Monday, June 30, 2008

These are a Few of My Favorite Finds -- and, Good Salsa, too!

Here are a few of my favorite finds from this weekend's junking.

I realized that for as much as I read, I'd never read Dorothy Parker! For fifty cents, who could resist! The small book atop it is one of two I got -- they come in a book box and are about three inches high. Lovely illustrations as well. And at the price, I'll not feel bad about cutting them up!

I liked the pattern on this compote. It may go in the Art Space to hold materials. Or fruit on the counter. For fifty cents, why say no?

I was very fond of this hat with about a dozen millinery flowers.

And this collection -- again, at fifty cents -- captivated me. OK, I'm embarrassed to say why. But the glass holder will be a grand crown for the Gypsy (or something) and the other oblong one is amazingly bendable! I can't wait to decorate these! (I know -- too small for my big hairy head, but oh, sometimes I need a crown that isn't in my mouth!)

These little white dishes have already been put into service holding buttons and embellishments. They were a quarter for both.

So, last night I was making salmon the way my friend Kate does, which is the Alice Waters way. Easy -- put a jelly-roll pan of water on the lowest baking rack and on the one above your salmon. Alice uses olive oil, salt and pepper. I, of course, change everything and added dill, chipotle and chimayo. Bake at 200 for an hour.

I wanted something zesty to go with it and didn't want to go to the store, so this is my original potpourri salsa!

Potpourri Salsa

(Please note -- I was winging it on the proportions -- and the ingredients, for that matter!)

1/2 big red pepper, diced as small as I could
1 peach, again finely diced.
1 smallish Vidalia onion, finely diced. (Actually, most of a medium onion)
Probably about 3/4 c. frozen corn, nuked about 3-4 minutes and put in cold water bath

Mix together. If I had cilantro or a jalapeno, I'd have added them.

Juice of one lime and 1/4 of a leftover lemon
At least 1/4 t. or more of: cumin, red cayenne pepper, chimayo, chipotle and red pepper flakes and salt to taste.

Mix together and serve over salmon. Or do like I did and just eat it by the spoonful!

PTV Pick of the Week

Someone just emailed me to ask where the public television Pick of the Week was! (Thanks for asking, Joyce!) Through some weird blogger thing, the post I wrote earlier was published under a post I wrote later. In otherwords, for more about this week -- and tonight's pick -- History Detectives -- look beneath the post of Mr. Gyps "hunting" at the bird feeder!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Marmelade Gypsy Contemplates His Ancestors -- and Life on "The Farm"

Well, there you have it -- Mr. Gyps, eyeing Chick A. Dee and wondering what his ancestors would have done.

No doubt, they would have flown through the screen with their enormous brown paws, swatted the feeder and enjoyed a tasty hors d'oeuvre.

Alas, The Marmalade Gypsy must settle for Fancy Feast, Science Diet and an occasional Pounce.

Ancestors had it good, he thinks. It's always greener...

Speaking of green, my "Farm"... doing rather well!

The lettuce is nearing the end of its cycle and it's mighty sweet and tasty.

I have enough basil for pesto this weekend.

The peppers are sprouting and I have some wee green tomatoes promising to plump up by July or August.

The sweet peas are continually cut and brought into the house.

And the geraniums are full of face and very cheerful.

When I brush by the lavender, I enjoy a glorious fragrance. Perhaps I'll try some lavender wands this weekend!

Enjoy your weekend -- Public TV Pick of the Week coming tomorrow or Sunday!

Public TV Pick of the Week and a Question!

If you haven’t discovered History Detectives in the past, there’s no better time than the new season premiere, which begins Monday, June 30, at 9 p.m. on most PBS stations.

I’ve seen these things on your blogs – that great yard sale find; a treasure from grandma, perhaps with a fascinating story behind it; a clue about some old object – perhaps an intriguing inscription.

History Detectives takes objects – many of which are submitted through the website – and launches investigations to discover if the object is authentic. Sometimes the owner is right on; sometimes a new and intriguing story is uncovered. It’s always fun.

History Detectives is hosted by Wesley Cowan (Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. in Cincinnati, and an expert in historic Americana); Elyse Luray (appraiser, licensed auctioneer and pop culture historian); Gwendolyn Wright (professor of architecture, planning and preservation and professor of history at Columbia University); and Tukufu Zuberi, head of the sociology department and director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tukufu, Gwen, Elyse and Wes

In each program they investigate three objects, busting myths and revealing the true history and identity of items pulled out of viewers’ attics, basements and backyards. They use forensic technology and draw in experts from a variety of fields, often taking their hunt down dusty back roads to chase down the facts. This season they’ll investigate nearly 30 items.

For more on this series, including the “Web Investigations,” where you can become a History Detective yourself, visit the station's website.

Here are a few of this season’s items…

The moving diary of a young American pilot stationed in England during World War II..

An 1853 French Napoleon coin with a bent, split edge and a great bit of lore that suggests the coin was shot by Annie Oakley

An unsigned oil portrait of a contributor’s grandfather that he believes was painted by the Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet.

A classic Airstream trailer that might have been registered in Wally Byam’s (Airstream founder) Caravan Club International and taken part in a spectacular 221-day, 14,307-mile trek from the tip of Southern Africa to the pyramids of ancient Egypt.

The question is...

If YOU were submitting an item for the history detectives to investigate, what would it be and why?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What’s Your Line?

Today’s Write on Wednesday theme is “What’s Your Line?” How do you find your material? How do you express it? Have you found it yet, or aren’t sure you have one?

This was an interesting topic for me, because I haven’t really done a lot of "concentrated writing" or personal writing (like fiction, for example). Most of it is work-related.

But the writing does dance in my head – I have several mysteries going, but since character is my strength and plot is not, I’m challenged in the intricacies of the form! (Maybe I need a collaborator!)

What actually makes it to the page tends to be related to daily life: my family, friends, observations.

My slowly progressing project is a cookbook with the stories from my world that accompany it...
...warm times spent at the holidays and the recipes that were part of the traditions; lively parties and the good food that comes with it; stories of playing till we dropped at the lake and then the delicious summer-food we enjoyed.

Christmas parties...

And birthday celebrations from times gone by!

The recipes are part of it, of course. But the real writing comes in sharing the stories of my mother and her sisters spending summers at the lake...

... celebrations I’ve enjoyed with Rick’s kids over the years... well as those indescribably wonderful times with my amazing friends.

In Becca’s post, she speaks about being an only child and how she focuses on relationships and family in her work. That resonates with me, as I am an only child, as was my dad. My cousins are my spiritual siblings and we spent many hours together as children. But basically, it was our wee group of three.

Now I’m an adult orphan and as I look back at the things I think about and write about, much of it reflects past relationships, for I realize there are very few people who even knew my parents and I don’t want their memories to leave when I do.

In a small family, one often finds that friends become extended family – the family you choose for yourself. So, I want to remember those stories, too.

Even the poetry I write each year for the Valentine’s Day book I make for Rick – always a selection recapping our year – summarizes experiences, people and family. Things I know and love.

And when I write a travel related piece, it's a place I've been.

I realize, not surprisingly, that working the blog is fertile ground for sharing these types of things as well, and an excellent exercise in getting me back to writing on a regular basis.

So, when I go to the symphony, I will continue to make up mysteries about the timpani player who is married to the string bass player (they aren’t, really – I doubt!) and the murder of one of their colleagues! Or a major donor. Or the houseguest of the conductor. I know their lives and characters intimately, but can’t nail the plot!

When I take trips to the lake alone, or long walks up there, I’ll continue the small town mysteries set on a lake not unlike the one I visit, in a restored hotel (much like the one that used to be here in the 30s and is now a McMansion) with its widowed artist proprietor!

Those will probably never see paper, but they’re fun to think about and muddle!

So, what’s YOUR line? Do you have one or discovered it yet? And how do you express it? Don’t don’t forget to check out Becca’s wonderful post on this topic. If you write about “your line” on your blog, please leave a link on this post and on her blog as well, so other writers can enjoy!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Fun Continues

Visiting with old friends is just the best. This past weekend I enjoyed a visit from my college friend, Jerry Ziaja, who now lives in Paris and works as a trainer. Jerry and I were in MSU’s theatre department back in the good ol’ days, and did lots of musicals and children’s theatre tours. He later continued that with national and international tours as well as a performance at the White House!

We just talked and walked through MSU’s campus and gardens. With some folks, time doesn’t seem to change things. I’m lucky that this was one of those times (not to mention getting some good tips to supplement my own training and physical therapy).

All this plus an invitation to for us to visit Jerry in Paris and stay at his wonderful apartment! We're talking about two weeks -- Rick would ride his bike in France for one week and I'd stay in Paris with Jerry for both, where we would day-trip, shop our brains out (he knows all the places for the best deals, or so he says!) and drink wine in cafe's!

After tending to “the farm” (which is what I’ve started calling my flowerpot garden), mowing the lawn, and doing some homely things, I headed to Rick’s for dinner.

It’s strawberry shortcake season!
When I was a kid, we enjoyed one day at my grandparents’ farm that was ONLY strawberry shortcake for dinner. All you could eat on home made biscuits!

We weren’t all you could eat (Rick did pork loin on the grill, I brought orzo salad!)
But it was tasty! This time we served it on angel food cake, but the previous night’s biscuits were even better!

My recipe? Just mashed berries, enough sugar to sweeten but not so much as to make it too sweet, zest of a lemon and juice of about half a lemon. That really makes the difference!

A few father-son hijinks...
...then I walked home, where I saw the fourth bunny of the season! Not the best photo, but a grand memory of my favorite wildlife critters!

Coming Soon: Public TV Pick of the Week!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sometimes It All Comes Together!

Finally, a lovely weekend! Visits from old friends, junking about at garage and estate sales, high season for strawberries at the farm market and a grand time with the kids! Sinus head notwithstanding, how can you miss?

Friday brought the visit of our friend Rick B. who moved to California several years ago – and that meant dinner on the roof at El Azteco, where we shared our favorite topopo salad and cheese dip.
(The photos below are from a previous trip to the Az, but you get the idea of a messy ‘popo (it’s all over the table when you’re done!)

Saturday was serious junking and marketing day! (A bit done Friday, too!) You can’t beat this curtain valance for a dime (and in the package!). Before…

And after! Perfect colors!

I’m dying to take apart this necklace that was thrown in free and use in collage. Not a great photo, but you get the gist.

I loved this little manecki neko, the Japanese good luck cat you often see in businesses. It was a teapot with a missing lid. Now it’s a pen holder, but may be converted into a yarn/string dispenser!

Ball jars were fifty cents to a dollar!

And I loved the lace curtains – two long panels and a valance. I doubt they’ll be curtains – maybe a table cover or I could use them to wrap oddly shaped packages.

I found these dear cloths/liners at an estate sale and these cute booties. I want to interpret the pattern. Then I’ll stuff them with catnip for the Gypsy!

That estate sale also bought some fun recipe booklets and golden books – most were not in good shape, but I’m cutting them up for collage, so no big deal. Also found a great atlas (not pictured) – again, bad shape but glorious maps and good typography.

And the video “Hello, Dolly!” for fifty cents, which we enjoyed Saturday night!

Total junking expenditures: $10.00. Fun shopping and fun to come? Priceless!

Tomorrow…time with another old friend, and strawberry shortcake!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Where Do You Come to the Page?

I feature Billy Wilder's quote (from his gravesite, as photographed by my buddy Cathy) as a preface to the photos illustrating today's topic -- for as you can see, my writing environment is anything but perfect!

I have been joining in the Becca’s Byline posts about writing – do visit her blog to check out links to other writers who are sharing their thoughts about putting words to the page.

Today’s topic is “Where Do You Come to the Page?” and I’m woefully trying to figure out the answer to that one!

The obvious and easy answer is my computer at the office, where I turn out my work-writing.

It’s a good little spot – just the right height! Looking straight ahead I see my (cluttered) bulletin board and desk top, filled with photos of the family and my cat-boys. Taped to the upper level of the desk are all the orange cat pictures I saved from my calendar last year. It looks terribly cluttered, and I know I should take them down, but they make me smile.

Everything is at hand here – Kleenex, note pads, all my PBS files. A good spot to write.

But my personal writing is a bit more complex! Sometimes, it’s on the sofa, with a pad or journal.
Sometimes it’s in my head as I take a walk (or drift off to sleep), with fragments jotted down soon after – hopefully in a semi-coherent manner.

(The trouble with writing in my head is actually getting it from there to the page. I’ve thought of recording it, but I suspect follow-through on that would never happen!)

My annual poetry writing binge is generally done “in motion” with thoughts and phrases whirling around, finally committed to paper whenever they seem close enough to play with!

And then there’s the computer in the art space.

I generally write my blog posts there, and then put them up sometime during the day or evening at the office when I can add photos more easily. It’s a nasty computer and often the screen will go totally black. I just keep on typing. I can check it later!

As you can see, Billy's epitaph is taped to the top of the computer, and on the desk are some of my motivators -- the Jane Austen Action Figure, my motto (Fully Expect the Universe to Cooperate), plenty of pens and some favorite cards and trinkets among them!

How do YOU come to the page? Is it on the blog? At work? Do post and share with Becca, too!

I leave you with my Executive Assistant, who is bemoaning the fact that he is not outside. Is that a look of contempt? Wouldn't be the first time!

Wishing you a lovely and creative weekend!

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