Monthly Archives: August 2016

Stress Baking!

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Cupcakes

A post by Michelle Mosier. Love this concept. And who wouldn’t want to make a slam cake? Take it way, Michelle, and thank you:

When I am stressed I bake.  I just grab a bowl, a mixer, some ingredients that may hold together, and whirl away!

This coping tool emerged during the ‘Slam Dance’ era of the ’80’s on the occasion of a bad boyfriend’s birthday.  He wanted a chocolate cake with cookie dough. After a previous party night of said dancing with other girls, I decided to use this concept to create the confection. Warm out of the oven, the cake broke apart, so I slammed in some chocolate chip cookie dough.  I glopped on several spoons of canned vanilla frosting, each overly tinted with a multitude of food colorings. Next, I speared the gooey creation with random candles.  Happy Birthday…we’re done!  I let him light the candles himself.

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Slam cakes were my thing for awhile, upon request…or not.  Baking cookies and muffins, cupcakes, or even preparing deviled eggs are a joyful release of stress.

During my stint as a retail associate, I baked, stirred and whirred aplenty.  Working in a giant mall environment alone, much less being the captive employee of a store, was enough to keep me mess making in the kitchen before going on shift.  Often, I stopped in to pick up a coffee from the guy on the corner kiosk. One day he spied my deviled eggs and asked with a little concern, “What are those?” My eggs sported sliced pimento olives. He thought I said ‘Devil Eyes.’ Thus, they became famed and a requested specialty item.

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However, I have baked some amazing cookies that continue to elude me to create again.  Belly Buttons, I called them after the way the dough puffed up and centered into a caramel pool of deliciousness.

 I never really know when the urge to stress bake will strike, like lately with my arduous job search.  I have been diligent with calls, interviews, and online psych/personality profile tests.This last bit sent me over the kitchen counter edge.  Cocoa, flour, sugar, eggs and lots of butter produced some yummy fudge cupcakes filled with vanilla frosting. Using a pastry tube seemed like a fun idea, until I tried it. Not so easy peasy. When I squeezed the tube, the icing filled the cupcake, sure, but then became string art topping. Still, I feel much better, and the squiggle cakes have been consumed with big cups of java.
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Stress baking: I reach for a spatula and threaten stress just a little.

Michele writes about herself:

I graduated 1985, University of South Carolina, B.A. with a concentration in fine arts. I was a professional painter’s assistant, and painted on large acrylic canvases. Today, I enjoy painting garden flowers and landscapes in acrylics and watercolors. I have worked alongside my husband as a stained glass artist for the past 30 years. We sold our custom designed jewelry boxes, jewelry pieces, and mirrors to many arts and crafts galleries (mainly east coast), and juried art shows. Once, we premiered at Bloomingdales in NYC, this was a high point-however, hard to get paid. We still show at NC Crafts Gallery in Carrboro, NC.

We recently moved to Charlotte to be closer to my mom and sister, as I am in serious need of more gardening tips and less long distance hugs.

We have moved many times over our 30+ years, shifting and shuffling artwork, various collections, photos, and a few precious boxes of sentimental ephemera. This colorful baggage energizes my memories and the stories I tell myself and sometimes others! I still have my early childhood diaries and later journals. Also, I have one loosely written cowboy story, and some ‘story songs.’  I hope one day to attend some writer workshops and get better at this writing thing!

I love the outdoors, hiking, and camping at the beach and mountains. We camped a lot over the craft show years and sometimes, we joined a show just to explore a place.

Michelle

Smokey the Bear: Menopause Gladness

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The other day, when Cliff and I were furniture shopping, I studied the adorable young saleswoman helping us. She didn’t seem as lively as the last time we met with her. “Maybe she has cramps,” I said to myself. “Poor thing.”

Cramps are tricky because women are reluctant to announce they have them, and most women look just fine. No crutches or poison ivy splotches or sneezing to announce the malady. Megan just seemed what my friend Judy calls “droopy.”

When you’re finished having periods, you mostly forget about them. Every now and then, I think: wow, women all around me are still having periods. Then my mind floats back to the cramps I once had, the flooding incidents as menopause sunk in, the girlhood days of worrying about periods at the pool or beach. Phew. Been there. Done that.

And that brings me to my Smokey the Bear story.

We go to the North Carolina State Fair every near. I mean EVERY year (or Cliff gets droopy). But the most dramatic year was the year my cramps took me by surprise (about 2009 or so). I couldn’t get the pain med into me fast enough. I passed out right under the giant Smokey the Bear.

Cliff caught me and got me over to a nearby log. When I opened my eyes, I looked into his face and thought: He’s still such a cute man.

My cramps passed about twenty minutes later, which put me in a festive mood as we walked from the onion ring booth to the milking demonstration to the state’s largest pumpkin.

“That was so romantic,” I said a few times, my arm looped around his. “You caught me just like a man catches his leading lady in an old time movie.”

“Barbara, ” Cliff finally replied, “That was NOT romantic. I thought you’d had a stroke. For a few seconds, I was terrified  you were dead.”

That’s the good thing about cramps. They don’t kill you, but every time I see Smokey, I’m glad those days are over.

And I’m glad Cliff was scared that ALL MY DAYS might have been over. Shows he’s in this for the long haul.

I get why he was worried. While this close-to-menopausal woman didn’t look like a glamorous starlet fainting on the silver screen, I’m a heck of a lot of fun at the North Carolina State Fair.

For those of you who are finished, do you think about periods anymore? For those of you still having them, what do you look forward to the most when those days are over?

Speaking of periods, a friend sent me links to two articles about periods. This one discusses work policy and periods. The times they are a changin’. And this one debunks the idea that women who live together find their cycles synchronizing. 

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Twenty-seven

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Doors, glorious doors!

Kathy sent the door above from Paleohora, Crete.

Below, from my cousin Erin’s recent trip to Korea, a Hello Kitty door!

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From Erika and Brian, a bathroom door at an outdoor mall in Huntington Beach, California.

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Becka sent this from Centre Furnace Mansion in State College, Pennsylvania.

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From Carey, the Auto Spa in Cockysville, Maryland. Let’s hear it for creativity at car washes! These are my kind of people.

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From Candace, The Dairy Godmother in Alexandria, Virginia. What a fun name for a store that serves frozen custard and other treats.

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And a simple but funky sign from Candace’s trip to Dallas, Texas.

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From Louise’s friend Chamai, who photographed these doors on a recent visit to Thailand, her homeland. Those are some frisky doors!

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Jean send these doors that a friend found in Iceland.

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Phew! What a set of creative doors! Thank you one and all.

Margaret: Posing Boldly

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This huge painting by Alivia Moe stopped me in my tracks (it’s four feet by six feet) at the Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery. The exhibit featured the work of local teen artists.

I was intrigued by that bottom!

I stepped closer to read the artist’s statement. Alivia writes about her subject: “I couldn’t believe that Margaret, a seventy-five-year-old woman, would pose naked for a group of adolescents. I couldn’t imagine doing this myself at that age. She was bold.”

The art class was studying the concept of distortion, and Alivia chose to exaggerate Margaret’s bottom. Then she discovered something: “It turned out that distorting Margaret’s butt portrayed her confidence without my knowing.”

Alivia concludes her statement:”I want viewers of this piece to be both intrigued by its beauty but feel a bit uncomfortable. I believe that pieces like this are beautiful but hard to look at or accept.”

I sometimes turn and look at my own bottom in the mirror. While I gotta say, it’s nowhere near the size of Margaret’s in the painting, I do wonder about body issues as I age. I’m with Alivia. I love that Margaret was willing to pose for an art class.

But what I love even more than Margaret’s boldness, is Alivia’s thinking. Hooray for young women who understand the powers of body image. And hooray for young women artists. Alivia, may you rock the art world with boldness and joy. Thanks for sharing your painting!

Alivia Moe

Alivia Moe writes about herself: I will be attending The School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago Fall 2016.  My art has been exhibited at the Hillsborough Library and The Hillsborough Arts Council along with works by my classmates. My first solo show took place at Joe Van Gogh in Chapel Hill. Art has been my passion since I could draw. Art is my voice, my power, and it has shaped who I am today.

I have created works that range from sculpture and painting; charcoal, pencil and pen; collage as well as digital photography. My body of work has progressed through several different phases, but is unified by the contrast between the inner and outer self, interpretations of beauty, self-perceptions as individuals; and society’s impact on our identity as peoples.