(Please DON'T sit in his lap!!!)
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Have you ever noticed that many of the things we feel passionate about in life often have roots in our childhood? Fudge is one of those things for me, and for my brother. We'd listen endlessly to my mother talk about the great fudge her mother, my Nana, made. Fudge even became my aunt's favorite food, though she manages to pace herself and still has a gorgeous figure. Since my mother is not a cook, she'd stop at almost any place that made fudge to see if she could recreate that experience from her own childhood.
But my siblings and I all love to cook. So every year at Christmas, my brother and I make pounds and pounds of fudge, giving most of it away. We've researched the recipes, tried dozens, and always come back to the recipe that's on the back of the Kraft Jet Puff Marshmallow (pictured). It's simple, and I've never, ever had a failure in all the years I've made this. The photo above includes the Santas I blogged about earlier in the week, and the first pieces of the creamy heaven from this morning.
And here's the recipe in case you can't find Kraft Jet Puff Marshmallow:
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine (or 1-1/2 sticks)
1 small can (5 oz) evaporated milk (2/3 cup)
1-1/2 pkg. (12 squares) BAKER’s semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped (I ALWAYS use a 12 oz bag of Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate chips instead)
1 jar(7 oz) JET PUFFED marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped walnuts (I like Pecans)
1 tsp vanilla
Heat sugar, butter and evaporated milk to full rolling boil in 3 quart heavy saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil on medium heat until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in chocolate and marshmallow creme until melted; stir in vanilla and walnuts.
Spread immediately in foil-lined 9 inch square pan. Cool at room temperature at least 4 hours; cut into 1 inch squares. Store in airtight container.
Makes 3 lbs. or 40 2 square servings
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The American Santa:
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I have been watching a Teaching Company course on the Louvre. The professor, Dr. Richard Brettell, gives practical advice on how to get more out of your museum visits. One of the things he encourages people to do is to choose a painting in a museum as your own, the painting you will always come back and visit each trip to see if you notice anything new, or if you feel differently about it.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Geez, I hate giving out writing tips. I don't mind reading them, but I feel a bit pretentious giving them out, as if I know what I am talking about. But this time I actually do know, and this one is too yummy to keep to myself.
So this is me, getting ready to write: I grab my pad of extra-heavy paper, the kind that doesn't allow the ink from any one of my three sacred fountain pens to leak through.
Then I call up a friend, because I like writing on a team, and I've got one terrific team mate in the form of Biker Chick. She's inspiring, the way she blasts away at the poor laptop without even stopping to breathe. I have to sneak a peek over at her now and again to make sure she's not turned blue, and then at her keyboard, because I expect to see it bloodied or bruised, especially the space bar.
Sometimes we write at coffee shops; sometimes we stay at home, which could be boring except that we know how to spice it up. You see, we always make a small dish of Weird Ass Trail Mix, which was borne of leftover Halloween candy that was no longer appealing. The mix consists of whatever you've got hanging, like cashews, Lime and Chili Almonds, Good and Plenty, Sugar Babies, Reese's Pieces, Milk Duds, Junior Mints, and even some old chocolate chips that have been "curing" (a bonafide Julia Child term) in the fridge too long.
This particular combo is quite conducive to writing Sci-Fi**. Are you clueless as to how you're going to write that scene where your human main character has sex with an alien to save the Universe? You know you gotta throw out all your preconceptions to get that one figured out. And then it hits you:
Go ahead, Try this at home.
Monday, December 7, 2009
She always has happy dreams afterwards.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Here's a closeup of the first hat, knit in the round on double-pointed needles:
The top of the hat:
The second hat took longer to make, as it features a slip-stitch pattern. Even though it is the same yarn, the pattern makes the hat feel thicker:
I love the crown of the hat, which shapes itself into a hexagon simply from decreasing:
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The other day I opened my post office box and found the latest Victoria's Secret Christmas Catalog. As I began looking through it, I wondered how my ordering something from this catalog is a way of celebrating Baby Jesus' birthday. I thought about it some more. If placing an order will deepen my spirituality, why didn't I get a Vicki's catalog for Yom Kippur? Nor did I receive one to help me celebrate the birth of Buddha on April 30. How about you?
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Just mountain, scrub, and boulders, right? No.
I looked closer and found my prizes, a herd of big horn sheep:
You don't get to see these guys often, since they blend right in with their boulder-colored bodies and snow-colored butts.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Deniz and I are both writers and knitters. We've been chatting back and forth about the sorts of projects we like to knit. And I discovered that she and I DO NOT like sewing stuff together after it's been knit, as in, sewing the front to the back and/or sewing in sleeves.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I mentioned earlier on this blog that I had a dream come true for me the first weekend in October, when I was lucky enough to get to go to Taos, New Mexico and study writing at a weekend seminar led by Natalie Goldberg. Natalie Goldberg is the author of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, 1986, and ten other books. She has been a practitioner of Zen for over thirty years and teaches seminars in writing as a spiritual practice.
Now before I get any further in describing what I learned, PLEASE remember one thing: There are as many successful methods of writing as there are authors. So I am not saying that this is THE one and only way to write. It may not be for you. But it is for me!
THE IDEA: Natalie teaches an extremely simple writing process. She advocates writing longhand with a fast pen. Buy a cheap spiral notebook so that you give yourself permission to write the worst crap ever. One of her first writing rules, and there are very few, is to keep the hand moving at all times. Within each of us is a creator and an editor, and that by keeping the hand moving, we keep the editor (called Monkey mind) at bay. If you keep your hand moving, something creative will come out of your hand.
Why not use the laptop? Writing on a computer is a completely different physical activity from writing longhand. You will get a different result. Be mindful that if you use a computer for work, handwriting will signal to the brain that you are involved in a different activity.
Monkey Mind: Monkey mind is the name of our internal editor, that voice that tells you how stupid you are, how you can’t write, how what you write is garbage, etc. Monkey mind robs you. Monkey mind is always commenting, and we shouldn’t care or listen. Monkey mind lives within every artist, not just writers.
Wild mind is where we want to write from, because this is where we all really think. We engage in discursive thinking; below it is Wild mind. It is our job as writers to connect to Wild mind and then get out of the way. When you meet Wild mind and write from that place, others connect to your writing. Monkey mind, the dot on the sky, that’s where we focus, whereas the whole sky, Wild mind, is where we should focus.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
First off, I know it isn't Tuesday, but I like that title so you're stuck with it. The moral of this story is control your outrage and your mouth, or else it's off to the sewing machine for you.
During the summer months, I was at the shopping mall with Biker Chick. Now, I'm not a shopper, while Biker Chick is quite the trend setter. We stopped at one of her favorite stores, where she admired the tutus. I looked at the garment and expressed my outrage at the price, the lack of a lining, and at the poor quality of the scratchy tulle. (You know what's coming next!) "I could make a tutu much cheaper and much nicer than that!"
To which Biker Chick replied, "Oh Mumsy, would you?" I saw that lovely smile and I was trapped like a fly in a web. So off to the fabric store I went to purchase tulle, lining, and gross grain ribbon. I could not find a pattern, so I winged it by cutting strips and sewing them together. I also purchased flowers to go on top of the ruffling.
This first tutu was created for elder teen daughter in her favorite colors of lime green and purple:
And this tutu was made for Biker Chick:
The girls love their skirts so it was all worthwhile, but next time I will keep my mouth shut at the mall.
Friday, November 6, 2009
I'd been admiring this yarn from the moment I first saw it at Morehouse Farms; so when I saw they were having a sale, I jumped like a ewe and bought some in Indian Summer. Morehouse Farms is located in the Hudson River Valley in New York, where they raise their own Merino Sheep. Merino sheep are said to produce the finest sheep wool around, quite soft and durable.
Most hand-knit socks are made on small needles (size 2), but I made these on a bigger needle, (size 4), which means they made up much quicker. You can see the cabling much better on the back sock in the photo below. These socks are thick, which means they're suitable for cold winter days, unless you are biker chick, who likes to wear them anytime with hot pink high heels:
I used a chocolate brown merino wool for the toes to mix things up:
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I thought about this all afternoon, especially since I finally got out of the house and saw this phenomenon all over town. WHAT is keeping these "garlands" of snow in place? WHY doesn't the snow tumble down? And then I remembered my high school physics. My theory is that the snow is stays in place because of surface tension of water, AND because this is a special, dry snow, AND because the temperature is just right. Any other theories?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
One extremely fascinating aspect of the house was how short and somewhat narrow all the doors are. And the doors themselves are works of art. This door is in the office of the house:
Here's the backside of the same door, which was painted by D.H. Lawrence when he visited Taos:
Below is a shot of the room where Willa Cather stayed. I was intrigued by the glorious carved door in the middle of the room, just big enough for perhaps Alice and her rabbit to fit through:
A close-up of the door:
I did open the door, as curiosity got the better of me. And behind it? Nothing but another door and insulation.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Haven't blogged in a while, which is rather obvious. But I haven't had a lot to say. So I got in my car and drove a far piece to an enchanted place called Taos to see if I could find my voice. Turns out it wasn't missing, just hiding. More later.