Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Paris Parfait!

Congratulations, Tara!

One of the best things about my short two months of blogging is discovering new “friends” throughout the world, by linking to their blogs.

Today I visited Paris Parfait (check the links on the right and check it out yourself!) Tara lives in Paris and fills her blog with an always visually pleasing, eclectic mix of content that includes stunning photo essays and commentary on a variety of subjects. (I especially liked her field trip to a French town – read down about a week for that one! The pix are great!) (I wanted to include one of her photos here as a "tease" for you, but didn't want to do it without her permission -- I'm still getting the hang of linking things! Alas, you'll need to visit and see for yourself!)

Well, today I discovered that Paris Parfait had its second anniversary today! So, join me in wishing Tara happy anniversary! (I extend my deep admiration – after two months, I am beginning to realize the commitment that blogging for two years really is! To do it so well is icing on the cake!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Rolling, Rolling, Rolling!"

I have had the most wonderful work experience today. One of the great things about working at a public television station is connecting with your community, and today we started a venture with community partners that I’m greatly looking forward to.

It’s called “Rolling.” “Rolling” is a television program produced by WNET/New York (you can view the program online here. It focuses on wheelchair use.)
WKAR recently received a grant to have a community event related to wheelchair use in conjunction with the program, and today I met with our community partners to get started.

Our event will feature a resource room with materials, possibly demonstrations from various agencies and organizations who deal with the special needs community, focusing on (but not limited to) wheelchair users and those who are part of their lives (families, teachers, caregivers, and really when you get right down to it, the general community at large).

We’ll also have a program with two nationally recognized speakers, Judy Winter (she’s on my link site on this blog) and Al Swain, who is not only a wheelchair user, but blind as well, so he’s really experienced a great deal related to the topic. The program will also include young students of the Music Therapy Program at Michigan State University and of course a preview of the documentary. We may be able to have the filmmakers attend.

I’m working with a great team of folks representing some terrific organizations in our area. I’ll post more about this soon, including links to our partners. You may well know someone who could benefit from info on their sites (particularly the resources from the Center for Educational Networking, which has some great online publications --

Some days you just have a good work day. Today was one of them!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gotta Dance! (Tap, that is!)

Well, yesterday we tapped our troubles away.

Not literally, I fear. But for several delightful hours three of us enjoyed the magic of Busby Berkeley, the colorful glamour of Carmen Miranda, the easy, flawless style of Gene Kelly, the shotgun taps of Ann Miller and the glitzy, downright hilarious spectacle of "The Producers" biggest production sequences! It was our Tap-a-thon -- and there wasn't enough time to enjoy it all, so "Tap Deux" will be coming soon, I think.

We squirmed in our seats, feet moving, as we watched some of the best tap numbers on screen and laughed as we watched Busby Berkeley's color film "The Gang's All Here" with Carmen Miranda doing one of the more phallic numbers of all time (imagine dozens of beautiful girls each holding giant bananas, which they waved about in patterns!). Alice Faye crooned beautiful ballads and led into Busby's Polka Dot Polka, which evolved into something with kalaidoscopic patterns that seemed more like something you'd find in the 60s inspired by way too many magic mushrooms! (You have to wonder what Freud would say about Busby Berkeley.) The plot's nothing to write home about -- but how can you argue with Benny Goodman's music and all those production numbers?

We also watched Berkeley clips from "42nd Street" "Footlight Parade," "Golddiggers of 1933" and more. My favorites? Ruby Keeler's "42nd Street," of course, and "Remember My Forgotten Man" with a poignant Joan Blondell and a massive production number. "Shadow Waltz" was pretty amazing, too.

(Actually, we watched these earlier Berkeley movies after "The Gang" and it was pretty easy to see that he picked his methods and style early and stuck with it for more than a decade.)

Time was running out, so we caught Ann Miller tapping "Prehistoric Man" from "On the Town" and then moved onto "Good Morning" and "Singin' in the Rain" -- no one does it like Gene Kelly! We wrapped up with several glitzy numbers from "The Producers."

(I might add that as we were watching these movies, we were also dining on Jan's artichoke dip, Kate's great corn and bean salsa, Trader Joe pastry puffs, and of course, Junior Mints -- all with wine and fizzy water!)

We never did get to Fred and Ginger, Fred and Cyd, Jimmy Cagney in "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and were chastised by several of the men who joined us at dinner later for not including Shirley Temple or Gregory Hines. ("Tap-Deux.")

We later were joined by others who couldn't attend and some men-folk for Italian food at Bravo (or, for those of us who ate our hearts out on appetizers all afternoon, soup!).

So, my question to you -- any tap favorites we should include next time?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Good Times!

Back in Michigan after cold days in Columbus (though they are just as cold here!).

Last time I talked a bit about the NETA conference. Here's a bit of an overview -- highlights of a great time!

First, the opening reception was terrific! It was a COSI, the science museum, also site to the WOSU (Ohio State) public television studios. Some of my favorite parts of this event were the stilt people...

...the walking statue. He would stand still (I watched closely for breathing -- he's very good, and looked very "metalic")...

...the musical talent -- this is a terrible photo of a terrific drummer, but he moved too quickly to stay in focus! (He also had a group of dancers with him and was later joined by other musicians, including some audience volunteers!)

...the studio tours. WOSU is located within the museum, which makes it very public and a wonderful way for people to really be able to interact with their public television station....

This is one of my colleagues at one of the interactive displays they have set up in their studio so people can "play" at being a director...

...the fascinating pendulum in the lobby. Again, moving too much to be a clear shot. This pendulum moves with the earth's movement, if I got that right, and every so often, it knocks off a metal marble positioned in the circle that surrounds it.

...the Space Exhibit. This area focused on space and had walk-in areas so you could see the food and facilties astronauts work with as well as many interactive exhibits.

The conference was fun, too. Tremendous workshops and a good learning experience. Lots about digital television and the February 2009 conversion, which has all our heads spinning. And many other good sessions related to promotion and communications. Wonderful people, too. I like this conference because it isn't so big it gets "out of control" -- you really do get to see and talk with people.

The first day's lunch featured Mary Ann Esposito, host of "Ciao, Italia" (check your public television station!). It was a pizza lunch and I've decided I'm in love with gorgonzola and sun-dried tomato pizza. She was very gracious (pictured on the left with a NETA staff person named Gail).

Thursday night was the hospitality suite evening. As I mentioned before, I was all geeked up about the "how-to" suite, and it didn't disappoint. Here are three of my creations (the card wasn't that great and not worth including!). The necklace nearly killed me -- made me realize I either need to move to a bigger size reader glasses or bite the bullet and get the real thing! Sandy Laipply of "Beads, Baubles and Jewels" graciously helped me with some of the smaller-holed beads. (Let me say that I've strung beads since I was four, and there is nothing complicated about this necklace except for the wretched rubber bumper beads between the pearls. I will never use them again unless I get lasik.)

The fun table was for "Knitting Daily," coming in summer to PBS stations. We needle-felted a heart which I pinned to my hat. This was a terrific group of people, and we were all very diligent! When my colleagues from the station, Bill and Joe, stopped by to say hello, I fear I barely noticed them!

And I loved "Quilting Arts" and meeting Patricia Bolton, who many of us know as editor of "Cloth, Paper, Scissors" (as well as "Quilting Arts" magazine). Our project there was a coffee cup holder (like the kind you might get on a Starbucks cup). Using fabric and fused patches, we cut out the designs we chose from the patches, arranged them, and Patricia sewed them onto the pre-cut shape and then free-quilted it with the machine. It's really cute and I'll use it.

She was a lovely and very interesting woman (who really looks young!), with a lot of experience under her belt (including a background in special needs). She landed in this business after a trip to Jo-Ann's on a stressed out day during the period she was working on her Ph.D (not in crafts!). I was pleased to have the opportunity to tell her how much I -- and many others I knew -- enjoyed and used the magazine.

(One of the things I didn't know about many of these shows is that they are produced in a studio in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. I have family in Beachwood, and I think a studio visit may be in the offing!)
I didn't have time to do the other crafts -- making a tea towel -- those were very cool and I was sorry it was getting so late; make a lanyard (been there, done that) and decorate a cookie with cool tips. That looked fun!

I should mention that there were other hospitality suites and I was pleased to meet Mike Leonard, whom you may know from "The Today Show" and who has a series on PBS about his road journeys with his parents. I saw some of the shorter reports on Today, so I'm looking forward to the show. He autographed books, as did a most interesting fellow whose name I can't recall but has a series on cosmology, religion and thought. His book is pretty thick and I wish I could remember the name of it. I think it will be a good one, not a quick read, but a thoughtful one. And Scott Huston of "Play Piano in a Flash" was there, too.

The last day was made up of a couple of workshops and a trip home (with a stop at Trader Joe's -- hooray!)

Ah, but what did you do on the other evenings, Jeanie?
Now those were fun, but had nothing to do with the conference. I was staying with my very good friends Linda and Larry. I had a great time on one night enjoying playtime with their adorable grandchildren who are 3 and 5, and more cute and fun than one could imagine!
The next night we had a lovely dinner before the suites. Then Larry took me on a city tour of Columbus' Victorian Village, German Village and the Ohio State campus. They were gracious, wonderful hosts and it couldn't have been more fun. (I have to add that Lin is totally the Spirit of Christmas. She's been getting things put away and I took this picture because it made me feel good -- how nice to have a "holding" area -- between the display place and the storage spot!)

I'll be back to shorter posts next week! But thanks for listening!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Greetings from Columbus!

Greetings from public tv-land, this week in the VERY COLD Columbus, Ohio! I wish I could link my camera to this terminal -- alas, not possible, but will post some photos when I return.

Unfortunately, tonight is the ONE NIGHT I wanted the camera -- hospitality suites, including the make-it-and-take-it for the how-to shows, along with some others -- and who knows who could turn up?!

Well, my friends picked me up for dinner and I left my totebag (with the camera and phone) in the car. So, wish me well getting back to their place tonight! (Shouldn't be a problem.) So, that's a bit of a bummer, but I'm planning on having so much fun, who'd have time for taking pictures! At least having the quiet time before the parties means I can log in and make a quick post.

Great fun to connect with colleagues, learn new things (lots about the digital television conversion -- I have one link over in my site links to the right about the coupon program). Also enjoyed a blogging seminar, and lots of PR-related things.

The event kicked off with a big party at the science museum, with great exhibits and entertainment. (I DID have the camera for that -- look out soon for the stilt-walkers!) And a delicious pizza lunch with the host of "Ciao Italia."

So, I'll be back on a regular schedule Monday -- or maybe even before! I miss checking all your postings!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Off for a Few Days!

A quick post before I take off tomorrow morning for the NETA (National Educational Television Association) meeting in Columbus. Four days of workshops and fun hospitality suites. I'm especially looking forward to the "How-To" show suite, where one does make-and-take projects related to scrapbooking, knitting, beading, quilting, you name it! And best of all, "Cloth, Paper, Scissors" editor Patricia Bolton (host of a quilting show!) will be there too!

Best of all I'll be staying with my dear friends Lin and Larry! They're like a big sister/brother to me and their lovely home will be a peaceful refuge from conference craziness. Does it get better than that?

This weekend was partially creative -- when I get the ATCs scanned that I did for some swaps and just for fun, I'll post them -- but that won't be today! And some knitting. A couple of DVDs preparing for next weekend's tap-dance-movie marathon. I wrapped up the day with "Northanger Abbey" -- part of "The Complete Jane Austen" on PBS' Masterpiece Classic. Really quite delightful and fun.

And, I made a wonderful fish dish, which along with an apple crisp made courtesy of Cousin Bonnie's great Christmas present -- a box of apple-related things from Cracker Barrell! -- was great.
Fast Fish Filets

Tilapia filets (I had three big ones; there was enough sauce for more; I'm not good on fish substitutions...cod, maybe?

Cook about 2-3 minutes per side in olive oil over the stove and remove from heat.

In a bit more oil saute:

3 cloves of garlic
1 T. capers (I have added to the original recipe, because I love capers)
handful of chopped kalamata olives (optional, but good)

Then add one small (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes. If they aren't pre-seasoned, add 1/2 t. each of basil, oregano and rosemary. I added extra anyway.

When tomatoes have warmed, put the fish back in, cover with tomatoes and just warm up.

Serve with rice (or whatever you like!).

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Danger! UFO!

Last week I mentioned that the knitting guild program for this month was bringing in your oldest "UFO" (unfinished object). I dug mine out and though I never made it to guild that night, though I'd post it.

In short -- What was I thinking?!!! Love all the colors; they're my favorites. But I am a woman who should never wear horizontal stripes, particularly on a tunic (theoretically hip-length) and certainly not stripes that are anything but muted! It looked so cute on the model on the pattern. That must be it.

So, this was to be a turtleneck tunic. I found the completed front, back and sleeves. Basically, just had to finish the t-neck and sew it together, so I was pretty close. Not sure why I put it down, but I did!

After conferring with friends Suzanne and Kate, it was determined that this should never be a tunic sweater. I think I'll probably felt it and make placemats or coasters, maybe a tea-mat or a purse... of maybe, just maybe...

Yes! A cat bed! My orange boy seems to like it! And heaven knows, orange cats and navy sofas require something in-between!

Any ideas?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Play Date!

How fun to have an old friend visit and just take the day to play!

Suzanne and I have known each other for 40 years this year, meeting in high school through drama productions. We managed to stay friends ever since and grow together (versus growing apart). We still share so many of the same interests – knitting, craft, books, movies, theatre, travel, good food and shopping!

So, her visit had to include a number of those elements!

We headed to Ann Arbor for some shopping, first stopping at Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan. They have these huge dioramas of the outdoors, and while stuffed animals aren’t quite my bag, they did make for fine, immobile wildlife subjects! I especially liked this white wolf.

Next stop: Barnes & Noble, where I found a tapas kit with cookbook, skewers, plates for $2.50 on sale from Christmas! Also found a great calendar to rip up and mix about for ATC elements! Then off to Trader Joe’s – a favorite! My purchases included apricot-stilton cheese, interesting dried fruit, their wonderful salsa and roasted red pepper soup!

I liked this cheery cat by their bulletin board and the beautiful flowers which reminded me – on that dark, gloomy day – that spring would be here someday!

From there we headed back to Lansing and the famous ThreadBear fiber arts, an enormous knitting store (their website is linked to this blog – check it out!). We both made purchases, though I was somewhat self-controlled! But aren’t these colors unbelievable?

Dinner time – one of my favorite Lansing dives – a Mexican restaurant called El Azteco. Then we picked up Rick and headed to the movies for Sweeney Todd. It was almost filmed in three colors – black, white and red. Lots of red. I’m a Stephen Sondheim fan, and this is a favorite, albeit a gory one! I enjoyed it, but confess I was glad we didn’t pick it for New Year’s Eve!

Christmas presents (yes, still!) followed. Suzanne shops well for me and all were perfect, but one of the most fun was knitting needles that light up in the dark!
Mr. Gyps loved it!
The time flew too quickly! But it was such fun. Now I have to get something on those needles!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Photographs of the Heart

This morning I had to stop at the doc’s office to pick up paperwork for a chest X-Ray and lab work. To return to campus and the clinical center, I had to drive through MSU’s farm lands. MSU started as an agricultural college and that remains one of its big draws. On the perimeter of campus is a good degree of farm land, where one often sees horses, cattle, sheep and – in the summer – crops. It’s really quite lovely.

This morning the light was perfect as I went down these rural roads. Fresh snow gleamed and the world looked like a symphony of white. Crisp, precise white fences; white barns, immaculately kept; white sheep (which actually looked gray by comparison to the pristine snow), and of course that snow.

Only the darker donkey, and the black trunks and lacy bare branches of the trees offered a stark contrast to the white. The lighting was perfect. It was dazzling.

At first, I was frustrated I didn’t have my camera with me. But I also realized that one would need to be a far better photographer than I to balance all that white. And perhaps even the best of the best (and I know a few of those!) wouldn't be able to do it justice -- there wasn’t a lot of contrast.

Yet to me, it was breathtaking. A “photograph of the heart” for days to come.

On another topic, I’ve yet to take that picture of my UFO – the unfinished knitting object I mentioned. I'll do that soon. I was so worn by the time I got home last night (with proofing to do) that I just crashed. No knitting guild for me last night!

Tonight my friend Suzanne from Canada (formerly from Lansing – formerly meaning high school) is visiting, en route to a meeting in Chicago. We’ll go play tomorrow. Perhaps Ann Arbor, Trader Joe’s and the fabulous Hollander’s Art Store, all weather pending. And, we’ll celebrate Christmas (I knew there was a reason why some of the trees were still up…)

In honor of Suzanne’s visit, here is her Heart-Healthy Stuffed Mushrooms recipe! It’s good – enjoy!

Suzanne’s Healthy Stuffed Mushrooms

According to Suzanne, each mushroom only has 27 calories and one gram of fat!

1 lb. medium-sized mushrooms
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme
Dash pepper and ground nutmeg
1/3 cup soft plain bread crumbs
4 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Clean mushrooms, carefully removing stems, which you chop finely.

In medium pan, heat oil.

Add chopped stems and cook, stirring until juices have evaporated.

Mix in remaining ingredients; remove from heat. Mound cooked mixture into mushroom caps.

Place caps in a shallow baking pan sprayed with cooking spray and bake uncovered at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm Dreaming of...

Myrtle Beach.

It's snowing here this morning, and while we had deep snow on January 1 that has since melted, this is only a drop in the bucket.

But it still makes me long for Myrtle Beach, SC, where we go each summer when Rick does a trade show there. I help, but I get a lot more play time than he does.
We take our own towels and sit on the sand, but I love the way these bright beach umbrellas and chaises look. They form one long, seemingly neverending row down the beach for miles! The sand is hard enough to build a good castle and there are plenty of shells, many of which have found their way into art projects.

The water -- I never knew I loved the ocean until after Myrtle Beach. Huge, powerful waves, perfect for diving into or over. Warm. Salty. When Big Cat Stimpy died, we went to MB about a week or two after. I truly felt that all the salt in the water mirrored all the tears I had cried for my sweet Angel Boy, and in so very many ways it was a divinely healing place.

Although it's no longer there, one of my favorite places was the Pavilion amusement park. This is not your oversized theme park, but the kind of park I remember from when I was a kid. A marvelous carousel, lots of "whirl-and-hurl" rides, fortune tellers and plenty of carnival buskers. A great place to people watch and spend a warm summer evening before walking back on the beach.

So, as I look at the flurries outside and count down the days until spring is really here to stay, I'm dreaming of Myrtle Beach. Salty waves, lots of sand, the air thick with humidity and plenty of sun!

On another note, tonight is UFO Night at knitting guild -- unfinished object night. I'll post a photo of my 1985 UFO -- hopefully tomorrow. Maybe I'll get a few hints on what to do with it. One thing is certain -- it will not end in the form in which it began!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Sisters

I didn't have any sisters (or brothers, for that matter), but my Mom (front left) had three and thanks to that fact of birth, I ended up with some great cousins -- and cousin-kids!
This ATC was from a photo of the four of them at the lake. Mom is in front, laughing, and sometimes I get that exact same look. Crinkly nose, cheeks round and pushed "up" because of the laugh. It's sort of scary, because I can almost hear exactly what the laugh sounds like!

The little short one next to her is Grace, the youngest. Grace had three kids -- David, Patty, and Mary Ann, who is best known as Mutty. They are like brothers and sisters to me, the only child, as we spent so very many of our entire summers together. In this picture, Grace and Mutty could be one and the same. We always thought Mutty looked more like her dad, but one look here -- Whew!

You can't see Iris very well -- she's somewhat covered by my Mom. She's the oldest and the only living sister, now almost 95. If you look at photos of Iris and her daughter Nancy (or for that matter, her granddaughter Mary), the resemblance is uncanny. Eleanor, in the right, rear, died when she was about 40 or so. But her children Jack and Ann resemble her strongly.

This isn't rocket science -- we all look like someone and for a lot of good reasons. But I find it amazing that we can be so like one, so like another, over so many generations.

Looking at this picture reminds me of the strong women from which I came. Most of them worked outside the home. Iris was one of the first women in business in Lansing. Mom taught, worked for the airlines during the war, and managed a dress shop. Eleanor was an artist. I don't know if Grace ever worked outside the home, because she was my grandmother's primary caregiver until her marriage. But they built a strong legacy of independence, compassion, creativity, and hard work which they passed to their children. I'm lucky to be part of them.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Getting My Groove Back

Boy, it's been a week. Lots of naps, coughing, hot-cold-sweating-freezing days, but I'm getting it back! The good thing about mandatory laying low is that you don't feel nearly so guilty reading a magazine or book as I sometimes do when things need to be picked up. To that end, I have been enjoying two bvery different books this week.

"Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell talks about the gut instincts we sometimes get about certain things or poeple, and working with that. They can be good, but they can also be the wrong take. Kevin gave that to me -- I think as a college freshman he has become more in-tuned to a broader range of writing and shared that with us this Christmas.

The other is a book I gave Rick and the kids called "How Starbucks Saved My Life" by Michael Gates Gill -- true story of a former JWT creative director who found himself out of a job and working at Starbucks. It's published by Starbuckss (not surprisingly) and much is a big promo (the guy WAS a creative and marketing director) but it's a pretty good and well written morality tale.

Then came Cloth Paper Scissors (CPS) with a great article on making gelatin prints. I've never done this, but have to get gelatin now and see how it works. It's a good thing I didn't have any in the house because I probably would have become half-involed, popped out and left myself with a big mess!

Belated gifts from Cousin Mutty, including a neckwarmer with lavender and herbs in it, were a welcome surprise.

The happy cowgirl at the top of this post is from a disc Shelley sent me for Christmas. I like her spunky look! Good motivation. The little buckaroo by her think of as Rick (who brought me jello when I was sick!) -- waiting in the wings for a full recovery!

Well, I'm going to try to post this on blogger. This computer is so very slow, so...wish me well. Back in business next week!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Not Flu, "Just" Bronchitis!

The good news -- it isn't flu. The bad news -- it's bronchitis, and he said don't hang with people till Saturday.

So, I'll be home-sweet-home with my Orange Boy and hot tea and Ricola and dial-up, which will mess up my visiting other spots. But hey, it could be much, much worse.

Flu Season

The Marmelade Gypsy's person (that would be me) is out with the flu, we think. I'll be back soon! Meanwhile, I'm going to curl up with Mr. Gypsy Rose and take a nap!

For those of you with blogs, I'll check in after I get off dial-up!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Writing as Art

I've been thinking a lot about "art" lately. I visit a lot of blogs and websites that include amazing art -- some is collage, photography, painting. I enjoy seeing eloquent sculpture and I find great beauty in the clean lines of pottery, furniture, or tapestry. But "art" is often attached to the visual and we sometimes forget that it is more than that. When I went to do art with my friend Kate after Christmas, part of our time was made felting (or trying to felt) beads. Some would call it craft. After trying, I think those who do it well are mastering an art!

When Rick plays his classical guitar, he is working on his art. When we attend (as we did last weekend) an amazing concert of mostly showtunes performed by an excellent ensemble, we were experiencing art. And it may have been broad art, but when I enjoyed "Spamalot," I was seeing comedy and timing as great art.

We think of great novels as "art." And poetry or Shakespeare. It's art.

But writing? Our penmanship?

A few days ago I posted about Japan and a correspondence from our friend Kumiko-san, who used to live in Lansing. She recently shared with me some of her beautiful calligraphy, which has appeared in several exhibitions in Japan.

This is writing. I'm not sure what it says (I'll have to ask Kumiko!) But it has a meaning. And yet I defy anyone to say something so beautiful, so eloquent, so bold is anything but art.

It makes me think about elementary school. Did you have the charts of the alphabet over the blackboard? A cursive "Q" looked like a "2" (does anyone write "Q" that way anymore?) Pity the child (like me) who was lefthanded and whose writing slanted off to the "wrong" side. They broke me of that! When I re-read my parents' letters, they are written so legibly and almost the same. And my grandparents. In their generation writing -- the act of writing -- was art.

Something to think about. As I look at Kumiko's work -- and that of another favorite calligrapher, Patty Monroe-Mohrenweisen -- I realize this may never be an art I can do well. But it is certainly one I deeply admire.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Soup Season!

I bought some fennel this weekend to make one of my favorite soup recipes. Maybe tonight (though today is an unseasonably warm 61 degrees and gloomy as all get-out!). Just have to get the leeks, but might substitute with onion, because I know I have those.

Fine Fennel/Potato Soup

About 3-4 Yukon Gold Potatoes
3 fennel bulbs
2-3 leeks

Wash all veggies and cut into small pieces. Put in stock pot. Add:

3 cans (6 cups) chicken stock
Fresh chopped rosemary and thyme
Dried basil and oregano
Salt/Pepper to taste

I add a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon. Your call on that one!

Bring to boil and simmer for about 30-40 minutes till veggies are soft. In batches, put veggies in blender or food processor, adding cooking broth. Combine processed soup, adding more liquid if desired, return to heat. Serve with fennel fronds on top.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Thinking About Japan

Over the holidays, Rick and I both received holiday cards from some of our friends in Japan. He had traveled there often for business in his previous job and we became connected with several from Shiga, Japan, who served as visiting delegates for the Sister Cities program. We took a "just for fun" trip there about 10 years ago (which reminds me, I need to renew my passport), staying at the homes of many of our new friends.

Today we heard from Kumiko, who was a delegate here about six years ago. On her card, she had a photo of a calligraphy exhibit she had -- it was beautiful. I'm hoping we can get a website where those images are posted!

The experience was wonderful for all sorts of reasons -- discovering new foods and cultures (Rick often prepares Japanese food), beautiful sites, absorbing one's self in a culture that is pretty different from your own (at least in terms of language and pace). But the friendships were the best.

I was looking at a few of my Asian-themed cards for an upcoming swap and decided to post some of them here! All except the last used vintage postcards I found at an antiquarian book and paper show.

One of the things I remember most about the trip (which was in February and very cold and snowy here) was that although it was also winter there (and in the mountains, it was BIG winter!) we could walk along the streets in Shiga or Tokyo neighborhoods and see flower boxes with pansies. It was a great lift, seeing those bright faces of purple and yellow and knowing spring would come to Michigan again someday. I have to remember that this morning!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Comment Issues Again!

I've been having trouble getting the comments thing activated again. Well, it's activated... just doesn't stay activated, and I can't figure out why! Hopefully my Marmelade Gypsy will get a comment or two, even if it's with this post!

The Marmelade Boy!

Here's the Marmelade Gypsy's New Year's Day photo.

Who couldn't love such a sweet boy!

It's 4 degrees this morning. Sunny -- but 4. I think today he'll be curled up on the back of the couch where the warmth of the register comes up and he can take a look at the squirrels struggling to find anyplace to dig up a nut! Or maybe under the tree or on the bed... one thing's for sure, he'll be getting his Zzzz's today!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Dumpster Diving!

Will someone give this squirrel some nuts?

As I came into work, he was trying to eek out some breakfast from the trash can outside of the building.

I hope he got something better than an empty latte cup and leftover fruit peels!

New Year, New Snow!

Boy, did we ever get it! And, from what I hear, not nearly as much as some other areas! Coming home from a friend's lovely dinner at New Year's made for a tricky drive (not terrible, but a little nervewracking!) When we awakened Tuesday, it was a wonderland of white.

You hear the term "laden" -- well, these branches were laden with snow. Incredibly beautiful.

So, I had to "start with art" and finish a collage (badly photographed below) from our trip to Canada. This was a Christmas gift that is now a post-Christmas gift! (Canvas base with painted background, textured with modeling paste and with photographs I took from the trip -- along with a few blue jay feathers (there were scads of them -- just like Hitchcock, only they were all blue!) and a seagull feather from our beach walk).

What else? I opted for baking! I owed a friend some chocolate chip cookies, and it was a great day to do it!
AND, I heard it was good luck to eat black beans on New Year's, so I made up a black bean dip (which would serve the semi-homemade lady proud!) Here it is... as you can see, it's a little loose...

New Year's Black Bean Dip and Chips

1 can of black beans (drained)
1 small or 1/2 large onion
1/2 of a 12 oz. can of your favorite salsa (I used Trade Joe haberna and lime -- very spicy)
1-2 tsp. of cumin (I love this, so start light and add as you like)
chipotle or chimayo powder to taste

Zap it together in the food processor till chunky-creamy. (I pulsed, not pureed.)


Cut small low-fat flour tortillas into eights and lay out on a baking sheet. Mist with oil (I used TJoe Meyer lemon oil, because that was all I had that misted; any would work.) Sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 for 5 minutes; turn over or toss and bake another 5 minutes.

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