Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Travel Supplies

Next trip, London and Barcelona! So excited. Yesterday I packed up my travel journal supply kit. I need fewer things for city vacations, and I like to travel light whenever possible.

Included are 2 Micron pens, black and sepia, a glue stick, a pencil, a Pilot Precise pen, my water brush and my Cran D'Ache set, along with the journal of course. Just the basics, these should serve me well and fit into the new bag I bought for the trip.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Museums in Fort Worth

One of the main reasons we thought a side trip to Fort Worth would be a good idea was because of its world class museums. The Modern Art Museum and the Kimbell Art Museum were both gorgeous. If ever in the area, I highly recommend both of them. The Kimbell was at the beginning stages of a substantial expansion, so I'll definitely want to go back when they've completed the project.

First stop was the Modern Art Museum, where we were first set eyes on a giant Richard Serra sculpture. Once inside, the museum is a gorgeous space with an incredible collection.

Across the street from the modern was the Kimbell. They had a wing closed off as they were setting up a Caravaggio exhibit, I wish I had been there when that was open!

(Me with a Rubens painting. After all the Texas sized meals we'd been eating, I was starting to feel like these ladies.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fort Worth was delicious.

Previous visits to Texas were mostly spent visiting D's family, where we do plenty of eating, I assure you. Last fall's trip we wanted to include some authentically Texan cuisine.
First up was my first visit to a Waffle House. As a lover of breakfast, it was hard to pass up, since there was one right next to our hotel. I'm not usually one for fast food, but this struck me as having more of a diner feel than a regular fast food chain.
In Fort Worth, my first meal was chicken fried steak, at the Fort Worth institution, Lucille's. I had the steak, and D had a salad. (I'm always amused when they automatically give me the salad.) This was also my first beignet, fried dough in any form is usually a good thing.

The highlight of Texan cuisine, for me, was the barbecue. I love slowly cooked meat. A friend of D's had suggested Angelo's as the perfect place for a truly authentic experience. He was right, there were plenty of big smokers lining the building and it wasn't full of tourists, but people on their lunch break. This place was the real deal, taxidermy decorating the place and lots of wood paneling.

In Texas, barbecue usually means brisket, so that's what I went for, while D did ribs. Our meals came in a styrofoam plate, and no options for glasses with your beer.

Our last morning there, I decided I had to have the Texas biscuits for breakfast. It was sort of crazy. A huge biscuit, cut in two and covered with gravy, two eggs, bacon and potatoes. There's a reason we were eating a whole lot of salads when we got back home.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fort Worth Water Gardens

At the end of September, right before the insanity of October, November and December, we took a trip to Texas. D's family lives in suburban Dallas, and we were going there to visit. Needing a little down time before what we knew would be a crazy few months, we decided to go to Fort Worth for a few nights before heading back home.

D had lived in Fort Worth for a few years before moving to Providence, and had always raved about the art museums there. Also, it was about time I had some chicken fried steak (?) and a proper Texas barbecue experience. Art and food? Count me in. Today's post though, is about the biggest surprise for me there. D kept saying "our hotel is near the Water Gardens, you're going to like that." I hadn't given it much thought, or bothered to look up what these water gardens were, but I guess I pictured an urban park, with some ponds and maybe some water lilies. I was so wrong.

I was blown away when we walked across the street after checking in, and heard the rush of water. Built in 1974, the Water Gardens were designed by architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee to be "a playground for the senses." The term urban oasis can get old, but that's exactly what this is. We were there in late September and it was still in the upper 90s, and incredibly dry. Seeing all that water was almost as refreshing as feeling it. 

There are three parts to the gardens; the quiet pool, the aerated pool and the active pool. As you walk through the gardens, the sound is continuously changing as you move from pool to pool. At each pool, the sound of the city fades away. The quiet pool sinks below street level and in the middle of a hot, loud city, it's suddenly quiet, still and cool, with trees shading the area. The aerating pool sends a cooling mist over you if the wind is just right, and the active pool is so loud it blocks out all city noise.

Every chance I could, we planned our walk to include walking through the gardens. I wanted to be sure I saw it at night and we went out early in the morning to have it to ourselves. There was also a large, central area, which all paths would lead you to, with a huge structure that you could walk up for a view of the gardens. It was an unexpected highlight of the trip. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The lingering project

On September 13, I put a new warp on my loom, and am embarrassed to admit that I only wove it off yesterday. Even more lame, is that it was a really short one, just a little sample warp. Also, this means that my loom was even bigger than it needed to be, during my busiest time of the year. I had intended it to be a little creative burst before my season of production, but it didn't really work out that way. 
Better late than never, I had some time weaving yesterday, and finally got it off the loom. My plan was not to have any big plan. It's hard when you have a handmade business, every creative impulse is quickly followed by thoughts like: How much could I charge for this? Is someone already making this? Would people want to buy it? It's hard sometimes to just let go and make something for the enjoyment of doing it. My plan was also to stop weaving upholstery fabrics. Old habits die hard. After 10 years of designing for industry, it's hard to shake.  

It was a nice break from all the bookmaking, and felt good to wrap up this project, finally. Also, I want to leave for my upcoming trip with nothing unfinished lingering for me when I get back. I need a shot of inspiration, and want a clean slate waiting for me when I get home. Cleaning off my loom when I was done turned into a full scale studio clean up. Felt good. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter Travel: London & Barcelona!

I did a crazy thing this past weekend. I made something . . . for myself! After an unusually busy October - December, it feels fantastic to have some down time. I have been struck with the usual craft burnout, and am allowing myself to slow down and recharge. Part of that slowing down involves reading a lot of guide books. This winter, D and I are going to Barcelona for a week! On the way, we'll be spending 3 nights in London to visit some of D's family. We're super excited.

To get prepared, I made our journal for the trip this past weekend. I needed a break from my usual sewing style for this one, so I decided on a longstitch binding, with a hard spine. I had been saving this map of Spain just for me, and I think it looks great.
Each year, it seems I put more thought into a title page. I did it first for our trip to Ecuador in 2010, and then again for Maui in 2011. For Barcelona I included the iconic La Sagrada Familia.
I also used an array of pastel papers for the inside, and included some envelopes to store things we collect along the way.
Now that I have the journal, it feels official. I'm ready to hop on the plane! Anyone have any favorites in Barcelona that are not to be missed? Anything off the beaten path, or any tastes I shouldn't miss?