Friday, April 30, 2010

It's going to be a cupcake summer.

This one is a Chai Spice cupcake (sorry it is out of focus) - which tasted wonderful! I just substituted a cup of VERY strong Chai tea for the water in a spice cake recipe. It has cream cheese frosting with cinnamon sugar and vanilla crunchies....
Every summer I pick a food challenge for myself. Two years ago it was 1950s cocktails (Boy was THAT a fun summer!) Last year it was barbecue sauce, and this year it is cupcakes and salad dressing. So far I've only been concentrating on the cupcakes while waiting for local spring greens to be available.
At Kiley's birthday celebration last week, it was a cupcake bonanza: white frosting, cream cheese frosting, spicey Chai cakes and Red Velvet, lots of sprinkles and decorations. Kids (and all the adults) love cupcakes!
I made minis for the kids and big ones for the adults, but I kept catching grown ups popping the minis in. Check out the little cupcake plates I got at TJMaxx a couple weeks ago - some are shapped like cakes and then there are the sweet ones with ruffled edges...I Love Them!

When we weren't eating cupcakes or lobster or other stuff, we played in the back yard. Here is a shot of half of my kids. There is (from left) my son Russell and his sweetie Taryn, Kiley, my daughter Faye and her husband Matt, my son Daniel, Karlin and Daniel's wife Amanda. What a group! There are three children and their spouses/others that are of these days we will all be together - but I'll need a very wide lens to fit them all in the picture!

This was Karlin's first trip Down East and Kiley was so happy to have him here (not to mention how happy this grandmother was!) He is absolutely precious and Kiley is so sweet with him.

It was hard to say goodbye to Russ and Taryn (it always is so heart wrenching.) I don't think we'll get to see them again until a family wedding this summer. I love them both so much.... They got back to Bayonne all in one piece after a fun stop in Freeport for a bit of shopping.

So, is anyone willing to share their absolutely favorite homemade salad dressing recipe? I'll keep everyone posted....this weekend I'm going to try making Twinkee cupcakes, complete with a good filling. I'll share...bonfire is at 7 p.m. Saturday night!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Work, work, and more work...

I've been working so hard this week, attempting to bank a couple of stories so I'll have some free time next weekend - half of my kids are heading up here to celebrate a birthday. We're planning a little cookout and probably at least one outing to the beach - depending on weather.
Oh - I should disclose that one of my stories was at a distillery and I was sipping raw rum at 10 a.m. in the was so strong that my lips tingled all day! WHEW!

Not only will that be a special weekend, but on Thursday I'm headed to: first, a writers' workshop at the NEWS (that should be fun), and second, an art opening at the Bangor Art Museum. My friend Hazel, who is an extraordinary artist, took some pictures while on a windjammer cruise and one of them is being used in the museum. It has been reproduced in large format - 4 feet long - and shows a pod of whales swimming in a circle with lots of lot reflecting off the sea. It is beautiful! She is from UK and is so much fun that I know she'll make the evening memorable! A group of friends from central Maine will be on hand and we plan on going out to dinner afterwards. I smell an adventure!

I'll stay the night in Bangor - I learned my lesson last year trying to drive home at 10 p.m. after the American Folk Festival.
There were parts of my (2 hours) ride home that night that I don't really is so rural with no streetlights...incredibly exhausting. So I'll spend the night at the Charles Hotel (so 1920's-ish) and head back Friday morning.

I have Fri. off from work so I'll spend the day cooking and baking (red velvet mini-cupcakes and chai large cupcakes) and waiting for Russell and Taryn to arrive. They will be coming from Bayonne, New Jersey, and will be the first to arrive. Danny and Amanda and Karlin will arrive Saturday.

It sort of feels like Christmas around here, the anticipation is so thick in the air. I am unbelievably excited. We get this visit from R & T just once a year and it always seems like it is over before it begins. They are city kids - living where dinner gets delivered to the door every night, subway is the main mode of travel, ALL the women wear stillettos and ALL the men Italian leather shoes....but I know that Russ feels his roots when he is here. He's a pig farmer's son, after all, who was raised with fields and woods and a river in his backyard. He jumped from the loft of the barn, climbed the trees in the yard and raced snowmobiles through the field. He always comments on the quiet and the incredible number of stars when he is here....I miss him so and always have the sense that something is amiss in my I've misplaced something, or forgotten to do something, or can't remember a key appointment.

And then I remember that it is Russ, my big laughing Russ, whose hugs are something to remember and whose humor kept our whole family going through some dark times. It is Russ that is missing. My Big Russ, BRussell sprouts, the Bus, Muscle Rack, number 77....I'll be holding my breath until Friday, and baking with my heart, not my hands.

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's 11 p.m. and I'm just finishing work....

But I wanted to share some pictures with you before I crash...sweet daffodils in the window. Can you believe how early spring is this year? I've seen green grass, the peep frogs are shouting and all the trees are in bud - I love it! And speaking of love.... look at my grandson Karlin being held by his daddy Danny. Isn't that the most beautiful boy (both of them, I think!) Karlin is five months old now and growing like a weed - Amanda said he outgrew all his clothes at once! I wish I lived closer - I don't get to see him nearly enough. But when he does see me, I get a great big smile every time!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It took all my strength!

But I was able to do a story today at The Ark, a no-kill animal shelter in nearby Cherryfield, and I did NOT come home with any new dogs or cats.

I tell ya - it was hard! There were wet little noses, very wiggly behinds, purring, licking, and a dozen soulful eyes looking up at me....

What a temptation! There were rat terriers, a big shepherd, a black lab, both a short and a long haired Daschund, and a woefully skinny tickhound. There were cats of every color, size and temperament.

But Emma the-dog-that-hates-water is already have a rough spring and I think I need to concentrate on her needs. She is the poster girl for allergies. Right as we speak, she is worrying a red patch on the inside of her back leg. Something bit her or she backed into a bush that her system doesn't like or it could have been a little devil floating in the air - Who knows? But I'm already heading for the drug store to stock up on children's benadryl. Does anyone know of a pet friendly lotion I can use on her belly, which is sooooooooooo dry it is flaking?

AHHHHH spring - Poor Emma.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Today I interviewed worm harvesters....

And I've never been so humbled in my life.
For three to six hours a day - sometimes twice a day - this past-middle aged couple digs in the flats (the part of the ocean revealed when the tide recedes) for worms. They spread their legs a bit and bend over, using a long-tined fork to turn over the mud and find the worms. Sometimes they are working mid-day, other times at the crack of dawn. Sometimes they have to use the headlights of their car to illuminate the mud. It all depends on the time of the tides.
They get 24 cents for each worm, which are frozen and shipped by dealers to Europe as bait or food for shrimp farms.
This couple does this back breaking work 12 months a year = snow, sleet, rain, hot sun.
When they arrived at our meeting place in their car, there were three people, a dog and their weeks' laundry in the tiny sedan. The back window was shattered out when they tried to load a sofa they found on the side of the road onto the car. The left front blinker cover had been replaced with duct tape and a plastic milk jug. They laughed about it and called the battered car their "mud buggy."
They have so little, so incredibly little, and even what they have is worn and tattered and of a quality that you or I might toss away.
Yet they are so blissfully happy doing this hard, dirty work.
"I have freedom," the woman said.
"I am my own boss," the man said.
They get to see eagles, ospreys, deer, sea life and their view "at the office" is most days breathtaking. They laugh easily and speak to each other with kindness. Recently they took $150 that was meant to fix the car and exchanged it for a small dog that was being abused.
I spent several hours with them and walked away jealous.

Not of their possessions, but of their peaceful view of life, of the world, of their values. Of the way they put their own needs secondary to a little dog that was suffering. Jealous of the simplicity of their work, of their world. Of their ability to find the beauty, the joy and the laughter in their tiny corner of Maine.

We should all be so lucky.
And so I offer a toast to Anna and Dickey, who taught me a lot more this morning than how to dig worms.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter...There were wonderfully magical cupcakes to eat.....

Didn't I do a superb job decorating those red velvet treats?

There was unbridled joy that the Easter Bunny came and left cracker-filled eggs!

And that the shiny eggs contained chocolate!!

I left Sweet Pea Cabin this morning at 4:30 a.m. - I had to cover a sunrise service on the pier in Eastport. It was a bit foggy so we didn't actually see the sun rise, just a sort of graduated lightening from black to dark, rich periwinkle to a lovely soft light blue.
Wrote the story, sent the pictures, wrote another story, sent more than 2,000 words worth of briefs and rewritten press releases, called the 11 police departments that I need to check in with each day on the weekend, and now I'm taking the wonderful book I'm reading (The Help) and sitting in the sun in my new Adirondack chair in the back yard.

I'll probably fall asleep...Happy Holiday, everyone!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chapter three...

Apparently this is where my adventure novel bogs down and gets really boring.....It is almost 5 p.m. and no one has set off a fire alarm, no one went to the hospital and no one crashed their car in a drunken stupor.

I'm bored now.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chapters one and two...

Oh - before I start my story, check out my very cool new glasses! (which won't be here for two weeks.) I bought them at the coolest optician's in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. I knew you'd like them.

Anyway, back to my story...
I think my life is becoming an adventure novel.

Chapter One: Last night, I made a quick trip to the grocery store for lunchmeat and cheese and fabric softener. It ended up taking almost two hours because while I was rummaging around at the back of the store by the baked beans and spiral sliced hams, the fire alarm went off. The store had to be evacuated and then the crazy strobe lights and piercing alarm triggered seizures in a young girl and the ambulance had to be called. The fire turned out to be smoldering microwave popcorn. Isn't it always?

ChapterTwo: This afternoon on a return trip from Bangor, a drunk driver nearly rear-ended me. Then she passed me going about 70 and then I said "Ha Ha!" when she got stuck behind a dump truck. There was no more laughing, however, when she missed a curve, slid through the soft shoulder, overcorrected and crashed into a stand of trees on the other side.
Someone really does protect drunks - she was unhurt. I called the police, kept her from walking into the road every time a vehicle passed, filled out my statement and watched her get handcuffed and taken off to jail. The whole thing - mostly the waiting for the cops to arrive part - took almost two hours. Oh, and when she kept complaining that she had to pee, the officer said she could go in the bushes if she really had to so she walked in front of my car - right in plain view on the side of the road - squatted down on the shoulder and let it go. Geez. I had to absolutely agree with her when she walked over, put her arm around my shoulder and drunkenly whispered in my ear "I'm fucked."

I just can't wait for tomorrow.