Sunday, March 31, 2013

Without your love

Grief. Grief comes back, recycles on cold Sunday afternoons. Especially on a cold Easter Sunday afternoon.

I looked at the contents of my closet the other day and noted that it looked like the closet of someone in mourning. I suppose that’s about right. I’ve never been into bright wardrobe colors, rather consider that my choice of so much black, so much drab, identifies me as an artist. Do I have to be in mourning to be an artist? Do I have to feel the constant ache of a broken heart? A few weeks ago I marked the one year anniversary of Mike’s death—the latest in the death triology—my father dead, my brother murdered, Mike dead. And I thought maybe I was moving beyond the grief. Maybe. Maybe not.

The wonderful thing, perhaps the saddest thing is that Mike loved me. He told me I was the love of his life. He told me that the times he had with me—what he called “the adventure”—was the best time of his life. He said that even when he was dying. There’s a big hole left when someone who loves you departs this Earth.

A year is not nearly enough. I am learning what life is like without him. Sometimes it’s okay, but many times it’s incredibly lonely. I miss his music, I miss his strength, I miss his wacky sense of humor, I miss his knowledge of all kinds of trivia. Sometimes I’m not sure where I am without him. All I know is that I miss him and I don't have any idea how long I'll feel this way. 

And the words of a song cycle through my head, Michael McDonald singing “without your love, where would I be now?” I guess I know the answer to that question.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Flagship Rum Buns

This is something I feel I need to post as a public service to my friends who are native Washingtonians who grew up eating the Flagship's rum buns. There has been a discussion on the local Chowhound about the rum buns and many people have been searching unsuccessfully for the recipe. Well. . . I have a very old, yellowed, disintegrating copy of the recipe that I cut out of the Washington Post many years ago in a column called “Anne’s Reader Exchange.” Here’s what it says:

"The rum buns served at one of our waterfront restaurants have gained national as well as local fame. The October, 1967, issue of Gourmet magazine carried the recipe for this specialty of the house. A reader repeats it here for Mrs. I. L. of Woodbridge, who requested the recipe after tasting the buns at the Flagship.

Happy baking to Mrs. I. L. I think this is the recipe for rum buns she wants.

In a bowl, combine 1 cup milk scalded with ¼ cup each of sugar and shortening and 1 ¼ teaspoons salt. Let mixture cool to lukewarm and stir in 1 envelope or cake of yeast. Beat the batter with a rotary beater until it is smooth and stir in 1 egg, well beaten, and 1 ½ teaspoons rum extract. Add 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted flour and beat the mixture with a rotary beater until it is smooth. Add 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons additional flour and mix the dough until it is smooth and light. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place (80 to 85 degrees F.) for about three hours or until it is double in bulk.

On a lightly floured board roll out the dough into two strips, each about 12 inches long, 4 inches wide, and ½ inch thick. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle each strip with ¼ cup each of sugar and chopped raisins. Rolls out the strips into jelly roll shapes about 15 inches long, pulling out the edges, if necessary, to keep them uniform. Cut the rolls into crosswise slices about ¾ inch thick.

Place the slices in well-buttered muffin tins, cover them with a towel, and let them rise in a warm place until they are double in bulk. Bake the buns in a hot oven (400 degrees) for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the buns from the oven and brush the tops immediately with an icing made by blending 1 cup confectioner’s sugar with 2 tablespoons rum extract. This makes about 18 buns.

Signed by Johanna"
Does anyone know Mrs. I. L. of Woodbridge, Virginia? Hope she has had many years of happy baking and that she still uses that old rotary beater.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday tears

I found this artist’s conception of the face of Jesus a few days ago. I’ve been looking at it and looking at it again, considering Jesus’s humanity in this week before Easter. And tonight I went to Good Friday worship service and imagined His face, imagined what this week was like for Him 2000 years ago.

Just knowing what we know from historical accounts brings me to tears. Imagine that Jesus was just a man, not the son of God. He must have been a really nice guy. People loved him and crowds followed him, listened to every word he said. He was selfless and kind and outrageously principled. He was wise and forgiving and he loved his mama. And he loved and served God, his father. Yet he was betrayed by his closest friends, unjustly accused, savagely beaten, and sent to die a horrible death, nailed to a cross to appease an angry crowd. That alone is one of the saddest, most heartbreaking stories I’ve ever heard.

But if you read the Bible and believe, like I do, that Jesus was indeed the son of God, the horrific betrayal and death is not a tragedy. It was and is the means of our salvation. When on the cross He cries out His last words, “It is finished!” it is not a cry of defeat, but of victory.

I still cry when I think of what He went through. He went through it for me and I am so grateful.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I'm totally using other people's creativity here. Just for the record, these are some of my new favorite pieces of painted furniture. When possible, I'll cite the source. These are the things that make it impossible for me to stop painting. Last week I was at my daughter's house in Austin, painting furniture of course. I picked up a plastic cup to take a drink of water. It wasn't water--it was paint. Oh, well. . . no wonder I'm loony.

This was done with CeCe Caldwell Paint by Nancy Walker at Fresh in Jasper TX. The colors are Mississippi Mud and Georgia Clay. The drawers have a cheesecloth application, which I need to learn! Note that it appears this is a dresser but the lower drawer was left out. Great work, Nancy!

This cupboard was in some random catalog. Don't know much about it but I love it and it was the inspiration for a little cupboard that I did.

Don't know much about this one either but I love the blue stripes on the white painted stairs and I love the chest at the top of the stairs. I painted an old immigrant's chest like this, just from the little glimpse of the piece at the top of the stairs.

This is from Miss Mustard Seed who is well loved in the shabby chic paint world. I think she uses milk paint not chalk paint. Love the pale green over the reddish brown and the very shabby distressing.

Don't know where this one is from either, just an image I saved because I love the tone-on-tone color of the simple little chest.

This room, everything, just makes me want to paint something these luscious shades of green and greenish blue.

This is one of my favorite colors--Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Emperor's Silk. This piece is by Lisbeth Danner who has an Etsy shop called ReCreation Studio. Great job with the red and great fabric. Thanks for the inspiration, Lisbeth.

That's enough for now. I've been inhaling too many paint fumes.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

'90s fashion

“Sorry, Mom, no offense but it’s so ‘90s.” Last week I bought my daughter a cute, trendy, designer label jacket at a discount store. I e-mailed her a photo of it, thinking she would be thrilled. It seemed like something that she would like. Wrong. Only I thought it was cute and trendy. She thought it was ‘90s.

“What’s wrong with ‘90s?” I asked myself. Isn’t that the current thing? It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose. The 1890s were a while ago but in my mind the 1990s were recent. Weren’t they? It’s not like the jacket had giant shoulder pads or wide lapels. I wish I had a photo of myself wearing the hip-hugger fluorescent orange polyester short-shorts with the wide white belt that I wore in about 1970. Now that is a dated look. Even I shudder to think I once wore such a thing. But I still wish I had the photo to prove it.

Then there were the “parachute pants” I owned recently—not one, but two pairs. I loved those pants but my daughter called them MC Hammer pants. If I had them on, she’d say, not too subtly, “It’s Hammer time.” I probably bought them in the dreaded ‘90s. Shamed into a wardrobe purge, I gave them to Goodwill. Some lucky woman somewhere has those pants.

Since I’m on the subject of fashion, I want to point out a consumer shift that I heard about on NPR a few days ago. Apparently sales of adult diapers have now surpassed the sales of baby diapers. Talk about dressing 90s—as the population ages (yes, I’m talking about us, the baby boomers) we’re incontinent and wearing diapers. Lord, forgive me, but I just considered putting a bullet through my head.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ina's redemption

I was in Austin for a couple of weeks with my daughter and granddaughters. Food? Yes! I got to eat at my favorite restaurant in the entire universe--Fonda San Miguel--and had Chiles Anchos Rellenos de Picadillo de Pollo (Ancho Chiles Stuffed with Chicken Picadillo). Lord, forgive me for loving food so much. Surely it must be sinful. I actually have the recipe for this dish, directly from the chef at Fonda San Miguel. But I'm afraid to make it. I'm afraid that I won't do it justice, that the perfect tortillas and the funky art and the margaritas at Fonda are what make the experience so wonderful and I won't be able to re-create it at home. I brought home matchbooks from the restaurant as if that could comfort me. Sigh.

However, while in Austin I did try Ina Garten's recipe for lemon roasted chicken with croutons. Doggone good. So I tried it again today at home, just to make sure it was really that good. Yep, it's really that good. I needed to purge my recent negative Ina Garten experience, needed to erase the look and taste of that dreadful meatloaf recipe of hers. The mere thought still makes me queasy. But now my house smells like roast chicken and burned onions. It's fabulous. I wonder if some random eligible male walking down the street might follow the aroma to my house and propose marriage on the spot. And look at how beautiful the chicken looks--perfectly roasted! Should I refuse such a proposal?

You can find Ina's recipe on the Food Network at Make it!