Friday, November 28, 2008

Good spuds, good meat . . .

. . . good God, let's eat! Okay, wipe that horrified look off your face -- that wasn't the REAL blessing we said at the Thanksgiving dinner table. And what a magnificent meal it was, our first traditional family Thanksgiving in the midwest in nine years. For those years, living in the deep south, Thanksgiving dinner had morphed into barbecued ribs poolside while the turkeys ran free. So nice to be back!
This year, in order to lessen the stress on our gracious hostess, we all agreed to help out with the cooking. The turkey was, without doubt, the finest and most moist and delicious I've ever had thanks to Steve's magic. Denise, Tom and Jess pitched in to make super cheesy potatoes, parmesan pull-apart bread and fresh cranberry sauce. Heather stuffed the celery, Joy made the dressing and I provided the marinated veggies. We finished off the meal with French Silk Pie by Chef Jimmy. Okay, not the most traditional menu but definitely one we all enjoyed.

Does it seem like we find more to be thankful for in these difficult economic times than when all is rolling along smoothly? Just having the family all together was ALL I could have ever asked for; an amazing meal was a wonderful extra. Gratitude to the universe!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's my secret?

That was the name of one of the first TV game shows back in the day. Panelists asked questions of the guest with the secret and obtained clues until they could ascertain what usually turned out to be an unusual occupation. Pretty tame for those of us dwelling in the 21st century -- none of the contestants ever said his secret was being a serial killer; none of the women ever admitted to being an "escort."

It is often said in self-help circles that one is only as sick as one's secrets. A few years back, a man named Frank Warren had an idea for an art exhibit. He distributed 3000 post cards, leaving them in books, on park benches and in other public places inviting strangers to share a secret; something that was true and something they'd never told anyone else before. He got about 100 cards back and used them for his art exhibit.

Surprisingly to Frank the cards kept arriving, often at the rate of about 200 per week. In 2005 Frank created a blog to showcase his 20 picks for the week, posting the new batch each Sunday. I learned of this only last week; perhaps many of you have already visited If you haven't, stop by. The cards are an amazing insight into the secrets people keep. And many of them are quite artsy which I personally love to see. Some are amusing, some will cause you to laugh out loud and some are downright tragic. Here's one I kind of like:

Theoretically it is supposed that if one writes down one's secret on a card and sends it off in the mail it is no longer a secret and the writer is released of its burden. Maybe we all have some flotsam and jetsam to unload before we go into yet another new year.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock I'm not, but . . .

. . . the digital cameras are so easy to use even a monkey could make a video. Speaking of animals, here's a little video clip of the winged variety. This started on Saturday when we heard a cacophony of church bells and cawing outside our house. This is an historic house we're currently renting in Peoria, IL, by the way, which seems to add to the creepiness of all of this.

To make a long story short, we watched HUNDREDS of huge crows roosting in the trees behind the house across the street. At seemingly scheduled intervals all of them would take off together, virtually recreating a scene from "The Birds." This went on all afternoon with us not realizing that when they left the neighbor's trees they were landing in the ones in OUR BACKYARD. Other than being somewhat annoyed by all the noise and the terror they struck in my tiny dog, we didn't think anymore of it. Until Sunday morning when we opened the blinds and saw CROW POOP everywhere. EVERYWHERE! The cars are covered with the nasty blobs. If you watch closely in my little video you'll see blobs on the sidewalk and blobs on the porch. And you'll see crows! Turn up the audio, enjoy the cawing and the church bells!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More inspiration from my Muse . . .

who has been somewhat under the weather with an eye infection. Warm compresses twice a day and ointment may be helping but I thought what she really needed were some new and festive accessories, hence the Christmas elf look:

As you can see she is ecstatic about wearing clothing, as always.

In an effort to further broaden my artistic horizons I've been taking an encaustic art class. Simplified, it's about making art with wax. My first piece is a collage which is so far unfinished. The jury is still out re: this process -- I'm wondering why one wouldn't just want to make a collage with the many processes and materials available that don't include wax. So far it just seems to add an unnecesary layer which, by the way, makes the piece all the more fragile and prone to damage.

Just for the heck of it, though, I threw together a 6x6 piece earlier in the week. Although I have mixed feelings about posting it, I'm trying to keep an open mind and remember what my son says -- "everything is art to someone." Here it is, and please be kind in your comments.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What's that you say? You'd like to create . . .

. . . but you can't afford the supplies? Check out the work of these two artists using NOTHING but Sharpie markers.

No more excuses!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Impress them . . .

. . . with this delicious chili! Found this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine. They give credit to JW's Food & Spirits in Grand haven, Michigan. I've made it twice -- it is easy, quick and great!

White Bean & Chicken Chili
6 Servings

This recipe calls for cooked chicken making it a good way to use up leftovers. Just toss the chicken with fresh vegetables and a few other pantry items and you've got yourself a perfect autumn meal.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos from jar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 15-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained
1 pound cooked chicken breast, chopped
1/2 cup half and half

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno; saute until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin; saute 1 minute. Add broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add beans, chicken and half and half. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

*** I would imagine you could use the already-chopped jalapenos that come in a small can. Also I purchase boneless chicken breasts to make this, just cut them up brown in a frying pan before adding them to the chili.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Challenge Folded Earrings

Last Friday I completed my first pair of folded metal earrings for the jewelry challenge that's been running via Deryn Mentock's blog. You can find the details of the challenge and photos of some of the projects here:

People who know me best realize a certain odd conflict about me. I've been making jewelry for years, selling it at art shows and online, and yet I'm not much of a jewelry wearer. When it comes time for my birthday or Christmas (or any other holiday that I can get a gift for!) I always seem to choose tools or some art-related materials gift certificates. When I wear jewelry it is almost always something that was a gift. Odd. Yes.

Well this was different. We were going out to dinner and to do some shopping Friday evening so I thought I'd just throw on those newly created earrings. Later that evening after returning home I was snuggling on the couch with my muse when I noticed I WAS WEARING ONLY ONE EARRING! My loving and supportive husband immediately ran out to the car and searched inside and out. Ever try to find a copper earring in the fallen autumn leaves? Nada.

On Saturday I was up bright and early (for me) and we set out to retrace our steps. We searched the restaurant and Lowe's, their lost-and-founds, and all but crawled around the parking lots. Again, nada.

Nevertheless I am submitting my link for this project and I'm happy to say I still have ONE of the earrings. That counts, right? Only now it's going to have to be a pendant.

And many thanks for featuring my stacked necklace on your blog, Deryn!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Color Study

While visiting in Indiana I was attracted to some ornamental grass by it's great color. I'm not much of a photographer but I think this one will be blown up and framed because I really love it. While I was looking at it on the computer screen I got to wondering just how many colors there actually were so I isolated them using an online palette generator. Imagine the possibilities: decorating a room around the photo, creating an outfit or piece of jewelry using the colors, even using them to choose the mat colors for framing. Here it is:
Here's the screen shot from my monitor of colors the palette generator found:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lewis and Clark? Marco and Polo?

Blake and Taylor. Exploring the Kirkendall Creek to be exact. What an outstanding way to spend a beautiful, warm November afternoon. Catch a frog, lose a Croc in the mud, navigate the rapids. They did it all. Experienced woodsperson that I am, I managed to hit myself in the forehead with a branch and turned myself into a unicorn.

NOTE: Not a mom-sanctioned activity and don't try this at home, we are professionals. And we took hot showers immediately after!

Our victorious survivors!