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Of Spiders and Things…

19 Sep

“Experience is never limited and it is never complete: it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue”.
~Henry James

Friday at my job, as it is at many offices, is “casual Friday.” To me, that meant that I would wear leggings under a skirt with a sweater. It felt casual. To me.  I guess not to my co-worker and friend, L.  She came up to me as I was typing away and asked, “Have you always been so…prissy?” And it sort of took me aback. Me, prissy?

Do I wear dresses? All the time? Yes. Absolutely. Except when I am wearing a skirt. But since I have worn dresses while hiking, while breaking the neck off a turkey carcass and pulling his little turkey guts out, while on my hands and knees scrubbing a rooftop clean, while carrying a bleeding child home from the park, and a zillion other situations, I didn’t really think that this made me “prissy”. I thought it made me the type of girl who could eat 5 plates at the Chinese buffet without have to worry about my jeans digging into my stomach. I looked at my co-worker with a quizzical eye and wondered why this was a question. Didn’t she know me?

It sort of reminds me of my favorite bit of Christmas. You see, my mother is German and our tree was always very staunchly “German”. When we had lived in Germany, my mother had collected many beautiful things that you simply could not find in America, things like a gorgeous wax angel with luminous skin  and bright eyes, delicate candle holders, and most importantly, the tale of the Christmas Spider.

You’ve never heard of the Christmas Spider? Well, that is the whole reason you have tinsel on your tree. Yes, my mother, who is not a tacky woman, let me start off by saying, would delicately swath our tree in tinsel as the final touch before we set the angel atop. And she would always tell me the story of the spider as she did so. You see, when all the other creatures came to see the baby Jesus in that manger, they all brought what they had to share. Wool to keep him warm, milk to keep him fed, you know the tale. And when the spider came, the animals did not know what she could share. And so she spun. She spun her delicate web here and there and made intricate patterns that she hung from the plain wooden rafters. As the northern star shone down, light reflected off her beautiful webbing and caused the whole manager to glow and shimmer and look much more beautiful than it had been before.

I thought of this story as I walked to work today because I saw spider’s web, strung up in a strange alcove of a building where the spotlights were set up. One spot light was just right underneath this web, where the spider sat in the center, causing the whole web to look golden. It really stood out to me and made me remember the story and how much I do love spiders just because of that childhood memory. And yes, that is sort of the point. Because my mother told me that tale over and over again, because we have delicate spider ornaments tucked away on our tree right beside Santa’s and snowflake encrusted bulbs, whenever I see a spider, I smile. It’s changed my whole outlook on how I view them. I think to myself, pretty web and thanks for eating the icky bugs that try to crawl in my house. And sometimes I have to sweep them outside, but I never squish them with a shoe or a book.

I think that when people do kill spiders it’s because they don’t really know them and every time I hear someone make a statement about me and my dresses, good or bad, I feel like they don’t really know me. It’s true, sometimes people are extra kind to me because of my dresses.  And sometimes they are less than kind, acting as though I am offering up an excuse of incapability to anyone looking at me.

I think it’s both. I glamorize the spider and her lovely little web, but I am fully aware and incredibly thankful that she’s also using that web to trap the bugs that I do not like and keeping them away from my house. I like that she’s strong and willful and protective and that she did not build an ugly little weapon to do it all with, she did it with a flair for design that could not be learned in a decade at Parson’s.

My Dream Morning

7 Apr

by jonathon Levitt

The Most Amazing Fondue Recipe Ever

6 Apr

Last Saturday, my lovely friends Nils and Becca came over to help me make it through an East Finchely bound day. We flicked through some recipe books, trying to decide what to make, we had thought cookies, but Nils made the spot of the day: We have a fondue pot! So, why not have ourselves a really grown-up soiree? We sauntered down to the specialty cheese shop and then made the tastiest fondue ever created. 

Here’s what you will need: 

3 rather amazing friends (bring a fourth over later to help you eat all the food to make it an even better party) 

Pink Champagne and Gin and freshly squeezed orange juice for lubrication. 

Now, on to the fondue: 


  • 1/2 pound Swiss-style cheese such as Jarlsberg or Emmenthaler, shredded
  • 1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch (use cornstarch if cooking gluten-free)
  • 1 garlic clove, halved crosswise
  • 1 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc) or sherry
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cherry brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Assorted dipping foods such as cubed day-old French bread (skip for gluten-free version), cubed ham (skip for vegetarian option), blanched broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, chopped green bell peppers, peeled and chopped apples or pears

1 Place the shredded cheese and cornstarch in a plastic freezer bag. Seal, shake to coat the cheese with flour or cornstarch. Set aside. 

2 Rub the inside of a 4-quart pot with the cut garlic, then discard. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pot, and bring to a low simmer on medium heat. Bit by bit, slowly stir the cheese into the wine. Stir constantly in a zig-zag pattern to prevent the cheese from seizing and balling up. Cook just until the cheese is melted and creamy. Do not let boil. Once the mixture is smooth, stir in kirsch, mustard and nutmeg. 

3 Transfer the cheese to a fondue serving pot, set over a low flame to keep warm. If your pot is thin-bottomed, a lit candle will probably do. If thick-bottomed, you can use a small Sterno. 

4 Arrange various dipping foods around the fondue pot. 

To eat, spear dipping foods with fondue forks or small forks. Dip to coat with the cheese, and eat. 

Then everyone should sit around the table, discuss inane topics, and then retire to the lounge to watch Twin Peaks. 

Nils grates a pound of cheese!


important ingredients...


Things I Love Thursday

1 Apr

Let them Eat Cake (that they decorated themselves)…

22 Mar

Brilliant and beautiful…

a make your own cupcake bar!


17 Mar

“The secret of life,” said sculptor Henry Moore to poet Donald Hall, “is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. & the most important thing is — it must be something you cannot possibly do.”

Hyper Love and Birthday Wishes!

9 Mar

This past Sunday was one of those glorious days in London that makes you insanely happy: bright and sunny, despite being icy cold, full of amazing people. One of those amazing people was my friend Deborah.

Her birthday party was this Sunday evening and honestly, if you have ever wanted to walk into a room and meet twenty or so perfectly-wonderful-spectacular-in-every-way people, Deb’s house on this night was the place to do so.

Morgan, her wonderful boyfriend (and otherwise charming friend of mine) had organized an amazing gift for her, that I, being out of the country, had not had a chance to participate in: a multi-media dvd/cd/booklet of music, art, poems, stories, and film made by all of her friends who would be at this party and presented in a most exciting way (a bit of performance art which surprised and hushed the crowd!). There were also a lot of cakes and cupcakes and delicious thai green curry and a lot of smiles all around.

Because I wasn’t able to participate in Deb’s present, due to my being out of the country at the time (It’s okay Morgan! You’re a star!) I’d like to make her a little present here. It’s not much (but I promise, I did make her cupcake kebabs!) but for an artist, sometimes a little extra exposure is just what a girl needs. So here goes:

Deborah Pearson, who has a delightful blog of her own at Confessions of a Young Playwright, is a pretty genius young thing. She has won numerous awards, including being named one of the prestigious stage 100, an annual list of power players in the UK theater.

As a girl who lost her heart in Edinburgh, Debbie means a lot to me, since she founded the Forest Fringe Festival in my beloved Forest Cafe, which is an experimental theater festival during the big August Festival that overtakes Edinburgh every year. She wanted a place where artists could make whatever art they wanted without having to focus on money. And she totally did it: it’s free for everyone, the artists and the audiences. And she started doing all of this while she was attending Edinburgh University. Ta-dah! You can read about this in more detail here: Post City Article!. Or you can read a quick interview with her here: 5 Questions: Debbie Pearson and see a quote from here her in The Guardian.

So this is sort of my love letter to another great North American girl. She’s been a bit of a hero, a bit of role model, and a lot of a friend who helped me leap before I looked and gives me a lot of faith everyday that if you do what you love you can never be sad. And in that spirit, I would like to dedicate a list to

“How To Be More Debbie Like in 5 Easy Steps”



1. Smile all the time.

Deb has this huge smile that she uses most of the time. She makes everyone around her feel instantly happy and at ease, which makes it a million times easier for her to talk them into doing things or teaching people (or sometimes Italian children).

2. Speak softly.

I’m sure that Deb yells. Probably. But I’ve never really heard her do so out of anger. In fact, it took me a long time of knowing her to even realize that she ever felt stressed because she keeps her voice soft and with an even, soothing tone. Only after being around her for a long time can I see on her face when she’s getting a bit flummoxed. I think I got very confused at first as I grew up  in a loud Italian household, where you yelled even if all you wanted to do was ask for the salt, and she’s a sweet Canadian, but she is patient and calm under pressure and this is what makes her a tremendous leader. Leaders should always be brave in the face of danger, and she certainly can do that.

3. Surround yourself by people you love and love you.

Don’t waste your breath on anyone else, it’s only wasting your time. Deb cultivates the most beautiful friendships and it’s a lesson to us all. On Sunday I saw lots of people I already knew, but also met a bunch more of Deb’s friends who were brand new to me. And while everyone was very different from each other, while conversations ran the gamut, their was an eerie similarity that everyone shared: they were all absolutely adoring of Deb and she was absolutely adoring of them. They were all friends that you could count on for anything and everyone wove in and out of each others lives fluidly. There was not a single person there who was not warm and friendly and interesting to talk to and it was clear that every single person in that flat that night loved Deb and was willing to work hard for her. And the best bit? She gives it right back. Which brings us to number four…

4. Be willing to work hard for people, because in exchange they will be willing to work hard for you.

Deb loves to say she is a procrastinator, but I would give my eye teeth to be able to procrastinate as productively as she does. She is always doing a million little projects and she is always trying to incorporate her friends as much as she can. And while a lot of people are always looking to see what they can get out of any given situation, Deb is a lot more altruistic than that: she always wants to see what greater good can come out of any situation. I think that’s why she’s getting as much credit in ‘the straight world’ as she does: she’s not greedy or selfish so people want to do nice things for her.

5. Take the time to enjoy every single day.

Whether she is reading War and Peace just because she really really wants to (even though maybe she has been told she should be doing more with her day) or strolling through a Sunday market or eating cakes out of the box from Louis Hungarian Bakery because to get a plate would just be less fun or spontaneously deciding to make a curry for lunch and watching a few million episodes of Arrested Development with me and Morgan…she’s always enjoying her day to the max. Because life is more important than work, even if you are doing what you love, because having adventures and being with friends is what is going to influence every aspect of your life and work. It will make you cheerful, it will help build up that support network of friends, it will fuel your creativity, it will give you memories that will make you smile when you are far away from home.

DSCF2905 Deb and Me

DSCF2908 Cupcake Kebabs!

group! Pulls Shapes!DSCF2928 Open presents!group2 So fancy fancy!

just thought about…

2 Mar


I don’t want to be relegated to a corner of someone’s life:

I want to take up the whole damn room.


Writing Prompt

17 Feb

Oh wow, this is such a great picture…

Pin Ups

15 Feb


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