Wednesday, December 28, 2005

~:B I G G E R * T H A N * A * B R E A D * B O X:~

This Christmas my Aunt Jacki got us a vintage bread box. Cool, huh? Use the above photo as a reference. I have conveniently labeled each image so you know who is who and what's what. I know, I know - I manage to think of everything. ANYhow...

My stylish Aunt Jacki is tuned in to the environment set in our house (and everyone elses), which in itself is a real gift. It's a skill like conversational listening - which most people don't know how to do. One can walk through my house and see all the cool things she's given us. After a tour, it's clear that her presence is there and that I have an aunt that loves me and knows me. Her generosity is wayyyyyy bigger than a bread box.

Monday, December 26, 2005

~:C L A Y T O N * C R E E S M U S:~

We spent our Chrsitmas up in Clayton, Georgia. Mom and Dad have a new vacation hizouse up there. They are slowly furnishing and decorating it, etc. It's got Frank Lloyd Wright references in the architecture all over the place. Makes it fun to decorate with a base like that. We get to be minimal, which is hard for our family, who puts great value on THINGS, great and small. Mom and Dad got bikes for each other for Chreesmus. Peter even bought her a Harpo horn to go with it.

SO! Remember those boots I was so hot over? My seestor-in-law Gloria bought them for me! Here they are in one of my other coziest spots in the world. And my luvin' husband got me a beautiful rang and a cool chunky pair of silver earrings from James Avery. Little BjornMouse got to watch the whole affair. We had a great time opening gifts......

We took many more photos if you'd like to see them. Please excuse this hasty blog... I'm a little drunk and we're just about to go out and get more drunker.

Murry Chreesmus everyone,


Thursday, December 22, 2005

~:Heeeeeeeeere Knitty Kitty!!:~
I found the pattern for this fabulous knitted kitty toy on the website. The designer, Jess Hutchinson has my eternal gratitude for her witty inspiration. This will be a Christmas gift for my niece Mia Dusenberry. I took more photos of this pretty kitty if you wish to see them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

~:D R I V E W A Y * L O V E:~
Doug borrowed Dad's pressure washer. And look wat he did!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

~:B R A I N * P A T T E R N S:~
Anne has a dreamy mind, full of fancy and fantasy. She has the ability to stay forever entertained with her thoughts. People may say she is hard to read, but that's because she is so internally focused. But when she does share what she's thinking, people are impressed with her imagination. What Pattern Is Your Brain?

~:S U R V I V A L * V S * L O V E:~

We saw Peter Jackson's KING KONG Thursday night. I still can't stop thinking about it. For me, the moral center of the film was about love versus survival. Which is more important? Kong is the last of his kind on Skull Island. He becomes enchanted with Ann (sadly she doesn't have an "e" at the end of her name) simply because she decides to stop acting like a victim about to be eaten. Kinda neat when you think of how empowering that is for us. Once she runs from him, confronts him, performs for him (she at one point juggles and dances and falls and really makes him laugh) he respects her. She's different. After a while, she gets tired of performing and gives him a firm "NO" when she doesn't want to play the game anymore. Kong goes into a rage and has a tantrum right in front of her. The he's off to pout and leaves her on her own. Her flight to safety in the perilous jungle, away from Kong's captive clutch becomes way less appealing once she runs into giant raptors and t-rexes. Oooftah. When she screams out, Kong's there to defend her and the love story begins. I get it. These 2 creatures take care of each other for the rest of the film, against all odds and better judgement. "I will take care of you even if it means I die". That kind of higher-brain thinking, feeling and logic doesn't quite make sense in our dog-eat-dog world. Emotions to me always get in the way of logic and I frequently question the usefulness of their purpose UNTIL I saw the documentary (recently rented from Netflix) called Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry. This 2-hour film explored the emotions of animals, which happen to be just like ours. Truly amazing. I had had another epiphany. At the core of our brain is the oldest, most primitive and communally aware part of our brains. Our reptilian brain. The part that says, "Oh shit, I better run faster from this lion unless I want to be eaten." We share this with most other creatures on this planet. It's what ties us to each other.

So, if emotions like fear help save my life, well then I'd say they're pretty useful. What about love? Well that's where the tie between mother and child comes in. Without love, we wouldn't get so much pleasure out of taking care of our babies, would we? Let alone each other. Or ourselves. So if babies aren't loved, they aren't taken care of, nurtured, and then they eventually die. We all die. It would then be up to some other species to adapt and do a better job of thriving than we did. We are still here because our emotions DRIVE us forward TO survival. Having watched this documentary, the meaning of Kong fell right into place for me. I walked out of that theatre feeling pretty OK about my wild emotions, their purpose and my purpose. We are here together for a reason: to be together. And why would I want to be with you if it didn't make me feel good? I guess love's selfish that way.

Back to the movie. There are quite a few other things I enjoyed about Kong besides its moral center:

1.The obvious parallel evolution of the two main cultures: ours and that of the inhabitants of Skull Island. Both are in peril. We're in the midst of the Great Depression and things are a mess, everyone just trying to survive, to eat, etc.. The natives on the island are doing the same. It's such a hostile place to live - nature's against you in every way possible. Yet they survive, killing each other all the while (that's where the human sacrifices to Kong fall into play). The oversized creatures are fighting a similar battle - more against each other than the environment itself. It's eat or be eaten. Just like our us. Interesting.

2. The depth of character of all creatures.

Jackson and his crew did a lot of animal behavior research and it really shows. The manner in which Kong and the other creatures of Skull Island interact puts even the creatures of Jurassic Park to shame. Previous depictions of Kong look more like a man in a gorilla suit (sometimes that was the real case) than a true gorilla. The t-rexes behavior looked like that of wolves. The ritual dance Kong did before he ate his prey felt very authentic. At times when the animals are fighting, there were funny moments. When Ann catches a t-rex off guard in the middle of his lunch, he gives her an almost innocent "hey, what's up?" look until he realizes she'd be a tasty dessert. At one point, 2 t-rexes, Kong and Ann are all trapped swinging from giant vines. Ann is swinging back and forth and can't seem to stop herself. A t-rex realizes if he just hangs still, he can open his mouth and she'll swing right into it. It just struck me as funny. There is also a sweet scene where Kong and Ann are skating on a lake of ice in NYC. They're slipping, sliding, gliding - playing and laughing with each other. It was beautiful.

3. Excellent craftsmanship. The scene where part of the crew is being attacked by giant insects. This was the scariest part of the film for me. The worst of these creatures looked like giant uncircumcised penises. They are called Carnictus, a 7-13 foot long "Vile Meat Weasel". A slow-moving slug with no face or features, other than a hole with layers of teeth surrounded by a phallic carnivorous muscle. I had the pleasure of witnessing this creature and its kind slowly swallow a seaman's arm, the other arm, and lastly his head, all the while listening to him moan and scream, until his head was slowly swallowed and his scream muffled under layers of the creature's smothering muscles. It was awful. Horrible. Wonderful.

At the official Kong website, you can read in more detail the variety, purpose and manner of survival of the many inhabitants of Skull Island. Fun to read all that stuff and even more wonderful that the creators of the film went into such depth to create this fantastic environment. Each creature created had its own evolution and purpose. Technically, they were all programmed with a range of movement that dictated how each would interact in every situation. I am amazed the layers of thoughtfulness and depth.

Peter Jackson did the same thing for Lord of The Rings. Layers and layers of research, character and creature development.
There is a reason for everything you see on screen. So its animation is solid and believable. George Lucas should have his technology taken from him. He has no idea why the first three Star Wars films were vastly superior than the most recent three. Technology doesn't stand a chance without meaning. It should be icing on meaningful conceptual layers of cake, otherwise it's all foam and no beer. A charade of fluff and money, not an expression of a real idea.

4. Kong's humanity.

He's so damn human, it's scary. Odd that he looked more like a gorilla than all past depictions of Kong. Yet we believe him more this time. I get that he's noble, lonely and capable of love and empathy. He's lost. His life ends in defense of Ann. One could argue that he's simply defending what he believes to be HIS, which is pretty selfish. And if that's true, then take a good look in the mirror to understand why it's so. The physical presence of Kong was quite powerful. His grunts, moans and breathing were so real and emotive. Darth Vadar unplugged, I'd say. Beautiful.

5. Adrien Brody and Thomas Kretschmann team up again in this film.

Kretschmann as the ship's captain Englehorn and Brody as writer Jack Driscoll. The first time I saw them together was in Roman Polanski's film, The Pianist. I was moved. Kretschmann played the Nazi soldier who secretly fed the starving polish hideaway Wladylaw Szpilman, played by Brody, saving his life while risking his own.

If you haven't, read the book about the real polish pianist, Wladylaw Szpilman and his story of survival. At the end of the book, you can read diary entries of the Nazi soldier, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld, who secretly assisted many survivor's of the Holocaust. And the film itself - oh my god is it good. If you like historical, tragic movies, stuff-of-life themes, the human will to survive and Chopin, you're in for a heavy treat. It was masterfully performed and directed.

There were a couple of things I did not like about the film. The beginning of the film was set in NYC. I get it that we're witnessing what the depression did to make us hungry and needy human beings... and that this is the force that ultimately drives the director and crew out to Skull Island in the first place. Greed and hunger. OK. Curiosity, too. The music felt very heavy-handed and forced to me. Instead of emotionally motivating me, it annoyed me. I felt like I was being pushed to feel and manipulated. I felt a little of this in LOTR, but was and am generally willing to overlook this klunkiness. I get the big picture.

The second thing I did not like about the film was the jump from the island back to our turf. When we're first on the gritty ship set to sea, I'm anticipating the trip back with that giant gorilla below. HOW are they going to do this? And won't it be cool!!?!?? Well they skip over that part. Not only did I miss out on the fun here, but the literal jump from one place to the next felt really abrupt. My guess is that it was supposed to feel refreshing. Ah well. I'm sure once the DVD is out, the special features might touch on what's missing.

I'd like to say two words to all the critics who said that the film was too long. FUCK YOU. A movie is only too long when it's boring. There wasn't one boring moment in this 3-hour film. And who wants a good movie to end? It could have been 5 hours long and I still wouldn't have wanted it to end.

Bravo to Peter Jackson for doing something well done. With heart, discipline and vision.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

~:M A R Y ' S * T R U F F L E * R E C I P E:~
Mary Kraft has e-mailed me this yummy-sounding recipe for truffles. Wanna try it out? I told her I felt as if I'm not quite fat and puffy enough yet to appear in all the christmas pictures we'll be taking this holiday season. Seriously - I wanna make them! Her notes read: I'd imagine any sort of nut/nut liqueur substitution would be great with these. We actually HAD hazelnut liqueur, but no hazelnuts, so I used the liqueur, but used toasted pecans/walnuts on the outside.

Hazelnut Truffles

1 cup hazelnuts
3 1/2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur (recommended: Frangelico)
1 tablespoon prepared coffee
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Chop the hazelnuts and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them in the oven for 10 minutes. (If the hazelnuts have skin on them, roast them for 25 minutes.) Set aside to cool.

Chop the chocolates finely and place in a bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils. Immediately pour the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with the chocolates. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. (If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for a few minutes just until it melts.) Whisk in the hazelnut liqueur, coffee, and vanilla. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to 1 hour until pliable but firm enough to scoop.

With 2 teaspoons or a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into rough spheres. Roll the chocolate in the chopped hazelnuts and chill again. Truffles are best when they're allowed to set overnight in the refrigerator.

~:W H Y * W E * L I K E * D O G S:~
Doug found this article clipping from Scientific American, dated 1895, in an old collection of magazines and newspapers. Though old fashioned, I find its writing style is reverent, solid and quite spritiual. Thought I'd share some of why I think I go nutso over my Bjorn-Mouse.

~:W H A T * I * W A N T * F O R * C H R I S T M A S:~
Aren't they kewell??? Frye boots.
This color was made for me!!!

Monday, December 12, 2005

~:C H R I S T M A S * P R E P A R A T I O N S:~

This year, in preparation for Christmas, I decorated the house with hand-made paper stars, ornaments and tags. We did not do a tree, which I miss a little. But not the headaches and allergies that come with a real tree. We'll buy an artificial tree AFTER the holidays when they all go on sale. The stars I made about 3 years ago for the Partnership where I used to work. We hung them at the front entrance. The following year, I made these tags that read Merry Christmas on both sides. They were a big hit. I brought them home with me last year right before I left. The little paper ornaments I also made. A sprig of greenery adds to the final touch.

Yesterday, my grandmother Nonie, and my mother Nancy, came over to help bake Christmas cookies. The year I got married, Deb Challoner faxed me a list all of the family's traditional christmas cookie recipes. That year I made these same cookies you'll read about here. But Doug and I ate pretty much all of them before Christmas Day, which meant we needed to make them all over again. I think we both gained 10 pounds that xmas. Now that we're both at a more reasonable weight, we'll hide these cookies in the guest bedroom so there will still be plenty to share with the whole family.

Below are recipes for four of my favorite cookies on the list. Nonie says that she and Mimi (my great-grandmother, Dagny Davnes) would come to visit and make christmas cookies for days. Every year when I do, I think of both of them. Carrying on a family tradition feels so good. Connects me with the past and somehow solidifies the future. I hope to someday stand in my own grandchild's kitchen cooking these delicious memories.


The first cookies we made, which happen to be my favorite AND which are the easiest to make, are called Glace Lace. Nonie says that Laura discovered them. They are very crisp and delicate - fun to eat. They are also the perfect compliment to ice cream, their textures being so different.

::GLACE LACE:: (pronounced "glah-say lah-say")
From the "Yellow Pages" Woman's Day December 1966

1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt

Cream butter with sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Spread tin foil onto cookie sheets, butter lightly. Drop dough onto foil by half teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart. Bake at 400 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until cookies are caramel-brown. (To test cookies for doneness, try to lift one with a spatula. If the cookie sticks to the foil, return to oven.) Place cookies in refrigerator and chill completely; then peel off foil. Keep two pans going at once, putting one in the oven as soon as the other is removed. Makes about 18 dozen.

Glace Lace cookies topped the list in 1979.


The second cookies we made are called Sandies. They are a very buttery cookie, flavored with pecans and dusted with powdered sugar. I made the batter, formed the cookies and Nonie dipped each in powdered sugar to coat them while still warm. These are fun to eat - but can be messy, too! I've also seen a recipe called Mexican Tea Cookies that are very similar, only shaped differently into little crescent moons. They are just as yummy.

From Nonie's recipe box.

1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and water. Add flour; mix well and fold in pecans. Form small rolls about 1 1/2 inches long. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until delicately browned. While hot, roll in powdered sugar. Cool thoroughly before storing in airtight container or they will be soggy! Makes three dozen. Nonie made Sandies for us whenever we came to visit for Christmas. They were on our first list in 1979.


Next we made Chinese Birds Nests. These cookies have a great texture and could not be easier to make. Here is a lovely picture of Nonie cupping a delicate cookie in her hands. ;-) Yes that was my idea. Aren't I clever?

From the St. Louis University Auxiliary Cookbook

1 6-ounce bag each of chocolate and butterscotch chips.
6 ounces of chinese noodles. (these come in cans or bags)
1 6 1/2 can of cocktail peanuts.

Melt chips in top of double boiler. Stir until smooth and immediately fold in noodles and peanuts. Drop onto waxed paper in bite-sized pieces and refrigerate until firm. Store in air-tight container. Yields about 4 dozen pieces. We lost this recipe for many years. It reappeared on the lists in 1980.


This next recipe is our most treasured and unique cookie - Mimi's Krumkaker. A Norwegian favorite. Krumkakers are made with a very wet batter and flavored with cardamom. Sort of like pancakes or crepes, the batter is placed on a krumkaker iron which gets turned once on each side. They are pressed very thin and rolled into a tight pretty roll.

The krumkaker iron has a delicate decorative design on each side. It's a crumbly, sweet cookie. Also looks fabulous with ice cream. Mom made them for me 2 years ago. This year I tried them myself. Once you get the swing of it, they're easy to make. With Nonie and Mom's supervision, I did a pretty OK job for a beginner. Ya think? Anyway -- here's the recipe.

(pronounced: krum - kahh - kurr)
As told by David Harvey Challoner.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
scant 1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Mix together sugar, butter, and flour. Separate eggs, mix yolks into batter. Add milk. beat egg whites until peaks form and fold into batter with cardamom and vanilla.

Pour batter into krumkaker iron (on gas burner set to med-high); cook 30 seconds. Turn over and cook on second side for about 20 seconds. Check for color, this may need adjustment, depending upon your preference for a lighter or darker cookie. Remove krumkaker from iron and promptly roll around handle of a wooden spoon. Cool thoroughly in an airtight container. Krumkakers first appeared on the 1980 list, but we enjoyed them long before then!

And that's about it. I'm pretty done. Full. In search of protein. And a toothbrush. Merry Christmas!!


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

~:B I K E R * B J O R N:~
So I get this call last week, early Thursday morning, from a dear student of mine, Amy (also a big fan of Bjorn) who is interning at Studio Burns. Turns out they needed a cute small dog for a photoshoot that afternoon. Little Bjorn immediately got a bath. We were soon off, Bjorn with 2 new toys and me with a pocketful of doggie treats. We had a great time! The studio was super cool and the guy shooting, Guy, was even cooler. He liked Bjorn and made both of us feel comfortable. They bought him a little doggie bomber jacket (which they let us keep) that made him look quite rugged. When this shot is produced, expect to see the full layout here. This will be part of a paper promotion, so all of my industry will see it! What fun.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

~:D A D:~
I'm a little worried about my Dad. Okay - A LOT worried about my Dad. My father has always been a funny man. Capable of deep spirituality and yet loves a party, too. When he was a kid, his siblings called him the Jerry Lewis of the family. I can only imagine. Maybe that's where Tommy and Peter got it from? Then again, my mother's very funny, too.

We always said Dad looked just like Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, especially when he had a mustache, which he did for most of my childhood. (When he shaved it off, I almost died.) Ah shit. I just love my family. We now live 2 miles away from each other. And they're still in the same houe we all grew up in. It's a nice life. When I am with my Dad, I feel special. Kissing him hello and goodbye is meaningful. I know he's proud of me. I can't describe in words how wonderful that feels. I love being the only girl. I could ask my Dad to do anything and he'd do it. Okay - nuff of the mushy stuff. Onto this ridiculous story.

This Xmas our family has decided to draw names out of a hat so that each person receives one great gift from someone else. This way, we're not all frantically scrambling around trying to find something fabulous for everyone. We get to concentrate on one someone special.

In preparation for this manner of gift giving, we sent out e-mails with wish lists of things we'd love to get as gifts. My father's e-mail was meant to be a joke (i think??)It was particularly disturbing. In an effort to be silly, he freaked me out. Though I know he's totally kidding, I'm going to try my best to embarrass him here. Below is his e-mail describing his wish list. And below that is my response. And below that is a lovely picture which is what I imagined when reading his horrific wish list.

I love you, Dad. Thanks for letting me tease you.



On Nov 5, 2005, at 5:58 PM, Thomas L Dusenberry wrote:

O.K. den Anne-D...............Here's what I need for the Christmas thingy event. I want to peddle a bycicle around the Wolffork Road in Rabun Gap. I just bought the snappy little tight bike pants that tightens your tushey and makes you look fruity. Now I would very much like to "accessorize" with some swell, I'm certain, matching outerwear. I'll wear the outfit(s) when I do the after Xmas bike sales in January for my birthday so that everyting is color cordinated with the bike (it'll be a three-wheeler I think so that I won't like tip over and rip my tight little pants and stuff). Is this the shits or what? If it's appropriate, I may even wear the outfit(s) to church or the Harris Teeter or bank. Thanks for the great idea,
Love, your excited Dad


From: Anne
Subject: Re: xmas gift ideas
Date: November 5, 2005
To: Dad

You're a freak.