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Sep 13, 2022 - Blog, Inspiration    No Comments

Is Inspiration Food for the Soul?

Van Gogh Sunflowers, Creative Commons

You’ve seen the photographs of Van Gogh’s paintings, right? The swirling sky, the lonely room, the sunflowers…

I’ve often wondered about that room; what would inspire a painter to use his single room habitat as his still life? To emphasize how still his life was, at the time? Or was it peaceful for a change? Did he love it, or want to share it?

But that’s it – finding one’s inspiration where it lies.

My sister gave me a plastic shopping bag with scenes of life in London on it. It’s my favourite way to shop. Yesterday my dad saw it and practically stole it from me. “You can have it back when I’m dead.”

WHA… !?

That’s the other end of it – the appreciation.

If you ask an artist why he or she painted ‘that’, they don’t say, “because I thought you’d like it.” They tell you it affected them on a deep level they can’t explain. It’s this deep level that keeps me questioning: Is that ‘place’ where our spirit is, or are we lacking a sense like smell or ESP? Is it a means of communication that only our unconscious mind can read?

The more I think about it, the less I’m sure I really want to know. When I appreciate something, I say it’s divine, heavenly… but these words bring back the thoughts of the spirit – that ‘thing’ that never dies, the part of us that galavants about the universe at night, leaving our body vulnerable and close to death, in our bed. The part of ourselves that maybe ‘lives’ forever, whatever that means. Kinda scary.

Looking at and appreciating art is, however, not creepy so I think I’ll stop the soul searching for the day, look at an art book, brush my teeth, and go dream.

Originally posted 2013-04-14 03:24:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 13, 2022 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

Really Expensive Wine

I just read a blog by Brian Clegg about

Brian Clegg a  book titled “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”. Yes, it’s about wine – very old and ancient wine.

Though not having read it, yet (it’s new on my TBR list, so it’s fairly far down), I am intrigued by the blog’s information regarding the possible fakery of such expensive sale items. Some of these bottles have apparently gone for as much as $100,000!! It would make sense that some brave entrepreneur would try to fake a few.

Billionaires Vinegar But what do you do with a $100,000 bottle of wine?

You drink it, silly! Lordy, introduce me to the guys who spend their money like that!

Now you and I both know that if wine is left out overnight, it tastes like vinegar. If the cork is tainted by TCA, the wine can be ruined, or ‘corked’.

Here’s my question to all you fabulously wealthy wine connoisseurs: How do you know the wine in that aged container is still wine and not vinegar? How do you know it’s not rebottled table wine? How do you know it will be worth the expense?

The only answer I can possibly accept is, “I’m a speculator.”glass of wine

Ahhh, the romance of a gambler who prefers a  candlelight tasting to a Vegas poker table – give me that any day. These are individuals in no need of a wash-board stomach or a tan. All they need to get my attention is to invite me for a glass!

Tense, excited, sitting in anticipating as the sommelier opens the bottle… one wonders – what will they pair with this enigma?

Originally posted 2012-02-26 16:44:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 12, 2022 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

Wine in the Desert

I’m in Vegas this weekend with friends, and we’ve been out on the town (in the heat) and eaten our fill of restaurant fare, so tonight we stayed in the condo.

Trebbiano Pinot Grigio I made a faux Chicken Marsala – which was pretty tasty. Either that, or we were really hungry!

Normally, this dish is served with a bottle of wine. We drank three… three different kinds. (Is that ok?) All were inexpensive – an unbelievable $1.99 from the Las Vegas Trader Joe’s (though not marked TJ’s), and all were good! Products of Umbria, Italy. We started with a 2010 Vola Trebbiano Pinot Grigio before the table was set, had a 2010 Vola Sangiovese with dinner, and drank Cupcake Chardonnay for dessert, also from TJ’s which I brought from Los Angeles, and goes for $9.99. My mom liked it and got me a bottle, bless her heart. The label says citrus-y with a hint of vanilla. While I could tell there was something sweet-ish in the flavour, to me it came across as a sweet bark flavour, like cinnamon but not cinnamon. While I was deciding, up came that Chardonnay oak that I love. Nice.

For background music and entertainment, I put on a travel video of Southern France and all were happy. Don’t worry, it’s alright to mix cultures. I’m American with a European upbringing and I say it’s okay.

But I’m thinking you might be wondering, “What exactly is faux Chicken Marsala?” Before we get into that, I want to tell you a cooking secret: whatever you cook, the food always tastes better if the chef has a glass of wine first.

Having no idea what I’m going to make, I check the fridge for supplies. We had boneless, skinless chicken and some grapes – three colours, in fact. I found a box of raisins, and thankfully there were onions.

I sauté at least three loosely chopped onions in olive oil and butter in a pot while browning the chicken in a skillet, also with a bit of olive oil and butter. To the onions, I added grapes, raisins, bit of pepper and any other seasoning salt I could find (I found Lawry’s) but not much or it will toughen the meat and taste commercial. When the chicken begins to stick to the pan, add enough white wine to sizzle the chicken loose and make a bit of sauce – about two glasses of white wine. Reduce by half, for taste and thickening. Add the chicken and juices to the onion mixture and lower the heat to medium. Add a bit more wine to the skillet and gently dissolve the brownings into the wine and add it to the main mixture. I thought it needed a bit of sweet and was lucky to find some syrup. About 3 or 4 tablespoons did the trick. So far, so good, but it lacked colour. Aw, hell, add some red wine until it looks right – a glass of that Sangiovese, please.

It was getting hot in the kitchen so I let it simmer while we hung out on the balcony overlooking the inviting swimming pool and talked about why it’s closed for the summer.

Time to eat. We lit the candles and served the chicken with potatoes and veggies. Oh yeah, and the wine.

Luxury.

A few hours of Fringe reruns in anticipation of the new season and my friends are off to bed. Not me, though. I’m staying up to enjoy the storm, watching the jagged bolts arc the sky reflected in the pool and listening to the deep sounds of boulders falling from heaven roll about the open desert. The bit a rain that was squeezed from the clouds evaporated in minutes.

The end of a perfect Vegas day.

Originally posted 2012-01-27 23:39:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 12, 2022 - Blog    No Comments

Curious Peeping Toms

“I was in Toronto, Canada last night.”

“I’m flying over the Arabian desert.”

“I was just in a seedy motel on 7th.”

“Coool.”

 

This recent conversation between writer’s and readers got me to thinking: until today I thought the two were opposites. I’ve changed my opinion. 

They are the same – we both want to see beyond the veil. We are curious. We want some adventure in our lives that doesn’t wreck our credit or cut our skin, it doesn’t hold us hostage (for more than about 350 pages), and we can save ourselves simply by stepping away from the text.

The dirty truth is we kinda want to look through the key hole.

You probably think writers know what they are going to write. That may be so, sometimes, but on the whole we are sitting at our keyboards, listening to voices in our heads. We are being entertained just as much as the reader who is watching it unfold. We aren’t so different – we want what everybody else wants: a couch potato adventure.

 

Originally posted 2013-11-06 21:59:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 11, 2022 - Blog, Inspiration, Style    8 Comments

The Kiss

My sister was recently married in London, England and decided to have a reception in the States. We were ecstatic, and got right to work on preparations.

I was in charge of the cake.

Being that it was to be a small venue of close southern Californian friends and immediate family, I didn’t think the multi-layer cake was in order.

Since the art business is where my sister ‘calls home’, it seemed fitting that the cake should reflect that, and the romantic Gustav Klimt came to mind. His 1908 painting, “The Kiss” portrays a newly wed couple in a loving embrace of gentle affection. No other image would do.

Fondant City
I surrounded myself with coloured fondant icing – every inch of the rainbow, expanding it by making my own colours, working the dough-like frosting as if it were clay. It might have been more fun without the plastic cloves, but it was important to me that the cake be suitable for the pickiest eater. Accents of edible gold leaf pulled the image together. (The ‘glow’ around the couple is a gold leaf covered rib of fondant, as are a few areas of the garment designs in the photo detail, above.)

When the thing was presented to the newly-weds and guests, no one was willing to cut into the artwork – not even the bride and groom! Cake maker Alex Kent (aka Niki Chanel) had to do it amidst hisses and boos and gasps of disbelief… but they all had a piece.

Originally posted 2012-07-14 00:51:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 11, 2022 - Blog, Just for Writer's    No Comments

NaNoWriMo 2013

If you would like to join me in the NaNoWriMo race this year, I invite you to meet here, and let’s cheer each other on! Plus, you can show off your awards [see 2012 here]. 

To participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), go to nanowrimo.org and fill out an account form. To choose Buddies, you need to start with one participant – you can use mine : nikichanel. Then go to My NaNoWriMo / Author Info / Writing Buddies or Buddy of (I don’t think it much matters which… heck, try both!), and click on a few more authors that have participated in the past. They won’t mind – they joined just for this reason – to share.

If you like human company to talk to while you listen to characters in your head, bookmark nikichanel.com/just for writers and leave a cheer or groan in the comment section. Feel free to visit often for inspiration to carry on. I’ll have cookies and milk : )

*   *   *

Hi there; this is a new section for me, but I’m trying something different this year for NaNoWriMo; I will be attempting two projects. 

Yeah, I have gotten bitten by inspiration pretty badly. One is fiction, the other, not. Funny, though… the non-fiction inspired the new story in the Niki Chanel series. This first in the series was “The Ghost Club”, sub-titled ‘A Spirited Wine’. The second was “The Coma Club”, sub-titled ‘Death’s Door’. This, the third one is called “The Key Club”, sub-titled ‘One Man’s Treasure’. I’m still waiting for “The Wine Club” to gel. Maybe after NaNo…

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Dennis Yang httpflickr.comphotosdennis3256153555

Getting on with the task approaching… if you join me, I’ll join you!

 

 

 

Originally posted 2013-10-28 16:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 10, 2022 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Hotel Pastis

I have loved everyone of Peter Mayle’s works that I have read, so it was a bit of a nail-biter when it seemed this might be a depressing story. That characters weren’t getting along, deadlines weren’t being met, lives were teetering on this edge, and that. Then something amazing happened; the protagonist did what they wanted to, not what they thought they should.

It is true I normally read about murder or beyond the grave, but once in a while a glass-of-wine book is needed. This one should be at the top of the pile.

As I said on Good read:

Better than a vacation! You can smell the fabulous foods, hear the click, click, click of that woman’s heels on the marble floor, feel the tension of those thieves.. whoa, I’m getting carried away – giving it away. It’s enough to say: Peter Mayle never disappoints.

I love the characters, and wish I could be one of them.

 

 

Originally posted 2018-11-30 00:31:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 10, 2022 - Blog    No Comments

NaNoWriMo 2021

Last year I added a list of music to listen to while I wrote my novel. I invited others to come have a listen, and it was well received, plus it turned up the inspiration for me; so I thought… why not do it again?! Keep in mind most of it is low-key electronic, or foreign. There’s a reason for that; most of my stories occur in Europe, and, well… I write supernatural, so the quasi-spooky sounds are appropriate. Throw in a little love and angst, and the music shapes the story. [All are from YouTube,  no ads. Consider buying a piece or two, if you like it. I have. <3]

This year my title is “Mister Go Away”. It’s a bit of a push-me-pull-you sort of idea, which is sort of where I am at the moment, waiting for completed things to engage and live on their own, so I can get on with other projects, new and half baked.

Speaking of half baked… I mentioned to a friend that I might make some Hallowe’en cookies – you know, the kind that are shaped like bats, ghosts, and pumpkins? She said she was rethinking her Christmas tree for this year. We cooked up a Hallowe’en tree idea… a leafless  branch bedecked with cookie cutters for ornaments (after I use them to cut our yummy nibbles, of course). What do you think? Want some?

Originally posted 2021-10-28 04:42:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 9, 2022 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

The Crowded Grave

Death in the French Countryside

by Martin Walker

Martin Walker does not disappoint his followers with this, the fourth book about Bruno, the small-town Chief of Police who cooks (extravagant dishes), is open to new experiences (learns to ride a horse), is a quick thinker on his feet (always saving someone), and great in bed (but we already knew that:)

A recently dead body is found in an archaeological dig in the midst of a Green Party vs traditionalists fois gras protest. The Crowded Grave embraces spy’s, secrets and Sauternes, just the way I like it.

Originally posted 2012-12-10 00:36:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Sep 9, 2022 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Bruno, Chief of Police

Bruno, Chief of Police

by Martin Walker

What a delight this book was… is! The well-loved police chief of St. Denis, France is such a real character I felt I was reading fact instead of fiction. His policing techniques are bendable when it comes to the best outcome for his town and district, his friends and lovers. His talent for cooking is well known, and I have even tried some of his dishes, though don’t expect any recipes. (I had to read between the lines:) Through his eyes one can see the vistas and valleys from his house, or the trouble brewing in the market. Martin Walker has done a fabulous job, and as a writer, I envy him. Well done.

As a post script: I have to admit, I was leery, at first. The title didn’t do it, nor the cover. It was several reviews from readers that did it. So, Goodreads, take a bow.

Originally posted 2012-09-20 01:21:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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