April 15, 2014

A very random, not Holy Week centered Clippings

Don't forget my Easter book recommendations are available here. (The image above is from Petook, by Caryll Houselander and illustrated by Tomie dePaola)

A profile of the amazing Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen, in Baltimore -- a man deeply committed to his hometown, and to truly sustainable cooking. (He has a full time preservation team, which cans 50,000lbs of produce every year!) His cooking is truly Mid-atlantic: focused on the meat, fish (especially) and produce that thrive in this rich but "undocumented and uncelebrated" area. (First we Feast)

Sidecar and Myrna and I went and saw The Grand Budapest Hotel. And I have lots to say, but, right now: SWINTON. She's crazy, whoa. (Vulture)

Love this headline about the amazing Sr. Helena Burns, aka: "The Nun who got Addicted to Twitter" - it's a great article too. (The Atlantic)

And speaking of the New Evangelization online: the Vatican Library is going digital! (The Art Newspaper)

Chef, 15 years old, making stunning meals in a supper club in his parent's house. (New York Times)

These marble dresses are incredible. (This is Colossal)

How Greg Maddux pitched (The Washington Post)

RCA + Miss Hale: There's a new collection of Muriel Spark essays being published! Informed Air (Amazon via Michah Mattix)

Oh my word, yes: Confessions from the Confession line (Smicha Fisher)

David Brooks on Passover and Liberation and Obedience (New York Times):
When John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin wanted to put Moses as a central figure on the Great Seal of the United States, they were not celebrating him as a liberator, but as a re-binder. It wasn’t just that he led the Israelites out of one set of unjust laws. It was that he re-bound them with another set of laws. Liberating to freedom is the easy part. Re-binding with just order and accepted compulsion is the hard part.
This Confessions of a Christian Film Critic is good. We live in the tension, my friends. (The Washington Post

April 14, 2014

Easter Books on CIC Kids

Still need gifts for the Easter Basket? I've got three posts up on CIC KIDS listing some of the best picture books for Eastertide:

+ Picture books about Easter itself

+ Biblically based picture books and illustrated Bibles

+ Religiously themed board books for toddlers + infants

Some of these books are out of print so won't arrive in time. Others are readily available even at your local big chain bookstore. Most are available on Amazon (and for all purchases through Amazon, the CIC gets a little percentage back.)

Am I forgetting any? What are your family favorites?

March 28, 2014

Clippings: Mostly Trivial

How I've felt much of the time at the new job. The caption ought to read: "When People Start Talking About Religion Before They Know What I Believe" -- but the .gif stands. Don't get me wrong: the job is good and I like the work, but the culture is very different from what I'm used to. And, my goodness, there is a lot of swearing. I'm pre-emptively giving up swearing for lent (or, you know, forever) just to try to combat my already bad habit from getting worse. (Mary is My Homegirl)

J. R. R. Tolkien translation of Beowulf is being published! (The Guardian, via CH)

Last week was a week of mourning for many of us. Olivia and Emma Lewis (obit), Fr. Ray Ryland (obit) and Lauren Langrell (obit). The news of these deaths spread round Facebook and Twitter, and even Instagram -- which struck me as odd, but also necessary: where else would I have gotten the news of these deaths? Relatedly: Here's an interesting piece on modern mourning.  (New York Times)

Lent with St. Francis de Sales (Bows + Bowties via DN)

I could live in this house very happily. (Remodelista)

I could live in this dress very happily. (Vanessa Jackman)

What's your breakfast style? Sweet or savory? (Bon Appetit)

Bon Appetit has also been having some fun sharing the history of different food-relates items and words -- like vegetable metaphors and cocktail umbrellas. (Bon Appetit)

Folks songs, and Plato, and the boys of St. Greg's. (Dominicana)

You're welcome. (Celebitchy, but, I promise, SFW, and this is literally the first time I've ever clicked on that site...)

Who Wore It Best: Olivia Pope or Pope Francis (HT: Emily Hale)

March 25, 2014

Two Annunciations

Two modern Annunciations for you, for today's Feast of the Annunciation:

This painting by Raphael Soyer was one of the only grabbers at a new exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum  and grab me, it did. It is a large piece; hung on the dingy grey walls of the exhibit hall, it seemed lifelike in scale and proportion. Two ladies going about their business, getting washed, getting dressed, but with very different internal dispositions. One has a look of focused concentration (I'll wear my green dress, and the white hat. Have to remember to pick up stamps on my way to work. Are my brown shoes still at the cobblers?)  the other: an openness, an expectancy, a peace (Let it be done unto me according to your word).

I like thinking of Mary in these situations, because it reminds me that I need to live like Mary in the rush of our days: that is, in constant readiness to do the will of God. Even to listen for it. Especially in the rush of my current work, where there is little to know me except by my manner: my willingness to work, my cheer, my attention to detail. These could become burdens — the cares of the world — or they could be come joys, thanks to an open disposition to listen for the will of God, and live it.

— — 

The second "Annunciation" is actually a poem, from a collection of poems by Mary Szybist, called Incarnadine. Incarnadine, which won the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry, is loosely based around the Annunciation and those moments where the natural world in unsettled by the spiritual (as well as the varying responses to that unsettling. (My favorite of the poems was "Here, There are Blueberries" which you can read here.)

by Mary Szybist

I could hear them from the kitchen, speaking as if
something important had happened.

I was washing the pears in cool water, cutting
the bruises from them.
From my place at the sink, I could hear

a jet buzz hazily overhead, a vacuum
start up next door, the click,
click between shots.

“Mary, step back from the camera.”

There was a softness to his voice
but no fondness, no hurry in it.

There were faint sounds
like walnuts being dropped by crows onto the street,
almost a brush
of windchime from the porch—

Windows around me everywhere half-open—

My skin alive with the pitch.

March 18, 2014

Quotation from Helena by Evelyn Waugh

And then Helena said something which seem to have no relevance. 'Where is the cross, anyway?'

'What cross, my dear?' [said Pope Sylvester.]

'The only one. The real one.'

'I don't know. I don't think anyone knows. I don't think anyone has ever asked before.'

'It must be somewhere. Wood doesn't just melt like snow. It's not 300 years old. The temples here are full of beams and paneling twice that age. It stands to reason God would take more care of the cross then of them.'

'Nothing "stands to reason" with God. If He had wanted us to have it, no doubt He would have given it to us. But He hasn't chosen to. He gives us enough.'

'But how do you know He doesn't want to say have it — the cross, I mean. I bet He's just waiting for one of us to go and find it — Just at this moment when it's most needed. Just at this moment when everyone is forgetting it and chattering about that hypostatic union, there's a solid chunk of wood waiting for them to have their silly heads knocked against. I'm going off to find it,' said Helena.

 — from Helena, by Evelyn Waugh
Image:  St. Helena from The Rothschild Prayerbook

February 28, 2014

Clippings with a Long Ramble about the Oscars

A really marvelous look at the way literature forms us, by Joseph Prever (Catholic Exchange)

Open letter to Alec Baldwin: " It seems strange in our goal-oriented times, but the truth is that naked happiness-seekers tend to find themselves alone and miserable. To live a life of meaning and integrity, you must build it around something that it is bigger than yourself." (The Federalist)

Color charts! (Present & Correct)

Opening today at the American Art Museum in D.C. -- Modern American Realism. Art Daily reports. (via Mr. Newton)

I have one dear friend who cannot have dairy or eggs or wheat or chocolate or nuts. Let me tell you, her birthday is just about the hardest day of the year, culinarily speaking. Flour-less chocolate cakes have egg and chocolate. Almond flour is out, so there goes all my standby gluten free cakes. Can't make a fool, because cream is out. And I love fruit, but it has to go over something.  Most vegan cakes rely on nuts for sustenance. Most gluten-free cakes rely on dairy and eggs for texture and moistness. So, I am going to archive this post for all posterity: Coconut ice cream. And it doesn't use totally crazy substitutions, either; it's base is coconut cream. That'll do, kids. That'll do. (Food 52)

For all other birthdays: mint-chocolate chip ice cream cake. (Herriot Grace)

On a serious note: on trick for ending the War on Women. (Simcha)

Glad to see one of my favorite Arlington coffee shops getting some attention (photo, above, taken there this morning).

In anticipation of this weekend's Oscars (about which I have no thoughts whatsoever since I've only seen one of the films in the running)...here's an interesting list of the 85 Oscar Best Picture winners, ranked according to how good picks they were. It's obviously a subjective list, but interesting all the same. I have some major complaints with this list. I agree pretty much with the top ten, and I love that she put Gigi at the bottom (what a tedious film). I think she's too hard on both the 80's and the early years of film. And Amadeus (especially ranked against the competition of the year) should not be placed so low.  What I find most interesting is seeing what history has done to the winners and the losers. So many films are vastly better than the others in their category (I mean, were there any movies other than The Godfather that came out in 1972?). Others are real head-scratchers, when you think of the legacy of their competition (Hard the believe The Greatest Show on Earth beat out High Noon and The Quiet Man.) I'd also like to assert that a world where Tootsie wins best picture over the ok, but self-righteous film, Ghandi is a world I want to live in. Alas. (Buzzfeed)

I did not watch Downton Abbey this season, but I did quite enjoy the Fug Girls' recaps. (Go Fug Yourself)

Winter got you down. Make things with citrus, kids! (Eat Boutique)

This. so many feelings!!! (ESPN)

February 25, 2014

Recipe: Cremat for Carnival!

So, Cremat is a traditional Catalan fisherman's drink, and it is completely amazing, but I honestly don't know if it is drunk during Catalan Carnival festivals there are (I don't even know what festivals they hold leading up to Lent. No doubt Mr. Newton will inform me of the proper traditions, as he is the one who introduced me, rather recklessly, to Cremat.)

Guys, this is a great cocktail. It is for a party, because it really cannot be made in small doses. And it is perfect for the dead of winter. And this year, my word, has it ever been the dead of winter. I think the only thing that could get me revved up for a feast like Carnival is flaming coffee-infused hard liquor. I mean: this cocktail is lit on fire. I don't know how else to sell it to you.

Serves 8-10

750ml Rum (nothing fancy or aged or artisan, but not cheap sugary stuff. A solid, unflavored rum.
1 cup brandy
1/4 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
peel of 1 lemon or 1 small orange, cut into thick strips
1 cup strong brewed coffee

Pour the rum and brandy into a heat resistant earthenware pot, or an earthenware or cast iron dutch oven. Add sugar, cinnamon sticks, and citrus peel. Stir till sugar dissolves. Heat on low on your stovetop till it begins to steam. 

Carefully bring the pot outside. Using a long match, or one of those long lighter thingys, set the rum ON FIRE!!! Let it burn for 10 minutes, (stand out there in the cold with it, you wimps!).  After 10 minutes, extinguish the fire by pouring the black coffee over it.

Serve in warm mugs (not cocktail glasses, which will crack with the heat), with a twist of lemon or orange peel.

February 21, 2014

Clippings for a February Friday

Elise Italiano on Edith Stein and the single life — part of a talk she gave at the Edith Stein Conference at Notre Dame a couple weekends ago; republished by CNA:
This prayer must take on a radical character. Stein’s word choice is precise. The idea of being “captive” to anything or anyone is foreign in our world, where self-fulfillment, self-aggrandizement, and the freedom to do anything one desires is prized. We are told that any restrictions on a woman’s freedom imprison her and limit her potential. And yet to submit to God’s will, trusting in His Providence and His design, is actually the source of our freedom. (Read the rest!)
In anticipation of tomorrow's concert, Fr. James has written about Spem in Allium, Judith, and hope. (Thine Own Service)

There's a new Dominican Friars app (designed by the Province of St. Joseph).

Joe Pass and Ella Fizgerald performed together in Hanover in 1975, and produced some of my very favorite recordings from Ella's long, incredible career (albums). Now that whole concert is available on YouTube. Ahhhhh!

The Rothschild Prayerbook was up for sale at Christie's last month, and they made a quick video that showcases some of it's beauty, plus there's the catalog with full color images and lots of information. It sold for 13.6 M, and well worth it! Stunning! (That's St. Helena, from the book, pictured above.) (Christie's, via Mr. Newton)

The Croissants with St. Peter comic is exactly how I imagine Heaven, too, Ben. (Art and Adventure)

Thoughts on the burial of King Alfred. (Telegraph)

Scallops, St. James, and Botticelli (New York Times via Miss Hale)

NYC Rooftop Sea Salt -- of course it sells for $13.75 an ounce, making it almost as expensive as vanilla beans! (Salt News) (Yes, I subscribe to a blog called "Salt News")

Cider Shandy + Cardamom Oat Crumble. (Food 52 + Happy Yolks)

Also, for the first time in years, I am really liking this seasons fashion shows. I've started collecting some clips, and will try to write up why soon. In the meantime... (Pinterest)

February 18, 2014

"Spem in Alium" in Washington THIS SATURDAY

Spem in alium nunquam habui præter in te, Deus Israel:
qui irasceris et propitius eris,
et omnia peccata hominum in tribulatione dimittis.
Domine Deus, Creator cæli et terræ,
respice humilitatem nostram.

I have never put my hope in any other but in you, God of Israel,
who will be angry and yet become again gracious,
and who forgive all the sins of man in suffering.
Lord God, creator of heaven and earth,
look upon our lowliness.

Spem in Alium, by Thomas Tallis: A 40 voice motet sung by nearly 100 people (by "40 voices," I mean, there are 40 different parts divided into 8 separate choirs). It is one of the choral masterpieces of the West, and it is being performed this Saturday at Holy Comforter / Saint Cyprian Church in S.E. Washington.

Nearly 100 sacred musicians of the Washington DC metro area with be gathering for a collegial workshop to rehearse and sing Thomas Tallis' masterful 40-part Renaissance motet for 8 choirs, the magnificent Spem in Alium. Join us to hear a live performance of this Renaissance gem.

3:30p Free performance (Doors will open at 3p)
4:30-6:30p Reception at The Ugly Mug, for those who donated $10+ (Light hors d'ouvres + Open Bar)

Ensemble Director: David Lang, Artistic Director of the Reston Chorale and Music Director of St. John the Beloved Catholic Church. It's being organized by Chorus Sine Nomine.

To register, please visit the Event-brite page. And please consider donating as well! This is an ambitious piece to perform, and naturally many expenses have arisen in trying to perform this piece.

February 17, 2014

Down the YouTube Rabbit Hole

It all started with Nat King Cole coming on at the shop Saturday morning:

Then, I couldn't resist Ella's bright green dress:

Which lead to a quick sidetrack visiting Bobbie Gentry:

Then back to Nat King Cole (my God, why aren't there more recordings available of his early stuff. The man could play! Look at those fingers go!):

And if there was a voice in this world that could match his for soul, it'd be Mahalia Jackson:

A spiritual she made famous, performed unlike ever before:

And back to Jazz with this rendition of one of my favorite Johnny Mercer tunes:

February 13, 2014

Quotable: Snow Falls ...

Snow falls, and once again the wonder of childhood is upon us. At first a few separate flakes float down slowly, one by one; then more, faster and faster, filling our eyes with dazzling, dancing whiteness. The movement is more mysterious because it is silent: dancing, wild dancing, with no sound, like voiceless singing.

If it made even the tiny tap of hail it would seem to fall into our world, but the silence is absolute; it is we who are walking in another world, a world in which we are ghosts. The falling flakes touch our faces with unimaginable lightness and melt on the faint warmth of our blood, at once elusive and intimate.

— Caryll Houselander, Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross

February 10, 2014

Flowers by Mags! Order Handmade Bouquets for Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner! I am offering a (very limited) selection of handmade bouquets for your sweethearts, which I will deliver Valentine's Day Morning to her home or workplace!

Delivery is limited to the Washington, DC, Metro Area. I will go as far as Rockville, Silver Spring, and College Park, in Maryland; McLean, Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Springfield in Virginia. If you have questions, about delivery, feel free to email me before ordering.

These bouquets are made with locally sourced flowers, made by hand, each one unique. I offer 2 sizes:

$30, approximately 8" in diameter & 15 stems

$50, approximately 12" in diameter & 20 stems
Photo is example only. Actual bouquet will vary based on flower availability
 (and will be more Valentine's Day themed in colors).

Additionally, I am offering the option to purchase a vase from my dear friend, a marvelous potter, Sarah Coffin D'Alessandro. A native of Virginia, Sarah now lives in Dominica (a tropical island!) where her husband is in medical school. Her vases are stunning, and if you choose this option, I will craft the bouquet especially for this vase. (The vases, shown in the photos above) vary in height, but are all elegant cylinders, made with white clay, and have various hand-drawn details/textures, with a clear glaze. (Photo 1, 2) They are an additional $15. (Otherwise your bouquet will come wrapped in kraft paper.)

If you'd like to include a note, please type it in the box below the drop-down menu. These will be written on a plain white card.

Orders must be placed by midnight, Tuesday, February 11th. 

"Always spend more on flowers than on food. Good for the soul, better for the waistline.” - Sadie Smith

Here are photos of some of my floral work: