Monday, June 30, 2008

If I wanted to live in the Rainforest...

Rainy Day Color Infusions

I would move to the Rainforest. Don't get me wrong, the Rainforest is just great. But I don't currently live in the Rainforest. Or so I thought. Lately, with the daily thunderstorms and hot humid weather, sans le soleil, I am begining to think that I should be looking for wild monkeys in the trees, colorful frogs in my yard, and learn how to use a blow gun. Every day I am covered in a slime of sweat and humidity. I dread the sun's arrival, because, frankly, that just takes it up a notch. Sure, my retinas are leaping with glee, but the rest of me is all, like, DAMN, ENUFF O DAT. Anyone who knows me well, and that is a small group, knows that Julia in heat and humidity is more like Dr. House on a bad day. Without the medical degree.

I am still recovering from the weekend. I was home late from a wedding we catered on Plum Island, all wound up, past midnight. 2 AM rolled around...yup, still oogling the ceiling. 5AM up with the critters. Another coffee-laden stumble around the neighborhood and a well-deserved nap later I was still narcoleptic. I think this is in part because I was dehydrated. When working an event time is crunched up, the heat was a factor (one of the guests kept telling us she was cold, so we had to close the door to the outside, making the kitchen very hot) and stopping to rehydrate is difficult at best. When I get dehydrated, the first thing to go is my brain. And, if you did not know this, the effects of dehydration can be felt up to 4 days later. So, yeah, sipping fluids and rest is the plan. Today's job du jour is dog walking, and I will try to stay juiced up and cool, as the 85 degree, 80 percent humidity and rain continues.

Like I said...rainforest. Perhaps I should don a loin cloth. That would certainly make me a welcomed sight in the corporate suburbs, eh? So Very Keen.

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Calgon Take me Away! Click Here to read more about Green Inn on the River

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Click Here to read more ab out Nick Foley's cool lamp design

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours. Ayn Rand

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Cool Cuke Soup

I make it a habit to keep the peelings and veggie bits of refuse in a bowl when I am prepping food. I keep a pot of water on the burner and toss in the dregs as the bowl gets full, resulting in a very tasty stock, which I freeze for future use. This past week we did a high tea event, which meant we had lots of cucumbers to peel and watercress to stem and chop. I put all the cuke peels and watercress stems in a pot with the left-over scallion bits and made a very light and delightful stock. We had left-over thinly sliced cukes, too. I took it all home, added some sea salt and chilled it down. It made a wonderful summer soup! I topped mine with a dollop of fat free organic yogurt, but I suspect that sour cream would be oh-so-delicious!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sweet Summer

The other night I sat down with a big bowl. A big bowl with whipped cream in it. And I dumped an entire half pint box of raspberries right into it. Simple. Totally magical. The epitome of summer, for me. For me, it is the simple things, the aroma of the misty morning on the top of Wier Hill, the sound of a bird singing, the feeling of the rain on my face, the bursting of berries in my mouth, these are the songs that reside within me during the cold months, the dark times.

I was walking in the Bird Sanctuary behind Phillips Academy last week, and I found myself stopped in my tracks, thinking "This is the moment. This one moment is the best moment I have had in a very long time...I will remember this moment, always." The aroma of the mountain laurels, waxy and sweet was wafting in the air. The dogs were splashing in the pond and the breezes were making the tall grasses dance gently. I was alone and perfectly content to be walking three dogs in the wooded pathways. I breathed in a deep and comforting breath and I stood there, not wanting the moment to pass.

It always does.

This morning, as I was picking more blueberries, the dew on the leaves all around me was shining like diamonds. The water on the lake was glass-smooth. I felt so very lucky.

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

How funny would it be to put, like, 20 of these on someone's ceiling when they went away for a weekend????

Click Here for cute kitty necklace!

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Click Here to visit YooLa and her keen stuff on Etsy!

I simply adore the simplicity of these crocheted pomegranates. How lovely to have a wooden bowl filled with these for the holidays. Heck, for any day at all! Go check her out!

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

"The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Crispy Multigrain Bread

I use a bread machine some days. Especially during this past oh-so-very busy month, I have relied on my bread maker to dump out crunchy good bread in the morning. I used the following recipe for the bread shown above.

1 cup millet flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup AP flour
2 teaspoons sea salt (I used celtic green)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup fat free organic milk
1/3 cup walnut oil
1 tablespoon active yeast granules
1/2 bag frozen organic pitted dark cherries

I put the whole mess in the machine and pushed a button. But, if you need to do this on your own, proof the yeast with the syrup and the milk (warm it first). Add the other ingredients, knead until soft and pliable, let rise 2 hours, punch down, form into loaf pan, let rise an additional hour and bake at 400 degree oven until browned and you hear a hollow sound when thumping the bottom, about 35 minutes depending on your loaf pan.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Morning on the hill

(Sorry about the quality of images, all I had was my cell phone...)

This is one of the tasty hills on our morning hike. I say tasty because the wild blueberries are ready to forage, and I spent much time this morning plucking the sweet berries from the low bushes, while Lux dug a hole somewhere. This arid zone has interesting growth, cool plants and lots of places for Lux to dig and sniff around for critters. She has never found a critter, mind you, but she still LOOKS for them avidly.

Yesterday I spent the entire day at Earthlands ( )in Petersham, Mass, with friends, in a seminar about foraging. It was simply amazing!!! I learned so much. And the 12 of us foraged enough food that we had too much to cook for lunch. Some of the things we found and ate:

Wild lettuce
grape leaves
milkweed flowers for fritters and the leaves for greens
lamb's quarters (which grow ALL OVER the place, in most people's yards!!! It tastes like super spinach!!)
Jewel weed
rose flowers
clover flowers
birch bark for tea
raspberry leaves for tea
fiddle heads from Sensitive Ferns
grape leaves (which we stuffed with millet, lentils and toasted pumpkin seeds)
Burdock root
Yellow Dock
plantain leaves (which when chewed have an intense flavor of mushrooms!!!!)

The highlight for me was this salad I made for us with sorrel, wild lettuces, clover flowers and wild rose flowers with a balsamic vinaigrette. It was stunning. Absolutely romantic and full of rose aromas and bright light green flavors.

We made a huge feast, and it was fabulous! Even this evening, on my walk with Lux I spied a veritable grocery store of things in fields and side yards. I cannot tell you the sense of abundance I feel now knowing all the fresh and wild tasty things I can harvest from the wild. I am so very excited!!!!

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Click here to learn about this Gigantic Pig

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Click here for this WAY Keen sewing tape design! How Sweet!

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

"Give the world the best you have and you might get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you've got anyway." Dr. Kent M. Keith

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Chicken with Pineapple
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Two chicken breasts
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 can pineapple chunks
3 tablespoons walnut oil (or olive oil)
1 tablespoon grated ginger (or ginger juice, or powdered ginger)

In a pan, sear the breasts in the oil to seal in the juicy goodness. I use cast iron, almost exclusively, so I can just pop the pan in the oven! Pour in the soy sauce and half can of pineapple. Add the ginger. Place in the oven and continue to cook until done, about 10 minutes. This is also great cold, or chopped up and mixed with mayo for a chicken salad.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Goodnight Sweetheart

This man has a future on the Animal Planet Station...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

no, No, NO!!!! that is NOT a kitty!!!

6:00 AM....The scene of the crime: Neighbors leave their trash open...

Lux runs out to the back yard to play with the kitty. The LARGE kitty. The one with the big white stripe down it's back...

My new best friends...

Lux, after three baths. Still VERY whiffy.

Not much new here. The past month has seen me working 6 days a week though, which has kept me from feeding you loyal readers. So sorry. My hand is healing well. I took out the stitches on Wednesday, and the wound itself is healing nicely, but the area is still so darned tender. And, I am missing sensation on a portion of the underside of my finger. I am told that might come back after time.

Yesterday was a huge sushi day for me. I made over 100 pieces of sushi for a wedding we catered. It was great fun! Nothing like production to hone your skills. I was smart and prepped the veggies the night before and left them layered in prep boxes in the fridge, and I got up at the usual 5AM and started making rice (20 cups of it!) so it would be both fresh and cool for the assembling process, and just made prior to pick up at noon yesterday.

You already know how today has gone so far. My eyes burn from the toxic fumes of skunk. It smells like burning rubber when it is that close. No snugglies from the puppy for a few days I think. Sad.

I am off to the movies with Lisa today, as both of us desperately need a break from reality for a few hours. I think the last movie I saw was Sweeny Todd. That was a *while* ago!!
Oh, the thought of fresh, fresher, anyway.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back in the saddle again...

Well folks, I just needed to take a rest and heal up a bit. Last week was frenetic, with much work, and clenching a chef's knife for three days was proving to put a damper on my computer ability. That, and, quite frankly, the fact that Mercury is SO VERY RETROGRADE this time...computers are not working right, ovens are going screwy, fuses are flipping out, and the world in general seems to be running amok.

Last weekend I worked very hard. We catered a wedding at the fabulous Commandant's House in Boston, on the harbor at the USS Constitution National Park. I got home around 2AM on Sunday morning, only to be awakened by Lux at the usual 5:15 AM. The rest of the weekend comprised of walking in the woods, sleeping and getting my finances together. So no Keen for a while. Le Sigh.

But I am BACK!!! My stitches will be removed later this week, and hopefully the wound will heal further. Right now it is at that itchy stage. Can't. Scratch. It. Yikes!!!

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Click Here: Um, Yeah...Penis Exhibit

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Click Here for Animal Rubber Bands

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

'If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better." - J.K. Rowling commencement address to Harvard University class of 2008

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Sweet Italian Sausage in a Sweet and Sour Sauce
(per person)

2 sweet Italian Sausages
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (sweet chinese variety)
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Cook the sausages whole in a pan
on Medium using a little water (1/2 cup) at first. When the water evaporates evaporates add a teaspoon of olive oil and brown, continuing to cook until done. Add the ingredients above and reduce the fluids by half. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

for the Morbidly Curious

Just back from our morning hike. I am pleased to say that Lux finally caught on to what swimming is all about.

I saw a guy with a dog on a harness who also had tags attached with a carabiner clip as did I when I had my accident. I told him all about it, and suggested he move the tags to the front collar. He seemed dubious. Silly man.

Oy! Is it hot or what???

My daughter thought I had lost my mind last night when she saw me get into the shower with a t-shirt and undies still on. I have found that going to bed with wet shirt and underthings with a fan in the window is precisely the right combo for a good night sleep in this wretched heat. I have 2 small AC units, but with stitches in my hand I am unable to lift heavy objects currently. The girls are camping out downstairs in various nests with the box fans, and it is actually bearable down here. Upstairs, one must don the wet clothing, which is actually better than going it nude. The evaporation of the water from the shirt et al is really quite delightfully cooling and I fell asleep immediately.

Yesterday was mostly torpor. I hiked with Lux and Lisa, Bomber and Bailey for a while, then ran into Lux's friend, Grace, who is half Beagle half Whippet, small and fast, and those 2 romped about while I walked along and dropped sweat.

I had a lunchtime meeting with client and then headed to the hardware store for another box fan. I KNOW I had another one somewhere but I cannot find it. It must have gone to Lostralia with the socks and teaspoons or something. I am using the new one to pull the cool air up from the basement. I would lay myself right down on the concrete floor down there if I could. It has been a bit musty of late so I cranked the dehumidifier to HIGH, and I am dumping the bucket two times a day, full to the brim.

I will say it right now...I am a bitch in the heat and humidity. I have little to no patience for this. I can stand the snow and the hail and the rain, but dammit, I hate summer heat with a passion. It is so NOT Keen.

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Here is a shout out to my buddy Kevin in the mid-west, a woodworker of great talent! Is this door not the Keenest thing evar?????

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. "- Leo Buscaglia

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Cola Marinated Pork Ribs

2 pounds boneless "Chinese" pork ribs
1 can cola
2/3 cup marinara sauce/spaghetti sauce
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
juice of 1 lemon
I used Hickory smoking chips for the grill (soak over night)

Place the meat in a ziplock bag or container and soak in the cola overnight. When you are ready to make the meal, reserve the liquid from this to make the sauce. Do the charcoal dance, or the propane waltz. Get that heat going. Toss in the hickory chips. For the sauce, bring the reserved cola marinade to a boil and allow to cook for several minutes. Reduce by half. Add the red sauce, honey, garlic, herbs and spices as well as the lemon juice. Continue to cook until thickened slightly. Place the meat on the grill and turn after 4 minutes. Baste the meat with the sauce often. Cook until done, usually an additional 7-10 minutes depending on the heat of your grill and the thickness of the cuts of meat. The sugars in the honey will caramelize. This is a really tasty BBQ!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hunting and Pecking:An Update

Okay, so here is the story:

I was walking with Lux in the woods Sunday. I went early in the morning to avoid the hellacious heat we are having. It was about 6;30 AM. When I take Lux to the woods I put on her harness, a lightweight one which allows me to clip her leash to her back, rather than her neck, affording me more control and doing less harm to her should I need to yank her back from an oncoming dog. Also, if she is off-leash I can grab her in a tussle, without putting my hand in the danger zone of her head and neck which would be where an attacking dog would be biting. If she falls in the water from the rocks or from the bridge I can grab her and haul her out without strangling her.
Yesterday, I put her hunting bell on her regular collar before we left. This is a medium sized brass bell on a loop which allows me to hear where she is in the woods off-leash. Hunters use them to tell when their hunting dogs are on point. Also, dog walkers use them in the woods during hunting season to scare off the deer, and to alert hunters with guns that it is a dog NOT a deer, so they don't get shot.

So, in my haste yesterday, I clipped Lux's dog tags on her halter NOT her collar. We were walking in the woods off-leash and another dog charged her. Lux is not one to let something go, so I grabbed her but she bolted. Her halter slid through my hand, and the clip on which her tags were attached sliced my finger open about 1 1/2 inches.

The hidden costs of dog ownership.

More later, or tomorrow, when I can actually type better.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Six stitches on the underside of my pinkie finger from the proximal (palm end) up to the second joint. 5 novacaine injections and 1 tetanus shot. Ow. More as healing allows.


Thursday, June 5, 2008


Yesterday morning Lux and I went puddle stomping. All the neighborhood cars were zipping by on the way to work and there we were splooshing through puddles, me kicking the water all over the place, singing. I ain't a-feared of no rain. It felt great on my toesies. It was one of the best parts of my day.

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

(I am sorely tempted to write 8 hours of sleep here, because my critters are rising at 4:30 lately, with the birds, and that is WAY too early for me to be feeding and walking animals. Especially with the work week I have this week... I am WAY too tired)

Click Here to see neato video about Animal School

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Click Here for Caleb Woodard Furniture

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

"If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony." Mitsugi Saotome

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Chicken with Pineapple and Cilantro
serves 2

1 full chicken breast cut into strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks (may use canned but fresh is better)
1 handful cilantro chopped lightly
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in pan and begine to sear the chicken. After a minute or so, place the pineapple chunks in the pan and continue to cook, turning meat after 3 minutes. Add the cilantro and lime juice and continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Sometimes you get caught on things, and you can't unfurl completely. What catches you? Right now I am grappling with some old demons.

Wild Rose

What makes you wild? Where is your Wild Side? Mine is in hiding. But, I am thinking about bringing it to the light later this summer.

Tissue Dragon
I saw this on the side of the road today. It looked *so* much like a Chinese Dragon.

Your Daily Dose of Cool Things:

Which falls into the "Holy. Shit. Wow!!!" category. I am trying to get to this.

And now, for THIS: If you get impatient, just scroll the time line over to the last few minutes. Another Metaphor for me.

Your Daily Dose of Wonderful Design:

Ollie and Lime

Your Daily Dose of Inspiring Words:

Odd Man Out

"Sometimes you just fall backwards. Your find yourself retracing your steps, looking for the keys to what works inside. You don't want to be caught prying open the windows of your soul by the neighbors. You want to crack it open and slide inside not noticed. But the Truth is...we all do it. We are just too stuck in shame to admit it." Me

Your Daily Dose of Wicked-Good Food:

Red Tree Petite Syrah

Let's just say that I hit the wine bottle on Tuesday this week instead of Wednesday, which means precisely that I will NOT be having any during my weekly date with Grant and Jason over at Ghost Hunters.