Category Archives: food/recipes

The Importance of Proper Nutrition

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Do you like art and the creative process? Does the “eccentric” life of the “typical” artist intrigue you? Scare you? Amuse you? Inspire you? Read on…

Allo allo!

I would like to cordially invite you to join my ARTISTS’ group on Facebook:

It is a private, invitation-only group,  but if you request membership, an admin will approve you as long as you’re not a bot.

Not only do I post my own work and artistic musings, as well as upcoming shows and #contemporary #art news, but I have SO MANY uber-talented friends worldwide, whose work I love to share with the public every day.

You could be one of them! All art is the soul, ergo beautiful.

So far the group has almost 4k  (!!! — so grateful) members, so if you would like to either be a voyeur or an exhibitionist, please be my guest.

To me, my readers and followers are all VIPs.

Try it out and see if you like it…you can always leave! Ain’t no Hotel California, lol…

Feel free to also follow me on #Twittter: @jjgrape.

(I heretofore take no responsibility for any profanities or insanities contained therein. Twitter is fun! No rules. Just what we painters like best.)  😀

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OPHELIA SWIMS. 2013. Oil, gold leaf, tears, and poppy dust on wood. 18x24

It’s my happy place — besides the library, the easel, or in front of my iMac. 🙂

Above are a few samplings of my paintings, but this group is dedicated to sharing the work of my many artist friends from all around the globe: a virtual #gallery of sorts! What fun.

(But it is strictly bring your own wine and cheese… 😦  Sincere apologies. Hehe.)



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Filed under and angels, art, books, children, cool stuff, diary, duality, dysfunction, enlightenment/spirit, existentialism, film, food/recipes, humor, imperfection, life, love, mental illness, MUSIKKKKK, nature, painting, people, photography, poetry, prose, rabbits, random, sadness, saints, sinners, smokin", stupidity, The Good Life

Cracker. That is all. I need to get out more…


That is all.


Filed under art, cool stuff, diary, food/recipes, humor, life, photography, random, stupidity

PHOENIX HAS RISEN. For the Umpteenth Time… (A memoir of a Mama On Fire – literally and metaphorically.)

The remains of the day. That WAS my shirt.

(Google, if you are unaware, the bird called the PHOENIX…the one who famously arose from ashes to soar once again.)

I have a newfound respect for fire.

While cooking Indian food, i made a pound of GHEE (clarified butter, now known to me as human lighter fluid) and accidentally spilled some on my tee shirt. Did not give it a second thought.
Bent over front burner to stir the basmati rice and peas in the back, and all I remember is hearing the sound, “WHOOOOSH.”
Softly, yet roaring in my ears like the quiet loudness of the ocean surf in a hurricane.
The sound one hears in tragic nightly news footage, or worse, in personal experience,
of a building or a car spontaneously and completely combusting.

That sound was the sound of my entire upper body instantaneously igniting, and burning at lightning speed.

MY HEAD, and my entire torso from the waist to the back of my neck and ears, was ON FIRE. In flames.
Big, orange and yellow hungry ones. They licked at me with the furiosity of a tiny, starving kitten crouched in front of a ceramic dish of cold milk.

I watched in horror as my lovely brown cotton tee shirt melted into the flesh of my abdomen.

I stood very, very, still and said the most sincere and silent prayer of my entire existence.

I had accidentally turned myself into a HUMAN TIKI TORCH.
A veritable 5’2″ 95-pound candle with flaming limbs and head.
“Hmmmm,” I remember thinking, from some faraway place. “I wonder what one does in THIS predicament?”
I, who thought, as a feisty Italian-Irish NYC ex-patriate, that I KNEW it ALL.

HA! Wrong-O, Janny Dangerously.

A brand new experience for a woman who had erroneously thought she had seen and done it all — who KNEW?

I stood motionless, everything moving as in a gritty Super 8 film, watching myself burning alive.
Then I had an idea. I poured a pot of water from the sink over my head.
I heard sizzling and smelled something akin to Moo Shu Pork.
And HELL knows I do not eat pork. Won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. Except Gramma Cindy’s Christmas ham. To this juicy and << VERBOTEN>> delicacy, I cannot say no.

The remains of the day. Thank God, it is not my painting arm. GOD DOES EXIST 😉

FRIED. DAY 2.5. 12.31.11

Hypocrisy – are we all not guilty of this?

So, onward and upward.
My blouse had almost completely melted into my body and half of my hair had singed off.
There was an acrid aroma of spare ribs and burnt hair suffusing the entire kitchen, and the kitchen mat was covered in blackened tee shirt tatters.
I have a bit of OCD about cleanliness and order. Mama Jan was very, very, dismayed.

I am covered in bandages like a MUMMY — somehow strikes me as funny, to finally be a real English Mummy to my son,so very PROPER. I CAN do a very good British accent to rival that of John Cleese or Dr. Who. PERFECT after all!
Perfection makes me very content.

HEHE…funny,funny mama. NOT.

Spent the wee hours in the trauma burn unit at Metro Hospital being doused with ice water and given an IV drip of painkillers.
I was totally naked on front of some very handsome doctors, so at least i had a tad bit of fun.
Yes, I am an admittedly sick and slightly twisted woman.
Or maybe just a passionate Italian painter with a curious mind and a (literally) flaming heart.

Third degree burns over entire upper body, some skin burned completely off left upper arm. I can still use my hands! I AM SO GRATEFUL! They told me the scars would likely be pretty bad.
I asked them if they had ever read THE VELVETEEN RABBIT.

Our scars are what make us beautiful and REAL,
truly, truly REAL.

I bet I can hop even faster and higher than that ol’ stinky and much-loved stuffed rabbit any day now.

Miraculously, my face was untouched, save for a blister on my lip, and my fingertips are in pain — but I can still type, since the blisters make them momentarily numb before
the rage of pain screams at me to use a pencil to peck at the keyboard, which I am doing right now.

It is slow.
This irritates me.
I like to do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly.

I am fine, do not worry. I need no pity, and seek no drama.
I despise pity, and DRAMA has a very advanced GPS system. My street address, as well as my email addy and links to my FACEBOOK page, are typed in as multiple entries for ease and expedited, not to mention (KEY WORD) FREQUENT, location and usage.

If one thing is for sure, i am even MORE full of joy because when my son’s grandfather raced over to save the day,
he found me writhing on floor, smoke still rising from my burnt body.
I was softly still screaming to Jesus, Mary, Joseph and GOD ALMIGHTY to please HELP ME.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph and GOD heard me.
This, I know, is true.

As usual. As ALWAYS.

The whole house could have burned down and i could be Janice Chop Suey, six feet under! ANd thanks be to ALL THAT IS GREATER than I, my two year old son will not be traumatized by the horrendous memory of watching his mother stand burning alive in front of the stove, screaming out for the most Holy Trinity, arms outstretched and paralyzed by disbelief and unfathomable pain and terror.
SO GRATEFUL TO GOD, so so very thankful for my life.

Once upon a time, this my a lovely scoop neck blouse. Mama caught on fire.

On some good painkillers and making a piece of art with the shreds of my burnt tee shirt.
God is good, so so good. Bless you, all my friends. I love you dearly. Never forget that.

I went to the little mom-and-pop candy shop around the corner with my baby’s grandfather Ted today, though it was hard to walk or get in his big truck (I am very tiny and stiff with charred flesh).
I just NEEDED to see at least a small part of the world for a few minutes after being confined to the house for fear of infection.
(Just call me Michael Jackson, HAHA.)

The owner, a lovely round and jovial elderly woman named Mary who is a real-life faux-Grandma to me, had always asked me to tell her the story of how and why I had a tracheotomy tube in my neck,
and why I was in two near-death comas.  I relayed to her the tale of the “Indian Cooking Incident”.

She looked at me, smiled her sweet Italian smile, and said to Ted and me while shaking her head slowly,

“Oh my, pretty Janice.  You certainly don’t do ANYTHING half-way, do you?”

(Does ANY Italian Irish woman do anything half-way?)

“No, dear Mary, I most certainly do not,” said I.

LIVE TODAY TO THE FULLEST. Treasure EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. They are, each and every second, GEMS.

The Crispy Critter/Mama On Fire hath spoken.

Moo Shu Janice. 😛

FALLEN. 2006, Pencil and ballpoint on paper. SOLD, collection Daniel McMurtrie, Richmond, VA

Janice J. Cunningham
Cleveland, Ohio 2011


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Thomas M. Barrett, this one’s for you!

and it was made by yours truly!

I have decided that when Wills goes to school I am going to go to culinary school -

and so close I can breathe in the heavenly aroma…plus you get to peek into my Sicilian kitchen! Woo hoo!

-- or at least start a catering business from home.  What fun!or at least start a catering business from home.   And yes, we FedEx to Tuscany, Tom! xo


Filed under diary, food/recipes, life, love

Recipe by Request: Mama Jan’s Made-from-Scratch Sicilian Pasta Sauce

This sauce will knock your socks off!

I guarantee you will NEVER purchase jarred spaghetti sauce again as long as you live.  You will have a lot of visitors for dinner too! 🙂

*Notes: a) Organic foodstuffs may be used if preferred, of course,  b) for people who cannot tolerate alcohol, the red wine in the sauce may be omitted and replaced with 1/4 cup olive oil, and  c) This manna from the gods makes a GREAT parmigiana sauce for chicken, eggplant, meatballs, etc. as well!

This sauce IS, for all who asked, vegetarian and vegan.

Prep time: about 15 min.     Cooking time: 30-40 min   Yield: at least 2 26 oz jars of sauce, probably more in my experience


1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 – 6 oz can tomato paste (NOT sauce or puree)

2  fresh green peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced into 1-inch strips

4-6  cloves garlic, minced (add more or less to your liking. No vampires here, I love the stuff!)

2  medium yellow onions, sliced in thin 1-inch strips or simply cut in small chunks

(optional – 5 oz. white  or Portobello mushrooms, sliced.  1/2 can black olives, sliced)

about 12 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (roll up as one roll and slice in strips) or 3 tbsps dried basil or to taste

2 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp dried parsley or one bunch fresh flat-leaf parley chopped fine

3 tsp dried thyme

3 bay leaves

2 TBSP (or to taste) sea salt or kosher salt, although good ol’ table salt will do

2 tsp black pepper, preferably freshly ground

OLIVE OIL!!! Where would we Paisans be without the staple of our cooking????

3 TBSP sugar

1 cup red wine (optional)

1.  In a large sautee pan, pour about 3 tbsp olive oil (I like Filipo Berio) and saute the garlic, onions, peppers, fresh basil, and any other vegetables you might prefer until the onions are translucent and the veggies are crisp-tender, about 10-12 minutes.

2.  Add this mixture, plus another 1/5 cup olive oil, to a large stockpot. On medium heat, add all tomato products and stir very well. Reduce heat to low.

3. Stir in all the spices and bay leaves, salt, sugar, and red wine. Stir well.

4. Reduce heat to simmer and cover, leaving a small space for steam ventilation.

5. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS TASTE YOUR COOKING! Adjust spices, sugar, and salt as needed. Do not burn your mouth 🙂 .

6. MANGIA e BUON APETITO!!! (And don’t forget to send me love every time you sigh with culinary ecstasy, lol!)

Serve over your favorite pasta – works wonders on any but I adore it on linguine, spaghetti, ziti rigati, rotini, and in stuffed shells with ricotta cheese.  AB-FAB as a sauce on eggplant, zucchini, meatballs, sausage, or chicken parmigiana.

*Add a hot, buttery loaf of home-made garlic bread to this meal and you will either make many friends for life, or find a husband (or a wife!).


* If you need a recipe for scrumptious garlic bread, please do ask me.  Your wish is my command!              Love and good eats, Janice xoxoxo

Mama Jan's Sicilian Kitchen. If you can't take the heat, stay out! lol


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Blah blah blahhhhgggging.

Yeah.    Hi.  Well. Um, er…this project was supposed to be a random and – operative word INTEGRATED amalgam of paintings , prose, journalism, drawings/multimedia art , poetry, and photography – all by me, of course.  Me, me, me. I am so sick of me. But these things – these ramblings of the soul – are piling up in my house and in my mind and in my heart and I must release them.

One tries to blog without an audience in mind. Yes, I do that. Yes, I CAN do that. But somehow, every time I push the PUBLISH button i feel like an insta-ass.  My solution?  Get over it!  

So, while I have started this endeavor in a rather odd way, I will attempt to continue it without being so art-centric. But as I asked myself earlier, as a single mother of a laptop-obsessed two-year-old, how can I write anything worthwhile while I am attempting to scrape multigrain strawberry cereal bars out of the carpet to the backdrop of a waaaaaaaaay too loud Dora the Explorer DVD?  Dammit, I am going to try! SO, here goes….something.

Janice J. Cunningham  1.15.11


Filed under art, books, children, cool stuff, diary, food/recipes, humor, imperfection, life, love, nature, painting, people, photography, poetry, prose, rabbits, random, sadness, stupidity