Sunday, January 31, 2010

"The Art of a Woman" update... plus a RANT thrown in for good measure.

I’m up to nine models for my “The Art of a Woman” project.  It’s very exciting to see things coming together.  I’ve just read the press release and it’s excellent.  I’ve met with the woman who will be creating the stage in the display window for the models to move around in.  And Charles and I have been passing photographs back and forth of inspiration and ideas.  I’m really surprised to see our vision mesh so beautifully on this one, it’s a convergence of talent and opportunity that is pretty exciting.  Plus, I get tired of being alone so much of the time, so getting out of the studio and working with these amazing women is going to be fun! 
Here is the way the press release describes the publicity stunt in March:

“The 7pm finale window performance "The Art of a Woman" has dual meanings.  The producer and designer, Carmen Rose of Staunton, is a woman artist herself, known for versatile creation in many media, as seen in her painted glass, art quilts, photography and silk scarves represented at OASIS.  Also the concept Rose expresses is that a woman herself--of any size, shape or age-- is a work of art, whether or not she is perceived to be.  Each model, outfitted and made up in extreme fancy, will be replaced by the next in a flow of silent poses, each highlighting a facet of womanhood.  For example, the earthy aspect of womanhood will be portrayed by a model whose skin, hair and gown make her appear to be part of a forest.  Another model will portray woman as a unique treasure, draped in gleaming pearls and sparkling snowflakes.  Rose has designed imaginative makeup, costuming and transitions for this changing display of silent poses.   OASIS presents one performance only at 7pm “The Art of a Woman” in its display window onto Main Street, Friday, March 5.

Women whose ages range from 15 to 54, are scheduled in February for hair, makeup, and costuming by Rose and her team, followed by a professional photo shoot with Charles Garratt in his Staunton photography studio.”

Oh, it tickled me to read this!  Now it just remains to put together all the looks and then the photo shoots.  And of course I’ll be sharing photos with you all along the way as I can!  I think it can be so hard for women to keep perspective on ourselves and our appearance.  We have the fashion and health care industries - hair, makeup, skin care and diet products, plus personal trainers and cosmetic surgeons, to name just a few… and they are aiming BILLIONS of dollars of marketing money at the women of the world with one simple message:  “You are not beautiful now, but you could be if you…  $$fill in the blank$$.”  It’s cruel, it’s wrong and we need to affirm the women around us and we need to REALLY LISTEN when people affirm us.

A young man makes it to his college graduation and he looks out over his future and he has one goal:  Make his mark on the world.  And his pretty classmate agrees with his goal.  She wants to make her mark on the world as well, but she wants to do it wearing a size six.  Marilyn Monroe was a voluptuous size 14.  By the time I was in high school, size 10 was considered “perfect.”  Now our models look like they are starving… because they ACTUALLY ARE!  A young college grad may starve herself and jeopardize her health with any number of risky behaviors to be that size six.  I’m not suggesting for a moment that it’s easier to be a man in our society; men are increasingly included in that message.  We judge people by their appearance, and we judge ourselves the same way.  I still think handsome is still about more than just a man's outward appearance!

Only a few generations back in China, women’s feet were bound from the age of three years old.  Bones were broken and the foot was crushed in on itself.  The x-rays are horrifying and the pain was at times severe.  Many of them were rendered crippled by this practice, but it was the standard of beauty in those days.  In some parts of China, the older generation of women will still look at another woman’s feet before she looks her in the eye when she meets her.  It seems like an extreme example.  However, if we suggest to our young women that they are not beautiful unless they are: thin, their muscles are toned, their nails and toes are done, their hair is long and silky, their skin is perfectly clear, their teeth are white, their brows are tweezed, their glasses are shed for contacts, their teeth have been professionally straightened, their skin is tanned, their warts removed, and they are wearing whatever pop culture demands of them at the moment… it’s a crippling (not to mention expensive) load.  And women then look in the mirror and make comparisons.  And when we don’t like what we see, we draw conclusions that we are not what we want to be, not what we should be.  Sadly many conclude that they are just plain ugly.  How sad when a beautiful woman can’t see her own worth!  There is a sadness I feel when I think of the pressures on women to conform to the standard that is equal to how I felt when I first saw an x-ray of a Chinese woman’s bound foot.  The notion of beauty in this culture is little more than a form of crippling bondage.

I had no intentions of getting on my rant when I started this post.  These are themes that I spoke on when I was at an event in Indiana on a visit a few years back.  I don’t get many opportunities for public speaking these days, I guess that’s why I’m ranting about it here.  There is such a thing as Beauty that is a blessing and not a curse, but this world doesn’t see it on TV, in the movies or peruse it in their magazines.  It shines from the spirit of strong vibrant women everywhere.  We are creative, bold women who are fearless and unbroken by the demands of pop culture and skillful marketing.  We refuse to accept another ideal other than this: to live into the design with which we were created and to bring to fruition EVERY DROP of potential within us by our expiration date.  We may have some pudgy spots, our hair may be weird colors and our teeth may be yellow, but we are beautiful.  And if pop culture does not agree, then they can kiss our big healthy unbound feet!!  (As we dance right on by!)

Now go out there and live like the vibrant, beautiful woman you are! 

And a tip of the hat to the fine gentlemen who drop by to read, please consider the women in your life.  I’ll bet if you look beyond the pop culture vision, you’ll know the women around you are beautiful.  Tell them so, tell them why you think so, do it today, and please do it often!  (And thank you, Handsome!)

With Love,
Carmen Rose

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Surprise Suprise!

I was told we'd get an inch of snow overnight... no big deal. However, we're up to eight inches and it's really COLD! It's beautiful though, no doubt about that. Maybe we'll get to see some sunshine tomorrow to set it all off in blinding snowy sparkling splendor! I'd like that. I've had the itch to make a snow angel all winter and just never did. I wondered if I'd remember how and I wasn't crazy about the idea of getting all cold. But I threw some layers on and went out and planted myself and played in the powder fine stuff just long enough to make an angel and then get back inside by the fire. A photo and a change of clothing later and here she is with grass on her skirt. 

I'll sign off the way my friend Deb does:
Light and Laughter,
-Carmen Rose

Sunrise in Studio B

I took this a few mornings ago. I don't know that I've ever seen the morning sunrise do something quite like this but I ran for my camera when I saw it. This pink hued light with shadows from the vases in the window and the light and the kitchen table... I thought it was a moment of light well worth sharing.
-Carmen Rose

Women in Art

Interesting video here.  Sent to me by a friend who knows the "The Art of a Woman" project I'm working on.  No way to embed it that I can tell, but well worth the view.  Women in art through history.
-Carmen Rose

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Kitchen Details

I posted this "before" photo... well.. uh... before. But I have to keep reminding myself that it's the same place, just getting rid of THAT FLOOR made a big difference in how I felt about the room.

We changed out the lighting and painted the walls blue.  The cabinets (in that section at least) are painted, the hinges came and we were able to get the doors back on. Believe me, I'm grateful for that! And I really really like my polymer clay covered knobs on the upper cabinets and the simple black ones on the lower ones. I'm not usually into details like a polymer clay handle, that but this time it feels right.  It seems like it might be a good idea to go back and paint the toe kick, huh?!  Funny, it didn't occur to any of us working on the project at the time.  And now it's on my list.  I LOVE my new floor!  That project seemed to take forever but I am pleased with the result!

So... let's see.  Here we have a little of my hand painted glass.  A framed photography grouping that spells out the word "PEACE" with photographs I took around my adopted home town a while back.  I took two weeks walking around town looking at things and photographing everything that looked like an alphabet letter.  THAT was fun!  Try it sometime, it's a creative exercise in adjusting your vision to see beyond what you think is in front of you.  Alphabet photography got popular and then started to look a little kitchy to me.  Oh well.  I photographed the entire alphabet, the Q was one of the harder ones to find but I have a good one!  You may recognize that little floral quilt from a recent blog post.  And also the open sign from my gallery in the old days.  So far so good.  Feel free to leave a comment!

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Updating the Kitchen

I played catch up at my house today. I don’t have much to show for my day but I was SO busy yesterday that I welcomed a little peace and quiet today.  Plus I have some physical things happening right now that seem to be sapping my strength.  Just catching up on email took some doin and I still have a few I haven't worked through yet. I did get a little nap though, which was lovely. And… I have a few kitchen details to share. I really should save this little detail for last, but it’s my very fav, so here goes.

Ages ago when I reworked the bathrooms, I had floating shelves made. In the small bathroom I painted them brown, and in the larger bathroom I painted them black.  And I ended up with two extra floating shelves that hadn’t found homes in the house yet. So when I took a look at one of the problem areas of my kitchen, I decided to try putting a shelf there.

This is what it looked like when I met my kitchen for the first time. It was a little messy but I didn't care, they were preparing to auction the place off. Now see how the cabinets end on the left by the doors instead of going all the way to the wall? That always puzzled me, why did they do that? We keep those french doors closed because the dogs don't have run of the house, and because we don't heat the whole thing. So... that left a very odd looking configuration of cabinets. We ended up keeping one of the dog crates there, but that didn't answer the question of what to do in that wierd corner. So this is what I did:

It works, right?  At least for now.  It needs a light, that's on the list.
The framed piece is a photograph I took 3-5 years ago.  Those beautiful trees in the foreground were bulldozed to make way for an overlook on Warm Springs Mountain in Virginia.  It was sad to see them go but the overlook is a beautiful place to stop and consider the beauty of the valley spread out below and the rippling mountains in the distance.  I love that place and places like that in the mountains.  I call that photograph "Last Stand" because those trees were sacrificed for "progress."  The vases are both ones I painted.

The cookbook shown there is my recent Christmas present to myself, it's by Ina Garten.  It is the first of... six I think?  Yeah, those cookbooks are such a work of art that I wanted to display it as if it was a small framed painting.  "Hey, why not?!"  (She says that on her show a lot!)  That reminds me, I need to get my birthday present to myself ordered, I think I'd like another Ina Garten cookbook!  =)

Drop me a comment and let me know what you think!
Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose


A friend of mine and I are embarking on a creative endeavor that I am VERY excited about. I’ll be doing makeup, hair and creating the costumes and my cohort Charles will do the photo shoot. Then we have a publicity stunt planned for March in conjunction with an exhibit celebrating womanhood where we’ll use the same models.

(That's Scott wearing a vintage WW2 uniform - an actual one, not a costume.  I was makeup artist for "Tuesday Mourning" a show about D-day at Normandy.)

I’ve been shooting ideas back and forth with Charles and that’s been very exciting. Bouncing ideas off of another artist is always fun for me and this happens to be more fun because he has been a trusted friend for years and it just happens that our vision has converged at a time when we both have the freedom to do something about it. That’s pretty cool.

I’ve got two models who have already signed on and I’m thrilled with them. Both of them are good friends and creative people in their own right, so the process of creating their persona is going to be a great deal of fun! I’ll keep you posted.

A tidbit from the “Call for Models” that I put out earlier today:

“Have you ever wanted to morph into a mystical creature or try on a look very different from your usual? The process will include shopping with the artist and fitting a costume at the first session. The second session will involve full makeup, hair and costume followed by a photo shoot. The final session will be a repeat of full makeup, hair and costume for a publicity stunt holding a pose in the gallery display window and then mingling in the crowd at an art opening. We expect media coverage of the event, participants may be in local television news. Participants will get digital copies of their photographs from the photo shoot for their own use.”

Now tell me, doesn’t that sound like fun?! I’ve been emailing with the woman who will write the press releases and get the TV news coverage and I’m very excited about her ideas. I’m working with another artist on the publicity stunt, she’ll be building the window display context for the models. She’s got a lot of energy for this project as well and that's so cool!

I can’t even believe the kinds of ideas that are swirling in my head on this one. I’m just trying to keep up! I’ve got to do some shopping and get some supplies ordered!

Monday, January 25, 2010

What a TREAT!

One of the artists popped by the gallery today while I was there and mentioned that there was a rainbow outside. I LOVE bainrows! So I popped outside to see how it looked and ended up walking a few blocks snapping shots with my camera phone.

It was unusually vivid, I could hardly believe how beautiful it was.

The buildings were in the way of catching a shot of the whole thing.

And there was an echo of a second bainrow nearby, I love those!

Only a few moments later and it was beginning to fade.

A moment of beauty to feed the soul.
So glad I was able to drink it in.

 I really love rainbows!  I have seen rainbows at some of the most pivotal moments of my life and they are a healing and comforting reminder that there is still hope, even in the pain and disillusionment.

With gratitude,
-Carmen Rose

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Kitchen Update

I followed the tracking information on the hinges but there had been no updates after they left the warehouse. So imagine my surprise when I hear the Post-Lady drive up Saturday afternoon and so I peeked out the front door and there she was walking my direction with a box in her arms. Yay! The hinges finally came! I was SO glad to see them.

Turns out that it wasn’t quite as simple as putting screws back in the existing holes. These little buggas are a little more temperamental than all that, so it took a long time to get the doors back up – but Holy Smokes! There are doors on my kitchen cabinets again! YAY! I can’t believe what a difference it makes in the room! And the white cabinets really brighten up the room! I took some photos but it was dark and the lighting isn’t that great so I’ll wait for a bit of sunshine and then let you all in on the details that are finished so far.

I have six sections of cabinets, two of which I think are complete. When I paint the toe kicks, two other sections will be finished. The fifth section needs a final top coat of paint but I’ll do that with the cabinet doors in place. And tables and red rosin paper are back out and the doors are off the final section waiting for the process to begin all over again.

We had guests here last evening and it was nice to have the kitchen looking more put together (aside from the cans of paint and boxes of kitchen hardware) even if it was fleeting. Taking down the tables and the saw horses sure made the place seem much bigger for a while and I got to enjoy the new floor for a while. But it’s really time to wind up this project, I’m very impatient to have it complete. So, tomorrow I’ll start again if I can. Photos coming when I get a little good light, though it’s been raining so much that I soon expect to see animals coming up Gypsy Hill two by two.

I just couldn't finish the post with no photos at all, so here is a sneak peak:

THOSE are the polymer clay cabinet knobs in place.  And I lurve them!  I really do!

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Oh No! The deck is weeping!

We had a little ice storm, thankfully the roads didn't really seem to get bad but there was a coating of ice on everything else. It didn't last long.

And tomorrow - rain.
And I wish it was snow because snow is just SO beautiful! But winter isn't over yet, maybe we'll get some snow yet.

Happy Creating!
-Carmen Rose


I flipped through the channels tonight and came across this song right in the middle in the Haiti benefit concert. It's one that recently became a favorite. I love the original Leonard Cohan version with the other verses, but the harmonies on this version were a special treat. Every time I hear this song I'm arrested by the haunting complexities of the melody and lyric.

"'s a cold and broken Hallelujah"
-Carmen Rose

Friday, January 22, 2010

It Came Today

This was my Christmas present to myself and it finally came today.

And it is beautiful! The photography is amazing! It's like a coffee table book about food. Glorious, beautiful food.

I don't think I've ever purchased a real cookbook before. Most of the ones I have were given to me by someone or inherited from someone. I tend to look on recipes as suggestions, however, all the recipes of Ina's that I've tried have been excellent. And if you're going to start with someone's recipe and change a few things to make it your own, it might as well be a fantastic recipe to start with! And so I'm a fan of the Barefoot Contessa, and the happy owner of a beautiful book of food that happens to include some directions.

My birthday is coming up. I think I'll add another to my collection.

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Grieving or Reminiscing?

Yeah, I wasn’t sure about the answer to that question myself. I was in the basement looking around for a cool piece of wood and ran across the open sign I used to use when I had the gallery. It was a sidewalk sandwich board sign, and I carted it outside each morning when I opened the store and brought it back in each evening. I painted it by hand all those years ago and the finish aged and mellowed in the weather. I unscrewed the back from the front and brought the most weathered side upstairs and put it on the desk in the kitchen.

It feels right. I love it there. The bold graphics were a perfect fit for my shop back in the day, and they are a perfect fit for the kitchen now. I love it that they cover up a badly located outlet. And I moved the clock. (And I’m still looking for an interesting bit of wood.)

I’ve been following the tracking information on my hinges hoping against hope that they would be here by Saturday. There has been no movement recorded on the system today. I suppose that the weird weather may not help. We have some very strange crispy ice stuff coming down outside, too bad it's not snow.

I went looking for photos of the shop and I was disappointed that I couldn't find much on my backup hard drive, I'm not sure where they all are. I certainly took photos along the way! This was the ribbon cutting, see the sign?  There it is!  (And look at that HANDSOME dog who was visiting with his human!)  My parents and some big wigs were there for the ribbon cutting, it was a fun little gig.  I had food drinks, lots of folks visited to get a look at the new place.  It was great.

These photos were from a "Christmas in October" show, the colors were far more muted than usual.  It brings back the memories of that place and how much I loved my work and my time there and the people who found me there and became a part of my life.

There is an OPEN sign in my kitchen. It looks good there.  It comes with lots of good memories so I'm pleased to have it out where I can be reminded... to live the dream.  I think we all need those reminders.

Live the dream, there is no substitute.
-Carmen Rose

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Today was a busy one in Studio B, one project all day long.   (ONE! project - this is not how my brain works, it was uncomfortable but I survived.)  My Mom came to visit and we worked on kitchen cabinets for...ever! We worked on two (of the six) sections of the kitchen today.  I love my house, but whoever designed this kitchen was loco!

Here’s the process: First off, sand the surface of the wood cabinets. After the first three sections, I learned to do that part outside as much as possible. (Brrr!)  Secondly, wipe with TSP cleaner. Third, paint with serious oil based primer. And finally… paint topcoat. And in some cases… another top coat. My part time job is “Drip Catcher.” We worked on 12 doors and 11 drawers and the cabinets they came from. Plus the range hood has been removed. (The new one is in a box in the living room.)  I’ve got two extra tables and two saw horses with boards on them in my kitchen with cabinet doors laying out to dry. Tight squeeze! I think the drawers are ready for the hardware and they will be complete. Maybe I should wait to say that until I’ve seen them in daylight, but I *think* they look ok for now.

Here's the "Before" photo of this section... though it's not a real before photo because that's my new floor. I suppose it's more of a process photo. I love how much morning sun my kitchen gets!  And I love my new floor!

My Maternal Unit painted while lard but Canine Unit kept an eye on us.

Temporary painting headquarters!  (WET paint!)

Drawers getting their new color.

There is only one thing left to say at this point.  "Will this project EVER be complete?!?"  Ok, ok, I'll have some faith.  (It will end, right?  Someday??)  Please?

O, and my hinges have been shipped!  Yes!  They are in Florida tonight.  I'm still REALLY hoping they are here by Saturday so I can get my doors up before my guests arrive Saturday evening.  But if not it will be ok, the kitchen looks kinda cool with all the upper cabinets wide open.  I expected to hate it, but there's something about it that I really like.  Everything is so "right there!"  It's kind of handy!  Maybe I'll just put the doors back on the base cabinets and leave the tops open?  Tee he, after all the work I put into those cabinet knobs... the doors WILL go back up.  (Eventually!) 

I think I need a reminder.  Why am I doing this again?  Hmmm...

 Hmmm... that's helping.  More please?
 I'm beginning to remember...
 Ah yes, THAT'S it.
I remember now.

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Home Office Makeover (& Ham)

Today I did a little bit of everything in true ADD style. I stuck a big ham in the oven to roast for a while as I cleaned off the dining room table. Ages ago I emptied my home office out of the larger of the two kitchen pantries. I then did a little remodel of that pantry and now it’s actually a pantry again and I love it. I rarely shut the door on it anymore because I like the way it looks. (I rarely shut the door on my closet in my bedroom because it’s all beautifully organized and I like the way that looks also.) So my office stuff had been there piled on the dining room table… for a while. Don’t ask how long, I don’t even remember. So I went through my piles and threw a bunch of stuff away. I hung up some photographs on my walls and some momentous from days gone by.

Along the way I came across my old credit card and cut it up almost without thinking. I had a little moment with it though. It had my name and the name of my gallery on that card, though of course my days as a gallery owner are long behind me. But there was something there that reminded me of a happy time in my life. Those years were really good ones for me and I'll go back to that kind of work soon enough.  I don’t know why I cut it up, the card had no value to anyone but me. One can’t hang on to every little symbol of better days. But it was cut and there wasn’t anything else to do but go ahead and toss it at that point. One day soon I’ll get back to that gig, for now I’ll cherish my freedom.  There is a framed poem in my little closet office that I had in my gallery on the wall in my office, that's the reminder I need to live the dream.

I've got lots of stuff in my little office (pantry/closet) to remind me of things and people I love.  I've hung a few clipboards with the information for ongoing projects.  I have a color wheel and the plaque from when my gallery was a member of the chamber of commerce.  I've got the notes people have sent me and photos of my family.  I've got a program for a show called "Tattered and Torn" that I saw with friends.  A few quilt photos for inspiration and the chunk of marble the good folks at Halstead Beads sent me a few years back.

I've got the bald cap for the show Annie, I was one of the makeup artists for the show and I was responsible for Daddy Warbuck's bald cap.  That was a fun show to do, the cast was mostly teens and they were so fun to work with.  I put a few musical theater show programs into frames.  I remember sitting down beside a fellow cast member who was doodling something and it turned out to be a little drawing for me, I have it in the frame with the program and it makes me smile.  I have a variety of other notes from people and little reminders of those who are dear to my heart.  And LOTS of paper.  Paper of every description!

I spent a little quality time with the ham once it was finished roasting. I cut up a good bit to freeze, started a soup and put the bone to simmer for some ham stock. I’ve got TWO border collies who would love to get a tooth in that ONE ham bone… hmmm… I made a simple ham chowder for dinner that turned out to be very flavorful. I was pleased, even if I did have to eat on the run.  Time does get away from me.

Then there was the first meeting tonight, I thought it was going to take a long time but thankfully those lovely folks know how to run a meeting and I was headed for my car after only a half hour. Yes! That meant I could get in on making a little music with some friends this evening. And that’s just good for the soul.

After that I put some hardware on the kitchen cabinets. Even though the doors aren't on their hinges, I've put my new polymer clay covered cabinet knobs on the white upper cabinet doors.  I am enjoying how they turned out!  I also put some of the dark cabinet knobs on the charcoal gray drawer fronts.  I really like how they look.

Last evening the hinge company finally answered my email, I was SO glad to hear from them. I also got the tracking number this evening for a package that should go out tomorrow with my replacement hinges and hardware. I have guests coming Saturday evening, I sure do hope that my hinges come in time to get the doors back on before my guests get here. It’s going to make a difference, I can’t wait to see my doors in place. It’s also going to be really nice to take the two folding tables out of the center of my kitchen floor, I’m sick of walking around them!  Right now they need to be there for the painting project.  It's all just a matter of time.

So today in between a thousand distractions, I set up a little home office in one of my kitchen pantries filled with reminders of the people I love and the memories I have, some take me waaaaay back.  All in all, it's just a little reminder that life is short, love well.

With love,
-Carmen Rose

PS, I've added Twitter to my profile, so now you can see what an ADHD artist gets into in real time.  =)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Curry and Cabinet Knobs

I struggled today to get anything done. I have a food allergy that sometimes takes me down a notch. I didn’t know I was consuming the one thing that always kicks my bum, and I really didn’t think it would be a big deal. The next morning the first round of reactions hit and then I felt ok for a while. In the evening the second round hit and I was still feeling it this morning. Now I’m just really worn out. I feel like I was in a car accident.

I didn’t feel like doing much of anything today, but I was hungry for curry chicken salad. I love everything curry, all the different kinds and colors that I’ve ever tried have turned out to be soul mates to my taste buds. So I picked up some chickens at the store and then went home to make stuff. I roasted the two chickens in the oven, and made some chicken stock. When the chicken cooled, I put some of it aside for meals later this week and cut up the rest for chicken salad. I made curry chicken salad using this recipe from Ina Garten. I had to find “Major Grey’s Chutney” at the store. That was easier than I expected it to be. It’s there with the other dressings, sauces, etc. I saw Ina make this on her Barefoot Contessa show this week and I’ve been craving it ever since. It turned out to be as delicious as I expected it to be. I subbed in seedless grapes instead of raisins and it was wonderful. I may add some heat to the leftovers, this kind of thing is always better with a little kick! I think it would be really wonderful in the summer.

I combined the chicken stock with a pureed butternut squash, loaded in some veggies and chicken and made a soup that turned out to be pretty good. I pushed it too much though, I’m pretty much toast at this point.

Oh, and I covered a few other cabinet knobs with polymers. They’re so fun to do that I end up making more not because I need them in the kitchen, but because I enjoy making them.  And it seems that the more I make, the more they evolve and the designs get more interesting.  I'm not out of old knobs to cover, so I suppose that's it for a while unless I find something else to cover.  

I picked up more paint at the store this morning, thinking that I may need to rattle can my old hinges just to get my kitchen put back together. I sent another email to the company that has screwed up my order of hinges and knobs. Still no reply from them. So far I’m not impressed. I’m still hoping that they’ll make it right. I guess we’ll see. I’ll keep ya posted.

I'm planning to curl up and take it easy for the evening and hope I can get some of the toxins out of my system and get back to normal. 
Health and Wholeness to each of you,
(cause nobody likes feeling bad!)
-Carmen Rose

I Have a Dream

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed --- "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi , a desert state sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, and rough places will be made plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the south. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must come true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire . Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York . Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California .

But not only that --- let freedom ring from Stone Mountain in Georgia .

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi . From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quilts and Hinges on the Doors

In between all the things that I worked on last week, I started a little quilt. Sometimes it's hard to focus on the things I NEED to do, so I started a little project that I WANTed to do. It's not finished...

and may never be finished... but it's been a lovely little project to keep me going in between all the other stuff.

I have nothing new to report on the hinges for my kitchen cabinets. I emailed the company on Friday about the return and I have ordered the replacement pieces - no response to either one. If I don't hear something from them on Monday then I'll have to give some thought as to how to proceed. At this point they have my money and I have a big heavy box of product that I can't use. Not exactly the kind of thing that equals customer satisfaction.

I have guests coming next weekend. So if I continue to work on more of the kitchen and take more doors off their hinges to paint them, then that just means that much more of my kitchen is LEANING instead of usable. I've got a big kitchen, but the last thing I need is to have guests here when it's in a condition where I can't actually use what I have. It's becoming a frustration. I suppose when/if the hinges do finally come, it will be like Christmas at my house. I'm really tempted to rattle can the old hinges and be done with it. I've tried that before and it doesn't really work all that well, but... at least I'd be able to get the doors back up where they go.

So here's to hinges on the doors of our lives, otherwise it's a bit hard to tell what doors are open and what doors are closed.
-Carmen Rose

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Harlot's Sauce

In my opinion, food with really wonderful flavors is one of life’s small perks. And sometimes the small things are the best.

It was like a vacation day in Studio B today. I straightened a few things up around the house and a friend of mine came to visit. She’s never been here before so I gave her the tour of the kitchen project that is in process, plus I showed her around the house and each of my studios and we talked lots about different processes. By the time we finished the complete tour, it was time for lunch.
While she peeled shrimp, I cut up some veggies and boiled pasta. We made Harlot’s Sauce with shrimp with toasted French bread and it turned out to be quite good. We even made chocolate molten cake for dessert, then curled up on the couch and petted the puppies as we talked. What a treat that was! (The border collies didn't seem to mind!)

I called our lunch “Harlot’s Sauce” because I’m not sure what it was other than a combination of shrimp, pasta and veggies… Harlot’s Sauce is the title of a book written by an acquaintance of mine, who I am absolutely smitten with. Check it out here. It’s a memoir, and a friend of mine read it and he kept telling me that I needed to read this book. So finally I did. And I was transfixed by her story, part here in the US, and part in Greece. I laughed and cried with her and she became a real inspiration to me. There is a recipe in the back of the book for Harlot’s Sauce, or “Salsa Puttanesca.” To quote the book, it is “a tomato sauce invented by harlots in Naples, Italy, many years ago. The sauce had to be quick to fix – between clients (wink) – and economical. Nonetheless, those women made something delicious out of a limited choice of ingredients.” And isn't that what we are all trying to do these days? Make something delicious in spite of the limitations?

The recipe in the book looks like this: olive oil, an onion, 4 cloves of garlic, water, 2 anchovies and 8 roma tomatoes plus whatever herbs and veggies are in season. Lots of big flavor - Delicioso!

And here are the instructions for my lunch version:
Put water on to boil for pasta, have a good friend peel one pound of medium shrimp. Toss them in fajita seasoning.

Cut up one onion, half a red or orange bell pepper, two roma tomatoes, one small tender yellow squash, one small tender zucchini.

Sauté four cloves of garlic in extra virgin olive oil, when it is lightly toasted add the other veggies and sauté.

Throw half the box of seven grain angel hair pasta in the pot when it comes to a boil.

Add freshly grated nutmeg, cracked pepper and sea salt to taste.

When the veggies are done, remove them from the heat. When the pasta is perfectly al dente drain it and return it to the pot. Throw in the veggies and combine, careful not to bash up the pasta.

Turn up the heat and quickly sauté the shrimp, this doesn’t take long at all. And you want to have them slightly under-done when they leave the sauté pan because they will continue to cook as long as they are hot. And overcooked shrimp are… well… a complete waste of calories.

When the shrimp are finished, combine them with the pasta and veggies. I deglazed the pan with the only citrus I had handy, an orange. It would have been better with a lemon or lime, add the juice to the pasta and stir. I topped it with good freshly grated Parmesan and served it.

I thought this was pretty good, and I served it this way. But it needed something. So when supper came around and I was still hungry for more of the same, I added a few things that took it right over the top for me.

So here’s what I added: A small handful of chopped fresh cilantro. I added about a teaspoon of sriracha hot sauce (not for the faint of heart!) (to the whole pot, not just my serving!) and to my serving I added half a perfectly ripe avocado and some sea salt. Omygoodness! Now THAT… was GOOD!

I’ve really come to enjoy cooking for friends, but mostly I enjoy the process. I’m still a little timid about putting kick in food I serve other people, I don’t think everyone enjoys that the way I do. But even if I can’t make it as spicy as I like, that doesn’t mean it can’t be full of great flavors. And there is something so very satisfying about a meal of great food, even if you don’t eat much. The sensory experience makes it so much more satisfying. Good fresh ingredients make a big difference and I have developed a little attitude about fake food. The hydrogenated this and that is one example, anything that is trying to pretend to be butter, cream or sugar has been banished from my kitchen - silly impostors! (Trix are for kids!) These days I prefer to make my own scratch salad dressings, sauces and gravy instead of using a mix, condensed soup or ready-made stuff from a jar. I'm really becoming a food snob. And… I like my friends like I like my food, absolutely authentic and free of chemical additives! *chuckle*

Here's to authentic food and authentic friends,
May you always have all you need of both!
-Carmen Rose

PS... once more I was too busy living to document the experience. You try smelling that food and then see if you remember to get the camera... I was hungry!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chocolate Cake

Last evening I tried an experiment. I’d heard a friend mention 5 minute microwave cake, they raved over how good it was. I was curious, I researched it a bit and found that this kind of thing gets a very mixed reviews. So I had to try it.

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it: (serves two)
(But before you scamper off to get out your mug and reach for an egg... please FIRST read the rest of the post!)   =)

* * * * * * * * * *

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug
Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
* * * * * * * * *

As an aside, my first business was one I started in college making wedding cakes for my friends. I am familiar with chocolate cake, and I may be a *tad* bit biased about what constitutes good cake. But I followed the recipe, and popped that thang in the mic. I used two mugs instead of one because I wasn’t going to eat the whole thing anyway. I watched it turning, and I started to catch the aroma of cooking cake. Hmmm… maybe this won’t be so bad, it smells good. I pulled it out, I wasn’t sure what to think of the appearance, so I popped it out on a plate and cut it open. It was done, no question about that. So how did it taste? It tasted exactly like you’d expect chocolate cake to taste that had been made in the microwave… it was… uh… rubbery. I figured I could get past the texture if the flavor was good, was it? Nope. Never again. Dang, how cool would it have been if it HAD been good?! Who doesn’t like the idea of a nice warm chocolate cake in 5 minutes and only dirtying a spoon and a mug?

I had a good friend over to Studio B today. We finished up a lovely lunch and I assessed the situation. Was that complete? Or did we need something yet? I looked at her and asked if she’d be interested in having molten chocolate cake?  We could make it together. She thought for a moment, I could see the wheels turning. And then she answered with a resounding “Yes!” I laughed with delight, some people are so afraid of good food that they won’t even try something if they think it’s loaded with calories. (Sometimes things that taste rich and decadent don't actually aren't all that loaded, it's just that everything is in balance - that's a mark of a great recipe in my opinion!)

And so we made chocolate molten cake. It didn’t take long to make, it took twelve minutes to bake. We added a little bit of peppermint ice cream…. and it was good! Well… I should say… it was excellent. There could not be more difference between the two chocolate cake experiences. It’s very different kind of cake than I would make for a wedding or special occasion cake, but it’s really really good.

So I ask you, why would anyone ever eat a cake that took five minutes to bake, when you could have this chocolate molten cake that took only seven additional minutes to bake? Because I’ll tell ya, they aren’t even in the same ballpark when it comes to flavor! Believe me, it is worth the wait!  (Can seven minutes reasonably be considered "a wait"?!)

And so... (Drum rollllllllllll)
I'm very pleased to present

(serves four)

And I made it with this baking chocolate... the stuff is HIGH TEST.

Seriously, there is a reason why dark chocolate is a super food
I try not to knock it.

And please allow me to point out that cake for cake... 
the molten chocolate recipe will have less calories.  
~ Think of it as health food. ~ 

Wishing you warm chocolaty goodness,
-Carmen Rose

(Because for just a second there, living was more important than documenting.)


I met the Post Lady on the sidewalk in front of the house, I'd been listening for the mail truck.  I was Soooo excited that the hinges had finally come... I danced with the box into my kitchen, grabbed a knife and opened the box to survey my new kitchen finery...  (which would make it possible to actually install all the doors that are LEANING against something in my kitchen right now!)

And I took a look at these... and quickly realized that they are the WRONG HINGES! O Bother! The are flush mount, I need inset hinges. These have a little bend, and the screw plate comes father in on the door. Blast!  Blast!  Blast!

I ordered these bad boys on December 27th, they didn't get here until today. Now... I'm wondering how long it will take to get the hinges that I wanted, and that I thought I was getting.

Now let me clarify.  This IS the product that I ordered. When I realized my mistake, I emailed the company and asked that they trade out what I had ordered for the other style. They emailed back and said that would be fine. I thought we had it all worked out. Only problem... they shipped the order instead of the update. Sad really, what a waste of time. I'd really like to get my cabinets put back together so things are usable again. I have a great kitchen, that I'd like to USE!

And I'm really really hoping that this second order doesn't take 18 DAYS to ship, that is TOO LONG unless they are actually making them from scratch. So at this point I'm not terribly impressed. Their website says they don't take returns without authorization... so it will be interesting to see if customer service can redeem themselves on this. I'll keep ya posted.

Thankfully, in the same box were some wonderful cabinet knobs, they are PERFECT for my lower cabinets and drawers and I LURVE them! Thing is, now that I've made polymer clay covered knobs for the upper cabinets, that changes the number of these cool "oil rubbed bronze" ones that I need... so I'm ordering more of those as well.  Can't wait to see it all come together!  Sometime.  Hopefully this year. 

I've picked out my range.  I have chosen well... it's a thing of beauty.  One catch.  I want to cook with gas, our range is electric.  It's going to cost me a variety of limbs to get gas to the house, and I haven't seen the contract yet so I don't even know if the price I was quoted gets the fuel to the house, or into the house to the range (and future gas log fireplace upstairs.)  Hmm... decisions, decisions.  I do SO love cooking with gas...  and I have my shiny new range all picked out...  And then the old harvest gold one can go to the basement to be used in the studio and as a backup.

Mies Van der Rohe said "God is in the details."  Perhaps.  All I know is that I love it when a plan comes together.  And having the doors installed where they go will be WONDERFUL!  I can't complain, there are so many that have it so much worse than me. 

A little unhinged, but counting my blessings,
-Carmen Rose

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Walter and Lorene: Sew on!

Listening to the news from Haiti is staggering these days. The extent of human suffering and pain is overwhelming. I visited the website of my favorite disaster relief charity (Mennonite Central Committee) and came across this video. This couple has been sewing bags. Lots and lots of bags.

(there is a video if you follow this link, I could not get it to embed.)
Sewing kit bags

These kit bags become useful school supply kits with basic supplies such as paper, pencils, eraser, ruler and colors. They are often distributed to children after disasters such as what has happened in Haiti, it helps children find some sort of normalcy after a trauma and of course the bag is useful. I was struck that this couple are doing something in the shop that really makes a difference. Sometimes something as simple as sewing a little bag can help someone out there.

Here are the directions for making the bag. (They've made 8000?!)  Looks pretty simple. And then they can be dropped off at any of the following locations.

I've heard recent comments from Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson about the tragedy. Limbaugh suggested that there was no point in sending aid. Robertson suggested that historically the people of Haiti are spiritually to blame for the devastation. Some people have a lot to say, some of it almost as sad as the tragedy itself. And some people have a lot to sew. Rush and Pat will never get my attention, they have nothing I want.

All over the world there are bags 
Made in a humble workshop
By Walter and Lorene, 
Bags that give people in crisis 
A spot to stash what little they have left. 
That's compassion. 
And as far as I'm concerned, 
That's a beautiful thing!

Want to get involved?

1 - UNDERSTAND: Read more about the work of Mennonite Central Committee in Haiti

2 - DONATE: here's how:
* Online at
* By telephone toll free – 1-888-622-6337 (Canada) or 1-888-563-4676 (U.S.)
* By mail –       MCC and MCC U.S., P.O. Box 500, Akron, PA 17501 or
                         MCC Canada, 134 Plaza Drive, Winnipeg, MB R3T 5K9

3 - PRAY.  Never underestimate the power of compassion and prayer.  (Ok, so this should have been higher up that list.

4 - SEW!  =) 

With a prayer for the people of Haiti and gratitude for all the Walter's and Lorene's of the world,
-Carmen Rose
Related Posts with Thumbnails