Saturday, September 30, 2006

close you eyes and put out your hands

I love surprises- I do and I am terribly impatient so I have a hard time surprising anyone with anything because I get so excited I have to tell them. Today as I was assembling a "surprise mystery package" for a some friends (I have blogged before about my intense love of the "surprise mystery package" but seriously it is something I dream about at night--when the doorbell rings and you answer it to see the UPS guy driving off and there before you on your doorstep is a mystery in a brown box- waiting for you to open it-- this is where the warm fuzzies set in) smart son came bounding into the playroom telling me he had a surprise. His line is always "close you eyes and put out your hands" to which i responds "I will only put out my hands if it is not alive" (he has no fear- and can catch any creature!) Well today the surprise was one of my least favorite things a snake- yes, he caught it himself on the sidewalk. Tip for smart son- the mystery package is welcomed more warmly when it isn't alive and doesn't hiss...(we should've invited him to our sn@kes on a cake party!)

Friday, September 29, 2006

You caught me

All those lessons I've been learning and the Halloween costume crafting has made my life on the computer scarce- Lei tagged me for a meme so here goes-

What do you like most about where you live? It's quaint, little towns, farms, gorgeous autumns- some serious deals- okay maybe it's my favorite dairy and fruit farm. Plenty of days when you can stay inside watch the snow, curl up with a blanket and hot chocolate. Here you live through seasons and that experience helps you respect and find beauty in all the seasons of your life.

Is there anything strange about where you live? oh where do I begin-people here use oil heat, they also still build new homes with no a/c and baseboard heaters??!!!overhead power lines, they call strollers and carts "carriages", there is a dunkin donuts on every corner, housing is more desirable/expensive in towns without stores?! every road has 2 lanes only,

What is one of you all time favorite music albums? Why? Van Morrison Moondance- it is ultimately mellow- I can listen to it any time any place. I always take it when I travel to another country, and know I will be jet- lagged

Did you have a passion for something as a kid that you still have now? Just about everything I do you probably could've predicted if you knew me as a child- I started cakes at age 8, painting since toddlerhood, I've always been a "giver"-- I really love to give people things, my parents had to forbid from giving away all the money in my piggy bank when I was little

What do you like most about having a blog? It is the absolute perfect voice for me- I am a creative and relatively unstructured person- it lets me constantly have avenue for any sort of creative thought, my brain kitsch, anything kicking around in my brain. I have always kept sort of "un-journals" and sketchbooks where I recorded stuff, but this takes it to a new level. I love the exercise of writing.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My place in the pond

Somedays you just feel like a small fish- and no I am not fishing for compliments and please no “you’re so special – we love you” pep talk comments today, I am just pondering on kind of the ebb and flow of life. Some days you feel on top of your game- some days you just feel not so important. Today was just one of those days. (Don’t you love the installation sculpture I designed to illustrate this post on smart son’s bedroom carpet today while playing with my smart baby) I am not the kind of person to feel that way often, thankfully- but some days you are just reminded that in all the billions of the people you’re really just a speck (not that one person doesn’t make a difference- I’ll blog on that another day) And even for all the difference you might make- it seems so minute. You know you not the smartest, most beautiful, most talented, most perfect person and wouldn’t probably even make the top 1000 in the world in any of those categories- you just feel supremely mediocre and somewhat mundane and very replaceable. Although, life is no popularity contest but do you ever wonder just how many people’s top 100 favorite people to be around list you’d be on. I won’t attempt to wrap it up in a neat moralized package about how we are all special. I think these days and our emotions are often there to make us think. The questions are of big, but definitely worth the reflection. There is a part of a talk by Neal A Maxwell that I like that says depending on how you live your life you can “touch others deeply instead of merely being remembered pleasantly”. Some days, you have to ask yourself if you are really living in the deep unforgettable category or just pleasant quickly forgotten?

a good groove

Yesterday, was a good day, the house was relatively clean, and quiet (at least at naptime and after the boys were in bed). I chose to paint instead of mop or sort- and it was so relaxing to fall into a nice painting groove- this is what i turned out- yes another painting in the chain garden series- I am really enjoying doing variations in that series, also thanks to some old standards from the music library which kept me company while I painted today (August and Everything After- Counting Crows, and Listen without Prejuidice- George Michael) and special credit to smart daddy-o and our friend, P who kept me company as I gold leafed

Monday, September 25, 2006

What does your basement and seeing someone in their underwe@r have in common?

You have to have a certain level of intimacy to be allowed in someone's basement- It's akin to sharing a locker room with someone, or letting them rifle through your junk drawer or medicine cabinet, or eat off the same plate-- I will let almost anyone into my house- but I won't let just anyone into my basement-- it is way too revealing. Seriously, I only allow 2 types of people into my basement- The first type - people I love and expect reciprocity (you will love me in spite of my basement-- and all my other fabulousness can make up for this) and the second type- people I can't stand- (to whom I present it frankly and make no apologies for all it's ugliness) and therefore by letting you into my basement hope to drive you off and never see you again (a great tactic to avoid unwanted entanglements)

The basement is where you hide all the "unpretty parts" of your house-- the decorations currently out of rotation, the fabric scraps, the paper stacks on filing cabinets, food storage shelves, recycling, left over boxes, oversized canvases, DI piles, some cob webs, and all other random objects.

It's not something you like to show off, and is best at a quick pass in the dark.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

my special spot

As my parents can attest, I have always been very creative. As a child I was a fort builder extraordinaire, at age 4 I did amazing lashings with the cords on the blinds in our living room while my parents took their Sunday naps, I draped tables and cushions with blankets- creating my own sort of Bedouin tent world where i could read, play, daydream. Although, I get to play this out building forts with the boys, lashing parachutes to things, crawling into small spaces I still like having MY own special spot. My favorite spot now is this daybed (thanks IKEA) in my studio. I store all my blank canvases in it--and you know how i love useful things. I climb up on it and read, I sit there and critque the paintings i a working on, and envision my next paintings. It is the perfect place for those mom mornings when you are still so tired and can't really get up- I just cuddle up in a blanket on the bed while the kids play in the playroom.
It reminds me of being a child, it was like those rare moments when i used to get to sit on the counter. It is high off the ground and being a tall girl i rarely get to sit up high on anything. So if you ever come to my house- if you are lucky I'll let you enjoy my special spot

The rest of my week's lessons

Well if I haven't learned enough lesson- my week finished out great--
1. Don't eat at qdoba or you might get food poisoning with horrendous stomach cramps
2. The great deals on t shirts at Gap may lure you into buying 9 of them
3. Making a vat of 40 cups of creamy zucchini soup will dirty every large container in your house
4. Smart baby will totally blow out a diaper (yes once again thanks qdoba) at the worst possible moment in time (like on your way out of the eye doctor, in the parking lot, all over the stroller in the glaring sun- Note my eyes are completely dilated- the matter had to be tended to on the spot- and was a true test of a mother's love
5. Stepping on a plastic bus while holding smart baby and one handedly unloading the dishwasher will make you fall into the counter as well as seriously bruising your foot and hip.
6. Your child helping you at the printer may result in page 8 of your 9 page talk for church getting left in the printer.

I'm ready for a new week-

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

lessons of the week

Maybe i am not getting enough sleep- I am going to post these lessons for myself so i don't have to learn them again the hard way...

1. Stepping on shards of glass will cut your feet
2. Sticking your fingers in boiling hot melted butter will burn them
3. Dumping a cup half full of milk in the dishwasher will splash it everywhere
4. Touching pasta while draining it will burn your fingers
5. Sewing a bat costume with moleskin/pleather/and sequins will break sewing machine needles
6. Giving smart baby anything to eat will undoubtedly mean 5 minutes of clean up and sticky disgustingness everywhere
7. Smart baby can open everything including childproof medicine bottles, locked dishwashers, staplers, and mascara.

PE and KE

It is amazing how many things in life we cannot see, but feel. Life is filled with “energy” (for lack of a better descriptor) that we can’t seem to define or measure in quantitative terms- it relies on qualitative measures and descriptions, but even then we are lacking. We all have experienced in a variety of forms.

I was thinking about this today as I was playing with smart baby in the studio- and thinking about what prompts me to paint, and what prompts me to paint what I paint and (and yes this is the part that I sound like a crazy artist- which I have vowed never to become) Simple put there is just “creative energy”—you feel it and it has to be released. Being an artist- I think in terms of colors, patterns, symbols, but when it comes to a good painting- the idea usually just comes- some days you’re just “in the groove”- but I can’t deny there is some greater organized energy that somehow translates those simple electrical impulses in my brain to make my hand put this paint here or there and ultimately yield something beautiful.

Our relationships are full of this unmeasurable energy. I am interested in what motivates us, connects us- what prompts us to do things--To smile at some people and not others, what makes us click with some people and not with others, (and I don’t think science has all the answers when they try to break it down in simple physical/emotional attraction) What makes us some people so easily forgettable and others so unforgettable? No I am not just talking about charismatic people, but I am talking about the experience everyone has had when the sum is greater that the simple addition of its parts. How do some people spark something inside of you? The question that begs is not only how this happens, but the more intriguing question why? Why are we meant to connect in deep ways with seeming random people in our lives? What are we supposed to do with that resultant energy?

This has become a theme in a lot of my paintings, both branch painting and the chain garden series, both of which really explore the unique connections, that fabulous energy that emerges from our relationships.

So are just full of an endless supply of this potential energy? What is that flashpoint that ignites our potential energy into this kinetic energy?

I am sure I know the answers to some degree, but sometimes I find it so strange to be in such a measurable scientific world and yet friendship, chemistry, love, passion, beauty, art, inspiration, and genius, would seem to have no place.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Well evidently food still has a hard time crossing the mason-dixon line and the south might possibly be another country. Friday I has these great plans of cooking up giant batches of no chop chili and chicken posole soup so I could serve them with yummy breads and salads and lava cakes to my Friday night dinner guests and also for my Sunday dinner guests. Well evidently hominy is not an easy ingredient to come by here in New England. When i inquired with the manager at my local stop and shop he looked at me blankly...

me: Yes I wondered if you could help me- I am looking for canned hominy

stop and shop manager: "Could you spell that please?"

me: (what is this a spelling bee?) H-O-M-I-N-Y
(before he could venture "Could you use it in a sentence" or "Can you give me a definition")You often use it is soups or eat it creamed- It's kind of in between corn and a chick pea...A common southern food" (forgive me i don't know the origin of the word!)

Stop and shop manager: Well then I'd guess it would be over here with the canned beans and vegetables (proceeds to look blankly at the bean and veggie shelf)

Me: Yes- I looked here but didn't see i wondered if I was looking in the right place or if it was sold out, or even if you carry it...

Stop and shop manager: hmmm....(evidently puzzled by this quandary) (here is when i get a brilliant idea that could revolutionize the product inquiry process at stop and shop- maybe somewhere on the premises you could have a computer (even in a managers back office that could house a simple list of products carried and someone could simply type the word hominy and press search and voila- ANSWER!)- and this whole process could be shaved down from 20 min to 20 seconds!
(over the walky talky "yes i have a customer here on aisle six she says she is looking for hominy?...she says its a kind of southern food, kind of like chick peas that you put in soup)

Stop and Shop worker emerges from back room

Worker: "Now hominy you know is really a southern food- hmmmmm.... ( a word you must master to work in grocery store customer service) hmmmmmm... hmmm....maybe try a store with a bigger ethnic section (maybe they forgot the south was just a region and not another country?)

I called a few stores and finally located this banished confederate food and smart daddy-o when and got my 4 cans-

and in case you need an introduction to the world of hominy here is the fab soup recipe (a great party favorite)...

Chicken Posole
> serves 8
> prep time: 20 minutes
> total time: 50 minutes
> 1 T olive oil
> 2 medium onions, chopped
> 8 garlic cloves, minced
> 1/3 cupt tomato paste
> 3 T chili powder
> 1 t dried oregano
> 4 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth
> 4 cans (15 oz each) white hominy, drained
> 6 3/4 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey meat (about 2 pounds)
> coarse salt and ground pepper
> assorted garnishes: diced avocado, sliced radishes, crumbled tortilla
> chips, shredded cheese
> 1. Heat oil in a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; cook
> until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, chili
> powder, and oregano; cook, stirring constantly, until evenly distributed.
> 2. Add 4 cups water, broth, and hominy. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to
> a simmer, and cook until fragrant, about 30 minutes.
> 3. Stir in chicken; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook
> until heated through.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

yes I was there...

I was intrigued by Ellen's comment (you must have some sharp spotting skills) I must be famous, to be identified on the street- really i feel special. Yes I was there at the East coast Mormon gathering of the year- the BYU/BC game. Smart daddy-o and the smart kids stayed home and I went with some friends from Virginia we're entertaining for the weekend. It was a great game- even if we lost - those of you watching at home you can also catch me on the ESPN2-tall blonde in white shirt- 3rd row

Monday, September 11, 2006

raising kids with smarts and style??

So the top header/slogan on my child magazine reads: Raising kids with smarts and style- I had never noticed it before, and this time when i did it made me laugh- Because as you all know raising my kids with smarts is important to me but style??? – definitely not in my 2 of things i want for my kids- there are probably 50 other descriptors that i think would define my parenting and ultimate dreams for my child before style. Let's see-

can you imagine smarts and style on your epitaph? I don't think you get into heaven for being stylish?

The fact that i have overlooked this header in my years of subscription, probably explains that very silly page in each issue that shows what celebs are buying for their babies- This feature always backfires for me because

1. I never buy highly over priced unnecessary superflous items
2. I am anti hollywood hype and therefore would not buy the items out of spite for our celebrity worshipping culture-
3. The in thing has never been big with me-I like to be my own person, i don't buy stuff because you tell me its cool.

but now you know - if you're really hoping to raise your kids with smarts and style- child magazine is the mag for you...

Friday, September 08, 2006

since when is having babies a trend??

As you all know by now i am not a faddish, trendy person- but lately i take great offense at what is deemed the "mommy craze"- the media has been suggesting that women are having babies because "it's the cool thing to do!" and "all the celebrities are doing it!"
Recent millenia will prove women were procreating long before it was hollywood mommy chic and there were "hip maternity fashion". In fact among the western world birth rates have declined- and places like most of Europe with zero-negative population growth- I guess it's not the trend in Milan.
I find it so insulting and demeaning to actually have someone suggest that i as an educated woman am influenced in my family planning by the trends of overpaid celebrities? Because if i have children i might look like a celebrity? be like a celebrity? I might get to play with the cool kids?
Children aren't pawns, they aren't status symbols- If we are real, true parents children bring us joy, pain, struggle, sacrifice, and purpose. They ultimately teach us the meaning of life, the nature of God, and so many other things. Parenthood should be a great unifier, a great equalizer that unites us across all cultures, all races, all classes.

Don't you dare relegate the greatest work I do to the level of this season's hemlines and pants style

and for the record- I planned to become a mom long before it became "cool".

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

post labor day labors

I have posted before about my Mr toad wind in the willowesque manias that hit with relative frequency- (as just seen with avery labels) well last night at 9:30 pm- we laid into the guest bath-- yes transformed from yucky builder creamy peach to this nice stone color)

and my first round of company will be arriving at any moment- so my blogging may be scarce for the next little while because
1. conspicious blogging with company i am sure is anti miss manners
2. they are staying in the office
3. i can't let my house decline into filth with others present


Once upon a time there was a girl named smart mama who attempted to organize things (I say attempted because she is also a mother which means organization is only a distant memory) And one day- she was feeling especially vulnerable, due to the unsettling chaos of her world and that is when they found her- the avery labels- and life has never been the same since.

and unlike the seinfeld episode -- mine stay on.

Monday, September 04, 2006

labor day labors

well labor brought much labor to our house. our friend patrick and smart daddy-o took the family room from this to this. yes it required some death defying acts on one skyscraperesque ladder and some serious "skills" with a roller and brush.

smart daddy-o then helped smart son build a creature habitat and taught him to ride without training wheels

smart mama spent the day dusting and vacuuming the hitherto hidden parts of the family room which had slumbered untouched for 5 yrs. She also cleaned like mad to prepare for her upcoming 2 weeks of various rounds of company and attempted to follow all the special instructions requisite of parent with a child starting school. ("label towel with childs name, place towel in bag with childs name, please label all belongings, fill out and return to school," etc.)

smart son- well aside from the riding, building, and brainstorming of his own puppetshow-like (only without puppets)series loosely based on the popular mechanics for kids radical rockets show- Radical submarines, radical lizards, radical machines - the kicker was radical hummingbirds (LOL)!He completed his masterpiece his get to know you block for kindergarten!

and yes on a sad note--my smarty starts school tomorrow- that is a big day for a mama-- where does the time go--

Sunday, September 03, 2006

smart picks 9-06

every once in a while I like to review some great things (like my favorite toothpaste- which I continue my love affair with)

Here are some smart picks...

1. Look alike books- As an artist and a teacher these books get me really jazzed up- I picked this one up at a library book sale for 50 cents and it has been worth that 50x times over- check it out all the miniature scenes are recycled objects. It is just my cup of tea!

2. Tandoori naan bread- its a little pricey but I love a good ethnic bread! Americans need more variety in their wonder bread diet-- warm it for 15 seconds and some butter- mmm...

3. Cox's honey- I have long been a fan- in fact I have boxes shipped here to new England from small town Shelley, Id. It is creamed honey and in my opinion the only honey- That stuff that comes in the bear bottle just plain yuck.

4.McGraw-hill nature cards- I paid $1.29 for these at Christmas tree shop- They have entertained children and adults alike for many hours- my wildlife biologist B-I-L even requested a set- oh and did I mention highly educational for the budding ornithologist or entomologist.