This year, my boyfriend and I exchanged gifts on the solstice, since we wouldn't be home on merry Christmas, and now my head is filled with ideas to celebrate next year's solstice. So I thought I'd record them here to inspire me next year:

a candlelit dinner and a fire in the fire place
exchanging of gifts (before flying off to family)
a solstice tree (to be planted if possible and with edible decorations for the birds: popcorn strings, apple slices, etc.)
a moonlit/starry walk
and maybe some yoga and sun salutations to remember that days are going to start getting longer.

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo dooooooo.


time to be gourmet

This Christmas vacation was spent with my boyfriend's family in Minneapolis, Minnesota where the snow continuously fell on the Mississippi River, and all I had to do was cook, eat, and read. So on Christmas, I made chocolate truffles and venison meat balls with spaghetti (next time, I want to make fresh pasta), yesterday was brined and roasted chicken with acorn squash stew, and then, tonight was the piece de resistance:

For a first course, mushroom, bacon, and sherry chowder which I used several recipes to make, creating thereby a recipe of my own. To redo, I would say cook 4 pieces of bacon in the soup pan until crisp and then set aside. Add 2 tbsb. of flour to the warm bacon grease, whisking until smooth. Add 2 cups of vegetable/chicken broth, bringing to a boil. Then lower to a simmer and add 4 cups mushrooms, 1 shallot, 1 leek (which I didn't use this time), 2 stalks of celery, 2 sprigs of time, a sprig of sage, and kosher salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove sprigs and add 2.5 cups of whole milk and half of the cooked bacon. Keep warm until ready to serve, at which point you add the rest of the crumbled bacon.
Second course was surf and turf: NY strip steaks grilled med.-rare and lobster tails with a beurre blanc.
Since I wanted a lemony bb, I added a couple of narrow pieces of lemon peels.

 My boyfriend did a fabulous job rubbing down and grilling the steaks, and he also made a wonderful apple pie. He is the pastry chef in our little family, although he learned a lot about making crust from my talented mother, who makes delightful pie.

And I, because I never had before, and because my boyfriend's father loves it so much, made bread pudding. Yum yum yum yum yum. I found this delightful holiday recipe that calls for eggnog and bourbon or brandy, and I used brandy. I didn't change this recipe much, but I did add a few dashes of cinamon in addition to nutmeg.

And yes, we all watched "Julie and Julia" last night, which inspired me, and Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is officially on my wish-list.

Bon appetit!


Examiner article: tea for Christmas

I just published my first Examiner article in over a month (lost password, etc.); it's a brief introduction to blending tea with a recipe included. Check it out. I will be trying to keep my blog and the Examiner site more up-to-date moving forward.

cookies and pizza

Above are raspberry linzertorte thumbprints that I made for a Christmas party I went to; the recipe is from the December/January Readymade. They have hazelnuts, lemon zest, cocoa, cinnamon, and curry in them! I also made pistachio and cocoa truffles and the gingerbread men, women, angels, etc. below and set up a cookie decorating station at the party.

I bought my boyfriend a pizza stone for Christmas. Here's a picture of our first pizza, which we undercooked. But the second pizza turned out great; maybe our best homemade pizza to date with a great, firm crust, mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms and brussel sprouts sauteed in wine, green olives, red onion, and thick sweet bacon.


Acoustic liberation

For those who love to craft and read, check out Librivox, an "acoustic liberation of books in the public domain." Perfect for when one wants to craft and read at the same time. Today, I'm going to make teas and Christmas cookies while listening to Emma by Jane Austen.

Black Rock City

For the past two nights, I have dreamed about BRC. I believe the universe may be telling me something.


kittens, crafts, books

Elijah and Leno

CD coaster that I collaged.

An old photograph from Mexico that I collaged over.

Why I love the library.


daily tea

This morning started with the concoction of a sore-throat-be-gone! tea. I need to look for some additional ingredients when I go to the store tonight, but here's what I consumed a whole pot of (except for the one cup I shared with my boyfriend):

sore-throat-be gone! tea: (in order from most to least)
rose hips
raspberry leaf

This brewed into a lovely, fruity red tea that sated me for a while.

I've been finding thousands of amazing, inspiring blogs lately, filled with amazing links and photographs of textures and patterns in nature, embroidery and typographic stitch work by Evelin Kasikov, interior design, sock puppets, felt animals, applique, and all things artistic and crafty and motivating. After scouring these blogs all afternoon yesterday, I went  home to collage my sketch book, finish designing a costume for BRC, and work on some embroidery. I am mad. I am filled with lust for knowledge. I want to know: How do I make that?! I feel more and more compelled to learn and create. It drives me, especially through these long nights and short cloudy days when I can't garden in the sunshine.

Tonight, I learn to knit. But really, I am currently more interested in embroidery like that of Kosikov, applique, and the blending of creative form and function.

Current projects:
braided rug (almost done!)
"reading is sexy" embroidered bookmark
applique curtains to hang below turn tables
applique grocery store bags...guerilla style?
"dome sweet dome" cross-stitch pillow
collage desk
paint bedroom and craft/art/spare room
and, I just started designing a new style of embroidery/cross-stitch influenced by Kosikov

Here's my collaged sketch book.

I'll see where this takes me. I have a feeling I'm at the beginning of an endless, twisting, narrow road with vistas only limited by my imagination.


Crafty Christmas

For Christmas this year, tea and catnip-stuffed felt mouseys, hand-sewn. The pleasure of medicinal, delicious herbs, spices, flowers, and teas for feline and human alike.

Last summer at Burning Man, this lovely girl named Melody, dark-haired, dark-eyed, and elfish, made our campmates and guests tea that she'd blended and brewed herself. Drinking it made me feel nourished, spirited, ready for a night of adventure and dance. Since then, stomach troubles and a desire for nourishing liquids awakened my memories of Melody's tea and curiosity. Why not blend my own? I'd already done a lot of reading, through my interest in gardening, about herbs and their medicinal value. Thus, the birth of my new daily habit: homemade tea. As gifts, I've made Dancing Tea, Tum-Tum Tea, and Elijah's Sleepy Time Tea. Blending tea, for me, is like composing poetry, playful, creative, but also deliberate, with purpose.

Tonight's tea: green, jasmine, and orange peel. This tea was, admittedly, a bit of a mistake from my Christmas blending. I didn't label the bag completely and discovered that what I thought was assam tea was actually green. Oops, beginner's mistake. Still, yum.

grow brain, beat heart!

I've been reading, skimming, scanning, studying a lot lately. Here are a few of the books that make my little brain grow and my little heart beat:

The Virgin Suicides
by Jeffrey Eugenides:
This book is about the danger of generalizing, the mystery of the human heart, and the aching, painful adolescent longing for love. It's about time past and youth lost. It's about change and decay and the inability to hold on. Certain images make the groin throb; others make the heart ache. Sometimes, while reading, every moment of adolescent awkwardness and longing flashed through me. Other times, I remembered the dreams that I can't have back again. The novel is dark, humorous, nostalgic, sad, lyrical. The writing is astounding, almost perfect. Wonderful.

Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson
Haven't finished this one yet, but I can see why it's the favorite of some. Every sentence is carefully crafted. Every word seems painstakingly chosen. Each image speaks upon the theme of the temporal. The sentences are poetry. This book is dense, beautiful, like a song echoed across a lake.

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Homescale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway
I had to buy this book. This book revolutionizes. Practical. Smart. Political. Confident. Hemenway guides the reader through the reasons and ways to create an edible garden that acts like a natural ecosystem: balanced, holistic, organic.

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
Prose helps the writer study, savor, and love the ultimate writing guides: great literature. This book might not make the reader want to write, but it will make the reader want to read more slowly, more carefully, with more appreciation and joy and love for each deliberately chosen word and carefully crafted sentence.

Creation is.

There is so much talent out there. Inspiration in every nook. It floods me, fills me up. I want to shout! I want to dance! I want to add to the beauty of the world, to celebrate it by becoming a part of it. It's incredible to think about the lives of people, and how they have destroyed or created (Hitler vs. da Vinci for example). And then there's the nuance. Many of us destroy and create. I believe that a beautiful life is one lived in the pursuit of creation. Creation is love incarnate. Creation is god.