Lee and a curious calico crisscross the country in a RV, living simply and sustainably.

In 2005 I wandered through the exhibits at the high-class Albright Knox Art Gallery. Unlike the rest of the world renown pieces of art by Picasso, Modigliani, and Warhol (to name a few), the featured artist was a name I’d never heard of, but one who’s work I’ve never forgotten. In fact, like the best art, it changed my way of thinking and changed how I live my “one wild and precious life”.

There were three main themes to Andrea Zittel’s display that stood out for me – efficient furniture, efficient wardrobes, and efficient storage. Her tiny, gorgeous, well thought out human habitats, created with maximum aesthetic and utility in a modicum of space, stayed with me all these years. Art imitates life.

Life imitates art here in the tiny cabin (285 sq. ft.). I’ve made the most of my kitchen – if I stand in the center and lean towards either side, I can touch all four walls. No more large indoor dinner parties! But, there is everything I need and want in this kitchen. Take a look.

Glass mason jars are ubiquitous in yard sales, garages, and basements. Commercial spaghetti sauce comes in mason jars. My Mom and generous friends have passed down the sizes they can’t use anymore. The jars, rings, and lids are reusable as long as you’re storing dried foods – but make sure you buy new lids if you plan to do your own canning.

This spice collection has been the heart of my kitchen ever since I took a workshop on East Indian cooking. We flash fried aromatic spices to concoct our own curry powders and garam masala (translation = spice mix). Once I cooked a classical Indian dinner for 45 yoga students and friends, and gave out small containers of garam masala at the holidays. Striving to recreate the simple, elegant, glass storage containers in Zittel’s kitchen exhibit, I ordered 4 dozen spice jars online. It’s a mini art exhibit that always attracts visitor’s eyes. And yes, I use every spice.

Garam Masala

Dry fry (no oil) for two minutes, allow to totally cool, then blend using a coffee grinder or mortar & pestle. Store in glass container for a few months:

1/4 Cup coriander seed

1/4 Cup cumin seed

2 Tbls. peppercorns

1 Tbls. cardamom seed (not the pods)

1 tsp. cloves

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick (or 2 tsp. powdered)

2 bay leaves

Suggestions:

Think: Which artists have changed your way of thinking? How is your life better for having witnessed their work?

Say: Tell a friend, or comment here, on which piece of art means the most to you and why. Vow to take yourself on an art tour. It doesn’t have to be a high-end museum – how about a bead shop, or library, or self-guided tour of stained-glass church windows?

Do: The town where I live is starting up a quilt barn trail – a community wide art project that promotes tourism, as well as highlighting beautiful old barns and the surrounding countryside. Another town where I lived, home to a children’s toy company, got a special permit to paint all the fire hydrants to represent characters in children’s literature. I’ve seen zany painted fiberglass horses and bison dot urban landscapes. Get inspired.

Comments on: "Spice Up Your Life!" (2)

  1. I went to a wedding in Atlanta last weekend at the Basilica on Peachtree and found a brochure in the pew describing the history of the church, it’s architecture and stained glass windows. Unexpected treat! I loved learning the story behind each of the windows and finding a plaque to honor Mother Teresa who visited there in the early 1990’s.

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