Let's say we're all bees. Each and every one of us is buzzing about-
buzz buzz buzz.
The honey that we make is our lives. Experience has taught me two things...

KILLER BEES MAKE THE MOST DELICIOUS HONEY

...and LIFE is only as yummy as you make it!

Are YOU a Killer Bee?



bee my guest?

bee my guest?
Howdy Beezers! I'm excited to share something new with you... Over the upcoming months, most of the content you'll be seeing here will be from special guest contibutors! This is sure to add a new texture to this thing we've been weaving over the years. I know that many of my readers (yes, you!) are writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers. PLEASE feel free to contact me if there's something you'd like to contribute! I'd be most honored to pollinate... send me a note: m.mckinley@rocketmail.com

please be seated

December 30, 2010

RESOLUTE



Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer. Remember that song?


I'm the kind of guy who has many fingers in many pots. If I only had one idea a week that I thought was brilliant ( if I do say so myself ), I'd have my head examined. If I pursued less than a half dozen of them a year, you'd have my head examined! Sometimes I get so excited about an idea, I share it with you before its a plausible concept. Sometimes you see the manifestation, sometimes you don't. Its the Idea Man's curse.

Hard to believe, but next week marks the 2nd Anniversary of this blog. It's become something quite different than what I originally intended it to be, and that's cool. By the end of January, the other Bee's blogs will also commemorate 2 years on the World Wide Web. What can you expect from them in 2011? Well January is shaping up to be a jam-packed month! Cassandra and I are planning to finally get Season 4 of  THIS IS WHAT I KNOW SO FAR filmed and edited. We also hope to film the first installment of her inspirational her new web series DESIGNER LIFE by month's end. In the new year, Stacey has decided to go ALL VIDEO over at STACEY'S HOT DISH, which I'm very, very excited about. 

And Cherrie? Cherrie and I are about to embark on a Bubblicious Adventure...stay tuned.

What will I be up to here?
Well, its time to launch Killer Bees 3.0

Quite frankly I'm bored with me. My life, my experiences, my world. Blah, blah, blah. I'll finish the 16 TO 40 Series for sure, but look for the content of KBMTMDH to turn to the ideas, dreams, and accomplishments of others...prepare to BEE inspired! My solo content will be focused on my new Interior Design blog, which I promise is still on the way. Its gonna be cool, kids. How will I find time to do it all? I'm not sure. I just know that what will transpire, will be. The rest of it won't, and that will be cool beans too.

In the past year I have witnessed so much change, that at times I feel like a luge navigating a fast and slippery course. I suppose I could feel scared, like an existence sliding out of control. Instead, I feel  the momentum. The  building of a dream, the adventure of a new course...

Just as I have been for 2 years now, I'm thrilled to be sharing this adventure with you. Are you up for another year? C'mon, you know you want to...

I'm wishing you all a Happy New Year, filled with peace, light, much love, and the fruition of promise- 
Michael Patrick

MUSICAL TREAT OF THE WEEK

 "...It's the end of a decade. In another 10 years time-  who can say what we'll find, what lays waiting down the line...in the end of '89..."

December 29, 2010

MIRACLE ON 47TH STREET

I believe there's a difference between luck and blessings. I still believe in miracles...

December 28, 2010

QUIPS & QUOTES


Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve.  Middle age is when you're forced to.  ~Bill Vaughn

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.  ~Bill Vaughan

Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits.  ~Author Unknown

A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.  ~Author Unknown

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.  ~Benjamin Franklin

No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.  It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left.  It is the nativity of our common Adam.  ~Charles Lamb

New Year's Day is every man's birthday.  ~Charles Lamb

Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it's twice as onerous a duty.  ~John Selden

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.  ~Hal Borland

The merry year is born
Like the bright berry from the naked thorn.
~Hartley Coleridge

New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.  ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

The Old Year has gone.  Let the dead past bury its own dead.  The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time.  All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!  ~Edward Payson Powell

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.  ~Oprah Winfrey

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk.  This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.  ~P.J. O'Rourke

Every man should be born again on the first day of January.  Start with a fresh page.  Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

New Year's Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.  ~Mark Twain

The new year begins in a snow-storm of white vows.  ~George William Curtis

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"


We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath.  Today, we are a pious and exemplary community.  Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.  ~Mark Twain

People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.  ~Author Unknown

And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast,
And been bow'd to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass'd
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury -
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
~Thomas Hood

Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.  Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.  ~Brooks Atkinson

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.  ~Oscar Wilde



Oh really, Oscar Wilde?

Was it really a decade ago that we worried about Y2K, and said goodbye the end of a millennium?

December 23, 2010

5 To 40: Have Myself A Merry Little Christmas


The other day at work,  I opened a can of Roundy's brand pinto beans for lunch. Hey, times are tight.
 I removed the lid, only to find that there were no beans, but creamed corn instead. While I am not opposed to creamed corn, it wasn't at all what I was expecting...

In years past, the bounty of gifts passing beneath my tree on Christmas Eve could have been construed as a gluttonous feast. It was not  unusual for there to be 7, 8, or more gifts under there for every person in attendance. My, how times have changed. My people, as I'm sure most of your people, have been greatly affected by the continued downturn in our country's economy. For the second year in a row, we have a strict "No Gifts" policy enforced. Yet this Christmas finds me brimming with gifts...

While I have never been homeless, 2010 found me without a home of my own. It was a year of both emotional and great financial challenges. At one point Stacey, my friend of 25 years looked at me and said "How on earth are you not completely melting down?" My answer was a Cassandra-ism that I adopted for my own; "I choose not to struggle." I know this might sound pretty on paper, and spiritually "high falutin" in theory...but it really worked! Was I completely without worry? Not entirely, but the decision to focus on what I have vs. what I may have perceivably lost in the eyes of others, was definitely a test of faith. Do you know what I learned? What I have known all along, but forgotten from time time. That by the Universe I am always loved. Always provided for. Most importantly, that what we focus our spiritual energy on, well, it grows things...

A couple of weeks ago, I had a opportunity to leave my temporary housing behind, and move literally  right into the house of my dreams.With the aid of a roommate, I will be able to live there less expensively than I did in my last apartment! The other day I cashed in my coins at the grocery store to buy a Christmas tree. I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to find one I could afford, and that the good ones would be long ago picked over. Really, what were the chances that just 6 days before Christmas I would find the PERFECT 8' tree for just $10? I did.  There won't be any presents under it, but people I love and adore are coming over, and we're having homemade meat pies. Everybody's pitching in a bottle of booze for Martha's best ever egg nog, and there will be a roaring fire fueled by my gracious new neighbor's abundant stockpile of wood.

I kinda feel like Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street every time I approach the front door...

When I started 2010, I had no idea that things would escalate to the place where I would have to forfeit my  comfortable apartment, nor that by years end I would be living in a dream house. The real gifts are not the ones in shiny packages, but the ones that are unexpected, wrapped in love, and contain wisdom.

I hadn't had creamed corn in ages. It was delicious.

December 22, 2010

ONLY KINDNESS MATTERS


While this classic Jewel cut may not be Christmas song, its message is universal, much like the spirit of Christmas. Therefore, its your Musical Treat of The Week...


THE JOY OF GIVING

December 21, 2010

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM CASSANDRA




SHARE THE WEALTH

Have you ever thought that you might be in possession of something that for what ever reason no longer belongs to you? Sound odd? Well I have often thought that the one thing I needed, that thing that would make the road a little easier to travel- was the thing that some one was tripping over cause it was in their way!

Don’t get me wrong,  it doesn’t even have to be tangible.
It could be something as simple as some information or even a smile, some thing that if given wouldn’t even be missed, but something that if given could be the help or the blessing that someone else needed. You see I’m thinking that life would be much sweeter if we would just share the wealth.

Oh, I know some might say, “I am barely getting by myself”. Still I say if you would consider unloading yourself of some of the things that your holding on to, you might just find or make room for wealth to appear. And if we would all just pass along those things we are no longer using not only would our loads be lighter, but the things we release could just be the blessing that would make a profound difference in the lives of other. But we’ll never know if we don’t share the wealth.

Okay, so what does it mean and how is it done? Especially if you feel you have little to give? Well some of us have a wealth of experiences, share them! Some of have a wealth of information, share it! Some of us have a lot of time. I don’t know who, but you know who you are- I say share yourself! Some are rich in compassion, please by all means share it. And some of us have far more things than we will ever need or use…“Share the wealth”. And of course some of you really have actual wealth, the financial kind, um you can pass that along…to me.

Releasing is a spiritual principle, and it is the only way to keep things flowing. Otherwise we become blocked, backed up and bogged down. I have found that the more stuff I have, the more stuff I have to keep up with, the stuff I have to clean and dust. The more stuff I acquire, the less room I have to enjoy my stuff. Releasing things has a way of lifting one higher, making one’s load lighter.

It is the opposite of hoarding. Imagine yourself sitting guard inside your warehouse of goods so nothing can escape, blocking the doorway so nothing gets away…blocking the path, well that blockage also prevents everything from getting in. Now this, like most things is personal, it’s your decision whether to share or not. What you share, if anything, you do get to decide.

But you see this is what I know so far;
The one who does the giving is the one who receives the most.
Merry Christmas, and peace...
Cassandra

AND THE WINNER IS!



Ladies and Gentleman!
This year's Killer Christmas Cookie Contest winner is...Bryon Stewart of Chicago, Illinois! His delicious recipe for Chocolate Spice Drop Cookies is flush with both cocoa and spicy goodness, making him the recipient of this years Penzey's Spices $40 gift certificate!Congratulations Bryon, and thanks to everyone who shared their yummy recipes...we'll be enjoying them at my house Christmas Eve!

CHOCOLATE SPICE DROP COOKIES

2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup ground pecans
1/4 cup natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk

Sift flour into a large mixing bowl, and cut shorteneing in with a knife or pastry blender. Add spices, soda, powder, cocoa, and nuts, mixing well. Add milk gradualy, and mix thouroughly. Drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheet greased, or lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely, then frost the centers.

FROSTING
2 cups powdwewd sugar
3/4 tablespoon shorteening
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

*EDITOR'S NOTE: I had a package of finely chopped pecan pieces that I ground for this recipe. After I frosted them, I sprinkled the left over pieces over the cookies.It was a good idea!

December 6, 2010

THE BLOODY OLIVE: A Christmas Tradition



CBS will bring back Frosty, Rudolph, and Charlie Brown. Turner Classic Movies will air Miracle On 34th Street at least a dozen times ( Make the color go away, I'm begging you Ted. ), and TBS will undoubtedly play A Christmas Story daily until the first of next year. Here at KBMTMDH, I've decided to bring back The Bloody Olive, which was a featured video last December. There are more twists and turns in this delightfully-dark 10 minute short film set on Christmas Eve, than on Mulholland Drive.
Enjoy and behold- a new Killer tradition!  Pun intended.

December 5, 2010

THIS HO MADE IT!


For several years now, we've gone the route of handcrafted gifts. Cherrie makes the most  amazing bath bombs and luscious soaps, tapping her inner alchemist to create custom fragrances for each of the lucky recipients. I bake, decorate, and package dozens and dozens of cookies from an heirloom Christmas cookie recipe. And Stacey? Stacey makes his own gift wrap. Need I say more?

If you've got the time, I highly recommend it. There's not only something special about being on the receiving end of a handmade gift, but I have found its also most rewarding for the giver. As well, in these trying times, it can be a very economical solution. Sometimes the initial outlay for materials and supplies can seem steep, but atomize the breakdown per gift, and you'll more than likely come out with a few extra candy canes left over in your stocking! Ho, ho, ho!


While the gift that can either be consumed or used throughout the year might be more practical, making seasonal decorations to give away can be just the thing to put you in the spirit if your having a hard time getting there on your own. Want to bust out your trusty glue gun and make some festive decorations like these? Directions and tips are FREE and at mathastewart.com  Natch.



December 4, 2010

MUSICAL TREAT OF THE WEEK



A very interesting behind the scenes glimpse at the making of one of the most brilliant Christmas discs in many years... thank you Annie.

December 2, 2010

SING!

Yesterday was WORLD AIDS DAY. While I was familiar with the efforts of Annie Lennox's SING campaign, I was not  aware of how ambitious she has been with it personally, or how far reaching its benefits have become. What they have managed to accomplish in just 3 short years, is truly remarkable.

As we close in on the end of the year, I'd like to nominate Annie Lennox Killer Bee of The Year...

December 1, 2010

CHRISTMAS, 1950

November 26, 2010

2010 KILLER COOKIE CONTEST!


What's Christmas without cookies?
Everyone has a special cookie recipe that they reserve for holiday baking. It's special, perhaps a little more labor intensive, maybe even an heirloom passed down through generations...

Mine happens to be an heirloom that came over from Ireland with my Great Grandma Furman. What's yours?

Last year, Helen McGreevey of Medina, Ohio took the prize for her Glazed Fruitcake Drops. Will your treasured recipe be this year's winner?

From now through December 15th I'm inviting you to send me your all time favorite holiday cookie recipe. It needn't be an heirloom, or even an original, just DELICIOUS! Myself and the other Bees will bake off the entries and determine a winner, who will receive...

A $40 Gift Certificate to Penzey's Spices!

Here's how the cookie cuts:
Send your recipe soon, our ovens are pre-heated!!!
http://www.penzeys.com/

November 23, 2010

BREVITY

                 


I've been absent most of the month because we did a major reinvention of Milwaukee Design Collection, and I've been busier than a one-armed paper hanger, kids!

The 2nd Anual KIller Christmas Cookie Contest starts on Friday, and other Christmas nom noms are just around the corner! The launch of Interior Motives has been delayed until the first of the year because I want it to coincide with the start of a cool new project I'm working on. Patience yields many good things....
Smooches, Me

MUSICALTREAT OF THE WEEK

A TURKEY SONG

PASS THE POPCORN

THANKS, GIVING: Color Gardens



On this once vacant lot in the city of Ventura, California, there is more growing than just vegetables....



John Wilner is certainly a Killer Bee, and his gardens are special indeed. Sponsored by the Ventura organization COLOR, for which Wilner is the President, the conceptualized community garden is intended to grow relationships within the community. When seeds like these are planted, amazing things sprout.

When I spoke with John on the phone today, he said with great pride that in just the time since the Garden was launched in March of this year, they have been able to produce and donate over 300lbs of vegetables to local area food banks.

"In the beginning we didn't have our own water, and it was all brought in by the "water brigade", and a very kind neighbor with a really long hose."

COLOR is a Gay/Straight Alliance, and their mission is to promote a community of acceptance. I do believe its working. Wilner added "I have been  really impressed with the diversity of the volunteers themselves.They're from all walks of life. Some are interested in feeding the hungry, some in gardening, or beautifying the neighborhood, and some for all of those reasons."

"What we're doing here can be replicated anywhere, in any community in which there is a vacant lot. A vacant lot can feed half of a neighborhood."


Keep planting your seeds John, you're growing  beautiful things.

THANKS, GIVING: Growing Power

From Ventura, California to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, people are making sure that others in their communities have enough to eat. The generous and ingenious spirit of  this gentleman-of-a-giant known as Will Allen, takes it not just one step further- but to an entirely different level...

November 22, 2010

TALKIN' TURKEY


Re-posted from November 2009...

My Thanksgiving dinner kicks ass. Ask anyone who shows up at my door on Turkey Day and they'll tell you it's the best they've ever had...just like their Mother's only better, they'll say. That's because mine is just like my Mother's, only better.

Mom made a pretty awesome spread for Thanksgiving. Then she made the EXACT same meal for Christmas. Like I've said before, her repertoire was tasty, but short. Anyway, over the years I've improved on most of her very traditional Thanksgiving menu which features all the usual suspects. And that's the way I want my Thanksgiving dinner. I can experiment with new recipes and ideas all year long, but once a year I make this rocking-good turkey dinner, and I look forward to it. It makes it special, to have it just once a year...

I have had turkey prepared in just about every fashion, but my favorite is brined. I don't do a fancy brine with lots of stuff in it, just salt and water. It brines over nite in a clean 5 gallon paint pail that ONLY gets used for this task, and it makes for the juiciest turkey EVER... And the tastiest skin!

This is the solution I've been using for 10 years now, from Fine Cooking magazine:
2 c. kosher salt to 1 gallon warm water
If you're using Morton's Kosher Salt, its denser, so reduce to 1 1/2 c. for each gallon of water.

Right in the bucket, stir together with your hand to make sure the salt breaks down...go ahead, stick your whole arm in there! Submerse your clean, FRESH [ It's gotta be fresh and minimally processed. If it's been injected with another solution, it could get REAL salty.] turkey into the bucket...that's only 3/4 full of brine so it doesn't overflow! If you live in a climate like mine, it's usually cold enough on the eve of Thanksgiving to put the bucket right outside and cover with a heavy plate or board [so the critters don't get it]. In the morning drain and rinse well, then roast with your preferred method. I pat mine dry, slather it with butter, dust it with fresh ground pepper, surround it with quartered onions drizzled with a little olive oil, then throw it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 1/2 an hour, then reduce the heat to 350. Roast the proper time per per/lb. guidelines. By the way, I've given up "tenting" and basting. Don't bother!

THE GRAVY
While the turkey is roasting...rinse the gizzards and neck, and place in a small sauce pan with a celery heart and leaves, a quartered onion,, a whole clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns, 1 tablespoon rubbed sage, a couple of bay leaves, and cover with chicken stock. Simmer for an hour, then pour through a sieve and discard the innards and bits. While the turkey is resting, combine the liquid with the turkey drippings. If you've got a big crowd, you can add a little more chicken stock accordingly. Thicken with either a paste made from butter and flour, or the way Mom did it, with cornstarch and a little milk stirred together until there were no lumps. Bring the combined liquid to a boil, then add the thickening agent, whisking briskly until it reaches your desired consistency.

AN OPEN CANVAS....


Painting "LIVE" in front of nearly a thousand people is trippy. And exhilarating.
It wasn't all that long ago that I started painting. I was dreaming about it in my nocturnal dreams, and though I'd never an taken art class, or even been inclined to paint,  it felt like a divine cue to do so.

This past Saturday as I stood in front of canvas # 82, I was sandwiched between two people in possession of art degrees. I had a color palette in mind, but from there I really had no idea where I was headed. There is an incredible power in allowing the moment to dictate your process. I suppose it could be seen as a leap of faith. Or lunacy. I just know that whenever I think I'm going to run the show, something  very different comes through me. Why jam up the frequency with my own ideas?

Now truthfully, there were a few moments (just like last year) when I thought to myself "Oh God, what am I doing here?" Then it happens. That definitive moment when the painting turns the corner, and truly takes on a life of its own. My spirit becomes buoyant, and THE KNOWING of what to do just washes over me. My friends, it is a feeling like none other.

Can I also tell you what a thrill it is, to have a stranger walk up behind you and say in your ear "I love your painting, but its officially out of my price range." 5 years ago I had never painted anything in my life. On Saturday night (through a friendly bidding war), my painting "Rosie's Garden" and I were able to raise a nice little chunk to benefit the scholarship program at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.

I am humbled to have once again been asked to participate in an event populated by such fine and talented  artists. I think the big lesson in this is that I  responded when I was called. It is my sincere wish  that I will always remember to live my life like an open canvas in which to paint what ever strokes of color I so choose.
Even colors I didn't know existed.


MUSIC MAN


The Gift of Music from Bow Jones on Vimeo.

November 21, 2010

POTLUCK: Spicy & Sweet Hubbard Squash Soup


Stacey decided to take a month off from The Dish, but my November column POTLUCK was already in the can! Waste not a written word, so I will share it with you here. A little birdy told me that there are exciting new changes coming to STACEY'S HOT DISH...stay tuned! 

 

Seriously. I LIVE for Winter squash season. These days you can pretty much get Acorn, Butternut, and Spaghetti all year long. However for this wonderfully short window, the real bounty arrives. Delicata, Kabocha, Sweet Dumpling, and Hubbard- I simply cannot get enough! As well, I am grateful to the designer of Winter squash, thoughtfully wrapping up its delish/nutrish flesh  in a durable outer shell, naturally extending the culinary delight of the season! These colorful culinary Gods not only pack a wallop of sweet and earthy flavor, but Winter squashes are a great source of potassium, folic acid, B1 and C, and carotenes as well.
 
Have you maybe not heard of some of the varieties I mentioned? Scout your local Farmer's market, and experiment!  It is SO easy to make as a side (or main) dish. This time of year, I frequently roast a squash for dinner. Yep. That's it, just me and the squash. Delicatas are great for that. being almost "personal" in size.

My favorite variety for soup making is the Hubbard. It grows in sort of an gnarly, oblong shape, and is either a sagey-grey-green, or orange (Golden Hubbard.).They are rather unattractive and can grow to be quite large-  but NEVER judge a squash by its cover! These babies are naturally creamy and sweet. They also have a high seed yield, so expect less flesh on the inside than you might assume from its size.


This recipe is  a concoction from last Winter that was revisited several times, until I could no longer find my prized Hubbards. If I had access to them all year of course I could make it any time. Would it still be as special? Certainly not, and I am really OK with that, because it reminds me to savor all special  moments .
Enjoy the soup...while you can! 

Spicy & Sweet Hubbard Squash Soup



INGREDIENTS
2 medium, or 1 LARGE Hubbard Squash, roasted
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 stick of butter
15oz can of Coconut Cream
2 cups (or 1 15 oz can) chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon Indian yellow curry powder (sweet or hot)
1 teaspoon Jamaican jerk seasoning
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons  brown sugar

Roast your squash. You can either pierce the outer skin several times with a sharp knife and roast whole, or you can halve them, scoop the seeds out and roast cavity side up, brushed with just a little olive oil. If you roast them whole, you'll want to let the squash cool down a little before slicing it in half ,and removing the seeds. Either way the squash will be cooked through when the skin starts to char and turn dark. The soft inner flesh should for the most part pull away from the skin.

While the squash is roasting,  saute the onions in the melted butter in a soup pot. When the onions become very soft and translucent, add the spices, sugar, stock and coconut cream. Leave to simmer on low.


Scoop out your squash and add to the stock  mixture, being careful not to get bits of the skin. It won't hurt you, but it is bitter. If you own an immersion blender, do your thing right in the pot. If you don't , then combine well with a spoon, then whiz 1/2 of the soup in a food processor or blender and add back to the pot. This gives the soup a silky texture yet still possesses a little tooth. Like most soups, this freezes really well-  so stock up!

WORD TO THE WISE...
When I made this over the weekend,  I had an ingredient snafu. Be sure that the coconut cream,  or "cream of coconut" is simply that,  and unadulterated. What I accidentally purchased  said Cream of Coconut , but was actually fortified with sugar and I believe intended for use in beverages. The flesh of a Hubbard is so beautifully sweet, but delicately so. The 2 tablespoons of brown sugar here are intended to balance out the spices, not enhance the squash itself. In the end my soup was edible, but way, WAY too sweet.

MUSICAL TREAT OF THE WEEK

MOVEMBER: Are YOU a Mo Bro?


We hear so much about woman's health issues that I was surprised recently to learn about Movember.
I regret getting this wonderful bit of info about this GREAT organization to you all a little late, but hey- there's always next year. I know what I'll be sportinng next Movember....

From the Movember website....

The Mo, slang for moustache, and November come together each year for Movember. 

Movember challenges men to change their appearance and the face of men’s health by growing a moustache. The rules are simple, start Movember 1st  clean-shaven and then grow a moustache for the entire month.  The moustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men.  Much like the commitment to run or walk for charity, the men of Movember commit to growing a moustache for 30 days. 

The idea for Movember was sparked in 2003 over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia.  The plan was simple – to bring the moustache back as a bit of a joke and do something for men’s health. No money was raised in 2003, but the guys behind the Mo realized the potential a moustache had in generating conversations about men’s health.  Inspired by the women around them and all they had done for breast cancer, the Mo Bros set themselves on a course to create a global men’s health movement. 

In 2004 the campaign evolved and focused on raising awareness and funds for the number one cancer affecting men – prostate cancer. 432 Mo Bros joined the movement that year, raising $55,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia - representing the single largest donation they had ever received.

The Movember moustache has continued to grow year after year, expanding to the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, the Netherlands and Finland. 

In 2009, global participation of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas climbed to 255,755, with over one million donors raising $42 Million US equivalent dollars for Movember’s global beneficiary partners. 

Want to see more? Check out our Mo-Intro video by clicking on the image below:

The funds raised through Movember’s US campaign benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The PCF uses the money raised by Movember to fund research that is accelerating the discovery of better treatments and ultimately finding a cure for prostate cancer.  One such program is the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s research, which has recently made a significant breakthrough.  They identified 24 different kinds of prostate cancer and how aggressive each is.  This should enable scientists to soon be able to answer the agonizing question facing men with prostate cancer: does their cancer need immediate treatment, and if so what is the best treatment, or can it be left alone?

LIVESTRONG uses the money raised by Movember to fund important programs to support young adults and their families battling and surviving cancer.  These programs include:

•     Fertile Hope, an initiative dedicated to providing reproductive information, support and hope to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.

•      My Planet, an online community of peer support that allows young adults to find and communicate with other young adults whose lives have been affected by cancer.

•      Continuing Nursing Education program on Young Adult Cancer Survivorship. LIVESTRONG encourage nurses to know the warning signs of cancer, understand what types of cancer for which young adults may be at risk, and learn about cancer screening.

The success of Movember can be directly attributed to the more than 627,000 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas who have supported our cause since 2003.  Movember is sincerely grateful for their efforts and appreciates all they do.

For those of you new to Movember, we challenge you to join us in changing the face of men's health.

For detailed information about the Movember Foundation, financial and annual reports, men’s health, the programs being funded and the social impact Movember is having, please visit:

The Movember Foundation Site
 http://www.movember.com/

October 31, 2010

7 TO 40: EXPOSING MYSELF


When I saw the above image on the internet the other day, it really drove something home for me.

As I approach 40, I will honestly admit to you that I am not in the best financial shape, and that's the Rated-G, sugar coated version for you, my gentle bleaders. The artist who successfully self supports without the aid of additional streams of income is a rare bird indeed. Trying to eek out a living as an interior designer and artist in this world dominated by price vs. quality consciousness has proven to be especially challenging,  and emotionally draining in these particularly difficult financial times. I'm completely over it.

Can I just tell you how much of my time I've given away for free since I got into this business?  My brain has been "picked" so much it hurts. When I was first getting started, I thought that  I needed to discount my rates because I was the new kid on the block. I cannot tell you how much product, talent, and time I have dispersed over the years since [at little or no profit], in the hopes that I would finally get the break I need to make it big. Instead I manifested just the opposite result.

Please take the audaciousness of this next remark with a grain of salt, because its almost embarrassing that someone blessed with as many different gifts as I have been, should be in this predicament. Who can I blame for this travesty? At the end of the day, it is I who must take responsibility.

One of the most important "memos" I've received over the last couple of years is that we teach people how to treat us. That being said,  I'm formulating a new lesson plan. My talent has monetary value as well as aesthetic merit, and its high time I was compensated properly for it. I'm totally overdue for a raise...of consciousness.

October 29, 2010

SCARED OF ME!

October 28, 2010

Cassandra McShepard is FEELING GOOD!

I've been directing music videos in my head for 25 years. When I decided we needed to film a music video for Cassandra's website, I gave myself permission to fulfill a fantasy.... Cassandra's first music video, and my directorial debut. Now we're both "Feelin' Good"!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are proud to present....

October 26, 2010

JACKSON


I'll never forget the day we met. I had been stalking The Humane Society for a kitten companion for my adult cat, Desmond. I would look at the adult cats, and want to adopt every single one of them, but I just knew that what Desmond needed was a kitten. One day I stopped on my way home from work  and there were 2 kittens in a kennel with their mommy. One was an orange tabby, the other black and white with whiskers as long as he was.The sign read "Please consider adopting us as a family." Aw jeez, why'd ya have to go and do that for?! I ignored the suggestion as I focused in on the little black and white fella, who was also concentrating on me. According to the provided bio, his name was Action Jackson, because he was "always where the action is" and that he was a good boy who took good care of his brother.

I asked the attendant if I could please hold him. As she extended him to towards me, he craned his little neck forward and licked the tip of my nose with his tiny little sandpaper tongue and kitten breath.
That was all she wrote. Almost.

My ex Kerry and I had been seriously dating for several months at that point, and it seemed appropriate to run this past him first, so I put a non-refundable deposit on Jackson which was good for 48 hours. I got cold feet before I even got Kerry thru the Humane Society doors. See I wasn't really getting him for me, I believed it was Desmond who needed a companion. Was I making a huge mistake adopting another animal? It was like having buyers remorse with a living creature.

To this day, Kerry still reminds Jack that it was he who sealed the deal on the adoption. They made me wait until November 1st to bring him home because they don't allow black, or partially black cats to be adopted over Halloween week. There's allot of messed up people in this world.

From the day I brought him home he's been my super sweet, mellow fellow. He's a huge hit with all of his aunties and uncles, and they have come up with a a myriad of nicknames for him, including: Jack Jack, Jacky Boy, Jackalope, Little Jack Horner, Jacksuey [his Chinese name], Jackson Mississippi, and my favorite ( from Uncle Stacey ) Jackson Meowi [his Japanese name]. I usually just call him Shnook. Dats my boy!

By the time Kerry and I split years later, Desmond was gone and Jack and I struck out on our own. He had a difficult time adjusting to our new life and having to spend so much more time alone, without people and other animals to keep him company. For months he would howl through the night, and the lack of sleep took its toll on me. In hindsight we both had broken hearts, but we had each other. And we still do.

Jack is my best bud, and my longest relationship. This week we celebrate 11 years together, and in a lot of ways, we're like an old married couple. He's cranky when he doesn't get enough attention, I know which corner of the bed he prefers, and I always seem to be getting the what-for  when I walk through the door for being tardy. But I gotta tell ya, I wouldn't want it any another way.

Cassandra half jokingly says that "nothing lives under my roof unless it contributes to the bills."
There are definitely times when I get home the end of the day and I wish he'd vacuumed, or at least done the dishes instead of napping his whole day away. However when I think of all we've been through and seen together, about the companionship we've shared over the years, I believe his contribution to this household is more than sufficient, and it is necessary. 

Besides. His smooches are the best.

October 24, 2010

TOO FOO, WITH LOVE


I've always looked down my nose at Egg Foo Young with disdain. I'm kind of  [okay, really] a Chinese food snob, and Egg Foo Young  just seems like Chinese food for white people who don't know better. I won't go there on the chop suey, deal?

Anyway.
I went on The South Beach Diet 6 weeks ago, and am trying to be really conscience about my food sources. The trickiness of getting the right foods in is  further complicated by virtue of the fact that I'm currently getting by with a single electric hot plate, and a toaster oven [long story, short walk]. There are many evenings I simply don't feel like dealing with it at all, and that means carry-out. The foods typically available for delivery are a big no-no, especially Chinese because most use pre-mixed sauces which are full of corn syrup. Of course the noodles and the rice are certified contraband. What's a boy to do?

Well one night a few weeks ago I was starving, and after carefully studying the menu from No.1 Chinese Restaurant, I realized my options were pretty much egg drop soup, or Egg Foo Young. So I had it delivered and bribed the driver with a five-spot to keep it to himself. I hastily served up a combination patty from the clamshell container, and spooned over the strangely perfect shade of brown "gravy". Can I tell you something? That shit was da bomb. Each patty perfectly fried and chock-full of shrimp and huge chunks of bbq pork, yet curiously void of bean sprouts. The gravy silken and wonderfully salty, with no discernible flavor...was it chicken? Beef? I dunno, its brown though. And beautiful.

I can't get enough! Seriously, I may have had it 3 times last week. I'll even order 2 batches of it at a time, so I can have it cold for breakfast. However its far from a low calorie food,  and that could be why I'm stuck at just 11lbs down! Interestingly, while trying to find carryout  that wold jive with my diet, I may have learned a valuable lesson from my new friend, Egg Foo Young...

Sometimes you may think you don't like something because you had a bad experience with it once or twice. You shut down your receptors to the idea that said thing could ever live up to an ideal you've placed on it. I once was turned down for a date because of my Irish heritage. The guy told me that in his experience, Irish men were nothing but heartbreak and couldn't be trusted. Can you imagine? I mean how silly, right? Narrowing  you're playing field because of preconceived notions and blanket generalizations? I have easily eaten at over 100 Chinese restaurants in my life. How many delicious Egg Foo Young meals may I have passed on?!

Kerry used to ask me if I was always so sure about everything I'm so sure about. My response always being "Well yes, of course." No.1 Chinese Restaurant's Egg Foo Young has me rethinking a few things.  

By the way. My last fortune cookie message read "You will make many changes before settling satisfactorily." Whatever. Egg Foo Young still isn't really Chinese food, and fortune cookies should have fortunes in them and not be dispensing kernels of wisdom. Now pass me another patty, with extra gravy please.

October 19, 2010

MUSICAL TREAT OF THE WEEK

Someone mentioned the other day that my "Musical Treat of The Week" choices have been decidedly up-tempo lately. I guess I feel like dancing? This week I'm positively obsessed with this new tune from Robyn. IT makes my shoulders sway, my head bob to and fro, the bouncy rhythm and thoughtful lyrics leaving my heart just a little melancholy...I LOVE IT.


October 18, 2010

EXPRESS DELIVERY


Extra super fast, and on the double if you don't mind. I'm kinda in a hurry.

A girlfriend of mine was telling me the other day about a conversation she had recently with her soon-to-be-wed daughter.She was trying to convey to her that in all honesty, marriage is ALOT of work. On this particular day, said daughter was feeling far too wide-eyed to listen to what mother had to say. At any rate I'm sure it will all make alot more sense to her about 18 months after they say I DO. If you want to beat the divorce odds, you have to be kind, respectful, remember to listen, and most of all be patient. Patience is one of the most important tools you can posses in life. I sure hope its on the bridal registry.

Google, texting and tweeting. Instant messenger and I phones with apps. Any information you need to obtain, anything you need or want to do, can be done almost instantly these days. Yes I am partaking in the convenience of it all, least you be confused. Previously I've gone on tangents about our cultures obsession with communication and how I don't know that we're necessarily doing a better job of it, just because we're doing more of it. So I'll try not to confuse the categories of concern!

No, this time I'm talking about the fact that we've put so much emphasis on the instant. For instance. If my computer isn't working at capacity speed, I am INSTANTLY irritated. Remember 15 years ago when the Internet and our computers were so slow, it took minutes just to download a website? Of course this is just one example of how we have set ourselves up to devour and digest at lightening speed.What I fear is happening is that an entire generation is growing up without ever having to wait for anything. Therefore never learning the art of patience, nor the ability to pass it on. Think about it.

When people aren't patient, they lack empathy and tolerance. What will happen if we raise an entire generation of people who are lacking such essential, and necessary traits for coexistence?
Well, it won't just be potential marriages headed for trouble, that's for sure.

We used to believe that over indulging children made them spoiled. I'd like to add that in this day of truly remarkable technological advancements, today's parents would be wise to incorporate important patience-building lessons into their child rearing repertoires. And no, there's no app for that.  

Faster is not always better, and everything you want isn't necessarily everything you need.

ATTRACTION

This delightful short film was created by the very talented, young illustrator/animator, Rachinta Platts.
Enjoy!

Attraction (2008) from Rachinta Platts on Vimeo.

October 17, 2010

POP GOES THE ARTIST


I recently fell in love with the work of Pop Artist Donny Miller.  In his pieces, I see that all of my favorite elements of pop art are present. His colorful vixens deliver clever messages that are mostly wry, or sardonic. At times they are cultural button pushers, and even occasionally wistful.  Of course there's the color...



The striking images are available on everthing from t-shirts to sneakers, and he recently published a collection of his fine art work in book form, entitled "Beautiful People with Beautiful Feelings".
If you're paying attention, it's what I want for Christmas.

You can visit his comprehensive website by visiting www.donnymiller.com


October 14, 2010

MUSICAL TREAT OF THE WEEK

Vintage Kate Bush. SO Yummy.

October 11, 2010

IT GETS BETTER!

Growing up gay anywhere is tough wether you're "obvious", or not. In a rural community it is often dangerous. In the wake of  so many gay teen suicides, columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller started a truly remarkable Project/Youtube channel called IT GETS BETTER.

Personally, I SO resonate with the pain these kids go through- my own journey through it having been a rough one, my own safety having been at risk many, many times. Dan and Terry have asked people to share their stories of coming out of it alive, in hopes that it will give these children a sense of hope. It can be so hard when you're a teenager to see the forest through the trees. This is the video I made for them...


From an online article I read...SO TRUE!

Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black echoed Silverman's point in an interview with a Hollywood blogger , stressing the cultural costs of lawmakers' inaction on issues such as same-sex marriage, and openly gay military service. "Time and again the U.S. government is saying that gay and lesbian people are less than, are second-class citizens," he said. "And what do they expect young children to take from that? They take a message that it's OK to treat these kids as less than."

We must evolve or we will self-destruct.

THEY GIVE A DAMN!



October 10, 2010

The Buzz: MY NEW BLOG!


I'm getting so excited about the launch of INTERIOR MOTIVES!

It may be a little closer to month's end than I anticipated, but it will be worth the wait. I just cinched the deal to take you for an "on camera" journey of a complete kitchen renovation...right down to the lathe. That's right kids, we're knocking down walls! The idea of sharing real-time design projects with you, ON VIDEO, is very exciting. Remember when  it would take Bob Villa and his team of talented craftsmen an entire season to renovate This Old House? While I will undoubtedly show you tips on how you can quietly makeover your current diggs with my new video blog, I assure you that the "design project journeys" we'll be going on will last more than 24 hours.

Why? Because real Interior Design needn't cost you an arm an a leg, but is not instant. Nor is it created over night with velcro and a budget of $500. I don't care what you've been told on TV! My goal with this new website is to keep it real. You see,  I have INTERIOR MOTIVES this time, and you'll have to stay tuned to see what they are...

October 9, 2010

What Will YOU Say?


Having a Motivational Speaker as a client and dear friend certainly has its fringe benefits. Mostly it has me contemplating how I move through my life. Hopefully with more concise direction!

I came of age in the 80's when Nancy Reagan's JUST SAY NO campaign was raging. I'm not entirely sure how effective it was. I still managed to say YES to everything at least once. As well, I've always been the kind of person to over-extend myself. Even as a teenager, my Mother would say "Just tell her NO! You have to learn to say no Michael." Alas,  no hasn't ever taken place at the front-and-center of my vocabulary. Why? There are far too many reasons to say YES! In fact what I'm realizing, is that I haven't said YES, enough...let me share a little story with you.

About 6 months after my Mother passed away, I had the most extraordinary, vivid dream.
You can call it a visitation, if you like.

She and my Grandmother were  trying very hard to convince me of something. They desperately wanted me to understand that I possessed magic. They insisted it had always been inside of me, my whole life! I can see the plaintive look in her beautiful pea soup-green eyes as she said "You can do it Mockie, you can do ANYTHING you want to sweetheart- the magic is inside of you!" Just then fire started shooting through my fingertips as if they were rockets. I completely freaked out, but they just giggled and laughed. There was an extremely loud and audible POP, and then my eyes flew open to see fire shoot out of the wall next to my bed. I jumped out to feel the wall, certain that there was an electrical short inside of it. It was cold.

The next day I pondered the dream. Of course I knew that they hadn't meant literal magic, as in witchcraft. I decided that they must have meant ability/capability. Gee, that was nice. Then 2 nights later, ( but without the special effects dream) I awoke at the exact same time to the same loud as hell POP(!), and flash of light coming from inside the wall. I once again hopped out of bed to make sure there was no fire or electrical short. Come on already, really?! Then I realized what that was for. All my life she had badgered me with "Are you paying attention Michael?!" SO like her. She was just making sure.

For all of the amazing adventures in this life I've said yes to, I can readily create the list of possibilities I've turned away. One of the biggest (if you know me) is singing. I've had a burning desire to make music with my voice my whole life. What has stopped me? I could spend allot of time on a therapist's sofa trying to figure that one out, but when you reduce it, I just haven't said yes. Could that really be all it takes? Recent events have convinced me, YES! As I began to explore the idea that I really could do anything I want,   I started creating some things...My fellow Bees and I are now DOING a thing that most people would never believe that they themselves could do! And I reiterate, its happening.
Could it be possible that YES was magic my Mother was referring to?

These days, I'm thinking allot more about the possibilities I've said no to in the past. Where there is a will, a desire, I have learned there is always a way. And if that is truly the case, then ANYTHING is possible. Truthfully,  sometimes its easier to say no, but it's always more rewarding to say yes.
What will you say?


Buzz Out!

Buzz Out!