Tuesday, January 29, 2013

martha doesn't live here

I love a well-run household. I have the greatest admiration for neatly organized and serene spaces where everything has a place, and everything is in its place.
Sometimes I dream of beautiful, clean, minimalist living rooms with all-white upholstery and freshly painted walls hung with a carefully curated art collection...

...Of kitchens designed to be beautiful and functional, all food stored in matching antique glass mason jars arranged artfully in antique wire trays and placed on earthy wood open shelving made from re purposed old-growth fir.

Years ago I was a devotee of the cult of Martha Stewart. I subscribed to The Magazine (archiving all the early issues, of course), watched The Television Show (eagerly awaiting for months the yearly Christmas Special) and hung on the Domestic Goddess' every pronouncement.

I actually believed I could do it all, just like Martha. I baked my own bread, sewed quilts for our beds, curtains for our windows, refinished tag sale furniture and made my own lamps, painted and rearranged and reorganized and once I even made my own wrapping paper. Of course I realize now that I was completely delusional. (More on that later.)
No one could ever measure up to Martha. She's larger than life. A living icon. A paragon of domesticity. She has Staff.

Comparing her to the Big Guy Upstairs, someone once said
Martha could have made the world in FIVE days:
Two Days to create staff,
Two Days to delegate,
and One Day to redo it all to Her standards.

To top it all off, the Domestic Goddess appears perfectly normal when you see Her in photographs. Well, mostly She does. Even Martha has days that don't go exactly according to Her plans.

But when that happens, She still manages to pull it together and makes sure everyone is at least color-coordinated.
She dotes on her animals, who apparently have such perfect manners (who would dare to misbehave?) that they are welcomed for dinner at the Plaza.
Although, some require a little tough love to let them know She's their mother.
Some say Martha has a dark side, but She says Herself that She cannot be destroyed.
Some have attempted to, but I wouldn't recommend it.

But I digress. I wanted to show that there can be Life After Martha. It's often not pretty, but at least it's real. And it can be accomplished with minimal staff. (Mostly of the four-legged variety)
Welcome to my post-Martha nightmare dream:
It may not live up to Martha's standards, but then...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

what are YOU doing to celebrate?

Today is National Pie Day. What are you doing to celebrate?

Don't tell me you're going to eat 3.14159 pieces of pie, because then you would be confusing it with pi day, which is not until March 14th (3.14)

Personally, I plan to make a pie for dinner, and possibly even one for dessert...and who knows? If I'm up early enough, maybe even one for breakfast!

In honor of this most auspicious day, I'm re-posting my recipe for Veggie Pie, a favorite in my family.

~ Veggie Pie ~

(Recipe adapted a million years ago from the "Eat It" cookbook.
Written by Dana Crumb 
and illustrated by her husband, R. Crumb!)

1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
about 1 and 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
(I use cremini mushrooms, but you could experiment with any kind you like)
about 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup each of two other veggies, like:
green beans
lima beans
or whatever
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 TBS olive oil
2TBS butter
3-4 TBS soy sauce
freshly ground pepper
crust for a 2-crust pie
(I'm a terrible pie crust maker, so I use Pillsbury, but don't let me be a bad influence)

Preheat your oven to 400ยบ

chop your celery, onions, garlic, carrots,
and any other veggies you like

heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute the veggies on medium heat until they're soft and fragrant and the onions are translucent

chop your mushrooms (halve or quarter them first if they're large)

Add the butter and throw in the mushrooms

While the mushrooms get all fragrant and start to soften and soak up all that lovely butter, chop 4 cups of spinach

throw the spinach in, too.
It will be a big pile, but stir and it will cook down to practically nothing in about 30 seconds.

see what I mean?

Add the soy sauce and freshly ground pepper to taste
(the whole 4 TBS of soy sauce might be too salty for some so take it easy and taste as you go)

then mix in the cheese until the whole mess melts into a mass of gooey goodness.

put your bottom crust into your pie pan, and fill with the veggie mixture.

put on the top crust, crimping the edges, and cut a few slits in the top to let steam escape

Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. (But don't do what I did
and take your dogs for a long walk while it's baking)

Let it cool for a few minutes, and Eat It!

Okay, now it's your turn...got a yummy pie recipe? Here are a couple of ways to share:
  1. Post a comment with a link to the recipe on your blog, or
  2. Post a link to someone else's recipe on their blog, or
If you don't have a blog, email it to me, and I'll post it here as soon as I get it.
Happy Pie Day!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jack London and me, the 1897 gold rush and other random bits of flotsam and jetsam

I think of all the people and events I share a birthday with, Jack London is my favorite. I read The Call of the Wild and White Fang as a kid, but knew nothing about their author until a few years ago.
 London was the son of a "spiritualist" (his mother apparently channelled the spirit of an Indian chief) and an astrologer, who denied his paternity, causing Jack's mother to become temporarily deranged enough to shoot herself. She recovered and went on to marry a partially disable civil war veteran, but not before she turned the baby over to Virginia Prentiss, a former slave, for safekeeping. The family settled in Oakland, California where Jack went to elementary school, but by the age of 13 he was working 12 - 18 hours a day at a cannery. After borrowing money from his foster mother (Prentiss) he bought a boat and became an oyster pirate... at the age of 13.  
 Four years later, he worked on a sealing schooner bound for Japan, and returned to work various hard jobs before becoming a tramp. He served 30 days in jail in Buffalo, NY for vagrancy, where he was evidently treated like fresh meat by the inmates.
  After all that, at the ripe old age of 18, he returned to Oakland High School and then went on to UC Berkeley. At 21, he quit school and travelled to the Klondike where he gathered most of his material for White Fang and Call of the Wild.

Jack London's story is one of hardship, bad luck, bad choices, grit, determination and (ultimately or posthumously)  success. And even though he was dead by the age of 40, he lived more than many people do in twice that time. I don't know if that same urgency and drive to live a full life is a trait peculiar to Capricorns, or just those born on January 12th, but I'm glad to be counted in with that crowd.
So, here's to you, Jack...and all you other adventurers out there. Cheers!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


For about a week, I've been under the weather with a nasty little head cold accompanied by a nagging cough. My self-prescribed treatment plan has included plenty of rest, steaming my head, sleeping semi-upright  with a lavender heat pack on my chest, cough syrup, and gallons and gallons of hot liquids.

I've had hot and sour soup, miso soup, ramen, red zinger tea, lemon zinger tea, ginger tea with honey and lemon, black tea, green tea, red tea and chamomile tea. And you know what? 
The tea that really hits the spot is very traditional, a tea your grandmother probably drank: Earl Grey. It's basically a black tea infused with oil of bergamot, derived from a type of very aromatic citrus fruit something like a cross between an orange and a lemon. The flavor is very floral, almost like lavender, and very soothing with honey and a bit of milk.

It's also the tea of choice for the captain of the Starship Enterprise, Jean Luc Picard...and the Captain knows best.

I'm feeling better already.

Monday, January 7, 2013

the soul of a tree

(click on image to see more)
This is one of my favorite trees of all time. This giant old man maple rises up out of the narrow strip of soil between the sidewalk and the street, his roots forming a great mossy mound that has caused humans to repave around it many times over the hundred or so years of his existence. I'm convinced he watches over the neighborhood, so I greet him with a kind thought and pat his rough coat of bark whenever I pass by. Click here to see more.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

theres been a few thing on my mind lately...

Considering how bad I've been at keeping them, I really didn't want to make any resolutions this year. Not because I think I'm perfect or anything, it's just that I have too many things going on in my life that need improvement.

Way back in 2011, I set these goals for the year, and none of them were attained. The storage room is piled higher than ever with useless crap, taking daily photos barely made it to November, and worst of all, I nearly stopped reading blogs completely.
 (Damn you, Facebook!)

 After seeing this cartoon, though, I thought I should read more of my favorite blogs and try to steer clear of the evil monster whose name starts with an "F" and ends with a "K".

So don't be too surprised if I stop by your blog and wave every now and then. Or not.
See you around the blogosphere,
P.S. Check out the link to the resurrected Daily Photo up top!

Friday, January 4, 2013

keep your eyes peeled

{daily photo no. 4}
The other day I was walking through the hall to the kitchen, in the middle of a conversation, when the light through the windows on the landing caught my eye...so I stopped in mid sentence, grabbed the camera and got this.
Sometimes ya just gotta pay attention to the little fleeting moments. It's what life is all about.