keep your peepers open!

keep your peepers open!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

left right

This time of the year, there is so much ado about what to do with leftover turkey! I didn’t do too much cooking on Thanksgiving, hence NO leftovers though I did end up with some baked sweet potatoes which were just right for something delectable! I decided to smash those leftover sweeties and put them into a most righteous bread pudding along with mashed up, too ripe bananas that I had frozen a few days earlier. As bananas age, they bring forth a natural liqueur which deepens the flavor of one of my variations on this dessert that has so many varieties, it seems like the only common denominators are bread and eggs.

Depending on the proportions and type of ingredients, putting together a bread pudding can be quite simple and quick with richly decadent results in flavor and mouth feel (at least the way I make them!). So if you want to lick your lips, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray a 9” x 12” baking pan with butter flavored Pam. In a big bowl, break into small pieces a long loaf of bread (your choice of white or wheat, the inexpensive store brand is fine). Cut up three very ripe bananas over the bread and mash them. Add ½ cup of raisins and no more than a cup of mashed sweet potatoes and stir together with bread and bananas using a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed and gooey. In another bowl beat 6 large eggs; add 2 ½ cups of half & half OR heavy cream; ½ cup dark brown sugar; ¼ cup sugar; 2 -3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract; and liberal amounts of both ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat with hand whisk until fully blended. Add rum and/or bourbon to taste (for those who don’t drink, use rum and brandy extract generously). Pour liquid over bread mixture and stir until completely mixed; should be thick but should also easily pour into the pan. Use more cream if needed but do not make it runny. Sprinkle top with raw sugar and bake 1 hour or until knife comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for an hour or more before cutting. Store covered in the refrigerator.

This type of bread pudding is very moist, cuts into clean pieces, which is the way I prefer the dessert, can be served warm or cold, and goes a long way at a holiday party when cut into small bite sized cubes. Ah…a spontaneous bright idea for a gathering...use less sugar when the bread pudding is made and plan to dip the cubes into warm melted caramel like fondue…yum!

My recipe allows for all kinds of creativity. See what's left around your kitchen that might be just right for a sweet or savory delight. BTW…I hadn't thought about the latter, so while I'm looking into the prospects, hope you too will...

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

have a seat

I had the pleasure of seeing several women friends yesterday at two different times in the day. My Saturday left me feeling full after a sumptuous afternoon and evening of conversation, reflection, food, laughter and just being in the company of good friends. During both settings, we eventually arrived at a discussion about an email I originally sent back in August that I had just re-sent a day earlier. It ended with these words,

“…I am sending you the gift of 30 minutes a week to sit on this bench, to turn off and tune in to yourself. To close your eyes, imagine whatever restful scene you like and bask in the quiet solitude that I send to you. If you just can't imagine using this gift during the day, use it before you get out of bed or before you climb in. Feel free to pull out this present more than once a week in shorter or longer increments as my gift is endless, all you need to do is sit down.”

The bench mentioned referred to a picture taken while traveling; it seems like I have taken photographs of places to sit down for a spell on just about all of my trips. Sometimes I have actually rested in these spots. More often than not, I purposely do not take a seat preferring to capture the desire so that each time I look at one of the images, I am able to take in the surroundings with a fresh perspective, sit down, close my eyes, and go wherever I need to go at that moment.

Today, I offer the gift of having a seat to anyone who is open to accepting this present. Hopefully you will say thank you, sit down and after you take a moment or two or however long you wish, will move on with your day with a renewed sense of being as you…

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this bench is tucked into the butterfly path adjacent to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

turkey time?

I am so not in the mood to whip up a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Thinking that perhaps I will opt for
something simple yet delicious...

….and hope that I won’t get a last minute craving. Oh boy...I’m having a flashback to last year’s regrettable meal cobbled together the morning of that consisted of some not so tasty selections of pre-prepared food. Perhaps I better rethink this. As I do, let me leave you with this thought -- during this time when people are still recovering from the devastation of Sandy and other disasters that have taken so much from too many, may we take time out to be thankful for the simple things and extend a helping hand to those who need it. Enjoy the holiday and…

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

silence is

Funny how little things that people say to us when we are little stick with us, become just a part of our being. My Grandmother had all sorts of ways to get her grandchildren to sit still by using phrases and activities that we thought were games. Silence is golden was one of them. Whenever she said it, we’d press a finger to our lips and shush ourselves into quietdom until, now that I’m wiser, she had finished her break from our chattering busyness. I truly never wondered where she got that from until I stood before a tree of brownish yellow leaves, sunlight rendering them almost transparent and waited until the slight breeze paused long enough for me to capture their more golden tones. It was mid-afternoon on that corner, one I’ve driven past countless times, just cool enough for a few layers of clothing, warm enough to take one or two off. Cars were not pressed to move through the intersection so they lingered behind the stop sign, their drivers wearing leisure much like mine; no need to hurry on such a spectacular day. There was plenty of time to appreciate fully the glow, each vein, overlays, ruffled edges, if one detached and fell or flew. I thought about that game of sitting still that I was much too young to fully appreciate or really understand until I stood in the golden silence of a tree dressed for autumn showing off in the sunny spotlight and was glad I had parked and walked to where I had been.

The origin of the phrase, which I am sure countless others have said for decades, really doesn’t matter. What does is taking in the richness when you stop the noise and…

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

b&w cg cb

outlined edges with soft corners
defined silhouettes to slip behind
simple complexity
all crisp, clean, and sharp.

take shelter in the shades
resting a moment between the shadows
before the lights come up on the blush
and the hush shifts to brilliance.

During a season of changing colors, a beautiful respite can be found in black, white, charcoal gray and chocolate brown. Wrap yourself in their rich warmth and…

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

rock paper scissors

I haven’t made a collage in quite some time though I still continue to cut and throw various pictures from newspapers and magazines onto my work table. While perusing through months of the piled up, haphazardly tossed clippings, I couldn’t help but notice the many patterns and textures that captured my eye which sparked thoughts about the many photographs of both manmade and natural designs that gave me pause yet somehow have not made it to the blog. So here are a few; I will spare you the editorial today and simply say…let your eyes follow the shapes, colors, bumps, empty spaces of glass, wood, stone, paper and nature and see what you discover.

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ps...happy birthday to my niece who loves jiffy pop as much as I do!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


It’s a great morning in the USA and after I go to sleep and wake up to the light of day, I know I will put on some music to get me moving and out the door. My absolute favorite CD of the moment is actually one produced in 2006. Brazilian sounds are hot, sexy, cool, soft sensuous, romantic and Rosalia de Souza’s Brasil Precisa Balancar gives all of that and more! Horns and percussions just make you want to shake and groove as the first cut Onde Anda o Meu Amor blasts across the room. It gets me going everytime I hear it so I’m glad that she does slow it down long enough for me to stop gyrating and get dressed.

Going completely in another direction, Mari Boine’s Gula Gula will transport you to some place that only you will define. I first heard her intoxicating voice as it blared across a conference room while a large group meditated. I went into a trance-like state, fell deep into the chanting that at that moment sounded like something from Tibet. I wasn’t able to follow the voice of the person leading the meditation going somewhere with her as Cuovgi Liekkas played a few times; several people rushed the person controlling the music that morning to find out who we were listening to. Here’s the rub --this women who also sounds Native American is vocalizing in Saami a Scandinavian tongue!

Moving to another part of the world, check out the soulful voice of Kathryn Williams on Little Black Numbers. A modern folk singer from Liverpool, I haven’t picked a favorite cut just yet, I’m so liking the whole CD right now.

Landing back here in the USA, a true winner forever is going to be the old favorites on the Very Best of Ashford & Simpson. I happened to see Valerie on a PBS special. Two people came on to do not such a good rendition of It Seems to Hang On and I was immediately online. This is my jam as we used to say, a serious groove from back in the day that still gets me on my feet singing every word from start to finish. There are 14 other memorable classics on this CD that will have you singing along, tapping your feet and appreciating the creative contributions of two dynamic forces in the music industry.

Music will not be the only thing that gets me going this post-election day. But as we move forward, let's hope it will continue to be a universal language that brings us together so…

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

staying put

Sometimes the downside of traveling for business is not having a car so it helps when the hotel is within walking distance of places of interest or if it has much to offer without having to leave the property, as was the case when I was in Florida.

Starting with Bar Su, a lively spot with seriously delicious sushi and mixed cocktails…

and art that I found appealing...

to the architecture...

and the many oh so blue pools...

great spots to perch...

surrounded by flora and foliage familiar and new…

and ending with a moon to swoon by!

I enjoyed staying put, content to explore the property not due to the short time I was there or the fact that a hurricane came through or because I didn't have a car. The reason -- each time I had a moment to take in the hotel both its grounds and interiors, I found that being where I was was enough. That I only had to look around for a rich and rewarding experience because sometimes, all you need to do is...

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ps - hotel is the Westin Diplomat, Hollywood FL