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blue iris

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"Band of iris-flowers
above the waves,
you are painted blue,
painted like a fresh prow
stained among the salt weeds."
  --  Hilda Doolitte

Drum roll please!   Announcing the color for 2008 as determined by Pantone - blue iris.  As I heard on the radio this evening, it is a color considered soothing but with a touch of mystery.  It is the tiny dash of purple to the blue that adds the mystic.  Didn't you know?! 

Honestly, I do wonder how these pronouncements come to be.  It is said to be culturally based, so does that mean there is a different color of the year in France or Zimbabwe?  My color fav of the moment is orange in all forms from coral to paprika to pumpkin .  A zippy happy color in my opinion and one to take me through the dreary dark days of winter.  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against blue iris, but it doesn't do for me what a dash of clementine does.

According to my nephew, color is for the birds.  Literally.  He pronounced upon seeing Josie that she is the exact color of a house wren.
Img_1391 House_wren
My new holiday socks? "They are the color of a barn swallow's throat, of course."  Guess what color the throat of a barn swallow is?  Never mind that my nephew is only 6 and just a tad precocious.  I had to look up both and he was a 100% accurate. 


jingle bells

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"At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year."  --  Thomas Tusser

"
’T was the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,—not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."
       -- Clement Clarke Moore

”Christmas, children, is not a date.  It is a state of mind.” -- Mary Ellen Chase

”Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  -- Laura Ingalls Wilder

”May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!” -- Author Unknown


graduation

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"Life is unsure. Always eat your dessert first."  -- Anonymous

Those are words by which I try to live by on a daily basis.  With a baker in the family, there are a more than a few choices.  Check out the ones above from Sweet Pea's graduation reception.  Graduation is an event, but graduation from pastry school has a banquet beginning with dessert! 

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Yes, Sweet Pea is done.  She was grinning from ear to ear when she received her certificate to a standing ovation from her peers.  The last 6 months have been both incredibly difficult and exhilarating for her.  I was the proudest mom in the room as I watched her pose for a photo with the head chefs.  I kept thinking of the other week when I demolished part of her chocolate sculpture by accident.  She didn't blink a tear.  She just shrugged.  That's been her attitude all the way through school.  As keynote speaker Chef Ina said, pastry takes courage and passion.  My daughter has both in abundance.  Two days after graduation she is back in the kitchen working at Zelda's where she is an intern.

Meanwhile, I have been savoring the first few days of vacation.  It started with a late night wine and crepe party followed by a massage the next morning.   Ooh, la, la -  a morning without an alarm.  Yesterday I woke up gradually with a cup of coffee and a caramel (okay, 3 or 4) while reading The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith.   It's a very civilized way to live even if I do say so myself.   


red wine

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"Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy."  -- Benjamin Franklin

I have been saving an assortment of wine bottles with the intention of starting a wine journal.  I enjoy wine and keep forgetting the name of particular vintages I've liked.  It suddenly dawned on me that I could create my journal online and share it with you.  If this works, then maybe you could post the names of wines you have enjoyed and a little network may develop.  Who knows, but it is time to start.

Red Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
- For years I have leaned toward certain grapes from certain regions such as Oregon Pinot Noirs and Tuscan Chiantis, but lately I have become intrigued with California Cabernet Sauvignons.  I know I am a bit behind the trend, but c'est la vie.  This particular cab is fruity without being heavy.  Medium tannins and a medium range of acidity.  I had it with a garlickly pasta dish followed by some smoked cheddar and I was in heaven.  The price is good too at around $13 a bottle.

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The Las Rocas Garnacha 2005 hails from Spain.  The vineyards are relatively young, but the grapes pack it in.  Again a fruity wine, but one which is not too sweet or heavy.  The vintage I had was not one of Vinas Viejas, ie one of the better grades, but still I loved it.  I had it with a curried lentil soup and salad.  Considering the cherry notes, this might seem an odd choice, but there was also a lovely peppery finish that melded nicely with the soup.  Again, this is not a bank breaker at approximately $9 a bottle.

I think Van Gogh and Cezanne would have approved.


lunettes

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"Do not expect the world to look bright, if you habitually wear gray-brown glasses." -- Charles W. Eliot

As I needed new glasses and have been working a steady 9-10 hours a day 6 days a week for months, I felt I deserved a treat - like a swell pair of frames.  They are the Coralie model from Anne et Valentin in a bright orange with purple trim.  I am just so utterly chic.  I even added the anti-glare coating.  I can see my eyes in the mirror!  Yeah, I am drop dead gorgeous with these swanky new frames. 

Glasses have been a perfunctory necessity since college.  Too many hours into the night of embroidery, beadwork, knitting and weaving has caused me to become near sighted.  According to the doc, I have superb near vision at 20/15, but I can't read a sign at 20 paces to save my life.  If I want to drive a car, I need my glasses.  If I want to see that gorgeous fella across the bar, I need my glasses.  For years I bought the cheapest pair on sale that looked reasonably good and were comfortable.  But at 41, I was in need of a change.

When I first tried them on my instant reaction was one of marvel. I could see across the room!  I obviously had become accustomed to a slightly blurry world.  How odd to accept a world out of whack if one is a visual artist.  It was not my intention to emulate the final years of Monet who painted a world as seen through cataracts, just laziness and a lack of time to shop.   With my new glasses everything is crystal clear and sharp as a tack.

There is also something about wearing orange frames that makes a woman feel bold.  Soon after receiving them I went grocery shopping and looked everyone in the eye giving them my sunniest smile.   Funny enough, everyone smiled back at me.  The world definitely is looking brighter.


chocolate chagrin

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"There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles." -- Anonymous

Now you see it and now you don't.  Sweet Pea traveled for 1 hour by subway during rush hour with a 3 foot chocolate sculpture in tow.  It was gorgeous with a giant heart on the top.  A true centerpiece for any wedding banquet.  But leave it to Destructo Mom (me) to bring it to pieces in a nanosecond. 

First went the heart.  It was decapitated in the car as I picked her up at the station.  I forgot that rear view mirrors can be lethal.  When we got home I went into my usual excited, proud Mom routine.  A photograph was required, but the lighting in the kitchen was horrible.  That was my downfall.  I shouldn't have touched it again.  I moved the sculpture too quickly.  The rose crashed to the floor.  I was horrified.  Sweet Pea had spent the last three days making her sculpture.  As I apologized over and over, she just laughed, "You can't cry over pastry Mom.  You just eat it."   And eat it we did!

To see edible sculptures with a very different twist, take a look at the work by this artist.