Friday, September 28, 2012

Painting again...

I can't believe I haven't blogged since Monday! The week sure went buy in a hurry. And since we last "talked," the dish cloth has taken the plunge into the dishwater (I'm so glad you all didn't think I was that weird...) and I have taken the plunge back into my paints. 
First thing I did was take this painting and gesso over everything but the big cat and the hand and then paint the woman new again. The old one just didn't feel "right" to me - too timid and afraid. I wanted to paint someone stronger. I tried to let my intuition guide me.
Her wrap or shawl is made from little pieces of torn paper and then I continued the color scheme and the motif from the paper into the rest of the painting. I also used some of the texture I got with the layer of plaster of paris I prepped the canvas with and got some great effects.
I wish you all could feel the fantastic texture! I tried to photograph it, and you can see it a little here
and here:
That combined with the red and gold and that intense gaze of the big cat - NOW this painting feels "right" to me!
Alter Ego
12 x 24 inches
mixed media on canvas
Available in my Etsy Shop.


Monday, September 24, 2012

A little weirdness...

A few days ago I finished knitting this cheery little dishcloth for our kitchen. It looks great (our kitchen is painted white and the walls are yellow) and it makes me happy every time I look at it. 
Now for the weirdness: I haven't used it yet. I have another (store-bought) dishcloth next to it, which I use for the actual dirty work. When I buy new towels or dishcloths, I have no trouble using them. In fact, I look forward to it. But when I make them I somehow don't want to get them dirty. Ever.

Silly, I know. But there you have it. ;-)


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Been busy...

I finally got going with some of my crafts again and am busily stocking my Etsy shop with new fun and elegant lacy scarves and loopy brooches from all kinds of different fibers.
I'm having fun making these things and hope you'll enjoy having a look at them. 
These pins are such fun to make and SUCH a mess. Of course I have to get out all my yarns to see how I want to combine them.
And then the snippets of the eyelash yarn ended up on everything, even on Winslow who was laying at my feet last night while I was making these.
But it's an entirely joyful mess!
And these shiny yarns just make me happy when I see and knit them. I added some furry ends on these scarves for some fun and whimsy.
The one above looks to me like a beautiful autumn afternoon with the sun low in the sky giving you that absolute golden light. And red one was very hard to photograph - somehow my camera doesn't like red. But the true color is deep and rich and gorgeous!
I can't wait to show you the one I am knitting right now - the colors remind me of vacationing in the Caribbean! 

With that I send you creative greetings from a very warm Savannah that obviously didn't hear the news that it is now officially fall... 

Oh, and here's the link to my Etsy Shop. Simply click here! You can see all of these goodies and much, much more! 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

One of my big weaknesses...

And not just any of them. They have to be from Haribo and preferably refrigerated so that they are not so soft. I don't like soft gummy bears. Not at all!

How much of a weakness are they? Let's just say I cannot have them in the house. If I do, they get eaten. And not slowly either. I love them best by the handful. I always have. When I was little, I used to separate them into the different colors (red being my favorite) before I shoveled them in, but now I like them all mixed.

Also when I was little, my sister and I would sometimes each get a bag of gummy bears. She'd eat hers slowly. But not me. Mine would be gone in a flash. And then ~ sweet sister that she is ~ she'd share hers with me. I'm still grateful for that. :-)

When I first moved to the US some 27 years ago, I couldn't find the Haribo gummy bears anywhere - and everyone who would visit me would bring me big bags of them. Now you can find them in any grocery store, which has made it quite dangerous for me.

Generally, I have never had a big sweet tooth, nor am I a snacker. But Gummibärchen ~ that's a whole different story! 

I ate a whole bag of them yesterday! That means there won't be any more for quite a while...or until I learn moderation, which will be ... like ... never! 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Good Morning

Burg Hülshoff
As I was walking Winslow around our neighborhood this morning while it was still dark out, I thought to myself how I have always been a morning person.
The bust of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff in the background,
one of Germany's very important poets and writers.
Click here to find out more.  
I can get up early and am fully energized pretty much immediately. Daniel gets up early, but he doesn't talk much. He needs to have some quiet time (and tea) to get going.
I, on the other hand, can talk up a storm and so I talk with Winslow and the kitties. And to myself...
I love that feeling of being up and about while the world around me is still sleeping. There is such a calm and quiet energy about that.
And so this quiet morning I thought I'd show you a few more pictures from the beautiful Münsterland, the area around where my family lives in Germany.
It is extremely gorgeous there in the summer ~ so green and lush!
And very flat, which is why all the castles that were built had moats around them for protection. Very beautiful!
Burg Hülshoff

Water Castle Venne

Water Castle Ittlingen

And here the first signs of fall I saw in Germany. Just like early mornings, I love fall. It is my favorite season and I wish it would arrive already here in Georgia!

The promise of fall always make me think of:

   ❋ that beautiful chill in the air
   ❋ crunchy apples to eat
   ❋ cozy evenings knitting
   ❋ the smell of fires in fireplaces
   ❋ making soups and stews
   ❋ baking bread and pies
   ❋ leaves changing color
   ❋ blustery days outside
   ❋ that golden late-autumn sunshine
   ❋ slower and more inward days

This morning I was almost able to imagine a chill in the air. Almost!

If fall has already arrived in your part of the world, will you send it on over here? Quickly?!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thai Recipe

Do you remember the apron I told you about in my last post? The one I got from my aunt? Well, here it is and I just love it!! In fact, it's such a simple pattern that I am toying with the idea of making another one. We'll see if I actually do it or if it will remain one of those ideas I have...
Yesterday, I made a delicious Thai basil chicken dish and I thought I'd share the recipe with you. The trick to it is to prepare everything ahead of time since the cooking time in the wok is very quick.
I served it with brown rice instead of the jasmine rice and it was delicious!! Well worth making!

Chicken with Green Chili and Holy Basil
From True Thai
by Victor Sodsook

(you'll find my additions or changes in italics)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cloves garlic, pounded to a mash or crushed and chopped
8 medium serrano chilis, stemmed and cut lengthwise into slivers (about 1/2 cup) (I used only four and I seeded them so the dish wouldn't be so incredibly spicy.)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 can of water chestnuts, sliced

2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon sweet black soy sauce (I'm sure you can substitute regular soy sauce and maybe increase the sugar a little bit)

1 1/2 cups loosely packed holy basil (tastes like licorice) or fresh mint

Place all of the ingredients within easy reach of the cooking area.

Set a wok over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add the oil. Rotate the wok a bit so the oil coats the sides. Add the garlic and chilies and stir-fry briefly, just until the garlic is golden and aromatic. Raise the heat to high. Add the chicken, onion, carrots and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 3 minutes, separating the onion slices as you stir. Add the fish sauce, sugar vinegar and soy sauce. Stir-fry just until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the basil and cook for a few seconds, just until the basil begins to wilt.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve with plenty of steamed jasmine rice.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Wishful Thinking

I admire people who see themselves exactly as they are. Maybe you are one of them? 
This is the beautiful heath near where my sister lives ~ with the heather in full bloom!
Me? I know who I am and at the same time I have these vision of how I'd like to be. They are never quite realistic as they are in total conflict with who I really am. Let me give you some examples.
I have this image of myself as a June Cleaver type woman, the perfect housewife from Leave it to Beaver. I see myself dressed perfectly with not a hair out of place, my face always flawless (not possibly a pimple on my nose like I have right now), keeping a spotless house, always having delicious meals on the table, never forgetting a birthday of anyone I've ever known, taking care of those in need, and greeting every challenge with an amazing sense of humor. You get the picture...
Now, I know that this is not me and will never be, but still there's that slight hope that maybe I have a little bit of that in me. I do love the cooking and the baking part ... and I do love to wear a pretty apron, but cleaning the kitchen is NOT my favorite past time. I'd rather wear the apron while eating a piece of cake and reading a good mystery.
Bee hives for some delicious heather honey.
Ok, here's another image I have of myself - that of reading great literature all the time. Daniel reads a lot of great literature. I do on rare occasions when I hear it is really, really good! I will not read a book that makes me sad, even if it is the most amazing book ever written.
But I do love a good mystery. Even though they deal with murder, I find them strangely soothing. Not psychological thrillers (I can't read those - they make me anxious), but straight forward murder mysteries. There's an order to them and I need order for my overactive mind. Usually, there's a murder, then all the false leads and then at the end (in the books I like), there is the solution. And if the book is really good, there are interesting characters and unusual settings to boot!
My dad and I ~ we were there early in the morning.
Now, I have read lots of great literature in school and later on, and I still do when I know it will enrich my life, but not simply because I should. Although in my vision, I often sit on our chaise lounge (when Winslow isn't having a snooze on it), sipping tea and finishing the collected works of Shakespeare. Maybe some day. Or maybe not.
And then there are visions I have of myself that I know could be true and they scare me.
Schloss Raesfeld - a water castle in the area.
I can feel it in me that I could be a great artist - not by any outside standards as I have no idea what makes great art. I just feel it in me that there is much amazing art yet to be created.
And somehow that makes me hold back. Like right now, I have these images in my head of the next pieces I want to paint ~ and so I do other things instead. That's a part of me I don't quite understand and that aggravates me.
I observed my dad while I was in Germany and he is a doer. He gets something in his head and he makes a decision and then does it. It's his personality - he makes things happen.
His motto seems to be: "Let's do it now and then it's done." My motto seems to be: "That sounds like an interesting idea. Let's think about it for a while longer." There is value in both approaches, even in the waiting. Sometimes solutions will pop up that needed that space of "doing nothing."
The colors and patterns are very typical for the area.
However, in my vision of myself, I get things done! In my vision, that pile of papers on the kitchen counter that I need to go through, is already taken care of and filed. In reality that hasn't happened yet.
In my vision, I am the example of efficiency. By seven in the morning, I would have already cleaned the house, baked bread, done five loads of laundry, ironed all the clothes, and written several letters.
Ah letters! Here we come to another bit of wishful thinking. Before e-mail and the internet, I was a letter writer. Not a great one, but a fairly regular one. And I still see me reviving that lost art again.
And, of course, there was food. Excellent German food!
I ate all that was on this plate!! All of it!
I've tried. I even have a beautiful box with all my letter writing gear together, but it's not happening. It does for little bits of time, but it doesn't last. E-mail is so much less time consuming and so much quicker.  It's not as pretty or as lasting, but so much more immediate. Still, that wish persists and I haven't taken the letter writing box apart. Maybe some day...
This little duck was VERY hungry...
Still, with all that wishful thinking of the kind of woman I would like to be, I do ~ for the most part ~ like the kind of woman I have become and am still becoming. However, every time I am away from home for some time, I think that maybe NOW, when I get back, I'll be a little more like June Cleaver.
Siesta time! 
On this last visit to Germany my aunt even gave me a beautiful apron. I love to wear it and pretend to be that perfect housewife, but I still love cooking more than doing the dishes, and baking way more than mopping the floors, and eating more than just about anything else...