"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Friday, January 29, 2010

15 Spring Longings

The Fifteen Things I'm Most Looking Forward To About Spring:

1. Our new baby.

2. Dogwood blossoms.

3. The first scent of newly mown lawn.

4. Throwing open the windows in the morning for fresh air.

5. Going barefoot outdoors.

6. Gardening, in real dirt.

7. The songs of the frogs on an April evening.

8. Salad with the first lettuce from our garden.

9. The scent of viola odorata. One of my favorite smells on earth.

10. The dandelions my boys will pick me.

11. Watching birds build nests and court outside my bedroom window.

12. The pussywillows on the tree over the back deck.

13.  Shakespeare in the Park starting up again. (I mean to go this year!)

14. Picnics!

15. Warm rain and the amazing after-smell.

Just thinking wistfully of spring today since I saw a flock of robins this afternoon, pausing in the icy parking lot outside my kitchen window on their way from Texas to Newfoundland. I'm sure our own robins are a long way off and won't be here for another month or two but, it still feels very hopeful, you have to admit.

So, these are the top things that make my eyes go misty when I start thinking about how close they're getting...the things that mean spring to me, what gets me through the dark days of February that are to come. To Spring! May it not be so very far off...and next Tuesday, may the groundhog not even remember what a shadow is!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snow Day,

And then....suddenly....it was deep winter again.

This morning when the curtains were drawn open, there were fat flakes floating down and the world was hushed and chilly white. A came stomping in from his morning foray to the gym....knocking the snow off his shoes on his way, his cheeks were all pink and he had flakes in his mustache. Ru had his nose pressed against the glass as soon as he was out of bed, maybe even before his eyes were properly open. The boy really loves snow.

So, this morning we hunted up the mittens and snow boots, we made hot cocoa, we retrieved our snow shovel (per Ru's request) and there was a tumble of short boys, spilled out onto the back deck. Off to explore!

Cute boys in cute hats and pretty white, indoors and out.

Who says you can't have snow-days when you don't have school to announce them?


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I'm a Painter?

I am friends with a painter...actually a few of them....but this one particular friend, managed to cleverly loop me into becoming a painter with her. That's the kind of friends, folks, that you really want. And now, thanks to her I am a part of a painter's group that meets weekly at my church. So far, we're all ladies (mostly retired types with years of art experience and gallery knowledge and framing expertise, etc. etc.) but all friendly, all wanting to improve and all fans of good company and a nice chat while the paint flies. Most of them manage to take classes to better themselves on technique, learn who the local masters are and tweak their skill set. I can't do that right now...duty to small children calls...but neither can my friend (another young mom).

So what's an artsy mommy to do? Join the painter group on Tuesday mornings! That's what. These ladies laugh together, share supplies, tip each other off about local sales on canvases and swap opinions about the latest art work being shown in area galleries. At first (okay, the first few weeks) I was intimidated and felt totally out of my element but, somehow, keeping on...I broke through my nerves and managed to realize how warm these clever ladies were, how deeply full of knowledge and how unprecedented  the whole opportunity really was. Let me give you a little rundown:
  • Its at my own church which is only about 10 minutes from my house.
  • There is childcare downstairs while we paint.
  • There is lunch served afterwards.
  • These women know gobs more than I could glean from a class, even if I could take one at the moment.
  • In addition to being good painters, they're older women who have raised children, been wives and lived in this area their whole lives.
Does it get better than that?

I have never thought of myself as a painter, although certainly, an artist albeit no professional. I am now dipping my toe in watercolors. I am intrigued by the fact that my grandpa was a watercolor artist and I love the light filled look of watercolor work. I have spent years sketching and drawing with pen and ink and pencil and have been scared of both color and paint...how the medium moves around on the page, the new level of complexity color adds to a piece, and all the techniques that introducing both would require. Its easy to get paralyzed by intimidation...at least if you're me. (are you sensing a theme)

But, I'm over it. At least, I'm over the immobilizing part. I'm part of the group...I'm a painter...I'm working on watercolors...and this week I tackled my first attempt ever at portraiture in watercolor. Its disproportionate and problematic but, its better than a first try could have been and the gaggle of painter grandmas was so incredibly encouraging that I'm undaunted. What's a slightly wonky painting for besides breaking the ice and getting me going?

I have been told to look up watercolor pencils as they might help smooth the way between color, paint and drawing and give me a little more control over my work as I learn. I am already dreaming of snapping up a set the next time I'm in the fabulous art supply basement that is entirely too close to my house.

But, yeah....who knew? I'm a painter!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ru, The Budding Photographer

Since I resolved to change my bloggy ways, get regular about posts again and include photographs daily, I have started taking the camera everywhere with me and taking pictures with amazing frequency. I know that the only way to really improve at any art is to do it and I know that the only way to get good pictures is to take a lot of them so, that's my plan. One small side benefit that I didn't imagine is that its helping spread an artistic, beauty seeking eye to my children.

Ru, has been watching avidly as I photograph, zoom in, zoom out, get on a chair for the right angle, manipulate the light, position subjects and just play with the camera...and pretty soon he couldn't hold it in any longer...he wanted to do it too! After a little coaching him through the simple mechanism of an auto focus point and shoot and a little careful watching to make sure he listened, I set him loose. He now asks daily if he can take the camera for a little shooting of his own and heads off on a his own little visual foray, lips pursed, brow furrowed...ever serious. I wish I could show you pictures of him "working" with the camera but that would be well....impossible. Heh. At one point when I noticed he was taking pictures of the floor repeatedly and I was deleting a lot of shots every time photos got transferred to the computer and I had a little talk with him about why and how you choose a subject and what photography is for...and once he got the technical exploration of what each button was for out of his system he really took the philosophy of capturing what he thought was beautiful through the lens, right to heart. I'm deleting a lot more photos now.

So, today...a little tour of my three year old artist's view of life. Beauty ala Ru.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Grey, Rainy Day...

Today is just one of those days when I am really glad I don't live in one of those cute little beach cottages. We had some errands to run this morning and although it started out a non-intimidating sort of drizzly morning with lots of happy little boy umbrella use....it soon changed tunes. The final place we stopped was the bakery down on the seaport of our town....whew. By the time we made it back to the car with the much abused bag of bread, both the boys were in tears and all of us were soaked. Umbrellas were a useless joke, the wind was whipping sideways and treated our rain protection like ziploc bags on sticks....heh. Everywhere you looked (whenever you saw people who were desperate enough or dumb enough to be out and about) you saw umbrellas inverted, showing their naked ribs, people staggering over to huddle against a brick wall as the next torrential gust ripped through and stuff of all kinds, blowing down the street, garbage can lids, newspaper, branches....all kinds of detritus.

We got ourselves home. And here we be. Not a lot to say on a day like today except...."Shall we distract ourselves?" I am reading a bit, the fire in the fireplace has burned down a bit,  the boys are taking what ought to be extra long naps, and I am busting into the laundry pile with a vim unparalleled.

I hope that you are keeping cozy wherever you are and that if a sea driven fury is howling through your town that you have the sense to tell yourself that tomorrow will be a fine day to grocery shop...today is a better day for baking your own bread and making homemade soup.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Lemon Tarts and Cheater Quilting

Today was a good day for color. Punches of eye-gouging color were all over the place...

 Today I finished that lemon tart recipe that I have been drooling over and working on piece-meal since last weekend. Just in time for the next weekend to hit. Yum, weekends.
 The filling, before straining and spooning into crust. So pretty! Look at that color!!!
Helpful baker types.

A completed tart...that's right, a tart....which implies that I made, well...six. Because, hey...you can't have too many tarts!


 But don't worry....they're miniature tarts. Grateful shout-out to my mother-in-law who gave me the idea to go miniature! *waving*
 Ah...time to put the apron down and head upstairs for a little quilting!
 And here folks is where you get involved. I have the gorgeous quilt that I've been working on tying for a while...and I finished it today...so now it has a filler, a backing and is fully tied...all need to do to make it use-able is bind it. But I'm paralyzed!
I mean, look at that....its gorgeous and no, I didn't make it...I just found it all orphaned on E-bay and am finishing it. I'm scared to mess up the masterpiece of some artist, long-gone grandmother. I can't just get another one, ya know? So, I have no idea how to bind this. I was going to go with just plain white and then I felt silly. White works...we all know it works but I want this quilt to be really beautiful! I want to make it pop and shine and suck in my breath every time I make my bed in the morning sunshine. What does it need? Paisley? Damask? Some solid color? A satin binding? (or is that too childish)


Argh! Such beauty in my hands!

Help! Help!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pasta From Scratch.....Check!

Yay for accomplishing two year long resolutions! Woohoo!!! I made pasta, real Italian pasta, for the first time in my life. It was yummy, and easy and I feel cool and our new pasta machine is extremely cool. If any of you out there are considering getting one, I recommend our hand cranked Atlas. So sleek and classic and old world and it has only three parts. That makes this mommy very happy. There are plenty of parts to Legos and Tinker Toys....I like three part machines.

But, ahem....back to pasta. So I pressed out sheets of pasta between the rollers and then cut them. The dough making is very similar to making German noodles like I learned as a girl, except there is a long kneading process to make it all silky and springy and then of course the shapes are different and the product generally more thin and delicate. Speaking of...I think I got slightly carried away on the "thin and delicate" front and rolled this batch of dough a little too thinly. Next time I want to try a more rustic, full bodied pasta.

ANYWAY....after the machine rolls the dough to thin sheets you cut it into shapes...I cut some into thick strips with my pizza wheel and made papardelle pasta and then ran the rest through the cutters on the pasta machine which will make either fettuccine or spaghetti.

I went for fettuccine.


And then I went for some cream, some baby peas, some grated parmesan and a little garlic. YUM.
It was great. I am inspired. Next up: ravioli!

I spent most of my day running errands today, not really gorging on cream pasta....I promise.
When we dropped A off at work, I had to stop and snap the hoar frost on the ivy leaves outside his office door. You never know where Beauty will suddenly smack you in the face.

After we were off on our first errand, I noticed, once the boys were out of the car and we were halfway across the parking lot, headed towards the first store....that Ru had snuck along his umbrella. Never mind that it was another golden sunshiney day...he had found his umbrella and was determined to use it. At least he shares it happily, right? When I questioned him, he defensively stated that he "doesn't like the sun on him so much."

Silly boy.