Friday, December 24, 2010

Very Merry Everything & A Happy New Year

As promised, a few photos from the Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest. Again, a fun filled weekend of skiing, eating, socializing and raising environmental awareness and funds for Waterkeeper Alliance.

Also, while it has not yet been announced, I have just learned (via hubby Bob who created, owns and produces the event) that CBS will be re-airing Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest on Sunday January 23rd at 1pm EST. So, for those of you who may have missed it the first time (i.e., Joanne) - another chance.

Dylan Bruno & wife Emmeli Hultquist
Olympian Steve Mahre, Cheryl Hines, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Joey Pantoliano
US National Champion Heidi Voelker and Olympic Gold, Silver Medalist Tommy Moe
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Heidi Voelker, Trevor Donovan
Bob Woodruff, Rob Morrow, KT Tunstall, Cheryl Hines, Steve Mahre

 Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., JP Mitchell
Hill Harper and teammates
Party Room
JB Smoove & wife Shahidah Omar
Taylor Armstrong and husband Russell
Patrick Warburton, Rob Morrow
Dylan Bruno, Heidi Voelker, Phil Mahre
Cheryl Hines, Robert Horowitz, Jackie Orr (me), Mary Kennedy

I want to thank you all for reading Fresh Thoughts and for all your comments (via email and posting); please keep them coming as I love hearing from you.

I wish to everyone a very happy holiday season and a wonderful and meaningful 2011.

See you after the first of the new year.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

KNEES UP! and drive carefully please!

Okay, I am still in red and white mode from last week. I am ordering white stationery with a tiny red heart motif, my name and red/white Japanese paper liner, just purchased a red case for my new flip camera and now, my newest love:

KNEES UP - a fabulous metallic red from butter London's 2010 Holiday Collection. It is perfect this time of year; like wearing a Christmas ornament on your nails  - fun and fabulous! (You might recall from a prior post that I first met butter London, the 3 free lacquer, in Seattle this past summer.)

Knees Up, from the 2010 Holiday Collection

I ordered mine from - they might already be out so hurry and paint away! (Or bring to a nail salon near you.)

photo from butter London.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Isn't White Luscious?

When I am not thinking of red these days - be it Xmas red (for obvious reasons) or blood red (due to various injuries and wounds we happen to be nursing at the moment in our home) or tomato red (due to the bottles of juice in which we had to bathe our skunk encountered Golden Retriever) - I am thinking a lot of white.

Is white a color? I say yes. And in additive color theory it is, in a nutshell, said to be the merging of many colors. So, loving color, I love white. White is often said to convey purity, innocence, simplicity and new beginnings (weddings, even funerals to convey sympathy and life celebration).

Some of the reasons I love the WHITE at this time of year:

Snow  - see last post on one of my favorite spots on the planet - Deer Valley, Utah.
White Sherpa fur (not real) - cozy hoodie - my favorite from Barefoot Dreams Cozychic.
Marshmallows - fluffy, simple and reminiscent of youth.

All so yummy and luscious this time of year.

Straight from Orrganics' home kitchen:
Homemade Toasted Coconut Marshmallows

Easy and fun to make. Perfect for s'mores and great for topping hot chocolate. They melt in your mouth. And, this morning they were also a breakfast food. 

Marshmallow Batter:
3 packs of unflavored gelatin
1 cup of light corn syrup
1.5 cups of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla (not the imitation extract)
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt


bag of sweetened shredded coconut, toasted*
confectioners' sugar
optional: cayenne pepper/red pepper flakes - a topping for some added HEAT which I love (and of course, here is that red color again)

To make the Marshmallow Batter:

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Sprinkle half the toasted coconut* in an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal pan. Pour in the marshmallow batter and smooth the top of the mixture with damp hands. Sprinkle on the remaining toasted coconut (and do the same with the cayenne/red pepper if you are using it). Allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.

Remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into LARGE squares. Use a pizza cutter. Roll the sides of each piece carefully in confectioners' sugar. Store uncovered at room temperature.


* To toast the coconut, sprinkle evenly on a cookie sheet or jelly roll and bake at 350 until lightly browned - toss frequently. This takes 5 or so minutes - watch so you don't burn. Time could vary.

Next time I will be adding a dusting of graham crackers and choc for instant s'mores yummmmmmmmm!

Please know that the recipes for homemade marshmallows out there are all quite similar. The one I use is adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, Family Style by Ina Garten - someone I feel especially close to although we have never met.

all photos by Jackie

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chili in the Forecast

Thanksgiving has now come and gone and one would think that I would be leaving all thoughts of turkey behind me but that just is not possible. Two words, two ways, will sum it up:
"Deer Valley"  --  "Turkey Chili"

Oh, and "Yum Yum!"

The mountain opens this weekend and I am off to ski, celebrate and eat turkey chili at the 19th Annual Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest. You can tune in to watch this Sunday, Dec. 5th, either right before or right after the NFL game on CBS; check your local listings. ( Disclosure: Yes, this is my husband's show and yes, this should be considered a plug.) But also know that aside from all the fun, festivity and fabulous skiing (due to the early dumping of luscious snow), there is a charitable component to the weekend benefiting Waterkeeper Alliance. Check it out.

Now, back to the turkey chili. Deer Valley has the best food on any ski mountain in the US that I have been to and their turkey chili is tops! One can try to make it at home too -  there is a mix and what could be easier especially this busy time of year.

Photos above are from Skifest 2009 - this year's photos will follow.

And, since there was an inquiry, here are some of my tips for airplane travel (which I seem to do a lot of):

I wear comfortable, layered, usually black or other dark clothing. There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable at 30,000 feet up due to your clothing selection. The seating is uncomfortable enough. I am not getting any larger but I have more space in the lavatory on the plane than at my seat. Note that while I want to be as comfortable as possible, I don't need to look like a slob. I love the bygone era when people actually dressed up for their flights;

I bring a folder with my flight/ticket info, car rental or ground transportation, other confirmations (dinners, baggage, etc), places or things I might want to do when I get to where I am going - everything is organized and in one place. I can review it during the flight if I need to and I have it with me;

Wear or bring socks/peds for "going through security " - why would I want to touch the dirty floor with my feet when I have to take my shoes off;

I pack little roll up flats for the flight - more comfortable than high heels or boots for extended travel and, should my feet swell from the air pressure, I don't have to stress that I can't get my shoes back on before I can walk off the plane;

Yes, I usually pack extra clothes in my carry on just in case my checked luggage (and I ALWAYS check luggage) doesn't make it to the destination with me;

I have a zip lock bag with all my liquid essentials always packed so I never have to rethink it and it is ready to go on short notice. I routinely check it to make sure I don't need to replace any items;

I always travel with pain relief medicine as I don't want to take up time looking for a drug store;

I don't wear lots of big jewelry and or belts that have to be removed while going through security - although I tend to wear a chunky watch which I just routinely take off and put in my purse so I don't set off any machines or have to walk through again;

We all know by now, remove your computer from its case. But also know that some airports want your iPad separated too so I just do that without being asked - why invite delay?;

Pack a large wrap or scarf or travel blanket - it can get cold on planes and it can also serve as a pillow (I have a neck roll as well but it takes up a lot of space);

Download any movies or TV shows at least a day before so you are not disappointed when you realize you wanted to watch the latest episodes of Glee or Keeping Up With the Kardasians (a guilty pleasure that I seem to share with a lot of people) an hour before you have to leave the house;

Gum, mints, snacks;

And, finally, I always have headphones and sunglasses with me. They are essential to ward off chatty seat mates* or the glare from window shades that won't close.

*My daughter told me that she can still tell if my eyes are open from the side.

All of the above is now second nature to me so there really is no hassle.

Happy and easy travels to all!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Steeler Country - Pittsburgh and Beyond to Fallingwater

Last week we went to Pittsburgh to visit some schools. While there we explored the City and beyond. Note, Steelers fans are everywhere.

On the Pitt campus, the Cathedral of Learning. It is the 2nd tallest educational building in
the world; 42 stories and 535 feet high. 

Here are some of our highlights:

The Andy Warhol Museum.

There is a fabulous temporary exhibit on Marilyn Monroe - photographs and other works of art, not necessarily created by Mr. Warhol. My favorite photos were the shots taken by Bruno Bernard. I think the exhibit goes thru January 2, 2011.

The museum has 6 floors of exhibition space - there is so much to see. The giant screens showing clips of Andy Warhol's many movies kind of creeped us out. I did love the exhibit of Warhol's TV shows from the 1980s - clips with familiar faces from pop culture; Halston, Brooke Shields, Donna Karan, Daniel Patrick Monaghan to name a few. There are also old "family" movies, i.e., JFK Jr. playing as a kid on a NY beach. We loved the interactive exhibition in a room filled with helium (I think) pillows (Silver Clouds) and we found Warhol's abstract Oxidation Series paintings extra startling up close; especially when you learn he used urination on paint as the method for oxidation (yes,really! and they are often referred to as Piss Paintings ).

Andy Warhol grew up on Orr Street in Pittsburgh. I like that little fact (for obvious reasons). I did not realize that Warhol began his career in NYC as an illustrator with Glamour. It is fun to see his work from that time. I think it would be fair to say Warhol definitely learned the art of branding and consumer culture quite well.

Aptly named, "Walking to the Sky", the Jonathan Borofsky sculpture located on the Carnegie Melon campus was a lot of fun too - see below.

(Both Andy Warhol and Jonathan Borofsky are Carnegie Melon grads.)

Walking to the Sky
There are so many bridges in Pittsburgh - can you name the 3 rivers surrounding the City?

Best Meal - The Sonoma Grille. Casual and lively on a Saturday night. Fit for foodies, right up my alley with organic and fresh ingredients and a seasonal menu. I love the tasting menu and the wine list. We had the crab meat and avocado tian, the char duck and the fillet. All fabulous! Thanks Allen for the recommendation.

About an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh -  a visit to Fallingwater, the residence designed by America's most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.

Organic and harmonious with its surroundings, it is an obviously masterpiece. Fallingwater was built during the Depression, using local labor and local materials. Walking through the one time mountain retreat of the Kaufman Family of Pittsburgh (they owned Kaufman Department Stores - very interesting history of this stylish and charitable family for those who are interested) it is easy to feel connected to the natural surroundings; the home sits atop a waterfall and amongst the trees. It is now a National Historic Landmark. (FYI - they do rent out for dinner parties!)

Love this terrace and the Buddha head

If it were only this easy!

Oh, and while we were walking around Pittsburgh Sunday morning (at 9:15am), a man interrupted our discussion to point and  tell us "the Stadium (football) is that way". He thought he was being helpful to get us to the venue in time for pre-game breakfast tailgating -  we were really just looking for a Starbucks.

Inspiration - Steelers' colors black and gold make an elegant and classic statement for a holiday party invitation.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Exploding Vegetables!

Martin Klimas, a German artist, sends a projectiles into vegetables and the result is explosive! To see more of Klimas' exploding veggies and fruits (a statement about "our" growing interest away from junk and toward health foods), please visit Feature Shoot where I had my first taste of his work. (Sorry, that was really bad!)

And, however tempting this might be, I wouldn't recommend using projectiles at the dinner table.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Face Near You



Sometimes art raises questions.
Sometimes artistic expression is political.
Sometimes art provokes.
Sometimes art conveys joy where we would not expect joy to exist.

Guerrilla art. Pervasive art. Both terms describe works by JR, a twenty seven year old French artist who was just awarded the 2011 TED prize - $100,000 and a chance to change the world. (Last year's recipient was Jamie Oliver whose wish was to change the way the world eats.)

The trailer above for JR's Women Are Heroes film (shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010) is intense. It explores the dignity (or indignity) of women who are often targets during conflict. This is the theme of JR's 2008 Women Are Heroes exhibition where he photographed the faces of women from different parts of Africa who had each suffered much hardship. He then posted the photos in huge format in their own cities - in the streets, on buses, on the sides of buildings. The exhibition and the film both express pain and joy in the midst of art, culture and politics.

As far as JR's exhibitions go, I would love to hear your response to the question - which is the actual art  - the original photograph or the installation? There can be no doubt that effects of each are very different.

To see more about and from JR, but not to actually see him as prefers anonymity, click here to visit his website. There are images from other exhibitions and it is a real treat.

Friday, October 22, 2010

So Very Happy Chic

I love this book from Jonathan Adler - each page is a new smile on my face. It has terrific pictures of his various interior designs and the color combos are sure to please. He also gives specific paint colors and combinations that are tried and true. So fabulous!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Making Mulberry Paper

Handmade paper - in this instant from Israel - has great texture, color and is Au Natural!
The fiber from the Mulberry plant was used to make the paper here in this video. One can throw in a variety colorful petals, leaves and other natural items to mix in with the pulp - asparagus leaves, pressed flowers for example - thereby creating an interesting canvas. Each piece is unique and I love using the paper as wrap - a wrap on an invite or as gift wrap for a present. Here in the studio we see paper used as a wall hangings, lamp shades and, of course, as just paper.

It was a lot of fun and thank you Eliana for acting as my interpreter along the way because, while English was not a problem, I am not fluent in Hebrew. And thanks to Timna Neumann, owner of Tut Neyar (in Zichron Ya'acov) for a very informative and fun afternoon, I am sure to be back.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yes, I Love Orange

If you don't already know, orange is one of my favorite colors. It presents itself in so many ways, especially this time of year on the East Coast. While the orange exterior color below is not as vibrant as I usually like, I do wonder if they painted the building during the fall - it is such a perfect match of canvas to the trees.

Yes, I did pull over to photograph this building mirroring nature

A close up of Fall in action 
And, speaking of orange, pumpkins are not just for Halloween -

Pumpkin Soup  - Yum Yum
Recipe from The Mayo Clinic:

3/4 cup water
1 small onion, chopped
1 can (8 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup unsalted vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup fat-free milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 green onion, green top only, chopped

In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the water over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Don't let the onion dry out.

Add the remaining water, pumpkin, broth, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and cook until hot. Don't boil.

Ladle into warmed individual bowls and garnish with black pepper and green onion tops. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Analysis (per serving)
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories 72 Cholesterol 1 mg
Protein 3 g Sodium 241 mg
Carbohydrate 12 g Fiber 2 g
Total fat 1 g Potassium 199 mg
Saturated fat < 1 g Calcium 78 mg
Monounsaturated fat < 1 g