Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Inspired - Button Pushers

Button Globe
"Button Pushers"

Everybody knows a button pusher.

You say you hate Cilantro? Well the button pusher you know, will make a seven layer dip with at least two layers of cilantro just for you.

You say you can’t get pregnant? The button pusher will show you pictures of all their pregnant friends.

You say you’re watching your weight? The button pusher will ask you to lunch and order nachos with a side of fries.

You’ve lost your wallet, you say? The button pusher is the one who stole it but will gladly help you look for it.

You’re insecure about your laugh? You wish your bottom was firmer? You wish you had less arm jiggle? The button pusher will make sure everyone else knows those tiny nuances about you.

The button pusher is not your friend. Is the button pusher your enemy?

People are not creatures of logic. People are creatures of emotion, of ego, of vanity and of pride. We all know our own darkness. Why do people prey on these shadowed corners? Do we love others pain and suffering so much that we eat others darkness like ice cream? Misanthropy is a profession.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Change Your Life

It seems I may be experiencing a Mid-Life Crisis. I capitalize it as it can be a title that someone carries, I believe. Some of us have them and some of us don't. As a woman, I believe my crisis looks quite a bit different than the film version that men are stereo-typically thought to have. I am not going to run out and get a Porsche. I am not going to get a boyfriend. I am not going to quit my job (yet, anyway). But I do want to focus on being better. And stop thinking about things that do not serve me.

For instance, I have been singled out at work by two folks whose team I am no part of. I stay awake at night thinking about them and the fact that they want to make me miserable. They don't like me because I am cheerful and happy, positive and friendly, motivated and professional. It doesn't behoove me to think of their disdain for me. Instead, I should be thinking of my wants, my desires, my comfort and my health and how I want to improve my standing. I should be considering what my parents think of me and whether my husband is proud of me rather than even referring to sneers from unprofessional, unhappy people in my mundane, very un-creative job.

On January 5, 2015, my friend Clark introduced me to a book called, "Your Best Year Yet" by Karen Ann Kennedy. I bought it and while I haven't been super structured with it (because inflexibility doesn't serve me), I have gotten a journal and I do read the book as I would any daily devotional, because that is what it is.

What I am trying to be structured in is eating to be healthy and serving food to my husband that encourages him to be healthy as well. I want to re-commit to my yoga practice and (thankfully) have found a new studio to call home and try to meditate and pray for health, self-control, forgiveness and letting go of resentment. And, I want to not only be positive, because that is my nature, but in fact, take that giant leap even further and instead of floating on pink clouds and simply being a dreamer, become the do-er I know I am. The blogs I read (the short list), Regina's here and Lori's here, remind me that I am worthy to have all my desires met; all my goals achieved.

And so I looked for more reference materials on how I really can make this year the best yet and continue in subsequent years to do the same for myself and my family. The list I found is from Time Magazine's online Psychology Section. The article is called "The Ten Best Self-Help Books You've (Probably) Never Heard Of." One of the books listed was published in 1869. I think the list is worth some research. To accompany Karen's book, I also ordered "It Works" by RHJ. It's $2.99 and worth every cent.

Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion by Emile Coue - 1869.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

It's a New Year - 2015

May your year and all the following years be blessed for you, yours, me and mine too!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sweet Winter Pie - A Pear Cranberry Treat





If you like pears and you like cranberries, you will really, really like this wintertime dessert.

Those succulent pears, the tart cranberries, the hint of Cardamom and the Streusel topping was like Christmas in my mouth!

It is a sweet I served after Christmas dinner but it is so easy you can serve it any old time you want. It's especially good with a dollop of whipped cream but my dad loved it with some vanilla ice cream. It's excellent warm or at room temp and keeps very well in the fridge.
I say, make a rich beef stew and follow it up with tea and this Sweet Winter Pie!

Sweet Winter Pie
(Pear and Cranberry Pie with Streusel Topping)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Streusel Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (I use quick cook)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark - doesn't matter)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter melted

Assembly:
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together until crumbly, set aside.

Pie Ingredients:

At grocery stores in the colder months there are typically bagged Anjou or Bartlett or Bosc Pears. Any of these varieties will work for this pie. I love the Bartletts and they were $2.69 at Trader Joe's, so there you have it. (If you cannot find the bagged pears, use about 7-8 medium sized ripe pears; not mushy but ripe).

Peel, core and chop all pears.
Rind and juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 - 1 cup dried cranberries chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
And...Trader Joe's Pie Crust 

Directions:

Unroll 1 pie crust and lay it in the pie dish.
After mixing pears and the next 8 ingredients gently, add them to the pie crust.
With your fingers evenly crumble on the Streusel as if you were making a drip castle in the sand.
Place the assembled Winter Pie on a baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for one hour.





Monday, December 29, 2014

Squirrels

I am guilty of having a very busy Christmas season and I am so sorry for not posting regularly. Now that we are on the downswing, I 'll be plenty more consistent with my posts.

On that note, I found, in my email inbox this morning, a question from a friend posed like so, "Do you know?" Below is the question:


I first read it with a chuckle. Who would think to query this? And then I read it again with curiosity. And said, "Yeah! Why and how?" In my search for answers, I found that squirrels were not only a subject of note in British 18th Century paintings but also in American 18th Century paintings and French 16th Century paintings and in fact throughout several centuries and countries.

It seems the squirrel was a popular pet. And in fact, their keepers loved them so much that this pet consistently evoked poetry:

From The Virginia Gazette, December 15, 1768
A Young Lady's Complaint on the Death of her Squirrel.

A thing so pretty as my PHIL,
A thing so sprightly and so queer,
The pet I lov'd so very dear,
To rob me of the pretty elf,

For him I've lost each night's repose,
Nothing enjoying but my woes.
Oh could my squirrel but survive,

But he is gone ! ne'er to return!
And useless 'tie to sigh and mourn.
I'll therefore seek another pet ,

Amongst the fops or empty beaus,
Because he'd surely make me fret,
And prove a very worthless pet.


And the paintings:

1760 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Boy (Henry Pelham) with a Squirrel.

1765 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Frances Deering Wentworth (Mrs. Theodore Atkinson, Jr.)


1790 Denison Limner Probably Joseph Steward (American artist, 1753-1822). Miss Denison of Stonington, Connecticut possibly Matilda.

1526 Hans Holbein the Younger (1498–1543) Lady with a Squirrel on a chain.
1580's Portrait of a Lady, possibly the Poet Maddalena Salvetti (1557-1610), in a Green Dress and a pet Black Squirrel with a bell collar.


1600's Frederic Kerseboom (1632-1690) Lady with a Red Squirrel on a Chain and a Spaniel

1700's Joseph Highmore (English artist, 1692-1780) A Portrait of a Boy with a Pet Squirrel.

1730 Unknown French artist, Portrait of an Unknown French Lady Holding Flowers and a Red Squirrel with a bell collar.
I attained these renderings of these portraits from 18C American Women. For more explanations and interesting meanderings, please go visit Barbara. She has several other blogs as well, all worth a visit, including her biggest collection, "It's About Time."

Did I, however, get the answers to the how and why? No. I did not. If anyone knows, please enlighten me!



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Domestic Sluttery

This holiday season has given me the busies. I have been overwhelmed with things I have (truth be told) done to myself. I have completed two rounds of baking, gotten all the shopping done, designed and sent the Christmas cards and sent all of the kids gifts too. I have made gingerbread (I am a connoisseur) and I have made baking boxes for the grandparents which included Alfajores, Hermits, Fig Thumbprints, Peppermint White Chocolate Fudge and the tried and true Chocolate Chip Cookies.

But I saved the best for last. My friend Clare sent me an extraordinary book irreverently titled Domestic Sluttery. And since I am indeed a domestic ho, I thought she chose a perfect tome to share with me. Not coincidentally there was a wicked cookie recipe in this book called "Sunny Honey Cookies." I immediately went to work slutting out in the kitchen to make a batch of these chewy, honey tinged delights.

Sunny Honey Cookies

Ingredients:


12 Tbs butter

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey (If it is too stiff, warm it in the microwave for 5 seconds).
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup almond meal flour 
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup currants

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Beat in honey.
Sift in flour and baking soda.
Stir in Almond flour and Orange zest.
Roll dough into 1 inch balls them on a baking sheet lined with parchment roughly 2 inches apart.
Squash each ball gently with your fingers so they form rounds.
Bake for 12-15 minutes.
They should be brown at the edges when they are done.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Eat with some gentle Lady Grey tea.







Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Whites

It's the season for Winter Whites. Here are some beautiful things for you!

Dreamy Whites
That basket and those pillows!
A French milk bucket makes a charming Christmas Tree display.
The styling here is magnificent and that tree sits in such a sweet crate.