Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

Things are hectic here. I also got my haircut like that Norah Jones do I had posted and sad to say, I am not really liking how I look. I feel like it aged me instead of refreshed. Now I remember why I no longer liked my hair above my shoulders. Ah well, it will grow out. Quickly. I hope. I may take prenatal vitamins just to give it a boost. Okay, I am joking there. Sort of. I swear it looked good at salon, but now, I am not sure what to do with it. Yes the stylist had blown it out, but when I did it, it looked like a triangle on my head. I then decided to let it go natural and it sort of works for a day then triangulates once again. Live and learn, live and learn.

I made this delicious Black Bean and Chorizo Soup using Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo. It has a nice gentle bite and is even more delicious the next day. Give it a go my friends.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Different Kind of Beauty

Fashion is something I used to really, really love. The idea of being able to look at a piece of fabric and see a dress or a blouse wile most would just see fabric is quite the gift. As I have gotten older I realized there is not a lot of exclusivity in fashion anymore. There used to be, now one has to pay $10,000 to get that exclusivity. For that I direct you to the Hermes Birkin bag. I love the design of the Birkin bag, yes I do, and if I was ever able to have one, I would prefer it in green or black or orange. 

But I was not doing this post to discuss trends in fashion. I am more interested in certain people, who whether by choice or by accident, are fashion icons. Not the standard beauties like Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly or Cher or Dolly Parton. While those women have deservedly earned their day in the sun, I wanted to show some women who go off the beaten path in looks and dress. 

Tilda Swinton.

She is David Bowie's doppelganger, an incredible actress and defines androgyny. She is bold in her fashion choices and that alone makes her one of my all time favorites.

The first time I saw Rossy De Palma it was the early 80's and I was appalled that she was being used as a model. Remember, this was the time of Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley and more. Now when I look at her, I am ashamed that I did not recognize her Picasso like beauty. How defying the norm is better than following the masses. 

It is time the mature woman gets her due. Many moons ago it was expected that once you hit a certain age, you dressed like a nun and had to exact very reserved. I am being a bit dramatic, but let's face it, you had to hide your true self and follow society's decorum. Luckily, society bends a little better now. Let me start with this lovely 62 year old, Tziporah Salamon, who is now modelling for Lanvin.

Carmen Dell'Orefice is my all time favorite model EVER. She is 81 and STILL working. She exudes confidence and I should be so lucky to age is wonderfully as she has. One time, in an interview, they asked her how she stays looking so young and she had said exercise and food but then smiled and said "Sex!". That's my girl.

I am sure there are many, many more people out there that defy fashion/looks convention and those are the folks we should look to for inspiration when we get stuck in an artistic rut. The best of a different drum can make a big difference, believe me.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Good Meal and Emergency Preparedness

I had my husband pick me up canned salmon when he did a Trader Joe's run. That particular store is about 40 minutes from our house so it is not convenient in any way shape or form, but we will make what we call a "pilgrimage" now and then. I had read that canned salmon was an excellent food to keep in the house and while I was excited to give it a try I was also sort of not into preparing it just as I would tuna. After going through a few interesting recipes online I came across one that was quick and easy so it was dinner tonight. Believe it or not the recipe came from Parenting.com and it is geared towards your toddler, but I figured if it is good enough for the little guy, it is good enough for us as well. I made fresh biscuits to use as rolls since the salmon patties are the size of sliders and a nice side of cabbage and carrot slaw. A simple meal that was fabulous. My husband put mustard on his salmon patties I did Siracha because I like to burn my face off whenever I possibly I can. The slaw is a simple recipe of shredded cabbage, I had a little less than half a head and just cut it with a chef's knife, I used the four carrots I had but instead of shredding them this time I just cut them up in rounds, mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar, amounts are to your own liking as I am not a huge mayonnaise fan, and I added ground cumin seeds this time. Honestly, this a terrific quick little meal I would recommend to anyone.  Here is the salmon pattie recipe. The only thing I did not have was an egg so I  used flax seed as the substitution and it came out fine. We will be picking up more canned salmon for future use.

A friend from college works as Director of Photography in Hollywood. I have always believed behind the scenes of film making was way more interesting than being the actor or even the director. I did plays in high school, stage crew, and when I worked in NYC for a very famous rock band, I learned how that machine ticks and let me tell you, for all the perfection you see on a screen or at a concert, up to a hundred people, sometimes more, makes that happen. Now, once you are done applauding those nameless folks for their tireless efforts, this friend of mine also happens to have the sense to understand he moved to a state where earthquakes are pretty common. And that they can wipe out a city in minutes. Side bar here: My husband, who grew up in Los Angeles, slept through an earthquake when he was a teenager. This explains how he never hears the dog whining to go out in the middle of the night or the baby chatting to himself. God Bless. Back to the topic at hand here. My friend has an emergency preparedness blog called 72 Hour Bag which is filled with good information whether you live in Kansas, Maine or California. Remember, knowledge is power. One of the best posts is called Tampons and Condoms and you will learn a whole new way to look at these products and see incredible new uses for them.

The writing is moving along with the usual bumps when it comes to being able to sit down for a good chunk of time. I am excited though because I have less than 80 pages to edit, but I am about to hit a scene that has failed me and needs serious rework. I dread it, but I don't. Not sure if that makes any sense at all, but I believe I can hammer it out and get it under control. As soon as I get past that, it should be smooth sailing and I am giddy to hand it over to a friend that has never laid eyes on it before. Yes, I am nervous, but I am also willing to accept he may hate it, somewhat like it, think its crap, love it or get me a movie deal. HAHHAHAHA. Come on, I have to laugh or else I will become Hemingway and drink my face off Truthfully, with this story, this is the end. Once he gets back to me with his comments, if it seems a no-go and should be bagged it is bagged and never heard from again. If it is to go out it goes out with synopsis and I begin to concentrate on my next project. I also realized I really need to do more short stories. That is a creative process that would be incredibly helpful when it comes to novels. Plus it would be all kinds of spectacular shiny jellyfish and rays of joy if get published in a reputable magazine. As Hamlet said, "Perchance to Dream".
Wish me luck all!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kitschy Educational Films

Kitsch can be a lot of fun. Coronet Films were the leaders of that from 1946 to the early 70's. Some of the films are a perfect sign of their times with their misogynistic undertones and touches of bigotry, no surprise there, but they are an optimistic, hokey view of what some people believed the world was like. I bet if some of those folks in the videos from the 40's and 50's were given a viewing of "Mad Men" most of those folks would clutch their pearls and keel over in moral horror. But let's keep it light shall we?

There are a few in the bunch below whose messages could/should be applied today. Let me share. 

This one is Appreciating Your Parents. This is probably the hokiest of the clips, but the message is pretty solid.

Your Thrift Habits

Good Eating Habits

Buying Food


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Harlan Coben, Jarred Lunches and More

A neighbor recommended I read the work of Harlan Coben. She was keen on me getting the Myron Bolitar series and I hesitated because I really don't enjoy series novels. I do understand that some folks prefer that character's they fell in love with live forever, but me? Not so much. Anyway, I conceded and got Dealbreaker from the library. It was a fun and fast read. There were a few things I would have done differently, but all in all, I enjoyed it and am considering continuing on with the series. The funny thing is he is a writer from NJ and uses real NJ landmarks and restaurants in the book. It was funny to me to read about Myron and his girlfriend going to Baumgart's in Englewood. We LOVE that restaurant, but we live too far from it now to go eat there at that location and we always forget about the Livingston location which is a touch closer. Okay, back to the book. I have not read many mysteries and I like that the lead character, Myron, is a sports agent and former basketball player and has a sidekick that can kill you. It is fun. I will get the second book and hope Myron keeps me interested. Oh, I do have to say, when I read this book I recalled thinking, "Why do I make it so hard on myself when I write?" I wish I would stop worrying if I am being eloquent in my descriptions and dialogue when I am not writing anything that closely resembles One Hundred Years of Solitude". (Interesting book, will never, ever read it again. LOL) I need to just tell the story. When one gets concerned with if they are as good as other writers, to the point you become paralyzed when typing each word, you need to remember it is storytelling. No one is asking me to be l speech writer to the leader of the free world. I am sure all types of writers go through self-doubt and I have to say it is not a fun time. But I do think it helps to have these moments, then read a book and get inspired to get back to writing and stop worrying so darn much.

Let us talk about mason jars. I love them and use them in my kitchen, but oddly enough I never thought to use them to pack lunch in. Over at Krista and Jess they have some pretty delicious recipes that are perfect for the mason jar. The deconstructed sushi is intriguing. Jar Lunch

I LOVE this cowboy cape featured on Tales From the Seam Ripper.

I have never attempted entrelac knitting but this gorgeous little turban called Grey Gardens created by Rachel Price and Kate Burge and featured on Knitty is tempting me to learn.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Food Sovereignty

As I have said before, I do my best to avoid politics on my blog. Reason being I have no desire to alienate anyone. That being said, there is an issue going down in Maine that needs to be addressed. Residents in some towns there voted for food sovereignty which means "it’s giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” This includes everything from raw milk to locally slaughtered meats." I believe when the public speaks, the local, county, state and federal governments needs to listen.
They never do. Not really. Not unless money is involved.
Money is involved here. Big Ag and Factory Farms do not dig this I am sure and so under the guise of needing to comply with rules and protecting the consumer, the FDA is involved.
Here we go.
I completely understand the need for regulations when it comes to mass food production. I am not against them. What I am against is any agency stepping in when something has been voted and agreed upon by the public and follows the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance. Trying to overturn that is pretty crappy and shady at best.
An educated consumer will have researched raw milk and understand that eating scones baked in someone kitchen is not the same as something bought at Whole Foods or Kroger. But lets be honest, it is not like the factory farming world has been perfect and recalls get worse and worse every year from sprouts, to peanut butter to flour. If someone wants to buy food or milk or butter from a local farmer, who just might have a cleaner farm than Purdue or Tyson, they should be able to without question. I get that the FDA wants kitchen inspections, etc, but those things cost a lot of cash and if you read Joel Salatin's "Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal" You learn just how difficult the government and its agencies make it for you to participate in any cottage food industry endeavor. Such a bummer that we can't all coexist and that everything must become a court battle. Local farmers can't afford these fights, unless people raise money for them, which makes it harder to concentrate on their business. Some feed their families with what they grow and sell some of the extras to make money. Amazing how if you want to support yourself in such a fashion, it becomes akin to a criminal act. Shameful.

Thanks for letting me soapbox it today.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rebels of Food

I love food. I mean, I really love how much can be done with food. You can eat a tomato raw or cook it, mash it, blend it, whatever. Same can be said for most veggies and fruits.  I also love people who are passionate about their foods as well. Hence, many food bloggers catch my attention. Whether I eat the same foods is irrelevant. I don't eat meat, but I can appreciate someone rendering lard at home. God Bless if you do that. I also love reading about paleo diets, gluten free diets, all meat diets, vegan diets, etc. They all have something for every single one of us to use or eat or maybe even agree on when it comes to wanting better foods or raising our own food. I do not always agree with the Dr. Oz's of this world, but that is because if I read or hear something, I will then embark on my path of information gathering to decide if I agree or disagree. Pretty easy, but not a lot of people do that. Plus I believe food can heal and help maintain health which is why I always bemoan having to be stuck going to a local supermarket for some things. If it is healthy you will pay an arm and a leg for it. I am also not a brand name buyer except for Organic Valley milk for the little one and Gorilla Munch. Other than that it is store brands all the way.

So, without further ado, here are some wonderful recipes I have found and wish to share. Happy eating!!

Easy Raspberry Chipotle Sauce from Food Renegade

Coconut Milk Yogurt from Gutsy.

Ozark Pear Cake from Tatelette. Seriously, this is just gorgeous.

Back to Food Renegade for Milk Substitutes.

The Blind Pig and the Acorn has a terrific use for apple peelings. Making apple jelly.

Have stale bread? Well, Veggie Belly has a superb way to use it up in this Bead Upma recipe. Oh my, I need to leave some bread out to go stale, NOW.

Mennonite Girls Can Cook have a lovely Brisket Chili recipe that can probably supply lunch and an extra dinner as well.

Over at The English Can Cook we see marmite used as a substitute for beef broth in French Onion Soup. C'est Bon!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

1920's Bathroom Renovation

While I am all for simple living and frugality, there are times when I believe it is okay to decide to spend money on something instead of just "living with it". Of course, this means being able to pay for it and not charge the whole project.
We have two bathrooms.
They both need work.
The pink one is just down right ugly and the toilet is up against the wall so you side saddle when you pee.
The one upstairs no longer has a working shower as it leaked through the ceiling in the kitchen.
While we can live with these bathrooms as they are and have since we bought this house, the upstairs bathroom has sort of annoyed me. The fact that someone put in a very teeny shower and then the darn thing leaked and sprayed water onto my kitchen counter sucks. Now that we have a little person in the house has also made me want to fix at least one of these and the upstairs one is the winner for me. Part of the reason is I am under the delusion that it won't cost more than 10K to fix. (Stop laughing and get off the floor.) Of course I do anticipate some plumbing issues which will throw that number through the window and onto the patio, so let's pretend. Let's pretend that it will cost that much and then we will have a functional and pretty bathroom.
I look EVERYWHERE for design ideas. Even my brother who is quite the skilled drafter, lucky us,  has come up with plans on how to reconfigure the bathroom. I have not shown him my recent find, but that is because every time I send him stuff I imagine him rolling his eyes and saying, "This crazy broad." and he is allowed. This post on Houzz caught my attention because it is a remodel of a bathroom in a 1923 house with leaky cast iron pipes and water damage. Hello, that is our bathroom!! The big plus was that the cost of renovating was $9k. The one difference is that we do not have a tub upstairs, but putting in a new shower and building a small linen closet probably equals the cost of reglazing a tub, more or less.
I know some people will be put off by the fact that the guy used big box stores, but we can't all reclaim and reuse. Sure I am happy to check out Habitat for Humanity's restore. I bet I could score excellent tiles there, but if have to use Pottery Barn or Lowe's I do not want to get crap for having to do so. Not everything is a do or die situation and when it comes to a bathroom, you do not want to use crappy or cheap materials, but you also can't go into debt trying to fix something that was done poorly the first time. I doubt the homeowners spent more than $200 on that shower and trust me, a six year old can feel claustrophobic in there. It was most likely a quick fix. I hate that, but that is why I want to be mindful when we do it. I am not looking to have a n extravagant bathroom, just a nice one that works for me and mine.

Do check out the gorgeous renovation here.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Please, Ring For My Wrap

This Amazing Seed Stitch Wrap from Purl Soho is just gorgeous.

I would look terrific with this wouldn't I? Especially once I decide on my new hairstyle. Want to see the coif I am considering? It is Norah Jones's gorgeous do.

I do have wavy hair and hair cuts like this can be a pain to maintain, but thankfully, Miss Norah has the same hair so here is a picture of it when it is in a more "natural" state.

I am not too sure when I am going to go for this look, I am still toying with the idea of having shorter hair again. I can have my stylist make it longer too I guess, but part of me wants to look a little funkier again. Read: Younger LOL I also realize that every single one of us, when we see a hairstyle we like, we do not imagine how we will look, we believe we will look like the picture. If only right? AHAHAHAHA

Well, back to writing I go while my little man naps.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Fabulous Art

The husband and son are off to the doctor this afternoon because the little one still has an off and on fever and the husband sounds like Kathleen Turner. I am much better, though the residual cough sucks, but I can actually function. Hurrah! I will take little man to his appointment while Daddy goes across the hall for his. Note to everyone: If you or your family members have colds, but decide to have the party anyway, please let others know so they can choose whether or not to attend. Thank you very, very much.

Just came across this article on a Tumblr and had to share because I find it to be beautiful and very clever. I am an art whore and proud to be one.

Portraits of a Daughter in the Style of Old Master Paintings

This little girl has a future as a Muse, I can feel it.

I am happy to say my novel is now in RollApps version of Open Office and I feel somewhat like a functioning writer again. Formatting has to be fixed, damn Google Drive, but it is not too bad. I feel some relief and I will be sending it to Dropbox for more safekeeping. I am hoping to get it up to snuff to send over to my friend who knows of my wretched delay. Technology sometimes seriously sucks. Wish I could write things out longhand, but then it eventually needs to be typed into some program right? Ah well. I do have to move my Angel of Death story too, but anything else I start, will be done on the iPad in iAWriter. And that is that.