Thursday, December 29, 2011

christmas celebration for hollinger services inc.

Hollinger Services Inc. wasn't lacking in celebratory humor and holiday cheer, and they pulled out all the stops to make it memorable. 

Ridgeway Brass Quartet offered the evenings entertainment, with a little help from Jeff Eisenbise.  They played while guests arrived, mingled, and enjoyed appetizers.

Appetizers included a sparkling cranberry punch with citrus slices, wedges of brie, Havarti and smoked cheddar, and dried kiwi and cranberries.

The second course, salad and bread, offered a baby spinach and mushroom salad with pistachios and dried cherries, Caesar salad with freshly grated Parmesan, and homemade 14 grain bread fresh from the oven.  Jeff provided three delicious jams from his summer harvest - strawberry, peach and raspberry.

Kitchen, chef and wait staff included my husband David, Jake Shirk, me, daughter Layne, and Sarah Brill.  Food prep for 30 took a solid two days with the help of my mother in law, Vada, and good friend Maggie.  Jake, Layne and Sarah logged over 5 hours that night with clean up, and David and I were finished and out of the kitchen by 11.  The biggest trick was figuring out the logistics of the whole thing ahead of time!

We rented tables, chairs and tablecloths from Harrisburg Rent-all off the Toll House Road exit on route 230.  Having used them numerous times, I'm always impressed by their selection of party furniture, flatware and glassware, serving supplies, and cheerful customer service.  

The main course, served buffet style, included mini zucchini salmon cakes, slow-roasted tandoori pork with mango chutney, roasted potatoes with caramelized onions, rice pilaf with apricots and mushrooms, and stir fried green beans and red bell peppers.  Doing these in the wok at the last minute with just olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper worked perfectly - no soggy veggies!

The dessert table featured mini non-fat cheesecake tarts with cherry pie filling, gingersnaps (by request!) and double chocolate brownies drizzled in fudge.

The evening ended with a holiday sing-a-long with the brass quartet, and a few simple, well-chosen words offered by Kathy Haldeman for my parents on behalf the the staff.  Mom, it turns out, is finally retiring - or at least will begin to try in earnest.  

Hollinger Services will continue under the capable hands of John Snowden, and for now at least, Mom and Dad still have a small office space in which to continue giving their time and talent to their favorite non-profits and causes.  Congratulations!

Friday, December 16, 2011

gallery renovations, phases I and II complete

With dinner parties scheduled starting the 17th of December, we all worked like crazy to finish painting, cleaning, and installing artwork.  Hard to believe we only got started the beginning of November!

For a tour of the space, visit our website - we'd love your comments!  Still to come, Phase III...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

first event after renovation - booksigning for Gale Martin

Gale Martin's booksigning for "Don Juan in Hankey, PA" was our first event in Lynden Gallery's renovated space, and we all worked like crazy to meet the deadline.  Artwork on the walls, hangers in the new closet, rugs on the floor, and everything scrubbed and dusted free of dust.  

Still a bit of painting and shelving construction to do beyond the back wall, but it's coming together better than I could have imagined.  I think I'll sleep well tonight, having been painting the last window until 5 minutes before the event.  Don't look too close - it isn't quite done...

For more pics, see my facebook post.  Next up - two office parties, one on the 16th and one on the 19th.  We'll be ready!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

prepping and painting

Feels like we've been prepping and painting forever, but it's really only been 2 weeks in earnest, I think.  David spent a lot of time leveling the concrete floor, filling holes, removing funky existing wires or pipes wherever he could.  

The wall where the frame corners used to be?  A nice smooth plaster base, after several days of layering and sanding, is ready to paint.

And Laura, our gallery intern with a great eye for color, did a fabulous job of matching the mottled, ragged walls of the past.  You'd be hard pressed to find where the old stopped and the new started!

At the back of the gallery you catch a glimpse of my new studio...

with eggplant walls and white trim and soffit.  David admitted to giving me a hard time about the color, but followed by saying, "I know by now I should just trust you with such things, it looks great!"  Now I'm eager to get the dust and dirt cleaned up and settle in, but there is still a wall of shelving to build.

Monday morning the Sollenberger Painting crew, led by Kurt, started priming and rolling the floor.  

Wednesday morning, I came down the the sun shining in across our newly painted floors, and the carpets were delivered last night.  We've been working ever since to clean up, finish the detailing, and started laying carpets this morning.  The day was busy with Christmas framing customers, so updated photos will have to wait.  More to come!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

post thanksgiving, sausage chili dinner for a crowd

Given all that's going on, I passed on hosting Thanksgiving dinner at the gallery this year, but when my cousin emailed from Ohio earlier in the week suggesting they'd be around this weekend, I couldn't resist replying, "sure come on over - I'll make dinner!"  And once the clan hears of such a plan, it doesn't take long to have a guest list of over twenty.

My mother offered a turkey carcass, giblets and leftovers for turkey soup, but truth be told, I've never made a turkey soup I couldn't wait to make again, so I passed on her generous offer.  Instead, I relied on a family favorite - sausage, black bean chili.  This recipe came together the first time, when the a mother in a young family of six, I was contemplating the pantry, wondering what I could make without a trip to the grocery store.

Last night, this is the generous recipe was made for 25 people in my 18-quart soup pot.  I think we ended up with 23, and there were exactly two servings leftover (and gone today).  I'll let you do the math if you want a smaller amount.

Brown in a bit of olive oil in the bottom of the soup pot:

1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
3 pounds of loose sausage - we used Bob Evans this time, but I usually go to the butcher at Groff's 

When there is no longer any red in the meat and it's browned in bite-sized pieces, add the following:

4, 19-oz cans Progresso hearty black bean soup 
4, 14.5 oz. cans Del Monte petite cut diced tomatoes with zesty jalapenos
1, 15-oz Hunts tomato sauce
2, 15.5 oz cans Goya garbanzo beans, drained of liquid
6 tbs. chili powder
3 tbs. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
2 tsp. dried habernero pepper flakes

Stir to combine, and heat until bubbly over high heat, but stir frequently to prevent sticking to the bottom.  When the chili is heated through thoroughly, turn the burner to simmer, put a lid on, and basically forget about it until dinner, with only a gentle stir occasionally.  

I also made a batch of whole grain french bread - substituting for some of the white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup oatmeal (not instant), and a large handful of 14-grain cereal mix I buy in bulk at the Country Store.  One recipe wasn't enough, I quickly found, as it was gone in no time - I should have doubled it.  Two batches of gingersnaps, and a delicious hot apple pie concoction - delivered in a crock pot by my cousin Bonnie -  served over vanilla ice cream topped of the meal.  Suffice it to say, no one went hungry.

Your comments are welcome at the bottom of any post - eat well and buy more art.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

newly relocated framing consult, as the dust settles

The old framing consult area, as it looked on Tuesday morning before dismanteling it with Jeff Mummau, our carpenter extraordinaire.  A bit of a challenge for the two of us to take off the counter top and stand it against the wall, but we managed with his engineering finesse.

Then came the head-scratching task of how best to take it apart and put it back together, slightly reconfigured for the new location at the back of the gallery.  Jeff built it to begin with, but various components had been added at my request over the past ten years.  

Gerry Freeman, G.L. Freeman Electric, mounting an electrical box on the side, doing away with the past need of duct-taping extention cords to the carpet every time an event required coffee urn or crock pot.  This new configuration allows us to do away with filing cabinets and computer equipment on the exhibition floor.

Frames have been removed from the front wall, carpet stripped from the drywall, and the task of repairing, prepping and plastering before painting began that evening.  David and I took a day off yesterday for Thanksgiving with family, work commencing again this morning.  

In its new location, the consult desk is turned the other direction and is about 18" shorter in width to fit centered in front of the new sample wall.  Another flat file will be installed next to the existing one, with deep storage drawers beneath.  Behind the wall, accessible on either side, is a 12-foot deep space to accomodate a conference table.  

Carpet has been stripped at the front of the gallery, and the old carpeted sample wall is nearly plastered. Can't wait to see paintings on that wall, and I'm loving the openess of the space at the front of the gallery.  Ned Wert stopped in today to discuss his upcoming show in October, and was thrilled with the way the new space is shaping up.  

My father, ever faithful with the paint brush, has been working his way around the gallery painting the trim.  My brother Bryan, and sons Zach and Michael, stopped by for a few hours this morning to help tear up tack strips and sweep the floors.  Together we finished off a pot of leftover, homemade, chicken corn noodle soup and banana chocolate chip muffins before sending them back to Philadelphia.

As of this morning, I finished organizing the new sample walls, allowing additional space for two shipments of new corner samples to freshen up the selection.  I was surprised to find how much additional space was available, along with nine drawers of shadowbox moldings, fillets, liners, handmade papers and floater frames. 

With the afternoon sun shining in, you can literally see the dust still floating in the air!  One more dusty, dirty job, Monday a week from now, when they sand the floors before painting them.  I think we'll take some time to seal up the sample walls beforehand, and save ourselves time later.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

ralph waldo emerson and color theory

In my travels yesterday to secure some windows I'd discovered a few weeks ago, I found myself coveting this leather-bound collection of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  This rare 1897 set printed by Riverside Press Cambridge-Boston is a far cry from the dog-eared, paperback book of Emerson's writings I purchased from at street vendor in New York City back in the late 1980's.  Ever since, Emerson's writings have served to ground me throughout my life, informing my sense of self.

"Trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron string," I quote.  Oh, how often have I had to step out in faith, believing in where I felt my heart was compelled to go!  The answers, and the path aren't always clear. Often we must make the choice of a next step without a clear notion of where it's leading, trusting the path will become clear as we move along it. 

These windows, for example, the door I found in the basement, or the still empty spot waiting for a conference table... the best design has room for missing pieces to be filled in, and a quality of coming together that can't be determined ahead of time.

Enough windows, 58" high by 17" wide, 2 pairs and 6 singles, look like they came from the same genre as our middle-aged fire hall.  They could become cabinet doors on that eighteen-foot spread of wall in the studio waiting for shelving.  Thought it would just be simple, floor to ceiling, 3-foot spreads like upstairs in the loft.  And then I found these....

Meanwhile, color studies on various walls, are defining what to use where.  This process of purchasing a few pints of colors to try is worth every penny.  The light in every room is different and it changes with the time of day or the weather.  Swatches on opposite walls and a few days walking past them, inform my decision.  I rarely end up painting the walls the way I went into a project thinking I would.

Painting swatches near the adjoing room are helpful in picturing spaces as you move through them.  With several gallons of trim paint, just slightly brighter than the old trim, we've been painting all weekend.  My father, always my faithful painting companion when a project gets to this point, has been detailing the windows and doors, while I make my way around the crown molding and baseboard trim.

If you look closely at the photo below, you'll see the door trim and mouldings are in process, brightening the countenance of the gallery space - whose walls are staying our characteristic mottled and ragged off-white.

The studio and adjacent areas, however, may surprise you in the end.  Will have to trust that iron string...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

dust and the holidays

It's been a bit dusty around here, and if all goes well, we'll be able to clean up, be painting by the weekend, and have the gallery put back together for the holidays.  Several parties are booked starting on the 10th, so we're under deadline to get it all done.

Above is a view from the side of the new gallery wall.  To the left will be the relocated framing consultation area, and to the right a conference area with my design studio up the steps beyond the brick wall.  

Remember that dark, disorganized print room outside the bathroom?  We'll be improving the lighting and are adding a six foot coat closet to accommodate clients and guests during our events.  No more lugging those metal racks up from the basement and trying to fit them into my office.

Then head back to the frameshop through a well-lit hallway, visualizing art on all the walls of course.  To the right, a repurposed french door has been installed as a pocket door into the new studio.  No telling how long that door has been sitting in the dank basement! 

David in the studio, parging the remaining stucco after spending a week with mortar filling and repairing any loose-fitting brickwork and scraping it clean with a wire brush.  This was the original back wall to the Fire Hall addition added around the 1920's.  This back space was added around 1950 and used to be the kitchen.

Good thing the dirty work is nearly done, because we'll be hosting an extended family Thanksgiving gathering next weekend and I think we're going to need those ten-foot tables.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

pizza with whole wheat parmesian crust

I posted this pic a couple weeks ago, and have had people asking for the recipe. I was surprised to find I hadn't already added it, as this has been a long time, family favorite. I have a large, round, cobalt blue ceramic plate with deep sides that "just fits" into my oven. Made by one of my artists, Milt Friedly, I've custom ordered several as gifts over the years.

I start by preparing the plate with a mixture of canned parmesian cheese, dried basil and oregano, and a little salt. Just swirl it around to cover most of the bottom so it looks like "a satellite picture of a hurricane" as my husband David described it, and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I found the pizza dough recipe in Courntry Living Magazine, the October 1990 issue, and adjusted it only by substituting some whole wheat flour for some of the white. In a medium sized, glass bowl, add the following and stir with a fork or whip just until dry ingredients are combined:

1 1/3 cup very warm water
2 tbs. honey
2 tbs. dry yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour

In a few minutes the mixture gets foamy, simply telling you the yeast is at work. Stir in the following until it no longer sticks in the bowl, then turn it out onto a floured surface:

2-3 cups unbleached, white flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. olive oil

Knead for five minutes, adding remaining and additional unbleached white flour as needed, until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers. Be generous with your kneading, and you'll be rewarded with a finer textured dough. Place the dough in a bowl greased with olive oil, and let it rise in a warm place until double in size - about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare ingredients for the sauce. In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and saute the following:

2 large mashed and diced garlic cloves
1/4 diced white onion - about 3 tbs.

Add in the following, stir together and gently heat:
26 oz. can tomato sauce
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried habernero pepper, to taste

Turn off the sauce, stir about a 1/2 cup fresh, diced green pepper, and set aside.

On a sheet of wax paper, or into a bowl, shred the following cheeses and mix together, or if you are in a hurry, use prepackaged shredded cheeses, but use at least three different ones for a more flavorful pizza.

1 cup mozarella
1 cup parmesian
1 cup cheddar

Punch the dough down and knead again briefly, then let rest five minutes on a floured surface. Roll out the dough into a large round, big enough to cover the surface and sides of the plate, flipping frequently and adding plenty of flour to keep it from sticking while rolling.

Fold in half to transport to the plate, then unfold, tucking into the sides any loose edges that escape. Poke holes in the crust with a fork to prevent bubbling, and let rise 15-20 minutes. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove.

Spread a layer of your prepared sauce on the pre-baked crust, then layer cheeses, sliced bell peppers and fresh spinach, pepperoni, or any other combination of pizza toppings. Place back in oven for 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes or so, then slice and serve.

This recipe makes enough for two large pizzas, and I usually end up making one unadulterated pepperoni pizza specifically for my kids, and another veggie pizza with whatever happens to be in the produce drawer for myself and any other more adventuresome guests. Leftovers will keep fine in a cool oven with foil on top for a day or two, if they last that long! Or you can bag and freeze individual servings for the coming weeks.