round up: this june

We have made good use of June. It's been lovely, if not as laid back as I had hoped. Things bunched up on me again and I'm trying to act like my plate isn't full around the kids but it's really full of fun and good opportunities and I'm all scrunched up in the chest about it. I'm totally out of touch with the feeling of hanging out with them first thing in the morning. Mostly because I've discovered daily bathing again for the first time in almost eight years! But also because I'm busy. I took a few months off from most of my extracurriculars recently. It was great, so I'm gunning for that to be norm again after I get this one super cool flower project I'm working on off my plate. The kids and I have been doing tons of things together, but I long to recapture this, or this. I've been breaking off an hour here and there for intense play with each of them, but I want to be fully present again. SOON!

This is the "SUMMERTIME DONE LIST", as opposed to our usual "summertime fun list". It's working for us.

Breakfast and dessert.

A little light reading in the vacation/life planning department.

A big paper rose sample for a prospective client.*

Oliver could not be sweeter right now. I am receiving upwards of 300 kisses a day.

I set up a potion-mixing station with all of my extracts and waters and herbs for Stella and her friend Una. I had a headache all afternoon after they finished. The potions were potent!

Stella and I put a few hours in setting up this "boutique". I think we both love the setting up way more than the actual playing.

Oliver and his creepy, disgusting obsessions. Current loves include: beetles, vampires, ghost pirates, and "alubis animals", whatever those are!

This next photo is of an idea I designed for my desktop. Why can't desktops be interactive? I don't use Pinterest because it's hidden inside the internet. I want to see my inspiration and pin images of things all over my screen. Serious question: Do you know anyone who could help me develop a live, interactive inspiration/pinboard for desktops? And can we redesign these folder icons, Apple?

A trip to the California Academy of Sciences. Here they are at the Academy last summer, and here they are the summer before that. Surreal to me. Oliver is out of the stroller now. He walked the long, long walk home after walking through the Academy all day. Whining the whole way, of course, but still.

At the BEAUTIFUL San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. What a gem. I haven't been up there in years, and I can't wait to go back again this summer. We had a wonderful day. Here are Oliver and Stella stalking the squirrel they named "Prick", which gave me a few laughs listening to them call for him.

We've spent this last week at a pool about 25 miles north of San Francisco. We drive up every morning for class and stay for the day afterwards. This is a great mental clearing break for me, and of course Oliver and Stella love it, and are doing so well. I can tell that Oliver (having never attended school before) is really ready to learn and proud of himself for participating. They both amaze me.

I hope your June was great. Have a wonderful, summery weekend! xoxo

*I didn't get the paper rose retail window display work I talked about here. I have no regrets. I asked for what I knew that huge job would require of me, adjusted my numbers, made samples, communicated ad nauseum, and in the end it got strange, to put it nicely, and I'm glad it didn't work out. It would've been too much work right now no matter what.



Jamie Vasta in her studio.

Recently I had an amazing opportunity to pose for fine artist Jamie Vasta. She is a fantastic artist who I was introduced to through my friend Lisa. Jamie and Lisa go way back and currently share a studio space (again) in Oakland that makes me green with envy, although there isn't really any studio space that doesn't make me jealous these days.

There are a few incredible things I know about Jamie already. First, she's got some beautiful botanical tattoos. Second, she skillfully and with an amazing eye for detail WORKS IN GLITTER. That is brilliant. And third, she has an intense process before she gets to the glitter, involving the development of stories and themes, the casting and shooting of her models, working that photography into appropriate backdrops, cutting and splicing as needed until the photographs finally portray the story she is telling. THEN the glitter.

Jamie's glitter swatches.

Not even close to all the glitter.

The series of works I sat for are of burlesque, drag and other "high-femme" stage personas. The mood of these pieces will be regal and powerful, which was a really great direction for me after years of goofy faces and dressing like a sparkly chicken.

I felt really free posing with Jamie, on a Saturday morning in full makeup and hair in the light of day. There are veins and bumps and things all over me that I still try to hide from David on a daily basis, so it's just crazy that I'm able to tromp around in someone's studio without a care in the world. Hallelujah for burlesque. 

It's funny like that for me. I seriously do not give one little care AT ALL about my stretch marks or saggy, 43-year-old everything when I am onstage, or backstage, or just dressed in this gear. It all falls away. I walked into Jamie's studio like I'd modeled a million times before. I LOVE the photos. They are not high quality, because she only works from them, they aren't the final product. I love the demeanor in all of the shots. The only thing that bothers me in any of these isn't my gut or my thighs, it's my face. The jowls. I've fatted that chin and I don't know if one can even come back from that.

Put me in a room in my street clothes with a few people who are lithe and very healthy and I'll still shrink inside. My posture will practically roll me into a ball. I cannot bridge the gap between loving my burlesque self and "radical body acceptance", about which my friend Rhea writes so well, and practices, too. 

Wrangling with those emotions is getting so tiring. I've teetered lately between letting it all go and caring deeply about my appearance. I don't know how I'm every going to work it out with myself. So that's why I thank my lucky stars that I did find burlesque. I thank it (and of course my dear Bombshell Betty) for giving me a place where I can feel as good as anyone would like to feel about themselves. I CAN imagine my life without ever having experienced it, and it makes me sad to think about it.

I will keep you posted on the piece Jamie is doing of me, as well as on her opening in the fall where she will be unveiling the whole series. I'm already looking forward to the work she'll be doing after this. 

In the meantime, if you dare, there are a few photos from our session if you click "read more" below. I do love them.


donut pan idea no. 53: donut-shaped twinkies

I've been sitting on this idea for a long time now. DONUT-SHAPED TWINKIES! I am so glad I finally gave them a shot. I did a lot of research and made one critical change to this recipe adaptation by the New York Times, and they actually taste very much like Twinkies, BUT BETTER!

It's always important to me to have a solid (or super-fun) reason to use the donut pans and shape in each of these projects. With the Twinkies, the donut shape is both super-fun and super-practical. Most of the Twinkie recipes you'll find will have you crafting custom shaped pans out of tin foil wrapped around a spice bottle or the like. Not necessary, the donut pans work perfectly!

Read more by clicking "read more" below!


all things paper flowers

It's four o'clock in the morning and I just gotta share. I'm off to bed, but check this out. This is made of paper. I made a giant peony out of crepe paper. But there's more. I made it on a paper maché-d balloon that I prepared last week in anticipation of trying this out. It's a flipping giant paper peony piñata! 

That's intentional, you see. I started thinking a few weeks ago about how much I love paper flowers and everyone else does as well. And whose Instagram feed doesn't have a peony in it? And who isn't making piñatas these days? I knew I had to put it all together. Believe it or not, it's not taking that much time, and it's coming out so beautifully! Hopefully I'll have a full tutorial this week but looks like I'm going to run out of paper before I finish. Darn!

Meanwhile I've been working out a deal to do some paper roses for a certain store at their NYC, Santa Monica and San Francisco locations. With the help of a really nice friend, I've managed to not lowball my proposal like I always do. It's been scary, and it may mean the job doesn't happen, but I also feel like I'm standing up for all craftspeople asking to be paid for all those hours we know we're going to be working. I'll keep you posted.

Also in paper flower news, I'm teaching paper flower headpiece making at Makeshift Society in September. I'll let you know as soon as it's on the calendar. If you're local, I'd love to see you there!

If I don't make it back here this week, have a great weekend! 


how to bbq an oyster or two

We just returned from another beautiful weekend away in Point Reyes Station overlooking Tomales Bay and I wanted to share this recipe right away. We learned it by eating oysters at Tony's up in Marshall several times over the years and it wasn't hard to figure out. Barbecuing oysters this way makes them smoky and sweet, and palatable to people that maybe don't enjoy the slimy mollusks raw like we do. 

We picked up medium-small sized oysters fresh out of the bay from Tomales Bay Oyster Company, but you could use larger oysters as well, just increase the cooking time a minute or two more.

One dozen fresh medium-sized oysters
1/2-2/3 c. ketchup (in bottle)
1/2 lemon
4-6 minced garlic cloves

Start by mincing your garlic so it's ready when the oysters are.

Shuck your oysters. I use a wooden contraption that holds the oyster in the bottom of the sink so that my non-shucking hand is well out of the line of fire of the shucking tool, most of the time.

Photographing in direct sunlight is something I have very little experience with, so bear with me.

Squirt about a teaspoon of ketchup on each shucked oyster.

Squeeze a few drops of lemon over that.

Then cover the oysters with minced garlic. 

Now they are ready to barbecue! 

Hand off the oysters to your grill master to set over hot coals. We barbecued these right after grilling some meat, while it rested, so everything was ready to eat at the same time. Surf and turf!

After one to two minutes, the juices should start to bubble. Add another dash of ketchup on each, if you can stand the grill heat. It'll give another layer of smoky flavor and a bit of crust.

In about 3-4 minutes time total they should look like these and are done.

There you go. BBQ'ed oysters, good stuff. We ate another dozen raw with just a bit of hot sauce and lemon. Stella wouldn't eat the barbecued ones, but she ate two raw. Not her first, either, and she actually liked them this time! Big girl.


showtime: the showgirl chorus, elbo room, june 11, 2013

Another great show with Bombshell Betty and her Burlesqueteers. The theme this month was "taboo", and there were so many hilarious and inventive acts. I've got a hankering to come up with a new act after watching so many of my friends and colleagues perform so beautifully without props or tricky costumes in this show. Scaled down production is something I've aimed to do the entire time I've been dancing, but have never been able to pull off. I'd love to have an act like that in my arsenal. I'll be marinating on that.

I danced with the Showgirl Chorus, and we performed two numbers: our Bring on the Men act, dressed as half men/half womem, and our Bob-Fosse-esque History Repeating act. The stage gets so crowded with our big group of gals, but the choreography is so fun to do that it doesn't matter. Even more crowded is the dressing room, where I was lumbering around trying to get some photos and taking up too much space.

I can't get my hands on any photos of our Bring on the Men act, but here we are dressed in fashions from different decades for History Repeating. I'm representing the 50's on the left. We have to make a lot of loud sounds during this act, including the "Woop! Woop!" noises we're making in these open-mouthed shots!

And this is my dear Cookie Crumbles (and the lovely Red Delicious in the background). Cookie did an act to a Kiss tune with an Ace Frehley mask on for most of it, which explains her lovely expression here. She's one of my best burlesque buddies. We've got a lot in common and have some good fun together. Because of some of the choreography in the Bring on the Men, we've become even closer. Wink. I love all these ladies.


donut pan idea no. 52: popovers

These savory little things were bound for the donut "Pantheon of Fails" last week after three batches refused to dislodge from the pans, but I gave them one more shot today with a different pan greasing method and here we are. Popover batter in the donut pan! The beauty of these is that, besides tasting great, they are a snap to whip up and bake much faster than a typical popover. Mine need a little more work, but I know the right person could get these to pop even higher than I did. The first time I baked these they came out beautifully, just like the ones my grandmother loved to make, but the bottoms were glued to the pans. This batch didn't hollow out as well as that first one did, but they have that eggy, tasty popover flavor just the same.

These popovers are so great for dinner, eaten alongside (or stuffed with) roast beef and horseradish sauce. Ask David, I just watched him eat five in a row! They are also good hot out of the oven with jelly and powdered sugar. Ask Stella and Oliver!

Let's get popping. Click on "read more" right down below to read more!


ideas for national donut day

Whelp, I dropped the ball on this one, big time. I think you know I think about donuts all damn day long, but only through friends did it come to my attention that today is National Donut Day. Today would've been the best day to roll out another donut pan idea. Who knew? Not I!

Here is a history of National Donut Day. It comes from nice beginnings. Believe it or not, I already knew the word torus. Of course I did.

Check out this donut garland project from a paper artist I admire greatly, Brittany from The House That Lars Built.

I love real donuts, but I really, really love anything cleverly shaped like a donut! Here are eight summery donut pan ideas for you to try from my archive. I hope you have a fantastic National Donut Day and great weekend. I'll be back on Monday with donut pan idea number 52!


This one's a no-brainer. You have to keep cool, and this is a pretty way to do it!

Perfect hand pies for berry season.

These were a very fun and rewarding project. I might do red, white and blue for the Fourth!

Roll your ear of corn in one of these. Spectacular!

Also for berry season, the donut pans make perfect bases for strawberry shortcakes!

These are pretty sophisticated, as far as donuts go.

You gotta use the backside of those pans! And you gotta fill these with sorbet!

These take a bit of effort, but they are fun, fun, fun! Donut-shaped sidewalk chalk!

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