Field Notes on poetry, music, photography, and cooking


The Happiness Project

Today's poem and revisions

If you want to see the finished poem, e-mail or back-channel me on Facebook. I noticed that the poem started halfway down the page and then ideas wove back and forth. I’m a messy writer, I like to jump in and then organize my thoughts, unless I get them down perfectly the first time–yeah like that happens! I spend a lot of time on revisions and enjoy the process as much as the writing of the original idea. I love when you get a passionate idea that unfolds in front of your eyes and can be folded into a flock of origami birds. One word can alter the entire life of the bird sanctuary. We have so many decisions to create our worlds.

I’ve read a new book called the “Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I started doing some of the exercises in the book after joining a Facebook Group to process the book as we read. As I was posting to FB, I kept saying this is the thing blogs are made of and decided to post my response to the book here. The first chapter is about finding what your values are and what will add more happiness to your life. Gretchen started out by making a list of “Commandments” then broke those down into results oriented projects over the span of a year. One month for each commandment. I believe we are all works in process and ever evolving. What is important to me today, may not even blip my radar a few months from now. Here is my list, subject to as many revisions as my last poem–see photo above!

1. Be more courageous
2. Practice mindfulness
3. To be generous and charitable
4. To find serenity each day
5. To create daily
6. To practice loving-kindness, wholeheartedness, appreciation and gratitude
7. To play and laugh more often
8. Choose health and fitness
9. Treat myself as well as I treat my friends: Do unto myself as I do others
10. “To live by design, not by accident” (thank you Martha Beck)
11. Clear out the closets, garage, book shelves, mystery boxes, and clutter–Keep my life organized
12. Celebrate Life, entertain more, get out of the house more often, enjoy friends, family and nature.

Since each “Commandment” above coincides with a month. I’ll be starting to set goals for July for choosing health and fitness. What comes to mind immediately is to:
Get the dreaded cat scan of my neck and throat I’ve put off for 6 weeks, face my fears of being allergic to the iodine contrast my doctor insists I have and fear of diagnosis.
Have my annual mammogram–just do it
Go back to restorative yoga twice a week
treadmill 30 minutes a day 5 days a week
strength train every other day
dentist time for a cleaning and exam
not too daunting!

Minestrone soup a’la Blaise

Minestrone soup a’la Blaise, originally uploaded by BlaiseAllen.

4 slices cooked bacon (reserve bacon fat)
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans water
4 cups chicken broth
1 package frozen chopped spinach thawed
2 cups cooked ditalini or other small pasta
S& P to taste
pinch of thyme
parsley to taste

In large soup pot, brown bacon, remove bacon and set aside. To the pot add 1 cup chopped onion, saute a few minutes till wilted. minced garlic, carrots and celery and sautee 3 minutes. Add one can diced tomatoes, water, chicken broth, cook veggies till tender. Add spinach, ditalini, S&P, pinch of thyme, fresh parsley and serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Field notes for my new poem “The Glass Elevator”

During the cruise, I was in the library overlooking the Grand Foyer observing people riding the glass elevators while reading a book about attention to detail in poetry, and the only thing I had to write on were these little book tags. I could not stop writing to find paper, I was on a roll and ended up with pages of these little sticky pad notes stuck on top of notes.

The view from where I sit @ Solid Sound Studio

The guys are sounding good. I’m timing their songs while they play so we can have a tight set list. Between starts and endings I’m sneaking in some poetry reading. Life is beautiful in the present moment.

A Shout out to Spring: Celebrity Cruise 2011

Just home from our annual family cruise. This year, it was only my mom and two sister’s (Sharrie and Nancy). We went to Old San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas, our own Spring Break 2011!

Slow Cooker Osso Buco Stew

Slow Cooker Osso Buco Stew, originally uploaded by BlaiseAllen.

Today was my band Nemesis’s first studio practice. It went great, the guys nailed 15 songs! I needed to throw together something fast that could be ready for dinner when we got home and found this recipe after running across a beautiful package of veal stewing meat at Publix yesterday. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I searched the TV Food Network for Veal Stew and came across this recipe. Before we left for the studio, I prepped everything in 15 minutes and threw it in the slow cooker. It did take the full 6 hours to cook, but was delicious and tender.

Here is the recipe:

TVFN Sandra Lee’s Osso Buco Stew (tweaked) 4 generous servings

•3 tablespoons canola oil
•1 1/2 pounds veal stew meat
•Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
•1/4 cup all-purpose flour
•1 (15-ounce) can chicken broth or stock
•1 medium onion, chopped
•3 stalks celery, chopped
•4 large carrots, sliced
8 small white potatoes halved
•1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1c. frozen chopped frozen green beans
•1 tablespoon chopped garlic
• 1/2 t. thyme
1 T fresh chopped parsley
3 fresh basil leaves
egg noodles


Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the stew meat with salt and pepper, to taste, and dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess. Add the stew meat to the pan and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
Remove the meat from the pan and set aside on a plate. Pour the chicken broth or stock into the skillet to deglaze and scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom. Turn off the heat and let it sit.
To the sleeve of a 5 quart slow cooker add half of the chopped the vegetables and nestle half of the meat on top. Add the remaining vegetables, remaining meat, tomatoes, garlic, the broth from the pan, and the thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. During the last 15 minutes add the basil and parsley. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve over noodles cooked in a separate pot. Manja!

pasta a’la picchi pacchiu (Overnight uncooked tomato sauce) from Cuciana Amore

Still on my Italian cooking kick. Rich was off from gigs this weekend so I quickly whipped together this pasta sauce from Cuciana Amore. This was really a symphony of delicious flavors after it sat overnight. Here is the recipe:

picchi pacchiu means thrown together

1- 28oz can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
1/4 t. sugar
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic chopped
6 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
1 lb. pasta
Mix all together in a glass bowl, put in fridge overnight to mature flavors. I used roasted garlic that I bought in Fresh Market. Add cheese when you plate it up. The original recipe calls for a can of whole tomatoes mushed up, but I used the crushed instead, It was very fresh and tasted like an Opera in my mouth!

You can use this sauce in a few ways:
1. Assemble hot pasta, add cold sauce
2. Saute pasta and sauce together to heat
3. Pasta salad
4. Pizza sauce

Artichoke, leek, and olive sauce for pasta from Cuciana Amore

I’m in an Italian cooking mood after watching Cuciana Amore on PBS. I have 46 recipes copied down as I watch the show that I’d like to try, and will post them as I make them.

Here is the recipe:

Artichoke, leek, and olive sauce for pasta from Cuciana Amore

5T Extra virgin Olive Oil
5 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1/2 c. sliced black olives
1 Can artichokes
1, 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes drained and chopped (reserve juice)
1/2 t. s&p
2 c. chicken stock
2 T. chopped basil
2 T. grated parmesan cheese
1 lb. penne pasta
Brown the garlic, add the leeks, artichokes, and chopped olives. After 3-4 minutes, add tomatoes, s& p, red pepper flakes, chickken stock and reserved tomato juice. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 10-15 minutes uncovered. Add basil and simmer 2 more minutes. Add pasta to sauce and add cheese off heat. Chin Chin!

52nd Birthday Post

Rich and I have entered the second act of our lives doing 2-4 gigs and open mics a week. I should rename this blog, MY YEAR AS A GROUPIE, ROADIE, AGENT, and BAND PHOTOGRAPHER. We have been to more bars and pubs in the past six months then all 18 years we’ve lived in S.FL! We are scouting a drummer for our band NEMESIS that I”ll manage and book the gigs when they find a drummer to complete the band. Meahwhile, Rich is throwin it down with really great bands and musicians. What talent! I watch him with awe when his fingers are flying over the frets. I’m a wannabe musician, but can’t even hold a beat with a tambourine! Dick Perkins, our harp player, gave me a harmonica much to everyone’s dismay. I can’t even whistle after a great song. I could be a backup singer, but I can’t remember lyrics. I can’t remember my own poems. I look back over the years at what I wrote, and shake my head at what I don’t remember writing, some of it was pretty good too! I feel like a midwife birthing babies (poems and photos), and sending them out into the world. I’ve got a great group of friends called the TGIF 13 who are writing a poem a week from a prompt with me. The days are flying by and today is my 52nd birthday, I still fell like I am 26, and still acting like it too. I wish I could say who’s counting? But my younger sisters DO, and they won’t let me be a year younger. My Mom on the other hand says, “How can I have a 52 year old daugher when I am 39?” Richie plans to take me to Fogarty’s Grill (my favorite restaurant) for dinner. I plan to eat cream brulle for dessert. Now that’s better than ice cream cake any day! There is so much craziness going on in the world now, there is too much to wish for when I blow out my candle tonight. There is so much suffering in the world, too much cruelty, violence, injustice, and unrest. There are so many people and animals ill, poor, homeless, in need. The social/political fabric of our lives is fraying. On the other hand, there is so much beauty and lovely moments of grace to be grateful for. I know your not supposed to share your wishes, but tonight mine will be of the yin/yang variety: for the balance of light and darkness.

Happy 2011!

Next week, January 17th-23rd I will be attending all of the exciting events at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Check out our website: to see everything going on. Maybe you will join us? I work with the Festival as the Director of Community Outreach and plan monthly poetry workshops, projects, and readings around Palm Beach. If you would like to be added to my events mailing list, send me your e-mail and I will be glad to get you hooked up. The year is already racing ahead of me! There are submissions to send, photos to edit, musicians to support, and new friends to meet (hope you are one of them)! I wish you all creative success and joy in your lives. Happy New Year!