This is maybe the vainest thing, ever. But. HELLO FROM ME AND MY NO LONGER SNAGGLEDY TEEFS.
I had braces for five years when I was a teenager because my teeth were so bad. And then I fucked everything up when I didn’t wear my retainer, so they got even worse. I was SO self-conscious about my mouth and my teeth and my smile for YEARS. So when I had the means to fix it, I decided to go for it. Because of the pandemic, it felt like I had Invisalign for approximately 5 million years, but they finally came off today. I had to pay out of pocket. If I’m being totally honest with you, that’s what I used the advance from The Art of the Occult for.
Did I harness the power of the mystical arts for purposes of vanity? Maybe so!
Do teeth need to be perfect, or straight for a smile or a person to be beautiful? Absolutely not, I don’t believe that at all. But did fixing my janky mouth make me feel better? You bet your muffins it did. No regerts.
A catch-up chat about what kept me so busy in the month of February (lots of stuff, and you may recall reading about some of it here, in which case you might just want to jump on ahead to the second half of the video.)
As well as a show and tell of some things which have recently come into my possession. Mostly because I bought them. Le whoopsie!
See below for the blogs, websites, and items mentioned in this video…
Perhaps I am picky and persnickety, but the YouTube algorithm always feeds me the worst suggestions for people who may be interested in fragrance. I don’t want to belabor the point, but these people have mind-numbingly boring takes and, in my opinion, are talking about dull, unimaginative things, to begin with. No one needs to see another video about Marc Jacobs Daisy, okay?
Ugh! I don’t mean to give pick on Daisy so much. It’s the lackluster low-hanging fruit that I always reach for. But listen, if you like Daisy, that’s fine. Mine is only one stupid opinion amongst millions of stupid opinions, so don’t listen to me. Like what you like! Whatever!
Anyway, now it’s even worse because YouTubers are making compilations of various TikTok videos. Things like SCENTS THAT WILL GET YOU A MAN… Or… MY TEN MOST COMPLIMENTED FRAGRANCES. To the former: ew, gross. Is that in any way relevant? (Answer: nope.) And with regard to the latter, I don’t give a crap about what other people think about your perfumes. I want to know what YOU think about them. Either way, if your enjoyment of something or to a further extent, if your assessment of something, is based on other people’s responses to that thing? Well, I’ll not go as far as to say that you’re doing it wrong…but maybe you should take a closer look at why you think you like that thing.
Also back to YouTube compilations. If you have your own YouTube and TikToks account…why are you making compilations…of other people’s videos? That seems supremely odd to me.
My antidote to this insipid, tiresome practice? Well, if you want something done right –or, if not “right” exactly, we’ll say if you want something done the way you wish it would be done–well, you know the rest. We do it our damn selves.
I have been obsessed with this perfect garment, Sidney Prescott’s long, soft, loose grey sweatshirt since I first saw it in 1996. This lone piece of clothing is the all-star MVP of the Scream franchise. I rewatch these specific scenes again and again because of the eternal, elusive beauty of this sweatshirt.
There’s also something about these few moments where Sidney fresh off the schoolbus and just puttering around the house and making phone calls before watching television and taking a nap, that I find so cozy charming and perfect and wonderful. I mean, she is in the midst of processing a classmate’s gruesome murder before being re-traumatized by hearing mention of her late mother’s murder on an evening news report, so it’s not exactly an idyllic, feel-good sequence. But still…the setting, to my boring-homey-vibes-craving-heart is a true slice of mundane perfection.
I am the *most* Taurus horror-movie fan.
I just love how LONG it is. The total antithesis to all of these dumb cropped sweatshirts I’m seeing lately. So lemme get this straight…you wanna be warm and cozy but you want a chilly breeze on your torso and yes, please also let the world see your manky belly button tube-hole? WHO are these awful things even made for? No thank you!
Anyway, here are a few more screengrabs of the most perfect sweatshirt to ever exist. That’s it for today.
Today at Unquiet Things, a gallery of art that has lately captured my imagination. I initially began sharing this “eyeball fodder” in my Instagram stories as a daily practice, a ritualof art therapy for myself, back in 2019 or so. From there, I gathered these collections into a weekly series that I shared on the haute macabre blog, though we all know it was never actually a weekly occurrence. And I thank you for never calling me out on that! I just couldn’t think of a better name for it.
Going forward, these galleries of visual phantasmagoria and fantastical ocular flotsam can be seen on my personal blog, and with the more fitting honest title. Whether for you art is a source of fascination and inspiration, or therapy and healing, or any combination of modes of self-expression and self-awareness, I hope you’ll be surprised and delighted anew each time you peek in on Intermittent Eyeball Fodder .
Sometime in 2020, I came to the realization that I wanted more color in my life. This could have been a pandemic-prompted compulsion, or maybe the middle-aged yearnings of an individual recalling some beloved jewel-toned fairy tale illustrations of their childhood, but whatever it was, I was feeling done with my #allblackeverything phase (although I reserve the right to step right back into it whenever the urge strikes me!)
I spied the lovely luminous work of jeweler Alexis Berger at just the right time, then! Don’t you love these cosmic winks from the universe? Beautifully crafted, translucent beads with finishes reminiscent of Art Nouveau and the Belle Epoch, Alexis’ work is utterly imbued with her unique creative vision and I am so thrilled that she has agreed to answer some of my nosy questions. See below wherein Alexis shares all about her love affair with hot glass and her “sparkly glowing fire-melty” life’s dreams of working with this most sumptuous material.
As someone with enthusiasm for the arts but with a marked lack of talent or skill in that area, I am always interested in how my favorite artists got started. When did you know that this was what you wanted to do with your life? How did you know what medium was the one you were interested in working in? Do you dabble in other mediums? Where did it all begin, and when did “your art” coalesce for you?
I came from a very artistic family, both sides of my family were involved in architecture, design, and craftsmanship. My father is an architect. My mother is a craftswoman and worked as a professional seamstress for quite a few years, now she enjoys restoring antique sewing machines.
My paternal grandfather was a painter, musician, and photographer and my grandmother was a professional dancer. My maternal grandfather was also an architect and my maternal grandmother was also a fantastic craftswoman.
I was introduced to drawing and handicraft from a very early age, and from the minute I figured out how to make my hands do what I wanted, I used arts and crafts as an escape, I had a hard time in school so I felt like I wanted to escape a lot. When I announced that I wanted to go to art-school and around age 6? it was met with the hearty joy of parents excited that their kid is going into the family business. I was aware, very early on, that if I wanted to be a SERIOUS artist I needed to learn to draw from life so I was very focused on keeping a sketchbook and drawing ALL the time, that was me being a serious art-school wannabe, but I always did crafts for fun on the side. I loved embroidery, basketry ceramics, and of course making jewelry out of everything I could get my hands on. It was also at this time that I started collecting beads, or rather more accurately, adding to the collection that my mom started and I stole from. But because that was so much “FUN” I didn’t take it seriously, also I didn’t think I could put it into a portfolio to get into a SERIOUS art school.
This is a story of how I mistook my calling as a hobby for years, always learning other skills but coming back to jewelry.
I eventually got into an art magnet high school (Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of The Arts) which was great for me. They are very rigorous about training you to get into a good art-college and you’re around other artsy-fartsy kids who you learn as much from as the teachers. They helped me put a portfolio together which got me into RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and there I decided to major in Industrial Design (ID) which is designing everything you interact with that gets produced: toys, toothbrushes, cell phones… I still at this point thought, “I need to go get a JOB” and this would major would be good to teach me how to be a serious DESIGNER! Even though that’s not where I ended up, ID was a great thing to major in because it taught me how to think about things in 3D and how to use lots of different materials. I learned about metals and welding as well as woodworking and plastics.
Ironically I never learned how to use glass while I was at RISD, glass was in a whole different department and location on campus and was notoriously difficult to get access to, so I never touched it there. I actually learned about glass for the first time while I was teaching weaving at an arts-camp called Buck’s Rock. They had a world-class glass blowing facility there and that’s where I first saw glass beads being made. I didn’t know anything about how to work with hot-glass and I was transfixed. It was like falling in love, all I wanted to do was make BEADS! I used basically every scrap of time off I had that summer to practice making them at the facilities there and when that summer ended I was completely seduced, from that point on, I was melting glass every chance I got.
When I went back to school at RISD in the fall. I got into trouble for using the metal shop soldering torches for lampworking and over the next summer, I made sparkly sharp messes in my grandparents’ back yard as I melted broken Heineken bottles and Bombay sapphire gin bottles. (which makes excellent blue glass with red copper streaks if you’re interested). My family was very forgiving… but to be fair, I never burned anybody’s house down, just toasted my own fingers a fair amount.
Glass was all I could think about, I had sparkly glowing fire-melty dreams at night and all I wanted to do was Lampwork all day, but I still didn’t quite have the confidence that I could be a glass-artist. I was still on track to become an industrial designer, but I was quickly falling out of love with the slicker-than-snot-super-hyper-masculine look that the department seemed to be pushing and that so many products in the industry seemed to have. Think: tennis shoes, gillette razors, cars, and even air fresheners.
Everyone wanted to make products that looked fast and angry and maybe wanted to lay eggs in your brain. I also began to look at the kind of life I would have as an industrial designer if I started working at a company…
-I would start as computer-monkey fiddling in a 3D modeling program
-taking direction from a senior designer
-I would be in an office
-I wouldn’t be using my hands to make anything much
-and worst of all I wouldn’t get to be in charge of the designs I worked on…at least not until I had worked my way up to being a senior designer which could take years.
…and ultimately, I didn’t get the tight little shiver of pleasure from looking at a well-designed toothbrush that some of my fellow students seemed to.
But a beautiful pair of earrings? ohhhhh!
Finally, in my senior year, I got to have a chat with one of the teachers and I asked, “Do I have to go work for Bic Pens or Clorox or Hasbro when I graduate?…OR can I go into business for myself? Is that something I can even do?”
And she answered like she was letting me in on a secret. “YES” that one conversation was the permission I needed to begin scheming on how to eventually make jewelry full time.
For those who may not know (me, for one) what exactly is lampwork glass? (And is that the same thing as “flamework”? I think I have seen your work referred to as both?) And what are the rewards and challenges of working with lampwork glass?
That’s right, flamework and lampwork are interchangeable terms. The “lamp” in lampwork refers to the fact that the heat source for this type of craft used to be done on oil lamps that would be stoked with a bellows blowing fresh air across the flame to heat it up enough to melt glass.
The process is melting rods of different colored glass in a torch (much like a bunsen burner) and manipulating the molten glass with different tools and techniques to create different shapes. Layering different colors will give you lots of different patterns and effects but you’d be amazed what you can do with just using gravity and an old ex-ato knife.
The rewards of working with glass are numerous but at the top of the list I’d say it’s immediacy. It takes years to make things perfectly (one of glass’ drawbacks is that it’s HARD and takes lots of practice) but when you sit down to work, you sculpt the piece all in one sitting, and it’s essentially finished. It will need to cool in the kiln but when it comes out it’s all shiny and bright and if you’re lucky, it’s just how you imagined it. If you’re casting something there are so many steps involved in producing and finishing your work. But lampworked glass is created in its final material and form and all the colors and shapes are right there for you to dig into.
While lampworking, it’s very easy to be seduced into covering everything you produce with detail rather than letting the material speak for itself, it’s a balance between showing off virtuoso technique and actually allowing the natural beauty of the glass to shine. There is a temptation to show skill rather than beauty. Metal and gem jewelry is all about using the color and optical qualities of the stone with the metals acting as structure and a “canvas” for the gems. I try to use that sensibility with my work, contrasting optic and reflective components with structural supporting ones. Glass is such an inherently beautiful material that working with it becomes a game to allow somebody to see that beauty in all its aspects without being distracted by too much sensory input all at once. I think this objective is true for many craftspeople who are working with sumptuous materials.
You’ve mentioned that glass as a material, allows you to “paint with light and color in three dimensions, which is critical to making the natural motifs that inspire my art”. Can you share a bit about those natural motifs and why they speak to you?
Nature is the best teacher when it comes to making a design that works, for lots of my work I try to make something that looks like it could have been plucked off a tree or picked up on the beach. Or imitates human anatomy, there is something so thrilling about capturing lifelike qualities in art.
Other than hot glass, what are your favorite materials to work with and why?
As I mentioned before I LOVE fiber-arts and I still incorporate a bit of that into some of my jewelry, I make crochet silk necklaces for many of my pendants. I especially love crochet and embroidery. I’ve been enjoying crocheting lace on my clothes during the pandemic. It’s so soothing and repetitive, you can let yourself go into a trance while binge-watching Star Trek.
You seem to have a thing for EYES! As I mentioned to you in a previous conversation, I shared on my Tumblr page (haha, yes, I still use Tumblr!) a photograph that you had posted to your Instagram of your weeping eye brooches, and that Tumblr post is now at 14K likes/reblogs and growing– obviously, this is a symbol that speaks to other folks as well! Whether it’s the symbolic tears of the mourning eye or an apotropaic talisman to ward off evil, the eye is a powerful and enduring emblem. I’d love to hear about its personal meaning for you.
Yes! Thanks, I’ve been thinking about that for a while, it’s really striking to me how many people are feeling a connection to weeping eyes right now. I think about the last time jewelry with a weeping eye motif was really popular and that was around the Georgian and Victorian era, death and mourning were so present in people’s daily lives and that’s where we are again. We as a society are going through a huge mass-death event and are feeling the appalling consequences of living under a government that couldn’t be bothered to help us. There is so much loss to feel and process, as well as joy and relief as hope sprouts back up to meet us. All of this emotion makes crying eyes feel like the right motif for the moment. I know it did for me.
Part of the job of art is to help us process our feelings and express ourselves, and wearing jewelry is a very potent act of self-expression. Wearing a weeping eye is unmistakable in its message, there is pain here, there is beauty here, and I’m here to feel it.
What does a typical day in your studio look like?
What a fun question!
I get to my studio at the crack of noon most days (I’m not an early bird) and the first order of business is to go open the kiln from the day before. It’s like Christmas every time, I pull out the treasures and turn the kiln on to heat up,(it goes to about 1000 degrees) while this is happening I go make myself a HUGE pot of tea which I will chug continuously throughout the day, I usually spend a few minutes photographing the stuff I made the day before (while the light is still good) then it’s time to light the torch and melt that glass!
I believe I read that you also have a love for music? And cooking! Tell me more! Who are some of your favorite musicians right now? Do you have an all-time favorite album? What is a meal that you’ve cooked lately that you were particularly excited about? Or a favorite go-to comfort meal? If you can’t tell, music and food are two subjects very dear to my heart 🙂
I take after my Grandmother in that I love dancing, before the pandemic I loved ballroom and partner dancing of all kinds, I miss the music I would listen to then, blues, and zydeco music would be what I would hear live most often. But music to listen to while I work is a totally different game. Right now I’d recommend the album Deluge by Anura, it came out recently and it absolutely put my head in the right space to make good stuff. You can get it on Bandcamp from the label “Already Dead Tapes” Highly recommended. It’s a perfect relaxing but invigorating get-work-done album.
As for FOOD! Well, I am a lucky girl indeed because although I’m an OK cook I married a Genius Chef. My husband is an amazing cook who is always inventing and teaching himself how to make new things, he has made sourdough from scratch, pickles, pizza oh boy! But I think the thing he made that’s my favorite as well as being really creative was he made spiced fried chicken with a “breading” made from almond-flour and sesame seeds which just about knocked my socks off.
This is all to say, do I have a passion for cooking? Yes! It just happens to be my husband’s cooking.
Is there a particular bead and/or jewelry artist you admire or who you consider a role model? And/or if you were to draw attention to a favorite designer or artist, who would it be and why?
I am constantly amazed and inspired by my dear friend Anandamyi Arnold who makes incredible floral/fruit sculptures and surprise balls out of crepe paper, they are often so life-like that they are confused about the real thing if you’re interested, I’d check out her Instagram page under the handle @lynxandtelescope
She was definitely a role model for me as she has been making sculptures full-time professionally for years and was a fantastic example to me of how to “make it” and set up your life to work as a full-time artist in the Bay Area.
Is there anything else that you might like Unquiet Things readers to know about your work?
I’d say that I would want people to know that I’m so grateful I get to do what I love for a living and part of why that’s possible is people like you who have made it their passion to curate and proselytize about things that move you and others around you.
So thank you, and thank you to all the people who have read this, I hope you got something out of it. Perhaps you feel inspired to pick up that craft project you’ve been thinking about doing, that would make me very happy to think somebody might go make something because they read this. 😀
DAY ONE: Well then. Sometimes you have to recognize and admit when you’re failing.
I’ve been knitting on this Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl for a year and a half now. It’s a re-knit. I made one ages ago and gave it to someone very undeserving (which I realize is not a nice thing to say, so I don’t make that claim lightly.) I wanted to make another version. To maybe feel better about the pattern? To give it to *someone better*? I don’t know exactly what my reasons were.
I’ve been slogging away at it since December of 2019 and hating every second. Not because it was too complicated; I didn’t quite have any technical difficulties until this weekend.when I thought I might make some shortcuts. I think the real, actual failure that I’m referring to here is not listening to my heart and my guts screaming “we hates it!” every time I’d glance at the work in progress.
So…in the course of cutting out a few steps, realizing it wasn’t going to work, and tinking back to where I had left off prior to my error in judgement…the needle join unscrewed and at least half the stitches tumbled off the needles, all of those lacey YOs lost in the fall. There were close to a thousand stitches on the needles before that happened.
Yeah. So. Thanks for the sign, universe. I get what you’re trying to say. Fuck this thing in particular. We’ll find something better and more fun to fail at next time.
DAY TWO: While unknitting that spectacular failure of a shawl yesterday and simultaneously winding the liberated yarn into a ball for a new project, I had old episodes of House playing in the background to distract me from being angry and depressed. I know it’s silly, but a project not working out can really leave me feeling quite down and really cross with myself and I was hoping that watching a cranky Bertie Wooster bantering with a Dead Poet’s Society alum-turned oncologist might cheer me up.
Tapeworm and tumors, sepsis and scurvy, oh my! Over the course of several episodes and even more medical misdiagnoses, I suppose I became inspired as I glanced down at the dwindling body of my shawl to see I was holding its perfect heart in my hands. And I knew that I could save it.
I teased those fragile remaining stitches back on the needles, gently bound them off one by one, and crocheted a delicate looping border around the whole thing.
What died a shawl was resurrected as an altar cloth with that stunning floral motif in the center fully intact. A centerpiece for my holy space of creative failures. These doomed beauties deserve a place in the temple, too.
In early February I shared a YouTube video of the books I had hoped to read over the next few months, and I am pleased to say that I have actually finished some of them in time to add them to this installment of Stacked.
Stacked is a monthly column that originated over at Haute Macabre, but this month it’s visiting Unquiet Things. My beloved Stacked cohorts, Sonya and Maika, won’t be joining me today, but no doubt they will be stopping by with some excellent books to share and recommend next time around!
The Houseguest and other Storiesby Amparo Davila. It’s difficult to say what these strange slice-of-life snippets are about, the characters are often fearful of something nameless, or if their dread and paranoia does appear to focus on something concrete, whatever that is, it probably won’t make any sense. I would suggest these ominous visions are best experienced in the lull of liminal hours for people keen on terse tales of inexpressible unease and unidentifiable weirdness.
The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni What begins as a fairytale, dream-come-true when Bert learns that she is the sole heir to a mysterious, massive inheritance, to include a title of nobility and a castle(!!) in a secluded region of Italy, shortly takes a treacherous turn when she becomes a prisoner to her family’s strange secrets and fraught, complicated legacy. A legacy which, unbeknownst to Bert, had been passed down to her, carried inside her even, for her entire life. When I note that initially, this story felt a bit predictable, I don’t mean that in a bad way, and I don’t knock off any points for that (not that I really use a point system for these reviews, so I don’t know exactly what I mean by that.) I suppose what I am saying is that there are a number of gothic situations, characters, and tropes employed in this story, which might make it feel like many other stories you’ve read.
Aside from ruined castles, sinister secrets, and unknown identities, this includes a heroine who, for a time, seems without quite agency, who flutters away to wherever the wind takes her, who things seem to happen to, and though perhaps curious about it, who appears to have no control over her own destiny. All of which renders The Ancestor comfortably familiar for a rainy evening read… until all of a sudden, due to the evolution of the character (and some ideas with regard to evolution in general that I am not going to spoil) you realize this is NOT where you expected the story to go and what the heck is going on, even? Definitely adding imaginary points back onto my rating for keeping me on my toes!
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager I was much more engaged with this book than I was the last thing I read from Riley Sager, Final Girl, which I reviewed in a Stacked back in 2018 or so. But I’m always a sucker for a haunted house story and the haunted people who roam their corridors, and Home Before Dark was a pretty solid effort in this regard. (Although I am still not sure what the title has to do with any part of the book. Did I miss something? If you read this and have an answer for me, let me know!)
Maggie grew up in the shadow of her father’s bestselling horror memoir and has very little memory of that time–although she suspects the book, and her parents, are full of baloney with regard to the supernatural aspects of the house and the brief time they spent within its walls. Maggie’s no-nonsense demeanor coupled with what we learn about the tragic history of the house and its deeply troubled former inhabitants makes this seem more like a Lifetime murder mystery than a creepy horror novel, but it was a quick, entertaining read, anyhow.
Strangers: Essays on the Human and Nonhuman by Rebecca Tamás. Strangers is an exploration of the world and our relationship with nature through a series of essays linking the environmental, the political, the folkloric and the historical. It felt like a deeply necessary, urgent read for all human people anywhere along their journey, who wish to experience life and living in a profoundly intimate and compassionate way. There is one particular essay about a cockroach that I highly recommend. And that is a sentence I never could have foreseen myself typing out.
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones I love Stephen Graham Jones’ ideas and imagination and everything he writes about, and this story of a group of friends being haunted by a vengeful elk woman is no exception. Where I run into trouble, I think, is due to this author’s unique writing style that …while I’m not going to say it is “hard to follow”, it’s somewhat “hard to binge.” And so I ended up reading this book and his other offerings in disjointed fits and starts.
SGJ’s prose, the narration as well as the dialogue, it feels so internal and intimate…like observations and jokes and commentary that he has only with himself, and while I love that he trusts his audience is smart enough, intuitive enough to follow along, I will admit, sometimes I lose my way inside it. Such is the case for the first two-thirds of The Only Good Indians, by the time you’ve acclimated yourself to the landscape of his language you’re in luck, because that’s when the action really starts.
Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi I was reminded of having rented from Blockbuster (!!) and watchedPerfect Blue many many years ago when I recently spied it on someone’s goodreads list and realized that the film I had seen was either originally based on a book, or that there was a book adaptation of the film. Intrigued, I found a copy online and probably paid too much for it, because it is not easily available. For those unfamiliar, the basic premise is that there is a cute Japanese pop idol, Mima who is working to transform her image to something a little more mature and risque, and this does not sit well with an obsessed fan who desperately wants her to remain “pure” and thinks he has a plan to save her soul.
After finishing the book I immediately had to rewatch the movie just last night because aside from the very basic plot I just gave you, they are handled so differently. The movie (directed by Satoshi Kon, who also did the fantastically bizarre Paprika) was a surreal psychological thriller in which there are actually several characters who are experiencing unraveling mental states or are losing/have lost their grip on reality. It’s not just got an eerie vibe, it’s downright sinister feeling in certain scenes. The book itself is much more straight-forward in terms of being a stalker/slasher story. If you like twisty and thinky and strange, go for the movie. If you like twisted and gruesome served straight up, then go for the book.
The end of the month! Day 28 of blogging every day for the month of February! I’m going to pretend this statue in the photo immediately above is exuberantly rejoicing in my success, but in reality, she doesn’t care. The Lady of The Perpetual Bauble has no time for my literary pursuits, “give me more jewels, dammit!” she snarls, peevishly. Wow, ok lady. I guess I’ll just celebrate alone. Carry on.
As I am pretty sure that I mentioned earlier this month, I was inspired by a fellow blogger, Katie of Wyrd Words & Effigies, to attempt writing a blog post every day for a month. I figured I’d go with February because there’s no time like the present of course, and also it’s the shortest month, so less work, right? Which, while technically true, I’m not sure those two days make much of a difference overall.
As I’ve shared before, I have a full-time job that actually has nothing to do with writing, so it’s not as if I can spend my 9-5 hours writing a blog post. How I’ve managed to do it is by: keeping an ongoing list of ideas, starting a new draft every time I came up with at least one or two sentences for those ideas, and just chipping away at them when I wake up, over coffee, while I’m having my lunch, or after-hours. Somehow I’ve made it work, and I have even managed to schedule some blog posts several days in advance!
What I’ve learned from this is that I should act on more ideas as they occur to me, instead of sitting on them or saving them for a rainy day. And while I definitely will not be doing 30 days straight of blogging again any time soon, I have discovered that I could definitely be writing more frequently than I typically do.
I tend to set a lot of “challenge”-type goals, and I think that’s because it seems like a good way to structure some ongoing and future creative projects for myself. To get myself thinking and working in ways I typically might not think or work. For the sake of some –admittedly arbitrary– goals, with these challenges I am motivated to learn new things and work with new concepts and materials, but because I’ve set some guidelines (blog every day for a month, make a new cake every month, do a YouTube video every month, do a perfume review every day on TikTok, etc.,) I won’t get overwhelmed with possibilities and just either go totally off the rails or decide to not even try at all.
In addition to those cake goals and blog post challenges, I’m also making one soup every month from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. Almost every recipe in this book has been delicious, with the exception of the orzo and pea soup. I probably should have realized this when just looking at those words on the page in front of me made me want to gag. However! Last night’s Ravioli Potage was another absolute winner. The only changes I made were to add some spicy Italian sausage and I swapped out the chervil for tarragon because who even keeps chervil on hand?? Let me know if I am wrong about that, but I don’t think so.
In other food-related reportings, I implore you to stop everything you are doing and make Rabbit & Wolves’ creamy miso pasta with caramelized mushrooms. This may well be the best pasta I’ve ever had, vegan or otherwise. And you people know I like my melty cheese-covered pasta tubules, so that’s saying quite a bit!
If making this recipe, I would suggest preparing twice the amount of sauce you need, and parcel it out to use in the next day or two. At which point, heat it up on the stove, loosen it up with a bit of broth, add a goodly amount of nutritional yeast and some diced, pickled jalapenos– and then you will have the best vegan nacho cheese sauce of your life.
Here is the second finished object of the year: the hellebore-inspired Winter Rose socks. This beautiful pattern is by Helen Stewart and the wildly vibrant fuschia/magenta yarn is from the inimitable Astral Bath Yarns.
Currently working on: the Wild Oak Socks by Virginia Sattler-Reimer in even more gorgeous Astral Bath yarns, although I don’t think I successfully captured the lovely colors or the wonderful pattern in the photo above. I also broke a needle while I was trying to take that photo, ugh!
I continue to keep up with that wily sourdough starter and am making this sourdough loaf recipe just about every week now. We really love the version where a few capfuls of everything bagel seasoning is substituted for the salt, so that’s what I am sticking with for now.
I hit upon the genius idea to make several batches of naan to freeze for future-us on an evening where a nice curry might call for naan we don’t have on hand or have time to make, but, surprise, we do! Because past-us made a bunch and froze it! I may have shared this recipe before, but I use this one, which calls for sourdough discard and yogurt.
I’ll mention a few changes I made to the naan recipe, for those interested: because I use fat-free skyr instead of yogurt, and I never have milk on hand (as called for in the recipe) I just use water for the milk, and a tablespoon or two of olive oil to make up for the missing fat in the milk and skyr. I also let the dough sit in the fridge overnight. Sometimes it is just easier on your schedule to make the dough the night before and then cook it the next evening…and it’s fine. Didn’t affect the end result at all.
Some new books! Yes, yes, I am still reading all the old ones, but don’t you dare judge me! I know you’re probably doing exactly the same thing, so I do not want to hear it. Included in this mini-haul are:
Bonus: the BEST new snack to pair with any, all, and every book. Takoyaki Balls! I ate a whole bag at once, immediately felt sick, and yet still wanted more. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.
So…that’s my February. Between blogging and TikToking, having my poem published, doing my first podcast, and some plotting & planning with my publisher for the possibility of something new (!!)–it’s been a busy, and, I might even say, a pretty crazed month. I’m worn out! So if my little space here gets a little quiet over the next week, I think you can guess as to why. I’ll just be taking a moment to breathe. Probably while inhaling some more Takoyaki Balls. They’re so good!
How was your February? What did you get into/up to/around to?