keep your peepers open!

keep your peepers open!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

no case scenario

Spring and autumn are my favorite seasons. Old limbs that have stretched naked under the sky sprout new buds that will turn into cool billowy dresses for the hot months. These frocks transform themselves daily until it’s time for the trees to get all gussied up for Mother Nature’s annual fashion extravaganza coming to a town near you! And let me just say, make-up artists, dressers, event planners need not apply as there is no assistance necessary, no dress rehearsal to do. On cue each tree flaunts its own dazzling array of colors that designers will never be able to truly mimic. Grounded they pose, throw out twirling kisses that fall to the grass, bend naughtily like burlesque dancers, perform a strip tease that makes no one blush just before the light grows dimmer sooner leaving them exposed once again. Seasonal changes are miraculous, seasonal time changes…well that’s a production that gives me pause.

Springing ahead takes back an hour of sleep. It takes me a minute until I get used to the time change then I am blissful about my long walks that start well before 6:00AM. Just before we fall back months later, it is dark at 6:00…6:30…6:45AM. My walks grow shorter; I wait for Father Time to give me back some early morning light and the past couple of years I’ve had to wait longer since Bush changed daylight savings time. My walks continue while I wait until a no case scenario greets me at dawn in either one of two forms -- dark and cold OR cold and rainy. Way too many mornings here lately I have awakened to find that Father and Mother have sabotaged my time with nature. It’s over before I turn over when I wake up reaching for the comforter or hear rain splashing against the leaves outside my window. I hit the snooze, snuggle under, and wonder if my thighs are spreading just a little...I better go.

keep your peepers open! ®

Sunday, October 25, 2009

ms. T's sweet potato bread

I'm an early riser who savors the stillness of the hours before the world wakes up. By 9, I can bring home the turkey bacon, fry it up in the pan…translated that means wash a load of clothes, grocery shop, walk for an hour, shampoo & condition my hair, and bake a loaf of something delicious and healthy. When I came across the recipe for sweet potato bread four years ago, my brow furrowed. Who cooks with NO spices? Not one was listed in the ingredients and against my better taste palette I made it strictly by the book. The horror! The bread had no pizzazz which did not work for me so I altered the ingredients including mixing whole wheat flour with white. If you want to experiment with your own flavors, take out all of the spices I added and do your thing! Today I was feeling a little dried Valencia orange peel, so I sprinkled in a little. We’ll see how that goes. This bread is tasty for breakfast toasted or not with or w/o cream cheese, as a quick snack, served with tea or under a decadent ice cream! Keep in mind that the bread is not sweet and that it tastes better the second day after the spices have had a chance to settle.

Cooking tips: Put on some music (listened to Debussy this morning), bring the intent of love to your cooking particularly if sharing with others, clean your work space, read through the recipe and assemble everything you need. The potatoes do need to be cooked; do that well before you begin as they need to cool. Either bake or boil, just don’t over cook (better flavor if bake). Also, clean as you go…less to do once the bread is in the oven.

Need 8”x 4” loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray and a wire rack for cooling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/3 C ground flax seed
1 C all purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
dash of ground cloves

1) Combine all of these ingredients in a large bowl; whisk together and make a well in the center. Set aside. After you make this the first time, alter the spices to your liking. This can also be made with whatever flour you would like to use though I have only used white and wheat.

¼ C 1/3-less fat cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
½ C packed dark brown sugar
¼ C honey
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 C cooked, mashed and cooled sweet potato, NO LUMPS

2) In a second bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add brown sugar and honey, beat until smooth. Add egg and egg white; beat until well combined (the mixture may have little dots of yellow/white in it, that’s okay). Stir in sweet potato. Pour mixture into the well made by the flour mixture stirring until moist; don’t over mix.

3) Spoon batter into the loaf pan. Bake at the center of the oven on the middle rack for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. It really has taken 50 minutes every time I’ve made it. Of course this could vary depending on your oven, so check at 50 minutes, time additional minutes if needed and make a note. This will be the correct time for you.

4) Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
Yields 16, ½ inch slices. The bread can be frozen for one month in an airtight container or by wrapping it in foil; thaw at room temperature. Let me know what you think, if you added your own touches, and as always…

keep your peepers open! ®

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

forever...on the road

I hate driving on the highway. One minute the speed limit is 55, then it’s 65. Does anyone realize that that is a “6” not a “9”? Today I had to take to the road in order to make a speaking engagement in Carroll Valley, PA. After about 30 – 40 minutes of driving north on I-495, I merged onto US-15N and the landscape stretched out before me like a huge canvas. Gosh it was breathtaking! I had a flashback to the first time I drove from NYC to Vermont almost 10 years ago. I rounded a bend in the road, passed between two huge cliffs and out of nowhere appeared the most spectacular view of mountains covered with more trees than I could fathom. The array of colors, the forever hills left me speechless. Even now I still can’t adequately describe what I felt as I moved between what seemed like two separate worlds though it was just a drive from one state into another.

I experienced that same loss of voice as I drove the highway from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, NM last year. I almost wrecked the rental trying to take in that mountain in the distance that seemed to follow me all the way to the hotel…it and all the others along the way were hypnotic. When I arrived in Santa Fe and drove up into the hills, I was so humbled by the majestic views that came out of nowhere that I finally had to stop the car…tears were in my eyes. Could it be that beautiful and how far away were those huge rolling mountains hovering over smaller ones like parents protecting their young? Actually my trip to New Mexico was a spiritual experience that I have yet to truly articulate. I will never forget that little pink cloud that stayed alongside the car as I drove back to the airport...

Today is warm, sunny, a delightful autumn day. US-15N made me want to love careening along taking in its views. Traffic thinned out, I opened the windows and fall fell in. Somewhere leaves were burning; the highway gardeners were on their lawn mowers so the smell of freshly cut grass drifted through the car. The convenience of a welcome place to make a u-turn allowed me to go back to ensure that the glorious scene of a lovely college campus that flew by was not just a mirage. The foliage was showing off big time! A infinity of lush oranges, yellows, reds, greens, and browns formed a dazzling drop cloth that blanketed the left side of me. Dotting the countryside to the right were farm houses, sprawling homes, cows, horses, corn fields. Up the hill and over…forever was before me. I wanted to close my eyes and embrace grateful.

Photographs can never really capture a picture taken with your heart, soul, and spirit. I will refrain from dropping in those taken with my IPhone so you can develop some on your own. Open yourself to all that is around you and…

keep your peepers open! ®

Sunday, October 18, 2009

sittin' on the dock

Last October at this very time, I was introduced to an artist via phone. He was the friend of friends who were in town because our friend had lost her Father. We were all grieving; the conversation with a like-minded soul was a welcome elixir. At first, we spoke about the possibility of me hosting an exhibition of his work but quickly segued into a passionate exchange about each other’s art. So absorbed in dialog were we that 30 minutes of peak cell phone time elapsed like a blink. We agreed to talk further in November when he would be in town. Unfortunately an emergency kept me from being able to meet him and we lost contact.

Months passed. One morning, I found myself thinking about that October conversation and wondered how his work was progressing. I picked up the phone; we had a very lengthy reunion that had all the overtones of two long lost friends, though we barely knew each other. A couple of weeks and three emails later we embarked on an intense voyage of stimulating talks that floated our like minded spirits into many channels. The creative energy streaming through the wires made its way to the page visually and literally with satisfying results. But a perfect storm was brewing. Eventually the waters quieted, we docked in separate ports, and pieces of that journey came to rest within as he produced larger than life canvases with metaphors in black and she meaning me birthed a new variation on collage Goddesses. Though our talks and texts no longer ebb and flow with regularity, we do sit on our respective docks rooting each other on in the quest to let our work guide us to where we need to go. So when the sunny email opened with news of radiant splendor, I beamed! It gives me great pleasure to share its message by saying that today is the premiere opening reception for

HERO'S STORY – New Works by Cullen Washington, Jr.
The Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists
October 18, 2009 – January 10, 2010
300 Walnut Avenue, Boston MA

The piece above is entitled Man of Steel. If you find yourself in the Boston area anytime between now and the closing date, go see the show or visit the web site at and…

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

what's in some words

My years in graduate and undergraduate school were not filled with artistic study. Family persuasion not of the gentle kind nudged me away from interior design in undergrad, I self selected marketing in grad because it was the one major that made some iota of sense to me. I’m not sure if my MBA days boosted my love of snazzy phraseology. I do know that I became much more aware of stringing words together in catch phrases and taglines while sitting in advertising class. I love hip vernacular, try my best to keep up with the current lingo and know how to slice and dice what I need to say to fit it into a tweet. Funny, there are a bazillion words out there with many more being created everyday. So why are we trying to use less? Go figure.

Right now there is a commercial running for this week’s installment of some comedy. I have no intention of watching though I am curious to know if when she says, “shut the front door” it’s a cuter and more prime time acceptable replacement for “shut the F-word up.” I rather like the front door thing and regardless of what it means, plan to drop it into rotation as a substitute for my potty mouth stringalong that has just a few more expletives attached. Last week, discussions circling around Chris Rock’s movie Good Hair prompted a woman who dyes her hair to remark that “nobody’s carpet matches their drapes.” She was not referring to items in the home and just in case you can’t make the connection, she meant that female hair “down there” never matches the color of the hair on their head. Fabulous analogy, so worth repeating. However, I will drop the word nobody as I’m not so sure this is true for all women. I for one…well let’s move on shall we…

When I teach workshops, I encourage participants to rethink how they say things in order to reshape the way their lives are going or how they think of themselves. For so many, the tendency to state things in the positive does not come as naturally as phrasing them in the negative. We also rely on clichés to express our feelings instead of speaking from within during serious conversations. It’s just easier and more comfortable to fall back on the familiar rather than challenge the norm or dig for something heartfelt. While there are numerous examples running through my head, one that springs to mind is, “it’s their loss.” I’ve used it hoping to comfort someone; others have said it to console me. We utter this line in an effort to help a person see how wonderful they are after a break up or job loss. The last time it was said to me I “smoked it over” (my grandmother used to say this when she needed to think about something) and now want to submit the following to you for consideration. When there is a separation of any sort, it might just be for the best particularly if the relationship was not healthy. However when we love, really like, or care for someone and suddenly they are no longer part of our life, we too lose something very real and very tangible. It’s okay to grieve, still feel for them, remember and then we must move on carrying the best part of that person with us along with lessons learned. They came to us for a reason and we to them for a reason that only time will tell. Be grateful and as Miguel Ruiz suggests in one of the four agreements, don’t take it personal. And one more thing…you are fierce!

No matter how many or how few words you choose to use, take a moment to think about what you want to say, make it your own, make it meaningful, and in the words of Tim Gunn, MAKE IT WORK!

keep your peepers open! ®

Sunday, October 11, 2009

engaged stillness

In last Sunday’s blog I mentioned an outing to a glass studio with my gal pals. It was indeed a delicious afternoon sandwich starting with my perfect weather (warm sunny 68 degrees no humidity slight breeze) ending with a sit down to a table filled with lots of yummy chit chat and in the middle a priceless mixture of women daring to try something different. I had to chuckle as we all committed to just going with it, no expectations all the while determined to not only design the most unique piece possible but to get it to come out as close to perfect as we could possibly get! What a day we had. Back home that evening I grabbed a cupcake from our bounty and sank into the couch to ruminate about my birthday weekend. I was blissfully satiated.

On Saturday, I had had an eight CD day of making collages. An inkling of Erykah, a hint of Nora, sprinklings of Etta James, Shirley Horn, a big splash of my girl Nina and a heavy duty dosage of Anita Baker’s greatest hits had urged on the production of three Goddesses…it was birthday magic. Cupcake in tow, I got up from my perch to look at the girls again. There are moments when I am so humbled by the gifts inhabiting my body that I have to take hold for this wave of something I cannot describe. It’s hard to believe what is before me, that I have formulated another unique being from pieces of paper because when I am at the table, I fall into a trancelike state I’ve deemed “engaged stillness.” So much transpires as the goddesses come together telling me who they are, what they want to look like, what needs to go where, how they feel. My eyes scan the papers in front of me darting from this page to that color to…ah that shape, a bosom. Hands constantly cut, piece...oh no, those hips need to be more curvaceous, take up that thigh, search for another body part. Stop, look, listen breathe in the fragrance I dab on as part of my ritual. Glue paper to paper with sticky fingers, sing “sweet love.” Some of the placements are deliberate most find their way to each other organically. I am totally absorbed in this all consuming activeness never really moving all that much as I am guided along to completion. And when I disengage, still in my very small workspace, someone stunning has revealed herself.

An outsider artist whose spirit is directing her to explore other media, I am taking classes of interest, art or no, and have learned to not be wedded to a perfect outcome (ok, sometimes I want it to be good). This glass blowing gathering was not my first time up to the glory hole. I had been there back in August ( which is what gave me the idea to invite my friends but, I must confess -- blowing glass does not come naturally to me. I listen to the directions; they drain right out of me as soon as that blast of 2000 degree heat slaps me in the face. MERCY! If it wasn’t for Don, I would not have completed this bowl last Sunday because I was DONE when he opened both doors of the oven and instructed me to spin the glass as fast as I could. But I’ll be back. In the meantime, I’m headed out to learn how to a make scratch molds…

keep your peepers open! ®

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

wild women series

wild women©

whisper dreams in color
as their hips sway from side to side
enticing everyone
and owe nothing.

wear big earrings
as they drink jack daniels from the bottle
riding harleys barefoot
with no guilt.

lead double lives with conviction
taking chances to do what feels good.
no cower or bows
they stay true, want it all
and know.

learn from the past facing forward
step in holes to make their own way.
step into fear and never lie.

wild women love the breath of life
love themselves when others won’t
will, then won’t
are willing
don't have to ask...they just do.

and they do wear red.

"wild women" is a poetry series written by Tina Lassiter from words and phrases submitted by people from all over the world. If you'd like to share your thoughts about wild women, please send them to; include your first name and age. Your words may be used in an upcoming wild women creation so...

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

it's my birthday...

Well actually it was yesterday but I celebrate all month. Yesterday was the beginning of my own personal New Year. I cherish my day and love to acknowledge others when it’s their turn to usher in the start of another year of life. People always marvel at how I remember them, though I can never understand why. To me, it’s simply a matter of finding a few small things -- cards, a writing instrument, stamps, a calendar and oops, perhaps not a small thing to some of you, that elusive thing called TIME. I confess that I too resort to email salutations, congratulations, etc. However, when it comes to birthdays it is texture all the way! There is nothing like receiving a birthday card in the mail, it’s so personal. Someone took the time to go to the store, make a selection then send it to me. I like opening the envelope, looking at the design, reading the message and feeling special on my day. So I’ll try to make this easy for you. Keep a calendar of birthdays, go ahead and use an electronic one. If you can’t get to the store, give back. Go online and buy a box of birthday cards from UNICEF or some other non-profit and put them in your desk drawer along with stamps and return address stickers (I am sure you get them in the mail from any number of organizations seeking your support). Do whatever is easiest to prompt you to write and send the cards on time, even if it means you send out cards once a month to cover everyone in that month. I’m sure they won’t mind being recognized a little early or just a few days late…it really is the thought that counts.

And while we are chatting about birthdays, I’ve been on the planet long enough to acquire many treasures. Earlier this year, my very best friend decided to treat her friends on her birthday rather than receive more things that though appreciated really weren’t needed. Instead, she cruised the streets in a long black limousine plucking each of us from our respective abodes, whisked us off to The Red Door for manicures, and later treated us to lunch. It was a perfect day in every way, more about time spent rather than dollars wasted, a day that still brings fond memories more valuable than any treasure I can hold in my hand. So I decided to take a page from her playbook and create a birthday play date for me and my gals. This afternoon we will turn hot liquid glass into paperweights or bowls; I’m making the latter. Our email exchanges leading up to today have been sparked with excitement. We’re looking forward to setting an Autumnal table with nibbles and thirst quenchers that we will share as our pieces cool down. We get to dress down, wrap our hair up, and just be girls at play. Though it’s hours away, I am already elated knowing that our time together will leave me with moments I will laugh about each time I gaze at the bowl designed with my very own hands filled to the brim with their spirits.

Happy Birthday and Happy New Year October Babies! Do something gracious, memorable and…

keep your peepers open! ®