Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In The Midst of Winter...

  So how was everyone's holiday so far?? I hope you had time to relax and celebrate amongst friends and family.  I finally was able to get some art done in my journals, including painting in my last calendar spread for this year:

                                                I had so much fun with all those bright colors!

 Here is a journal page that began with a layer of collaged papers before painting over it:

  This Albert Camus quote goes through my head quite often each winter as I dream about summer.  Recently I discovered there is more to the quote and I will share it at the end of my post - I LOVE it!

 Here's wishing you all a happy, healthy, artful, prosperous  2015 ! Thank you for a year of sharing your art, your friendship, your encouragement and many kindnesses. It has brought me more joy than you know. XO

           Linking to T Stands For Tuesday, Art Journal Every DayArt Journal Journey, and Paint Party Friday.

"...and that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger - something better, pushing right back."    Albert Camus

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Time flies When You're....


 Hard to believe I haven't posted nor checked in much since my last post on Dec. 4th. That was when I mentioned caring for two elderly relatives lately. In addition to that and since then, our son lost his job and hubby was given a week's notice that he had to go on another shift and that our healthcare was changing and needed my immediate attention.. Needless to say I have been inundated with appointments, errands and paperwork since. Our son has rent obligations along with car payments and student loans so we have been helping him with all the unemployment papers and helping him stay organized and upbeat. We have reached out to friends and acquaintances for any possible job leads and they have been an amazing support. I work every day at keeping the faith and believing all will be well. I know I have to have some balance so hubby and I did manage  some fun things in between. 

   Last month we had bought tickets to see the Tenors (formerly called the Canadian Tenors). We have been wanting to see them live for a long time. We also took my Mom as a Christmas gift. And so we drove just over an hour away into Reading, PA to the theater to see them. Oh, Reading has also gotten world-wide publicity lately because of "the ugly Christmas tree" dispute. We weren't able to stop and get a picture but we did see it-yup, just like the tree in Charlie Brown's Christmas .

 This theater was built in the 1870's and the opulence and craftmanship inside is stunning! The Tenors did not disappoint either-they were AMAZING!!

 Besides their incredible voices, they were so personable, talking and interacting with the audience (including me-teehee) throughout the show. We had 2nd row seats!!!

  Although very little got accomplished for the upcoming holidays I did manage to get a bit of decorating, cards, and shopping done.

  At Freshly Made Sketches the challenge sketch is this:

  I managed to get a quick and easy card done before cleaning up my desk:

    A round gift tag and coordinating papers were used on a kraft note card. I am also linking this to the Simon Monday Challenge (anything goes); and the Simon Wednesday Challenge (winter inspiration)).

  In cleaning up my desk I added a new mug my Mom just bought me(the one on the left) and found it to be perfect to keep  my favorite colors of markers together:

                                         We have this thing for all things Paris and French:)
                        Linking this to my friends at T Stands For Tuesday - I have missed you! And although I don't have a pic- since our son was pretty young our tradition was to leave Santa a glass of egg nog(the kind with the alcohol) and cookies. He likes coming here:):)

 And lastly, (linking this to Art Journal Every Day and Paint Party Friday) I am wishing all of you a most beautiful holiday season, however you celebrate!!

  I wasn't able to manage individual hand made cards this year so I created this "glam girl" journal page a la Traci Bautista, added the greeting digitally and had postcards made to send out. I will visit as many of you as I can but know you are in my thoughts and wishes.

 Today I will leave you with a quote I have been reading every day since all life's unexpected changes lately (it came in an email the day our son lost his job) and have given a copy to Todd to keep in his wallet as a reminder also:

   "For everything that falls through, something equal or better comes through."   Alan Cohen

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Happenings

 It has been awhile since my last post before Thanksgiving. I hope that those of you who celebrated had a wonderful day! Ours was on a smaller scale this year so it worked out quite well. So, where have I been????

 We all know that life happens and sometimes something not anticipated causes a change in your everyday routine. Without going into too much let me explain. Hubby has a great aunt (88) and a great uncle (94). Both live alone in their homes. For many years they have been so very kind and supportive of hubby and me despite the lack thereof by the rest of his immediate family. Aunt Betty doesn't drive so I along with some friends take her to appointments, shopping etc. Just before Thanksgiving Betty found out that her brother Truman who was still driving and handling all his affairs had a horrible fall in a parking lot. No broken bones or concussion but numerous open wounds and severe bruising etc. There is no one else to help out so I have been treating his wounds and taking him to various dr. appointments, etc. along with Betty. He should NOT be living alone but at this point refuses any other option. Uncle Truman has a mind of his own and our biggest fear is that he will get in one of his cars and drive (despite dr orders not to). Needless to say in order to prevent that from happening I am running over to him frequently. I am so very grateful that he will accept my help and I believe he is starting to realize how lonely he was since his wife died.  I have worked with the elderly all my life and know this is where I need to be right now. Hence, no Christmas shopping even started, no decorations out, and only a few cards made. But IT'S OK. It will be what it will be. Thankfully there are no little ones to get gifts for and no young ones living at home!

 I have manged to squeeze in a bit of art so here goes...

 First up is my calendar spread for December-the last class in JoAnne Sharpe's Draw Your Awesome Year online class. This is what's done so far:

   I hope to get the watercoloring done real soon. In the meantime I'm jotting down a note about each day so I can fill it in when I get a chance.

  Here are a few EASY PEASY Christmas cards I made:

  I simply used  decorative gift tags, decorative card stock and either ribbon or washi tape. Linking to the Simon Monday Challenge blog (theme is holiday cards) and the Simon Wednesday Challenge Blog (theme is Christmas/holidays).

 In looking and trying to decide what kind of online class I want to take for next year I recently discovered Wildly Inspired Wednesday through Effy Wild's blog where she posts videos , art and challenges each month. This project is the current challenge/ episode. There are 15 episodes in all and although the challeges are finished I can't wait to get the time to look at a few more and try some of them. Oh, and Effy generously offers a seat in one of her online classes each month!

 The challenge was to create this portrait using graphite, a black Stabilo All pencil and a waterbrush to pull color for shading. To complete her I used a bit of watercolor pencil, and water colors:

   I chose to add the words which kept coming to me as I was working on it. I am linking this to Art Journal Every Day and Paint Party Friday. I will try and get around to as many of you as I can-I have missed your linked art projects lately!

   " There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up."
                                                                                                                   John Andrew Holmes Jr.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Journal Art, Cards, Cooking and More!

  I have been busy! And with our American Thanksgiving coming next Thursday it will be another busy week since I am hosting dinner and will be doing a lot of cooking beginning on Monday. So this week I made a point to make art beginning with this page in my art journal:

  This is a page inspired by Matisse's still life paintings. I used only gelli plate printed papers for all of it. Oil pastels were used to enhance the images and a black Stabilo All pencil was used to outline and add some shading. This is the second page I've done using only printed papers and I am finding it to be such a fun challenge! You can see my first one here. Linking to Art Journal Journey (be inspired by the masters); Paint Party Friday; and Art Journal Every Day.

  A few weeks ago I received the planner on the left with large coils. I wanted to document  next year differently and thought this planner filled with beautiful art created by women, along with poems and stories etc. would be fun! Last week I received a hansa charm with a very cool silver charm attached to the moo card which I won in a giveaway by the talented Jessica Sporn. I also received a beautiful postcard. Jessica's thoughts behind her creations along with all the vibrant colors are just fantastic!Thank you Jessica! Don't you think these will fit perfectly with my new planner?

 Last week I mentioned starting my venture in Indian cooking. I have made two dishes and here they are:


  This is called Rava Kitchadi. It is so good-made with cream of wheat, mixed vegetables and spices. It makes for a great breakfast!

 And this is a Mixed Vegetable Poriyal. I did change the recipe a bit and used sweet potatoes in place of russets, and used frozen mixed vegetables. The taste is divine and I have eaten it in a lo carb wrap almost daily for lunch. I love this!

   Can't wait to try more recipes but I must finish these up first. I'm the only one enjoying them so I will have to cut down the recipes a bit.

  Since I may be MIA next week I want to wish everyone who will be celebrating a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 I made a handful of these cards to go out to family and friends along with a note of gratitude. I also wish to share my sincere gratitude for all of you, for your thoughts, kindnesses and support. Have a beautiful weekend!

  Linking this card to the Simon Wedneday Challenge Blog (theme is Thanks/ Thanksgiving).

" I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."    GK Chesterton


Monday, November 17, 2014

Tea, Thank You, and Tuesday!

  This last week or so I have truly been on a winning streak - with many thanks to the artists, companies and blogging artists who have generously had giveaways! I mentioned  several of them in my last post. Here is the steeping teacup set I won along with a pkg of art in a recent giveaway by the incredibly talented sketch artist Tracey Fletcher King. It was sponsored by theteaspot.com:

                                                      this is a generous size mug-16oz.!

   The company sent me a packet of their Bolder Breakfast (black tea, Pu'erh and chocolate blend) Loose leaf tea was put in the steeper in the cup. Boiling water was added in.

                                                        The lid is on to steep the tea.

  Once steeped, the steeping cup is lifted out, the lid is reversed and holds it while I drink this tea-which BTW is absolutely DIVINE!!!

  And today the other part of this particular win came when this pkg arrived from Australia:

  Tracey was commissioned by the Tea Spot to illustrate this particular mug and she put  a sticker of her drawing on the pkg:) And inside this is what I found:

  A teacup/teabag poster, a postcard, and a set of note cards- ALL illustrations done by Tracey!! The details in her sketches are stunning and I already plan on framing some of these-so very impressive! Do check all the links I have in my last blog post- I think my T day peeps would be especially interested in Tracey's special project:) Linking to dear Bleubeard and Elizabeth for T Stands for Tuesday.

  We got our first taste of snow this past week too one night:

  Pics aren't the best-the snow came very suddenly and quickly, blowing and coming down like crazy! Thankfully it didn't last( we got no more than the dusting you see here) , and even today my summer hanging baskets of flowers are still intact. Even if I lose them to the very cold expected tomorrow I am grateful for the extended duration of my blooms.

 There has to be an art part and this is it:

   The theme this week at the Simon Wed. Challenge Blog is "seeing stars/ Studio Calico" and this is my entry. The Simon Mon. Challenge Blog theme this week is "to the moon/celestial theme" and stars are celestial are they not? Hence this is my link there also.
  Products: kraft note card (Canvas Corp); patterned background card stock (Studio Calico Take Note Paper Pack); Red Star, Navy card stock- Mat Stacks DCWV); tag (K and Company); rubber stamp (Hero Arts); Memories Midnight Blue ink (Stewart Superior Inc.);  Tea Dye Distress Ink ( Ranger); small star punch; Stickles Starry Night glitter glue ( Ranger).

 Oh, one more thing-I am going to see Celtic Thunder and my guy Keith this Sunday in town!! We have met most of these guys (some more than once in person) and cannot wait to see them again (even though we've seen them at least 4-5 x since their first concert)!! ( I know Patty understands my enthusiasm:)

 Thank YOU for taking the time to stop in and say hello-so appreciated!

" Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty. "    James Norwood Pratt

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gorgeous Art and More in The Mail!

  Happy Friday everyone! I am so excited to share this post today as it was GRAND mail week for me! I won several giveaways recently along with a GC I redeemed and it all came this week:)  My art is at the end of this post.

 I received this canvas painting from India after winning it in a giveaway by a beautiful artist, Deepa, on her blog HuesnShades:

  This hand painted canvas is breathtaking!! Deepa not only paints images depicting stories of her Indian culture, she also shares art, history and lots of information about her culture. It is always a treat to read as India is on my bucket list (yes, along with many other places! ). This canvas is about 5 " x 5 1/2" and the tiny painted lines and patterns are amazing! She also sent me a note explaining that this is a story about a mother and her son, which means even more to me because I am very close to our grown son and always have been. Truly a blessing to own this.Thank you Deepa!

 Funny thing about receiving this at this time is that I have recently purchased a book on Southern Indian healthy cuisine and went out to shop for the basic ingredients and spices I will need for my new culinary journey! I decided to give it a whirl because I know the spices used have many health benefits and most of the recipes are vegetarian. I decided to purchase the cookbook after watching the author (Alamelu Vairavan) make some of her dishes on her cooking show on Create TV. I started to print out the recipes but after collecting a handful I thought it was right to just go for it whole hog! I am not familiar with Indian cuisine so this will definitely open my palate to a whole new taste experience. It was so much fun shopping both in a local grocery store and stepping into an Indian grocery store.

 This is only some of what I purchased. I have just completed labeling and putting everything into jars (not shown). I am excited to begin making some of these recipes!

 Tracey Fletcher King had a fabulous giveaway (actually several giveaways) and I won the biggie:

 A RED (my fave color)!  steeping teacup and lid along with a packet of loose tea (Bolder Breakfast-black tea, pu'erh and chocolate) to try from The Tea Spot!! It just arrived so I haven't even taken it out of the box yet. It came along with a lovely note, tea info and card. Tracey painted a brilliant illustration of the mug and you can see it and read more about her involvement with the company in this post. Thank you Tracey and the Tea Spot! Oh, and Tracey has started her "Cuppa with Friends" project again which you can read more about here.

 Another very generous and talented artist Kirstin of Lillibean Designs sent me her 2015 calendar:

  It is GORGEOUS!!! I have always admired her  paintings of big eyed girls and and own some of her cards from another giveaway she had. I won a GC from her some months ago and chose to use it for her calendar so I will have a different beauty to look at each month! Am I one lucky girl or what? Thank you Kirstin! Oh, and she may have a few of these left in her Etsy Shop along with other gorgeous offerings.

 If you're still with me thank you! And now for my art contribution this Friday. A journal page inspired by Klimt. It began like this:

 I opened my book to a page that already had torn text papers glued on. I added some squares of patterned paper along with yellow and gold tissue papers.

 Layers of paints and glazes were added in yellows orange and gold. More tissue paper squares were glued on. Then I stamped the background using Dylusions Basic Backgrounds (dots) with Staz On Mustard ink and a Magenta rubber stamp with black acrylic paint.

 This is my finished (I think) page:

 Linking to Art Journal Every Day, Art Journal Journey (this month's theme is to be inspired by the masters), Mixed Media Monthly (theme this month is to use stamps), and Paint Party Friday!

 Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

    " Creativity lifts you out of difficulties, over the edge of fear, and on to the wild side of new possibilities".                                  Carole Watanable

Monday, November 10, 2014

Food and Art To Nourish The Soul

  So far, despite the quickly approaching cold and the early darkness, we here (in PA at least) have had a few glorious  and 60 F degree weather days filled with sunshine. ( I won't dwell on the one afternoon we were hit with freakish weather-dark, very windy  and a cold air that caused a bit of sleet which thankfully left as quickly as it came!).  Still trying to purge through things as well as do more experimental cooking along with getting in the much needed art time. DO come by for my next post which will include a new and exciting culinary adventure I am on, along with some special art I received from India (hint!) and a bit of my own art.

  On Sunday our adorable young friends celebrated their 1st anniversary. I know how Lynn loves the twenties era and art and vintage things so I was inspired to make a card for them after seeing this week's sketch at Freshly Made Sketches . I was too late to enter it for the challenge but wanted to share nonetheless:
  My card:

                                    I just flipped the design around for a horizontal  layout.

 I finally finished my November calendar spread by painting it all in with watercolors:

 For the Simon Monday challenge theme of "ornaments" I made a quick and easy card:

 I had gotten these adorable round gift tags at Hobby Lobby. The sentiment was stamped and heat embossed with white powder (something I haven't done in AGES!). I added decorative paper and ribbon and just put a small glue dot on the back of the tag so it can be taken off the card and put on the tree.

 The potage aux legumes (veggie soup) I mentioned last Tuesday was delicious and so I'm sharing my adapted version at the end of this post. Here's a pic:

   This is very similar to a soup my Mom grew up with living in her small village in France. I have had it made by my MéMé when in France and also by my Mom. They sometimes added a beef roast and turnips thus making it much heartier. It also was known as a "pot au feu". I so rarely eat any meat and wanted a lighter version. I do hope you try it!

 And lastly , I want to thank anyone who tried to help me identify my beautiful mystery bush which I posted about here the first time. I have googled for images and info about all of the suggestions and I'm pretty sure it is an inkberry holly. I will check with a landscaper at the beach in the Spring.

                                                   the one I have been trying to identify

                                                         an image of an inkberry bush

 Although the color in this photo looks much greener , after seeing other photos and reading about it I found this to be the closest. The leaves are thick and have a waxy feel and I thought it might be a type of holly. And it is found a lot in seaside landscaping.

 I am linking also to T Stands For Tuesday and although I have no pic of a beverage this time I will share that I won a special tea cup and giveaway and as soon as I receive it I will show you!

 Sharing a cuppa coffee as I go around visiting. See you soon!

                  " Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul."

                                                     Potage Aux Legumes (serves 4 - 6)
                     Make this recipe the day before you wish to have it for better flavor!

 3 med. carrots, peeled and cut       2 med.  potatoes, peeled and diced

 1 sm. onion, chopped      2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped      1 celery stalk, diced lg.

 1/2 head of green cabbage, coarsely chopped      2 tsp. dried thyme   4 c. vegetable stock

 3 Tbsp. olive oil        salt and pepper

  In a lg. pot heat olive oil and cook all the prepared vegetables except for the cabbage for 3-4 min. on med heat. Season with a bit of slat and pepper. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add the thyme, then the cabbage and continue to cook on medium heat for 30 min. or so. refrigerate overnight. Just reheat to serve. This is a light soup so why not have a slice of fresh organic rosemary olive oil bread to soak up some of those juices! Note: feel free to add a bay leaf, and or any other leftover veggies you may have on hand. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Soup's On For Tuesday

 Autumn weather has kicked in big time here.So that means it's time to make soups! So for my T Stands For Tuesday peeps I am going to share a really yummy and easy recipe for Tuscan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. I could eat butternut squash roasted or as a soup several times a week! This is one veggie neither son nor hubby will eat so I get to enjoy every bite all by myself:)

                                                        ( RECIPE AT END OF POST)

 I have made it twice already I like it so much! But today I will be in the kitchen making a carrot soup and a Potage aux Legumes ( French for vegetable soup). These are new to me recipes so I'll try them out and share with you if they're good. These are all healthy versions.

 My lunch last week one day:

 OK, so I had the sandwich twice in one week, which is why I got a free drink (my choice-decafe tea) and a pastry for 99 cents! (Hubby ate that large bear claw not me-FYI :) I simply LOVE the Mediterranean flatbread sandwich! Have you tried it? Oh help me, cause just writing about this has me yearning for another...but I have things to do-like making more soups AND thanks to Rita I have begun organizing and purging one area/ section at a time and my goal is to keep doing something as often as I can. It is amazing what one can accumulate living in the same house over 30 years! Yikes- if we ever expect to move we had better begin letting go of STUFF, that's for sure! Thanks for helping me get my butt in gear Rita!

 Another thing that is helping me is Deepak Chopra and Oprah's new 21 day free online meditation classes. I've done them before and it really makes a difference. If only I was disciplined enough to do it on my own when it's over. Here's the link if anyone has any interest. It just began yesterday (Mon. Nov 3).

 Finally, this is the start of my calendar spread for November:

 You can click on it for a larger detailed view. For this month in JoAnne Sharpe's online class we were prompted to write something about gratitude and use it as our border. It was done is a whimsical and loose style. Then we were to make a gift box for each day in which we will write in a gratitude for each day. What a really lovely idea, don't you think? I just need to fill it in with my watercolors. Hopefully I can share that for Friday's post.

 Thank you Bleubeard and Elizabeth for hosting such a wonderful gathering each Tuesday. Feel free to join in anytime-Elizabeth always has such fun adventures to share, and everyone has something different to offer. Grab your drink and hop on over!

" Whatever I am doing, I'm in that moment and I'm doing it. The rest of the world's lost. If  I'm making some soup, I want it to be lovely. If not, what's the point of doing it? "    Sade Adu


                                       Tuscan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 tsp. Tuscan seasoning mix (Wegman's)       1 Tbsp olive oil      salt , pepper to taste

20 oz. cleaned and cut butternut squash    1  32oz carton of vegetable stock

Parmigiano Reggiano -grated

  Preheat oven to 350 F. Add Tuscan seasoning, olive oil , and squash in a sturdy sealable plastic bag. Shake to coat the squash. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast 35-45 min. or so turning halfway through, until browned and tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add roasted squash and half the stock to stock pot. Bring to a boil on high, reduce heat to low and simmer until squash is soft, adding more stock as needed along the way. Puree the soup ( I used an emulsion blender) to desired texture. Garnish with fresh grated parmesan. Enjoy with some fresh crusty bread if desired. Serves 4 (in my opinion). This was adapted from a Wegman's recipe.
  Note: I did not add any salt at all-it wasn't necessary. The roasting makes all the difference in the rich flavor. Try this using other roasted veggies- like cauliflower or carrots!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Journeys in My Art Journal

  Thanks to everyone for the comments last week, and for the insight as to what the special shrub I posted could be. If you missed it, go here and if you know what it is please let me know. Some said it could be a honeysuckle and someone also mentioned it could be abelia. So far none of the photos of either of these looked quite like mine (at least on google). So further research needs to be done.

 For  T Stands For Tuesday with Bleubeard and Elizabeth I have two special things to share. First of all I want to thank Darla who last week posted such a beautiful photo she had taken of wetlands. I commented that it would make a beautiful painting as well. Couldn't get it off my mind so naturally I painted it in my journal. (Click on "Darla" to take you to her photo-and do take a moment to leave her a comment).

 This is the finished page:


 I knew I wanted to approach this in the wabi-sabi way as in Serena Barton's fabulous book ( yes, I've referred to her and her book many times since its release:)! So I began my page with textures:

 I gave the pg. a coat of gesso then used a combination of embossing paste and torn bits of handmade textured paper. The colors were all made by using Serena's reinker glaze formula. Before the glazes were dry I used the point of a tiny scissor and incised to mimic the shape of the grasses. Here is a close up of the detail:

  Over the weekend hubby and I took a drive on a gorgeous day. On the way home we stopped in a nearby town to browse thru the Zionsville Antiques mall. It was huge-with lots of booths so it took quite awhile to go through. No, I didn't purchase anything. However, look what I found to share with my "T" friends:

                                                     Teapot Chimes!
 I'd never seen anything like them before-made from vintage sterling silver teapots and silverware. Quite unique but not for me-and they were quite pricey too.

 One final art page from my journal. This time it is another abstract painting. The inspiration came from study 40 practice from the book  "Abstracts 50 Inspirational Projects" by Rolina van Vliet. I find it an excellent source for understanding color, shape, theory,composition, style, etc. etc. It began on this page which already had gelli printed deli paper strips glued on:

 I chose to flip it horizontally, then cut out basic cup and pitcher shapes from more gelli print papers and played with the arrangement on my page:

 Once happy with it I glued down the pieces and lined them with a charcoal pencil. And this is the finished result:

                                                                  Abstract Still Life

 I'm linking to Art Journal Every Day, Inspiration Avenue (theme is "show and tell"), Mix it Monthly (theme is "still life". New theme coming for November so do check it out!) and of course my peeps at Paint Party Friday.

 For those of you celebrating Halloween and Trick Or Treat I wish you nothing but ghoulish fun and lots of treats!

 Leaving you today with a quote about wabi-sabi art. I love this one.

                  " Pare down to the essence, but don't remove the poetry."    Leonard Loren