Estonian Independence Party 2011
Andrus Viirg presenting Estonian chocolate. He had more important things to say, but this was my first time hearing Estonian.
Estonian Independence Day Party 2011
President Ingrid Echter welcomed me with a generous smile. She asked the members to be friendly and helpful with my book research and they have been. Many Estonians shared their stories with me, one even in the coat closet.
Blue, black and white bracelets for my first Estonian Independence Party in 2011. I gave a set to the president of the Estonian association, Ingrid Echter.
I had bought two of Nancy Bush's books on knitting Estonian lace then I found out she was displaying her work at the lace museum in Berkeley. Joy! She signed the two books and also read my first book. She helped me form a few sentences pertaining to knitting in the story.
This is Sült, an Estonian aspic made with pork and jellied broth. Some Sült recipes have allspice in them to make them more topaz color. I didn't think this one was stewed with allspice. I can't wait to try out a few recipes.
This is verivorstid, Estonian blood sausage made with barley, pork and pork blood. There are other kinds that use lamb or beef blood, too. After they are made and boiled, they are baked with bacon for more flavor. I liked them! You can eat them with lingonberry sauce or mustard.
Ginger cookies. Ginger started as a rhizome in tropical climates and found its way into cookies and gingerbread houses a continent away. What a curious life. Estonians have their tradition of piparkoogid, ginger snaps, during the holiday season.
I had watched The Singing Revolution documentary a few times before I attended a screening of it at Stanford. It was the second screening. The film is emotional as well as informative. A few months after I bought my DVD, Andrus, third from the right, gave me an educator version with a second disc of maps, historical documents and interviews. I read each one!
I met Her Excellency, Marina Kaljurand, the Estonian ambassador to the U.S. for the first time at the Estonian Independence party 2012, held in the Latvian house. She's a beautiful, gracious and super intelligent woman.
I learned how to make blood sausage! The group was down one sausage grinder/stuffer so I brought my Waring. This is at Kadi Montler's house, such a generous hostess. More pictures are on my Facebook page.
We made a ton. These blood sausages are resting before being boiled.
I opened the Song Festival for the combined 2013 West Coast Estonian Days and Global Estonian Festival with the Star-Spangled Banner. You can hear it here. Mati Otsmaa accompanied me.
I met Aare Onton at my first Estonian event in 2011. He told me to read Sofi Oksanen's novel Purge. The story is disturbing and is meant to be. I met with Aare for weeks of Mondays at his house, writing down what he told me of his life story and seeing his pictures. We've become great friends. He read my first book and attending a discussion about it. I appreciate his support so much!
I toured the Estonian Embassy in Washington D.C. Some of my story will be set in the building.
I heard President Ilves talk at Stanford University about the digital age. Ambassador Kaljurand is wearing the pink scarf.
I went to the Baltic Conference at Stanford University in October 2014. The talks gave me huge amounts of material to spin my fiction.
Uku Lember, middle guy in the grey shirt, presented his research for his dissertation at University of California, Berkeley, in November 2014. I needed specific information pertaining to my story and he had it!!
This is Anu. I met her through a parent of my son's youth choir. She came over and showed me about life in Estonia. Since then, we've done many things together. This is at Hakone Gardens, Saratoga.
I have two grand pianos in the living room where I teach. That takes up over 50 sq ft just for the instruments. The Suzuki Method of teaching music encourages modeling and simultaneous play.
I teach voice lessons on the keyboard so I can see more of what the singer is doing. Corinne is singing to a mirror. For more studio information, visit www.singersheart.com.
Simona has accompanied me for my concerts. I asked her for her bio to print in the program. She said, "I come to America and they keep asking me for bio ..." So, I wrote her some, after a great interview and blintzes. You can find that at www.simonasnitkovsky.blogspot.com. I like her last name so much, I used it for one of my characters.
This is my nephew, "dressed up in a tie" for my concert. Thank you so much for coming, Julian!
Singing in the crook of the piano is such a long tradition. I wonder when it started? I'm not singing here, just posing. The smile and cheeks are wrong for tall vowels. Singing with tall vowels makes the voice more appealing to the ear.
Dr. Benson and me.
Fall 2014 after he conducted Tormis's Raua Needmine. The performance was excellent. I'm taking private conducting lessons from Dr. Benson to be good enough to be accepted into the master's program for choral conducting.
I have two acoustic formal recitals every year. A third to half of the students participate.
I accompany all my voice students at our recitals. I'm a horrible page-turner so I'll often copy and tape music together.
Sometimes there are more people taking pictures than performers.
Once a year, we have a huge shindig. We host a dinner theater with live musicians and learn to sing with microphone technique. Everyone has to sing four songs in four different genres. More info about this is on my studio website.
My little five-year-old student shines in her dress and her smile. Even the drummer's having a great time.
Rehearsing for the big dinner concert.
The photographer wanted a crazy picture. He got it. I attempted to handle them everyday. Phew!
My kids and I painted the plywood risers one summer with "oops" paint and then shellacked it.
Choir trip to Hawaii. We sang fabulously and looked awesome!
We even sang on the USS Missouri where Emperor Hirohito and others signed the surrender documents that ended WWII. Our repertoire was a patriotic one. We toured the spring after September 11th. A few students pulled out of the trip. A few students were targeted by airport security. The tour company forgot about us and they scrambled to find us a tour guide. After that, everything went successfully for the week we sang and played.
Some singers from the high school choir are posing for me backstage while they wait to perform. Aren't they fun?
Why can't a Christmas tree be pink? I wonder what you just thought ...
I used to love entering things in the county fair. The fair has gone down in the last ten years. Sad. This is my daughter's christening gown.
Sometimes I treat my voice students to a scrapbooking day!
I made a complete scrapbook for a very special student. The pictures are only adhered in the middle so that they wouldn't bend when the pages were tri-folded for centerpieces at her graduation party.
I made a logo for my girlfriends and me for our first over-night girl's night at the beach. "Such bride" comes from the first letters of Susie, Christine, Brigitte and Denise. I designed it on Adobe Illustrator with our favorite colors and then printed them out on a white iron-on medium. The colors changed. The one on the left isn't ironed.
I manufacture these stencils. The designs are mostly Japanese family crests. They are made of high-grade stainless steel, all manufactured in the USA. Here is a website devoted to the stencils.
I participate in craft fairs occasionally. I figured out a way to get lots of merchandise moving: offer gifts for buying five. My dear friend Denise helps me and I love her for that!
I've loved the process of dying fibers since a Girl Scout event boiling orange onion skins collected from farmers in Japan. They thought my leaders where crazy collecting garbage. I was at an Air Force base in Japan at the time.
I wanted to try out some dying techniques to get three colors on a white shirt. What's so hard about that? The black! These are prototypes for the Estonian fair. I think they turned out awesome, but no one bought one.
Tie dye makes great Christmas presents!
This is a close-up of bomaki tie dying on a silk scarf. I gave this one and another blue, black and white one to the ambassador and her aide. Here is a detailed explanation of the technique and more samples.
For my sister's wedding, I made the bridemaid's dresses out of raw silk and dip dyed the skirt portions before sewing on the bodice. She like the wicking pattern of the "pagoda" red from Dharma Trading Co.
I made twelve of these dresses in one month; the twelfth girl didn't even make the wedding. Each custom fit dress is made from crepe-back satin with chiffon overlay. The invisible zipper contains the overlay. I don't really know how I managed it. My daughter is second from the right, in the back. She sewed on the velvet ribbon at the waist.
Muffaletta sandwich. What's so special about it? The taste combination. My older sister made me my first muffaletta after she went to New Orleans. The salami, cold cuts and provolone may not be anything to brag about, but the sauce is surprising, adding a sour and bitter taste. I pulse in a food processor pickled capers, pickled green olives, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. You should try it!
How to take a picture of ground beef that looks appealing ...
Don't know, but this dish surprises everyone. They often request it after having tasted it. Cook the beef in plenty of minced garlic, soy sauce and sugar. If you get your hands on Mirin, add that or cooking sherry, but it isn't necessary. Dish the meat and sauce over medium-grain rice al dente, with peas and eggs. Sprinkle nori, dried seaweed, over the top and devour.
A few months after I wrote my first book and after about twenty people read it, I gathered them together for a symposium. I recorded the fiesty session, but didn't take pictures except for the food. Once people arrived, I forgot ... These are the dishes featured in the story: Potstickers, or gyoza, pink mochi, dipped shortbread, oatmeal cookies, milk chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies with pink sprinkles. I bloged about the meeting here.
A pink lady apple (Cripps apple) stuffed with crushed walnuts, sugar and cinnamon and wrapped in puff pastry. I got this from an Estonian cookbook. I'll have to make my own version with homemade puff.
A pumpkin cake roll, straight from good ol' Better Homes and Gardens. Cream cheese frosting and pumpkin fit together like ... who cares. Eat it. Delicious.
My fisrt Challah bread.
That is too pretty to eat.
I found the best buttermilk biscuit recipe. I'll blog about it soon ... Can you imagine steam rising from the biscuit you broke open. Can you imagine the taste of a rich, flaky, buttery quick bread with the added tanginess of buttermilk?
Cinnabon brags about their seven rings in there cinnamon roll. Hey, I can do it too.
My gyoza. Recipe and instructions here.
Grasshopper pie. The green filling in a chocolate cookie crust is marshmallow base. The flavor can be mint, lime or pistachio - as long as the colors are green and brown, you can call it grasshopper pie.
Chewwy gingerbread sandwiched with tart lemon buttercream.
One Christmas i made many pounds of sausage as gifts. That was hard work!! This is the andouille recipe.
Four-layer chocolate cake from the Hershey's cocoa powder box - the semi-sweet version. You won't believe how moist this cake turns out. The batter is thin, almost like melted ice cream. Real butter for the frosting, of course. Try it. It's a super simple, impressive cake.
Nature boggles me. Fibonacci in proof. These are fennel bulbs sliced and caramelized in butter. Sweet and spicy.
My mother was a patient cook. She made these bacon wrapped mushrooms often for her little parties. They take forever to wrap. Your fingers get slimy and the round mushrooms get slippery. Poking that toothpick through them tests my patience. Guest munch them up and I feel like hoarding them. I still make them, so what does that say?
My grandmother is in the first row, on the far right. She is twelve in this picture. She was born in Königsberg, East Prussia in 1913.
Charlotte Luci Schroeder
My grandmother's confirmation date, March 21, 1927. Fourteen years old. The matt board is stamped "Oskar Goetze, Konisberg, Pr."
Charlotte Luzi Schroeder
My grandmother about 26 years old.
Charlotte Luzi Schroeder Doss
My grandmother posing after her marriage in 1940.
John Elliott Doss, Jr.
My father's father posing after his marriage to Charlotte. 1940.
John Elliott Doss, Jr.
This is my grandfather. I've been told he sang with the New York City Opera Company. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1916.
The Davis Family
My great grandmother is 4 and blurry. Her mother, Mary F. Copenhaver, and father, Edmond W. Davis. 1899.
This is my grandmother as a young lady.
My grandmother, in the 1970s.
This is the street the Ishikawa store is on.
My grandmother at the fabric store. Kameido, Japan.
My mother bundled tight for her Hundred-day-old picture, a Japanese tradition. I wonder what they did before cameras.
My mother posing for her seven-year-old picture, the last part of the shichi-go-san (7-5-3) tradition. Odd numbers are lucky in Japan.
Tomoe and Tan Ishikawa
My mother and little brother, in western clothes with slippers.
Tane and Tomoe Ishikawa
My mother and her mother. circa early '60s.
My grandfather. The only thing I know about him is that he took his wife and five children to live with his relatives in the countryside during the war.
My grandfather. Posing in western clothes with house slippers makes me chuckle.