Sunday, September 27, 2009


Reflections are good. Looking back is the only way you know how you are doing. I love this kind of reflection. It shows a mirror image of what is above, but what is on the surface is a bit distorted.. There is not as much detail in a reflection for the acuity of the moment fades with time. I guess that is what makes the past bearable and again memorable. The here and now is what we can do something about. My farm manager of some 9 years, Sergio, whom you will meet at some point, has a 13 year old son. This young man, who does not do drugs, is very faithful and loyal as a son and helper to us ,had a seizure this past week. You know the drill. He gets to have bed rest, no school (homework, of course), and medications. While they await the appointments with the doctors, we have a chance to reflect on this kid. He was here all summer, working with his father and brother, kinda tiring easily, and looking weak in the countenance. He came over this morning with his parents and he looks great! Seems as if his reset button got pushed and he looks stronger than I have ever seen him. Maybe things have to happen to make us slow down, get some rest, sort out what is important and appreciate. Cannot imagine how incomplete my life would be without Alex hanging out. ****************************************************************************** I love tail-gating food. It is a reason to get some flavor packed foods. seems as if the best ingenuity of girls and guys comes out. I like the appetizers! I have seen full breakfasts cooked pre-game; with a followup of full course meals.

Anoother reflection........................... Our friend, Jane Eve Wilheit +, had a recipe for marinated Bloody Marys. She would make her blend and let it sit overnight in a tupperware beverage container.

Then she and her husband, Tom +, would load up the RV with friends and go to a Clemson University football game with the guests drinking the delightful marinated brew along the one hour trek to the campus! Tom was the designated driver before that was vogue!


I have a recipe for you that is a take-off on some restaurants' favorite. Sounds awful, but try them, they are bursting with flavor.... Fried Dill Pickles Take dill pickle circles, or kosher dill pickle spears and cut into bite size pieces Trim out the seeds. Coat with Martha White Buttermilk Cornbread Self-rising mix. Deep fry for a few minutes until the breading is golden. Drain and serve with a sauce (like zaxby's Sauce. I usually get a few extra at their shoppe for occasions like this. I am determined to figure out that recipe one of these days!) Yummmmmm

Friday, September 25, 2009

Beyond the surface

There are some things in life that are not fully revealed. So it is with nature and people in our lives. I had no idea such talent lay within our gene pool. I am amazed everyday as each little life shows us a new revelation. So it may be with you and yours. One very clear example that I have sits on my credenza. It is a beautiful conch type shell that I bought in Italy several years ago. When you turn it over, there is a small carving beginning to emerge on the fluted side. You can see the initial design of a figure. This is how cameos are made. the artist will take a regular shell and remove what he does not need and what is left is the design he has created. This particular artist did not like what was going on so sold the whole shell to me. If he had chosen this one to "live on" he would have given great detail to the face and then put into a bezel for a brooch or necklace. Much like happens to the human.
What we do as individuals is to take what seems like an ordinary little shell and reveal what is really under the surface. It may take quite a bit of chipping away to remove the outer crust, but down inside are intricate blends of colors and textures. Maybe look around you and see what is just beyond the surface.
It is birthing season here on the farm. We are anticipating 12 new crias by Christmas. Each is a special breeding. Each has a special macho and dam. Each new life will have a purpose on this farm and we relish these days of anticipation. We pray for a safe birth for each mama. Will keep you posted as they hit the ground.
This weekend is National Alpaca Farm Days; join the alpaca breeders in their fall celebration.
Have a great recipe that I discovered this AM. Beatrice Ojakangas, author of The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever has a recipe for Alfredo sauce. I have always avoided making this for i thought was too complex. Not!!
Quick Alfredo Sauce
Melt the following ingredients over low heat and it is done!
8 oz cream cheese
4 Tbsp butter
1 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated (best if use Romano/Parmesan blend)
1 Cup Milk
This a heavenly tasting base sauce. Add mushrooms, or anything and serve over your favorite pasta. Also the best base for Hot Browns, a Kentucky Derby classic dish.
here we have the sauce with sauteed pork tenderloin, portabella over angel hair pasta.....
I love it when things turn out good!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

SanFran-City with a Veil of fog and tradition

Look at these magnificent veils. One is of the veil of clouds over the Golden Gate bridge and the other is a Chinese bride. The bride is in the middle flanked by her father and her brother. This is a trek they are making down Grant St. in the annual fall festival of the moon. The drums, a serpentine dragon, the smell of dim sum, the smell of sulfur from the firecrackers, the hint of jasmine and potted orchids of every color challenged all the senses on this September morning. White is not necessarily the universal color for brides as turquoise was this bride's choice. She carries a lantern. The brocade dress was a beautiful creation. I did find some white linen that was very lightweight that is used for infants but could surely be used in our western veils.
Behind the parade of people at the entrance to China Town were the Chinese Foo dogs, the male with his foot on the world and the female with her foot on the family. Quite an interesting entrance.
The traditions in any culture must be considered in their pure form.
Trying to ad lib as to what they mean or what influence is in their context; is not
always obvious to us.
Let me switch gears on you here.
There are life coaches out there that tell you to think positive, think what would your clients want, do something that you enjoy, then look around yourself, take advantage of the environment in which you live and make the best of it that you can. Make your presentation unique; try to be original but be incredibly good if original might seem ordinary.
We met such an individual.
He is called the "bush man". (This is not be to confused with the Sans Bushmen of Namibia). Literally this man breaks off bush branches, sits on a bucket at Fisherman's Wharf in SanFran and hides behind these bushes. As an unsuspecting cute girl in tight jeans passes by he pushes the branches out at her and says "Boo"!! Literally jumping back several spaces, startled that this has happened and on a public street, becomes amusement for passersby. They end up putting a dollar or so in his bucket. He has been doing this for years. I watched him from a restaurant above the street level for a while . As I took this photo. I watched him count his "donations". He had a wad of greenbacks and I counted $75.00 while I was standing there, he rolled it up and stuck into a private pocket in his pants! Now talk about entrepreneurial! This guy is a local attraction. A native of SF told us about him and I never thought I would see American creativity like this. He does have a vendor's license they say, but such a bizarre way to spend your day, scaring pretty girls! But the best part is the do-re-mi !! Wonder if he reports all that income?
Now that is original and using your local resources. His presentation format is a bit off center but he seems to be getting his message across. Lighten up !!??
Wonder what the mother plants look like by now!

Friday, September 11, 2009


So many days slip by that I do not thank God for all His goodness. I am surrounded by all these creatures called alpacas that have such an humble spirit and a quiet presence that we would all do well to model after them. They are exemplary in how they raise their young. They do not eat much! They seem to enjoy seeing you as if it was the first time. They love their own surroundings and their pasture mates and when one is moved or missing, they all seem to know and reestablish their base of comfort. They love being close to each other yet still maintaining their space. I have noticed when the little ones go out for an evening "pronk", one dam keeps the watch while the others graze or join in some girl time; still being mindful of their main responsibility. Wish I had been that great of a mom. My offspring, fortunately, has done very well. Now we will see how far the apple falls from the tree!
The bush right outside the alpaca paddock attracts these beautiful butterflies. Wings of gossamer, like an angel in my mind. It is a daily reminder that what once was a caterpillar encased then in a little pouch and a being developed into splendor for our eyes and benefit for pollinating. How perfect a plan is that?
That reminds me of a bride behind her veil, like gossamer wings of an angel.
Remember 9.11

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Surround yourself

One of the best lessons learned is to surround yourself with folks that elevate you. Now thinking on this it can go several ways. Some want to have others around them that are less talented, less creative, less clever so that they can always feel better. On the other hand, I, for one, love to be around smart folks. I like to listen to their discourse, see what motivates them, listen to their vocabulary, their style of getting a point across without sending me over the moon. with my not having to be the center or "in charge". I love it when the sisters or the nieces tell me what they want to do rather than waiting for me to come up with all the ideas and plans. However, my husband, who is an endangered species of knowledge and southerness, reminds me that I may not like the results if I am not calling the tune. Well, as one matures, you realize that getting things done through others is always better!
Oh yes, as to the shotgun and the doves? No problem, not a one flew over on opening day. He fired off his shotgun just to see if it still worked. Doves are safe! Tee hee! I was happy on that one. Chartres got to run around a bit but was quite perplexed as to why nothing was falling for her to bring to her master.
When out in the woods last weekend, I learned to pick chanterelles. That piqued our interest in wild mushrooms. My husband found about 30 different species on our farm, but all were not edible. I did learn however that as the bud forms and unfurls to be a cap, there are remnants of this first covering. Guess what it is called? A universal veil. Now is that too coincidental since we are in the study of the veil. That term is every where and ubiquitous. Look at the drawing on the front of the Roger Tory Petersen book; McKnight studies. The flecks on the cap are remnants of the universal veil. Bet you did not realize those spots had a name. Learn something new everyday, it is good for you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chartres and Diana

I have the most incredible dog. She is obedient, but moreover, true to her breed and faithful. She has no fear in the field and can retrieve anything that flies, even ones that are twice her size. She is a Boykin Spaniel, a dog bred in South Carolina to "leap" into the water to retrieve a duck. The lab lost its water job for too many times when leaving the samll section boat, they would capsize the hunter and the small boat because they take off, rather than leap and are three times the size of the fearless little silkybrown dog , curly ear hair with the yellow eyes. Chartres is getting "married" this fall and should have pups by Christmas! When Heather, our daughter, got married in June, she and Sugar, the Maltese, had to be in the photo ops. So they both had wedding veils. This was way too cute for words. Sugar, being white, looked like a little princess. Chartres wore hers on her blaze orange collar and somehow was not befitting the breed. So I promised not to show the photo in public for fear that her buddies might be looking at a computer screen and wonder "have we gone to the humans!" I saw this stance and her true desire to please by bringing me her ball, the pink one, I wondered if those around us would say the same of us as being true to a breed standard? Are we faithful? True to our word? Willing to serve and please? A joy to be around? A good companion? Not to compare the human to a dog, but surely something to think about. ************************************************************************ For Diana: I have a friend. Last I saw her she had grown and since cut off her hair for "Locks of Love". Little did she know that she would be needing "a covering" shortly thereafter. Her hair was warm toasty brown and cut short in preparation for the "fallout". I gave her one of our crocheted alpaca skull hats , dark fawn to match her hair color, that my chemo friends get. Folks say that the alpaca is so soft and like a friend at night when you head is out from underneath the covers and chilly or laying by the fire while the magic poisons do their job of killing off the enemy. This lady is so courageous I never heard a negative word and she is always smiling. Well, we visited her this weekend and boy was I shocked and pleased. She now has a "veil "of silver curls! Lovely and so fitting for her. I have learned so much from her. You can be in the dumps or on top of the the hill: your choice! She taught me about attitude, mushrooms, scones and sourdough starter. So I have a cadre of ideas to share. I want you to meet Diana, anther "sister", and her scones that were Cordon Bleu perfect. She has not missed a stroke in her life duties. Her husband, Larry is truly a man among men;he ranks up there with the "sisters" too. He even collected Chanterelles (mushrooms) for us to take home. Yum, the delicacy of the forest. This man is a gentleman and sportsman even though he is from the North.......we will keep him!

Buffalo Hair and Casablanca

I have been around Spanish moss all my life but never heard it called buffalo hair. These folks that do not grow up with something can give some funny analogies to what I took for granted as a place for chiggers! As I looked through the shadows I could see how a little kid would believe that. I want you to look closer though at this photo. This is an egret. It is one of the most graceful of birds in the marshes. In the lower front of the neck of this bird, particularly in the male, is a tuft of feathers that when opened in full spray looks like a veil of fog hovering low to the ground. Getting this shot took a lot of patience and waiting for the correct light and framed in the buffalo hair! The egret is perched on a downed tree trunck which is over a hundred years old, lost in a hurricane but lived, just not in its upright position. Even though the weather gave it a differnt fate than originally intended, it still to this day serves great purpose. It is a buffer against a nine foot tide, a respite for a bird looking for brunch, a place for the parasite moss to thrive, a pretend horse for a visiting grandchild, and yield such grandeur in its hues of gray, blue and brown for my eyes. This is a live oak. Its sister trees that did not get downed are a tennis court wide in its spreading, laying out branches, but this one is no less important to the ecosystem. So how does that fit us? Simple, think about it. ********************** For Sandra: I received a package last week with a very sweet note attached. It was from Sandara, an alpaca breeder "sister" who leads a double life. She hails from Wilmington, NC for ranch # 1 but the summer ranch # 2, in Virginia, fits the needs of her herd during high humidity and hurricane season. You have to have a GPS to keep up with her. She is developing a product line using alpaca that I know you will be hearing about soon. It is a secret. The package contained a large square of white felt. The note said she hoped that Casablanca would live on through one of our veil creations. You see, Casablanca, which means white house, (also one of Humphrey Bogart's best films; remember the white dinner jacket and the comment to Sam the piano player?), was one of the Atlantic Breeze alpaca herd. This being special in our memories of film-making made this felt even more special for you see, Casablanca was lost as was her unborn cria and Sandra still weeps in those deep parts of your soul when you loose one of these beautiful creatures. What I think we may do is take this to the studio and design a cover with lace and pearls to cover the bride's Bible or Prayer Book for her bouquet, or a slip cover of exquisite Alencon lace design for the guest book. I think maybe the base for a fascinator to hold the circle of lace for the veil that descends the back. Do you remember Jacqueline Kennedy's veil? The base that sits against the hair makes a short hair style look terrific and this is the perfect product! Will create and let Casablanca have another purpose!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Outside the box

This is Luke. He is our fancy rooster....feathers on feet too!
Once in a while, there comes a defining moment where you step outside of the box you are in or by deviating from what is expected of you. One moment for our farm was when we put the chickens on the property. We have had peafowl for ten years and they are on their own, molting for me each year. But when you have egg producers of the richest finished product, your whole life changes. My husband ,who had chickens on their farm as a kid, thought he was finished with that part of farming. Surprise!!
He now really looks forward to the daily"collection". We have the Araucana (easter egg chicken), Domineckers, and some Bantam Fancy with feathers on their feet. Luke, the mature rooster is quite the man. When he struts, it looks like more of a penguin gait. He controls the girls and makes a happy existence for all the harem. I marvel at his talent to keep order and safety particularly when the dog is out exercising in his territory. Like most things in your life, including chickens, you do not have complete control. The best you can do is to provide a safe environment that is enriched with nourishment, and protected against predators. I then thought of my raising of my child. How different is raising a human than a chicken? Not a whole lot if you reduce it down ( a cooking term). You provide the best you can for their needs and hopefully they make the right choices and stay close to their "roost".
Have you ever heard of a folk artist by the name of RA Miller? He uses old roofing tin and makes these outdoor wall hangings that look like an Uncle Sam. He writes Bible verses on the back. One defining mark is the title of "Blow Oskar". When his cousin Oskar would pass by their house in Rabbittown, near Gainesville, GA, he would blow the horn. This term became part of the lyrics of a song. We have this piece of "art" hanging on our pump house and we see it everyday and wish that old man peace as he creates in the most heavenly places. It is very meaningful to man to surround himself with reminders of how thankful we should be with where we fit in this universe.
Have had a real brain blast with the veil of the week. We created this angelic vision with the fascinator base of white alpaca felt topped with silk or fresh roses that have a faint blush color in the heart. We then place the tulle on top rather than underneath and got a whole new look to the blusher veil. Really got out of the traditional design with this one. Thinking this would go well with a sheath of peau de soie or satin, would take a straight silhouette for the bride. I love the light as it passes off the bends in the fabric. Diamonds definitely the jewel of choice with this one.
I would think that the groom would melt when he sees his bride in this!
The thought of "is the beer cold?" would be trumped!