April Fool’s Tradition

My cousin Chloee (really she’s more like an aunt to me) started a tradition years ago. She spends all year searching for a recipe with a crazy, unexpected ingredient. Then, she bakes up these unusual goodies and sends them out to family members, always timing it so that they arrive on April Fool’s Day, and challenges us to guess the secret ingredient. IMG_1222

These are not mean April Fool’s pranks… oh no! These are delightful. They’re always delicious, despite (or because of?) ingredients that may not otherwise seem very appetizing. Pinto beans in your muffins? Velveeta in your brownies? Rose petals in your cookies? Hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

 

So, this year when I received my April Fool’s treats, I couldn’t wait to open the box. Tiny muffins awaited me. I looked carefully. Hmm… green slivers. I sniffed. A hint of citrus. I took a tiny nibble and held it on my tongue. IMG_1223

Nutmeg, maybe…not too surprising. What else? Pecans? That’s not unusual either. Orange peel. Delicious, but not weird enough. What was that green? Zucchini? Not broccoli… chives maybe? Wheatgrass. Finally I settled on chives. There was a slightly herbal taste. I peeled back the label on the back of Chloee’s note, beneath which she had hidden the answer. Asparagus!? I don’t even like asparagus. But I like these muffins! Just goes to show, you never can tell.

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What I love about this tradition isn’t just the fun of it, or the craziness of it, or the effort Chloee puts into finding recipes and making sure they get here on just the right day. It’s the attention it requires on my part. It’s permission to take my time and notice every subtle detail of my food from the smell to the texture to the nuances of flavor. It’s the reminder to savor and enjoy.

Scary Diversion

In our house October is scary movie month. Almost every night for the entire month (after the little one has retired, of course) my husband and I watch a scary movie, or at least a scary t.v. show. We run the gamut from campy silly to scary horror.

I know this is an art blog and way off subject, but I thought you might want to put down the paintbrush and grab some candy corn and join me. Here’s what we’ve watched so far and my rating, in case you’re interested. Ratings are shown with * on a 5 point scale (I hardly ever give anything 5 stars, so 4 is really good).

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By the way, who decided this looked like corn?

Cabin in the Woods: Fun movie. Kinda scary, fairly gory, very witty- a different view on the whole “scary movie formula” (you know- the dumb blonde, the athlete, the good girl, the goofy friend, the smart one, etc.) A Joss Whedon creation…he pretty much does no wrong, so his movies and show are always a good bet. ****

The Awakening: Really good. It has that quiet, creepy style of The Others. Not gory. Scary while you’re watching it, but it doesn’t leave you feeling afraid to turn out the light. ****

Hellraiser: Terrible. Supposedly a classic, but the acting was distractingly bad (I know that’s a campy scary movie requirement, but this one wasn’t even trying to be campy). *

Ghostbusters: What can I even say? It’s Ghostbusters! ***.5

I Sell the Dead: Witty, campy gory, fun to watch. Dominic Monaghan (you know, Charlie from Lost, Meri  from Lord of the the Rings) stars. ****

Intruders: Really really good. Another one that keeps you feeling creeped out while you’re watching it, but doesn’t leave you terrified. ****

Clue: I forgot how fun this movie is. Just quirky enough to watch with a group of quirky friends who don’t like actually scary movies. ***.5

Trick or Treat: Favorite Halloween movie. A comic book style movie involving several intersecting plot lines. Kinda scary, but not nightmare inducing scary. Good scary fun. *****

As for scary t.v. shows, we’ve been watching an anime cartoon called, Blood. We haven’t watched much of it, so I can’t rate it, but I like it so far.

Enjoy!

Just a little crush

Gallery

This gallery contains 6 photos.

I’m a little giddy… a little obsessed even, over something new. It’s slick, almost plasticky, and as you can see, somewhat transparent (which could lend itself to all kinds of cool tricks). Here are some of the mixed-media pieces I’ve … Continue reading

Hope in a Basket

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“Hope in Basket”
Watercolor and charcoal on paper

Since the death of the baby birds I have kept an eye out for the mother and father birds to no avail. They seemed to have disappeared. However, literally moments after I sat down to paint and draw this mixed-media picture of their abandoned nest, now blooming with marigolds, the mother came and perched on the top of basket. She leaned down almost as if admiring the flowers, then hopped down to the side of the basket. Looking through the glass storm door at me, she cocked her head. I barely breathed, not wanted to scare her. We stayed like this a few moment then she flew away. I haven’t seen her again since.

I know it’s far-fetched, but I like to believe she approved of me honoring her loss and came to let me know.

The Saga of the Birds

Ok, here is the promised saga of the baby birds mentioned a couple of posts ago:

 

IMG_9852I had a decorative basket hanging on a wall outside next to the front door. A family of pretty little brown birds built a nest in it and pretty soon a constant chorus 

of chirping accompanied our comings and goings through the door. One day last week my little girl and I came home from running errands and she excitedly ran around our driveway picking up rocks (she’s obsessed). I heard her say, “Oh!” I looked over to see an oddly shaped pinkish thing on the concrete in front of her. As she reached toward it I realized it was a tiny, featherless, motionless baby bird. “Don’t touch it!” I barked, then putting on false calm and cheer I said, “It’s a baby bird. He’s taking a nap in the sun. Let’s leave him alone.”  I scanned the area and realized the nest had been destroyed. Turning to go inside I almost stepped on a second chick. This one clearly still alive. Heart pounding I took my toddler inside, convinced her that we did not need to take the baby birds a blanket for their nap, and distracted her with Cinderella while I tried to figure out what to do. After consulting with my husband and leaving a message with the bird rescue at Oak Mt. State Park, I put plastic bags on my hands (we didn’t have any gloves) and stepped outside.

Approaching the first baby bird, I knelt down. He was so tiny. I expected to have trouble picking him up. However he craned his head on his too thin little neck toward my hand and actually seemed to do his best to work his way into my palm. I can’t in good conscious say he was cute… He was bald with huge closed eyes, however it was odd to me the similarities he seemed to share with fetal humans. We all start out pretty scrawny and ugly and I felt a maternal sort of protectiveness for him. I put him back in the nest, then went to help his sibling who I thought was already dead. I was wrong, though! He, too, craned toward my hand.

The rest of the afternoon I worried over them. Their mother flew back and forth to the nest and I thought maybe they’d be ok. A lady from Oak Mt. called me back and told me I’d done the right thing (and, for future reference, the gloves were unnecessary. The whole thing about your scent making the mother abandon them is a myth) and that the mother could tell whether or not they would make it.

They didn’t make it. I confess I cried. So yesterday, despite other things I needed to do during my little girl’s nap, I had a bird funeral. I put them under the tree where I normally saw their mother. Walking into the garage to put away my spade and gloves, I heard a familiar chirping. I looked up to see the edges of a nest high in the rafters near a space where the roof and wall don’t quite connect, leaving an opening to the outside. New babies! In my garage! I smiled.

This weekend I think I’ll buy some flowers to plant in the basket.