Friday, June 28, 2013

Gallery Wall Update: What Iz Art?

The gallery wall in the living room is finished! At least until I find something else I like better than something that's up there now.

And there's a good story behind how I filled the last space.

You may never have heard of Fred Babb. To be honest, I never knew much about him. He had a gallery in Cambria, California called What Iz Art just up the road a bit from my home town of San Luis Obispo. And he made art that was always super cheerfully colorful, but with an edge to keep it from being cutesy. And in a town that for a long time also housed a Thomas Kinkade gallery, I majorly appreciated his brand of subversive humor.

Lucky for me, Babb had several t-shirt designs and affordable prints of his work. I wish I could say I still had his t-shirt about the importance of the arts in education. However, I think it's one of the few items of clothing I ever completely wore out. The only downside was that the colors drew a lot of attention and people always wanted to read it, which sometimes would put me in the awkward position of waiting patiently while people stared at my chest.

Photo courtesy of FredBabbArt on Etsy and copyrighted Fred Babb

It's not all that short a statement either.

So imagine my surprise when this last time I visited home, I discovered that Fred Babb's son now works for my mom! Sometimes it's such a small world. Or, a small county, I suppose. Fred has passed away, but his son has kept his dad's art in the pubic view via an Etsy store.

In fact, when Fred's son heard how big a fan I was, he sent me one of the prints from the Etsy store, which I hung in my very last space on our living room gallery wall when I got back from my trip.

If you like the look of any of what you see here, FredBabbArt on Etsy has graciously extended a discount to Pies & Puggles readers. Just enter code PRINT2013 for 10% off any purchase from the store.

I think Fred would have been pleased that this print matches nothing else in my house and definitely doesn't match my sofa.

Now go to your studio and make stuff. Happy weekend, everyone!

I suppose you could say I was perked for writing this content, but the perk came first - via one of those strange coincidences that comes from growing up in a small town. That said, all opinions and content are my own.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream

A few weeks ago I made this pasta dish and posted a photo of it to Facebook right before we ate. 

I got several requests for the recipe based on that picture and for good reason! This will hereafter be known as the dish that made Doug eat tomatoes. It's super delicious, criminally easy and pretty substantially unhealthy so read with caution. For the pasta, I just substituted the store bought Alfredo sauce for my homemade sauce. For timing's sake, I went ahead and posted the whole recipe below.


Ravioli adapted from My Recipes

1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated ravioli
1 recipe homemade Alfredo sauce (recipe below)
2 tablespoons white wine
2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Garnish: fresh basil strips & grated Parmesan cheese

Homemade Alfredo Sauce adapted from All Recipes

1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Start boiling the water for your ravioli. Prepare ravioli according to package directions or make your own. The original recipe calls for four-cheese ravioli, which I often find dry and tasteless so I used spinach and mozzarella ravioli this time. I think just about anything in the basil family will work. Just stay away from anything with squash or sage in it.

2. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium low heat. (Yes, most people use a saucepan. I like a skillet. I think it heats more evenly. This may just be our electric range.)

3. Add 1 cup cream and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking often, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through.

4. Stir wine into skillet. Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

5. Once ravioli is cooked, drain and toss with sauce. Plate and garnish with fresh basil strips and additional Parmesan cheese.

6. Serve with garlic bread and a green salad or steamed veggies or something. Cuz, you know, all that cream. And butter. And cheese.

Even Chester wanted some!

Actually, he's looking at broccoli, which is his favorite.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Works for me Wednesday: Anti-Procrastination Day

It's Anti-Procrastination Day and I just had my teeth cleaned!

Big fun, I tell you.

What is Anti-Procrastination Day? Well, it happens every week on Wednesdays. Every week, I choose a to do list item that seems difficult or unpleasant or expensive (like making a dental appointment) and git 'er done. It might be half-done project, a time-consuming phone call or anything else I'm sort of dreading.

Anti-Procrastination Day is originally a Flylady concept. If you've never heard of Flylady, go here. I pretty much do my life the Flylady way, not because I'm a fangirl, but because after following her advice for several years now, the system just seems to work well for me whether I'm feeling unmotivated or trying to be all perfect. It's a middle way, so to speak.

Oh, and it's not just all about housecleaning so if you thought that, go back and read it again.

Anti-Procrastination Day works for me!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

There and back again

My trip to California was great. I sat outside, did a little shopping, connected with some new and old friends and spent lots of time with my family. I even tried disc golf! You can bet I'll be doing that again.

Here are a few photos from the trip.

First, the thrifting/antiquing:

Frankoma, believe it or not. Californians apparently love them some Frankoma.
It was everywhere and quite expensive.

Almost looks like Pearsall, but not quite right. I've done no research. It was $35.  I wanted it.

Restored, powder coated Cosco. These were seriously sexy. And original advertising!

Georges Briard for Hyalin. $90 or it would have been in my suitcase.

This is just what I didn't buy. I also bought a couple of things. I'll post about those later in the week.

Next, history, architecture and other cultural curiosities:

The Mission. It has an official name, but around SLO, it's pretty much just The Mission.
Around Arroyo Grande, these little stamps in the sidewalks are everywhere.
Hug Me yarn bomb

I also did some non-thrift shopping:

Hepcat, a purveyor of retro-styled clothing.

Secret Garden herb shop

And lots of eating:

Local craft beer

The rosemary shortbread cookie I ate at Linnaea's didn't last long so here's the patio instead.

Lamb koftas at Novo, probably the best restaurant in SLO.

Almond peach muffin the size of my head, a Caramello and
one of the two books I read this trip at Black Horse Espresso.

Merlot raspberry truffle ice cream at Doc Bernstein's Ice Cream Lab in Arroyo Grande.

My brother and sister-in-law's dogs, Ranger and Willow, at Tolosa Winery.
The weather was uncommonly perfect:

And never fear, I gave Chester plenty of treats for keeping the blog busy last week.

Doggie ice cream soul patch
Do you have any trips planned this summer?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chester takes over: Whew

This is Chester, Ali and Doug's puggle. I have taken over blogging duties this week while my human companions are on vacation.

Thanks ever so much for having me this week. I very much enjoyed my week of blogging, though I have discovered that it is much more work that I had expected.

The humans will return next week to resume your regularly schedule posts on old things and disruptive household projects.

I hope all of you have a delightful weekend!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chester takes over: One car family

This is Chester, Ali and Doug's puggle. I have taken over blogging duties this week while my human companions are on vacation.

I'm told (this was way before my time, of course) that Doug purchased a used Hyundai right before he met Ali in 2009.

I don't know what those other stickers mean. But since they aren't about me (like the WOOF sticker is), they obviously aren't important.

He's said that he always buys cars used and then runs them into the ground before trading them in for another used car. Well, since he started taking the train to work (where I usually try to meet him when he comes home - he's always glad to see us at the station) and since Ali started her Etsy business they haven't driven their cars nearly as much as they used to  - and even then, far too often without me. So over the Lent season this year, they took the radical step of giving up driving one of the cars. It worked out surprisingly well. There was only one time in all 40 days that they may have needed two cars, and they foresaw the conflict (just in time) and made other arrangements. Therefore, they decided to give up one of the cars permanently - and since Ali's car is more versatile, gets better gas mileage, and is worth more, Doug's car got the chop.

My last ride in the back of Doug's car - a bittersweet enjoyment.

Doug bought his car at CarMax, and they thought they should give CarMax first right of refusal to buy it back before they tried other venues (such as Hyundai dealers, who apparently have been bombarding Doug with mail offers to buy his car for months). This afternoon we took a ride out to Dulles to see what they could offer for the car - after taking it to a car wash shop for a touch-up of course (they especially grumbled about there being a lot of dog hair in the car, but really - it lends a certain ambiance to any place well-lived-in by a dog of sophistication and taste). Ali and I waited outside while Doug talked to the CarMax staff and got the appraisal and offered price. The staff, from what Doug told us, was very efficient and attentive. I can attest to this - they offered to let Ali and I wait inside in the waiting area three times while we stood outside. But I wanted to enjoy the outside (and as it turns out, we didn't have to wait that long after all).

Striking a pose outside CarMax - I make anyplace look good, don't I?

As it turned out, they offered Doug almost exactly what Edmunds estimated the car would be worth for trade -in. And since Doug was expecting an offer somewhat less, and wanted to get the deal done before the registration expired, the deal was struck. Ali and Doug took the car to CarMax later that afternoon, and just as the appraisal was quick and efficient, the purchase and paperwork were handled just as quickly. (Which was all well and good, since they left me home for that part of the deal. I was not very happy with that turn of events.) Doug now has a nice check to deposit, and with the prospects of lower gasoline bills, state taxes, and insurance payments, I expect to see a few more new toys to be showing up around the place from now on.

Especially stuffed dragons. I absolutely adore those things.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chester takes over: Doggie diaper bag

This is Chester, Ali and Doug's puggle. I have taken over blogging duties this week while my human companions are on vacation.

My companion and I were leaving the dog park with a friend one day and I heard my companion mention that since we go out together so very often, she keeps a "doggie diaper bag" stashed in the car. I'm not precisely sure what a diaper is, but I do know that the magic black bag that comes with us whenever we go for a romp has been a life-saver more than once.

You see, I myself am a creature of habit. I prefer to wake up at a set time and go to sleep at a set time. Walks occur at the same time every day and, of course, meals are crucially delivered on time. I would expect nothing less in a properly run household. However, my companions are a bit more spontaneous. Sometimes dinner is delivered at a winery, sometimes at a happy hour, sometimes at a picnic. So I appreciate that they are always prepared.

My companion's friend inquired what we keep in said diaper bag and it occurred to us that others might find a handy guide to the contents of our pack equally useful. So we took a few pictures and here you go.

Here's everything we pack. It might seem like quite a lot of stuff, but it does all fit easily within the tote on the left. I have lobbied for some time for a more attractive tote bag, perhaps monogrammed, but we have yet to upgrade.

I told you it all fits.
Since it is quite difficult to see all the component parts, here are each on their own. We start with the essentials: water, food and supplements. The water bottle is often clipped to a belt loop when we go for long walks along with one of the collapsible bowls that fit so tidily.

Food is portioned into ziploc bags for ease of measuring and serving while on the road. Supplements have their own bag. I am unfortunately burdened with allergies so I take Zyrtec daily along with a probiotic and Omega-3 capsules that we obtain at Wylie Wagg.

As a famous man once said, you must always know where your towel is. Mine is used for its usual purpose of mopping up water on outdoor dining chairs, wiping down muddy paws and also as a temporary resting spot when we're settled in somewhere for a while.

We also keep several mini-packs within the larger pack for times when the full tote would be irritating to carry. These come in particularly handy when we attend festivals like Taste of Arlington or the Christmas parade in Alexandria. My companions have a pack that can be carried as a waist pack or, with some strap adjustment, as a cross-body pack. It typically contains extra necessaries (ed.: Chester's euphemism for poop pick-up bags), a single food serving, treats (Zukes and Fruitables) and a chew toy. 

I also have a pack that I typically wear on walks and hikes when it isn't too hot. Here I am in my pack. I think it quite stylish and practical. It typically contains the same as the above pack plus a few extras, which we'll get to in a moment. I am even more serious than usual when carrying my pack. My companions have also been known to have me carry their IDs, cash and keys in it in a pinch.

While engaged in fine dining that is likely to take more than an hour or so, my companions will often break out activities to keep me from being bored while they chat with friends and linger over dessert. I have requested that they provide copies of the Economist or at least a smart phone instead, but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Injustice, I tell you.

The last bit of hardware that comes in handy is a long lead. Since we never make use of this tool in the house or on our normal walks around the neighborhood, this 30 foot lead resides in the touring tote. As a result, we are always prepared when the dog park gets a bit wild for our tastes (we can run around in deserted fields chasing balls and practicing recalls) and when my companions decide on impromptu picnics in the park. It gives me a measure of freedom to explore that I very much enjoy while out in nature. I'm quite the botanist in fact.

The remaining items we have with us always, generally tucked in my pack or in the plastic outer compartment of our tote bag, are the little bits of paperwork a dog accumulates. The first is a photocopy of my immunization records. We have found that sometimes events geared toward four-foot-kind want proof that I am up-to-date on my shots and registered with the proper authorities.

The second piece of paperwork we always carry is brochures for my favorite dog-related business: Good Dog Workshop. I don't mind acknowledging that I am most often a very genteel fellow. However, since I had not been raised in society, I required a measure of remedial manners training when I was first brought to Fairfax County. The fine gentlemen who taught my companions how to instruct me in said manners are Mike and Brian, both of whom are quite skilled at interpreting my fears and desires, and even more skilled in teaching proper corrections for those of my behaviors that are not accepted in polite company. Incessant barking, pulling on the leash and overenthusiastic greeting of strangers were my particular sins. I am so much better behaved now than when I first came to my new companions that they are sometimes stopped in the street by the companions of other four-legs who marvel at my good behavior.

As a result, we have taken to carrying Good Dog Workshop brochures with us everywhere we go so that those who need in-home training for themselves and their humans have access to appropriate resources.

And that, my friends, is the secret to our dining out success. By being prepared for nearly every eventuality, we are able spontaneously take side trips, stop for dinner, go for a quick walk in the park or do nearly anything else where dogs are permitted. Truly I tell you, exhort your own companions to put together such a tote for you. Though you might want to request a more classic container. I'm almost embarrassed by the freebie conference tote. Ah well, we can't have everything.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chester takes over: Dog-friendly Reston

This is Chester, Ali and Doug's puggle. I have taken over blogging duties this week while my human companions are on vacation.

On Sunday, my human companions decided to go out and do something fun and invited me along.

First we stopped off at Mon Ami Gabi to obtain provisions. If my nose was not deceived, they ordered the lobster roll (prepared Maine style with mayo) and a chicken, apple and brie sandwich.

Here I am awaiting lunch and showing off my very proper calm energy.

And also Ali's adorable J. Crew ballet flats

Then we meandered over to the dog-friendly park with the dog accessible water fountain. I am not personally fond of the public fountain, but for less discerning four foot kind, it looks quite refreshing.

At least I was allowed a small slice of apple.

Once we were finished with lunch, rain was threatening and my human companions took me to Paper Source, where canines are warmly welcomed with treats.

That reminds me, I must endeavor to prevent my humans from putting dog treats in their pants pockets. It creates such a mess!

Then it was time to return home. This is my favorite car perch (minus of course a human's lap).

All in all, a very fine day!
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