Tuesday, January 29, 2013

what we did (and bought) in Santa Fe

This is the last compelling installment (I promise) about our girl trip to Santa Fe, NM. You can also read about where we stayed and what we ate if you are planning to travel there yourself.

Favorite museum stops included the Museum of International Folk Art and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Photos (sans flash) were encouraged at the folk art museum, but frowned on in the GO museum:


I was so intrigued by the folk art, but of course my camera died mid-visit. Imagine a very large space slam-packed full of every kind of handcraft display imaginable. I loved the detailed papercuts, like the Polish examples you see above. I had my nose on the glass trying to see how they were done. Robyn and I were both blown away by a large display of heinously complex and accomplished 18th and 19th century cross stitch samplers (not pictured). You had to squint to see the stitches. We were exclaiming over them to each other and then we realized that many were signed by nine-year olds. Great scott!

I bought the pretty matryoshka doll you see at the top of the post in the museum's gift shop. I wanted to buy a few, but limited myself to this one. Like every shop keeper's nightmare customer, I had them all unassembled on the counter, trying to decide. There was another doll who was painted holding a large black chicken that I loved, but the colors on this one were more unusual. It's now happily installed on a ledge in my kitchen.

I did really enjoy the collection at the Georgia O'Keeffe, but was disappointed that it didn't contain a lot of her well-known large florals or houses. It did, however, have an exhibition of biographical photographs, which were really fascinating. She was a very photogenic person. I came away with a couple of notecard sized prints that I like (shown above with some handmade pendants, bracelet, and Bandelier rocks that also came home with me).

(When I was a surly teen, I remember holding my mother in contempt for wearing a perfectly awful pair of large, cheap 'mommy' sunglasses. In an instance of karmic justice, I've just realized I have on the same pair of sunglasses.)

If you look closely, you can see the cliff dwellings and pueblo behind me and my ridiculous hat.

On our hike around Bandelier, we ran into a retired Park Ranger who gave us a crash course on the petroglyphs to be found there. My favorite was the turkey. What a nice guy! Despite the snow on the ground, we were able to peel off coats, hats and gloves later in the hike.

Not pictured: We made a sidetrip to the Birkenstock-friendly town of Madrid, where we walked up and down the main street and shopped the jewelry and jumble stores. We also attended a live National Theatre broadcast of The Magistrate with John Lithgow at the Lensic one night. I think Robyn and I might have been the youngest ones there.

One of my favorite shops in Santa Fe was The Spanish Table, where I picked up these pretty plates, bowls and Spanish olive wood spoons as gifts and souvenirs. They had a great selection of cookbooks and shelves of gourmet eats too.

We browsed through the Wheelwright Museum and then spent a long, very squeaky time downstairs in their trading post (the 'authentic' wood floors protest loudly with every step you make). I picked up some fun Native American themed paper crafts to do with the girls (we are currently studying early American history so it fits right in) and I had to buy corn necklaces too. I did not buy the $10,000 handwoven wool blanket.

Our four days there was the perfect girl getaway, if you measure by the LHAS (Larissa Holland Amusement Standard). We had an ideal itinerary of eating, shopping, lounging, watching, seeing, oohing and hiking. I realized at the end of the last day that I had forgotten to get my ritual city magnet for the fridge. Anyone in Santa Fe want to send me one? Pretty please?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

what we ate in Santa Fe

A bit of everything please, and to drink, melted chocolate.

We told our hosts at the B&B that we'd like to basically eat our way through Santa Fe and they came through with great suggestions for every kind of culinary yumminess, so we tucked in like locals. One thing we didn't do was take many pictures of the eats. Yeah, I know, what kind of blogger am I? I should have been setting up a lightbox on the table and getting artful, well-lit macro shots of our salted caramel brownies. A comedy of errors with my camera followed me around Santa Fe. I brought a camera, it promptly went dead, I finally went to a convenience store to get batteries, and those were also dead (so glad I paid $6 for them, gah), ended up trying to take a few with my phone (hence all the blurry, non blog-worthy shots). This is why I am not a food blogger.

 The friendly proprietor. He lets you try every single flavor of drinking chocolate before you order. 

Kakawa, the only place we went to twice AND got some pictures from, and it's not even a restaurant. It's a chocolate house. Oh my stars and garters. Sublime, thick, historical drinking chocolates in many imaginative flavors, served in pretty little cups and saucers. Flavors ranged from serious, 100% cacao Mayan Fullspice (a chile laden chocolate punch in the nose) to the more Larissa-friendly Jeffersonian (a buttery chocolate bear hug) with lots of variation between.

El Farol, for gourmet Spanish tapas. It's right on Canyon Road, where a whole bunch of galleries are. MMM mmm MM. Delectable. We split a five dish meal that included marinated portobellos, fried avacado, chile shrimp, seared tuna on spinach, and slow roasted pork with figs. It's too bad I got choked on a wayward swallow of water toward the end of the meal and had to spend ten minutes in the ladies' attempting to cough out my socks. I'm suave and sophisticated like that. Shouldn't swallowing water be kind of instinctive after you are forty?

Cafe Pasqual's the night we went to the Lensic, for organic nouveau foo-foo NM cuisine. Exclusive vibe (read $$) combined with cramped quarters (esp. the claustrophobic hallway to the ladies), eclectic decor, and slightly disturbing murals on the walls. We had fancy beet/bleu cheese/lettuce pyramids that were impressive looking but challenging to conquer with fork and knife in a graceful fashion. We split the pork chop special (scrumptious and perfectly done with cider drippings, sausage stuffing and some kind of flavorful wilted greens).

Other unphotographed deliciousness:

La Plazuela at La Fonda, ok, probably not a locals kind of spot, but still a great experience (delicious carne asada, juevos rancheros, spicy butternut soup). It was a great introduction to the Santa Fe hospitality scene and easy to get to from where we were walking around the main plaza on our first day, and the service was faultless and so friendly.

Tune-Up Cafe, where there was a definitely locals-only feel, and where I devoured THE best chile relleno I've ever eaten EVAR. We grabbed available table space in the small no-frills dining area filled with other smart hungry people. I almost licked my plate.

We tried some African cuisine one evening at Jambo Cafe. Wonderful roti (flat bread similar to naan), spicy lentils, rice, coconut chicken curry, but the much-lauded goat stew was not for me. The fatty chunks of meat put me off, but I did eat around them because the sauce and vegetables were still very tasty. Their hot chai was strong, fragrant, sweet and hot. Perfect for a cold night and some pretty serious conversation we were having about Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Next post: what we did in Santa Fe
Earlier post: where we stayed in Santa Fe

Thursday, January 24, 2013

where we stayed in Santa Fe

If you've ever wondered what Santa Fe, NM is like in January, it's lovely. Also it's cold. My superfriend Robyn is in the states for a bit and we decided on a girl jaunt to New Mexico instead of Christmas gifts this past year. Excellent choice. It's what I term an arty town, with great views, galleries, museums, shopping and food. Mmm. Food.

Actually I think the area was having an unusual cold snap the week we were there. As our plane touched down all I could see were grey skies and snow gusting around. It was two degrees F. Yes. Two. As in one plus one. With a -15 F wind chill factor. It was difficult to make ourselves go out of the cozy airport and get in the rental car.

But we are glad we did, otherwise we wouldn't have enjoyed gourmet breakfasts like this. Omelet with corn, cheese and spices and some kind of mole and cream drizzled over it. Nom nom nom. Whatever it was, it was gone in a matter of moments.

This is the breakfast room at our B&B, Ravens Ridge (great find, Robyn!). It's a few miles away from the city center, nestled back on a hill, with an excellent view of the mountains.

Our affable hosts, Judge and Phyllis, gave only the best recommendations for dining and fun while we were there, as well as filling us with scrumptious homemade foods and generally pampering us during our stay.

This is a really terrible shot of our room, but I wanted you to see the cozy kiva fireplace we had. (There are much better shots of the rooms and grounds on their website.) It was great to come in from the cold after dark, watch a movie and huddle by the fire.

It didn't stay grey and cloudy for more than a few hours after we arrived. The sun came out and it warmed up to the 30s and 40s later in the week, sunny every day and gorgeous. The cold was actually a nice change for both of us. You know Robyn lives near the equator and Atlanta was having another freaky warm spell when I left so it was nice to break out the sweaters and mittens for a change.

Next post: what we ate in Santa Fe.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

pretties from Robyn

Looky what Robyn made me for my birthday. You don't suppose it had to do with the subtle hints I was dropping, do you? These delicate handcut birds were waiting to surprise me, tucked inside these gorgeous books:

Have you been lusting after these Penguin Classics like I have? I'm so happy to have these. Sigh. And now I have my own Cranford!

Also included in my pretty packages were these tiny things:

Little handmade soapstone boxes from Brazil. They are so small, and you know how tiny things make me happy. Just large enough to house some mini treasure. I should have put an acorn in the photo for scale. No lack of those in the studio. The smallest box is an inch and three quarters wide.

And something pretty to wear:

A handmade necklace from Brazil. I should be able to tell you the kind of nuts those large green ones are, but I forgot. All I really need to know is that it includes my favorite colors. Plus she sent some stroopwaffels and said I didn't have to share them. And I didn't. (If you don't know about stroopwaffels, that is just fine. More for me.)

And it all came beautifully wrapped in these packages. The wrapping is always a gift in itself. I really hated to open them.

Robyn, I love those fern stickers. Lovely, lovely. In conclusion, you are awesome. But you surely knew that.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thing 1's woodland critters

This is Stitches.

 This is Buttons.

My 10 year old created these two softies using the embroidery book and sewing kit gifted to her by Miss Robyn and of course I must feature them too.

I invited Thing 1 to write this post also, but she became very quiet as I sat expectantly with fingers poised above the keys. Then she suggested no text, just pictures. Too much pressure.

Here are the backs. Thank you again to Beth for the very appropriate Stampin' Up fat quarter she used for Buttons. She zeroed right in on it.

Her preliminary sketch. She informed me these two are the first of five softies in a series she has designed, dubbed 'Woodland Critters'. How 'bout that.

I had to be all casual and smooth about it, because if I get excited or too involved it kills it for her. I don't want to be the crafting equivalent of a stage mommy: "Put down that silly book! Have you practiced your french knots today? You KNOW the Mother Daughter Pan Gran Embroidery Regionals are coming up! SMILE as you thread and no squinting! SMILE! Show me the sparkle!"

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thing 2's spongebob in felt


 Sandy Cheeks

 Mr Krabs




The whole gang.

Made by the eight year old during Christmas break. It was a surprise attack by her creative muse. She'd been pining for a set of Spongebob beanies for Christmas, then she just decided suddenly that she wanted to make them instead of waiting. So she just did it.

Spongebob was first. I made a few suggestions and helped her sew a couple of things and showed her how to stuff him. Then she decided that the whole sewing thing was just slowing her down, so she disappeared with a tray of felt, scissors and glue and made the rest of them.

Then she asked me to feature them on my blog. Heck yeah, I'll do that.

 Mr Krabs' nose

I find it very refreshing that for her there was no planning or tracing or pattern making. She just cut them all out freehand and slapped them together and then very happily played with them after they were done. Total focus, quick follow-through and then satisfaction in her project.

Mommy could learn a thing or two from that.

Monday, January 7, 2013

handmade gifts 2012, part 3

The last handmade gift is a reprise of the Phil 4:6-7 papercut I made for Robyn a while back. This version is for my sister, Leigh.

It fits an 8 x 10 inch frame. I changed it a bit from Robyn's with more leaves and no birds included. I included several background colors with it so she could switch it up and find one that worked best for her decor.

I gifted it to her along with a pillow cover you see folded and tied above that I made from some Crate & Barrel napkins. I forgot to take a picture of it on an actual pillow. Oops. It's a nice, Christmasy array of bold green stripes. I made it in my favorite, quick no-zipper-required envelope method, which took three napkins. Also no hemming, since the edges of the napkins are finished already. Boom.

In addition to those I gave some Rifle Paper Co. notes and the Penguin Classic edition of Cranford, in honor of the afternoons we spent watching the mini-series together and drinking tea. The scene about the oranges. Oh my word. "We will repair to our rooms... and consume our fruit in solitude." So funny. The book is a wonderful read, too.

That wraps up the making for Christmas. I had pie-in-the-sky visions of making the quilts for the girls, but I've set my sights on Valentines for that. Which is probably just as unrealistic. Oh, I did have one more handmade gift besides these, but you've already seen the photos. I made a gift of these two stockings to my lovely sister Lori along with some books. She's a book addict like me.