Sunday, January 29, 2012

What I Ate: Panzanella Salad

I made Panzanella salad for lunch today and it was dee-lish-ous.  Panzanella is a classic Italian salad made with day old bread and tomatoes.  Of course it tastes far far better in summer with proper, honest to goodness ripe tomatoes but in the middle of winter I crave a tomato once in a while and give into the urge and buy the organic cherry tomatoes that almost taste like real tomatoes.  I even made the bread that I used in the salad! 

Panzanella has so many different variations and usually contains basil which I absolutely refused to buy for $4 for pathetic wilted leaves.  Instead I used arugula. 

Tear up or cut up some day old (white bread preferred) bread into bite sized pieces and saute in a little olive oil/butter mix to soften.  Stir frequently for a few minutes, toss in a few minced cloves garlic and stir for 30 seconds and remove from heat.  Toss bread with halved cherry tomatoes, a handful of arugula, sliced cucumber, red onion, fresh mozzarella, and sliced salami.  Toss with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I used a balsamic reduction and it was extra yummy.  Add salt and pepper and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

38 Things: Donate Blood

I realized the other day that since we moved I completely lost track of my 38 Things I Want to Do Before I Turn 39 and it was time to jump on board the to-do list wagon.  When I glanced over the list again I noticed that I actually have been doing quite a few things to move my list along.

Like donating blood.  I donated blood yesterday for the second time since I turned 38.  I love donating blood.  The staff at the blood center make you feel like you a celebrity for doing it and they give you chocolate milk and cookies afterwards.  I am also B- which is only about 2% of the population so they have shortages and they call me and remind me when my time is due.   Something pathetic like only 5% of the population that is eligible to donate actually does.  Do you know if you are eligible?  Call your local blood bank and make an appointment.  It only take about 45 minutes and most of that is paperwork or drinking chocolate milk: the taking blood part is about 10 minutes. One donation of blood can save 3 lives, no joke.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow Time Equals Art Time

 With this assignment of 50 collages in 2 weeks I have learned a lot about myself and my art making process.  I need a good amount of time before my ideas get rolling.  Which was the point, really, of having to do so many collages.  If we were able to stop at 10, well, the results would have been awful.  For me at least--can't speak for my other classmates.  Or what would have probably happened is that I would have made 10, hated them, made 10 more, hated them and then did another 10 and so on.  Luckily I have been stuck in the house for the last 2 days because of the snow/ice storm and so I have been able to focus, focus, focus.
 It wasn't until around #32 that I really started rolling in ideas.  That was about the time I picked up paint as well.   I played a bit with resists as well.  It made the pieces so much more interesting.

It was also more successful for me to keep to a limited palette for the majority of the time.  Less options mean more thought into what you put down on paper.  

Three days ago I broke down and went out and bought a proper cutting mat and my cutouts improve sharply from that point on. 

Tips I have figured out with collage:
-Have sharp blades.

-Buy a fancy cutting mat.

-Experiment with lots of different kinds of glue.

-Try tearing the papers instead of just cutting a sharp edge. 

-Use stiff backings so they don't warp and roll up (like mine did).

-Photocopiers can be your best friend.  I have a lot of foreign money but didn't want to cut it up so I photocopied it.

-Use non obvious collage materials.  Meaning, I hated the collages that I used magazines or "scrapbooking" papers on.  They looked too crafty and cheap. 

-Be prepared to hate a lot of what you do and chalk them up to samples and trials.  Don't use your favorite papers or unique images until you have a grasp of what you want to do with them.  That's where the photocopier helps too.

This one is my favorite.  Those brown forms cut from a dress pattern are in the shape of nuclear reactor cooling towers.  The cards refer to humans gambling with nuclear energy.  A little obvious, but I am not too good with super deep or dark interpretations.

I also liked this one and think it works with the one above.  The spiral on the side is DNA.

For those of you that remember your high school science, this is a diagram of fission.  The collages weren't all science based, but my favorite ones tended to be.

The entire collection.  You can see about 2/3's of the way is when I really started having fun.  The last 15 I did more or less simultaneously.  
Now I have to make a nicer, quality collage diptych for the next project.  Yikes, only tomorrow to make it, going to put my thinking cap on tonight!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Can Hardly Believe it Myself

 Well, the snow made it after all.  And the weather forecast last night had changed from snow to frozen rain.  Yeah, they got that wrong.  The snow is so thick you couldn't even see the bridge when I took this photo.

Now I can see a faint outline of it.  But what amazes me is how many cars are coming across the bridge!

The cats are none too happy.  They have been going outside a lot lately and blame me, I think, for the reason why they now cannot and do not want to go outside.  I love how the birdbath is draped in the snow. 

On a more serious matter, please consider joining the online protest against censorship. We do not need internet censorship bills passing in congress.  These bills are misguided and just plain wrong.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Waiting for Snowpocalypse with Soup

 Here in the Pacific Northwest we are expecting some big snow heading our way.  As in a bigger storm than been seen in these here parts for many decades.   People in the PNW freak out when snow falls.  And there is good reason.  Lots of hills and little in the way of infrastructure for handling snow since we get it so infrequently. 

So all you can do is stock up on food, make sure you have spare batteries for your flash light and try to get out of wherever you may need to go for a couple of days.  Yesterday it was coming down pretty heavily so we ventured out to get groceries and much needed cat food.  There is a giant hill to get out of our neighborhood and I don't want to get iced in without provisions!

This morning the bridge was looking pretty clear.  Not much going on right now.  But supposedly the snow is headed our way.   Oops!  As I just looked out the window while I am writing this, the snow has come back and big icy flakes are falling studiously on the yard. 

How do I prepare for snow?  With soup.  Soup and flatbread made from scratch and red wine and brownies.

Chorizo Chard Soup

1 Tablespoon oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 lb spicy Chorizo uncooked sauasage
1 lb baby potatoes, peeled, halved and cut in thin slices
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 head Swiss Chard, stems discarded, finely chopped

Heat oil over medium in heavy pot or dutch oven.  Add onions and cook 5 minutes, stirring every so often.

Add Chorizo and cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes. The Chorizo I buy comes in sausage casing but you cut it open to use the ground sausage.  (Now sometimes you can only find the cooked Chorizo.  If that is the case, slice it thin, brown it separately in a frying pan and then add it at the end with the Swiss Chard.)

Add potatoes, broth, and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and cook 25 minutes, checking potatoes to see if they are fully cooked.  Once potatoes are cooked, mash potatoes in pot with hand masher.  

Add Swiss Chard and cook for 5 minutes or until Chard is well wilted.  (If you are using pre-cooked sausage, add it at this point.)  
Simple, spicy and delicious!  The key is the spicy Chorizo---so many flavors you don't need to add any additional seasoning.  I served it along side some pizza dough flatbread I made with just a topping of olice oil, Parmesan, and black Hawaiian sea salt.   

The perfect way to beat the snow!

Collage Frenzy

 I am well into my first assignment in Winter Quarter of my Fiber Arts Certificate and this project is a biggie!  We have to create 50 collages, yes, that's right, 50, based on a single theme and then 2 nicer collages as a finished diptych.  And we only have 2 weeks.  Yikes, this is like real school!
 I've said this before and I will say it again.  I am not really a collage person.  The self portrait I did last quarter was one of the only collages I have created in years and years.  So this is hard for me.  The instructor did say that to think of the 50 more like sketches so I am using it more to just experiment with the paper. 
 I am also trying not to use a lot of magazines so that is making it hard as well.  But I am hunkering down in the downstairs rec room (My new studio looks to have a water leak which is another story and I can't move into it just yet.) and listening to the radio and enjoying myself.  I made it past 30 which felt like a big obstacle and am actually starting to enjoy what I have been coming up with.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hitting the Felting Links

I like to keep in touch with what other felt artists are up to.  It is very inspiring and 
amazing to see all of the different things being created so I thought I would share a few of my current favorites with you.

Let me say right off the bat I did NOT make these adorable felted mushrooms.  They are a special giveaway over Felt4u. I am not sure how long her giveaway is going on for so get over there and comment to get a chance to win one of these ornaments!

Another felt blog I have been admiring lately is RosiePink--She does beautiful felt tapestry work with machine and hand stitching.

LeBrie Rich does felt sculpture and installation with a nice sense of humor.  Check out her TV dinner series.

Happy clicking!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Art Studio Re-Do Part 1

Here's how my studio looks right now.  After we moved in my dad put a really nice epoxy coating on the floor as a house warming gift.  Step 1.   It took a while because I had to move everything to one side of the room and then he did the coating and then after 3 days I was able to move everything to the other side and then he applied the rest of the coating.  It looks sharp: shiny gray with white and black speckled texture across the top. 

Step 2. Finally, last week we had this gas heater installed.  I had a few different contractors give me bids and they all wanted to do something completely different and this ended up the most affordable as well as handy that it is up out of the way.  Only the installers screwed up the wiring and had to come back and fix it and they also forgot to seal the venting so they are coming back today (only after I called them to bug them) to fix that.   I swear everyone is out to short change you in the construction business.
I was about to start painting today and went out and under the heater was a big puddle of water.  At first I thought maybe the heater was leaking or had condensation problems?  But now we realize it is actually seems to be seeping in from the wall.

Ruh-roh.  If that is because the roof is leaking into the walls and into the garage I will have a really really big heart attack because we just can't deal with that right now and the rainy season lasts until May around here!   I may just go in there and start painting anyways.  It's got to be done at some point. 


 I meant to get these photos up yesterday but as I was twisting to get up from the dining room table bench at lunch my back decided to have a little spasm and I spent 10 hours yesterday alternating from ice to heat to get my back to calm down.  Thankfully, that seemed to do the trick and I woke up today feeling only the teeniest twinge.

Anyways, these photos are from Sunday night.  I was downstairs playing a video game in Trevor's office (Skyrim, if you must know; I am obsessed) and Trevor intercom-ed me to say get upstairs NOW.  (I know, it's seriously goofy that we have an intercom.  But I've learned to embrace it rather that yell that lunch is ready.) 
So I hoofed it upstairs and out onto the deck and saw this amazing sunset.  It went from pretty beautiful to strikingly amazing in just a minute or two.  Crazy colors, I don't know if I have ever seen one this bold in Tacoma before. 
I hope we get to see more like this!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sketchbook Project 2012: Prehistoric

 I am about half way finished with my contribution to Sketchbook Project 2012.  The Sketchbook Project is a fun collaborative project put on by the Art House Co-op.  Artists from all over the world create a sketchbook (they provide it--it costs $ to participate) based on a theme you choose from a wide selection.  Then, all the sketchbooks are mailed in and then they go on tour around the country.  The remain in the Art House Co-op collection after the tour.

I tried to do this last year and promptly lost the sketchbook.  (I found it when we were moving but it was 10 months too late.)  So this year I kept careful track of where my sketchbook is and it looks like I might actually finish it on time!  The theme I chose is Prehistoric.

Prehistoric seemed a pretty obvious choice for me since I have been obsessed with dinosaurs since I was a wee one.

Now, sketchbook art is not really my thing.  I love to draw but I don't consider myself a book artist so this has been a bit of challenge for me.  When I think of sketchbook I think of scribbles and notes and half finished drawings, not completed mini works of art.  I see some artists that like to share their sketchbooks on their blogs.  That is not me at all. 

I decided to keep it simple and limit my supplies to watercolors and pens and draw whatever suited my fancy.   I think this is one of the more successful pages.  The complimentary colors of orange and blue make this page really pop. 

And so far I have been having fun.

I think some of the pages look a little plain; I might go back and add more to them. 

Woolly Mammoth. 

I have been applying watercolor on the pages and letting them dry before drawing on them.

More Mammoth. 

Ancient Ginko.  We had a Ginko tree at our old house.  I miss it.  I am going to have to plant another one here too. 

I love bones.  I own 3 cow skulls and I created a little bronze casting of a T-Rex skull when I studied jewelry design. 
OK, back to work to finish my sketchbook!  My heater is being installed in my new studio today.  Yay!  I might actually have a functional studio in a week or two.  My husband would certainly be happy.  Once the heater is installed I need to paint and then my dad is helping me build a work bench and then I have to put in shelving and unpack and organize everything.  But this sort of work is fun!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Starting off the New Year on a Good Note

Feeling pretty happy.  Started the new year by donating our old Subaru last week to the Tacoma Humane Society.  The car was old, had many miles, and was well used and loved but had an oil leak that was going to be just too much to fix.  So instead of trying to sell it, we decided the best thing was to donate it instead.  Hopefully this will provide for lots of dogs and cats in need.
Goodbye, Subee, we will miss you!