Archive of ‘feasts & treats’ category

Currently {August}

13277644_739243496216166_85591962_nGosh. It’s been a while since I’ve written about what I am currently up to! I tried to put a brief missive together back in June but I was so frazzled with my grandmother’s illness, I just couldn’t think straight. Let’s try again.

I finally put to use the kitchen aid ice cream paddle attachment that I received as a gift last Christmas (or was it two Christmases ago? Jeez.) and made a beautiful batch of coffee ice cream, just in time for some seriously hot Florida weather. Nearly two months later it has only gotten hotter, but have I made any more ice cream? No. The answer is no, I have not. It will probably be another two years. Such is the life of frou-frou kitchen gadgets.

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Speaking of unused Christmas gifts, I received Yotam Ottolenghi’s beautiful vegetarian cookbook Plenty More a year or two ago, and I will shamefacedly admit that other an initial flip through to gaze at the dazzling photos, I hadn’t opened it again since. In searching out some meals that I could ostensibly cook ahead of time and then nibble off pieces for breakfast or lunch as needed, I came across the “cauliflower cake” and thought it looked perfect. I think his recipes are a sort of…Mediterranean fusion, you could say? So, the sort of book with lots of interesting ideas requiring not readily on hand ingredients, and instances where you might look at the recipe title and think, huh, I wonder if that’s really going to work? The cauliflower cake is like a more labor intensive and fancier and perhaps heftier version of a quiche, and we ended up really enjoying it. You can find the recipe over at smitten kitchen, so if you are interested in dusting off your spring form pan and turning on your stove, give it a try.

All summer long I have been making this avocado and crab salad, I think it’s a Tyler Florence recipe, maybe? It’s basically lump crabmeat from the fish guy in your supermarket (not the canned stuff on the shelf, I don’t trust it), mixed with some mayo, sriracha, black sesame seeds, minced green onion, and a wee splash of sesame oil. If I have it on hand, I stir in some diced, seeded cucumber for texture and for, well… roughage, I guess.  In the meantime, dice an avocado, sprinkle with lime juice and salt, and mold it together in a little cracked glass dish that is too cute to throw away. Voilà!

This is the perfect breakfast for me. I cannot eat cold cereal in the morning (it makes me a little nauseous; I think I associate it with the existential dread I felt at the prospect of facing a classroom of second graders when I was 7 years old), and I don’t really love oatmeal or fruit because it’s sweet and sweets in the morning make me rather ill. Wow. I never realized how picky I am.

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13731239_1090341507717227_207964854_nIn early June my office got a bit of a revamp, and though I was opposed to it at first (probably because I didn’t want to do any of the work), I was thrilled with how it turned out. No more stacks and piles of crap! No more hand-me-down particle board!

We have bookshelves elsewhere in the house, so these particular cubbyholes are housing reading for research and edification rather than entertainment– as well as a perfume sample station, knitting nooks and a mini mom altar. There’s some empty spaces yet to fill, though, so that either means I will be stuffing junk in them or saving them for something special. Probably the former.

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My reading has been all over the place over the past few months. I just finished book one of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and I will confess I know nothing of Sabrina, I never even watched the television series in the 90s. I don’t think I would have expected how…dark this story was; I thought it might be lighthearted and campy/spooky. Except I totally expected how dark it was, because the internet spoiled it for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read more.

I was immediately sold on I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl  after reading the Amazon blurb: a “… film noir set in verse, each poem a miniature crime scene with its own set of clues—frosted eye-shadow, a pistol under a horse’s eye, dripping window units, an aneurysm opening its lethal trap. ….”  But in the reading of it…well, to be perfectly honest. I was left feeling pretty dumb and filled with self-loathing. Why wasn’t I getting it? What were all of these readers who have rated it 5-stars seeing that I wasn’t? There were portions in while I was almost there…I was lost in the words and the imagery for just a second, and there was nearly a glimmering of understanding, and then I lost it. As the book wore on, these instances became more frequent and so overall, I mean, yeah–I got it. I think. But it wasn’t a very enjoyable read and I think I finished it out of spite.

I have had my eyes on The Decadent Cookbook for several years now and used a recent  weird and creepy cookbook purchasing binge as an excuse to finally pick it up. Described as a slightly sinister and highly literate feast of decadent writing on food, and with chapters such as “Dinner With Caligula”, “Blood, The Vital Ingredient”, and “I Can Recommend the Poodle”, I can’t tell you how excited I am to dig in. Expect a roast flamingo on my supper table very soon.
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I have been meaning to watch Morgiana for years and just got around to it this weekend (it’s on YouTube, with subtitles!) It’s gorgeous and captivating and quite eccentric. And as one reviewer says:”… Edward Gorey as filmed by Ken Russell–a sardonic chunk of Victorian penny-dreadful melodrama tweaked to new levels of aesthetic and emotional hysteria.”

More one-word reviews for you on other recently watched films…
Hush*–maybe
Late Phases*–yes
Session 9–yes
Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For*–eh
Big Hero 6–maybe
They Look Like People*-maybe
The Invitation*–YES
Darling*–maybe
They’re Watching*–YES(but)**
The Martian–eh
Baskin*–um

*these titles can be found on netflix
** I loved it, in spite of….well. Just don’t kill me for suggesting it.

 

Merry Hexmas to you!

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Listen, I’ll level with you here.  There’s no one who can shop for you like you can.

Unless you are providing your friends and loved ones with highly detailed lists which note exactly what something is and where it can be found (which I’ve come to think of as kind of tacky, but your mileage may vary!) it is unlikely you are going to receive that weird/macabre/grotesque/OH DEAR GOD WHAT IS THAT item on your list for which you have been longing intensely.

So here’s what you do. Your holiday shopping is, I assume, done and over with, correct? You can breathe a sigh of relief.  Pour a glass of wine…or a shot of whiskey…or whatever your poison is – except – please, for the love of all things holy, not one of those vulgar energy drinks.

It is now time to focus on you and what you want – and no, I am fairly certain it is not that Bath and Body Works gift basket in some gross, fruity scent you’ll never wear or that gaudy hummingbird wind-chime from someone who learned 20 years ago that you liked hummingbirds and never listened when you told them gently that your tastes had changed since you graduated from high school.

(And don’t get me wrong – I love it when people think of me enough to buy me a gift, and I am grateful…I just don’t ever expect someone is going to get me that thing that I really, really, want!)

It is now time to throw a few gifts for yourself under the tree! Consider the following items and please note that they all have the mlleghoul stamp of approval, for they have been purchased solely by and for myself.

Books

amil If you are not already entranced by Segovia Amil’s dark, captivating beauty on instagram, you’ll be bewitched by her words in Ophelia Wears Black, her first published book of poetry. “Ophelia Wears Black is a collection of poetry and prose focusing on the shadow aspects and dark side of the human experience through the eyes of a young girl. Divided into four parts, each mirroring the cycling seasons, we follow Ophelia into her own re-imagined Underworld where she learns to make sense of and find the perfection and necessity of her own inner darkness.”

 

folkI have not been able to put down Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies since receiving it a few weeks ago, it is some of the most compelling, fascinating writing I have ever read on one of my very favorite subject.  Featuring essays and interviews by many great cinematic, musical, artistic and literary talents, Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies is the most comprehensive and engaging exploration to date of the sub genre of Folk Horror and associated fields in cinema, television, music, art, culture and folklore. AND 100% of all profits from sales of the book will be charitably donated to environmental, wildlife and community projects undertaken by The Wildlife Trusts.

 

Music & Art & Baubles

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Lost Voices: Volume 1 – Keening and The Death Wail: Lost Voices explores vocal improvisation in folk culture.  Volume 1: Keening and the Death Wail considers Keening (a traditional improvised vocal lament) practised by women in ancient Ireland and worldwide. Includes a 31 page booklet exploring the history of the art of keening with a cd of audio examples.

Easeful Death labradorite coffin ring from bloodmilk (sorry for my hands, I know those pointy witch claws are en vogue right now, but I can’t knit with those nails and I’d probably put my eye out.)  “Cast immortal in sterling silver, bat wing and leg bones molded from the real thing, are composed into a beautiful setting cradling a labradorite coffin cut jewel.”

Death and the Maiden art print, by artist Tenebrous Kate of Heretical Sexts: “The virginal blush of youth and the icy hand of death, Eros and Thanatos, vanity and decay. Emerging from the imagery found in Medieval depictions of the Dance of Death, the motif of Death and the Maiden is at once macabre and erotic.”

 

Catcoven

Littlest friend bat cloisonné pin from Cat Coven. Perfect for lapels – whether they’re gracing leather jackets or spooky granny cardigans!

 

Hand

A ghostly white resin hand pendant on recycled black leather from artist Alice Rogers of Trances and Portents.

 

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Eau de Mort parody ad art print by the incomparably lovely Becky Munich. This one is a bit of a cheat since it was a gift, but I have several prints from Becky hanging on my walls and there is space for several more -so no doubt many purchases from this talented artist will occur in the future!

 

Fragrant Fripperies

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There’s not a Yule that goes by wherein I am not sorely tempted by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s seasonal winter holiday scents, and how could I resist this years offerings, which included the Icelandic Yule lads (not pictured). The answer is that I could not.

 

House of Orpheus

I also treated myself to a sampler set from The House of Orpheus, which is something I have been meaning to do for a while.  Enodia is lovely beyond compare –
“… ancient goddess of the streets.  She is the Nachtfalter, the moth, the night butterfly. Guided by the moon and associated with Artemis, Hekate and Persephone.  Black Storax would have been in the incense burned in offering to this goddess of the street and so we base this perfume in Black Storax, with notes of Black Agars Wood, Moroccan Myrrh, and Vanilla.   It is exalted by the alchemical oil of silver”.

Also! I’ve loved the candles from Burke and Hare for awhile now, so much so that I tend to burn through their offerings much too quickly.  On a whim, during a recent sale, I picked up Dragon’s Blood: “…fragranced with the precious red resins that create the alluring scent known as Dragon’s Blood. It is a potent and earthy fragrance, infused with cedar wood and patchouli essential oils. The scent combines sweet and spicy notes to form a sophisticated complex blend. “

 

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Lastly some Blackbird incense from CatbirdNYC, in the exclusive fragrances of Violet Hour and Russian Caravan, in addition to a small wooden tealight holder crafted by Peg & Awl for Sisters of the Black Moon.

Have you already been generous to yourself this season?  Well, Merry Hexmas to you! I’d love to get a nosy peek into your loot and see what I might be missing!

 

 

Let me tell you about this thing I ate {A Blue Apron Review}

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Acorn Squash Tempura Tacos

While I love to cook, I don’t always love taking the time to cook.

Sure, on the weekend, I use to happily spend 10-12 hours flitting in and out of the kitchen fussing over the same pot of chicken broth (it’s totally worth it, of course -and it smells go good!). But during the week, I really just can’t be bothered.  Or rather, I guess I don’t want to be bothered with planning meals, shopping for them, and having everything ready to go at 6pm in the evening.

I get it, some people thrive on that.  Some people make all their meals on the weekend and then either freeze them or parcel them out during the week. This is also not an option for me, as my weekends are now mostly spent caring for my grandmother, and I just don’t have time to do things like that for us here at home. So during the week, after work – and yeah, I work from home but I’m on the phone 90% of the time and working from home is not all binging on Downton Abbey all day like some people think it is – all I really want to do is order a pizza or make a Chipotle run or something.  But that’s not sustainable; you can’t do that every day and still feel good about yourself and still fit into your clothes.

A few months ago a good friend of mine mentioned that she had started using Blue Apron, which is basically a delivery service that sends you a box of pre-portioned meal ingredients, with recipes. It’s about $60 for the fixings to make three, two-person meals, and I think there are options for larger, family sized meals, but it’s just me and my Viking, so we don’t really need more than that.

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Spinach and fresh mozarella pizza

You peek at the upcoming menu for the week (they have both vegetarian and meat-eater options), decide if you like the recipes, and then either opt in or skip that week’s delivery.  So far, we have gone the vegetarian route and usually schedule a delivery every other week; I don’t have time to cook every day, and if we had one of these boxes arriving every single week, there would be a lot of food that would never get cooked!

The box arrives packed with recipe cards with clear instructions and lots of photos, and ingredients which are already portioned and measured: if a curry recipe calls for a teaspoon of cumin, there it is, neatly labeled, in its own little cup. Two tablespoons of olive oil arrive in a tiny screw-top jar; six sprigs of cilantro, in a zipped plastic bag. Of course you still must chop and dice and mince and cook and simmer (and clean up afterward, ugh) but everything is already there for you to get started.

Is it cost effective? Well, I don’t know.  If you’re the type who doesn’t mind paying for convenience, then absolutely. What I love about it most though, is that all of the recipes are seasonal and call for seasonal ingredients, and while so far there’s been nothing really crazy-unusual, more than half of these I definitely would not have thought to make on my own. Acorn squash tempura tacos?  Never would have come up with that in a million years.  But I am here to tell you that they were amazing.

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Ponzu-Tahini Soba Noodle Salad

A few tips to keep in mind:

Those foil cooling packs that they include to keep the food from spoiling? The ingredients are water soluble, so just snip one end, dump the contents down the drain, and recycle the rest.  Speaking of recycling, some folks have issues with all the little containers and cartons and packing that Blue Apron includes for all the knick knacks – the oils and spices and various & sundry tiny ingredients.  It looks like they are trying to address this with a recycling program

These are not exactly low calorie meals.  While I think that they are, for the most part, healthful and nutritious, each meal runs you around 700 calories, according to the portions on the recipe cards.  You can probably get around this by using less oil than is called for here and there, and maybe portioning things out into smaller sized dishes, but Weight Watchers this is not.

So far there are only vegetarian and carnivore options – no gluten free or dairy free meals or anything like that.  I don’t know if that is something they are adding, but I have to imagine that there is a niche for this type of service and someone else is already providing it? If not, someone needs to run with that idea!

The recipes are on the site for free, so you don’t even have to sign up and pay for the service if you want to make any of the things I’ve mentioned here! For your convenience, I have linked to all of the recipes below, with the favorites being starred.

Would I recommend this?  I think I would. I’m not even getting any affiliate perks by saying so, as they don’t seem to have a program for that yet.  And for what it’s worth…out of all of those ridiculous subscription boxes I’ve been signing up for and canceling over the past year?  I think this one is probably my favorite.  Well, this one and the wine subscription – Bright Cellars – because, you know.  Wine.  I’ve not mentioned that here before, so here’s a mini-review:
BEST THING EVER. WINE DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR.

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Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Homemade Garlic Croutons & Sunny-Side Up Eggs

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Crispy Ricotta Pierogi with Warm Apple-Cabbage Salad & Browned Butter

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Queso & Pepper Arepas with Kale-Avocado Salad & Chimichurri

 

Our favorite city: Portland (Part II)

Now it’s a week that I have been back from Portland and these experiences are not nearly as fresh in my mind …so I think this will be a massive photo dump along with some recommendations. Sound good? OK, let’s go!

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As with our stay in 2012, we paid Voodoo Doughnuts a visit.  I think a lot of the locals will tell you this place is over-hyped, and maybe waiting in line for a half an hour with a bunch of derpy tourists will certainly color your experiences a bit – but we were in and out of there in 5 minutes, so I still think it is a pretty okay spot for morning (or whenevertime) pastries. Pictured are the Maple Bacon bar, The Loop, and the Cock-n-Balls.  Which we group shared. Of course!

Other doughnut places visited:

Blue Star – these doughnuts seemed… little more high-brow? If you can even say that about doughnuts, I guess. We shared the blueberry bourbon basil, which was understated and lovely.

Pips – these guys are tiny fried bits of deliciousness. A member of our group took it upon himself and hunted them down at 6 in the morning to take advantage of a birthday special that they offer. I had the honey and sea salt, which was a sweet, salty, greasy revelation.

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After stuffing ourselves full of cheese samples and wine at The Wedge fest (watch the video at the top of that site and you’ll see two of my favorite beardos!) we wandered around the city looking for a proper meal. I am not sure how we ended up at the Bit House Saloon, but I am glad that circumstances led us there, for we had several rounds of wonderful cocktails between games of Fluxx. I used to feel sort of weird about showing up at a bar and playing card games, but now I find that I really enjoy it – how about you? My favorite cocktail of the afternoon was The Grandmaster Flowers: bourbon, nectarine, chamomile, grapefruit, lime, and dandelion & burdock bitters. Also, that punch bowl. Gimme!

Still not having put food in our bellies, we attempted to get seated at Katchka right across the street for “Russian food in a space that looks like your communist grandmother’s basement”, but once we heard about the 3-4 hour wait, we decided to hoof it down to Noraneko for some ramen. And who should we accidentally run into but our friend’s husband, with whom we had just shared drinks at Hale Pele the previous night! We all cozied up for noodles, but to be honest, it was the few light bites we enjoyed beforehand that really made me happy.  Who knew that dried squid could be so sweet and chewy and delicious? Paired with an oolong highball, I felt like Murasaki Wakkako in Wakakozake! Pshuuu….!

Powells

Kanye

I think we all can agree that no trip to Portland is complete without a trip to Powells, but what trip to Powells is complete without purchasing a copy of Kanye West – Reanimator? Ponder that, if you will.

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Tyler Thrasher

Early on I knew that I would want to make a sojourn to ALTAR which boasts a magical collection of “Northwest Alternative Handmade” objects and apparel, home goods and body care items. When she rung up my purchases, the lovely owner (whose name I sadly did not catch. Or even ask for. Whoops!) assured me that I had picked out one of all of the best things in the store. Among my favorites: dark, wild scents from lvnea, dreamy tees from Wolf Child, jewels from Morgaine Faye, and the gorgeously illustrated wooden tarot deck from Skullgarden. What I did not bring home with me, though I wish I could have, was one of Tyler Thrasher‘s beautiful crystal encrusted creatures. So exquisite! So delicate! So not going to make it home in one piece!  It was a treat though, to be able to see them in person and up close.

 

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The first place – and one of the last places -that I visited in Portland was my beloved Paxton Gate. A treasure trove of taxidermy, oddities, curiosities and natural wonders, I could spend hours upon hours in there taking in all of the delights and grotesqueries! I would then of course become bankrupt and have to live in a cardboard box…but these are just minor inconveniences, you see. Just look at those fancy mice! I would love to have them cavorting with me forever! And that raccoon – his face!  Ah, I love this place.  On my first visit, a silver tentacled ring wrapped its way around my finger, and upon my last, my heart was stolen by a wee mummified bat. Too many good things!

Oh, Portland. I already miss your weirdness and your fantastic happy hours and your wonderfully friendly folks.  We will be back again, mark my words!

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Our favorite city: Portland (part one)

Back in 2012, my fella and I visited Portland, OR and had a lovely time -delicious foods were devoured, delightful cocktails were quaffed, old friends met for the first time. It was a marvelous trip and we have been talking about it ever since.

It only made sense then, to make a return visit -this time with several friends in tow! And since I have a dreadful habit of glossing over the human aspects of my adventures, let me say that I could not hope for finer traveling companions. Everyone’s personality is so different in our group – boisterous and exuberant; clever and droll; taciturn and brilliantly observant -but they all add up to the most wonderful circle of friends! And it feels strange to say that, “friends”. These gentlemen were originally comrades of my beau* but over time, as I’ve gotten to know them, I feel like they might actually be friends of mine, as well.

*(I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but I hate the term “boyfriend”, so I’ll use just about every other descriptor I can wrangle.)

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We found a fantastic place to stay via Air BnB, a spacious and welcoming spot to call home base whilst exploring the city. A renovated 1920’s bungalow, it offered four bedrooms and two bathrooms, a large kitchen, and plenty of community space for boardgames and D&D and Dark Adventure Radio Theatre (we’re a nerdy group, you know). Again, we stayed in the Mississippi neighborhood and reveled in the chance to revisit some previous loves while staking out some new favorites with my fellow travelers.

If you’ve a hankering to visit the City of Roses, perhaps you will consider the following suggestions? Portland friends, commence the eye-rolling now.

At Mac! you’ll find all sorts of macaroni and cheese related shenanigans.  We shared enormous plates of their Truffle Mac, Cheeseburger Mac, Artichoke & Spinach Mac, and Cordon Bleu Mac. Somehow we lived through it.

 

We had a few breakfasts at Sweedeedee, a small corner cafe which is an excellent place for people watching and listening to records and eating pie – if you get there early enough, before the place starts to fill up. Recommended: the egg sandwich with shredded lettuce and avocado on the most delicious thick-cut, molasses bread. Also, salted honey pie. Skip: the breakfast burrito (too much mealy, undercooked potato).

tiki

At Hale Pele, in the lurid glow of torchlight and under the baleful glare of the gods, we sacrificed our dignity with friends and fellow fire drinkers.  I am fairly certain I had just about one of everything on the menu, and I will admit, near the end I am not even sure what I ordered.  I have to recommend, however, the Corn ‘n’ Oil, which as the menu would suggest, is indeed a strange name for an amazing drink. If you are looking for a nosh, they have several things to munch on; my favorites were the fried taro chips and the tuna poke. I love tiki bars for their kitschy escapism and potent cocktails, and Hale Pele now sits at the top of my list.

Elsewhere in the city, I met these two magical humans for art and cocktails; at Antler Gallery for the Unnatural Histories show – where I finally got to see one of Jessica Joslin’s exquisitely crafted bone and brass menagerie in person – and at Victoria Bar, where the drinks were Princess Bride inspired!

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Normally I am not keen on photos that other people take of me, because I have only like, 1/8 of a good side and no one knows how to capture it properly. That’s not their fault, of course.  I just don’t photograph well.  I shudder to think that I might actually look like a poor photo all of the time… but I suppose that’s a possibility that I can’t rule out, no matter how much it bruises the ego.  I do love this picture, however, taken at Tidbit Food and Farm food truck pod thingy whatever you call it. I don’t recall what we were discussing, but the look on my face is ridiculous and I love Minna for meeting up with us to visit, and for making me make that face.  I also do not recall what was eaten, but there was rice and noodles and karaage and takoyaki and I felt like the heroine of an action packed food anime trying to stuff it all in. Afterward, Minna marched us over to Fifty Licks for boozy adult ice cream super fun times. Pictured above is the Velvet Shiso made with plum wine, Riesling, and their Coconut Lemon Saffron sorbet with is spiced with saffron, star anise, and cardamom. It was amazing as it sounds. The only thing missing from this wonderful evening was our good friend Robyne, who was nursing a cold. Hopefully we will see you in January, Robyne!

The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a beautiful spot to gaze quietly upon art, architecture, design and nature, and I was just enamored this time around by the mosaic courtyards with their poetic names – “Plum Blossom On Cracked Ice” being the best-loved by my ear and my favorite to speak aloud.  I have heard that the guides sometimes suggest walking barefoot on the stones to feel the different patterns  and such, and I think that sounds like a lovely idea and a pleasant exercise in mindfulness (…or something?  At least it sounds like a nice massage for the feet!)

Also, if you ever wonder if I actually wear the things that I have purchased from Stitch Fix, I present to you Exhibit A: the Everly Peter dress from Fix #10. I wore it with leggings and an asymmetric black Helmut Lang jacket and it was super cute. This photo, by the way, was taken in a startlingly clean nerdy game shop bathroom.

Next up: roses! more cocktails! doughnuts All of the shopping!

Current loves

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The loveliest tea sampler from Marble & Milkweed. I’m a bit of a coffee fiend, and have been for a number of years, but before that I really did love the the calming ritual of a small pot of tea.  I’m not giving up my coffee anytime soon, but I couldn’t resist trying some of their tea blends.  So far the standout is the gorgeous Forest Tea; a mélange of “organic heirloom pu-erh, organic lapsang souchong, wild-harvested douglas fir tips, and the delicate woodland character of blackberry and violet leaves.” It’s slightly smoky, subtly sweet, and really quite wonderful.

 

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Alexander McQueen Pagan Unicorn Pouch and Fluevog Arabella flats that I picked up for a song on tradesy. If you are looking for designer items and you don’t mind previously used (don’t be such a snob about your snobby high end stuff!) I highly suggest you peek around on the site.  Use my referral link for $20 off your first purchase of $50 or more! I’ve never really considered myself crazy about shoes or handbags and I would never pay full price for any of this stuff, but if you’ve ever longed for something previously thought unattainable by a super fancy designer, you might just find it on tradesy.

 

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Lovely little dishes and trays from CatsPawPottery on etsy, for stray baubles and trinkets and maybe incense, too. I like to leave safe places scattered around the house for precious things. Very reasonably priced, too! I saw these over on wolfnwhisky last year and have been thinking of them ever since.

 

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The Coven playing cards from 52Ravens, “Custom poker size playing cards inspired by the mystery of the covens witches.”  Which coven?  I don’t know, but I saw the Kickstarter for them a few months ago, and I can never resist a vaguely occult themed or esoteric playing card deck.  I don’t even play cards!  But they are really beautiful, and I suppose they make nice gifts.

 

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Kale Cafe Juice bar and Vegan Cuisine in Daytona Beach. Our little town doesn’t really have many vegan or vegetarian offerings (that I’m aware of, anyway) and so when my brother in law and sister were in town this weekend I jumped at the chance to try this place out, as I’d been hearing about it for a few years.  On downtown Beach St., it’s in an excellent location, along a small strip with some antiques shops, a taco restaurant, a coffee shop, a few book stores, and a record store around the corner.  It was a chaotic little place but warm and friendly, and the owners offered samples of just about everything on the menu, if you wanted to try something out before ordering it.  Standouts were the kale salad, the jerk mushrooms (so spicy! but good) and the seitan marsala.  It was a very different sort of meal than the one I had later in the evening which included a gourmet local cheese board. lobster, a petit filet and $18 cocktails, that’s for certain! But life is all about balance, right?

 

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My Satanic Feminist tee shirt from Nattskiftet finally arrived!  The funny thing is, I thought I ordered this months and months ago.  When it never showed up, I checked my paypal account and it turns out I never ordered it after all.  Did I dream the whole thing up?  It was very weird.  Anyhow, when it was back in stock again, I double and triple checked the entire process – I wasn’t taking any chances this time.  I might wear this the next time I visit the dreadmills at the YMCA, what do you think?

 

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New spectacles!  I have wanted a pair of cat eye glasses for the longest time, and when I saw this pair from Derek Cardigan, I knew I’d found just the thing!  They felt a little severe at first, but I think that adds to the charm.

Death Cafe Orlando, take two

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On a grey, rainy afternoon in late February, eleven strangers sought each other out to discuss the topic of death and all things related at Orlando’s second Death Cafe. Despite the weather, our participant’s spirits were not dampened over the course of our two hour event – if anything, a merrier group was never seen in the face of what can often be a difficult, challenging conversation.

Gathered in a loose circle — on sofas, in chairs, on the floor, attendees took part in a group discussion on matters of life and death that ranged from one’s first awareness of death, to last wishes and everything in between: the wishes for our remains, the legacies that we leave behind and our digital footprint that remains long after our physical presence has passed. And of course, delectable cakes and cookies and treats  -brought in and shared by one and all – were offered to nourish and fortify the body beforehand (and, of course, lots of positive energy in the room to nourish the spirit!) A reporter and photographer from the Orlando Sentinel held a quiet, unobtrusive presence, as well, and conducted several brief interviews after the event wrapped up.

Attendees described the afternoon as “enlightening”, and “validating” and remarked on the warm, pleasant atmosphere. Suggestions and friendly, thoughtful critiques were offered as well, and will certainly be taken into account for our next event!

Thank you so much for attending Orlando’s second Death Cafe – it was an honor to have spent the afternoon with all of you who attended and I look forward to doing it again, and perhaps seeing some of you there the next time!

For those of you wondering about my shirt, you can purchase it through the Death Salon site.  Additionally, here are the recipes for the Irish Wake Cake and the Funeral Biscuits.

 

 

Part Time Herbivore (& a WLFW update)

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In a previous lifetime I worked part-time for a small, independently-run health food store. I look back upon these few years fondly, for it was during these snippets of time that I met many interesting folks (some of them were kind of nutty, but mostly in the fun ways) and I had immediate access to a lot of things I otherwise might have never known about. It was at this point in my timeline that I spent a year as a vegetarian.

Why only a year?  I suppose, as lame as this reason is, I got bored.  I missed eating sushi and hamburgers and pepperoni pizza. In analyzing this, though, I realize that during this flesh-free year, I really cleaned up my eating habits.  There’s something about eating meat that gives me license to make poor eating choices; it’s (somehow, at least for me) the gateway drug to eating Sour Patch kids for breakfast and Doritos for dinner every day. However, while making vegetarian choices I grew used to broadening my palate to include new foods – I suppose I was trying to make up for the things I was not eating – and in doing so I became more conscious of the things I was putting in my body.

I lost weight and I felt really good. Like, good all the time.  No aches or pains or creaks like I have now, that’s for sure.  Then again, that was seven years ago -I was also younger and  so I am sure that’s got something to do with it too.  I won’t say that I felt morally superior to anyone; I was not doing it for any ethical reasons so that doesn’t  factor in.

Nowadays I probably eat a 50% vegetarian diet.  And to be frank, cooking with meat kind of grosses me out, anyway.  I always feel like it is a dangerous undertaking, that there’s a chance I might inadvertently murder someone with something undercooked or tainted by disease. Plus, there’s something really cathartic about chopping all of those vegetables.
If you invite me over for dinner though, I will happily eat your roast chicken or your pork tenderloin or your baked salmon or your barbecued spare ribs. Just don’t serve me pot roast.  Bleeech.

In preparing vegetarian meals on and off over the better part of the last decade, I have discovered/adapted/improvised a few favorites, which I’ve showcased at the top of the page, with links to the recipes, if applicable.  Don’t judge by the photos though, as some of the tastiest dishes made for some very lackluster imagery (lentil loaf, you are kind of hideous.)

Top row: 1. Jamie Oliver’s Mothership tomato salad & eggs baked in avocados & rosemary bread  2. roasted cauliflower and vegan alfredo sauce over spaghetti squash  3. veggie and black bean burgers  4. black beans over cauliflower rice with avocado

Bottom row: 1. zucchini noodles with “meat”balls and marinara sauce  2. walnut lentil loaf  3. baby lima beans in chipotle broth  4. vegetable broth

That vegetable broth?  I made 20,000 gallons it to incorporate into the seitan “ribs” that I was planning for dinner this weekend, and only later did I find out that the seitan recipe I remembered from way back when only needed a scant, amount, if any.  I ended up using the rest of it as a base for veggie chili and I’m not sure if it’s due to the inclusion of home made broth, but it turned out quite good and has been perfect for this rare winter weather we are having.  And by that, I mean…it’s in the 50s. My apologies, Northern Friends.  I will stop complaining now.

Are you a part-time plant eater?  A full time herbivore?  What are some of your favorite dishes& meals, if you are so inclined to share? Do you find that eating a mainly plant based diet has made a difference for you, either physically or otherwise?

WEIGHT LOSS FOR WEIRDOS UPDATE
Well.  It’s been a few months, hasn’t it?  I, like many others, succumbed to the excess and hedonism of the holidays and on top of that there was a fair bit (and by that I mean non-stop) sadness eating thanks to Dead Mom Anniversaries.  When I finally got the courage to weigh myself again in January, I found that in that short span of time I gained back half of the weight I’d lost.  You’d think that would have been some sort of motivation to rally but sadly it that has not been the case because my brain is backwards and slow and apparently does not work that way.  I did, however, get a gym membership this weekend. What!  I know!  I can’t believe it either, I swore I would never be one of those people who go to the gym. (“Those people”? I don’t know what I mean by that.  Those fit, well-disciplined people? Yeah, who wants that for themselves.)  And also, the first thing I did after joining a gym is sit down and write a poem so maybe I need to figure out how gyms actually work.

 

 

 

Caftan Party Paradise

Simone d'Aillencourt in Emilio Pucci, Vogue 1967

Simone d’Aillencourt in Emilio Pucci, Vogue 1967

How am I just now, nearly a year later, reading about Christina Hendrick’s Palm Springs Caftans and Casseroles party idea? Unbelievable.  This is an idea that is tailor-made for me.  Psychedelic, flowing frocks? Check.  One dish meals, preferably topped with a heart stopping amount of melty cheese? Check. A room full of my favorite people, swimming in their caftans, gorging themselves on potluck comestibles from tables groaning under the collective weight of so many pyrex casserole dishes? YES PLEASE.  It’s like a demented orgy except with entirely different perversions. What? You know us casserole lovers can get freaky.

This magnificent garment has come a long way from 600 BC Persia where it was traditionally worn in the battlefield under chainmail.  It was later introduced to North Africa where “different groups interpreted them according to their religious and cultural traditions, and European imperialism led to cultural contact with the East, allowing for caftans to infiltrate the Western wardrobe.” Fast forward to the 1960s, when wealthy jet-setters and superstars took off for places like Morocco and India and brought back Eastern fashion traditions. Designers such as Halston and Yves Saint Laurent adopted the style into a symbol of bohemian elite that trickled down to mainstream fashion in the 1970s.

Now, as then, this drapey dress continues to appeal to the masses – whether you’re a warlord, a celebrity starlet, or a gal who just wants to let it all hang out and not be constrained by buttons and waistbands after a glorious feast.
…And they can be found everywhere! An etsy search alone brings up nearly 11K hits, some of them starting at as little as $10, so you certainly do not have to break the bank for your fantastical bohemian comfort wear. (Although obviously they run much more expensive, as evidenced by this gorgeous number by Oscar De La Renta over at Net-A-Porter for $2,990.)

I have compiled below some inspiration in the form of glamorous ladies in flowing frocks and the casseroles and covered dishes which to accompany them. In the meantime to ready yourself for this unparalleled vision of paradise involving comfort food and comfortable clothes, I suggest you read Caftan Lyfe and How to Get Your Caftan Body Ready For Summer.

1. Select a caftan of your chosen gauge and length. Stroke its gauzy fabric and whisper into its folds.

2. Let your flesh settle into the crevices of your comfortable, comfortable caftan.

3. Crumbs? Let them fall where they may, swaddled in your caftan.

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Elizabeth Taylor

Tilda Swinton in Purple Fashion Magazine, Vol.3, nr.5, Summer 2006

 

Anjelica Huston (Photo by Terry O’Neill/Getty Images)

 

Brigitte Bardot

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As you sprawl luxuriously, here are some ideas for a decadent spread:

Best ever green bean casserole // Mediterranean quinoa casserole // Spinach and cheese strata // Cheesy broccoli rice casserole // Overnight blueberry french toast casserole // Six cheese veggie lasagna // Tater tot enchilada casserole // Biscuits and gravy casserole // Macaroni and three cheeses

BONUS 

Wondering how to style your marvelous new caftan?  I have a few ideas for you…
Details on Look 1 can be found here, and Look 2 can be found here.

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Currently…

Currently…

…Digging into Tenebrous Kate’s Forever Doomed ‘zine, a “tongue-in-cheek but loving look at the theme of doom” and which includes new essays and comics such as “Erotic Rites of the Nazgûl” and ‘Adventures at Maryland Deathfest” (both of which I am very keen to read!) If you enjoy Kate’s blog, which touches on all things dark, fantastical and forbidden, you’d do well to pick up a copy for yourself while they last.

 

…Sniffing my way through Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s 2014 Yule offerings. I really wanted to love Practical Occultism (“A Victorian occultist’s incense, invoking the Four Archangels: precious wildcrafted Indian frankincense with myrrh, cassia, sandarac, palmarosa, white sage, red sandalwood, elemi, and drops of star anise bound with grains of kyphi.”) But I think my favorite thus far is Chionophobia (“Fear of Snow: A suffocating, oppressive white shroud: a fragrance heavy with ice, strangled by damp oakmoss, artemisia, and muguet.”).  It’s a lightly mossy, white musk that reminds me of being 15 years old and waiting at 6AM on a cold, damp morning for my ride to school.  That’s not exactly a pleasant memory, and I loathed school, but it’s still a nice scent!

Knitting a leftovers blanket.  I’ve years and years worth of little bits and bobs of sock yarn, the amounts that were leftover from a pair of socks and that did not add up to enough to do anything useful or interesting with.  I recently stumbled upon this blanket using up these leftover bits as wee mitered squares and became inspired to do the same myself.
Knitters –  I have a favor to ask, and I don’t normally ask for favors, so I hope you will indulge me. Do you have any leftover sock yarn that you know you are never going to do anything with? I’d love to incorporate it into the leftovers blanket that I am currently working on. It would also be neat to have little pieces of friendly, generous folks knit into this thing. Er, well. That’s a little creepy. Which is just perfect for me! Do let me know! I know I am asking you to drop something in the mail, which costs a bit of postage, so I understand if it’s not something you are able to do. But if you are…I would really appreciate it, and it would make the project extra meaningful.  Drop me a note at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com if you are interested in helping out.

…Cooking all of the things!  I am not sure if I am finally shaking off the laziness and lassitude of the holidays or what, but I’m much more inclined to putter around in the kitchen than I have been the last few months.  Over the weekend I made not one – but two! – suppers -and for someone who is firm believer in dining out all weekend long because somehow she came to believe that’s what fancy people do and she likes to pretend she is fancy – that’s no small feat..  Sunday night saw us simmering Baby Lima Beans in Chipotle Broth from Heidi Swanson’s Supernatural Cooking (but you can find the recipe online here) and on Saturday we made Giada De Laurentiis’ oricchiette with mixed greens and goat cheese – which is a simple but incredibly tasty one-pot meal.  Also, both vegetarian, if you care about such things.

What are you up to these days, in your part of the world?

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