Sunday, March 25, 2012

Departures, Little Dogs, Anniversaries, Allergies and Yard Sales

Hi all.... it's been one heck of a weird week. Really sad in some ways and really lovely in others.

After my last post, the very next day we suffered a loss in our little family here at El Zaguan. The elder member of our group John Gregory Tweed made the leap to the other side late on the evening of the first day of spring. Having known Greg for the past 9 months or so.... I can say that he was as genuine an individual as one would ever hope to meet. He was a gem of a human being. Greg's health was failing him this entire past year but we still managed to have some wonderful times listening to his grand stories and hearing him sing in his amazing, beautiful baritone voice. Greg had the sharpest wit around and doled out compliments by the dozens. He was someone who made you think about the mysteries of life and made you laugh about all it's goofy pitfalls. It was an honor to have known you Greg.... and to have you as our neighbor. Bon Voyage kid.... see you around.

We had a get together at Max's place last weekend to celebrate Greg's life.... Rochester, Greg's Giant Pinto Chihuahua was always under foot. He has no lack of people to look after him in Greg's absence.

Rochester's fate has yet to be decided.... will he stay at El Z or will he go to live with one of Greg's close friends who lives nearby? He and Rudy get along quite well... so Rudy casts his vote for his buddy to stay of course. Little dogs have to stick together.

Billy and I celebrated our 11 year anniversary on Friday. We kept it simple and just walked downtown for a bite to eat at La Boca then came home and toasted our longevity with an apple martini. I am not usually a martini drinker. Yikes. It's just a bit too ferocious for me I guess. I'll stick with my homeopathic gin and tonics thanks.

Today we found a gift from our neighbor Brenda hanging on our doorknob.....

Inside was a huge cupcake. It was delicious and was a perfect sweet for after a big lunch of mole enchiladas at The Tune Up Cafe this afternoon. Pistachios, orange zest and a sweet cream cheese frosting on a perfect yellow cake. I think there was some lemon in there too.... it was really good.

I have to admit that I am writing this post through an allergy fog that is thick as pea soup. I may not be capable of keeping an entertaining story line going here. In fact I am pretty sure that this whole post is going to come off like dry toast. Sorry. I'm at a rock bottom low point for the season so far. I made the stupid mistake today of switching to a different allergy pill. No Bueno. I feel like a couple of banana slugs crawled up my nose and are mating up in there somewhere. See? That's what I mean. I should not be writing right now. Seriously though.... how much longer can this crap go on? I can't even think straight anymore.... I'm too cracked out on meds and lack of sleep from the struggle that ensues in the night (every night.) Nose blowing, parched dry throat. itchy ears and a pounding headache. So wonderful.

Spring has definitely sprung here in NM and the weather has been awesome the past few days. Brenda and I scooted out to an estate sale this morning and I grabbed a pair of Navajo moccasins for twenty bucks. I lovvvvee them.

We have daffy's popping up all over the yard... and if you want to get a real nice sunburn you can hang out in the orchard for twenty minutes and hook one up no problem at all. I could show you my face and arms as an example right now but I will spare you the imagery. 

The lettuce has been planted in the garden.... and we are excited to get a bunch of seeds started. This years garden is going to be a success... drought be damned. We will not be stopped. 

In closing, here's Rudy soaking up some rays in the orchard. Happy Sunday to y'all and enjoy your life people. Every day counts. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some Kinda Update.

Yo. It's almost spring.... so even though it's a very confusing 72 degrees in Illinois and a stingy, brisk 35 degrees in New Mexico I still am allowing myself to hope for some sort of weather induced euphoria to grip me any day now. Come on Weather.... I know you can do it.  Just give me a couple 75 degree days with no pollen and a bunch of fluffy, jolly ass looking clouds kicking around up in the sky! It should be relatively easy, no? No. The Weather says.... "Nope."


What else is new? I re-opened my Etsy shop. Road Trip Journal. I am slowly but surely loading it back up with good stuff. I have a few pieces listed that are personal favorites. Things that I agonize over actually selling. I am not a rational person when it comes to this particular topic. I will hold on to a dress that know I will never, ever have the occasion to wear or it looks stupid on me for years just because I think some day by some magic trick it will all make sense. I will grow 4 inches taller, my waist will shrink to a circumference of 24 and I will be on my way to a black tie affair that has a 70's theme. What? Right.

Anyway.... check these out. The first one is a 60's mod shift dress with penguins in the print. I have been selfishly clinging to this dress for like 4 years. I have never worn it. I just keep it stashed away. I'm a sort of hoarder I guess. In the mildest hoard sort of way. I look like a middle aged albino stewardess in the thing so it's time to let it waddle it's way into the heart of a new owner somewhere out in the world. A girl who has a tan. And isn't 40. Go girl.

This next one is the hardest to possibly part with. It's a 1970's Koos Van Den Akker masterpiece. His designs are curated at The Met.... he's the Cosby sweater designer of the 80's. He's one hell of a groovy designer with such a unique vision and style.

I grabbed a few images off the web to fill out the visual. Remember these sweaters? If you watched the Cosby Show in the 80's the sweaters were almost like an actual character on the show as much as the people were.

I know I have passed up a few of these sweaters over the years while I was out thrifting and I wish I hadn't. At the time I did not picture them coming back into popularity and I did not yet have an appreciation for the artful fabric collage work Koos does/did enough to start collecting him yet. I love this dress (and shawl that accompanies it) and if it does not sell I am more than happy to keep it in my personal collection. I have seen his vintage dresses selling for anywhere from $800 to $1100 online and have mine priced at $600. If some bohemian goddess comes along and snatches it up at least I will have a decent chunk of change to fill the empty space in my closet (and heart) for a little while. Thanks Koos.

I bought this dress about ten years ago in NYC and have had it squirreled away too.  It's a 50's era day dress. Sort of an upper crusty one. Day into evening wear perhaps? Anyway... it's awesome. It's a silk fabric with a beautiful texture and sheen to it. It's so totally Betty Draper. Perfect for a Mad Men theme party or if that is just the way you roll in 2012.... looking like it's 1957. It's too big for me... and I guess I can't rationalize gaining 15 pounds so that it will fit. Can I? Hmmmmmm.... So into the shop it finally goes.

So, yup. That's what I have been up to. Shooting photos and writing up Etsy listings. Researching pieces and hunting for new stuff. Billy is painting like crazy and we are still working out our plans for spring and summer. He has 4 shows lined up.... one on Nantucket, his two week show here at El Zaguan, the show we are doing together here at El Z come August and then he is going to show at a local coffee house in September. It's a lot of painting to get done but if you know Billy... he can do it. He is a painting powerhouse. The kid can't stop. He paints. He eats. He sleeps. He watches bad movies. He has sock fights with Rudy. That's it. No time for anything else.

Time to grab a coconut popsicle outta the freezer and break away from the net for awhile. Happy first week of spring (almost!) to you wherever you may be.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


This past week was my first in a long while that was totally my own... to sleep when I want to, read, walk, shoot photos, cook or just sit on the couch with my mouth hanging open and breath whenever I feel like it. All day... every day. It took my almost the full week to ease into it. I still have had trouble sleeping at night. I had a few donut dreams which was icky. Lots of dreams that I was flying too high.... and was sure to fall. Long about Friday I started to get my groove on and feel right again. It takes awhile to decompress.... to let the problems you take on at a job wash away and let your mind come back around to being your own. I think about how many people live the majority of their lives without having their mind and heart cleared of other people's troubles or bearing a good portion of the weight of responsibility for other people's financial endeavors and it's pretty crappy really.... that we all slave away under the umbrella of another entity, for it's benefit more so than our own, and for pay that keeps you barely afloat. It's a way of living that stunts happiness, creativity and creates really bad energy over time (unless of course you are the rare example of a person who absolutely loves their job.) It's amazing that things evolved in this way. That exploitation of one anothers' time and energy is the standard. I have no idea how long we will be able to sustain our lifestyle with me not going in to a regular job, but I am so glad for this time I have right now to let my mind flourish with ideas and to let myself rest and replenish my well of sanity... because listen up yo, it was coming fairly close to running dry these past few months.

All that heavy stuff aside. We had a great weekend. We went to a two year old's birthday party... which I made the cake for. It was my first ever "cake in the shape of a thing." And the thing was a robot.

We were celebrating Wyatt Hogan Mickelson's 2nd trip around the sun and the kid is doin just fine so far..... he has grown from a wee pea pod of a little guy to a juice guzzling party animal in what seems like no time at all.

I'm not sure what this cake really meant to him in the moment. I think it was mostly a "I see candy on this big hunk of whatever in front of my face" situation. The gumdrops were the first thing to go....

The cake was pretty ridiculous. I made it while on copious amounts of allergy meds and after about three nights in a row of not sleeping. Does it show? The robot looks like he may be suffering the consequences of insomnia too.

Saturday morning I got up and baked bread which is something I have not felt like doing at home in a long time. I made a fig cardamom sweet bread from a William's Sonoma cookbook. I don't generally love their recipes, too plain jane, and this one proved to fall into that same category. If I made it again I would jazz it up with some orange zest and vanilla to give more complex flavor. It would make a great french toast as it had a texture similar to brioche inside. It's definitely a recipe to play around with and jazz up and make your own.

We spent the past few days cleaning and reorganizing our tiny little apartment here at El Zaguan and getting ready for the first artist's meeting to plan the coming 2012 season of shows at our gallery here. We hosted the meeting here at our place and had a really successful brainstorming session. We will have the same crew of artists this coming summer that were here last season so I think we all have a good bead on what we need to do better or differently this coming year to increase our visibility in the Santa Fe art market and have a better turn out for our shows.

I made a zucchini galette which I snagged the recipe for off Smitten Kitchen's site and I  highly recommend it. The recipe is simple and the results are fabulous.

The chocolate cake in the background was a hit too. I found it on the Divine Baking blog. Again, it's simple but delicious. It's flourless so is a great option if someone is gluten free or trying to go easy on the carbs and it packs a serious wallop of chocolate. Hook it up with some fresh fruit on the side and whipped cream and you may pass out from the joy it brings.

Our little living room gets maxed out even with just 5 people trying to hang out in it. It's cozy. We need more chairs. But where would we put them?

I spent some time out shooting pics around the property today. We got snow the past two nights and then the sun came out and it warmed up significantly this afternoon so there was a lot of melting ice and snow everywhere. It gets pretty messy and muddy in Santa Fe and in our yard in particular this time of the year. I can't wait for April when the plants start to wake up and the world is thinking of turning a bit green again. It is nice to hear the water running off the awnings and see moisture on the ground though. I have had enough of dust, dust and more dust.

This week I have a few social dates to look forward to with friends old and new which is another thing I have not had the chance to indulge in for a long time due to the wacky schedule I was on for work. What plans do you have heading in to spring? Anything exciting going on out there?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Good Morning everyone. It's 7:04 a.m. as I type this and I have been up about an hour. This means I slept in more than 3 hours past my normal wake up time over these last 6 months. This. Is. A. Good. Thing.

Yesterday was my last day at the donut shop. *Insert huge heaving sigh of relief right here* My coworkers sent me off with such a funny and spirited last day.... I love you guys! Ryan, Rachel and Miles in particular and Abraham too.... it was seriously memorable. A few of our loyal customers stopped in to say adios as well which was sweet. I had made a special for the weekend that went over gangbusters which was a bananas foster cream filled donut. People were feeling it. It was a "deep thoughts" provoking sort of item. Reach deep within your soul.... behold the final donut special..... this donut loves you.

I also did a fresh strawberry version with the berries tossed in rose water, vanilla and apricot preserves. My friend Jeff told me while eating one that it was so good it was weird. This is the sort of compliment I hold dear. The weirder the better.... as long as it's good weird. 

Abraham is a guy who works the overnight shift from midnight til 8 doing the raised yeast dough. He does not speak English and I do not speak Spanish. Somehow over these past months we developed a comfort level with one another in our inability to communicate in a normal every day fashion. We had a translation book that was utterly worthless that we would refer to at least a few times a night only to find the words we were searching for didn't exist in the book. So then it was our own goofy version of sign language and a sort of guessing game with a lot of head shaking and laughing involved. At least 30% of the time the moment would end in a big shoulder shrug and just plain giving up on what one or the other of us was trying to tell the other one. I had asked Abraham a while back to write down his recipe for making Mexican mole sauce for me. The confused conversation that ensued went on for over a month. The mole recipe was elusive and I had sort of given up on the thing. Yesterday Abraham showed up with grocery bags full of stuff, tied on his apron and proceeded to show me how to make the mole in person. He whipped up a complete meal. I now understand why he did not write it down because there are quite a lot of steps and weird little nuances that would have been really hard to describe. It was delicious and he is so sweet for having done this. The dude is a good egg and it's proof that friendship does not require speaking the same language. 

We brought home enough mole sauce to last us for the next 3 months. It is going to have to go in to the freezer there is so much. Awesome. 

I cannot say that I will miss making donuts. It was too specific. Too fried. I am glad I had the experience but I am most certainly done with it. It feels good to shed my donut hat and know that I am moving on to whatever comes next. Today that mostly means laundry and organizing our little apartment which has been in steady decline due to my weird schedule and constant zombie like state of being. We are meeting with the other artists here at El Zaguan this week to plan the coming season and schedule our show dates. Billy and I have a road trip in the Airstream planned for April. I am super excited to get to work on my photography and plan my work for shows here this summer. It already feels like we are off on a good path for a creative and satisfying season. 

Last Monday we hiked the Atalaya trail which is near our house leading up into the foothills of the Sangres. It was still pretty snowy and icy up there but we made it up and the view is always so cool from the top of that little mountain. 

The weather is just now starting to shape up here. We will be in the low 60's for a good part of this week. This is bad news for my allergies but so welcome in every other way. We also start our third session of boot camp today. We just came from a week off and are anxious to get rolling again. Let the pain and suffering begin! Now... off to sort through the piles of mail, magazines, books and general mess that has been silently waiting for me all these weeks. Spring cleaning I suppose.