Good Morning Darlings,
It’s Sunday and a little rainy here. So I thought I might write to you about a few things that have been keeping the rainy day blues away from me for a while.
One newer, one not as new, and one, well timeless. Well actually darlings, I would say that all of these things are timeless, so let’s begin.
Number One: Gwen.
Darlings, you can have Beyonce. Perhaps it’s sac-relig for me to say, but I don’t need Beyonce. I don’t need Beyonce because I get all my girl power from Gwen, I always have. I like Gwen’s version of feminism, which might be watered down to some, but is perfect for me. It’s not that I don’t believe that “leaning in” is right for some people, it’s just not for me. I like Gwen’s version of feminism because it’s not so overt, and to me it speaks louder than screaming it.
And darlings, I’m not saying that Gwen is a beacon for women’s rights, but I am saying that she’s been singing to me since I was about 9 and taught me a lot about what it means to be a strong woman, but also why vulnerability is a part of that strength and how we can use that to our advantage. She talks about love lost without placing blame, she talks about the dreams she has and the life she imagines for herself all the while knowing that these dreams might not come true. She’s kind of real, that Gwen. I like that since I’ve been listening to her sing, her emotions become her. She’s not angry – she’s strong.
No Doubt got me through every heartbreak and unsavory life experience. But Gwen made me understand just how OK it was to march to the beat of your own drum. I’ve never been normal, and although I think I have mostly my mom to thank for that, Gwen made me understand just how cool that was. And of course I love Gwen for the reasons all other little bit left of center, kinda sorta punk rock Girls did and do. She embodies this innate ability to maintain a incredibly strong personal style while her aesthetic continually changes. Because every time her aesthetic changes, it’s not for anybody else. It’s genuine, and that’s how her own style continues to permeate our culture. And my life.
But darlings, it’s not about her style or reminiscing about the good old days of the horn section. A few months ago, my girl Gwen released a new album on the heels of her divorce. And I have to say, I’ve never been too blown away by her solo music. I like it, but it doesn’t really make me feel much. Well, except for a few tracks here and there – let’s go back 11 years to the last solo piece that really made me feel.
Now fast forward to 2016. Gwen gets hurt (let’s remember the last time Gwen really got hurt resulted in Tragic Kingdom) and she makes an album in what feels like 16 hours. And it’s really really really good.
Listening to this album is like drinking a perfect Petite Sirah from the Russian River Valley. To me, there is no silkier liquid than a perfect Petite Sirah from that particular region. And unlike so many other wines, it feels like with every sip, this varietal gets better and better.
Every track on this album makes me feel something. And yes, it’s pop, but it’s really really really good pop, darlings. The album makes sense. It’s got that vulnerability that I was speaking of before, that vulnerability that so many female artists feel like they can’t have any more. But here, the vulnerability is strength and finding the ability to take control of what’s next. She doesn’t apologize and she doesn’t place blame. She is just a woman trying to make sense of what that means. And it’s interesting because she’s mourning the loss of a life defining relationship while cautiously engaging in something new and exciting, but real (not that I’m a fan darlings).
Anyway darlings, if you need a little cry and a little uplifting, this is your album. It’s pretty perfect.
Number Two: Alan
I love Alan Cumming. Darlings, you know this – he always ends up on my best dressed list and you know, he’s just such a rare renaissance man – with the most exquisite ability to entertain.
And with the February release of Alan Cumming sings Sappy Songs, it’s almost like he’s in your living room with you, singing you the songs that you sing to yourself when you think no one is listening. And wouldn’t that just be so wonderful?
Darlings, I have a confession to make – when I was 16 I met my soon to be first boyfriend at an Avril Lavinge concert. I was there kind of as a joke, I didn’t pay for the tickets, obviously. Now, I look back at that moment in time and the relationship in general and laugh. But for a while, I couldn’t believe that the song that was playing the moment I met this guy was “Complicated.” I couldn’t tell anyone that, what a way to lose cred. But really and truly – Alan Cumming covers it on this album and I wish I knew then that we shared such a guilty pleasure, because, well, I guess it at least makes it something of a high brow guilty pleasure.
But what I love the most on this album is the incredibly emotional cover of “And So It Goes,” by Billy Joel. Darlings, you know that as a Mid Atlantic-er, I have no choice but to love Billy Joel more than most things in life. But this. This is such a completely captivating version of an already, well, sappy, song.
Buy this album now and listen to it always. But listen to it especially when you want to know that there is someone else out there who wants to sing Miley Cyrus to an audience (just, you know, much better than you or I, darlings).
Number Three: Spring Tease Berry Pies
Darlings, you know how much I loathe the winter. Although this winter was not very terrible, it was long and seemingly keeps getting longer. It’s still too cold to not shiver in the morning and all of my navy and whites are sitting longingly in a rubbermaid tub in our upstairs hallway waiting for me to move them into the closet. But darlings, I just don’t know when that will happen.
So really, I thought I might take matters into my own hands. And even though I had no business doing so (these berries certainly aren’t REALLY in season for some time), I did it anyway.
To celebrate a dear friend visiting for 12 hours and to will summer to please, please, please let me get what I want, I made some berry hand pies. And they were delicious, so I thought I would share the recipe with you darlings – it’s just so easy (too easy, really) and delicious.
Simple berry hand pie
1.5 c. chopped strawberries
1 c. chopped blackberries
Zest from one lemon
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 pre-rolled pie crusts (I mean, you can make your own, but yesterday, I just didn’t feel like it)
1 egg, beaten
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, mix your berries.
To the mix of berries, add your lemon zest, ginger, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cornstarch, sugar and salt.
Put the mixture aside and let sit for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, roll out your pie crusts, and cut out circles about 6in in diameter – I used a small bowl as my guide.
When you have as many circles as your dough will yield, bring back the bowl of berries and let’s start putting these babies together.
Each circle of crust should get about 3 tablespoons of filling. Lubricate one side of the circle with a little water to help adhere. Cover the filling and attach the ends to each other – use a fork to ensure closure.
Brush the top of each pie with a bit of beaten egg and vent each pie with three slits.
Place the pies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn the baking sheet 180 degrees and bake for 20 minutes more or until golden brown.
But don’t forget to share with your friends!
So enjoy your Sunday, listen to some tunes and why not make a pie or two?