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Chalk Robots

Posted by on Jun 5, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 9 comments

There was a chalk drawing of a robot on the ground. No explanation. Just an arrow.

La Ru robot

So, of course, we followed it – and the next one and the next one – down the steps behind Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Pike Place Market

We tried to guess where they were leading. A street art project? A robot maker? Nowhere? The den of our new robot overlords?

One lead us to turn the corner, and then, “Is that it? Is it a baby store?!!”

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

Nope. A larger robot drawing pointed inside a store with a chalkboard sign that answered my question: “{Ugly Baby & La Ru} Handmade local art for grown-ups and practically nothing for actual babies.”

Ugly Baby and La Ru chalk art

It was a gift shop owned by two artists – Rosalie Gale (of Ugly baby) and Lauren Rudeck (a.k.a. “La Ru”), who was there in the store that day.

Artist La Ru

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

She creates illustrations of animals and robots, and seemed delighted to hear her chalk drawings had lead us in. The store was full of craft kits, cards, and mini works of art, and I wanted to buy everything.

Ugly Baby and La Ru, waterproof art

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

The entire store wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, but I did take home a really great sloth coffee mug.

Coffee sloth!




 

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Year Four in Nine Videos

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Today marks the fourth anniversary of Travelcraft Journal! (And the 350th post!) I thought we could take a look back on the past year in 4 places, 4 projects, and 9 videos.
Pasadena City Hall

1. Southern California/Pasadena

First, let’s road trip to Pasadena in one minute. Of course, we’ll stop for date shakes on the way. Once we get there, we can visit the Norton Simon Museum and the jungle garden at the Huntington.

Video: Phoenix to Pasadena in one minute

Project: In honor of sea breezes and Santa Ana winds, make a mobile or wind chime!

Seven Magic Mountains Las Vegas

2. Las Vegas

Next up: Las Vegas. There are lots of awesome things to do off The Strip, including the ArtBar and Downtown Container Park with its giant, music-blaring, fire-shooting praying mantis. If you want to go to The Strip, I can tell you how to get around and how not to get around, as well as why there are so many weddings there.

     
 

Videos:

 
Project: Make a scrapbook with playing cards.

Mount Lemmon trail

3. Tucson

Tucson is the home of Mt. Lemmon, Mission San Xavier del Bac, the annual Agave Heritage Festival, and the world premiere of the Riders of the Purple Sage Opera.
 

 
Videos: Driving to the top of Mt. Lemmon

Project: Try roasting your own agave or make a recipe that uses agave syrup, like a Bloody Mary with Grilled Pipián Mole Shrimp Skewers.
 
Tempe light rail station art - hands

4. Phoenix

Back in Phoenix, ride the light rail to check out the Phoenix Art Museum, a pizza festival, a lunch hour opera, symphony performance, or Phoenix Comicon.


 
Videos:

Project: Make a costume out of duct tape.

Check out our Airbnb recommendations post for places to stay in Pasadena, Tucson, and Las Vegas!

Salem

Bonus: Salem

Okay, no videos with this one, but, if you haven’t yet, check out Jessica Tennant’s posts on Salem, Massachusetts – part 1 and part 2.




Salem photo by Jessica Tennant.

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Vacancy

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 6 comments

Historic hotel in Peoria AZPhillip read an article an old hotel that had been sitting abandoned for years with plans to tear it down when the city decided instead to preserve it.

Historic hotel in Peoria AZ

He wanted to go find the Edwards Hotel on his day off, so we drove to the Peoria address in the article. It wasn’t hard to find.

Edwards hotel

Even from outside the chain link fence, it was interesting to guess what had been there originally and what had been added later.

IMG_9564

Then we took a stroll around Old Town Peoria, where there’s currently not much going on, but they have a revitalization program in the works.

 

Peoria

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Peoria

State bird quilt

In the meantime, they have ornate, agriculturally-themed bus stops, a handful of historic buildings (including a church that was turning 100 the week we were there),  and a nice little community center with paintings and quilts on display. It was all a cozy contrast to the hollowed-out hotel.

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Peoria

Peoria

 

Peoria Quilt




 

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The Opening Of The Fire Pit

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

After our morning hike at Tumamoc Hill, we returned to the Mission Garden that evening for demonstrations on agave rope making and roasting, tequila tastings, a display of products made from agave fibers, plant sale, and The Opening of the Fire Pit.

Agave products

Tequila

The day before, probably about the time Phillip and I were driving from Phoenix to Tucson, a group had gathered at the Mission Garden. Jesús García, an Education Specialist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, was demonstrating how to build a fire in a traditional roasting pit and fill it with agaves. They would be covered with metal from the side of an old washing machine and then layers of dirt to keep the heat inside the earth oven.

Jesus Garcia

Other than the repurposed washing machine, the pit would be similar to the ones we had seen evidence of on our hike that morning, the charcoal gray rocks contrasting with the reddish desert clay only hinting at what was under our feet.

Agave plants

We don’t know exactly how the ancient roasting pits worked. Current tribes in the area have not continued this tradition. However, Jesús García pointed out that just a few miles south of the border, “the tradition is still alive.” He talked to his family in Mexico about the process, taking notes and drawing extensive diagrams about every step. Adapting those techniques to the Tucson area has taken some trial and error. Apparently. Last year’s cooking time wasn’t quite enough.

So this year, they would give the agave a full 24 hours to cook underground before literally digging in and opening up the fire pit.

Agave

That must be the magic number. It was soft and slightly sweet. Each variety had a different flavor. One tasted like sweet potatoes.
Roasted agave

So what if you don’t happen to have access to a 5-foot by 6-foot roasting pit?

Carolyn Niethammer shared how she roasts quartered agave heads in her home oven – just roast at 350 for 17 hours (!)

Carolyn cooking demo

Once they’ve been roasted, you can add them into other dishes. With an electric skillet, she demonstrated how to saute up some agave along with nopales (prickly pear pads), peppers, and tepary beans, a drought-tolerant heritage bean that has recently come back into use. It was delicious!

Agave and tepary beans

She followed up by passing around some “Aztec delights,” bite-sized treats she made from amaranth, chia, agave syrup, and chocolate.

Dessert at Mission Garden

It was a sweet finish to our Mission Garden visit.

 

 


Next Agave Heritage Festival events in Downtown Tucson:

  • May 6 + 7, 10am + 1pm: Fibers, Tequila and Fun at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Agave Garden Tours at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6 + 7, 10am: Rare + Collectible Agave Sale at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Included with admission.
  • May 6, 6pm: Agave Fest tequila party at Hotel Congress. $35
  • May 7, 11am: Agave Heritage Brunch at Carriage House. Proceeds from this brunch help benefit Mission Garden. $55



We were guests of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market + Kitchen.

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Agave Heritage Week

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 3 comments

Can you name all the U.S. cities that have the UNESCO “City of Gastronomy” designation?

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There’s actually only one: Tucson, Arizona.

It received the designation, in part, because of its agricultural tradition that goes back thousands of years.

Mission Garden, Tucson

One of the early plants cultivated in the region for food, medicine, and fiber was agave, the spiked succulent best known today for tequila.

agave

The annual Agave Heritage Festival in Tucson celebrates both ancient and contemporary uses of the plant and its importance to the region.

We got to participate in the first weekend of this year’s festival, which runs through May 7th.

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We took a tour of ancient agave farming and roasting sites on Tumamoc Hill, learned about cooking with agave (both in traditional fire pits and with modern appliances), tasted different agave-based beverages, including tequila and bacanora, and saw how agave fiber can be twisted into rope and crafted into all kinds of things.

Agave products

We’ll be celebrating here all this week with daily posts about Tucson and agave, so come back and visit!


PS We were guests of Hotel Congress, one of the presenters of the festival.




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Southwest Maker Fest 2017

Posted by on Apr 24, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

SWMF envelope journal

I did an envelope journal workshop again this year at Southwest Maker Fest.

SWMF 2017

Once again, the attendees were super creative, coming up with their own clever modifications to the project, including one multifunctional journal that doubled as a wallet and a paper airplane!

SWMF envelope journal

This year, my assigned room was in a different area within the i.d.e.a. Museum that seemed less hectic.

SWMF envelope journal

Also, I had help! Several friends showed up and pitched in with explaining the project to latecomers and helping answer questions, etc. A big thank you to Anne, Katie, Trish (who also brought extra art supplies), and the ever-patient Phillip!

SWMF 2017

It was a lot of fun, and it always gets me thinking about how to make it better the next year!




P.S. You can make this too!

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