Saturday, April 30, 2011

Let the Sketching Begin!

I was so excited last night when I received my official 2012 Sketchbook Project  sketchbook in the mail!  The sketchbook is a lot smaller than I thought it would be, although I'm not sure what I was expecting.  I'm really glad it's on the smaller side for several reasons.  The first being that it's very compact.  But the main  reason is, it's less intimidating for me to work on a smaller scale.  Less space to fill!  The theme that I chose for my book is "Above The Line"...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dotee Gnomes - Sneak Peek

So, I'm hosting another swap over at Milliande.  This time I'm hosting a Gnome Dotee Doll swap.  Here's a sneak peek of my dolls in progress.  I'm in the midst of the fun part...embellishing with beads! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Be Not The Slave To Your Own Past

Oh how I LOVE Asian art, furniture and food.  I strongly attribute this to my upbringing.  Any of my close friends would tell you that I could eat Asian food (Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, etc) every day for the rest of my life and NEVER get bored.  I was actually raised on  Asian food.  Weird coming from a family whose heritage is Italian, Portuguese & Irish!  Funny thing is, we were never without a very large cotton sack of rice purchased straight from Chinatown...and I learned to use chopsticks probably before I could even walk!  Our house was also filled with Asian art and furniture.  I'm guessing the strong influence dates back to my father who was raised by a Filipino stepfather who he absolutely adored.  "A quiet loving man who taught me everything I needed to know about life and cooking" as my father used to put it!  So there you have it...the roots are planted and love is born!

As a result, I find that I love to work with Asian stamps, the color red and Geisha's.  And, so here you have it, an art journal page I've been tinkering with today....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekly Book Review - Art at the Speed of Life

Being a HUGE fan of mixed media artist Pam Carriker, I could not wait to get my hands on a copy of her latest book Art at the Speed of Life and it did not disappoint.  It's filled with practical advice on how to create without getting bogged down with too many supplies (I didn't think there was such a thing..who knew!) & too little time; it's filled with inspiration and step by step instructions (even visuals...yaaaaay!) on how to create certain affects/pieces.  I like it!  I really do!

I must confess that I have yet to actually put any action to some of the advice or projects, but I'm confident that I will. One sure sign that I really like the book is that it has a spot in my work bag along with my travel art kit.  I'm pretty sure that it will remain in my bag for the next couple of weeks where I can get to it during sloooooooow times at work when I need a little art pick me up!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Bunny Dotee Swap - UPDATE

Yaaaaay!  As if receiving my Help Japan birds wasn't enough to put a huge smile on my face today...also in my mailbox were the dotees I received as part of the Easter Bunny Dotee Swap.  I must say they are even MORE fabulous in person.  I frankly didn't think it was possible!  What I love about the 3 of them together is that they are all so different...which makes them even more spectacular. 

Aren't they fabulous?!

 Monica S. from Australia

Fiona R. from Australia

Palma R. from Italy

My Help Japan Birds Have Landed!

I was so excited this afternoon when I went to my mailbox and there I found my precious "Help Japan" birds from the 1000 Birds Project just in time for Easter.  I cannot wait to give these away at Easter.  I think my family is really going to love them.  BUT, I'm keeping one sweet tweet just for me!

Foodie Friday - Pineapple Upside Down Cake & A Tradition

My mom wasn't the best or worst cook ever, but she made some things that truly became staples.  One of those staples was her Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  Easy, yummy and a recipe that requires only a handful of ingredients.  My kind of recipe!  She'd been making this cake ever since I could remember. 

When my brothers and I were kids we would pick at the edges of gooey-buttery-sugary-crust that forms at the base of the cake until it was gone.  At first she would get so mad at us for destroying her cake...later on in life she would be insulted if we didn't mangle the edges prior to the cake actually being served.  Ahhhhh...a tradition is born.  A tradition I have passed on to my friends and son.

I'll be serving this cake as one of my Easter desserts and everyone knows they are free to pick away.  In fact, I'll be insulted if they don't!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1 Package of Yellow Cake Mix with Pudding (& required cake mix ingredients)
1 1/2 Cups of Dark Brown Sugar (packed)
1 Cube of Butter
1 Large Can of Crushed Pineapple

Make cake according to instructions but substitute pineapple juice for water.  If not enough juice, add water.  Melt butter in cast iron pan.  Add sugar and blend until mixture is thick.  Layer pan with pineapple.  Pour cake batter over the top.  Bake according to cake instructions.  Check with toothpick.  Let set about 1 minute and turn onto plate.  Be careful...turning the cake is tricky and can result in sugar/butter burns if you're not careful. 

Pick away and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Badly Behaved Women Were Banished to Fig Leaf

How appropriate!

Despite my best effort to conceal the "boobies" of the "Well Behaved Women..." ATC's pictured below, they got sent away for being bad. 

I was advised today by a Milliande firefly (helper) that they got taken off of the site and placed on the Fig Leaf site where all the naughty pictures go.  I guess when you are naughty it doesn't matter how you try and conceal it...everyone knows!

SO THERE!  These ladies really are bad girls even with pasties on!  LOVE IT!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Sketchbook Project

I've been waiting for the 2012 Sketchbook Project to open up and here it is.  I signed up and CANNOT wait to get my sketchbook.  I chose "Along The Line" as my sketchbook theme...I already have sooooo many ideas flowing thru my head.  Can't wait to get my hands on my sketchbook to get going...before I forget my ideas!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

ATC Swaps - "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History"

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am hosting an ATC Swap over at Milliande entitled "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History" favorite quote of all time!  Well, this weekend I finally got around to making my cards.  Although I only really needed to make 2, I made for each of the participants.  It was quite the labor of love!

These ATC's got matching pasties compliments of photoshop!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

ATC Swap - Cats

Rachel from Australia just hosted an ATC Swap over at Milliande.  Here is my submission.  My tribute to the independent cat!  Anyone who has ever had a cat knows that we don't own cats...they own us!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Foodie Friday - Russian River Rice Salad

Nestled in the midst of California's beautiful wine country, but just a bit on the coast is a funky little town called Guerneville.  The Russian River flows right thru the center of town.  It's locals are eclectic, and diverse (see link) to put it mildly...and absolutely wonderful!  You can truly find all walks of life in this little town.  BUT, I caution, it's not a place for the narrow minded AT ALL, which is why I love it!  The locals range from serious hippies to the wine snobs to the absolute radical...radical as in fishing naked for example. There's a nickname for the locals...affectionately "River Rats"...and it suits them just fine.

I've been visiting Russian River ever since I was a little girl.  It's just such a magical little river.  Rustic, charming and peaceful.  In my adult years it has become a destination for our annual camping trip.  Every year about 30 family and friends get together and camp on the river one weekend in July (to celebrate my birthday!).  We spend an entire day at the river where we shoot the canoer's with water guns and always seem to capsize a few.  IT'S ALL OUT WAR!!!  The seasoned "riverites" know the score and wouldn't dare board a canoe without their water pistol.  I look forward to our annual trip every summer, thus this journal page...

We don't use your standard issue water guns.  These things shoot quite a few feet.  Distance is key when you are aiming at canoer's.   This is serious business, I told ya!

Conrad (my fella) and I set up chairs just before dusk right at the rivers edge so Conrad could fish.  He didn't catch anything but we had fun relaxing and laughing...we undoubtedly scared the fish away with all of our racket!

For the sake of this post, it all started in 2007 with a girls camping trip (sans kids and significant others!) to Russian River...

On this particular camping trip "us girls" were determined to be all out "foodies".  We enjoyed our sun filled days just lounging at the river, but our well coordinated dinners were certainly the highlight of the trip. We ate and "cocktailed" (nothing like a martini in the woods!) like a bunch of queens.  We also canoed for hours down the river too, so we earned it!  One of the notable side-dishes of  the weekend was my good friend Kari's rice dish...which after the weekend, became known as Russian River Rice Salad and is still referred to it that way to this day.  It's healthy, simple, fresh tasting and wonderful for warm weather months since it is great served cold. 

Russian River Rice Salad
1 Cup Water
1 tsp Salt Divided
1/2 Cup Long Grain Rice
6 T Fresh Lime Juice (about 2-3 limes)
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil - I use roasted garlic olive oil purchased from Costco.
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 Garlic Clove (cooked with rice)
1 Cup Rinsed & Drained Black Beans
1 Cup Fresh Corn Kernels (about 2 ears) - I usually grill them first instead of boiling them.
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro
Cook rice in water with garlic and 1/2 tsp salt.  Combine remaining salt, pepper, lime juice and olive oil in a large bowl.  Add rice and beans and toss.  Let stand 15 minutes to cool.  Stir in corn and cilantro.  Serve at room temperature.  Best the next day!  About 6 side servings.

A Very Special Butterfly Has Emerged

I've been working on this butterfly in between other projects and swaps for the last few months.  I'm happy to say I just completed it last night.  This one is pretty special to me as it's in honor of my mom (made with a scrap piece of her jeans).  She'd be happy to know that I made it in her name for The Butterfly Project - such an incredible project.  Unfortunately, this picture doesn't do it justice.  You can't really see how brilliantly the gold beads sparkle.

I'm going to be sad to watch it fly away to it's new home in Houston one day.  But it must eventually go shine amongst the 1.5M other butterflies...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weekly Book Review - The Journal Junkies Workshop (Scott/Modler)

While I think this book is good, I have not referred back to it since it's delivery last year.  Nor have I been inspired enough to actually read it cover to cover.  It's a book for artists who prefer a rough or crude journal page.  With that said (and I'm not being sexist here - I really enjoy the company of guys!!) it's just not a shocker that this was written by 2 guys.  It has a much different vibe as a result.  Don't get me wrong, it's filled with the standard art journaling tips and techniques...but they are presented amongst pages and pages of doodling reminiscent of my brother's high school Pee Chee folders (boy am I dating myself now!).  Bottom line, no girlie colorful eye candy here.  Just really cool "dude" doodling and good techniques...but nothing new and earth-shaking if you already have a few art journaling books.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Did You Know? Carbooting.

I came across this word (carbooting) today while cruising the net and decided to look it up.  Another slow day at work...what's a girl to do but research new words and phrases!  I had never heard of the phrase or saying "car booting".  Not sure if it's one word or two.  Perhaps my over-seas friends can set me straight on this technicality.  Anyway, here's the official definition:

Car boot/trunk sales or boot/trunk fairs are a mainly British form of market in which private individuals come together to sell household and garden goods.  The term refers to the selling of items from a car's boot (trunk). Although a small proportion of sellers are professional traders selling goods, or indeed browsing for items to sell, the goods on sale are often used but no longer wanted personal possessions. Car boot sales are a way of focussing a large group of people in one place to recycle still useful but unwanted domestic items that previously might have been thrown away. Car boot sales generally take place within the summer months, however a growing trend of indoor boot sales and all year hard-standing outdoor boot sales are now appearing in some parts of the UK. Items sold can include antiques and collectables, anything in fact that the person wishes to sell,[1] rather like a fleamarket. Car boot sales are also very popular in parts of Australia, and have a growing presence in Europe.

Who knew!  Sounds so much more appealing than the american equivalent..."fleamarket".

ATC Swap - Spring is in the Air

Kitty from the Netherlands just finished hosting an ATC swap entitled "Spring is in the Air".  Here are all of the wonderful submissions received for the swap.  My submission is in the first image (right hand side of the page) and the last image.  I had so much fun smashing the bottle caps to make my flowers.  A bit therapeutic, I must admit. This swap was a great way to welcome Spring! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Art Journal Page - Into the Eye of the Storm

About 2 months ago I played around with this background while watching my son at Kung Fu practice.  Nothing like doodling circles for an hour to get you relaxed and make the time pass.  I seem to have this thing for circles since they keep showing up on my journal pages.  It must be the fact that they have a sense of movement.  In this case, when all was said and done, the combination of circles seemed to simulate a storm or tornado. 

This weekend I revisted the background and the end result is a fun page...with emphasis on fun. Proportions are all distorted (her head and body) which I like and dislike at the same time.  Color is a bit dark and muddy, etc..  I'm learning to not let any of that matter as much.  Instead, I'm really trying to learn what I like and don't like, and the story that the page evokes in my head.  In this case, the character is walking into some kind of storm or chaos. I'm guessing by the looks of her, a self made storm or drama of some sort.

She kinda looks a bit "tarty" if you will.  I think she might be a member of a traveling circus or troop of some sort.  Hmmmm...what could the drama be about?  Or, maybe her and her troop are just traveling thru tornado alley on the way to their next stop.  Who knows...but it's fun imagining.

Art Journal Pages - Sisters Yet Worlds Apart...

Last Friday it was a super slooooooow day at work.  I mean so slow that I actually checked to make sure I didn't show up to work on a holiday.  No one seemed to be working (including my boss, although she did have a planned day off).  So, I really had NO OTHER CHOICE but to play around in my journal while answering the occasional call or email.

Luckily, about a week ago, I spent a couple of hours prepping all the pages with acrylic paint so my journal was ready to go...just in time for this slow day.  It was fate!

This is what I ended up with.   Aesthetically, I like many parts of it, and of course, some parts I don't care too much for, but that's beside the point. What I do LOVE about it is the story that I've conjured up in my mind about the 2 women portrayed.  Sisters who are living very different lives.  One clearly wealthy and the other not so privileged.  I've tried to imagine who is happier and more content with their life...and what each of their daily lives are like.  What do you think...what are their daily lives like?  Who is happier?  Why?  How is their relationship with each other given that their lives ARE so different? 

I've had fun with their story...the story of "Sisters Yet Worlds Apart"...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bookmark Swap

Dove C. from Las Vegas, NV hosted a bookmark swap over at Milliande and she just posted pictures of all of the submissions.  Here they are for your viewing pleasure:

My submissions are in the first image above (lower right hand corner) and below.

Foodie Friday Recipe Share - Pesto & Sundried Tomato Tarts Anyone?

"Everybody knows" (ala Phaedra from Housewives of Atlanta) that Italians have a reputation for cooking and eating.  I am NO exception!  Throughout my childhood, I eagerly watched my sweet little Italian Nonie crank out impressive culinary spreads day after day with such ease.  From homemade ravioli (these were her rolling pins that hang proudly in my kitchen) to beef broth that simmered on the stove all day in preparation for her famous vermicelli or minestrooooong soup (her pronunciation!).

While I wouldn't consider myself a gourmet cook, or even a foodie (okay, maybe),  I'm certainly not a "first-date-salad-eating-kinda-gal".  I'm past that at this point in my life.  I like to eat and don't have time for that nonsense!  I know what I like and can throw down a pretty good spread when I put my mind to it.  Because of this, I also like to collect cookbooks and recipes from girlfriends and family...and my jeans are always in a state of "tightness".  Occasionally, and I really mean occasionally, I have stumbled upon a new recipe that gets a permanent place in the rotation.  A recipe that gets memorialized in my handwritten journal-turned-cookbook affectionately entitled "Family Favorites".  Original huh?  There's also a "Healthy Favorites" version that gets used in uhhhh, spurts (like a couple of months before summer!).  Did I mention that my jeans are always tight?  UGH.

Making it into "the book" is quite the honor since there are serious requirements to make the cut :

#1. Recipe must have been tested.  Not just the "this sounds good I think I'll save it somewhere to make someday recipe"...but ACTUALLY prepared and tested.

#2. Recipe must be considered a "do-over (and over)" by my test kitchen taste testers & guests.

Here is one of those recipes that made it into "the book".  I found it at my mom's house several years ago while looking thru a stack of magazines headed for the recycling bin.  I think I might have been pondering a holiday menu at the time.  Either way, it came from Women's Day Magazine of all places!  While I will thumb thru this magazine IF it's around and I'm bored (while waiting for my dentist appointment or something),  I doubt I would ever actually purchase a copy at this point in my life.  I consider it a magazine for the older set and I'M NOT READY for a membership into that club yet.  I'm fighting it to the bitter end.

Not only is this recipe easy, it only requires 4 ingredients.  Yep, only FOUR!!  Click on the image to read the recipe...if you can read my writing!  One thing to note:  Blot the oil off of the sundried tomatoes before chopping them up.  Neither of these points are noted in my book. 

By the way, when I am asked to bring something to a party, THIS IS ALWAYS what is requested (see requirements #2 above).   Give it a shot for your next holiday or get-together, you won't regret it.  Well, maybe you will, because you'll be making them for every function from here to eternity going forward!  Promise.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

1000 Birds Project for Japan

Over at Tin Can Tart (thanks Mary!), there was the most interesting post about a very special project to aid the people of Japan.  It had me totally intrigued!  After looking into it further (and irregardless of the expensive UK to US exchange rate!),  I ordered 5 sweet tweets of my own.  I'm hoping to get them before Easter so I can spread the love to my family. 

Check out this great cause...1000 Birds Project.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Farewell Dead Heads...

may your journey be quick and painless!

I finally finished packing up my Matchboxes and Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls for their journey to Palma in Italy.  I'm really gonna miss those guys who have been staring at me for a few weeks now!  Accompanying them to the post office were my journal swap pages for the month.  Their travel is just a hop-skip-and-a-jump as they travel to our neighbor, Canada!

Site for Sore Eyes

I think making these 3 bracelets seriously accelerated my need for glasses by about 10 years!  While I LOVE beads, specifically seed beads, I'm going to guess that working with them is hazardous to ones eye health in a big way!  Either way, I got through it with minimum error and made these bracelets about 3 years after the other!  I was really a glutton for punishment that year!  Although I like the overall designs, I struggle with the clasp part in a big way.  I do not like the stretchy-beaded-eye-hook ONE BIT!  It just doesn't feel secure enough and looks cheap.  It's basically an accident (and subsequent lost bracelet) waiting to happen!  This is probably why the last one does not have the stretchy-beaded-eye-hook.  I went as far as sewing on the buttons, but refused to go the distance with that lame attempt at a closure.  Okay, enough ranting, you get my point! 

I think the same year I made these, I also completely lost my mind when I purchased the very large floral button for the cherry blossom-ish bracelet.  Brace yourself, that button set me back almost $40!  For a BUTTON!  Yes, I know, I was robbed...I'm blaming it on my temporary site loss!  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weekly Book Review - The Crafter's Devotional (Barbara R. Call)

I own an embarrasing number of "creative" books.  Yes, that is my confession for the day.  Some of them were an absolute waste of money and they make me mad just looking at them collecting dust, while others are truly "creative bibles" worth their weight in gold.  Given that I have strong opinions about most of them good, bad and ugly, I thought it would be helpful to others (both emotionally and financially) if I posted a weekly book review.  So here goes...I'm starting off with a BANG!

The Crafter's Devotional - 365 Days of Tips, Tricks & Techniques for Unlocking Your Creative Spirit (Barbara R. Call)

This book just makes me happy.  It's the best reference book I have purchased in months.  It's everything it advertises and more.  Throughout the book you'll find miscellaneous bits, including quotes, how-to-tips or techniques, stories, exercises, brainstorming prompts, visuals and more.  Each week features 6 entries:  one for each weekday and one entry for the weekend.  The weekend entries are designed to accommodate exploration that takes more time, such as collaborating with another person, taking a class to learn a new technique, or visiting and exploring nature.  Throughout the book, each day will be centered on the following categories:  
  • Monday - Journaling
  • Tuesday - Recycle, Reuse or Revive
  • Wednesday - Collection, Stash and Materials
  • Thursday - Personal History
  • Friday - Non craft Inspiration
  • Saturday & Sunday - Collaborate, Gather and Experiment.   
Caution:  If you prefer books with lots of eye candy, this is not your book AT ALL.  It's more substance than beauty for sure.  In fact, it was marked down one smiley face due to average "curb appeal"...or graphics. 

Easter Bunny Dotee Parade

Monika from Australia, the host of the International Easter Bunny Dotee Swap just posted a picture of all of the submissions.  I must say it gave me goosebumps to see all of the dotees together. Oh what fun that swap was!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vintage Score

I LOVE anything vintage.  I especially love meandering thru antique stores because they are always so interesting and YOU NEVER KNOW what you will find!

And quite the find I found on Friday!  I happened upon a huge floor rounder of vintage beads while visiting Old Towne Antiques Mall in Pleasanton, CA.  WOW!  I quickly dropped to my knees (trust me, it was the only way to get a good look) and started spinning in a frenzy...oh how I love beads!  They are just so versatile.  Buried beneath the hundreds of hanging zip lock bags was a diamond in the rough. Not only was it a major find, I couldn't believe the price.  $1.50.  This must be miss-marked I thought.  Nope, it wasn't.  I snatched it up immediately.  SCORE! 

Here it is!  It's far more beautiful in person!  I'm thinking about creating a wall collage of beaded flowers....or maybe adding this to a journal cover or box.  Either way, I'm so inspired and hope to showcase it in some very special way.  In the meantime, it sits glistening in my art space.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Angel In Disguise...

I'm not a very religious individual, likely because I grew up being dragged to church kicking and screaming.  Even sang in the choir...that's how much my family was "into it".  Either way, I do have a very strong appreciation for religious art, crucifixes in particular.  I have amassed quite the collection over the years.  Any more and people will think my house is a monastery (except for the fact that I have Klimpt nudes hanging in the hallway just around the corner). This picture was taken a couple of years ago and I cringe to say that there are several more hanging now.  Enough already, I know!

Anyway, on to religious art.  Here's a piece that I did at the Willowing "Art, Heart & Healing" class.  I kinda like it.  She looks rather sweet and angelic.  Imagine that!

If you look close enough, it looks like she hit her thumb with a hammer (and it looks like she had too many botox injections in her lips...quite the progressive angel!).  Have no idea how the thumb thing happened, but I think it's too funny to fix.

Love Shack

I'm pretty sure if anyone ever asked me where I would spend ALL of my time if I could, I would answer "my own little heaven on earth - my art space".  It makes me so happy just to sit in here and look around.  I have everything I need here, and then some - and the bathroom is just steps away.  Heck I could sleep in here but I own THE most uncomfortable futon on the face of the planet.  As much as I like the way it looks, I wouldn't subject any of my guests to sleeping on it!  I certainly could use the futon space for more of my crap, I mean, stuff.  Work in progress to find a new owner. 

That ceramic thing hanging on the wall to the right of my desk (with the huge "stash") was my rendition of my father when I was in elementary school...just can't part with it, but man is it ugly!