Sunday, January 31, 2016

An Abundant Life - Angels Among Us

I've written from time to time about different people I know who have inspired me and taught me about art and design, and I've posted some of their beautiful work and gifts on Instagram. Today I wanted to talk a bit about the ways we can learn because if I'm doing my job the way God wants me to, I'm sharing what I know so you can find your own abundance without me. I'm happy to post my photos and recipes and talk about my wonderful finds and the amazing people I know because it's something that brings me joy, but the best gift I can give to anyone else is to steer them in a direction that will help them find their own. There are simple ways we can find information now - the internet is available to most of us, even on our phones - but even if we don't have internet access and don't care to use it, nothing takes the place of going in person to museums and stores and having a hands on experience with art and design. Many museums have a no touching policy for the art work, but they always have some kind of gift shop where you can get the next best thing. Book stores are great for books with great color plates on the history of art and design and the latest fashion and design trends. Department stores can be helpful too to give an idea of what the designers are doing, and treat yourself to trips to boutiques and high end fashion designers' flagship stores - you don't have to buy and you can look all you want and get a chance to touch fabrics and see the way that well made clothing drapes. Sure there is high security and they'll be on the lookout for shoplifters, but if you go with a pure heart and treat everyone respectfully you might even make some friends. The same goes for home fashion and d├ęcor and furniture - visit all the stores you can, high end and to the trade only too - there's no harm in looking and then when you see something at a thrift shop or a yard sale, it will be easier to identify the quality or lack of it. Don't feel like you have to like everything you see, but don't limit yourself either - look up and look at everything - you'd be surprised at how the history of art and design shows trends that repeat themselves every few years. There is nothing new under the sun, just variations and new twists and takes, and following the work of different artists and designers will help you decide what you like. Don't feel like you have to like something that everyone else is liking - your taste is your own - embrace and enjoy it. What was out last year will be in again this year or next, so if you love that item from two seasons ago, love it and enjoy it and wear it or use it with pride and the next thing you know you'll see it on a Paris runway or in a designer showroom.

Angels In Unexpected Places

Another great way to learn about art and design is to visit with people who make their living collecting and selling it. In addition to galleries and boutiques and showrooms, there are the people whose lives are made up of buying and selling vintage goods and antiques in a very practical and every day way. They love art and design and history, and though they have their own tastes, they're happy to talk to you about yours and share their well earned knowledge. I ran into one of these angels who I had lost track of the other day and was so glad to find him again. For years I used to walk by the place where he was selling, but then he'd moved from there and I didn't know what had happened to him. It was such a pleasure to see him again and know that his business is thriving, and I picked up some amazing and beautiful finds, knowing that there will be many more in the future. His new store is on Highway 139 in Jersey City, just before you get to Summit Avenue going West. The number he's giving it is 161, and he's planning on putting that number on the building soon. In the meantime, look for the sign that says Garage Sale and the American Flag that's waving, and if the doors are open, stop in and ask for Angel - yes, that's his name, and he definitely is one. An iron worker for 28 years now retired, he's one of the best of the best.

161 Highway 139
Just East Of Summit Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey

A Few Of My Treasures From Angel

Home Baked Goods To Nurture Yourself

I posted a picture of fresh baked bread on Instagram this week and promised to share the recipe. It's one that came from my grandmother's Craig Claiborne New York Times Cookbook and it's a very quick and easy one. It's listed as a favorite from the James Beard Cooking School and I've modified it over the years to suit my tastes. The cookbook itself is a treasure - find one if you can, and have fun with the recipes and tips. They don't make 'em like that any more.

Cuban Bread
Modified From A Recipe From The New York Times Cookbook
Edited By Craig Claiborne - Copyright 1961

1 package of yeast
2 cups very warm almost hot water
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
6 To 7 Cups of Flour

1.) Dissolve the yeast in the water and add the salt and sugar, stirring thoroughly.
2.) Add the flour, one cup at a time, beating it in with a wooden spoon, or use the dough hook on an electric mixer at low speed. (I usually use a wooden spoon and then knead with my cleaned hands when it gets too stiff for the spoon) Add enough flour to make a fairly stiff dough.
3.) When the dough is thoroughly mixed, shape it into a ball, place in a greased bowl and grease the top (I use olive oil). Cover with a towel and let stand in a warm place (80 - 85 degrees Fahrenheit) until doubled in bulk. (The back area of the top of the stove is usually a good place if you're not cooking anything on the stove top at the same time.)
4.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and shape into two long, French-style loaves or round, Italian-style loaves.  Arrange on a baking sheet heavily sprinkled with corn meal and allow to rise one half hour or until the bread has become slightly rounded on top (I usually use bread pans greased with a light coating of butter without the corn meal, but have also done it both ways listed here and it has worked well.)
5.) Slash the tops of the loaves in two or three places with a knife or scissors. Brush the loaves with water (I do not do the slashing and brushing with water if I use the bread pans) and place them in a cold oven. Set the oven control at hot (400 degrees Fahrenheit) and place a pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven. Bake the loaves until they are crusty and done, about 40-45 minutes.

You can use any type of flour. I find a mixture of white and whole wheat is nice, adding one or two cups of whole wheat to four or five white.

Thank You Nana For The Wonderful Cookbook!

Served Warm With Butter And Apricot Jam

And A Cup Of Blueberry Tea


Jannie Susan


  1. You sems to be a very nice person! I like so much to meet you!!!

    1. Thank you! I've been enjoying your posts - you are a lovely person too :)