What’s cookin’?

Nothing. Everything. This blog is undergoing a major overhaul as I begin a new chapter or two in life. I’ve needed to separate out my felting activity into an actual website now that I’m really running that as a small business. Surprisingly, it seems to be- knock wood- successful. Classes are going well, my own personal work is developing into a process and product I feel good about and wool, fiber and supply sales are picking up. So that part of my life is moving to its own space very soon and I’ll tend to it in a more business-like fashion, with regular updates, product ordering opportunities, tutorials and lots of photos.

Here, in terms of my own stream of barely conscious ramblings, I think the transition to Asheville will refuel my interest in sharing daily news. When I look back over the five years (yup- it was official, 5 years March), it’s evolved and devolved, risen, fallen and risen again periodically along with my social energy. There’s a certain dichotomy I often feel and I’ve expressed before: I enjoy and seem to need a fair amount of alone time but there’s a regular social butterfly in here just itching to interrupt and be the center of attention. I could analyze that for you with one prevailing line (and the accompanying knuckle-rap to the head) from my earliest childhood: “Children are to be seen and not heard” but why bother? I’m done analyzing, for the most part, and I’ve moved on to scooping raptor poop, studying fiber crimp and staple length and starting garden seeds. I will also add that my interest in social networking via the internet has waned substantially as I watch the nation, fed by media slop (the equivalence of an engineered diet of toxic high fructose corn syrup?) deteriorate into mean-spirited, petty yet bloated, self-centered whiners wading about in that primordial political soup, nay, tea, roiling there in DC.  And it seems to be spilling into social networking in blogs and on facebook and I find that discouraging. People who I suspect have many redeeming qualities and are probably regular likable people are reduced to talking/writing in dangerous stereotypes and making distasteful remarks about Mrs. Obama’s physical appearance? Like we’re all so cute. That’s just an example but you know what I mean. What’s happened to people’s ability to just be polite and respectful and NICE?  Anyway, I have a crush on the current first couple and find their White House garden food fare and basketball skills endlessly fascinating. As well as the let’s all be healthy plan.So there you go. Unfriend yourself or whatever but I’m trying to move in a more positive direction.

So, speaking of being nice and starting seeds, here are the best things happening around here:

I planted about 2 dozen datil pepper seeds sent from a really super nice blog buddy of long standing. No sooner did I have them going, tucked up safely against the warmth of the back screen porch, than a busy little gray squirrel go after my efforts and tear through, oh, about 130 pots of seeds. I discovered him just as he dashed off with an heirloom white pumpkin seed, peat pot and all. So now? I have four tiny datil peppers. And I think I see one more sprouting in what was an heirloom pumpkin pot. I am now protecting them like a mother bird, along with my other seedlings. Saturday they will make the trip north to Asheville and that will mark the beginning of a new look here. Excited? I am.The four little seedlings on the right are my datils…the squirrels eat all my strawberries, too.

Speaking of bird mothering, that is going well. Our baby eagle we placed in foster care has become one of the family, falling right in with his two new sibs and getting ready to leave the nest for good. Other than the telescope crick in my neck, it was fun watching minute by literal minute, the process high up in that nest in south St. Pete. The birds at Boyd Hill are all doing well. Recently, we had Wildlife Weekend and yours truly took a bet that she could fund raise 30.00 in one half hour with nothing but a chicken. I raised nearly a 100.00. These are very tough times for charitable causes. Ask Keri or Beverly or any one of your nice blogging neighbors. Go donate 5.00 or two hours to a worthy cause and report back. If you can’t find a cause on your own, c’mon down and volunteer with me at the preserve. Donate, volunteer, add a comment and I’ll throw your name in my Tilley hat, draw a winner and send you this felted bunny. If you  don’t want the felted bunny, I’ll send you a Carolina Wren. Seriously. I’ll wait while you go do that. You have one week. You’re on the honor system here because you make your own karma.Waddles and I fund-raise for the Birds of Boyd Hill

Speaking of Dharma Karma, do those bums have good news or what? Finally! I am so happy for Robin and Roger and I’m challenging them to dueling status updates with photos as we all work on “the home of our dreams.”  Here’s wishing them some wonderful woodsy walks, interesting “pond”erings, and lots of love and peace and quiet.

LOVE and PEACE and QUIET. I’m enjoying that at the moment but we’ve had a busy week and the house has been rocking with laughter. I’m discouraged from writing about my number one child on my blog and he actually deletes the inane FB comments I leave on his page (e.g., “Daniel, I love your hat. And I’ve always loved your curly hair!” Okay, they’re not that insipid but you get the idea) but you know what? This is my blog and he’s still sound asleep so I’m taking liberties. Abby and Misha have been around all week because Dan is here and when brother and sister get together the silliness, the remembering, the happy noise- well, it is something to behold.  I’ve been so happy to have him here these past few days, after eight months. Who doesn’t see their child for eight months, for Pete’s sake? But he was on the road with NOMO and his other musical work, a hundred gigs and life was going on. Now, this minute, he is here sleeping under our roof and I am insanely content. I miss him so much when he’s there- Ann Arbor, France, Vancouver and I’m here. He brought Sarah, a smart and calm and spunky elementary school art teacher and she’s an exceptional painter, too. As in, brought her to meet his mother. (And you know how much I love me those teachers and shapers of young minds.) Here is this cute picture of them that I said I was going to post and he groaned loudly. But he is not the boss of me.Yesterday we all went out with friends into the Gulf. Curiously, although we live here surrounded by water, we haven’t been out on it very much, what with the sun thing and all, but this was a great opportunity and the weather was spectacular so I slathered on the 85 and it was grand. In this boat we went very fast and somewhat slow and we meandered and raced about, in amongst birds and dolphins and mullet.And then when we got back to the dock we saw this fellow and we watched him for quite a long time. I wondered if he/she was just a tot because it’s quite small, I think.

Abigail thrives. She is almost done recruiting Hispanics for Big Brother the Census (that was a joke via Robin on FB. We like the census. As Abby says, “Usted cuenta. Cuento. Todos contamos.”). Then she will move into some other supervisory position or other and this has been a good temporary job for her as she plans her future.  She’s still waiting for her big news that I alluded to (and she said, “Mom! Everyone is going to think I’m pregnant!” which she is not and it’s not really such a big deal except I am always overly proud of my children so you know. I get weird. Abby has applied for doctoral studies at a very prestigious environmental college at a prominent university (I believe they excel in basketball, too) and they want her very much because she is so impossibly delightful actively continuing her research on sustainable coastal ecology as is a professor there that she would love to work with. She is what they call an active candidate but she and they are waiting on funding. And mega grants that provide 5 years of funding (at approximately a quarter million dollars/candidate) are hard to come by, especially now. While that is all pending she is working on plan B, which involves another year interviewing rural fishers along the Yucatan peninsula and that, of course, makes me nervous because there are disease carrying mosquitoes and deep dark diving caves that she tends to fling herself into but she will do whatever she is going to do just fine, without my input, because I am not the boss of her you know.

Rich is fine and busy and doing more traveling recently. He went off to do some research related to children’s television programming and came back with what I refer to as Yo Dumpa Lumpa fever (most of you are way too old to understand this malapropism), seeing as how it was an all new germ pool. And then he gave it to me. And that has been aggravated by 4 standing inches of live oak pollen. Swear to God, Florida has it’s issues. The cats have turned yellow there’s so much of it and I sound as though I’ve been smoking 3 packs a day forever when I never. Well, one time, when I was 16 but I dropped an ash and it melted my bright yellow Twiggy-like styrofoam dress that was all the rage in the mid-60s. Right in my lap, melted the dress. I was on a first date, too and trying to look cool so that backfired in a big way and I quit. Anyway, I’ve been endlessly hacking but I can’t complain because I am healthier than most.

I made a friend recently who hasn’t had good health fortune the last couple years and this friendship feels like something special. This woman lives in NC, right next to a university with a great environmental program and a good basketball team- and great oncologists to care for her.  By some small miracle, since I so rarely update here, she found me and expressed an interest in felting classes. And since sometimes life is short, she was ready to hop on a plane and fly down here for a workshop I was teaching on felted bead jewelry. It was over Grand Prix weekend here in St. Petersburg so there weren’t any hotel rooms and I invited her to stay with us (with just a touch of the same trepidation I felt when I volunteered to push Hoss around Las Vegas for a blogging convention). Well, we had a wonderful time and I’m feeling very lucky to have such a fine new friend and opportunity. We will see more of each other when I’m in North Carolina.

And so, when next you hear from me it will be with photos and more photos of the mountain home under construction. Despite sucky weather, progress has been made and I’m going up next week to supervise plant my garden and make more decisions. I love my builder- he’s taken a deserved week vacation with his family but set up a web cam at the house so he can supervise from a distance. He’ll be back next week, too and I figure we’ll drive each other nuts sorting out budgets and details. Or at least I’l drive him nuts. He’s pretty easy-going.

Phew! Nothing for weeks and now this. Sorry. I have a bit of a buzz going since another really really nice person gave us crack* for Easter and I’m just today finishing it up. Really. She rang the bell an hour before the kids arrived from Michigan and dropped off a whole pie plate of it. I guess she figured, quite correctly, that an extra treat while Dan’s here would be nice. And now that I’ve written this, I’m not feeling so negatively about the online social network.


Makes two 10-inch pies

• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
• 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
• 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
• 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup light-brown sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons milk powder
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
• 3/4 cup heavy cream
• 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 8 large egg yolks
• Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Make the oat cookie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together all oat cookie ingredients until well combined. Spread cookie mixture in an even layer on prepared baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack.
3. Make the crust: Using your hands, crumble oat cookie into a large bowl. Add butter, brown sugar, and salt; using your hands, toss until crumbly and well combined.
4. Divide mixture evenly between two 10-inch pie plates; pat into bottom and up sides. Set aside.
5. Make the filling: Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, salt, and milk powder, breaking up any lumps. Whisk in butter, heavy cream, and vanilla until well combined. Whisk in yolks until just combined.
6. Pour filling into prepared pie crusts. Transfer pies to oven and bake until filling is set, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 315 degrees and continue baking until top of pie is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Transfer to refrigerator and refrigerate until cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

18 responses to “What’s cookin’?

  1. Holy moly. and phew. The house! Cannot wait to come visit. And the ray! Does look pretty small. Your kids! 🙂 I understand that whole pride thing. Want to shout from the rooftops for every little tiny thing that Keli accomplishes. (She’s employed!) And as you can see, I’m mostly just here for the pictures. 😉 And of course your new friend stayed with you, luv. That’s who you are! That first photo reminded me that I was at your house last year on EASTER! *sigh*

    See? This size comment is warranted when you write a monster post. And smilies! And much punctuation!

  2. I am excited and happy to read such a long, newsy, cheerful update. Oh my goodness, that picture of you-know-who and his you-know-what. And to have him in da house after 8 months! I understand why your heart is full.

    As for blogging and social networking…*sigh*. I know. At the moment I am eager to write and update, but simply have not got an extra minute. So I slap up a Facebook status or a tweet now and then and wonder if I will ever get back to my blog. I miss it sometimes.

    And I miss you! xoxo

  3. What a gorgeous picture of Dan! Thanks for posting.

  4. I’m not sure which is worse, the general public being impolite and disrespectful, or your own kids deleting your FB comments… what is the world coming to!

  5. It is almost worth it for you not to blog for a while, because the resulting longish posts are worth every minute of the wait!!

    The son knows how to pick ’em, I think. They would make luscious babies someday. I can’t wait to see the house either, and quite possibly to meet the woman who lives near the university with the good basketball program. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Abby and hope the grant comes through. Is that by chance the same university aforementioned?

  6. amarkonmywall

    🙂 Yes, Judy- Abby has been accepted at Duke pending funding. That’s a big if but we are excited to see what develops for her over the next couple years- and very proud of her.

  7. All that and a recipe too?

    Yowza what a sweet face Sarah has!
    I like her already … reminds me of Emma.

    So glad your datils survived the tree rat onslaught! Thrilled that they are migrating too!
    We must spread the hot news.

    And, woohoo for your growing business!

  8. Wow Vicki- so much going on and such wonderful artistic talent! You are amazing! The house looks like it is in a gorgeous setting and of course, you picked the best state in the country to move to! I am loving my little house off the parkway! I am amazed you are starting another career! I love what I do for now but I am also looking forward to cutting back the teaching and doing more writing, volunteer tutoring and gardening. I love the classes I teach but I travel a lot and wish I had more time for some of the other things. I have 4 dogs – just added a new one – a rescue Airedale – and 2 cats including a parking lot stray Robin found in Asheville. I am thinking about just doing animal rescue as a career – maybe horses next! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and words!

  9. That pick of Dan and his lovely artist is even sweeter than the crack pie. And that’s saying a lot.

  10. I love the long post… but, don’t wait so long between!!!!!!
    My child defend her Master’s thesis on Monday… gets the degree May 1st and then gets to be here for about two days as we go up to NYC to see Stephen at his Metropolitan Opera Debut. Then she is headed to… probably Texas and her dad for the summer… he is helping her move on to the west for the doctorate. If her plans work out…. she might end up being YOUR neighbor. Her dream is to be on faculty at UNC Asheville. Combination of Geology, Meteorology and Geography….. but for the next three years I will likely only see her once a year. The fledglings have grown up and left the nest.

    Now that I have really commenced on my “change in eating habits” diet… you post a yummy recipe. ARGH!

    Bless you Vicki… I am SO GLAD that we have NO building projects for this spring. Still working on the flowerbeds… planting roses like crazy, butterfly bushes, wisteria, butterfly weeds… all plants for butterflies, bees, birds and… well, fun.

  11. And in your spare time …

    OK, I’d do *like* *anything* for your felted Carolina Wren.

    As for the degeneration of civility in online environments, well, it’s far from just online, you know. Do what you do in the “real” world/life: use the communication medium to stay in touch with your friends and to build and strengthen relationships, and ignore the rest of the bullshit.

    Or, in other famous words:Illegitimi non carborundum. Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.

  12. That felt rabbit would make a great toy for my son’s Boston Terrier, but only for about 30 seconds. Nice video of the ray. I saw one leap out of the water when I was in Florida in February. Didn’t know they could do that.

    We’re hoping our son catches a lucky break soon as he’s trying to hunt down a good internship, preferably in D.C. Cornell is such an investment, even with the fellowship. Sounds like great news for your daughter. I would be proud too.

    I am tired of hearing about good basketball schools. I’ve been hearing a lot of that lately. *sigh*

  13. I could have written this post, well except for the cool stuff, recipe, wildlife, felting, and kids!

    Yes, I love a good challenge.

  14. Hey, Good Lookin’!

    Keeping track of your comings and goings is like hunting for snark. I chortled when I saw your comment at Big Dave’s place. Alas, I began to understand Bruce’s deep love of soup.

    The rhythm of your posts hints that you make a habit of popping down rabbit holes, growing bigger in conscientiousness and love and coming up even more interesting than before. Are you Vicki or Alice? (Sorry to get all psychoanalytic, but I remember the days of yore (5 years!!!) when this blog was run by a crazy shrink.)

    Oh, those beautiful and stellar children of yours! Your cup has passed the saturation point of life’s richest blessings! (Pun intended, Rich!)

    That dessert is ayurvedic, what with the oatsl, n’est-ce pas?

    With much love and admiration,

  15. I meant to type consciousness and oats;
    Perspicaciousness diminishes in old goats.

    Oompa Loompa doompadah dee?!
    I’m a grandma but I know stuff, as my grandson is 3.

    I like malapropisms; it’s in my genes.
    And, call me aural, I love mondeGREENs!

  16. I really dig that Bonnie… She is one groovy grandma.

  17. Keri- Bonnie is the best. She’s like the neighborhood fairy godmother, with just enough spunk and spice and so much wit- and when she blesses you with her presence and poetry you feel oh-so-special. She was one of my very first visitors- she came onboard just before Jen, and then you and Mary, Nikki and whacky Hoss. She was the first I met “live” and I thought: “A mother of 11, homeschooling them all! How can this be!” and she proved to be both ever so much more- and less, if that makes sense- remarkable.

  18. I donated $20 to the Family Heritage House, an African American History Museum in our community. They are asking people to donate $20 in honor of their 20th birthday. But, if I win, send the wren to wren.

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