Julie A. Swanson

Purer and Purer Streams…

Month: August, 2013

Oceanside Glass Mosaic Mirror Frame

IMG_0802 (1)I made these mosaic mirror frames out of Oceanside Glass Tile’s Tessera ‘Beach Blond’ mosaic blend, peppered with a few seashells. You can’t really tell how cool the iridescent tiles are in this photo , but when you hang them in a place where the natural light hits them right, they come to life.

I’ve gotten really into making mosaic mirror frames and tabletops, mostly out of glass tiles I pick up at tile stores, in the ‘artist bins’ they keep out back, where they sell random leftovers and old samples for next to nothing. But sometimes I splurge when I can find Oceanside glass tile in the colors I want on sale (go to www.xsstudio.net/info.html for discount Oceanside tiles). I also use non-glass tiles if they are a great color, polished stones, shells… It takes forever to make these things, to crack and cut tiles, to polish sharp edges, fit them together in a pleasing design… ‘glue’ them down, grout it when it’s done… Sometimes I go random in design and don’t plan it out and just ‘glue’ them down as I go. Other times I plan and set them down ahead of time for a less abstract/chaotic look or if I want to make recognizable symbols or pictures. But I tend to be stiff in my artwork and find the random mosaic designs are a good exercise for me and turn out better anyway.

It’s really fun and satisfying to play with the colors, designs, and shapes. Oceanside glass is such gorgeous, high-quality stuff, the best I’ve found (but sharp! Watch your fingers). I like their Tessera line for its rustic irregularity and artsiness (in the mirror  frame on the left); their look lends itself better to mosaic. The mirror on the right has Oceanside’s ‘Muse’ line of tiles in it, which are more uniform in shape and surface finish, and have slightly rounded edges.


The Deer, My Totem Animal?

IMG_0804We see a lot of deer around our house, up close and personal.

Yesterday while outside with my daughter, we got this photo of the very friendly deer family who frequents our yard. Just twenty feet away from us, the mother stopped to stare at us and then two fawns ran up to her and began to (rather roughly) nurse from her. When my daughter pointed her cell phone at them to get a picture of it, the mother startled a bit and tried to run away, shaking one fawn, but with one still hanging from her, slowing her down. We decided to leave them to nurse in peace.

Every summer we have twin fawns romping in our yard. One year we even watched a doe lying on her side at the edge of the woods giving birth to twins–they stood on their wobbly legs almost immediately, while still wet. How do they do that?! It was an amazing thing to witness and the long-legged fawns were tiny and adorable (these are quite large). I’ve always thought that this was unusual, to have a doe on your property who has twins each year, or an extended deer family, a local deer population, with a tendency toward having twins, but when I looked it up online just now, the consensus seems to be that deer can give birth to one, two, or three fawns, though three is rare.  Read the rest of this entry »

Grandma Ag’s Plum Kuchen

IMG_0805This recipe is a family favorite. Kuchen means cake in German, but this is more like a thin fruit pie. You can substitute any fruit you want or use canned fruit if you don’t have fresh. The original recipe is for a 7×11 pan so I give that first, but it’s so good that’s never enough for a crowd, so I give ingredient amounts for a 9×13 as well. Since converting to mathematically exact proportions gives strange measurements and rounding up/down distorts the original perfection of the recipe, I wanted to be sure to give the original. In the 9×13 version, I round down on butter and sugar to make it a tad bit healthier.

But it’s scrumptious, the plum taste so different and summery! We just had it tonight. Had to share. Enjoy…

Grandma Ag’s Plum Kuchen
Slice up 6-8 plums (or substitute/combine fruits: apricots, peaches, nectarines, raspberries) and set aside.
Sift together in a bowl:
1 1/4 -1 1/2 cup flour 
1Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
Cut 1/2 cup butter into the above dry ingredients with a pastry cutter.
In a separate small bowl, beat 1 egg yolk and add “2 Tbsp. or so of milk.” Add these two combined liquids to the butter/dry ingredient mixture. Mix with fork to get a rather stiff dough and pat into the bottom of 7×11 pan.
Arrange fruit on top however you like, evenly dispersing over bottom dough.
Make the following streusel–3/4 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp. Flour + 2 Tbsp. Butter, cutting together with pastry cutter–and sprinkle over top of the fruit. It will be very white and sugary.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. YUM!
—-For the 9 x 13 recipe, the ingredient amounts are, in order:
For bottom: A little bit less than 2 cups of flour, 1.5 Tbsp sugar, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1.5 tsp. baking powder, 3/4 cup butter,1.5 egg yolks, 3 Tbsp. or so of milk.
6-10 plums (no hard and fast rule here, the more the better)
Streusel to sprinkle over top: a little more than 1 cup sugar, 3 Tbsp. Flour, 3 Tbsp butter