Over the holiday weekend I was hoping to have a lot of time to devout to art but in the end I only had time to for this birthday card for a friend. Watercolor, colored pencil and pen on handmade paper.
Trying to get back into my normal Monday groove today but I have a sick kid staying home from school. Instead of burning off the wine and sugar I overindulged in with a spin class I will have to make do with what I like to call my "yardwork" exercise. Shoveling, weeding, carrying pails full of compost in an effort to get my heartrate up. It's all for the best...the weeds are growing like crazy and the gophers are taking over.
Lucky for me there is lots of beauty in the garden to inspire me while I work. Taken with iPhone
I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. Here are some images of our long weekend in California's Central Valley. Fall is in full force here.
I love how this next picture contrasts with the vivid colors of the previous pictures, I was disappointed not to find colorful trees near the water's edge but the quiet colors here are beautiful, too. All photos taken with Canon EOS Rebel T3i.
I am not someone who normally sets goals but these thoughts came to me on my run today (which I made sure was 5 miles long.)
In 5 days
- I will be well prepared for the long holiday weekend, including wrapping birthday and Christmas presents that will be hand delivered.
In 5 weeks
- I will be ready to host a fabulous Christmas and I will not spend too much money on gifts for my kids who will get more than enough gifts from relatives.
- During these next 5 weeks I will go to yoga at least 3 times a week and I will increase my run mileage by 1 mile a week.
In 5 months
- I will be running 1/2 marathon distances regularly without pain or injury and will be registered for a race.
In 5 years
- I will really be self-employed doing what I love...not anything like my current state of "self-employment."
This was a tough one...I mentally went through the obvious choices and even drew a baby sleeping in the woods but in the end, I'm pleased with my play on words and drawing this cute little guy took me out of my comfort zone. That's what IF is all about for me...forcing me to be creative and productive.
I was a busy bee today...I made the BEST beans ever and two loaves of bread for dinner.
The BEST beans ever (Beans in broth)
Chop 1/2 cup yellow or white onions and cook in a 1 tablespoon each of olive and vegetable oil until the onions are black. Not just browned but burned black. You might want to open doors and turn on your fan. In the meantime, rinse 1 cup of dry pinto beans. Do not soak. When onions are black add the beans and 4 or 5 cups of boiling water. Be very careful adding water to hot oil! Water should cover the beans. Add one bay leaf. Simmer partially covered for about an hour. Keep your eye on the beans, if too much water evaporates add one cup of water at a time (water should be hot before adding.) After about an hour when beans have softened add 1 teaspoon of salt. Make sure you do not add salt before beans have softened. Continue to simmer, adding hot water when needed for another hour or two until beans are cooked. There should be some "broth." If too much water has evaporated, add more to make some broth. Discard the bay leaf. Discard the black onions if you like (I never do.) These beans freeze very well. Use this recipe to make refried beans by smashing beans and reheating in a bit of oil.
Another tidbit from yoga class. You are where you are. In yoga it means leave your thoughts behind and clear your mind for 90 minutes of moving meditation. In my life it means that I will not let past mistakes or regrets paralyze me, nor will I be afraid of things to come. You are where you are. Be there.
Or to quote Lululemon:
Breathe deeply and appreciate the moment. Living in the moment could be the meaning of life.
Every year I roast pumpkin seeds to share with friends and although I always go back to a few core ingredients I have never made them the same way twice. This year I hit the pumpkin seed jackpot...3 gallon bags of seeds brought home from a pumpkin carving party. Because of the large amount of seeds I had, my recipe changed once again and I think these are the best ever. There are no measurements here...you'll need to follow your instincts and dip your finger in to test the flavor before you roast. I have tried to list ingredients in order of volume (in other words much more Worcestershire sauce than cayenne pepper.)
low sodium Worcestershire sauce
Remove pumpkin seeds from pumpkin, straining them out by hard is easiest to separate them from the pumpkin "guts." Remove as much of the guts as you can, but don;t worry if . DO NOT RINSE THE SEEDS. This will add a lot of flavor. Add all the ingredients above to the pumpkin seeds to taste. Depending on the amount of seeds you might be using tablespoon-fulls of the first 4 ingredients, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a few dashes of cayenne.
Layer thinly on a cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 300. If you have a convection oven, use the convection setting. Stir every 10 minutes or so to keep the seeds from sticking to each other and to roast them evenly. I like my seeds a bit crunchy but not overly roasted. Keep checking and stirring until the are roasted to your liking.
A work in progress
A moment of self realization
Today I was in my Bikram Yoga class and the instructor said something that really resonated with me. She was telling us that instead of thinking about all the things about ourselves we see as negatives; I'm too fat, I'm too skinny, I'm too old, I don't earn enough, drive the right car, etc, we need to realize who we are. We are not defined by these things that can consume so much of our thoughts and energy. What matters is how we feel about ourselves. Our real selves, not our shape or bank accounts.
It made me think about this blog and my art and all of creative endeavors. Instead of worrying about being untrained or not as talented as someone else, instead of worrying if what I have to say is relevant or wondering why in the world anyone would even care, instead of being embarrassed or self conscious about what I see as my shortcomings, I am going to be daring and and creative and ARTISTIC. I'm going to embrace this blog and share what makes me happy and I'm not going to worry about how it is perceived or received. And I might even dare tell people I have a blog!
Yesterday started with a short rain and cooler temperatures. The fall weather was perfect for trying a new recipe in my beloved slow cooker. This beef stew was the perfect meal for date night snuggled on the sofa watching a movie.
Here is my recipe, adapted from something I found on the internet.
3 strips bacon cut into strips 1/4 cup flour salt and pepper to taste 2 lb roast, excess fat removed, cut into 1" pieces 1/2 bottle dry red wine 2 cups low-sodium beef broth 2 tbsp tomato paste 2 bay leaves 1 package frozen pearl onions 4 small yukon gold potatoes, quartered (skin on) 1 cup carrots, peeled, cut into 1" pieces 1 cup frozen peas
Preheat a large skittet or non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp. Remove bacon and set aside leaving fat in pan on the heat.
Combine flour, salt and pepper in a sealable plastic bag. Working in batches, add the beef and coat well with flour mixture; remove from bag and shake off excess flour. Add the pieces to the hot pan and cook until all sides are golden brown.
Remove the beef and add to slow cooker. When all the beef has been browned, add 1 cup wine to the hot pan and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Pour over beef, along with rest of the wine, the beef broth, tomato paste, bay leaves, bacon pieces, carrots and potatoes.
Set the slow cooker to high and cook for 4 hours until the beef is very tender. In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the pearl onions. A few minutes before serving add the peas and simmer for a few minutes to cook through. Discard the bay leaves.
Serve the stew by itself or over egg noodles with a good ladle of broth. Don't forget a piece of good french bread to mop up the broth. This recipe tastes even better the next day. My kids loved it for lunch today!
How did I end up here...with a blog...calling myself an "artist?" Here's my story. I'd always considered myself a creative person but my creative outlets were jewelry making or interesting fashion choices or contrast flower combinations in the garden. While I wished I was "artistic" it never occurred to me that I could draw or paint or create art by its more conventional definition. One day about 6 or 7 years ago I was at a craft store with a coupon that entitled me to 50% off of one item. My craft store purchases to date had been mostly arts and crafts for my two young children but on this day I decided to buy a how-to-paint kit for myself. Not quite a paint by numbers, but close to it. Using 5 acrylic colors and carefully detailed instructions I painted an autumnal scene of a water mill with rushing creek surrounded by trees covered in orange foliage. Despite the kitschy subject matter I was shocked and delighted by how my first attempt at painting looked. I LOVED IT. And I was hooked.
Over the next several years I enjoyed painting local landscapes (mostly from photographs I took...with two small kids there was no way I was going to sit at the beach painting for hours!) I admit I copied a lot of local artists work as well...and considered this not plagiarism but self-teaching. Although I was proud of my paintings I always longed to develop a style of my own. There are so many landscape artists out there, 99% of whom are vastly more talented than I am! I branched out and enjoyed painting many pieces of whimsical flora and fauna art for children's rooms which I gave as gifts to family and friends. Still...I was always searching for something different.
About 3 years ago I started experimenting with adaptations of Hungarian folk art. My parents came to the US from Hungary in the 1960's and I grew up surrounded by Hungarian embroidery and felt work. I love interpreting the Hungarian floral designs with many media and find great personal satisfaction celebrating my heritage in this way.
These days it's often a struggle to find the time to devote to my art. With two growing children, a job, a busy husband and a few demanding pets it's not easy to carve out time to be creative. I'm hoping this blog will help by giving me one more outlet to experiment and learn. This is my continuing journey on the road to being able to call myself an artist without flinching.