I used to hate Brussels sprouts. I thought they were nasty and slimy. It wasn’t until recently that I started cooking with them and have been discovering the versatility of the vegetable and the many ways it can be prepared to be quite delicious. For this Thanksgiving, I prepared 2 different sides of Brussels sprouts. One was Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes and Bacon (topped with parmesan cheese) from Chefthisup. Another was Maple-roasted Brussels sprouts with Bacon and toasted Hazelnuts from Ambitious Kitchen. Both proved to be a big success. I also made some pumpkin cheesecake with a gluten-free gingersnap and pecan crust (coming soon) and some delicious gluten-free cornbread stuffing.
My apologies that I’ve been so bad about posting here lately. I’ve gone back to graduate school and have been very busy this semester with my classes. I still find short amounts of time in which to make my artwork, but not nearly as much time as I would like. However, I’m getting a week-long Thanksgiving Break and then a month long Winter Break in December-January, so hopefully I’ll have some more time to spare.
Meanwhile, I have made this incredible cake for 2 different potlucks this fall. It’s proven to be very popular. The original recipe is from the blog of Ambitious Kitchen. I have adapted it to be gluten-free. I simply substituted the regular flour with a gluten-free all purpose mix. I also cut down on the sugar a bit. The combination of these flavors is unique and delicious.
Since I last posted about making my books, I’ve gone hog wild and have made dozens more. Most are not that spectacular (mainly just to work on my skills) but there are a few that I’m really happy about. For my final project in my bookbinding class that I took last summer, I created an ornate star book based on 7 specific places that I’ve traveled to that hold great meaning for me: Iceland, Ireland, Florida, Finland, Michigan, Hawaii and Morocco. For each place, I tried to capture the essence of a few essential elements that makes that place unique. This book is now being exhibited in the GSLIS building in the showcase along with the other students from that class.
Since then, I’ve also made books specifically about Iceland, Michigan and North Carolina (among other places).
I’ve also worked on many books that are from specific directions, often incorporating used books and other recycled materials in them.
Stay tuned for more!
This summer I have started my program as a graduate student in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since mid-June, I’ve been taking my second class, which is the history and art of bookbinding. I’ve learned basic bookbinding structures in this class. I’ve found that it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed doing, so much that I’ve been making many other books outside of the ones in class. With my rich background in visual arts, this is something I’m naturally gravitated towards. Also my mother, Bea Nettles, is a well-known maker of artist books. I’m just having fun right now experimenting with a huge variety of papers and techniques. I’m particularly interested in the idea of reusing materials, such as pages from old books, magazines, calendars, postcards and more. I also love handmade papers, and have a minor in papermaking from my previous graduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Here are just a few of the books that I’ve finished. This book contains pages from old botanical books as well as calendar pages, handmade papers and new papers:
In this one, I’ve used the removed hardbound covers from a vintage book. It also has some paper that I made back in undergrad school in the late 1990s:
I have also made several sculptural books, including tunnel and carousel books. The tunnel book is made from recycled calendar sheets and the carousel book has vintage graph papers and map papers:
Also, a Japanese stab-binding (tortoiseshell stitch) using postcards for covers and a much more advanced binding I learned in class called the sewn board binding:
Finally, I’ve been looking at many other books by other artists and there are indeed some incredible ones out there:
Stay tuned for more books later!
Day 6. Final destination: Holland, MI. Woke up to more rain. Cold. Drove to Ox Bow art school in Saugatuck to pick up my mom. We first went to a large antique outlet mall in Douglas that was full to the brim of retro treasures and junk. Drove into Saugatuck and went to the Olive Mill, a place that specialized in olive oils and balsamic vinegars of more flavors than you could even imagine. Stopped at Oval Beach but only stayed a few minutes because it was so cold and nasty. Drove back to Holland and went downtown and explored some. Larger than Saugatuck and more diverse. Lots of pseudo-Dutch architecture, especially the characteristic stair-step shaped buildings. Rain finally stopped that evening.
Day 7. Final Destination: Michigan City, Indiana. A sunny, but cold day. Drove to the harbor in Holland, hoping to see the famous red lighthouse. However, the guards wouldn’t let us past the gates. Drove on to South Haven. Had lunch on the beach with another red lighthouse and distinctive bands of color in the lake.
Left South Haven and drove south to Warren Dunes State Park. In addition to some steep dunes (and blowouts) there were beautiful streams, rivers, forests and distinctive trees. Still it was cold and windy so I bundled up. Continued on to New Buffalo and went to an upscale grocery store. Drove around the town-very pastel and beachy condos and architecture. Quite preppy, filled with yuppies. Very gay friendly. Drove on to Michigan City and had an early night.
Day 8. Final Destination: Champaign, IL. An overcast and cool day. Drove to the Indiana Dunes. First went to Mt.Baldy-a bizarre formation with trees growing out at odd angles. The drove along the shore. Strange, futuristic houses on the water, plus massive power plants, steel mills and factories, especially near Gary. Marshes, bogs, and forests full of poison ivy and cattails. Drove west and stopped off at another dune area, next to Gary. Huge, odd, vacated bath house. The shore had flat rocks, many rectangular in shape. Also tiny snails and other shells. Amazing views of the skyline of Chicago to the north. More massive steel mills, huge clouds of polluted smoke and the low hum of the factories. Saw a fox on a dune and bright yellow-orange wild flowers. Drove through parts of Gary, but it soon got scary and unsavory, so we got back on the highway. Drove home. Overcast, and at times, rain. The fields of bright yellow flowers appeared as we drove into Champaign county.
The journey continues!
Day 3. Final destination: Traverse City, MI. Today I drove all around the Leelanau Peninsula. First drove west to Empire and went to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. On the way, I passed forests with carpets of white trillium flowers in full bloom. Unfortunately, the scenic drive was closed for the season, but still went to the Dune Climb and a few other places. Drove on to Glen Haven, a tiny old village on the lake with 19th century buildings. Primary colors. Stopped in Leeland and historic FIshtown, with its characteristic gray wooden shacks. Then on to Suttons Bay, an incredibly brightly colored town in a rainbow of colors. Passed more wineries and huge patches of cherry trees in full bloom. Went to several “beaches” and the water was low and still. Fog, but bad clouds of black flies. Abrupt graduations of blues and grays and the gray-green of the Grand Traverse Bay.
Day 4. Final Destination: Ludington, MI. Had to get an emergency oil change for my car in Traverse City. Before leaving town, I explored the Grand Traverse Village-a huge park with a gigantic mental asylum (largest in the state of Michigan with up to 5000 patients), parts of which had been converted into shops and cafes. Most of the hospital is still in shambles, though and had a haunted feel. Distinctive red turrets on top of the many towers. Quick lunch on the Traverse Bay. Drove west to Empire and then went to the southeastern most part of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Stopped at a couple of beautiful and secluded beaches. The 2nd one was at the mouth of the Platte River. Then went to the Point Betsie lighthouse. Then south to a scenic overlook near Arcadia, which was perched several hundred feet above the water. Continuous waves and the many shades of turquoise and teal. Then on to Manistee. The town was a bit run down in the outskirts but the downtown was very interesting and distinctive. Stormy clouds by the lake. Finally arrived in Ludington. That evening, I went for a walk along the beach and watched the sunset and walked all the way out to the lighthouse on the pier, probably about 1 mile round trip. Deep, dark waves and very windy. Saw the water in just about every shade of blue imaginable today.
Day 5. Final Destination: Holland, MI. Woke up to rain in Ludington. It rained off and on (hard at times) all day. This affected my outdoor activities. First drove to the entrance of Ludington State Park with its miles of sanddunes on the shore. But it was raining pretty hard and only stopped off at one beach before getting soaked. Drove south, through Pentwater. Tried to find the Silver Dunes State Park but wasn’t successful and it kept raining. Beautiful dense forests with lots of ferns. Gave up and drove south to Grand Haven. Visited the downtown, with its handsome architecture in cream, beige, brick, ochre, gray, black and chocolate. Drove on to Holland and had an early night.
Lake Michigan Journey: May 18-25, 2013. I returned to one of my favorite places in May: the beautiful state of Michigan. I hit Grand Rapids, Traverse City, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Ludington, Holland, Saugatuck and the Indiana Dunes. The finished piece is about 6-7 feet long and up to 1 foot in width. My foot is in the photo for scale. I used many different yarns in this piece: handspun, novelty, upcycled sweaters, plain ol’ acrylic, yarns for the I.D.E.A. Store and from faraway countries and various travels. Several shells I collected on the beach. I documented my 8 day journey in my diary, but more importantly, in the knitting.
Day 1: Final Destination: Grand Rapids, MI. The longest driving day. The first 100 mile north of Champaign was an all too familiar landscape of colossal flatness and monotony. The dark brown farmland was barren except for the occasional field of bright yellow flowers. There were groves of trees in full bloom with blossoms of magenta and mulberry. Cloudy. Merged onto 1-80 East. Drove into Indiana. Very industrial around Chicago and passed a large rock quarry on the side of the highway. Merging onto I-94 E, the landscape got more green with denser forests. Crossed into Michigan. Rolling hills, trees with lots of new light green leaves in all shades. Passed through some sand dunes, marshes, lakes and rivers. After reaching Holland, drove inland to Grand Rapids. Got there around 8:30 pm in fading daylight.
Day 2: Final Destination: Traverse City, MI. Before leaving Grand Rapids, I took a visit to the Frederick Meijer Botanical and Sculpture Gardens. An amazing and inspirational place. Huge. Gorgeous indoor gardens (particularly the tropical rainforest). Lots of sculptures by world famous artists. Marsh and canopied walks through the forest and along a lake. Colorful children’s garden. Tulips. Hot and terrible mosquitos. Drove on north to Traverse City. Rolling hills, forests of light greens and the barely opening yellows and reds of the leaves of trees. Blowing pollen. Closer to Traverse City, I drove through some remote roads through dense forests and lakes. Arrived in Traverse City and got my first glimpse of the turquoise Lake Michigan. After checking in, I took a quick walk to a beach on the bay. Cocoa colored sand and difficult to walk through- high tide. Had to walk through shallow water at times. Lots of “private” beaches and properties. That evening, I drove to the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula, which juts out 22 miles into Traverse Bay.
A magical place with the most stunning scenery and views of the bay. The water was in many shades of blue. Lots of fishing nets, boats and docks. Huge mansions with obscene wealthy. There were steep hills, the vineyards, wineries and the thousands of cherry trees, all in full bloom. White dotted patchwork blanketed the peninsula. Stopped at the Old Mission Lighthouse park and saw the sunset around 9 pm. Drove back to Traverse City in the dark.
here’s a simple and delicious summer salad that I just made for lunch a few days ago. The recipe is from the Veggie Belly blog. In addition to being full of flavors, it’s a beautiful rainbow of colors. This recipe makes enough for about 2 servings but can easily be doubled. It’s a fruit salad with a twist!