Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Brownies


I have a blog I love to check out called The Apron Revolution. The author started out dressing and living as if she was in 1955 and now has moved onto 1956. All of the stories have been fascinating and it has moved beyond an interesting experiment. She has even posted videos from old commercials and videos geared toward homemaking. That being said, I tried a brownie recipe of hers last night and was quite simple and good.
Yummy Brownies
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan or round pan (I used an 8” single layer cake pan to make fun cake slice servings.)
    2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes. I always ‘under cook’ brownies, because as with all foods, they continue to cook when you remove them from the oven.
Yes it is cakey, but you can add chocolate chips if you want or just use it as a base for ice cream. She also posted a recipe for homemade chocolate syrup which I cannot wait to try.
Give it a try and add your own little personal twist to the recipe. Enjoy!

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mumblings for Monday

We had such a lovely weekend. Our friends who are using 2 surrogates out of India, are expecting 3, yes 3, babies. Their shower was this weekend and it was a beautiful day and the two reverends that were present gave a blessing. So nice and I was soooooooo hungover yesterday. You would think that by now, at my age, I would realize "Hey, I can't drink like I used to, nor should I drink like I used to." Plus, a wine hangover makes a gin one look gentle. The good thing about being a slug all day was I read a good amount of my Christopher Moore book, Lamb, I also read the newest edition of Southern Living and The Economist.

My obsession with farmhouse sinks continues. Franke products make a stainless steel one. Yes, yes, yes I will take this sink. Now, again, there is no idea when we will renovate said kitchen, but the one thing that is constant is my desire for a big sink. I have a cast iron pan and dammit, it needs to fit.

Yesterday my husband and I discussed my novel and his impressions so far. He loves the characters and is invested in the story, but of course, there are speed bumps within in the book. There are parts where some things feel forced or need more subtlety. As we were discussing it, I said to him that my first reaction is to get defensive, but that stems from my impatience more than anything. I WANT IT PUBLISHED!!!! But let me settle down now. It takes time and I know when he is done I have work ahead of me. My writing style has changed so much. It is more than apparent as I write my new novel and I do look forward to tweaking Bounty Hunter to get it as close to pristine as possible. That is not even the issue, it's that when it does get picked up, it takes 18 months before it even hits bookstores/Amazon, etc. This is where my impatience flashes like a giant strobe light. I always have to reel myself back in and remember to not cross a bridge that's not there yet. Baby steps, Fi, baby steps. WHEW!

A friend turned me onto this YouTube channel. This young woman is very funny and I love her Australian accent.

Want some New Orleans inspired goodies? Fleurty Girl has great stuff.

A shout out to Margaret and Cindy who I saw at the shower. We talked about books and of our obsession with The Tudors. I just re-watched Season 1 and I want all the costumes. I am sure they reuse them for other productions, but I wish I could purchase a few pieces. Even one of the tiaras. Yes I would wear it, why?

Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mary Magdalene Tattoo

Since Mary Magdalene is a major character in the novel I am working on. I have been doing research on her. Of course, I do not see her as I was taught by the Catholic Church back in the day that she was a prostitute. Was she a sinner? Probably, but aren't we all? My vision of her is she was a devout follower of Jesus Christ who had immense strength back in a time when women were no more than commodities. I may be idealizing her in some ways, but I like to think of her as a woman who stood by her convictions. She just got tainted by it pretty hardcore for it as well.
Enough rambling. I came across a church in San Diego that has a pretty cool logo of her and I have decided I would like that as a tattoo at some point.


While the tattoo is very Gothic looking, thank you Filomena :), in my story she has golden hair. The reason for that is behind the altar of my old church was a giant mosaic of Christ on the cross with mourners at his feet and Mary Magdalene was one of them with her golden hair. A fond memory and I wish I had a picture of that mural.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Books, Reading and the occasional naughty read

I am a devourer of books.

From fiction to non-fiction, religious to history, I take every recommendation given to me and try to recall or write it down for future reference. I like to keep a list of books I want to read as well as a wish list on Amazon. The library is my friend and without I would be miserable. My husband and I also talk of getting a Kindle which makes me giddy beyond belief. Can you imagine having a Kindle and books? C'est Magnifique!!

I take immense pleasure in reading a few books at a time. Currently I am still reading One Hundred Years of Solitude which has been wonderful. I also have been enjoying the hilarious Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.
For research on my newest novel I use the Bible (NIV), Dark Night of the Soul by St John of the Cross and Meister Eckhart. The last two books were highly recommended by a friend who is on the path to being a choice religious scholar. They are an intense read and ones needs to really sit in quiet to read them

Everyone needs a break now and then with a little light reading, something that is mindless yet stimulating. For me this is romance and/or erotic fiction. I know this may put some of you off and I apologize, but there is a good reason I mention this. Erotic fiction is vastly different from romance in that it does not always need a happy ever after like romance and sometimes there is nothing but carnal pleasures throughout. One of my favorite authors is Joey W Hill. The best thing about reading someone like Joey W Hill and others like her, though I find her to be at the top of her game, is that they do inspire passion and grand romance. She explores a lot of psychological issues with the characters in her stories and weaves them within the BDSM world. Her boudoir scenes are H-O-T and for some folks they would be over the top because in erotic fiction, you need to be as graphic as possible which you do not do in romance. You can, but usually it is must more flowery. Erotic fiction can be crude, sexy, vulgar, beautiful and romantic all at once. Pretty much how sex is in the real world. Again, this is not for everyone, but I find it interesting. The one thing she does do in her books that surprised me was the use of a high amount of dialogue. Yes I want my readers to understand the reasons my characters behave in certain ways, but at the same time, I do not want to give you every single piece of information. Less is more in some cases.
This not a dig at Miss Hill who writes wonderful vignettes with characters from prior novels. My newest favorite is Jessica and Lord Mason from Beloved Vampire which I never read, but the vignette is very sexy and sensual. That exact story is what made me think about the amount of dialogue actually. In regards to expressions of feelings, some are made very clear by a look, a touch, a whisper and they also talk it out...A LOT. While I enjoy the expressions of love and devotion that is declared over and over, especially when someone is bound, safely and lovingly pushed past the brink of sanity, I wondered how it could play out if they would just stop talking? There is a lot of over analyzing by some of her characters, which I do understand. There are story lines where some of these folks have endured serious pain and abandonment and then find love. They go into deep places with each other emotionally, spiritually and physically, being rebuilt after being destroyed by a wretched past or a relationship that ate them down to nothing. The weaving of constant reassurance through the dialogue that they are everything the person needs and their forever love is heartfelt.The raw honesty of her dialogue is superb, but I do feel some of it can be construed as overkill.
I bring this up because, like any writer, I struggle with how much needs to be stated by my characters. Take a character whose heart has been shackled by their own doing. Now they have to express whatever they need when the their heart is finally freed. There is a very fine line of what I have them say and do. I am sure the reader will scream with joy when the character gets and gives love, but I do not want to have someone reading my book think, "Okay, can she/he just embrace their new destiny of love and happiness and stop worrying??"
While every writer has their own style and voice, I still sometimes have a hard time finding my own. So I am grateful to all the writers out there to let me hear theirs so I can improve mine.
And if you are feeling daring, check out Miss Hills' vignettes on her website and her books The Ice Queen and Mirror of My Soul. Have a fan and a glass of water nearby and if you have a partner, enjoy playtime :)

Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Interiors or Exteriors first

We got a quote from a landscape designer for putting in a blue stone pathway from the driveway to the landing for the front stairs. The path would also go from the landing to the mailbox. We would also put a red maple on the front lawn and then along the side where we had all those awful bushes taken down, they would plant Russian sage and really beautiful ornamental grasses. Mind you, we never even discussed front plantings. The price was what we figured it would be and my husband was grateful that I did not pass out or spew a vulgarity when I saw the quote. Of course it is cheaper to combine it all and so we are shooting to do all of this work in the spring.

Not everyone cares about curb appeal, but we do. Right now there is nothing since we ripped it all out. Plus, the exterior sets the stage for the house. Now, most of you know we would really like to modernize the bathrooms and reconfigure the kitchen. To gut and reconfigure three rooms will be way more expensive then the outside work. We know we will be able to renovate the bathrooms and kitchen sensibly. This belief comes from the fact that my husband is very proud of the fact that our dining room cost a total of $500.00 to do. That includes the dining table, hutch, pendant lamp, rug and dry sink. (Thanks to estate sales, Lowe's, Craig's List and Heritage Unlimited). We also know people who have experience doing renovations as well as enough references from friends and neighbors.
Two sets of friends have just redone their bathrooms after owning their homes for 10 years. It may take us just as long to so some of the upgrades we want to do, but we are fine with that. Of course, if I was to find out I cannot move the toilet away from the wall, well then, the downstairs bathroom would be an easier renovation and may be able to get done sooner than later. ;-)

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, August 16, 2010

Josef Hoffman

My artist friend Mark who blogs at Rabbit Meets Hat was kind enough to turn me on to Josef Hoffman and the brilliant Wiener Werkstatte.

I am officially obsessed and there is no stopping me.

What happened was we put up a new pendant light in the dining room and my whole vision for my house changed. I saw more modernism blended in along with the cottage style. I was explaining to Mark how we like modern, but we also like country and he showed me this Hoffman designed cutlery set.


I swooned. There are brooches and chairs and glasses and so many inspiring designs that I have decided I need to replicate the black and white fabric on this chair onto our wing backs.

Do not even get me started on this "Melon" coffee service. Tim Burton has nothing on Hoffman.

All his designs are modern and classic. Thank you Wittman for recreating his furniture though I cannot even imagine how much it would set me or anyone else back. Let alone having the privilege of wearing one of his brooches.

While his designs do not suit everyone, one most appreciate the how visionary his work truly is and how it has impacted so many. Thanks again Mark!

Cheers!
MissFifi

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Costume Designers



I adore costume designers and by no means do I think it is an easy job. I can only imagine a day in the life of some of them and the crap and budget cuts they must deal. I admire the fact that they can conjure up all sorts of visual emotions by how they adorn the characters of plays, movies and television.
As someone who loves period pieces, I am a huge fan of the work done on The Tudors, Mad Men, The Pillars of the Earth, any Jane Austen piece, Elizabeth, The Women (1939), Auntie Mame, The Matrix and many, many more.
The LA Times this week has an interesting article called Emmy nominated costume designers on dressing characters with success, where they interview, Joan Bergin of 'The Tudors,' Janie Bryant of 'Mad Men' and Lou Eyrich of 'Glee'. I did not really watch Glee so I cannot comment on the costumes there, but the other two shows...LOVE!!
There is also a link in the article to the company Sorrelli.com that did the jewelry for The Tudors and the link is at the bottom of their page. Excuse me will I go browse.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Questions I now have answers to

The inevitable questions that I am asked when folks find out I am writing are:

Q: How will you get published?
A: I have to find an agent. I have already researched some agencies and narrowed down a few agents that I will be sending query letters to after I get it just right.
Q:How much money will you make?
A: Do not know.
Q:Will you be famous like John Grisham?
A: Every writer would like to be famous like Mr. Grisham, chances of that happening are absurdly slim.

A multitude of thanks to the fabulous author Jennifer Crusie who put up a post on her blog called Six Myths About Publishing. Her honesty is refreshing and she lays it out for all of us inspiring writers with her usual wit. Incidentally, I have mentioned it before, but let me shout it again, Ms. Crusie wrote one of the best romance novels I have ever read: Bet Me. After reading her post I realize I will most likely need to get a day job, it is not like I have not been looking I have and applied to a few... come on, NO WHAMMIES! The bottom line for me is that I would just like to have a career in writing, telling stories, making people laugh and cry. Being a millionaire is not a requirement, making a living is and doing something I love is the most important.

This post will now be my reference for when anyone asks about the pay day of a novelist.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Yes the heat does make me lethargic

The last two days have been grossly humid, even at 9pm. Right now it is about 83 and sticky. I need another shower and I only took one about two hours ago! Granted, I am sure the deep south is much worse or to quote Eugene Morris Jerome in Biloxi Blues "Man it's hot. It's like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn't take this kind of hot. "
Anyway, things are sort of at a standstill in our house. We both have a lot of things to do in regards to house renovations and our jobs, but the husband and I have declared that we feel aimless. There is no real reason either, we just do. While we had a ton of fun with my cousin in town, financially it set us back a bit. Money is tight to begin with, now it is tighter. Maybe we got wiped out from having to be somewhere or doing something pretty much everyday she was here.
Due to aimlessness we also keep procrastinating with stuff, which is not smart considering things we are trying to do has some sort of urgency to them. I have been researching for my next novel, but for some reason I am feeling sort of stagnant with it and that really frustrates me. I have another idea I can work with, but I am not sure it is smart to start the outline of a third book when I am still working on the second and waiting for notes on the first. UGH!!!!!
I applied for a temp job recently. Yes, yes I did. The job is for four months and I figured that would be really great. Agencies are probably so slammed right now so I can only hope I get some sort of feedback.
My veggie garden is spitting out it's last few cucumbers and my basil is still growing like mad. The sunflowers were here for a brief time and it was most enjoyable to watch bumblebees behave like crack addicts as they circled round and round collecting pollen, their bodies covered in a pretty yellow dusting.
Friends of our have their baby shower at the end of the month and that should be a lot of fun. They are using surrogates from India and are having a total of three babies! No hand me down clothes in that family! HAHA
Anyway, I need to get back and motivate myself to work on my Angel of Death/Archangel story. Enjoy your evening and stay cool!

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Southern Food

I was born, raised and live in New Jersey. I am mostly of Italian descent with a dash of Lithuanian and I am a pescetarian. With that being said, I am a huge, huge fan of Southern food.
We were watching Anthony Bourdain in New Orleans last night, two years after Katrina mind you, and it was fabulous. I loved New Orleans when I visited in 1999 and I would go back again. The food was fantastic and no, you do not need to be a meat eater to enjoy New Orleans. There is a wonderful food culture there along with the rest of the South. I could eat Collard Greens, sans the ham hock, black eyed peas and many many more dishes. Cafe' Reconcile was featured on the Anthony Bourdain episode and they had a white beans and shrimp dish that made me drool. I made a shrimp po'boy once and have been asked to make it again by my beloved. Of course when I look for the recipe used I cannot find it so now I will have to try another one.
To be honest, I would love to eat my way through the following states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi then back to Louisiana.
One of my favorite all time recipes out of the fabulous Southern Living is Southern Soda Bread. I make it every fall, winter and spring. It is divine and I highly recommend you make some.
With all the blueberries I have frozen from our picking trip in PA, I may make this salsa as it looks quite tasty.
I would like to cook some okra since I have a bizarre obsession with it, but not sure when or how I will attempt that. A good recipe is what I need to find so the hunt begins for that. Hmmmm...


Cheers!
MissFifi

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Homemade make up

Sure we have all heard many a report that there is lead in our lipstick and other unpleasant things in our make up. Let's face it, ha ha, they used lead filled foundation for their faces in the 18th century. Here is some more interesting information on fashions in the 18th century
Reading the latest issue of Ready Made magazine, I came across a great article called Magyver Your Makeup by the women who wrote the book No More Dirty Looks and I wanted to share. I would like to try the lipstick since that is my most favorite beauty product to use. I used to by M.A.C. Makeup lipsticks, but I have regaled myself to Wet N' Wild and NYC makeup. Cheap. Very cheap. They work, but it would be sort of cool to make my own and I love beets which you use to make the color. I am curious though if they have more options so I need to do more research. I also want to get back to using grapeseed oil as a body moisturizer. We had used it in massage class and it is such a wonderful thing to use and it is not expensive at all. You can use olive oil as well, but if you do not care for the smell of olive oil, grapeseed is a good alternative.

Enjoy your weekend!

Cheers,
MissFifi

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hello Again!

Whew! What a whirlwind. Our cousin just left to go back to Italy tonight after three and a half weeks here. We had a wonderful time and we were sad to see her go. That being said, I am also happy to get back to my usual writing schedule. I was able to maintain it pretty much with her here, she was a late sleeper, so my mornings allowed me to continue editing my first novel and my hubby has been given a deadline of September 1 to complete his feedback on inconsistencies and grammar. Also, many house projects fell to the wayside, we considered ourselves somewhat on vacation too with her here, so now we are anxious to get back to the grind.
I wanted to share some of the places we took her. Enjoy the links!

Back Forty Restaurant - cool place, good grub.
Pandan Room - we love going here and are friendly with the owner.
The Statue of Liberty - she always impresses.
Cafe Archetypus- have loved this place forever.
Greek Taverna - Yummy!
The Nevermore Hotel - drinks and dinner with friends

We also took her to the waterfront in Edgewater to get fabulous nighttime skyline photos of Manhattan. She got to see my brother again and go on his boat in Greenwood Lake, NY and we enjoyed a lot of home cooked meals and dinner at a few friend's houses. It will be nice when she comes back again.


Cheers!
MissFifi