Monday, January 26, 2015

Been Visiting

Our cousin has been visiting from Chicago for the last few days, and Sam, my dog, has been cheating on me ever since.
I mean, look at him!
What a tramp he is.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Gromit-The End of an Era

The last of the "old guard" passed last night. Gromit, universally acknowledged to be one of the worst, most stubborn dogs on the planet, crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He was around 14 or so.

We got him from a rescue when my old dog, Hawk, passed away from a heart attack, and Josey, the Shepherd pictured above (who passed a year ago in October), was pining. She and Gromit were an immediate perfect match. Gromit got lucky with us, because he'd been taken back to the rescue three separate times, undoubtedly for being a pain in the ass. 
In our initial six months together, he was generally happy-go-lucky, meaning he wouldn't obey commands. He even showed teeth and threatened to bite me twice within that first six months. I reeducated him on the spot. While he never did it again after that moment, I realized why people had brought him back to the rescue and knew it was going to be a long haul with this dog.

As time went by and he got settled in, it became clear that in spite of his stubbornness, he was a dog who was all about love. He was gentle with our nephew when our nephew was only an infant, as well as being gentle with my grandmother. He was a cuddler, too.
Funny thing about him was, he was always a little afraid of the puppies, avoiding them until they got to be some magical age or size, making them "safe," in his mind. That didn't stop them from loving on him, though.
He was not a smart dog, but he knew what love was.

Goodbye, buddy. Run free.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Better Late...

OK, so it's not January 1st or New Year's Eve, anymore. So the good luck for the year eating traditions don't really count, anymore. But that doesn't mean you can't still have a nice soup to warm you up when it's cold out.

My family's tradition for New Year's Eve is to have lentils for luck. Each lentil you eat is supposed to bring you a bit of luck in the New Year, and if you get a bay leaf, that's super good luck, so I leave them loose in this recipe.

I thought I'd share my dad's recipe with you:
Lentil Soup
Serves 10 

  • 1/4 LB bacon, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 2 qt beef stock or broth
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 4 frankenfurters, sliced
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste 

 Cook bacon until lightly browned in a large saucepan. Add celery, leek, carrot and onion and cook until vegetables are tender, not browned. Stir in flour, then stir in stock and lentils. Add bay leaves and cloves which have been tied into a cheesecloth bag. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two hours. Discard spice bag. If lentils have not cooked up, run through a fine sieve. Add frankenfurters, vinegar and salt and pepper. Heat to serving temperature.
I personally don't add salt to this, as the bacon adds that. I also don't run this through a sieve, because I like the texture as it is. I suppose you could run it through a food processor to puree it, if that's your preference. I use one package kielbasa sausage, rather than franks. And most certainly, if you're a vegetarian I encourage you to play with egetarian options for this and share with us!

Meanwhile, good eats!

Monday, January 12, 2015

One Year

I lost this wonderful lady a year ago, today. She was 104 1/2.

I was lucky to have her. She was incredibly courageous, driven, kind and loving. If I get to be even half the woman she was, I'll be pretty amazing.

Miss you and love you, Oma.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Because We Miss the Attention...

So I get this text from Chris Baker the other day:

"I'm getting the band back together."

It turns out Chris Baker was drunk again, and offered to do another episode of Hauntcast

The good news is that you don't have to be a subscriber to get this episode, because we're doing it for donations! A couple of our Scream Team members are going through a tough time and the rest of the team wants to help out by putting on another episode. 

Don't worry, we're not going to be doing the Jerry Lewis Beg-a-Thon and annoying you everywhere we have a web platform. What would be nice, though, is if you've enjoyed the show (or even a small portion of it) over the years, please spread the word. We're looking at doing a show as early as March, if we get enough donations together. Yes, March, right at the beginning of build season! Woo-hoo!

I have to say that I'm pretty excited, because I've missed hearing everyone else's segments.

If you're relatively new to this blog and have never heard of Hauntcast, you can click here for some free shows. Just realize this isn't a show you want your young kids listening to, unless you want them to pick up some interesting new vocabulary words!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Making Space

I'm in cleaning mode here at the Nest. My office has been a pigsty for a long time and it's past time to rectify that situation! The good news is that I'm putting a few interesting things on eBay, namely, signed screenplays.
I've got several autographed scripts, including "Finding Nemo," "Open Range," (Possibly signed by Kevin Costner) "Holes," and "Under the Tuscan Sun." You can head over to my eBay store to see the rest.

I'd like to see them go to good homes, where they'll be appreciated, rather than donating them somewhere and have people not know what they have in hand.

Good luck!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Joys of Christmas Money: BOOKS!

I have to confess, I'm a really lucky lady. Not only because when I look around, I can be honestly grateful for my husband, my dogs, a beautiful warm home, dependable vehicles, some relatively good health and a multitude of other things, but because of one wonderful holdover from my childhood:

Christmas money!

Yup. I still get a check in the Christmas card from my folks, and one from Mr. ShellHawk's dad. I am so lucky!
I can honestly say I look forward to my Christmas money every year, because I use it to fund my book addiction. Yes, I have a Kindle (I got a new one for Christmas from Mr. ShellHawk to replace the old one, which was having battery issues), but there are certain books which must be read in the wonderfully tactile, old-school manner of turning pages. My recent purchase of Thug Kitchen's new cookbook is one of those, but there are other references I've wanted, and only real pages will do!

This year, I hopped on to Amazon to make a number of purchases I'd been wanting for anywhere from a few months to a few years. Some of them were more technical knowledge, something I feel I'm lacking and would like to remedy, some are biographies of potters and sculptors, and some are books on the value of handmade things.

One of the newer ones I've wanted was In the Potter's Kitchen, by Sumi von Dassow. I've been curious about making things for the kitchen, and this recent release looked like a good place to start.

Another technical book is Pioneer Pottery, by Michael Cardew. I've been told this is one of the go-to books for technical knowledge of clay and glaze composition, etc., and this is one of those things I'm going to make part of my studies this year.

Since I, like many others, am enamoured of Japanese (and Asian)ceramics, picking up a copy of Inside Japanese Ceramics: Primer of Materials, Techniques and Traditions, was a no-brainer. The simplicity and beauty of those old ceramics just sucks me in, and I can't wait to start this book!

I try to balance technical studying with learning about the great artists--the trailblazers, really--upon whose shoulders I stand. California in the late 1950s through the '60s and '70s was a hotspot for ceramics experimentation, and as a result, we learned about the Americanized version of Raku. I use that version for my jack-o'-lanterns, as a matter of fact! One of the trailblazers was Peter Voulkos, who was my teacher's (Yoshio Taylor) teacher. Since that particular potter's lineage is so close to me, I feel it's a crime for me to know so little about Voulkos, so I picked up Clay's Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price and Peter Voulkos, 1956-1968.

I re-purchased my copy of The Gilded Vessel: The Lustrous Art and Life of Beatrice Wood, which had been gnawed on by my tiny little puppy, Sam (now 3 1/2 and 86 pounds small...), when he was a pup. I'd never heard of Lucy Rie before I ran across a reference to her in Ceramic Arts Monthly magazine, so I thought I'd get a biography on her. Lucy Rie: Modernist Potter is on the way! And since I already purchased a book by him, I thought I'd pick up a book about him: The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew: Modern Pots, Colonialism, and the Counterculture.

Lastly, I got one book on the value of crafting by hand: The Craftsman, by Richard Sennett, and one book completely outside my usual field: Animation From Pencils to Pixels: Classical Techniques for the Digital Animator, by Tony White.

All these in addition to the business building books I got to learn how to run the ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store better and more effectively!

Yes, it's a tremendous amount of reading material, but if you only read ten pages a day, every day, that's roughly a book to a book-and-a-half a month! That's a bunch of new knowledge every year, isn't it?

And really, learning new things has always been one of the strongest drives in my life. Since I am not a college graduate, and going back to college would mean a couple of years' worth of remedial-level algebra (because I am not math girl, and I can't even remember basic algebra) to get through my AA degree, I need to expand my knowledge in other ways. So, this works!

I can't wait to dig in! Now, where to start...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wicked-Wicked Cool, That Is!

The hauntingly beautiful work of Dustin Poché.
More of his Halloween work here.