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All content copyright 2009 by Holly Gleason. Web design by Lauren Carelli.

December 2004

December 2004: White Chocolate/Tarragon Soufflés, Pink Socks & Salt Water

Pastel Guayaba y Queso

The Cubans just know what to do with puff pastry/filo dough/whatever you wish to call it. Make turnovers stuffed with guava jelly and a crema queso fresca, which is a slightly dryer, slightly tastier cream cheese. They glaze them lightly, bake ‘til flaky and golden, melt into crisp rich goodness.

Disney Paint

With names like 1000 Acre Wood, Fairest of Them All, Pixie Dust and Blustery Day, what’s not to love? And given that they’ve got to be “kid proof,” the are and feeding of one’s walls just got a lot easier. But the best part is: for true colors of the pink, blue, green, yellow sort—not only will these paints make your home feel like the happiest place on earth, but they’ll give you enough pigment to create a treasure trove of playful jewels to do your living in. You only have to go as fair as Home Depot, too, to plug into the magic.


Leaves Pure Teas

Traveling traveling traveling—and then the exhaustion sets in. Like a lead weight bodysuit that’s invisible, but ever present. When you’re sure you can’t keep going, the jolt from a cup of coffee is the last thing your overtaxed synapses need, reach for an herbal alternative that’ll jumpstart without overloading. At a yummy hotel recently—which escapes me in the blur of time zones and changing planes—I was confronted by a tea box that contained plastic envelopes of imaginatively combined teas and tisanes. Reaching for the ginger ginseng (stomach settling and system starting all at once), I closed my eyes hoping for a miracle. The rich husband didn’t appear, but the pulse quickened, the energy flowed and I was back on course in a way I wasn’t sure possible after a cup or two. www.leaves.com or 480-998-8807 for your own “Annie Sullivan” hook-up
.

Watching Rain Come Across The Ocean, From Tortolla to Yost Van Dyke

There’s a point on the island where it seems the entire Caribbean is rolling out before you like tumultuous aquamarine carpet—and as you look out past the knots of land that litter the horizon, you can watch all of nature’s forces at work. Perhaps nothing is as majestic and humbling as watching storms collect, the rains pour down in sheets and the movement of those elements across the sky and the ocean. To be able to take in a storm in its entirety, let alone its progress across the vastness, is to have one’s breath taken away. In that moment, just how vast the universe is—that it’s so much broader than our powers of comprehension—becomes a given more than an abstraction of faith. Yet in the power and the glory of the movement of one transfer of energy in water over another, there is comfort in the true balance of the natural order.

White Chocolate Tarragon Souffle Tage, St John

Lighter than air, looking like a cloud with a golden crown, the white chocolate tarragon soufflé marries two opposing flavors for a combination that elevates both. Earthy, rich, tingling, unfolding. It is sweetness opened up with the prickle of tarragon, which only deepens the sensation of both—and the tarragon also fills an almost palette cleansing function as well. The person I was dining with proclaimed, “This is the dessert they will serve us in heaven.” 


Canal Street Jeans New York City

Long before there was Urban Outfitters, there was Canal Street Jeans—
where punk rockers and street kids loaded up. The clothes were expensive for cheap, but they always had that style from the curb that screamed “this is right now!!!!” Whether it was a t-shirt with a picture, slogan or slashings, the right cut of jeans, a leather jacket that matters (I STILL have mine 20 years later) or some kind of skirt that’ll tease without trying, Canal Street Jeans reminds you that rock & roll in its truest sense truly is timeless.


La Bouquetiere Teas & Tisanes

Their fruit infusions will strangle you with the intensity of their flavor—people at my house are still talking about the tongue-dance-inciting Strawberry Rhubarb, which steeps up the color of the perfect Valentine, then erupts in the most pleasing elements of each fruits flavor. And their Chocolate Orange Tea can make any dreary afternoon a circus or Christmas in a tea cup. And the range is as broad as their flavors are intense: green tea mixed with almond & tangerine, persimmons & grapefruit, blueberry & mango or black teas with fresh figs, apples & caramel and black cherries. Not to mention the Chinoiserie canisters will look charmingly sophisticated on any kitchen counter-top! In Nashville, you can buy almost all of the flavors at the Iron Gate. Or else, you can check the website: www.labouquetiere.com

Country Got Soul, Vols 1 & 2 (Casual)

An odd pair of British imports that celebrates the true culture of the deep South—the soul-stirring, real-life-telling, guttural and gut bucket way of capturing the pain, the thrills, the will and the small realities that can make life richer than Fort Knox. The artists include some obvious players—Bobbie Gentry’s “Fancy,” Charlie Rich’s “Hey Good Looking,” Bonnie Bramlett’s “Your Kind of Kindness,” even Tony Joe White’s “High Sheriff of Calhoun County”—but it’s in the hands of the obscure that the grit and muster of this music sparks and sizzles.
   Listen to Razzy (Bailey)‘s “I Hate Hate” to understand what jettisoning oppression’s all about, or Sandra Rhodes’ futility torcher “Sowed Love and Reaped The Heartache,” Wayne Carson’s rushing “Soul Deep” that’s all twist and shout. George Soule challenges “Get Involved,” as Donnie Fritts revs up “The Short End of the Stick,” even Willie Nelson’s well-worn “Funny How Time Slips Away” gets a spirit-raising in the hands of Reuben Howell as Travis Womack melts down a scorching “You Better Move On.” The love child of singer/songwriter Jeb Loy Nichols, this is a survey course of rural regionalism in the real South Central at its funkin’ grooviest. As Lester Bangstold William Miller, in “Almost Famous”: “And all you have to do is listen.”


Pink Feather Wreaths

Fuchsia really, or just plain old hot pink. Big fluffy feathers going every which way. Utter exuberance, ultimate decadence, whimsy personified. To hang a hot pink feather wreath is to wink at the world, plant a stiletto and declare conventions are for political parties who take themselves far too seriously, this is about expanding the potential of joy this holiday season. Metropolitan Deluxe sells them—should you feel the need to embrace your own inner front door fan dance. And if there’s not one near you, rumor has it their website is mind-bending.

Cuban Coffee

A wee thimbleful. Impossible to believe the kick inside. Thick, sweet, delicious going down, 50,000 volts hit your veins—and there’s no looking back. To study, to clean, to dance the night away! Use your imagination.

Footwear Building. 46th + Broadway

An old style deco building—with carved blocks commemorating many of the Great White Ways’ grand actresses and their roles—this 5-story cement creation is a temple to Everywoman’s secret passion: the soles they stand on. With its creed—one that has been lost from the paper I scrawled it on as the cab whipped by—carved into the ledge that surrounds the 46th Street side, it’s a marriage of passion and perfection that says adornment can also proclaim small truths that unite many.


Eye of the Round Roast

About as simple as it gets. A lean cut of red meat that you can salt down, plop in a 350 degree over and let it cook 20 minutes per pound. Not marbled like the big steaks, nor sexy and fleshy like the filet mignon, but flavorful, solid and delicious surrounded by onions, carrots, potatoes and celery. As leftovers, it makes killer sandwiches, every bit as (or even more so) snacky than deli counter roast beef—and it’s equally satisfying as “sour meat,” cut up and tossed with a sliced onion, vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper in the refrigerator then eaten with buttered bread. Anything this good and low maintenance is a must when the yen for home cooking comes on.


Michael Weems Candles

The container alone is worth the price—heavy etched glass in a 
frosted swirl design in a host of beautiful colors—and they can be re-used 
as double old fashioned glasses for a whole other kind of recycling. But 
what really sets these decorative pieces off is the full-immersion quality of the scents. Not only are they penetrating to the back of your senses, but the smells that are offered are intoxicating on concept alone. Basil Pineapple opens your mind, Rose is being devoured by the lushest flower in the garden. Orange and Vanilla is the embodiment of happiness, Lime-Coconut is a tropical fromp with a wick, while Coconut Sandalwood is the velvet of a solitary night on the beach with just stars.

VH-1’s “40 Least Metal Moments”

The bad hair. The worse poses. And don’t forget the spandex. For a bloated genre of self-aggrandizing chord crushing, VH-1 puts together the countdown show to skewer the very folks who’s sense of self knew no bounds in a way that impales, yet induces a laugh-at-ourselves irony. Not mean spirited, just a way of recasting the past with honesty and what-were-we-thinking. Bruce Dickinson fencing alone—and we’re not talking about the tights, either—is worth tuning in (and that’s only one of the lesser moments)!


Child’s pose

Knees tucked to chest, forehead on ground. Breathing in to an 8 count, breathing out to a 12 count. Feel the tension melt, the resolve drift out to 
sea, your essential self settle into a too tired body and even tireder mind. This pose, so basic, so easy to surrender to, will erase most holiday stress in 10 minutes. Promise.

Yellow Roses from Texas

Out of the blue, in the middle of a bad day, there they were. From anyone else, it’s the sign of good-bye; from a Texan, it’s deep friendship. That they were sent as a high 5 on a good run from someone who has a relationship with me so far beyond anything that would include normal interaction reminded me the power of friendship to supercede how we define it—and served as a talisman that there’s always encouragement from left field when you most need it. 


Pink I-Pod

Pink. PinkpinkpinkPINKpinkPink. Teeny, tiny, purse-perfect. 1000 songs at my fingertips whenever I’m ready to go; and as a song girl, it means I’ve always got just “that one” and can play it for someone else with the press off a button.



Key Lime Martinis, Island Style

Fresh lime-infused vodka. Something called Liquor 43. A dash of heavy cream. Gently shaken over ice, then poured into a martini glass rimmed with lime juice, dipped in graham cracker/cinnamon-sugar dust. A squeeze of real lime. The opportunity to not too-sweet party cocktail that is as smile-inducing as it is channeling the ultimate elusive tart/sweet frozen custard pie delight.

Spray & Wash Gel

Much thicker than the original. Gently squeeze, then rub, then let sit. My dear photographer friend Melanie turned me onto this one. As the season of impossible stains is upon us, from my house (and friendship) to you: it’s a laundry revolution in a pull-top bottle.

2005 Flora Collection Accessories Gucci

Canvas, heavy duty canvas mind you, silk screened with a lot of natural colored background and plenty of attention to details. What you get is a crisp scattering of flowers and greenery that makes spring RIGHT NOW, and reminds us how utterly pretty a garden is. Italian luxury good standard-setters Gucci create mules (high and low), hobo bags and bamboo handled knitting bags and classic purses, not to mention the aesthetic-heightening wooden stacked-heel pumps with their ubiquitous horse bit, which prop themselves up on a second aspect of nature (trees). Utterly bratty. Truly divine. And luxe in a way that is both insistently organic and free of that traditional Versace overstatement that is so grand in its own way. It will also be one of those fashion elements that people will talk about long after the season—and that in its timelessness will signal you as a true stylista (v. the more trend-chasing fashion victim) for years and years to come.


Cocoa Bon Milk Chocolate Cherries

Sick. Just wonderfully improbably delicious. There’s a bite to the juicy sun dried cherries that makes their flavor more pop—and juxtaposed with the deep richness of the milk chocolate, you almost get sensual vertigo, not quite sure which taste to experience first. My advice: eat slowly and surrender to them all!


Steve Dahl in a suit

To see someone out of context is always wonderful—because it makes you reconsider everything that you know and even didn’t know about them. But to see the ultimate casual guy, the person polarfleece was invented for, completely tricked out and looking dapper proves: a) ALL men look good dressed up, b) there’s a way to be charming in grown-up clothes; c) passion can’t be blunted with a tie.


The Carved Antique French Rosewood Bed

Something for Sleeping Beauty. Or a princess to be named later. Something to be climbed up into. Swelling curves that make up the edges. Glowing pink-tinged brown wood creating solidity to the frame that is as feminine as it is strong. And the carving of the filigreed flowers and ribbons that mark the headboard—which looks crowned as it rises from the traditional parabola of crestage—say “this is a bed that someone took time on, because the dreams to be dreamt here are to be celebrated.”

British Music Magazine CD Samplers

Whether it’s Mojo, Uncut or Q, all of the British music magazine’s have culled samplers that merge genres and blur beats to the point that you have—with the only effort expended being buying brilliantly written music commenrary—instant mix tapes. Uncut and Q go for the Best of 2004 approach, while the more archival Mojo proclaims their’s “Rock! Rock! Rock!” and mines the root of the evil for a hands-in-the-air journey to the middle of any jukebox worth dropping your quarters in. Figure over the 3, you’re picking up Little Richard, Tom Waits, Bjork, the Libertines, Green Day, Drive-by Truckers, Elvis Presley, Franz Ferdinand, Big Mama Thornton, Brian Wilson, the Clash, Wilco, The Killers, Ella Guru, Jesse Malin, Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Muddy Waters, Dizzee Rascal, Interol, Secret Machines, Wanda Jackson and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and then some.


Love by Yves St Laurent

Over the years, acclaimed French designer Yves St Laurent sent out cards that he painted based on the thematic “Love.” Brightly-hued, strongly-designed, shifting imagery were matched to various phrases from literature and the famous to embolden and enhance the various notions of love. As a small gift for people who have style, imagination or a love of anything other than taupe, this speaks volumes about the giver. Essential.

The Smell of Salt Water

Clean. Alive. Slightly acrid, utterly comforting. It’s like having electricity and life in your veins. It will make you yearn for the innocence of the beach, nostalgia for vacations that remained seared in one’s brain, dream of the limitless horizon and the power of the ocean inside your heart.

Pink socks

In the rush and crush, it becomes so easy to take everything too seriously. All you need is one tiny unseen reminder about happiness in unlikely places to maintain your perspective. For me, there’s nothing like pink socks—under my jeans, in my cowboy boots, with my sneakers and sweats—to give me an instant jolt of what’s really important! They flash you when you’re at your most grubby, grumpy, exhausted, spent, frustrated and make you smile, and nobody else has to know about one’s stealth attitude adjuster.

Pushing Off The Bottom

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. To want to give up. To feel so tired and unable that there’s nothing left to summon. The beauty of arriving in the realm of why bother is, there’s the most solid foundation in the world to work off of. When you just don’t think there’s anywhere to go or any reason to bother, take a deep breath, collect what you have—which is more than you realize—blink twice and push off the bottom. It’s the ultimate way of repelling forward. Take it on faith, but do the leg work. It can only get better—and what could be more encouraging than that realization? Indeed.


“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Too many people, too many opinions, too many conflicting agendas. When the rubber meets the road, it comes down to the difference between being 
informed, being educated and being unable to own your intrinsic essence. If you maintain your sense of self, your own personal code of honor and believe in the sanctity of your mind, Emerson may be the last bolster of that which should all embrace as a matter of course.

Bahlsen Gingerbread Hearts & Stars Covered in Bittersweet Chocolate


A little bag from Germany is filled with soft gingerbread morsels that give just enough under your molars to make them spicy little pillows of gingery zing. With the more stark dark chocolate encasing the heart and star shaped cookies, the juxtaposition of the bitter sweet thing and the sweet thing with bite does cartwheels in your mouth. At the holidays, what could be more? Or more in keeping with the traditions of the season? At 130 calories for 4 cookies, it’s an indulgence that won’t send you straight to the ledge. Worth seeking out at high end groceries, specialty shops and many healthy food stores.


Norfolk Pines

As close to Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree as it comes, the Norfolk Pine is the little tree that could. Branches akimbo from a thin little body, the needles protrude at perfect 90 degree angles from the branches. It is a scrawny prickly thing with lots of room for ornaments to dangle and be seen, twinkle lights to cling to for support, bows to adorn without too much foofyness. And when the season passes, it can live in an cache pot or terra cotta pot, showing us the spirit to be alive with joy—even when we’re not the biggest, hardiest, flashiest tree in the forest.


St Clare of Assisi

Everyone knows St Francis, whose prayer may be one of the best guides for how to live one’s life—and St Clare makes no claim on that kind of import. But for anyone trying to make their way in the realm of tv or radio, St Clare is the patron saint of the airwaves—offering clarity, strength, courage, conviction and communication. When you’re trying to make the big pitch, create the right perception, even get that booking, St. Clare is the angel hovering nearby, ready and willing to help if asked.


Crystal Encrusted Mr. & Mrs. Potatohead

That’s right—those create ‘em yourself icons of youth Mr. & Mrs. Potato return, but their star turn isn’t merely a nostalgia cruise. Jay Strongwater had the vision to cover each of the playroom favorites with over 20,000 Swarovski crystals each, making for a sparkling iconic redux. Truly Zsa Zsa-esque, this expontiates fa-la-la—and at $8,000 each gives you a guilt-free reason to go to Neiman Marcus to witness the rarified toys in all their shining glory.


National Do Not Call Cell Phone Registry

Call 1-888-382-1222 from the cell phone that you wish to have put on the “do not call list” to be entered on the list. Or do it online at www.donotcall.gov. Registering only takes a minute, is in effect for 5 years and will probably save you tons of aggravation.

“Oceans 12”

A high jinks caper film that’s about tension more than laughs with enough bold-faced eye candy to just make it a brain-numbing escape by virtue of the visual reality. The writing, though, is taut enough to zing. The plot a suspension of reality, yet realistic enough to draw you in. And the clothes are, well, delightful. Oscar performances? Probably not. But the joie de vie and onscreen camaraderie is inspiring in all the best ways, reminding us of the glory of human foibles in the quest for higher bonding. A must escape see.



Zum Mist Rosemary-Mint Spray

Press twice, instant wake-up call. Clears the air, imbues a sense of “go get it” with a mental effervescence that’s all head cheerleader at the homecoming game. All purified water and essential oils, it’s safe to use around kids, pets, furniture—and it can even ease an achin’ noggin’ or sinus pressure (though how they do it, I do NOT have the science to explain). Pick it up at most health food grocery stories or aromatherapy temples, and have an instant pick-me-up that gives one’s living space that much happy ambient feeling in the process.


Songs From A Basement On A Hill—Elliot Smith

Swirling, whirling neo-paisley arrangements that evoke the psychedelia of the Beatles from an organic folkie place, yet the easy melodics almost pry the sheen off the Beachboys—and offer up a corroded Southern California golden glow that’s more weathered than high gloss. The Oscar-nominated Elliot Smith (“Miss Mis’ry” from “Good Will Hunting”) died this year under mysterious circumstances—and this was the album that was in process at the time. An evocative impressionistic work that plucked at the emotions beneath the obvious, the recording allowed cracks of light in through the overgrowth, the sense that hope was perhaps not the grandest luxury of all.
Deeply romantic in the dog-eared, faded and worn and tattered edges way, Basement on a Hill pulls back the velvet draping of desire to show the choiceless surrender and utterly transformative possibilities. Even the filigreed acoustic moments (“Let’s Get Lost”) have a rock aspect to their hushed intimacy, but it’s important to know this is a quiet record—and the rock element comes from the unfiltered nature of his willingness to confess. Ultimately songs like strong and celebratory “Don’t Go Down” offer the hand to steady and lift up. This is a tug of war of desires and knowing and wanting, of that which elevates and desiccates, the yearning and the burning and the returning to all coasts that beckon. Smith’s life was a complicated beautiful mess that so many saw their own agonies and ecstasies in—and in the myriad refractions, there’s a stunning truth for each who would listen.


Wiping Down Surfaces with Gin to Repel Mosquitos

Who knew? Yet in the islands, it’s an unspoken rule. And over the course of a couple long evenings, not a mosquito was to be found. Disinfects from the alcohol, wipes clean and leaves no discernable smell.

The Corporate Manufacture of Word of Mouth—Rob Walker 
NY Times Sunday Magazine, 5 December

Look it up online. Find a friend who throws out nothing. This is the next wave in how things get interjected into the fiber of your life unnoticed. It is insidious, disturbing, and the wave of the future. Is a friend zealous? Working for some corporate agenda? Selling you out? Or even worse, working for an agenda as an extension of their own unrecognized vanity? Walker examines all. A must read.


The North Mississippi All-Stars, Mercy Lounge 4 December

The brothers Dickinson—sons of legendary Memphis producer Jim Dickinson—have never been afraid to strip things down to their own gutbucket take on rock & soul. And their kinda soul is more swampy, Southern fried double-baked country goodness than the r&b perfection that many think of. Where the Fat Possum blues records intersect with the blowed up rock communion that’s Jerry Lee Lewis at his leanest, they bring the beats to a boil, embroider with stinging guitars and serve up fat slices of musical cookdown that are so far beyond the components of melody and rhythm they’re inherently primal. To understand root music’s core value, organic from beneath the 
subconscious, this is required attending.