for narrow lacy scarf. The yarn has kind of baby-ish colors and the scarf may end up being a bit too girlish for my taste, but it is very soft and warm. Another problem is the yarn is very fragile, I even broke some stitches on edges while stretching it to see how it looks after finishing. To fix it, I have found a minty lace mohair leftover in my stash and came with the reinforcement plan in the shape of victorian lace edge (America Knits, Kousa Dogwood Shawl pattern). Hmm ... now I am making it even more frilly :), but I like the lacework !

With all that white&green in my head, I have spent the Saturday evening with one of my immediate impulse ideas, I made granny squares runner for the kitchen windowsill, using leftover of very colorful bluish-green cotton just perfect for the simple pattern.

Well, I had some productive time between the showelsfull of snow :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

From The Fairy Tales Land

R. finished my wonder craft room (with laundry devices attached) last week, and it looks like dream! (W. made the pics to document progress). I cannot wait to use it! Right now it is a refuge for our dogs, since the rest of the downstairs is construction area.

Being still in the sweet(s) baking mood, probably as the result of the El Nino's snowy winter we are ploughing through this year, I made a real Honza's buns last weekend. Every true Czech knows the story behind these: the hero of our national fairy tales, the "dumb" Honza, who is not really dumb, but pretends that to swim easily through the life (how very Czech!), is taking these bakery goodies made by his mom for his "journey to the world". He is forced to go when the parent finally looses the patience with the sluggish offspring and kicks him out of the house. Honza usually ends up distributing the sweets among various magical creatures disguised as poor old folks of both gender (in order to test the goodness of Honza's heart), whom H. finds conveniently sitting next the road he is taking. In exchange H. receives helpful objects and eventually a hand of the princess and half of the kingdom (to have nice place to live happily ever after, of course).

I have never made these buns before, but I remember my grandma used to make them sometimes ... I used the recipe I have found in very useful Czech culinary portal Recepty. (500g flour, 250 ml milk, bag of dried yeast, 50 g sugar, 2 yolks, 150 g melted butter, pinch of salt, rum, vanilla & lemon flavor, german plum butter for filling).

The trick is to smear the buns with butter stick and rum right after taking them off the oven, and than cover them with towel for couple of minutes, buns do not harden on the edges so much with this treatment.

I as well finally found a nice cake dome last weekend in IKEA (what would I do without them!), so that may helped too.

I have not received the prince's hand this time (since I already have one at home, happily ever after thank you very much) but I certainly got my craft kingdom in exchange :).