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Archive for April, 2010

A Gathering of Guilds: My Self-Portrait

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Some of you remember that I knit a self-portrait a few summers ago. It was a bit of an internal growing experience to get through the self-doubt that all artists have at times, and complete the project.

Coming out at the end with something that actually does look like my face… in 10,374 stitches, 11 colors of yarn… well, it’s something I am proud of. I am thrilled that there have been places for me to display the end product.

I’m pleased that it got a lot of display time that first year. My piece was at Susan Hensel Gallery in Minneapolis first. Then it was displayed at local yarn shops, both Rae’s Yarn Boutique where I teach each week, and Threadbear Fiberarts where they had a customer art exhibit (that one got in the paper, a lovely article indeed).

After that the portrait was also displayed with a Working Women Artists show at the East Lansing Public Library. I was pleased. After all, I don’t plan on doing another one of these, it required I put my work and life pretty much on hold for several weeks while I knit (and crossed fingers and toes that it would work out).

Well, starting Sunday May 1, my self-portrait will again be on display, with a lot of fine hand-created items from a lot of other creative folks. This time it will be for the “Gathering of Guilds.”

This show has been organized by the Grove Gallery Co-Op on Grove Street in downtown East Lansing. It is directly next door to Woven Art (a yarn, knitting, weaving, crochet shop) and across the street from the Grove Street Parking Ramp.

There is a “First Sunday Gallery Walk” show open house at the Grove Gallery Co-Op location on Sunday. I think it will be exceptional. There will be several guilds involved:

Greater Lansing Weavers Guild
Lansing Area Patchers
Mid-Michigan Knitters Guild
Mid-Mitten Basketmakers Guild
Capital Area Lace Makers
Mid-Michigan Art Guild
Clayworks
Greater Lansing Potters Guild

Details for opening reception:

Sunday, May 2
Noon-4pm

325 Grove St., Suite A
East Lansing, Michigan
517/333-7180

I will be there. Maybe some local folks will come out and say hello? I expect a wonderful, artful, friendly crowd.

Inspiration from Ravelry

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Mary-Heather (RainyDayGoods)  from Ravelry.com linked today to a list on that site, where folks were talking about their simple pleasures. My first thought, a small pleasure for me, was a hot wet washcloth on my face. Then when I posted I got so inspired by other happy thoughts that I did not even include that in my list.

I have posted here before about small things really being the essence of my happy life. I have had some big things before (perhaps the biggest was my 5-week trip to Africa with my friend Altu). However, banking on big things to make life OK, does not work well as a life strategy.

So today I’m going to share with you the list I posted on the Ravelry Thread (if you are a member of Ravelry, which is free, you can read the whole thread… highly recommended).

  • Watching my beloved hubby light up when I walk in the room.
  • Singing/performing on stage with beloved. It’s more fun than I dreamed when I was a kid.
  • Having my 24-yr-old Goddaughter call me and ask for time together.
  • Having my 6-yr-old “fairy-Goddaughter” accidentally call me Grandma.
  • Hot tea, dark, black and “straight up.”
  • Baking something from scratch, with ingredients I’m not allergic to (yesterday, chocolate cake ), and eating it still warm out of the oven.
  • Real whipped cream, whipped with brown sugar rather than white.
  • Buying produce at the neighborhood (city) market, from the people who grew that food.
  • My front porch. Especially naps in the hammock on the porch (in the city, but nobody can see me there).
  • Wool, alpaca, kid mohair, any combination of them.
  • Two colors next to one another which create more “zing” than one alone. This can stop me in my tracks.
  • Running into someone who has made one of my patterns. It still lifts my heart to see that.
  • The first day of the year when I can open front/back doors, let the breeze flow through, and wear my favorite African clothing. Bye, bye winter!

What about you? What simple/small things make your heart sing?

Yours may not do it for me (or mine for you), but I think it would be wonderful to get a little inspiration going in the comments here. Or, by all means, run over to Ravelry and join the larger thread.

The photo I wanted to post with this column? Fresh, organic strawberries from the East Lansing Food Co-Op. They were so perfect they looked fake, and they tasted perfect, as well. I made some of that brown-sugar whipped cream to put on the berries. No fancy torte is as good as that combination!

Unfortunately, I’m having a few computer issues which I think are temporary. No photo today. Sorry.

Taking My Own Words to Heart

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

I just found a photo of a card I wrote to a friend a year back. She was leaving her life in Michigan behind and starting over in a far away state.

changebringsuscloser

I airbrushed out her name, but the essential message is there.

“Remember, change brings us closer to our true selves.”

I believed it then, and I still do. My divorce in 1991 was the worst/best thing I’ve ever gone through, but I discovered who I was in the process. I did not call myself an artist before that time.

Losing my father still grieves me. I was 14, he was 40, it’s still a crying shame 30+ years later. However, I learned so much from that… particularly, that people are the riches in our lives… not the stuff. It comes down to who you love, in the end.

And being put on total voice rest for 31 days, being silent and feeling invisible? It gave me empathy and compassion for others who endure those conditions permanently. I am still changed from that month, even though it was 15 years ago.

The failure of my JoyBug’s engine and subsequent choice to replace that engine, has changed my reality overnight. It’s another moment where it feels like life changed the channel on me when I blinked. For at least a year, I will be making conscious choices to rebuild the funds it took to do that.

However, I have been poorer than I am now before. I am happier and richer in friends and lifestyle than ever before. I have resources from which to work. I can do without some things I was enjoying as small luxuries.

I am self-employed. This means I can not be laid off. I may have less business in one place, but I have the freedom to figure out where else I can work. I will not get “rich” in a money sense, but I have never been hungry and do not expect that now. I already am abundantly rich in the things that matter to me.

I am grateful I was able to pull off a new computer and an iPod Touch last year. They will last longer than my austerity period, I believe.

The car’s engine had just short of 150,000 miles on it and now it’s under 80,000 miles, with a 6 month warranty. I had not experienced car payments since 2004.  In a way, we  just bought a “new” car for ourselves, but with the familiar comfort intact. (Comfort to me, anyway… Brian prefers a different sort of car, but only gets in one when we sing together or travel together to visit family.)

JoyBug150000(The odometer turned over to 150,000 miles yesterday, in front of my friend’s house, on my street. Here she is at 150,000 miles, on a gorgeous, sunny, crisp spring day!)

I have been giving away clothing already, and I have a lovely stock of yarns from which to design new patterns. We eat relatively frugally already, and the quality of food in this house is premium.

So, I again will remind myself that “Change brings us closer to our true selves.” It has definitely been true for me before. This sort of discovery venture is a good place to be.

Color of the Year: Turquoise

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

I’m a bit behind on this announcement. After all, Pantone made their announcement of the 2010 Color of the Year months ago. I got the word from Irene A (thanks for the link, Irene). Somehow it got buried in other news.

TURQUOISE is the color of the year for 2010. (At least it is according to Pantone, a company which defines trends in visual design realms.) Imagine that!

Now… Turquoise is at least my color of the last decade or two. In fact, in 1969 I was allowed to choose merely two colors of Red Heart yarn at the five and dime store all the way in East Lansing. (That was not all of 10 miles from our house.)

I was allowed two colors, and no amount of begging for more got me anywhere. It was painfully difficult to narrow it that far but I had no choice. I was about 11 years old.

That year my choices were: bright Turquoise and kelly Green. I’ve been on a roll with this color for a pretty long time. I even remember that year I had a pair of bell-bottom pants and a 3/4-sleeved mock turtleneck in matching turquoise fabrics, which I loved to wear together.

I worked for Casual Corner clothing store for 6 months back in 1987. I remember that year we had piles of muted pink and muted sage green sweaters to sell. Tons of them. It was holiday season and these poor men would wander in trying to find a gift. I asked them if they had seen her wear that color before. Whew.

But the jade-turquoise (greenish, deep, saturated) wool jersey dresses? They looked good on a LOT of people. I even sold one of those dresses to my mom, who wore it a long time.

I figured out then, that most people can pull off turquoise clothing, though they will prefer one “flavor” of it over another. (Pinks, you must get the exact right one or you may look ill.)

I look best in a hot, intense turquoise, and I prefer a greenish variation when I can find it. Someone else might look better in a softer, swimming-pool blue-turquoise. My mom favors a greenish medium-aqua in the summertime. A redheaded friend looks stunning in a deep teal. All of these colors, in my mind, are turquoise. They all are somewhere between a true blue and a true green.

Pantone’s color of the year is a soft, but not too gray, version of turquoise. It’s a little more blue than green, and about halfway between white and black (value around 5, maybe 6). Funny, but I’m sitting here typing this with a “coffee” mug next to me which I got at the Ann Arbor Art Museum. It is a little more green than the color of the year… but it says “Pantone (C) 3272 C” which amuses me.

For the record, the first photo in this column is me with Brian as The Fabulous Heftones. That dress was my wedding dress. It was a deep turquoise silk, evening dress by Liz Claiborne. I was not going to get married in a froofy, girly, lace dress. Brian said it didn’t matter to him what I wore, the point was to get married. I am still delighted I found that dress, right off the rack and ready to go. On sale. Perfect!

Here is a photo of me in about 1971, wearing a turquoise-paneled dress. Does anyone remember “bonded” fabric? Nasty stuff… built a bit like a thin/wide sandwich. There was a thin layer of knit (typically cotton) on the public side, with a very thin layer of foam-yes-foam in the middle, and the back layer was nylon tricot knit. Dry clean. Prone to sit-out and de-laminate. It did allow structure.

Bonded fabric was all I had (for dress-up dresses) for a while in the late 60s and early 70s. This dress was made of the stuff.

The middle photos? More turquoise… my theme color. First is a small mitered square project made with leftover sockyarns, from socks I’ve knit.  No yarn was purchased for the project. The second was my prototype which turned into the One-Day Neckwarmer, also from leftover stash yarns.

I’m incurable. I don’t mind. I think 2010 is my year, then?

Victory! Recipe: Chewy GF/Allergy-Free Brownies

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Eight Years, One Recipe

I am thrilled. Since I have been baking/eating without a long list of foods (due to food sensitivities/allergies), I have struggled with finding good chewy brownies. I love chewy textures and many of my old favorites are no longer on the “safe” list for me.

I don’t bake with wheat/gluten, though I do not fight celiac disease. However, many gluten-free/GF packaged mixes contain corn, potato and/or xanthan gum, all three of which I do not tolerate. Many call for egg or milk. Some call for corn syrup to hold things together. All don’t work for me. I had to start from scratch.

Mochi to the Rescue (Again)

My break-through point was trying yet a different kind of flour. I have recently found one source for gluten-free “sweet rice flour” (it’s Mochi rice but in a different form than my previous food post). The Lansing, Michigan source is Foods for Living, a wonderful, employee-owned grocery which supports local musicians as well as really being top notch in products offered and friendly service.

The product itself is produced by Bob’s Red Mill, a wonderful alternative flour source (I get teff flour from them, too… for my spice muffin recipe). If you do not live in Lansing, and your town has no source for this product, you can buy from the mill direct online. They have great service. Local first, though… if you will.

These Work for Everyone

Because of my food restrictions, these brownies also happen to be vegan. It’s a bit accidental, but I’m all for sharing with anyone who limits ingredients.

I have been baking corn-wheat-egg-potato-milk-yeast free since the end of May, 2002. It took me that long to figure these out. You can imagine how happy I am to share this recipe with you.

Warning: You must use the same ingredients, and measure very carefully. If I mention a brand name, that brand is different from others and using a substitute may turn out poorly. Guessing at what 1/4 cup is, for example, can ruin an allergy recipe. There is little room for playing in this domestic chemistry game which is called allergy baking.

Why Habibi?

Habibi means “Sweetheart” (and similar sentiments) in Arabic. I named these brownies “Habibi Brownies” because my first good batch in 8 years was made in time to share with the crowd at the Habibi Dancers‘ Annual show. Each dancer was expected to bring a dozen cookies. I made 24 brownies. I kept a dozen, and gave the troupe the expected number. I just could not bear to give up any more than required, I was so happy to have success!!!

NOTE: I like brownies with edges, so I have baked them in three bread pans for years (rather than one big pan). I do not know how this will work if you put  it in a larger 10×13″ rectangular cake pan, but I am guessing another 5-10 minutes in the oven might make that work fine. If anyone tries this, please take the time to write me with your results.

If you do not have any food restrictions, you can still enjoy these brownies. For moms tired of making two dinners or two desserts, this will be a lifesaver. Beatrice, age 5, says they are good. She has no restrictions. I’m happy with that endorsement.

If you prefer cake-like ones and have food restrictions, you may prefer my “No Nothin’ Brownies” instead. However, I think those are not equal to wheat brownies and I think my Habibi Brownies are every bit equal to any other chewy brownie.

I’ve talked too much. Here is the recipe. Please share as you wish, but I do ask you to give me credit, and not make money on my recipe. It took me 8 years to get these right! Thanks.

Habibi Brownies by Lynn DT Hershberger/ColorJoy (c) 2010
No wheat, gluten, corn, egg, soy, milk, yeast, nuts, potato, xanthan gum.

Your friends will not taste the difference.

1c Bob’s Red Mill Sweet White Rice Flour (do not substitute)
1/2 c Brown Rice Flour (I used Arrowhead Mills, brand less crucial here)
1/2 c plus 2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (baking cocoa, not drink mix)
1 c Brown Sugar (stickier than white sugar, do not sub)
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Cream of Tartar (or sub 1tsp of baking powder for this and the soda)
1/4 c plus 1Tbsp oil (I use olive oil, can use any oil you are not allergic to)
3/4 c Water
Non-corn-oil cooking spray or 1tsp oil (celiacs, be sure it’s gluten-free)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Spray three glass bread pans with oil (or wipe with oil and paper napkin). Sprinkle very lightly with brown rice flour.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients with a wire whisk, wire piecrust blending tool or fork (brown sugar will not mix perfectly, do not worry about that).

Pour wet ingredients into bowl and mix with fork only until just blended. It will be a sticky, thick batter.

Divide batter between bread pans. Smooth out a bit.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. It is done when sides pull away from pan and it smells a little “toasty.” A toothpick placed in the center comes out mostly dry but a bit tacky (not wet- sticky). Cool 5 minutes before cutting, if you can stand to wait.

These last several days unrefrigerated. I expect they will freeze well, too.

Edited to add: For the record, my entire Recipe Archive has many allergy-friendly/vegan recipes to print out/use any time.

If you would like this recipe (and nine other recipes) in a format which is easier to use, I offer the “I Can Eat These! Dessert Collection.” It is available in both a spiral-bound copy which I mail to you, or a PDF download copy. The PDF is convenient because you can print just the page you want, and if it gets dirty you can just print it again- it’s set up for 8-1/2 x 11 US printer sized paper, very easy to print.

Click below to order a cookbook:

Lovely Photos from Habibi Dancers’ Show

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

This last Saturday, the Habibi Dancers had their annual dance concert. I am in the troupe but did not dance in the show this year. That meant I got to take photos from the balcony.

I put together a slide show on Flickr, for those who wish a journey through larger photos full of color and exhuberance. I’m including a few of my favorites right here, if you want a quick peek instead.

One of my favorite pieces in the show was Molly/Najida, doing an earth mother dance to celebrate her 8th month of pregnancy. She is a remarkable dancer and I’ve never seen a woman so happy to be with child. It was an honor to view this dance of joy.

For the record, this form of dance was developed in some cultures as a way of strengthening women for childbirth. (Women had some fun dancing together, but strength was a goal.) Before modern developments, a strong torso was an essential help through labor. In some areas, your women friends would come and dance for you while you were in the process of delivering your baby.

I think one can not look as happy, strong and feminine as this:

Well and Busy

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Hi, everyone. For someone whose goal is 28 posts a month, I am not hitting my goal right now! This is my post number 2,915 since November 2002, but it is my first one in a week.

Gratitude

My car is now in the shop for 2 weeks and I’m to call them Tuesday for an update. I’m thinking it will be 3 weeks without a car, at least.

However, this has allowed my friends to love me with service. It happens that my furthest commute is to Haslett once a week (ten miles one way, requiring 3 buses). This two weeks happened to be between terms, so I did not have to worry about that. I have been able to ride the bus a lot (and our system is quite reliable).

I did one round-trip to downtown Lansing (not quite 5 miles, total) on my cool old 5 speed Schwinn Suburban. Last year, I did not ride the bike once. It was pleasant to get her back out on the road.

Things are intense but fine here. I am well again, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine. It is spring, and absolutely lovely to look at outdoors.

Friend Rae loaned me her car to go to the doctor last week when I was quite ill with a sinus infection. Friend Altu loaned me her car this week to go back for a checkup. You can not know what a gift it is to have a car for an hour or two, during a week which is otherwise car-less. The first week, I got a few groceries. The second, I went to the bank. Those trips were much easier with a vehicle!

Friends Melinda, Kelley, April, Altu and Kim have offered rides at different times. Mind you, most of the time, the bus works great… but some trips are a lot more hassle than others. Going to Rae’s shop and back is a breeze. Most of my life is lived on the East Side between Rae’s shop, Frandor and Altu’s restaurant. So most of my life is easy to handle by bus.

But you know, in the scheme of things, this is just fine. I do not have a long term illness. I have the prospect of  a vehicle again in a week or two. It is spring here, so waiting for the bus is pleasant. I have knitting in my purse, and can do that while I wait.

Project(s) Update

Since you last heard from me, so much has happened. The Lansing Comfort Bear project is going nuts. There is a nice article on the Lansing State Journal website about our event at Schuler Books. (It was in the Thursday paper with a photo of me teaching, but the online article is missing that photo. I’m fine with that.)

schulerbooksbears

The article does not mention that Berroco Yarns and Rae’s Yarn Boutique donated yarn, Rae’s donated schulerbearlynnneedles, and I donated patterns and teaching expertise for that event. Rae, Anna and Barbara from Rae’s offered teaching assistance, also donated. (Anna took the two photos here, while I was teaching.)

Whitney at Schuler Books did a great job of publicity and hospitality, as well. The project started not long ago thanks to Kristi Garcia, and it’s growing like weeds! It took a team to get this moving, and we are thrilled.

I have created a simplified version of the pattern to be distributed for free as a PDF download. That version can be accessed by clicking this Fast-Finish Bear Free Version link.

For those not inclined to download and print, or those who do not use the Internet, there will also be a photo-enhanced version with instructions for even non-knitters to get started. That one will be printed in color on good teddy33paper and in a page protector, for sale at the shops. The price will be my standard $6, but $1 from the sale of each pattern I will donate to EVE (End Violent Encounters). EVE is an organization which has helped two women I know, both with children, get out of a bad living situation and into new, healthy lives.

I am on the brink of an adorable child’s cap pattern (had hoped to release it yesterday but literally fell asleep with computer on my lap). I helped a friend with her taxes, and the Habibi Dancers‘ annual show and workshops are this weekend. (Photos below taken at rehearsal Wednesday.) I am over busy but all is well.

Signing Off, for Now

And with all that distracting me, I didn’t say hello to all of you. I’ll be back with more when I can. Meanwhile, focus on gratitude and let go of those things over which you have no control.

Hugs from Lansing, Michigan.

habibibymakena

habibiveilrehearsal

Intense Ups, Intense Downs

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Hi, friends. I’ve had an amazing jam-packed week. I’m just stopping in to tell you I’m still of this world.

Friday daytime, my car decided it wanted a new engine for its 12th birthday (it was due to turn over 150,000 miles that day). Stopped, and that was that. (The replacement engine is on its way.)

odometerjoy150k

Friday night, we took the bus to perform in the Lil’ Darlin’s Vaudeville show. That was fun… both the bus ride and the show. And dinner afterward at Emil’s Italian Restaurant.

For the record, this longest-family-owned restaurant in Lansing has its kitchen open until midnight, at least on Fridays. A “busload” of us from the show came in at about 11:35 and they greeted us with open arms. It was a class-act welcome.

Since then, I’ve been fighting what I thought was allergies or a cold. I stayed home Sat/Sun. I did little on Monday.

bear2backTuesday I felt well enough to get out and work, doing the Lansing Comfort Bear event at Schuler Books Eastwood. It was INCREDIBLE.

The press was there, TV6 and TV10 plus the Lansing State Journal. We had a great largish crowd of knitters. Two had not knit before, and Rae and Anna helped them while I tended to the larger percentage who were already knitters.

A couple of people finished the back of their bear that night. Loved it.

But now I am not just having allergy symptoms, I am truly sick. That kind of sick where you cough so much you can’t sleep. So your LynnH is trying to lay low.

I almost never get bored, but I am now. Wednesday and Thursday I’ve canceled everything. Friday I have no solid obligations, and may have to postpone a lunch with a friend, we will see.

In the big scheme of things… cars need repairs sometimes. People get sick sometimes. I got both the same week… maybe that is a faster way for me to get past the “hiccups.”

I’m knitting a little, when I am not having coughing fits. That part is good. But I’m already bored of playing Scrabble on the iPod Touch, and that means I’ve been still far too long. One day at a time.

For now, I’m not blogging enough. Please excuse the quiet. I will be back.

Drat, I Blew it!

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Look what a few seconds of inattention got me:

coffeemugtoast

You can not see from this angle, that it is no longer a cylinder. It has a shape closer to an eye. I am SO bummed. I put it on top of the car… you can guess the rest.

Michael Graves, from Target. I’ve had it for YEARS. Best one for me, and for the limited size capacity of my 1998 New Beetle (holder below dash, height is impossible). Best ever.

Can’t find a replacement online, new or used. Target, eBay, Amazon, all come up short. They do not offer an equivalent, either. I want steel inside and outside, short, small base, dishwasher-proof. This one did it all. (The VW parts shop had a mug with a beetle imprinted on it, but it was too small for the front seat holders. Go figure.

Anyone have one just like this on the back of a kitchen shelf somewhere? I could pay or trade for it, and you would make me VERY happy.

Just the same, if this is the worst thing that happens to my life… I’m OK.

(Added later: Charlotte asked for measurements. Mine is 2.5 inches on the base (could be maybe up to 2.75inches). The height of this one was 6″ and it might go as much as 6.5″ but not much beyond. I’ve found 7″ ones that did not work. Thank you for asking!)

Gorgeous Day in Old Town

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

grandriveravepablos033010Tuesday I went to Old Town, Lansing. It was a beautiful day for walking. The sun shone, and it was the first day of the year which really made me think we might get summer after all.

I took a lot of photos, inside and out. The first one here is a view pointing east from the corner of Turner and Grand River. Can you see the tables on the sidewalk, serving customers of Pablo’s Panaderia? (If you have not been there, the food is fresh and excellent, with the best fresh-squeezed orange juice I’ve had since I was in Mexico.)

I did not take a photo of Mama Bear’s Conscious Cafe’ where I ate lunch that day. Chica has great food, and focuses on locally-grown products, organic and free trade items. Highly recommended (about a block and a half down Turner street on the east/left side of the street walking from Grand River.

flowerselderly033010

Around another corner, on Washington Avenue, I stopped at Elderly Instruments. The blue flowers here were in their garden out front.

And inside Elderly’s historical brick building (former Odd Fellows‘ hall from around 1910 or so), I spotted a heating grate above my head. I had not seen it before. Tim told me that it actually does blow air, it is not a cold air duct. Gorgeous!

As I write this, it is Thursday and the third of three amazingly summer-like days in Lansing (with Friday expected to be even warmer).  The sun shines, the heat rises, the doors and windows open.

Kids go by on bikes, folks walk dogs and babies in strollers. Cars go by with stereo a bit louder than usual… and I do a happy dance. And another happy dance, and another…elderlygrate033010

Even in my own neighborhood, the Guitar Guy on the corner appears to be celebrating the weather. Tuesday on the way to old town, I spotted him playing a shiny guitar and what looked to be a small portable speaker on a shoulder strap as he played.

His winter guitar did not come out that day. This one seemed to have mother of pearl or something shining in the sun.

Notice that the corner he often occupies, is not a place where pedestrians pass by. However, it’s a place many pass on the way to and from work/downtown. He has been doing this for several years, so busking this way seems to work for him.

This can be a lovely, interesting town. Go, Lansing!

guitarguy033010