Fresh Frozen Family Fig Food

This article is a repost by Mariam D. Pineno from Find The Write Words:

“Thankful from fig tree to taste buds, I’m sharing my revision of the old tried-’n’-true Pillsbury Prize-winning recipe for banana luncheon bread. My fresh-fig version spans the years from 1950 (the year before my marriage!), the publishing year of the 2nd Grand National 100 prize-winning recipes–to today.”

“In deference to a granddaughter who prefers nut-free goodies (brownies, breads, and even toll house cookies) a couple of today’s mini loaves will go into the freezer labeled Fig Bread (no nuts). Thankful for all family members, it is our pleasure to cater to all tastes. You can, too.”


“This recipe is adjusted for using frozen fresh figs which will add a bit of moisture as they thaw in the batter in baking. I cut figs in half before adding to electric food chopper. I cut up an extra 3/4 to 1 cup–finely diced for texture. HINT: Frozen fruits are easier to work with unless you want to mash them like a ripe banana.”

    Pre-heat to bake @ 350 f  (50-55 min. for mini loaves)
    Mix together. . . . . . . . . .2   Cups sifted flour
                                                1 tsp. baking powder
                                                1/2 tsp. soda
                                                1 tsp. salt
    Cream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/2 cup shortening; add gradually
                                                 1 & 1/4 cups sugar, creaming well
    Beat in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 eggs, one at a time & 1 tsp. vanilla; Beat well
    Add . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 cup chopped and 1/2 cup diced figs
    Fold in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
    Spoon batter into greased (or sprayed) aluminum mini loaf pans. If doubling recipe for 3 plain and 3 with nuts, place one perfect half-walnut for ease in identifying “with nuts” tins when baked.
    Bake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, checking with wooden toothpick to be sure it comes out dry, not sticky.
    “Cool thoroughly before slicing to serve. Or sneak a “heel” warm–even if it crumbles. Hey, the cook can do that!”
    “Later, for Christmas, as fresh-figs do not a figgy pudding make, I’ll tie on a combination of hot pink and moss-green ribbon around frozen gift loaves in see-through zipper-locked 1-quart bags. That’s my plan for sharing a gift in good taste (pun intended). What’s your food gift going to be?”

    Here’s the last part of my post Fun Fig Facts from my blogsite iCygnet
    Just what do we do with all these peculiar delicacies?
    Here is a link of recipe ideas.

Crochet to Comfort

There were 2 magazines that “mysteriously” appeared in my mailbox a few months ago. It has been at least 8 years since I subscribed to a magazine.  I had no time to read the articles, didn’t want to spend money, plus I would need to dispose of outdated issues. My name was purposely put on a mailing list — a lesser form of harassment than stalking. The first magazine I cancelled, but I didn’t get to cancel the 2nd magazine.  It arrived Monday.

I looked at the table of contents, scanned the recipes and then spotted a short article that caught my attention: Handmade scarves for traumatized women.  I knew women who crocheted, knit or sewed hats for cancer victims, but I never heard of anyone making something for victims of abuse.   A young woman, age 29 (I’m over 50. She’s young to me) suffered from depression earlier in her life as a result of trauma.  At the suggestion of her therapist, she decided to re-explore a craft she learned as a child — crocheting.   Within a few months JoHanna gave away the 15 scarves she crocheted to other abuse survivors.

Now JoHanna continues to create comfort through crocheted scarves and offers them to girls and women through her website.

If you know of anyone (even yourself) who needs a special boost of comfort to continue moving forward through life, contact JoHanna.   She will wrap you with woven warmth to heal your head and heart.

Participation in art, crafts, music, reading have always provided therapeutic comfort for people in need.   JoHanna has found HER voice through her crochet hook and she creates scaves for strength to girls and women who have thankfully survived their episode of abuse.   Thank you JoHanna!


2 Seconds or Less

2 Seconds or Less

The blessings received from being a teacher continue to delight me as I learn about the avenues of study and careers my students pursued. The banner at the top of the page shows the company that a former student formed while in college.

We sat together for a 45-minute a week oboe lesson while she studied music — and life.  Ally was an advanced student and enjoyed music so much that her parents invested in an upgrade Rigoutat oboe to improve her playing. Her family was from Texas and found me through their teacher and the internet.

Ally moved with her mother, father, 2 younger sisters. The entire family relocated for her father’s job at the nearby nuclear power plant. Within a short time after their move, her father was killed in car accident just miles from her home on one of the curvy back roads of Pennsylvania. I only had the chance to meet her father one time before he passed away.

Ally barely became acclimated to the new state, town, school, friends —  she became fatherless! Those were dark days for Ally. The next year she had the opportunity to meet my kind, considerate father. Ally was hired to operate the coffeehouse while my mother and I worked on a new picture book project. My father would talk about tuba and marching band with her. I was happy to share my father. Ally was a great team member and fit so well into the roll of barista. She lightened up the room with her smile and bubbly personality.

Eventually Ally stopped taking lessons but continued to work in the coffeehouse. Within one year after Ally met my father, he died from complications from hip surgery. The following week, Ally took the time to comfort me as we were cleaning the coffeehouse at the end of the evening.

An absentee spouse had already been calculating an exit plan. He had acquired all my earned income as well as the benefits of my generous family in order to raise “your-mother-in-law”  as he referred to HIS mother who died 2007.  I wasn’t needed anymore . . . my paternal protection passed away. I was alone though my mother visited monthly. If it weren’t for my sensitive students and coffeehouse Phamily, I would never had made it through the next 2 years.

Ally’s new company: 2 Seconds or Less says it all.  Life IS short. We can make the most of our life selfishly pursuing our own pleasures — OR we can create an environment of joy and hope for the people we meet along the way — because they could be gone in 2 Seconds or Less.

If you are searching for a cause to support, perhaps you will consider helping with Ally’s new organization.  “. . . we hate that people all over the world are needlessly dying for lack of food. We want to change that, and so we live to make a difference in the lives of the hungry.”


11 Nov 2012

by sakshivashist

As days go by 

and scars go dry

There’s still healing to be done

for a somewhere someone

Who was hurt

By decision of others

And steps were taken

Which turn things around

Till peace was nowhere to be found

and yet the conscience

Blamed and flamed

Each day in da agony

Of what happened

And what further could have had

– But no force

Could control a withering heart

Enclosing a despise for all those

Who had laughed 

the whole while

when a soul stood there

Controlling its cries

For solace and

unearthed facts and pictures

Which might prove the


Of what happened that day

And what also could have happened if they

Took a step ahead

and miscalculated instead

Wonders of Work

There is nothing in the world other than art and oboe that I enjoy participating in more than WORK.  There are so many benefits to working that go beyond a paycheck.

I started my first job at age 17 at McDonalds.  I was assigned to the grill and made burgers, fries, milkshakes, egg McMuffins.   I had to clean floors and empty trash in the seating area.  Unless I had a rehearsal or concert, I worked exclusively on weekends. I was glad for the work and money. I never had the attitude that the “job” was beneath me or not appropriate to my future career. (Best employee 11/10/2012 – Kara)


By the time I was in college, I started working part-time as a tutor.  I tutored Music 101 students — non-music majors who needed assistance understanding the difference between the sounds of instruments and certain composers music.    I was a conscientious student. Though I was an art major, the music professors recommended I tutor students who needed help with their class.   I found ways to relate the student’s area of study to music and enjoyed working in an area related to my degree — education.

Before I graduated from college, I was hired for an official art teaching position.   I taught drawing, design & graphics, 9th grade general art, jewelry, pottery, art appreciation.   I formuled ideas, assignments, graded, displayed, prepared supplies, disciplined.   No one needed to monitor me.  I was self-motivated to do the best job possible.   After two years of temporary positions, I divided a paper into columns to mark the pros and cons of the current job, but decided to take a full-time position that required me to move. I retained the connection with music colleagues after the move.


I planned to remain in the school system for at least 10 years. I stayed 11.5 years. The entrepreneurial spirit that I exhibited since selling pewter jewelry at age 16 needed to be nurtured. I was 32 when I “retired.” The adventure of working every day had just begun.  I never needed someone to coach or prod me to work. I began building an amazing business that developed into a marvelous merging of art, and music. The final addition was a coffeehouse. A restaurant was not in the picture as I was growing up — definitely not a dream. But what a joy the inclusion of coffeehouse was to my art studio. Sometimes, it barely seemed like “work” even though I was on call about 98 hours a week.


I loved all my jobs that were destroyed by a hostile spousal takeover.  My pay was nothing to brag about, but the connection to my family of art, music and coffeehouse friends was “priceless.”

Service with Subs and Spanish

One of the best things I’ve found about relocating to a small town is the hospitality in most of the service and restaurant establishments.

Subway Club

Tonight I stopped by the local downton Subway and stayed to study.   They only opened this location a year ago and I have already found this downtown location one of the best franchises in the area.   The employees have been trained well enough to be efficient with their order taking and hold a pleasant conversation with the patrons.It is also nice to realize that the employees are familiar with my standard one or two orders — considering they see multitudes of people over a weeks time.

There was a young gentleman (Jake) tonight who while he was sweeping floors was able to hold a short converstation.  He was notably concerned that he would get his work done on time — an admirable quality showing his conciousness as a paid employee.  I was at the subshop long enough to require an additional sandwich, so Amanda suggested a flatbread egg sandwich — great choice.

I was studying Spanish phrases at a table when two customers sat down next to me. They were string musicians discussing how to switch-play a violin.   I pulled up a video of a fiddler explaining the difference between the left-handed and right-handed violin.  See Video.

OK — it was bold of me to interrupt them and step into their converation — but that is how you meet amazing people in your life.  I interupted carefully and showed them the info I found online about customizing a violin to be held and played in the non-traditional way.  I found out that they where freelance musicians hired to play in the local college musical “Into the Woods.”   We had a 5 minute conversation and then they ran off to the rehearsal that was to last at least three hours.

Spanish guitar is my favorite form of guitar music.  It is incredibly expressive and exhilarating and uses the instrument in so many unique ways other than just strumming chords.

Chance encounters, maybe I will see them again, maybe not — but it was a connection through food and music.

50 Shades of Grey


Tonight I met the sister of a classmate from my High School.  I had the chance to let her know how much I admired her family for being the only black family to enroll in my small town school in the 1970s and ask what it was like for them.  We knew we received a very good public school education and acknowledged the respect we gave to teachers who were in charge of our education. We reminisced about the “old days” as they were — but mostly admitted how glad we were to move on in our life from High School.  Over 35 years later, this wonderfully educated women transcends the prejudices of society, towns and gender based systems that still exist regarding race and gender.

This is a re-blog from 2012 and seemed very appropriate to re-post after seeing

It’s interesting how much our country is shades of grey, yet our choice tomorrow is between “black and white.”

When I taught in public school in the 1980s – early 1990s, there was a principal in the school who saw everything black or white.  That always infuriated me — as I KNEW there were many shades of grey.  I’m generally tolerant of varieties — I’m an artist and musician.

Thank you Miss Clairol, I’m not yet ready to let my hair go completely grey.

This is one of many light to dark brown hair dye colors I will use till I decide to go “silver”


Of course nature has its share of grey animals. Some furry, some scaley, some slimy, some leathery.


Sometimes birds are grey before their feathers change to either white, black or pink (flamingo)


Check out the baby panda who starts out pink and ends up white and black.


This is just a small sampling of grey paint colors:

With only a little research you can discover all the shades of human color — and I haven’t seen much black OR white:

This portrait project seeks to discover every possible human skin tone.

That’s quite a project!

Costumes, Candy, Creativity

This is a repost of a blogpost from last year.  The only change was with the weather – a dreary drizzly evening – yet the groups of visiting treat seekers was varied and steady.

It seems like a strange tradition to me, but tonight I really enjoyed handing out surprises to all the children who were “drawn” to my house by the porch light. Children and adults have a longstanding interest in playing dress up — wearing costumes. Our Trick or Treat night was rescheduled to Saturday night due to hurricane Sandy’s Frankenstorm. The change was a good move since everyone would have been puddle jumping and slipping around on wet leaves otherwise.

The air was crisp and cool this evening. The sidewalks were darkened through the absence of street lights and limited household participants on the block. A porch light is the symbol for We’re Open For the Event, and I used the word “drawn” above because my chosen treat was a colorful pencil. There was a huge selection of pencil designs: aliens, camouflage, daisies, smiley faces, cars, hearts, dinosaurs. The response from the chilled costumed characters was favorable, each reaching into the basket and digging through the assortment till he or she found the perfect pencil.


The children were very gracious about the gift. They used good manners to say “Thank-you”, then ran back to their parent to proudly report “I got a pencil!”

One little fella asked “Are you a teacher?” “Yes” I said. “I teach people to draw.” “What will you draw with your pencil?” I asked. Nearly every child had something that popped into their mind that they would draw when they returned home. A few children proudly announced “I’m going to use my new pencil in school.”


Sometimes it’s the unexpected things that make a day stand out among the passing of the week. My happy highlight was Halloween this week.

This year the most special treat for the night was a mini paint set:


What was your happy highlight this week?
Drop a line and let me know.
Thanks, mARTi

Alive to Survive to Thrive

What better way to spend my time in “witness protection” (PFA without the paper) than to learn a new language! In 2010 I claimed to my customers, students and friends that if I died tomorrow, I’d have no regrets in my life… Well, that was a lofty evaluation. Or should I say coverup, based on the behind the scenes unraveling true saga.

Healing the head (see earlier posts) can be complex, certainly less understood than physical injury, and almost exclusively overlooked by law enforcement and the legal system — unless it ends in tragedy. Fortunately for me, the survival section in my brain guided me out of a relationship at the point the alarm flashed code RED.


So here I am, wounded, yet fully alive to survive and thrive — AND already fully into the process to learn a new language.  I’ve started with Spanish.   I’m training my brain by immersing it in the language everyday.   The program that I started with included 8 cds at a low introductory price.  It took me a couple months to get through the intro set.  I received the FULL set if 16 cds.  I’m on the second set (level II) of another 16 cds.   I expect to completed with these in another week.

One of the other methods I’m using to study Spanish is through viewing DVDs.  I purchased 8 dvds at a discount that included a Spanish language option and subtitles in Spanish.   The first movie I watched was “Cats and Dogs”.  My next movie will be either Flushed Away or Shrek the Third.

I’m not fluent.  I speak at the level of a toddler. There is hope because I have advanced past one/two words to 3 – 5 word sentences.

I’ve found quite a few helpful programs online, yet still find having the cd playing in the car each day has been working well for my immersion.  There are videos, blogs, movies to help with training the brain.     I’ll report back about my language progress — slow, steady and sure.

Talk to ‘ya again soon — maybe in Spanish — but I haven’t learned how to spell yet — so there’s another challenge.   Till then . . . adios amigos.

Winged Wonders

Ever since I was young, I was fascinated by wildlife, particularly birds.  I was mostly familiar with backyard birds: robin, grackle, mockingbird, sparrow, finch, oriole.  Occassionally, I would set up a small tape recorder to capture the sounds. My favorite bird was the mockingbird because it was so adept with making musical imitations. I could spot it anywhere by sound, then locate in the tree or on the wire where it perched.

northern mockingbird

The mockingbird is one of the most observed species of backyard birds in the northeast where I reside and my favorite made-into-movie books is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  The flutist in my wind/string trio named her music studio Mockingbird Studio.  Teresa also works with rehabilitation of wild birds — pretty cool how we met later in life, performed music together.  We recorded our first cd Silver Swan which has a composition Passenger Pigeon. 


At some point in my science studies, I was introduced to endangered and extinct species.   I read about passenger pigeons  and their amazing ability to travel for miles and relocate their original location in order to deliver communication. The were killed into extinction by humans.

I came across an article online about a carrier pigeon that was responsible for saving the lives of thousands of soldiers in Europe.

Over the years I lost my edge of knowledge about backyard birds but decided to name the art and music studio I founded after a majestic bird.  Instead of using the adult bird name of Swan (though easier to spell), I chose the baby swan Cygnet. You can read about the history of the swan and the story of cygnets when you go to the home page on  Nearly one year has passed since my amazing company was extinguished — put into extinction by hateful human abuse and terror tactics.


This blog began July 2012 as a means to reflect and rebuild for the future.   My new eCygnet eCommerce website, blog and Twitter accounts provide information and products linking the arts world globally.   iCygnet blog and Twitter explore ideas and places in addition to providing information for help and hope for individuals who may have been wounded in spirit through bullying and abuse.