Sunday, August 31, 2008

Time to Rearrange

Fall is upon us! Since tomorrow is September first I decided that although we are still swimming here in sunny California, I'd pull out my fall decor to display. That was the first thing that crossed my mind anyway, but what began as just setting about holiday nick-knacks, ended up in a full fledged "lets rearrange furniture" for a few hours. Since we moved into this house I didn't really know what to do with some of the rooms. So, like most other home owners who after purchasing a house simply put furniture into rooms similarly to what was there and how it was displayed when they viewed it, is exactly the trap that Dennis and I fell into.

Slowly I've begun to actually embellish the spaces starting this time with our own room which, when it's entirely finished I will post pictures of the drama that has taken almost a year to complete.

Getting back to my current dilemma... So, how did I come to the decision to rearrange the furniture in my living room you ask? Well, in my kitchen there is a nook, a smaller space next to the heart of the home where, in front of cozy gas fireplace, I had initially placed two reclining tapestry Queen-Anne style chairs. They were a large expense for us when we bought them initially for our last home and I thought they would fit nicely in what southerners would typically refer to as a keeping room. Well, there they sat for the past year and practically everyday I would find myself frustrated with my kids who would eat at any hour of the day anything they wanted in these chairs rather than walking another fifteen feet (still in the same space) to chow down on snacks or breakfast bars at the kitchen table. Darby insisted on moving each chair everyday to a new location which also led me to the conclusion that these chairs must find a new space away from sticky fingers.

Well, today as I was picking air head candy off the floor beneath one of the chairs and found a peach pit under the cushion, that was the last straw! I completed the procedure for cleaning the gunk out of the cushions and decided they would be moving back into the living room for which they were intended. I cleaned and rearranged the living room pulling in a rug from the entry, setting the seating area on an angle to the stone fireplace, moved the accent tables, and hauled in the chairs from the kitchen.

Once all of that was finished I went to the depths of my basement to find all of my fall ornaments to fill in the blanks. I never really liked the living room since we moved in until now. Before it just had furniture in it that labeled it a sitting area with a nice fireplace. Now it looks somewhat finished. There are a few more items I will eventually change and add to make it much more cohesive, and I'm afraid when I take down the seasonal decor it will again become a barren no man's land. But I'm happy with it for now!

As for the keeping area? It is completely void of furniture save the small area rug placed in front of the fireplace. How do my children feel about it? I don't care (not really) I won't have to be picking cheerios, m&m's, frosted flakes, peach pits, or any other food item out of my tapestry chairs anymore! Right now bean bags are sounding like a pretty solid strategy for replacement.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lazy Day

I think my "to do" list over there will be three times as long by the end of the holiday weekend. The only, and I do mean only item that I actually accomplished from today's/yesterday's list was to pressure wash the entire back porch and deck area. In and of itself this was a very lengthy chore and the necessity to complete it was due to the fact that indeed I took my poodles to the groomer and they are nicely bathed, clean, groomed and pretty (they smell good too).

I don't typically wash the entire porch area. However, my dogs one evening two weeks ago, decided to have a mud party. At about 2:30 a.m. I awoke to my dogs barking and playing which is somewhat abnormal so I went out on my upper deck and scolded the silly mutts. What I didn't realize was they were sloshing about on the side of the house that is completely shaded from any sunlight and despite the sparse shrub here and there it is all dirt until the sprinklers turn on at about 2:15 a.m.

So after five or ten more minutes pass and I've tossed and turned from side to side with a pillow over my head Maka and Mojo continue to harass my sleepless mind intent that I should accompany them outside.

So without glasses, shoes, robe or even turning on the outside light, I stomp frustrated to the basement to access the bottom patio. I stormed out of the house ready to reprimand the assailants for a second time only to discover them soaked from head to paw covered in mud which they in turn had tracked all over the back porch covering every surface in the slimy muck. Awakened completely at this point I escorted the crazy animals into their kennel which, under the circumstances was no easy task. The sprinklers were still spouting water all around and the sweet smell of sludge kept them from obeying. I had to grab them both by their wet, slimy, collars covered in slop to haul them into the foreboding kennel. This, in turn, covered me in all of their glory but I was so completely exhausted from a frustrating sleep already, I wiped off what I could and went back to bed certain to launder my bed linens in a few more sleepless hours.

I hadn't bothered to clean up the dried mud until after they were groomed, it seemed pointless until then. So, yesterday after their appointment I tugged my beautifully manicured mutts into the impending kennel to await the mud splattered clean-up. I wonder how long they will resist the temptations of sprinkler-mud?

An Actual Sketch of Mine

About one month after having Darbydoll, as we refer to her, I had some photographs taken of me with my children. Many turned out beautifully I was able to refer to them in order to make this self portrait of me with my lovely posterity. Being my own worst critic however, it is not my favorite piece to date. There are lots of things that I would like to change and work on, but in spite of all that I've decided to share it.!
I decided after quite a long leave from drawing this would be the perfect opportunity to jump back in. So after setting my kids to bed for the evening, this was probably five years ago now, I pulled out some black and white chalk pastels and set about rendering some art. Although I know it's not the best portrait, I had so much fun sketching this piece, that I promised myself not to allow this kind of lenghthy absence from drawing again. I wish I had adhered to my conviction. I have few pieces between this one and the last piece that I will post soon. But, as both of them are anxiously involved in school, I have again committed to working on art as often as possible. We'll see how that comes along...

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Maui Zaui Bug

Ever since a friend introduced me to the Maui Zaui pizza from Round Table Pizza. I have been hooked. I mentioned before that Dennis and I both really enjoy Hawaii and this pizza has a distinct Hawaiian flavor about it. Not to mention the sauce they use on it I think is Tiger Sauce and for all of you LSU fans out there, you're sure to know what I mean. Well when my youngest brother came to visit about a month ago, we in turn, ordered for him the Maui Zaui pizza. He then announced that he had caught the Maui Zaui "bug."

He was very convincing in his story as he scarfed down pizza by the pool with his niece and nephew that Darby and Austin both believed that indeed there existed an insect of the species Maui Zaui. My children, the little darlings, were so sincere and concerned about the terrifying Maui Zaui Bug they wouldn't dare go outside unless they were satisfied that although it might exist, none would molest them. Dennis and I allowed the little charade to continue as long as it could. It was humbling to witness their perspective of the world around them as they were held captive by the perspective given to them by adults.

Eventually they caught on as whenever we spoke of the "bug" sometime later a pizza would arrive. Now, as they crave their own pizza, the discovery of a yet unidentified cheese "bug" has appeared.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is Anyone Else a Messy Cook?

I'm not quite sure why, but I have never been the most organized, precise, neat and tidy type of person. I've realized this to be a somewhat insurmountable flaw in my character that I can't seem to conquer. Uncertain whether it began during the nurturing era of my life when my parents methodically tried to teach me to be self sufficient and uncluttered. They certainly kept me in line with my share of daily household chores. I'm more convinced that maybe it's the artistic side of my nature. I simply don't mind having a gallon of paint splashed all over a pair of jeans and shirt (I actually own a couple pairs like that...and LOVE them) or writing a memo in ink on the back of my hand because I found myself lacking a scrap of paper. I've no quandaries about allowing myself to leave the house with tousled hair, no makeup, sweats, t-shirt, and admittedly, no shoes (or socks for that matter) to set myself out to run a quick errand. Things of this nature straightforwardly don't bother me. If anyone has seen my studio, closet, or laundry room they'll understand I try; I am just an unsuccessful wanna-be somewhat obsessive compulsive. I figure if I were I might accomplish an art to keeping house.

My point being that although I attempt and make plans daily to make dinner quickly, orderly, and efficiently, I inevitably make the most disastrous mess while cooking. I have no idea why this is. For example, just last night as I mentioned in the recipe to the left, we made shredded sauteed zucchini as a side dish for the Petra sole we prepared.
Every time, and I do mean every time I went to stir, swirl, shake, or toss the zucchini a heaping spoonful would slosh over the side of the skillet spilling onto the stove and floor. By the time it was finished cooking I was afraid that there would be none left to serve. Then, after all of the drama thus far, as I dished the squash into a serving bowl a large spoonful jumped the bowl entirely and landed directly on my bare foot. Instinctively I shook my foot quickly because the vegetable was piping hot from the scalding pan. Accordingly I now had zucchini on me, the floor, the stove, the pan, and finally the serving bowl.
Not only that, as I surveyed the scene the realization that I had used every pot, skillet, dish, utensil, and any other cooking item known to me, my flaw came to fruition as I stood amid the fury of kitchen purgatory.

Oh, and today I have a nice blistering burn on my foot! The kitchen can be a very dangerous place.
Is it just me?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Not so Helpful Hands

From time to time I am asked by friends and family to create cards to send for different occasions. I finally have a studio in my basement, aptly named the dungeon, as it has no windows. However, I can close the door and leave the mess lie as it may without fear of little hands getting into my works in progress.

This past week I have been working on invitations for a baby shower of a dear friend and excitedly Darby, who employs a distinct and somewhat unique creative streak, truly wanted to help. I set her on the opposite side of my bar height wooden table, placed in front of her six to seven colors of ink, and a box of stamps to create a masterpiece all her own that later she could color more completely with crayons or pencils. As I was setting about my business, organizing items into piles, separating colors, researching plans to create the invitations, Darby announces that she has already finished. Ugh... I wish I were that quick.

The next best thing to her own work is, of course, helping mommy with hers. So I set aside some of the smaller bits of paper that I had already cut out and asked her to hand me one at a time in order to place it appropriately on the next card. That strategy lasted about three cards. Then I asked her to help me put away the items she had used to create her own picture to no avail since I was still "arting" away on my project. Eventually I had to release her from the dungeon even though she clearly wanted to stay locked in its dimly lit depths. Lucky for me the pool was open for business and dad took her (and the dogs) for a swim. In her absence I quickly finished the bulk of the work and set it aside to label and post for tomorrow's mail. I wish my kids were as quick to offer their helpful hands while washing dishes or sorting laundry. One can always hope!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's a Deduction?


The night before her first gymnastics competition, Darby was a little bit anxious.

Luckily, we had gone early the day before to have family time at the beach. It was really relaxing drinking hot cocoa and sitting on driftwood while we watched the waves crash and surfers in black wet suits try to catch the perfect wave and ride it into the beach before they wiped out. We all took turns picking which wave would be the biggest and best.

Unfortunately the weather was freezing and my kids, since going to Hawaii last December, didn't remember that the Northern California coastline is usually cold and foggy, were somewhat frustrated that although we brought our swimming suits no one was going to set foot in the foaming green surf. And that day was particularly brisk with the wind whipping across the waves and into our already chilled cheeks. We made the best of it and walked along the coast and the little shops that are scattered around Half Moon Bay.

Austin and I got lost in an antique shop as we browsed through countless books, comics, trinkets, dishes, and coin. We probably spent an hour or more scouring through the rubbage of others. I found an antique majong board entirely intact and I wanted desperately to purchase it for Darby, who I often find on my computer completely engrossed in the game. With a price tag of $250 I quickly decided against the addition to our game cupboard.

That evening, Darby was beginning to realize that tomorrow was competition and her nerves began to sink in. I was especially surprised to see how nervous she was. After getting her settled into bed she confessed that she was scared because if she didn't perform a routine correctly, she would get a deduction. This was making her very frustrated, worried, and sleepless. I, on the other hand was exhausted and quickly tried to put her mind at ease. I conveyed the only importance of the meet was about having fun and trying your best. She assured me that she knew that already and again stated that she didn't want to get any deductions...followed by, "Mom, what's a deduction?"

'Lil miss Gymnast

Landscape Photography at 80mph

Although I love the beauty of landscape, I don't consider myself very good at capturing the elegance of boulders, deserts, vast tropic waters, or other typical scenes one might find at a Peter Lik gallery. Especially when considering that he has trained in the field of photography for years and understands all of the delicate nuances that lighting, exposure, film speed and so on can make on the final concept. I wish I had that talent, but until then, here are some photos that I took my with a window rolled down, my husband at the wheel, driving past gorgeous formations of rocks and mountains near St. George, Utah. Oh, and as the title mentions...we never stopped to get that perfect shot...these were all taken speeding past at about 80mph!!! Maybe if I had a moment, I might get better at this?
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Starting with Something

My journey into art has always been associated with portraits. I don't know specifically why, except that to some degree there is an essence of a person that is captured in rendering their portrayal that only an artist can see. I crave that personification, that somehow in my attempt to sketch a piece, I will encapsulate that spirit I see within someone. In turn, there is also a moment when a person who views the art becomes ensnared by an emotion or moment that is almost nondescript; when some viewer decides, this is art.

I hope that those who travel with me through my own personal journey of different media, some will find beauty, some will find spirit, some will find growth and learn to enjoy my art.

This photograph, taken with a Canon, Black and White 35mm film. Entitled "Darbitude"

Adorable Children

Gotta Love Kids

Landscape Photography, no really!

Not usually my forte. But some really turned out well.

Yet more Landscapes?!