Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Eat. You'll Feel Better! - Jean's Recipe for Zeps - Italian Breadsticks

My cute self, hard at work in my Mother's Kitchen.
This picture is the first thing you'll see when you
enter my side door today.
In my family, we joke that, "Eat.  You'll feel better!" should be our motto.  And we do.  When we're happy, we eat.  When we're sad, we eat.  When we're not sure exactly what we feel, we eat!

So much of who I am blossomed next to my Mother, my Sister, my Aunts, my Grandmother, and my Cousins in the kitchen.  My Mom is Italian, and one of ten children.  My Dad was German, and one of eight.  Both were raised during the depression, and their Mothers worked diligently to feed their large hungry families on a budget, while still maintaining their traditions in the kitchen.

My Dad's favorites included ham and bean soup...heavy on the beans and with a ham bone to add flavor... potato pancakes, and apple cream pie.  When he returned after his service in The 69th Infantry Division in World War II, he loved the simple luxuries of meat, potatoes, fresh tomatoes, sugar, and good coffee.  They were available in short supply to him for so long, and he wanted to ensure that they were never lacking in our lives.

My Mother's family traditions revolve around food and lots of it.  (I come by it honestly!)  Pasta,
soup, and salad was served with virtually every meal.  Throughout the summer, and before the farm-to-table concept became a popular one, we delighted in the bounty of my Grandpap's urban garden, with the excess being canned for use throughout the year.

Grandma's handwritten recipe.  Until I read it, I would have
spelled this as "Zeppoli", Zeps for short, and the
Fish Cakes, made with anchovy were "Ulige Cakes".

Please remember that all measurements are approximate.  
Grandma let the dough lead her to a perfect consistency.

Both of my Grandmothers cooked without recipes, and in large part it's a tradition that continues today in my family.  Once my Mom's sister, Aunt Stella, spent an entire day in the kitchen with my Grandma in an attempt to capture written recipes for some of her favorites.   The result is a lovingly prepared pink three ring notebook.  Some of the recipes in it are written in my Grandma handwriting, others Aunt Stella typed, and all editorial notes are written in Aunt Stella's handwriting. This book is one of my most treasured possessions, and I still refer to it on a regular basis in an attempt to recapture the tastes of my youth.

One of Maggie's handmade samplers.
In many ways my love for time in the kitchen and this tradition continues with friends.  I love learning about their culinary pasts and sharing mine with them. We love to feed one another and share our stories, and this has become a central part of the experience at our ReMe Retreats.  While we spend oodles of time creating in the studio, the heart of our home on Ocracoke is Maggie's Kitchen.  I'll be forever grateful for the new memories that we're making in this magical place.

Hot and Ready Zeps!

Thanks to Aunt Stella, today I'll share with you my Grandmother's recipe for Ceppolli, "Italian Christmas Breadsticks".  These tasty treats were made exclusively for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and we looked forward to them all year long.  We ate them at room temperature days after they were made, and we couldn't get enough of them!

Now, we eat them the day that they're made, and my family loves them when they're fresh and hot.  They've also been known to dip or roll them in sugar or cinnamon and sugar, and this is something that we'd never even considered in  my family.
1 cake of yeast, 5 cups of flour, a little salt, and 1/4 cup of oil and the magic begins!
The Zeps rest a bit before their bath in hot oil.  While called "Italian Breadsticks" in my family they're donut-like shapes.
Cook two or three at a time for just a few minutes per side until they're golden brown.
The board that I use almost daily in the kitchen is the same one that my Mom and Grandma used.
Each mark is an integral part of it.  I like to think that I'm preserving its history while adding a bit of my own story to it. 

While our ReMe Retreat in May on Ocracoke Island is at capacity, a few spaces around the table remain in October.  To join us, please reserve your spot by using the Paypal Link on the left side of this page.  Convenient payment plans are available, and I hope to see you there!  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Inspiration: Everyone Has A Story To Tell

Hello Everyone, It's Jodi here writing to you today.  One of the things I like to do while in my studio is to listen to Ted Talks. I'm sure many of you do as well, or listen to them time to time perhaps in the car or while at work--or if you haven't,  take a moment and peruse the collection of inspirational and thought provoking library of talks.  Today,  I wanted to share with you a recent talk I listened to  that reminded me so much of ReMe and our mission as organizers for our creative community and events, I couldn't help but to pass it along.   When we first envisioned what our retreat would look like in the beginning stages and well on into the future, we knew we wanted to hold onto as tightly as possible,  was the format of  keeping out retreats along the smaller side so we could truly get to know our attendees, and likewise, for our attendees to get to know one another.

Why would getting to know our attendees or vs versus be so important in a creative, soulful retreat?

 This Ted  Talk explains it so well.

Everyone has a story.

Everyone desires to be heard.

We all want to know our life matters, that we count in the bigger picture of the world.

Giving the gift of being there for another person in your life or that comes into your life by a serendipitous moment, to stop...be quiet...and listen, can be profound.

 As both of our events last year in 2014 unfolded, we saw a common bond throughout both of the retreats.  It was important to celebrate our differences and recognize within each other there are many threads that tie us all together,  as there are differences.  No matter what our background, job or career path, level of income, ethnicity or religion, we all have walked along a path that we can pull similarities from and had experiences that are worthy of sharing.  It was even more important to let those stories be heard.  In a art/creative retreat,  you don't often have time for that, but at ReMe...being heard and discovering as much about others as you do yourself,  is at the core of what we facilitate and embrace.

Whether you have joined us in the past or are thinking about joining us in the future,  take this little bit of inspiration with you and incorporate it into your life if you can:

 Stop and listen to someone else and give them the gift of your time and interest in hearing their story. It's a treasure you'll receive that could be life changing for both you and the person you are giving it to.

And now to share that talk that reminded me of ReMe:  David Isay began a program that has grown over the last several years where they provide a platform in which two people and a facilitator can sit down and record an interview, asking poignant questions and just being there to listen to another human being. That dialogue is recorded  and uploaded into a bank of discussions for future generations.   It's a modern take on how  history has been documented since the beginning of time.  Listening. Sharing.  Writing.  Photos. Art.

 It's good to be reminded from time to time to slow down and just be present for someone else.

What is that you would ask someone important in your life about if you had the chance?  What nuggets of wisdom would you like to harvest from their life bank of experience?    

What is it that YOU would like to share with a loved one?  What if this was your last conversation, what would you like them to hear?  

We'd love to hear that 'question' you would ask or want to be asked during an interview.   Please leave a comment here with a question you'd like to ask that  person.   

Do you have a story that you'd like to tell?  We are here...and we want to HEAR you, too--whether or not you have joined us or will be joining us, we are are all brother's and sister's in this world together.
Thank you for being a part of the ReMe family in your own way.

If you'd like more information about a ReMe event or would like to join us in October 2015, please drop us a line at reme@remeretreats.com .  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friends of ReMe -- OR -- Our *not so* Super, Secret Weapons of Mass Hospitality

Greetings, hale and hearty readers!  Welcome to the 1st day of Spring!  Penny here; I was remiss in my last posting in not mentioning one of my MOST favorite things about the wonder that is ReMe.  It occurred to me, after the fact, that it is "favorite" enough to deserve its own post!  Without further ado, I give you the splendiferous, the amazing, the incredible, the heart-rendingly generous, and  tantalizingly-mind-blowing Den Mothers!

Debbie Keen - Mother October & Theresa Zurku - Mother May
...the planets aligned last October, and our Den Mothers met on the beach!
It has been said that "it takes a village..."  If your village is fortunate enough to have two dynamos such as these, you are very fortunate indeed!  Beyond being blessed with the friendship of these lovely ladies for years before we entered into business together Jean, Jodi, and I are doubly blessed by having these dear friends supporting our efforts in a most 'hands-on' manner!  They are both incredibly endowed with huge hearts, quick minds, and a shared willingness to go the extra mile to bring the dream of ReMe to its abundant reality.  ...and we are so lucky to have them!

Our Wonder Women
(clockwise from upper left)
Theresa Zurku, Debbie Keen,
Theresa & Jean, Penny & Debbie, and Jodi & Theresa

From the Kitchen to the Classroom, and all points in between, I am convinced that what we do would be severely diminished were it not for the incredible gifts that each of these women bring to our bountiful table.  They have embraced our vision with enthusiasm, brought their own unique touches to the offerings of each season, and are ever at the ready to do more - help more - dream more to the betterment of all concerned.

Rest assured that if your plans include being a part of ReMe, you will experience the wonderment of our Den Mothers first hand!  From your arrival to your departure, you will be well attended to in the finest manner. 

Until next time,

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Friends of ReMe on Ocracoke

Jean here.  Grab something refreshing to drink; put up your feet; and let me tell you about some of my favorite folks on Ocracoke.

In October, when we were on Ocracoke Island during our ReMe Retreat, Amy Howard was kind enough to join us for an evening of storytelling.  She shared many of her own memories about growing up on Ocracoke, and she also shared the most riveting details about the history of The Island.  It was magical for all in attendance.  

Amy is a direct descendant of the original residents of Ocracoke Island, and she comes from a long proud line of Islanders who honor their history by sharing their stories.  Luckily for us and for Ocracoke, Amy is also the Executive Director of The Ocracoke Preservation Society (OPS).  

The OPS is dedicated to preserving Ocracoke Island's rich historical and cultural heritage.  They have a must-visit museum on The Island, and Amy and the other folks from The OPS maintain an active presence on Facebook that allows us to feel a part of things all year long. 

An aerial view of the OPS Museum. Photo 'borrowed'
from their Facebook Page.

During our visit, Amy shared news of The OPS's Annual Art Auction, she invited each of us to participate, and she distributed canvases to all who were interested.  The OPS and Amy are near and dear to our hearts, and participate we did!  Friends of ReMe arted their hearts out to contribute to the OPS.  

I was fortunate to be able to attend the auction in person this January.  What an experience!  The museum was packed to the gills; there was lively laughter and conversation; a frenzy of bidding on all of the amazing artwork; and a friendly competition or two as folks vied to take home their favorites.  By any measure, the night was a huge success, and I'm so grateful to have played even the smallest part in it.  

If you'd like to read more details about this year's OPS Auction, please view Sundae Horne's article in the Ocracoke Current by clicking this link.  The Ocracoke Current is The Island's Online Newspaper.  In their own words, "The Ocracoke Current is a source of reliable news and information for the residents and visitors to Ocracoke Island...It's like good gossip but verifiable."  What's not to love about that?!?

During our visit together, Amy also shared a bit of disheartening news with us.  The Hyde County School District, including Ocracoke Island, has eliminated Arts Education in their schools.  As a merry band of midlife artists who have each benefited from our own past and present arts education, this all but broke our hearts.

Happily, the good folks of Ocracoke did not take this news lying down.  Instead, Ocracoke Alive invited artists near and far to apply for the privilege of working with children in their school.  Ocracoke Alive is the driving force behind The Ocrafolk Festival, and in their own words, "The purpose of Ocracoke Alive, Inc/ is to enrich the Ocracoke Island community by encouraging and sponsoring cultural, artistic, educational, and environmental activities..."  (You can read more about Ocracoke Alive here, and the partnership that they established here.)

When I returned home, I immediately applied to be a visiting artist in their program, and I was delighted to be invited to participate during their first week in 2015.  The experience exceeded my wildest expectations!  (If you'd like to read more details and see oodles of photos, please visit my blog here.)

Our Flagship ReMe Retreats in May and October are firmly rooted in our Historic Soundfront Inn on Ocracoke Island.  It's the art that brings us together in this magical place, and the bonds that we form with each other take the forefront as we spend time together.  Amidst it all, there's Ocracoke.  The Island, The Beach, The Village, The Community, The Businesses, and The People; they shape our time together, touch our hearts, and are firmly rooted in each of our memories.  

The Ocracoke Preservation SocietyThe Ocracoke Current, and Ocracoke Alive, are run by some of our favorite Island Residents.  We're blessed to count them as "Friends of ReMe", and we encourage you to support them.  Each can help you to stay in touch with Ocracoke as you count the days until your next visit.   
While our ReMe Retreat on Ocracoke in May is filled to capacity; a few spaces remain in October.  Reserve yours by clicking on the Paypal Link on the left side of this page.  Convenient payment plans are available.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Looking Back with Love: Penny's Recollections of ReMe Ocracoke October '14

As the month of February gives way to March, and we come one step closer to our 2nd year of ReMe Retreats on Ocracoke Island, I wanted to take a few moments to share some of my own favorite bits and pieces from our event, this past October.

First Sunset
as captured Monday, October 20, 2014

1st Group Shot
Debbie captures the group, as I capture it all

We welcomed our 2nd group of ReMe Sisters on a stunning October afternoon.  As the house filled with lovelies and their luggage, the laughter rolled in exponentially!  By the time we gathered on our sound-front beach to ogle the sunset, we were well on our way to another week of wonderments!   Tours conducted, a brief orientation, and an evening of creativity and snacks -- we were officially underway.  As early as the first night, the magic of the island was evident:  music drifted through the house along with the strains of laughter and refrains of "OH!  Me, too!"

Smiles All Around
The Class of ReMe Ocracoke, October '14
...by midweek, they look as if they've known each other for years

Our amazing guests fully embraced our class offerings, and their delight with each creation was a gift unto itself.  Painting sessions with Jodi yielded a bevy of beautiful abstracts and a colony of vibrant and whimsical lighthouses.  In their time with me, our courageous students completed two different book designs and made great strides in creating content for their new journals.  In their classes with Jean, they not only grabbed the brass rings they texturized, etched, and further embellished them, creating multiple pieces of wearable art!

Painting with Jodi
(l - r) Patti P and Victoria F, Jodi in action, Lorie G, Lynn O, Beth B. Zoe N, and Jodi

Metalwork with Jean
(clockwise from upper left) Victoria F., Kim C., and Jean - Jean's Treasures - Lynn O - Lorie G. in action - Brass Rings
Circle of Friends
Little Leather Booklaces from their class with yours truly

Journal Happy
Patti P. was one of many merry sew and sews
during my Long, Tall Book of Days class
Beyond the hands-on learning/creative aspect of our Retreats, we have dedicated time to appreciate the people and the place that make our beloved flagship events so unique.  We welcome special, local guests to evenings at the Inn with us; we are hosted by local friends and businesses for precious evenings of extended hours with wine and cheese.  From a visit to the beach to collect found objects and natural treasures for use in their classes, to outings to local landmarks (The Ocracoke Lighthouse, The Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum, and Springer's Point), our guests aren't merely at a place for the week we are together, they are of that place -- fully immersed in the stories, traditions, and rhythms of where we are.  Sound like a dream?   It's all too real!

Panoramic View
Our trip to the beach was under dramatic skies

Amy Howard
Storyteller, Artist, and Administrator, Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum

(clockwise from upper left) Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum, a view from the back yard,
The Ocracoke Lighthouse, historical quilt, and a kitchen vignette at the Museum

A Visit with Miss Della
(top to bottom) Jodi, Victoria F., Zoe N., Debbie, and Lorie G -- Happy Shoppers
Miss Della -- Queen of the Fig Cake and Purveyor of fine Fig Preserves and Syrup
Miss Della's green thumb on  display
Lovely Leslie Lanier
Bookseller Extraordinaire and Hostess with the MOSTest!

That is the very reason we say that ReMe is more than a Retreat -- It's a Remarkable, Extraordinary, Memorable Experience!  It is true for our beloved guests as much as it is true for each of us.  Throughout the times between these magical gatherings, our thoughts return again and again to the treasure trove of incredible memories that we share of the special time spent with the amazing women who have become a part of our living dream:  ReMe Retreats.

Final Sunset
as captured Friday, October 24, 2014

With immense thanks for all that was 2014, and great excitement for 2015 and beyond,

One Last Look
With 2014 in the rearview, Jean, Jodi, Theresa, Debbie, and I look forward
to all that 2015 *and beyond* holds for ReMe Retreats.
We hope to see you soon!