Holiday Wishes

With my son’s assistance,
our perfect christmas tree, a superior noble was found and finally decorated.
Now boxes were opened and from it is removed a wooden horse,
a big Santa, the Snowman family and other items
to bring the house into the holiday spirit.

I would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season
and the very best in the coming year

Peace be with you

Thank you for your visit
and comment . . .



Thanksgiving Day wishes

To those who are hosting this years Thanksgiving Day event,
may everything go according to your plans and
that your home is filled with the laughter
of friends and family.

You, who are traveling, may your journey be safe
and your hearts filled with joy.

Now I am off to the kitchen
to do my magic.

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and comment . . .



Egmont's Cranberry Salsa

For the last 14-16 years that I have been making it, the recipe has undergone an evolution from when it was first discovered in a Martha Stewart’s magazine. Over the years, numerous changes have been applied to it and now it has become more my recipe. With this years version, it may also just be my best, so I better write it down in order that I know or next year.

This salsa is not only good on Thanksgiving Day, but also later in the year on cold cuts instead of mayonnaise. I even had it today while it was cooking with tortilla rounds and it was delicious. Give it a try and let me know your thoughts on this.

Jars of cranberry salsa cooling

As with all recipes, we need to make adjustment to suit our tastes, so if you make adjustments that is all right with me, just remember to maintain proportions with the taste you are trying to achieve. Here is the recipe for making it:

The base: 

Tostitos chunky salsa - mild x1

Ocean Spray whole cranberry sause x2 
(Note: this year the can is 2 oz. smaller and the whole cranberries almost invisible when compared to the previous years.)

You can vary the quantities on the remaining ingredients but this is what I used this year: 

1 large or 2 small red onions, cut small

1 medium size onion, cut small

1 bunch (5 to a bunch) green onions, cut very fine

3 medium-large plump Roma tomatoes, diced

1 large red bell pepper, cut small

1 large lemon and lemon peel slivers, (roll lemon on the cutting board with some pressure to release the juices and oils  before cutting the skin into thin slivers which are then copped to 1/2” length

1/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of yellow raisins 

2 bunches of cilantro (if the bunch is small get 3, you want plenty) chop real fine

1 medium large orange, sliced and diced
1/4 − 1/2 cup pine nuts, whole
This is what I am going to try next year.

Cook all these at medium flame and when the center bubbles, reduce heat to medium-low, stir often so the bottom does not burn. Cook for one hour with the last 20 minutes on low.

Remember you can prepare this several days in advance and refrigerate. These extra days allow the flavors to merge. When serving, please remember to warm it up. Enjoy.

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A visual 90 second gem of a film

Once in a while there comes along a commercial that appears more like a movie clip, a trailer if you will, to bring its message to you. British Airways “To Fly - To Serve” is executed as if it were a major motion picture.

This is not an endorsement for British Airways, rather the desire to share a masterful and superbly crafted film, which embodies the companies heritage with the history of aviation. These elements were brought together through people, the aircraft, and CGI.

After watching the commercial, I know you will agree with me, that this is indeed a visual gem of nostalgia, which captures the romance of early flight, including the men who who not only pioneered aviation, but dared the unknown.

British Airways 2011 ‘To Fly. To Serve’ commercial

Those first young men, the pioneers, the aviators building super highways in an unknown sky. Leaving wives and children in their snug homes, with just a kiss and a promise to return.

Roaring into the clouds to battle wind and stars.

Their safety systems built of brain and heart. They landed where there were no lights. Transforming strange names from tall tales into pictures on postcards home. And those next young men, traveling further, faster, higher than any in history and the ones who followed them, who skimmed the edge of space, the edge of heaven, the edge of dreams.

And we follow them up there to live by an unbreakable promise. The same four words stitched into every uniform of every captain who takes their command.
To Fly. To Serve.

The making of the British Airways ‘To Fly. To Serve’ commercial

Making the most of visual effects

The background of the aircrafts in the film

I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.


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The Leonardo of Silicon Valley

I am saddened by the loss of a great innovator and modern day Santa Clara's Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, who passed away this afternoon.

If you are an Apple product user you will know what I mean, because it was his vision that propelled us into the digital era and to experience things differently.

Please observe a moment of silence.

1984 Super Bowl Commercial introducing the
Macintosh Computer

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and comment . . .


Art for Aids 2011 Auction

Last Friday I attended the 15th annual Art for AIDS 2011 Auction in San Francisco, held at the San Francisco Design Center Galleria. This event had its beginning back in 1997, when a group of friends wanted to give back to their community and so Art for AIDS was born.

In the early years the planning committee consisted of a small group of artists, a teacher, a mental health program manager and a sales person. The days and nights were filled with soliciting artists, searching for sponsors, creating marketing materials, publicizing the event, pleading for sponsors, and driving to Napa Valley for wine donations and seeking sponsors. Since then each year Art for AIDS has gained in stature and notoriety, and continues as an event that follows its original mission—to raise much needed funds for those with, and at risk for, HIV.

This year I was invited by my good friend and photographer, Charles Anselmo, a contributor and member of the Art for AIDS juror. He had asked me to contribute a work of art for the next event in 2012, to which I have agreed.

So I wish to share with you some of the incredible art in a slideshow and my experiences at the event with photographs I had taken.

Samples of artwork from the Art for AIDS auction -
(all images from Art for AIDS website)

Here is a selection of photographs I took. As you can see I had a great time.

Leah Lau, UCSF AIDS Health Project Board Member, photographer and 
exhibit juror being interviewed 

Leah Lau

Franc D’Ambrosio, cast member from The Phantom of the Opera

View from the second floor of the bidders

Art work samples for the ‘live auction’

Patrons viewing the art

One of the booths for the ‘silent auction’ 

Patrons sampling some of the many delicacies being offered

Charles Anselmo, photographer, A4A juror, contributing artist and 
DeWitt Cheng, art critic and A4A juror, talking with an attendee


My good friend Charles Anselmo standing next to his large photographic print featuring
Room 3, Hardin Elementary School, New Orleans, Katrina aftermath

Greta and Manu Schnetzler, Target Practice, print on metal, being auctioned

Charles Anselmo, Room 3, Hardin Elementary School, New Orleans, 
being auctioned by Patrick Walsh

Jock Sturges, Except for Clarke, LA Jenny, 2009 print being auctioned

Michael Venera, artist and winning bidder of the Jock Sturges print

Catherine Mackey, Globe #3, Multi-medium painting


Names mentioned in this post and their appropriate link:

Art for AIDS website

Art for AIDS FaceBook page

Leah Lau, UCSF AIDS Health Project Board Member,
photographer and A4A exhibit juror

Charles Anselmo, photographer and A4A exhibit juror
(site under development)

DeWitt Cheng, art critic and exhibit juror

Jock Sturges, photographer

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and comment . . .

A gift

Upon retrieving the mail, I held in my hands a small, almost square package from a person who’s name or address was unfamiliar. It was a book about heart shaped stones and only after reading the accompanying enclosed letter, did I realized it came from a person I met April 4th at Bean Hollow State Park beach, which lies between San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

The Gift

Her name is Elizabeth and she was traveling down along the Pacific coast taking photographs of the scenery. We struck up a conversation and after an introduction I told her that a little further south was Whitehouse Cliff trail that leads to a cove I have considered my pirates/smugglers cove, my place to escape to. The place I discovered my first  two heart shaped stones during a storm.

Deep down inside me I wanted to share that spot with her, since it was a public spot, but that was not to be. During the course of taking pictures, Elizabeth called out to me and gestured I come to her, for she had discovered a heart shaped opening in the rock formation. Elizabeth continued photographing the varied stone structures as did I and before I left, giving her the name of my web site that she wrote down in her notebook.

From my collection

When I learned the gift came from her, three months after our initial contact and that she remembered how personally important heart shaped stones are to me, I was deeply touched by her kindness, especially as her correspondence contained some sad news, the kind we all face at one point or another.

The brief hour we shared at a public beach, each fulfilling our creative vision, while sharing a conversation, has now become a permanent memory through the gift. Maybe our paths will cross again and we meet once more, for it would be something I would look forward to with pleasure.

Thank you Elizabeth for brightening my day.

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and comment . . .


Celebrating a royal wedding with a cake

In honor of the occasion of the event in England, I set out to bake a Bunt cake, shaped in a crown for my British neighbor Valerie, who was hosting a brunch for some of the ladies in the area.

Decorated with Borage flowers
bow and ribbon to emulate Kate’s veil and train

Unfortunately I was unable to photograph Valerie’s beautiful table setting as I had a cardiologist appointment and when I was there not all the food was set up. Nevertheless I can tell you that there was a portrait of William and Kate just below the flower arrangement. A beautiful light and airy fabric cascaded down from the elevated flower arrangement, creating wonderful hills and valleys. In between the rolling material was set a typical British silver tea service and dishes.

Photo by Valerie

Valerie honored me by having reserved the center of the table for my cake, that too was elevated by a glass pedestal. I had also dropped of a plate of mini blueberry muffins, decorated by two different Dutch irises, a number of Borge and yellow Daisy flowers.

I hope that you all had a great time sharing the event with friends as we have so little to celebrate these days.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine
Hugo Burnand/Clarence House/PA/Landov

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with attendants and then with families
Hugo Burnand / Clarence House / PA / Landov

The recipe 

8 tbsp./40 oz. unsalted butter
1 cup of sugar
4 large organic brown eggs
3 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of firm Greek yogurt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. orange extract
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried apricots - diced
3/4 cup yellow raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, cut into small pieces


  1. On a large dish or medium bowl mix the apricots, raisins, cranberries and pecans, then dust with flower to prevent them from sining to the bottom during baking
  2. Mix the soft butter with sugar until well blended
  3. Add one egg at a time and blend
  4. Add orange and vanilla extract and briefly blend
  5. Slowly add the flour with the mixer at low to medium speed. After half of the flower has been added, add the yogurt and mix, then resume adding the remaining flour. If the dough feels to thick and not elastic enough, add a dash of milk.
  6. Using a spatula, fold in the dried fruit and nut mixture until well distributed. Do not use the hand blender or mixer for this step.
  7. Now add the mixture to a Bunt pan that was buttered and dusted with flour.
  8. In a preheated oven set to 350° degrees, set the cake mold in the center of the oven. Check after 45 minutes by inserting a toothpick or cake needle. Cake usually takes 50-60 minutes to bake.


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A leap of faith

Since I finished the painting “White on White”—my last post—more than a month ago, I felt I had only scratched the surface when it came to interpreting Typography Graveyard, a collection of photographs taken over a period of more than five years of the Berkeley telephone poles and the remains of fliers and posters.

Unfinished and in progress, stage 3
8 x 8” inch (20.32 x 20.32 cm) Shopping bags for a base, treated and
sculpted Bristol paper on canvas

So after taking a leap of faith these last weeks, I have set out upon a journey with the idea of creating a collection of paintings that would take my visual interpretation from a photograph to another level and with no less than thirty-five canvases. A huge undertaking even if these canvases are only 5 x 5” inches (12.7 x 12.7 cm), with an additional undisclosed number that are 8 x 8” inch (20.32 x 20.32 cm).

Unfinished and in progress, stage 3
5 x 5” inch (12.7 x 12.7 cm) treated and sculpted Bristol paper on canvas then covered with gesso,
 further adjustments made after adding new pieces of treated Bristol paper

Unfinished and in progress, stage 3
5 x 5” inch (12.7 x 12.7 cm) treated and sculpted Bristol paper on canvas

This undertaking of mine is now in its third week and during this time many technical discovers have been made as I experiment with different kinds of archival art papers, including vintage book pages, something I thought I would never do, since I love books too much to actually be cutting one up. Once the first cut was made, the next several were easier and now I not only have vintage book pages, but also plenty of interesting binding material and fibers for use in another project, with a few ideas already percolating in the back of my mind.

Unfinished and in progress, stage 1
5 x 5” inch (12.7 x 12.7 cm) treated Bristol paper on canvas

With each new canvas that is started I take another leap of faith in how I use the materials so that there are plenty of differences and yet enough similarities from one canvas to the next, including going back to those I first considered finished and ready for their last two stages, making further adjustments. 

With the first twelve canvases ready for their last two stages, I have opted to first build the foundation to which all layers are added, this way I can maintain control over quality and the look of the series, which otherwise could be jeopardized. This most likely will take two weeks with an additional three to six weeks for building the layers that will represent the Typography Graveyard, with an equal amount for painting the layers in acrylic and then finishing the painting in oil.

Unfinished and in progress, stage 1
5 x 5” inch (12.7 x 12.7 cm) treated charcoal paper on canvas

This will be only the second time in which I have set out to do a series, the other time was in 2000 and took eighteen months, over seven hundred sketches to complete 8 (?) 36 x 36” inch paintings based on Russian Reconstructivism and German Bauhaus.

Unfinished and in progress, stage 1
5 x 5” inch (12.7 x 12.7 cm) various art papers and vintage book text on canvas

Unfinished and in progress, stage 1
5 x 5” inch (12.7 x 12.7 cm) various art papers and vintage book text on canvas

So please join me over the next couple of months as I will sharing more photographs documenting the progress of these small paintings from the layering stages throughout the painting phase.

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and comment . . .