I Made It For Myself


Savory Cheesecake


This is a savory cheesecake I made for a holiday party. I’m not blogging the recipe. I’m just letting you know that I got up early to make it, took my time and tried to make the final dish not only presentable but also festive.


This is the damned social season, whether we like it or not. And that very often means bringing something to our hosts. Some folks specifically ask that we not bring anything. Some request a contribution to the table. Some attendees (such as myself) struggle with walking in empty-handed, no matter what our hosts have requested. For us, if we’re bringing a bottle – easy. If we’re bringing treats for a friend’s beloved pet – no problem. If we’re cooking something, well, that isn’t always convenient. And sometimes it can be stressful AF.


So when making the savory cheesecake, I finally learned something that’s escaped me all these years: I made it for myself. That’s it. Yes, I was gifting the dish to the party I was attending. But I didn’t need or expect praise. I wasn’t trying to garner appreciation for the preparation and steps I’d taken. I wanted to make that cheesecake because I wanted to eat that cheesecake! Plain and simple. And y’all – some things are meant for a group. Gi-normous, savory cheesecake is one of those things.


During this holiday season, as you go about your harried, hurried way, please don’t knock yourself out to try and impress others. You don’t have to lose sleep and you don’t have to stress. Not over attending a party, for cry-eye. Store-bought is not only acceptable, it can also be fabulous. And if you choose to make something that takes time, blood, sweat and maybe even tears, do it for yourself. View it as art. Create something you appreciate. The joy you glean from your experience will more than satisfy.


One last thing… When you do create a delectable dish that makes you happy, it’s easier and more fun to make than if you’d felt pressured and strained in completing it. Because of all your positive energy, it’s also bound to be well-received. That savory cheesecake? Oh yeah. It was devoured.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things


A Few of My Favorite Things - Christmas in Hollywood


I have never understood why “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music is considered a holiday song. The mere mention of snowflakes hardly seems reason enough to qualify, but the song is about to be all over the danged place, now that it’s December, so I am obviously wrong in my thinking.


Anyhoo – I thought I’d share a few of my own favorite things to kick off the last month of the year. Bear in mind that if you ask me next week, my list will probably change. But this is today. And these are some of the things I’m digging on…


A Few of My Favorite Things - Squares


Squares. I’ve been crocheting all kinds of 9-inch squares to be made into blankets for women undergoing serious treatments at a local hospital. I don’t know how to knit, so I crochet. I don’t really know how to properly crochet either, so the squares turn out a little janky sometimes. That’s okay. It’s all done with good intentions and love, and I like to think those sentiments outweigh my lack of skill. I will likely never meet any of the recipients of the assembled blankets, and that’s okay, too. Doing something for others without accolades is ridiculously fulfilling. I highly recommend it.


A Few of My Favorite Things - Pearls


Pearls. I don’t own real pearls, but I do have a few strands of fake beauties. I wear them all the time and someone always comments about how they wish they’d thought to wear their own pearls. The large plastic baubles seen here are especially dear to me. I got them when I was 15 years old. I was at a thrift store in Griffin, GA, and when I spotted these, I knew they were destined to be mine. I can’t remember the price, but they were either fifteen or thirty-five cents. Either way, it was a bargain and I’m still smitten.


A Few of My Favorite Things - Sunsets


Sunsets. We’ve been having some real doozies lately and I’m loving them. I take as many photos as I can, for painting references. The thing about sunsets is they’re so spectacular, if I were to paint them, no one would believe it. They’re beyond anything I could come up with on a canvas, and yet I desperately wish I could capture some of what I see in the sky. I try, anyway. And I fail. And then I try again.


Mister! Mister!


Mister. He pretty much makes the list, no matter when. But it’s still nice to actually like the guy. And for some strange reason, he continues to come home every day. To me. I’m no picnic, y’all, and I know that he could change his mind about this whole till-death-do-us-part business and decide to mosey elsewhere in life. (It could happen.) So I appreciate whatever time I get with the fella. It counts. A lot.


A Few of My Favorite Things - First Christmas Card of the Season


The first Christmas Card of the Year. I always marvel that we continue to receive cards each December! Some of that awe comes from the fact that we occasionally don’t send squat, and reciprocity would dictate not receiving anything in return. But come December, that first card arrives and I start grinning. This year’s first-of-the-season greeting was from our mail carrier. She wanted to let us know that she was retiring.  I’ve liked that gal and she’ll be missed. But life keeps going (if we’re lucky and a cheet-o in a slumpy suit doesn’t get us all killed). So I wish our now former mail carrier the best as she embarks on the next part of her journey.


Happy Birthday, Gwendlyn!


Friends. The Social Season is in full-swing and I’m already tired. Grateful, but tired. Maybe it’s age, but I am in the throes of deep appreciation for my friends. I, like a lot of folks, know scads of people. But friends, well, that’s another matter. Having friends in one’s life – people we can call on in emergencies or times of need – is a blessing. I don’t get to see these friends nearly enough. But when I do, I catch myself smiling more than usual. I’d say that’s a pretty good sign of how much I care for them there folk. What a gift.


A Few of My Favorite Things - Christmas CDs


Christmas Music. Even though I don’t get the song referenced in this post’s title being a Christmas song, I still really like when all that great music rolls around. Mister and I have drawers full of Christmas CDs, and will likely add another to the mix this year. It takes a near Herculean effort just to get through them during the month of December. And that is why, Mister, we’ll start listening to them today. I really can’t believe I have to explain my reasons for this year after year, but since you seem to forget from one December to the next, Mister, consider this a written explanation. But I digress… Some songs are loved more than others, naturally, and I’m pretty excited to hear them. Yeah, sure – I may still be wearing flip-flops throughout the month, but a gal can dream. And my dreams are currently taking place in a winter wonderland. Where the soundtrack rules.


We’ve got 31 days left in this year, friends. Let’s make it count. I intend to live those days with some of my favorite things keeping me company. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to put on my fake pearls, load the car with a few good Christmas CDs, drop off some crocheting to be donated, visit with friends and pick up a Christmas tree with Mister and get home before sunset to start decorating the tree and stringing up the holiday card display. I may throw some Barb’s Boozy Eggnog into the mix. Why not? I’ve got to shake a tail feather though, as those flip-flops don’t do much in the way of keeping my feet warm after the sun goes down.


Home for the Holiday



It’s Labor Day weekend here in the States. Perhaps you’re traveling. On vacation. Seeing the world. Or perhaps you’re laboring, as life doesn’t stop simply because a holiday rolls around on the calendar.


Me? I’m staying home. (It’s my favorite place to be, don’t you know.) No big parties, no big stress. Mister and I are marking the symbolic end of summer in our own quiet way. Maybe we’ll watch a movie. Maybe we’ll have some tacos. I don’t know. But whatever we do, we’ll be together. As he’s my favorite person, I’m thinking this will be a pretty awesome holiday.


Whatever you may do this Labor Day, here’s to you and yours.

‘Twas The Day After Christmas…



It’s Boxing Day. A few gifts have been opened and I’ve now seen the new Star Wars movie (fab-o). I’ve eaten Christmas steak, participated in Christmas debauchery and am ready for a post-Christmas rest. But only briefly, as life marches on and I love a good parade! Wouldn’t want to miss anything.


Actually, as the year’s end approaches, I am experiencing my usual feelings. There’s a bit of processing going on and the occasional tear falls. I am an emotional cuss, I know. But I happen to like me, so I think I’ll keep me around for a while.


When you think about it, coming out of such a charged holiday with one’s self-worth intact is fairly remarkable. I know it doesn’t always turn out this way – not for me, nor for many others. So this year feels danged good. So far…


Let’s all try to love ourselves for the next week, shall we? Honestly – doesn’t that sound more appealing than using our own souls for punching bags? I’ve been on the receiving end of my psychological left hook and it ain’t pretty. For the short remainder of the year, I think I’ll hang up my boxing gloves and give me a break. I really mean this when I say it: I deserve it.


And so do you.

Goya Joy-a



The other night at the old painting studio, my mentor kept saying, “Where’s the radio station with the Christmas Songs? I look forward to those songs all year! Where’s the station?”


My friend Nicole and I were giggling about that for a few reasons. One – our mentor is Jewish. Two – it was barely December. And three – he was talking terrestrial radio, not satellite. As in old school.


After a quick Google search, I reset the dial for him and the holiday tunes rang out. My mentor was super happy about it, and I even found myself doing a little jig while painting. Goya or not, never underestimate the power of a Christmas song.


Have you started listening to holiday music yet? The clock is ticking people…

Oh Boy, Hey Hey – It’s a National Holiday



Here in America it’s Labor Day. Typically, we endeavor to not labor at all on this fine day, unless you count bending one’s elbow to drink beer or manning a grill. Which I do not. Count, I mean.


Anyhoo – this particular holiday has been around since the late 1800s and I’m not sure I’ve ever once thought of the labor movement on this holiday. A lot of American holidays are like that – we forget their primary focus and the very reasons they exist. Maybe that’s not only American. Maybe that happens everywhere.


But back to that barbecue action. I can focus on that, yes-sir-ee. I can even focus on it while bending my elbow. I believe that’s what they call multi-tasking.


Happy holiday to you and yours!

Merry and Bright



If you’re traveling during this holiday season… If you’re staying home… If you’re celebrating… If you’re planning run-of-the-mill days…


I wish you peace, joy and love. May all our days be merry and bright.

Musical Cheer



The other night Mister and I went to see some holiday jazz in Los Angeles. And it was festive, I tell ya!


Chris Standring and Kathrin Shorr put out a CD of original Christmas songs a few years back, and now they try to do some shows – featuring the songs – each December. It’s becoming a bit of a tradition. And I really like it.


There’s something about seeing and hearing live jazz. Standring plays contemporary jazz, to be sure. I suppose I tend to the traditional side of the jazz-o-meter, but that doesn’t preclude me from enjoying newer vibes. Standring is a fantastic guitarist, too, which doesn’t hurt one bit. And don’t even get me started on Kathrin Shorr. Just writing about her makes me smile. Her voice, her stage presence – I love that gal!


So at the show the other night, we were treated to seasonal songs and the darling personalities of Ms. Shorr and Mr. Standring. There were sleigh bells and joy, smiles and laughter. And when it was all over, I confess – I felt a bit jolly. Not a bad way to spend a December evening. Not bad at all.

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 48



Mister and I tried our hands at making marshmallows this past week. We’ll be giving them as part of our holiday sharing this year. I got the recipe here. The only changes we made were to spread the marshmallow cream on a prepared cookie sheet instead of in a square pan (which made the final product thinner), and we cut them with a star cookie cutter instead of cutting them into squares.


How do they taste? Like the most lovely marshmallows I’ve ever had.





We spotted this lass with The Grinch at a local holiday celebration and chuckled. The kids were all smiles, but the actor playing The Grinch was in character big-time. That dude grimaced the entire evening and stuck out his tongue here and there.


A couple of days after that outing, I received notice of a local charity’s holiday wish-list. I looked through the items, to see what was needed and to figure out if I could afford to sponsor anything. Y’all – those folks had asked Secret Santa for the simplest items imaginable. Even for the kids, the requests were basic and humble. Before I knew it, I was balling like a baby. There I sat, fully aware of my being in budget mode, yet not needing a damned thing.


Thanksgiving may be over, but I am still feeling mighty grateful. I guess on some level I did need something: that charity’s list to remind me of just how blessed I am.