Sunday, November 30, 2014

When We Were Young

That would be back in 2009, and I first started blogging, I met two extraordinary women. This was before the days of the book and the foraging, the too busy wedding schedule, the trip to Africa to build beehives, and the many magazine articles. (theirs not mine)

The first, one, Marie, I read mention of in the the NYT's. She was commenting on her favorite garden in New York, which turned out to be a little wildflower patch growing out of the sidewalk and bursting with sunflowers.

I put her blog title into the computer and walked right into a dream. 66squarefeet of terrace offered more than flowers, it boasted evocative writing, sensual foods, a love story,  berries, herbs, tomatoes, a productive fig tree and a cat.
     Indeed it was Eden.

And we wallowed in it.

The other was Miss Pickering, a properly eccentric British flower designer whose way with witty words certainly equals her skill with flowers, and window display. Her familiar was the  The Hound. His elegance enchanted us, the stories of his mishaps which often had Miss Pickering running thru the village of Stamford in too high heels and tears brought us to tears of laughter.

Surely Renee Zellweger would have played her, at least before the plastic surgery.

These two were not just my inspiration, they became my friends.

And when the dark days came for me, after GG left, they were there heart and soul, and almost in person.

And now the dark days have come for each of them. They have both lost their remarkable pets in the same month.

Marie posted about it on her blog, Miss Pickering posted a picture on IG.

We bloggers have text one another, cried at work, in my case and felt our hearts split open with grief for them.

They have both lost their beautiful boys.

Life seems very unfair right now.

Especially with the winter solstice coming near.

Short of lightening a candle and beaming love their way I can do nothing to ease their pain.

But I can share this with all of you and lessen my own sense of helplessness.

Maybe you can beam a little love their way too?

RIP Estrobo and The Hound.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I just have to share the sheer joy I am experiencing NOT hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the second time in two years.

Why I dutifully did it,  how I did it enthusiastically ,year after year, after three full force work days in the shop churning out complicated centerpiece after centerpiece, I can't quite imagine.

Today I'm cutting brussel sprouts off the stalks for the one and only dish I will be making, dancing in the kitchen to this, doing a little laundry, replying to many Thanksgiving texts, wearing my Detroit Lions jersey hoping for a better game today.

Neighbors are dropping by, cats are putting their paws over their ears in protest to the music,I'm deep into my 3rd iced latte, the snow/rain/snow/sleet has stopped and all is well in my world.

For this I am grateful.

I'm going to my neighbor Vicky's house for dinner, her family arrived last night and I lounged about in my pajamas and supervised the pie making. Her father has been hiding out in my house this morning trying to avoid the work. But they found him and I had to send him back.

It is so wonderful not to have my eyes on the clock, watching the hours fly by as I attempt to do 100 impossible things before dinner. I have just spent 3 days doing that. 

Wishing everyone a day filled with music, laughter, great food, flowers, friends and family, cats and dogs, children, football and lots of leftovers.

Oh and help with the dishes.

xo J

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Art Of Eating

Having just found myself in the kitchen sneaking a little corn tortilla with red beans and cheese I realized two things.

1. I need to stop eating

2. I need to blog about this meal while the flavors linger in my mouth.

I wish I could give you all a taste.

Little red beans, soaked, cooked only in water with 3 or 4 cracked cloves of garlic, a bit of salt at the end of the cooking process. Then pureed to a smooth mash and added to a pan in which thin strips of onion had been lightly browned in vegetable oil, a chicken bouillon cube sprinkled over the beans. So, onion, bouillon. A sprinkle of white cheese at the table.

Short ribs. Rubbed with mashed garlic, salt, a little crushed Honduran chili pepper. Seeds brought from Honduras, grown in New Orleans, bottled and brought to Virginia. Treated like gold.

The jar appears, the jar is capped and taken home.

 A sauce for the meat. Chopped onion, bell pepper, Roma tomato, a handful of cilantro, lashings of lemon juice, cumin, salt, maybe pepper.....

Then the ribs were grilled. 

  And eaten.

Accompanied by white rice and warm corn tortillas.

Both my teams lost today and I almost don't care.


And I got the leftovers. So I scored even in the Lions didn't.

Okay, just one more picture.

This makes me much more grateful than any turkey ever has.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Wide Sargasso sea: Part II

A certain new neighbor, um reader, is giving me flack about not blogging regularly.

Between us, I know he just wants me to get the Villa post over and done with so I can talk about important matters.

Like what we've been eating and will be eating.

Reluctant to offend my personal chef, I give you the Villa.

 They call it Villa Maitland. I called it Alhambra.

Two kitchens, two dining rooms, 5 baths, 3 bedrooms, a guest cottage, a billiard room, a wet bar, a coi pond and a pool.

  Two living rooms ( notice the can of bug spray artfully placed on coffee table) a foyer bigger than my house and a rather painful obsession with elephants.

There was also a recurring bunny theme.

The house was so big, or haunted, we all kept misplacing things.

Cell phones, reading glasses, bug spray, books, a credit card, reading devices, drinks, people.

We were constantly running up and down 3 flights of stairs to try and locate lost items and one another.

It was a workout and a vacation in one.

There was such a sense of faded Hollywood glamor oozing from the very walls that I slipped into a Carole Lombard persona with very little persuasion.

Blenders whirled, iced pitchers of lime scented water sat on the ends of the dinner table,candles and kerosene lanterns were lit at night and large fans constantly hummed over our heads.  Masseurs showed up one afternoon to attend to us all in the privacy of our own bedrooms.

Pretty heady for a little florist from Virginia but not too much for a rising starlet.

And when the movie ended, I was just as delighted to get on a plane and come home to the cats, my own little house and a delicious meal of Honduran bean soup.

New film in the making.

xo J

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Wide Sargasso Sea : Part 1

I have started this sentence 3 different times, what I really want to say is OMG, the Caribbean, but in a more lyrical fashion.

The hell with it, OMG the Caribbean.

The water was warm, the water was blue, the water was green, then it was blue again.

There were Flamboyant trees and handkerchief trees, jasmine everywhere there wasn't bougainvillaea, coconuts, clusters of red dates, yellow cedars, chickens with no known residences, iguanas ( can you hear me scream), ripe, ripe watermelon, herds of goats, and a constant temperature of 85degrees. Oh, and there was a pool.

 Wake up it's 85, go to bed it's 85.

I used up a 70 SPF tube of sunscreen, I bought a hat as big as a Volkswagen Bug and wore it everywhere except to sleep and shower.

The mosquitoes are carrying some nasty virus so after a layer of sunscreen, came a layer of bug spray, then more sunscreen, then more bug spray. Layer after layer, hour after hour, all the while wearing the big hat.

The only time I was free was in the shower. Then after moisturizing and throwing on a little dress for dinner came, you guessed it, more bug spray.

Deet. The official perfume of St. Thomas.

We had a day on a boat, 9 of us and the Captain, going from beach to beach, St. Johns for lunch, then a last ride to swim with sea turtles. It was my first full day there and I was in total fear of the sun. I was in head to toe beach burka, which I only removed for lunch and swimming.

But when we got back to the house and all jumped in the pool, cold drinks in hand and stood staring out at the water, I truly relaxed, I was in the zone.

My IPad wouldn't work, I couldn't get email on my phone, all I had was the ability to text and IG.

The Universe: once again taking care of me.

I used my eyes more than my camera, but I did get a few shots of the handkerchief trees on the Villas property.


This is what is known as a teaser.

Next up: the Villa.

I was in the Caribbean and its water was blue, then green, then blue again.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Everything I Do, I Do It For You.

I have been such a bad blogger that I'm forced to flee to St. Thomas and repent in peace.

Remember what fun I had on Fire Island this summer and suggested that if you haven't been the only woman in a house of gay men you haven't vacationed properly?

I meant every word, so when they rented a house in the Virgin Islands and invited me to join them, well, what's a blonde to do?

Beg off a week at work, find a cheap, direct flight and surrender.

The reluctant flyer flies again.

Throwing all good sense and taste to the wind, I bought two inappropriate
bikinis, tons of sun screen and new sunglasses.

Hopefully a week on the beach, over reading, overeating and laughing too much will return me to this blog a better person, tanned, rested and ready to put my fingers to the keyboard.

I'll have that damn IPad with me so will be able to sit under an umbrella and sip away at something icy while I keep up with your lives.

I make this sacrifice for all of us.

That's the kind of woman I am.

Monday, November 3, 2014


The Universe gives and the Universe takes away.

Nelda may be moving but I got a consolation prize.

A new neighbor, originally from Honduras, recently from New Orleans.

He brings a passion for football and cooking with him.

Not to mention a headfull of family recipes.

And since he just moved in he's lacking internet and a grill.

Both of which I have.....

In return for a few roasted potatoes and a handfull of greens, I got fed.

 And fed well.

I hope his internet isn't installed for months to come.

I heard about chicken soup thickened with pulverized dried corn, red beans cooked with cracked garlic then smashed and cooked with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and chilis for refried beans...

Unbelievable sounding tamales wrapped in banana porn is my kind of porn.

This winter is looking up.