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Archive for March, 2007

Pumpkin-Vanilla Loaf

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

One of the benefits of tax season in my life, is that I excavate the piles on my desk more thoroughly than any other time of year. I always find unexpected treasures sharing desk space with the financial documents. This year is no different. I found a lost recipe, which I had put on my desk long ago intending to share it with you.

When I visited Susan Luks months ago, I took her a loaf of a bread I had made to rave reviews previously. Her choosy-eater teen liked it a lot, he even went as far as asking for a repeat performance. Of course, soon after his request I lost the recipe.

My brother Eric and sis-in-love Diana enjoyed this bread for breakfast one week, after I took them part of a loaf. Altu’s teen daughter visited one day and thoroughly enjoyed her taste, reminding me of her delight on a subsequent visit. None of these folks have to limit the foods they eat, and they are fond of my allergy-friendly recipe for its taste alone.

I bake with unusual ingredients and they do make a difference. Making this the very most flavorful way will probably require that you make your way to a fairly large health-food grocery (or website if you have nothing local which will suffice). However, the results are worth the effort spent in rounding up the proper ingredients. If you are in a pinch, you can substitute wheat flour (hard wheat would work best) but it will be merely a cousin to the real thing.

Note: I don’t eat wheat because of an allergy, not a problem with gluten. Therefore I am able to eat a little bit of some grains related to wheat… on occasion. If you wish to make this for a friend who has food restrictions, please check first and see if they can eat gluten and/or wheat relatives.

This bread is made with Kamut grain, a relative of wheat whose true origin is buried in marketing hype. I will just say that it is a wheat-relative with a very nutty flavor, regardless of origin.

The flour’s behavior when poured is closer to sand than powder. It does not get sticky in baked goods (it also makes good pasta, which can be purchased at the same stores as the flour). For some reason I tolerate Kamut better than wheat, though I still do not eat it often.

This recipe has no spices in it, so it is not like any other pumpkin baked good I have tried. The subtle flavors are the kamut. the pumpkin and lots of good vanilla (I get mine at the Mexican grocery). It is nothing like any other pumpkin dessert/sweet I have ever tasted (and I’m crazy about pumpkin). It’s light and satisfying.

This loaf has no egg, dairy/milk, potato, corn or corn derivatives, yeast or mold-related foods, potato or wheat. It is absolutely delicious, you don’t miss anything!

I do use white sugar when I make this, because I do not want the molasses in brown sugar to compete with the subtle flavors in the simple ingredients. Your mileage may vary.

LynnH’s Pumpkin-Vanilla Loaf

2 c Kamut Brand Flour (wheat relative, not gluten-free)
1-1/2 c White Sugar
1-1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/8 tsp Salt (optional)
1 small can (1-3/4c) Pumpkin (not pie mix)
3/8 c Mild-Flavored Oil (I use pure olive, or try canola or soy)
2 tsp Real Vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl with wire whisk or sifter.
  • Mix in pumpkin, oil and vanilla with a fork or wooden spoon. The mixture will be very dry, but keep working and it will combine.
  • Divide mixture between two greased and floured bread pans.
  • Bake 1 hour, until toothpick comes out clean. (Test often, ovens are very different.)

Three Weeks, Four Students, (Almost) Five Socks

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

toeupsocks.jpgI just finished a First-Time Toe-Up Socks class at Rae’s shop this past Thursday. We had a blast! Three of the four students chose the heavy weight of Socks that Rock yarn, and one chose a pewter-gray Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran.

They did a great job. Two ladies finished one sock, one started a second and needs only to bind off the first, and the fourth is also ready to bind off the first. Considering we all have lives that do not allow knitting as much as we might like, this was a great result.

I like the variety here. At left we have a rolled-cuff “bootie” or slipper, then a traditional-looking K2P2 ribbed leg, then two pair with stockinette legs topped with an inch or two of ribbing. This is the whole idea of my pattern… to give folks guidelines for the foot and then let them go in any direction they prefer when they get to the ankle.

Go, grrls! Nice job.

The Colours of Paris

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Yarnstorm always has beautiful photos. She went to Paris with her young daughter. Oh, my! The colors she found. I highly recommend a visit to The Colours of Paris.

(Yes, that’s how she spelled it, yes, that is a correct spelling in English in many parts of the world.)

Brrr. Cold again.

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

aprilandisabel.jpgI got out the longjohns and legwarmers again. It was 46F when Brian went to work at 11am Thursday, above freezing but far below room temperature. At least the sun shines, and the flowers are still blooming.

Here’s a photo of my friend April and little Isabel across the street, earlier this week, next to the daffodils on their debut day. It was over 80F that day, a bit hot if you stood in the sun long enough.

Warmth will return…


Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

kalamazoogazette.jpgI read the Sunday Kalamazoo Gazette review of the Fretboard Festival online. I referred you to the article here.

Then I heard (from Jay at the Museum) that there was a photograph in the paper that I had not seen on the website. The next thing I know, Brian calls from work to say that Joel Mabus (bless his heart) sent the print article through the snailmail.

I just arrived home and got to see it. Wow. This photo takes up nearly half the front page of section B. (There were a lot of acts there this weekend, many better-known than us, and I’m stunned and thrilled that we got this much press.)

Thanks to Joel for sending us the article, Mark Wedel, the reporter, Jonathon Gruenke, the photographer, Mark Sahlgren the DJ for playing our music in Kalamazoo and otherwise telling folks about our music, and Jay and Ian from the Kalamazoo Valley Museum for inviting us. The folks in Kalamazoo know how to roll out the red carpet for we two Lansing folks.

Some days are just better than others. Today is one of those days.

Spring has Definitely Sprung!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007
  • It’s 80F/26.6C degrees and sunny as I type this.
  • The daffodils in April’s yard are blooming.
  • Brian rode his bike to work two days in a row.
  • The sorority girls are lying out on blankets in the front yard.
  • I went barefoot for the first time today.
  • The Dairy Queen is open.

It’s spring, and I am counting my blessings!

Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

I was following links, checking out ukulele recording artists. On CDBaby (we love this site for independent musical acts) I found Elmo Aardvark: Outer Space Detective. There are actually several Elmo CDs. It seems there is a whole collection of performers on this disc. I must check it out!

Karla in Kalamazoo, Dallas Plans

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

karla.jpgLooking Back

I promised in the last post that I’d show you a pic of Karla and me in Kalamazoo as soon as I could get to Brian’s camera. Well, here we are. Can you tell how much fun we were having? Can you see the crowd of people behind us? It was a happy and bustling crowd.

And just in case you can’t see that crowd behind us, here is another photo, taken by Brian. I love the kid in front. There were plenty of kids there.

OK, I guess I need to move beyond the past weekend by now. Actually, I have some pretty serious deadline work to do in the kalamazoocrowd.jpgnext 2-3 weeks, so if you get posts that consist of a link or two, please forgive.

Looking Forward

I am teaching at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Fiber Festival from April 13-15. I have more than a few things to do between now and then.

I’m knitting a very special something for the fashion show on Friday night at the festival, and it’s the sort of thing I can’t get someone else to knit for me. It is a good thing it’s my favorite sort of knitting, but I’m not used to knitting that much every day.

I’m cranking along happily, but it takes two hands to knit… which conflicts with the two hands it takes to type. (Photo shows most of the thirteen yarns/colors I’m using in my fashion show project. Last time I used this many yarns, they were all variations on beige… this is much more enjoyable.)

dallasyarnphase1.jpgI promise a travelogue of my Dallas trip when I return, but things may be more sketchy than usual here at ColorJoy. Yes, I’ll have days when I run off about this or that to blow off steam, but I’ll be staying offline a lot more than usual for a few weeks.

Kalamazoo is a Wonderful City!

Monday, March 26th, 2007


Saturday we had the best of times in Kalamazoo, once more. The people there welcome us with open arms. And honestly, we had a few fans from Lansing who drove down to hear us, which was also a thrill.

Fans. Imagine that. I am grateful.

An Adventure

I’ll give you a little travelogue of Saturday, it was most eventful. We left around 10am for the museum and found fog and light rain on the trip there. We thought it would be a crummy weather day but it turned out to be very beautiful and even sunny in the mid-afternoon.

Friendly Welcome

We were greeted by Jay, who had been our contact person throughout. It was great to meet him. We unloaded our things and gave our CDs to the volunteers who watched the CD table all day (I love those folks, and I make sure to tell them how appreciated they are).

First we got oriented to the space, and we took a little time to look at some of the exhibits in the museum. What a class act this museum is!

Met Blog Friend Karla

As I was getting familiar with the space, I saw a woman wearing a spectacular sweater. In fact, it was a pyramid sweater, and it was being worn by nobody else than Karla (of the comments)! Her hubby, Darrell, is a bass player and was helping out with one of the workshops.

It was really great to spend some time with Karla off and on during the day. We got a photograph of the two of us, but it must be that Brian took it with his camera… I downloaded all of my photos and Karla isn’t in there. Pooh. I’ll show her off later, OK?


The Museum

They had a gallery which showed the personal collections of Kalamazoo folks. One woman collected Saudi Arabian crafts (she lived there for a while), and there were peanut butter containers, bottle openers, one-sided toasters, keychains, and even an assortment of “dangerous toys,” at least two or three of which I remembered owning as a child (moon walkers, with springs under your feet, and a snurfer, a sort of pre-snowboard contraption with a rope handle to help you stay upright… which didn’t work too well if I remember right).

Festival Exhibits and Impromptu Tunes

Brian found some good vinyl LPs at a booth there, I think it was a club. There were many booths of instrument makers, including Kingslight Guitars… the luthier’s sister is a singer in Lansing, and he figured out that I knew her through Riverwalk Theatre when we were at Coopers Glen Festival last summer. It was good to touch base again.

kzoodowntown1.jpgWe jammed a few tunes sitting right near the CD tables by the front desk. We could not do it much, as the space was pretty loud and we did not dare push our voices before the concert. It was great fun, though, and we even ran into Leslie, a bass player who we met camping in the Musicians Campground at Coopers Glen last August.

Banjos, Banjos and More Banjos… and Joel Mabus

I stepped into the auditorium to get my bass which was being stored in the control room, and when I came out I took a minute to listen to Joel Mabus answering questions after his “History of the Banjo” lecture. Someone asked about alternative banjos (guitar-banjos, mandolin-banjos, banjo-ukes, etc.) and he asked me to show the crowd my bass.

That was pretty fun. We definitely get into Banjo Festivals because of my bass, it looks like a 6-foot-high banjo though it is fingered like any upright bass “fiddle” or guitar might be. It actually has strings designed for an electric bass.


Our Musical Show

At that point there was just time to tune our instruments and get on stage. We got there early so that the sound guy could get us all situated. We were ready to sing a few minutes before our appointed time and I asked if we could just start. No sense waiting when the crowd was already waiting long enough, and we would rather sing than stand around.It was a wonderful crowd, people sitting on the floor on either side of us, and on every chair they had put out. By the time we were on our third song or so, the sun came out full force. We were standing in a window at the end of a hallway, and the sun really baked down on poor Brian in that tuxedo, but we were fairly distracted from the warmth of the sun, by the warmth of the crowd. It was a wonderful time. We played about 40 minutes.

Brian’s Uke Workshop


After the show, Brian went to the workshop room to teach any comers about some basic ukulele chords and techniques. I ran to the CD table to sign CDs for anyone who wanted an autograph, and then I joined Brian in the workshop room.Brian does a great job at these workshops. He teaches one chord, then has them sing a one-chord song. He adds a second chord and then they sing a two-chord song. He continues in this manner until they know five chords (in less than an hour) and then they play “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” which is a great five-chord song. They love it. I never get tired of that magic, having a crowd playing that song together so quickly.

Chatting, Making New Friends

After the workshop we answered many questions, in my case mostly about my instrument. I had a great chat with the cello player from the Royal Garden Trio, whose name is Mike. I previously met Brian Delaney of that group a few years ago when he went to the Midwest Ukefest in Indianapolis with a mutual friend. It was good to get to know Mike as well.

heftonekalamazootuning.jpgOne woman who sat center front during our concert, had met us during the Coopers Glen Festival. She knew the words to many of our songs, even ones that many folks don’t know. Usually that is the sign of someone who owns our CD’s, a true fan, though it’s sometimes a fan of Tin Pan Alley music rather than The Fabulous Heftones.

We got talking again after the show. I just love talking to her, she is just a really positive person who asked me great questions about our music (including Annette Hanshaw, my favorite singer of the 1920s) and my bass.

I wish we had longer to chat, in a less busy environment. We could have talked much longer, I’m sure, if the museum were not closing and we were not trying to talk in a crowded hallway. She is visually impaired and someone thought to ask her if she might like to “see” my bass. She took her time touching the whole instrument from the top down, and I wondered why I had not thought to offer this to her before.

I’m sort of bummed now that we got home, I didn’t ask her name… we talked so long and I work hard at names, but we were so engaged chatting about music that I slipped in this case. It sure was fun chatting with her, and two folks I think were her friends (who happen to live in our neighborhood in Lansing, of all things).

saffrontable.jpgWrapping it Up at the Museum

Our workshop actually ended at 4pm and that was the official time that the festival ended, though the museum closed at 5. We were there until just before closing time.

I asked at the desk on our way out if there was perhaps a Japanese or Indian or African restaurant in town that might be good (and easy to find). The ladies at the desk were so helpful! We got directions to Saffron, an Indian restaurant I’d passed by last summer when I was on my way to Allegan for the Michigan Fiber Festival.

Great Indian Food at Saffron

Oh, My! That food was SO delicious. I love Indian food, we’ve eaten it in many states and even in Canada at Niagara Falls. I’ve had lots of Indian food in Chicago. This one was the best I’ve had, I think. We shared an eggplant/potato dish and a chickpea dinner, both with thick and flavorful sauces. Wow.

I want to go back, and soon. That was really a treat. For some reason I forgot to take photos of the food, which was presented beautifully… but before dinner I got a photo of the colorful tables with sea green and yellow plates, and blue cloth napkins. ColorJoy tables!


Music in Charlotte, Michigan

Even after dinner, we were not done with our day. We had heard that some of our friends were performing Irish (and pseudo-Irish and folk) music at the Charlotte Public Library. It was not far out of the way to go there, and we had time. I’m glad we went.In the photo you can see Alisa on Viola at far left. Working left to right, you can barely see the back of Joseph’s shirt (with a stripe) behind her (on violin/fiddle). Then comes Bob on Bass (the only guy I think I might not have met before) and Wally on guitar and mandolin, then Steve on guitar and pennywhistle, and Ann on percussion. It was a fun time, and we knew several folks so we chatted a while after the show.

Home Again, Home Again…

By the time we got home, we were happily exhausted. I “hit the feathers” early that night.

I would do it again in a heartbeat. What a fun life I have sometimes!

Photos: Brian and I in the museum lobby (thanks to Brian Delaney for taking this excellent shot), Joel Mabus on stage with many interesting historical banjos, two photos of downtown Kalamazoo within blocks of the museum, Brian at the front of the workshop classroom, an artful shot of (me tuning) my bass and the walkway outside of the library, colorful table settings at Saffron, our friends performing at Charlotte Public Library.

Kalamazoo Fretboard Fest Article

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Mark Wedel of the Kalamazoo Gazette wrote an enthusiastic review of the Fretboard Festival in Sunday’s paper. It can be seen here on their M-Live website.

He lists highlights of the event, including “The Fabulous Heftones fabulous time machine.” He goes into detail on our act, getting all the facts right. There are of course many other details he also details. We are appreciative of the effort Mark put out to get things right. It’s too bad we didn’t get to meet him personally, but it was a very crowded space and he had so much to do, I’m sure

Thanks, Mark!.

Eat This! Michigan

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

At the University of Michigan there is a program/web page where three students are writing about their experiences eating organic. It looks well-organized, and they offer a small list of recipes (though one calls for cream of chicken soup, which surprised me on a site of this sort). You guys like recipes, and food definitely is art… maybe you want to check it out. It’s called Eat This!

You may also be interested in the Eat Local Challenge blog. There you can see a most artful photo of large white goose eggs surrounded by small green & brown chicken eggs. Simple beauty!

Ukulele Lesson from Japan

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Diana writes:

I found a site teaching Ukulele online that suits me, its in ‘Japlish’ (Japanese-style English) and is fun, the guy really took time to tell what he knows, and so far, it seems like good info.

I especially love the cartoons :-}

Thanks, Diana! This is a great thing to share on our own Ukulele-teaching Day.

(I read part of the page before posting it… the English is good enough to follow, though not translated perfectly. The chart of what parts of the instrument are called, shows frets spelled “flets.” I’m so glad English is my first language, it is SO hard to learn.)

Ukes in the News

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

fabheftonesatclub20.jpgMark Wedel of the Kalamazoo Gazette wrote an enthusiastic article on us (Brian and I, as The Fabulous Heftones) which can be seen on M-Live (if you give them your zip code and birth year). Here is the article. He did a good job. I did tell him we opened for Steppin’ in It and that at least one of the guys in the band (Andy Wilson) plays uke. I think that’s a cool sign that young folks are discovering the instrument (Rachael Davis also has a uke, as do a bunch of the folks who record with Earthwork Music). Somehow the quote says we claim credit for Andy playing the uke… which I didn’t say, but since he did the interview by phone I think he did a pretty good job with the rest of the facts.

Andrew Kroll also interviewed us via phone and email, for the Western Herald, but as of midnight I did a search and did not find an article for 2007 on ukulele, heftone, or fretboard. I’m guessing then that the article will come out tomorrow, the day of the event.

I’m getting excited. It will be a really fun day, a great event. My wonderful brother, Eric, really wanted to come but he works on Saturdays. I will see Karla… anyone else?

Photos: Above, Brian and I at the Lansing Country Club, and  left, at Coopers Glen Music Festival in Kalamazoo last August.


Friday, March 23rd, 2007

violetsinsideyard.jpgEvery spring, in our yard it is the violets that bloom first. When they come I know that winter may blow a snowflake or two more, but we are in a warming trend for a long time.

I love the violets! They are “weeds” but we make sure to never use anything on our lawn that might endanger their happiness. These weeds are the very best sort.

This morning I got up and found a single violet that Brian had plucked and placed in a spot where he knew I would not miss it. I almost cried in joy. He knows how important the spring flowers are to me, and he loves me enough to take time out in his morning to share the news of the first blooms of spring.

The photo here is of last year’s violet crop. Today we have maybe a dozen blooms, but more will follow.