Sorbet for the Soul, Hope

HOPE sculpture in Manhattan by Robert Indiana

This is the last of the “Sorbet for the Soul Series,” at least for now. I hope to get back to the MOMA, the MET or any other place where creativity, inspiration and peace of mind resides. Shout out to Lyn Sirota who shared a September 13, 2019 program on TED Radio Hour NPR called “How Art Changes Us.”

Marc Chagall, The Lovers, Oil on canvas.

Gustav Klimt, Hope II, Oil, gold, and platinum on canvas.

Pablo Picasso, Guitar and Clarinet on a Mantelpiece, Oil, sand, and paper on canvas.

On the Edge

Images source: Edgenyc.com

While the nation’s been on edge during this tense presidential election, Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary by visiting the actual Edge. Suspended in mid-air 100 stories up, Edge is an “outdoor sky deck” offering 360-degree views around Manhattan. Looking straight down from the indoor windows is dizzying, but amazing. Taking in the panoramic view once outside is breathtaking!

Edge is located in Hudson Yards, a new neighborhood built on top of what used to be open air over train tracks. We didn’t ascend the Vessel, interactive artwork in the form of a spiral staircase, but we walked through Hudson Yards, past The Shed towards the High Line and down to the Meatpacking District for dinner. By the time we returned to mid-town, The Empire State Building was lit up in my favorite color. Exploring a new site and walking in the city was a great distraction and a fun date!

RIP RBG, Tribute/Hallelujah, Central Synagogue

Image source: BTF Design.

Central Synagogue of Manhattan created a beautiful tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg  with the singing of Hallelujah by Rabbi Angela W. Buchdahl. Her rendition is worth listening to even if you just need a few minutes to clear your mind and raise your spirits. Shout out to my dad who shared the video with me.

 

Little Shop of Horrors, Off Broadway

A Sun Star plant along with Brussels sprouts and cabbages welcome theatre goers. "Audrey II's" and photo care of my friend Lynn.
Plants, cabbages, and Brussels sprouts welcomed theater goers when my youngest daughter performed in her middle school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

Westside Theatre, Off Broadway

Lucky me, I’ve had a chance to see several shows in Manhattan recently, and the darkest, funniest award goes to LSOH, the 1982 musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken and revived by Michael Mayer.

“A certain carnivorous plant has been repotted in Hell’s Kitchen, and I am delighted to report that it’s thriving there,” reviewed Ben Brantley for The New York Times.

[LSOH], staged in a 270-seat theater, restores the show to its original scale and sensibility, reminding us of the special potency of grisly things that come in small, impeccably wrapped packages.

Working with an ace design team, Mayer heightens the show’s classic pulp elements, its aura of low-rent noir splashed with flecks of blood-red.

The Corman film of “Shop” was, like many horror and sci-fi flicks of the Eisenhower years, a fable of the atomic age, playing to a nation’s fears of science run amok. This triumphantly revitalized musical has its own sly message for an era in which celebrity is regarded as a constitutional right:

Embrace fame at your peril. It’s a killer.

My youngest daughter was an Urchinette in her middle school’s production of the show. In keeping with the plant-out-for-blood theme, another mom and I baked and decorated 100 Audrey II cupcakes for the cast party. Fun!

Creative Cupcakes

Here’s how we made edible “Audrey II’s,” the mysterious man-eating plant.

Step 1.  Gather your ingredients.  Rather than make fondant from scratch, we used Fondarific. Supplies included cake mix, baking cups, canned icing, Wilton icing, food coloring, rubber gloves, romaine lettuce, spoons,wax paper, Wilton Decorating Bags and Tips, Swedish Fish candy and Cake Boxes.

Icing and Fondarific.
Icing and Fondarific.

Baking cups and food coloring.
Baking cups and food coloring.

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________

Step 2.  Prepare fondant decorations.  After the Fondarific was warmed and softened, rubber gloves were donned, and food coloring was mixed in by hand.  Small balls of fondant were pressed onto spoons. Then romaine leaves rubbed onto fondant created leaf impressions.  After carefully lifting fondant leaves off of spoons, they were layered with wax paper and left to set.  (I put them in a container covered with foil, not refrigerated, overnight.)  The leaves needed to be stiff enough to stand up, but pliable enough to form LSOH’s man-eating plant.

Add food coloring to icing and softened fondant.
Soften fondant.  *Put on rubber gloves BEFORE blending food color into it.

Form leaves--or whatever shape you want--and let them set a bit.
Form leaves–or whatever shape you want–and let them set.

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________

Step 3.  Bake cupcakes according to package directions. Food coloring was also mixed with vanilla canned icing then spread on cooled cupcakes.  Icing the cupcakes kept them fresh while the fondant leaves set overnight and formed a base to work on.

Bake cupcakes.
Bake cupcakes.

Ice cupcakes once they've cooled.
Ice cupcakes once they’ve cooled.

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________

Step 4.  Assemble Audrey II’s (or whatever decoration goes with your theme).  Lynn said that, though the canned icing was good for a base, the stiffer Wilton icing made better leaves surrounding the “plants” and fangs on the Audrey II’s.  She used Wilton Tip #103 to form surrounding leaves and Tip #4 for the fangs.  Mini Swedish Fish candies became tongues.  Eww and yum!

Assemble cupcake decorations.
Assemble cupcake decorations.

IMG_7206

 

"Whatever you do, don't feed the plants!"
“Whatever you do, don’t feed the plants!”

Headed to the cast party.
Cupcakes with bite!

 

PB’s and PJ’s

What combines my love of picture books

with my experience selling kids clothes? 

Books to Bed!

Last week, I spent time with picture-book-and-pajama-sets care of Books-to-Bed, a line of pajamas printed to match PB illustrations, owned by the Canadian-based company Hatley. I worked at Children’s Club, a trade show at the Javits Center in Manhattan, floating as a sales rep between B2B and a line for tween girls called Nev and Lizzie. (Shout out to Linda, prior owner of The Red Balloon, for recommending me to Louise of The Showroom!)

In addition to sets I repped in August at Playtime New York, I promoted new PB and PJ combinations debuting in July 2020. I talked fun picture books, adorable coordinating prints, quality fit and fabric, and heard what’s selling. Bonus? Connecting with Kidlit people. (Who doesn’t love a Tweet of their book on display at a trade show?)

I said it before and I’ll say it again: How much would I love to have one of my books available with matching pajamas?!

A girl can dream, can’t she?

Cool Conversations on the High Line

Lubaina Himid’s life-size painted portrait.

Walking along the High Line in Manhattan recently, my daughter, niece and I came across one of High Line Art’s En Plain Air exhibits. Brightly colored doors set on railroad ties featured women we wanted to stop and meet.

Lubaina Himid, a [British] artist from Zanzibar, Tanzania, create life-size portraits cut into silhouettes that stand freely as flat sculptures. These works have a theatrical quatlity, referencing stage sets and the simplified histories that dominate our world. With Five Conversations, Himid introduces five reclaimed wooden doors from traditional Georgian townhouses paint with portraits of everyday stylish women who love talking to each other. In her signature way, Himid brings the two-dimensional medium of painting into our three-dimensional world.

En Plain Air is a group exhibition that examines and expands the tradition of outdoor painting.

I didn’t know this artist so, of course, I needed to find out more.

A pioneer of the British Black Arts Movement of the 1980s and ’90s, Lubaina Himid has long championed marginalized histories. Her drawings, paintings, sculptures, and textile works critique the consequences of colonialism and question the invisibility of people of color in art and the media. While larger historical narratives are often the driving force behind her images and installations, Himid’s works beckon viewers by attending to the unmonumental details of daily life. Bright, graphic, and rich in color and symbolic referents, her images recall history paintings and eighteenth-century British satirical cartoons. In many works, the presence of language and poetry—sometimes drawn from the work of writers such as Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill, or James Baldwin—punctuates the silence of her images with commands, instructions, or utterances that are at once stark and tender.       Artspace.com

Himid was born in Zanzibar in 1954 but moved to the UK with her mother, a textile designer, when she was only four months old. Himid said, “I was living with a woman who was constantly looking at the colour of things, at other people’s clothes. And we were constantly in shops, and we weren’t at shops buying things. We were in shops looking.”

My daughter and niece.

Check out the way the arches and path create a one point perspective.

I call this “City Jewelry” since the windows are diamonds.

Camp: Notes on Fashion Part 2

Ashish, 2017

Hon, here are more of my favorites from the collection of bizarre and humorous clothes on exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” (running through September 8).

And accessories…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Camp: Notes on Fashion Part 1

Touring “Camp” with two of my daughters.

Driving on the NJ Turnpike recently, I saw two kinds of cars: those filled with so much stuff, you couldn’t see inside (college-bound) and those weighted down by roof cargo carriers and bikes (beach-bound). This is the time of year when camp is over, kids are home, and what to do with the days is (hopefully) open-ended. Need a fun activity for fashionable tweens and teens? If you haven’t seen it, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit: “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” which runs through September 8, is filled with interesting, bizarre, humorous, and gender-bending outfits and accessories. While you’re at The Met, another great exhibit is “Play it Loud, Instruments of Rock & Roll.”

Here are some of my favorites from the costume exhibit:

 

PB’s & J’s

Books to Bed booth at kids show, Playtime New York.

Picture Books and Jammies

It may be Back-to-School season, but kids store buyers are shopping for Holiday and Spring. I spent the last three days at the Manhattan trade show, Playtime New York, combining my love of picture books with my experience selling kids clothes. (Shout out to Linda, prior owner of The Red Balloon, for connecting me to Louise of The Showroom!)

I got to talk picture books while selling the now-Hatley-owned Books to Bed, a line of pj’s printed to match picture books. Not only did boutique owners stop by the booth, but Chris, one of Hatley’s owners, along with reps Adam and Daisy flew in from Canada. I met Random House licensers and Carol, the woman who thought up and started Books to Bed.

Repping the line was a chance to do three things: hear what store owners and their customers are looking for; think about kids businesses; and read books I hadn’t read before. Oh, and I sent tweets out to Kidlit peeps saying, “Hey, check this out!” How much would I love to have one of my books available with matching pajamas?!

A girl can dream, can’t she?

 

How Many Squirrels Inhabit Central Park?

“The Squirrel Census Answers a Question You Weren’t Asking:”