Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

Through the month of October, on Andy Fish's blog, he showed Halloween costumes from manufacturer Ben Cooper. If you're a child of the 50s, 60s and 70s, you probably remember the costumes. A plastic Halloween themed mask like a black cat, witch, skeleton, devil, Frankenstein, the Mummy, or a cartoon or TV show character, Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone. The costume was a cheap nylon printed dress or jump suit that tied in the back like a hospital gown. The eye holes of the mask were barely big enough to see through and you couldn't really breathe.

I wondered if I could find an image of the gypsy mask I wore when I was 5 years old. And I think I did! So a repeat from a Halloween Friday Five I did back in 2010:

The scariest Halloween was when I was five years old. The Brother was eleven. I was dressed as a gypsy. Ma bought the costume for a buck or two at the Five and Ten Cent store. The Brother was wearing the Robin Hood costume I coveted. My costume was made of cheap nylon. A green bodice with a gold skirt that fell to my ankles. I wore my winter jacket over this. There was also a plastic mask of a gypsy face with red lips, black hair, and painted hoop earrings. The Brother took my hand and we trick or treated to the six neighbor's houses on our street. The most popular house on the street was the Hunter's because they always invited all the children into their home. Yes, this was in the real olden days when Halloween was first celebrated. At some houses you would be invited in for doughnuts and cider or candy apples, and a small Halloween party. Even though the Hunter's children were all grown, they still invited kids in for doughnuts and cider. Mr. Hunter was kind of a big kid himself. He loved to dress up. We climbed up the Hunter's front steps. The Brother rang the doorbell.  We could hear the Halloween party noises inside. I was very excited as this was probably the first time I was allowed out to go trick or treating. The door opened very slowly. A huge green ghastly hand was pulling the door open.  A hideous ghouish face peered around the door. The Brother let go of my hand and crossed the threshhold. The ghoul was making hideous moaning sounds at me, beckoned me to come in and then reached to take my hand. The whole time this was going on, my mouth was frozen in a wordless O. As the ghoul's hand came closer to mine, I recovered my wits along with a heaping lung full of air. I flipped off my mask and let out a blood curdling scream that to this day is still echoing in the frozen voids of space. I leaped off the front steps. My trick or treat bag went flying. The skirt of my costume tore with a loud rrrriiiiiiiiiiiiippp as my feet tangled in the hem.  Finding my footing, I went screaching up the street to my house waving my arms over my head to give me speed. The ghoul was close on my heels calling to me.

"Wait! It's me! Mr. Hunter!..."

I wasn't falling for that old trick.

Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday to Ink who turns 19 years old today.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Winter Weather Predictor

I found a Wooly Bear Catepillar on the front walk though I think this one is no more. Supposedly, the coloration of the Wooly Bear is an indicator of whether the Winter will be mild or cold. If the brown or rust colored band is wider than the black bands, Winter will be mild. There seems to be more brown on this little fella. I'm hoping, even if he's with the choir invisible, this little Wooly Bear is pointing to a mild Winter.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Burnside Fountain

I had a meeting at the Worcester (pronounced Wi-stah in your best Bostonian accent) Public Library in the heart of the downtown. As a Boston snob, I don't know the area well even though I've lived out here for the past 30 years. I'm not sure if there's parking and parallel parking sends me into a panic. I decided Id walk from the art museum to the library. It's only a mile, the weather was pleasant, and I know I can get parking at the art museum because of the magic parking pass on the rear passenger window of my car.

Worcester is not only the second largest city in Massachusetts, but also the second largest city in all of New England (The six state area of: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, just in case you're not from these parts or have forgotten)

You would have thought for a city this large, the downtown area would be crowded and bustling with people. It's the middle of a Tuesday afternoon and I'm practically the only pedestrian. There are large buildings, and I assume businesses, but few people going in and out. There aren't even a lot of people going in and out of a Dunkin' Donuts. I wondered if it's siesta time in the city.

As I approached the library in Salem Square, I remembered there's supposed to be a famous, iconic statue somewhere behind city hall and the park. I spied it, and decided to take a closer look after my meeting.

I crossed the street from the library and came face to face with Turtle Boy. Officially, the statue known at the Burnside Fountain. The fountain was dedicated to a prominent, local attorney, Samuel Burnside in the early 1900's, by his daughter. The fountain base has two large basins originally used to water horses and a smaller basin for dogs.

The bronze figure of the boy with the turtle was sculpted by Charles Harvey. Poor Mr. Harvey had some mental health issues, and he took his own life before the statue was completed. The statue was completed by Sherry Frye. You can read a history of the statue at A Rolling Crone: The Saga of Turtle Boy

I can hear you snickering. At the turn of the last century, the genteel people of the city didn't bat an eyelash or wonder what in Gawd's name is the boy doing with the turtle. They would have accepted the classical mythic faun. But time has moved on. The fountain no longer works and with the smirk on the youngster's face, he looks like he's having way too much fun with that turtle.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Had an enjoyable date night at Elaine's UXLocale Restaurant

2. The Eldest texted me a pic of her gown and the mani-pedi the bridesmaids got for a wedding she was in over the weekend. Nice to be included.

3. Playing around with a new logo design for me. Got some good suggestions from The Young One.

4. The Gremlins hid my sun glasses for a day or two. I finally found them wedged in the sofa cushion.

5. Plans are in the works for a possible calligraphy trip abroad in a couple of years.

How was your week?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

Samuel Adams School, East Boston
To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

Our playground was the streets. Of course, I gave trouble. When I was eligible to go to kindergarten, I would cry and wanted to go home. I got sent home and for a while my mother would take me to school. I would cry and be sent home and it was finally decided that I would be enrolled for first grade. [ed: I don't blame Dad for wanting to go home. Because Dad was left-handed, the teacher tied his left-hand to the chair to force him to write with his right hand.]

First grade was ok for me. I met up with my second love, the teacher. She was a looker. Miss Mulidy. I talked my mother to have her come for dinner. I pestered and she agreed.. But it was for lunch. I was in my glory and she [ed: the teacher] had an Italian dinner and I went back to school with her.

My second grade was a disaster. I didn't like my teacher. She wasn't so hot looking. She was old. To make matters worse, I got hit with yellow jaundice and stayed out most of the year as it was catching. So I had to do the second grade over again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dinner at the UXLocale

photograph from UXLocale website
A former colleague from WAM, Elaine Pusateri Cowen, opened a new restaurant in Uxbridge. The restaurant is called The UXLocale at 510 W. Hartford Ave. Locals will recognize the location as the old Haywagon Restaurant.

Himself and I went there Saturday night. I had called earlier to make reservations. I suggest you do, too, because when we arrived there was a wait time of one hour. The place was hopping and Elaine hasn't had her Grand Opening yet. Make reservations, but trust me, if you have to wait, it will be worth it. The bar looked very inviting if you had to wait.

The interior is spacious and at the same time cozy, and rustic. Comfortably casual. Because the grand opening hasn't taken place yet (scheduled for 5. November 2016), I had expected a very limited menu. Surprise! Lots of choices.

We started off with a sausage slider on a freshly baked popover. Heaven. The house salad was real salad, not just a handful of bagged lettuce with carrot and cabbage shreds. And no (nasty) cheese. Himself had the antipasto salad. I took a taste of the prosciutto. Wonderful!

There is also a large wine and beer selection. I can't remember the name of the red wine I had, but it's fruity notes reminded me of the lambrusco my grandma had with her meals.

Elaine had my favorite dish on the menu. Linguni a la vongole, Linguine with clams. Now, truth be told, I'm not big on going out for Italian food. Growing up Italian, I was spoiled by the food I got at home. My mother and grandmother (all the women in the family) were excellent cooks. Ma always made the linguine and clams in red gravy (sauce). Elaine served her version in a white wine sauce. And it was delicious and beautifully presented. Look how gorgeous with the fresh clams in the shell. Don't tell Ma because she used canned clams! (I was too busy eating and enjoying that I didn't take a picture of the dish so I swiped the photograph from Elaine's website. )

Himself had another pasta dish, Papa's Vitamin G. No complaints.

A satisfying slab of chocolate cake ended an enjoyable evening out. That and chatting with my favorite Elaine when she came into the dining room.

There is also a selection of wood-fired pizzas. They looked delicious being brought to other patrons. We'll definitely be making another trip or two back.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Do Over - Done

The do over piece of the man dancing in the rain is done. Melted wax was used instead of the pouring medium. The wax still got away from me. But that's life and the sentiment of the piece.

"You can't wait for the storm to be over. You have to learn how to dance in the rain."

11 inches x 14 inches mixed media.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Got up at my usual wee hour of the morning run. Thought the Leaf Lady had her outside spotlight on. Turns out, it was just the moon.

2. Himself had bought a roast. It looked beautiful, but smelled horrible while cooking. The odd thing, it didn't smell bad out of the packaging. We didn't eat the roast. Himself returned it to the grocery store. They were all apologetic and gave him another roast. Which was didn't smell gross and was delicious.

3. A puddle splash on a painting came out looking really good, if I do say so myself.

4. Gorgeous weather. Summer hanging on for just one more day. Why can't it stay like this all Winter?

5. Items that once were lost have now been found.

How was your week?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

My mother had two sisters Zia Philomena and Lucia, and two brothers Vincent and Luigi. The two brothers were singers and so was my mother. They had beautiful voices. [Ed: both brothers were barbers. Vincent went to Suffolk School of Law and became a lawyer in the mid-1920s. In the early 1960s, he was appointed a judge to the East Boston Municipal Court]

Aunt Philomena married and lived down the street from us. Uncle Mike was a good in-law uncle. When Mario [ed: kid brother] and I were in our early teens hanging around the tin store [ed: corner newstand with corrugated tin roof] in the evening. Uncle Mike had a shop in Lexington and by the time he got home via buses and street cars, it would be 7:30 or 8 pm. When he saw me or my brother, mostly my brother, he would say, "Come with me." He would take either Mario or me, whoever was around to his house and have dinner. with him.

His children would be in bed. The aunt ate with the children and he did not for some reason like to eat alone.

Zia Lucia lived on Paris St. not too far from us. Just over the bridge. She had two boys and three girls. She was the oldest of the sisters and if anyone asked her who was the oldest she would point to my mother or Aunt Philomena. Her husband, Uncle Tom was a wonderful man.

Uncle Louis had two sons. One was born defective and Louis, my cousin grew up to also pass the Bar. But he did not dare to be a trial attorney. He tried but he would have stomach trouble. He made out alright. He got a job at a bank and moved up the ladder.

Uncle Vincent had two boys and a girl. The oldest boy named Vincent. We called him Junior. Then Rudolph and Gloria.

At some point, Aunt Amelia got sick and the two younger children needed to be cared for. None of the aunts wanted to care for two more [ed: remember this was during The Great Depression and many families were having trouble making ends meet], but my mother took them in. And she had trouble with Rudy. He wet his bed at night alseep.

Lucia's children were named Carmen, Nedio, Phyllis, Bette, Mary, and one other. It's been so long that names escape me at times.

We were a pretty close family with all the aunts and uncles close by. They visited often and so did we.

One year, Uncle Joe took us to Revere Beach for a picnic.

Uncle Fred's wife died and he had his children to bring up. I made the rounds as I grew older.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

One, Two, Three Cake

Friday's Chocolate Molten Lava Cake generated a lot of interest. Here's the very simple recipe.

The recipe is from Duncan Hines: 3 2 1 Microwave Cake and adding the chocolate candy bar came from Betty Crocker. Betty's recipe for the Chocolate Molten Lava Mug Cake used a fraction of the angel food cake mix. The Duncan Hines recipe uses a one to one ratio. One angel food cake mix and one box of another flavor.

You will need two boxes of cake mixes

1. Angel food cake (not the plain white cake mix, but specifically angel food)
2. Any other flavor your little heart desires. For the Chocolate Molten Lava Cake, I used a chocolate cake.

In a ziplock bag or a large container with lid, mix the cake mixes. You will now have enough mix to make 20 mug cakes.

To make the cake:

Generously spray a large (10 oz. or or more) mug with cooking spray

You can use the mug to do your mixing, but I've had problems with the cake sticking so I mix ingredients in a small bowl.

3 Tablespoons of the cake mix
2 Tablespoons water
 Optional Mix ins (candy, baking chocolate, nuts, raisins, fruit, jimmies, cookie bits, etc)

For the molten lava: place 3 rectangles of a chocolate candy bar on top of the batter. (Himself misunderstood and brought home a bar of semi-sweet baking chocolate. Use 2 rectangles of the semi-sweet baking chocolate as it is a lot thicker so doesn't melt as quickly.) Do not overlap

Microwave on high for 1 minute. (Depending on your microwave, cooking time will be 45 seconds to 1 minute)

Cool 1 minute in the mug and then plate. Cool for another 5 minutes. Duncan suggests 15 minutes for cooling, but that's too long to wait.

Top with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy.

I also bought a spice cake mix and thought that would be nice with raisins. The Young One upped the ante and suggested butterscotch baking chips.

What other combinations can you come up with?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Italian Word of the Day - Gravy

Gravy. You pour it over macaroni. It's what's for dinner. And the gravy company even translated the label. Gravy. Italian style pasta sauce.

Ma and the aunties made the gravy for the week on Sundays. Since Ma worked, she'd make her gravy in large batches. Some to use and the rest frozen. In the big freezer in the cellar, there would be (recycled before we had the word) Dragone Ricotta cheese containers filled with gravy. Sometimes, the Dragone containers would be filled with chicken stock.

Italian word of the day: Gravy

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I Wish

I had a green thumb. Saw these gorgeous, blue orchids at the grocery store.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Do You Remember

your childhood telephone number? I remember quite a few telephone numbers. I think it's a savant thing.

Before we had all numbers, exchanges (the first 2 numbers had a name) followed by a number. I grew up in Natick. The exchange was Olympic, OL for short or 65 and then a 3 or a 5.

My childhood home: Olympic 3 - 5346
Himself's childhood home (next door to mine) Olympic 5 - 0378
Childhood friend from parochial school: Olympic 3 - 0824

My Grandma and Ma's sister, Auntie, lived in East Boston. The exchange name was Logan.

Auntie: Logan 9 - 1918
Grandma: Logan 7 - 4784

My godmother lived in Roslindale. I forget the exchange name but the number was FA3- 8491

I even remember the phone number jingle for a carpet cleaning comany. I don't remember the name of the cleaning company, but the jingle goes:

How many cookies did Andrew eat?
Andrew ate eight thousand.
How do you keep your carpets neat?
Call Andrew 8 -8000

Told you it was a savant thing.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

1. Made Chocolate Molten Lava Mug cakes. Delish!

2. Spent the afternoon watching with Himself relaxing in the sun room and watching sports

3. The call that comes at 11 pm from your kid, telling you they're going to be late and not to worry.

4. Exciting project coming up, if the grant comes through

5. Today is the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The date you had to memorize in World History class.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

I would get in trouble. Once I was on the piazza [ed: porch] just crawling on the floor and as I moved on, I suddenly saw that I had a piece of wood from a grape box and a nail sticking out through the palm of my hand. It didn't hurt. I showed my mother who had a fit. [ed: My poor grandmother]. I pulled it out and she put iodine on and bandaged it. All the while castigating.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Do Over

Sometimes, things look better in my head than they look on a substrate. Not real happy with how this is turning out. Part of it was not understanding how the pour medium works. Pour medium has a mind of its own and doesn't like to be controlled.

Back to the drawing board.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Call for Entries - The Graceful Envelope Contest 2017

The Washington Calligraphers Guild has announced a call for entry for The Graceful Envelope Contest 2017.

The theme is "Pushing the Envelope". The deadline for entry isn't until 27. March 2017 so you have plenty of time to come up with an idea and push the limits of your imagination.

The contest is open to all and there is no entry fee. Visit the rules page for more information. While you're, there check out the winning envelopes from past years for inspiration.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Consensus on Couscous

I found a Basic Couscous recipe. The only changes made were since I was serving this as a side with steak, I used beef bouillion instead of chicken bouillion. I also added a teaspoon of salt. I like bland, but pasta is flat without salt and I imagine couscous is the same way. I used the whole package. It was very easy to prepare.

The taste? Meh. Without doctoring the package, it would have been too bland. I don't care for hot and spicy, but a little seasoning is needed. The texture was like damp bread crumbs. Maybe because the couscous was also whole wheat with flax seed.

Couscous. Not my food. Give me plain, old durem semolina pasta any day and twice on Sunday.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

What Were the Top Books The Year You Graduated

from a Facebook post from Dusty Old Thing. What Were the Top Books the Year You Graduated?

When I graduated high school (1973), Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut according to this list was the bestseller. The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough made this list when I graduated college (1977).

What about you?

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Needed some black paper. Thought I was going to have to run to Michael's. Found a large enough scrap of black Canson paper in the scrapbox. So didn't have to run out.

2. Lost electricity at 5:30 am. on Saturday. Since it was raining, Himself went down to the garage to check the sump pump and to start the generator. Turns out the sump pump basket was dry. No water at all. And the electric company got the power going an hour later.

3. Helped Red sell raffle tickets at the Waters Farm Days festival.

4. Made my dad's favorite lunch: peppers and eggs. Even had a bit of disaster with them sticking to the pan. The Young One told me they would have a familiar taste so it was all good.

5. Skyped with A. We made plans to go see the exhibit Beyond Words when A gets back from a trip to Ireland

How was your week?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

The gentleman without a hat is my mother's father. The tall gentleman
in the back is Dad's father.
To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passsed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

Every weekend on Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, Papa would have his friends come and they would play cards, drink wine. He made wine every year up to The Depression. Mother made the sandwiches with Italian bread and cold cuts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Experimenting with pouring medium. Acrylics, Ziller Winter White ink, and a diamond chip

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pastina for Grown-Ups

Himself brought it home. I know it's like pasta. Well, more like pastina, the little pasta stars Italians feed to their babies. The only way this Italian girl knows how to make pasta is with gravy (aka to non-Italians as spaghetti sauce).

Guess I'll be spending the afternoon trying to find out what I'm supposed to do with couscous.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bee Pollen

While helping Red sell raffle tickets at Waters Farm Days, I had a chance to mill around checking out vendors. The local beekeeper was across from the raffle table. I was low on honey and wanted to buy local honey for the added benefit of dealing with seasonal allergies.

Among his goods were some jars of bee pollen. He explained to me bee pollen is the pollen collected by the bees and used as food in the hive. Supposedly, the benefits for reducing with seasonal allergies are greater with the bee pollen than honey. He poured some granules into my hand so I could have a taste. The taste is a little gritty with a hint of sweetness and a floral note.

He said you could mix the granules in tea, yogurt, smoothies. It could be used for a topping on oatmeal, salads.

I tried a little in a cup of tea, but it was chalky so won't do that again. This morning I sprinkled some on English muffins. Much better.

Have you tried bee pollen?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Cold Comfort

A change of seasons and weather had me sniffling like a presidential candidate at a debate. What to do to feel better? I have a favorite oil for that.

Besides smelling great, many essential oils also support body systems. Enter Young Living's Thieves essential oil. Thieves is a blend of clove, lemon, eucalyptus radiata, cinnamon, and rosemary. This blend of oils helps support the immune system and the perfect addition to a homemade cough drop recipe. The recipe uses 3 simple ingredients: honey, coconut oil, and cinnamon. All three of these ingredients help boost the immune system.

I used 5 drops of Thieves essential oil instead of the cinnamon. Not to sound too much like a commercial, but Young Living essential oils are the only oils I would consider ingesting. Young Living offers a seed to seal guarantee. Their oils are never diluted or adulterated. They own farms around the world where the plants are grown so they keep an eye on quality control at every step of the process. Not all essential oils can be ingested, and Young Living offers a Vitality line of oils..

Also some oils like Thieves are considered "hot" oils. You must use a carrier like an oil or honey in order to consume the essential oil or the oil could burn skin or mucous membranes. Before ingesting essential oils, make sure the oils are 100% pure essential oils and talk to your doctor or holisitic medical practitioner.

You can plop a half teaspoon of the mixture onto waxed paper or parchment paper, but it's easier to use a candy mold.  After the drops are hardened in the freezer, you can wrap the drops in waxed paper and store them in a container in the refrigerator. Coconut oil will turn to liquid if the temperature is over 76 oF so storing in the fridge is a must. As an extra step, to keep the drops from sticking, I dusted them with a little confectioner's sugar before wrapping them.

Besides being a cold comfort, a drop is also delcious in a cup of tea.