Sunday, May 29, 2011

Play Dead

Sarah and Bill, not sure when I'm going to take their picture
My niece, Sarah, has made it to New York at last! On her first night in New York City, Bill and I took her to see "Play Dead" down in the Village.

What a wonderful theatre experience. I've been blessed to have a few of those lately. All of them quite different. "Freud's Last Session," beautiful in it's realism, "Peter and Wendy" for its magic, "Play Dead" for its theatricality. All of them for their clear and brilliant writing, their amazing honest acting, and their visual perfection in setting.

"Play Dead" is a fun being a kid again...waiting and wanting to be scared...and also having the adult brain that can understand the deeper implications of what's going on.

Todd Robbins is so comfortable, benevolent, and fun on stage that the audience is happily lead wherever he wants them to go.

This was a night of theatre that exceeded my expectations. As they all have lately. I'm not sure if it's because I'm in the mood for theatre or I've been lucky in my selections, or because I've avoided heavy dramas...which are the stinkers of my past experiences that make me long for that time and money back.

The last three shows, actually four, if you count, "Born Yesterday," which I should...have provided plenty to think on, as well as entertainment, humor, and beauty...ingredients that help us, as humans, survive the drama that is life.

Click here to read helpful and interesting information from Todd Robbins blog: Modern Con Man

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fabric is a Great Medium

In preparation for the next stage of my tree branch...turning it into a piece of art...I washed a selection of cotton fabric scraps.

I'm going to wrap the branch in strips of fabric and then create leaves and flowers to 'grow' on it.

Sort of like recreating what it once was...only in fabric.

I used to wrap branches all the time when I lived in a big farmhouse in Kansas. I had a surplus of branches in my yard and a house big enough for little fabric covered trees to sprout everywhere.

The idea for wrapping things in fabric came from my friend K.T. Walsh, an incredible artist from Kansas.

One night we were sitting together at the thrift store she managed. After closing, she picked up a pile of stuff and started wrapped random items with fabric and making these incredible 'flowers." I loved the process and the product so much that I'm still doing it 15 years later.

K.T. has always created with objects at hand. I aspire to that myself. : )

It's a good way to live...knowing that really we always have what we need.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Chapter for the Branch - drying up

The leaves and flowers on my little cut-off tree are now dried out and curling up. It looks as though the days of the branch being alive are over.  Sadly, the cuttings that I made didn't take. Next, I'm going to try planting the seeds that are in the now dried flowers.

When I was a child, my father showed us how to make cuttings from willow trees. I remember it being so magic. We started with what looked like foot long sticks with tiny green leaves, the sticks grew roots in water, then we planted them in the garden next to our patio where they could grow a little bigger under our care, then we moved them to their permanent location. There they grew huge. 

Every time I looked at those trees, I had such a great feeling. I was part of their beginning. 

I have a next stage planned for my little tree...actually, what I had planned for the tree when I brought it home in the first place. Just wait and see...

Still, I do hope I can grow a new little tree from the tree's seeds. I like the idea of its life going on.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Freud's Last Session - Great Play

This week, Bill and I saw "Freud's Last Session" by Mark St. Germain. What an amazing play!

This production was so real, I felt that I was in Freud's London study watching Freud and C.S. Lewis in conversation. The credit for this belongs to the flawless production. Every element was perfect: the amazing acting - real and engaging, the script - a terrific blend of thoughts and emotions, the direction - which kept the show entertaining as well as thought provoking, the set - perfect in it's complete detail.

And no small feat, the attention paid to the little production details, a radio being turned on and off and the same with lamps. Now, you may say, why would I notice those things? Well, I do. And I really don't like it when an actor turns of a light or a radio and a beat passes and then the thing really goes off. That was not the case in this production. When the actor turned something off or on, it was off or on. It was real time.
That's how detailed toward a beautiful reality this production was.

If you live in NYC or close, buy your ticket. You won't be disappointed. This show is well-worth seeing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Real Reason I Can't Leave the Upper West Side

Mondel's Chocolates - Delicious!

It important for me to live within walking distance of a candy store selling handmade chocolates. Being that these establishments are limited, I feel quite lucky to live so close to Mondel's. They have been making fine chocolates for nearly 70 years.

My favorite: dark chocolate pecan turtles.
This is usually what I purchase for myself and give as gifts.
Sometimes, I push myself to try other candies, like a dark chocolate almond turtle or maybe a dark chocolate covered coconut candy...but usually, I stay with what I love the most - pecan turtles. I'm quite loyal that way. : )

Now, if only a delicious homemade bakery would move down the block.

I've very picky about my sweets, largely due to my taste buds being set on high standards as a child. I grew up in Concordia, Kansas, where we were fortunate enough to have "Lester's Sweet Shop" and "Longton's Bakery."

The owners of both these businesses made everything from scratch: the candy, donuts, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, danishes, etc. All made by hand, not from packages, not frozen, no preservative ingredients. I know the people worked hard. They did all the jobs, made the sweets, sold the sweets, cleaned up after the sweets. I appreciate all the work they did...and, I appreciate their patience with children who took deciding which treat to purchase quite seriously.

As an adult, I have been on a constant quest to find true home-made candy stores and bakeries. Mondel's is close. They do do it all.

Here's wishing us all, homemade treats, made with real ingredients, no chemicals, no additives, no preservatives.

As my friend Karen's grandmother used to say, "You need a little sugar every day, so you stay sweet."

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Weekend Break in the Country

My friend, Honor, going round the May Pole
I'm just  back from a lovely weekend in the country visiting dear friends.

In addition to basking in the glory of spring in the country, I also had the pleasure of attending a May Festival and watching many many children going around a May Pole.

I'm lucky to have the best of both worlds, the big city life and plenty of time visiting the country, here and in Kansas. I can't really imagine spending all my time in one place or the other. It would be hard.

The break to the country also gave me time and a clearer mind for working on one of my big projects.

I often find that a break from my normal life routine is exactly what I need to see the grander possibilities of my projects. Somehow, being away makes me braver about going forward after my dreams.

Here's to all of us being more open and braver at going after life's many possibilities.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Much Cream Should One Person Have Per Day?

That's all...

Just answer the Cream Question...

I'm guessing that unless you're a dairy farmer who wants my business, your answer will tell me I've gone over the limit for a day.

I couldn't help it though, I had strawberries and blueberries. They needed rich, thick cream flowing over them, sprinkled with a little sugar, floating on a giant Whole Foods Buttermilk biscuit. Strawberry Shortcake.


I'm off to the country for a weekend with kids and friends...and I'm guessing more strawberries and cream.

When Life is's Good!

Check out Milk Thistle dairy of choice...their milk, cream, and chocolate milk are the BEST!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Chapter for the Branch

I find it so amazing that my branch (small tree) continues to grow and evolve just sitting in a can of water.
This morning, I woke to see new flowers blooming above my head. With the blooms have come a few tiny winged insects. I wonder if the flowers need them to help with blooming or if they just hatched on the branch at the same time the flowers opened. Either way, they don't bother me. They are just part of the 'life' of the branch. 

I'm also happy to see growth on my tree. This week, I realized that one way to keep the branch 'alive' would be to make cuttings from it. Then I could root them to make a new tree. One that I would grow on my fire escape.

I'm not sure the cuttings will grow, but I need actual green growth for it even to be a possibility. The tree is now growing, so, it is a possibility.

This small tree, that I brought in thinking it was a 'done for' stick, continues to amaze, educate, and emotionally effect me as it passes through its natural stages.

I love sleeping with it as a natural canopy over my head...and look forward to seeing it continue to evolve over the coming months.

Read about growing your own trees and plants from cuttings.

German Chocolate Cake - from Scratch!

My German Chocolate Cake
This picture doesn't do the cake justice. Well, it's not a beautiful cake even in real life, but man, oh man! is it DELICIOUS!

My life changed in some major ways this week. First being that now I own my own cake carrier. I really feel like I moved to an entirely new level of being. : )

Next, I'm so impressed with myself for making a German Chocolate Cake...which is my very favorite kind of cake...from scratch.

I used the recipe from my Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. To their recipe writing credit...the homemade cake tastes just as delicious as the cake purchased at their bakery.

I will admit that if I was planning to save time, it would be of great benefit to just buy a piece. Because it does take quite a bit of time to make this cake...between the mixing, baking, cooling, etc. It was about 3-4 hours.

And I'm not sure of the logic behind having a giant cake in the house when there are only two people living here that will eat it....and only one of will eat most of it. ; )

Still...I feel quite happy about this momentous occasion. Mmmmm!

Cookie of the Week - Homemade Brownies

This has been another week of homemade. So, my 'Cookie of the Week' is Homemade Hershey's Best Brownies. This recipe is by far the most delicious I've ever found. MMmmmmMmmm! We are enjoying some of them right now. I use walnuts...keeps them extra healthy.   ; )  They are chewy, rich, and amazingly scrumptious!

I keep this recipe posted up in my kitchen at all times -- Ready for a Brownie Emergency. : )
Enjoy them!!!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring is Here with All My Flower Favorites

Dandelions and Violets
Dandelions and violets, two of my favorite flowers, are now blooming in abundance. I took this picture in Morningside Park.

I find in almost everything, I prefer what grows easiest and in abundance.

My favorite fish ... guppy... not too scary.
My favorite cat ... grey tabby.
My favorite dog ... collie. (they were much more common in my childhood)
My favorite bird ... sparrow.

Thinking of or seeing these gives me comfort. Maybe because they seem hardy and enduring. They are the characters of a world I prefer. I know it's a fantasy to think there's a world where life is safe, but that's why I say fantasy.