Thursday, March 29, 2012


Museum and library, with fountain by Carl Milles.
Image from

Yesterday, a professor of architecture at Lawrence Tech, who is also a graduate of Cranbrook Art Academy took me on a walking tour of Cranbrook.  I met the artist in residence who is in charge of the architecture project.  I saw the students' in-progress thesis projects, which were really inspiring.  I am especially excited about some of the folded and pop-up three-dimensional steel projects, as well as one made from routed wooden modules, and one curved like an upside-down ship's prow that will be clad in cedar.  I am looking forward to seeing the finished product in a few weeks.

Boy's school and observatory tower.
Image from Wikipedia
Eliel Saarinen's work is also truly inspiring.  He was the principal architect of all three campuses.  The boy's school and art academy -- except for the museum and Library -- are both in brick collegiate gothic.

View of Kingswood from the lake.
Imace from Maia C on Flickr.
The girl's school, Kingswood, is more of a Japanese-inspired Art Deco.

I didn't take any photos yesterday.  I'll have to go back for that.  In the mean time, check out the amazing professional photos on the websites of Brian Callahan and Colton Graub.

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Duppy Cocktail

The Duppy Cocktail

Last night's cocktail was The Duppy Cocktail, another offering from the Savoy Cocktail Book, chosen mainly because it seemed like something a little more suited for cold weather, and we're nearly out of that for the year.

The Duppy Cocktail

3 oz Irish Whiskey
1 oz Orange Liqueur
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
2-6 Whole Cloves

In a mixing glass, add cloves to Whiskey and let sit for about an hour.
When ready, add other ingredients.
Shake over ice and strain into a coupe.

The verdict: It was a lovely autumnal drink that started a little strong, but left you looking for more at the bottom of the glass. Scott and I both felt it reminded us of something we couldn't place. I imagine that this is why the Duppy Cocktail is apparently unusual - it takes an hour's steeping to make, and if you can get that flavor profile elsewhere, that's what you would do. I left some cloves in the final drink, as a sort of garnish, but it really didn't work -- some floated, some sunk, it just looked silly. Decorating an orange twist with them is definitely the better, lovelier choice.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Knitted Lace

Vernal Equinox Shawl

Here's my current knitting project, the Vernal Equinox Shawl, out of grey Jaggerspun Zephyr, which I bought back in 2008. This shawl which was originally a mystery knit along, which means that it was released one piece at at time, and people knitted it without any idea what it would look like at the end. Of course, I do know what it will look like, because I decided to knit it after the mystery knit-along was done, and many people had already knitted beautiful versions. I'm nearly done with clue 4, out of 6.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Seeds Sown

Sowing Seeds

Yesterday, I organized all of my seed packets and saved seeds per when and how they should be sown, and I sowed all of the seeds that need to be started indoors before the last frost date. Despite the fact that this is the warmest winter in the area since 1945, I am still going by te average last frost date. I am a little late on some things, especially the onions, but otherwise I m feeling pretty good about having a better plan this year and a better handle on when I should start things for Michigan.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Blue Sand

Blue Sand

This week, we were invited over by a couple of friends who often join us on Wednesday nights. They took advantage of the lovely weather to grill out. They had just returned from a Caribbean cruise. While in Curaçao, they bought ingredients for a mixed drink to try with us on their return, the Blue Sand.

Blue Sand

1 oz Blue Curaçao
4oz Ponce Caribe

Add ice cubes and stir.

5 oz is a rather large drink, and we were a little worried we would run out of the Ponce Caribe since they only bought a small bottle, so we only drank 1/2 pours. At first, we overlooked the ice, but that gave us the opportunity to try it both with and without ice.

The verdict: The Blue Sand is extremely thick and creamy, especially without ice. Adding the ice opened it up and made it more easy to drink. I would say that this is more of a wintery drink, like an eggnog, than the summery drink I might have expected from a Caribbean recipe. The drink is clearly named for its appearance, rather than any relation to the classic cocktail Blood and Sand from the Savoy Cocktail Book. We weren't sure what Ponce Caribe was before trying it, but we believe it is the rum version of Irish cream. The name probably just means Caribbean punch. The flavor was what one would expect from rum cream, with only a bare hint of bitter orange. Even if we had drunk a full glass, it wouldn't have been very heavy-hitting, since the Blue Curaçao weighs in at 26% ABV, and the Ponce Caribe is even lighter at 10% ABV.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Flapper Hat - Side Slip Cloche

Side slip cloche

Earlier this month, I knit the Side Slip Cloche, using Sanguine Gryphon Codex yarn in the Sayida al Hurra colorway, which my friend Skellington gave me over the holidays. I really enjoyed working with this yarn, and the resulting variegation in color was very pretty and interesting, with no pooling. Of course, Sanguine Gryphon no longer exists, so I'm glad to have had the chance to try some of their yarn from before they split into Verdant Gryphon and Cephalopod Yarns.

It was also a lot of fun to do a quick project with yarn that was new, and hadn't been sitting in my stash with a plan for years. It was a nice refresher and got me excited about going back to the stash again.

Side slip cloche

The hat was designed to be worn with the ruffle pointing forward, but on the cover of the book it is worn with the ruffle pointing back. Compare the two looks.

First Day of Spring

Snow Drop

It was the first day of spring, and I am happy to say that this year it actually felt like it. Now only did we have gorgeous weather, but over the last week, many more blooms have opened in our yard.

The snow drops pictured above are just basically done.


After that first yellow bloom, the crocuses opened up in clusters of contrasting colors this week.

Winter Aconite

Winter Aconite is an early bloomer in the shade.


The day after I took the crocus, snow drop, and aconite photos, the daffodils bloomed. In this photo, you can also see that the rosemary managed to survive the winter, and the quince is forming buds. I am hoping that the bigger and more established that the rosemary is, the more it will be able to withstand harsher winters, since this year was a mild one.


I brought some inside yesterday.


I filled a glass with cut purple crocuses as well, but they don't have the staying power daffodils in a vase.


Today, I noticed some large spears on our older asparagus crowns, which means that I should be able to harvest asparagus from my own yard for the first time later this week.

Thursday, March 15, 2012



In the fall, with the memory of how terribly long of a wait it felt like last year before I saw any flowers, I planted all of the flowers that were the earliest blooming in the bulb catalog, which is why the first blooms were open yesterday. This one's a yellow crocus.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Ward Eight

Ward Eight

The Ward Eight was the drink I chose this week because, among my options, it was the one that seemed most classic, as I have seen many variations on it.  The drink comes from just before the turn of the century,  from Boston, and its districts called wards.  Per Savoy Stomp, "Rumored to have been created at the Locke-Ober (the second oldest restaurant in Boston) to celebrate the victory of Martin Lomasney’s 1898 campaign for a seat representing Boston’s Eighth Ward—a celebration that suitably took place the night before the election—the Ward Eight is a simple twist on a whiskey sour."

Ward Eight

1.5 oz Rye Whiskey
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
0.75 oz Orange Juice
1 tsp Grenadine

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with an orange.

The verdict: We enjoyed this very orangey drink, possibly because I made it with fresh orange juice.  The primary flavors were orange and the rye. The lemon added tartness, but didn't overpower the orange juice or make Scott think it was too lemony.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cleveland and Toledo

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Sorry for the lack of cocktail this week. Scott didn't get home from work until 11 or 12 pm on Wednesday and Thursdays nights, and then we hosted gaming on Fridays, and then this weekend, we left town. We went to Cleveland to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Scott's family to celebrate his dad's birthday.

Guitar Gift Shop Entrance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Saturday, we spent the afternoon at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Cars at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Of course, we couldn't take photos once we were inside the ticketed area, but I got some photos of the atrium.

Cars at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Cars at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Of course, Scott and I took the most time in the museum, but we really enjoyed it. I think my favorite part may have been the Les Paul exhibit. I knew about the Gibson Les Paul guitar, but I didn't know about the inventive man whom it was named after. It was clearly Scott's favorite part as well -- when I asked him just now, he started reading from the Les Paul Wikipedia article!

There were all kinds of cool items from the major figures of Rock & Roll, as well as the major precursors. Of course, we enjoyed looking at all the instruments and costumes, some of which were pretty amazing. Note to the wise: if some famous person had some object of theirs painted specially, keep it that way. I really enjoyed the gallery that had Janice Joplin's porche as well as costumes and instruments from bands from the Allman Brothers to ZZ Top to David Bowie to Michael Jackson, including the Thriller jacket and the famous glove, which was embroidered with crystals. I ended up learning a lot of cool things from reading rather than just looking at the exhibits. One thing I left with was a lot of curiosity about Quicksilver Messenger Service, especially after seeing the amp with the horns attached. Of course, I couldn't help but see possible steampunk inspiration everywhere, like in the Van Halen drum set, with the kick drums extended by accordion pleats.

For dinner, we went to The Winking Lizard Tavern, and checked out some cool shops, including Phoenix Coffee, Big Fun and City Buddha. Scott's brother's fiancée got her law degree form Case Western and she was our tour guide around town.

Amphitheater at the Toledo Zoo
Amphitheater at the Toledo Zoo

This morning, we decided that we didn't want to drive backward from the hotel to check out the art museum, natural history museum or other tempting things in the area. We ended up choosing to stop at the Toledo Zoo on the way home.

Snow Leopards at the Toledo Zoo
Snow Leopards at the Toledo Zoo

Sloth Bear at the Toledo Zoo
Bear Sloth at the Toledo Zoo

Cranes at the Toledo Zoo
Cranes at the Toledo Zoo

Colobus Monkey at the Toledo Zoo
Colobus Monkeys at the Toledo Zoo

Birds at the Toledo Zoo
Birds overhead in the aviary at the Toledo Zoo

Vultures at the Toledo Zoo
Vultures at the Toledo Zoo

Rhinoceros Hornbill
Rhinoceros Hornbill at the Toledo Zoo

Giraffes at the Toledo Zoo
Giraffes at the Toledo Zoo
The most exciting thing that happened was that the baby giraffe noticed me when I crouched by the window into its home. It came within a foot of my face and licked the glass right at my face.

After that, it was pizza at the Village Idiot, then home, glad to to rest my feet.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Flooding Update: More Flooding

More Basement Flooding

We had a fair amount of rain yesterday -- nowhere near as much as last year -- but when I went into the basement, I found two large puddles spreading across the floor. It turns out that the water table has risen so much that it was seeping through the slab. The biggest good news was that it wasn't sewage. The rest of the good news is that it didn't get deep enough to cause any damage, and thanks to the wet-dry shop vac that Scott bought after last time, we were able to get things dry in about two hours fromt eh time I first noticed the leak. Still, this means that we have to dig a pit and install a sump pump to prevent this from happening in the future before we can finish the basement. (The picture above shows the floor still damp, after the water was removed.) Another setback, just wen it seemed that we were finally moving forward.