Sunday, December 27, 2009

on animal movies and christmas trees

I'll admit it... I have a fake Christmas tree. Yep, I don't do real Christmas trees, while that seems like a mockery of authentic Christmas decor, I am not entirely ashamed. Because as I see it, it's really more practical and economical.
1.I can set up before Thanksgiving, should I so desire (as i did the year I was pregnant with my #3 son who was born the day after Thanksgiving)
2.It requires no special trips to get other than a jaunt up the pull down stairs to the attic.
3. I can go on vacation and when I return after 2 1/2 weeks it's not a mess of dried up needles.
4. One time purchase
5. Easy set up/consistent size.

You see the list of pros goes on. But really the biggest reason is, I get depressed by real Christmas trees. Don't get me wrong they can be pretty, I sometimes envy my New England neighbors who go to our local town farm to chop their own it see so quaint and quintessentially Christmas. While I marvel when they are majestically lit up and decorated and steal piney sniffs from their presence in neighbors homes. I hate nothing more than the day after Christmas scene -- unbought trees in those "set up just for December tree lots" all sad an unused, unwanted, and waiting to be disposed of. Maybe i'd feel better if i wrote a list of 100 things to do with unused christmas trees? (I know they get recycled) But they worked hard for years to grow big and pretty and then their best wasn't good enough. I feel for them like the last kid picked in PE class.Seriously, it makes me want to cry. I have to turn away. The waste of the trees, it's sad to me like injured animals. (I know, I know, I am anthropomorphizing the trees too much)
Which brings me to the second thing I don't do which is animal movies- yep no Benji, Black Beauty, Lassie for me, even Land Before Time or An American Tail, despite being fictious and animated, they make me cry. I know the animals don't really get hurt in production but it's knowing that somewhere there are other animals in the world that are cold, lost, hungry, or suffering that makes me sad....this is probably also why I cannot commit to any pets beyond brine shrimp.
So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from me and my fake tree while I always welcome gifts...just don't give me any Benji movies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

sometimes things surprise you

-like my 4 year old saying he really wanted "white paper" for Christmas. Really if there is we thing we don't lack for in this house it's paper in all it's varieties.

-that encouraging youth/young adults to explore careers is actually a controversial topic? (my recent segullah post)

-that when parents bring their kids to "a decorate your own sugar cookie" table they feel absolutely no urge to help their children use reasonable quantities of toppings or feel any obligation about the mess they leave behind. (yes I manned this table for 2+ hours at the school ornament day- encouraging creativity is one thing but downright wastefulness is another)

-that my husbands meeting got cancelled last night a delightful 4.5 hr reprieve

-that you actually want to eat vegetables instead of treats at the ward party (Yes I am that old)

-that someone in Tehran is "google-ing" me? (I really don't think I know anyone in Tehran)

-or how hard it is to clean tracks of glue stick off your dining room table

any surprises for you lately?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Gingerbread Star Wars Ewok Village

Every year our quaint New England town (pop 8000) does a Christmas festival, trolleys take you through the town and stop at all the local farms, businesses, and churches. For some festive local food and activities. The schools do a gingerbread house display. The last two years I've been too busy but I promised the boys we'd do something fun this year.

As an artist, I am not the type to do the regular gingerbread house (I will readily admit a love of kitschy edible things). Honestly though, how fun is it to go to a gingerbread house show where they all look the same. I just can't do the matching candy canes by the door and gumdrop roofline. So I brainstormed with my three boys and they decided it would be fun to do an star wars gingerbread entry so we made an edible Ewok village from Return of the Jedi.

We wrapped a wooden base in drk green wrapping paper and cellophane. The trees were made from rice krispie treats (formed in plastic cups) coated in chocolate. The bunker is made from hershey bars, andes mint cookies, and oreo straws. The trees are made of mini cones and fruit loops. The green candies gummy frogs, Mike and Ikes, spearmint mints, green m&m's, watermelon gumballs, green lifesavers. Also included tootsie rolls, pb cups, black licorice.

The edges are done with mint oreos. The ewoks, R2D2, & C3PO are made of fondant. (C3PO's chair is made or pretzels lashed together with fondant and has a graham seat.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

How to Make Edible Oreo Chocolate Mice

Some of our favorite Christmas stories involve mice. Like Gingerbread Mouse, T'was the Night Before Christmas, and Santa Mouse. So we decided to make some edible mice. I have seen them made with maraschino cherries before but I knew my kids would not like how the tasted so I made up these.
How to Make Edible Chocolate Mice
Wilton premium candy melts- I like the dk chocolate (but you could make a cute family of mice using the white and milk chocolate)
Double stuff Oreos (or the holiday ones)
Hershey kisses
Sugar eyes (I get the icing eyes from Country kitchen Sweet art and use them for lots of projects (or you can pipe on frosting dots)
Sliced almonds

1. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl.

2. Cut the licorice into small tail length strips

3. Carefully cut the bottom 1/4 of the Oreos.

4. Affix the tails by sticking the licorice into the frosting between the two cookies.

5. Use a small spatula or knife to coat the two sides and top curve of the Oreo. Place on waxed paper to set

6. While the chocolate is still melted. Attach Hershey kiss at the base.

7. Place on almond ears.

8. Use a dab of frosting to attach eyes.

They would also be fun for a nutcracker themed party (the mouse king) or Twas the night before Christmas reading or as an homage to our favorite Santa Mouse. We also made mouse cupcakes to go in some T'was the night before Christmas themed designer cupcake sets. We placed them on cupcakes with Santa cupcakes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pig Cake and the big 2!

My #3 son turned 2 today. I can't think about his birth without remembering all of the drama and complications at the end of my pregnancy. I still can't believe how blessed and lucky I am to have him!
Today we celebrated with a pig cake. (I could not for the life of me think of something really fun and exotic for a 2 year old. I stood there in the kitchen with cakes baked and frosting made and still had no plan. So I thought what is fairly simple and can be made in less than 10 minutes? I give you the pig cake. (8", 6" and mini round"- stacked) We were also in the middle of selling our station wagon today so that caused a little interference! I love this boy though- He is always good for a hug and lots of kisses! I totally love my cute line-up of 3 fabulously fun boys! What a lucky mom I am!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ironing it out

One more painting done before I start full swing into holiday madness. This makes 7 in the series now, and 3 more in progress. I think I will make a dozen by february. Then on to my next series. Then Number #3 turns 2 this weekend. Then it's a steady stream of Christmas preparations. Decorating. Gingerbread house making. Chain of lights. Ornament Day. Parties. My #1 's birthday.
Monday night we filled a white board with all the things we're thankful for. a wonderful life and friends and family to share it with. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

modern architecture kids style

It's been a while since I have posted about my boys- they are getting so big. I measured all of them this week and they are currently coming in at 55 1/2", 44 1/2" and 34 1/2" respectively. Eek! Sometime its as thought you can feel your mothering years are slipping between your fingers.

#1 is buzzing through 4th grade and just finished making a replica of the National Archives in DC for school. He has been engineering various playground games such as "hill ball". He has been practicing lots of new songs on the piano and knows so many things I don't about fish and the standard model.

#2 loves preschool. I actually went with him 2 days last week and we let the kids grind wheat with a hand grinder. I went back on Friday, big mixer and all and we kicked out 5 loaves of homemade bread for snack. He is helper extraordinaire and has his bed made perfectly before breakfast every morning!

#3 smothers you with loves and kisses. Likes to grab ears, play ball (mean arm) and read Curious George Goes To The Hospital and A Visitor for Bear many times a day. A likes to play with his toy "NA-mas" aka Thomas and race through the kitchen at the speed of light on his plasma car.

Well this week they called me out to the studio to show me their creations with wood pieces. SS#1 designed this modern house complete with solar panelled flat roof and courtyard with fountain (love the detailing- really I would live in a house like that. It looks just like it fell out of the pages of dwell). He then borrowed my camera to take some more artistic shots of his creation. SS#2 then showed off this fabulous modern airport with wood & glass pieces!

How to make lipstick cupcakes

Looking for a glamourous cupcake idea for a girl party? Here are some lipstick cupcakes for a make-up makeover party.

So here is a quick how-to-tutorial

1. Frost the cupcakes.

2. Sprinkle the edges with pastel confetti (I get mine from country kitchen sweet art)

3. Tint fondant dark pink, light pink. and purple.

4. Form a long snake out of the dark pink about 1/2" diameter. Cut into short segments on the diagonal.

5. Roll out purple. Cut into small rectangles. Shape over the lipstick.

6. Roll out light pink. Use a pizza cutter to cut thin strips to add detailing.

(You are probably wondering why I- mother of 3 boys am making lipstick cupcakes... well I auctioned off my services making designer cupcakes at our town ed foundation dinner dance last spring and the woman who won requested something for her daughters party. Hence the pink girliness-- I also used an extra to make a cute little cake for one of my friends daughter who one remarked that I always had soft hair and shiny lips- have to love kids compliments) So "Sister Shiny Lips" came through with a surprise treat today! Moral fo thta story- tell me my lips are shiny and you might get a cake...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

stirring things up

The latest in the domestic series I kicked out the end of last week- I was on a roll. (Trouble is after a really good groove, everything else feels kind of tiresome and like a letdown) Sadly even about 24 hrs after finishing a painting the thrill of the accomplishment is gone. I told my husband I think I am an accomplishment junkie...some crazy creativity addiction (constantly needing a new fix, and it just doesn't last like it used to- laughing at myself)
Digging the citrus colors and 10 pts for you if you know which room in my house is actually pictured in this painting!
Incorporated in this are the following interesting items- stainless bowls (wedding gift- and was actually holding all my kids Halloween candy when the photo study was taken, I knew it wouldn't show given the angle) orange canisters from my local salvation army, white dress I bought in Puerto Rico with my husband a few years ago, and a yellow apron I sewed a few years back. Also props to me for my work in assembling the cabinets and helping cut and lay the cool linoleum tile back when the room was being built.

dare to design part two

I was surprised but also delighted this week to hear one of my dresses made the "final 15" in the shabby apple dress design contest. (My friend Whitney's design (#9) also made the top 15). They had hundreds of submissions and many were really fabulous designs. So you can head over to shabby apple's blog and cast your vote for your favorite-
Which will of course be mine (wink wink!) Only one vote per person.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

who's there

It's been a pretty productive week. I got my portfolio site revamped a bit so you can go and peruse at your leisure. I also finished two more pieces in the domestic series (both are 30" x40") and I have 3 more underway. My goal is to have an even dozen by April. I think I can do it... (I know I won't have as much time around the holidays and with teaching early am sem every other week. I have to be realistic abotu my time -- even though april seems like forever away! Secretly I am hoping to be done by february) I am really enjoying this series though- and combining my professional training with my art. When this set is done I have two other mini-series I want to do but I am trying to let myself see this series through before getting distracted. Right now I have too many ideas and too little time in the studio. Still I am trying to churn them out before the ideas leave and the groove is gone.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

dare to design contest

Shabby Apple is running a dress design contest. My friend Whitney, approached me about helping her create her drawings for the contest and encouraged me to enter as well. You know how I love creative projects and collaborations so I agreed. It was exciting to watch vague ideas turn into finish concept drawings. (I wanted to do more, but this month has been busy x10 and my creative brain is still preoccupied exploring my domestic painting series and designing my custom couches I ordered this week and hasn't been able to fully devote itself to this task.)

I designed dresses I would like to wear. I am 5ft 10" and what flatters me most are simple clean lines that are classic. I don't go for lots of frills and embellishements.

So here is my dress design for Shabby Apple dresses or well a few designs...

"Black on Black" is my favorite. This versatile day to evening dress has a wide scooped neck, cap sleeves, back zipper, bust darts, true waist, and bias cut gentle a-line skirt. The slightly irregular circles are appliques in a nubby textured black fabric to create interest, detailed with contrasting white top-stitching (double rows). The dress fabric has a touch of spandex for nice fit and gentle give. I also posted it's b-side variation sketch with a higher wider neckiline, slim below the knee trim pencil skirt and ultra narrow sash front tie for a more pillar like sillouhette.

"Atomic Energy"-This retro inspired dress came out of the domestic series of paintings I am working. The series is intended to make a social statement on the generational shifts and devaluation of domestic work by juxtaposing contemporary images with period pieces. I would love to have this dress to wear for one of my painting studies (like the one with pink cake- p.s. 4 more giant paintings are in the works!). It is an atomic era minty green, with a wide fold-over citron/celery colored contrasting shawl collar. Side zippered with seams fitting through the bust a true waist bias cut skirting for gentle A-line hitting just below the knee.

"Lavender Fields"- This dress came out of my love for light cotton summer dresses for everyday wear and my love of light lavender. It is lightweight cotton with a stand up straight collar with button front. with pin tuck detailing, an easy tie back sash and the skirt has gentle tucks for a nice ease out for comfortable fit.
"Tint and Shade"- Maybe it's the artist in me but I love contrast. I love any combination of the crisp essentials, black, white, and gray. This dress has a crisp white stretch shirting top with princess seams, a long generous, fold down shirt collar and cuffed sleeves with keyhole and button detailing. A black slimming wide waistband and 4 panel fitted charcoal gray skirt. Back zippered. Cotton/spandex blend.

"Navy Nicely" This summer dress hits at the base of the knee. It is navy with clean white contrast detailing. It has a back zipper, true circle neckline and opposing arc high waistband in white contrast. The skirt is 5 panel construction pencil style with back slit. It has short sleeves with contrast band and a keyhole and button detailing. Cotton/spandex blend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

domestic series continues

Well here are art and artist shots of the next two pieces in my domestic series both are 30x40" and I have 3 more in the works. I'd really love to do a series of 10-15. The red one is titled Full Plate and the pink one is titled A Piece of Cake. I am enjoying painting them and the challenge painting in a different style brings. As a someone who used to teach family studies at the college level it's fun to create art that relates to my academic loves of the study of family life and roles. So on to dish-washing and laundry I go (both in paintings and real life).
I love piece of cake piece because doing the preliminary photo involved actually making this amazing triple layer pound cake (known as best birthday cake) which made my whole family excited. So I guess this also qualifies it as a certian form of performance art or an event. The cake let me use my favorite late 1950's cake tender which I bought on my first ever trip to maine and looks so cool with my fav breakfast nook mcm mirror (the one my husband cracked while hanging). My friend Jenny can take credit for the muffins under the cake tender, which we made in a day of mass cooking, and the tea cart joined our household after we were married 10+ years ago, we got it from my Uncle Alan's mother Rose, after her death. And yes might correctly recognize those as the FLOR carpet tiles in my dining room. Both aprons were made by my great grandmother (although slightly modified in the paintings). So the really fun thing is the paintings are loaded with sentimentality and connection.
On another note I am quickly becoming aware of my lack of heels and yes my husband will be picking up a great mid century bench this weekend from a craigslist score- look for it coming soon to a painting near you.
1.a baby who is talking all the time 2. supportive friends 3.70 degrees in october- a New england rarity

Sunday, October 18, 2009

and this is why you should keep pleather in your attic

So the other day I asked my boys what they wanted to be for Halloween. My oldest decided a Jedi and my second decided he'd like to be an ewok. We realized we could actually get some good mileage out of an old elaborate monkey costume (for the ewok body) by simply removing the some elements and adding others.

Mom to do list:
make jedi tunic and robes
sew a wicket the ewok orange hood
alter monkey costume

Thursday night, I decided there is no time like the present, may as well get this halloween costume sewing party started. I used my notebook during the town building meeting for the new high school that night to calculate fabric yardages and make mental patterns. This while weighing out the architects A,B, C, and D plans (D is the only really good plan at a tidy 68 million).

So friday morning, after the preschool drop off we made our way to Jo-Anns.To add to the day I had my oldest tagging along because he had been sick the night before.

Here is where I stop to say a few words about bathrooms and Jo-Ann's - while no mom likes to take her kids ot the fabric store, many moms must. And in fact the reason I am patronizing the store is because of my child and my maternal love (in the form of homemade halloween costume), and when my child urgently needs a bathroom, I am told they don't have one- well actually they have 2 but they don't work- I sort of hoped he'd get sick or someone's potty-training child would have a problem right there on the floor to show them what an unwise thing this no bathroom thing was. No I am not vengeful- simply a realist and believe in the necessity of bathrooms (I don't think thats too much to ask in our modern world) and well if you can't provide a bathroom at least give me a some woods --I an dig my own latrine...

But I digress, we headed home and had 1 1/2 hrs remaining of preschool time. During this time I managed to craft the ewok hood, cut the jedi robes and tunic. We then drove back to preschool to reclaim son #2. Drove home and while #3 was catching 20 winks int he car I completed the entire jedi robe and tunic. At this point my son asked where the boots were he wore he previous year. I thought they were in my closet but alas they must have made the cut in a recent goodwill sort and were gone. Panic began to setin - no self respecting Jedi would be found wearing sketchers with his robes. Well have no fear-smart mama and her attic full o'supplies is here. I pulled down the attic ladder, climbed up and returned in 30 seconds descended with black pleather. So yes without a pattern or previous experience, I manage to craft knee high faux boot shoe covers and have them all sewn in under 5 minutes before my baby woke up from his nap.

The jedi costume looks exceptional if I do say so myself. So good that he wanted to wear it around and had to be a fashion show for the neighbor and the Ewok, well all I can say is in perusing pictures on the internet- it's the best ewok going. I even managed to find leather string and long cream colored beads (left over from a neckalce #1 son made during a tipi visit with native american dan at school 2 years ago. Which I disassembled and recreated to be that hood embellishment worn by wicket the ewok.

If they were giving medals that day for minorly important mothering tasks, I totally would have been in that middle spot on the podium. I am sure there was divine intervention in the accomplishment of homemade costumes in sewn in 2 hours or less. Too often the decision to make your child's halloween costumes often changes your title from mom to sucker... but this year I get to keep my mom title. That's "super costume sew-er mom" to you, boys.

1. costumes made 2. attic with pleather 3. when the stars align and you get stuff done!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

VBF conference

I spent last weekend in Newport Beach at the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation Conference. I first presented at their conference 4 years ago, soon after my second son was born with a port wine stain and have been associated with them ever since. I have loved the opportunitity to use my professional skills in a way that can help others.

I am on the VBF expert panel as a developmental specialist. This year at the conference I facilitated an adolescent support group, presented during the scientific symposium on the psychosocial implications of vascular birthmarks, and did 5 hours of family support groups. If you're not familiar with what vascular birthmarks are I'd encourage you to click on the link to the VBF and see the images. The conference is always a powerful experience. I appreciate hearing the stories of parents and individuals who talk about their experience of living with a visible difference. It is always excellent evidence that beauty is in who we are. It's moving to see the pioneering work of doctors developing treatment for things that were previously considered untreatable. It's really refreshing to connect with and support families as they try to balance risks and unknowns of treatment with the best outcomes for their children. I love the association with incredible doctors, board members, and staff that I have established over the years. My friend Linda, founded the organization after her daughter was born with a hemangioma. Since then the VBF has helped more than 50,000 patients network into treatment. A great reminder that one person can make a difference and dramatically change the lives of many and when life gives you something unexpected it's just an opportunity to help others.

Monday, September 28, 2009

keep a 20$ in your glovebox, keep your dignity

In this episode, if you were smartmama...

You might go for a weekend in Maine with your husband and kids and put your wallet and phone in your camera bag (save the number of the things you are schlepping).

Then on Monday morning you wake up so tired you think you're going to die. You are so tired because you have this crazy cough and every time you lay down you cough and you can't sleep (knowing you have 10 hrs to clear your system so at the reassurance of your husband you take a partial dose of some medicine that might make you a bit drowsy in hopes of actually sleeping that night so you can function the next day knowing you have to drive alot and alertness is key) However the cough breaks through the meds, and the drowsy medicine effects linger coupled with the drowsy effects of another medication you've been on for a week. Still you manage to get up at 5 something and teach a class to high school students.

You then dress your two youngest children, the smallest of which has been in terrible whiny funk for two days which would test the patience of job, and you hurriedly feed them toast and juice because the grocery store is also on today's crammed to-do list- dire straits- no milk, no yogurt. You manage to get out the door, leaving instructions for the final school preparations with for son #1 with your husband as you load you kids up in the car to be to at an appointment in western mass at 8:30 am. Even though you are incredibly drowsy there are no alternatives so you figure you'll stop at a mass pike Mc'ds along the way for OJ and hashbrowns to keep you going and grab a few candy bars in case of total sleepy desperation.

As you get on the pike you realize your gas in nearing E (The trip to western mass is about 1 hr and 10 minutes). No sweat we'll stop and get gas at a rest stop and hit the McD's. I pull into the plaza and reach for my wallet.

No wallet (wallet is in camera bag at home remember it went to maine) So you reach for the emergency $10 you keep in your glove box, only the emergency $10 turns out to be an emergency $1 (the $10 must have been used for some other emergency). Next you scour the change drawer which is generally relatively stocked and plentiful only to find it raided (post Maine trip meter parking). So you figure you'll call someone, only your phone too is in your camera bag. What to do? $1 in gas will neither get you home or two your destination.

So you ask the man in the car behind you if by chance he has a dollar you could have and you would give him two packs of skittles a small twix (I didn't have much to barter with) He obliges and finds he only has a single 1 and 20s.

You graciously accept the $1 to add to your 2.47 which you carry into the station with your 2 whining kids - because prepaying with cash even 3.47 must be done in the store 20 yards away. You explain your plight to the cashier. You realize at this point you look a bit shifty. Quite possibly bordering on looking rather like a vagrant. And are seeing marked similarities between your story and "those people" who approach you for train and bus fare in the seedier parts of town needing to visit someone. While you're normally a pretty put together person the ealy hour of teaching and departure resulted in minimal beautification. Yesterdays make-up remnant, roughly brushed hair, glasses, jeans and a t-shirt.

You explain your plight to the cashier as your baby wails. I asked her if she could run my cc if I knew the number, only I didn't have photo id? I did have car registration? She said I could talk to dee her manager and use the phone if i needed to call my husband (30 min away). I asked Dee if any such unusual credit card purchase could be made if I could get the number from my husband. She went of to call the manager. Meanwhile I began to make a mental inventory the contents of my honda odyssey wondering what I could barter with or use as collateral to get ot western mass:
-The anntqiue plates I bought in Maine for my best friends dinig room wall ,
- the broken vintage phone (for a future painting prop),
- the boxes of rare vintage star wars action figures I also bought in maine for my son for Christmas.
-the circa 1970's empire strikes back dinner glass (also for Christmas).
-a half full box of 100% juice capri sun's I keep int he trunk for emergency.
-one can a great value mushrooms (an escapee from my last grocery run)
-Stuart little DVD, Thomas and friends Halloween DVD
-one Mo-Tab Cd, one Painting mix CD
-one glass plate
-one pair of gap toddler tennis shoes
-one blue ocotpus waterball
If no one wanted any of those things maybe I could sell my shirt, it was a nice t-shirt from H&M practically new. I could just zip up my fleece so no one knew. Should I line them up yard sale styel on my hood?

Collateral options...IPOD, GPS, wedding ring, I guess there was also a dirty well loved stroller, backpack and two pretty cute children.

After making my inventory, Dee returned and said her manager authorized them to give me $10 in gas so $7 in addition to my 3 and gave me back my $.47. I asked for the address and promised to repay the kindness in full with a note commending them for their good faith in humanity in times of crisis! I returned to the car, pumped my gas, had to forgo the much needed OJ, and drove drowsily to Western Mass and drowsily home relying only on my candy bar stash and prayer!

The rest of the day involved continual screaming by #3, wal-mart popcorn chicken being thrown on the checkout floor. So yes today was Stellar with a fat sarcastic capital S.

(Now about the gas station, you'd think I would've learned my lesson 5 yrs ago when a similar incident occurred going eastbound on the mass pike and I had to hit up the fellow driver behind me for 2$ in exchange for 3 unopened bottles of water. )

So lesson of the day, keep a $20 in your glove box and keep your dignity and avoid risking getting picked up for panhandling on the pike.

and mom and dad when you read this I know you will be laughing but also worrying that i will find myself in just such a situation again and i'm sure insist that I hide various sums around my car to avoid such future repeats.

1. kind drivers 2. believing people can be honest 3. tomorrow will be a new day (unless I die today)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

new domestic series

I painted this piece the other week. The first in my domestic series. It actually uses my midcentury kitchen furniture and an apron made by my great grandmother in the 40s or 50s. I wanted to do some pieces that were about the shift in womens work across the generations and the devaluation of domestic work in recent times. In our current culture all our tasks- cooking, cleaning, our kids, our parents are sold off to the lowest bidder. Hopefully I can get on to painting the rest of the series, sadly my rate of painting slows significantly when I am teaching early am seminary. And this painting took about 4 days at 4 hours a pop- so at about 1 hr a day or a little more- it's goign to be tough to go anywhere quickly.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

self portrait

Over the weekend I decide to undertake a full self portrait, because I've never done one. I haven't because they are scary. Portraits in any form tend to stress me out and make me cranky so I avoid them. But the truth of life is if you run away from things you'll never conquer them so I decided I am going to do more portraits and figure studies even if it kills me. I also decided to try out a new more stylized style. flatter patches of color. So here is the first piece. It's been three nights of work, it's not perfect, I do love the chair and the floor... so we'll see what comes next...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

a geriatric couch

My current couch has labored faithfully in the cause of movie watching, party hosting, and all manners of rambunctious children's play for ten years now. It has reached that unfortunate stage where it's decline seems to be increasing at an exponential rate. The color fades significantly more each day, what was once bold red is now a sadly tired pink. Spots seems to appear by the dozen each day. Maybe the stain guard has finally worn off. It's falling apart like an octogenarian. So it's time to let it go.

I have been planning for a new couch for about 8 months and trying to find the perfect thing because well I am picky. Part of it is it's a big room and needs a big couch and sectionals just don't work in there. One day I was reading architectural digest and I saw it. THE COUCH- it was perfect. So I began trying to find it. I exhausted every avenue i could think of and eventually emailed my ISO quandary to apartment therapy who found my cause worthy and posted it on their blog.

Well the verdict is it is custom piece, so good luck getting it. But the silver lining is that readers supplied me with names of two custom furniture makers who are in the process of quoting me for my dream sofa... So hopefully in another couple months there will be a youthful new replacement in my family room (only then i'll have to redecorate).
1. the beach 2. actually smiling 3. treasure hunts

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

office love

I am most excited to announce the arrival of new office couch, replacing old office couch which I never loved, and was originally bought by Allen's old company for his office when he worked at home in Virginia. While I wished it would die, it would not, and finally I gave up feeling guilty about replacing a perfectly good couch simple for shallow aesthetic reasons. It has been relocated to the less prime playroom thanks to the macy's delivery guys. Now that the new couch is here I can redecorate the office around it. Me and the ever-changing paintings and all. It is soft, restful and inviting and I dig the lines on those low track arms...

Speaking of love you can join me at segullah today- talking about crushes and new love. couches 2. a giant catch 3. studio time with someone to help me

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

playlist for current painting groove

I love to paint to music, I will paint to movies, but music yields a far better product. In fact I am blaming the slow down of my groove on painting while watching the Masterpiece Theater recent remake of Wuthering Heights-- too heavy.

I always find it interesting that certain songs fit with certain painting grooves. I think there is somehow either embedded in the songs a connection to what you are painting and it's yield is cathartic or else the rhythm somehow fits harmonious with the brush strokes and the very physical act of painting. A lot of artist have very specific types of painting songs, I remember having this discussion with other arts at the art museum on night during a class. For me it's generally kind of mellow mid-range love songs. Really often it is the same over and over again- to the point that anyone else in my studio might find it painful, but it's just the subconscious consistency that makes it work? I have a hard time painting to stuff that is really fast. And if I put on stuff with the wrong sort of groove, it totally shuts me down. So if you are looking to find your creative groove (or at least paint a bunch of grid and lightbulb paintings) I recommend the following

1. Room for squares album -John Mayer- played for 2 nights continuous (maybe it was the square connection?)

2. Fields of Gold- Sting- entire album

3. All these things that I've done- the killers

4. The Man the Can't be Moved- the script

5. Under Control- Parachute

6. Everything I Own- Bread

7. You and I Both- Jason Mraz

8. No Matter What- Boyzone

7. Fall for You- Secondhand Serenade

9. At my most Beautiful- REM

10. George Michael 2000 collection -some bootleg black market cd I got in Siberia
11. What if -coldplay
12. What it takes- Aerosmith
My week of feverish painting is finally catching up tonight after dinner I decided to lie down on my bed- yep slept till 7 even with the din of children around.
And if you missed my last segullah post here it is. I was in vacation not so frequent blog mode at the time.
1. music 2. inspiration 3. a few things off the to do list

Sunday, July 19, 2009

the creative funk and groove

I arrived home from my trip ravenous for painting. Yes between tuesday night and saturday night I finished 8 and 1/2 paintings. I think that is a life record. (4-24x24, 2 10x20, and one 12x12 and 1/2 of a 30x40) I would hit the studio about 7:30pm and paint feverishly till 1:30am when I would make myself go to bed.

I also lost 3 lbs. because I care nothing about food, only getting all these images out of my head and onto canvas. It's hard to know where creativity comes from, what changes almost in an instant and hurls you into a creative storm, There is nothing quite like an intense creative groove. They only come around for me about every year or 2 and they some how change me, define me. Is it the result of some psychic need for catharsis? Why can't it be called out whenever you want it? While I would love to know the whys and hows? I am trying to be content just delve into all the deliciousness of creation and see what comes out the other side.

My new series is off the grid. I still have yet to put them all on my gallery sites but i'll let you know when I do... series 2. catharsis 3. connection

Thursday, July 16, 2009

dinosaur dilemmas

This morning my son was musing about you could escape being chased by a velociraptor.
Being a born brain stormer like his mother, here were some of his ideas...

1. Use distraction- rig a marshmallow launcher to a bicycle that would shoot out marshmallows with every wheel revolution.
2. Use brute force. Rig sledge hammers to the front and rear of a bicycle that would pound the dinosaur on impending advances.
3. Put batteries in conductive liquid in water balloon and use it to shock the dinosaur.

I have to say these kind of thoughts did not cross my mind as a child. Nor did I calculate my bike riding speed in relation to which of the various species I could escape from in a flat chase.

Also if you are go to back in time, do bring some cable guns, my son reminded, they might be useful for getting away in a jam...

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Summer adventures

Well our brief 8 week summer is already well in force. We left the monday after school got out to visit family in Virginia. I was sick and spent the first few days of vacation in a fog. It got interesting when my mom took three boys on a walk and came back only to tell me that we had to call poison control because my oldest had fed my youngest a berry, thinking it was a blackberry. Well as it turns out it was a lantana berry, which is toxic and although it was only one berry, poison control said every ingestion had to be treated thus began a 4 hour emergency room visit to get my 19 month old to drink activated charcoal- have you ever seen activated charcoal, it is like a thick black sludge milkshake. It was either drink it or have it via NG tube. Somehow, I have yet to know how he drank it- or at least a cup of it so that was enough- but it gets everywhere- and when he decided he'd had enough he whacked it across the room sending charcoal flying everywhere. I can report a full recovery.

I left for Utah to enjoy a few days with my best friend shelah which means lots of laughing, good food: ruth's diner, cafe rio, and baking. We've made chocolate cake, 7 layer bars, lemon bars, white chocolate lime cake, coconut cake. Tonight i am hosting a studio night and then tomorrow I get to enjoy the fabulous segullah staff.

My boys are enjoying their time with my parents and Smart daddy-o is beginning work on the basement and eating our garden!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A portrait of me

If you really want to know me - you need only look as far as my fridge- the outside of it that is. It is a microcosm of my world. Sadly, the top of my fridge is the single most disastrous places in my house... why... well it is over 6 feet in the air and so it is the repository for anything I have to put out of reach of my children- it is the safe house for errantly used things, short of locking it in the bathroom, laundry room, or attic. I am after all mom to 3 boys. One being forgetful, another lacking impulse control around treats, and one next mt Everest climber.

The outside well who knows why- its a random assortment?
so the other day I inventoried my fridge... Here is what I found.

-10$ gap rewards certificate (thanks to my t-shirt buying)
-town beach pass (if summer ever comes)
-2 oil pastel, 1 watercolor by 4 yr old
-Wasatch South Lacrosse magnet (the club team I played on when I was at BYU)
-"smart women put it in writing" notepad (with grocery list and propaganda- husband should love me)
-watkins vanilla magnet- came as a shower gift 10 yrs ago?
-If you can Bake a cake you can make a bomb postcard- (my all time classic favorite- while i have the brains for bomb making i choose to make cakes- I am a lover not a fighter)
-Funny Postcard from friend ellen
-2 old pictures of my 8 yr old with curly hair
-my 4 yr olds sunbeam handout- I HAVE FEELINGS (so do I and all too often grouchy)
-almost 4 yr old fam picture
-another pic of me and allen (2 yrs old)
-101 ways to praise a child card- (must look at this more often)
-2 model rocket and launcher kit- (need model glue)
-one toilet paper holder from upstairs bathroom (solid metal was being wielded as a star wars blaster)
-one PVC/pipe pool noodle light saber
-one homework weekly/activity/practice chart
-one timer- lacking batteries (removed for "bomb making" not for war but for mining applications- as explained by my 8 yr old)
-segullah business card
-my art business card (in case i forget how to contact myself)
-business card of painter who was working across the street (who loaned my mom his ladder so she could break in when she locked herself out of my house and I was in boston at a conference)
-one LED pen-Re-mission (promo item video game for teens with cancer)

-$35 off of 300 at home depot- (allen are you ever going to finish off the basement?)
-bose magnet- (must promote)
-square one art magnet (star wars theme)
-poison control number (yes i am a good mom keep it handy and have called them 4 x- ingestion of dryer sheet, jewelry cleaner, licking of toilet bowl cleaner bottle, eating of brown paint)
-trash schedule/recycling- (is it blue week or green week?)

on top- this is where it gets interesting-
-one tennis racket (baby whacking on floor)
-1 fishing pole and tackle box (you're gonna put someone's eye out with that- no concept of hooks yet)
-2 bags of big marshmallows (one open- snack/bribes)
-one kids golf club (weapon usage)
-article of faith card
-2 stressballs- one is leaking tiny green plastic beads (these are cool i don't want to pitch them)
- 2 bottle caps (used to be magnets)

-about 100 box tops in ziploc bag- 7 loose (seriously when is the next collection day?)
-temperature sensor (critical for "you need a coat" or "it's way too hot to wear that today"- mothering remarks)
-4 things of playdough (probably dried out)
-7 collages and paintings (this serves as drying rack)
-1 box of picture hanging supplies (yes you know I am constantly hanging & moving art)
- a stack of 5 checks (too loose with money I know)
-stop and shop gift cards (I think maybe they have $ on them?)
-one eleven chophouse GC (need babysitter)
-1 toy saturn V rocket (failure to pick up)
-1 toy sr71 blackbird (failure to pick up)
-1 golden ceramic train bank (used as weapon, money stolen)
-one sample of green frog pom pom trim (seriously???)
-1 toy fishing rod (almost resulted in strangulation)
-one guitar hero cereal box toy (annoying!)
- one flashlight (emergency preparedness)
-1 bag pretzels (halloween bats and jacks)
-1 mini gel ant farm
-one uncover snake book (for Christmas gift)
-key to mower (I think - i don't mow)
-glow bracelets (6)
-easter candy (squished)
-school lunch calendar (trash that son out due to flu precaution- rest of the year)
-one pinewood derby car- silver prowler (won sibling competition this year)
-pot paints
-collapsible play hut
-valentine card
-one pound bag of confetti sprinkles (caught son hiding behind chair eating)

and thats probably not everything
note this accumulation in from a relatively brief time span
to everything there is a season- my is that of refridgerator repository...

and in case you missed it my art feature interview at segullah
1.fathers day 2.30 min talk done with 3.surprise packages

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

turn out for my hero parade

Some people think a mom's life is boring-not so. Take today when I had both my boys in my upstairs bathroom and attempted to stow my curlers in my undercabinet roll out. The roll out would not go in. The cabinet door cannot close. So the door to exit the bathroom cannot open. The under cabinet pull out is made of metal and bolted into the cabinet. Yes we are stuck. I begin to panic, no phones, no food (well my baby does like to eat shaving cream- maybe that could get us through?) and that new "go fresh" soap is scented like peaches (I guess that's the backup?)

I begin to contemplate my options while I ponder the important things in life in case this is the end. The cheap casket I have made my husband promise to buy, in lieu of flowers please buy kiva loans, him finding a new hot wife, all my possessions lined up on tables at the church for people to take as remembrances of me (my dying wish). Then I decide enough of such talk, If I am going to make it out- I need positive talk, so figure I should trim my baby's shaggy hair so if we do get out he'll look good for the newspaper pictures of him sitting on my lap as a I wave from an open topped car at my hero parade when the debacle is over. Maybe they'll give me a key to the town- or at least the library bathroom or something.
No screwdrivers of course- only extra bottles of shampoo (flares?), toilet paper (okay maybe a repelling harness and ropes to lower us three stories down to the ground- I did macrame in 3rd grade?) shower curtains (clear plastic toga? slightly embarrassing- I do have to see my neighbors again) I continue scanning my tool inventory. Qtips- (maybe as tinder for starting smoke signal fire?) a Nail polish (I could paint one last masterpiece), allergy meds (if it gets too painful maybe some benadryl could ease the pain), lovenox (in case I wind up with a DVT), latex gloves (oh oh i can blow them up as balloons and let my kids play with them). Towel parachutes for my naked children? battering ram hairdryer? Maybe I could heat a curling iron hot enough to smelt down of those little crochet hook things you use to highlight hair and make it into a makeshift screwdriver?)

I weighed myself on the scale to see if the stress was bringing about rapid weight loss (not!) I take comfrot though that I have a good supply of water and dixie cups for hydration.

Still back to the problem at hand. No tool seemed appropriate. Then I thought hey I am smart mama- maybe I have superpowers? maybe?no- most definitely-yes! So with my own brute incredible hulk like force (I did consider using some green concealer or avocado masque and ripping my shirt for dramatic effects) I wrested the pull out free from it's tracks and shoved it under the sink for my engineer husband to deal with later. Watch for the made for TV movie coming on Lifetime. Yes, I am giving autographs on toilet paper squares- they are selling like hotcakes on ebay.

xo-smartmama MacGuyver out

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

divine providence

Sometimes it comes in mysterious forms. Let me start by telling you I am totally car-ed out. With company, a 4 day conference in Boston, temple trip, and 5 drs appts I have logged more car hours in 2.5 weeks than I usually do in about 2 months, so it was with some slight annoyance that my husband called me today because he had locked himself out of his car at work and could I swing by and unlock it for him after an appt. This is did and decided to stop at stop and shop for some yogurt from my son's morning "yo-yo" on the way home. And what should I find strolling through the aisles of stop and shop...only something that made me beam.

let me backtrack. When we first moved to here I started using these diapers called cottontails. I loved them- I loved them so much I called the company to tell them how superior they were to huggies, pampers, and luvs. They told me all the brand names these were made and sold under and those are what I have used on my children ever since. So hereI am 18 months into my third child and they stop making the diapers. I paniced no more- EVER. I lamented this to my husband, I still have 9-12 mo of this child in diapers- surelyI could not survive without my favorite diapers. I tried other things but they made me grouchy.

So what should I find today walking through the other towns stop and shop-- a giant cart of cotton tails diapers 50% off! So I proceeded to load my cart. Box after box. I used my higher math skills to calculate the approximate number of diapers I would need for the next 9-12 month and bought the right number of threes then successive fours and some fives, which are slightly gratuituous) but my 3rd is after all my chunky little love. My cart was piled- literally piled like some david smith sculpture. I bought out all but size 1&2 and 6 (luckily I don't need those seeing as my boys have never gone past 2 1/2 in diapers)-and I actually contemplated buying those just in case I have a fourth.

I had another woman following suit, buying diapers for her unemployed son's baby. She was so impressed with my pragmatism and practicality I had her laughing out loud at my witty quips. I converted her to my ways. Soon other people were gathering around us wanting a piece of the pie- or rather diapers and the good time in the corner of the aisle. (Too late I already had all the 3s 4s and 5s which 10 minutes before no one wanted!) I was so happy I also stopped for two cartons of friendly's forbidden chocolate ice cream and two cartons of Phish food -- this after all deserved a celebration of monumental ice cream scale!

You would not believe the stares- surely they thought I was the next octo-mom. I could tell you in boxes and packs but it would be a bit obscene to reveal on the internet. So moral of the story you never know when an unexpected blessing may come your way like in the form of your favorite discounted, discontinued diapers!

(and for all of you greenies I promise to reduce my carbon footprint in other ways- I must hold onto this lone environmental vice- forgive me!)

oh and I am over at segullah talking about smart girls

1. providence 2. pragmatism 3. stop and shop-xoxo smart mama

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

how does my garden grow...

Well the plants are still green, whether they are growing? That's questionable. I can see seedlings of looseleaf lettuce, herbs, and green onions sprouting up so I guess so far so good. I'll keep you posted.

My fruit trees are all popping out leaves and blossoms and there is lots of fighting over the hose. I just want the fruits of my labors already!

The other side of the yard (not pictured) has onions, flowers and raspberries.

1. cadbury caramello 2. a cute little boy, even if he put my shirt in the toilet 3. a gold star for #2

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Happy Mothers Day (note only two of my children half-heartedly agreed to cooperate with the forced annual mother's day shot- so the third gets seperate billing. ) Thanks boys for making me a Mom. I love you even in spite of the legos on the on the floor, the laundry that never quite seems to make it into the basket, and the "is that ALL we are having for dinner" comments.

Also I wrote this week on Segullah about our brotherly and sisterly church affections in "What the Ward Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love" if you want to catch my ponderings. Note, I did shake hands with the missionaries today so I feel diligent.
Off to enjoy my dinner and play with my boys!
1. treats at church 2. meals by the fam 3. flowering trees

Thursday, April 30, 2009

sneak peak

So the spring summer issue of Segullah is off at the printer--it will be mailing the end of May. It has 12 of my paintings in it. And here is a peak at the cover (painting is Emerging Eden). While the issues are posted online the art features are not- so the only way to see it is to get the magazine.

On other fronts- I have an article discussion at Segullah today (childhood follies) as always you are welcome to join in.

I promised a return, but my prodigal ways have become a habit. The arrival of spring, the return of sun and warmth has lured me outside. Neighborhood walks with the boys gathering rocks, watering the garden and the new fruit trees, finding my sweet spot playing basketball with the new hoop in the driveway, and just sitting on the front steps eating Ben & Jerry's. I promise next up pictures to prove it!

1. plants 2. being outside 3. trips

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boston Marathon 2009

One of the best spring things is the Boston marathon. It's so fun to go and watch and cheer. This year was the best because my best friend Shelah was running. I can't even imagine looking so jubilant and vivacious at mile 19. We had a great spot staked out thanks to my friend Ellen!
1.accomplishments 2.late night talking 3. best friends

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


1. clearance easter candy 2. a surprise tomato plant 3. ikea ODDA beds

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I have never been good at portraits. My family can attest that whenever I attempt one I whine, rant, fume, and become generally disagreeable-- a result of sheer frustration. Despite many hours labor, I never like the end result. So my solution (or probably to spare my family from my ill tempered self), give up trying. Trouble is I really would like to be better at portraits and figures. So this week, I decided enough of my sissiness. So what if they aren't perfect, not trying will certainly not make me any better. Life is about getting better at things, it's about improving ourselves in lots of ways. So Friday night, I decided to do a colored pencil portrait (My first one since I was 15!) I decided to work on my boys seeing as I have an ample supply of images. So here is my first attempt in 17 yrs- my #3 son.
1. the hope of Easter 2. shared delicious Easter treats 3. Easter pictures and wordsearches created by #1

Monday, April 06, 2009

picture that

A picture is worth a thousand words... and so is a picture of kids looking at a picture.
As you can see my camera is back- (cue angelic choirs) and I had to leave you with this shot of ss#3 I love my baby because he knows a good thing when he sees it- he's cleaning up the remains of the third piece of coconut cream pie I ate during a session of conference. That's my kind of pie loving baby.

You can join me at segullah today where I am talking about Outsourcing--in our homes homework 2.the painting quiz at free rice 3. jennifer t's coconut cream pie recipe

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Gardening at 11 feet

I attempt gardening but, I am not a gardener. In my childhood I remember helping my parents in our gardens. Picking tomatoes, zucchinis, and peas. Gardening in New England is not for the novice gardener. See you can't plant things till May here- (even then it's still cold, hence the very short growing season). Like last year my purple peppers finally yielded 2 smallish peppers in mid-October! I will also attest to being a less than faithful gardener- oh how the summer months lure me away on vacations- resulting in my garden abandonment!

So the recommendation is to start your seeds indoors a few weeks ahead and then transfer then to the garden. I have tried this in the past but without a lot of success. Given my 1 yr old's propensity for climbing and my 3 yr old's propensity towards mischief I wracked my brain to find a suitable, sunny seed starting location for the required 4 weeks of baby plant growing.
I found the perfect spot--while I have always cursed the builder of this house for creating a great and spacious 2 story entry way (I would so prefer another bedroom upstairs). I have decided this floorplan must have been inspired to enable me to follow the "plant a garden": counsel- So here you can see my excellent, sunny warm seed starting location- 10+ feet in the air! I like to think of it as a "green roof" for my coat closet. Yes I have to climb a couple foot tall stool to get them down for watering- but at least they are safe from curious fingers and thriving- so much so that I had to transplant them form the peat pellet starters (those things are amazing!) to full peat pots.

I am actually thinking I should keep a small herb garden up there year round for cooking? I know, I know- it's all fun and games until smart mama falls of the stool showering the entryway in dirt, pots, and broken plants!
1.gardening at 11 feet 2. conference 3. pie plate licking baby

Monday, March 30, 2009

the prodigal blogger returns

Here I am, back among the living. I have finally cuaght up on some sleep, survived a week alone while Allen was in Mexico on business. I have been hustling to get stuff done for a dinner/dance auction for our town ed foundation this week and I can report my room redux is almost done. Curtains (lined with thermal and blackout liner- oh so luxiurious, pretty, and energy efficient) are made and the new paintings are done. My camera is still away at canon being repaired (this is back to back trip #2) so I haven't wanted to blog becasue well I need pictures! Pictures are worth a thousand words and I can't get enough computer time to write thousand words descriptions for all the things I need to show you. I do have a blurry pic of the new paintings- but I promise a room shot to follow soon.
I have also been making checkerboard cakes and cookies with boys, venturing outside to clean up the nasty dead plants now that the snow is gone, and planting a small orchard of fruit trees.
You can also catch me on segullah today, talking about A God of Details and Embracing Smallness.

Also as soon as my camera returns next up- my post Gardening at 10 feet in the air
So I'll be seeing you.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

smart mama... absent

I remember when my friend shelah started blogging other places she said her own blog took a hit. And thus is mine lately. Truth be told I am still coming up to speed on the editor ropes over at segullah and I have been working on alot of projects (like some new paintings, some essays, rit dying my bedskirt, and helping my bf shelah pick a house in Ut (we have compuslive diseases when it comes to decorating and planning). When not doing those I have been widly chasing my climb on everything baby(I forgot about this stage and well i've never had a climber quite like this one)! Poor smart mama has been shoved to the back burner a bit- this is merely temporary.

But if you are missing me you can join me for my two recent posts at segullah -
casting no stones
let me tell you about the birds and the bees

1. discussion 2. harmony 3. errands done

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

art and artist

and ps I know I am slow on the valentines day challenge prizes- not forgotten just busy week...
1. tasty dinners 2. boys who love books 3. inspiration