Saturday, September 27, 2008

October 2008 Recipe

Ok, this is a recipe I found in a mom's magazine recently, and I just love it... I've always wanted to learn how to make Falafel, and when I saw this, I tore it out and had to try it. And surprisingly - I cooked and it came out really yummy (surprising because of my cooking skills and impatience with it).

Falafel Directions:
(2) tablespoons of olive oil into skillet for Sauteing (1/2) chopped red onion and (1 Tbsp) minced garlic in the pan (until soft - like 5 minutes).

Drain (2) 15oz cans of Chickpeas and add that with the sauteed onion & garlic into food processor. Add (1) tsp of ground cumin, (1) tsp ground coriander, some chopped cilantro or mint depending on how strong you want it - I would say about 1/4 cup - loose. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse in food processor, and add a bit more olive oil to moisturize it a bit more.

*If you want to make Hummus at this point, add water and oil (and lemon juice?) to thin it out. For Falafel though, you want it thicker.

When mixed enough in the food processor, remove the bowl and form the ingredients into balls (should make around 12 - 16) and flatten (think medium size meatballs). Put some more olive oil into sautee pan again and sautee these flattened balls up until they are golden brown (it takes like 5 minutes on each side).

They may fall apart if too dry or too wet for that matter... it is messy - but yummy. I loved eating this with fresh tomatos and cucumbers from the garden (ok - not my garden, but someone's...). Also, I put the falael's on a papertowl after cooking to try to absorb some of the extra oil from cooking...

I also found another mom's magazine that has some great articles if you like this one:

I hope you enjoy! If you have a related recipe, post it as a comment!!! I'll post something new for November when I find another something new to try out...

Comfort in Friends & Foods

I love hanging out with friends!!!

My friend Kim from AspenWear and Jenny from Jenny Davies-Reazor (see side blog bar) have both been to visit in the last week. And usually our hanging out visits consist of eating or having coffee at some point. We always have so much fun catching up and talking - and watching how funny Chloe can be. And now that my kilns are in "fix me limbo" and I feel like a sinking ship because of it - which will hopefully end soon enough... and the weather is damp, very humid, and yucky outside - muggy cool actually - which makes you feel so gross & oily... Well, it makes me want to cuddle up to some comfort food.

So it got me thinking - I want to share some recipies for some yummy healthier foods (so trying to loose some of this extra weight - I'm down 15-20 of my 60lbs to lose). And I'm going to be posting them on this blog - hopefully monthly. So if anyone has recipies to share - post them as a comment to that month's recipe.

Oh, and Jenny - you ROCK! I appreciate your taking some pieces & getting them fired for me so I don't fall too behind with orders!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kilns, Chloe, and Caymen...oh,my!!!

So much going on around here...

I've been putting off replacing the elements in my kilns. I've never done it, and there is that thing inside that says if it isn't broke, don't fix it. But yesterday I decided that now is the time. OK - truthfully both my kilns are in major need of new elements. They have both been taking a lot longer to reach temperatures and I've had a few over fired loads (some pieces for orders are going to be made yet a third time).

So I did the research, gathered the new silky sleek elements, and all the tools required. Here is what the (very) old elements look like after a few hours of pulling with pliers.

Spending the time in the studio working on the kilns gave me time to listen to the Twilight Series on audio (OK, a little obsessed with the series now... love Vampire stories!). I've got the small kiln left to do - those elements should be here on Wednesday. When all are replaced - my glazes should look all full of new life - I can't wait!

And here is Chloe in the Kitchen...

She is showing me how to stay in the kitchen when cooking by keeping entertained in the kitchen. Hmmm... staying in the kitchen while cooking - good concept for those of us easily distracted...

We went to the Aquarium in Baltimore on Saturday and saw some cool stuff. Alligators and Crocks are so interesting but they freak me out. Here is a Cayman that was just chilling out - very cool!!!

We were supposed to go to the Maryland Ren Faire with a bunch of friends on Sunday - but Chloe decided that she wasn't having anything to do with long car rides on Saturday when we were driving home from the Aquarium - so Sunday fell through (2 hour ride w/no traffic in each direction - I don't even want to think about how she would've been). I had hoped that we were going to have a weekend full of fun times outside the house - but hey, one day of outside the house is great. She and I just chilled out on Sunday and I got to go through my silks and get them organized for the website. Here is what they looked like when they arrived - I can't wait to have them up on the site!

Once the kilns are up and running, I hope to get up on my orders and then back to the new stuff.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Beware: Marsha is in the kitchen!

Oh there are days where I wish I paid a bit more attention.
Like... anything pertaining to aiding my concentration and cooking skills.

I think that I may be spoiled...
running computerized electric kilns...
has it ruined my brain?

Truth be told, it is just the oven/stove I have issues with.
And the oven has a timer,
So I really have no excuse to burn anything while cooking...
Like these 1 hour crossants:

I have this habit with stove top cooking:
I get it from my dad as I found out recently...
Just put it on high, and it will cook faster...
Ok - not so much...

It will burn faster.
(extra scrubbing for later)

Boil over faster.
(plan on scrubbing that ceramic cook top often)

Overcook faster.
(plan on eating well cooked veggies)

Melt some of Chloe's stuff.
(steralizing has a new meaning when it gets that hot and forgotten about!)
I need to make sure that when I get side tracked,
Like taking pictures out in the garden,
Gathering monarch caterpillars for my sister's science class,
That I remember the stove/oven is on...
and unlike my computerized kilns,
the stove/oven doesn't know when to shut off.
*Also, for those of you out there thinking that the kiln is not fool proof - you're right. Always remember to keep an eye on that baby too - make sure that you have a backup for automatic shutoff to avoid over firing...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The FahFah Story

It all began when I was a very young girl. My mom would give me crayons to color on our bedroom walls. I used to love to lay on the bottom bunk (my older sister always got the top bunk...) up against the wall and just draw very little things. This drawing was called FahFah. I don't know why - but I guess that shows how little I was because I couldn't really pronounce words well.

I remember always drawing at night when I was supposed to be going to sleep - doodling by the nightlight right at my mattress level. Ok - notes to parents - nightlights at mattress level isn't the smartest thing - the baby blanket that I have shows that they can catch on fire or melt through... Nothing major though and it was patched up quite nicely by my grandmom!

Anyway, when I started making the porcelain pendants my mom used to ask me when I was going to make a FahFah series... I would always say - yeah mom... one day I'll get that one figured out and I would just kind of laugh it off. Well, my mom is no longer here to ask me that question, and I haven't really been making anything new in the last few years. So I took a few hours one evening just the other day and started to work. I didn't have anything in mind, but I knew that I just needed to work.

Good music (shake your booty playlist on my i-pod), coffee, and a bag of clay were what I had. I was reintroducing myself to clay. After a few hours I happened upon ways to make pendants (with holes & wire loops) and cabochons that were heavily textured, free form and just wonderful to make. I achieved the texture by doodling onto the clay surface with a rubber tip tool. This doodling reminded me of what FahFah used to be. Nothing in particular - just drawing lines... and lines... and lines.

So with all that I have been going through in my lifetime, I believe that there are signs everywhere and you have to be aware of them to find the joy in them. You have got to look on the positive side of life. My mom, even though she isn't here taught me when I was very young that it was ok to color with crayons on the wall. That there need be no point to it other than just enjoying it. And that now as an adult and a mother myself, that I can find that place that I can freely express myself and try new things, and allow my daughter to do the same (with in bounds of course... can't have her going to other people's houses and coloring all over their walls...).

So this FahFah series is something that I will make as they are. The monies from the sale of these pieces will be going to help out different organizations and charities. The first is the TriState Bird Rescue Annex. I want to have a room dedicated to her memory. So I'm going to work on the details very soon and get information up on my website and this blog about the progress of this venture. I've got $2,500 to $5,000 to raise (I can make 3 payments, one over each of the next 3 years). I'll get that decided soon...

It's kindof funny too - when I look at them, they somewhat remind me of bird nests - so it is extra appropriate for this donation... hmmm... another sign?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Moving Forward by Looking Back

In my recent home and studio clean up attempts, I have started getting myself in order. My entire basement studio area has become a pile of "one day I'll get to that stuff".
I started making my porcelain pendant pieces back in 2002. This summer I rediscovered some of these original treasures in a bag, in a box, on a shelf, in the basement - just waiting to be found (they have been hiding since the studio move 3 years ago). And I am truely inspired to enter into that creative period again.

Looking at these reminds me of how detail obsessed I've become about shapes, edges, holes, glazing... And maybe how I can try to loosen up and have fun creating again...

I will be making some limited pieces (basically my experimental and really fun pieces to make) that I will only sell as they are. I have my porcelain pendant catalog which I will expand with some shapes, new textures and colors - but I don't want to corner myself into being the production queen as I have in the last few years. I find that I get into a zone when working on my pendants - it's so comfortable - like meditation. I'm in that I need to spice it up a bit mode.
These limited pieces will be sent to Darlene (she runs my Marsha Neal Studio bead show tables), bead shops (brick & mortar stores - to help make sure they remain open!), and a few here and there on my website - to my email newsletter recepients only (as a thanks for being so cool as to receive updates from me!). Want to get my newsletter? Sign up here:

I also have some pieces that are inspired by my mom that I will use the monies to dedicate a room at the Tristate Bird Rescue (they are expanding soon) to her memory. See the FahFah story...
More on how to help me donate a room to her memory coming soon. But for now, check out their website:

And a little FYI: if you have issues biting your fingernails - go volunteer at a bird rescue place... After I volunteered here for a bit back in college - I immediately was aware of sticking my fingers into my mouth - birds are so messy and their poo is everywhere... Yuck!

The work that they do there is invaluable and I enjoy Birds so much every day...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Remembering Mom's Birthday...

Yesterday was my mom's birthday.
She would've been 55 (and what a party that would've been!)
She has been gone for almost a year now - that anniversary falls on September 12th.
My siblings and I got together at my house to celebrate the day of her birth.
We made meatloaf & mashed potatoes (one of her staples).
And yes Nick, we will make something different next year... (you can cook!)
We toasted her with her favorite beer: Miller Lite.
We even washed a bottle and took a picture of Chloe with it...
We sat around and laughed at memories from growing up - as always!
Good times continue, even though they aren't quite as bright.
Keep making new memories for more talks around the table...

We love you mom...
We think of you always...
You are in our hearts and on our minds...
And we know you are with us...