January 22, 2020

The Art of Life: Recognizing The Gifts of Grief

Above: Artistic inspiration from the amazing Ashley Longshore (thanks a million times over to my talented friend Danielle Krysa for having introduced me to her and to my hubs for the perfect Christmas gift), a pending art endeavor for the oh-so-cool Sketchbook Project (an incredible gift from my friend Elizabeth), champagne, and cake. Always cake!

So, yeah, my last post was a heavy one. Heavy but absolutely essential. Essential for me, sure, but everyone else, too, because we're all going to be here/there eventually. Now, while grief is utterly soul-shattering and hard, messy business, part of the journey in carrying grief is to start recognizing what it gifts you in the process. Lord knows, it can be hard to acknowledge and accept those gifts in some respects because it feels a little like diminishing the loss or, more important, the value of the love/s you've lost. But it also seems pretty reasonable that we wouldn't expect someone to wander endlessly through a desert and then deny themselves the comfort of an oasis if they were to come upon it, am I right? And I fear what would become of life to stay mired perpetually in the pain without trying to find the route back to joy.

January 08, 2020

Overboard & Adrift: On Life & Navigating Grief

Yeah, I'm here again. I know. It's been a long time, hasn't it? Let me tell you, it's felt even longer. But, at the same time, I also cannot believe how quickly that time seems to have flown? If you're here reading this... wow! Thank you. Thank you for hanging in there. If patience is a virtue, then sainthood may be awaiting you at this juncture. You've obviously stopped polishing your halo long enough to check in and I'm both amazed and profoundly appreciative. I'm feeling more than a little rusty at all of this, now, so we'll see how well I do. And I'll thank you in advance if this post darts and rambles. But, be prepared. A long absence has generated quite a long post in order to catch y'all up to speed. Buckle up.

Looking at my last post back in March of 2015, I was moving toward what would have been the one-year mark of my mother having to be placed in a memory care facility after her Alzheimer's diagnosis. It felt so surreal at that time. And that overall feeling hasn't stopped.

March 29, 2015

Comparison is the thief of joy? Yeah, but whose is getting stolen?

Oh! Hello there! What? You weren't expecting me? Well, what a nice surprise then, eh?

To say I’ve been stretched in a multitude of directions in the last several months is an understatement. We got married in October and our wedding came rushing upon us and papa was knee-deep in DIY. And when you’re in the midst of wedding projects and final details you need something to do with all of that "free time" you find yourself with, right? So, why not add a new full-time job to the list? Along with all of the legal matters concerning my mom. And, y’know, blogging. (Okay, maybe "blogging" is more accurate at the moment.) Oy. Veh. But somehow the balls still stayed in rotation [more or less] despite my inexperience at juggling on a professional circus level.

September 04, 2014

Amaretto & Red Currant Cake

Amaretto and Red Currant Cake from The Bedlam of Beefy http://thebedlamofbeefy.blogspot.com/2014/09/amaretto-red-currant-cake.html

For not really being a "food blog" I've certainly come to be known for my offerings of sweet treats. I think it's fair to say that I have a big love of baking and that love is something I got from both of my parents. My mom made some killer banana bread in her day and her cheesecakes were did-you-really-make-that perfection. My dad, while having his hands in every sort of cookery, will probably go down most notably for his dutch babies, cinnamon rolls, pies, and holiday fruitcakes (hey, don't knock 'em 'til you try 'em). God, I have such fond memories of the smells that emanated from that kitchen and all the love that went into those efforts. And that's why baking brings me so much joy. 

August 28, 2014

It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Yes. I’m back. Yes. Again. I know, you may be wondering, “Doesn’t a blogger have to blog to be a blogger?” I would tend to agree. Have I really felt like blogging since my last post? Not especially. Have I wanted to let ‘The Bedlam’ go altogether? No. Not for a second. But in May the bottom dropped out of my life and I was rendered useless in the face of what I was confronting. I did my best to keep my other social media outlets going but blogging just became an impossible priority.

Some of you may recall that my mom had been dealing with, what we believed to be, Alzheimer’s symptoms for a while now. But try as we might to get her to seek medical attention, for any reason, she steadfastly refused. We watched as it slowly crept in here and there. It was enough to cause us concern and worry but not so much that we couldn’t deceive ourselves into believing that we had more time. Whatever that meant, anyway? And in May things went from blips on the radar to full blown alarm bells. We were confronted with the absolute reality that the force to be reckoned with that has been my mom, our own little Titanic, had indeed started sinking.

April 25, 2014

Friday Favorites


Happy Friday, kids! How was your week? Hope it's been a good one! That rainbow up there happened last week and if you follow me on Instagram or any other Seattle-area blogger you'll know we went bananas with endless shots of this incredible beauty (it was actually a double rainbow!). I figure it's a great image to start the weekend with, n'est-ce pas? Here are a few other favorites to fritter through:

  • I so need to do this.
  • Can't wait to get my eyes on this book.
  • Geninne's work always makes me happy.
  • Billy is some serious kind of sass-o-FRASS and I can always count on him to make me laugh.
  • Sometimes I imagine Billy, Gabriel, and I hanging out together. Drinking these margaritas! We'd probably end up getting arrested.
  • Oh well, a good time for us to listen to Lisa school us in 'embracing the abyss'.
  • Maybe one of y'all would be willing to bring us this pretty little cake to cheer us up? File entirely optional.
  • And while we wait for you, we'll just be practicing our lip sync routine in the yard.

  • Woah. That got a little tangential, didn't it? Leave it to me.

    Happy weekending and I'll see you next week!

    April 15, 2014

    Spring Awakening


    Oh, for heaven's sake. Let's just get this done. I have been mulling and mulling and mulling over what to say and where to start that, I mean, I have to start somewhere. Since my current mantra is "start where you are" then here and now seems a logical conclusion. So, here I am. Ta da! (Suddenly, I envision myself in a sidestep tap routine wearing a tutu? Same for you? Anyway...)

    I've been away from 'The Bedlam' for the longest period of time since I first started blogging in 2007. But, despite appearances, I hadn't given up. The thing is, 2013 threw me for a serious loop - laid off from my job, a depressing and shockingly competitive job market, my mom's declining health, etc., etc.. It sucked. Sucked. And, being the Cancerian that I am, I suppose I needed to retreat into my shell in an attempt to regroup. That's not to say that I'm back and better than ever with all my ducks in a row and a strategic plan in place. But, with my flaws and imperfections, I am here. And, dammit, that's saying something.

    September 24, 2013

    Pink Champagne Cupcakes Recipe from "Trophy Cupcakes & Party!"

    Trophy Cupcakes and Party - Pink Champagne Cupcakes Recipe

    Well, kids, today's the day! The official launch date of Trophy Cupcakes & Party! by Jennifer Shea! It seems oh-so-fitting to celebrate the day with Pink Champagne Cupcakes and so, as promised, here is the recipe to Jennifer's scrumptiously celebratory cupcakes! Enjoy!

    September 21, 2013

    Trophy Cupcakes & Parties!

    Trophy Cupcakes and Party! Book

    I love cookbooks. LOVE cookbooks. But adding one more to an already bursting-at-the-seams assortment hardly seems necessary in my case. That said, when invited to be a part of the virtual book tour with the chance to get a pre-launch sneak peek at the new book Trophy Cupcakes & Parties! by Jennifer Shea of famed Seattle cupcakery Trophy, I mean, I had to at least look! Right? (Um, yeah!) Well, this freshman entry into my cookbook collection catapulted straight toward the top of the senior class, kids. Lemme tell ya. And that is because it is so much more than just a cookbook.

    September 17, 2013

    Inspiration Rx | Tranquility

    Inspiration Rx | Tranquility | Water | The Bedlam of Beefy

    Recently, the lovely Miss Tristan B. and Miss Michelle P. started a creative series entitled "Inspiration Rx" to provide enticements to those needing an extra spark or a means to break free from a creative rut. With the simple prompt of one thoughtfully chosen word, they invite us to give ourselves pause and lift. This week's prompt, "tranquility" was less read or contemplated by me than it was felt. Deeply.

    August 16, 2013

    Buttermilk Blackberry Crumble Popsicles

    Buttermilk Blackberry Crumble Popsicles • The Bedlam of Beefy

    Today I'm joining a slew of fine bloggers in capping off POPSICLE WEEK! That's right, y'all! Billy of the oh-so-delightful Wit & Vinegar rounded up a posse of 26 bloggers from around the blogosphere to get their popsicle on. Y'know, 'cause it's August and we're trying to squeak in as much summer celebration as we can and, I mean, who doesn't like a popsicle? Genius idea, Billy.

    July 24, 2013

    Furniture Makeovers + A Giveaway

    Furniture Makeovers by Barb Blair

    There is a reason that my Gittin' Crafty Wid It board on Pinterest is my most popular. I love a good craft project! Okay, more accurately, I probably love the idea of a good craft project. But Barb Blair is getting me off my crafting keister with her newly released Furniture Makeovers from Chronicle Books.

    Having started the illustrious Knack Studios, Barb has a long-standing reputation of being a creative genius in the furniture refinishing arena. Furniture Makeovers does not disappoint with a slew of ideas for turning trash into treasure. With 26 featured techniques, from using decals and découpage to getting the 'dip-dyed' look, my head was swirling with possibilities. I've been inspired to tackle creating a faux inlay look to a couple of dated chairs I have that have been dying for, well, a makeover. I have my supplies lined up and will be kickin' it crafty style this weekend!

    July 09, 2013

    I'm strange. And I like it.

    Uncle Beefy

    I have been called a lot of things in my life. Some good, some not so good. But if there has been one adjective that has dutifully followed me around it's "weird". "Strange" comes in at a very close second and makes for a slightly catchier title based upon the song by Cameo (which, as it turns out, isn't really all that great despite my fond recollection). Hey, I get it. I mean, I totally get it. I am weird. And, at this point, you've probably gotten that, as well. Yes? Thought so. (God love your heart for still being here.)

    Sometimes my weirdness has been my nemesis. Kids at school teased and shunned me because their poor wee brains just couldn't wrap their heads around all o' that business. And I drive myself bananas - buh-NANAS! - with the weirdness of my late bloomer ways. On the other hand, that same bizarre synapse explosion that had kids laughing at me when I was little has turned out to be the same silly freak show that has had people laughing with me and connected me with so many as an adult. Here's the one consistent thing, that little inside place that has continually gotten pegged as weird, be it good weird or bad weird, is the same place that always radiates with joy for me. I don't mean joy. I mean JOY. That utter abandonment of all cares or concerns, the I-could-give-a-rip relishing that only comes in moments where we feel completely, deeply, authentically ourselves. Why then are so many of us quick to squelch that expressiveness and abandon that feeling of freedom? Abandon ourselves?

    A casual armchair psychology session would talk about our innate biological and social desires to belong and, thus, conform to a standard set by a societal majority, blah, blah, blah. So why do we also applaud and admire those who defy those set standards? Raise them up as idols of individuality? Why? Because we so desperately want to do the exact same thing. They represent outwardly the caged wonder that resides inside all of us. But as much as we may long for the radiance of those who have the courage to be themselves, most of us become inextricably torn between the contradiction of wanting to be accepted by the group as they want us to be and risking being ourselves as we were meant to be.

    May 08, 2013

    Strawberry Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Compote

    Strawberry Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Compote | The Bedlam of Beefy

    As much as I love rhubarb I still hang on to the false idea that it is associated it with summertime rather than spring. I suppose it's the classic pairing with strawberries that makes me hold on to that misinformed thought since strawberries are a quintessential summer fruit. Or it could be that once the grey skies of a Northwest winter roll back I just get greedy for the arrival of summer and skip past thoughts of spring altogether. In any case, when I see those rose-colored stalks of rhubarb appear at the market I experience a simultaneous seasonal sigh of relief along with a little mouthwatering.

    I love that special piquant zing of rhubarb that pairs so well with any number of sweet flavors. And I love that it's so easy to work with to add its distinctive touch to even the simplest dessert. A quick rhubarb compote is amazing when barely folded into sweetened whipped cream for a 'Rhubarb Fool' or just slathered warm on top of good vanilla ice cream. But given that its culinary bestie is the strawberry and with Mother's Day coming up I thought I'd combine the best of all worlds - easy and elegant - in a strawberry panna cotta with rhubarb compote.

    Strawberry Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Compote | The Bedlam of Beefy

    Recipe after the jump...

    The Cuyana Seattle Soirée

    Wrap it up, I'll take it! The Cuyana Seattle Soirée

    Last week, on a beautiful Tuesday night, Cassandra of Coco+Kelley and I hosted the Cuyana Spring Soirée at Seattle's Black Bottle. There is nothing like the first sign of springtime sun to get us Pacific Northwesterners to emerge blissfully from our hibernation. You combine that with champagne, shopping, and noshing and you're gonna see some seriously sunshiny Seattleites, my friend.

    This was a perfect chance for people to see Cuyana's wares up close and personal while sipping, nibbling, and socializing. But, lemme tell you what, one gander at the goods and the glasses were getting set down and the wallets were coming out! Woosh! Leather tote in Nectarine? Sold out! How about in Caramel? All gone! Our stylish guests were serving up some serious retail therapy. The mister and I also became the proud owners of an Alpaca Infinity Scarf and the Weekender Bag (perfect for our pending Palm Springs trip). And, man, I'm surprised that there were any of their leather travel cases left as those beauties were the belle of the ball that night! Given their gorgeous candy colors, they were hard to resist. Such a fun night!

    The Cuyana Seattle Soirée • Event Photos


    May 06, 2013

    A Warm (and slightly whacky) Weekend

    Well, as you can see, kids, it was a dreadful weekend with weather nothing short of perfection in Seattle and Cinco de Mayo margaritas involved. I know! Right?! Unthinkable! If I didn't have such an extraordinary tolerance for suffering the insufferable I don't know what I would have done. Well, I probably would have been forced to enjoy another sunny margarita just to get through. I'm a trooper like that.

    But wait! There's more! I managed to get some yard work done which I'm sure my neighbors greatly appreciated. Since it's rhubarb season, I got myself into the kitchen and started working up a little recipe that I'll post later this week. (A perfect dessert for Mother's Day, by the way!) I learned about new fashion concepts while out and about. Can anyone explain to me the thinking behind "big and tall... hats" and "XXL - Slim Cut"?! Seriously?! Even after a couple of margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo I still couldn't wrap my head around those bright ideas. Nor the gold lamé shorty shorts that one fellow pub patron decided to don with black socks and sandals. It was my own personal version of Fashion Police. I think I might have a fashion hangover this morning. Oy! And you know the phrase, "wouldn't hurt a fly"? Well, it seems that our dog, Fergus, lives up to that motto as we discovered he was afraid of the one that was circling the room. Pathetic. Finally, I wrapped up my Sunday by tuning in for the last episode of The Bletchley Circle on PBS. Did you watch? I loved it and hope there's more to come in the future.

    So, enough about me, how was your weekend?


    April 25, 2013

    The Global Wares of Cuyana + A Seattle Spring Soirée

    Cuyana Sustainable Style and a Seattle Spring Soirée

    Let's face it, sustainability and style don't always manage to come together successfully. But Cuyana founders Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah have succeeded in what can sometimes seem the almost impossible. Custom designing their own products, they source and have created country-specific, limited-edition collections that celebrate each country's culture and local craftsmanship.

    Cuyana Products

    As if that wasn't enough of a great start, a percentage of their profits are donated to "charity: water" in an effort to help support the charity's mission in providing safe drinking water to communities around the world. Does it get much better than that? Um, yeah. Because they also offer free shipping and free returns (on U.S. orders)! I know, right?! (And their reusable gift boxes? Don't get me started! Love!)

    To top things off, Cuyana is throwing a "Spring Soirée" in Seattle next Tuesday, April 30th, from 5pm to 8pm at Black Bottle with myself and Cassandra of Coco+Kelley being your hosts! And you're invited! Come and enjoy cocktails and bites while we peruse Cuyana's wares together! You'll get to see Cuyana's products up close and personal plus get 10% off that night. When you RSVP (Yes, Seattle! R. S. V. P! You know what I'm talking about!), select "The Bedlam of Beefy" in the drop-down on the RSVP page and you'll have the chance to win a gorgeous leather tote. And if you refer 5 friends you'll score a free canvas tote as Cuyana's "thank you" for helping spread the word (details on the RSVP page).

    Let's get our sustainable, stylish swag on, kids! Click the image below to sign up and I'll see you there!

    Cuyana Spring Soirée Invite - Click Here to RSVP

    April 05, 2013

    Block Printing Party at the Seattle West Elm & Friday Favorites

    Ready for the weekend, kids? I'm sure many of you are! Hope your week has gone along swimmingly and that you're ready to dive right into your Saturday. (Ignore what I just did there. "Swimmingly"? "Dive"? Ugh. Sorry.) Anyway, happy Friday. 

    This week I was fortunate enough to get the creative juices flowing by participating in a block printing workshop presented by the Seattle West Elm and Urban Craft Uprising. So. Much. Fun! Led by the lovely and talented Phoebe of elSage Designs, a delightful group of us gathered in the middle of the West Elm showroom to learn about block printing on textiles and to give a go at printing up our own tote bag. Phoebe made up some super cute kits with everything we needed to get to sketching, carving, and printing.


    Now, my background is in printmaking (Yeah. I actually have a degree. Surprise, surprise.) but my skills have been laying waaaaay dormant. Much. Too. Long. Phoebe's workshop was just what I needed to clear out the cobwebs and a reminder that all my excuses for not keeping up with my printing were, ultimately, hogwash. Within a couple of hours we were all walking out with our custom printed totes in hand! Easy peasy! I did get a little hung up in the beginning wanting to bust out something super stylish but I let all of that go and decided to just do whatever and have fun. I think our mutual fears of getting ink on anything in the store helped a lot of us let go of whatever design perfectionism we might have been feeling. Such a great, casual, creative time!

    Be sure to check out your local West Elm Facebook page (e.g., "West Elm Seattle") and see what fun stuff may be happening in your area. Up next in Seattle is Entertaining Made Easy with my churros compadre Cassandra from Coco + Kelley which will be a great way to kick off Spring and Summer entertaining season! Ooh, that reminds me! Better take my kaftans to the cleaners for all those upcoming pool parties! What? You were expecting me to say my Speedos? Yeah, none of us want that I can assure you.


    And now for some Friday favorites to send you off into the weekend...

    April 03, 2013

    Spring Awakening


    I'm guessing you're all a bit churro-ed out at this point, am I right? Hey, I don't blame you. It was something of a churros-fest for a bit around my house after that post and I can tell you that several items of my wardrobe had more than enough of churros, also. So if you need someone/something sympathetic to talk to I'll send you a pair of my pants.

    Anyway, a lot happened shortly after that post. A root canal, a crown, a gum graft surgery, the dog needing knee surgery (cha-ching, cha-ching), more difficult moments with my mom, and then receiving the word from my, now former, employer that I was getting laid off. [What the...?! Thump!] What timing!!! There's no question that wishing for better timing played on rapid repeat in the immediate moment that I received that news. But what better timing? I mean, really? It's such a pointless consideration since the timing is what it is and wishing for reality to be other than what it is is pure crazy-making. Believe me, I'm an expert in this department. Would you like your straightjacket gift wrapped?

    However, as luck/grace would have it, I slipped into a whole new approach this time around. Remember all that talk about surrender in this post? And this one? Well, I sure do! And I'm hoping the 3rd time is a charm and the universe can finally move on and get around to teaching me more about 'abundance' or 'employment'. In all seriousness, though, within moments of hearing the news that I'd be losing my job this feeling of complete calm came over me and I knew that this was all going to work out. No fainting couches necessary. No piñatas for the pending pity party. No faux-positive pep talks. Just an inner, confident stillness that I hadn't experienced before.

    As the news spread, people seemed to expect two reactions from me - tears and/or anger. Anger was a big assumed reaction. But somewhere inside of me I knew that anger was as pointless as 'better timing' and it never even bubbled much less rose to the surface. Yes I was sad that 2.5 years of working with some great people was coming to an end but this also made me feel more grateful for the experience. Instead of being focused on what was being taken I was finally able to focus on the gratitude for what I'd been given. What a concept.

    And if you question whether God has a sense of humor? Know that the day I got my layoff notice was the day after I had my gum graft surgery done. Why is that funny? Because I was completely unable to eat OR drink alcohol! What good is despair without cake or cocktails?!! This time there would be no stuffing down of emotions with the tines of a fork. No drowning of sorrows with a bottle of bubbles. Nope, kids, I was on my own in dealing with this cluster of whatnot. And what a difference that made. Because in staring this beast down directly I realized it wasn't nearly as vicious as I might have imagined. If this was my circus, this time I'd be the ringleader.

    Now this isn't to say there haven't been blips of worry on the radar and it's only natural to expect that more of those moments may come. But, all in all, if any moment finally tested my ability to surrender then this had to be it. Hadn't it? Lord I hope so. Regardless, right now I'm just wanting to mark this occasion and really try to remember what a profound feeling of relief this new approach has given me versus the years of angst-ridden days and nights needlessly fighting against what simply was.

    In some ways I wonder why it took so long. In some ways this all seems rather obvious now. But that's just hindsight talking. And looking back is pointless when you're finally looking forward.

    p.s. - Hey, and while I'm here, if you know of anyone or anyplace looking for creative, artistic, social media savvy, hard workers or just for someone with model good looks and the potential to add a serious upgrade to the office snack pool please let me know. If you're on LinkedIn you can find out more about me via my profile. Thanks, kids!

    February 05, 2013

    Uncle Beefy + Coco+Kelley = Modern Mexicana & Churros

    Kids, come this time of year you can bet that those of us living in the Pacific Northwest that have been staring down grey skies for several weeks will start dreaming of sunnier locales. Well, turns out that Cassandra of Coco+Kelley (a fellow Northwest blogger) put those dreams to some stylishly creative use. With the February chill, Cassandra put a spicier spin on your ordinary Valentine's Day festivities and came up with a "Modern Mexicana" fiesta to share with all the ones you love. ¡Perfecto!

    So when she called out to your Uncle to whip up some of my cha-cha-churros to round out her vision I was more than happy to share some o' my sugar! Thus, I give to you homemade Churros (recipe below) with 3 different chocolate dips ~ White Chocolate with Orange & Almond, Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Spice, and Chocolate & Chile (you'll find my recipes for the dips over on Coco+Kelley).

    Adapted from Bon Appétit via Epicurious
    I always had it in my mind that churros were going to be far more complicated to make at home. But one go around and you'll be amazed how simple these hot, fresh, and tasty treats come together.

    Update: Thanks to the kindness of Jo writing in stating that she had problems with the batter being runny, I've amended the recipe, which originally stated "8 large eggs", to now read "4 extra large eggs" and that's precisely what I would stick with to get a successful result. I just did a double-check recipe test and this worked out perfectly. Thanks so much, Jo! Sorry, kids! I swear I can cook. Writing recipes? Looks like I need a little more practice in that department.

    Cinnamon Sugar

    1 1/2 cups sugar
    3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    3/4 teaspoon sea salt

    Churros Batter

    2 cups whole milk
    1 stick unsalted butter
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    2 cups all-purpose flour

    4 extra large eggs

    Quart of vegetable or canola oil for frying.

    Blend sugar, cinnamon, and salt together and set aside.

    For churros batter: Place milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and, over medium heat, stir until butter is melted and sugar is fully dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add flour to wet ingredients and stir briskly with a wooden spoon until shiny dough mass forms (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and transfer dough to a large bowl and allow to cool (about 10 minutes). With an electric mixer running (or a standing mixer with paddle attachment), beat in the eggs, 1 at a time and keep beating until the dough turns smooth, shiny, and sticky.

    In a large pot over medium heat, bring oil up to 350°F.

    Place batter into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (for skinnier churros "sticks" similar to those shown here, use a smaller star tip). In small batches, pipe churros batter into hot oil in 3 1/2- to 4-inch-long ribbons (use knife or, my favorite, kitchen scissors, to cut the batter at end of star tip) and allow batter to gently slide into oil. Fry until a deep golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side (depending on size of star tip used). Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool. Gently toss in the cinnamon sugar to fully coat. Best served warm.


    January 21, 2013

    Uncle Beefy + Instagram = What took you so damn long?!

    Uncle Beefy Instagram

    If there is one thing I have managed to do during the past several weeks, I joined the ranks of the 21st century by finally joining Instagram. I'm a trendsetter like that... always ahead of the cultural curve. It's awe-inspiring isn't it? Jealous much?

    You may wonder why I wasn't on board earlier? That's because I was using a phone that brought gasps and jaw drops whilst at Alt Summit last year. "Wait. You're a blogger and that's the phone you use?!?!" Um, yeah. Now park my carriage and don't forget to feed the horses. Thanks. Perhaps I should show you a pic of what I was scraping by with? Or maybe it would be more appropriate to get a tintype or a formal oil portrait done? In any case, I'm with ya' now and hope you'll join me.

    Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich


    January 15, 2013

    A New Year


    How many times have I tried to write this post? I'd ask you to guess but I wouldn't even know if you were right as I've lost count myself. But there have been plenty of moments since my last post that I've been sitting with a cup of coffee or glass of wine (at different times of day, mind you) only to drum up half-finished sentences or blank stares. Sigh. Nothing. Nothing?! Nothing.

    Nearing the end of the year, 2012 had taken the wind out of my sails. I know, that sounds depressing doesn't it? But come the closing weeks of the year I just found myself utterly spent. And when I'm spent I have a tendency to retreat. I guess that's the Cancerian in me? Y'know, if you want to get all astrological about things? Although, I think plenty might have had a similar response given the events of the year.

    The year had started on a seriously high note with my first attendance at Alt Summit. I came back from that event with great new friends and seriously high hopes. I'm guessing I felt something like Tom Cruise after a Scientology gathering? Cue the couch jumping? Whatever I was feeling, it was a great way to get things going. Then, in the subsequent months to come, I found myself encountering what felt like a barrage of negativity that left me mystified and melancholy. Friendships were ended, family relationships fractured. I had my first experiences with the serious ugliness that can come with the anonymity of the internet. "WTF" doesn't even begin to cover it. With the emotional upheavals and the whirlwind of the holiday season I just couldn't muster much, i.e. nothing.

    After all that one-two-punch business I felt myself just [kinda, sorta] give up. Even more depressing, you think? Not exactly. There is nothing like a feeling of defeat to help one with their lesson in surrendering. Remember that topic? Well, the universe sure as hell did and decided to help me out with that... and how. And wow. Somehow, in the smoke of all that hellfire, I found myself doing two things I'm not always inclined to do - standing up for myself and, the best part, embracing the feeling of simply not caring about the opinions of others. I mean, genuinely feeling a new space open up inside me where "Meh. Okay. Fine. Whatever." came to find a surprisingly comfortable home. I'm not talking about deflection or dismissal here but a genuine blip on the radar of redemption. Quite unexpectedly, the repeated exposure to the negative assumptions of others made me start taking stock of how much there is that is positive about myself. Out of external accusations and animosity came internal appreciation and compassion. I know a lot of us out there understand the compulsions of people pleasing. (Can I getta "Amen!" up in here?) And while this new glimmer of light on the horizon is a welcome sight, I know I ain't outta the woods just yet in this area. But that light is enormously reassuring. An unexpectedly "nice" way to start a new year.

    Additionally, as some of you may know, I'm witnessing the slow decline of my mom's health as she suffers continually increasing moments of memory loss. In my quieter times, it becomes difficult not to wrestle with the thoughts and fears of the day she may well ask me, "Who are you?" And I wonder how much time we have left. When these kinds of thoughts start swirling around, spending time working up a post about tea towels or well-designed rooms can lose any sense of importance or inspiration. But the sadness of these times and the inevitable sadness of times to come also becomes a sharp reminder to appreciate things in the moment. Instead of letting the sadness completely overshadow the happier times it has begun to bring more focus on gratitude for the joy that gifts itself in the smallest of ways.

    And that brings me back to here. This place where I can share almost anything. This place where many of you have waited so patiently for me. This place that, truthfully, I wondered about whether to continue holding on to in my increasing weeks of silence. But, like I mentioned before, this place is one that brings me joy. And in that joy I am gifted with happiness, inspiration, motivation, and, even in the really hard times, hope. That's a lot to feel grateful for. You are a lot to be grateful for. And I thank you. So much.

    September 25, 2012

    Uncle Who?: I'm Back!

    Hi, kids! Yeah, so I was gone a little longer than I would ever have anticipated. But, y'know what? It's what I needed so that's just the way it rolled. C'est la vie!

    What a roller coaster it's been in my absence! I won't bore you with all the gory details but there were some ups and downs, emergency trips to the vets, my camera lens broke (right after saying I needed to get a new lens!), gorgeous summer weather, and a proposal (that's the money shot up there)! Yep! Looks like it'll be wedding bells for Beefy one of these days! So can you see how my head would have been spinning lately? I knew you'd understand. You're so good to me. 

    Be on the lookout as I start to get things fired up 'round here once again. And, hey, I haven't been totally stagnant in the blogging department. Check out my Proust Q & A over on Fleurishing!

    So nice to be back and hoping all has been well in your world.

    See you soon!

    July 10, 2012

    ...go, Shawty, it's yer birfday...


    Yep, kids, today is your uncle's birthday. And, yes, that's me up there. And, again, yes, they had cameras back then. You were expecting a prehistoric cave painting? Gee, thanks a lot.

    So, the title of this post was the very first thing that went through my mind this morning. Ordinarily I might have been more annoyed by that but, these days, I'm figuring that I should be grateful I have the mental capacity to remember song lyrics in the first place. So if 50 Cent wants to park himself in my subconscious mind today, so be it. Happy birthday to me. 


    July 03, 2012

    Breathing Room

    Just some quiet summertime breathing space with the stunning blue skies that graced us during a drive through Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. Beautiful country.


    July 02, 2012

    Screening Process: A Visit to Portland's Screen Door

    When not writing wordy posts about quotes from hot professors and past meditation experiences, papa likes to eat. I'm sure that it comes as no surprise that I enjoy a good meal from time to time. But, in an effort not to drive people completely bonkers and, on occasion, eat a meal while it's still hot, I don't always bust out the camera and blog about my culinary consumptions. Not today, kids. Not today.

    On a recent trip to visit the family down in Portland, we checked out the Screen Door restaurant for some Northwest Southern food. (I know, right? Sounds almost philosophical, huh?) Anyhoozles, I do love serious comfort food and Screen Door certainly delivered. Granted, a "Breakfast Corn Dog" didn't quite live up to the expectations of my "squeeeeaaaalll!!!" when I saw it on the menu but they let you sip on Bloody Marys street-side while you're waiting for a table so I can easily let that one slide. Plus, everything else was pretty super tasty. (You'd think I was a professional food writer with that wouldn't you? "Pretty super tasty." Wow. I'm good.)

    I wasn't that hungry so I just ordered the Fried Chicken & Waffles which would have made a light snack for, oh, I don't know... a wedding reception?!! This baby was big. BIG. And it was also big on flavor so, y'know, a perfect combo all around, y'all. Seriously, seriously yum. Oh yeah, there were leftovers.

    Apparently, we were all in a serious carb-loading mood that morning as it was waffles all around at this family table. We were all happy with our choices but no question that the praline bacon number you see up there was a strong contender in the "I think mine might be better than yours" category. I'm still putting my bets on my Fried Chicken & Waffle. Maybe with a side order of the praline bacon next time? (What?!! I'll share! Relax. Jeesh! As long as you share your Bananas Foster French Toast? Deal?) 
    Technically, this picture of the oh-so-delightful-why-yes-I'll-have-another Gin Bloody Marys should be at the top of this post since we were sipping these down long before waffle time. But I want to keep my pristine reputation in tact and it seemed a bit more appropriate and graciously Southern to offer y'all a "Cheers!" at the end of all of this. Y'all come back now! (I know I will.)

     p.s. - I just so happen to be writing this post as I'm beginning a juice fast. Darting glances between images of golden waffles and a glass of green sludge. Glutton for punishment, I am.

    June 28, 2012

    Insights & Ice Cream


    Last week I almost bought a ticket to go to India. I thought, "What the hell! I've always wanted to go, so why not?!" Essentially, I had a brief but emotionally-charged surge of inspiration probably similar to those had by people who think they can go live safely among grizzly bears or keep rattlesnakes as house pets. We can pretty much guess how those situations turn out. Fortunately, there are things to consider in an impromptu Indian escape like severe seasonal weather conditions, vaccinations, and bank balances. Whew! Thanks, Universe.

    I think I just wanted to indulge in the idea of doing something that might make me feel a bit less "stuck" or at the very least distracted from those feelings that seem so prevalent lately. There's no question that feeling stuck can be defeating and debilitating. But mulling over this situation brought me back to a moment in art school when an exceptionally attractive professor shared a couple of thoughts with the class.

    First, he asked us who in the class wanted to be a great artist. Did any of us raise our hands? Duh. Then he told us that none of us would ever be great artists. Jerk? Yeah, we thought so, too, until he continued. He then went on to share that all of us have a preconceived idea of what being "great" is and that by the time we would reach that far-off imagined point we would already have raised the bar on ourselves to yet another level of "greatness." So, in point of fact, we'd never really be great artists... in our own eyes. Maybe that's something of a blanket statement, but it makes sense and also points out how futile comparison is in the end. Sure, there can be glimmers of inspiration in creating that point on our horizon based upon another person's accomplishments, talents, etc. But most of us are probably well aware of the excessive pitfalls that lie in wait for the first moment that we don't manage to measure up to our assumptive ideals. Bartenders, bakers, and Ben & Jerry's have certainly benefited from those moments. Of that, I'm most certain.

    Secondly, he shared this quote, "Work doesn't come from inspiration, inspiration comes from work." Wow. I don't remember if it was his quote or from someone else but that baby really strikes a chord. Well, remembering it did anyway. I don't know about you, but I'll admit that I tend to wait for "the moment" to strike. Sure they come around on occasion, but only occasionally. And not only does that waiting waste an inordinate amount of time, it puts the onus of responsibility on something or someone outside of ourselves. Talk about powerless and self-defeating! Ben & Jerry's are probably working on a flavor for that right now. "Excuses, Excuses Crunch?" "...with Pity Party Swirl?" In any case, it essentially boils down to just showing up, don'tcha think? And not to your grocer's freezer section. How's that for some cold, hard truth? (Brrr! I'd suggest a hot cuppa cocoa right now but I think that could distract us. I'd have cuddled up to some hot cocoa with that professor, I can tell you that much. See what I mean? Distracted.)

    You still with me? Good. My final thought on all of this, and where I really struggle, is about control - which is where that quote up there comes into play. Flashback some 15 years ago and you would see a young man sitting in his apartment, lights dimmed, candles flickering, and a CD of Hildegard of Bingen chanting away as he attempted his first foray into meditation. (Yeah. In case you didn't know, I had/have a flair for a bit of the mystical and a lot of the dramatic. Go figure.) I thought I'd tap into the cosmic flow and take a moment to ask God, the Universe, or whomever was kindly listening, just what in the hell I was supposed to be doing with my life?!! The answer I got back? "Surrender." Yep. That's all! "I'm sorry God/Universal Intelligence, but do you see what all I've got going on here? The candles? The music? I kinda went to a lot of trouble to just get an off-the-cuff, "surrender," y'know?"

    Two hours later and I sat dumbfounded and frustrated. But y'know what else? I kinda figure that little message must've come from a real place because if it had been my own internal voice it probably would have offered up, "How about a cocktail," or "Just practice your 'Voguing' and leave me alone." But 'surrender' sounded suppressing and depressing to me at the time and for years to come, frankly. I took it to mean "give up" or "let someone else take the wheel." I figured I'd already tried that before with unfulfilling or disastrous results so, thanks but no thanks - I'll take things from here. Or, so I thought. 15 years later... and I think I may be starting to finally get it. (How's that for a learning curve?)

     All the while I thought I was driving the bus, I was just determining my route based upon what 'the passengers' were telling me or where I thought they might like to see me go. I actually had surrendered but in an unconscious and altogether different way than what that little voice had tried to tell me. I basically just handed everything over to anyone, anyone, that thought they knew better than I did - good intentions or otherwise. The subtext of that little meditative quip, I now believe, was telling me, "just relax, let go of perfection, don't worry about controlling the final outcome, don't worry about the outcome at all, don't worry about the opinions of others - good or bad, stop looking for the answers "out there," listen to yourself, have fun, do what you love." If it's true what they say, "Man makes plans, and God laughs," then God has been yucking it up at my expense for a good long while. And, honestly, who could blame Him?

    So that's where I am now, kids. My own little "Aha!" moment. I mean, I'm still processing this information but from a much lighter place. A new outlook, a fresh approach. So, we'll see where all of that takes me from here on out. The concept of surrendering still feels scary to me but, for the first time, also rather liberating. Like that quote up there would indicate, when your hands finally let go, they'll finally be open to receiving something new. Maybe what I've been waiting for all along? I think I'll let someone else worry about that now. (First time for everything.)

    May 30, 2012

    Good Cookin'

    Tender: A cook and his vegetable patch. by Nigel Slater

    These are some of my recent cookbook acquisitions that I purchased from fave shopping site Fab.com! (I'm not a big online shopper, but Fab has me hooked.) I needed more cookbooks like I needed a hole in the head, frankly. But, with summertime coming up  what could be better than lots of fresh veggie dishes and homemade ice cream? Yeah. I knew you'd understand.

    Tender is a serious volume with some lovely photos and great paper - yeah, that matters. While aplenty with vegetable recipes, it's less vegetarian than I was expecting. Nigel clearly likes him some bacon or pancetta with his veg along with hefty doses of cream and cheese. We'll see how the recipes fair not to mention my cholesterol level.

    Lucid Food is a beautiful book that, while not entirely vegetarian either, is decidedly fresher in its approach. And, the book is arranged by season so that you can eat more in line with what's actually in season and, thus, more conscientiously with Mother Nature. There's plenty of variation in the recipes ranging from entrees to desserts to condiments and I'm really looking forward to digging into this book.

    Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones. Did I buy it because it's from San Francisco's famed Bi-Rite Creamery? You'd think, huh? But, no. I bought it for the cover first and the subject matter second. Gorgeous photos, lots of types of ice cream recipes, plus baking recipes as well. And, we all know how your uncle loves him some baking. Ice cream sandwiches, anyone? I'm working on my own versions of those, but this baby will supply plenty of inspiration. And, lots of homemade ice cream this summer!

    Lucid Food ~ Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones