Tag Archives: EffinArtist

First brush can chart a new artistic course

Think of all the things you put in the blank at the end of this sentence: “I’d love to someday learn to ______.”

When I drank I only talked about the words that would fill in the blank. Now, I routinely fill do them.

Do yoga. Play the guitar better.  Foreign languages. Knit a beanie. Bake bread. Listen. balance my life. Meditate. The list grows as I take on things I’d only dabbled in before or never got around to trying. One of the big ones was paint.

My mom painted for several years when I was young and some of her paintings remain throughout her house. I never fail to look at them when I visit. My cousin Dona, is perhaps the single best portrait artist I have ever seen. For years and years I would see her art with a mix of thrill and envy.

One of my earliest memories as a child was a beautiful dream that felt like heaven with a mental image so powerful I recall it (mostly) to this day. For decades I wished I could paint that picture. But I never once picked up a paint brush and applied paint to a blank white canvas.

Until now.

I won’t forget my first brush stroke when I started to finally fill in the blank that someday I would learn to paint. I paused to enjoy it because I knew how much I had been waiting to try.

 

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It didn’t look like much, but to me it was the first brush of a new interest that immediately felt like something I should have been doing all my life.

The class was the genius idea of Art Social, a business that started out marrying art and wine, but really got it right with its name. It’s a marriage of art and social because the wine it turns out isn’t necessary. On this night, held in a large restaurant’s upstairs conference room, wine had little or nothing to do with the event. We ate a burger before the event and got serious about painting once it started. We even socialized a bit.

Fun was the order of the day, the instructor Katherine Yost said. With quirky humor and a stellar playlist of background tunes, she set a light-hearted approach to filling the blank canvas with whatever interpretation of Van Gogh’s Cypress Trees that came out of our minds and through our brushes. She offered enough instruction that folks could succeed, but absence of rigidity that would cause us to become art critics of our work.

As we slowly began to turn our canvas into a painting, I couldn’t help but be amazed. I could “see” things I wanted to do like my five-year-old dream of heaven, but for once my brush-weilding hand could execute what I saw.

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I knew I’d end up Monet-ing my Van Gogh a bit. He painted the Cypress Tress near the end of his crazy life (this is the dude who chopped off his own ear to paint it if I recall). The darkness that ruled his mind during these years shows in the blacks that dominate his art. Having had enough darkness, I purposefully went for more light while trying to stay true to the original form. Yost encouraged such freedom so I took it.

“I’m going to officially declare you artists for the night,” Yost said enthusiastically. Effin Artists, I thought. Yeah, man.

Yost, program director for ArtSocial.com, said she’s been an artist and art teacher all her life because as she played with art as a kid like we all do, “nobody ever told me to stop creating.”

If that’s not the best advice, I don’t know what is.

Toward the end of the night with wildly different interpretations created by the novice artists in the room, I couldn’t find a single person who didn’t look positively thrilled with their creation. Everyone had that look…. the “I’m an Effin ARTIST, man!” look. I know it was plastered to my face.

When I signed my first painting I had a sense of accomplishment that defies simple explanation.

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It wasn’t an act of crossing off an item on the bucket list. It was a greeting. Welcome to paint. I knew I’d soon have to learn more, do more and explore more. Knowing full well I’d never be “a painter” I now embrace this for what it is, an expression of something within that to this point hadn’t had precisely the right way of communicating. I continue to fill in this blank, just as I continue to struggle with foreign languages and guitar and surfing and a host of other things I want to “learn to do.” I don’t ever really arrive at these things, but life is so much more full with the pursuit.

And my newly redecorated bathroom has a personal touch as a result.

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I may never be a painter, but my life as an Effin Artist continues to evolve ever-deeper and richer, which has been the point all along since I decided to put down the bottle and start living again.

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Recipe: The art of old school fettuccine

A couple of days ago I extolled the virtues of making your own pasta. Then it dawned on me that what if… just what if, someone read that and thought, “you know what?! I’m going to try it.”

I felt an immediate twinge of guilt because I know what lies ahead. Google “making pasta” and you’ll get a ton, A TON, of recipes that say, “it’s so easy!”

Well, it’s not.

But do not be discouraged. Remember the wise wisdom of Jimmy Dugan? Say it with me now, “if it was easy, EVERYONE, would do it! It’s the hard that makes it great.”

So I decided to add one more recipe to the incessant clutter that tries to walk you through the steps of making your own pasta, and to do it realistically.

For starters, let me be specific about this hard/easy thing. It is easy once you get the hang of it. Pasta has only four ingredients. You can’t really screw it up, so even your less-than-Effin-Artistry pastas will taste good. We love eating our failures in the Test Kitchen.

The hard is in the artistry. Learning the feel of the dough. Learning to roll it consistently. Learning how far is too far to let it dry. This is a long recipe that goes into all the pitfalls. You only have to read it once. Then boil down the key parts when you make it. I hope it helps you have an enjoyable successful time of it.

I am still evolving in all of this. But I’m getting better. I keep at it. So follow these steps and enjoy. I couldn’t be more thrilled if you try making dough on account of these posts. And please, click in the reply and let me me know the good, bad and the ugly of your work. If I screw you up here, I want to hear about it!

Let’s get started.

1) Make room. – pasta is not meant to be confined. Clear the counter tops, remove the knicknacks and give yourself a good, clean work space. As you can see here, I have a massive Italian made platter I use and even that doesn’t keep it all contained.

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Next: pour two cups of flour and a hefty teaspoon of salt in the middle of your work area. Right on the counter is fine, or in a large glass bowl, or like I did on my platter.

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Then crack two eggs into the well. Let’s take a minute to talk about this well thing. First time I did it, poosh, the hens broke out of the chicken coop and raced down my sloped counter to hide underneath the God forsaken microwave. That’s when I decided to use the platter to guard the eggs from escape. Since then I’ve gotten better at the well. The key is to use your other hand to swoop the edges as you mix the eggs up. It’s a bit tough to explain, but as you slowly whip the eggs you incorporate part of the dough with the right hand. With the left you push up the edges of the well to keep it all contained. If you run out of room, push down in the middle of the well to compact it a bit and have it all sink down deeper into the well. Make sense? If not, reply below and I’ll make a video or something. It’s not hard… just takes practice! Or maybe I’m just a slow learner.

Next, put four tablespoons of hot water into the well. (Remove your rings… they get all buggered from the dough and never clean up right). Now push from the outer edges into the middle. I use my fingers like a rake dragging the thing into a pile like I’m piling up leaves. It gets a bit messy here, which is really fun. Once it starts to come together start to shape a ball. I like to add two more tablespoons of water here just to make sure it all incorporates. I prefer sticky dough to dry because its easier in my opinion to add flour as I knead it then it is to add water.

Next, knead.

Next, knead.

Next, KNEAD. A word about kneading. A mindset is needed when it comes to kneading. This is the stuff. This is not a chore. Don’t try to avoid it. Embrace it. Get those hands working, smooshing and bashing and pulling and patting and let your mind fly to whatever heights it needs to climb, unfettered by the chaos of the day. So many recipes try to avoid kneading. They use food processors and dough hooks and “no-knead” tricks. But kneading is just playing with Play-Doh, which we did for hours as a kid.

I’d go about ten minutes. There’s no specific time here. This is the thing that will evolve over time. Eventually you’ll notice the dough turns more silky than grainy and that’s what you want.

NEXT: This is important if you ask me and I’ve never seen it explained in a recipe. Make a dough ball. Sounds easy I know, but when I was 15 and worked in a Mafia-owned pizza parlor, they wanted the dough a certain way and we made sure we did it the way THEY WANTED IT. Turns out this was important. They wanted it with no broken edges so when you toss out the pizza, the crust stays together. To do this you have to form a good, cohesive dough ball. I liken it to tying off a balloon. Wrap your right hand thumb and forefinger in a loop around the mid-section of your dough ball. Then softly twist the dough in your hand as you bring your thumb and finger together toward the top of the dough ball. You’ll end up with what looks like the end of a balloon at the top. Push this into the dough and smooth it out. Whaalla. You’ll have a seam-free dough ball. (If someone is so gracious as to try this, please contact me and let me know if this A) made sense, and B) worked?!)

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Now take the dough and wrap it in plastic for an hour. This is perfect break time, which as you can see above, I used to make a powerhouse energy smoothie! Delish.

An hour later break out the pasta roller. I prefer the kind here, a simple old-timey gizmo with a hand crank. I know there are all kinds of motorized ones, but I like my dough to be machine-free. Here’s where you take advantage of all that space you cleared. Divide your dough balls into six different ones all about the same size and weight in your hand. You can feel that they are close enough. I again go back and make perfect little dough balls,”tied” off at the top, six more times because I like playing with dough and those scary pizza parlor guys banged it into me.

Once you have the dough balls cover them back up with the plastic wrap to keep them from drying out while you work the dough into sheets.

The basics of working into sheets is straight forward. Set the machine to the widest slot and run the dough ball through four times. This just wakes up the dough. I have learned to take a bit of care to send it through the machine straight. This helps keep the sheets straight at the end. Ruler straight isn’t necessary. Some waggle is fine and creative looking. We’re not machines. Our pasta should reflect it. Crank the machine down a notch at a time until you get to the second notch. Now you’ll have a nice long sheet of pasta running from one hand through the crank and caught by the other hand. Lay it out on the platter or counter or hang from the rack and dust it in flour. DONE! (Note: I’ve done some stopping at the third notch so they have a bit more chew and actually I like it. But officially, whatever that is, fettuccine is supposed to be on number 2. You decide!)

Do this five more times with the next five balls. If something goes awry don’t sweat it. Mash it all back into a ball and start over. It’s pretty forgiving.

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Notice I’m using a pasta rack to dry the noodles, but you don’t have to. I go back and forth. I prefer to just lay them on my platter, dust them with flour and put a tea towel (tea towel… HA… I’ve been reading too many recipes. What the hell is a tea towel? I use dish rags my daughter dyed to make pretty) over them. But I do use the rack too. Either way. (Shrug). In fact, I used both ways this time.

Here’s one of those key things they don’t tell you. You want the dough to sit a bit before you cut it. It stiffens which makes it easy to cut and less sticky when you’re done. BUT don’t let it get hard. Stiff, but not hard. Got it? Probably not, but once you do it a couple of times you will. Hard will crack and splinter going through the cutter. Stiff will cut delightfully.

One at a time slide the pasta sheets through the cutter part of your pasta roller. (If you want to be artsy here you can cut them with a big chef’s knife and make them different widths, which is pretty cool, but eh… I like the crank-y cutter thing). I like to drape the pasta off the machine so I can crank with one hand and catch the pasta with the other. This is not necessary. You can let it all drop as it cuts. But I like to catch it so I can lay it out on the big platter and dust a bit more flour on it so it all doesn’t stick. When I do this I feel like I’m being unnecessarily anal. So take it for what it’s worth.

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Once its all cut put some flour on your hands and riffle through the pasta lightly letting it all fall spread out on the platter or counter or a baking pan, sort of like your fluffing through hair. This helps the sticky ones fall apart and keeps them from globbing up in the water.

Now the water. Let’s get serious here. This is important. Don’t use a small pan. I don’t get this whole chuck pasta in water and that’s all there is to it thing. You need a big pan of water. You need a pretty healthy pile of sea salt. You need that water to get to a roiling boil. Don’t do anything until you have those three things. Then you slide your noodles into the water, give them a swirl and let them be for about three minutes.

Take a 1/2 cup of the starchy water out of the pan before you dump it. Then strain the noodles. Don’t rinse them because the starch helps the sauce stick.

Then put the noodles back in the big pan and let them just briefly feel the heat of the bottom of the pan. Then put some of the reserved water as they cook. Next add the sauce and let it heat together for a minute before serving.

Sauce? What sauce you say?

I’m glad you asked. Check back in a couple of days for a good Alfredo sauce recipe.

News from the Test Kitchen- Bran Madness

The Bride and I have been watching food documentaries of late. Any residual resistance I had for my sugary concoctions went largely out the window after viewing these. Sugar is the devil.

Of course, I’ve long danced with the devil, so no wonder it feels so familiar.

Bad food is also a drug. No wonder I’m so obsessed. I’m scanning about for new addictions apparently.

With that in mind the Bran Muffin test kitchen kicked into high gear in search of our three aforementioned goals: 1) Moistness 2) Health 3) Artistry.

After my first batch, where I stuck to the basics, I decided I had to branch out. Search “moist” bran muffins and the recipes are all very similar to bran muffins, in general, which by definition means dry as toast.

In the true spirit of testing, I’ve now made three batches of muffins each differently, slowly evolving the process to narrow in on what will earn the EFFin Artist label. I’m so far off the grid they don’t even have power here. I’m going where no recipe seems to have gone before.

For example. One batch I envisioned tasting like a healthy Snickers bar, full of chocolate, peanut butter and caramel and still having only a 1/4 cup of brown sugar total. Impossible? I think not.

Overall the muffin proved delicious, especially compared to bran muffins, but nothing like a Snickers bar. It was loaded energy bomb. For the chocolate I used protein powder. The peanut butter was Effin A brand, all natural. The caramel topping came from sweet potatoes, a smidge of butter and a teaspoon of brown sugar, greatly reduced. On a couple of muffins I mixed this caramel-like mixture with a touch of cream cheese to make it more frosting-like. It’s amazing how tasty this all was and with virtually no sugar.

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Sounds delicious right? Well it was. EXCEPT: I was listening to AC/DC and Ozzy at the time and got a little jacked up and forgot to turn the oven down (speaking of dance with the devil… our oven is Satan’s spawn. But that’s another story). So they cooked a bit hot and burned ever so slightly the muffin cup. They were still really moist thanks to the plain Greek yogurt I mixed into the batter. But they just didn’t have the perfect finished artistry to succeed on all three levels. Very close. For the next round I’ll mix some dark cocoa powder with the protein powder because the chocolate was all but lost. (Another little secret: I used half a banana mashed into the eggs to give added moisture. The flavor is lost, which I wanted because it didn’t go with a Snickers Bar, but the moisture remained… very cool, I think).

My next creation was a blueberry coconut bran muffin. Here I got absolutely a bit whacky. I decided to use coconut oil, but rather than heat it into a liquid I used it solid and crunched it up into the batter. My thinking was it would heat and pour moisture into the dough while they baked. I also used a 1/4 cup of raw coconut sugar, 1/2 cup of coconut water, dried coconut flakes and a sprinkling of coconut dust on top for that all-too-important artistry. I folded the blueberries in at the last so they didn’t smash up too much. Again I went for yogurt in the batter as moisture. It almost worked until… the oil ended up basically frying the muffins as they cooked. I opened the oven and it looked like I was frying dough again!

As it turned out, the edges are a delightful crispy texture like fried dough, but of course they aren’t really fried. But the oil kept them so moist and dense, they didn’t rise at all. So these are too tiny to call finished.

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I’m going to try it again with two corrections: The oil will be mixed in so it won’t “fry” but just have that moisture. I’ll also use baking powder next time to get the lift I need. I like BIG muffins that bowl over the edges, so that’s a must for the finished product.

So who wins the sweepstakes?

Just like my brother’s favorite TV show The Sopranos… nobody knows!

YET.

I can’t send the sweepstakes package yet… because I haven’t discovered the perfect muffin yet. Some good things have emerged, but other things haven’t quite come together. The freezer is full of these little dudes, but none are Effin Art. None are worthy to wear the “I’m an EFFin Artist, Man!” label. The quest continues. Stay tuned… the winner’s spot is still very much up for grabs. All I can say is when I’m done, these will be very, very worth the effort to win them.

By the way, the Snickers bar muffin had 1 gram of sugar! Only 1 per muffin. Amazing right?!

Stay tuned.

Effin A has left the building…. so don’t bother trying to unsubscribe. He can’t hear you…

Is The Sopranos the best television ending ever?

Nothing like a little sibling rivalry to pass a sunny winter day…

I love distractions. Like all people who make their livings punching words into a keyboard, I have to act like my time is so valuable and my train of thought can never be stalled once it leaves the station. But that’s phooey and nobody knows it better than The Bride. Unfortunately she is very respectful about not bothering me, which kind of blows, because as I said, I love distractions.

The other day I literally dropped everything when a simple email from my brother came into my mailbox. He had just read the bride’s Oscar preview blog and noticed her reporting on my rant about The Sopranos ending and my general hatred of it.

So my brother, who still after all these years enjoys tweaking my tail (what’s an older brother for?) wrote:

“The Sopranos ending was the greatest of all time. Yeah, I hated it at first, too.  But now. genius.”

And it was on like Donkey Kong!

I wrote back:

” OK. We are having this debate. I promise… No name calling ( I think I had recently called him a “degenerate and inveterate sycophantic [my favorite definition is #3: A fawning parasite] shill for the Q-word-that-shall-not-be-named left-wing lobby” over a little family spat we were having about the over-hyped merits of Quinoa). You go first. I’m all ears… I’ll confess… I have the confidence of Goliath right now and all the indignation as I stare incredulously across the field of battle… ‘What am I? A dog?’ 

We are doing this.”

Happily he took the bait. Distraction engaged! My day suddenly brightened.

His response:

“Okay.  First, a little pre-seminar reading…” sending me to a fellow Wordpress blogger’s page. After spending a lot of time reading, I was convinced this writer is on David Chase’s payroll and is very, very astute about screenwriting. I think my work improved significantly just reading this blog, and I’m not kidding. He’s still wrong about the ending, as I’ll explain later, but a tip of the cap is in order.

I said my brother could go first so I read the blog. That was a HUGE distraction, but like I said, I loved it. I responded thusly:

“OK. I actually read all that… (Great lesson on screenwriting which is very timely… Thank you). Go on.”

Brother: “That.  That’s my answer.  Tony is dead and you got to feel it. “

Me (rubbing hands together with a slobbering grin on my face):

Ok, well done.

So let’s go back to your original comment: “The Sopranos ending was the greatest of all time.”

Would you then state it is better than this:

“Robert Jordan lay behind the tree, holding himself very carefully and delicately to keep his hands steady. He was waiting until the officer reached the sunlit place where the first trees of the pine forest joined the green slope of the meadow. He could feel his heart beating against the pine needle floor of the forest.”

I bring this up not because I vote for this as the greatest ever, but because it is a similar ending… a death being forecast but not shown. My point is this: Nobody had to debate that the bells would soon toll for Robert Jordan.

Whereas in the lengthy argument you had me read, one line is most telling, and therefore perfectly sums up why this ending was a cop-out and not artistically brilliant. The writer says, “nobody but David Chase really knows, but…”

And there it is. If any writer doesn’t give the ending she may as well stamp “to be continued…” at the end, and NOBODY has ever seen those words pop up and say, “Wow, genius. Wonderful!” It just doesn’t happen and didn’t in the immediate aftermath of The Sopranos ending. It was only later the whole cult of personality around David Chase sprung up claiming how brilliant it was. You yourself said, “Yeah, I hated it too at first, but now… genius.” Only because it’s been explained to you. An ending should explain itself.

You also say, “Tony is dead. You gotta feel it.” But we didn’t feel it at all. We felt pissed because we didn’t know. That was the ending… ‘to be continued…”

Are there any doubts about these endings:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

“But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and civilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”

Those are genius.

It’s like David Chase’s game with the world, pretension and hubris that in my mind is beneath the brilliance of his writing. Yes, I always thought Tony died and I think the scene by scene break down suggests it as well. The POV switches are wonderful script-writing.

But you can’t know and therefore it doesn’t end. A story must… must… end. As a writer I owe it to those who give me their time to journey on my story to end it and let my ending be judged as clearly as the rest of my story. We wouldn’t dream of a story without a beginning, but in the name of art we claim we can do so with the ending and, as the author, be the only one who really knows what that ending is?

Lest I’m being unfair comparing a TV show to literature, (perhaps you meant greatest TV ending of all time…) I submit the following:

Entertainment Weekly ranked The Sopranos only #10, below #9 Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If anyone thinks the ending is worse than Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it is immediately banished from all greatest ever discussion.

Is it really better than M*A*S*H?  That ending rocked with rocks spelling out the word, “Goodbye.” Brilliant. We FELT that.

Or even Friends where, “after ten years of coffee-house meetings, on-and-off romances, and memories both hilarious and heartwarming, the series wrapped up with fans feeling a sense of closure. Ross and Rachel were in it for good, Monica and Chandler had twins, Phoebe was happily married to Mike, and Joey had a new chick and a duck. With new sets of goals all around, the characters seemed ready to move on with their lives, but the same can’t be said for us. Much like Monica’s purple-walled apartment in the final scene, we will always be a little empty without our Friends.”

Those purple walls in that empty apartment signified an ending. The story goes on, but it’s not as interesting so the telling stops.

SO… I see why David Chase didn’t let Tony hear the shot. I’m glad it ends on his POV, which is brilliant. But he absolutely owed an ending to those who gave to him their time to journey on his story, meaning he had to show a glimpse, something that made it so he alone wasn’t the only one who knew the ending.

I felt this way about one of our favorites: Robert Parker. He had a responsibility to end the Spenser story. He should have written a final book, put it in his will and released it upon his death. But instead he allowed his widow to draft another writer to keep the character alive, and therefore the profits coming in, much to the disservice of us, his loyal readers. At some point, the story has to end. Thank GOD J.K. Rowling figured this out.

And here’s my biggest complaint. WHY? Why did Chase end it as he did?

Because he was a sell-out. If you recall the actors themselves were talking often about a movie. Sex and the City had made millions spilling over into movies. It seemed certain The Sopranos would as well, and when James Gandolfini and Chase teamed up on his autobiographical movie they both still were entertaining the idea of a Sopranos movie.

He couldn’t end it because if down the road the money was too good to pass up, he could sneak back into that black and bring Tony back to life.

And that my brother is why that ending sucks.”

All good debates (and this is a great one) allow time for a rebuttal. Gentleman that I am I gave my defeated brother his, to wit:

Two thoughts:
1) Greatest TV ending.  No way am I comparing it to Ernest.  MASH makes me think twice. But Sopranos changed TV and that ending just cemented it. 
2) Yeah. I like it.  I like that he messed with us and pulled us in. I think it made us feel the way Tony and his family would feel. He knew that his life could only end “one of two ways” and so did we.  But then, it happens.  Bam. Pride goeth….even for the all-knowing viewer. 
 
Okay, 3rd thing.  David Chase is probably a tool and would have sold out in the end.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had messed it up by doing so.  But…Gandolfini dies. Even David Chase can’t outrun death. Bam. Black. Only God is all-knowing.  
 
Yeah. I like it.”

As for those scoring at home… Is there any debate who wins this debate?

I liken it to Mitt over Obama round one. It was that clear a victory for me (as much as I hate to even consider comparing me to Mitt… and because my brother is wicked smart, he too will soon bounce back and throttle me in one of these distraction debates. I won’t go near him on way more topics than I will…)

But, gentleman that I am, I’ll let you decide. Hit the comment button and vote for a winner. Please do offer your own commentary. It’s a great debate, cost me at least three hours of work (happily, I might add) and will continue to be debated for a long, long time, despite what I think is the definitive answer that should settle it for all time (mine). Besides, we both celebrate the art that was The Soprano, and the actor James Gandolfini, RIP. He was a true Effin Artist, man… as is David Chase, despite his total sell-out ending.

Your turn!

Unwelcome spiders cramp my style

I hate spiders. It’s the real deal, a full blown, in your gut loathing. I think that I have major arachnophobia. Major. To the point, where I become paralyzed with fear at the mere sight of a spider.

Once in my early 20s when I lived alone, I stayed up all night because there was a spider on the ceiling of my bedroom and I was too afraid to kill it. Okay, I know that there are some of you out there that would be really disappointed that I would even think to kill a spider, but with 100 percent certainty, I can assure you that I am so gripped with fear of these arachnids that there is no way in hell that I could consider catching it in a glass jar only to release it into nature. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t. My husband could, I cannot.

I’ve lived with this fear my entire life. Not sure where it came from or how it started, but it remains my monster in the closet.

Imagine my difficulty living in a small mountain town, which seems to breed spiders (small, and large). I come across them almost daily in my home. I go away for a weekend and my first question to my husband is “how many spiders did you see this weekend?” Typical response 4, 5. Found one in bed, urinated on one in the toilet. It’s enough to drive a sane woman, such as myself, to jump the rails onto the crazy train.

Sing it with me Ozzy, “I’m going off the rails down at crazy train…”

This brings me to my latest sighting. Last night, just before climbing into bed, I went to the bathroom, glanced into the bathtub and there it was. It had to have been 4-6 inches in length. The bulbous body stuck out like a sprained thumb. Naturally I screamed. Much like the screams you hear from slasher movie victims being chased through the dark forest by crazed killers wearing masks, wielding chainsaws, or hatchets as weapons. No joke – it was a blood curdling scream. Now mind you, my husband had no response to my scream. He figures by now what’s caused it, and for some reason, I think secretly he wants to teach me a lesson. The lesson? Take care of your own problems (spider problems that is)? I’m not sure, but I wasn’t happy being ignored. You can believe that.

I turned on the faucet water and desperately started throwing water into the tub, much like you would say if you were in a leaking boat, trying to keep the water from sinking you into the sea. As I said, we live in the mountains. The water comes out ICE COLD. I braved frost bite to conquer that creature.

For a moment I thought of taking a picture of the spider before it’s death…you know, for proof. But I thought it being camera shy, it might reach out with one if its arachnid legs, snatch the camera out of my hands, and smash it to the ground. Not a good idea — still paying for this smartphone.

The beast slowly drowned…..30 minutes slowly (Um, it really felt like 30 minutes) and washed down the drain. But, not before it conveniently reached its goal of terrorizing me in my quest for sleep. I silently laid in bed (after I put my cold hands on my husbands back! Take that!) wondering when it was going to come up from the bathtub drain, stronger AND bigger from it’s watering, sneak into our bedroom and choke me to death with all eight of its stringy legs. Plus every time I adjusted in bed I thought every touch of the sheet was a spider crawling into bed with me.

spider

By the way, I googled the spider I found in the bathtub: Hobo Spider, originating in Europe, living wherever people live in Oregon. Not really aggressive (I disagree completely. Don’t think for a minute that he would not have killed me if he had the chance).

The point? Like I should talk about overcoming fears and blah blah blah…. No, there’s no point other than I hate spiders and next time my Effin Husband Better Damn Well Pay Attention.

News from the Test Kitchen: Caramel

With the waist line being a growing cause for concern, the Effin Artistry focused has moved toward restoration projects of late, BUT do not be alarmed as the test kitchen remains in action nonetheless. We are, after all, addicts, and well, the recent chocolate addiction now rivals the caffeine so we will continue creating — with the hope of some balance of consuming.

Before I get to the ingredient of the week, it bears noting that the one week I didn’t offer a weekly winner (last week’s leftovers focus) this forum was like the classroom in the 80s movie Real Genius where indifferent students leave recorders in the classroom instead of attending to listen to a lecture left by a professor on a recorder in his absence. Only you all didn’t even put up a recorder! Duly noted. Everyone starts this week having to make up ground if they expect to be rewarded. Participation is a responsibility not a luxury here… As my bride tells me, I am indeed a sensitive sort despite the rugged exterior.
SO guess what this week is??? By popular demand… the ingredient is…
drumroll….
Caramel!
2013-12-12 12.16.33
Thank you, thank you… take your seats… thank you… you are too kind…
Let the begging begin now. I don’t mind saying I have high hopes for the package going out this week, not only to be delicious, but to actually be artistic (and safely arrive in said condition despite a staggering hostility from our so-called tireless postal working community).
New exciting restoration projects are also underway, but will likely be kept under the cloak of an Apple Jobsians secrecy until after Christmas.
The work begins… now. Check back for photos and updates…
Some of the comments (err.. sucking up) so far… Effin Artist is nothing without the peanut gallery:
– I would like to point out, that I check both blogs daily and commented both in phone call text and on Facebook. I was in class!
– I think I speak for all of us when I mutter under my breath so that the teacher will not hear: “Suck up.”
– For food. Every day. No shame
– Yes….might I add (in the beautiful words said by SNL cast members): “Suck it Trebek. Suck it long. Suck it hard.”.  🙂
– Dear Most High Effin Artist of the Universe (let the sucking up commence), I wholeheartedly celebrate the topic of caramel for the Artist Kitchen.  Although chocolate has many virtues, I have always had deepest affection for the sugar, cream and butter confection.  I think it’s nectar from the gods, and in the hands of such a virtuoso as yourself, it will be nothing short of a masterpiece.  If I were to be humbly allowed to partake of such a finely crafted sweet, I would be moved to the depth of my soul.
May you hear the angels sing around you as you create!
(EFFin Artist likes this comment)…
–  wait,wait wait, my email wasn’t working and I just realized I missed the whole topic of caramel yesterday. I also see people taking credit for suggesting this caramel extravaganza but I happen to remember sending several emails before anyone else about the need for caramel. I also sent sample pictures for the effin artist to be inspired by. Clearly I am this weeks effin winner…
– Yes, you may have suggested the caramel extravaganza, however the excuse of a down computer is a bit weak, don’t you think?  I think this train has already left the station, sweetheart.
And so it goes in Effin Artist land. You have to come strong if you want the surprise prize at week’s end.
Finally, as always, to unsubscribe to these emails I’d suggest naming a star after EffinArtist and wish upon it.