Some cool Homemade Gifts images:
not for sale
Image by suttonhoo
Growing up, we were different.
When you’re a kid, different isn’t a good thing.
We moved a lot, driftwood in the steady sea of normalcy that was whatever suburb or city outskirt we touched down in. Each landing meant recognizance: Who are these people? What do they wear? What do they care about? Followed by some serious fitting-in.
My sister was the master: she used Nice like a tactical weapon. She could fold herself into any new social situation and own it with her smile.
I wasn’t so good at it, but I got along. Mostly through subterfuge and deception. I hid myself behind a screen of what I determined — through astute observation — was normal. I left the awkward lunches that my mother packed for me in my locker (course homemade wheat bread smeared with strange combinations of avocados and sprouts or peanut butter and banana; raw fruit juices; the occasional disastrous and stinky split pea soup with tofu subbed in for ham) and got by on the change that I scrounged off my parents’ dresser. For years I survived on 60 cent lunches of 10 cent milk cartons and packages of hostess powdered donuts, because I didn’t want to pull out my strange sandwiches at a table full of white bread wonder and bologna. (We didn’t eat much meat, either.)
My radar was always up; I was always scanning for difference and working hard to conform to the norm.
One of the things that made us different from the rest of our normal block was the mass and scale of my father’s record album collection. He had shelves made especially for the vinyl that he received in the course of his trade: deep massive shelves that accommodated big blocks of records and smaller portions for the amp and turntable and reel to reel that siphoned music like fuel through a mass of wires to his big orange waffle grid JBL speakers. The shelves were made of one inch pine which wasn’t enough: they bowed under the weight.
This was a different that I didn’t mind. Home was church when the music was on. I didn’t learn until much later, from a high school boyfriend, that my speech was peppered with expressions that marked me as different without my knowing: I said things like “flip side” and “give it a spin” as easy as breathing.
I had my own albums that were gifts from my dad, starting with when I received my first turntable on my 8th birthday. It came with a pile of records that must have weighed at least 25 pounds: A crazy mashup of the Beatles and Fantasia and the Brady Kids singing “Ben”. Ragtime, bad pop, symphony and rock and roll.
Many of the albums that I played full tilt in the privacy of my room were stamped with “Promotional Copy Only: Not for Sale”.
It was a long time before I learned that albums cost money: Up to ten dollars a friend told me, when she was talking about how expensive they were. I was amazed. Records just arrived at our house: packages at the door several times a week. I never saw money change hands, although I had a sense that something was going on at that big Peaches record store that my dad would frequently schlep us to. (I want to say it was on Colfax — this was Denver — but I’m sure I’m wrong about that.)
I felt vaguely ashamed of the Promo Copy stamps on so many of our album covers, and of their notched corners. I hid them from my friends, pulling out only the pristine covers that appeared “paid for” when they came over to play.
In junior high I sucked up my shame on the afternoon we were all invited to bring albums to music class. I brought in two Commodore albums, when the Commodores were cool, and I figured I would be careful and hide the promo stamps from view.
The discovery was made of course, by one of those loud boys who always uncover the awkward and untoward and announce it to everyone within shouting distance. How did I get these? Theft was implied. My face flushed red with shame as I stuttered and explained: “Yeah. My dad gets those from work.”
Silence. More shame. More fierce blushing fire.
Then his face softened, almost amazed. “What does your dad do?”
Unlike when we lived a long time before in New York and LA, very few suburban kids had parents in the music industry. It was hard to explain promotions and production to a room full of kids who only knew about the folks singing the songs, but I tried. And they listened. Eagerly and interested.
Which is when it first dawned on me that different could be good.
I was reminded of the Promo stamp, and my shame, when I picked up a bin of cheap vinyl recently, and then in a matter of days received a couple of promo copies of my own that I wanted to pass along. I’ve only given each of these a quick listen, but it was good enough on the first pass to share.
The first came from my dad, who’s still pimping tunes even though he’s no longer on the payroll: Cowboy Fandango by Michael Hurwitz and the Aimless Drifters. Hurwitz is a cowboy and songwriter whose true western lyrics include references to old green trucks and UFOs over Wyoming. The CD cover features a naked lady astride a centaur who looks remarkably like Hurwitz. Quirky and classic and so worth a listen.
There’s also two-time Latin Grammy nominee Jovino Santos Neto’s latest release, Alma do Nordeste (soul of the northeast), which his lovely wife Luzia delivered to me over lunch when I saw her in Seattle.
Jovino and Luzia and their kids are family to me, ever since we met in the cherry blossomed strewn courtyard of the cheap shotgun shacks that we rented at the end of Broadway in Seattle, so I’ve course I’m going to plug Jovino’s newest CD. But also because it was inspired by the trip they took through the Northeast of Brazil recording indigenous music, and because he invokes the legacy and influence of Hermeto Pascoal, whom Jovino played with for years, and who, like Jovino, makes music that’s remarkably different.
In a really good way.
Tokyo – Harajuku: Maisen Okita Kurobuta Tonkatsu
Image by wallyg
Maisen (まい泉), at 4-8-5 Jinguame, has been serving authentic tonkatsu in a former pre-World War II two-story public bathhouse since 1965. Its main dining hall was once the changing room and it sports a high ceiling and original architectural details.
Tonkatsu (豚カツ, とんかつ, or トンカツ), invented in the late 19th century, consists of panko breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. It is generally served with either shredded cabbage or grated daikon, and either tonkatsu sōsu (トンカツソース), or tonkatsu sauce, a thick Japanese Worcestershire sauce made from pureed apples, or ponzu (ポン酢), a citrus based sauce. Early katsuretsu, or cutlets, were usually beef, with the first pork version served in 1890 in a Western-style restaurant in Ginza. The term "tonkatsu", or "pork katsu" was coined in the 1930’s.
Maisen is especially known for its Kurobuta (かごしま黒豚), or black pig, a rare breed of Berkshire pig bred in the Kagoshima Prefecture. Originating from England, by way of New Zealand, the black pigs were brought to Japan by diplomats as a gift in the 19th century. Kurobuta is distinguished from most commercial pork by its sweetness and rich flavor, which comes from the high levels of intramuscular marbled fat. Maisen’s most prized is the Okita Kurobuta Farm’s "Satsuma Roppaku Kurobuta." Satsuma is a district in Kagoshima, and "Roppaku Kurobuta" are six-spotted black pigs. Hayao Okita raises his Kurobuta, using a proprietary feedstuff blend, at a large farm in the mountain region’s Ookuchi city.
Maisen pork is tenderized through careful cutting and pounding producing a cutlet so tender it can be cut with chopsticks. It uses exclusively original raw breadcrumbs meeting unique specifications for size, shape and water-content and slow fries in high oleic 100% sunflower oil rich in vitamin E with a characteristic dry texture. Their homemade sauce once made by hand in a saucepan is now stewed in a large tank and matured with only fresh vegetables and fruit resulting in subtly changing flavors with the seasons.
My Homemade Christmas Chocolate Lollipops 2010
Image by Salicia
My orange chocolate lollipops made for my family and guests Christmas 2010. The lollys were a little fun treat tucked into the napkins of my guests and each had a homemade tag with a fun quote just to get everyone in party mood. These lollipops can also be made for a wedding, birthdays, hallowean or any fun event