Mary gave me a jar of Honey Lemon Apple Jam on Saturday, and it is already half gone. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the bright and sweet flavors of this jam; I am sort of treating it as a prescription for this peevish cold that I can’t seem to kick. In any case, it is good for my taste buds and the homemade goodness puts sunshine my soul. The recipe and much more can be found in Food in Jars by Marissa McClellan. Thank you, Mary!
I come from a long line of reuben lovers, so trust me when I tell you that if you love a reuben, you must treat yourself to the Zingerman’s Roadhouse turkey reuben called “The Dexter.” Pit-smoked (onsite) pulled free-range turkey (from the nearby farm in Dexter Township), thick sauerkraut and baby swiss along with house-made russian dressing and house-made rye bread. On the side, I chose Sea Island Fries: hand-cut, twice cooked sweet potatoes served with spicy mayo. It all washed down so nicely with tart (Michigan) cherry soda. Salty, sour, bitter, sweet, and umami: my taste buds danced happily to the consonance of flavor! Also pictured is the amazingly comforting pit-smoked pulled pork, served with mustard coleslaw and choice of house-made bbq sauce.
One fun aspect of keeping a blog is meeting other bloggers with similar interests and being inspired by their unique perspectives. I have been following Joann’s blog, Chickypea, for a year now and enjoy her simply designed posts, playful watercolors, and thoughtful touches to whatever topic she is documenting. Earlier this month I contacted her to see if she was interested in making a few “cozywalls” watercolors for me, and look what she delivered! I can’t decide on a favorite, because there is something charming about each of them. What do you think?
About Joann: My love of fine arts started when I was a child. I adored drawing everything in bold bright colors, most of the time not paying attention to realism. Then transitioning to the academic world, everything had restrictions. What I could create, how I should create it, and how long it should take. Even years later as a Sr. Graphic Designer there are so many guidelines to heed, so I started doing illustrations, watercolor, DIY projects, and created a blog, Chickypea, to revisit the childlike curiosity I had in my youth and to design with no holds barred.
About her process: My process starts with research and mood boards. It’s a nice way to collect all your thoughts and if you are doing work for someone else it gets everyone on the same page. Then I start sketching. Once I have ideas that I like, I transition to either fine art tools or digital programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. For this project, I tried to keep the process as freehand as possible to achieve a hand made look.
To contact Joann about projects, email her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, Joann, for being so swift and sweet to work with! I am also thinking about including “interview” posts on the blog now… we’ll see.
An inspirational person named Patti made me that bird ornament out of old Christmas cards, and the next photo is of the artist Sarah Blyth-Stephens mixing plaster for her temporary gallery installation, Almost Something, that I coordinated last year. I like the term temporary installation, because it is a contradiction like so many things in life; permanence implied for a short period of time. It reminds me of the way I have felt so strongly about something at one point in my life, only not to think twice about it later on. Adjustments in perspective are inevitable when knowledge and experience are gained and circumstances change. I think that’s why I’ve never really made annual resolutions. Got to regulate the day to day! Of course there are those things that you only feel stronger about as time marches on, whatever the context.
Lately I have been thinking about the gifts of encouragement given to me through the years from my family, friends, teachers, and even acquaintances (like you, readers of this blog). It makes all of the difference in my day to day, note: I am a person who values honest feedback of any sort. Reflecting on some of those exhilarating gifts of encouragement though, I realized that I want to be more of an encouragement to others. I researched the word encouragement and found an especially inspiring descriptive phrase in the dictionary:
A LIFT by an infusion of fresh courage or zeal.
Now there’s something we could all use! Who gets inspired thinking about the act of being inspired? Me! I want to do more of that — I don’t want to get stuck bemoaning selfish paltry incidentals – I want to be part of infusing others with the courage it takes to do what they love, dream about, and know is ultimately good. So however you look at it, Happy New Year, or (said in Ernest P. Worrell voice) Joyeaux Roll with the Punches. I hope I can be an encouragement to you in one way or another. And to play along, three additional things I’d like to make happen in the coming months:
1. Renew my passport.
2. Make more art with more people (big & small, near & far).
3. Try hardest at things that matter (how’s that for a classically vague Amy statement!).
A felted bearded gnome given to me this Christmas, perched on some art books, traveling vicariously through their pages.
Shiny Brite ornaments were the most popular Christmas tree ornaments made in the 1940′s and 1950′s in the United States. I have an original box set that my grandma gave to me when I had my first apartment, and Christmas tree, of my own. Those ornaments hark back to the time when she and her sisters were the age that I am today. I always keep an eye out for them in antique stores, and it makes me wonder what will evoke memories of Christmases past when I am in my eighties.
It is easy to feel homesick around the holidays, because it’s often a mile marker for realizing that things are never going to be the same. For others, the times seem more joyous and precious than ever, and I need to keep that in mind. I am just missing people right now, but on New Year’s Eve, I’ll raise my cup to the shiny nostalgic memories and hopes for unexpectedly brite futures.
Can you believe that there are people in the world that prepare and freely gift delicious home fresh pies at least once a week? Oh, humanity! Mary’s been chronicling her pie adventures over at my 52 pies, and this week I was the fortunate beneficiary. As if her friendship wasn’t enough, she hunted down an amazingly food-friendly recipe with me in mind and brought it to my doorstep while I was still in my pajamas. We had a most pleasant visit over breakfast while sharing stories and pie, and her timing couldn’t have been better. You know someone cares for you when they take the time to scrape whole vanilla beans and soak cashews overnight. For specifics about the dish, READ HERE. I must try making that cashew cream for myself soon – there’s a parfait cup waiting.
Those two! I cannot imagine my life without those women. Sometimes it’s funny to call them women, because we met right around the time we turned into teens. I am usually the one to bring up the fact that we are aging, but this time when we reunited, I felt completely opposite. Maybe it has something to do with happy and healthy futures? I am encouraged and just generally glad to have these special relationships.
So what do you snack on in the hot summer air? We had produce munchies and these totally addictive roasted chickpeas that Mary makes. I told her that I even prefer them to Chex Mix! Light summertime eating in the backyard is a fresh way to spend time chewing the fat without literally chewing the fat.
I got to see Boston (and my dear, engaged-to-be-wed, friends Emily and Jarrid) for a day at the end of my trip out East last week. The sun was shining, and soon after walking past the Government Center, I had my first ever bakery fresh cannoli from Modern Pastry. Sweet little fried pastry tubes stuffed with sacchariferous ricotta. In my head were the song lyrics, “Oh that feelin’ inside we’re gonna transmit it to life!” from The Modern Lovers. Here’s hoping for future cannoli transmissions to/from my kitchen.