Tuesday, January 12, 2010

TECH: You confound me so! (Really this is about clutter)

This evening I was working on my new CD, FAVOURITES when I ran into a problem. Apparently 1/2 of my CD's were bad. Each bad CD had snippets of music or something on them. It was infuriating! The best thing I could come up with, after a calming talk with the hubby, was that the bad CD's somehow didn't get thrown away the first time around.  Apparently I just put them back in the bin with the rest of the good CD's. WTF?

I'm not a hoarder, but I feel like I'm on the brink.  I am, in fact, a collector, a pack rat, a connoisseur of things past. I don't throw ANYTHING away. Seriously, I have all my papers from all four years of college tucked in a drawer somewhere. I have nearly all the cards I've been sent, for every occasion possible, from the past 15 years in my desk. I have pens, pencils, crayons, markers, and out-dated calendars.  I have stacks of papers, no longer in any conceivable order that I trip over regularly.

My studio, which was 90% clean before my Daikini Baby was born, is now 90% full. Of Shit. OK, maybe not shit, but definitely crap.

Why do I keep all this?  What's going on in my head?  What is the emotional significance of all this stuff?  What hole in my soul is it all filling?

Oh the things I ponder at 2:07am...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Foodie: Pork Loin Chops in Apple Cream

I had some pork loin chops in the fridge that I desperately needed to cook, but hadn't a clue what to do with them tonight.  My friend Hel suggested pan fry or pan sear, and my friend Joni suggested a few recipes from allrecipies.com.  I ended up making the pork loin chops in apple cream and OMG was it tasty!

All in all in didn't take that long.  I had more than 4 oz. of chops, and I ended up cooking them all.  We had extra egg noodles, so I went with that. I would also spice the gravy better, using fresh rosemary for starters.  Irregardless, this is going into my keeper file and I will make it again. MmmmmmmMmmm!

Bon apettit!

Here's the description & recipe:
"A simple twist on an old Shaker dish. Pork chops are browned, then simmered in an apple cider infusion and finished in half-and-half or cream. Makes a great dinner for two, simple to prepare, hearty enough for him, but delicious by any standards. Can substitute chicken breasts for the pork loin chops."


  • 4 (4 ounce) boneless pork loin chops
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or cream


  1. Season pork chops on all sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside. Combine the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, nutmeg, and allspice in a plastic bag. Toss pork with seasoned flour to coat, and shake off excess.
  2. Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until lightly smoking. Sear pork until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Pour in apple cider and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until pork is fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pork and keep warm; increase heat to medium-high. Dissolve cornstarch in the chicken broth, and stir into simmering cider; cook for a minute or two until thickened. Stir in the half-and-half and simmer until hot. Serve sauce over the pork chops.

Performing: Why I'm No Longer Afraid To Take Your Money!

I've been thinking  a lot lately about Money, and being a Performer.  Happily most of my gigs are paid these days, but I still do free shows, and I still busk.  I'm what you would call the "soft sell" type. I have a tip jar (or an empty fiddle case or a hat depending on where I'm busking) and I ask folks to toss in a dollar or more depending on how much they enjoyed my show. I've never been a fan of the hard sell.  Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I'm not, but I never feel like I'm forcing myself on my fans.  

I love connecting with people. I love playing a tune or singing a song and watching the audience, old and young, react. I've made people laugh, cry, and even scared a few.  It's an amazing rush, and I LOVE what I do.  For the first time, I really LOVE and ADORE what I do. All things being equal, this life doesn't always pay the bills or put food on the table.  Almost everything in this world has a price, and like the rest of this  country, I'd like to have a bit more in my wallet.

Last September Amanda Palmer talked about this in the now famous blog post "Why I Am Not Afraid To Take Your Money" Take a read. Really hear what she has to say.  I think she's hit the nail on the head with this.

I am a Musician and Performer (neidfyre.com). I run with sissors. I live an unconventional life, and I'm so much happier for it. Jane Smith and John Doe get dressed to the nines, work their desk job and get a paycheck with benefits. My job doesn't offer benefits. I don't have the luxury of a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck.  I work hard for every show/gig/performance, regardless of the size of the audience and venue. I go out there and give each show my best.

Two years ago I went on the road (away from home for an extended time) for the first time. I drove to Texas with my dog and we lived in a tent for 7 weeks.  I worked a small faire and met amazing people, many of whom I'm still in touch with.  Later that year I drove to Wisconsin and Minnesota for shows. My "local" weekend shows took me to Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.   I wore funny costumes, sang songs, played tunes, and tried to sell as many CD's as I could.  I met some incredible people on the journey. All the while, I may have broken even, and more than likely I lost money.  I didn't feel comfortable asking for help, so I didn't.  I tried to do it mostly on my own because that's what I thought I had to do.

We're now in the baby steps of 2010.  My life has changed a lot in the last 2 years. I'm now a musician, performer  teacher full time and I have a 9-mos old baby.  My darling Daikini Baby (DB) was born March 27, 2009.  I took most of last year easy and didn't do as much traveling on the road due to the pregnancy, but 2010 is starting with a bang!  DB and I are leaving for Arizona January 29, 2010 and will be there for 2 months working the Arizona Renaissance Festival.  I'm just not sure how exactly we're going to get there.

We're outfitting Serenity (my '92 Plymouth Voygager) for the trip, but gas and food are expensive.  I put the call out to you, my friends and my fans, because we need some help.  This weekend I'll be putting together a limited run CD (150 copies) called NeidFyre's Favorites.  I'll be taking my favourite tracks from all of my CD's to make this compilation.  The CD will cost $7.00 (includes shipping/handling/taxes) and will be available January 11 - January 28.  Each CD will also be signed and numbered.  If you want to know what my favourite tunes are, buy this CD. If you want to introduce my music to friends, buy this CD. If you want to wallpaper your livingroom, buy MANY COPIES of this CD. ;>  If you've enjoyed my shows, and enjoy the music I make, please think about pressing the donation button below. If you would like to help and don't want a CD, feel free to press the donation button below.

Thank you all for reading.  Thank you all for being a part of my life.  I look forward to seeing many of you on my travels in 2010 and beyond.

With love,

With thanks to Amanda Fucking Palmer for giving me the courage to no longer be afraid

Looking to buy one of my CD's? Want to purchase the new compilation CD "NeidFyre's Favourites" Do you just want to donate to the cause?  

Please go to NeidFyre.com/DONATE  

At the bottom of the page is a DONATE button.  Please fill out the Purpose line with "Donation" or "NeidFyre's Favourites" so I know if I'm sending you a CD!

Much love and thanks, 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A bit of fiddling about, but not really

When I started this blog in 09 it was mostly to post the letters I was writing to my Daikini Baby. Alas, that didn't work out so well. I'm still writing her letters every day, but I'm not posting them.  In fact, I've got 9 months of backlog to post. (insert Oye & facepalm here)  Why is this relevant? Well, the original title and address of the blog was Letters to my Daughter. Upon much soul searching (or as much soul searching as one can do in the first 3 days of a new year) I have changed the blog to something more appropriate.  The new address is: http://goddessofperk.blogspot.com/  Now, if I could only figure out how to move the "Labels" to the bottom of the screen.

EDIT:  Yeah, so this whole Drag/Drop thing on the layout?  I just noticed it. :blush:

The ellusive ADD

A new friend of mine, Matteo, was asking me about the ADD hashtag (#ADD) on my twitters.  I knew it was going to take more than the pre-requisite 140 characters, so I ended up a rather longish email.  He requested I post it, so here 'tis. 

I have a long history w/ADD. I was officially diagnosed in my late 20's because I was tired of not understanding why I wasn't like everyone else/couldn't easily handle tasks everyone else could handle/was having the same problems at every job I'd had, etc. By everyone else, I mean co-workers, relatives & friends.

One of my best friends suggested I check with an ADD specialist. She and her brother had ADD & she saw a lot of similarities between us regarding tasks, getting stalled on things, etc. I saw a local doc who performed a series of tests on me. The result was ADD, but not ADHD. Physically I'm not hyperactive (though my brain has its moments).

One of the issues for me with ADD is I have never been able to find a consistency for getting things done. "Work the Plan" type of consistency. My house is never clean, I never have enough hours in the day to get things done, I get distracted, I get bored, etc etc. Looking back (and discussing my history with the ADD doc and several therapists) I've had this issue since childhood. I can remember my mom getting so angry with me that I couldn't stay on task/complete a simple chore. There were "never enough hours in the day" for me, etc.

John and I have discussed it a lot over the past year (what with a new baby and all) and while I'm very good at taking care of Rowan, I'm incredibly inconsistent with housework. It's hard on him because he never knows if it's going to be a productive or unproductive day. I'm on meds, which helps me a lot. Most of the anxiety I had with the ADD is gone when I'm on the meds. I can focus and stay focused more easily. The noise in my head is much quieter when I'm on my meds. The caveat is that I HATE being on meds. (That's another story, though.) I made a decision when I was pregnant that I would be regular with my meds. Fucking up my head (taking meds inconsistently) is one thing, but with having a child I needed to have my head on as often as possible.

In the past 9 months (Rowan is just 9 months) I've had maybe 3 lapses where I didn't take my meds for a few days. Before then I would go weeks without taking them. It was very frustrating for John because he wouldn't know how to talk to me about it. At that point I would be productive for a few days and then PFT, nothing. Now I am productive for a few months (consistently) and then a few days or a week of nothing.

The #ADD tag is mostly to remind myself when I look back at journal posts or reflect at the end of the day on why things don't get done. "Ah, it was one of THOSE days."

I get sucked into TV very easily, which is one reason I'm glad we don't have cable. (Mainly we don't have cable because it's wicked expensive and our budget can't handle it.) I add the rationalization about the ADD because it makes me feel less like a freak about no TV. (I grew up with several tv's in the house, all my friends watched tv, etc etc. I know it's far more the norm in the Ithaca area not to have tv, but I still feel freakish that we don't have it.) One manifestation of ADD is being ashamed. My house is far from perfect and I get very anxious when people stop by because of that. I'm ashamed of how the house looks, but I can't ever get it clean enough. I'm ashamed of the fact that our finances are such shit that we can't afford cable. These are huge triggers for me if I think about them too much.

TV was my escape when I was younger, and when my Mom started limiting my access to tv, books became my outlet for escape. I can get lost in books and tv (via netflix or hulu) at the drop of a hat. I will be late for appointments or cancel appointments so I can finish watching/reading. No matter how many alarms I set, if I'm engrossed in a show or a book it's very difficult for me to get out of it.

Lately I've been watching Dexter (wow, great show!) and it's screwing with my daytime/eve schedule. I'm trying to watch it all at once so I can move on. Really I should just ration it to 1 or 2 eps a day, but that's not what I'm doing.  Yesterday I had to teach in Tburg and I left 30 min after I wanted to because I was watching Dexter and playing farmville. Distraction city... Happily I wasn't late (I try to build extra time into my day now), but I could have been.

Overall the diagnosis has been quite helpful, as have the meds. I try not to use it as a crutch (Oh, I didn't do the dishes... ADD strikes again!), and I get less angry with myself for not getting as much done as I want/planned to get done. It's not always a day-to-day struggle anymore. I am more productive more consistently. I am less ashamed of things. I am less anxious. I am less angry. I am more balanced. I can sometimes use the ADD hyperfocus to my advantage (though sometimes I get so focused I lose track of time). My day isn't as much of a crapshoot as it used to be.

Forgive the rambling. I woke up early and didn't really get enough sleep. I also haven't written much about ADD and how it effects me. We can chat about it more if you want.

Happy New Year's Eve!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Food, glorious food

I love to cook. I'm a self-described Kitchen Witch, though that's not what this post is about.  This post is about Food.

I adore cooking.  I love the prep; getting the kitchen ready, browsing recipes, even the food shopping before hand.  I love spending time in my kitchen.  I love how it gets warm and ends up being a hub of the household.  I love sharing the kitchen with friends and loved ones.  It's comforting for me to be in there.  One of my favourite pasttimes is sitting at the table with a friend, sipping tea and nibbling on sweets and talking about food and recipes. Food is amazing.  We all have such intriguing ties to food.  Food motivates, comforts, and succours us.  On the flip side food can make us feel disgusting or ugly.  The sensory perceptions related to certain foods are huge.  I know if I smell a certain food it will trigger different memories and emotions.  I also know I'm not alone with this.

One of my all-time favourite smells is cooking onions and garlic.  It evokes memories of sitting at my Grandmother's knee while she would make the fricassee or the brisket or the chopped liver.  My grandparents were the ones that started me cooking.  My Grandfather made the best matzoh brei I've ever tasted, and my Grandmother cooked the most amazing things for the High Holidays.  I spent every weekend with them from the time I was a toddler until I was 16.  I learned how to make chopped liver, baked ziti, spinach pie, brisket, and just about everything else (except matzoh brei).  My mom was no slouch in the kitchen either.  While I couldn't stand her meatloaf, she taught me how to make the best chicken wings (baked) and how to cook large slabs of meat. Give me a roast, a leg of lamb, a steak, a chicken and I will make you a feast.

While I don't mind cooking for myself, cooking for friends and loved ones fills me with a sense of pleasure and satisfaction.  Between traveling, taking care of the Daikini Baby, and my ankle surgery I've not had a lot of time to cook, but lately I've started up again. In the past month I've baked bread and cookies from scratch (I'd never done that before), made homemade doughnuts and cheese fritters for Channukah, (also a first), scalloped potatoes and bacon, and concocted a recipe for leg of lamb from thin air and a bit of help from the Flavor Bible that turned out to  be the best lamb I'd ever made.  I was nervous making all these new things, but the feedback I got was fantastic.

  • The bread (rolled oatmeal bread) was crusty but tender on the inside. 
  • The cookies (chocolate crack cookies) have had rave reviews from friends and students. I've even made some changes.  I made a batch of rum flavoured cookies, and I've got almond flavoured dough in the fridge waiting to be baked. 
  • The scalloped potatoes and bacon was so delicious that two chefs from Ithaca who were raving about it were astounded when I'd told them I'd never made it before. One of them wanted the recipe for his restaurant.
  • The doughnuts and fritters were hard to make as I'd never deep fried anything before, but they came out pretty darned tasty.
  • The lamb turned out so well that I used the same ingredients on a large pork roast.  Delish doesn't even begin to cover how good it was.
The amazing thing about this is that I'm terrified of baking.  I learned good Jewish dishes for holidays, how to cook meat, and things like that. Baking has never been a forte for me.  It's so precise... there's no margin of error... It's not conducive to my mental state!  Still, I gave it a try and damn if those baked goods didn't turn our well. So well, in fact, that I'm looking at more baking.  I know I need to have more confidence with my cooking.  I know I can make tasty things, but making them with confidence somehow makes them taste better to me. 

So if you're in Upstate NY, and want to chat about food drop me a line. We've got a well stocked tea cabinet, and I'm sure I could whip up a batch of cookies to share. 

Random Impromptus on a Friday morning

And now for some random impromptus.

I started writing letters to Rowan the day she was born. I've written her a letter every day since, but I stopped posting them. I've got to get back to that.

It's snowing out, there's cookie dough in the fridge, and there's a massive fire across the street that seems to finally be under control. Today is a day of extremes

Right now my Darling Girl is standing up in her playpen, staring at me, crying and asking to be picked up. By asking I mean she's reaching out to me, coughing, crying and generally asserting herself. I think this means it's time for me to get offline and snuggle a certain Daikini Baby.

Happy New Years Day, 01/01/10


Looking Back at 2009 in 38 questions

Starting 2010 out right with a little theft. I stole this from jupitersinclair.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? I had a baby. Also, I baked bread and cookies from SCRATCH! Go me :D

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make for next year? I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Life requires that you look at yourself & assess your personal goals on a regular basis,not just once a year (Truth be told, I stole this answer from Jupiter as I agree with her 100% on this)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Several friends had babies this year, and while I'm overly close with them, I am thrilled for them.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No humanbeans that I am close with died in 2009, but I did have to put my beloved FeyFey (10 yr old Norwegian Forest Cat) to sleep in December.

5. What countries did you visit? I didn't travel outside the US border this year, but I do think that Long Island counts as a different country.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? More peace of mind.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory and why? March 27, the day of my daughter's birth. Nov 3, the day of my ankle surgery.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I had a BABY! :grin: I actually HAD a baby. I was scared, terrified, nervous, but with love and support from my family I had her sans drugs. It was pretty incredible.

9. What was your biggest failure? I have no idea.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Thankfully the swineflu didn't hit us, but we have dealt with several bouts of lung gunk. I also managed to hurt my ankle pretty severely when I was 8.5 months preggers.

11. What was the best thing you bought? An MP3 player & dock so we can listen to music in the kitchen.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Those who celebrate peace, not war? In my family? In the world? No freakin' clue. LOL I think anyone who promotes peace, love & all that other hippy shit rather than focusing on deception, anger, & fear mongering deserves celebration.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The asshats in government office who think things like Fracking is a good idea.

14. Where did most of your money go? Car repairs.

15. What did you get really excited about? Performing at AZ faire, traveling, having my daughter, friends and loved ones coming to visit, and the first snowfall.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? That Beyonce song, but only because GLEE. That, and I started singing, "All the single babies, all the single babies. All the single babies, all the single babies" 'cause that's all I know from that damned song.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
-happier or sadder? happier
-thinner or fatter? definitely thinner
-richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Played more music.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Complain.

20. How did you spend Christmas? With my family, in our home, enjoying good food.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? many times,over and over again

22. What was your favorite TV program? Dollhouse, Fringe, Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, House & Dexter. Thank the Gods for Hulu.com & Netflix.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? “Hating someone never does anygood – it only makes you feel bad inside”. It’s a good quote, and I stole it from JupiterSinclair. While I didn't "hate" anyone, I did have very strong feelings of Dislike.

24. What was the best book you read? I re-read most of the Dead Witch Walking series, as well as the Dresden Files. I'm hoping to read more in 2010.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Umm.... No Clue. That's not a band, I really am not sure. I didn't listen to nearly enough music in 2009.

26. What did you want and get? A bread maker.

27. What did you want and not get? I can't think of anything.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? I loved StarTrek Enterprise, but Avatar was pretty darned good. Of course, I just SAW Avatar so it's pretty fresh in the brain pan.

29. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? I got stuff. :grin: I spent the day with my Dad, so it was a little odd. I turned 39.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If all the money we would need fell from the sky, tax free, so we wouldn't have to worry about things like bills, taxes, etc. Barring that, I wish I had done more cooking. I LOVE to cook.

31. What would describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Comfy.

32. What kept you sane? Hahahhahaha... wait, are you serious?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I wouldn't turn Hugh Laurie, Joss Whedon, Stephen Fry or most of the cast from Dollhouse away. I'd love to have a dinner gathering and chat about everything.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? No matter what it was, it always boiled down to the fact that there are others in this country who feel they are entitled to more because of their race,religion or financial status and that made me very angry.

35. Who did you miss? My mom.

36. Who was the best new person you met? I met a load of folks on Twitter who are very cool. I met a load of folks at ren faire who are also very cool. Thinking about this honestly, I'd have to say the best new person I've met in 2009 was my daughter. She's pretty damn cool.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. I don't have to be afraid.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. I'm seriously bad at this.

And here's a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o' thine !
And we'll take a right good-willie waught
for auld lang syne.

~Robert Burns

Friends, chosen family, loved ones old and new... they were here for me, and I was incredibly grateful for them.


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