Friday, December 22, 2006

Cherish the Moment

We are heading off to my parent's house for the holiday. My entire family will be there which means Mom, Dad and both my brothers with their families. It's been over a year since we have all been together and I am excited about seeing everyone. I am also bummed because I will miss the grand kids, but we will celebrate with them afterwards.

As we go into the wild blue yonder of Ohio, I hold wishes for all of us that we can Cherish the moment this holiday season. Sometimes it seems that life is spiralling out of control. The excesses sadden me and I long for simpler times which I fear will never return. I find myself getting caught up in the fray to a greater extent than I would wish. I want to step back and focus on all that is important to me, because I am blessed with abundance. My life, my husband, our family and friends and of course my art - these are the things that truly matter - riches that cannot be purchased.

There are so many moments to cherish; the touch of John's hand as we walk into Home Depot, the sound of Ian shouting our names with excitement "PapaYiaYia", the vibrations from purring cats pressed up against me, the smell of cookies baking(Grandma's recipe). I cherish these moments of the season and wish the same for all of you.

Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 18, 2006

So what is going on with my art biz you might ask? Hmmm, good question. This world of art fairs is a crazy one. You task and toil all year long, traveling around like a headless chicken, scrambling in between shows to create sufficient inventory. The pace is hectic yet exhilarating. Then poof! The shows are over.

I think a feeling of letdown is inevitable. I liken it to what an actor must certainly feel post performance. To maintain this life it must permeate your every pore. You travel to fun spots and meet your adoring public week after week. Ok, I exaggerate, but you get the drift. Then it comes to a screeching halt and poof, the season is over.

But instead of true "down time" I am now faced with the grueling decision of what shows to do next year. Many of the Spring shows are already accepting entries and lots of deadlines have passed. I made a decision to sit out the winter season for several reasons, the first and foremost being that I am tired and my creative energy is low.

So I will start up in April . I already have a few good shows lined up and I have already gotten rejections, most notably Des Moines which was one of my best shows last year. Ouch.

So that's what I am doing. Still working. Finishing up the last commissions. Mentally regrouping. And trying to find time restore myself in between. Plus the ol' Xmas situation. Other than the Gingerbread house, we have NO decorations around the house. I feel badly about that, but apparently not bad enough to actually get them out. We are traveling this year, to my parents house in Cincinnati. And maybe I'm just tired, but to decorate a house that will not host a celebration seems nuts. At least that's what I tell myself.

We got to pet a penguin at Grant's Farm! Here is a picture of Aidan, being held by his Dad. There were two little penguins visiting from SeaWorld and they were just adorable. I was so surprised they feel downy soft; I think I was expecting them to feel wet or oily as they look so slick.
And yeah, I was probably just as excited as the grand kids.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Let there be cake!

I love the show The Splendid Table. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I also subscribe to the email newsletter. I use Lynne Rossetto Kasper's recipes a lot because I know I can depend on them. This is one of my new favorites that I first made for Thanksgiving and then again today for a holiday party. I will also make it at my parents house on Christmas.

Pumpkin Upside Down Cake w/Cranberry Pecan Topping (from A Passion for Desserts, shared by The Splendid Table)
8-10- servings (I think this serves A LOT more than that!)

8 ounces (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree(be sure and buy 100% puree)
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt

Toast pecans in a 300 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes. Then Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9 inch square pan with parchment paper.
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Pour into the bottom of the prepared pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the cranberries and pecans. Place them in the pan on top of the brown sugar mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, & oil. In another bowl, sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. Stir this mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Then spread the batter over the cranberry pecan topping.
Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Place a large plate or platter on top of the cake. Invert the cake and plate together then removed the pan. Carefully peel off the parchment paper.
Serve with whipping cream.
Ok to make a day in advance, just cover and store at room temperature.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gingerbread Fun

Sunday I went to a Gingerbread house decorating party at Heidi's.

When we first arrived, Heidi allowed each guest to select a vintage apron from her vast collection. We all got to wear one so we could keep our clothes neat. And thank goodness for that because I was a real pig with my decorating efforts, geez, they will probably be vacuuming up my mess for days to come especially since I shredded the frosted mini wheats for the roof and ugh, what a mess that was.

I had never decorated a gingerbread house before but Heidi had it all organized perfectly. She had tables set up with "work stations," each one with a fully assembled house, an idea book of suggestions, tons of candy and a squirter of icing. I am pretty sure it's not really called a squirter but I don't know what those things are called, like you would use to decorate a cake, you know?

The hardest part was simply deciding to S-T-A-R-T. I had this crazy idea I wanted to plan it out, the anal part of my brain started to kick in right away. Luckily I quashed it down and just went at it to find decorating was terrific fun! Not to mention a tad addictive, I could have kept going for hours. And how cool it is that you use ICING as the glue! Woo hoo, it was so handy to be able to lick my fingers clean. I just need to remember NOT to do that in the studio when using my gel medium.

So here is my final result. I am sure you can see those Frosted Mini Wheats on the roof. Those are beans "tiled" on the chimney and the walkway. The Juicy Fruit gum is so colorful; I haven't seen that stuff for years and it tastes just as yummy as I remember although the flavor goes away too quickly. And see that star? Well, it is a gumdrop smashed flat and then I cut it into the star shape.

Thanks so much Heidi!!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The snow is getting kind of ugly, the way it does after it's been on the ground for awhile and the melting has begun. But it didn't stop the boys from having fun when they were over here.
It is delightful to see them play, the way they are so inventive with basically no materials.
Take one snowy yard. Add 2 boys. Wait to see what happens.
It is really cute and tons of fun.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

6 Things

My friend Share-air-ree, share-ee, bay-bee.......tagged me to do this 6 things deal. Supposed to be 6 weird things about myself. Eeeck!

1. I don’t like onions but I enjoy onion rings. In some perverse way, this inconsistency defines me.

2. I am superstitious and always wear my “lucky dragon” earrings the day I am setting up a show.

3. When eating waffles (a rare occurrence), I start in the middle and eat outwards. I don’t like the edges and leave them on the plate. I once did this at a business breakfast (back in my corporate life) and my boss found it hilarious, said it looked like a dog had eaten my food.

4. I hate to drive. Or better said, I hate driving in traffic; I actually enjoy open road sort of travels, especially at high speeds. But if I won the lottery (a really big lottery), I would hire a chauffeur.

5. My toes function almost like fingers in that they can easily pick things up and turn faucets on and off (if in the tub).

6. I can hang the bowl of a spoon off my nose and hold the position long enough to amuse my dinner companions.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Way Worthy!!!

I have never met Bernie Berlin in person but felt I would like her the moment I read her blog. Not only is she a terrific artist, but she also runs an animal rescue in Tennessee. And you know how I lovelovelove my animals. All animals for that matter - in many cases, I love animals more than people.

So naturally I wanted to participate in her fundraising auction, currently taking place on eBay. Here's the link to the auction. I think maybe Bernie has more art that is continually being loaded, so keep checking back and bid often. There are a couple of my small repros on there right now along with a purse from my friend Heidi and some pieces from the amazing Claudine Hellmuth . Plus interesting works from a few artists I don't know. I am in good company for sure.

Bernie even called me up the other day to thank me for my donation. We got to chat a bit and she's a doll. What a class act! I hope she makes tons of money for those critters.

Here's the website to learn more: A Place to Bark
Here's the auction: eBay Auction
I got a new camera. An early Christmas present, We aren't really doing gifts this year, but agreed we needed a new camera. Or rather I needed a new camera and talked John into it. I wanted it early so I can learn how to use it before I document the holiday.

It's a Canon Powershot SD700IS Digital Elph and it is adorable, so tiny. I wanted something small so I could carry it in my purse. I am hoping this will prompt me to take more pictures.

If only I could master all the settings, good grief it does tons of really cool stuff that I haven't quite figured out. The User Guide is written in camera speak and I need some dumbed down version or maybe somebody to show me some of the functions since I am more visual. In the meantime I am amusing myself with the Warnings:

"Memory card: dangerous if accidentally swallowed."

I wonder what happens if you swallow it on purpose.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Big storm.
Beautiful snow.
A half million people without power.

We are among the lucky ones just enjoying the view. And pretty it is.

It is darn cold though and I hope the power can be restored soon as this must be totally miserable.