Sunday, January 29, 2012

Santa Kilim, A Santa Fe Treasure

 When I was a young girl, my father got a job in Iran. I was only eight years old, but the memories I had of living in such an exotic country still shape my life. One thing I developed at such an early age is the love for carpets. I remember in the Spring my father would bring tribesmen home with him, camels and all. As soon as we heard the camel bells outside the kitchen window, we knew my father had been looking at carpets, and that a turbaned, tassel tossed fellow would be following dad through the door; carpets in hand.

A ceramic pot from Morocco my husband and I bought from the store. It has a Hebrew prayer written on it

 There was always a purchase to be made, for my father could not resist the textures, colors, and patterns. He knew every tribe's detailed motif, how to count knots on the back of the carpet, and how to detect silk or wool. By the time I was ten, I could too. For my ninth birthday, my father bought me a Tabriz. I thought it was my magic carpet.

 This summer, as I was traveling with my husband we came across Santa Kilim, a Moroccan store in Santa Fe that carried a wide variety of carpets from the Middle East. There was furniture, pots, copper and more. Carpets were not what we were after, but large ceramic pots decorated with exotic motifs. We found just the thing! I can't wait until my next return to Santa Fe to see what treasures I will find and bring home!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pine Needles

A Utah gem of a quilting store
I must admit, I have a deep seeded secret problem. Well, it is really an obsession. Some people inherit their parents' eye or hair color. Perhaps they develop a love of music or the ability to play sports. I have acquired my mother's love of fabric. For as long as I can remember my mother would buy and admire fabric. Whether it was at the local TGY (the general store of the 70's.....long before Walmart), or at a fabric store my mother bought random pieces of cloth only to be brought home and secretly stashed away in her laundry room. The boxes of now vintage cloth still haunt her house! 

Now that I have grown and have a family of my own, I find myself on occasion buying remnants of material. I did not know how bad it was until I peeked into my own laundry room only to find two big buckets of material longing to be cut and used. Did I mention I love buttons too? And thread? And yarn? And.....unspun wool? That is a whole different story!

Having lived in Utah for 6 years, I found myself in quilting country! Quilt stores are a dime a dozen in Utah, and everyone seems to know the ins and outs of quilting. Pine Needles is one of my favorite stores to shop at. They have bolts of material that you can have specially cut, and then blocks of material that have been cut for you just waiting to be sewn together.

When I go to this store, I seem magically transported to a different era and time. It is easy to relax and let go; getting lost in the colors of the season.

Anyone can get their craft on at Pine Needles. There are countless examples of projects one could do, patterns to peruse, clubs to join, and classes to attend. Pine Needles is located in the Gardner Village in South Jordan, Ut. After you have filled your cup of joy (or bag of material) you can walk around the quaint cabins throughout the village. Perfection!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Growing Your Own Sprouts

 Last Summer I had great fun going to different farmer's markets in all of my travels. One market had a vendor who sold only "Gourmet Sprouts". They were  $15 for a container! I choked and stood in line to get my container. Yes, there was a line. A line for sprouts? I usually find at these events that if there is a line, you had better jump in back of the last person and wait your turn. So, wait I did.

 When it was my turn a lady with little gloves started gingerly clipping in an organized manner different colors of sprouts. I found out that these sprouts were called "micro-greens". Micro-greens being a mix of veggies and herbs that were only aloud to grow to a "micro" state. What a way to eat broccoli! As the nice lady placed each bundle in the box she told me what they were. The one that really caught my eye was the Amaranth; a bright purple delicate sprout that I found is "delish" when used in broth type soups. 

 I figured out later that night who (besides me) would pay $15 for tiny greens that looked like they came off a soccer field! It dawned on me when my husband took me to dinner at Fresco in Salt Lake City that the line must have been composed of the gourmet chefs around town. On my salad of the day was a splash of micro-greens; those that I had bought earlier at the market. It then came to my attention that I did not need a farmer to provide such a "gourmet" item to enjoy. I could do it myself in my own pots on the patio. Since that experience I have found The Sprout People, a website where you can buy seeds and find tips on sprouting.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sunday Morning Chocolate Chip Pancakes

 There is nothing better than waking up on a Sunday morning to the smell of sweet pancakes on the griddle. I  am usually not the one waking up to the smell, but the person who is making the smell.  And what a sweet smell it is! Sometimes I can hardly wait to make all of the pancakes before I get to sit down to eat. For years I made pancakes for my family, but it was only three years ago that I found the PERFECT recipe, the right combination of several recipes! I knew I really had something when I made them at my mother's house last year. My mother is not a pancake fan.....but she is now! So here is the recipe that I think is the best when served with real maple syrup, ripe berries, and whipped cream.

Sunday Morning Pancakes


2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 Tbs. butter, melted
  • Mini chocolate chips as needed per pancake


  • 1
     In a bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Add the buttermilk & the melted butter.
     Make sure that the butter is not too hot. Add the sugar, flour, baking soda, &
     baking powder. Whisk until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix.
  • 2
     Heat griddle to medium heat. Lightly grease the griddle. You can use spray or butter.
     Pour 1/3 cup batter into the pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over batter. Cook 1-2
     minutes. Flip the pancake when you see tiny bubbles surface. Keep warm until all the
     pancakes are cooked.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Little Lamb's Ear

The first time I ever gave herbs any thought at all was when I visited the J. Paul Ghetty Villa in Malibu, CA. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Ghetty Villa is home to ancient artifacts and gardens that are replicas of Roman Antiquity. The herb garden is the one thing that seemed to stand up and say, "hello!" The specific herb I loved the most was called Lamb's Ear.

It's green silver fuzzy leaves give Lamb's Ear it's unique name. It is a cousin to the sage that we all know and love in our stuffing and stews. I remember picking (shhh don't tell) a leaf or two. I still have them dried, but still fuzzy in a music box 20 years later! This lovely little plant flowers in the Spring white and purple tiny flowers. Bees love the thick fragrant stalks. Lamb's ear is usually used in children's gardens and as boarders in herb gardens that are in Mediterranean or moderately dry climates. It grows like crazy and can be hard to get rid of. I like it clumped with other purple flowering herbs like lavender. 

This cuddly herb is not really seen in our culinary delights, but it was used by the Greeks and Romans as an antiseptic, a pain killer, and as a soothing tea for an upset tummy. So, this Spring when you are adding new greens to your yard or pots grab some Lamb's Ear. It will make your garden!

The Red Butte Garden

 We are almost three weeks into the new year of 2012, and I am already dreaming of gardens. Mind you, I do live in Las Vegas where I see some green. It is not quite the same though as seeing a well planned out garden. An herb garden! The one I have been dreaming about is buried under snow right now. It is non-other than The Red Butte Garden at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

 Sitting high on the hills of the Wasatch (or "the bench" if you live in Salt Lake City) this tucked away garden is home to thousands of varieties of Utah native plants. They have an herb garden, a fragrance garden, a medicinal garden, and a children's garden. There are hiking trails, a tranquil pond, and many pathways to explore. In the Spring, The Butte Garden has their bulb competition and their annual plant sale. You are sure to find a rare "something" for your garden. The Summer yields up great summer camps for the kiddos! Trained professionals guide the children through the world of nature with painting, science, and cooking camps. My kids LOVE them!

All year round the garden has classes for adults; composting, wreath making, xero-scape gardening, photography, bird watching, etc. Once I was walking in the garden, and I came across an early morning yoga class at one end of the garden, and a tai chi class at the other end. It was truly magical! They provide facilities to have dinners, children's birthday parties, and beautiful weddings, and have a very profitable concert series with big name artists who play at an outdoor amphitheater. No matter what level of interest one has in gardens or in nature, there is sure to be something inspiring in every bend in the paths of the Red Butte Garden.