A New Project and A New Website

Two different people.  I used to be this kid who wore black, that wore my grades as a mark of honor, who would smoke a cigarette and hold in my cough until no one was looking.  I used to live in a world of dichotomies, I took one direction, judging those who took the other.  Bitter and self-centered, I hated everything that wasn't within arm's reach, anything I had to work for.  I was this lazy with all the best relationships I've ever held onto--from Nolan to my mother.   I was like this in law school, in California.  I left this person there, too.

In the last two months of living in Texas, living alone for the first time, I've grown into a new person.  Soft and muted blues, greens, greys--I don't hide behind a layer of black, a 4.0, or in a puff of smoke, indiscernible from the fog that hung over Pittsburgh most mornings.  I appreciate beauty and tones, floral and minimalism.  I respect the curated life, the plant you buy for decoration and how it differs from the one you buy for herbs.  I work with my hands now.  I feel a vernal change in my bones to produce, to craft, to create.  I have callouses that have softened over from when I would hold a pencil too long, back in the day when I held a pencil to write at all. My working hands are toiling again.  I'm creating candy bars, confectionaries, memories.  Someone's breakfast, someone's "cheat day".  

I appreciate a good cup of coffee above most things, and that's something that hasn't changed between the old and the new life I have.  That is why I went to Press Coffee with a simple idea:  I want to sell candy.  A simple stand, a couple dollars a bar, for an hour or two to get my name out there and have some fun doing it.  Press was, to me, the perfect venue.  From its wonderfully curated decor to its light-dappled cafe tables, Press understands appreciating the small, everyday victories of the perfect cup of coffee, the first bite of a crisp pastry, finding the just-right leather chair to sit in and enjoy the morning for what it is:  an opportunity to create, relax, not take life too hard or seriously.   I would have never thought of the generosity that would come of Natalie offering to give me liberty on stocking them as often as I could produce them.  

I am dropping off my second order this morning.  Twenty-seven bars of Matcha, Cookies and Cream, and Peanut Butter.  They're delicate and snap when you break them.  They're wrapped in the same designs I used for Nolan's Valentine's Day present, florals for spring*.  They're one of the simple pleasures we allow ourselves to spend money on, and maybe one of my customers will share his with someone he loves today.  I hope, whoever buys one, they'll recognize the attention each bar got from me.  From cutting the wrappers to measuring the foil, to getting the perfect process of tempering and cooling, each bar was made from my hands, hands that once held pencils too tightly, cigarettes too loosely, and another boy's hand too recklessly. 

If you're located in the San Antonio-area, stop by Press Coffee at 606 W French Place 78212, and maybe I'll see you there, too! (Usually for only, like, five minutes in the morning before work, though).

What my work desk usually looks like

Matcha is probably my personal favorite.  Beau and I are hockin' these like it's 2012

(they're not $2, btw)



And finally, a special thanks to Samuel Nuñez  for creating such an amazing logo, that inspired so much of my work this last month--from the candy bars to actually making this website a thing.  Go check him out, too!


Time is the trickster god.  A coyote that laugh-howls, lopes into your nightmares, tricks the Snake.  The booming thunder of God-fury, the small church mice that follow the corn harvest like a perennial migration. All of it, everything.  The Bible doesn't mention the creation of time, it could have been the first or the sixth day of manifested divinity. Between the firmament and the sea, deep in the root-veins of the universe.  We live in the world of cause-and-effect, and the only protection of this stifling reality is perception.  My mother said her candy shop was getting too commercial.  My mother said her back hurt so bad she couldn't breathe that morning.  My mother said that if she could tell her seventeen-year-old self to get an education, she wouldn't be "in this hell-hole town" now. And I understood.  I didn't know who I was at seventeen and I was headstrong and coming into a sexuality that was too strong for me to divert.  I was creative in a static way, post-it notes of lyrical sentences, nonsensical until it was in a poem.  I majored in English, a dead degree.  I second-majored in Philosophy, a dead science. And now I work with tension and dream of cooking every day.  I dream that the window is open, the sun highlighting dust motes I'll get to one day.  The dogs dance their carnal dance of play-fight and Nolan sits waiting for me. And I have that life in part-time.

My weekend is Tuesday and Wednesday and after working for days on end, skipping weekends to help out in the office, I finally had two days off in a row.  After dental appointments and job applications, I got the chance to reconnect.  The mornings, grey and amber the way mornings are, were punctuated by small kisses and coffee that cut the cold, silent air with the sizzle of the pot when it went back on the burner.  My shoulders fell, relaxed.  My heart relaxed, grateful.  We put a deposit on a new house and felt the promise of a new life, a new us.  A way to forget the time I yelled so loud my throat hurt, a chance to forget that every cause has an effect, because we live in a world of time.  And sometimes those things don't leave you.

Wednesday night, I made a cake.  I made a cake and planned my future.  I made a cake and recreated a dish we had in Newport last week.  And the small jewels of heirloom tomatoes and the beads of sweat that dotted Nolan's shirt told me how alive I am, how I don't regret who I was at seventeen, because my poetry is different now, but it's still there in the periphery.

Making the Almond-Meringue cake. TheDriftwoodJournals

Almond Meringue Cake with Clover Honey-Vanilla Icing


For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup finely-ground almonds (I used a food processor for a 6 oz bag of plain almonds)
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 ounces soft butter
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Teaspoon almond
  • 1/2 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon cream of tartar (optional, but recommended)

For the icing:

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 Tablespoon clover honey


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, Fahrenheit
  2. Put a metal bowl and whisk or hand beaters' whisks into freezer to cool while you prep.
  3. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan by liberally coating with softened butter and parchment paper
  4. For the cake, sift flour, soda, ground almonds, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Mix together.  Set aside.
  5. In a glass measuring cup or separate mixing bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, extracts, vinegar, and buttermilk by whisking until yolks are broken up.
  6. Combine wet ingredients with dry in thirds.  After each portion, beat with hand or stand mixer for 20 seconds or so to combine thoroughly.  Set this batter aside.
  7. Take bowl and whisk out of freezer, and beat egg whites until peaks form.  Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  8. To combine meringue with batter mixture, use a rubber spatula and take a small amount of the egg whites and stir them into the batter.  Now, pour all egg whites into batter bowl and fold gently until just combined.
  9. Pour into prepared cake pan.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes and watch carefully.  The top will be browned, and the center will not be fully cooked.  To ensure nothing is burnt, put aluminum foil over cake after 45 minutes and continue to bake until middle is set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Check in five minute intervals to ensure best quality.
  11. Invert cake and cool completely.
  12. While cake is cooling, prepare icing by adding all ingredients in a bowl and mixing together.  Add warm water by the tablespoon and whisk vigorously until desired consistency.  Drizzle over cooled cake.  Enjoy!

Got to love a cake that has olive oil, egg whites, and buttermilk!