Friday, September 23, 2016


Every time my creative journey heads down a new fork in the road, the same thing happens. It starts with one tiny little change, like sorting my "rainbow" of painted papers by color, and storing it in these plastic crates, which used to hold all of my yarn. 

 But, in order to make room for those crates on your shelves, you have to consolidate something else.

And, in order to make room for the new tools and supplies you never knew you needed before, then you have to purge something else.  Before you know it, you've reworked every single shelf, drawer and cabinet in the room!

But that's a good thing, isn't it? Because it helps you to focus on what is truly useful and makes you really, really happy, and to eliminate that which is just taking up space.

When I took my very first art class on-line, I had an instructor who was mad for scrapbook paper and ephemera.

In fact, I think art journaling probably came into being when a bunch of bored scrapbookers started looking around and thinking "Yikes, now what do I do with all this stuff?" Well, I had never done scrapbooking, so I had to run out and buy a bunch of that stuff for my class! My second instructor used those things occasionally, but was more into drawing and watercolors, and I discovered I enjoyed those a lot more. So I added those supplies. Each successive teacher led me a little further down the path toward my own true style, but it wasn't until this last major purge that I finally faced up to the fact that I freakin' hate scrapbook paper and ephemera, so out it went at last! Which gave me a really great space for storing all my not-yet-painted papers...

and my hand-carved stamps, which I hope to be doing a lot more of!

So, for those of you who were wondering just what I am planning to do with that rainbow of papers I painted, first on the list is this...

completing that toucan, the second project from my Paper Painting Collage workshop with Elizabeth St. Hilaire. I consider both this and the apple to be my practice projects, and probably the last ones I'll ever do on canvas, since, believe me, the last thing we need in this house is any more stuff to hang on the walls!

My instructor was right. You NEVER have enough paper!
Once this fellow is finished, I plan to jump back in to my art journals, to see where these new techniques might lead me.

I'm especially anxious to get back to my travel journal -- finish up with Sudan, and get to work on Barcelona. Because, seriously, if ever there was a city just crying out to be illustrated with a million tiny bits of colorful paper...

it would have to be Barcelona, would it not?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, you've probably seen things popping up on line about a company called Blue Apron. When I started seeing friends posting pics of delicious-looking meals they had prepared "thanks to Blue Apron", I thought it must be some kind of cooking school or something. In a way, I guess it is.

A few weeks ago I got a message from my daughter saying she had received a $30-off coupon good towards a Blue Apron delivery, so they decided to give it a whirl, and this is what they got.

A box lands on your doorstep on your designated day, filled with everything you need to make three delicious meals (and I mean everything) all packed in ice in case you aren't home when it arrives. It comes with step-by-step illustrated instructions and every ingredient, pre-measured, right down to the herbs and spices. The only thing you provide is a bit of olive oil to grease your pan.

They enjoyed that first week so much, they ordered another, which came with an email inviting three of their friends to receive a box absolutely free, which is how I ended up with one. A great way to expand your customer base, no?

So, why on earth, you might ask, would a person who's been cooking for the last 44 years and is pretty good at it already, and who helped establish a food co-op in her home town just so she could get as much of her food as possible from local growers and producers, even consider having food and recipes delivered to her from who knows where? Well, timing had a lot to do with it, since just a few days earlier we had gone to pick up our bi-weekly order from The Bountiful Sprout, only to find it locked up tight. They had shut down, for good! Apparently, once the very last of the original founders stepped down from board, the organization sort of lost its momentum. Less effort put into scouting for new growers and producers meant less product to choose from, which meant less members joining and shopping, which meant more producers dropping out. I was devastated.

Also, though I do love cooking, I do not love deciding what to fix each night, and having to shop for every single ingredient -- especially the more exotic ones that will probably get used only once or twice, and many not even be available at our small-town grocery store. With Blue Apron, all that is taken care of for me.

Love the cute little bottles and packets, all of which are recyclable.
Basque-Style Cod with Sweet Pepper-Tomato Sauce and Freekeh
On the down side, though they do utilize fresh, seasonal ingredients from trusted farmers and artisans, only sustainable seafood, and meats raised naturally on antibiotic- and hormone-free diets, they are not MY trusted farmers and artisans, who are also my neighbors, and whom I can visit with at the farmers' markets and swap recipes with. Then there is the rather huge carbon footprint created from shipping these cartons all over the country. Of course, most of their customers aren't like me, and are replacing meals that came from restaurants and big chain grocery stores whose product was not locally sourced either. Then there's the cost, which is around $60 per week, for just three meals for two people each, which is probably more than what you are used to paying for groceries, but less than what you're paying for restaurant and ready-made foods.

Seared Chicken and Caramelized Vegetables with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Mashed Potatoes
I guess what I love most about this is that, with their step-by-step instructions -- even sorting out the timing of everything so that it all comes out ready at once -- along with their little videos and tutorials on-line which teach you skills like chopping onions efficiently or cutting corn off the cob, they are teaching non-cooks that it's really not that difficult, and sooo much more delicious, to eat real food rather than all that packaged, processed crap. Best of all, Lex and Nate have discovered it's something fun that they enjoy doing together! So, thanks Blue Apron, for bringing real food back into our kitchens, and the family dinner hour back into our homes!

Pork Chops and Spicy Chow Chow with Sweet Potato Salad
P.S. Oh yeah, just thought of one more benefit. With each "real" dinner I cook, the happier and more lovey-dovey my hubby becomes. So much so, that he doesn't even mind doing all the clean up. By the end of the second week, I had that boy eating out of my hand! And here you thought that thing about "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" was all a myth...

Monday, September 19, 2016


My baby turns 31 today! I gave him the choice between a home-cooked meal here at the house or dining out, and he chose Salt Lick Barbecue in Driftwood. Should I be insulted? Nah. I'd choose Salt Lick too!

In case you're not a Dr. Who aficionado,  Salt Lick now has a replica of the Tardis, Dr. Who's preferred method of travel when hopping about the universe. The sign on the door says "Here For The Ribs" -- so very apropos in son Austin's case!

Grandson Calvin came dressed for the occasion, sporting the latest infant fashions from Barcelona! (We found out the sex of our first grandchild while there, and had to rush right out and buy something to honor the occasion.)

His daddy, who favors black infant attire with skulls, thinks it's "the goofiest outfit ever!"
His life is so bright, he's gotta wear shades!

While there, we got the news that Birthday Boy and his co-worker have been invited to do a presentation for Black Hat Euro about a computer security "app" they designed, which means a free trip to London and a chance to hang out with his brother-in-law Amin.

All in all, it was quite the celebration!

Thirty-one years old, and he still wants video games and board games for his birthday! Then again, that's probably what got him this career he was born to have...