Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Salad Days

So the first day of Summer is here. Miracle of miracles, it is actually sunny and warm here in Portland, not something we usually see for the first day of Summer. In the spirit of cold dinners eaten outside I'm posting my latest take on pasta salad. I, like many, ate a lot of pasta salad growing up. Truth be told, it wasn't always that different from potato salad and usually involved mayonnaise in varying quantities. For the sake of my family's health and the fact that our garden has started producing actual food I've taken away the mayo and much of the actual pasta, making the noodles more of a sideline ingredient instead of the main thing. What we ended up with was refreshing, healthy and didn't make us sweat!

Any pasta will do, I cooked it a dente (not mushy) and skipped the whole running the hot pasta under cold water thing as it always makes it turn out oddly slick and rubbery. Instead I drizzled a little olive oil on the noodles and let them cool while I chopped up everything else.

Added to them after cooled:

thin sliced fennel
sliced radish
smoked salmon
arugula and other lettuces from our garden
basil and flat leaf parsley
lemon zest and juice
extra virgin olive oil
s&p of course

The pasta can be cooked the day before and kept in the fridge then it's really an easy after work dinner. And it's so interchangeable depending on what veggies are in season. I can hardly even count it as a recipe. I love the combination of fennel, radish and avocado and often have just those three as a salad, especially if we've got some grilled fish. Mmmm, maybe next week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Folder Titled "ArtIWant"

I have a folder on my desktop where I put pictures I find on the internet of inspiring things, project ideas or basic gorgeousness that I don't want to lose. I just added a folder called "ArtIwant" because I seem to be finding lots of paintings that I wish I had but likely never will and I don't want to forget what they look like.
While lolling through an unusually slow day last week, reading design blogs to pass the time, I came across a photo of a painting by an artist who I had not seen nor heard of before. Not that that's news. I'm no art expert, as evidenced by my "art" collection at home of vintage paint by numbers canvases that I can't even manage to get framed. However, I like to think I have a decent eye for the stuff and at least I know what I like. Or I thought I did till this picture came up. It just doesn't jive with what I thought was my style. I have a lot of pictures of trees and interesting ladies and bullfighters. I'm not very attracted to the abstract, at least in paintings (the contents of my brain are an entirely different thing). So I was surprised as anyone when I discovered that I was drawn so much to this particular painting by YangYang Pan, a Chinese-born artist living in Canada. Unfortunately for me, and good thing for my pocketbook, this painting is not available to buy. Some of her other works are, but they just don't pull me in like this one.

Curious to see what other works she has I checked out the website for the gallery selling her stuff, the Canvas Gallery . I have no idea if this is representative of Canadian art as a whole or if it's just the style of works shown at this specific gallery, but it appears that Canadian painters are really really liking nature these days. Which is great because I already have a tree painting by a Canadian artist over my fireplace. Here's what I think would look great on the opposing wall:

This bee is by Annette Kraft van Ermel

David Marshak

Deb Gibson (no, not THAT one)

Adria Collins

Steve Nederveen

Sarah Martin

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Great Outdoors

So something strange happened in Portland this past weekend. Something that hasn't happened in such a long time that its occurrence had almost become something of an urban legend in these parts. It was sunny and WARM at the same time! Pasty and pale citizens still hanging on to their Winter weight poured out of their houses in all manner of Summer dress. Most were squeezed into some form of tank top that was lying on top of the Summer clothing box that has been stored in the basement for the past, oh, nine months or so. At least I was. While enjoying my first grilled meal of the season that did not also involve a sweatshirt and/or umbrella I happened to have a chance to look around my yard. Now, I love my yard. I don't say this to brag, because I can take just about no credit at all for it's gloriousness as everything beautiful about my yard is due to hours of sweaty manual labor executed by my husband. However, since I do love looking at gardens and flowers and design magazines so much, I'm constantly imagining new and fabulous projects for him to complete. We have a wood pergola that comes off the back of our house, covering a concrete slab patio. This is where our grill and table live and not a whole lot else. It's got plants and a few large Blue Atlas Cedars shading the area in and about every other Summer we remember to wrap some outdoor, white Christmas lights around the beams to give the place a warm glow. A couple of months back I bought a rusty old metal chandelier-type contraption that holds perfectly 6 tea light candles, but other than that the decor is pretty spare. Then I saw this:

Now, just to clarify, our slab of patio looks nothing like this photo. It's neither as large nor as fancy and my rusty old chandelier is actually rusty, not "antiqued". That said, I'm in love with the thatching that covers the space. While we have trees to provide shade, they don't make it feel like an outdoor room. And this time of year an outdoor room feels like such a luxury. Plus there are lots of variations of thatched fencing that are inexpensive and would look dynamite as an outdoor roof. So this is my husband's new project. I've collected a few other inspiring outdoor rooms that I like to think will be a someday project too.

This one has the same great thatch roof, but takes the outdoor kitchen theme to a whole different level.

I adore the idea of a sleeping porch. It makes me reminisce about the childhood Summer camp I never went to. My real memory of Summer camp involves some muddy, mosquito infested backwoods shack in Louisiana with mean counselors and no ice. I like this concept much better:

As far as cozy, inviting outdoor patio rooms go, these are perfect because they actually seem like something a normal person with a normal salary could replicate in their own space:

This one is a great choice if you live in an abandoned cement factory in, like, Italy:

But for all-out fabulous patio fantasies, this one takes my cake: