Saturday, December 24, 2011

Minty Drink

Quick post while I'm thinking about it:

I'm listening to Christmas music while cleaning the mouse crap off the dining table so we can eat off of it tomorrow. You read that right. I'm thinking a drink would be good around now. Probably a stinger.

Stinger Cocktail, one serving:

2 ounces cognac
1 ounce white creme de menthe (trust me)
Twist of lemon peel


Fill a mixing glass two-thirds full with ice. Add the cognac and white creme de menthe. Shake well, then strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with three or four ice cubes (not crushed ice). Garnish with a lemon twist.

I got this recipe from the Washington Post Spirits columnist, Jason Wilson.

Yes, I too was scared of the creme de menthe (my mom used it to make a really tasty grasshopper pie that I loved when I was a kid. I thought that might not be so good in a cocktail now that I'm an adult) Turns out it's damn good. It's kind of easy to drink too many of these so be careful - the price isn't pretty in the morning.

However, I'm going to wait on my cocktail until food is more imminently on the horizon.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Yawn... Whatever

I might have hurt myself today. I like to work out with video games. I still love "Yourself!Fitness" for the old Xbox but there are a couple of Wii games I like too. I played them both today. I hope I can move tomorrow.

I really like "Gold's Gym Cardio Workout," a boxing training game. As far as I can tell your avatar never hits anybody (except a bear in a side game. Poor bear) Still, all that punching nothing is really fun and great for stress reduction. There's footwork too - you're sort of bouncing back and forth, stepping side to side, ducking, weaving and all that jazz. I find myself so engaged and distracted by trying to follow along that I don't notice until afterwards that I'm sweaty and winded. Fun! And, of course, sore the next day - in a good way.

The other is "NewU Fitness First Yoga and Pilates." I have yet to encounter any Pilates. I wonder if I have to get to a certain point in the yoga before Pilates is available? Maybe I have to change my "goals" settings? Whatevs. The yoga is pretty good though. Definitely challenging. I do the "quick class" most of the time. It seems to go on forever and I'm wiped when I'm done with it. Maybe if I did it more often it wouldn't be so difficult? I'll try to work on that.

So, I guess if you're thinking you might need to move yourself around those are two fun and productive ways to do it. 

And now, time to make my new favorite home-made supper: hot dog slices and kale. Yup, you want to take fitness and diet advice from me!

Wow, that post was almost NaBloPoMo quality.

Friday, December 9, 2011

High Maintenance

I went to my first holiday party of the season on Wednesday: My sister-in-law, Kristen's, biennial cookie exchange. I believe I have mentioned it before (here and here) I don't seem to have mentioned that this is NOT the kind of event to which you can bring Entenmann's (halleluja - I HATE Entenmann's. YUCK!) You can leave your Pillsbury cookies at home too. This show requires a certain amount of sweat. It's also easily the nicest, fanciest holiday party I go to most years. Kristen is a fantastic hostess and gets everything right, from the hors d'ouvres to the cocktails to the decorations. There's a certain amount of pressure to PERFORM at this event.

The cookies I made this year are show-stoppers. I've made them a few other years and was not planning to make them this year but Kristen asked me to.

Honestly, if you have to make four-dozen cookies I would not suggest choosing a shaped sandwich cookie. It's at least three times the work: you have to make double the dough, roll it out and cut twice the number of cookies, you have to make the ganache and then fill the cookies. You could probably get away without decorating them with drizzles of melted white chocolate but there's no way I'm bringing a plain brown cookie to this cookie exchange.

This dough tends to be sticky too so it requires quite a bit of chilling time. It must be chilled at least four hours before you roll it out the first time, you must re-chill the remaining dough before you roll it out again to cut more cookies and the cut cookies must be chilled for ten minutes on the sheet before you bake them.

Once baked, the cookies must rest for two minutes exactly on the cookie sheet before you can scrape them off the parchment paper they have been baked on (I used aluminum foil which ripped with every batch I made. I got the cookies off with no damage but the foil ripped every time) Try to pry them off too soon and they'll distort, too late and they'll stick (Don't f*%k with the instructions, b!#ches!)

Then of course they have to cool completely before you can spread on the ganache (and, yes, the ganache has to chill and thicken before you can spread it on) Later, when all of the cookies have been assembled, the white chocolate drizzles need time to harden before you can pack the cookies up and take them anywhere. Actually, the white chocolate drizzles are a simplification I devised. The recipe suggests you pipe on the melted white chocolate. I might be an intense baker at times but I'm not pathological.

These cookies are impossible to make at the last minute. I took three days to make them. I made the dough and the plain and peppermint chocolate ganaches the first day (I made double batches since the recipes yield two dozen. In fact, I ended up with five dozen. Bonus) I baked the second day and assembled and decorated the day of the cookie exchange. You also don't want to assemble them too far ahead of time because they can get soggy.

The result of all of this labor is a truly amazing cookie. In fact it's more like a confection. While I was making them I was thinking, "This is the last time. I'm retired from making this cookie!"
Afterwards I thought, "Well, it is a great cookie. Maybe I'll make them again. Maybe just not four dozen."

Of course I'm whining about having to make four dozen cookies but most of the women at the party had had to make eleven dozen cookies for a school event the next day. I hope Pillsbury was good enough for that event. Something to think about if you plan on moving to Wellesley Massachusetts and enrolling your kids in the Wellesley public school system.

As for our event, it was so festive and convivial and the cookies exchanged were so delicious (at least the ones I tried were) that I felt like the trouble was worth it. And who knows, maybe in two years I'll have rested up enough to make those again? If anyone wants the recipe let me know.

Five dozen cookies in our sparsely decorated apartment

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Well, it's the holidays and I'm already feeling overwhelmed by all of the stuff I have to do. How about you? I'm not even thinking about the gift shopping either (Gift shopping doesn't actually worry me - I'm a fantastic shopper)

There are also big changes pending in my life right now - things that might happen in the next year or so or not for a long time if at all. (That statement is so vague! That's how things always are and we just try not to think about it) Despite my discomfort with the way things have been going lately these changes have me worried that I might lose some things about my life that I love (And how obvious is that? That is the nature of change. We're always afraid that the things that come into our lives after a change aren't going to be as good as the things we don't have anymore)


I feel like I'm less resilient than I used to be. Just when I'm feeling pretty good some dumb thing happens and I'm smacked back into the dumps. I feel like I used to be able to shrug off setbacks more easily, that I didn't take things as hard as I do now.

I vaguely remember hearing (reading?) a story about a study someone did on rats. The theory being tested was that rats that survive through really difficult circumstances are the toughest rats. The study found that the surviver rats had been the toughest rats before their ordeals. After their ordeals they were just stressed-out, depleted rats.

Perhaps I feel like a depleted rat?

Well, nothing I can do about that now. I just have to wait and see what develops and get cracking on the tasks I've set for myself. At least I can wear a cotton-candy-scented wig while I'm at it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Last Night And Today

I have a new nephew, born last night! Congratulations to Christian and Sarah!

More trivially, here's what I want to do today:

  1. Weed, weed block and mulch the paths
  2. Clean up all the flattened stems left behind by the October snow storm
  3. Tidy the roses
  4. Do the fall cutting back
  5. Clear the dining table
  6. Clean the shower
  7. Laundry
  8. Put away the nine plus piles of books that I have left all over the house
  9. Read Sin and Syntax
  10. Get groceries
  11. Wash the lettuce
  12. Bake something
  13. Meditate

As you can see I'm in over my head by the third word of the first item on my list. Guess I'd better get going.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Something Or Other

I finished these fingerless gloves last night.
I'm surprised by how warm the vestigial finger nubbies are.

We have about a million photos of Fay. She's so darned cute how could I not photograph her all the time?

A propos of nothing, I am doing NaNoWriMo this month. I am hilariously behind. I wrote like a nut on the first day and haven't written a word since. I'm around twelve-thousand words behind. HA HA HA HA HA! Yeah, we'll see what we get.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November First Friday Show

Well that was really fun. We had a number of surprise visitors and there was a lot of traffic. The gallery was very crowded at some points. Pete sold a photo and there were some nibbles at this guy:

He's the Don't Bother To Dream Monster, the first show-ready monster from my new monster drawing series. He's about four feet tall. The paper he's drawn on is about six feet by four feet. I think he got a lot of people to think about my work who normally wouldn't have. People often dismiss things they don't immediately perceive as serious. Putting this guy next to the giant strawberry painting seemed to make them think twice. I got a lot of thoughtful questions and comments on my work. Very encouraging. 

The whole night made me excited about the work that I know is coming. I make the work that I'm called to make regardless of whether I think others can connect with it or not. Still, nothing like getting a positive response to what you're doing.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunny Day After Stormy Night

I made more ebelskivers this morning. They're much prettier with practice. Photo by Pete.

The old lady is resting.

Yesterday we had a nor' easter. We didn't get any snow where we are though. Lucky us. Today it's beautiful and sunny (also windy and cold). Fay's got her wheels on and she's itching to chase some cars!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Last post today (most likely)

Pumpkin pedicure

 Skull manicure

Yes of course, I did them myself - don't look too close!

More Makeage

Toll House Cookies

Tarte Tatin caramelizing on the stove

 Tarte Tatin after baking and inverting on a plate
I've had two pieces so far. I think I could probably eat the whole thing by myself. However, I am sharing it with Pete and my mom.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Here you can see some of why Fay loves Amagansett. The lawn is so velvety soft and green and pleasant on her feet and there are plenty of cars to chase from the safety of the securely fenced yard. She loves to have a job.

Another velvety thing: my new haircut.

These aren't especially velvety but I made them:

These are cornmeal filled with strawberry preserves. Okay, they look sad because they fell in the oven. Also because this is all that was left after Mom and I had our share. They were really delicious and I'll definitely make them again. I got the recipe from "Ebelskivers: Filled Pancakes & Other Mouthwatering Minniatures."

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Tonight I was imitating one of my mom's friends to myself: "Hello Kethie? It is Nahdeen..."

Suddenly I imagined one of my friends' daughters doing the same thing years from now. Then I imagined my grandmother doing the same thing with one of her mom's friends.

All of a sudden I was every woman. Cue Chaka Kahn.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Felt Pretty Lucky

Today I bent to look at a dead caterpillar on our walkway:

As I stood up again a reflection in a puddle on the walk caught my eye. It's very subtle:

A rainbow:

I've seen iridescent spots around the sun before  but this rainbow arced away from the sun. That's something I've neer seen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Time Of Year

I am SO excited right now. I LOVE this time of year!

It's flannel pajama season! It's sweater season! It's oatmeal season! It's grilled cheese sandwich season!

I love to cook but in the summer I don't even want to think about cooking. Now I can cook again!

Summer, I won't say eff you because I know you can and will kick my ass. I'm sorry that a week at the beach and a few fried clam meals are not enough to redeem you in my eyes. Truly. I really wish I could love you because I vastly prefer to like things. However...

Bring on Autumn! Hello Halloween! Hot buttered rum! Pumpkin anything! Jeans! Corduroys! Boots! Wigs!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

August Wrap-Up

These ornamental grass seed heads are a beautiful, silky red this year.

So August turned out not to be a vast improvement on the end of July. Pretty painful month, all in all. Most of the things that made July and the rest of the summer so fretful haven't really improved. I'm just more accustomed to being unable to do anything about them. I did get a bit of work done though.

Tropical storm Irene knocked our power out for five days. That was just an inconvenience. The worst part was seeing our neighbors' houses in the river and the land the houses were built on gone. Yes, their land is gone. A number of roads we use all the time are also gone. That's pretty shocking to see. You see natural disasters on T.V. and you think "that's horrible" and it is horrible but (sadly, human nature being what it is)you feel the punch in the gut more when it happens in your neighborhood, it's right in front of you and you're not seeing it from the comfort of your sofa.

One major thing is a lot better though: my dear friend who underwent organ transplant surgery a few weeks ago is on the mend. He and his wife are two of my best friends and it was scary and hard to see him in danger and suffering and to just see her suffer. It was very familiar from watching my mom take care of my dad when he was dying. Same time of year too. This time I could remind myself that my friend was likely to get better. Still I'm probably always going to hate mens' loungewear and the end of July/beginning of August.

I'm not going to try to call September.

So far this month I've had an art show. I'll post photos once I get them off of Pete's camera. His camera is currently locked in a cooler with a large bag of desiccant because, due to an enormous and uncharacteristic brain fart, he left his camera bag outside over a rainy night.

Some other good news is that I'm chipping away at my major art endeavor. I'm calling it an endeavor because it's the single largest project I've ever taken on in my life. Well, I'm not positive that it's larger than being married but it is up there. I know I've mentioned the novel/comic book/art pieces. What this really means is that there are characters, figurines, art pieces that the characters make, drawings, several comic books, photographs, paintings, possibly film, possibly animation, possibly performances in the works. There's a lot to figure out and a lot to learn. I'm really excited about it. I'll be working on this for years.

With all of the hard things that have been happening lately and making it difficult for me to enjoy anything, it's nice to have something positive to focus on. It's nice to have something to do that feels like progress.

Of course, with a project this large I could get bogged down and lost. Somehow that doesn't seem likely though. I feel like there are enough stages to work through and small parts to complete that I'll keep feeling like I'm accomplishing something. I'll have examples of progress made, areas completed and work to show that will keep me on track. Some parts could go way off in their own wild directions but there's nothing wrong with that.

Some highlights from August:

I love bees.

Fay snoozes in the laundry

It was a great year for lilies

The roses looking good before Irene

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Testing A Theory

Yeah, I've been slacking on the posts. Sorry. Again. Things have been hectic and demoralizing. Either I haven't had time to tell you about what's going on, I haven't been at liberty to tell you or I don't even want to think about it myself much less spread it around. I've pretty much been holding my breath until August, the first month in a long time that I can consider "mine."

This month I am saying no to almost everybody and everything that isn't me or my work. I need to recover from all this crap that I can't tell you about!

I've been away from my studio for so long that wanted to start right in "being productive." Eat right, exercise early in the morning before it gets too hot, meditate every day, revise my novel, work in my studio etc. I gave myself a little time to lay about doing nothing too. A little time.

Well today I decided that that's not enough. I'm being too serious and too "good" and it's not working at all. So I decided to just do what I feel like doing.

I'm still getting up early and exercising (if I feel like it. I tried Gold's Gym Cardio Workout for Wii and it's really fun - the time flies by) and meditating and revising my novel and working in my studio, I'm just not stressing about it. I'm not guilting myself into anything. I'm only doing what's easy and fun. I'm not thinking stuff like "you need to figure out something good for this character to do," or "the next logical thing to work on in this piece is blah blah blah..."

As with a hot fudge sundae, I'm just taking a bite of what's both nearest to me and most appealing. When I want to stop and go do something else, that's what I do. None of this "just finish one more blah blah blah" crap. I figure, I did make some progress, I got something done and that's enough.

I mean, you just can't force good work. You do have to show up and try but you can start with the easy fun stuff and see where that takes you.

I'm also eating watermelon and ice cream for lunch.

The lighthearted, haphazard tack I've decided to take actually fits in perfectly with what my novel/comic book/art pieces are about. What I'm working on now is about inspiration and the artistic process. It's not methodical. It's important but it's not DEADLY SERIOUS. It's supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be unconventional.

So I'm not going to be systematic. I'm going to make a mess. I think it's my job to make a mess. It's certainly my nature.

Besides, I want to have a good time after all of this loss and drama and grimness. I hope that loss and drama and grimness are just as sick of me as I am of them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What To Do?

I've noticed recently that I have a problem with acceptance. I'll repeatedly beat my head against a situation in search of a solution when sometimes there isn't one.

I wonder if it's because of all of the stories about heroism I've enjoyed in my life? All of those mysteries that are solved and tidily wrapped up in the end? I wonder if my finding that kind of thing deeply satisfying and inspiring might be hindering my ability to accept a situation in real life?

I always feel like there ought to be something I can do about something I don't like. Lately I've been meeting a whole slew of situations that I can't influence at all. It's been frustrating.

Of course the best way to figure out what to do about something is see it for what it is. To do that you have to accept it as it is. Observe and think before you act.

Sometimes there's something I can do. If there isn't though I need to accept that and move on. At least I've started to realize this. I hope the lesson sinks in soon!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I know I was bragging about having time to think but it turns out I need more before I have anything worth telling you about.

In lieu of sharing my "interesting" thoughts I will give you a little garden tour, successes only:

A volunteer Balloon Flower (I love volunteers)

I believe this is Bibi Mazoon but I'm not positive

This guy's teeth light up at night. He's solar LED!

Butterfly bush doing its thing


More tiki fun plus purple coneflowers. Hey Mel, it's not too late to set up the bird bath.

Crown Princess Margareta

Darcey Bussell

The sign says "It's five o'clock somewhere" and is accompanied by little metal sunset, hammock and fruity cocktail.

This is the grocery store rose from back in March. I'm so relieved that it's still alive.

Lady Emma Hamilton

Our so-called "walkway"

The irrigation system I set up actually works!

Aside from the grocery store rose all the roses are the ones I planted back in May. You wouldn't believe how fragrant they are. So far all the plants are alive and flowering but not all of them were photogenic today. I HOPE TO GOD I CAN KEEP THEM ALIVE THROUGH NEXT YEAR AND AFTER THAT!!!! I'm scared - can you tell?

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Starting the day after tomorrow I'm going to have time to think. I know - can you believe it? Hopefully this will lead to some very inspired blog posts. Fingers crossed.

Today, however, will be all about wildlife. I found this spider in our vestibule, hanging over the front door. I wonder how many times we've passed below it without knowing it was there?

The face on its back looks pretty friendly.

I'm very glad that no one at our house has arachnophobia. We'd probably need to move. Actually, when you think of all the spiders that routinely live in our house this one wouldn't be an issue - we'd have moved already.

Update: Our friend and wildlife expert, Don, says he thinks this is a Barn spider. So exotic. It's latin name is Araneus cavaticus (slightly more exotic) According to wikipedia, it is the same kind of spider as Charlotte in Charlotte's Web.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In The Meantime

The real news is that I just got back from the amazing and inspiring Eyeo Festival. You wouldn't believe the things I saw/heard/learned unless you were there yourself. I'll try to post links to the most extraordinary stuff if I can find it.

If you hit the link above and do a little reading the festival may seem to be a bit code/data heavy for an analog gal like me. There was, in fact, a great deal of overlap with many of the things I think about. Now I just need to chew on all of this and figure out what it means to what I do.

In the meantime, of course, shoes:

Irregular Choice does it again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Canal Street Twizzler

Canal Street Twizzler

Pete and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary this month. Yep, that's 20th. What better place to celebrate anything than New Orleans?

The people! The food! The lack of responsibility for me! I LOVE THAT TOWN! It was just what we needed.

I could write many posts about it. I probably should. In any case, here are some more traditional photos of New Orleans-y things: