Wordless Wednesday: Artsy Pittsburgh

[Well, Less Wordy Wednesday, anyway]. Back in April, I had the good fortune of participating as a vendor in the Handmade Arcade in Pittsburgh, PA. I had never visited this city before, and was delighted to find that there was a thriving arts community there. With the little bit of spare time I had that weekend, I had a chance to visit the Warhol Museum, which contained some amazing art and art history.

Across the street, I was impressed to see a building fully adorned with the artwork of Shepard Fairey.

After surrounding myself with so much art, I felt inspired to create something. I was super happy that the museum had a DIY room, where I had a chance to use my silkscreening and collage talents.

The Thrifty HoG: A Golden Find in the Flat Iron District

On a recent business trip to New York City, I was wandering through the Flat Iron District, making my way to Penn Station. I turned down 25th street onto the block behind the office where I used to work, and made a wonderful find. The Thrify HoG’s bright and cheerful window display caught my eye, and welcomed me to enter the store. Once inside, I beheld an airy and beautifully colorful boutique, which belied the fact that it was a “thrift shop.”

There was a huge array of chic, gently-used men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, as well as books, home décor, and small home furnishings. Each and every item was obviously very carefully chosen since they were all in impeccable condition. And by the cash register sat a big golden piggy bank along with brochures and cards for Hearts of Gold, a non-profit that was benefitted by the sales from The Thrifty HoG. I asked the woman who was tending the store to tell me a bit more about the relationship between the two.

As it turned out, the woman with whom I was speaking was Deb Koenigsberger, founder of Hearts of Gold and creator of The Thrifty HoG shop. Deb had founded Hearts of Gold in 1996 to help homeless mothers develop sustainable change in their lives. In addition to providing many programs and services through Hearts of Gold, she had opened The Thrifty HoG in May 2010 to provide job opportunities and job training to the moms. Net proceeds from the shop go to support Hearts of Gold programs. What a wonderful concept!

In reading through their brochure, and their website, I saw that there are many ways to support this great organization. They hold fundraisers throughout the year, and you can shop guilt-free at their store at 11 West 25th Street. For those of you who don’t live in the New York City area, they have an online shop. To learn more about Hearts of Gold and The Thrifty HoG, check out their website.

The Story of the Stinkhorn and the Four Thieves

My husband found something very strange growing in our yard, and asked me to come outside to look at it. Elongated, pinkish with a red tip, it looked like some magical sea creature that nature had guerilla crocheted on our lawn. It was bouncy and spongy to the touch. We had no idea what it was, other than some type of fungus, and I have seen enough Sci-Fi flicks to know that I needed to keep an eye on it…

To try and unravel the mystery of this fungus, I turned to my Facebook network of friends. I posted the above photo and within minutes our friend JT, who is knowledgeable on a surprisingly wide array of topics, responded, “Looks like a stinkhorn. Didn’t know we had any around here. Live & learn.” So, I Googled “Stinkhorn” and found on MushroomExpert.com that they are “notorious for popping up suddenly and unexpectedly in urban settings.” They are member of the aptly-named Phallaceae family of fungi and they are called stinkhorns because of the distinctively stinky slime they use to entice bugs to come pick up their spores and spread them around. Ours being newly formed had not developed the slime, so did not have a scent.

I planned to leave it in the yard to see how it would develop, but the next morning when I went to check on it, it was gone, along with a patch of grass around where it had been. Some critter had gotten to it! However, I found another one near where it had been that was fatter and slimier looking than the first. Not long afterward, my friend Andi warned me with some information she had found on eHow.com’s Facts on the Stinkhorn Fungus, “Whatever you do, don’t uproot it. they’ll just propagate.” On the other hand, she noted that “Because of their suggestive shapes, the Phallus and Dictyophora stinkhorns are sold as aphrodisiacs in China,” so I could start a new business! Andi also found that the “eggs” from which certain stinkhorn varieties emerge are “edible and taste like radishes.”

Intrigued by the possible utility of this newly discovered wild plant in my yard, I did some further research. Perhaps I had discovered some new gourmet edible. I found an article by Wildman Steve Brill, who has tried stinkhorns in a couple of different forms, and came to the conclusion that they are flavorless with a weird slimy texture like “mock squid.” I decided I needed to eliminate the second stinkhorn before they took over my lawn.

In the meantime, Andi had found this method for eliminating them:

1) Locate the fungus.

2) Make a mixture of boiling hot water and bleach.

3) Plug your nose with free hand or with the help of a neighbor.

4) Pour the mixture (still hot) onto the fungus. (Add to sneaker tips too for an extra brightening effect.)

5) Repeat steps once a day until the fungus is gone

I had recently bottled a batch of Four Thieves vinegar, so I chose to start with a natural solution, following the above directions but substituting the Fourt Thieves for the bleach. It has been over a week now, and my lawn remains stinkhorn-free.

As a bonus for those of you who have read this far, here are some images from the Stinkhorn Hall of Fame