Wednesday, April 27, 2011

time to tally the day

i am a woman of a certain age. i delicately try to live my life in good spirits. unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, sometimes this is NOT possible. it is related to my father's X chromosome donation. pretty much all of my girlie issues i can lay at his feet. i only know this because i have a half sister and she has all the same weird things go on. 
please, do not misunderstand my statement as anything other than i am getting older and just a little weirder. it happens as folks age. so here is my line-up for today:
1}hot flashes happened. i was sweaty and uncomfortable. it was only 76 degrees out and i  wasin a t-shirt feeling WAAAARM. 
2} i am on day 7 of a cold. it has been doing odd things to me all week. i had no visible symptoms for days, but wanted to itch both of my ears simultaneously with drill bit shaped cotton swabs that could easily meet in the middle of my already scrambled brain. (last summer one of my ears got clogged and i had to go to an ENT. i seriously considered running away to the bahamas with him. not that he asked. ok, not that he would have even noticed i was considering this either.) 
in addition to the itchy ears, the sore throat, the watery eyes, the snuffling, etc. all are making me pissy. now the past two days have held me hostage with nose blowing and the obvious signs of extreme x-game gale force winds moving through my sinuses. my face center area is red from all the blowing. frick. 
i want this gone, cause the only thing left to gift me with is more significant dry skin and chapping of lip/nose areas. i am not all that pretty to withstand these inflammations well. 
i am realistic about this. 
3} while making dinner pasta, i poured out the extra boiling water over the colander. having done this task a gazzillion times before, i managed to have a small tsunami flow up and out of the deep sink to hit my abdomen. i actually burned the front of my belly. this totally insulted me and hurt like hell. my son took pity on me and made an ice pack for the spots affected. i was so taken with his speedy kindness, that i bought him some overstock marshmallow peeps when i later went to get my long suffering, hungry dog some food at the supermarket. 
i just want to say, pink peeps have an aftertaste. i think i like yellow ones much better. i actually prefer the idea of making my own marshmallows and dunking them in raw sugar to fully rot my teeth out of my head. at least they will taste really yummy. and by now you know i am deeply and profoundly interested in yummy. 
4} i have to blow my nose again. dammit. 

on the other side of stuff.... several superior things happened. 
5} i made a deal to make a necklace for a woman that gives me free and gorgeous press on her blog. i do not really think my jewelry is all that, but sometimes others do. and i am most grateful for that when it happens!
check out her blog posting in which she says really nice things... i am not all that immodest, but i really appreciated that she did such a kind thing for me. 

she included these two necklaces 
Angela Rose

Brandy, you're a fine girl...

 so brenda sue and i are gonna collaborate on a nifty necklace design. she will send me some of her coolio  metal findings and perhaps some ice resin poured stuff. i will see how i can best put them together into a crazy necklace for her. it promises to be quite a different look for both of us. 
i will keep you updated on things as the happen. i am totally psyched!

6} one of my earlier customers, izzy, is a personal chef based in Malaysia. she sent me a link to her website that she recently updated. her update included a copy of her advertisement in HARPER'S BAZAAR.... the Malaysian edition. 
she is a gorgeous woman inside and out, who has a career as a personal chef. when not cooking for high end clients and royals (i think i need to fantasize this one in, if it isn't true...), she is tripping all over the world. she might be a new heroine for me. 
anyways, her interview for an advert in the magazine is for H.MuMM champagne. 
check this out:

this stunning and talented woman is sporting a necklace that i made for her. 
i am so verklempt. 

ok, so the good over whelms the crap today. just thought i could let you know that as miserable as i am personally and to be around, 
I KNOW... that i am extra lucky. 
in almost every way imaginable. 

nighty night  all...


Monday, April 25, 2011

tradesies? brownies for a sandwich?

tomorrow is a field trip for my son's APES class. APES is short for advanced placement environmental science, a course for upper class-men in his high school( you know, the ones with one foot out the door already). he took the course to load up his transcript with sciences and at the same time get to take some courses that allowed him to leave the school building. i accept that he is into this, even though it is not nearly as hard a course as AP physics or biology.
for him, it is a huge win-win. he is not the kind of kid that can thrive while in classrooms exclusively or without lab-style educational experiences. he needs fresh air and to keep on point when his school year is winding down. also he has a wicked (as they say in these here parts) case of senioritis.
if he can stay in the game of school for a few more weeks, i am really happy about that.

in conjunction with this Spring(fever) weather and his getting out of school for the day, he needs to bring a lunch along. this is not a problem, but on occasion,i am neglectful of the whole timely shopping for appropriate foods. this seems to be one of these times. so there are no cold-cuts in my house? should i freak out? no. no real time or money for fixing that. i live with locusts, you know, teenagers. they can mow down $200.oo worth of food in a few days. so getting the right food for perfect timing is really a challenge for me. i stopped trying to get things right. we have peanut butter and about 4 kinds of nice jams. if push comes to shove, i feel alright about letting him eat this for a day. it is novel at this time in life as well as delicious and nourishing. i think he will be ok , even if his heart is set on ham and cheese.
sorry, tough nuggies.
i found him texting someone on his phone while i was asking him to clean up his room. that is a repetitive, crummy, constant request on my part. i am not kidding when i ask. there are clothes at least a foot deep on the floor. and his shoes are HUGE. all the better for me to trip over.
i need not express how much i detest doing that!
the tripping, repeating myself and living with his messy style, i mean. when i finally got his attention, he admitted that he was trying to get a friend of his to bring him a sandwich for the field trip.
i give up.
i have tried to teach him not to be so rude, but he has finagled it into being one of his life gifts.
somehow he comes off as being very charming.
he has girls anxiously waiting to help him out in any imaginable socially acceptable manner.
his guy friends would not in a bazillion years consider making him a sandwich or full breakfast burritos as some sweet girl did recently. he is very smooth. i have no idea where he gets it from.
his father is a wiseass alternating with a grumpypants(i attribute that to being a morning person,which i am not). i am not always known for unerring diplomacy. however, since both dad and i are aware of some personal shortcomings, we have really tried to influence him and his sisters to be better than we are.
seemingly,it's working for him. much to my embarrassment.

since i was a more than a little horrified, i suggested that i would make brownies for him to trade for a sandwich. thus i would alleviate the guilt trippiness he'd laid me out in earlier this week. (he told me that he never gets pancakes for breakfast, but i make them for his sister all the time. of course this not true. he was "messing wit me" in his words.).
he got no bites on nagging some poor girl into making him sandwiches.
he did get me to make his brownies though.

brownies are one of my gifts from heaven. since i am an unabashed fan, i am always trying to improve on my baking techniques or tweaking recipes.
i started making them in my easy bake oven when i was 5.
when my mother was hospitalized and i was 6, i used the big household oven to bake things in.
no one was looking or paying attention to me in those days. it was as they say, a case of benign neglect.
being supervision-free can allow for Dickensian results.
you know, the ones where relatively small children participate in inappropriate age related tasks?
especially without anyone keeping them safe?
happily, i survived neatly, and with much larger portions of chocolatey goodness than my easy bake over could render after baking off with a light bulb.

{a moment of honesty}
i did NOT write this recipe.

i want this known up front. my luck came about after making the same recipe for years and years... decades and decades to be specific. my fave way to make brownies included melting baker's brand unsweetened chocolate and butter. this combination was added slowly to 3c. white sugar and 8 eggs which had been whipped into genoise style airiness. a little flour and some vanilla along with heat yielded a smashing light and deeply flavored confection.
i lived on these while i was a new mom. i needed the extra zip in my world to maintain my wakefulness.
it worked a treat too.
i am still trying to kick some calories to the curb twenty years later although,not admittedly too hard.
i have little self control obviously.
a male friend of ours used to drop in kind of regularly for a meal or a snack. he asked if i wanted to bake for a coffee house component of a space he was developing under his architectural hat.
long story made short... i needed to look for a less expensive way to make some brownies. although these were heavenly, i found a fresh recipe that used cocoa powder. i needed a rich and dewy replacement and while on my journey, i stumbled across this variation.
i am in love. it does all the things i need it to.
it is less costly, unless you buy the world's most costly eggs, sugar, and cocoa.
i am too frugal in many ways, but fresh eggs are essential. that applies to all of the best baked goods. that and unsalted butter. anyways... i shall share with no more special or self aggrandizing claims.
this is just a wonderful and easy recipe .
the only heating required is from melting the butter or margarine and from the oven itself. i find the microwave suits the melting phase pretty safely.
and yes, basically any 6 year old could do this safely with minor supervision.
the only real worry is if Fagin is around the corner looking for lifting a little snack for later.



my smudged up recipe card... which i adjust as my mood directs
to get my fave tasty results.

preheat oven to 325 degrees
and prep pan with parchment paper.

2 1/2 sticks of butter, margarine or a combination of the two
1 1/4 c. of packed brown sugar
1 1/4 c. of white sugar
1 3/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
4 cold eggs
1 T. real vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1 1/3 c. lightly chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 t. instant espresso or coffee powder (also optional)
1 c. chocolate chips... (my preference but also optional)

1.} prep the pan with a sheet of parchment paper as shown here
skip the step for greasing the paper, just line a 13"x9" pan.

2.} melt butter in a heatproof glass measuring cup, in one minute increments.
i also like to put one of the empty wrappers on the top to keep it from spitting and such. it sticks to the rim and prevents anything from jumping the rim.

getting the shortening ready to be melted

3.} crack 4 eggs into a clean cup and make sure there are no shell fragments . set aside for now.

mise en place: everything in its place.
ready for adding into the bowl.

4.} measure out a cup of flour without tamping it down.


5.} in a large bowl, sift the cocoa through a sieve to eliminate any lumps. add the white sugar, packed brown sugar & salt. mix so it is evenly combined. often there are little brown sugar lumps, so try to work these out into the dry ingredients if possible. (coffee can be added now if it seems right for your dream brownie).

dry ingredients all together

breaking up brown sugar lumps and blending all dry ingredients

6.} add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly, then add the butter carefully. it can splash if you are too vigorous in the mixing. add the vanilla too, again carefully so no splashing.

you can see how granular the sugar is still

7.} everything is in now,except the flour. add this in with as few strokes as possible. that way, the gluten won't have enough of a chance to develop. it will toughen your pastry if you do.
if nuts are desired, now is the time to add them in. gently.

addition of flour.

flour added...
8.} put the batter which may look too stiff, into the pan. spread it neatly with a butter knife or offset spatula. bake at 325 degrees until the surface springs back after lightly being touched. or if the edges of the brownies are just starting to pull a hair away from the sides of the pan. i usually can tell by smell ... when i smell them, they are done. basically, this is a baked flat souffle with a little flour holding it all together.

don't say anything... it is very stiff batter.
please do not act like my goofy 17 yo. son.

batter spread in the prepared, lined pan

9.} let cool completely. if you have time, you can freeze the pan a little and using the paper liner to lift out of the pan onto a cutting board, this way you can cut them neatly. if you choose to cut without the freezing part.... use a hot knife and wash with hot water,drying in between slicing the big bar of chocolatey yumminess.

these are very rich brownies so i cut them into 2 dozen servings

i hope you like these as much as me and the boyo.
and the rest of the family.

thanks as always,

Saturday, April 23, 2011

thank you rhinovirus...

i have been reeeediculously inactive. i blame the joy of the family cold. i have had no interest in doing very much. so in between obsessively checking on my various pages of internet interests, i have been reading blogs. recently, my interests have been focused on making slipcovers and refinishing furniture. of course, i am lazy as hell when it comes to sanding things and using steel wool to finish wood, but i may need to overcome this to scratch my interior designing itchiness.

this has been a rather compulsively crazy diet visiting many inspiring blogs. i am beside myself with ideas... most of them prominently feature distressed turquoise furniture and nearly white slipcovers. unfortunately for me, if i bring another thing into this house, my husband could implode. i dare not test his will to live here with my harebrained schemes. like i said, this family cold has been ruining any last, good natured moment. tipping the scales to the side of frustration is not my plan.

hubby dearest is a carpenter and a really good one at that. unfortunately, he has a load of old furniture that i want to play with. the things he has are lifers here. none will ever be sold, put on craig's list, or yard saled.
he loves it all brown and in my mind, yucky colored. since it is wooden in nature, he will bow to it a very appreciative way. it is his nature to love all these things in their wooden perfection. i could care less about many of the veneers on most of these things. so i will sidestep his pieces of furniture out of a false sense of harmony.

earlier this evening, i went into the basement to check things out. i wanted to see if he had chucked out any of my finds. he likes adjust my inventory into the trash when he thinks i am not looking. i am always looking though. i seem to lose a lot of really great stuff that i remember for its potential for a really long time. my cool trash picks haunt me.

happily i found that he had NOT yet made his sneaky attack on a sewing machine table i have had stored. i never quite got to setting it up. mostly i suspect, because it is that wooden color. i just can't fall in love with brown. at least with all the grain and non-spectacular wooden species used. now if i paint it pale pink or lime green or turquoise... well my sewing skills will be resuscitated just that much quicker.
i guess i am gonna have to plan on that.

i also have collected a child's wardrobe about ten years ago. it is in my studio. that extra messy space where i harbor many supplies and dreams. its left side is populated with 4 drawers and the right side has a small door that opens to a clothing cabinet for small wearables. the front has several laminated 50's decals on it. i was sucked into buying it because of my irrational love of its decals. that and my nostalgic feelings about having had a similar one when i was a kid. i know also my husband wants that gone, gone, gone.
now with all this crazy dreaming of painted, distressed finishes, i want to repaint it . this would be ok, but those endearing decals would become a thing of the past. good thing though. i have found some new decals. old ones from the fifties and sixties. i may take the plunge, but not yet. i have not had enough time to play homage to my memories of its earlier place in my life. gosh i am so stubborn and chicken about some stuff. i seem to have many issues about change. going so far as to hang onto absurdly abstruse things from days of my own yore.
in the effort to keep this piece, i have had an idea as to repurposing it as a wrapping area. my jewelry and supplies for sale drive me crazy when i need to ship them out. the idea has been doing gymnastics in my head. i finally have come to an idea as to how i might like to use it as a station for getting things out of here and into other crafter's or jewelry wearer's lives. anything for a little progress ...

my new plans are going to include a little love fest of paint, sanding and elbow grease. i am in the mood for a fresh beginnings. they will have to fit in my own colorized world since i need their functions to be uploaded into the studio.
for now i shall show some of the things i have already painted up for companionability. you may have seen these things before. if you have, please do not faint with boredom. i am prone to repetitiveness. and i apologize for that.
i will share before and afters of the things to tackle next. you deserve some good eye candy. until then, you are stuck with these. and yeah, i still love them.


my two $2o.oo metal cabinets
lying on their backs
getting ready for some "painting spa" treatments.
the dog is just a great assistant.

starting with the joy of priming...

primed and getting a base coat of lime on one...

one lime, one aqua base coated

i found a technique on thread-banger
for spray painting through lace.
i HAD to try it.
pay little attention to those two children in the photo...
they are in front of the aqua & white cabinet.
part of the price of admission...
they helped me move the cabinets into the basement.
once the big tall cabinets made their way into place, i started on round two... the smaller drawer filled metal chests.
another pair of modest and needed purchases at $20 per set.

all those cute little drawers all lined up for their makeovers!
my backside mr. demille.
i am a shy cabinet, hence all my blush coloring.

too bad, they just couldn't stay drab olive.

on their way to a more appreciated pale, pale green.

sorta moved in and getting some kind of placement
feng shui ala bendyme

stacked up on an enamel topped two drawer table,
that my neighbor so generously donated to his trash pile.
i dragged it home with my son's invaluable help
who doesn't love FREE???

i found that fish spinny thing at the flea market for $8.oo.
who does not need a cool pencil corral for their prismacolors?
it took a smidge longer
to find the right glasses to fit it up just so.
better photos will follow soon.

i got the second pale green set of drawers
set onto my card catalog.
thank you for the freebee from providence's
Martin Luther King Elementary School!
the red shelves were at the spa for a treatment too.
i spared you those pics.
lucky you!

it is time for me and the rhinovirus to bid you adieu.
fresh pics of future renovated brown woody pieces to follow.
you have been so very good sticking with this for so long ....