Currently: Bedroom Shelf Edition

Bedroom shelfEarlier this month we bought a new mattress–and that was a bit of a debacle which I’ll get into some other time–but I have since its arrival slowly been making a few gentle upgrades to my dream sanctum.

I wanted a small circular shelf for above my bedstand to house and display various dream-time odds and ends, talismans and looky-loos, but what I ended up with was this ginormous behemoth. I distinctly recall my internal approval of the dimensions while I read them…but I guess it turns out I don’t know what numbers are or how they work. However, my partner convinced me to keep it, we swapped out the massive, fearsome sorceress on that wall whose wild, chaotic energy probably belongs in another room, and yesterday, we got the shelf hung.

Bedroom shelf 2

Now it’s pretty naked. I didn’t really have anything in mind just yet with which to adorn it with Most of the items there currently are just placeholders, but the print by Becky Munich may be perfect and might stick around….

, I would love some thoughts, suggestions, and recommendations for candles, crystals, statuary, sculpture, art, books, whatever–anything you feel might be a good fit for a bedtime/sleep sanctuary/dream adventure altar. My tastes run toward the fantastical and surreal, so I am not looking for anything too cutesy or twee (here’s a shelf I passed on, for example), and high gothic drama really isn’t my thing, either. Mythic, fairy-tale, folk-tale art feels may be okay, because I love all of those things, but again, nothing too saccharine. Sorry to impose so many restrictions, but I know what I like, and I think that’s helpful to share when looking for advice!

All my cranky codicils and caveats aside, what might you put on your own personal dream altar? Please share your links and tag some artists in the comments for me!

10 Goth Cheeses and What to Pair with Them

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For August’s installment of our Ten Things series, I am over the moon that Cheese Sex Death is paying us a visit and taking us to moody midnight cheese church!

As lover and fanatic of all things cheese, I was beyond tickled when I came across the Cheese Sex Death Instagram at some point over the past few years, and it’s been such a treat getting to know the person behind the account: former cheese-monger Erika Kubick. Erika believes that cheese is the sexiest, holiest food in the world and that we should all pleasure ourselves with it every day. She created Cheese Sex Death as a guide to buying, plating, pairing, cooking with, and tasting cheese, and to inspire people to indulge their funky fromage fantasies!

According to Erika:

Even though the world of artisan cheese seems intimidating,  all you really need to know is that you like eating it. I’ll help you learn the rest.

With Erika’s cheese classes you can enjoy a customized luxury cheese tasting in the comfort of your own home or office, and you can frequently find Cheese Sex Death doing pop-ups and events–as a matter of fact, she’ll be at the Chicago Oddities Market this very weekend (8/24 and 8/25 at noon) serving up some sexy raclette nachos, which sound really freaking amazing. Stop by, grab some cheesy goodness and say hello!

In the meantime, put on a Siouxsie album, don some black lace gloves, light a few candles, and peruse Cheese Sex Death’s 10 Goth Cheeses And What To Pair With Them, below. And a million black lipsticked kisses to Erika and to intrepid intern Zoe for this dark, dreamy and utterly delicious post today.

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10 Goth Cheeses And What To Pair With Them

Most people associate it with cute images of love and romantic picnics in the park, but cheese is one of the most magical and goth foods out there. Many different kinds of cheese spend their youth aging in cold dark cellars, much like a crypt, where they are left to decay and mold. And if that’s not goth enough for you, both Pagans and Christians alike have a history of using cheese in magickal spells and rituals. Some have used it to manifest good fortune or ward off illnesses, while others used it to tell the future!

By interpreting the holes in swiss, the veins in blue, or the cracks and bumps on a cheese’s rind, a fortune-teller would be able to read the markings and find patterns and signs that tell the future—a practice known as tyromancy.

Now that you have learned a little about the magical history of cheese, let me introduce you to 10 different goth cheeses, and what to pair with them.

Humboldt Fog

Humboldt Fog

Goat cheeses like Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove are cloaked with vegetable ash before aging in cellars. This helps the rind develop and gives the cheese a spooky, shadowy look. Goat cheeses are especially eerie, with a bone-white paste that contrasts against the ghastly gray rind. Pair a wedge with charcoal crackers, which add an extra touch of darkness and a nice crunch to oppose the soft cheeses.

Casa Marzu

Casu Marzu

Casu Marzu (which literally translates to rotten/putrid cheese in Sardinian) is a sheep’s milk cheese which is aged beyond the regular fermentation period of cheese. The result is a decomposition, brought about by the maggots that live inside of it. How did the maggots get there? Cheesemakers place a specific kind of fly on the cheese, so that they lay eggs inside. Due to the acid from their digestive system, the fats in the cheese break down when the maggots eat their way through it. As if that’s not creepy enough, the cheese must be consumed while the maggots are still alive. They’re known to be able to jump up to 6 inches, so pair Casu Marzu with a blindfold to protect your eyes.

Couphole

Coupole

This delicious, creamy goat’s milk cheese from Vermont Creamery is covered with a wrinkled rind that resembles a brain. These cerebral wrinkles are caused by geotrichum candidum, a fungus widely used to develop the rinds on soft-ripened cheeses. Its rich, fudgy interior is snow white and begs for something sweet, so pair with roasted beets for a beautiful blood-stained effect.

Mimolette

Mimolette

With its bright orange pumpkin-like inside, Mimolette from Normandy is one haunted looking cheese. The rind has a sweet, floral aroma and resembles the outside of a cantaloupe. The cavernous exterior is formed by tiny cheese mites that feed on the rind and aid in the aging process. It’s a nutty cheese with a savory finish, so pair with the equally magical and delicious dried figs, which look an awful lot like shrunken heads.

Clothbound Cheddar

Clothbound Cheddar

This is not your mama’s Wisconsin cheddar. Clothbound cheddars are made in the traditional English-style. Rather than shaped into blocks, it comes in wheels, which are coated in lard and wrapped with muslin cloth before going into the cellar to age, like a mummy to a tomb. Pair this cheese with a hard cider as apples symbolize immortality, and are traditionally placed as offerings to the dead for Samhain.

Smokey Blue

Smokey Blue Rogue Creamery

Smoked cheeses evoke images of fire and brimstone. While smokey flavors can often overpower a cheese, Smokey Blue is a rich, buttery blue with just a kiss of campfire. The wheels are gently smoked over smoldering hazelnut shells, creating notes of bacon, funk, and sweet cream. Spread onto a square of Novo Coffee chocolate from Ritual for a perfect bite reminiscent of campfire s’mores.

Black Betty Goat Gouda

Black Betty

This goat cheese Gouda from Holland is firm and crunchy from a full year spent aging in a cave. Filled with crunchy bits of cheese crystals, which are actually clusters of the amino acid Tyrosine, the pale wheels are coated in black wax to distinguish it from the others. Have yourself a sultry and kinky night alone with Betty and enjoy with a whisper of whiskey.

Foxglove

Foxglove

You can pretty much expect any soft cheese with an orange or pinkish rind to fill a room with the distinct scent of gym socks and decay. These are called washed-rind cheeses, and most of them have more bark than bite. It stings the nostrils, but the inside is milder with a buttery, beefy flavor. Foxglove from Tulip Tree Creamery is bathed in porter beer before aging, creating a sweet and custardy interior. Pair it with Dead Guy Ale from Rogue. It’s malty and sweet, but still bubbly enough to cut through the richness.

Harbison

Harbison

This cheese from Jasper Hill Farm is bound with spruce bark, as if crafted by the Blair Witch herself. The interior is so sinfully gooey that without the wooden ring, it would spill right out of its rind. Peel back the rind and spoon out the indulgent, pudding-like center. The inside is as rich as custard with subtle notes of the forest. Pair with rosemary roasted potatoes to complete the woodland feast.

Challerhocker

Challerhocker

Challerhocker is a delicious Swiss cheese that has been washed in brine and spices, then aged for at least 10 months. The name translates to “sitting in the cellar” and is stamped with a haunting face peeking out from the cheese. Pair with onion jam, as the flavor compliments the buttery, nutty, and slightly sweet cheese.

And there you have it cheese sluts! Now you can impress your friends with the yummiest, gothest cheese board they have ever seen. Cheesus bless.

Find Cheese Sex Death: website // blog // instagram // facebook // twitter

Photo credit: All photos courtesy Cheese Sex Death, with the exception of Casu Marzu

La Femme Pendu

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I cannot even remember the last time I was excited about new music as I am La Femme Pendu’s debut album All Of Them Witches, four French lounge horror ballads,  inspired by women in horror cinema– for feminists, film freaks, and creatures of the night. For us!

I got a chance to chat via email with La Femme Pendu for an interview at Haute Macabre, which went live today. I highly suggest you give this glorious album a listen while perusing our Q&A!

Also, La Femme Pendu did a cover of Danzig’s “Mother,” and I have been listening to it for two weeks straight.

Maria Germanova And La Vache Qui Rit

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Can I even read this book? Well…no. But I just received an autobiography on my beloved Maria Germanova all the way from Russia and I’m not gonna let a bunch of Cyrillic alphabets stand in my way!

To be perfectly honest, I had despaired of ever receiving this package. I don’t typically order many things from that part of the world and wasn’t sure how long it might take to arrive (and it seemed like it was taking forever! Although maybe I had only ordered it three weeks ago. Hm. I should better manage my expectations.)

In a prescient missive heralding things to come, I received the below image link via instagram yesterday from a friend. This is a great re-enactment of Maria Germanova’s Blue Bird costume–don’t the Laughing Cow cheese container disks just totally make it?! Brava to the creator! And as it happened, the book arrived not an hour later.

via Lydia Edwards/@howtoreadadress

via Lydia Edwards aka @howtoreadadress

The Meaning Of Meaning: A Sort Of Interview With Digital Collage Artist Robin Isely

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I initially grew to love digital collage artist Robin Isely’s work in 2017 and in my ensuing obsession, I reached out to them for an interview. Unfortunately, In the time that passed, their Tumblr-hosted site was heavily censored, their URL was hacked, and now the entirety of it has vanished. With their permission, I am publishing the piece anyway at Haute Macabre today, so that I may share a bit more about the enigmatic artist and their works. Somewhere along the way, I decided to ditch the traditional Q&A format in lieu of the artist’s thoughts and comments themselves, so that they might be unfiltered through the veil of my own perceptions.

Also upon reflection, my questions might have been a little over-the-top.

Here We Go

Kofi

Ok, so. I’ve been blogging and writing for over two decades. It’s probably about time I made one of these accounts for myself. If you’ve enjoyed my ramblings on fashion, perfume, art, books or horror; or perhaps my writings and reflections on matters of mortality, grief & loss & trauma, mental health, or hell, even my old Skeletor Is Love content, please consider supporting my work through Ko-fi, a platform which allows creators to receive money from fans of their content. Anyone who clicks my link can support me with a ‘coffee’ (a small payment that is roughly equal to the price of a coffee).

In full disclosure, I didn’t think I was ever going to make one of these “please consider donating to support my writing” things. But…I remember following a blog back in 2010 or so; it was a fairly popular art blog where the guy shared a lot of imagery, but he misrepresented the information half the time, and when he wasn’t getting shit dead wrong, he just didn’t bother sharing artist credit at all! And if this dumb-dumb could slap a “please consider donating to support my curation work!” on his blog, then surely I can be afforded the same indulgence. And unlike that asshole, I think my work is actually worth something. Ahem.

So anyway! Yeah, I did post something at the beginning of the year about the trepidation I had about being paid for my work. It might place an obligation on me that I would come to resent, I didn’t want to create any expectation levels, etc. etc. I still feel those things, and so I would probably never set up a Patreon, for example. Or do free-lance writing for pay. Too much stress! Nope! But a little donation link that I can put on my “about” page and I don’t even have to think about 99% of the time? I mean, why not?

So, If you like what you read here, throw me a couple bucks every now and then.

But you don’t have to, you know?

I’m going to write anyway.

Links Of The Dead July 2019

Vanitas with Sunflower and Jewelry Box by Maria van Oosterwijck

Vanitas with Sunflower and Jewelry Box by Maria van Oosterwijck

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

This time last year: Links of the Dead {July 2018} | {July 2017} | {July 2016} |

💀  Why New Zealanders Love DIY Coffins
💀 6 Ways to Support a Grieving Teen
💀 What I Learned Photographing Death
💀 The Fraught Culture of Online Mourning
💀
A Course In Dying: Interview With Mortician Miranda
💀
How the Paris Catacombs Solved a Cemetery Crisis
💀 Speaking with the Dead: Life and Learning in a Cadaver Lab
💀 How a hospice in Wales is memorializing children with birdsong
💀 Black Funeral Food Traditions Are an Essential Part of Grieving
💀 This Chrome extension makes you ponder your mortality while wasting time on social media

Here Comes Little Sarah!

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“Here Comes Little Sarah!” That is something my late Mawga used to say when she heard my presence somewhere in the house or saw me peeking at her from around the corner and knew I was readying myself to run into her arms.

Sarah is not so little anymore (she wasn’t very little back then, either) but “Here Comes Little Sarah!” is something I still whisper to myself when I’m about to embark on something that feels big and important, or more precisely when I’m about to finish such a thing and reveal it to the world.

I am somewhere between the two right now, midway on my journey of beginning and finishing a thing, and when my sister shared with me this stash of photos from my childhood that had been recently uncovered, it felt like such wonderful timing. Firstly because I need a new author photo (ha!) but mostly because it’s such a powerful exercise to gaze into the past at that round little dumpling face and channel that jaunty insouciance from say, the featured photo up top, or that sense of wonder and curiosity exuding from the photo of be-mulleted, lavender crop top-wearing little me at the very bottom.

I look forward to seeing the other versions of myself that emerge from this mysterious cache, and all of the other little Sarahs that I may have forgotten about along the way. Here she comes! There she goes! Where does she end up? I’ll check back with you right here and let you know when I get there.

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Ten things: Favorite European Botanic Gardens by Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

For a few years there, every time I got super excited about discovering a new artist who it seemed that no one had yet written about or interviewed, without fail, there were always the same two bloggers who had beaten me to the punch. One is a lovely individual who I have interviewed before, and the other is Jantine Zandbergen… who is visiting us today for our July Installment of Ten Things!

I must pause here to say that one might be inclined to presume, that if you’re constantly running into someone who is getting the scoop before you do, then one might begin to consider such a person your nemesis (and don’t get me wrong, I have always been a little bit obsessed with having nemeses, much like Roxane Gay ) But I reckon that while there is an appropriate time and place for collecting nemeses– those people “whose very existence troubles your soul”– I believe that in other situations it is far smarter and more soul-satisfying to attempt befriending those kindred folks who obviously share similar interests and passions with you!

Jantine Zandbergen is a designer and an art enthusiast in the Netherlands who blogs at The Quiet Cold, who writes fascinating guest features about incredible artists at Beautiful Bizarre, and whose art blog, Bleaq was a gorgeous gallery of  visual inspiration featuring the kinds of art that I love best–fine arts, design, illustration, photography and fashion, all touched with a tinge of melancholy, of morbidity, of the macabre.

Jantine, please don’t think that I for even a second considered you my nemesis, though! Every time that Bleaq showed up first in a google search as already having an article or a profile on an artist that I was pursuing, I would always take the time to read your thoughtful words and marvel, and thank the heavens that yes, Ok! Maybe you did beat me to X/Y/Z artist! But in a world of routine reblogs and careless, context-less shares of imagery sans source or artist credit (or any sort of research at all) you are always so thoughtful and respectful and reverent about how you presented the artists and the work that interested and intrigued you. You were someone that I wanted to be friends with from the very beginning, and there was no nemesis-ing about it

…And I hope Jantine is not too weirded out by this introduction! Anyway, I do not consider Janitine my nemesis, and, as a matter of fact, I recently discovered in discussing my budding interests (pun intended) regarding plants and botanicals and horticultural things, that we have yet another interest in common! And that is how this guest post came together.

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

When Sarah and I started brainstorming about what I could write about for the ‘Ten Things’-series it took us around two minutes to come up with something plant related. Although we met online through our mutual love for art (I guess, right Sarah?) (Editor: hee hee, yep! See intro above!) we both turn out to be #crazyplantladies, something that gave me plenty of inspiration for this article.

A little backstory before I start: I live in Rotterdam, the second-largest city of the Netherlands. The city is located in the so-called ‘Randstad’, one of the largest metropolitan regions in Northwestern Europe. It’s great for work and life, yet when you love nature as much as I do it’s not easy to find a good, quiet green spot. Next to slowly transforming my house to a plant sanctuary I also regularly visit greenhouses and botanical gardens to get me my much-needed nature-fix. There are many fantastic gardens in the Netherlands, and once I got hooked I visited beautiful gardens during travel in other European countries as well. Today I’d love to share ten of my favorite European botanical gardens with you.

The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

The first garden on the list will always be special to me since it changed my green interest into a serious hobby: the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, Ireland. I was in Dublin to attend a work conference and extended my stay over the weekend to explore the city. Glasnevin Cemetery, next to the gardens, was number one on my list (I’ll forever be a cemetery fangirl!) and when I found out they filmed scenes for (my favorite) tv-show Penny Dreadful in the gardens I knew I had to visit.

The garden itself, and especially the amazing, Victorian greenhouses, blew me away. There’s a huge variety of especially orchids and palms to see and the combination of the architecture and the plants are fantastic. 

 photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, Netherlands

Then on to my own country, the Netherlands! The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is the most famous botanical garden in the Netherlands – if not for its beautiful variety of plants it certainly is for its highly Instagrammable pink wall in the cacti-greenhouse. The garden dates back to 1638, when it was founded to serve as an herb garden for doctors and apothecaries. The rich history of the place is well documented and make visiting a must when you visit Amsterdam. As of most of Amsterdam’s tourist hotspots it can be super crowded though, so an early visit is recommended!

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photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

Botanic Garden Zuidas, Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you are looking for a quieter green place in the Dutch capital I’d suggest you check out the Amsterdam University Botanical Gardens, located in the ‘Zuidas’ area. Although not as big as its famous sibling, there’s a lot to see! I especially love the wonderful wild garden and the greenhouse filled to the brim with all kinds of cacti.

Fun fact: plants that are taken into custody at Schiphol International Airport are all taken care off in this garden! Many confiscated plants are on the endangered species list and are protected and taken care off by the staff here.

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Netherlands

The oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands, and one of the oldest worldwide is located in the beautiful city of Leiden. It was first mentioned in 1587 and founded in 1590 to help the medical students of Leiden University.

Today the garden has a wonderful collection of subtropical plants, a collection of trees that are over 300 years old and a very busy bee-hotel :)

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

Technical University Botanic Garden, Delft, Netherlands

As a part of the Technical University of Delft, this garden plays a big role in scientific botanic research. Fortunately, it’s also open for public, and with a nice tree garden, fern meadow and greenhouse with spiral staircase it’s one you shouldn’t miss. 

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

Botanic Gardens, Utrecht, Netherlands

The province of Utrecht is home to several beautiful fortresses, so – of course – the botanical garden based in its capital with the same name also features one. When you enter the gardens, the fort is the first thing you see and is an entry to a wonderful rock garden featuring a large collection of plants. The garden also has several tropical greenhouses, showcasing a big selection of plants from the Neotropic area of South America. Oh, and don’t make the same mistake I made last year and visit on one of the Summer’s hottest days. So. Warm. 

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photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

Botanical Garden Wrocław, Poland

One of the first things I do when I travel is check Atlas Obscura for creepy places and see if there are gardens I should visit. Wrocław turned out to have the second oldest botanical garden in Poland, so when I visited the city on my company’s annual city trip, one of my colleagues and I sneaked out of the program for a quick plant-fix.

We visited the garden in early October, and with its beautiful Fall-colours, patches filled with pumpkins and a warm, October-Sun my colleague and I enjoyed every minute of quietness before returning to our hectic group. 

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

Jardin Botanico, Valencia, Spain

When you’re from Northwestern Europe, a visit to Spain feels like Summer holidays. The weather is great, people are super relaxed, and there are palm trees and cacti growing in the wild. The city of Valencia is amazing – it has a lovely old historical center, plenty of street art, and a lot of green areas. And, of course, a botanical garden.

The first mentions of the Jardin Botanica date back to the 14th century, with the herb garden turning into a public botanic garden in 1802. The garden is known for its lush greenery and I was especially amazed by the huge cacti, palm trees and Monstera plants all over the place. Also made some cat-friends over there, so I need to plan another trip to see how they are doing 😉

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

Arctic Botanical Gardens, Akureyri, Iceland

The botanical garden in Akureyri, a town in Northern Iceland, is one of the most Northern situated botanical gardens in the world. Although really close to the Arctic circle, geographical factors ensure quite a moderate climate in the city, making it a great place for a botanical garden.

The garden itself is filled with Arctic plants and a delight for plant-lovers. Iceland has a rich variety of smaller plants, yet lush and green patches like in this garden are scarce in the country. There’s an architecturally beautiful café in the gardens where they serve a great soy-latte, so if you’re around I definitely recommend a quick stop before you return to Iceland’s epic North.

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

photo credit: Jantine Zandbergen

Arboretum Trompenburg Botanical Garden, Rotterdam, Netherlands

The last garden on this list is one very dear to me: the Trompenburg Tree Garden in Rotterdam. To say I visit this place all the time might be a bit too much, but since it’s only fifteen minutes from my house I try to visit at least once every season.

The garden itself feels a bit like a hidden gem: not many people from Rotterdam know it’s there (old people definitely do: try a visit on a sunny Sunday!) and because it’s not situated in the city’s centre it’s not on the to-do list of the tourists. 

Being an arboretum (a tree garden) means the park is filled with some of the most amazing trees. There’s this little ‘pine-alley’ that I love, as well as a magnificent setting for ferns, a cacti and succulent greenhouse and the best bench to read in the whole city. One of my most remarkable visits was on a cold Winter morning: a tiny layer of frost sparkled in the low Winter sun’s rays and I was just incredibly happy to be there.

That’s all! Thanks to Sarah for letting me share these places with you. 

Find Jantine: website // blog // instagram // twitter

Needful Things For Summer 2019

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My summer 2019 edition of Needful Things is up over at Haute Macabre this week! I love to put these lists together every quarter (or season, or twice a year, or whenever our fancy takes us) because they’re really just the personal stuff we’re into at the moment. No one’s really trying to sell you anything or promote various products, it’s just stuff that we honestly love. Stuff that we actually use! Heck, some of it’s not even tangible “stuff,” per se. Head on over to the Haute Macabre blog today to read about my personal, current Needful Things and feel free to leave a comment and tell me all about what you’re into right now, as well.

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