Tag Archives: Colors

A Dream – Almost – Realized

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My impetus for creating this blog was to satisfy my passion of owning a coffeehouse or a diner, and to do this in the most affordable fashion: A virtual rendition of my dream.

And it’s been a joy in many ways, however, nothing short of brick and mortar is a dream fully realized in my inner world.

So, to make it a more tactile experience, Hubby and I remodeled the kitchen and created an in-home diner.

Now I can more realistically pretend to be a baker/waitress:

With bistro stools, granite countertops, and pendant lighting, it’s a hybrid of old-school diner and contemporary cafe. The secret, though, being the purplish hue of the classic neon diner sign that glows throughout my baking space. Nothing speaks my language of diner days more than blue and red blending into purple!

Jayni’s Diner is now open for service, and my first customer arrived fully old-school and driving a T-Bucket:

And what did I serve him?

Bourbon Brownies with Peanut Butter Chips. The Father’s Day special.

And he surely did deserve a special treat. After all, he drove a purple Bucket right into the garage. He honored my theme and devoured my brownies.

What could make a baker/waitress smile any more than that?

 

It’s still not the perfect scenario, however, I’m getting closer to having the real thing. I have the signage and the ambience.

But not the jukebox or the shining silver exterior.

Not quite the full dream.

Almost .  .  .  .

Mom’s Mocha-Toffee Bars

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About 35 years ago, my mom held a summer luncheon in our family home. She made these bars for dessert, and I fell in love them. After I returned to the Southwest, she sent the recipe, which I cherished and saved in my recipe file.

Mom's Mocha-Toffee Bars Resized

And yet, somehow, I never baked them until a week ago.

Perhaps to honor her passing, I was destined to wait. I was given time to reflect upon her love of the color brown. The color of earth, of solidity, of groundedness that she decorated our childhood homes with.

My earliest childhood home was actually painted mocha at mom’s request. Likely because she made a killer yellow cake with mocha frosting that the entire neighborhood craved, yet they rarely had the pleasure of indulging in because my dad, brother, and I usually engulfed it on its first night of creation.

Having said that, I’ve pondered the obvious fact that perhaps I named my blog after my mom in a surreptitious way that even I never uncovered until now. “Now” as in this very moment of typing these words on my chiclet keys. Amazing how and when connections are recognized!

Mocha-Toffee Bars

  • 2 Cups Brown Sugar – Firmly Packed
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Butter, Softened
  • 1 Teaspoon  Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Coffee Liqueur
  • 1 Cup 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1 Egg – At Room Temperature
  • 1 Cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts or Pecans

Baking Directions

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13″ x 9″ baking pan and set aside.

Step 2:  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and flour.

Step 3:  Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove 1 cup of crumbs and set aside.

Step 4:  To the original large bowl, add baking powder and salt. Using a whisk or fork, lightly beat in coffee liqueur, 1/2 and 1/2, and egg.

Step 5:  Continue beating until batter is smooth. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan.

Step 6:  In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together chocolate chips and nuts.

Step 7:  Sprinkle reserved crumbs over top of batter in pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts on top of the layer of crumbs.

Step 8: Use a long, flat spatula to spread topping evenly over the top of the batter in pan. (I find that using my hands is also effective.)

Step 9:   Bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.

Step 10: Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool bars in pan completely before slicing.

Step 11: Using a serrated knife, cut into 24 bars. If you’re using a non-stick baking pan, you might consider a serrated plastic knife for this process. My husband recently surprised me with a Bakeware Buddy Knife that seems to be ideal for protecting pans from damaging scratches.

Step 12: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I used a cake platter with a glass dome to store mine, and they were moist and delicious on the fifth day.

*High Altitude Note: This recipe has been tested from sea level to 5000 feet. I suspect that altitudes above 5000 will also do well, however, always best to be prepared to experiment.

Indulge in mocha!

Daily Déjà Vu

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2001

 

 

One day a plane hit a building

then another plane

then another building.

 

My father sent me a newspaper clipping

a full front-page photograph with a caption

and an enormous bold black headline

as angry as a cold black fist in the pit of my stomach.

 

Since that day the grey tones of life have diminished.

 

Black and white is louder now.

 

Two bold choices scare me.

 

I get terrified when the comfort and safety of colors fade

when poetry can’t take me home

when coffee shops are tense with lying laughter

when the vice of black and white squeezes my crystal soul.

 

 

 

Little White Churches

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My heart can’t resist them.

A couple years of living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, circa 1970s, I realized that I wanted to live in a church.

I found a little white clapboard Baptist church near Panther Falls, Virginia.   Abandoned, because the people lost faith in the midst of poverty.   But it was still structurally solid and safely nestled inside a grove of poplar trees and scrub oak.

The steeple looked like the base of an old windmill. Above the door was a round stained glass window, with red and blue hues, that reminded me of Jupiter.

Inside, the pews were lined in rows of horizontal soldiers. A grid work of dark wood and red velvet seat cushions. The room was small but it felt spacious because of the ascending ceiling and the choir loft that touched the clouds when fog descended.

The sunlight that crept through the trees was misty by the time it met the colored windows lining the building’s side walls. The interior was a mixture of light and dark and every color of the rainbow in-between. It was peaceful and solemn.

I love churches when they are empty.

Always have.

Those beautiful little handcrafted edifices without rituals, but with the accessories necessary to conduct one as décor.

A place to be still.

A place to call home.

I was too poor to buy that church and unable to convince the owners to rent it, but I still harbor a yearning to live in that Appalachian church-home.

I have thought lovingly of it for three+ decades. Every time I drive by a little white church of any denomination, my heart rejoices.

After I moved to the village of Estancia, New Mexico, several years back, I quickly discovered that around the corner from my tiny house was one of the sweetest white churches of all times.

Methodist.

Not acquainted with the religion, but I fell in love with the building. And when I learned that the back door was kept unlocked, on weekday afternoons after work, I’d slip in, sit on the red velvet cushion, and gaze through the painted glass windows. Noting that the southern exposures were singed – the edges of Jesus’ garments and the corners of the Last Supper’s tablecloth all charred and curling.

The wooden pews were arranged in arcs, with two aisles, like a huddle around the pulpit. Behind the lectern were tables draped in white fabrics that support forests of white taper candles.

I’d sit silently at different degrees of the arcs. Each radial angle reflective in a different color or shadow. I’d bow my head in some form of prism prayer.

Sitting in this church – alone – always washed me clean. Something about the simplicity of white that calms and renews.

I don’t yet understand my passion for little white wooden churches, but they invite my heart in.

They inspire confession.

When I feel filthy, a white church is my soap and washcloth.

And often I have some crazy sense of unclean.

I am always housecleaning; I am always heart-cleaning.

What am I obsessed with washing away?

Vacuuming some sin from the floor boards of my heart?

Scouring the toilet bowl of my soul?

Dusting the mantle of my mind?

Why is life – so messy – that I devote a lifetime to cleaning my space-of-being?

That I sit in empty churches to inhale purity?

That I focus my meditation upon the white fabrics draping from altars?

Sometimes I find my inner being crawling through the tunnels and webs of woven fibers, searching for the secret of the shroud.

I have never understood this passion for textiles either.

Maybe because fabric is tangible. Because I can see it constructed from its source – from the flax plants and silkworms and cotton pods.

I can track its progression. I can touch and smell its existence. I can also get lost in the fantasy of its lavish embroidery and festive beadwork.

I’m no fan of the new gospel churches that believe in bare warehouses as places of undistracted worship.

I need the distraction of beauty.

Especially the pageantry of ecclesiastical textiles.

I like sparse, but I need highlights of fabric embellishment. Lightly speaking: Holy dust clothes move me.

Sometimes I think that my deepest faith lies in empty churches and fabric. Somewhere in the honeycombs of stitchery, a wing of truth waits.

In a dust mote. In a spider’s dew-damp leg. In a tendril from a tightly-plied linen thread.

It’s absurdly simple. And mind-twistingly complex: sitting in empty white churches, contemplating sacred textiles, I find some sort of rogue religion.

And how happy was I, after remarrying, to find a tiny, tattered, white church about a mile away from my new home on the prairie.

A safe haven.

It offers peace of presence: Just knowing it’s sitting there .  .  . wind-beaten and bare .  .  . on a lonely dirt road.

A bit like someone’s stained and gritty coffee cup left behind.

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Well, just a bit earlier in the year, I experienced a gift of red sneakers. That story is told inside of Red Sneakers.

That tale I think of as yin. It’s soft, sweet, sassy, feminine in a quasi-original way. Plus it’s rebellious because it’s red rather than traditional white.

But it’s one half of the circle. The other swirl is classically black.

Its formation began on the day I received the red Chucks. My husband surprised me by taking me to California Pastrami – a tiny strip-mall restaurant that promised to satisfy my nostalgic hunger for a pastrami sandwich, just like the ones that I had in New Jersey as a kid.

So, you get the idea: the theme of the celebratory weekend was one of wistfulness and a yearning to look backward.

And it grandly succeeded. I don’t eat red meat, but, a secret craving had emerged and I sated it. All gooey and dripping with fats was the sandwich, and, I delighted in the entire mess.

After leaving the cafe, we walked a mere fifteen feet to our car and as I stood next to the passenger door, I turned to look back – to drink in one last vision-sip of the cafe that had time-traveled me back five decades.

That’s when I caught a glance of a blonde-haired, slender, little gazelle of a tween stotting across the sidewalk .  .  . heading into the pizza shop at the mall’s end.

Her movement was eye catching, however, it was her feet that stood me still.

She was wearing a pair of black canvas, knee-high Chucks. Something I’d never seen before, but, immediately fell in love with!

I shamelessly stared as she glided through the doorway with her family. Even more shamelessly, I told Hubby that I’d wait for her to leave, (just takeout after all), and get a better look at the prancing paws.

We waited. She was quick to leave. I took a mental photo and rhapsodized about them on our ride back to the hotel.

But I left it there. I searched for high-tops and nothing that tall appeared, so, I released the fantasy.

And then.

What should appear beneath the Christmas tree?

 

Sneakers -Black Knee-high Chucks

Yep. You guessed it: A pair of Knee-high black Chucks!!

Now I feel even more like a kid playing in a body that’s trapped in the role of an adult.

I just need to wait a few months for the snow to melt so I can go pronging outside and truly play in my new feet .  .  . truly complete the yin/yang experience of coveted sneakers.

 

 

 

Christmas Yin/Yang

Red Sneakers

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Many years before Prince coveted his little red Corvette, I invested hours of begging my mother for a pair of little red sneakers. I was in love.

 

 

Red Sneakers

 

In those years of the late 1950s to the early 1960s, canvas-coated feet were emboldened in a battle between Keds and PF Flyers. My mother favored Keds.

Okay.

I accepted the poverty of options. Secretly I preferred Keds also, because on close scrutiny of my friends with PF feet, I could see a deficiency in quality. The fabric was skinnier; the rubber was wobblier. From a distance, the colors and styling were eye-catching. Up close, the optical illusion gave way.

Keds had solidity. Longevity. Ankle support.

But they were poor in color palette. White, navy, and black predominated, which was a bit boring to a small girl with a big dream of being a fashionista.

Today I describe my go-to wardrobe as: black, white, and indigo. Once again demonstrating the power of the circle. The ceaseless circle of life.

I’m voluntarily back where I began.

Almost.

Against that background color trinity, though, I love accents of surprise from every pie slice of the spectrum.

But, in the post-WW II days, life was spectrally dim. Women wore quiet dresses. Men sore Obama suits. Children wore practical clothes, that is, clothes of colors that did not readily reveal dirt. Clothes that could be worn a few times without washing and still pass for respectfully clean.

Looking back, I appreciate that practicality. Fewer loads of laundry made ecological and economical sense.

But, still. I wanted a pair of red canvas sneakers. Just so my feet could shout a little. Be happy and dance a little.

And not just plain red low-riders. No, I wanted red high-tops. And that’s where the real battle began.

Not only did Mom see red canvas as a grass-stain magnet. She judged high-tops as completely inappropriate for girls.

What the heck? I never could figure it out, but, suddenly practicality became too masculine.

I was a tall, gangly kid in need of strong ankle support. So, why not high-tops?

My arguments were in vain. For six years of childhood, she denied me.

And that denial rode along with me into adulthood.

Decades later, I found myself periodically craving a pair of red high-top sneakers. This time, though: Converse. Yes. A pair of tall, red Chucks.

Somehow, every moment of zealous pursuit was foiled. My size was not available or red was not in favor with the fashion police or long shoelaces were not being manufactured. Some quirk of commerce always roadblocked.

Then.

This year.

In the midst of 2015’s final three months of holiday blitzing.

My husband surprised me with a wedding-anniversary gift:

 

RED CHUCKS!

 

 

Yes, it truly is never too late to have a happy childhood.

And today, on this Winter Solstice, may all of your sorrows be lifted. May all of your dreams come true. May a new season of happiness fill your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grind

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Mocha Muse has its very own newspaper, The Grind. It may contain a quote, a poem, song lyrics, snippets of overheard conversation or fascinating facts about creativity/life. So, leather sofa in Home Interiorsnuggle into the sofa, unfold the paper and reach for your morning cup of coffee.

Here’s the twenty-fourth issue. . . just click on newspaper to enlarge, then continue to click until text is readable for you!

 

 

The Grind - (11-24-2015) 50 Shades of Cranberry

 

Quote Source: The Creative Connector