Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Constitutional Cup

Not clairvoyance...just Constitutional.

As anticipated, Jan Brewer vetoed SB1062. Because not only would it have been struck down at a Federal level anyway...and given Arizona an even blacker would have also been a disaster financially (which businesses inside and outside of Arizona and the NFL were quick to point out).

So, yet another win for equality today!

Only 20 more days until SPRING.

Not that you could tell by the 20 degree temperature and the threat of yet another large snowfall this weekend. Inside though, there is hope. In the form of glass bowls filled with forced tulip and crocus and daffodil bulbs beginning to sprout.

Peering above layers of sheet moss. So even if the "weather outside is frightening"  we will soon have Spring in the house. Also cutting Forsythia branches to force for some early bright yellow blossoms.  And perusing the silk collections for a nice silk arrangement with a lot of greenery for the coffee table.

Bought the Tucker-Cat a new bed for the living room corner as well.

Although one of his favourite spots seems to be sprawled directly in front of it with his chin resting on the side. Go figure. (...and yes...the googly-eyed cat toy is

a bit creepy...) He seems to like it.

Doing the final edit/rewrite on the second Zen Living Manuscript (March Release)

 And the Cover Photography Selected for the Third and Final book in the Trilogy.

Although it will not be worked on until next be released in Spring 2015.

Coffee Table Book Photography Meets Zen. 

This week's book...a page turner by Jesmyn Ward:  Salvaging the Bones
set in New Orleans following a dirt poor family through their daily life up to and through Hurricane Katrina.  This book focuses much more on societal/family issues and much less on the storm itself. Very good read. 

Also found a new "product" ( to me...) offered by Pepperidge Farms.
Mini Puff Pastry Cups. Little hexagons of puff pastry you bake and they "puff-up" into miniature pastry cups. Perfect to fill with sweet or savory fillings.

        (Cherry Cheesecake Puffs and Chocolate French Cream Puffs)

As you can see I have been doing some experimenting!

The 6:1 appears to be working well. Even with the addition of more than the occasional pastry, the weight is staying off and actually did some clothes shopping this week because nothing fits anymore :)


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Your Morning Cup of Cash

Arizona is back in the headlines this morning...and no...not in a good way.

A bill has already passed the Arizona House and Senate that basically legislates discrimination into their State Constitution. It awaits Jan Brewer's signature. Caveat: Don't actually expect her to sign this...she knows it would be fiscal and political suicide. She also knows that it was an invaluable way to rouse the rabble/uninformed voter. Cui bono?
The GOP, of course.

In Kansas a similar bill was recently introduced...passed both House and Senate and then discarded at the local level.  

By their own admission Utah is poised to spend "Millions of Dollars" to fight now-legal-in-their-state same sex marriage.

Since it has been signed into law the GOP has challenged the ACA (a.k.a Obamacare) 47 times.

Prop. 8 in California and DOMA were taken to the SCOTUS and deemed unconstitutional.

And the list goes on and on...

What do they all have in common? 

They are all being fought with TAXES. That is right.
Our tax dollars.  Ironically, even gay tax dollars. 

As Jerry McGuire might say

"Show me the money"

 Where is the OUTRAGE?

Take Arizona for example...or my State of Indiana who recently passed legislation of their own to write discrimination into the State Constitution-

The first time either law is challenged it will be overturned...and no matter how many times they fight will be overturned...and even if they fight it all the way to the SCOTUS it will be overturned...because you cannot legislate discrimination (nor should you be able to).

You cannot create a second class of American citizens. It is right there in the US Constitution. 

But that is not the point I want to make.

My point is how these same politicians scream fiscal responsibility and deficit reduction...all the while wasting millions of dollars tilting at windmills. Creating and fighting battles that they are aware cannot be score political "brownie points".

So many times encouraging their constituents to vote repeatedly against their own best interests. (See: Kentucky VW ) 

I ask again:

 Where is the Outrage????

If your State cannot even afford ( they claim...) decent pay for their fire-fighters or police or school-teachers why do they feel they can WASTE millions fighting against gay marriage or whether business have the right to refuse service based on religious beliefs? Why is that okay?

And does this mean that if you are gay or atheist or something other than Judeo-Christian you get a tax exemption so your own taxes aren't spent to create laws to discriminate against YOURSELF?
 Answer: No.

Is fighting to stop Adam and Steve's ability to marry more important than fixing the chuckholes you dodge every day on your commute to work? More important than repairing that crumbling overpass before it collapses one morning?
Seriously, people! 
                  Wake the HELL up!

Do we really want to  return to the era of Jim Crow Law's and Woolworth's Lunch Counters in 2014?

 Okay...admittedly some of you do.

This post is for THE REST OF US. Okay?

We have to start being proactive about this. We have to start following the money trail. Exposing the millions...possibly billions...wasted by these people. They want fiscal responsibility/accountability...fine...let's give it to them.

Starting right here.

Write or call Congress...write your Local and National papers...Write, Call or Email Jan Brewer...or Mike Pence...or any other politician you see attempting to waste money in this manner...if you have VIP access to media use it.

Youtube a video...go viral.

Send a clear message

                           "Stop Wasting Our TAX DOLLARS"

 What are you waiting for....go...


Thursday, February 20, 2014

a Less than a MONTH Cup :)

In similar news...the glacier formerly known as my front and back lawn appears to be receding. Maybe there is HOPE.

The trees are starting to bud. The Maple sap is beginning to run. Soon there will be pancake breakfasts popping up around Parke County and the smell of boiling syrup will fill the air.  Several robins have managed to wing their way back from The South. For all these signs we, the winter weary, are grateful. It seems as though it has lasted forever.  
Spring is on the horizon!

Across the table is a colourful mosaic of gardening catalogues and beside them plans scribbled on a plain white sheet of paper.
As E.B White once remarked

"Quietly Plotting the Resurrection"

 The plotting and anticipation...much like enjoyable as the future blooms themselves.

And gathering together Idgy's Spring Box. It has already hit 70 outside of Memphis. Spring comes early down South. For the eighth year we pass our sunflowers...morning glories and Ivy back and forth...adding to it with Cockscomb and Columbine and even gallon potted Raspberries this year. The White Flower Farm has a self-pollinating dwarf sweet cherry I am setting out at the corner of my small garden spot. The Meyers potted lemons will be zested and sugared and mixed with 100 proof to produce Limoncello to sip in the summer's heat.

 And the winter fingernail polish removed to rejoin the season of

"Muddy Knees and Dirt Neath My Nails" 

                                      One of the nicest seasons of all!

Italian Limoncello Recipe

10 lemons ( green on peel) zested. Reserve the fruit for another use.
Zest only. No pith.

2 1/2 cups sugar

3 1/2 cups water

750 ml. Everclear or Vodka (Everclear gives the most authentic taste)

Steep all ingredients in large glass container for 80 days. Colour when done should resemble bottle shown at top.

Strain to remove peel. Re-bottle in glass and seal with cork and wax.

Serve extremely cold (freezer)...but never over ice.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Cup and a Cronut!

As if we didn't have enough reasons to love everything French...the latest magnifique découverte ( least for me...apparently woefully behind in the pastry du jour...)

The Cronut!

A delightful flaky concoction dreamed up by Chef Dominique Ansel that is a cross between a buttery layered croissant and a doughnut. I KNOW...right?
I am thinking Barvarian Cream filling with Raspberry Sauce...dusted with confection sugar and drizzled with dark chocolate.  (recipe to follow)

"Nothing exceeds like excess."
                                               ~Evie: Scarface

I am making these for Friday's Tea.
                          's a non-Fast Day.

And my Happy Thought today...only

more days until SPRING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks, give me HOPE!

Of course, you couldn't tell it by this morning's weather...with another 2 inches of snowfall last night...and it is drifting, blowing and cold this morning. The bulbs I am forcing, still in their plain brown wrappers, poke tentatively above the sheet moss covering them. They will green up and bloom soon.

And an exciting rêve devenu réalité for Idgy and I, in the shape of that beach-side shoppe we have often discussed.  Okay, it is more landlocked...Tennessee and all...~ laughing~...and somewhat smaller than either of us imagined...but no less rustic...and it definitely doesn't come with attached living quarters or studio...but it is amazing! And the proprietor proper handles the tax issues...which is a huge plus!

Not only an outlet for our book (together) Sam Meets a words/her illustrations...and maybe a sequel before long...and my Zen Trilogy...but also our photography...her oil soaps/lotions/scrubs and salts...our candles...hand tied fabric Christmas lights and ornaments closer to the season. A niche to decorate seasonally and for the various holidays (...which is incredible..since we share the need-to-decorate gene...)

So excited!

(...if we could add coffees, teas and pastries it would be PERFECT...)

Oh well. You can't have everything.  As Steven Wright reminds us:

"Where would you PUT it?"

Maybe later down the line.

Nebulous plans for Idgy and I this year...the Shoppe...and a couple of old fashion picnics- spread a quilt on the ground or on of those road-side tables like when we were kids.

Remember those? 

Otherwise we are winging it. 

 Oh...and a drive-by pregnant shot of Nicki

Who has now reached that (almost) 7 month...omg...I can't see my FEET, anymore, Mom...stage!

You're beautiful, honey. 
Love you and Aiden 
                     (...and can't wait to hug Emma!)

I've got to get cracking on this baby quilt...or he will be grown before it is done!

Barvarian Cream with Raspberry Sauce Cronut Recipe

Using a flaky pastry (you can use Puff...or tubed...) cut in doughnut shape or form croissants and deep fry in grapeseed or coconut oil. Remove and cool.

Barvarian Cream Filling: 
 (this recipe shared by a friend years ago...and the best I've ever tasted)

1 tablespoon unflavored geletin

1/4 cup cold water

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 pinch salt

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon real vanilla

Mix the geletin and cold water and set aside to soften.

In a separate bowl mix the egg yolks (raw) sugar and salt until smooth.

In a medium saucepan heat the milk to just boiling and add slowly to to egg and sugar mixture stirring constantly. The mixture will coat the back of a spoon like a soft custard.

Add the softened geletin water and the vanilla.

Whip the heavy cream to a soft peak and fold in to mixture.

Pipe into/onto split pastry this sets fairly quickly.

Raspberry Sauce

I use Comstock Prepared (tinned)

Top with Raspberry sauce...then cover with the other half of the split pastry.


Sprinkle with confection sugar (powdered)

Drizzle top with melted dark chocolate.

(...for presentation you could also drizzle serving plate lightly with raspberry sauce/dark chocolate and serve with a dessert fork...)

Bon Appetit!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Cup of Success: The 5:2 Diet

Relaxing (as my oldest would proclaim)

"Like a Boss!"

And here is the reason

Just before starting the 5:2:

(...snagged this before shot from my friend, Christina (I knew someone had to have one) was taken in August at the very beginning of my Fast Diet...yeah, that is overweight me with the shades...) I had lost a little but not nearly enough.

And today...

After way-too-long, back in those black leather trousers!

Michael...Mimi...and all the wonderful 5:2 Fast Dieters who kept me motivated through those first few months and cheered me on through the last two...Thank You All!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not only do they side on comfortably and zip/snap easily...I can now breathe...sit down...and bend over in
Go ME.

My childhood friend, Pam and I are going out in March for our combined "Red Lobster Birthday Bash" like we do every year.

Guess what I'll be wearing????

Now before anyone hyperventilates...I know in the grand scheme of things...The Big Picture...getting back down to a "happy with myself" weight...or having a waistline again...or fitting into the black leather trousers is somewhere on the importance scale of a drop of rain in the ocean...but for someone who has been trying off and on for the last 26 years to reclaim my body- it is thrilling! 

So bear with me.

Doing the 6:1 now to maintain...the best part of The Fast Diet is if you see your weight creeping back up (even a couple of pounds) you can either go back to a 5:2 or a 4:3 until it is gone again.  The LAST Diet I'll ever need...and the best!

 35 pounds...3 6 months!

Celebrating with a steak smothered with sautéed onions and peppers tonight!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Cup of Cocoa and a Trowel

 Although here, the tool du jour would be a snow shovel...and my Garden Fairie is so not amused.

Relaxing today with the Burpee's, Springhill, David Austin's and Breck's
catalogues with more to arrive...planning the coming Spring/Summer and Fall Gardens. Was able to satiate the urge to plant something...anything by setting forced bulbs this week. Should have blooms by the end of the month :)

Settled in beneath the soil and winter snows my Spring bulbs are waiting. Only
36 more days until Spring proper. And soon the Flower and Patio Show in Indianapolis! Looking forward in loading up on the antihistamines and enjoying the pre-pollen! Found that mixing Tulip and Hyacinth scented oils with a touch of Lily of the Valley for the tart warmer will give your house the exact same scent!

Idgy's season arriving slightly before my own and chatting over coffee about Spring Boxes and raised beds and (my new favourite from 2013) composting through the season...and climbers and vines and roses...she is envisioning the raised organic garden bed with fresh grape tomatoes...peppers...basically an organic veggie bed.
With the exception of my Strawberries and herb baskets...this season's beds are all about a cutting garden.  Flowers for every season. More encouragement for the "Flappers and Hummers" and a fresh bouquet on the table every week.  Going to arrange it Cottage Garden-style with Columbine (thanks to her Mom) and Delphinium..Hollyhocks and Irises...Sunflowers and Butterfly Bush. Even planting a couple of Wisteria on opposite corners for an across the top vining with purple clusters...and the bright yellow of the Meyers Lemon on the patio. Along with some pansies in Spring...Allysium carpet (the irony of which did not escape me...planting a carpet of snow after the real stuff melts) and Our morning Glories and some of her latest discovery...Cockcomb seeds procured from the local Amish. The Concords were an absolute wash last year...if they don't start off with a bang this year...they are out of here. Although I did see a really cute pruning trick that creates a kind of knee high grape cascade that looked interesting. May leave it rooted and play with it a bit.

Yes! I'm excited!

Hovering over my bowls of forced bulbs whispering

"Bloom, Damn it!"

And wistfully anticipating the first bask of the year on North Patio Beach!

(I swear, this year I'm getting a sign, Idgy)

Even better  than the sign, though...I found my French Easel and Acrylics for Summer.


Looking a lot like this with adjustable legs for sitting with a glass of wine and creating on the patio this Summer.  Our Acrylic Experiment was a huge success and I LOVE them! Even boning up on technique through this long frozen winter!

Going to turn this (last summer's shot) into my first "Impressionist" painting. Well, that is the theory...anyway.

 Hey...together we can do anything...n'est-ce pas?

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Cup of Sochi

And the Winter Olympics begin.

This year in Sochi, Russia...and yes...admittedly, I had to look it up on the map.

And so far...some of the most newsworthy items have been vaguely to not-at-all about the sports.

First there was the news trickling out weeks before about the poisoning of the stray dog population in the city. Apparently, the dogs live much like the cat population in Rome. Prior to the games everybody fed them and they were just part of the charm (?) of Sochi. Then officials decided that they had to "brighten up" the place.

Mayor Ballard tried to do pretty much the same with our homeless in Indy during the hosting of Superbowl XLVI (without the poison pellets) I guess we shouldn't be too shocked. And I don't know how it played out in Sochi...but in Indy...PETA was decidedly quiet. And some of those homeless folks were pretty furry. 

Then the caterwaul as the Olympic Village was clean but austere. This must have been a real shock to the senses. People were suddenly tweeting things like the following  
(I am not making this up)

"The water is yellow!!!"

"I have three lightbulbs...will trade them for a door seriously."

"No shower curtains to be found :("

You can't flush paper down the toilet!"

"There is nothing in the rooms. No pictures on the wall. No TV. Nothing."

Now according to the Great Gazoogle...the lovely urine tinted water is more than likely from dissolved minerals or bad pipes.

Either way...avoiding it would be my choice.  But then, after all the pre-games terrorism chatter...I feel much the same about the Games themselves.

Then there is the whole Russian Anti-Gay thing...which is definitely a Strike Two as far as I'm concerned. Oh...and you might want to look up the origin of the Olympic Games given to us by the Greeks (which had no problem with...well...GREEK)

And if you haven't checked out Canada's response to the Russians on the whole gay simply have to!

Lighten up, Vladimir.

All of the "OMG they don't have..." has been pretty entertaining, though.

As Americans we tend to take a LOT for granted.  Even our crummy little no-tell motels have pictures on the wall and a shower

So imagine their surprise to find this

And I am betting the Gideons didn't hit the room before they came either.

Not Hilton or Hyatt or The Trump Tower...but as rooms go...I have had to stay in worse. A little motel in Muskogee, Oklahoma immediately comes to mind. (It is just across 69 from Dunkin Doughnuts in case you happen to be headed that way...and want to avoid it) It was late and we were about to drop and thankful we  had brought our own quilts...and the shower...???
To quote my (then) 16 year old son....

"Not Happening"

We showered later in a truck stop...and it was much nicer. LOL!

No mints on the pillow...but it was a place to drop for a few hours sleep.

But I digress...

We have become so pampered. So spoiled. We don't stop to realize that there are many people in the world who would consider our way of life...the things we take for Wall to wall or Heat...endless supply of clean water at our fingertips...availability of food-over abundance of food...of almost any much we have to actively "diet"...and if that doesn't scream FIRST WORLD PROBLEM I don't know what does.

Sochi...where the average income monthly is less than 800 dollars US. And the very poor...much much less.

So excuse me when I have to stifle a small chuckle at your outrage. Perhaps when you get back to The States for a brief while you will appreciate...really appreciate...the light-bulbs...the toilets that flush and do accept toilet paper...the door handles...the shower curtains...the filtered hot and cold water that is not yellow.

One can hope. 

And an aside, as I recently received correspondence from Amnesty International about a young man now being held in Sochi

 (A.I  is a group that Bill and I supported and were involved with throughout our marriage)

The young man's crime.


And even now...sitting in a jail in Sochi...he argues that he has  

"Freedom of Speech" 


And even though I am sure that he will be released and sent back home...somebody need to take him aside long enough to explain that what we enjoy in The States doesn't transfer with him to Russia.

In fact...we might all take a good long look at what life would be like in a country in which Freedom of Speech was actually prohibited.

 Because if a bit of cursing can get you jailed...think about what speaking out against your so many have grown so fond of...would get you.

And instead of the endless bitching and bickering... be grateful to live in American for a moment. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Post-Game Cup

Game?  What game?

My Grandma's got more game...and she's DEAD.  

Seriously, I've seen High School Teams that put up a better show than The Bronco's did last night.  43 to 8.  And until late in the 3rd Quarter the Broncos had 0, okay?  That was a record of sorts...

And did Peyton stop for a minute and say 'Hey...I'm choking out here...maybe I better let Brock (Osweiler) see if he can pull any magic out of hat" ?  No...he just cowboy'd the entire team into oblivion last night.

This year someone should have shut the lights out. 

All of them.

The Seahawks were solid. It is a shame they weren't playing against the Patriots. At least that would have been a game!  First touchdown 12 seconds into the game. That has to be a record.

After the half-time show (...weren't the Red Hot Chili Peppers just over the top!!! And Bruno Mars is pretty amazing...) Percy Harvin made an incredible 87 yard run and touchdown and although they kept playing...that was the "game over" moment.  You could see it in Manning's eyes when they panned to him. You could see it in his team-mates faces. The eyes of an animal caught in a trap slowly resigning to its fate.

Joe Namath and John Elway were both at the this point they probably should have suited up and carried Manning off the field. Oh, and Joe...PETA is STILL waiting to have a word with you about that coat.

Anyway...the onslaught continued. The Seahawks dominated but it must have been a hollow victory to them as well. I am sure they came to New Jersey expecting a Game, too. I feel badly for the people who spent an average of $2,100. for a ticket. Sat in 45 degrees for hours. Happy for Smith's MVP...although, personally, I thought Wilson deserved it.

Even the commercials were  fairly "meh" this year.

In two words

                 "It sucked"

and hearing the words of Bill Martin (a gay ex-co-worker of mine)

                                 "And it sucked badly!"

So...well done Seattle...and Peyton should take the advice of Wild Cherry/Vanilla Ice and "Go White Boy, Go"...and STAY THERE.

And me...well at least the snacks were good.

Best tweet during the game

"Order Papa John's online now and enter the code PEYTON.  In minutes not only will a hot fresh Papa Johns pizza arrive but they will send a Seattle DB to wrestle you to the ground...take it from you..and eat it!"

Oh well, there is always next year.


                    "I'm sorry Mr. Manning...I was given specific orders to remove you from the plane...the coach said something about walking back to Indianapolis...but then we got a call from Indy that said not to stop until you reach Baltimore..."

AND another thing...the Coke commercial in question exemplified everything AMERICA used to stand for...okay? The whole Melting Pot...or do they still teach that in school?

 And America The Beautiful is NOT our National Anthem.

 And ENGLISH is not our official language.
Just sayin'

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Superbowl Sunday (and Ground Hog's Day)

At 7:30 this morning that Puxatawny Rodent sentenced us to a bone-chilling six more weeks of winter. As if on cue...there is a fresh 2" of snow on the ground here...with more on the way.

  In light of that, I give you

Woodchuck Pie

1 woodchuck, skinned and cleaned
1/4 cup onion
1/4 cup green pepper
1/2 tbsp minced parsley
1 tbsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 1/2 tbsp. flour
3 cups broth
1 cup flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. fat
1/4 cup milk
Cut woodchuck into 2 or 3 pieces. Parboil for 1 hour. Remove meat from bones in large pieces. Add onion, green pepper, parsley, salt, pepper, and flour to the broth and srit until it thickens. If the broth does not measure 3 cups, add water. Add the meat to the broth mixture and stir thoroughly. Pour into baking dish.
For biscuits: sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cut in the fat and add the liquid. Stir until the dry ingredients are moist. Roll only enough to make it fit the dish. Place dough on top of meat, put in a hot oven (400 degrees F.) and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until dough is browned. Serves 6-8.

                                  Groundhog. It's what's for DINNER.

So getting my "snack on" for tonight's Superbowl...and probably my "nap on" earlier in the day...since it starts at 6:30 PM.

Saw some really cute ideas this morning on Pintrest, though...

Okay...the stadium might be a bit overboard!

Mine includes apple, bananas and oranges, several types of cheese, honey dip, savory herbed crackers and cold-boiled shrimp cocktail.

The fans. Pretty evenly divided. The eldest and I, on the same page again this year:  "Go Bronco's"

Just finished Scott Sigler's- Pandemic last night. Wow! Already casting this novel in my mind.  The third book in his series...and definitely the best.

The Books  Infected

Following both The Orbital and Montoya's re-emergence. She from the depths of depression after the obliteration of Detroit from the last book (and split public opinion as to whether she was a hero or monster). The Orbital's contagion from the depths of frigid Lake Michigan where it has been modifying...transforming...doing what viruses do best...adapting to better find a host and multiply...and survive.  Fast paced. Intense. Well researched and written.  The STAND with NAVY SEALS.
Excellent read and conclusion to this series :)

           Happy Superbowl Sunday and catch you after the game!