Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday's Pre-Game Cup

                 The Seattle Seahawks ~vs~ The New England Patriots

Ran out today for the last minute provisions for  Sunday's Game!

Looking forward to an exceptional Superbowl this year. Both teams (...the whole deflate débâcle non-withstanding...) have played hard all season. Colts (and Colts fans) give up the sour grapes. This team could have beaten you if the balls had been over-inflated by 2 pounds...okay? They simply played a better game. They are a consistently better team. Heard one spokesperson state that a possible cause for the pressure loss might have simply been that the Patriots handled the ball more during the game.   OUCH!


The interesting thing is that these two teams are so well matched that even the odds-makers are having a difficult time deciding who has the edge.

Even my eldest was non-commital. Which isn't like him at all.

So...basically with a coin toss (and partially because I think the pall the Indianapolis team has cast over them is unforgivable) I have made my decision.

My money is firmly on the New England Patriots.

Hoping my Apple Wine has finished clarifying before Sunday. I've got the Pears and Gouda cheese. I tried a sip of the raw unclarified when I siphoned it off and am definitely happy with this batch.

Gypsy Winery

"How About Those Apples?"

Vintage- Winter 2015

Bold, fruity and crisp with mild undertones of Maple and just a hint of Cinnamon.
 Excellent Dessert or Cheese Wine, I'm thinking.

Putting a small sampler bottle of this back for "Idgy" to try. I may actually do a larger re-batch of this variety for bottling, later. 

Gained some closure, of sorts, last night concerning the September death of a long time friend/past lover's death. Went to the Star Registry and named a previously un-named star in the Draco Constellation after him. He loved dragons. He would have certainly approved. 

And it is nice to think, while gazing into the night sky...he is part of the cosmos again. 

We will cross paths again in the next life. I'm certain of it. 
We always have.

                      Located a bit to the right of the handle of the Little Dipper

The Book this excellent Non-Fiction Zen piece called  Untrain Your Parrot by Elizabeth Hamilton.  Although, there was the feeling at times during the read that she was over-thinking the whole process...which kind of is anti-zen...there were many many good points and suggestions. Well worth the time!

And a review of the best movie I have seen for a while:

Can't say enough good things about this film!  A close look that will give you a much closer understanding to the psychological mindf**k that is/was the Afghanistan and Iraq war and why so many guys are coming back so completely screwed up...or committing suicide. This may be a 10/10 film.
A must see.

So...see you after the Superbowl!  

                                                   Deflated VL trophy
Oh Vince...not you, too...

Although I don't think anybody deliberately deflated anything...I found the above link parody to be pass-coffee-through-your-nose funny and wanted to share it!


Friday, January 23, 2015

How About Those Apples...The Louve...Random Selfies and More

What to do with leftover apples?

Back to experimenting with the World of Micro-Batch Wine. This particular jar has apples and a touch of real maple syrup and cinnamon. It will ferment fairly quickly given the batch size and the warmth in the house. It has been started for most of a week and already smells wonderful!

Should be ready to clarify by the end of next week.

Most of these micro-batches only produce 1-4 (four oz glasses) of wine. Or it may become apple shine. Too early to tell.

Perfect for just a taste.  

So my Virtual Parisian Adventure has taken me to The Louvre. Where they have an amazing online room by room tour available.

as well as the online gift shop below the glass pyramid...where you can order anything you would buy if you were standing in front of a counter (real time).

The museum is huge, and will require part of the rest of the weekend to explore. And, I know I'll be ending up with a Mona Lisa coffee mug...because much as I love Paris and Coffee. What are the odds of slipping away from the City of Love without both.

Found a bit of art this week that (surprisingly) I really liked one of the Masters (or even in The Louvre for that matter) but a Thomas Kinkaide that I had never seen before. And before you groan...because face it...he became as over-produced as Velvet Elvis...check it out.

The image is called "Bloomsbury Café" done Plein Air. It is on canvas and the one I am looking at has been hand-highlighted. I think it will make a great addition to my little living space! 

Started a new canvas myself this weekend. My first attempt at a monochromatic (sepia browns) scene. Inspired by The Eiffel Tower and adding multi-medium items, some French and, like my Michigan Dunes painting, a couple of entwined "ghost balloons" floating away.

Will post a picture as soon as it begins to take shape. 

This will also be my first real attempt at using the palette knives on canvas. Although I have been practicing. I love what they can do.

Since selfies seem to be should come as no shock that people have tapped into yet another realm of self-photography. Museum selfies. Some have the iphone photoshopped into the picture...and some reach levels of near brilliance like the following:

I laughed out loud.

No book review...but I did catch an exceptional motion picture.

 Wild with Reese Witherspoon.

 A true story of a woman's solo 1,100 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. A hike which not only exorcised some of her personal demons but helped her come to terms with her mother's death and her father's childhood abuse as well. Powerful film. Reese gave a wonderfully convincing performance. It will make you laugh when she is trying to first stand up with her overloaded hiking pack. It will make you cry...when she finally convinces her brother to come to the hospital to see their dying mother. On a scale of 10...a solid 9. Beautiful Cinematography, as well!  Want to read the Memoir.'s back to the easel...

Have an Amazing Weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Parisian sights...Apple Rose Tarts...and Football

And for anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to ride the lift to the top...

Taking a break from the cuisine (or I'll never get out of Virtual Paris and I will weigh 300 REAL pounds before I do), and checking out the sights.

Today included The Arc de Triomphe...a boat ride down the Seine, and the above Elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Which, even virtually, made me experience a high clench factor after the elevator change on platform 3. Not sure I could have ever done this real time.

A minor culinary triumph this week was Apple Rose Tarts!

Actually made these (and a few more) for my Quiche Brunch I hosted this afternoon while helping Diane learn to use a computer, and going over a basic review with Loretta. Not as involved as they look. Beautiful to serve and make a warm wonderful dessert.

Pictorial instructions for Apple Roses from Pinterest.

Am going to try a white (ridged) corning dish full for a bouquet effect soon!
Roses (bloom) open as they bake. Look and smell amazing, and taste even better.

So excited for Vicki and Mark who have now "set the date"!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations, you two. And, of course, we will have to have a small post-event reception in the Tea Room when you are up in September for the Gathering! you think they need a sheep?

                                               "Vixen and Markus"

 The Superbowl is going to be exciting this year!  After that wholly surprising game (Seahawks ~vs ~ Packers) and that truly dismal game  (Colts ~vs~ The Patriots)...the top two teams have emerged.

 Seahawks ~vs~ Patriots. 
It should be an amazing game to the final few seconds! 

And for the first year ever...I would be happy to see either of them win. Although, yes, Carol...I am leaning a bit toward your Patriots.


Angie...saw (and stole) the perfect internet meme for our Combined Birthday ...laughed out loud.

Can't wait to see you! 

And yes, I think this year's "selfie" together has to be in front of the blazing cake...even if we do manage to singe our eyebrows off!

Off to throw together a salad!

 More anon...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Romney Zombie...and other Observations.

Or at least someone to clue him in that he is dead politically (at least as far as obtaining The White House is concerned).

Unbelievable. Almost as pathetic as Florida's Crist.  I said, almost!

Give it up, guys.  Somehow seeing the two of them crying in their beers- Rocky Balboa-like...whining they could have been "Contenders".

And, then there is Indiana's Governor Pence. There really ARE no words.

Mike has decided that gasoline prices have dropped so low in our State that it is time to raise the gasoline tax. Instead of letting us enjoy the breathing room...this is Pence's version of "Let them eat cake". Along with the failed attempts to stop same sex-marriage and the refusal to expand Medicaid or accept funds for Pre-K.

 Can't wait to see how well that works out for him at the polls.

Huge automotive news today

The 2015



                                                      SRT Hellcat (MOPAR)

All beastly machines.  However, the UK has upped the ante a bit with some automotive tinkering of their own.

Presenting the Bloodhound SuperSonic Car

Achieving upwards of 800 MPH. and going for 1000 MPH. Tested in the Haskeen Pan- South takes "Need For Speed" to a new level.

Winter giving us a bit of a welcome respite here, today. Temperatures mellowing into the 50's after a week of single digits. Actually was able to enjoy some patio with the Tucker-Cat and a cup of coffee- time!

Still discovering France and all things Parisian. Found this the other day.

If THAT isn't a reason to explore France...I can't imagine what would be. I am painting a variation of this photo in sepia tones.  Going to (hopefully) make it a multi-medium piece with words and embellishments.

Awaiting a small box of chocolates from Maison Du Chocolat and now have their truffle recipe!

Still working on the sauces. Hollandaise seems to be the most difficult (for me) so  you can imagine my horror at seeing this:

After my not-so-amusing attempt at artichokes. I don't see THIS ever happening.

Incorporating my Quiche Lorraine and Pain au Chocolat into a brunch with friends on Tuesday, Loretta brings a mutual friend to also learn to "Cruise the Information Superhighway".  If we end up in a massive pile-up and somehow breaking the Internet as it is have been warned!

                                 is kind of like THIS...

 This week's book French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guiliano. A delightful little read filled with homilies and recipes. A must read for the francophile. And perfectly satisfying for the bit of Parisian in all of us.

Working on a Short Story (as yet untitled) for my Online Book Club Contest. Have most of the framework done and fleshing it out this long weekend during the year's first Writer Retreat. Deadline for submission is February 1st. Wish  me luck...

Have a great weekend!


More days until Spring Proper...and

more days (or mornings of coffee and chat in-the-box) until our Spring Adventure, Idgy!!!!!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Great books...movies and a move toward domesticity for Miss Emily :)

Sir Tucker and The Lady Emily

A step towards domesticity for my favourite local feral.  Give her a few more months and she, too, will be sporting a fancy red collar- perhaps.

She, who has already taken over the Throne.

Woke yesterday to see her sitting up like a small penguin by my patio door...wanting in. Other than a momentary panic when she realized she was actually inside...she did rather well. Ate, bathed and curled up in a small purring ball in my lap. Tucker is fond of her, as well. If she decides to stay...she will become part of the family. I always was a sucker for a black and white cat. Her clipped ear signifies she has already been picked up by FACE and spayed. So I've dubbed her "Emily" and am hoping she decides to stick around. Relax. Two well groomed/well fed Tuxedo cats doesn't make anyone a crazy-cat lady!  Well...maybe a little...

The Virtual Parisian Adventure very enjoyable, thus-far. I am making progress on the sauces...and have learned to make Ratatouille, Chicken Marsala, Creme Brulee, and Crepes (both sweet and savory), Authentic French Onion Soup, Crusty Baguettes, and the very best Quiche Lorraine.  Checking out La Maison Du Chocolat today and going to purchase some of their wares before the week is out...and learn to make creamy chocolate truffles rolled in unsweetened cocoa. 

Started the year out with Oprah Winfrey's small book: What I Know For Sure.  It is an outstanding and motivational read, and I will be returning this copy to the local library and purchasing a copy to add to my personal library. A must read!

Also saw Selma this week. Sometimes, there really are no words. As someone who lived through this period of unrest and upheaval as a child...and remember seeing (televised) the actual march from Selma to Montgomery. This may end up being the Motion Picture of the Year. An unvarnished look at the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta King. An authentic documentary of black Americans struggle to get one of their most basic rights as citizens of this nation. The right to vote. When they came to the end of the March and actual footage was used from 1965...there were tears in my eyes. Absolutely- a must see!

Even more impressive was the fact that Amelia Robinson (103 years old now) The human face of Bloody alive and was able to have a private viewing of Selma with her family. And voice her thought after viewing it.

From being beaten and left for dead marching for the right to vote in 1965, to a black man holding the office of President of The United States in 2015.  
Yes, Mr. King-  It seems, indeed:

"We Overcame" 

And for the record...Non...non...Je suis ne pas Charlie. 

Charbonnier, you see, made the decision to mock something that he knew would endanger not only his life, but also endanger the lives of those around him (co-workers) and as it turned out other innocents as well. It was not done for a noble cause. Only for entertainment, money and the sake of mocking. In my opinion, that is not bravery. 

That is stupidity. 

( in the news)

A co-founder of Charlie Hebdo disagreed with the French magazine's decision to publish cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed and says he is upset with the magazine's slain editor, Stephane Charbonnier.

Henri Roussel, now 80, wrote a letter with his views in the wake of the terrorist attack at the magazine's office in Paris. Twelve people were killed, including Charbonnier, known as "Charb."

Roussel called Charbonnier "brilliant" but "stubborn." He said he thought the magazine went too far with its provocative images, particularly after the 2011 firebombing of the office. That incident came at the same time the magazine published a cover image depicting the prophet.
"What made him feel the need to drag the team into overdoing it?" Roussel asked, according to an English translation of his letter in the French-language magazine Nouvel Obs. 

"I'm upset at you, Charb," he added. 

Apparently, I am not alone in my assessment of the situation.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hollandaise or lemony scrambled eggs...

Mine?  Hard to tell at this point.

Sauces are much trickier than they appear. 

This will take some time!

Right now, the focus seems to have shifted from getting a satisfactory emulsion to just retaining body heat as the temperatures plummet for the first week of the New Year.  Snow and below zero temps and several days of baking baguettes and bread to not only capture the experience; but also assist the furnace- which has run non-stop for days now.  Marsala and Fricassee giving way to Ragout and Creamy Potato Soups. Perfect with the crusty breads.  I did learn that the very best way to get that wonderful baguette crust is to mist the oven walls and even the top of the dough in a very hot oven while baking. The crusts turn out very crisp and chewy. Who knew?

Apparently the French.

Only 70 more days until Spring.


 Celebrating my Eldest's 28th birthday today! Hard to believe. He appears to be catching up with me. How can THAT be right?

And I had to suppress a small smile when listening to a video he posted explaining the need for transition to adulthood as one becomes 1). Over 21. or  2). A Parent. by finding a J-O-B  (yes..A "jobby job") and working hard and making it a priority instead of an option.
Obviously, thirty is creeping in.

More anon...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The First Sleepy Sunday of the New Year

And feeling a great deal like THIS today!

Enjoyed a wonderful evening with family and friends at Donna, Dayne and Eric's Annual Chili Extravaganza.

This is Chili that literally takes three days to prepare and is made from various roasts instead of ground beef. And whose secret recipe is guarded like Ft. Knox. It is amazing! Assorted crackers...grated cheese...layered spiced cake with cream cheese icing and the guys fixing impromptu Rice Krispy Treats later in the evening...still served gooey, warm and unformed! Perfection.
Entertainment, the Stand up Comedy of Russell Peters and Jeff Dunham.

Laughter...Good food...Good Company...and Love!

So, today we FAST. As a matter of fact, I don't think I am even going to miss food until Monday or Tuesday!  Still in my leopard pajamas after a long hot soak in a bubble bath...may throw on a strand of pearls, a spritz of perfume, grab a cup of hot tea with lemon and call it a Sunday!

Started my (virtual) explorations of France on the 1st with Paris. For such a small country...this could take the entire year!  So many many things to do/see/learn. Being the "foodie" I am...the obvious start for me was French Cuisine. And what a better place to begin was to learn how to make Authentic French Crepes.

Basic Crepe Recipe
     (for two)

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup cream (or milk in a pinch)

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon butter

Beat until smooth. Add a little water if mixture does not pour easily. Pour 1/4 cup at a time into well buttered 12" skillet. Swirl skillet until the bottom has a even coating. Cook over moderate heat until the top is dry. Remove from skillet and repeat.

These can be stuffed with almost anything sweet or savoury.


Mine (above) needed to be a bit browned...and the Tucker-Cat had already decimated the whipped cream from the holidays, which would have added immensely.   All and all though, quite satisfied with the results.

Going to start the week learning "The 5 Mother Sauces".





and surprisingly- Classic Tomato Sauce.  (...who knew...???)

Already ahead of the game a little, as I learned years ago how to make a suitable roux...the base of the five.  Which also happens to be the beginnings of Biscuits and Gravy...a Hoosier Staple.

And through the magic that is the Internet (and particularly You-Tube) was even able to experience an Air France landing at De Gaulle after dark. The "City of Lights" unbelievably beautiful on approach.  And of course (after the fact) the New Year's Eve Celebrations on Champs Elysees.

So, come along...and we shall explore France together, this year!

Mais, oui! 

Fun Fact:
 Did you know ALL the shops in Paris are closed all day on Sunday?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year- 2015

"Bonne année"


2015...Remember when that sounded like The Future?

Well, here it is, Marty McFly!

A wonderful evening spent ushering in the New Year with "Idgy",  and a slow start to the morning. That may actually be a GOAL for this year. Just to slow down and enjoy everything the year brings.

My goals for the year include:

Continuing to practice Zen Buddhism. Certainly not a buddha yet...but enjoying glimpses from time to time, now. It's a process.

Reduce stuff and simplify even more. I may never get to Ghandi's 100 Items...but I am travelling a lot lighter these days.


Continue the 6:1 Maintenance Program and work out daily. 

Observe the GIGO (garbage in-garbage out) Principle in all aspects of my life.

Be proactive financially, and continue a savings plan.

Make time for one Photography Retreat, one Zen Retreat and One Writing Retreat for the year.

Enter at least one Photograph and one Essay or Poem in Contest Form.

Host: The September DS Gathering.

Continue with The Virtual Gypsy Project...and document it for a possible future book. Beginning this morning in Paris, France! What a nice way to start the New Year.

Finish and Publish the last book of the Zen Living Trilogy.

Oh...and as always make more time with Family and Friends and keep walking/breathing and all of that...

Happy New Year!!!!