Sundae on Monday

Sundae Brooch by Q. Cassetti, 2013 available on EtsyIts been a while. A busy while, nonetheless… Let me think about the news, the new ideas, the state of the state. The Federation of Farmers Market meeting was very nice and homespun. I liked meeting and seeing the range of people, their engagement, and the vitality in the room.  It wasn’t a huge group, but lots of interest in all that was said. I had the pleasure of meeting the Executive Director of the Niagara Frontier Growers Market and the President of the Board of the Ithaca Farmers Market. The takeaway from that experience as that we should absolutely embrace the dynamics of a small market and truly own it, build into it…and keep it the personal experience that it is today. Bigger is okay, but not for our little community. What we can do for our community is provide a gathering space around food, eating and locally made objects.. We can provide a platform for local music, local performers, local arts. We can provide a neighborhood approach to “why not” type of entertainment and gathering from dish to pass suppers, to fundraising auctions, to the craziness of my friend Deb’s Soap Box Derby. We can revel in Local, Locavore, and in each other. We can use the farmers market to create new bonds beyond the church, the schools, and the community groups. We can continue to weave those ribbons of connection between people…to build and support each other. This is something we do well here in our little Village…and if we are deliberate about this activity, think of the strength we ill all have in each other.

I was prodded to join the Chamber of Commerce. Kicking and complaining…saying no…no…no…and then, surprisingly, I attended and am enchanted. It was such a bright group of action oriented people that being at the table to represent the Farmers Market was a pleasure. The Chamber and the Market both have literature distribution issues, so we are going to create a job and share the expenses etc. There you go! Reason one to go to the Chamber, share the wealth and get stuff done. So, more on that.

We had a very engaging Farmers Market meeting last week. The librarian at the Middle School attended and spoke about partnering with us to do some programming with him around a Middle School “read” to a community read…The book is SeedFolks…and it is about the power of planting to help draw people and communities together. Of course, we are on it…and interestingly, after an email to a variety of community groups, we have traction with them. So, we are going to meet this week to get this thing rolling. The day one of this activity is April 26 to roll through a month, so there is not a ton of time, but it should be fun to see what can happen. It was very rewarding to make a few calls and write an email or two and see the energy that is being put towards this thing. Not much more than that, but should be very cool to see what happens. I am feeling this.

Off topic entirely, Squarespace (the entity I author this blog with) has a site for visual people to create more visually inspired pages (Squarespace 6) along with a way to post retail pages /create a store which is linked to Stripe (a company that can do the financial transactions). Lets just put it this way, my mind is a whirl on this.

Kitty is home for Spring Break. It is great to have time with her. I taught her how to needlepoint yesterday and gave her a kit which I must admit, given how she is absolutely voracious…it will be done before the week is out. This is a great thing as with all the bus travelling she does, this will keep her hands busy during that down time. She had a group over last night to eat snack food and celebrate the Saint who chased snakes out of Ireland….I wonder if he wore green loafers much like the pope?

Market meanderings.

Toivo at the Trumansburg Farmers Market, Q. Cassetti 2012Trumansburg, New York is a community of 1500 people in the Village and 4500 in the Town of Ulysses. Trumansburg is a very collaborative and creative place where lutiers, financiers, farmers, teachers, carpenters all meet at the local coffee shop to klatch and plan. Trumansburg is a project kind of place. We give money, but what we love more than anything is a dish to pass, a community build, a project we can make happen. We have an annual music festival, The GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, which for over 20 years has brought the world to our hamlet—and we have embraced that spirit of community and power that comes on the local level. This spirit leaks into pretty much anything that happens here, including our Farmers Market.

Our little farmers market sits on a small, triangular village park on Main Street in Trumansburg, New York. It is a young market that started under the big willow tree with several farmers who came together to sell produce and food to the local populace. There was interest and this little market grew. Grew so much that a grant was applied for, and funds were raised by the community to build a pair of roofed pavillions and a bandstand in this little park to formalize this market and move it forward. A local architect and community team designed these structures and over a 4 month period, built it over a series of weekends as a community build. There were people of every shape and size building our market with lunches brought in from local restaurants and families who wanted to contribute. It was truly a remarkable moment which for me fully defined what we were capable of as a village. It was sheer positive energy directed at making something wonderful that would enhance our life on this little Main Steet place.

That was four years ago. Today, the Market boasts a thriving community of farmers, producers, restaurants and caterers, and artisans that come together from mid May to the end of October, every Wednesday from 4-7 in the afternoon and early evening. It is dinner time, and the community turns out to do the circuit and shop, eat and meet up with friends. We have live music every week (pro-bono—but a hat is passed) and occasionally, we will have movie night after the market when we have a screen put up, and movies played with prizes, popcorn and even one evening last summer, rootbeer floats for everyone! Heaven.

We entertain, we enchant, we feed, we involve people and and, we also sell produce and sandwiches, eggs, wine, hard cider and cheese, bread, horseradish jelly and garlic scape pesto. But we need it all to move forward. The market is a three way gimbol— balancing the needs and expectations of the farmer/producer with the needs and expectations of the consumer along with the needs and expectations fo the community. As much as we would like it to be as simple as selling celery, in order for this market to have roots, we need to address all three in the most engaging, out of the box way. If we can charm and provide a treat along with educate and inform, we have a chance of sustainable success for our local food producers and eaters.

The interesting thing as I think about the market and how to talk about it—I keep reflecting on the farmers markets of my life. Growing up, my mother and I went to a farmers market in a very dicey neighborhood in Pittsburgh that must have been in a garage or something. It was an indoors market, very dark and dreary. We would go to see Mr. Kutz (from Central PA) with his red haired, apple cheeked daughters to buy eggs and chickens and occasionally something green. Somehow the green stuff always came from Giant Eagle.

The next snapshot was learning about the Ithaca Market and watching it grow. The concept that local food, or organic food would have any significant foothold was totally alien at the time. Food Co-ops and natural food stores when I was in college were grungy places that smelled odd, and the produce was less than hearty or robust. It was more about tea than it was about food, at least for me.

Moving ahead again, I was sent to the Natural Foods and Products Convention in Anaheim (1989) when I was working for Estee Lauder. I was sent to get an eyeful of what was happening in this Natural world…particularly that of the channel of beauty and cosmetics. I was sent to better understand the competition so as to be able to leverage the power of this beauty brand, the funds and product development we had, and take it to the next level from the grungy health food store to counters at  Neiman Marcus and Nordstoms. I was horrified (and delighted I was wearing my badge backwards) when I sat in on a personal products break out session , when a leading light in the natural foods store beauty business pulled out an article hinting at Estee Lauder getting into the natural products world. This woman proclaimed that those in the business had better raise their sights as the competition was just about to get bigger, and they couldnt just be natural product people…but needed to improve their marketing, their image, their brand. They could not rest happily in the dusty food coops and needed to up their game. The concept of a Whole Foods was beyond imagination.

Now, look at where we are. Whole Foods is a reality. Organic produce is available at WALMART?! People really are reading the labels. Packaging is more responsible. The CSAs are booming…and popping up everywhere…can this continue? How is going to evolve? What is the model? How can anticipate this? or should we? Can the Trumansburg Market be the incubator for these new products and farms? Can we have a lovely night of stars, and friends, food, and bags of leeks and organic eggs while supporting local agriculture and thus supporting the betterment of those around us? I think we can. We are a community of do-ers…and this seems right up our alley.

Now that I got that off my chest, I can think about the board a bit more. Thanks for your patience.

Locavore

Hardware Store Punch, Q. Cassetti, 2013Tomorrow I have the opportunity to speak to the Farmers Market Federation of New York at LaTourelle Inn and Spa about how our board works with our Market Manager. Just thinking about the points I am going to make, has forced me to think about how I have engaged in the local foods movement, and the progress that has been made in the last 18 months.

In the past two years, I have provided pro bono work (some design, some consulting, some both) to: MyerFarm Distillery, Redbyrd Orchard Cidery, Good Life Farm, Sweetland Farm, Tree Gate Farm, Stone Cat Cafe, MacDonald Farm, Wide Awake Bakery, Farmer Ground Flour, Regional Access, New York Foods, The Trumansburg Farmers’ Market,  Central New York Cider Week, Forge Cellars, The Piggery to name a few. I am sure I am forgetting someone. It has been an amazing journey learning about these farmers, their farms, their livlihood, their focus and why they farm. I have learned that farmers may not all be born marketers, and that the perception that there is fairness in the world/ and in the local economy should be cultivated (to that, I believe that the market teaches us if we listen—to tune our products, product selections, and the work we do to be desirable….We just have to each listen, and hear). I have learned about the import of transportation, of distribution hubs wheither it is in the form of a weekly pick up or CSA, a pop up shop or a truck that delivers to a bigger area. I have learned about farming during a drought, and the sheer knife edge these farmers live on between the seed purchases to harvest with bugs, and water, and hail, and heat or lack thereof….defining success and financial disaster. I have learned that sometimes, just sometimes, I need to give my farmer friends a bit of rope to figure things out themselves, and in the same way, give myself permission just to take a little time and let things simmer and evolve. These are people who know about watchful waiting. They know about seasons and time. They know about light and darkness, heat and cold. These are people who will move greenhouses around on tracks to make sure their greens have the best source of light and heat to bring us delicate greens in the middle of March. These are passionate people who love deeply but because of their trust and collaborative make up, can be hurt as deeply as they love. These are people who do not mind getting dirty, working hard, and when possible, playing just as hard. They care about their apples, their greens, their flowers and boules and link it to a larger, more spiritual notion. Allison Usavage  created a lovely film about Stefan Senders and David MacGuinness’ Wide Awake Bakery and captures this spirit that seems to be an overlay to the local food scene here, here is the vimeo link>

This work sometimes can be challenging…but the film shows the reward. To be able to drink from the same cup as these hard working people is an honor. And, to try the first fresh greens of spring, to taste Eric and Devas sublime sparking cider as delicate as a bite of apple, or see tiny Melissa get her massive horses, Randi and Betsy pull together for her, or taste Stefan’s wonderful hot bread made from Greg’s flour (Farmer Ground) which was ground from Thor’s wheat….Or to try Tony’s black beans…the circle is complete. One blessing after the next—from the farmer to the consumer and back to the lovely land we live in and on. The same birds sing to my farmers as they do to me. The same rain and snow come our way. It is all right here, right now. And we all live in it for now.

What a week

Summer in Ithaca, Q. Cassetti, 2013, Adobe Illustrator Cs5Things have been a bit wild around here. My father-in-law was rushed to the hospital last Friday with a significant nosebleed. He was in the hospital for a few days—and then the process of interviews, deliveries, questionnaires, phone calls and the beginning of the “new normal” began. Hospice has begun. He has moved downstairs as his movement/mobility is challenged. He is not in pain, though breathing  is challenging. He has limited time awake and conscious with most of the time asleep. We are all trying very hard to wrap our heads around this change…and it is stressing us all out in different ways. Everyday is different—and all of our independance is challenged as Mary and Gloria need time to tend to their lives as well. This week with Rob is going to be tough as he is seriously busy and travelling, so I feel I will fill that gap as well as I can. I have set up a Caring Bridge site (a wonderful service that is private and allows a family to talk about  a family member who is sick/ailing/challenged etc to a wide community of friends—essentially making the same “phone call” over and over again…and keeping all the friends and wellwishers up to date with the status quo. I have taken this on….and I hope its been helpful for Ron and Mary’s friends. To learn more about Caring Bridge (www.caringbridge.org)

Rob has been busy moving furniture, making beds out of sofas, moving trip hazards, supporting the change next door in a broad physical way. He also has been very kind and open with his dad and mom…spending time with them and sweetening the sadness that we all have. Lightening the moment with stories and popcorn. He is such a wonderful guy.

We got an impressive amount of snow on Friday. Its been grey until today which has given us a blazing blue and white day to relish the snow bouncecard effect on the light, and the lovely blue shadows we have here on our plateau.

I am rounding the corner on a lot of projects from the candle packaging for “Bee of Life” (using one of my bee goddesses as the image and I created a hive texture and my bees as a complement and background for the paper labels) to Sagamore’s Benefit event package graphics. My big client is bending and changing, and we are bending and changing with them. I am working on box graphics and some vintage related publications for Forge Cellars, updates on the packaging and new ideas for Redbyrd Orchard Cider. The Piggery seems well on their way with new programming and promotion (their BaconFest was a huge success) with Valentines Day seatings filling up, and plans for a St. Patricks Day Sausage Fest on the horizon. Good Life Farm is ramping up for Asparaganza this spring, so we have had a meeting about that…and putting plans in place to support this event. The Farmers Market has sent out applications for vendors (I think I may be a day vendor for a few of the markets just to sell my little thises and thats along with cards)….but we will see.

Creatively, I am a bit shot. I wish I had the zing going on that the Advent work had, but given the changeability of the moment, I am just happy to make little creature doodles in my notebook and focus on the work at hand (teasing out a content review of a website for one) to make psychic room for the extra stuff. I have also decided to spend time learning new things, so I am trying to do a few Lynda.com tutorials during the day to keep my head in the game…and learn something that can make me more productive etc. Plus, I love my digital tools….and the more I learn, the more fun it gets.

My tiny world

Turkey Brooch, Q. Cassetti, 2012You know I am obsessed these days by all things tiny. I am probably the largest importer of small stuff from lands far away in Central New York…with more wonderful things to come. I am living in a teeny tiny zone…learning how to think and visualize in millimeters, learning how to search out these gems that I can turn into fun stuff to wear. I am learning about this teeny tiny world where people create their ideal life complete with paper plates and napkins to celebrate holidays, St. Patrick’s day etc—to 1:12 scale home healthcare equipment, to odd/unusual and out of reach furniture and housewares that any normal individual might not be able to afford. Living in this tiny world, celebrating holidays with little people, tiny babies, eensy boardgames, televisions and iPads—is a happy place where we can exist, own our own healthcare facilities, our own bakeries, charcuteries, and lingerie stores. This is the world where we can own pets who do not pee on the newly cleaned rugs, or puke behind the radiator, who do not eat the chicken on the stove as it cools, who quietly love and adore without any effort. This is the world that Santa is guaranteed to come, and household servants (in uniforms, no less) will serve you, bring the car around, and cook your savory dinner that includes pate, turkeys, and every form of cake, pie and fruit. This is the world of Christmas trees with real lights in every room if you want that never shed a needle, and can be weighed down with bitsy little ornaments that cost three times what they cost in the RW (real world…or at least the 1:1 world). However, I am Gulliver in this world—thudding through, collecting my batch of goodies that I can design with (with a fist filled with a squished tube of the miraculous E-6000) andHappy Party Cake Necklace, Q. Cassetti, 2012 make little confabs of iced cream cones, or veggies, or a whirl of tiny carrots and garlic. There are small breakfasts to go on your lapel, and birthday cakes that adorn glossy bangle bracelets. What fun. I have some little silver teasets that will adorn business card cases…along with candy encrusted compacts to whip out to fix your lipstick or make sure that corn silk is not hanging out of your teeth. Sickly, I am so charmed….and it has spurred me back to vectors (you got a dose last week) for fun (and happliy for profit I cannot speak of).

Now that this work is going to be at Sundrees, I am doing my own little affordable Queen of Design from Estee Lauder, Princess….and I am buying small wooden tables to display my jewels and pins, along with small black windsor chairs, and happily, some 1:12 bakery cases! Cute and sooooo fun! Forget playing in the tiny world—I love using the medium to sell the twist on the medium. Sundrees is a fun store here in Tburg filled with really wonderful and tasteful things and they have offered to carry my teensies, cameos, prints, cards, illos. I have gotten some big prints made along with some big “posters” (printed one side) that I am running through my accucut diecutter to give me 5.5” x 5.5” finished sized (two fold) cards of my farmers market wreathes. I am making a ton of cards to see what goes… and I am cutting out kraft boxes—to package all this stuff. Illustration is being layered on top…and is selling as well. So, I am keeping busy…and am psyched to see where all of this time will go.

Frosty, Swirly

Ice Cream Sign at Trimmer’s Ice Cream Stand, Trumansburg, NY, Q. Cassetti 2012Blistering hot here for another day. Our little Farmers’ Market was a bit wilted and hot…but we still had a nice crowd drinking a lot of lemonade, buying radishes, brooms and all sorts of other things.  Alan, Rob and I had a good meeting about the Market Manager building that is being designed to possibly be the “Community Build” project during the GrassRoots Festival of Music and Art in July. The plan is to have a space for our manager to be available along with providing a space for kids to have a space to sell fruit etc. during our market. It will have a bulletin board, a clock, a slide (!) a place for a Gott water cooler with a cone dispenser.  There is storage and a way for us to hide the park’s electric box…making the current installation go away (a little eyesore). The aesthetic is vertical siding/ metal roof very much in the vernacular farm structures being built today…so it feels “of the farm” which suits the market very well. The foot print is small (10’x 10’ or so…How fun is that?

I have the fan pointed at the top of my head and I am feeling a bit better today than yesterday with the heat and still hot air. Shady Grove is laying as quietly as possible under the window…just trying to keep her furry black self cool. Alex and friends are swimming in ponds and then hiding in our backroom huddling around with video games, and eating large quantities of food (read cold pizza).

Hot Glass Soft Serve:

I am thinking of soft serve. Twisty lovely cones that I plan to make with my friends on the GlassLab stage. Soft Serve and cupcakes in glass…all one color, and some decorated. Roses and sprinkles, diptop and wrappers. I took a ton of sign pictures (a real favorite of mine). Don’t you love the one on the right? I love how unfriendly and severe, almost engraved—this confection appears. Its all about linework with a bit of color poked behind it. This is pretty evocative of Circus Posters, right? The sheer simplicity of this illustration prods me to work on this idea that runs in parallel with the amazing big blue gummybear, and the cobalt dunny from the Kid Robot team. July 1st is the day I get to try this out on Governors Island. It should be fun.

People in the tintype

Lincoln study, Q. Cassetti, 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5Yesterday was a gorgeous day. Ditto for today. The Farmers’ Market was fabulous with all sorts of great things to buy—with Meg having black cherry tomatoe plants, and all sorts of elegant currant plants from Daring Drake. We had a massage therapist…and two more people wanted to throw in with us to our delight. Food/catering was selling out to my happiness…and hope that we can continue to drive folks to the market to gather, eat and spend their money of produce, wine, cider, plants and goodies. This is our second shot and I feel real energy around what is happening, the help of the board, and the direction we can point this. I got some great shots and will share with you. I love it when people just “give” you the picture…and I was given quite a few last night. We need more…and we will get them. By the end of the season, we will have imagery to really sell the market!

The big RFP is done. Will deliver tomorrow.  Little projects are moving. The images for the StoneCat have been framed (thanks to Nigel). My cabochons are en route. The market is beginning to stand up on its little shaky legs…and we are going week to week to see what and how it evolves. I am getting things fixed, delivered, and ordered. And! My dies came from Accucut…so it means my diecutter should be here soon! Hello! How exciting is that?

Did you ever notice how big Abe Lincoln’s ears are? HUGE. I saw a life mask , and life casting of his hands at the Fenimore in Cooperstown and was dumbstruck at how odd and overlarge they were…but the facial casting did not get to the ears. Now with this study kicking off a series, I am stunned by his ears…and his amazing assymetrical face. Chasing down info on Lincoln has thrown me back on the amazing photography of Matthew Brady. Brady portrays these civil war era people as the living, breathing people that they were…not shining them up, but just as is…and somehow he captures the individuals essence through a sensitive vision. There is so much humanity peeking out of those sepia images that if you were to just change the fashion, they might be the person on the street passing you by on the way to Starbucks.

I also unwittingly surfaced a whole lot of stuff about the hypothesis that Lincoln might have been gay. It started with my poking around Wikipedia…and then it went on. This is all supported, academic studies…and so it changes the discussion around him. Our first gay president? Interesting. This was not the sort of stuff we addressed way back at Ellis School on Presidents Day. Whole new world.

Rob is home from his travels. It is wonderful to have with us. He is reconsidering his travel for this week. We would love to have him around a bit more!

Onward to the day.

Whaddah day.

Barley Rondel, Q. Cassetti, 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5The world was at the Rongo last night to hear the amazing Stringbusters and to welcome our favorite, Billy Eli with Eric Aceto and group. Many of the Tburg Royals were there…so there was lots to talk about with fascinating people who had things to say. Lets just say, I am having a love affair with our little Village, and every social event, every interaction just sweetens the love more and more. I had to leave a bit earlier than Mr. Cassetti as I had to be ready to rock this morning at the Community Yard Sale at the Farmers Market. Thanks to amazing Suse Thomas Wolfanger, she was there to help—getting money and spreading the love she does so naturally. We had an amazing day, a great turnout. As I noted on Facebook, fresh from the Market: “

Such fun at the Trumansburg Farmers’ Market! Bought a few amazing things (Pendleton shirts, Woolrich shirts) a pashmina scarf, a fluffy chiffon scarf with pansies on it, and a scarf with a 1953 calendar on it (amazingly interesting palette. Had a divine Kimchi hotdog from Trevor and Shelly MacDonald along with sampling their amazing Sauerkraut balls and a half sour pickle. Amazing! Sharon Tregaskis from TreeGate Farm was selling beautiful seedlings. Meg Meixner from Wolftree Farms was selling organic chickens and eggs. Margaret Shepard from Sage Hen Farm was selling garlic, leeks and greens. There were mushroom logs and perennials along with a great assortment of treasures. I am sunburned and energized. What potential we have in our amazing village! Pictures to come.”

This event was great because it allowed us to see how we needed to be “on” for our first day (we need keys to the electrical box, we need signage, a lot of direction getting people situated, a bit of process, a way for folks to hang banners etc.). It also prompts me to suggest that we should think about the flea market idea…and that maybe a Sunday event might be fun during the summer (once a month?). Do you think that could hold up? After seeing the crowd we got, I think there is something here…and could provide a fun activity for all. If we promote it, it can happen. I def. feel we need to do this sale again next year.
We need to get Alex to a boat for his senior dinner dance tonight. It will be a perfect evening for this party…which will be great for our boy. Rob and I will burn time in Watkins to take them home around midnight. Rob is off tomorrow to pick up Kitty and attend a meeting in Albany. Alex is going to be acting with Running to Places from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. I plan on making flower pictures just for myself (!) for Mothers Day!
I bought a pair of very cute black espadrilles as my mothers day present to me!
Onward to more springtime fun!

 

weekend antics

Asparaganza 2012, Good Life Farm, Interlaken NYFarmer Melissa, Asparaganza, Good Life Farm, 2012It was a perfect weekend capped off by great music at Felicias (Rockwood Ferry) and a gentle spring evening party, Asparaganza, at Good Life Farm. Asparaganza was at Good Life with a brilliant cloudless blue sky, happy people, delicious things to try and buy along with music, games, tours of the farm and new friends and old. RedByrd Orchard Cider had it inaugural tasting (and indeed we tasted it!) along with Crooked Carrot, The Piggery, Cayuga Creamery (asparagas ice cream, ginger ice cream as a bow to Good Life’s prides), and Red Newt Bistro. There were farmstands and Toivo playing their happy music which was a perfect fit to a glorious afternoon. It was so wonderful to see these local producers, Melissa and Garrett and their friends in the context of the haven their farm is….with the geese and big draft horses in the background. Mike from Double E (Mushroom CSA) was making mushroom logs for folks to take home to grow their own mushrooms, there were games…and tons of balls and fun things for the teensy people who gamboled amongst all the larger ones. The energy of this event was so positive, so encouraging, so reflective of this emerging community that I just wanted to hug each and every producer for the gifts that they give us generously. We never really see the whole picture, just the perfect radish, apple, blade of grain or sunflower and not the work, love, and prayers that go into creating this amazing thing.  Maybe this little valentine will help communicate that.

New website for the Trumansburg Farmers Market! Took me about 4 hours to do…and I have a bit more to do (authoring some content) but at least we are up and running so the rackcards now point to something real. Here is the site> www.tburgfarmersmarket.com

I got plugged into some phenomenal new web based tools this weekend that I am so excited about I could sing at the top of my lungs. First one is IFTTT (if this [] then that[]). I know. It doesnt make much sense. What IFTTT does is link the social media venues you may be using, to leverage your messaging to the other outlets you support. Once creates or uses already created recipes to make your content work harder for you. An example is “If This” Facebook entry “then that” sent to Twitter. If an image is dropped into Dropbox, send the same image to Flickr….and so on…mixing feeds,Flickr, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, DropBox etc. It is amazing one stop shop where usually I have had to go into the mechanisms/the account information to try to network the content from one place to the other. Now it is so much easier and not so technical. Give it a try, its free.

The second geeky delight is Evernote. Evernote is a way to collect information, images, links, notes etc. to push folks to be more productive and less paper driven. Your Evernote is sync’ed between your computer, phone and IPad…so you can have your files ready and at hand whenever you want them as long as you can get a connection. You can share ‘notebooks” with people you invite…or you can keep them private or even not shared as long as its on your desktop. You can tag your entries, sort them a bunch of different ways…Worth seeing. Their customer support and videos are great (reminds me of Squarespace, a company that has that nailed). Plus, there is a community of users out there who are actively involved in moving Evernote ahead with cool plug-ins, ebooks, and forums. It is free to try, and if you choose to do the upgrade, its not going to break the bank. I am so in love with the productivity aspect of Evernote, I am worried that I could waste time being organized…but if it helps to get the work done…no worries.

Thanks to the prod of Evernote, I am knocking things off my list…and adding new. More to talk about later. 

going local

Tomatoes, Q. Cassetti, 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5I am having some mandatory stuff done to the car, so I am sitting in the fabulous Maguire waiting room with the light streaming in the windows with wifi and all sorts of “we love our customers” amenities getting ready to dive on the pile of email. So, to delay that inevitability, I figured a quick entry would be in order.

I am heads down on a bunch of branding related projects for my big client with some coming easily and others, not so…It is so hard to think about regulating certain design elements/ treatments for really trained designers and quite another for a less sophisticated group that is often the group my client likes to hire. This same group needs to be “creative” for the sake of creativity and not to better reinforce the messaging and desires of the client. This type of creative agency feels that their voice leads the conversation versus reflects that of the desires of the entity hiring them…and maybe because of untrained people on the client’s end, they can easily assume this position. However, it hurts me as the end product, the image of the company is often dinged and damaged because of all this maverick creativity—without any respect to the big horizon. So should we cramp the style and creativity of the lesser designers to try and corral them into a standard…or respect them to follow the current standards (which they do not) and have to wrestle them to  comply each and every project they are involved in? If I ruled the universe, this particular universe, I would have a few good agencies—ones that know what is needed , who do follow standards and understand their import. I would have a very tight standard (IBM of the 70s, Siemens, Apple Computer) and with very tight grids, image direction, type sizes and standards. I would regulate and reinforce. This is not impossible…but sometimes things have to be autocratic in order to create a unified vision. But this is the ideal condition.

Myer Farm Distillers sign, Q. Cassetti, 2012I am finishing up the Myer Farm Distillers labelling as part of the branding we are doing.Myer Farm is quite an operation as its field to flask. This family farm grows organic grain and have been for quite a while—and have been selling it to the first local distillery, Finger Lakes Distilling and has broken ground, ordered the equipment from Europe and is going into business themselves. I presented a series of approaches to their brand and was surprised and pleased that they picked an approach that I think of as Scandanavian (though where that comes from is beyond me). It is a sheaf of barley drawn simply/ with a bow to woodcut images of grain with the head of the grain, and a dagger-y calligraphic stem. The font is Futura because of the beautiful sharp M-s and the nice weight shift. The colors are taken from the design of their building. The labels have illustrations referencing the main ingredient of the liquor—and a strong, consistent type treatment that is differentiated by colorway. The client selected some really great bottle profiles…so as this comes to the close for now, I am getting pretty psyched as it will look great. What a nice add to the wine region and the “beer trail” in these robust Finger Lakes.

Next on the horizon is a farm who has been an organic farm since the 70s making all sorts of pickles and the like.They have a fabulous reputation and they got ‘the goods”. So being able to package a great product should be excellent. I am busy looking at labels and gathering some competititive information to start our adventure too.

Meet some of the competition:

Brooklyn Brine Company> 
McClure Pickles 
Sarabeth’s Jams 
Hawthorn Farms 
Blue Hill Farm
Rick’s Picks 

NYTimes: “Don’t Mock the Artisanal Pickle Makers” by /Adam Davidson, 02/15/2012

Apt. 11D: “Katherine Boo and Artisanal Pickle Makers”

The Pickle Freak Blog

I am fascinated by the whole local foods movement here, but as a point/counterpoint to the wild activity in the local foods movement in Brooklyn. I am constantly stunned when visiting NYC or shopping the foody day on Fab.com to see the pickles, jams, coffee, cheese etc. that are being elegantly produced and sold from folks packed in on Long Island. Surely we could take this on with our access to space, to amazing produce and people who know how to do this sort of thing. Surely, this is a way to use the produce as it ripens and is picked in addition to putting it fresh on people’s plates around here. We can drive people to our farmers markets, to the farm stands, to the CSAs but there are only so many people here (even if we trained them up to like veggies)—that after market products seem like a great way to add money to the farmer’s pockets while producing high quality organic canned produce.

Crooked Carrot is doing this on a small scale. I fully applaud their work and food. But we need more…and we need a way to help Crooked Carrot scale up (if they want to do that) in a way that they can be successful.  I like how imaginative Crooked Carrot is—and by being a share holder, I am given things I might not buy on my own (pickled Kohlrabi as one which we finished off in two sittings). It is a luxury to try these things, but I cannot be helpful to anyone if I am not educated about the CSA, CSK, CSG models. Clever and resourceful Melissa Madden of Good Life Farm has a gorgeous spring CSA that is a delight. The focus of her CSA are greens—cooking greens, raw greens etc. which depending on the part of the less than dependable Spring, she supplements with canned goods from her farm (canned and preserved by Crooked Carrot) and or amazing sprouts (I never thought I would say that) from Dancing Turtle. Melissa uses the produce from the summer before the add to her unpredictable mix..and as a recipient, every CSA pick-up is Christmas morning as I never fully grasp what she has told us was coming each week until it is put in my bag!

So, where is all of this chatty meandering going? Its all about taking in the horizon of the local foods scene and better understanding it and how I can help move the needle for the farmers, for the region, for the eaters out there. If the NYTimes is on it…we need to be ahead of it.  It’s fun to participate as its part of the education—both as an illustrator/designer but also in my role with the Trumansburg Farmers Market where we circle on details I never had thought about…but trying to keep in balance the desires of the farmers and the hopes of the consumers. Very thin blade there.

noodgy

Peach, Q. Cassetti, 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5Winter is back with us…after the faux spring forced our forsythia, all our daffodils and the big fat magnolia blossoms to pop. Now we have window shaking winds with wool tee shirts and extra sweaters which would have been ridiculous last week at the same time.

I met with a bunch of local foods people yesterday—our market manager at the Tburg Market, and wonderful Melissa from Good Life Farm. I also had a interesting meeting with members of the Chamber of Commerce—to figure out how the Tburg Farmers Market could figure into the Community Yard Sale (05.12). Thankfully, we got a little thinking about it earlier in the morning so I could be a bit more responsive than my normal dead wood between the ears self. I also had a nice chat with Mary Ellen Salmon, Salmon Pottery about her work, her marketing etc. Mary Ellen does beautifully textured work on simple and elegant forms….with all sorts of texture on texture/ color on color things.  The image below is a detail of a piece she did using buttons to press into the ceramics and then highlighting them with glaze. Pretty! Like little gems, little candies, little magical dreams. So I am charged up.

Detail of a pot from Mary Ellen Salmon, Trumansburg, NYDon’t mind me. I am just feeling a little cranky given all the noodgy people I have given information and direction to more than once who today, requested the same information and duplication of all the stuff I gave em before. I am not chilling on this and frankly wish sometimes, people could hold on, and be a bit more mature than what I am seeing. I am bored with redoing others work and nipping at others heels to get the stuff done I asked for once twice, three times. Tedium times ten. Okay. That’s off my chest. Sorry for that station break.

Today’s illustration breaks some of my rules…and am using gradients for my peach illustration, part of the Farmers market illustrations. There are more in the hopper…some beets, and a fennel illo.

 

Spwinter

Love localvore apples, Q. Cassetti, 2012, adobe illustrator CX5Yep. It needed a name, this bizarre season of on again/ off again Spring then Winter. Spwinter. It was a two quilt night last night and the afternoon temperature promises to tempt the crocuses to bud and bloom. So as Alex and I cruised over to  Charles O Dickerson this morning, we named it just to humor ourselves. 

As you have noticed, I am back on illos of fruits and veggies…inspired by my localvoria and also the hope of the spring like weather. If the farmers are sowing seed, I can sow illustrations which has been fun. I am doing something wild these days. Drawing. Yes, drawing the illos before squaring them up in illustrator and finishing them.  This is a bit of a rare thing, but as I find the design gets better, tighter and its a more profitable use of my time. So, in the lineup, there are a few illustrations with strawberries, some with cherries, some with pumpkins, some with zucchini. Tomatoes still need to be considered. Ginger as well. Yes, this work is a bit design-y but as I am not shrugging off that mantle too…it makes me happy. After looking at last years veggie pix, I think there is a lot of room to continue to develop this little body of work for fun. Plus,  with all the localvoria (as you can see from the new Great Foods Network graphics/poster) there may be some use beyond my personal fun. I am learning a few more tools…focusing on zig zag, on gradients, and brushes. My lovely symbols and brushes palettes are in use too.  What fun. I need to learn more about textured brushes. I think there is some space here. Love my tools.

This little exercise is another excuse to touch tools I am not familiar with as well as build on the tools I currently know. Case in point, to work in illustrator is to use the “Path” tool—creating lines from dots/points and handles…not the most intuitive. I have used the paths exclusively—however using the “outline” and “offset” path pulldowns have given me more room to work faster and more accurately. Additionally, I am trialing “Vector Scribe”, a bolt on to Illustrator that allows “enhanced vector creation and editing”…we will see.

Need to get on it. I have the Great Foods dudes coming today for lunch. Carrot Ginger Soup (little cumin) and the usual offerings to make sandwiches with. Cheers.

Melon Foundation

Floral Watermelon Valentine, Q. Cassetti, 2012, vectorIts been a ginger weekend. Ginger and lemon. Ginger and carrot. Ginger and vinegar (3 different ones). I made a lemon ginger marmalade, a ginger and carrot pickle and a pickled ginger (gari). I have plans for a straight up ginger marmalade, a grapefruit/orange and ginger marmalade, and a cranberry/pear/ ginger chutney. Ginger beer is in the works too. I just need to free up a bit of fridge space to try this out. Alex and I were at the local asian grocery store and purchased an interesting asian honey ginger (for tea). Its a big clear jar filled with thick amber honey with big hunks of peeled ginger in it along with some sugar. I bought it inspired by reading about ginger in Wikipedia:

“In China, ginger is included in several traditional preparations. A drink made with sliced ginger cooked in water with brown sugar or a cola is used as a folk medicine for the common cold.[29]

I have discovered by working with this interesting rhyzome that there is a distinct grain to it…and that the way to cut it is to go with the grain…and surprisingly, a potato peel is a great way to shave/prepare the herb. Additionally, the gari recipe had me boiling water and essentially pulling from the fruit a bitterness or spice prior to preparation. Another recipe had me salting the fruit—and rinsing it off prior to final preparation. Thinner the fruit the better. And…not to forget that the ginger is the big flavor that doesnt need the standard mis en place that I usually go to.

This is the new path, this discovery of ginger…which hopefullly will help new friends begin to understand the lovely plants they grow and perhaps how to develop added value yummies to help pay their bills and move their farms forward. I can act as a creative director not only as a designer illustrator/ but also as a cook and foodie.

As you can see, there is a new beginning for this near spring, that of Farmers Market imagery. I did a small body of work on this last year which morphed into a series of rabbit illustrations. My head is in a different place what with the farmers market, the new Local Foods Network and with best of all, my new farmers. So, I am looking at this same topic in a new and more emotional way. The image above has popped up. New for me…and yet so part of what I do. I am excited by where this could go.

Outing myself.

Wednesday! Whoa! Salad for dish to pass tonight done. Trash on the curb. Prince Dauntless at school. Cats fed and angry.There is banking to do, key to pick up and some publication design. The Cidery is well on the way. We are closing in on the labels. Delighted and Delightful!.

I have a crazy secret to share with you. You know I listen to talk radio, and Howard Stern. I listen to political radio, Rachel Maddow, Amy Goodman, NPR, Terri Gross, and Meet the Press. I listen to books on tape from Audible. I love listening to chatter when I work.

Well, I have been listening to trash Tv, yes, the trashiest in the world, The Bachelor. OMG. What an amazingly profitable and formula driven show complete with individuals who are essentially cast in roles that happen season after season. There is the dullard, body building “hunk”(?) Bachelor…with a Zack, Jake, type of name. He is thuggy, not very original, and always is exclaiming about his inner, dull feelings of love, of the girls “opening up to him”, and of the possibility of “my wife is in this room”. He is always driving hot cars and “planning dates” (read the t.v. producers are planning, staging and making them happen and putting the words in Zack/Jake’s mouth). Then you have the girls. You have the beautiful bad girl who is guaranteed to take her top off. The good girl who lost a spouse or boyfriend in some awful accident (generally an airplane). You have the girls that might engage in cat fights. You have the yappy, maudlin one. There is always a super kookie one who is off her meds. And there is always one that reminds me of my favorite, most favorite internet personality>>Miss Teen USA (2007). These gals have given up their jobs (no one is very high management types.. and I am always trying to figure out how they pay the bills) to be on the show. They have suspended their lives to live in a group house with nice public spaces. When they give us little peeks into their bedrooms—it is not the lap of luxury. When they are not out of the fantabulous dates with Zack (either “one on ones” or a group date) they are busy waiting at the dream house eating frozen food. If they get through the immediate eliminations, there is a chance to travel around the world “finding love”. Oy.

The dates are a formula too. There is always the Barbie Dream Date ( the gal gets a shopping spree to buy a party dress, the loaner big hunk of jewelry, the private plane flight to Las Vegas, the private concert by some musical group, the tete a tete dinner in an exotic location where she and Zack can “open up to each other”. There is always a date where the pair either bungie jumps, tight rope walk, jump off a cliff together to get closer. There is the group date where there is “acting” and Zack has lots of kissing scenes with all eight gals. I could go on and on. This is so absolutely mindnumbing, yet fascinating.

And then there is the Fantasy Suite (generally in Tahiti) where they get “permission” to sleep together. The Fantasy Suite is totally Barbie with a pool, hot tub, tall tubs of champagne and satin on the bed. They like it nice and obvious (and Barbie Styled Tacky). I could go on and on about this. America sees these dates and women being eliminated after being considered  by Zack over the course of 8 or so episodes with these polygamous style dates…to the point that there is the meeting of family at the “hometowns”. The climax of the show is the elimination of one gal and keeping the last by offering her an engagement ring. Yep, two dream dates, a lot of groping and discussion about “opening up”, with sidebar video of each chick talking about her love for Zack. And surprisingly, it rarely lasts after the trips, the evening dresses and roses, and fantasy.

The next Bachelor or Bachelorette is selected from the prior year’s show—so there is a ton of back story and communal love for the perky or beautiful girl with lots of sass and “reality” or the strong, sensitive Zack-to-be.

And we all are delighted and amused like children as we know what is coming season after season.  We know about all the types of dates, the types of dinners, the infighting, the factions style conflict, the rich (not) and a meaningful conversations (not), and all the opening up (there is always a build when the widowed gal has to tell Zack about her child and loss of her love in an accident). Such edgy stuff. Makes the Kardashians seem like Fullbright scholars.

More often than not, the happy couple break up withing seconds of reality hitting (no more fantasy dates, the underwear on the floor, the philandering that Zach may be involved in)—and their “love” cannot survive.

There have been 16 bachelors, 16 Zacks… and they keep coming. I pity the folks that actually think that this is the way things should be. No wonder its hard for college kids to date. This bizarre show of competitive dating has changed things…not good. Not good at all. Now its time to go back to sleep in my Rumplestiltskin mode…and stay away from this crap.

More later.

 

Super Sunday

Hairhoppers Redux, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and inkWell. It happens every year about this time. The high holidays. The culinary event that has us all anticipating the best…of commericals, of cheap beer and the endless amount of fat, and spice, and meat, and all that is bad and horrifying. Yes, its that Sunday, that special Sunday that has us all worshipping at the other temple to another god, that of sport. Its Super Bowl Sunday.Light the candles, char the burgers, pop the tops and tear open the chips. Put on your  sportingist clothing (preferably with some sports emblem on the front) and scream your head off when “your team” screws up in some painful way. Leap to your feel and scream like a monkey when they move the ball down the field by inches and feet. Holler obscenities at the man in the black and white shirt as he makes a judgement that fifty percent of the time is totally WRONG. All the while scooping up great shovelfuls of hot cheese and salsa, slatering ranch whatever on whatever, and dipping into vats of bubbling chili and more cheese. Then there are the wings, the dumplings and pizza. All reason to wash it down with something akin to Natty Ice, Bud Light or something equallly as unnoteworthy.

We learned how to behave like real Americans when we had Barbara living with us, sportingly goading us to be real, to eat the chicken wings—for Gods Sake…and to turn the damned television and figure out the game. She dragged us into the frenzy of planning and dethawing,frying and stirring til everything was just right. But now that she isnt with us, the total pinnacle of the super event has dwindled to the wimpy and mediocre job that I have assumed. However, the effort is worth it as Alex is a real boy and needs to have real parents who like “the game” and all the trimmings versus the pair of losers who know far too much about moulding, or esoteric computer programs, or live in their silly imaginary worlds of ideas and pictures, town planning and light fixtures. We have to put on our game face and enjoy the superior Sunday events while he leads us in the shouting, yelling and bad food consumption. It should be fun.

We did, however, go to Walmart to pick up cat food and milk—to have this holiday confirmed by glancing into the baskets of our fellow shoppers and boy howdy, the Super Bowl cuisine beats out Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter all rolled into one. Heaping carts of cheese and chips, gigantic cases of beer and wings, prebaked pizzas, more chips and pretzels, and frozen goodies like mozzerella sticks and mushroom caps just to pop into the oven and whisk quickly in between the viewers and the TV set to be devoured inbetween the shouting. They were even sporting Super Sunday garb…the branded teeshirts, hats and all else (probably down to the skivvies)—proclaiming their affinity and their foe. Let the games begin.

And be over….as there is a PBS double header of  Downton Abbey (my new fave) tonight. So we will have costume drama abbutting the “Big Game”.

I am sorry I have been remiss in writing. I am all caught up in work and the emotional pull of this college thing. We are planning the February break which will be quite a week. The lynchpin of that week is an all day meeting on the Tuesday for Rob in NYC on the new design project with Thomas Phifer and Partners. So the plan is to drive to NYC on Sunday. Go to Hofstra on Monday and get back to the city for dinner with a friend. Tuesday would be Rob in his meeting, Alex and I hang at the Met or do some music shopping… Its up to us. Wednesday we fly to St. Petersburg/Tampa FL to tour and visit Eckerd College (amazing school with good music and a robust support system for LD students). Then its spending the night near Eckherd…the next morning driving down to Boca to visit/tour Lynn University (which has a music conservatory program supported by a robust support system for LD Students) (and which A has already been accepted into). Then, we fly back to NYC/ Newark and shop at IKEA for bathroom stuff and drive north to the most perfect little village in the world.

Rob was nominated by caucus last Sunday to be one of the democrats to run for the two open Village Trustee positions coming up for reelection this March. There were questions, a little talk by Rob and then Rordan Hart, fellow trustee and all round amazing contributer who did the same. So much of the work of the Village Board goes unrecognized—or praised that it hurts, as a member of team Robbie to see him take unwarranted knocks by others who are not spending the valuable time he has outside of the 9- 7 p.m. that he has to himself. We will need to ramp up the promotion machine (postcards and handshakes) to get the Cassetti/Hart team reelected. There is so much valuable work for them to do.

Ellie is here with Tucker the Hunter. I need to get downstairs to get the wings working and the other goodies happening. Thanks for your patience.

The Pride of Central New York: Stefan Senders speaks out about Fracking.

Yesterday, along with Thor Oechsner, Neal Johnston, Sandra Steingraber, and a host of others, I spoke at the Anti-Hydrofracking Day of Action in Albany. We distributed almost 200 loaves of bread to the assembled crowd, and then we marched, led by a chanting, bread-carrying farmers, to Cuomo’s office. Here is what I said:

My name is Stefan Senders, and I am a baker. Beside me are Thor Oechsner, an organic farmer, and Neal Johnston, a miller. We work together.

Today we bring bread to Albany to intervene in the self-destruction of the great State of New York. We come, Farmers, Bakers, and Millers, to remind our state and our Governor, Andrew Cuomo, that despite the promises of industry lobbyists, the exploitation of Shale Gas in New York is bad and broken economy of the worst kind.

This bread is the product of our community and our farms. The wheat, grown, tended, and harvested by our local organic farmers, is fresh from the soil of New York. The flour, ground in our local flour mill, is as fine as concerned and caring hands can make it.

To resurrect a term long since emptied by advertisers, the wheat, the flour, and the bread are ‘wholesome’: they bring our communities together, give us work, nourish us, please our senses, and make our bodies and our land more healthy.

This is good economy. It is wise economy. It is a steady economy that nourishes the State of New York.

We know that for many New Yorkers, Fracking sounds like a good idea. We have all heard the fantastic tales: Fracking, it is said, will save our state from financial ruin, release us from our dependence on “foreign oil,” and revive our rural economy by bringing cash, if not fertility, to our once vibrant farmland.

For politicians, these stories of money and growth are hard to resist: the numbers are large, deficits are unnerving, and elections are expensive.

For many farmers and land-owners, the promises of cash are dizzying, and to risk the land’s fertility to extract gas is only one step removed from risking the land’s fertility to extract a few more bushels of corn or soybeans.

But farmers might know better.

Farming has not always been, and need not be, an extractive industry. There was a time when farmers worked with a longer view, keeping in mind their role as stewards and caretakers of the land. That long view is the farmer’s wisdom, and it is as good and wise today as it ever was.

The promises of the gas industry are demonstrably false, and they miss what farmers know well: There is no independence that does not demand care and responsibility. There is no quantity of cash that can restore fertility to a poisoned field. There is no adequate monetary “compensation” for poisoned water. There is no payment, no dollar, no loan, that can restore life and community to a broken world.

Our work and the work we provide others—on the farm, at the mill, and at the bakery—depends on fertile soil, pure water, and a viable community. All of these are put at risk by Fracking.

What happens to our land in an economy bloated by gas exploitation? Prices rise, rents rise, and good, arable land becomes scarce as acres once leased to farmers are set to quick development schemes—flimsy housing, storage barns, parking lots, and man-camps.

And what happens to our water when gas exploitation takes over? Storage pools, as safe as Titanic was unsinkable, overflow, contaminating the soil; inevitable leaks in well-casings allow gasses and Frack-fluids to pass into our aquifers, into our bodies, and into the bodies of our children.

And what happens to communities held in thrall to gas exploitation? As we have seen in other parts of the country, the boom-bust cycle of the petroleum economy fractures communities, undermining our capacity to act wisely and civilly.

With every boom, a few get rich, a few do better, but all are impoverished. For every hastily built motel there are dozens of apartments with rising rents; for every newly minted millionaire there are many dozens who see nothing but the pain of rising costs and receding resources. For every short-term dollar there are hundreds in long-term losses that can never be recouped.

To go for gas is to go for broke.

With this bread we are here to remind you that there is another economy, one that works.

This bread symbolizes a commitment to the health of New York State. It embodies the knowledge that good work, not a gambler’s dream, is the basis of a sound and sustainable economy.

This bread symbolizes the farmer’s simple truth that without fertile soil, without pure water, and without strong community, we go hungry.

This bread reminds us all that the promises of gas exploitation are empty: What are we to grow in fields broken by the drill and tilled with poison? What are we to feed our children when our water and wheat are unfit? Shall we grind money to make our bread?

We do have a choice. We need not poison our land to live. We need not taint our water to drink. We need not sell our future to finance our present. These are choices, not inevitabilities.

With this bread we say: take the long view; pay attention to the health of the soil and nourish it; treasure pure water; remember the value of your community and keep it whole.

If something must be broken, let it not be shale. Let it be this bread.

Go with the flow

Hairhopper, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and ink.Did I mention that I have figured out how to make a really decent vegetable stock? Probably not. But I did!

You know how the vegetable stock at the store is kind of weak—not really very flavorful and loaded with salt? That was my impression of what the starting point was. But, thanks to the bounty of root vegetables, the frozen chopped leeks and organic (read majorly flavorful) celery—filling a large roasting pan to the top. I did a big roast last weekend, and then after around 3 hours at 300˚ with lovely crispy brownness—in it went into the big stock pot with water to cover and cook down for another 2 hrs at a simmer. I emptied out all the bits and ends of parsley, of wilted red peppers and the scroungy bottom of the vegetable bin and dumped that all in the pot too (that might be the secret). And voila! Brown deliciousness. Plus, all the soup detrius goes right into the compost bin, so nothing goes in the garbage. Yay and double yay.

Talk about fascinating, I went to Sweet Land CSA yesterday to collect my share. Of course everything was gorgeous—-and there was the centerpiece for many of us, the KALE. Funny thing though was the kale was in a pile of snow in the totes they keep all the produce in. As I was digging through the snow to garner some to take home, my neighbor was happily anticipating how sweet the kale is this time of the year and that to her thinking the snow is what does the trick. Who would have guessed?

In the spirit of new things (Kale being the newest obsession), I have started the Tofu initiative. I like tofu, when I have it out. I like tofu when others make it…but there somehow was fear involved with my giving it a try. No more! This winter launches the tofu initiative, where yours truly will buy tofu, read recipes, and then cook with it…pushing it on the poor souls (read the boys) who then will be forced to eat it and provide feedback. I have been quizzing everyone on how they cook with tofu and yesterday was the first foray.  First off, there is the pressing. Tofu is predominantly water. So, in order to really have a go at something that can compete with meat on a plate, the tofu needs to stand up and not a be a wiggly form. So, one cuts slices (not too thin, not too fat), puts it between towels, and puts weights on it to drain it (much like eggplant). Then I marinated it (ginger, garlic, soy sauce and a teensy bit of sesame oil in the blender to immulsify) for a day. Then onto a greased cookie sheet for around an hour at 300˚ and it was ready to go. I served it with fresh sauteed spinach (from Sweetland)—and you know, it was good. Worth doing again good. And so it begins.

As you can see, the hair obsessed hairhoppers continue. This approach is really fast—and the less I think about them, the nicer and less uptight they are. I like the way this one has Klimt hair, where it flattens out at the top and takes a life of its own, really not related to the head in any way. I am trying to stay discipilined and not get in and over noodle it with shading etc. I like the purity. I am also trying to remember all that Mentor Murray (Tinkelman) would say about women’s noses, and mouths…and I think it is working.  I am also being entertained with seeing how much of the page I can fill with hair…and head and stuff. There is  a ton more here. Again, who knows if it has any other reason than entertainment, but at least that is being provided.

I am getting some traction on a project that frankly, I was dreading (fearing) doing. This dread and stupidity is in my head as I got rolling on it yesterday afternoon and have been enjoying the work, the process and the design. Today I have some spot illustrations I will need to do for part of this project, so it will sing. Enough of putting things off…they get worse when you postpone as my head takes over. Stupid me.

I see my farmers today to see where they want to take their image/symbol. Should be interesting to see what works/doesnt. I have a few more farmers circling…so I will need to get this finished up.

An inch of snow is promised today. Rob is one of the ringmasters at 2300˚ tonight at the Corning Museum of Glass. Ann Gant will be drawing with fire which should be amazing. Alex is practicing at school (prince in training). He is suffering a bit at getting his lines, getting his songs, and the general start up of learning all t his stuff. He fumed a bit a me yesterday (which was good) as he needed to get it off his chest. I am always intrigued to see what ticks him off, and how he deals with it. He is so solid and centered…and young, that the pressure of many things and wanting to be perfect right out of the gate is the prime sweet spot. It can only get easier as he goes.

New Year, new day.

Sketch, Q. Cassetti, 2012We are back from a lengthened trip to take Kitty back to Hampshire for Jan Term. We swung by Mass Moca with a treat (staying at The Porches Inn) complete with a little sleep, a lot of art and some swimming in the pool and hot tubbing outside in the cold New England air. We had a great time with Kitty and Alex— lots of talking, laughing and really enjoying being in each other’s company. Alex regaled us with his impromptu interpretation of the the horrible books they read in middle school… causing us practically to wreck the car with his funny insights and focus. Kitty wanted to talk about how she is changing/growing and how that could fit into her education and what she is discovering that she may want. What an evolution from the girl we looked at colleges with.

We drove down to Hampshire on Monday on the most spectacular road…taking in the sights of the Mohawk Trail….the mountains, the valleys, the hairpin turns, the goofy souvenir stands (selling moccasins!) (the best being one with an enormous polychromed native american chief to beckon you in for a treat). It was great just getting a dose of new terrain, new places—without having a definite deadline against it. All of my “vacation time” (and Robs) have been involved in looking at colleges, going on college tours and going to and from college as part of the shuttle bus. It was nice to have this as an option (along with our mini trip to Miami) just to change the channels. Would love a week of that. Love.

I kind of hit the wall with teenaged and college aged boys late last week. It started with one of them eating all the homemade breadcrumbs for Christmas eve prep for dinner and climaxed with eight guys lurking around my kitchen all day eating anything within eyeshot and then leaving all their detrius…moving on to more and more and more. I was overwhelmed after working and confronting this wall of masticating men…I immediately became dehumorized and needed to shut down. Unfortunately, with all of this pre Christmas, post Christmas gathering of the “Bros”, it took the quiet time we normally have together and tossed it out the window. I gotta make some plans to make sure this doesnt happen at such volume next December. I can appreciate the need to gather, to eat, to bro-it-up….but starting at 11 a.m. and then finishing at 3 a.m. with heaps of sleeping men for days…is just a bit overwhelming. Yes, I did approve this all…but it then took on a momentum I didnt anticipate.

We have the ACT done. We have the Hampshire application done. We have interviews at Hampshire and Landmark scheduled. We will have the Landmark application done this week. Alex is commited to change with Landmark and wants to sharpen up his skills to let him succeed in a four year program and is articulating why he is looing forward to Landmark and then the next chapter once he has gotten his chops sharpened up. He is a remarkable person…so self aware. He is a solid, centered person that I adore and want the best for.

The New Year has clicked into that of 2012. So much happening from a few graduations, a few weddings, a prom(!), travel for us and the kids (together and separate), and change galore. I do not feel that happy anticipation of the year ahead…and need to get my head there. I want a creative shot…and something I can run with… I hope the New Year will inspire that. 

and now the day begins. Work waits.