Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A quick hello

I've become a little distracted from my blog these last few days with much going on here. I'll be back later this week though (maybe even sooner) with recipes, art and more to share.

In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful week!!

P.S. Can you believe these daffodils are from our yard? Everywhere here the magnolias are flowering and today I saw a redbud tree in full bloom. Even the azaleas are getting ready to open. Usually, that all happens a month from now...

P.P.S. Do you see my painting in the background? Still thrills me whenever I see my art hanging on the wall! :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What clears my mind...

Yesterday, I was going to go to the print studio, but somehow I wasn't clear how to proceed with this new project. So I decided to bake and cook - for some reason that organizes my mind while feeding the senses (and the belly).
Do you see the chewed off corner? Our first dog, Moe (a great dane/dalmation mix) ate everything when he was a puppy, including books. Back then it annoyed us, but now we both feel wistful when cooking from this book.
A sweet reminder of a truly great dog!
I cooked for the weekend and for company tonight. I made James McNair's Puerto Rican Rice and Chicken, which is one of my favorite recipes and best when made a day ahead. Total comfort food with complex flavors and a little bit of a kick! When I have a little more time, I'll share the recipe with you.
I also made a batch of my favorite biscotti and will share this recipe with you soon. It's super easy and delicious!!
This are the corners I cut off when cutting the biscotti. Those don't bake twice. They are for eating immediately - and that's exactly what happened...
For dinner last night (veggie soup), I tried a new recipe for whole wheat no knead breadsticks that I found here. I wanted to find a breadstick recipe that doesn't use white flour and this is a keeper. It calls for 3 to 3 1/2 cups of flower, but I don't think I used more than 2 3/4 cups. The dough was soft and baked up perfectly.
Easy to make and incredibly delicious, especially to a bread lover like me... Before baking, I brushed them with egg white and sprinkled them with sea salt. Yum!! (I won't even tell you how many I ate...)
And I made another batch of Caponata, an Italian eggplant appetizer. I'll have to share that recipe with you as well! It's easy to make and so very good!! That, too, is for tonight. It benefits from sitting for a day and having the flavors come together.
All this cooking brought me clarity on how to proceed with my next print. This girl is dark and mysterious and flowers and the bubble wrap stamps didn't seem to fit her. Then, it became clear. On one of the background plates I will paint bare tree branches that surround her. And the other background plate will have different patterns.
For those patterns, I made a couple of different stamps by gluing beans and lentils onto cardboard with molding paste. I also have a natural sponge with an interesting pattern and rubber bands around a brayer. All of these I will apply to the copper with sugar solution to create stencils that will then be etched. Each plate will then be printed again in a different color.

She'll be different from the first print, but in my mind, she's already just as beautiful!

Here's to good food, creative fun, and all of you!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

This morning...

You are probably starting to wonder what's with the eggs-in-a-bowl photos... Well, a little while ago, an egg had broken in the container and so I put the remaining eggs in a pretty bowl.

It made me remember that growing up we never had our eggs in an egg carton, but always in a basket or a bowl or - later on - a wire basket that looked like a chicken. They look so much prettier out of their normal container, don't you think?

A simple joy. That's what that is for me.

And here are some others:
✼ taking Winslow for a walk in the dark this morning
✼ Ramses coming with us for half the walk and then waiting for us to return
✼ fresh air that smelled to me of mornings in Germany when I was growing up
✼ the wind in the tree tops
✼ owls hooting somewhere nearby
✼ a hot cup of tea next to me
✼ snuggling back into bed and blogging for a while
✼ getting inspired with every one of your blogs I visit
✼ reading and loving every comment you leave me
✼ my knitting waiting patiently for the few rows I knit every morning
✼ a whole day ahead to do with as I please...

Wishing you a day filled with simple joys! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today in our garden...

It has been a very mild winter here. The occasional freeze at night, and then again nice warm days. And today the daffodils started blooming. Early spring in Georgia...

I'm not complaining. Not one bit!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Painting - Sarah

11x14 inch acrylic painting
Well, I have to admit it. My last post bored me a little. Not while I was writing it but now, after the fact. Lists?! Really? I don't even really like lists that much! ;-)

I prefer art. And so I am doing another quick post with the painting I started sometime last week. I'm not sure if she's quite finished. Right now I'm in the "lets stare at her for a while until I know for sure she's done" phase.

It's the first profile portrait I have painted that I really, really like. And I'm sure it will not be the last.

When she's all finished and varnished, I'll probably offer her for sale in my Etsy shop, which I haven't closed after all. Remember I was going to? Sometimes it's wonderful I don't do things right away... Procrastination can be such a time saver! ;-) Selling on my blog is too much work to keep up with - and I'm all for keeping it simple this year.

So, stay tuned...


I loved reading all of your comments on my last post - it seems like many of us suffer from runaway thinking... a side effect of a creative mind!! And we all look for ways to get focused on something manageable again. I've been using lists to keep my focus. 
But not the lists I used to use, which never served me well. Lists of things I "had to" do. And always the list was way too long, which - at the end of the day - left me feeling like I didn't accomplish what I needed to. Not a good feeling. And so counter productive.
This year I've rethought my lists and have changed them in three major ways:

1. I only put at the most five things on the list that are "chores," things I have to do that day.
2. I also put fun things on my lists, like "read," "knit," or "paint."
3. In addition to that, I add other things to my list as do them, which has been the biggest eye opener of all.
I can't tell you how many days I've had when I knew I'd been busy, but didn't feel like I got anything done. My list hadn't gotten smaller, but somehow the day was gone. After doing my "reverse list" for a couple of days, I realize just how much I do that I don't really acknowledge.
Putting the "fun" things on my list has been a great revelation as well. I find that those are the things that usually suffer when I am "too busy." Yet, they are what nourish my soul. By putting them on my list and making space for them, I give them the importance they truly have.
Do you make lists? Do they help you focus? Do they empower you? What kinds of lists do you make? Do you use pretty paper? I do - and a colorful pen as well. Do you make a daily list or one for the week? Do you stick to your list?
Oh, and - if I don't get to everything on my list? No big deal. Tomorrow is another day...
P.S. Did my gratitude list in pictures again... So much to enjoy these days!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

More thoughts...

So, this morning I was changing the sheets on the bed and happened to look up and saw the dust that had accumulated on the ceiling fan. After that my thoughts went something like this:
"Wow, I really have to dust this fan. Actually, all the fans in the house. Especially the one in the kitchen, it tends to get grimy. That reminds me that I need to clean out the kitchen cupboards and clean on top of the cupboards. Speaking of cleaning out, I also need to organize the coat and linen closets. And then there's our walk-in closet that needs a good once over. I really need to donate some of my clothes. And when I take those to goodwill, I should see if they have any shelving I could use in the bathroom. But, really, first we need to paint the bathroom. And the bedroom of course. We also need another bookshelf in there."

And so on and so on. For quite a while. It was impressive.
Does that ever happen to you? Runaway thoughts?!
It started with a simple observation and by the time I was done thought hopping, I had several weeks worth of projects in front of me and was overwhelmed and exhausted! And hadn't even done anything yet.
Luckily, today I was able to observe this process in my thinking and come back to the original thought - the dusty fan in the bedroom.
That I could handle. Right then and there.
 And have energy left over for the other things that were actually on my list for today.
Again I was reminded of the importance for me of living in the moment. So, I grabbed the camera and walked around for a few minutes to create my visual gratitude list for today.
That helped. A lot.

Actually, for me these overwhelming thought rambles can happen as well with really fun stuff, like all the creative projects I want to tackle. It can absolutely paralyze me until I come back to one project I can do right then and put the others on hold.

What do you do when you thoughts take over?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A new sketch and some rambling thoughts...

First of all, thanks so much for all your wonderful comments on my first print! I'm glad  you like it as much as I do. Yesterday, I did a fairly quick sketch of a portrait I can use for my next etching project.  She's a rather intense young woman, but for some reason all the women I draw or paint look at little intense. 
I've been thinking about why life seems so much easier and more joyful to me this year. Last year it seems that I slipped into anxiety early on and never quite recovered from it. Every little thing seemed like a huge deal to me. Stuff I now hardly think twice about, nearly had me reduced to tears last year.

So, I've been wondering what brought about that change and I think it started when I began with my daily (well, almost daily) gratitude list. It seems like such a little thing, but I think it is changing the way I view my world. I started looking more at what is good and beautiful in my life than I worried about what might happen (my worries are usually about what could happen, rarely about what is actually going on).

It reminded me again that a joyful life is nothing but a string of joy-filled moments. Difficult things happen in everybody's life and they will happen again in mine. But right now, while it's quiet and peaceful and all is well, I have decided to enjoy the little things, the peaceful moments, the quiet beauty that's all around me, the books I'm reading, the art I'm making, cooking, baking, eating, playing with our pets, spending time with friends... you get the idea.

Hand-in-hand with this, I have noticed that I have become so much kinder toward myself. I usually feel kind toward others, but I'm often quite hard on myself. Which accomplishes nothing. Nothing! Kindness on the other hand frees me from much anxiety and guilt and allows me to simply move on when I haven't quite accomplished what I thought I should.

So, am I grateful right now? You betcha!! 

Here just a few things that brighten my day:
Also, Jewel (one of the black bears being studied by the North American Bear Center) had two cubs this morning. If you click here, it'll automatically take you to her den cam, which I am totally addicted to these days...

Happy Sunday to you all!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A New Print

Finally, this etching and print came together exactly how I had envisioned...
I was so tempted to post earlier pictures (I can never wait to share things with you!), but the colors weren't quite right - all but the blue are hand mixed - and there were things about the copper plates I needed to fix.
But Thursday and yesterday I printed an edition of six prints and every one of them is beautiful!
Truly, this time around, the whole process was a joy for me.
Every print took at least 30 minutes to prepare and print, which would have stressed me out last quarter, but not this time. I loved it!
I printed all of them on German Etching paper made by Hahnemühle - the most luscious paper, it's so thick and soft and the warm tone really makes the print beautiful.
I wanted to take pictures of the three copper plates (this print was done in layers) when they were inked and wiped, but I got so caught up in the process that I kept forgetting. So at the very end I remembered my camera and thought I'd get a few pictures of the ink and the plates.
The copper plate above is the portrait I started out with and the one below has the red background, for which I used a process called sugar lift. It basically works like a stencil to lift out the areas I want to have etched by the acid. Those etched areas are the ones that end up holing ink and printing. The patterns I got by using bubble wrap, shelf liner and scrunched up packing paper. The face you see on it is just a ghost image of ink that transfered onto the plate during the printing process.
For last plate with the flower garland I again used the sugar lift method, this time not stamped but painted onto the plate. For those of you more interested in all of this, click here for some great explanations and photos.
The photo below I took simply because I loved the colors. Those are the tarlatan cloths I used to wipe the excess ink of my plates. In the background are all the yummy etching inks...
Now, I'm already thinking of the next image as I want this to be a series of layered portraits.
Today, I'm hoping to do some drawing and painting for which I haven't had much time lately.

Life is good. I hope for you as well!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Road Trip - Amelia Island - last part

I'm falling down on the job here. I had promised to post this yesterday and the day just got away from me.
I'm printing, printing and printing and LOVING it!
So today, I finished my edition (which I'll share with you tomorrow...) and now I'm getting to these last beautiful photos from Amelia Island.
All of them were taken at the Fort Clinch State Park, a gorgeous place with a long beach,
a very long fishing pier, hiking trails and - of course - the fort.
I will let the photos speak for themselves...

Loved this sign...

Tomorrow - the print! FINALLY!! I'm so happy with it... ridiculously happy...

Wishing you a fantastic beginning to the weekend!!!