Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Funny kids...and latest art...

Kids are funny.  And maybe every mom feels the same way, but mine are very funny.

Lately, I've been feeling like my main purpose in life is to load and unload the dishwasher.  It wasn't so long ago that I didn't HAVE a dishwasher, so I'm grateful to have one...and I'd get my kids to do it but I'm quite particular about where things go!

The comic relief for the dishwasher-loading drudgery is out there just waiting for me to listen.  In between loads I listen closely to strange and amazing conversations, and what a loss to not write them all down!  But I thought I'd share a few good ones I've enjoyed lately.  (It also reminds me to not take every word they say to heart, because often they're just playing with their words!)

During prayers a few nights back, Miso says..."Thank you Jesus for all the blooming opossums".
(I'm not even sure where that came from, sounds like a cut and paste idea from a few books we'd read...and it's hard to stifle laughter during prayers!)

And this was an honest one, Bashi was under the table and I see him crouched down pointing into a bright beam of sunlight, and he just says..."Mommy look! Dust...."  (Yes, thanks for reminding me.)

Earlier he'd really packed away some dinner and as he sat holding his belly he said, "Mom...I ate too many rice..." (I know what it's like...)

But the funniest one lately was just yesterday while driving to Trader Joe's, darling daughter began a verbal salad bar of strangeness, she started with...."Texas is a stinky place, I haven't smelled it but I smelled the juice that was there." (Juice?  What?!!)  When I started laughing, she told me that I should NOT laugh at her because it might hurt her feelings.  Then I asked more about Texas, and she said that Texas and also Oklahoma, both stink, and something about alcohol ...and then she said, "But I'm not telling you about Texas!"  (I apologize to everyone from Texas and Oklahoma and I assure you that her sentiments did not come from me.  I can think of many other states that DO stink, but I will not point them out here!)

Ah, never a dull moment.  Actually...some dull moments would be kinda nice now and then, but I'm sure I'd find some way to spice them up.  I like to fill blank spots with creativity...

Recently in the studio, I've been working with rusted fabric, jump rings and stitches to make some new jewelry.

This necklace combines rust with the ruster...tough with delicate.

I've also been toying with leather...a new medium for me.  I made leather "coozies" for ball jars as a St. Valentine's day gift to protect the hands from hot bulletproof coffee.  Unbeknownst to me, my darling bought a 5 lb bag of Bulletproof coffee at the same time...a perfect match.

I've been "juicing up" some old National Geographics with Citrasolv cleaner.   That's all I've ever used it for in the past, and I've learned that it's actually a great...cleaner!  It removes labels from glass jars, wipes out grease on the stove, and smells like a fresh peeled orange.  Anyway, dousing NG's with Citrasolv is such a pleasing activity because you never know what kind of lovely ink pattern you'll get.  I've started sewing the pages together and making them into books...why?  I don't know! 

And lastly, I've got a little "family art" going on.  This is just a slice...when I get it finished, I'll post more pics.

Au revoir!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Blooming Friday...

Remember the little orchid that was just starting to push up a wee sprout?  Here it is beginning to bloom.  We've been watching it grow, the pods get larger every big in fact that I thought they might break off! 

We had two dead orchids, one was super duper dead!  We couldn't recall which one was replanted.  Looks like white with violet speckles. What a fun surprise for St. Valentines day tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Oh, honey bayuhhh....

Ahhhh...I've just tucked a pot of boeuf bourguignon into my oven for the 2-3 hour simmer and I'm still finishing the glass of wine.  I'm sure it said to drink a glass of wine while you cook, or was it two glasses?  Must have been on one of the 4 pages of the recipe, I'm sure of it!

Nevertheless, dinner is cooking and I'm now relaxing and fielding questions.  "NO, you can't have any chocolate...NO, you can't jump off the stairs onto the old couch cushion, NO, there's not a raccoon living in our house."  Wait, what?

You can't write off every odd toddler question...there IS a raccoon that lives in the abandoned house next door, and with all the food that hits our floor, it could be only a matter of time!  I have been wanting to get the kids a pet...?

Lately, I've been working daily art time back into my life.  I've got many projects going at once, as usual, and I'm about to start the yearly Easter candle too.  I'm trying to finish up some half baked projects like the Hail Mary piece above that I started about 4 years ago, and secret St. Valentine's Day gifts as well...and in the midst of this I clean, organize and purge. quest for lent.  I don't bother with new year's resolutions, lent keeps me much more accountable!  I'm pondering a schedule (yikes!) and even though they seem limiting and scary and suffocating...I believe it will be just the opposite.  I've never lived by a schedule other than my own whim, and now with kindergarten looming in the fall, I feel I must embrace a routine.  *sigh*...yes, it's time.  And I plan to be scheduling in art time too, so then I MUST go do it!  ;)

Some days I only get little shreds of time for art here and there, like the morning "honey request".  Every morning I draw a little picture with the honey bear onto the kids' kefir...sometimes it's a star, or a heart, or a train...but this morning the actual honey bear was requested.  I did the best I could with what I had to work with!  The raspy dialogue from Bashi went like this as he stared at the honey bear:

"Oh honey bay-uhh (bear in Bostonian), you have honey in your boddyyyy....I squeeze your bend ovahh (over) and put honey in my bowl..."

These things happen every did I get so blessed?

And this it, and I mistrust it.  We've been enjoying getting the extra vitamin D and all, but I have a feeling that March is going to dump an epic snowstorm onto us.  I hope so...there's nothing better than being snowed in and having enough cocoa for everyone!  Especially now that I've realized that homemade marshmallows made with beef gelatin and honey will not only melt in your cocoa, but they will also turn brown and toasty when hit with a torch! (Sorry I don't have a picture of about some cute toes instead?!)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Strange days...

Today I tore the arms off of a barbie doll (art supplies!), stuffed them in the pocket of my apron, and then threw the rest of "her" in the trash.  These are strange days, indeed.

Earlier Miso pushed Bashi into my kitchen in her baby doll's stroller and she said, "He's 14...and his name is Anselunta".  Where does this all come from?  This lackluster, yet cold, winter has brought some cabin fever.  If I was a diligent person, I would write down every strange/funny/crazy thing my kids have said or done in the past month, and I could publish a book and sell it in the humor section of Half Price Books!

Christmas rolled by like a dream this year.  And I do believe my children have been "over gifted".  I watched them throw brand new markers about like they were sticks from the yard...then they picked one up and started coloring ON the new book they had just received.  They've lost all respect for the gift and have entered, "What's NEXT?!" mode.  Just looking for some paper to tear.  So I'm not only stashing piles of old toys in the back closet (for later rediscovery and reuniting) but I'm also subversively layering long-since played with toys in between my own discards bound for the thrift store.  They'll never know...unless you tell them!  :)

Last week, we had one of our priests over for Epiphany dinner...I served Vietnamese "pho" (fuh), you know, Epi(PHO)ny?!  Anyway...he'd never been to our house and wanted to see the second floor.  Yikes.  What a laundry explosion there was up there!  Not only had I recently enjoyed a 50% off thrift store shopping extravaganza and had adopted every medium-sized grey or black cotton sweater I could find (and hence was systematically washing them multiple times to get the thrift store aroma out) but I also had all the new Christmas clothes washing, towels from here to there, and a swelling pile of soiled infant clothes courtesy of the failure of the "green" disposable diapers I started using while we were all sick last month. There were piles lined up along the wall of clothes to give away, clothes I'm saving for this person or that person...clothes, clothes, CLOTHES!! By the way, Father DID go up there, saw my sins and only said, "You sure like to decorate!"  Was it the 4 boxes of Christmas decorations sitting on the landing?  Or did he mean I decorate my house with CLOTHES?!  I'm not quite sure...

Just today, I went through my closet and downsized by 50%.  Not only am I trying on a new hat...the "If I haven't worn it yet, I WON'T EVER WEAR IT!" hat...but I'm also working on Miso's sense of generosity.  What's hers is hers...and what's HIS is hers...and I'd like her to not care so much about material things and be willing to give things to people who have nothing.  Also, I'd like her to stop screaming like she's being knifed in the back when her brother takes a toy from her!  Just small know...

Hmmmm...Is there anything quite like the sound of 400 pistachio shells hitting the kitchen floor?  Gotta go!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stocking up for Thanksgiving...

Today I'm simmering savory stocks and being thankful that my household is almost done with the flu.  For a family who hardly ever gets sick....two weeks of the usual "influenzial" symptoms felt like a year.  But thanks to homeopathy, vitamin C, bone broth and ginger honey tea...we're ready to take on Turkey-Day with new found immunity!  There's nothing like a dance with the flu to inspire you to pop your vitamins, eat your kefir and go to bed!

This murky swill is beef broth, I'll strain and reuse the bones for a two-day simmer of remouillage.  Not as flavorful as the first stock, but still packed with minerals and great to use to cook rice instead of plain old water.

I borrowed a huge stock pot to brine my bird, but first I made veggie stock.  I like to snip whole rosemary twigs and toss them in (from right out my back door), in addition to the onion skins.  It smells so good in my kitchen...and my nose is only at 50% sniff capacity right now too.

And this?  This is nothing short of a miracle.  We had this sad, slumping, shriveled little orchid with a dead twig sticking up and one day I decided to have mercy on the poor thing and try to resurrect it. First, tiny leaves appeared and grew large, then a root popped it's head up from the mulch, and now a new flower?!  I'm honored.  I used to kill every plant I ever touched...even cactus!

And of course an art update!  Even though my art time has been at a premium lately,  Miso always has time.  She decided to draw a whole convent full of nuns!  I'm not sure which order wears red and blue, but least they all have their rosaries and a big smile! She keeps asking me to make her a cardboard convent to house them all...take THAT, Barbie!! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

An Artsy Pumpkin Oddity...

Please excuse the poorly lit photos and plush, baby blue blanket background fabric!  It was late, our house is dimly lit and I just wanted to fire off some pictures before it went to it's final destination, Scooters Coffee House.  My sister-in-law and I came up with this design for a pumpkin decorating contest.  We couldn't cut into the pumpkin because it will remain on display for a few weeks and they didn't want it to rot.

Using an old book as a ground, we adhered (hot glue!) the pumpkin down and collaged book pages up the sides.  I then painted the top of the pumpkin orange (don't ask) and added brilliant gold and aged it down in the cracks and around the edges of the book.  

We then twisted bailing wire into a tree of sorts and decided that it needed to be a "coffee tree" so we glued the beans onto fine brown thread and dangled them from the branch tips.  We'd gotten some cheap coffee beans to use in the project but they didn't make it to the studio, so I chose to sacrifice some of my Dave Asprey Bulletproof Coffee beans! The best of the best of the best, SIR!

Gladys here, a 60's dress pattern model, poses with her fresh pick...a lovely brown bean roughly the size of her own face.  That should hold her over for a week of two of aromatic brews!  

Just a fun little distraction from dishes and laundry!  It took two evenings to complete, although we spent most of that time talking and about 3 hours actually working.  And that was equally as fun!  Plus, someone held my 21 lb. infant while I made art...SCORE!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A collaged little nest of envies...

Main envelope front - "Incognito" with collaged bits on rusted paper, burned holes...and the dragonfly has crazy eyes...
Collage...sounds simple, right?  Just slap some things down with glue and call it art.  Not so easy for a type 4 introverted perfectionist!  Or maybe it really is the gift I received from KCAI...sitting through critique after critique, picking art apart and having mine picked apart as well.  The experience helped me to really look at what I was doing, to consider craftsmanship and to think about how it will be visually received by others.  And that sort of "work ethic" can make collage a challenge.  (As a side note I'd like to add that I really learned minimal "skill" there...but I did learn how to use the ones I had a little better.)

Back of main envelope, rusted paper with buttons sewn on...

But my "ways" started even farther back than art dad was a hard worker and things had to be tight and good and flush.  Anything worth doing was worth doing right, the first time and with the correct tools! And so I invest myself...into everything.  I once pondered making artsy zines with a friend so what did I do?   I searched around for the best bindery stapler made and purchased it before we'd even made a zine!  Just like dad taught me.  When I started playing volleyball in high school, albeit briefly, he bought an Olympic grade net and welded custom poles to hold it up.  But being so "intense" can take it's toll.

 Envelope inside with printed brayer marks, collage bits...and the queen has crazy eyes...

It was impossible for me to just slap these collages together.  As with everything I do, I got serious about it and wanted them to be interesting, somewhat coherent and tight, good, and flush. After choosing bits and pieces that I liked, I started moving them around.  I happened upon a piece of dictionary page that said "incognito" and started thinking about disguises and unreality.  As the pieces fell together, they got odder...and odder...and odder.

 Envelope inside of the last...rusted paper with caterpillar with marionette legs.  He's toting a collaged spirograph bit stitched onto his hand and note he has a crazzzzy eye...

After I got things how I wanted them, I did my thematic stitching and called it art.  Then...just when I thought I was done I realized...they all need to have the same eyes.  Why?!  I don't know! It made sense at midnight.  But adding the crazy painted eyes on each face sealed the deal for me and I finally felt like I'd completed the project.

The final collaged card in the last envelope was based on a piece of paper I'd used as a catchall for other painted projects...then I added flower parts, a dignified man with crazy eyes and a boney hand emerging through a spirograph "portal"...why not?!
Collage is a funny thing because unless you have a clear idea of what the end project will be and hunt for the parts, the parts will otherwise choose each other and dictate the "meaning".  I'm not sure I want to hunt for meaning in these pieces beyond the obvious...I'm tired...I'm sleep deprived...and I need a vacation.  If I try to start making sense out of these pieces...I might just go off the deep end, or realize that I already have?!

The next art project...metal, rivers and quotes. 
And last will be...typography, pop-ups and washi tape.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Entomology in our backyard...

Today was a beautiful day and we (but mostly I...) spent it outside...catching bugs!   I'm working on getting my kids used to the bugs they can and can't touch.  I'm sure some moms would say not to touch any of them, but I find it to be a delight of childhood and a way to gain appreciation for all the cools things that God makes.  I can't make a butterfly or a tree, I can only help them grow or kill them...but I can't create them.

The kids have a plastic place mat that feature BUGS of all kinds.  There are dragonflies, cicadas, fireflies, earthworms, on and on...and I noticed that out of the twenty creepy crawlies on there, we are only missing about 3 in our yard.  Thankfully, no tarantulas, ticks or scorpions.  That I know of!!  

After my mom sent me a picture of a monarch coccoon with the beautiful gold dots...we went outside and saw this beauty drying it's wings in the sun.  The kids had it cornered and begged me to catch I obliged!  I cupped it in my hands as to not destroy all the dust on it's wings, and we passed it back and forth until it was ready to fly off on it's own.

Cicadas are probably my top favorite bug.  They're big, simple, are lovely in color, and of course they emit that attractive SHRIEKING noise, especially when squeezed ever so lightly.  Yesterday we were out with a neighbor who is admittadly afraid of bugs.  A cicada buzzed around our heads and landed on a tree in our yard.  I called out "MINE!" (as if dibs were necessary) and snatched the cicada off the tree and it began to buzz loudly.  Our neighbor learned a little more about me at that point.  I did get her to "high five" a grasshopper.  Maybe I should start a "bug appreciation 101" class for adults!  Full of ideas...right?

Grasshoppers...a classic favorite.  But unlike cicadas, these will bite you.  Or rather, a katydid will bite you, a grasshopper just works up a nasty brown "tobacco juice" and spits upon you.'s no big deal.  You just have to know where to grab.  And it's also "polite" to grab them just right so they don't rip off their own leg.  Here is where my mom would insert story upon story of my childhood invention..."The Grasshopper Olympics".  There was swimming, wrestling, and of course...long jump.  But things happen.  Life is rough.  You lose a leg?  No problem, that's when I invented the..."Grasshopper Special Olympics"!!

And here is one bug that I will not touch.  They have quite a reputation as it is, but there's something about the way they tilt their head and look right into your very SOUL.  I will touch it's back, but I've never grabbed one.   A few years back, I was getting a better look at a praying mantis on a tree branch.  As I got in close, my roommate at the time who was a outdoorsy nature girl said, "Ooh...he's sizing up the jump..."  And as soon as I said, "Huh?!"  It jumped onto my hair!  Imagine here...the scream of a real girl!!...Loud and hysterical and swatting at my hair, "Get it off!  Get it off!  Dear Lord save meeeeeee!!!!"

Good times.

But I do love bugs...and I love our yard.  All 1/5th acre of it!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Playing with rust...

And then there was rust...

Have you ever done something peculiar for a very long time and you thought you knew why but later realized for REAL why you do this thing?  So for years, I've collected rusty objects.  What am I saying?!  For many, many years I have collected all sorts of objects!  A friend once teased me saying, "You will pick up anything a crow!"  I responded, "It doesn't HAVE to be shiny!" In art school, we had little cubby holes for mail and friends would leave rusted nails in there for me as gifts.

I've bent over in the middle of the street to pick up a rusty bit of metal, and I once jumped out of my truck in the middle of an intersection to pick up a flattened, rusty muffler pipe.  It was beautiful, and I had to have it.  It hangs over the doorway of my kitchen, like the severed arm of Grendel hanging above the mead hall door, an oxidized trophy.
Currently, I've been reading India Flint's "Eco Colour" book on natural dye processes.  It's a wonderful mix of artistic eye candy and fascinating chemistry.  I now understand why red wine turns blue when you wash your glass out in the sink...the pH of the water. 

The pictures above and below represent some of the experiments I've been doing with watercolor paper or muslin, vinegar and ferrous bits such as washers and steel wool.  Finally, a real purpose for all those rusty things I've collected over the years that I just couldn't part with.  Every *dangerous* stop in the middle of the road...validated!

No longer do I compost red cabbage bits either...they make excellent blue streaks.  After I allowed my paper to rust, I "overdyed" it with the red cabbage.  Now my mind wonders...what else can I do this to?  My muslin clothes...

And black tea...the lovely dark speckles above are from some really old decaf English Breakfast tea that didn't taste that great, but made a rich dye.   Basically, the possibilities are endless.  Too bad my time to play is not.  Maybe I'll have more time now that it's cold and tomatoes will probably just crack and *explode* and I won't be making sauce or salsa!