Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Exploring the craft of letterpress printing

Earlier this week I spent a delightful evening taking a letterpress printing class at San Francisco's Center for the Book. We learned how to set lead type, and learned to mix inks then used two different kids presses.

The craft of letterpress printing and the tactile nature of what is produced delights me. I realize letterpress printing has become a bit of a fad in recent years, but I hope it's a comeback that can save the craft of printing, the history of printing presses, and setting lead type for future generations.

As a class, we composed a wonky poem  - each of us composed our own 3-4 word line in lead type, then set the lines together on the Vandercrook Cylinder Press. We each got a chance to make a few runs on the press with varied papers of different colors, textures, and thicknesses. Later, we got to try our hand a different press, the Platen press.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Counting my chickens!

This weekend I adopted two lovely chickens and now have farm fresh eggs!
Thanks to a little help from Craigslist, and a very nice woman who raised the hens from chicks who couldn't keep them through her move - I realized my dream of raising my own chickens and enjoying fresh eggs within 2 months of moving to the hills! 

After curling up to watch a classic movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, on Netflix - we decided to name the chickens Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.
 I've been reading the chicken books, but so far it doesn't seem too complicated - and it's very rewarding! The chickens make the most soothing clucking noise when I approach, and they let me pick them up to move them no scratching, no pecking. The best way to describe the way a chicken feels is fluffy with velvety feathers, and a light yet muscular frame. 

Living up in the hills, we have all sorts of wild critters, and many of them love chickens. So far, we've seen a black fox sniffing by the hen house in broad daylight so we know we'll need to create a chicken bunker long term. For now, we've reinforced their coop to prevent digging predators.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A sweet event - Chocolate Tasting Party!

Yesterday was Valentine's Day - and that means it's unofficially chocolate overdose season. Chocolate has exploded as an industry since I was a kid, when you had a choice between Hershey's kisses or Hershey's bars (I am from Pennsylvania). Happily, there's someone to help us sort through the mire of chocolate options today - my friend, Christine.

Christine has been hosting her Chocolate Tasting parties since 2007, and tracking the results here. This past weekend we gathered to indulge ourselves in 54 samples of local chocolate and compare them to the favorites from last year.

Each sample chocolate is given a bird pseudonym for the tasting 

What did we learn? 

  • Swiss chocolate is delicious, 
  • Trader Joe's brand is a good bet, and 
  • Local chocolate is can be delicious, sometimes.

The winners from this year?
  1. E. Wedel Milk Chocolate from Poland (imported)
  2. Lindt Excellence Milk (available at any grocery store)
  3. Freia Melkesjokolade, the national chocolate of Norway (imported)
  4. Trader Joe's Swiss Milk Chocolate (made in the Villars factory in Switzerland)
One we didn't taste-test that is my personal favorite, and very much like the Swiss winner is the TCHO Serious Milk "Classic" with caramel flavors.