Saturday, December 31, 2011

goodbye, old year

somewhere in Utah
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"
 Why won't they let a year die without bringing in a new one on the instant, can't they use birth control on time?  I want an interregnum.  The stupid years patter on with unrelenting feet, never stopping.... 
~John Dos Passos, 1917

photo by me © 2010

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Secret Santa Revealed: Part One

I'm  part of an awesome team on etsy--the Blogging Business Artisans, brand new in October!  We have lots of fun events planned.  One of these was a Secret Santa Swap.  Participants signed up stating their likes and dislikes.  Sharla of beaded tail (with some help from her husband) made the assignments.

I was Secret Santa to Athena of Miss Millificent's Mesdamoiselles.  

Here are some of her likes:
Hunter and dark green, deep purples and reds, black.  Day of the Dead/Dia de Los Muertos stuff. Fabrics.  Notepads and pens. Coffee and sugars. Chocolate and peanut butter! 
and some dislikes:
Hard fruity candies, fruits, nuts.

Now the fun began!  
For starters, I knew that she had visited Asheville, NC and liked the yummy chocolates at the Chocolate Lounge.  Since my daughter lives there and I was visiting, she and I chose some yummy chocolate truffles we knew Athena would like. (While we were there, I admit, we bought a few truffles for ourselves.  ssshhhh.....don't tell!)
photo © French Broad Chocolates
Next, since I know that Athena loves to sketch, I bought a Strathmore sketchpad and altered the cover.  This was fun.  I researched Dia de los Meurtos.  I then wrote a description and printed this out on dark green cardstock which I affixed to the sketchpad cover.  Next I drew a sugar skull coloring it in with colored pencils.  After gluing this down, I then made a hat of cardstock, ribbon, and fabric.  I tried a new (for me) technique of burning the edges of the fabric to keep it from raveling.  Inside the back and front covers, I glued a recipe for making sugar skulls.  I paired this book with an artist's pencil. 

One more item to round out this gift.  In early December I went to Christmas in the Village in Waynesville, Ohio with a few friends--a yearly tradition.  I met Melissa of La Crema Coffee Company, a small business that roasts and packages gourmet coffees.  With Melissa's help I selected a little package of medium roast coffee called "Cranky Before Breakfast."  I thought this would appeal to Athena's fun sense of humor as well as her love for coffee. 
photo © La Crema Coffee Company
I wrapped some of the items in tie dyed tissue and added eyelash yarn ties, thinking perhaps Athena could use these materials in her creative endeavors.  I thoroughly enjoyed putting this gift together.  It was so much fun!  You can read Athena's reaction HERE.

Want to know what other BBA members received?  Of course you do!  Check out our BLOG to find out!
If you want to know more about the Blogging Business Artisans, click the links at the top of our BLOG or find us HERE on etsy.

Día  de  los Muertos
A ritual known today as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.  Day of the Dead is celebrated  in  Mexico  and in certain parts of the   United  States and Central America.  Families build altars in their homes, dedicating them to the dead.  They surround these altars with flowers,  food, and pictures of the deceased. They light candles and place  them next to the altar.  Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, are eaten by a relative or friend.   The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other    Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the monthlong  ritual.    Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life.  Instead of fearing death,  they embraced it.   To them, life was  a dream and only in death  did theybecome truly awake.

Sugar Skulls
Supplies and Ingredients:
plastic skull molds
mixing bowl and spoon
1 piece of cardboard, approximately 5" x 5"
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of meringue powder
2 teaspoons of water

Mix the sugar and meringue powder together in the bowl.
Sprinkle the water in and continue to mix until the sugar is completely moistened and
becomes the consistency of moist sand. 
Scoop some of the mixture into the mold and pack it evenly and firmly. 
Place the piece of cardboardon top of the mold and quickly flip it over so the sugar skull pops out.
Make all the skulls in this manner.
Let dry for 24 hours in a dry place.
Supplies and Ingredients:
1 pastry bag or zip closing plastic bag
plastic cups
electric mixer
2/3 cup of water
1/2 cup meringue powder
2 pounds of powdered sugar
concentrated food coloring (the kind professional cake bakers use)

Blend the ingredients with an electric mixer until the peaks form in the icing.  
If using assorted colors, scoop the white icing into separate bowls and add a dab of different
colored food coloring in each one. Mix again.
Scoop the icing into the bag.  if using plastic, snip the corner. 
Continue until you have several bags of different colors as desired.
Seal and refrigerate until use.
*Makes four small skulls.

Stayed tuned for Part Two--what I received!

photos by me, French Broad Chocolates, La Crema Coffee Company © 2009-2012 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Margaret's Mushrooms

This family favorite, known simply as "Margaret's Mushrooms," as in "Oh Margaret!  Make your Mushrooms!" is easy to make!  This is more of an idea than a recipe with specific measurements.  I no doubt make it slightly differently every time.
Here are the stuffed mushrooms before cooking. 

@ 18 oz mushrooms
extra mushrooms (optional)
1/3 C onion, chopped finely
1 T  + 1 ½ t butter, divided
1 T and 1-2 t tamari (soy sauce), divided
½ lb Xtra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Get out an 8" x 8"  baking dish.  Put 1 ½ t of butter and 1-2 t tamari in the dish.

Grate cheese.

Finely chop the onion.  Use whatever type of onion you wish in desired amount.  (Today, I used a red onion.)

Remove stems from mushrooms and place them on cutting board.  

At this point it may be necessary to carve out the inside of the mushroom cap a little.  

When finished, place mushroom cap in the baking dish, open side up.  

Finely chop the mushroom stems, the carved out cap insides, and any extra mushrooms you wish to add.  

Today, I added a few shitakes.

On low to medium heat, melt @ 1 T butter in pan on stovetop.  
Add onion and saute till beginning to get browned.
Add the chopped mushrooms, stirring, for a few minutes till they are slightly cooked.
Add 1T tamari and stir.
Add cheese, turn off heat, and stir till melted.
Spoon mixture into open mushroom caps.
Bake in a 350 degree oven till browned about 20 minutes.
There will be liquid in the bottom of the dish when finished.  This makes a delicious gravy.

For more of my recipes, click on Margaret COOKS.

photos by me © 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011


fog high in the mountains of Glacier National Park

enveloping fog
secreting the world away
a lone tree remains

Here we are in the midst of another round of a favorite meme, Alphabe-Thursday!  Come and join in the fun!  You will be charmed and perhaps even enlightened!   See more entries HERE.  This week our letter is "F."

photo by me © 2008                                                                                                            
haiku by me © 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Eager Earnest

Eager Earnest wishes to Edify you in regards to the letter E.

Most importantly, there is Eat.  He is simply Ecstatic about Edibles!  He can be quite Elegiac with his lamentations when his bowl is Empty.

After Emptying his bowl, it's time to Ease his furry self onto something cozy

like the stairs which is the center of Everything or a soft blanket on an Elevated couch.

After a good long nap, it's play time!  Earnest is Energized by feathers, but

even more Ebullient about catnip
which can be shared with a furend because there is plenty!

time for another nap!
Although Es are very Effable, and Earnest was quite Elated to Elucidate, their Explanation requires much Effort and has the Effect of drowsiness.

Earnest is Excited Ms Jenny has decided to do another round of Alphabe-Thursday!  He Explained some of his favorite Es with Elan!  Come and join in the fun!  You will be charmed and even Enlightened in a delightful way!  See more entries HERE. This week our letter is "E."  
photos by me © 2010 & 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


It is rainy and gloomy today, so we are indulging in sleeping!
We have been very busy re-arranging Christmas decorations.
Such exhausting work!  We hope the hoomans appreciate all our efforts!

Oliver and Earnest

I'm participating in Cats on Tuesdays on Gattina's BLOG.  Go to the link and read more kitty stories!

photos by me © 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Storybeader's Giveaway

The Blogging Business Artisans Team on etsy is presenting a wonderful giveaway!  Deb of The Storybeader's Bookshelf created this lovely necklace.  There are even earrings to go with it!

And that's not all!  There is also a set of 12 kitty beads.

My kitty-lovin' heart is palpitating!  So why am I sharing with you?  Because I'm a generous soul and I want everyone to have a chance to win.  This contest is open internationally.  Go to THIS LINK to get the skinny.  You have till December 20th.  
Good luck!
photos by Deb Baroff © 2009

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Desert Scenes: Fish Creek Canyon

exploring Fish Creek Canyon near Phoenix, Arizona...
sky growls overhead
rocky road winds on and on
adventure awaits
Fish Creek

red rock so dotted
with spiny sage green prickles
kiss speckled blue sky
jaunty white petals
with cheery yellow centers
swaying breezily

I'm so happy Ms Jenny has decided to do another round of Alphabe-Thursday! This is such a fun meme!  Thank you, Ms Jenny!  Come and join in the fun!  You will be charmed and even enlightened in a delightful way!  See more entries HERE. This week our letter is "D." 

photos by me © 2009
haiku by me © 2011