Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Pastry Madness 2008

These are our spiffy new cases.

11 straight days of 10-13 hour days.
Here's Saturday's pile o'cakes - all made by yours truly.
There are no photos of the thousands of truffles we've gone through in the last two weeks.

Here's what we did today. 11 regular cakes, 12 Battenburgs and 3 Buche de Noels. It will take a parade to get everything down to the shop.

Tomorrow, we take all our cakes and all our truffles down to the store. Then we come back and deep clean the kitchen. And then go home. We're off on Christmas. I haven't looked forward to Christmas this much since I was about 5.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Drumming Up the Sun

The sky is black, the stars are bright, the air is frigid. It's an hour or so before dawn on the morning of the winter solstice.

We can hear the drums as we walk toward the amphitheater. The waning crescent moon hangs over the tall crag that forms the southern wall of the amphitheater. We choose our space, spread our blankets on the icy seats. The drumming continues. Somewhere in the darkness someone plays a didgeridoo.

Najah takes out a tiny cauldron, lights charcoal. We share a cup of coffee while it smolders. When the coals are ready, she scatters a homemade blend of sage, cedar and copal. Smoke spirals up, the scents blending with the cold, the stone, the snow. Frankincense wafts down the rows, the drums keep pounding.

Najah takes up her rattles, I take up my drum. We join in the rhythm. There's no leader, no program, no script. People keep arriving, the drums get louder. The darkness slowly fades. There's no sign of the sun, but now there's enough light to see that the sky is cloudless, except for two banks of clouds rising up from the horizon like the wings of a dragon. The drumming continues, the dragon's wings turn from purple to a fiery magenta. The drumming continues. My shoulder is beginning to ache. I keep drumming. The wings turn to molten gold. There is the faintest line of light at the horizon. The drumming continues. And continues. It builds in intensity. There is still only the faintest line of light on the horizon. We drum and we drum, and the sun does not appear. Time seems to be frozen. The sun is not coming up. We drum louder and faster. The sun is not coming up. And suddenly, I understand the fears of our ancestors. For a moment, I am afraid the sun will not come up, that it has gone away, never to return. A deep, atavistic fear that the world will remain in darkness.

The drumming continues, it gets louder, faster, more insistent. A raven flies across the sky. The crescent moon hangs about the rock. Frankincense, sage, cedar and coffee mingle in the cold air. The line of light grows thicker. The drumming gets louder, faster. The sun peeps above the horizon, only a quarter of it visible. It hovers there, teasing, enjoying the attention. The drumming reaches a frenzy, voices break into ulalations and howls. The sound echoes on the rocks at the sun finally shows itself above the horizon. Hands raise in salute. Hail and welcome the reborn sun!

Now that the sun is in the sky, I can see the faces of the twohundred or so people who braved single digit temperatures to celebrate the Solstice. Everyone is shining.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jumping on the movie train

1. Pick 16 of your favorite movies.2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.3. Post them here for everyone to guess...see how many you can get without resorting to Google! Quotes that involve more than one speaker have italics.

1.I understand that you were handicapped by a natural immaturity, and I forgive you.

2.Look, just because some man in a red coat hands you a sword it doesn't make you a hero!

3.There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It's rather sad, really, but there it is.

4.I do not attempt to deny that I think very highly of him - that I greatly esteem him... I like him. Esteem him? Like him? Use those insipid words again and I shall leave the room this instant.

5. I want you to remember you're supposed to be the chaperone on this trip.

Now let's get this straight, Gus. The chaperone's job is to see that nobody else has any fun. Nobody chaperone's the chaperone. That's why I'm so right for this job.

6.Then it must be the sugar. The sugar? Did you get the Belgian vergeoise like I told you? Are you telling me that you can taste what kind of sugar I've used? Of course not, but I can taste which kind you didn't use.

7. A fish saved my life once. How? I ate him.

8. Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises! Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride to ruin and the world's ending!

9.. Make anyone cry today? Sadly, no. But it's only 4:30.

10.Ancestors, I ask you for your guidance. Blessed mother, come to me with the Gods' desire for my future. Blessed father, watch over my wife and son with a ready sword. Whisper to them that I live only to hold them again, for all else is dust and air. Ancestors, I honor you and will try to live with the dignity that you have taught me.

11. If I make a mistake, it hurts me. Do you understand that? I mean, actual physical pain. That's very 'Gordon Ramsay'. [stunned silence] We don't use that name in this kitchen. Didn't your father tell you? It's bad luck to say it out loud. Just call him 'The Scottish Chef'.

12.Why? Do you even know why they sent you? It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin. So me and mine gotta lay down and die... so you can live in your better world? I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

13.And how would you beat him? With a stick. While he slept. But on a horse, with a lance? That man is unbeatable.

14. Why?... Why do you love me? Because I came alive when I met you.

15. I don't care whose fault this was, just get it sorted! And could someone please bring me something deep fat fried and smothered in chocolate...

16. I set dinner on the dining room sideboard at six. Breakfast is ready at nine. I don't stay after dinner. Not after it begins to get dark. We live in town, nine miles, so there won't be anyone around if you need help... We couldn't even hear you. No one could. No one lives any nearer than town... No one will come any nearer than that. In the night... In the dark.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Salt, Soda & Sandalwood

Baths are not about getting clean.
Baths are about rejuvenation.
Baths are a production involving all the senses.
Hot steaming water, sea salt, baking soda, sandalwood oil.
Candlelight, insense, music.
Music like Baroque for Bathtime, which starts with Vivaldi's Concerto in D for Guitar, and ends with Pachobel's Canon, also in D. A cd which lasts about as long as the water stays comfortable.
A glass of wine, a cup of tea, or even just a glass of water.

Head in the water
hair floating like a mermaid's
lost in the touch of water
the scent of sandalwood
the sound of violins, flutes and guitar
the world falls away
and there is nothing but the moment.
I should do this more often.
and no, that is not my bathtub.....sigh.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What sad times are these

when even little 8 pound Baby Jesus isn't safe in his manger. Gosh!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today's Self-Portrait

I function well enough at work. Then I come home, and the evening slips away leaving nothing to show for it. It's dark at 4, I feel as though the day should be done, and respond accordingly. I'm tired, but don't sleep well. I'm empty, lethargic, and hating myself for it. Projects have fallen by the wayside. Ruts are getting deeper. I don't remember winter affecting me this much.

Indecision, vacillation in an important matter, failure, disappointment, mental anguish, disturbing dreams, loneliness, depression, desolation.

I'm not sure what to do, except keep going. Push myself a bit harder, get myself off my behind a bit more, make a list....

Or just go with it for now, waiting for the Solstice, when the light will begin to increase, however slightly. The sun will come back, the depression will fade, my energy will renew. Eventually.

Four of Swords - Solitude, repose. Temporary retreat to gather inner strength, seek spiritual guidance and reorganize thoughts and plans.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Overexposed, no makeup, but you get the idea....

Chef: What are you doing tonight?
Kate: I'm getting my hair cut.
Chef: Just a cut? Don't let them touch the color. It's great. Keep this one for a while.
Rachelle: Ohmygod- it's great! What happened to growing out the gray?
Kate: I'm over it. I did a temporary red for Halloween and liked it so much I kept it.
Stylist next to Rachelle's station: That color's fantastic - is it your real color?
Kate: No, it's the color I was supposed to be.
Rachelle: Kate's finding herself through haircolor :)
Stylist: Me too! I'm still looking....
Stylist at the front desk: That color rocks! Haircut's great too!
It occured to me while I was playing with my hair in the rearview mirror (at a stoplight) that my hair has a bit of an anime character quality to it. It's sassy, it's swingy, and it's blatantly red.
It makes me feel more like the me I want to be.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dancing the Night Away

Najah: Kate! Come with me to Lunar Fire! It's a masquerade party - you know you like playing dress-up!
Kate: What's lunar fire ?
Najah: They're great! You'll love it!
Kate: Okay.

Kate: So, I'm redoing my fairy wings for winter, for this masquerade concert/party thing..
Chef: I'm doing your wings! And a mask!
Kate: Okay.
(I'm not usually this docile. I'm working saying 'yes' to opportunities.)

On the way, we stopped at Shanti's to drop something off. She lives near the club that was hosting the masquerade. It should have been easy, but it's that part of Denver where the streets stop and start and move around apparently at will, so we ended up getting turned all around but eventually wound up where we were going. Shanti's living room is festooned with sheer fabric, softening the angles from ceiling to wall, low couches piled with cushions - a sort of gypsy, bohemian seraglio sort of thing. It's the sort of thing I'd do if I lived alone or was in charge of how things look. But I don't, and I'm not.
I looked amazing in the dark ballroom with the lights from the slowly spinning disco ball dancing over me - this photo doesn't even come close.

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom is worth visiting just to see the ladies' room - it's muralized with scenes from the Wizard of Oz, and has sayings and poetry all over the walls and ceiling and stalls. The stalls are chalkboard, chalk is provided, and grafitti is encouraged. I didn't write anything, being somewhat preoccupied with wing management. Whoever designed the average bathroom stall did not take wingspan into consideration.
Lunar Fire started playing around 10:30, and played straight through until about 2am, with one ten minute break around 1am. I was dancing the whole time - so not like me. I usually hide in a corner, if I go out at all. They started with an invocation, chanted over percussion and guitars, as dancers came out one by one and created an altar at the front of the stage. Four dancers, three women, one man, who came and went and changed costumes throughout the night. I alternated between being lost in the beat and being entranced by the dancers - veils, wings, fire, swords, lights on cords that surrounded the dancer like tiny faeries, fans streaming veils that rippled like water, balls that seemed to float in the air......it was amazing, made me want to paint, to make costumes, to transform myself, to create......
I danced so hard my pointed ears popped off, my wings bent and the feathers in my mask curled over. By the end, my feet hurt, my calves were screaming, and I kept going until the music stopped.
Today I put my wings and mask on the wall, hovering up in the corner of my room. A fey touch of wildness in a serene sea of blue.
It's a start.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It tastes better than it sounds.....

It's recipe week in my little blog circle, so here, as requested:

Carrot Cashew Pate
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed OR 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
2/3 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 1 teaspoon curry powder (Madras is my favorite)
1 cup cashews
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Saute onion and garlic in melted butter until translucent.
2. Add carrots, water, salt and curry. Cover and cook until soft.
3. While carrots are cooking, put cashews in the food processor and grind into a coarse meal. Add enough oil to make a paste.
4. Add carrot mixture and process until smooth. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm.

Use as a dip with crackers or crudite, or as a sandwich spread.

Monday, November 17, 2008

This is what procrastination looks like

I'm way behind in my homework and in a side project, so I rearranged furniture, went out with Chef to get stuff for my next costume, had lunch with a friend, cleaned house and made a cheese & veg tart (like quiche, but not so deep. Helpful. Not.

Now I'm wasting time on the computer. So, tag, I'm it with the six secrets game.

Six of my secrets:

1) I rearrange furniture when my energy feels stuck.

2)I take photos that make people say "What did you take that for?"

3) Given a choice between an 'art' film and one where stuff blows up, I will usually pick the one where stuff blows up.

4)My absolute favorite thing about pastry work is making dough.

5)I recently came to the surprising and somewhat painful realization that I am tired of being a spinster. This has thrown my perceptions of myself into a fair amount of turmoil.

6)Deja vu is a common occurance for me.

Ok, enough of procrastination. Time to go do some homework. Right now. I'm going......

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Masks , Body Paint and Ritual

I found this on a friend's facebook page. For all that went wrong with the Mists of Avalon miniseries, this part went just about right. Enjoy.


Update: Jenn pointed out that not everyone has read/watched Mists of Avalon, so here's a very condensed backstory: Arthur has to undergo a rite of kingship in order to claim his throne, the Priestess personifies the Goddess, the king personifies the Horned God, their mating symbolizes the creation of the world and the blessing of the land, and makes the king once with the land, thereby solidifying his kingship. Beltane is the Celtic festival of fertility.
There is also a subplot going on with Arthur, Guenivere and Lancelot, and a subplot with Morgainne and Acteon, both of which happen much later in the novel, but tie into the theme of the video.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

weather and the state of the roads

Jane Austen, patroness of civility
I invoke thee
By Jane and Elizabeth Bennet
I summon thee
By Elinor Dashwood
I call thee
By Mr. Knightly, Colonel Brandon and Mr. Darcy in the final chapters of Pride & Prejudice
I beseech thee
Bless this farewell dinner party in Laura'a honor
Keep dysfunctional tongues mild and kind
Let conversation be civil
Turn barbs to compliments
Let those who cannot think of anything appropriate to say
confine their remarks to weather and the state of the roads.
So Mote It Be!
It worked. The party Laura was dreading, the one to which Bevin and I were implored to come as a buffer zone, was actually quite pleasant. Everyone was on their best behavior, and aside from a distressing moment involving a story about Laura's mother's wiener dog falling out the car window (she says it's fine), things went smoothly.
Thank you Miss Austen. Whether it was Jane, the full moon, or merciful providence, the farewell dinner is now a pleasant memory. Well done.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Carpe infrequentia

My neighbors use a leaf-blower. I'm more primitive. I use a rake. Back and forth, the crunching roll of leaves, the chiming of the metal tines, the occasional 'ping' as I hit a stone, over and over and over. Raking becomes a meditation. My mind empties, the mental chatter ceases. There is nothing but the motion and sound of raking. I suddenly realize that whole minutes have gone by without a thought, just awareness of the motion, the sound.

Moving meditation is easier for me - Solvitur ambulando - it is solved by walking. Or solvitur purgamentum (sweeping - the closest thing to raking in latin) in this case. Repetitive motion soothes my busy brain, thoughts and cares drift away, leaving a serene emptiness in its place, if only for a moment or so. Hands to work, hearts to God/dess, hands to repetitive movement, mind to emptiness. A rosary or a rake, it's the repetition that frees us.

When my mind gets too busy, when it spins out of control, physical activity brings me back to center. It's part of why I love pastry. It's tactile, it's repetitive, it requires focus. There's a zen to it, a zone where everything but the moment falls away.

Carpe infrequentia. Seize the emptiness. Wait, that's not very zen. Seizing the emptiness won't work.

Complexo infrequentia. Embrace the emptiness.

That's more like it.

Note: aside from solvitur ambulando, all latin translations were done with an on-line translator. so, accuracy is not guaranteed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

An Ode to Flannel Sheets

Soft & warm,
one comforter is all I need.
The heavy weight of many blankets
no longer necessary.
A light cocoon
not too hot, not too cold,
it's just right.
Cuddled instead of crushed,
I slumber peacefully
and awake refreshed,
looking forward to the day.
they were on sale.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Start small, start where you are

See what can happen when you do something so simple, yet so hard. I get chills when Barack Obama speaks, (my president, Barack Obama. I really LOVE saying that). Last night, when he spoke of his journey starting in the backyards and on the porches, starting so small, with just a dream, a vision, a hope, spoke of that beginning, suddenly years of reading became real. It's one thing to read 'start where you are'. It's another thing to see it realized, to witness another's journey, to suddenly know, without a doubt, that I can do this too. I can start small, I can start where I am, and amazing things are possible.

I don't envy Barack Obama the mess he is walking into, but I have faith that he can handle it. He will start where we are, with a vision of where we could be, and he will motivate and inspire us to work with him. Inspire, from the latin for breath/breathe. A deep, collective breath, and off we go.

Go read this post, it's also inspiring.

One more thing. Senator John McCain - last night, you were magnificent. Gracious in defeat, you showed yourself to be the honorable man who truly does put country first. You did not get my vote, but you do have my respect.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Samhain Part Two

Tonight was the Witches' Ball, and I was in a much darker mood when it came to the facepaint. A dark mood due in large part to having been rejected or ignored by every match I initiated communication with on Eharmony.
Najah's costume was also darker than yesterday, because it's Day of the Dead, and we were going out at night.
The Ball was attended by Kali, Isis, the GreenMan, Caesar & Cleopatra, lots of faeries, goblins & witches, a fallen angel, pirates, refugees from the Renaissance Faire and two flying monkeys. We drank & danced, and then left with Najah's friend Gretchen to go to the Thin Man, for their Day of the Dead party. Which they turned out to not be having this year, because of Halloween falling on a Friday. However, we did get a standing ovation for being in costume from some rather tipsy young people who had dressed up and were feeling out of place. After couple more drinks and some in-depth conversation, we went in search of food and ended up at an all-night diner at about 12:30. We were not the only people in costume; apparently McCoy's is the place for after-party dining.

Here I am, wingless, worn-out, and crushed by my bustier at one am. Up way past my bedtime, but very content.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Leaves, Lavender & the Best Samhain Ever

I waited until most of the leaves had fallen before raking the yard. The lavender plants were buried in the brown, crackling leaves, and every pull of the rake released a waft of sun-baked lavender. Raking at twilight is the way to go - no harsh sun, just the fading evening light, the rustle of the leaves, the scent of earth, leaves and herbs.
Our compost heap is now enormous, ready to make dark, rich soil to amend our stony clay garden next spring.

This is my roommate Laura, in her Maude Lebowski dream sequence Valkyrie costume. Bevin the Mistress of Costumery made it.

Laura is finally on her way to Indonesia for her missionary work. They sent her a plane ticket this morning. She leaves on the 15th.

Samhain/Halloween is my favorite holiday. It's the pagan new year, and includes dressing up and candy. Yay! I was lucky enough to have the day off from work, and even luckier to be invited to spend the day with my friend Najah.

My dark faery of Autumn costume, courtesy of ARC and the Dollar Store. Underneath is the fabulous red bustier.

The Witches Who Lunch.
Najah (in her HooDoo Priestess ensemble) and me at the Denver Botanic Gardens. We took a picnic. I enchanted a little girl in the tropical conservatory; she was thrilled to meet a fairy.

In all our Halloween finery, we visited Chef in the kitchen, Arts Myths, Spirit Ways, and Herbs & Arts. We celebrated the New Year by buying our 2009 calendars.

Wearing face paint and a costume, I could feel myself shifting. A playful, flirty self began to emerge. The longer I spent in my faery wings, the more flitty and floaty I became. I'll be donning them again tomorrow night for the Witches' Ball. Then transforming them into Winter Faery Wings for the Lunar Fire Masquerade Ball at the end of November.

We went back to Najah's to carve our pumpkins. I had an elaborate plan, a best laid plan, which ganged aglee most egregiously. The pumpkin was as hard as could be, and it cracked right through the design. So, it became a grotto for the skull candle holder, which was Laura's 'signing bonus' from the costume shop. It works, in a lame sort of way.
In a bold move of risk-taking, and calling in what I want for the next year, I took advantage of a free weekend offer from Eharmony tonight. After a lengthy, intensive questionnaire, I was matched with eight people. I started communication with three of them. We'll see what can happen in a weekend.

Happy Samhain! May the Powers you walk with bless you all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kate's in Red Satin

Dad, you might want to skip this one.

Imagine a large, bustling costume store 3 days before Halloween. Imagine the 'boutique' section of the shop. It's where all the sexy costumes hang out - satin, leather, chain mail....... It's bustling. There's one table with costume books. Lots of people. And I am being laced into a red satin brocade bustier, my waist being nipped in, my bosom being lifted into heaving position, while being taught about the difference between a bustier and a corset. By a pastry chef who is working at Disguises because she can't find a job in her field. Having decided on the right size, she sends me to the dressing room to take off my bra and tee shirt so that she can fit the bustier properly. She knows a lot about them, she wears them under everything; including tee shirts.

In order to be laced up tightly, the person in the bustier has to bend over and brace themselves on a table or something. So, imagine me, in red satin, bending over the costume book table, next to a young man looking at pictures, with my heaving bosom getting closer to his face with every vigorous tug on the laces. He's trying not to look, but he can't help it. Everyone in the boutique seems to be watching. I should have sold tickets. I smile. What else is there to do?

I look fabulous. The bustier is amazing - especially with my baggy houndstooth chef pants. Oh yeah.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Drawing Down the Moon

warning - this post contains soul-searching and paganism. if that makes you uncomfortable, stop reading. wait for another post.

Friday evening I finally got around to attending one of Earth Temple's open rituals. This one was a Dark Moon circle, the moon being a waning crescent. In Virgo, which is about service.
Earth Temple does one or two open esbats a month, as well as on the eight major pagan holidays. It's a gift for people who don't belong to a coven, who practice alone most of the time, but sometimes want fellowship. The officiants come in from different groups and traditions, so you never know who will be there, or what you are going to learn.

Friday evening, the ritual was led by Cerridwen Brennan, and her partner (sadly, I've forgotten his name, sorry). They are the only Pagan chaplains in the Colorado prison system (federal, state and county). They are also the only non-Christian chaplains in the system. They travel around the state, go into prisons and jails, and teach Wicca, and counsel, and listen. They get several paths of Wicca and paganism, as well as Buddhists and Daoists, who don't find solace in the other options. They talked about their work, what it involves, why they do it. And then made a pitch for volunteers, both to go into the prisons, and to write letters. Letters specifically relating to the prisoner's study and practice of Wicca/paganism. They were very clear that it's not a penpal situation, but more of a spiritual mentoring, by someone secure and comfortable and dedicated in their faith.

Which led me to the question; where am I in my faith? I'm not entirely sure. Do I believe that there is Something beyond and behind and within the world I see with my waking eyes? Yes. Do I perceive this Something most readily as Goddess and God, do I feel the Presence most strongly in nature, do the rhythms of the seasons resonate in my heart and spirit? Yes. Do I believe that the Source can speak through a person, consecrated or otherwise? Yes. Do I have a formal, daily practice? Not so much. I feel better when I do, but I get lazy and distracted. So I start over. Ah, the influence of Zen. Start where you are.

It's almost Samhain (Halloween); the time of year when I tend to have a spiritual renewal, a reawakening. As the earth turns toward hibernation, I start venturing deeper within my heart and soul. It's a bit barren lately, cold, filled with the ghostly crackling of dried leaves in the wind.
Lonely. Not desolate, just lonely. A wild, windswept plain with no shelter in sight.
But something is stirring. And shifting. And after many years of being almost exclusively Goddess-centered, of including the God mostly to be polite, my awareness and connection is moving toward the Lord of the Hunt, the Greenman, the Stag-horned God. A wildness is brewing. The sleeper awakens.

Sitting in circle Friday night, as the ritual Drawing down the Moon was carried out, I felt that shift in the energy that I have only felt at darshan, or at a trance possession. The priestess was gone, and SHE was there. I know the voice of the Source when I hear it. "Be mindful of your choices, for the choices you make today will shape your tomorrow". Not very original perhaps, but said in a way that said "pay attention! this is important kate".

I've been to a few public rituals. They tend to be on the superficial side. This one was intense, a powerful guided meditation, and a full-on drawing down the Goddess. And some useful questions to ponder. And possibly, an opportunity to be of service.

Some people have a set practice, a specific time and place, a meditation, a chant , a ritual, something that they do everyday for a certain amount of time. My practice is more fluid. I look up at the moon and the stars at night, and feel their beauty. I watch the sunrise on my way to work, and take a moment to enjoy it. I walk with my dog and watch the turning of the seasons at the park. I close my eyes, and breathe, and know that I am not alone.

Where am I in my faith? I'm right here. That's enough.

photo is from 4witches.com

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blood & Chocolate

The yearly blood sacrifice to the the pastry gods was duly made during the waning of the Hunter's Moon. It involved a frozen red velvet cake, a cake slicer that is just shy of being a short sword, and of course, blood. My blood. Rather a lot of my blood, but not so much as the previous two sacrifices. Three cuts on two fingers of my left hand ( a feat that can really only be accomplished with a serrated knife, for those of you playing at home). No need for stitches this year, although one cut is still oozing a bit. As if anyone really wanted to know.

I'm rather tired of cake just now. I made three round red velvet cakes, three square chocolate cakes, and two half-sheet chocolate and white cakes. The half sheet cakes are for Wen Chocolates first anniversary, which is being celebrated tomorrow (Saturday the 25th), although the actual anniversary was September 29th. We've been a bit busy. Cake is free, and there will be other little treats as well, so if you are in the Denver area, come down to the store between 10am and 5pm, and say 'hi' to Will and Loren. I won't be there, I'll be in the kitchen with my 13 year-old apprentice.

I'm housesitting this weekend, this time it does not involve opening and closing the store. Just feeding Najah's dog and fish, and having a house completely to myself from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.
Just a few more hours of work tomorrow (starting at 6am so I can put the finishing touches on al the cakes) and then just solitude. Yay.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Dark Side of Pastry

http://www.instructables.com/files/deriv/FOP/5Q3Q/F5Y3KZF3/FOP5Q3QF5Y3KZF3.MEDIUM.jpg This weekend, from Friday through Monday afternoon, I'm housesitting for Chef, running the kitchen, and opening and closing the store. And aside from a short break for an emergency haircut (it's fabulous, Rachelle talked me off the ledge and gave me a super-hot 'do, even my bedhead looks good) and a trip to the thrift store and the dollar store for my Halloween costume, I can't seem to stop working. This is supposed to be a total day off, and I think, maybe I should go make the savannahs because we are completely out, and maybe I should fire up the tempering machine and take care of the mojca's and the new marcipans( that's the Slovenian spelling), because I can't pack up the gift baskets without them and gee, why not do the babycakes now instead of in the morning.......

No wonder Chef is always tired. Working from home, it's really difficult to turn off and just be. I brought a very good book, my journal, nail polish.......and I haven't used any of them. I did go out for a drink with Steven (pastry pusher extrordinaire) Saturday evening after closing, but most of the time I just seem to be working. It's not good.

Next weekend I'm housesitting for my friend Najah. There's no work to do there. Maybe I'll finally get that book read.

Monday, October 13, 2008


metamorphosis - 1 a: change of physical form, structure, or substance especially by supernatural means
b: a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances

I started with option b. I've been having an urge to shave my head for months. The reasoning (if it can be called reasoning) goes something like: it doesn't matter what I look like, nobody wants me anyway, I don't even like talking to stangers, I'm going to die alone and be eaten by my pets so I might has well shave my head OR the alternate version - I really need a fresh start, so I should shave my head. I always talk myself out of it, because I know I'll be really sorry about halfway through. Last week I did cut off a few inches (by myself). It looked ok, but was really boring, and yesterday's humidity made it stand out like a triangle. So not good.

I woke up with that urge today. Realizing that I needed an intervention, I went off to Fantastic Sams. I splurged and got the shampoo/haircut/blowdry package. In spite of a language barrier and the inexplicable tendency of almost every stylist to blowdry my hair into an anchorwoman helmet, it turned out very well. Once I un-anchored it. It's been pronounced 'sassy' and 'adorable'. I can live with that.

I also tried doing something creative that had nothing to do with pastry. The mask I won last weekend didn't really suit me; the red vein-y things were disturbing. So I changed it. The glue is still drying in the last photo; the blobs of white will dry clear, and all you'll see is the tiny golden beads.

Circumstances haven't changed from yesterday or this morning. But somehow, a haircut, a walk in the park, and arts-n-crafts time have made me feel better.

UPDATE: This hairdo was only good the first day - it was totally uncooperative and dorky looking the day after. So much for going cheap (Fantastic Sams).

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Here we are again
all of us in here (it's crowded in my head)
back at a crossroads
having thought we were in the right place
on the right path
only to find that maybe we're not
It seemed like a good fit
tactile, creative, varied and demanding
but now
faced with realities beyond our control
we aren't so sure
would we want to do this somewhere else?

Or is it time to consider a new direction?

Sometimes we think we're getting a bit old for this
We should have had ourselves sorted by now

Most people know what they're doing by this point
Know where they're going

Don't they?

Well into middle-age
and at least today
we still don't know
what we want to be when we grow up.

We had dreams, we have dreams,
and where we are at this moment
just doesn't match.

Knowledge of mortality has become more present over the last few months, bringing a bitter taste of risks not taken, adventures untried, skills not mastered. Depression is threatening to visit again, taking no notice of the 'no vacancy' sign.

I'm back in that uncomfortable place, with one voice shouting 'suck it up and get on with it' and another murmuring 'be where you are'. Too fuzzy to go within and listen with any sense of clarity. Or maybe just too lazy.

So, start where you are. Right. Where is that exactly?
Waiting. Waiting for others to make a decision that affects the immediate answer. Waiting for myself to answer the deeper question - where do I want to go, and how do I want to get there?

Sunday, October 5, 2008


My latest resolution is to accept any invitations that come along. It has finally dawned on me that it will be easier to meet people if I go to where people are, rather than hiding in my lair. (No, it is not surrounded by hot liquid magma, nor do I have sharks with frickin laser beams attached to their heads).
So, today when Najah called and invited me to a open house/marketing event at the Arts Myths Gallery, I said yes. I went armed with business cards and a small gift basket of chocolates. In exchange, I got a free mask, a candle and a full sunflower seed pod. And a sample salt scrub and body lotion from the Arbonne salesperson who was participating. So, score. But never mind about that.
Tiffany is an amazing artist. Check out the small sample on her website: http://artsmyths.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10&Itemid=38. The small shop is filled with masks, hats, hair ornaments, cloaks, clothing, scarves, jewelry - all designed to invoke the wild, magickal creature within us. The studio is behind the shop - it was tidied up for the event, but everywhere were feathers, beads, silks, velvets, leather, flowers, gorgeous paintings of goddesses, hanging plants.......if you are in Denver, go see them.
Everything I tried on evoked a hidden self. Wild and passionate, regal and lethal, demonic, mysterious.......my favorite - a small mask, iridescent turquoise blue, with small, wave-like twirlies and a diadem of peacock feather. Small spills of twinkly beads. It was beautiful. Wearing it, I felt beautiful. Alluring. Worthy.
A more wonderful feeling than I get from the mask I wear everyday.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wine, slow cookers and cake

Beouf Bourguinon - beef with carrots, onions, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and wine. Burgundy wine. Have you tried to find Burgundy at the liquor store? Yeah, no.
So I was wandering, carrying two bags of groceries and a twelve pack of toilet tissue, looking for Burgundy. The shopkeeper came over to help. He didn't look like a wine guy. Crewcut, piercings, celtic necklace, black teeshirt, Doc Martens, long black apron..... Another lesson in not judging. He knows wine. He explained that the Burgundy wine is made from Pinot Noir grapes, that the wine from the Burgundy region of France is priced way out of the reach of most people, and that Pinot Noirs from other parts of the world are really good. He asked my price range and steered me toward Parker Station 2006; he said it was the most 'drinkable' wine in the price range. He wished me luck with the recipe. If he didn't smell like a smoker I might take him some. The wine is certainly tasty. One bottle provides the two cups for the stew and one generous tumbler for the cook. It's a bit on the tannic side, (it sort of curdles the edges of my tongue) but I like it.
And I needed a glass of wine with this recipe. Every ingredient needs to be browned, sauteed or simmered before going into the slowcooker for 8-10 hours. So it's simmering overnight. Because trying to pull this off before going to work is just not going to happen.
Total change of subject - go to http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com. Let the schadenfreude begin.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The last wedding and what happened after

I invited two friends over for dinner Sunday evening. My sister took over the menu and the cooking, except for the dessert. This turned out to be fortuitous, as my day did not go exactly as planned.

I made the pie dough the night before, and made and baked the pie (apples, pears, currants, spices and Grand Marnier) in the morning. Then I put on my chef whites and went off to deliver 14 centerpiece cakes and 1 small wedding cake. The reception was up in Boulder, about 30 miles away. Our last wedding of 2008.

We were supposed to drop off the cakes at 4, set them up, and be on our merry way between 4:30 and 5. Getting me home at about the same time our guests would be arriving. Best laid plans, my friends. Best laid plans.

The caterers, who were supposed to have been completely set up by 4.....arrived at 4. We had to wait for them to unload their truck and haul tables and chairs up to the third floor of the gallery. We ended up finishing just before 6. Luckily Chef drives like a whirlwind, so I was home within 50 minutes of leaving Boulder.

The gallery did look lovely, if somewhat crowded.
This morning, Puppy and I went to Prospect Park, a wilder and larger park than our usual haunt. There's a vast amount of rushing water, winding trails and an amazing sense of vastness for a place that's surrounded on all sides by homes and businesses. We saw a fox on the trail, found little paths we'd never explored before and I discovered semi-hidden places that would be good for meditation and suchlike, if only one's canine companion wasn't incapable of stillness when outdoors. I'll have to go back without her for contemplation.

Beside the rushing water

through the shady glens
we love to go a-hunting

with a camera lens

It got easier, being green.....

Tired of piles of catalogs cluttering up the mailbox and recycling bin? Here's an easy way to deal: https://www.catalogchoice.org. It's free, it's easy, it takes 2-3 months, but the catalogs will stop. I just wish I'd known about this in June so I could have prevented the flood of holiday catalogs.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This is not that blog......

Like many people, I watched the debate. Unlike many people, I'm not blogging about it. Because I don't feel like it.

I need to go to bed.

It was a twelve hour workday. Tomorrow will be a long day too; it's our last wedding of the year. One two -tier cake and 14 small cakes. Plus a few cakes for the shop. 6 cakes are in the fridge, filled and frosted, waiting to be drenched in shiny, deep chocolate glaze. All the rest of the cakes are cut. Buttercreams, soaking syrups, fillings and glazes are ready to go.

Over three hundred truffles were dipped in tempered chocolate and garnished.

Tart dough for 7 different pastries was rolled, cut and put into rings. Tiny leaves of dough were cut out for the pear pastry. Half a Bosc, peeled and cored, stuffed with drunken cranberries and ginger, sprinkled with brown sugar and wrapped in sweet tart dough. Decorated with little pear leaves. They're plump and pretty, golden brown pastry pears sparkling with sugar.

A run to the store for butter, cream and champagne-colored ribbon for the cake to harmonize with the bride's gown.

That was just my day. The guys had their own stuff to do.

Chef had to work the shop today. He came back with the October issue of Denver Magazine. Check it out - there's a full page photo, a half page photo, and a whole lot of words about Wen Chocolates. Several of the truffles are described in detail. Including the Oshun, which I created. That was exciting - Chef insisted that Oshun be mentioned. That's one of the extraordinary things about him; he encourages ideas and creativity, and he gives credit for them. Many chefs don't want to hear it, they just want their minions to do what they're told.

It's been a long week. 6 days. Long days.

Welcome to fourth quarter. This will be the norm from here until about Valentine's Day. It's crazy, and I love it.

Monday, September 22, 2008


pareidolia - a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hidden messages on records played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek para- —"beside", "with" or "alongside"—and eidolon—"image" (the diminutive of eidos—"image", "form", "shape"). Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.
I was pleased to find a word for this condition, one I've had all my life. Visually that is. I've never heard messages on a record or tape played backwards, although I have heard my name called by barking dogs and the wind. (We prefer to be called 'differently lucid', thank you very much).

Yesterday was Sunday, and while I was driving through the mountains and hiking around Lily Lake, I felt the beating heart of Nature and the Presence of the Divine so strongly, and I wondered...why does anyone in Colorado need to go to church? Why wall oneself up in a building when all of outdoors is right there waiting?

The leaves are turning here, and for the first time in the fourteen years I've lived here I appreciate the aspens. Having dismissed them as 'just yellow' , yesterday I really saw them. A rich gold, that turns to molten glory when the sun shines through them. Wow. It also rained a bit, at it always seems to do when I go up to Estes Park. And now, a couple of photos, just because I like to share them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mmmmm good!

Split pea potage (very thick soup). Cheesy cornbread with actual niblets of fresh corn. Vine ripened tomatoes. Banana bread with a side of peaches sprinkled with vanilla sugar and brandy - then set on fire. See photo. Flambe is fun. A glass of Rocky Mountain Vineyard's Great Catherine's Mead - thick, sweet, heady with honey, cloves and other spices. A wine made for kissing, or so my friend Najah pronounced it to be. (Mead was traditionally served at weddings in the olden days, and drunk every night for the first month of marriage, hence the term 'honeymoon'. It's possibly where the term 'honeyed lips' comes from).
A lovely cozy dinner, followed by a lovely breezy walk with puppy. Darkness fell, coyotes started singing, and the moon came up golden and full. A good end to the day.