Friday, November 07, 2008

A line in the sand....
Every motion, every breath before... is IRRELEVANT
Life is different
The unspoken lie -- we can be ... we can aspire to...
(when we knew that was not true)
Has been replaced.
That face tells the story. A true story.
And the bigots and prejudiced and liars and silly eejits...
Have nothing upon which to stand.
A new day -- a new way.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


In my short lifetime the United States of America has had to rely on the Vice President to assume the office of the US President two times. That's two times in fifty years -- 1963 and 1974. The picture above is the ceremony which took place on November 22, 1963 in the cabin of the plane carrying the coffin of John F. Kennedy. In 1974, Richard Nixon resigned. Despite wildly different reasons, the act of replacing a sitting US President is a very serious and solemn moment. We do NOT face this possibility with anything but a heavy heart.

Look closely at this photograph. For many of us, this was the most powerful moment of the most powerful day in our lives. We didn't actually SEE the bullet(s) strike down John F. Kennedy, but here we are privy to the sad task of swearing in LBJ as the new US President.

Look at their faces. This is pure and real emotion -- raw and compassionate, truthful and beyond sad. Now... I've read a recent piece that forces us to think very hard and look very hard at this picture. I will try to convey what this picture now means to me.

This picture solidifies what it means to choose a Vice President -- to find and support and rely upon a person who will step into the shoes of the sitting US President and take charge. Usually even if the United States would be at peace, the moment would be fraught with danger and fear and sadness and concern for our nation. Should this event ever happen, our nation would find itself in grave danger: markets would falter and fail, services would be interrupted with disruption and chaos, citizens would freeze with disbelief and emotion, and basic necessities including defense, safety, food, transportation, information, and commerce would have to be thoroughly supported through precise and bold executive commands.

This nation is currently at war on two fronts. We are involved in many missions around the globe. We have grave difficulties at home with our economy and infrastructure. The moment for all our leaders is fraught with difficulty. During this election, we are attempting to find the right leader and statesperson for our nation's future at home and our place in the world.

LOOK AT THAT PICTURE LONG AND HARD! Squint and fill LBJ's spot with Senator Joseph Biden. Fill Mrs. Kennedy's spot with a sad and despairing Michelle Obama. Fill Lady Bird Johnson's spot with a sad and despairing Jill Biden.

LOOK AT THAT PICTURE LONG AND HARD! Squint and fill the LBJ spot with Sarah Palin; place a sad and despairing Cindy McCain at her side, and Mr. Palin on the other side.

Now think... who do you want leading this country in the event that this photograph speaks the thousand words of what truly might happen to the US Presidency? Really? What do you envision? In your heart -- with knowledge that the decision affects your life and the lives of your loved ones: your children and your children's children -- who would you trust?


Monday, August 04, 2008

Cheri Smith Kinney
OGHS Class of 1969

Sometimes life throws a curve ball. Not that it's all about me. Why is my friend's death hard for me to handle? I mean... she's the one who is dead.

I remember Cheri as one of my first friends at OGHS. She and I had PE lockers right next to each other. I suppose when you're naked with somebody -- especially a stranger in a strange land -- a certain amount of intimacy develops. We laughed and danced and goofed off and watched the senior guys trot out to PE every morning, all school year. At OGHS in 1966-67, classes ran all year, September to June, day in, day out. Same schedule, start time, end time, teachers, paths, faces. We were stuck with each other -- the roll of the dice that placed you in the right time and the right place, or hell in a handbasket. Cheri and I were fellow prisoners in French class for two years. That and the gym locker and the way we both approached life with a Glass Half Full mentality put us in line to be friends. Thank the powers that be.

Cheri had the most infectious smile, voice, and laugh of almost anyone I've ever met. If I close my eyes, I can hear the cadence of her voice, the pitch, the almost hoarse, breathy-yet-lilting speech that carried a smile in every word. If ever anyone could truly be said to Light Up a Room -- she was the IT girl. And fun! "Fun" should have been her middle name. She was the first person I wanted to see at every reunion. Oh, I have other friends from the Class of '69 -- Christina and Dennis -- who I see and talk to and keep up with way more than I did with Cheri. But Cheri just had this magic that drew me to her no matter how long we'd made the space between our connections.

And we always promised each other we would write. Or call. Or email. Maybe she was too busy -- I'd imagine so. I'd imagine her with a whirling social life. And I was far away in Vermont by the last time we saw each other in 2005. Still we exchanged addresses and all that info. And promised, again, to keep in touch.

I only wish we had.

All I know is that she is dead. The lovely picture in the obituary doesn't speak of illness or sadness or a lingering disease of mind or body. No mention of accident or disaster. No place for flowers or donations or special foundations for the cure of whatever happened. I have no idea. And does that matter? Knowing won't change the result. Knowing what happened won't bring Cheri back. And having Cheri back probably won't make me a better friend to her -- I wasn't that, I guess. I wish I had been. I truly do.

Mostly I'm sad that she isn't in the world... isn't in the world where I imagine she is -- partying, dancing, and living large in her effervescent way. Because I always felt better knowing she was in the world, and that every few years I'd see her again. And as always, we would pick up as if our lockers were still next to each other and the boys were jogging out to PE and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was a gas, gas, gas.

I miss you beyond belief, Miss Cheri. I miss you. Rock on.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

13 Peanut Butter and ....

1. Jelly -- duh. BUT! Do you really use "jelly" or "jam"?? I'm partial to odd jams like apricot or raspberry. Most people like strawberry jam or grape jelly.

2. Celery -- Dieter's delight + it's fun filling the valley of the celery "perfectly" to the top

3. Granny Smith Apples -- I slice into 16ths (?) and use the slices like a potato chip, to dip in the peanut butter. Great while watching old movies during a rainstorm.

4. Pretzels -- Again with the dipping.

5. Hershey Bar -- Yes! A raw hershey bar, broken into those rectangles (don't go out of the lines!) and again, dipped into your stash of peanut butter.

6. Pancakes -- We used to do this when the kids were little and needed extra protein. Use peanut butter in lieu of dairy butter or margarine. Yes, maple syrup adds just the right yum.

7. Banana -- When I was in high school, I lived right across the street from my school. I arrived home way before my parents. So what did I do to entertain my younger siblings? I invented snacks. Now this was before the microwave. Our favorite? We named it the "Banana Extravaganza." Slice banana lengthwise. Now you have two planks. (slice several bananas so the whole gang can partake) Slather with peanut butter. Place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle chocolate chips. Mush them into the peanut butter a bit. Add chopped walnuts if you are inclined. Coconut is also a possibility. Depends on what's in the cupboard. Then slide the cookie sheet under the broiler, just until the chocolate chips begin to melt. Be Careful! Don't burn the walnuts or coconut. Nasty. And remember... it's hot! Don't burn the roof of your mouth! We were such brats, weren't we? It's a wonder we didn't burn down the kitchen.

8. Sourdough Toast -- I like the combination of these tastes. I toast the sourdough bread and spread with dairy butter. After that's melted, I slather the peanut butter. Need a glass of cold milk with this. Long ago, we drank real milk. Today I can do this with 1%, no sweat. I wonder how much butterfat is plaqued on my heart valves?

9. Graham Crackers -- I do the dipping thing. Why waste time and energy spreading?

10. Cookies -- Make your own cookie sandwich. This works especially well if you get those chocolate hydrox cookies (like Oreos without the filling). But I have experimented with just about any cookie -- two chocolate chip cookies, two Nilla Wafers, two oatmeal. I don't see how any cookie would suffer from becoming a sandwich.

11. Bagel -- I'd only recommend this on plain or sweet bagels, like cinnamon raisin or cranberry or even blueberry. Just thinking about an "Everything" bagel topped with peanut butter is sorta gaggy -- onion and garlic... nah.

12. Noodles -- This is a bit of a stretch and you have to be in the mood, but you can make a great little pasta sauce if you have the ingredients. Boil your noodles/pasta. While you wait, make the sauce. You'll need hoison sauce and soy, a little brown sugar, sesame oil (a dab), and maybe even some sherry. If you like it "hot," add a drop or two of spicy oil or a shake of pepper flakes or cayenne. Mix all that in your own proportions, 'till it's smooth and creamy (unless you used chunky peanut butter, which would be cool actually). You want that sauce to be "pourable" -- not too thick and not too thin. For extra pizzazz, stirfry some fresh beansprouts. If you don't have fresh, use a can of beansprouts or Chinese veggies. Toss the pasta, sprouts, and sauce. Top with sliced scallions and chopped cilantro (if you like that). If you realllllly wanna get fancy, sprinkle with crushed roasted peanuts. Vi - o - la!

13. A spoon --
Yes, grab a spoon and the jar and you're in business. Of course, you can get seriously decadent by adding a jar of Nutella. Or a jar of honey. Or a jar of Hersheys Hot Fudge. Or a jar of Butterscotch sauce. Or a combination? Or... well... you get the picture.

Any "peanut butter and what???" you'd like to add?? Please do!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Today Casou might be sick. I'm off to the vet in a bit. When I consider the very idea that he might be in pain or sick, I feel responsible and caring and even a little sick myself. I have no idea why I love him like I do; I just do. I've been a "dog person" my whole life. Lotsa dogs. Lotsa lotsa dogs. And I've never loved a dog like I love Casou. That said, why do we own pets?

1. Unconditional love. Well, dogs do give us that. Yep, they do.
2. Responsibility -- keeping a schedule, making the house and environs safe. Casou actually keeps me from a life of forgetfulness and self-absortion. He checks my ego at the doggie door.
3. Patience -- when a dog "errs," the fault (99%) is the human's. Don't lose temper. Don't yell. Don't hit. Don't punish. Rethink where you put those old socks, those cupcakes.
4. Exercise -- well, if we walked, Casou and I would be in the BEST shape! Wow!
5. One more reason on a long list for friends and family to check and discuss how I'm nuts. "She'll go completely crazy if anything ever happens to that dog."
6. Topic of conversation -- "How's your dog?" "What kennel do you recommend?" "What hotels accept pets?"
7. Joining a group of owners, thus meeting more people, building friendships. Or, just walking with your pet. People come up and make lovely comments like "What kind of dog? He's beautiful." My husband, who usually waits outside stores and holds Casou's leash, meets lots of pretty girls. I'd say Casou is definitely a chick magnet.
8. Entertainment for the grandkids. How many times can they race around the room? Duh.
9. A valid reason to stay home, miss the party, avoid the buffet, or at least leave early. Okay, a good excuse. "But we can't bring the dog..." or "Ooos, gotta get home and feed the dog."
10. Some people clear their refrigerator and table of leftovers by owning a pet. Casou doesn't eat "people food," but some dogs or owners...
11. Companionship. Casou likes to hang out with me while I work. He's comforting and quiet. He knows how to support this writer.
12. A live reminder that we are connected to the earth and not necessarily masters of the universe.
13. A good sounding board -- I can say ANYTHING to Casou and he never tells. He cocks his head, listens, and usually smiles. He's great for brainstorming plot points.

Friday, June 27, 2008


I know. I know. Today is FRIDAY. I could claim that I cannot remember what day it is -- I'm in the fog of vacationitis. Days have melted into each other like a dish of Neopolitan ice cream on a hot August day. But it's still June. And rainy. And I've been bored. Bored? Yeah... a slug. Maybe doing this T13 will get me out of my post-vacation doldrums? Worth a try!

13 Items I Acquired (discovered or purchased)
on My Vacation

1. Buckets o' seashells -- every day we walked about 2 miles on the beach. I wanted to find a nearly-perfect conch shell. Alas, no. But I have a lot of great little shells which I plan to use on dominoes or other art projects. Or stare at until I'm transported to the beach -- breathing the salty air, hearing the shush and roar of the sea, digging my toes in the cool sand, and turning my face to the dazzling warmth of the sun (especially this winter when the trees are bare, the sky looms leaden, and the thermometer reads below zero).

2. A big bag of Grits - the coarse, yellow variety. Dinner at the Ryberg's on Sullivan's Island. Native South Carolina shrimp (ooooh delicious!!!) and Grits. My first time to eat grits, I'm surprised to say. Purchased this burlap bag at the Charleston Market -- a fun place to shop.

3. Two bags of Benne wafers - a tradition of Charleston. Yum. Gave one bag to our neighbors for taking care of the homestead. Thanks to John, Rosie, Taylor, and Lilly

4. Two jars of Greek Spices -- from a little restaurant on King Street in Charleston. My friend, Betty Ryberg, gave me a little tour of Charleston. She grabbed my hand and took me into the Olde Town Grille & Seafood. She swears by this jar of spices. I bought some and agree -- excellent! Gave one jar to Lorraine Losa, for gradiously allowing us to use her home as the half-way point in our drive to and from South Carolina. All that, and she cooked meals, too! Thanks Lorraine and Gene!

5. An adorable illustrated book: Very Charleston, by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler. Delightful and informative.

6. Some photos-- only a few and not one of me -- (okay, just the one picture Steve took in which a lighthouse seems to be emanating from my head) (said picture also forced me back to Weight Watchers the minute I arrived in Vermont)

7. Lots of new clothes! (can you say "Fresh Produce Store"? I love this stuff!) I own quite a few pieces of this summer clothing. Everything works, the colors are vibrant, and ... I can't say enough about the value. I've had some of these pieces longer than I've had Steve. Here's the website:

8. One large, new crossword puzzle book (but only did a couple... too much work while on vacation... ha ha)

9. Two completed paperback novels and two others started (put the "done" on Bookmooch and right away somebody mooched 'em)

10. A tan - I religiously wore my sunscreen. Even re-applied. Still, I'm sporting a bit of color from my cheeks to my toes. I'm sure I'll fade soon, but it's nice to feel like my ol' California self.

11. A relaxed state o' mind - isn't a vacation a tiny miracle that refreshes the spirit and rejuvenates the soul and places all the daily hustle, bustle, rant, and worry into perspective?

12. A true love of Folly Beach --- who knew? What a delightful spot for a week at the beach! Wanna go back. Maybe in a couple summers -- I think next year we owe the west coast a week or a month.

13. One shaken, but not broken, marriage! Despite 40 hours in the new Honda Civic. Thank goodness for TomTom GPS!!! Whatever did we do without it? Oh, I remember. I read the darn maps and Steve freaked out and we argued about the turns. Oy. So much more calm , cool, and collected -- both of us!

We wave a found farewell... as Casou walks on the beach....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We're baaaaccccckkkk!

Loved Folly Beach. Loved doin' nuthin'.... loved seafood, shopping, sand, sea, salt, 'n surf. Sitting with my face toward the ocean reminds me of my roots, revives my soul, and lifts my spirit. Alive again, naturally.

Glad to be back. More later.
Weeding needs to be done, or no organic tomatoes for this family. Oy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


We're off...
like a dirty shirt...
like a herd of turtles...
like ???

We rented a dog friendly house on Folly Beach, South Carolina.
Can't wait to sit in the sun and read through the used paperback books that I've accumulated for just this purpose.

Mmmmm.... what does a vacation give me an excuse to do? Inquiring minds want to know!
Here goes...

THURSDAY THIRTEEN brings you....
VACATION... an excuse to....

1. Buy (one? two? three?) .... well at leaste one new bathing suit.
2. Stockpile all those lovely trashy novels to read on beach
3. Buy (not just read in checkout line) mindless magazines
4. Eat junk food (road trip junk food rocks) without eating calories!
5. Go to the movies (matinee if it rains) without an "official" occasion
6. Buy cheesy postcards for to our friends and family
7. Sit on the beach, under an umbrella, and read those trashy novels (see #2) all day long
8. Rent a house in a faraway land (like South Carolina)
9. Ask (beg?) nice neighbors to water all our plants and veggie garden
10. Drive with the top down (well, how about the sunroof open?)
11. Dine in fancy restaurants and order local delicacies (beer and a dog??)
12. Get romantic in foreign land (or in a different state?) (or in the kitchen?)
13. And the best excuse for taking a "road trip" vacation?

Just "us"... alone and romantic!

(not that we don't LOVE our family, but HEY... we never get to vacation alone...)

See you all in a couple weeks!
We'll be home (and thinking up a new T13 every week) for the rest of the summer.

p.s. Yesterday was my Mom & Dad's Anniversary -- I think this would have been 60 years? Not sure. Trust me... my parents were an awesome couple. Text book. Lovey dovey. Strict but caring. Not sure about the #. Hafta ask Mom. Also...I graduated from Orange High School, Escondido, CA... on June 11, 1969. Next year is the Big Four Oh. oooooh nooooo.... My how time flies when you're havin' fun!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I believe in Barack Obama...
because he is a REAL person,
supported by REAL people, just like me.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Robert Francis Kennedy
November 20, 1925 - June 6, 1968

Welcome Back!
Answers to the Movie Keyword Meme

Chompin' at the bit , huh?

I almost forgot. In fact, I thought I had set up the answers on automatic post. Oh well. That convenient moment of forgetfulness must have some Freudian undertones. But psychosis is another topic for another day.

I loved everybody's attempts. I was surprised that so many responders aren't big movie fans. I think I must be a "nut" about movies. And... I thought this was so easy --- quite a surprise for me that it wasn't. Yes, I did throw in a couple oldies that seemed very recognizable to me, but were tres obscure for you.

Here goes!

1. epic, love triangle, Civil War = GONE WITH THE WIND
2. farmer, ghost, reconciliation = FIELD OF DREAMS
3. monster, Manhattan, lizard = GODZILLA
4. Christmas, Heathrow, ensemble = LOVE, ACTUALLY
5. Big Kahuna, teen, surfboard = GIDGET
6. revolutionary, flashback, poet = DR. ZHIVAGO
7. bar fight, pie fight, slapstick = THE GREAT RACE
8. albino, Louvre, conspiracy = THE DA VINCI CODE
9. rookie, heroine, cannibalism = SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
10. trash compactor, knight, hyperspace = STAR WARS (the original/still the greatest)
11. midget, skywriting, melting = THE WIZARD OF OZ
12. expatriate, nightclub, sacrifice = CASABLANCA
13. tragedy, leukemia, Harvard = LOVE STORY

Perhaps I should have chosen the very obvious keywords? I wanted to make the game a little challenging.

Dr. Zhivago is told in full flashback.
The Great Race used to hold the record for pies in a pie fight.
I should have pluralized "midget" for The Wizard of Oz, and I thought munchkin was too easy.
The "giveaway" on Star Wars was "trash compactor," the fulcrum point of the movie when our heroes actually become heroes by thwarting death in the belly of the whale and are resurrected to fight and win.
The one that surprised me the most (that was missed).... Casablanca.

This is a fun meme. Try it with your friends at a party? I think teams could compete, much like charades. You could use "theme" movies for a shower (wedding or baby).

Merely brainstorming. Have a GREAT day!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

For today's T13, I'm using another meme stolen from another blog. I would LOVE to give credit, but I stole this one so long ago and only copied the rules and not the blogger/site. Mea culpa.

Here are the rules:

1. I went to IMDB and looked up a bunch of my favorite movies.
2. I posted three official IMDB “Plot Keywords” for each.

3. You guys guess the movies (no looking them up!).

Piece of cake. Nothing foreign. Not too much old stuff. Okay, I'm old. Maybe a few oldies? Probably a few oldies. But famous oldies. I think. Give it a whirl!

1. epic, love triangle, Civil War
2. farmer, ghost, reconciliation
3. monster, Manhattan, lizard
4. Christmas, Heathrow, ensemble
5. Big Kahuna, teen, surfboard
6. revolutionary, flashback, poet
7. bar fight, pie fight, slapstick
8. albino, Louvre, conspiracy
9. rookie, heroine, cannibalism
10. trash compactor, knight, hyperspace
11. midget, skywriting, melting
12. expatriate, nightclub, sacrifice
13. tragedy, leukemia, Harvard

Good Luck!
I'll post the answers tomorrow!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

As I'm sure I've mentioned many times, the Vermont planting season really doesn't start until Memorial Day. My giant head o' steam deflated to simmer when the cold air swept down from the Arctic (or that demon Canada or wherever)Tuesday. Brrrr. With the possibility of frost, I froze (like a deer in the corn) and stalled the planting. BUT... we will be under way this morning (cross those muddy fingers).

As you can see, Casou the wonder dog jumped into the picture -- or should I say he was laying down on the job? I call this picture "Still Life with Dog." We were mixing potting soil for the six hanging planters (filled with white and dusty rose wave petunias) that dangle from hooks on our veranda. Ha! I always wanted to call our long, wide mahogany porch a veranda. Next we'll be serving mint juleps and fanning ourselves.

We rented a roto tiller and churned the dirt which has been sitting under a pile of snow, compost, and dead veggies that we threw into the fenced-off garden all winter. We mixed in a lot of "Cock-a-Doodle-Do" which was highly recommended by my sister, Joanne-of-the-Magic-Green-Thumb. Yes, she syphoned off all the gardening genes from our grandmother, who could raise anything, even a ruckus. Grandma Jenny had an organic garden in LA, as far back as the 20's. She also raised hothouse orchids. Some day more on her. She was a pip!

As for the title of this T13, I wasn't sure I could list thirteen vegetables to be planted in the garden. I might be adding flowers, edible and not, to the list. Hence the word "things" which is NOT my favorite word (you can ask my writing students who are admonished to ban "thing" and all "thing family" words from their writing). I hope they don't find this blog and realize I'm breaking my own rule. Oy.

So....without further ado... here's what I'm planting:

1. Wave petunias • In hanging baskets. I heard these don't need pinching. Really? Cool.
2. Cherry tomatoes • In containers on the slate patio. One red. One yellow. Yum.
3. Tomatoes • Early Girl and two other varieties. We love tomatoes.
4. Zucchini • Need I say more? A good year means loads of zucchini. I'm ready with my trusty helpmate, "The Classic Zucchini Cookbook," by Nancy C. Ralston, Marynor Jordan, and Andrea Chesman. This wonderbook includes 225 recipes for all kinds of squash. Breads, muffins, casseroles, side dishes -- anything a glut of zucchini will provide.
5. Yellow Crookneck Squash • My first time.
6. Green beans • I'm partial to bush beans. No poles to plant. But the bending to harvest can cause a little ache in the lower back. Still, fresh beans are worth the teeny tiny pain. I planted two versions - one regular, one gourmet.
7. Corn • Haven't had a huge success with corn, but it's fun to watch. The deer and other critters have left my corn alone. Last year, when the season was almost over, some squirrels climbed the stalks. I didn't know it at the time and watching the stalks wildly swinging and crashing was a surprise. Let's hope they wait and we harvest some sweet corn before the games begin.
8. Red pepper • One plant. I've never had much success with peppers -- green or red, hot or sweet. I'm skeptical, but I keep trying.
9. Pumpkins • This is another one I keep trying. Since I moved to Vermont, my dream has been to raise pumpkins for autumn -- decorations and pies. Sounds perfect, huh? I get lots of flowers, no pumpkins. Are my bees on the fritz? Do tell -- if you have a secret for success with pumpkins. (as a hush-hush sidebar, I'm also planting watermelon 'cuz somebody gave me seeds)
10. Basil • Lots and lots of the sweet, large leaf basil. Gotta have it fresh for pasta!
11. Cilantro • My first try. For salsa.
12. Radishes • Again, I'm an optimist. Never had much luck with these. I know -- this is the first plant for kids. I'm hoping the enriched soil and rototilling has aided my quest for a delicious radish.
13. Nasturtiums, Sunflowers, and Morning Glories • Ran out of numbers, but I am planting flowers all over the place. Morning Glories always seem to take all summer before they bloom. Boo. I've had no luck with sunflowers. Last year I tried Nasturtiums from seed and had a few grow with minimal bloom. Oh well, I'm not giving up.

As you can see, I wasn't born with the green thumb. I like to think what I lack in genetic intuition, I can make up with tenacity. I'm planting lots of Hope with these seeds. Good luck with your gardening!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ah Yes. Americans are waking up to the high cost of driving. I know Europeans have dealt with this issue forever and may have no sympathy for our gas-guzzling ways, but it's not easy to break the habits of a lifetime. Many will say, "I'm not changing!" And many will use hand gestures (or finger gestures?) to accompany that point. Others may bike to work (oy! that's a long trek on dicey roads for the majority) or take public transit. Some of us will have to be ingenuous . Most of us will take baby steps and make incremental changes. Soooooo....

How can we spend the Memorial Day Weekend (this sort of bugs me -- I don't get how a day can become a weekend and we can mix the two, but that's another blog) without using gas?

What's to say, after you yell at the screen, "STAY HOME!" ???

Don't get so testy! I've been pondering this question all morning and I've made a list -- just in time for Thursday Thirteen! Go figure!

Anyway, here are some ideas I'm going to try this weekend:

1. GAME MARATHON -- Looks like rain here anyway, so let's pull out Monopoly, Scrabble, and all the rest.

2. MOVIE MARATHON - What movies do you have on hand? I have six Netflix envelopes sitting on the coffee table with nothing to do. These include: The Great Debaters with Denzel Washington; Starting Out in the Evening (about a writer!); Juno (we never saw because our local movie theatre went out of business); Sense and Sensibility (the new BBC version which we didn't see because we don't have t.v. hook up); Crossing Jordan, Season 1 (same reason -- catching up on series because we don't have t.v.); and finally..... National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (how fun is that?!). In addition, I have enough dvds here to fill any theme marathon: romance, adventure, Harry Potter, Kevin Costner, the 60's -- a theme to fit any mood!

Since the idea is to NOT USE GAS, we will not be driving an hour to a movie theatre to see the new Indiana Jones flick. So, don't tell me the plot, please. I'm avoiding all reviews until we can pool our errands such that we drive to NH to see it (ah ha! saving gas!).

3. READ! My basket of books to read is overflowing. I hit the library AND a used book fair. OMG.

4. CRAFTS! I'm completely into Altered Art. I've been doing treasure boxes. But...Dominoes are my current rave. They are like little canvasses waiting for additional elements. Here are a couple of my first attempts:

5. OLD MAGAZINES! Cut up for collages and toss the rest. Oh, keep any good recipes.

6. GARDENING! In VT we can't plant (seriously) until Memorial Day. Sweeties -- it snowed this week. But I am hoping for a bit of warmth so I can at least do the hanging boxes. I have 24 wave petunias ready to go!

7. SEW! Have fabric, must create. And I have a quilt that needs finishing. And bags for my business --- although my website needs updating (another thing to do?)

8. CALL! Mom, Geoff, Joanne.... the list goes on! So, call your loved ones... after all, it's MEMORiAL DAY.. you might want to REMEMBER them!

9. OLD PHOTO ALBUMS! Talk about remembering -- maybe take a few minutes (that might turn into hours) perusing old photo albums, especially of those loved ones who've passed. I began a genealogy chart using a great software program and lots of information I found in a box of pictures, stolen from my mom's garage. I've also been scanning. To the left is my Aunt Nan (for whom I'm named).

10. PRACTICE! I'm going to work on my short game by chipping golf balls in the yard. I'll use whiffle balls so I don't have to chase too much. If we had horseshoes, that would be fun. Darts? Catch? Knit? Crochet? Jump rope? Lift weights! Time to learn a new skill?

11. WALK THE DOG! Both of us could use the exercise. Duh.

12. DANCE! A few weeks ago, I bought a cool swirly skirt, and the company included a great little dance CD -- full of oldies . That prodded me to download a Donna Summer album from iTunes. I'm rockin' now. I am not planning to do housework (hey! it's a HOLIDAY), but dancing is a nice way to move around the house for fun. I might just take breaks and yell out, "Ten minutes of dancing right now!"

13. EAT! I'm collapsing a category here. This includes bake (I found an EASY key lime pie recipe in the latest Real Simple magazine) and I will probably bake a couple loaves of sourdough bread, but you could do cookies, cupcakes, or pancakes -- whatever... have I said this enough? It's a HOLIDAY; barbecue -- hot dogs, hamburgers, salmon, eggplant... the list goes on; snack (you fill in the blank here) ; chop and dice (fruit salad, cole slaw); even churn ice cream (well, we do have an unused Cuisinart ice cream maker sitting here....

Soooooo.... I'll be lounging on the porch, rain or shine, enjoying the beginning of Summer (even if the calendar doesn't agree with me). I'll be gas-free! And notice, too, I'm not shopping or consuming ($$) anything extra -- at least not during those 3 days. I'll even refrain from shopping online. Quite the milestone for me -- turning over a new leaf. At least for 3 days.

I hope you have a nice break from the rat race, too!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday Thirteen -- I, Voyager

Okay... here's what I'm gonna do.... (you're thrilled now, huh? expectation sends chills up your spine? you tingle with excitement! you sit on the edge of your swiveling desk chair! you yawn and mutter, "Get on with it, BloggerGeek!)

I am going to pull 13 cards from my Voyager Tarot deck. I love the Voyager deck because it's visual -- each card a collage of photographic images. The deck names the suits differently. The suits and their counterpart names in "traditional" decks are as follows:

Wands = Wands - spiritual
Crystals = Swords - mental
Worlds = Pentacles/Disks - physical
Cups = Cups - emotional

Also, the sixteen face cards (4 suits/4faces) of the Minor Arcana are named differently. Here's how they correspond to traditional names:

Man = King/= mature/master masculine energy = transformer/builder/external
Woman = Queen = mature/master feminine energy = introspective/self aware/internal
Child = Page/Prince/Princess = young energy/new growth
Sage = Knight = androgenous/experience/embodiment of the element on the card

Each minor arcana card has a word on the top. I'll add that, too.

Twenty-one cards of the Major Arcana ( in the Voyager called Personality Archetypes; other decks call this group "major principles of life") are also named, in some cases, with different terms from the traditional decks. I won 't list all of these cards. In the list of 13, if I pull one, I'll explain the counterpart in the note.

I will call this the "Next 13 Days" reading. I'll give a very brief note to each card. Onward and upward.... I've shuffled four times -- for the four directions. I use my hand, infused with energy, to choose each card from an arc of cards laid across a velvet cloth. I merely take my palm and scan it across the cards -- when my palm tingles, that's the card. Here goes:

13 Cards for 13 Days

1. Thursday, May 15 - Two of Wands - Purity. Time to be true to myself. Good start!

2. Friday, May 16 - Three of Crystals - Creativity - Ideas are germinating, waiting for birth. Yes, I've been working on writing and art. A lot. Ready to go!

3. Saturday, May 17 - Two of Crystals - Equanimity - Time to be detached, resistant to the jumble and confusion of life. This makes amazing sense. I'm going to be babysitting two small children at a carnival. Oy.

4. Sunday, May 18 - Eight of Crystals - Synthesis - Use the sides that are artist and scientist for mental harmony, balance and evenness. That would be the "the creative artist" part of me + "the technician" part of me -- making way for each other and blending. Yep.

5. Monday, May 19 - Woman of Worlds - Preserver - Since "worlds" represent the physical, this card is telling me to nurture and provide physical support for myself. Clean the studio, clear the desk, I'm thinking.

6. Tuesday, May 20 - Two of Worlds - Reflection - In this time of physical relaxation (my summer vacation) and mental contemplation (see #2 above) I need to crystalize my plans, live simply and be frugal -- not to buy stuff that will cloud the mind. I do tend to "shop" when I'm in fear -- like when I get blocked in my writing life. That's a great admonition to remember.

7. Wednesday, May 21 - Six of Crystals - Confusion - Ideas grow and then you're overloaded The richness of ideas creates mental conflict and indecision. The inability to organize. However, out of chaos comes creative insights. Yes, I've been going NUTS about which story, of several, to complete. This card says I have to quit being cerebral -- get out of my mind. Time for a bath! Great idea!

8. Thursday, May 22 - Ten of Wands - Growth - A tree grows upward (spiritual) and downward (roots/grounding). A tree expands and blooms. Since we are in spring, our trees are flowering and fruit is beginning to emerge. I can say the same about my work. By next week, I may be bearing fruit. Something tangible? Let's hope so!

9. Friday, May 23 - Eight of Cups - Stagnation - Not exactly a word I enjoy. This card signals the possibility of emotional fatigue and flatness. Things could become sticky, swampy, blocked, dry, suffocating, and dead. That's the emotions. I can see that happening should I not heed the other cards. Time to meditate. I've had that answer several times in the last few days. This card tells me to heed the universe's advice -- or else.

9. Saturday, May 24 - Child of Crystals - Learner - Time to explore like a child -- open to new ideas. Explore the cave of my mind -- the way it works and its pitfalls. As this week evolves, I'm sure I'll have to sit and do just that.

10. Sunday, May 25 - Time-Space XX -- Traditionally known as "Judgement." This card speaks to the ability to see the causes and effects of mental and behavioral patterns. To understand who I am and where I am going. My visions and ideas bubble forth AND I need to watch the tendency to dwell exclusively in my mind -- beware of spacing out and ignoring my physical and worldly needs and responsibilities. I need to ground my perceptions. I take that as use my imagination -- the creation of stories -- and get them down on paper.

11. Monday, May 26 - Moon XVIII - this card is about natural intuition (feelings and dreams) that allow me to awareness -- to see patterns, read dreams, understand symbols. Wisely, the moon also portends the feeling of "out of control" emotions. So, be aware AND watch out.

12. Tuesday, May 27 - Six of Worlds - Synergy - Combine and interweave inner and outer resources. I have to make all the parts work in cooperation -- like a team -- to achieve my goals. I think that's becoming clear in the reading.

13. Wednesday, May 28 - Three of Cups - Love - The pink rose, the unfolding of my heart center. The card says I have to love myself -- find an inner union between my masculine traits (drive and responsibility) and my inner traits (creativity and awareness). Love is the glue to build anything -- especially a body of work.

Considering the overabundance of "crystals" cards reflects a time of much (great?) thought. Many of the cards speak to balance and union. Something creative is emerging. The message is to pay attention, nurture myself, and don't STOP. These cards say that I have the tools. I need to use them. I know. I know. You say, "Well, duh." Okay, okay, I heard you.

Looks like I have a heckavah two weeks ahead of me. With the exception of the carnival and a haircut appointment -- my calendar is clear. I see some writin' ahead, don't you?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

As usual, I was contemplating a completely different T13 (involving a dictionary and a set of questions) when I stumbled upon the word "duck" and began to ... dare I say.... THINK.

How many ways do we use the word "duck"? Or close forms of "duck"? Here goes a list of ducky idioms, by no means complete and in no particular order.

1. sitting duck
2. lame duck
3. lucky duck
4. dead duck
5. duck out
6. ducks in a row
7. just ducky
8. duck the issue
9. duck soup
10. like a duck to water
11. water off a duck's back
12. ugly duckling (close!)
13. duck walk

In the bonus round: rubber ducky, disco duck, ducking and diving, AND... what do I invariably utter when I stub my toe OR burn my index finger using the hot glue gun (don't ask)..... "Fuck a duck!"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

13 Ways I Love to Procrastinate!

I'm writing away. I hit a block. Darn! I'm in trouble. What should I do? Call Super Chicken? Alert my therapist? Go shopping?
(Hum Jeopardy theme here... )
AH HA! ...the brainiac light bulb surges with alternatives...

I leap into the air and shout.....

1. Bake something! Why else do we need to stand next to the oven for 45 minutes?

2. Mend clothing! That blouse has languished in the basket for six months and needs that (a) new button (b) new seam, or (c) a big ol' multi-colored sequin flower or Minnie Mouse or dragonfly -- right now!

3. My Netflix queue! Must be a new movie to add? delete? shuffle in the order? HEY! Who put that Dom de Luise film in the queue???

4. Catalogues! Another six Landsend, 4 JJill, and 2 Illuminations catalogues arrived yesterday. I must look at every item that I am NOT going to buy!

5. Tea time! Right about now I NEED a cup of tea and some quiet time. Popcorn? Why, thank you, I believe I need some of that, too.

6. Rearrange the freezer! long has that package of pork chops been on the bottom rack? I didn't know we had ....limeade? apple turnovers? eclairs? lobster tails!

7. A new recipe! Need something brand, spanking (wonder where that idiom started?) new for a dinner entree/casserole/dessert! Something different. Something exciting. Something.... I have to read through all six of my Weight Watchers cookbooks. Maybe I'll just check the Silver Palette books. Sure. I can change those recipes to low fat. No sweat.

8. Mailbox run! Maybe the post person has dropped off the mail? I'll just put on a sweatshirt and run down to the mail box and check. (Note: our mailbox is not visible from the house, so I will have to do this reconnaissance mission at least three times before the mail actually arrives).

9. Birthday cards! Why not check the calendar. After all, it's a new month. Yikes! Five birthdays in May. I might as well get ready now. Where did I put that box of cards? Under the bed? In the closet? under the roll of the roll top desk?

10. Snack time! ("Again?" you ask. Hey, this thinking is Hard Work. Besides, that last snack was a least an hour ago.) Whew, I need another pick me up! Check the news online (for the 75th time today). Become catatonic at the !@#$#@$% in the Democratic Primary. Go Obama! (ha! another superdelegate defects to Barack!)

11. Bookworm! (no explanation needed, but I am playing for Level 40!)

12. Read! That might make three books running simultaneously this week. Reading could be inspiring, right? Troll for problems in another writer's prose; snicker at implausible plot twists; consider what I might do differently (which means... what I would do "more better"??)

13. Rats! Absolutely last resorts: clean the tupperware cupboard; switch all the clothes in the closet -- box the winter stuff, unbox the summer stuff; and dust (dusting is ALWAYS a last resort. ALWAYS).

Sometimes, creating new T13 ideas is a productive (looking) form of Procrastination. Searching for graphic art is definitely a time burner. Planning the banner is a good waste of time. No!?! Oh well.... onward and upward! I'm going back to writing, right now!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

13 Reasons I Canceled Class on Friday
and gave myself a long weekend

1. No earthly ideas for lesson plans. I'm coming up blank at the moment. Only six more days of classes. I covered all the essentials for my students' final speeches and then I set up a day of "Speech Jeopardy" which is played for Extra Credit Points only. Yes, I really enjoy my work. Not sure the students appreciate such moments, but HEY! when it stops being fun, I'm good to retire and travel. Anyway, giving myself Friday off is like giving myself a week off. Next week my students are scheduled to give their final speeches, so no work for me (except listening) all week. Wow..... this professor gig rocks!

2. 80 degrees! Finally! Spring fever has struck my students and ME! I want to roll in the grass, stare at the bright green leaves, breathe the fresh air, open the windows (I've been breathing that same air inside since October!), and shout... "HELLLOOOO World... Spring is Here!" Actually, we seem to have skipped spring and gone directly, do-not-pass-Go-do-not-collect-200-dollars, to summer. I'm sure we will get our comeuppance, but I'm wallowing now. To cancel class is almost oxymoronic since only 6 students came to one class on Monday. I'm fighting a losing battle. If I can't beat 'em, I'm joining 'em!

3. Unpack Summer Clothes/Pack winter clothes. I'm so sick of black I could scream. Bring back my lime green, hot pink, and bright powder blue! Not that I actually recede in winter... but I think I do wrap myself in toned-down colors and wait for that Easter egg moment when I can jump back to vivid me. I'm ready; I hope the weather doesn't play a big ol' snow trick (ewwww).

4. Write! I have been "doing" The Artist's Way to unblock my creative self. I'm learning a lot. I like how I've committed to writing 3 pages, by hand, every morning. I actually get up one half hour earlier than usual on school days just to accomplish my task. I can say that I have written every single day for the past eight weeks. I'm halfway through the 9th. I am becoming unblocked! Now I need to work on scheduling and writing. I've almost been afraid to come to the screen and begin again. And I must. Writing is who I am. To deny myself would be a great loss to my heart. Today... .2000 words or bust!

5. Craft/Art Projects! I've been "into" Altered Art and now I'm moving along full steam. Okay, half steam, but still some steam is better than no steam. Collage, papier mache, beading, distressed ink... wow... I love my studio again! I find that art projects usually propel me headlong into writing. Cross your fingers!

6. Library Books Due. Speaking of writing.... I have to return four books about Robert Kennedy, since my current w-i-p takes place in December, 1967, on the eve of the announcement that he's running for President. Although I lived through that time, and even campaigned for him, I wanted to capture the flavor, not just my memories, of that 60's.

7. Read! While I'm on the treadmill, I listen to books. I'm so into To the Last Man, by Jeff Shaara, that I checked the book out of our library. But...earlier this year, I had placed it on my wish-list at Bookmooch (see sidebar for info). And someone gave it up last week, I snatched it, and it arrived -- a perfect, beautiful paperback. Well, now I have three ways to read. And finally the time. I love it. I also started the Anne Stuart "Ice" series. I guess it's romantic suspense, which is not necessarily my favorite, but the books came well-recommended. I am also reading through the Amanda Peabody Egyptologist series by Elizabeth Peters. I'm into the second book and I have the third in my basket. I used to have quite a love affair with all things Egypt, plus I giggle at the old fashioned first person, sometimes omniscient, POV in these novels (Amanda is a kick!). Also stacked in my "To Read" basket are the following: To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis; The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde; L.A. Confidential, by James Ellroy; Sovereign Ladies: Sex, Sacrifice, and Power, The Six Reigning Queens of England, by Maureen Waller. Aaaah, summer vacation is soon upon me... and I am fortified!

8. Catch up with Netflix . With recent house-guests and the end of the semester and the election vortex into which I get sucked just about every darn day, I haven't relaxed with a movie in quite some time. Sitting here in the little basket where I keep those red Netflix envelopes are the following movies: Atonement, There Will Be Blood, American Gangster, Lions for Lambs, and Starting Out in the Evening. I'm especially interested in that last one, Starting Out in the Evening because it's about a writer. Popcorn anyone?

9. Sourdough Day. I bake sourdough bread. I've used a starter for over a year, and I must make bread every week or so, lest the starter fizzle. Since we entertained guests the last two weekends, I haven't whipped out the flour and baked bread (although that would have caused the house to smell delightful). I'm ready for tomorrow!

10. Hoard Rice. Not that I eat much rice. But hoarding sounds like a day-off sort of activity. "What did you do on your day off?" "Oh, pulled some weeds, washed the car, hoarded some rice. You know. The usual." I guess the whole rice shortage will be a major topic soon enough, I shall make no more jokes... Oh, who am I kidding ? I will, too! (I could say "silly Americans," but I think we are not the only culprits) (or hoarders).

11. Could Grade Papers. Or not. That's the beauty of giving myself the day off. I can procrastinate all the way to Sunday afternoon. Ah......

12. Take a Walk. Outside for a change. I've been walking every day on my treadmill, at least 30 minutes a day. I haven't missed but a couple days in the last month. I'm becoming better about setting exercise goals. The idea of getting outside to walk is really a bonus. Not that I need a holiday to do it, but let's face it, prepping for an outside walk is a bit more of a process than stepping onto the treadmill right here in the house. Such a chore. I have to don mascara in order to venture into the world. But on Friday, I shall relish the chance!

13. Car Inspection. Steve poked his head in the office to remind me, just when I ran out of reasons.. Oh! I need to get that done by the end of the month. In Vermont -- an inspection sticker (not the least bit tied to car registration renewal sticker, go figure) every year. Here's a funny story that I can tell on my husband. He came home with a ticket. In our neighborhood we employ the constable with the most tickets written in the state -- every year. We warn all visitors to keep to the speed limit. He's a terror, even if you're going 2 miles over the limit. So, I had a gleam in my eye when Steve held the ticket and hung his head. BUT... the ticket wasn't for speeding. It was for an out-of-date inspection sticker. Steve was shocked, I tell you, shocked! He couldn't believe the trooper. So, he jumped out of his truck and checked. Lo and behold... the sticker was from.... wait for it...wait for it.... 2006. He had rolled through almost two years, inspection/sticker free. I have an appointment tomorrow. But I'm not rubbing his silly ticket in his face. No. Never. Muuuuaawww.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

13 Ways to Indulge in Dessert Delight!

I've been in a complete dither the last week or so. Having house guests for the weekend. I ABSOLUTELY love pampering guests. I enjoy cooking and making the house comfy and cozy. Flipping through cookbooks for the makings of a wonderful welcoming meal, I came up the Vermont Maple Cheesecake recipe and figured... "ah ha!" exactly what a Vermonter (c'est moi) would feed her guests. I woke up this morning with T13 on my mind and not-so-much time on my hands. I had two ideas: list the meals I would be serving for this weekend or list cheesecakes. Hey! Cheesecake beats parsnips every time, right? I mean, any question? This is my no means a definitive list. I randomly chose some recipes via Google. However... I did not stop to cite the sources. I apologize. Now it's Back to the Kitchen! Then I am off on a quest through every market in town, to find "Bone-In English Short Ribs"... OY!

1. Vermont Maple Cheesecake

For crust
twenty-four 5- by 2 1/2-inch graham crackers
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B; see note, above)

For filling
four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream

Accompaniment: pure maple syrup if desired for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Make crust:
In a food processor finely grind graham crackers (you will have about 3 1/2 cups). Melt butter. In a large bowl stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter, and maple syrup and press evenly into bottom and up side of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap bottom and side of pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil to avoid leakage.

Make filling:
In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a food processor beat cream cheese on low speed, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until smooth. Add syrup and eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and cream and beat until just combined.

Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 1 hour (cake will not be set in center but will set as it chills). Cool cake in pan on a rack. Chill cake, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 4 days.

Remove side of pan. Serve cheesecake in wedges, drizzled with maple syrup.

2. Banana Split Cheesecake

1 cup packaged chocolate cookie crumbs (such as Oreo)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, melted
Cooking spray

3 (8-ounce) blocks fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) carton low-fat sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs

1/3 cup canned crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/3 cup strawberry sundae syrup
1/3 cup chocolate syrup
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
16 maraschino cherries, drained
Preheat oven to 325°.

To prepare crust, combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl; toss with a fork until moist. Press into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray.

To prepare filling, beat cheeses and sour cream at high speed of a mixer until smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar, banana, flour, and vanilla; beat well. Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition.

Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan; bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until almost set. Cheesecake is done when the center barely moves when pan is touched. Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around outside edge. Cool cheesecake to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon pineapple, 1 teaspoon strawberry syrup, 1 teaspoon chocolate syrup, 3/4 teaspoon pecans, and 1 cherry.

3. Black Forest Chocolate Cheesecake

This decadent Blackforest Chocolate Cheesecake by Vanessa Sherwood drew quite a knockout reaction when she posted it on the forum. I’m sure you can see why. It is bursting with sweet cherries layered between a chocolate crust and a creamy chocolate cheesecake filling. Vanessa advised the members of the forum they can purchase raw cacao butter and coconut oil for great prices at Organic Living Food. She also said it can be replaced with a dark Green and Black’s chocolate bar. I know what some of you will be making your loved ones this Valentines!

For the filling:
2 Cups Cashews, soaked 1 hour or more
1/4 Cup Agave Nectar
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Cacao Butter, Melted
1/4 Cup Coconut butter, Melted
1 -2 Teaspoons Coffee Extract (optional)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract or Seeds From 1/2 Vanilla Bean
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Cocoa Powder
One 10oz Package Frozen Cherries, Thawed

Blend everything together except for the cocoa powder and cherries until completely smooth. At this point, if your blender can take it, blend in the cocoa powder. Otherwise scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl and whisk the cocoa powder in by hand. Hand mix in the thawed cherries. If you want to make a sauce out of the cherries, either set some aside or use an additional package.

About the coffee extract. Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate. I use Java Juice- Pure Organic Coffee Extract. The website is If you don’t want to use it, substitute more vanilla extract or just leave it out.

For the crust:
1/2 Cup Brazil Nuts
1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut
Pinch Salt
1 Heaping Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
1 - 2 Tablespoons Agave
1 - 2 Tablespoons Cacao Nibs
1/4 Vanilla Bean Seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean

Process the brazil nuts, shredded coconut, salt, cocoa powder and vanilla bean seeds in a food processor until fine crumbs. Add the agave and cacao nibs until the mixture just starts to stick together. Press into the bottom of a springform pan. If you are making a large cheesecake, feel free to double or even triple the recipe (crust and filling).

Pour the filling over the crust and chill or freeze until ready to serve.

4. Raspberry White Cheesecake

2 cups
6 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

10 oz. frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 cups white chocolate
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
24 oz of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar
3 room temperature eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 shoot of Amaretto

1.) In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, 6 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch spring-form pan.

2.) In a saucepan, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to boil and continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds

3.) preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring occasionally until smooth.

4.) In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate. Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.

5.) Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refigereate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce.

5. Pistachio & Lime Cheesecake

1 1/4 cup of cream cheese
1 lime, juice and zest
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup of softened butter
One package of chocolate wafer cookies
1/2 cup of crushed pistachios

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees celsius.

To assemble the cake mold, take a 7-inch springform cake mold. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the base and assemble the ring over top of it. Place the assembled unit on another sheet of aluminum and fold it up over the sides to make it as waterproof as possible. Lightly butter the sides of the mold.

Put the wafer cookies in a sealed ziploc bag and crush them using a heavy pan. Combine in a bowl with the butter and spread mixture in the bottom of the cake mould, and compact it using the bottom of a glass to make a tight bottom crust. Put in the fridge to set.

In a large bowl, whip the cream cheese (it’s a good idea to take it out half an hour before you start to soften at room temperature). Add the sugar, lime juice and zest, eggs and egg yolk. Beat ingredients together until combined and smooth. Add on top of the crushed wafers making sure the layer is even.

Place the cake mold into a large roasting pan and fill the pan around it with water until it comes to about half the height of the cake mould. This helps soften the cooking process and prevents the cake from cracking. Depending on the oven, the cake should bake between 45-50 minutes. The cake is ready when it seems firm but still a little wobbly. Allow to cool in the fridge for at least two hours before carefully removing the mold. Serve topped with crushed pistachios.

6. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

* 1 1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1/4 cup melted butter
* 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, diced
* 2 cups sour cream
* 3 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup butter
* 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/4 cup white sugar
* 2 tablespoons water
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
* 2 teaspoons white sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Mix the chocolate wafer cookie crumbs with 2 tablespoons of the white sugar, and the melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of one 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 8 minutes.
3. To Make Cookie Dough: In a bowl beat 1/4 cup butter or margarine with the brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the white sugar. Stir in the water and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Beat in the flour and the semisweet chocolate chips. Stir until combined.
4. To Make Cheesecake: In a food processor or with a mixer beat 1 cup of the white sugar, and all the cream cheese. Add 1 cup of the sour cream, the eggs, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Mix well and pour into prepared crust.
5. Drop cookie dough in 2 tablespoon portions evenly over the top of the cake, pushing dough beneath the surface. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Cake will jiggle slightly in center. Spread topping over hot cake. Let cake cool than chill in a refrigerator until cold, at least 4 hours.
6. To Make Topping: Mix the remaining 1 cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and the 2 teaspoons white sugar until smooth. Spread over hot cake.

7. Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

* 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
* 1/3 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup butter, melted
* 30 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
* 3 tablespoons milk
* 3/4 cup chopped pecans
* 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
* 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3 eggs

1. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Mix well and press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Pour on melted caramel/pecan mixture and chill for 30 minutes.
2. To make the Caramel Filling: In a small saucepan, combine caramels and milk. Cook over low heat, stirring, until smooth. Stir in chopped pecans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
3. In the top of a double boiler, heat chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold 1/3 of the filling into the melted chocolate, then pour the chocolate mixture back into the filling and mix until no streaks remain. Pour into crust.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until center is almost set. Place a pan of water on rack underneath cheesecake as it bakes to help keep it from cracking. Cool in oven with door cracked open. Refrigerate at least 5 hours before serving.

8. Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

* 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 cup butter, melted
* 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
* 1 1/4 cups white sugar
* 3 eggs, room temperature
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup pecan liqueur
* 1 cup sour cream
* 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1 teaspoon pecan liqueur
* 1 cup ground pecans
* 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
* 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3/4 cup pecan halves

1. Combine 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and melted butter or margarine. Press firmly into the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan.
2. In a large bowl, blend the cream cheese and 1 1/4 cup white sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well. Add vanilla extract. Add 1/2 cup liqueur, and blend for 5 minutes. Pour the filling on top of the crust
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake for approximately 1 hour. The cake should be golden brown, and will have risen to the top of the pan. Turn off the heat, and let cool in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. When cool, remove the rim of the springform pan.
4. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, confectioners' sugar, and 1 teaspoon liqueur together. Spoon onto the top of the cooled cheesecake.
5. In a small bowl, combine the finely ground pecans, finely ground graham cracker crumbs, 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the pecan topping on the cheesecake. Carefully press the pecan topping into the sides of the cheesecake. Garnish the top and sides with pecan halves.

9. Caramel Apple Cheesecake

* 1 (21 ounce) can apple pie filling
* 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
* 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 eggs
* 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
* 12 pecan halves
* 2/3 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Reserve 3/4 cup of apple pie filling and set aside.
2. Spoon remaining pie filling into crust. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth then add eggs and mix well. Pour over apple filling in crust.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes, or until center is set. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
4. Mix reserved apple filling and caramel topping in a small saucepan. Heat for about 1 minute. Arrange apple slices around outside edge of cheesecake. Spread caramel sauce evenly over. Decorate with pecan halves around edge. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Chill until ready to serve.

10. Brandied Peach Cheesecake

8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups Milk
1/4 cup Cognac, or brandy
1 package Instant vanilla pudding and pie filling
1 Graham cracker, 8 inch
1 1/4 cups Peaches
1/4 cup Currant jelly
2 teaspoons Cognac

Stir cream cheese until soft; blend in 1/2 cup milk. Add remaining milk, cognac, and pudding mix. Beat slowly just until well mixed. Pour into crust. Chill 1 hour. Arrange peach slices attractively on cheese filling. Heat jelly and additional cognac together. Pour over peach slices. Chill.

11. Candy Cane Cheesecake
(it's never too early to get ready for you-know-what-holiday)

1 1/3 cups Cookie crumbs, chocolate
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup Butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups Sour cream
1/2 cup Sugar
3 Eggs
1 tablespoon Flour
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Peppermint extract
24 ounces Cream cheese
2 tablespoons Butter
2/3 cup Peppermint mints, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Combine first 3 ingredients and press into a 9-inch springform pan. Blend sour cream, sugar, eggs, flour and both extracts until smooth. Add cream cheese and 2 T butter. Stir in crushed candy.

2. Pour into crust and bake on lowest rack of oven for 50-60 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool (top may crack) and refrigerate overnight. Remove from pan and serve.

3. Top with sweetened whip cream and garnish with candy cane if desired.

12. Key Lime Cheesecake
(sounds summery...I am soooo ready for warm weather!)


1 1/2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup Unsalted butter, melted and cooled

20 ounces Cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
1 cup Sour cream
3 tablespoons Flour
3 Large eggs
3/4 cup Fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 drop Green food coloring
Whipped cream, for garnish
Lime slices, for garnish
Mint sprigs, for garnish

1. For the crust: In a bowl, stir together the crumbs and sugar and stir the butter in well. Pat the mixture evenly onto the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a buttered 10-inch springform pan. Bake the crust in the centre of a preheated 375F oven for 8 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and set aside to cool.

2. For the cake: In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese and the sugar until the mixture is smooth; beat in the sour cream and flour, then add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Add the lime juice, vanilla, and food colouring and beat until mixture is smooth. Pour the filling over the crust. Bake the cheesecake at 375F for 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 250F and bake for 50 to 55 minutes more, or until the centre is barely set. (it will continue to set as it cools) Let the cake cool on a rack, and chill it, covered, overnight.

4. Remove the cheesecake from the pan and transfer it to a cake stand. With a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip, pipe the whipped cream into rosettes on the cake. Garnish with the mint sprigs and lime slices.

13. Peter Paul Mounds Cheesecake

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away (known as Escondido, CA), I made up a recipe for this cheesecake. People actually BEG me to make this cheesecake. It's not too difficult but it does take time and I play with the recipe almost every time, so even though I've got it written down somewhere, it's never exactly right. You know what I mean.

The basics are a smooth inner cream cheese filling, with lots of eggs and heavy cream added to the Philly Cream Cheese. Into that goes shredded coconut, some coconut extract and some almost extract.

Follow a usual recipe for amounts of cream cheese, eggs, cream; add enough shredded coconut to your taste. Add enough extract to your taste.

For the crust I've alternated between chocolate graham cracker, regular graham cracker, and oreo crumbs (just the dark chocolate cookie part, which I think you can now find as a package of crumbs, although I used to food process my own). I've even processed almonds into a crust, but you'll have to look up that recipe. I"ve also added finely processed almonds to all the above crusts.

Follow any basic cheesecake recipe for assembly and baking time.

After the cake has cooled add the topping. Melt a large thick Hershey bar (I like the basic milk chocolate). Spread that over the top. Take some whole almonds (I just use regular, raw almonds). While the chocolate is still melty, arrange the almonds in a delightful pattern.

Et voila! (or for those of you with the silliness: Vi-Ola!) This one tastes like a candy bar. I love it!