keep your peepers open!

keep your peepers open!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

magna traditions

When we speak of traditions, food is included in the dialog. I was in a cab at dawn on Christmas morning listening to the radio as the driver headed for the train station. The commentator was interviewing people about holiday family recipes passed down from one generation to the next and culturally indicative food traditions. Immediately, I thought about the dish I would make once I arrived at my sister's house. Stewed corn is a labor-of-love family (and friends) favorite that my grandmother used to cook not just for holidays but quite often throughout the year. A recipe from the heart, only the ingredients -- fresh sweet corn sheared from the cob simmered in a buttery cream heavily laced with garlic and just enough salt and pepper -- sans measurements are written in the inherited cookbook. It's one of those dishes you had to have tasted from the hands of the originator in order to be able to combine the perfect amount of each thing to yield a pot of lip smacking, lick the bowl goodness!

Thankfully, I learned it well from one who guided me on my culinary path, preparing the dish now almost exactly as she did when I was by her side at the stove, which also means I must cook it in a Magnalite covered skillet.

Cooking in Magnalite pots and pans is a discipline I also follow whenever I fry chicken, something I don’t do very often though it truly is one of my top five favorite foods. I have used other pans when mine aren’t at hand; my best chicken to date is chicken fried in Crisco, preferably the white solid kind (sorry, some things
are best left unchanged as long as we consume in moderation) in a Magnalite pan. That said, I offered to cook the chicken for Christmas dinner. I didn’t realize that I was already using the largest Magnalite for the corn and yes, there were other large pans available; I opted to fry in a much smaller skillet that carried the brand name I trust. My chicken was crispy brown perfection!

Traditional family and cultural recipes prepared well bring a comfort that touches all of our senses. Done right, we can close our eyes and imagine the first time we smelled and tasted that deliciousness that becomes part of our being. Add to good food preparing it in the company of family and friends; my last minute decision to run up the east coast to spend the day at my sisters turned into the best gift I received this year. Being there and in the kitchen brought me some peace of mind right on time that would have escaped me had I stayed in DC.

Hope you too had a merry, merry Christmas and as we begin the countdown to 2014…

keep your peepers open!®

ps…much to my delight, Magnalite Classic cookware is still being made; they come with a 50 year warranty and I’m pleased to say that they hold up since mine have been in the family for over 50 years and are still going strong; truly well made, not flimsy and heats evenly; highly recommended…shop around for the best price.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

merry, merry to you!

merry day

Merry Christmas is today,
to celebrate in many ways.
Gathered round the trees that stand,
in homes, in hearts throughout the land.
Drinking eggnog, singing songs,
joy and cheer the whole day long.
Lounging by a fire is nice,
cookies, a movie, naps once or twice.
But it's more than presents, getting things
as holiday bells begin to ring,
say prayers for those who are in need
t’is the season to do a good deed,
let go of pent up stress and strife
and give thanks, be grateful
for the wonders of life.

I send today a holiday wish
for all you hope for, desire or miss
and take a moment just to say
peace on Earth this Christmas day.

May peace, joy, and a grateful heart be yours this holiday season and throughout the New Year to come.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

holiday imagination

T’was the last day of school before holiday began
the kiddos arrived in pajamas, how grand!
They had waffles, hot chocolate, oh my that’s great fun
so I wonder, a new holiday tradition? DONE!

The creation of my little ditty was inspired after hearing that the grandson of one of my co-workers did just that with his teacher and classmates. I thought it was just the best thing ever, immediately decided to do something on that order next year.

There are many reasons why people re-imagine the holiday season, as one of my friends said she was doing. Creativity and imagination have to come together sans guilt to fashion traditions, permanent or temporary, that fit who we are and what our own needs, wants and desires might be even if that means baking a frozen turkey pot pie, putting our feet up and watching lots of holiday movies or sporting events. Honestly, if you share the motivation behind the changes in how you’d like to spend the season with those who need to know, you’ll be surprised how many people will understand, follow your lead, and/or be relieved that they can stay in bed while you’re off scaling Mt. Everest instead of busting out the pots and pans! As long as you keep the spirit of whatever you believe alive in your heart and home, all will be well.

Heating up some cocoa right now as I stir up cool ideas for 2014, so…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

happy joy

There really must be something wrong in the world when we need a magazine to guide us in the ways of happiness OR how wonderful to know that a magazine exists that talks about being happy. Depending on what’s going on around and through me, I could concur with either of those statements. I happened on Live Happy while moving through the train station; I doubled back to the newsstand to grab a copy, like its content and then thought that so many people need to read it. I particularly enjoyed a quick tip article on giving the gift of happiness. Number 18 mentioned focusing on the things that bring us joy, which immediately made me recall how happy I felt as I opened and read the message of my first holiday card this season.

The ability to bring joy to others is a special quality that not all possess. Perhaps being happy with oneself is the key to embodying that gift so just imagine if more folks could find that place within and begin to spread joy throughout the year. I will conclude by saying that both of my opening statements hold some validity. Unfortunately we do live in a time when happiness is fleeting for many; yes, we need to be reminded how to find it once again. Start by recognizing that moment when something small warms your heart. Let that feeling flow until joyful happiness blossoms so fully within that the only place it has to go is out into the universe to be shared with others. Try it and as you do…

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

holiday wander

In the midst of rockin' waters, I find consolation in a cut & paste or other creative endeavor. I love Christmas trees. Since I haven't decorated one in years, I seem to find myself designing artistic interpretations every year which allow for just as much freedom of expression, maybe even more, as trimming a tree. This December was no exception, offering me an escape when I needed to take a moment.

Once I made and photographed the original concept, it was time for a touch of creative license and with just a bit of editing, wella!

Making trees brings back memories of grammar school art class when green and red construction paper for a tree and ornaments, maybe some yellow for garland and a star were distributed every December; how very limited. The holiday season is a rainbow of colors and moods. Though I always incorporate a smattering of traditional tones as I work, use of the full spectrum and a wide variety of materials reflects how I feel the spirit of the season. This year, the diversion of selecting and pairing papers that unfolded into a delightful creation provided me with hours of good cheer. Turning it into a tree of plenty was a dose of much needed solace during this most wonderful time.

I’ve said this before, sometimes you have to get lost to find the way back to center and as you wander…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

holiday heart

“The heart loves a cheerful giver.”

There is something richly satisfying about giving. Be sure to do so this holiday season by writing a check, volunteering your time, or in some other way, like baking as your annual thank you to the door attendant or mailperson if cash is a little tight this year. Moreover, after you have given to others, give yourself a little something too. Be it time or tangible, may it warm your heart and…

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Sunday, December 8, 2013


In life, moments arise that give us pause, unite people around the globe. We join hands as we let go of our differences and collectively create an energy that could change the world.

A feeling of sadness mixed with the joy of having witnessed greatness takes hold and a celebration unlike no other begins never to happen again.

As the coverage swept the airwaves, I wished I had been fortunate enough to be in the presence of Nelson Mandela as he lived, had a moment when I wanted to hop a flight to join the crowd gathering to pay tribute upon his death. Since that was not to be, I tapped into the interviews conducted with non-celebrity types, people like me who admired from a distance with no less love and awe than those whose positions in life afforded them up close and personal contact, individuals whose feet were now planted on the street in South Africa right outside of Mandela’s home. People spoke with eloquent emotion and the words of one caught my attention, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!” he jubilantly expressed. For some reason, that simple statement resonated deeply with me, really summed up the mood of the crowd who through their tears were dancing and singing. So to those words I will add a few of my own…and let us rejoice!

We are better for having known personal or from afar, indeed let us rejoice and…

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PS - When I lived in NYC, I did have the good fortune to meet, have an instant connection with and then receive an invitation from Zindzi Mandela to have a private lunch with her. We giggled like two friends who had known each other for years and though we had such different lives, we had so much in common. We kept in touch for several months before we lost contact; a photo of us is in my memory box. To her and her family, my best.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

sonetto moderno

Without intending to do so, I wrote a sonnet. I remember studying the sonnet with no enthusiasm or love light years ago while in high school. The homework assignments to write them caused me such great angst as I struggled with the rigid constraints that defined this form of literature. All I knew is that understanding and following their rules garnered a good grade, which is what I was after; my soul was never in anything that I submitted (freedom of artistic expression was a concept brewing inside of me that wouldn’t fully take shape until sometime in my distant future). So I’m not sure why hearing the word sonnet in reference to my piece sounded much sexier than simply saying I wrote a poem or that I needed to express myself while trying to grasp a devastating situation looming before me. I decided to reinvestigate a lesson long forgotten.

Briefly, a sonnet (from the Italian word sonetto meaning little song) is a poem containing fourteen lines of iambic pentameter with a specific rhyme scheme; my piece is composed of 14 lines and that was the only criteria it met. Having grown into one who is quick to push beyond and break the creative boundaries imposed by “the way it’s always been done,” I felt that it was indeed a sonnet, so I kept reading. I was pleased to find that some other rule breakers out there have loosened the requirements putting an updated spin on the little song, “…modern sonnets are typically still short, lyric poems in the spirit of the traditional sonnet. The most common modern sonnet is a fourteen lined lyric poem that does not employ iambic pentameter or a set rhyme scheme” ( And there it was, an affirmation that I had produced my very own modern sonnet. It’s a tad on the dark side, reflective of past and current experiences, but what is life without contrasts and contradictions?

bait & switches - tsl©
nice until they're nasty
beholding they hold back
genuine, they lie
giving as they take.
we fall down under false charm
hook, line then sink
into a heartless pocket
of hearts unknowingly picked
and taste the sting of a lash.
the dagger sliced, retreats, repeats
just left of main arteries
between the blink of blind eyes
we forgive in pain and step forward
to crush glasses of rose.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

beauty exchange

During a recent exchange, I found myself reflecting on the following posed by the person I was conversing with via email, “If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what is it that makes us say beautiful?” My first thought was that only a day before, I had written the words "in the eye of the beholder" for an article about my collage art. I too had inferred that we each have our own idea of what beauty is; to me, true beauty rests somewhere in our soul where our own truths reside. Our constant challenge is holding tight to our opinions and feelings when it comes to people, clothes, art, everything as we face the many outside forces that could jade what we really think.

My thoughts then shifted to the quiet reaction that takes hold of me when I stand before a flower. I'm overcome with how lovely it is even when only a few petals remain and some have curling brown edges. Something stirs inside me, I find myself whispering, “beautiful”. This same feeling surges through me when I meet a genuine person with good spirit energy, beauty flowing from their place within touching my soul. Now I must admit that indeed I do react to the physical appearance of a person, to individuals who match a program in my head that reads beautiful. So yes, a gorgeous specimen of a man will turn my head every time. Thankfully, my barometer for real beauty rests in my soul and spirit bringing me back to reality when my mind goes ga-ga!

So as you ponder what is beautiful in your eyes…

keep your peepers open!®