So I've hesitated to jump into my food swapping tendencies on this blog, because I am certainly not comparable to all the wonderful chiefs crafting their food masterpieces and then giving their treasured original recipes with their beautifully styled food shots on their wonderfully scrumptious blogs....BUT! over the summer and now into the fall I've so thoroughly enjoyed a little experiment I've been practicing with a few neighbors. We each (3 families) cook one meal a week to share and disperse and in return, get 2 nights of wonderful meals delivered to our door. It's turned out to be a fantastic arrangement. It certainly helps that we all live within blocks of each other (though, admittedly, I still usually drive for my delivery because I'm usually running a teensy bit late. I'm working on that.) Sam (the love of my life--via neil clark warren) more often than not, comes to the kitchen at the nick of time to help pull off a wonderful cooking adventure.

This week was moussaka. We recently traveled to LA to visit my dear sister and fell in love with this wonderfully charming greek restaurant, where I had my first bite of moussaka. mmmm! So next on the food rotation was an attempt to make atleast something resembling this fantastic dish....and it was a hit!

We used this recipe as a base, excluding the process of frying beef in butter. I'm all about getting fat in the diet, but lordy, that's a bit much, even for me.  We also grilled the eggplant instead of frying and added 2 eggs to the béchamel sauce according to some of the comments below (we actually separated the eggs and beat the whites...which I guess had a souffle effect on the top layer, which summarily sank as I rushed it out of the oven to get to my hungry food swap pals after snapping a photo of their dinner right before covering it and bagging it up, just for you, dear 2 readers of my blog) I'd probably skip the egg separation next time...I'm way too rough for a successful souffle.

And as a side we just threw together the traditional greek salad, with dressing: olive oil + lemon juice + oregano.  Sam ventured into our garden to get the oregano. I was happy to learn it was still alive, but Sam also reported that it was so alive to be crowding some of our other plants. (he chose to express this by saying the oregano was "getting all up in our other plants' bidness"....I thought this was precious).

And what did we receive this week in the food swap? Oh how I wish I had pictures (and plates!) to share.  It was glorious. This wonderful salad (my personal favorite of the week, and so beautiful and so seasonal) + pesto pasta, and turkey chili, cornbread and fresh veggies. yum!


I recently listened to a podcast from one of my very favorite shows called radiolab.  Painter Chuck Close and Neuroscientist/author Oliver Sacks were both interviewed about their faceblindness, a condition that makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recognize faces, even of loved ones. Both men had amazing perspectives and tactics for navigating the world with such a challenge. I was particularly struck by Close's story, remembering standing before one of his gigantic portraits in DC several years ago, with every detail of the man's face meticulously, maybe even neurotically recorded. It was brilliantly extreme. And now to learn that this man who spends his life pouring over the faces of person after person can't actually remember their likeness until he's able to record them in a two dimensional plane...I was floored.

I'm always mesmerized to hear stories of a person's disabilities being the path to their genius. There's something so very redemptive about it. And Close's story fit right in. He talks about how even when he was a kid he picked up art to divert attention from his physical disabilities and have a means of receiving attention apart from the sports he couldn't join.  So he started his art education at 8 and finally when he started making the work the world would know him by, it was born out of his struggles with face blindness. He often says that if he hadn't gone to yale he probably would have ended up in jail.

I've never read the gospel of thomas, but i recently heard a quote that rang true to his story, and I think to mine too: "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." One of my favorite art teachers Paige Williams would often encourage us with the axiom, "your passion is your edge," and those words seemed to clear a path for making my best work.  But it seems also true that your woundedness, your disability, your struggle can be your edge. Maybe those things aren't too far from your passion anyway, with all the ingredients of that which "is within" us mixing together like an intricate marinade for a delicious feast, if only we would have the guts to honestly face, to soak in it ...with dignity, patience and grace.

Why are there so many...

songs about rainbows? ...Not only does the thoughtful combination of color delight me; color in general, is a pretty fascinating topic.  For example, have you ever wondered why cultures that tend to spice up their foods also, generally speaking, often prefer the more saturated hues of the color spectrum, and in larger combinations?  ME TOO!  When I embarked on my journey to India 5 years ago, I went with the high hopes of basking in the reality that fashion icon Diana Vreeland first observed in the 60s, that hot pink was the navy blue of India....and I was not disappointed.

Here are  a couple images of abundant color that I find compelling and poignant and beautiful.  The first is one from Chris Jordan, from his series covering the devastation of hurricane Katrina: an image that speaks both of overwhelming tragedy and hope of mythic proportion, jogging our collective memories of  a rainbow after another horrific flood. Next, Hans Hemmert's balloon tank that takes the adult reality of war and deflates it with children's play....swords will be turned into plowshares, tanks into party balloons. And last, the work of Haas&Hahn with the help of a team of thirty painters and Tintas Coral on homes in Dona Marta, Botafogo, Brazil; taking a marginalized neighborhood and making it a sacred space, a destination for those in search of beauty.

PEACH, GRAY HAIR, and your mother

The color peach and gray hair have both been on my mind lately.  (not to mention the growing strands of gray that increasingly grace my head, o natural, now that i'm the ripe old age of 32).  I couple months ago I read an article in the fashion section of the New York times about gray hair as a trend among hipsters and just recently in my hometown of Cincinnati caught sight of an early 20 something fashionista sporting a full head of gray locks.  The times article talked about the irony of teens and 20 somethings dying their hair gray when their mothers (and sometimes fathers) spend into the billions collectively  washing that gray right out.  Course, there's a handful of potential cultural influences, Japanese anime characters, the granny chic movement, and I would love to say a cultural shift toward embracing the aging process in general…but this seems like a long shot at this point…baby steps.

Way past flirting on the cultural edges like the gray hair trend, the color peach seems to be surpassing it's role as pink's ugly step sister, in the words of Heather Spriggs, a lifelong friend and color guru . I recently walked into Urban Outfitters to find it as the dominant color, both in display and clothing options…they were pretty unapologetic in their peachiness. But then a continued clash of aesthetic values rages on Heather's blog over peach's place in fashion and design. One reader told the author to "put her hands up and step away from the peach paint" as if she was about to commit style suicide!  Wow, people sure do get impassioned about their color choices…

But of course, it's not just about color.  It's never just that. It's all of what that color represents.  Like the aroma of your grandma's baking bread or the now pungent smell of your ex's perfume, color can take you back too. And to many folks in my generation, peach reminds us of our mother's decor, the peach + mint green or mauve and country blue options of the eighties.  We've hated peach ever since puberty and the need to differentiate from our parents.  But wait, the peach haters have kids now and some are even old enough to sense what we hate and subsequently embrace it. Maybe they also see their mother's distain for her gray hair. So they are now off to soak their head in silver dye.  What up with that?

In my opinion, a lot that is good and wholesome and intrinsic to being human….fascination with novelty and variety, need to differentiate from previous generations, the questioning of arbitrary rules, embracing change…all good stuff that helps us grow when balanced with some humility and intellectual depth.

Those last two points are key to me: humility to express ourselves without making our own rules to contradict the one's we're questioning (my mother used WAY too much peach, so therefore any amount of peach is WRONG. Never mind that incredible peachy, pink sunset)  And depth…so you see your mother dying out her gray hair and you decide to "go gray."  That's fun, but what if you looked a little deeper into why she does what she does and instead of only rebelling with your gray hair and baby face, decide to be a part of a culture that embraces aging and subsequently change society, instead of just your hair. And I bet gen. Y's have the guts to do just that. I like them; they're feisty.

new spaces


Welcome to my website!  It just so happens that in addition to working on this new virtual space, we've been busy making a brick and mortar home  (well, actually wood frame, to be specific) for Betty Hatchett Design Co. Here's a sneak peak of the progress. (that's little ole 6 ft tall me, for perspective). Many thanks to the strong, capable folks at DGM Transformations for the new walls. And of course to my multi talented husband, Sam, for trading the big, obstructive caller ties for the sleek cable, letting us appreciate the height of the space (just one among the many things he's done to give us exactly what we need). The exposed space along the bottom of the wall in the panoramic shot will be built in cabinets (a huge gift from my retired-engineer-turned-carpenter dad) I'm certainly lucky to be surrounded by so many supportive, fantastic folks in my life. I'll upload more photos of office progress, but in the mean time, it feels good to have a new home on the web!