About Me

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I am a multifaceted woman, living with intention and passion. I always see the glass as half full (ok, almost always). Currently into: jewelry design, glass beadmaking (aka lampworking), visual journaling, cooking and web design everything. Things that bring me great joy: my family, friends, Scrabble, British period pieces, Shabby Chic, Austin, TX, mini art tiles, autographed cookbooks, chocolate, Chianti, pedicures and beach glass. I don't "do" and/or dig: dishonesty, guilt, intolerance, unkindness, drama and goat cheese (it's a long story, but I love all the other cheeses!) So you now have a teeny tiny little picture of me, with a few warts thrown in. Welcome to my world!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

     Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and new year full of art, joy, peace, love and good health! This was one of two Christmas cards I created this year using visual journal techniques. Water colors, neo-color II artist crayons, sharpies, gel pens and Pitt markers. The lettering took forever to get just the way I wanted it to look, but it was all a labor of love. I'll post the other card later this week. Cheers to you all!

Friday, November 19, 2010

At last...

So things have been insane for me since I started back to school for my second semester in September, which is evident by my lack of time or energy to post on my blog.But yesterday, I turned a corner. Why? How? Well I'll explain. My web developer classes have been kicking my booty all semester, very challenging and time consuming to say the least. On top of that, I was worried that, although I have dreamed about becoming a web designer for ten years, once I took the classes I would find that either 1.) I am not intelligent enough to understand the material, or 2.) I would get the material but find that I didn't "like" it after all. Until yesterday, those two fears were still lingering in the back of my mind.
    The day started off normally enough. My first class at 8 a.m.(I am not a morning person for those of you who do not know me personally, so this is a rough start to any day for me!) is Web Design I, where I am learning how to use Adobe's Dreamweaver CS5 program to create and publish web sites. Up till now, I have been very disappointed with this class. The instructor is not familiar enough with the current version of this program and we have not had enough hands on time to really get immersed and get comfortable with it. However, yesterday, she shifted gears and gave us our final project (actually, our only project), which was to come up with ideas for a web site and to create a simple sketch of each idea. Then, as I thought about what I would like to do and then sketched my four different ideas, I went back over them to figure out what my limitations would be in executing each idea. And as I visualized what it would take to turn my sketches into web pages, I realized that I could execute all of them, that I knew enough to actually bring those designs to life in the way I imagined them! I actually know enough now to be quite dangerous!!! It was a wonderful  epiphany. But it gets better...
     My next class is right after at 10:15 a.m., Introduction to Computer Programming Logic and Design. In this class, we are learning about programming logic and design using a program called Alice, which eliminates the syntax issues involved in actual programming, to help us learn the basics of writing good code. As the instructor was going over the solution to the homework we turned in, I realized that the solution he was showing had many more lines of code in it than what I had turned in, even though my program worked just fine. Then he said there was another solution to the problem and showed us that piece of code, but again, this one had several more lines of code than my solution, which had only one line of code. I was really feeling bummed out that I had not "gotten" this solution. But then, he said there was one more way to write the code to solve the problem, "probably the best way," is a direct quote, and then he wrote out what I had come up with on my homework!!! I could have flown to the moon and back! I'm getting it, I'm getting it, I'M GETTING IT!!!! That is all that kept running through my head, lol, and this feeling of relief and joy. Relief because I am getting it, and joy because I love it! Champagne all around...but wait, there's more...
     My last class of the day is at 5:30 p.m. and honestly, it is the most difficult. It is Interactive Animation, where we have been learning to use Flash CS5, Fireworks CS5, Soundcut Pro and lately, a little bit of Java with the action scripting 2.0 portion of Flash. There is soooo much homework in this class, a quiz every week that requires a re-creation of some sort of animation, exercises thrown in here and there, that also require creation of some animation, and then we have a big project always looming, since the beginning, each of which takes hours upon hours to complete. The instructor lectures almost from start to finish for two straight hours and crams so much information into that two hours, that I always feel like my brain has been used for "kick the can" by the end of the night. Sometimes, after this class, I go visit my friend Julie to unwind, and she can verify that I have been basically incoherent after class at times. But I digress. During last night's class, the instructor was showing us how to add action scripting to buttons to make them do certain things. At one point however, she ran into a problem and had to come up with a solution on the fly. Her solution involved creating a second button layer in the timeline, which is really not something you want to do. In my head, I thought I had a better idea and while she gave us a break so she could create a solution, I created my own solution and not only did it work, but I did not have to create a second button layer. Talk about icing on the cake, with sprinkles and even a cherry on top. My brain is connecting the dots. I understand most of what my instructors are talking about and if not, know I can figure it out between my textbooks and online resources. My questions are about things two steps ahead and based on combining what I have learned in all three of these classes. And I love, love, love it all! What a day...I'll be riding this wave for a very, very long time. Christmas? Nothing for me Santa, I'm good!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Baseball and Fireworks

Me and Hubby at the Ballgame
     We went to the last regular game of the Traverse City Beach Bums baseball season tonight. What a blast! Baseball is my favorite spectator sport, I just love sitting in bleachers or other seats and taking it all in. The weather tonight was perfect, cool, sweatshirt type stuff. We took the kids, including the two teens who wanted nothing to do with the game last week, and they had a great time too. The ball park was packed to the gills. Lots of families, and they made an announcement at the end of the game, which we won, that an attendance record was broken tonight, how cool is that? Over 8,000 fans were there. The Beach Bums also made it into the playoffs for the first time ever, so there will be a couple extra home games next weekend and we hope we can get tickets. After the game, they let all the kids ages 5-12 run the bases, which took about an hour because every kid wanted to get on the field and do it. After that, it was dark and they had a spectacular fireworks show, really wonderful. They normally have fireworks after every Friday night home game, but since this was the last game of the regular season, they had one. It was so much fun cheering with the crowd, watching my kids enjoy themselves and watching the game too. My hubby and I took a picture together, in our shades. You can see what a good time we were having. It was really a perfect end of summer evening with my family. It was good to take a break from my school work and play, I needed it more than I thought! Life is good.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Homework and the Oboe

My brain this week...
     Well, school is kicking my booty. The classes are challenging, which I like, but there is so much homework, I'm pooped! I am wondering if the homework is taking me longer because of my age or because I am being so thorough? I don't know and I'm too tired to let my brain wander around trying to figure it out. The important thing is that I am doing the homework and "getting" the materials. I love my classes for the most part, but I am feeling a little overwhelmed, hoping I did not bite off more than I can chew this semester. But if I want to finish this program in a year and a half, I have to have these four classes now, since next semester's classes build on top of these classes. It is what it is. Although I have already spent over 25 hours doing homework this week, I still have at least another 10 hours of homework to finish before the holiday weekend is over. Yup. I have to create an animation based on an old invention, all by hand, and then I have to work on the Flash animation that is due the following Tuesday. Wheee, right?
     My youngest daughter got her rental oboe this week. She tried it out at school last year, before the end of the year, and really loved it. So she is joining the band this year as the only oboe player. I have to say it is a lot more expensive to rent an oboe than a flute, like twice as much. But I think music is very important and have made sure that all the kids had an opportunity to learn an instrument at some point in their lives. I never played any wind instruments so I have no idea how to put it together, clean it or play it. All I can do is be encouraging, remind her to practice and pay the rental fee each month. I hope she stays with it. I like the oboe. Ever since I first watched the lovely movie, "Enchanted April," years and years ago, and heard the oboe solo from Erik Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1, I have enjoyed the haunting sound. And she is thrilled, already practicing the three notes she learned on Thursday, as well as trying to see what other sounds she can make with it. She is so passionate about it, full of excitement and dedication, I hope it lasts forever. And if you haven't seen "Enchanted April," I highly recommend it, a wonderfully charming movie with beautiful cinematography, music and a lovely story. The acting is excellent too, with Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, Alfred Molina and others, a terrific cast. It is one of my top five favorite movies of all time.
     So I guess today's post is about learning new things, education and passion. What do you want to learn to do? No matter what it is, go for it, make the time, jump in with both feet and let yourself go. And if you can't do it now, start visualizing it. Imagine yourself taking the class or classes. Imagine yourself loving it and waking up each day with energy and motivation to learn. Really, let your imagination run wild with the visualization everyday and before you know it, you'll be doing it for real. It works for me...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bad News

     I am so bummed. Just found out that my Blissful ATC Swap partner for the August "Orange" swap got her envelope from me and it was already torn open with the ATC removed!!! What an awful surprise for both of us. Now I have to figure out what kind of lesson I'm supposed to get out of this incident...after I get over my sadness and anger, of course. Sheesh, why, oh, why? Well as I posted on my partners blog, I sure hope whoever stole it loves art and the color orange! Glad I took a photo before I sent it off...at least I have a record of it...big sigh...

Back to School

Wild Woman Sketch
     Classes started on Monday. Got my books, schedule and supplies ahead of time, for the most part, and headed back to school. I'm in the Web Developer program at the local community college, trying to juggle classes, homework, parenthood and marriage without breaking anything. I love school, I always have. I never tire of learning new things and you know what is really wonderful about being in my mid forties and being in school? I have discipline now. The ability to get to an 8 a.m. class on time and prepared. The motivation to make time to do my homework, all of it, and turn it in on time. Even the parts of the courses I don't love, I'm putting my all into them. I wish I had felt this way when I did college the first time around. But being 18, 19, 20 and 21, I wanted to have fun and get my college degree. The classes I didn't like so much, I blew off or dropped. But I was also full of indecision. I was overwhelmed by all the choices, like one of those buffets I've heard about on cruise ships. I changed my major at least four times before I finally decided on IPC, Interpersonal and Public Communications. And regretably, I have to say that IPC is a fabulous minor but not such a good choice for a major. But I'm not going to go there right now, let's just let sleeping dogs lie, eh?
     Let's talk about my classes, I love them! I have 2-D art, Web Animation, Web Design I and Programming and Logic. When I pack up my books for my long day on campus, it must weigh twenty pounds! Well, after you add the weight of my laptop and purse, it must be close to that. All I know is that I am getting a workout hauling my crapola around campus. Hope I don't pull anything just shoving it all into the car. I wish I had a locker there somewhere, it would make my life a lot easier. I'm thinking I need to downsize on the purse part, I could probably knock off three pounds just by purging that baby alone. I don't really need anything except my license, CC and lipstick, right? Yup, that is my next move. Of course, I could also start going to the gym again, lift weights and build some muscle, that would really be the smart thing to do...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Orange ATC Swap Part ll, End of Summer and School

     This is the ATC I sent for the Orange challenge this month. I created it using all the visual journal techniques I learned in Teesha Moore's class in July. Lots of layering of paint, collage, artist crayons, markers and gel pens. I had a ball making it too. As I said earlier, I was not a big fan of orange when I was younger, which is an understatement. But I love it now and love working with it in jewelry, beads, visual journal and now ATCs.
     Summer has been flying by, but I feel that way every year in August. It actually came early this year, started at the end of April, which is normally unheard of in these northern Michigan parts. I'm grateful for it, the winters are hard on me. I don't have arthritis or other physical health issues, but mentally, I seem to get somewhat depressed. And this is in direct correlation to the length of the winter season and lack of sunlight. Some years are worse than others. I've got my fingers crossed though. I'll be in school this winter, like last winter and that made a huge difference.
     And speaking of school, classes start today, I'm soooo excited, feel like an 18 years old college student again instead of a 44 year old. I always loved school and learning, that hasn't changed a bit. Today, I have and art class, "2D Design." Got the required art supplies, parking permit, bottled water and even a snack bar. I'm prepared and spinning like a top, mentally. So more about today later, time to hit the road and get my education on!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Orange ATC Swap

      I received my ATC from the Blissful ATC Swap two days ago, but haven't had a chance to take a photo till yesterday. My swap partner this month went all out! First I opened the envelop and there was a gorgeous handmade card with lots of layers and stamped sunflowers, so cool! Then I opened the card and inside there was another lovely handmade "tag," with ribbon, rhinestones and machine stitching with a pocket that was holding the ATC. And then I pulled the ATC out and it was just beautiful, as you can see. "Orange Dream" is the title and I just love it! Thank you so much Linda R.!!! She wrote that this was her first ATC, if you can believe it, I can't, it is just perfect. I've only made two, so she got my second ATC ever...so fun to be trading with others that are new to ATCs like me. I photographed each component of what Linda sent me so you can see how fun it was to find so many treasures in one envelop!
      I will post a photo of the ATC I created for Linda after she posts it on her blog, which is in keeping with the rules of the Blissful ATC Swap. Orange use to be one of my least favorite colors, but as I've grown older, I find myself drawn to orange and using it often. Orange brings out so many other colors, like purple, blue, green and yellow. I love to mix it with pink and red too. Having once avoided orange like the plague, I now find that I can't live without it. My favorite color is still white, followed closely by turquoise, but orange is in my top five now. Melon, pumpkin, 
mango, carrot, peach, squash, sunset... there are so many shades and tones of orange, what's not to love? Of course, I don't wear orange very often, hard to find orange clothing in the right shade and style for some reason that doesn't look "Halloween." I should also mention that although the tag with the pocket that Linda sent me looks rather pink in the photos, it is actually a lovely shade of peach and orange, don't know why it photographed so pink. I'll play around with it in Photoshop and see if I
can improve the color without wrecking the other pieces.
    If you are interested in joining in the swap, there is a link in my sidebar, check it out, they are welcoming everyone to participate, isn't that cool?  So do something with orange today, play around and see if it doesn't make your favorite color "pop!"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Drive by posting...

The "pods" in the "hive."
     I just discovered Shape The Hive," an online experiment in collaborative art. You can upload a photo or take a quick web cam video so that your image moves. It is hard to explain, so if you are remotely interested in participating in this incredible experiment, check it out! I should warn you, you have a limited amount of participation, like five I think. So don't start getting the hang of it on your sixth submission, like yours truly, lol. Fun to browse through all the other submissions too.  Have fun!

Foodie Friday the 13th

Bacon at last!
     It had to happen sooner or later. Foodie Friday had to land on a Friday the 13th. Yup, that's today. I'm not superstitious by nature, not sure why, but I'm not. And then there is the fact that my first child was born on a Friday the 13th, being delivered by Dr. Damien, no joke, lol. And, it was a full moon. He's a good kid, loving, gifted and handsome without any strange birthmarks or issues with entering churches. Did I mention he loves to cook! Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let's move onto the foodie part of this post.
     As you can see, I finally got to have some bacon. After two months without it, I ate all four crispy, smoky, salty and savory slices this morning. My hubby and I went out to breakfast at the Green House Cafe. I ordered two poached eggs, hash browns, bacon, toasted English muffin and decaf coffee. I didn't finish even half the hash browns and only had one slice of my muffin, but I did polish off the rest. The bacon was heaven, and my food soul did a big happy dance as I savored each crispy bite! However, I don't plan on eating bacon more than once a month now, I believe that my gall bladder issues were a wake up call and I am going to take good care of my temple, only indulging in things like bacon and butter on occasion instead of daily or weekly. This body has to last me a long time since I have a lot of things I want to accomplish with my life. One lifetime isn't enough, so I have to make this one last as long as possible. I'll be eating turkey bacon if I need a fix and Eggbeaters more often than not, which I happen to like.
     So let's talk about great places to check out for breakfast in Traverse City. Green House Cafe and Opa's are great places to get the basics, with good prices. I once got Opa's to make me chili fries with a fried or poached egg on top for breakfast, it was amazing! Of course, I don't know when I'll ever order it again, since it is not in any way, shape or form, a healthy breakfast.  Cuppa Joe's Warehouse Lounge is located in the Warehouse District and offers unique breakfast selections. I loved their Low Country Shrimp and Grits, a little spicy but so delicious. I think they took it off the menu though, but they still offer things like Migas(scrambled eggs with tortillas), Creme Brulee Oatmeal(to die for) and a wonderful French toast. They are currently closed for reorganization, just saw the sign today, so not sure when they will be open again and what the new menu will look like, but I hope it is still wonderful. Scott's Harbor Grill is on the bay, so the view is spectacular. They also have a more unique breakfast menu with moderate prices. Fresh food with a view, you can't beat it. Rico's is located between Traverse City and Interlochen. They have potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream, and I love them. Once in a while the pancakes are a little burned, but they are usually fabulous. I like to go there just for those, but they also have a wonderful
Churro Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche and Whipped Cream
waitress, Carol, who knows how to take care of her customers. More breakfast posts on another Friday because there are more good places to check out and a recipe for Huevos Rancheros I want to share... If you need a foodie blog fix, I love, love, love this blog, And All The Trimmings, it has wonderful photos and recipes, I like to check it out several times each week. Check out the Churro Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche and Whipped Cream. I know they aren't your typical breakfast food, but I subscribe to the Bill Cosby school of breakfast...it has eggs, flour, milk...breakfast.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mermaids and Insomnia

Lampwork Glass Mermaid Bead
     For some reason, I've had some issues with insomnia the last few days. Instead of lamenting all night long, I try to think about some things that I don't seem to have time or quiet to think about during the day. One particular idea that has been swimming around my brain for several years is a book series about mermaids. I have become a bit obsessed with mermaids over the last several years and think they would make a wonderful basis for a series of books for tweens and teens. I love just thinking about the story lines and backgrounds while laying in bed, letting my mind wander and play with all the possibilities. Of course, the next step is to start writing it down in bits and pieces. I've written some, but need to tackle it again since lately I've come up with lots of new ideas and story lines. Soon, soon...
     The bead you see above is one of my own lampwork glass beads. The mermaid is swimming around the outside of the bead, you can see her tail just to the left and she has lovely silvered ivory hair cascading through the water. I created a series of these, this one being my favorite. She was part of a multi-strand necklace. I said was, because after I had the piece professionally photographed, I dropped her and she broke. I dropped her on concrete from about four feet up, that  is what happens with glass. She took me about 2 1/2 hours to create, so I was very sad when she broke, but it is a reason to get back on the torch sometime and make another lovely piece. Loren Stump, a teacher I had at one time, said, "it's only glass," and I try to remember that when I lose something I really like. He lost a humongous glass sculpture that dropped at a show, worth thousands of dollars and that is what he told everyone who came by to see what had happened. Keeps it all in perspective.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More Recovery and School

     On Monday I had stomach polyps removed and took a couple days for me to feel like myself again. Today is that day actually. Something about anesthesia, it wipes me out for a couple days instead of just one. My daughters' graduation party was on Saturday and we had perfect weather. It was an 80's themed dance party. All the kids dressed up and she gave out prizes for biggest hair and best costume. My wonderful parents made tamales, beans, rice, tostada and taco shells for the buffet. I helped with the meat for the tacos and made some fruit pizzas for dessert. We had a great time visiting with friends and family and the next day several of my daughter's friends helped to clean up and take down the decorations. I should mention that she had some friends help to decorate before the party as well. Now we are sort of back to normal, although in the summer, we don't really have a "normal." We come and go as we please, no real bedtimes or wake times. I'd love to get out and pick some blueberries this week, maybe on Friday, we'll see if the weather cooperates.
     I've registered for all my web design classes at the college and paid up on my tuition, ouch. But I'm fortunate to be paying in state tuition at a community college, otherwise, I could only afford to take one or two classes a semester and it would take me forever to get where I want to be. I have four classes this semester. Intro to web design, which focuses on using Dreamweaver as far as I can tell. I also have an animation class which I assume will focus on using Flash and Fireworks programs. Then there is 2-D design, an art class, which I am excited to be taking and hope I can grasp. Pray for me and the right side of my brain please. Finally, I have Programming and Logic, an introduction to computer programming, another class where I could use some prayers. All in all, it is eleven credits, two more than last semester. I was swamped then, but I worked hard to get the most out of  each class and really tried to absorb as much as possible. I want to "own" these new skills and be able to use them when I need them. I wish I'd felt this way when I was in college the first time. Why does it take so long for some of us to mature? I wish I knew. But I'm here now and ready to work my booty off...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teacup Tuesday

Pansy Cup and Saucer
     Welcome to Teacup Tuesday! This is one of my Pansy teacups. I actually have an entire set of dishes in this pattern that I absolutely adore. I had found several pieces of this USA pattern here and there, but found a huge set with lots of pieces including dinner plates, berry bowls, vegetable bowls, platters in two sizes, a gravy boat, creamer, lidded sugar and of course teacups and saucers. I got lucky since it was half off and quite a great bargain at a local resale shop. I've been collecting pansy dishes for years and have other individual pansy items, but this set of dishes is one of my favorites. I like to pair these dishes with the green block optic depression glass dishes I have, they look beautiful together on the table. Not all, but some of the pieces have USA impressed into the back, so I assume they are all made in the USA, but not sure about their history, though I have googled it and tried to find out when they were made and where. If you have any idea, I love to know more about them.
    Thanks for stopping by, hope you have a most lovely and charming day! If you click on the Teacup Tuesday link in my sidebar, it will take you to the master list of participants this week.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Feeling Better, Baking and Journaling

Orange Pecan Muffins
     So far so good. I keep feeling better each day and thanks to my Mom and family, I think I'll be in great shape by next weekend for my daughter's graduation party. The morning seems to be the roughest time for me, the incisions ache then, but after some motrin and moving around, they feel much better by noon. Since I have to spend time upright, but can't go far, I spent some time baking today. Orange Pecan Muffins and a "cherry" version of Carrot Raisin Bread, both recipes featured in the October 1998 issue of "Cooking Light" magazine. Although both recipes are low in fat, I think the Carrot Raisin Cherry bread came out much better than the muffins. I replaced the raisins in the bread with dried cherries from Benjamin Twiggs
Cherry Carrot Quick Bread
and used Eggbeaters in place of the one egg in both recipes. The bread tasted a lot like carrot cake, my hubby loved it! The muffins were just ok, kind of on the dry side and not very flavorful, maybe they needed the fat from that one yolk. Still, I made an orange glaze for the muffins and that did make them better. It tired me out though, I had to go lay down after all that baking!
     I pulled out my visual journal train case full of art supplies for a while today. I worked on some of my pages in the journal I created in Teesha Moore's class. It felt good to play again. I hope to start using it daily now that I'm feeling up to it. So many things I want to do, this surgery stuff is so very inconvenient! Also need to get ready for the Wine, Food and Art show on the 21st this month. Right after my daugher's party I'll be in jewerly fabrication mode. So short post today, off to work on the "Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken" with my mom...hope it tastes as good as it looks...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Recovery and Foodie Friday

     It is now Friday and I've been on the mend since Tuesday from my gall bladder surgery. I've been so lucky to have my mom here helping me out with everything. She is such a trooper! The little incisions were especially painful the first few days, but are just "sore" now. I'm only taking motrin, the darvocet made me feel way too woozy and loopy. Never been a fan of those narcotic type pain killers. I've spent time watching movies and sleeping, getting up to walk around several times a day as directed. I miss sleeping on my side, but won't be long I'm sure. I am itching to work on my visual journal, but the position I have to sit in just isn't conducive, same with the ATC's, so just biding my time till I can play with my stuff again too. I've been reading through a wonderful Cooking Light cookbook I have, since the gall bladder thing is what I consider a wake up call from a higher power concerned about the direction I've been taking with my diet and nutrition. So, in an effort
Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken
to make some smarter choices in the future, I'm getting into the spirit with some great new recipes. There is a wonderful Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken recipe I can't wait to try and another chicken pot pie recipe I know my family will love. They are pretty good about eating most of what I make, no matter what country has inspired the dish, so I'm lucky, or they are, however you choose to look at it.

     I also ordered some new spices from The Spice House, which I mentioned last Friday, I was out of tarragon and chipotle chile powder. But now that I think about it, it's Friday and that means time to mention some of my favorite foodie
places/stuffs. If you are in Traverse City, and you love to cook, don't miss Folgarelli's, Mary's Kitchen Port or Oryana, which is the local food co-op. Mary's offers some wonderful food to go, like their Ceaser Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Spaetzle soup and Maytag Bleu Cheese Slaw, all wonderful goodies. They also have some fantastic cooking equipment and great knives. And there is the chocolate case, gorgeous bon bons to give or indulge in yourself.
     Folgarelli's is another foodie landmark in Traverse City. They have the best selection of imported cheeses and Italian meats or charcuterie. They also have a great selection of olive oils and pastas and offer sandwiches to go as well, though I have never bought one myself, my hubby has and really likes them. The shop has old wooden floors and is always a fun stop, though I never get out of there without spending at least $40. But you can't keep me away.
     Oryana is the last place I'll mention. It is a huge co-op and offers lots of excellent organic and local produce as well as bulk grains, dried fruits and nuts. They have the best yogurts in town, homemade dolmas, hummus and specialty juices. I also never leave that place without spending at least $40, but I get a decent amount of food for that. Their international food stuffs are extensive too, whether I need Japanese, Indian or Mexican ingredients. And they have a lovely little cafe where you can grab a quick bite of something delicious, I love it.
     So there is my list of great foodie places for today. Hope you get a chance to check them out someday.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Scoping and Subconscious Battling

     Yesterday was filled with nothing but clear fluids and my colonoscopy prepping, so if that doesn't sound remotely interesting to you, I advise you to skip my blog for the next couple of days, since I'll be consumed by my scoping procedures and gall bladder removal. Fun stuff...
The procedure this morning, scoping top and bottom made me anxious all week, even though I heard that you don't remember it at all and feel no pain after, usually, but still, seems so invasive to me. Anyway, I was a good patient, followed the prep to the letter and arrived on time this morning at 9 a.m. They got me right in, gowned up and placed the IV port in my arm. Then I walked to the room where I would have the procedure, and was given a "shot" to knock back of anesthesia for my throat. I had to gargle with it first and then drink it. It was a clear thin liquid that tasted like anebesol, delish! Almost couldn't swallow it! There were two nurses in the room and one called the other the "bartender," the one who handed me the shot, so I told her "no tip!" Then I lay down on my side, feeling like there was a lump in my throat from the nasty anesthesia and trying to swallow anyway. When the Dr. arrived, he squirted some cherry flavored anesthesia on my vocal cords, twice, since I didn't open up wide enough the first time, and I gagged both times on that stuff...but it was at least cherry flavored right?
     Back onto my side, they hooked up the anesthesia to the IV port and I don't remember anything else about the procedure. The next thing I know, my hubby's face is close by and it is time to go home, yeah. I was sooo woozy! He had to help me big time. As soon as we got home, I went to bed and slept for at least 2-3 hours, I'm not sure. Next thing I know, my nurse is quietly knocking on my door, my mother actually, she came to take care of me this week while hubby has to work. I got up and still felt very woozy. Spent the day sitting around, trying to let the slightly drunk feeling pass, without much success. No pain whatsoever though, would never know I had the scoping done today. The results: colon is all clear (yeah!)but they found a paraesophogeal hernia and some polyps in my stomach. Of course I've never had any problems with my digestion or heart burn, save for during my pregnancies after the fourth month, so don't know what's next regarding those things.
     And now to my incredible subconscious battle. My hubby tells me that the nurse told him that because my gag reflex wasn't quite under control and that I was gagging, I was trying to get off the table! Yup, even sedated, out of my head, my body knew something wrong was being done to it and it tried to fight back. I was so glad to hear that,  you have no idea. My self knows to get itself out of a bad situation, even under sedation. I, of course, have no recollection of this insane event, me in my gown, with a plastic thing stuck in my mouth to protect my teeth, hooked up to a pressure cuff on one arm, an IV on the other, doing my best to overcome two nurses and a Dr...wish they had videotaped it. I'm so proud of me!
     Getting ready now for my 5:30 a.m. curtain call at the hospital for my gall bladder removal. Special soap I have to shower with tonight and tomorrow morning, no food or drink after midnight(I'm not a gremlin!), and then getting up with the sunrise, so that makes two from my list of four that I want to see on my list of "44 things I want to do before I turn 45." I think I'll add "have something removed from my body" too now...
     And lastly, the photo up top is the ATC card I sent to my partner this month. Created with water color, acrylics, gold leaf, collage and marker.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Berry Picking and Freezer Jam

Newly picked black caps (black raspberries)
      Still hot and humid this morning when we got up, so we were lazy about getting on the road to pick berries and got a late start. My DH and I took our youngest and headed to Putney's in Benzonia, to pick black caps, golden raspberries and red raspberries, we thought. We packed up our tray and bowls along with a cooler for our booty, so we were all set. When we got to the patch, we realized that there was only a smidge of goldens, gooseberries and almost no red raspberries left! They were so dried out, all this heat we have had just did a number on them. However, there were still a lot of good looking black caps, or black raspberries to be had, which have become my favorite type of raspberry, so lucky me! We picked till our fingers looked like we'd just murdered someone, very red and dripping with 
goldens, reds, blackberries and gooseberrie
juice because some of the berries were overripe and just burst in our fingers. My youngest made a new friend and picked a few of the other kinds of berries that were in very short supply.
     After we got home, we cooled off, because we were exhausted from the heat and humidity, and later in the evening, I made some freezer jam and then froze the rest, about 4 pints or more for later. I picked out the best goldens and made a half jar of jam in the microwave. The rest will be made into a mixed berry jam tomorrow. I love picking fruit and canning, so this would normally be a really fun day all the way around, but we were just dying by the time we finished! I hope the weather cools a bit or at least the humidity dies down a bit so we can get back out for blueberries, which are ready and black berries, which will be ready in another week or two. On my blog post with the list of "44 things to do before I turn 45," I have "can ten different" things on the list, which means that after tonight I have three down with seven more to go.
     If you are interested in picking your own fruits and veggies in Northwest Michigan, check out the pdf, Taste the Local Difference which has a great directory by county of all the U-pick farms in the area.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Foodie Friday

     So from now on I've decided to post my favorite food finds on Fridays. I had fun on facebook last night chatting about foodstuffs and it makes me want to talk about it some more of course! With my restricted diet (until after my gall bladder surgery and recovery next week), I am more than happy to just "talk" about food for now. Let me start with some of my favorite places to get "the goods." Number one is Benjamin Twiggs. They are the oldest purveyor of cherry products in Michigan. The very best dried cherries I've ever tasted, and I have conducted my own taste test to be sure, along with Cherry Festival Preserves, Cherry Salsa and Cherries Foster. The Cherry Festival Preserves are not so sweet as others I've tried and full of tart cherries, I love it on toast, muffins, between layers of cake, in cookies and with some balsamic vinegar, melted and cooked down as a sauce for pork and poultry. They have other lovely foods too, a light and delicious Cherry Poppyseed Vinaigrette, Cherry Honey Mustard and Black Cherry Preserves among other fabulous things. I love it all and send it to family for Christmas. And they ship everywhere!
     Another place I love to visit is Fustini's. They offer the most incredible selection of flavored/infused balsamic vinegars and infused olive oils that I have ever had. I currently own "Wild Mushroom and Sage" and "Persian Lime" olive oils and "Pineapple," "Cherry," "Peach" and "Ginger Honey" balsamics. These are amazing on salads, veggies, meats, desserts (the balsamics), you name it. When you go in the shop, they have "tastings" and it just blows you away, you want to drink it and bathe in it too, quite the experience.And I am not exaggerating in the least!
     Lastly today, I am a huge fan of the The Spice House in Milwaukee. They have other locations in the area, but just a couple. When I used to attend the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, I would stop there and load up on spices and dried herbs. My favorites from them include their Garam Masala, a fabulous Indian mixture that is unique to their shops, their own Maharajah style Curry Powder (this stuff is amazing in pumpkin soup!), the exquisite grade paprika (not always available), Himalayan Pink salt, dried Green Bell Pepper and Cocoa Nibs. They also ship, so I have ordered online whenever I run out of my favorites.
     That's it for today. Hope you get a chance to check these places out, even if you don't like to cook, they offer gifts for family and friends that do! Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blissful ATC Swap update 2

     So today my very first ATC arrived in the mail! I love it, thank you Francie!!! And guess what? I have lost my camera...I took it to a restaurant on Tuesday evening and haven't seen it since that evening. I think I left it in my hubby's rental car, which is with him, and it is probably under the seat. I called the restaurant and no camera...oh say a little prayer everyone, even though my flash is on the fritz, I do love my little camera. The photo is with my phone camera, not too bad. Our theme this month was "sisters."  The back of the ATC says "Sister by birth or by bond we travel lifes road together." It is an acrylic painting, isn't it just wonderful?!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Art o Mat

     Well if this isn't just the most amazing and cool idea! Someone has gone and refurbished old cigarette machines and turned them into "art" vending machines! Apparently they are all over the US and world. $1 gets you an original piece of art about the size of a pack of cigarettes! I see there is one down in Ferndale, Michigan, so next time I'm down that way I'm going to see if I can find it! The website has a listing of locations and a great little gallery with photos of the refurbished machines, which are fabulous pieces of art themselves! Go on, check out Art O Mat.

p.s. Just informed that the price has gone up to $5.00, but still a deal for a piece of art in my opinion!

Blissful ATC Swap update

Orange Inspiration
    I had so much fun creating my first ATC over the weekend, can't wait to see what comes in the mail this week! Our theme this month was "sisters." Next month it is "orange," a color that has become one of my favorites the older I get, isn't that strange? Orange was one of my least favorite colors for years, but over the last ten years, it has become one I love, so vibrant and happy, and it looks great with blues, purples, yellows, greens...you name it. Although I have a bazillion things to do now that I'm home, I will be making time to start the new ATC and to work in my new visual journal!!!
     I have another photo from the workshop this past weekend. One taken at Thai Chili, it is a group of students I had lunch with. I met Bailey from Paw Paw, Michigan at the workshop and we had lunch together a couple times. It is hard when you take a workshop for so many days and don't know anyone, thankfully Bailey was happy to get to know me and risk having lunch with me too...we always had good food and fun.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy Jigg...

     Back from my adventures in Visual Journaling. Although it was a seven day expedition, it felt like a whirlwind escapade. Of course I squeezed in an overnight with one of my oldest and best friends Maggie, a four day stay at a lovely B&B on Lake Erie, a three day workshop with Teesha Moore and an overnight visit with my wonderful parents...I do seem to pack a lot of living into my days.

    First photo is of me and Maggie at Anita's Kitchen in Ferndale. We had some excellent food here, Greek salad, hummus and a spinach and cheese pizza, can't wait to go back again after my ridiculous gall bladder is removed and I'm all healed up! We also stopped at Utrecht's, an art supply store where I finally found a bookbinders awl. The A/C was out and I wondered if any of the oil based art supplies would suffer any "melting" or "separation." Guess I'll never know. It was just wonderful to catch up. Maggie was my maid of honor when I got married and is also my oldest son's godmother. But all my kids call her Aunt Maggie and she doesn't forget any of their birthdays, she is amazing! She has two cats that
I really like, Joey, the grey tabby, who is very young and funny and Finnbar, black and white, who is twelve and quite tolerant of the "kitten." Joey launched himself at my bedroom door after I went to bed and actually got it almost open, even with a weight leaned against it! Maggie says he likes to bring toys to bed, lol, and I needed to get some sleep. Finnbar is very cool and laid back, and they both adore Maggie. My flash is still on the fritz, so the kitty photos are grainy, but you can still get a good look at them.
          So although there is more to my adventure, I'm going to switch gears and mention one of my all time favorite shows, "Pushing Daisies." I'm watching some old episodes on Netflix for the Wii and I have to say, I am soooo very sad they canceled this show. It is so clever, creative and just plain fabulous! Why oh why is it gone now? The sets were so colorful and surreal, I wish I could live in them. And the whole "Pie Hole" shop is just so yummy, makes me want to eat pie everyday. It is such a fun and absolutely delightful show, it never fails to inspire me and leave me feeling happy and joyful. And the colors, the scenes are drenched with it, bursting with outrageous and decadent color! If you get a chance to watch one of the episodes, you'll see exactly what I mean. A delicious immersion into a world of mystery and make-believe...like Alice in Wonderland in some ways...I think I'll go dive back into another one!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Teesha, Thunderstom and Page Updates

     Day three of Teesha Moore's class and we worked on lettering and actually writing in our journals. I was still wrapped up in "collage" mode and had a hard time switching to writing. I wanted to write on my pages after I got home, when it is harder to do collage but easy to write with the time and space I have. Teesha was very kind and gave me lots of positive feedback, so I feel like I am on the right track. She very tolerantly allowed me to have a photo taken, something she does not enjoy, lol, but I can be a pain in the patootie when I want something. The woman with us is Sue. We are both staying at the bed and breakfast and met there the first night. We have been sitting next to each other in class and working on our journals back at the B&B each evening. She has taken a bazillion classes in all sorts of collage and visual journal type
techniques. She knows all the teachers and has participated in ATC swaps for quite a while and has a big collection. I really enjoyed hearing about all her experiences. A very talented and generous person I'm very glad to have met!
     I'm posting a few more photos of journal pages that I further embellished. It was fun to add the pen and marker details, though I always feel like I am not "done."  I only wrote a few things on a couple pages, so they will still develop further after I get home. If you ever have the chance to take a class with Teesha, I highly recommend it. She is a little on the shy side and does not really socialize with students over lunch or dinner, but she is very generous with her gifts and talents and shares it all. What more could a student ask for?
     After we got back to the ranch, a storm blew in over Lake Erie. It was very cool, though I couldn't catch any of the lightening with my camera. The clouds were still very scary though.  I could see the sheets of rain falling over the lake in the distance, like curtains, it was very cool. The front that came though brought a big wind too, knocking over the lounge chairs that were empty next to us. But did we run inside? No way, didn't want to miss the show of course. After the storm moved on, there was a fabulous rainbow and a stunning sunset. There is something so magical about a colorful sunset. It is awe inspiring as well as creative soul food. I wanted to swim in the colors that appeared tonight, though that may sound silly, that is the thought that popped into my head at the time.

     Lastly tonight, I finished up my first ATC, artist trading card, for my first swap, which has to be mailed out tomorrow! Talk about cutting it close. I had fun with it and will post photos next week. I have to wait till the recipient receives it before I can share a photo. So all in all, a tremendous day full of art, fun and beauty...life it good.

     And a Happy Birthday to my brother Rick!

Class, China Gate and Early Pages

     Today's second class with Teesha Moore was spent adding collage to the painted pages of our journals. I had cut up lots of pages and images before I left home, so I was well prepared. We also spent time learning about using various markers, pencils and Panpastels. The Sharpie Poster Paint markers are Teesha's favorites and of course I had zero of those. However, she brought some for us to work with and after class I headed over to Michael's craft store and bought a couple to use. We had homework tonight. To add lots of details with markers, gel pens, sharpies and pencils. I worked on a couple pages, but felt so fried, I didn't get as far as I would have liked. More tomorrow though.
     For lunch a few of us went to Mark Pi's China Gate, which was just a short walk from our class. The food was excellent, we all agreed. Very fresh and beautifully presented. I ordered Chicken and Snow Peas with some brown rice. The restaurant sign was really cool though. A light up mask that resembles a Mexican "luchador." My photos of the sign and food came out fuzzy, sorry about that, but my flash is not charging properly and the darker photos are not so crisp. Or I was moving when I took the photos, either way, they are fuzzy.
     I'm posting a few pages from the new journal before they have any shading, pen/marker details or words. So when you see them tomorrow, you'll see how much more was added to really bring them to life. I love this part, adding all the details and designs to modify the collage and really make it something more personal and vibrant. These should all be finished or almost finished by tomorrow night.
     A couple things about what we learned today. The Panpastels are cool, but expensive and some of the markers that Teesha likes do not write well on top of them. I have been using the Caran d'Arche Neocolor II Artist Crayons to add the shading to my pre-Teesha class journal pages with no problems adding any marker or pen details, so I think I am going to keep using what
works for me. I adore these crayons now that I have discovered then and hope to have the entire palette
someday, but they are pricey. I notice that a lot of the nicer art supplies are on the pricey side, but I really believe that for the most part, you get what you pay for.
     Teesha also talked about Derwent colorsoft pencils, which I also do not have, but will purchase tomorrow with my lucky 40% off coupon. She wasn't a huge fan of Prismacolors, although my son left his entire set at home that I could easily confiscate. Another point Teesha made was not to "overthink" the collage pieces. She works instinctively and because of that, she works fast! It was great to see how her mind was working as she created pieces as examples for the rest of us. You really have to let go of "shoulds" and "shouldn't," and just play, have fun and go crazy...
at least that is what I got out of it. This is a perfect activity for someone who doesn't like to do the same thing over and over. And there is so much potential in everything. Menus, cards, newspapers, magazines programs, you name it, you can cut if up and use it. Of course, you don't want to become a "hoarder!"
     Lastly, the rain came this evening. Lots of dark clouds rolled in and I could see the rain falling over Lake Erie in the distance, it was very cool. Then the lightening jumped in and lit up the sky. Lucky for us, no power loss or other weather related problems. Hope weather is all cleared up for my drive home on Monday...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Teesha, Thai and Sunsets

     So today's class with Teesha Moore  started with the process of bookbinding. I have never done this before and it was challenging for a newbie, a labor of love is what I'm calling it. I'm sure it will get easier each time I make one, though I don't know how many I'll make, I may just continue to create visual journal pages and bind them up at a later date in a different way, we'll see. This first photo is the front of my new journal and the second photo is the back. I don't know if you can tell, but it is very dimensional. Several of the images, though not all, were glued to foam, just plain black fun foam, and then cut out and glued to the surface. They look very cool in person, I love it!
There are several of my own lampwork glass beads dangling as charms on the side. So glad I could incorporate some of them. We also painted as many of the interior pages as we could get to in the time allotted. I got fourteen pages, front and back painted, but still have one more page left. And although I have taken these photos of the journal covers, they are not quite finished. I still have embellishing to do using some markers and gel pens. Dots, swirls and stripes...so I'll be updating these photos eventually.
     We had a little escape for lunch, headed over to a most excellent little Thai restaurant called Thai Chili. I had an order of fresh basil rolls, similar to 
Vietnamese spring rolls, but with lots of fresh basil and no red meat. With a side of rice and a glass of cool Jasmine ice tea, it was a perfect lunch. I met a very nice woman from Paw Paw, Michigan and we walked over to have lunch together with another group of women in the class. They haven't taken any time to introduce everyone, I wish they would. Although we have name tags, we don't know where everyone is from or anything about what they do, it would be nice.
     Finally, got back to the B & B, had my half sandwich from last night's dinner for dinner with a glass of Chianti and then watched the sun go down. What a gorgeous sunset!  The sun became the most intense shade of neon orange as it hit the horizon, a color I've never seen before in all the sunsets I've watched in Traverse City and Austin. It was absolutely surreal. Sue, another student staying at the B & B agreed, so it isn't just me. I hope I get to see another one tomorrow and maybe at least one sunrise? Though that probably happens on the other side of the house. We'll see if I can get my booty up out of bed at 5:30 a.m....can't wait for tomorrow's class!