Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Happy Indie Holiday December 19, 2008

typewriter1Finally, a cause you can get behind. I am in this group on FB and want to share beyond Facebook borders. This letter came from Rob, from the FB Independent Booksellers Group.

Dear Member:

This holiday, I am asking that you help Indies across the country by contributing just $10.00 to our cause benefactor, The American Booksellers Association (ABA). ABA provides educational resources to Indies that allow us the opportunity to serve you better. ABA is the founder of Indiebound, the movement that is making waves across across the nation and beyond by uniting and igniting the passion for buying local. If each of us would give just $10.00, imagine what could be done.

Your $10.00 could make a huge difference to so many indie shops. Please make your tax-deductable donation today.

I hope that eaach of you have a Happy, Peaceful and Indie Holiday.




Holiday Prep: Stunningly Beautiful and Delicious Drink December 18, 2008

By Julia Pantoga, resident domestic goddess

finished-cranberry-vodkaI used to try to give this one away for gifts, but by the time I found bottles to use for giving it away, my friends and I had already made history of it.  Basically, it’s vodka marinated for 10 days with orange peels and cranberries.  The vanilla in the cranberry mixture makes it taste vaguely like cherries.  I serve it “neat” (with no garnishment), but it can be served mixed with tonic water, ice and a lime garnish.

Here’s the step-by-step:
1.     Combine 1 lb. cranberries, 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the berries burst, about 5 minutes.
2.    Wash and peel 2 oranges.  Cut peels into strips.
3.    Pour 1 bottle (750 ml) of vodka over orange peels and cooled cranberry mixture in airtight container.  After 10 days, strain into a clean bottle.  Store in refrigerator.
cranberry-vodka-marinatingAt left, marinating vodka-cranberry mix.


Holiday Prep: The Easiest Holiday Cookies Ever! Part Two December 17, 2008

By Julia Pantoga

Do you remember that I recommended that you break your holiday cutout cookie baking into three steps?

1.    Making the dough
2.    Rolling and baking
3.    Decorating

This is Step Two: Rolling and Baking. I assume you have three packages of cookie dough in your freezer, as I advised you back in October in The Easiest Holiday Cookies Ever! Part One.

I’m a flour-flying-all-over-the-kitchen kind of baker, so this very neat, no-flour-mess method of rolling out cookie dough was counter-intuitive to me. But it works—really well.  And it’s really neat. I did it wearing dress clothes and no apron.

Before I give you the step-by-step, there’s two important notes:
•    Many recipes for rolled dough assume that flour will be added to the dough during the rolling process, so this method won’t necessarily for sugar cookie dough recipes other than the one I gave you.
•    The proper height for a rolling surface is slightly below your hips. That means that if you are on the short side a table, not a counter, will work best for you. You need the leverage of being able to bend over your project easily.

dough-rolling-setupHere’s the step-by-step for my no-mess method of rolling cookie dough (The parchment paper and tape industries ought to be sending me kickbacks for this!):

1.    Put a cookie sheet in the refrigerator.
2.    Tape a piece of parchment paper to the rolling surface.
3.    Put a small disk of dough on the parchment paper (about ½ of one of the bags you made in October, or, if you didn’t do that, about 1/6 of the recipe I gave you, or, if you’re using a different recipe, about 1/3 pound).
4.    Tape a larger piece of parchment paper over the top of the dough.
5.    Roll the dough slowly to 1/8” thick.  Eliminate any creases in the parchment paper as you go along, as creases in your final dough will cause your cookies to crack and break. I don’t recommend rolling any thinner that 1/8”, because thinner cookies break easily when you decorate them.
6.    Carefully lift off the top layer of parchment paper, leaving it taped to the rolling surface for the next rolling.
7.    Remove the bottom layer of parchment paper with the rolled dough on it and place it on the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for at least ½ hour.
8.    Repeat steps 2-7 until all the dough is rolled.  When you have finished, put the top piece of parchment paper on top of all the layers.

rolled-dough-in-the-refrigerator Well, I sure wish I had learned that trick of refrigerating the rolled dough years ago!

While your rolled dough is chilling, set up for cutting and baking your cookies. Put the cookie cutters and cookie sheets that you want to use right next to where you will be working with the dough. Your cold dough will make it infinitely easier to move raw cookies around, but you still want to minimize how far you move them.  The best tool for picking up and moving cookie dough (even cold dough) is and angled (not tapered) spatula used for frosting cakes.

After baking, you want to handle and move the cookies as little as possible before you decorate them (minimize opportunities for breaking cookies), so you may want to set up the area where you will have your cookies cool as well.

cutting-setupTake your rolled dough out of the refrigerator, one piece at a time and work quickly, as cold dough is much, much easier to work with than room temperature dough! Leave the cold cookie sheet in the refrigerator, as you will have enough dough scraps to make a second (maybe even a third, but no more—by then your dough will be terribly worn out) batch of cookies.

After cutting, bake your cookies for 5 minutes at 400°. While they are baking, gather and roll the scraps of dough, using the parchment paper and tape routine I described above. It is at this point that I begin to become irritated with the entire holiday cookie project and mutter to myself, “How on earth could anyone think this is a fun project?” Thrifty as I am, I use the parchment paper over that I used before and tape only the bottom piece down.

OK, in a few days, I’ll show you how to decorate these bad boys.

Why so many Christmas trees?  Tune in in a few days and find out!

Why so many Christmas trees? Tune in in a few days and find out!


The Best Online Novella Ever December 16, 2008

typewriterYou wouldn’t think you could find a great novella just floating around in virtual land, no paper to anchor it properly, would you? But I’m not kidding:  This one smacks of Franny and Zooey!

Excerpted from‘s first novella, WE WERE THERE AND NOW WE”RE HERE by Kayla Soyer-Stein is a coming-of-age tale told with crisp lucidity. Read the novella here. Read the excerpt below:

“I had wanted to be like Camilla as soon as I saw her. I loved the way she looked—like someone older, from a movie—and the way she didn’t seem to care what anyone else at school thought of anything. At first I couldn’t see why she had chosen me to be her friend. Then I realized that we already had some things in common: our complete unconsciousness of current slang or fads, for example, and our real or feigned uninterest in talking to anyone at our school. These were things about myself that had always embarrassed me, things that I used to hope would one day magically change. But while my oblivion and friendlessness were beyond my control, it was obvious that Camilla had deliberately chosen hers. She had ignored Elvis in favor of Frank Sinatra, classical music and French songs that I had not even known existed, whereas my own unfamiliarity with popular music was inexcusable—just a blank. She wore her long, straight, blond hair differently from the other girls at our school, not because her hair was wild and simply wouldn’t do what theirs did, but because, in her opinion, their pin curls looked stupid. And although she lived in a brownstone on Fifth Avenue—a perfectly acceptable location as far as our classmates’ parents were concerned—she hated the Upper East Side as much as I did, and didn’t mind the short walk or bus ride through the park to where I lived.”

For more, click here.


As the Puppy Cam Turns (On) December 15, 2008

Filed under: Now Looky Here,The Real Stuff — rebmas03 @ 9:21 am
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shibainuBelieve me when I tell you that the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam scene became a veritable media frenzy this weekend, with broadcast stories from NBC Nightly News, Today Show, CNN and more. Apparently, this is the most viewed page in Internet history, with view hours, much of it devoted to watching puppies sleep, adding up to 792 years and counting. All we can say is, “Awwwww…..”

P.S. Once a litter of six, we’ve been down to three for about a week and two more will be headed off to new homes at Christmas, so get your puppy fix while you can.


Zina Saunders’ Newsworthy Illustrations December 14, 2008

playing-house-zina-saundersFor one of the best reportage illustrators around, check out the art of Zina Saunders. She’s the daughter of famous pulp fiction artist Norman Saunders (who won my heart when I heard that he illustrated Wacky Packages). Like father, like daughter, Zina has a zany sense of humor, particularly when it comes to political illustration. Check it out.


Down Aussie: Of Cabbages & Kings Spring/Summer ’09 Collection December 13, 2008

Excerpted from The Fashion Birdcage.

Diving deep for inspiration this season, Of Cabbages & Kings wants to plunge you into an aquatic adventure

Maintaining the OC&K signature aesthetic of hideous-come-beautiful, the Spring/Summer 09 Collection draws its inspirations from sources as wide and varied as the ocean itself.

Goodey and Andrews sight everything from the illustrations of German naturalist Ernst Haeckel and the sirens paintings of Herbert Draper and to the epic 1985 album Hounds of Love by Kate Bush.

The collection trawls the oceans for similes: fabric twisted and knotted to look like fishing nets, dip dyed tips suggesting underwater flora, silk fronds floating like seaweed and structured panels imitating fish scales.

The garments embrace a much lighter mood than winter, with the use brighter colours and figure hugging garments.

OC&K have been featured in many publications including Vogue Living, Oyster, Attitude, STM, The West Magazine, Dropstitch, Out in Perth, BOX Magazine and New Zealand’s Runway report

Additionally OC&K designed and produced the costumes for Canadian band Dandi Wind’s world tour which saw the garments worn onstage at the legendary South by South West festival in Austin Texas and in the band’s video clip ‘Bag Lady’ where the garments are worn on the Great Wall of China.

Recent highlights have included winning the General Pants Bubble Competition and creating costumes for new band Fan Death.



Holiday Prep: Super-Yummy, Fast-Fast Party Snacks December 12, 2008

By Julia Pantoga

finished-scarabs1These are so easy, that you’ll be hard pressed not to laugh when you tell others what you did. Last year we named them “Scarabs” because they resemble Scarab beetles. But the name that sticks is “those Rolo-pretzel things.” Essentially, this elegant looking snack is a pretzel with a Rolo candy melted over it, topped off with a pecan. As my friend’s mother said, “The hardest thing about them is unwrapping all those *!#@$ candies!” Here’s the step-by-step:
1.    Unwrap two bags of Rolo candies. I take care of this step in front of the TV, the night before I make these. At Halloween, they sell the candies wrapped in packages of three; if you pick up a few bags then, you’ll save yourself some unwrapping work.
2.    Preheat oven to 300°.
3.    Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
4.    Spread pretzels out on the cookie sheet (not too close to each other or the melted caramel from one will stick to the other).
5.    Top each pretzel with a Rolo candy.
6.    Bake for 10 minutes. When they are ready, the candy will be soft, but it won’t melt over the pretzel.
baked-scarabs7.    Press a pecan into each candied pretzel.
8.    Let cool before bagging up for the freezer.

I keep baggies of 2 dozen in my freezer, for quick contributions to informal parties. I’ve also been known to take baggies of these with me on long car trips.  This is a fabulous treat!


Wardrobe site gets more closet space December 11, 2008

polyvore2Nadia over at (you know, the best virtual wardrobe building site ever!) wrote tonight to let me know that they have all sorts of cool new features, including a new Shop page that showcases all the hottest products and latest outfits, as chosen by the Polyvore community, plus a music feature that allows you to drag & drop albums into sets, which then creates a playlist. Visit the site. For more details on the launch, check out their blog post.


Miles Hodges at the 2008 Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam Finals December 10, 2008

Filed under: The Artists — rebmas03 @ 3:00 am
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Go Miles!