I Dreamt of Diego Rivera

Whenever I have a design installation I get a bit of performance anxiety. I wake up in the night and go through the whole installation in my mind. I start doubting myself. (Imposter Syndrome???) I also have funny dreams. 

Blue Raccoon's spring collection is starting to arrive and we received the first installment of our new furniture last week. The night before the floor move, (that's what we call it when we rearrange the store to incorporate new furniture) I woke up in the night and went over the whole thing in my head. I usually draw a floor plan, but somehow this time around I hadn't gotten to it. It's a lot of work incorporating 2 new sofas, 3 chairs and 2 ottomans. Anyway, I finally fell asleep and had a very funny dream...

I am back at Zona NYC. The old gang is all there, including Lou Sagar, the owner. Lou brought in all of these beautiful exotic wood sculptures from Thailand. I was doing a major floor move incorporating new furniture with these large pieces interspersed. Suddenly, I notice Franci Sagar (Lou's ex-wife and co-owner) standing next to a chair. Sitting in the chair is Diego Rivera. It strikes me as odd that he is there, but my mind goes to the fact that Franci is NOT dressed as Frida Kahlo. It bothers me a bit at first, but I have to move this chair. So I ask Diego to please get up. I move it. Then he sits in another chair, one that I also have to move. Diego and I go on like that for a while...Then I wake up. 

What do you think this means??? Maybe I shouldn't ask.

 

And now, time for phase 1 of Blue Raccoon's Spring Collection debut. 

 

New for Spring 2017: The Sloan Collection:  Its a new comfy small scale style by Mitchell Gold + Bob WilliamsWe love it!

Thanks for checking in...'till next time! Ciao!

PS: Sorry we haven't been blogging for so many weeks. We promise to be better about it in the future. And thanks for being such wonderful loyal customers and blog readers.

 

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On The Road Again...off to the High Point Furniture Market

I'm up early today, getting ready to drive to High Point, NC for the furniture market. Market comes along twice a year, every October and April. We go every year to see what's new for the coming season for furniture and lighting design. I also use this time to get inspired. Inspired for what styles I want to bring into the store for customers and what my design clients may want for their homes.

However, this trip will be very different, though. See, this time, I will be doing it by myself. You may have noticed that one of the changes at BR is that Nick isn't around anymore. Don't worry...he's still part of the store. But he was given a great opportunity to work for Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. He is the showroom manager at their new King of Prussia store! Big news, I know...stop by to get the low down.

When you do stop in you must sit on my new favorite MG+BW sofa: The WhitleyWe show it in a rich velvet with the ECO-Down Blend cushions. It is one of the most comfy sofas MG+BW has ever made! Can't wait to see what else they have in store when I see their new lines for spring!

Anyway...here I am at 5:00am, having breakfast and getting myself together for the long drive down. I will keep you posted about what I find. Until next time. Thanks!

Ciao!

Nelson    

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A Recipe for Fall

 

Siri and I were walking on the canal tow path earlier in the week and we were loving the fall weather. It was a beautiful sunny day. One of those days where I felt thankful that I live in such a great town and have access to a state park right out my back gate! The air was cool and crisp. A slight breeze stirred the trees and leaves were starting to collect on the path. When cooler weather arrives I start thinking of cooking up some comfort food. Maybe it was time for a batch of Cuban garbanzo beans. 

After shopping for the week, that evening I sorted and cleaned a 1 lb. bag of dried chick peas. Then I put them in a large pot and covered them with fresh cool water by 2". The next morning I made a delicious stew that I enjoyed the rest of the week.

Here's the recipe:

1) Strain the pre-soaked beans in a colander and rinse under cold water. Put them back in the pot and add enough water to cover them by about 2". Add a splash of Olive Oil, 2 Bay Leaves and 3 Large Sprigs of Fresh Oregano (You can substitute a large pinch of dried. I just happened to have it in my herb garden.) Do not add salt at this point. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.

 

Cubans love ham hocks in their beans (as well as salt pork, but that's another story...). I buy my ham hocks at None Such Farm. They are rather large! The quality, though, is superb. Great flavor.

 

 2) After 30 minutes add to the pot: 1 Large Ham Hock; Spanish Choriso, 8" piece cut into 1/4" rounds, then cut in half; 3 Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks; 3-4 Large Carrots, scrubbed or peeled and cut into chunks. Stir to combine. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.

 3) In the meantime prepare your Sofrito vegies: Dice 1 Small Onion and 1 Small Green Bell Pepper. Mince 6 (yes 6) Small Garlic Cloves. After 25 minutes or so of cooking beans with the added meat and vegies make your Sofrito. Heat a large skillet on high. Add a big glug of good quality Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. When it's nice and hot, but not smoking, add the diced onion and pepper. Season with salt and pepper, lower heat to medium-high and sautee gently until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic. Season with another pinch of salt. Stir and sautee until fragrant. Add about 1 Tbsp each of Ground Cumin and Sweet Spanish Paprika (Pimenton). Stir and toast a bit. Add 1/4 cup Tomato Sauce. Stir to combine.

 

Sofrito is the base of all Latin cuisine.

4) After the garbanzos have cooked for 45 minutes with the meat and vegies add the sofrito and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes more to combine the flavors. Taste beans and season as needed. Remove the ham hock to a cutting board and let cool slightly.

The ham hock is chopped and then added to the beans.

5) When the ham hock is cool enough to handle, but not cold. Remove the meat from the bones and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add this back to the beans and stir. At this point taste the beans. You may want to add, like my mom, tia (aunt) and abuela (grandmother) all did, a tsp of Sugar and a large splash of Cider or White Wine Vinegar. I definitely do this as it adds a nice touch, balancing the sweet and savory notes.

Dinner was delicious!

This makes a complete meal with just a salad, but, of course, when I was growing up we would eat it over rice. There would also be another starch (maybe plantains) and a protein, along with a salad and veg. That's a lot of food, huh? But I have such fond memories of sitting around the table with my familia and devouring everything on my plate.

 

Note: This recipe can be made in exactly the same way using red kidney beans (my favorite when my mom would make it) or a white bean, like navy beans. Also, it can be made as a vegetarian dish by omitting the meats. I would just make sure you have a very flavorful sofrito. 

 

Anyway...Thanks for checking in. Enjoy! Happy fall!

 

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Summer is Here!

Summer has arrived and we've been enjoying the nice warm weather. After the rainy, dreary month of May, we welcome the nourishing sunshine. The plants I put in earlier in the spring enjoyed the drenching rain, establishing themselves quite nicely, so I guess there's that to say about the rainy month...

If you remember from our last post, I decided to save some money and ordered my plants on line. You may also remember that when they arrived they were tiny little twigs. They have grown in some, but I got a bit impatient and decided to fill in a couple of spots, adding more mature plants. It made a big difference.

 

My butterfly bush and Hydrangeas ("Annabelle") were barely 4" tall when they arrived. They've grown some, but still...It's funny to see big, mature looking blooms on these small plants.

 

My Agapanthus is finally going to bloom. They were taking so long to establish themselves that I decided to come to terms with the fact that I might not see them bloom until next spring. I'm happy to see them sprout buds!

 

 

My Crape Myrtle is very happy and bushing out big time...(The second picture in this blog post is a good "before" shot of it's bare branches.)

 

I'm glad I got a larger butterfly bush to make the bed look fuller. Notice the little Hydrangeas in the background? I can envision how full the garden will be with blooms...One day...sigh...

 

Filling in! I broke down, went to The Living Earth and bought some larger specimens to fill the beds in. Much better! Here: an Oak Leaf Hydrangea that I planted next to its much littler friend. (See below.)

 

 

I think you get the picture...

 

I planted some Heliopsis in between the Anemone "Sylvestris". My anemones are starting to fill out, but I'm not sure if they'll bloom this year. Hmm??

 

My Anemones are growing. I can't wait for them to bloom! C'mon!

 

The ferns I planted along our side walkway have grown quite a bit.

 

 

We sit here every day. It's so wonderful living along the canal towpath. When I look at this view I can envision a lush blooming garden. I love nurturing plants and creating a sanctuary that Nick and I can spend time together and share good times with friends and family. It's a labor of love that will mature with time.

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Spring Planting

Spring is here and, even though it's been rainy and dreary for the last week, we've been busy getting our back yard ready for warm weather. In early April Mr. Cruz, our landscaper, cut in the beds, weeding and taking out plants we didn't want to keep. Most of the plants were not doing well for various reasons. It was a big jungle of ugly lilies, a sorry looking lilac or two and various other unhappy plants. Now it looks clean, like a blank slate for us to plant with blooming perennials.

The overgrown garden and lawn. 

 

Mr. Cruz's crew working hard. The walkway of red brick pavers was added to replace the mismatched blue stone and the patch of overgrown weeds. Much nicer!

 

We planted a crape myrtle in the north bed near the house. You'll be able to see it from the street. Then I planted hydrangeas, anemones, a climbing rose, some butterfly bushes and other blooming plants.

 

 The lawn was re-seeded. It had so many wild onions, weeds and worn spots. 

 

Just three weeks and it's looking so much better! You can see in this picture that I was able to plant the beds. Or maybe you can't...the plants are so tiny...

  

 Before (above) and after (below) shots of the lawn bordering the south bed.

 

 

 

An oak leaf hydrangea that I planted is settling in. You can see this guy in the picture above (south border). Funny story: I wanted to save money by ordering plants on-line (Burpee Seeds and Plants and White Flower Farm). The plants were much more reasonably priced and the pictures on-line were spectacular! Well...when they arrived I realized why they were so reasonably priced. They were tiny sprigs. Eventually they'll be big blooming shrubs and spreading perennials, but now? Not so much...Oh, well...

 

 

My anemone is doing well, but it wants the sun to finally come out. I suppose that this rain will help the plants establish themselves and get nice big roots growing. Then when the sun comes out it'll be time to grow and spread out. Right? 

 

I was able to plant my herb garden this week too! I use them every day when I'm cooking at home. It's so easy to do and it gives me such pleasure.



I know it will take a while for everything to grow in and mature, but it's looking really great. We know it will be a wonderful place to enjoy sunny days with friends and family. If only the sun would come out...

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