Sunday, April 29, 2007

a dream, a plan, a reality

There's something about a dream. And there's something else entirely about a dream seen through.

My husband has known Eric for the 7+ years he's been working at DivX. Eric has always talked about his dream to get a boat and travel around the world. On Saturday, he and his wife, Christi, pushed off the dock in San Diego en route to to the South Pacific.

Bon Voyage!

Anyone who knows Eric knows what an incredibly nice guy this is. On top of that, he's incredibly intelligent. So I suppose it's no big surprise that in the years we've known him he's not only managed to get a boat built but he's also learned how to navigate himself safely through open waters. But questions keep popping into my do you do with your trash when you're out in the middle of the ocean? how do you protect yourself from pirates? how much food do you take? You know how I am with projects - love them. So, I'm totally fascinated with the fact that Eric and Christi spent all these years educating themselves, preparing for and making happen this incredible trip around the world.

They have a blog, and already I can tell it'll be one I check in on daily. The first posts sound like they're so relieved to finally be out there. I can imagine - think of all the work it would take to get everything here secured for the next couple years. All the worries. I go completely nuts when I'm just planning for a long weekend camping trip! Now, it's just them and the big blue. Check out the blog if this kind of thing is up your alley as it is mine: Kosmos Travel Log. (Can you believe there is such a thing as satellite internet access? Let's just hope it continues to work so we can get some interesting updates.)

It got me thinking about my own dreams. Seeing other people make their dreams a reality always inspires me. (and I'm not talking about dreams like Oprah's - I mean, come on, with that woman's money she can make anything happen) Dreams for simple folk like me. Dreams that require a lot of time and dedication. The project of all projects. Dreams like...designing my dream house. Our own sustainable, green house. In the meantime, I'd like to work to make the house we're living in right now a little more green. (and by green - hopefully most of you got this - I mean environmentally responsible, not slathering the house in green paint!) So I think I'll start researching that - start compiling my own plan of attack. (in all that free time) I've always wanted to run on solar energy, to learn to compost, to grow my own veggies and to use our grey water instead of sending it out to the sea. I'd also like to start scaling down, to train myself not to depend on so much. (television, shopping at Target, diet coke, eating take-out) As mentioned before, I long for the simple life. Why not make that my dream? A dream to live like hippie, soul-searching artists in our own little self-sufficient world surrounded by vegetable gardens and sunflowers? I'm gonna have to work on that.

Friday, April 27, 2007

weekend plans

More paintings. I thought I'd like to do commissioned work a whole lot more than I actually am. It's too stressful. I worry so much about whether or not it's what they had in mind, if they'll like it or if they'll hate it and be sorry they even bothered. The painting I posted the other day, in fact, was rejected. At first it made me mad and then it made me sad and now I just realize the problems that can arise from commissioned work. She didn't like the knot in the wood. I like it. I like that you can see the wood grain and the natural imperfections. But, to each his own. I think I'll hesitate before taking on any more custom work. I prefer to just do my thing and have people buy 'em if they like 'em. [Edit: okay, just received an e-mail from the mom who ordered these paintings and she loves them. Got my confidence back!]

Looking forward to a lot of activities this weekend. Tomorrow there's a Japanese Flower Festival at our local buddhist temple. Lived here practically my whole life and I only just recently discovered that there even was a buddhist temple nearby. I'd love to catch the drumming performances. Also Saturday a co-worker of my husband's leaves on his boat for a trip around the world. We may catch the sending off at the docks festivities. Then on Sunday it's off to the ballpark! Padres vs. the Dodgers. (Trevor's not on the DL, is he? I want to hear those bells) Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack...

Happy weekend all!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

little house on the prairie

Had an afternoon of painting yesterday. Well, by afternoon I mean an hour and a half or so. Before I could sit down in the sunshine with my paints I had a lot of picking up to do while the source of all calamity was out with his grandma. It was a lovely hour and a half. If only more hours could be like that. I really like the colors in this one. I often find myself daydreaming about a grassy hill on a crystal clear day picking orange california poppies. I guess that's the source of inspiration.

There are a couple stories in the news this morning that have me intrigued. The first is about a New Hampshire man convicted of tax evasion. That's not the interesting part. The interesting part is his house. He says he's not coming out. And the house is capable of running off the grid with wind and solar powered generators. I'd love to have a house that could totally stand on its own. Maybe that's why I love the idea of eventually building a house in Hawaii someday. Store the rainwater, use the wind and sun for power, passive cooling, grow my own food. If only I could get myself used to the taste of fish. We could fish and live like ancient Hawaiians on fish and poi. I'm totally fascinated by stories of people living up in the Kalalau Valley on the island of Kauai. Love the idea of surviving out in the wilderness. But who am I kidding? I couldn't survive without my Quakes rice snacks, Diet Coke and internet.

The second story is about a newly discovered planet. Any story about space intrigues me. But two things pop out with this one. The fact that it would take thousands of years for the fastest modern space craft to reach it. Wha?!? How in the world are we able to even see it if it's that far away? That's the sort of thing that makes me shake my head like I'm malfunctioning. The other thing is the fact that it orbits its star much closer than Earth orbits its star (that's the sun, right?). So its star would appear 20 times larger than our moon. (oh, did I just answer my own question? is our star the moon? - no, Google says the sun is our star) How pretty would that be? When I was little I used to get seriously depressed thinking about how any kind of major discovery about space and potential life outside of our universe couldn't possibly happen within my lifetime. On the flip side, the number one reason for hoping there is a God is so I can ask - is there life beyond Earth?

The husband has been really tired lately. Work work work. Some friends of ours are looking to sell their house here in So. Cal. and move out to the middle of nowhere. Yes, that is tempting. Scale down. Give up that Diet Coke and live the simple life. He could write and I could paint. The kids could learn to grow corn and fix the barn. What in the world would milk fresh from the cow taste like? How would hand churned ice cream made from milk fresh from the cow taste? Read all the novels each night instead of finding ourselves in front of the TV becoming addicted to yet another program. Ride a bike into town for the essentials that we can't make ourselves. Ah yes, the simple life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

coming up + going down

Nothing more rewarding than seeds taking their first peak at sunlight. I love it when I can get things to grow. I'm extremely proud of the fact that I have finally learned how to not only keep my gardenia alive, but have managed to get it to bloom 2 or 3 times since getting it and keeping it inside as a houseplant. Next up: keep an orchid alive and get it to bloom again. I always manage to lose them. I wouldn't say I have a black thumb, but it definitely could be a little greener.

We had a very comical evening last night mending our fence. For months we've been watching it teeter. My dad suggested that it would be a whole lot easier to reinforce it before it falls down. Yeah, we see that now. I wouldn't say we were intentionally waiting - not like we wanted to test that theory - we just procrastinated a little too long. On Sunday morning, at precisely the moment I happened to be looking out the window to witness the whole thing (which is kind of strange), 3 panels of the fence at the top of a steep slope in our backyard came crashing down. So we dug new holes, mixed up some concrete and put in metal poles to replace the rotted wooden ones. That part was easy. Last night, however, we had to get the fence up. Not so easy when you're trying to push it up on a slope covered with ice plant. Finally got the bugger up and screwed into place. A lot of slipping and falling on our rear ends. I'm just thankful that one of us didn't end up squooshed underneath the fence. There were points where one of us would be on the downward sloping side and that thing could have easily gone over. Yeah, we see that now.

Monday, April 23, 2007

new giraffe friends

This is a painting I finished over the weekend for a custom order. I really like the paintings I've done on natural birch. Think I'll have to do all my paintings like this in the future. I'm sad to be mailing this one off. Usually I hang up my paintings and am able to enjoy them for a little while before they're sold. But this one will be packaged up and sent out for someone else to enjoy. I shouldn't complain - I'm happy to get the commission.
The weekend was filled with unexpected (to me) rain, fence repairing, painting and bread baking. Tried a recipe for Summer Wheat Bread (recipe below). The molasses in the ingredients intrigued me. The taste didn't come out as strong as I would have liked. I guess I was expecting it to taste a little more like gingerbread. But it makes great toast! I let myself have toast on the weekend, but today it's back to the smoothie. It's pretty depressing that the highlight of last week was finding underwear that feels just about as comfortable as my maternity underwear, without actually having to buy maternity underwear. Diet is SOOOO back on. In the past 3 weeks I've managed to lose 3 pounds. At points I'd be down 5, then celebrate with a yummy dinner and be back up 2 or 3. Que lastima! The story of my life.

Summer Wheat Bread

1-3/8 cups warm water
1-1/2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. molasses
1-1/2 t. molasses
1-1/2 t. salt
2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 t. active dry yeast

Mix warm water, molasses and yeast. Set in a warm place until mixture is bubbly. Add all other ingredients and mix until dough forms. Transfer dough to floured surface and knead. Allow dough to rise in an oiled bowl in a warm place until doubled in size. Form the dough in a bread pan and allow to rise a second time. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Friday, April 20, 2007

ain't life sweet?

"That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet."
Emily Dickinson

Just a quote from my tea bag. Makes me think about the kids (and the kid messes and the kid tantrums and all those kid questions - "But why? But why? But why?"). Yes it's hard (difficult, frustrating), but this is it. As soon as this is over I'm sure I'll miss it. And that's what makes life so sweet. That, and candy...

Something I put together for the Fred Flare Next Big Thing call for entries. I love this website. And I love seeing the winners every year. Last year I submitted a wooden cupcake. I know there are so many more groovy and interesting people out there - but I can't help but try to be cool and hip. For weeks I've been trying to think of something to create for an entry. This idea occurred to me yesterday as I was filling up a Pez dispenser. (By the way, is there an easy way to fill up those things? Occasionally I'll get lucky and unwrap the roll in such a way that I'm able to grab the whole stack between my fingers and slide them into the dispenser. But most of the time I take more time putting them in one-by-one than it takes for my son to gobble them up two-by-two.) I was thinking about how unique the shape of each Pez is, how unforgettable the taste. Every time I'm filling that Pez dispenser up, I'm thinking about all the dispensers from my childhood. The santa dispensers in the stockings, the chick in the easter basket, the snoopys, the scooby dos and the hello kitties. Sometimes I wish I still had them all - as if there isn't already enough collecting in my life. Maybe I should start a box for all my son's Pez. When he turns 20 I'll wrap them all up in a big box along with a case of Pez candy.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

little van gogh

As you can imagine, things have been pretty busy here. I've been finding myself in a completely crazy state of mind when I find myself trying to get my son to cooperate with the day's schedule that I create for myself. Somewhere in the day, I find room for working on orders. But until then, having it on my mind while I'm chasing the little guy around puts me on edge. So to make up for the past week of mommy being completely nuts, we've been having 100% all-for-you kid days. He painted this painting yesterday, which I just love. I think this one deserves a frame. I sure wish we had more walls. I'd love to frame everything my kids make. I know we'll run out of wall space by the time they're 5. This morning we headed over to the coast so he could ride his bike. Seriously - I need to do that more often. Our dog is completely nuts and I'm always furious with him at the end of our walks, but getting out in the fresh air, watching the waves and enjoying the morning on the beach has got to be the best way to start the day. We'll be heading back to Jalama Beach (where I found these) next month - really looking forward to those long morning beach walks.

Little Mr. Man is off with his grandma for the afternoon and it kills me that I can't just sit here and craft. Must dash off to the craft store, the baby store and Target. Let's see if I can make it out and back in record time. I seriously need an assistant. Every mother deserves an assistant! An assistant to do the laundry, respond to e-mails, make phone calls and do the shopping. But then I'd never leave the house. I'd probably get crabby because I'd have cabin fever and not even know it. Well, if I get out of here and do my errands, maybe I can get back in time to be crafty before little Mr. Painter comes back.

Monday, April 16, 2007

of course of course

Of course I waited until yesterday to work on all the fabric orders that came in on Friday. Of course I waited until this morning to wash them. Of course I stressed because I scheduled a USPS pick-up before I actually had the packages ready to go. Of course once packages were ready I discovered that I hadn't completed my package pick-up request properly online last night. So, of course, no one came to pick up the packages I had rushed all morning to get ready to go. I would have taken a picture of my sad little parcels sitting out by the front door, but that would just be too depressing. If you placed an order with me, my sincerest apologies. It will go out tomorrow. (it's just too hard these days to drag a 3-year old and a nearly 3-month old into the post office)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

see me in etsy-land

As mentioned, I have a few of those hand-painted block signs left over from the past couple craft fairs for sale. Time to clear them out. $3 + $2 shipping/handling = $5 each. If you're interested, check them out in my Etsy Shop. This is also a good opportunity for me to introduce my Etsy Shop. I've been adding things s-l-o-w-l-y. I just love the idea of Etsy. An online, always growing, extremely creative and eclectic craft fair. I like poking my nose in The Time Machine to catch items that have just been listed. I hate the mall - but I love window shopping online.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A - B - Cs of craft fairs

These are some hand-painted letter blocks left over from a failed craft fair project a few years back. See, I thought people would love to buy these blocks to spell out their kids' names. But I guess it's just me. I think I sold, maybe, five. So after that I assembled all the letters I had into different words to make signs - "Prince" - "Fat Cat" - "Kiss" - "Imagine" - etc. They sold slightly better at the next fair. Come to think of it, I've got a bunch left. I just might photograph them all and then sell them for $3 a pop just to clear them out. Yes, I will. Check back again tomorrow if you're at all interested. It just goes to show - you never can tell what will do well. I guess that's why all these big companies spend big bucks on marketing research and analysis. Well, at least I still had a lot of letters left to spell out F - I - N - N. It just wouldn't be fair to only have R - O - B - B - I - E on the door. (I'm determined to not let my second kid feel like a second kid)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Back in college I had the wonderful opportunity to take a class from a visiting professor/artist by the name of Faith Ringgold. The class was called something like Artists' Books and taught us how to make artistic expressions in the form of carefully crafted and original handmade books. Part of our class project was to create a book and then hold a fundraising event to pay for the publication of our book. Our fundraiser was a raffle where we got artists to donate work. I bought a raffle ticket and was SO fortunate to walk away with a Ringgold. That (in addition to marrying my husband, giving birth AND the Martha thing) was the single most luckiest moment in my life. To this day I can still remember how completely tickled I was to get it. This is it up there. Now it is properly framed and I have the wall behind it painted to accent it's placement. Looking at it today, it got me thinking...

Could this and the images of flying children in Faith's book, Tar Beach, be the source of inspiration for my own flying characters? People are always asking me how it came to be that I put a pair of wings on an elephant and I never really had an answer. But this painting has been staring me in the face for the past fourteen or so years - and I've always loved it - the thought of these children flying over the Brooklyn Bridge at night - just imagine! - it's always excited me.

I leave you with the image of her painting with quilted border, Tar Beach. I'll be honest, when I took that class, I had no idea who she was. All I knew was that the class description sounded fantastic. On that first day (with a studio overflowing with students who were eventually asked to leave because there was no more room on the wait list) she looked around at us behind her big, dark sunglasses and said, "I'm sure some of you have no idea Who. I. Am." Back then, there was no Google, so I high-tailed it to the library to look her up before our next class. I suddenly felt like a lottery winner because I was able to enroll in the class since I was a fourth-year student. (and I also felt a little guilty about that because people who knew who she was probably couldn't get in) I loved listening to her talk about her life as an artist - her sources of inspiration and her experimentation with different media. At that time I was an Art History major. Who would have known that all these years later I'd be painting my own flying characters and dipping into the practices of silk screening, gocco, sewing and woodworking? Who woulda thunk it?

P.S. Wonderful wonderful children's books, by the way. If you have kids, check these out.

Monday, April 09, 2007

cupcakes & candy

We found eggs, we found Easter baskets, we ate jelly beans, we ate a huge brunch (mom made a fritatta AND french toast made from carrot cake!), we found more eggs, we cooked our ham, we ate a huge dinner, we found more Easter baskets and we ate more jelly beans (and chocolate eggs and peanut butter eggs and marshmallow bunnies). So, needless to say, "Diet Back ON". The kid was absolutely nuts by the end of the day after all that sugar. This morning he's poking his head here and there in search of his candy stash which has been placed way up high out of little hand reach. I am not ready to see him in hyper-overdrive again. Still recovering from yesterday. And, silly as it may sound, we're going to be dying more eggs this morning because a half dozen is still sitting in the fridge. Busy weekend kept us from finishing up and there's absolutely no way you're going to make a 3-year old understand that because Easter is over there is no need to finish dying the remaining eggs. Nope. It's easier to just let him do it.

The sky still looks like it's threatening to rain - but it looked this way yesterday and all we got was a little drizzle. I wish it would rain though. One of the many Easter goodies given to baby was this great little noise/music maker called the Rainforest Waterfall Peek-a-Boo Soother. I'm listening to this thing now - sound of a creek, crickets and birds chirping - and it's making me so relaxed and zen. Don't even know that I'll hook it up to the crib or cradle. This thing is going where I go! Maybe this is why I want rain. Since it's not cold, I'd love to be able to open up all the windows and listen to it come down. This is why I need to find myself living in Hawaii one of these days. I think that's where I'd like to be when I'm old. The grand kids can fly out to granny's little grass shack every summer vacation. Yep, I sure do love those showers.

Now, for these mini cupcakes. I went overboard and made a butter cream frosting. Decadent! The recipe came from a book that is becoming a very reliable source of great recipes: The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl. I'm such a sucker for these interviews on the Today Show, so when I saw Ruth Reichl talk about the cookbook and how they tested again and again all the favorite recipes that were initially published in Gourmet Magazine, I thought, "I must have that cookbook!" But, so far every recipe I've tried has been fantastic. I may just have to work my way through this book in true Julie Powell (author of Julie + Julia) fashion - recipe by recipe until all god-knows-how-many are tried and tested by yours truly. But as I just said, Diet back ON, so maybe I'll wait till the weight is off before tackling a project like this.

Hope you all had a nice Easter Sunday!

Friday, April 06, 2007

sweet bunny sweet folks

Aren't sweet peas the sweetest? And how about this little guy I needle felted the other night while watching Lost? I had so much fun making her - I think I'm addicted to needle felting now. Only problem is, there just aren't enough hours in the day for another project. This is one that will have to be reserved for TV nights on the couch. I caught Jenn Docherty's (also known as sparrowgoods)appearance on Martha last week. I'd been wanting to needle felt little critters for so long, and Jenn's Easter critters inspired this little bunny. Now she just needs a decent pedestal - maybe a needle felted Easter egg?

I want to thank EVERYONE for all your nice comments and e-mails. I hope to respond to each and every one as soon as I can. The response is overwhelming. I love it! There have been so many suggestions, lots of compliments and tons of support. You all know how nervous I was about watching the show - how completely insecure I was. I'm so relieved that it finally aired and I no longer have to worry that my voice was too soft, that I rushed through all my steps and that I didn't interact with Martha. I think the only thing that makes me cringe is that nervous laughter of mine. But I suppose I do tend to giggle more than necessary. It's just my nature, I guess. Oh well...better than frowning or walking around with a furrowed brow.

Now I'm off to the task of responding to e-mails, working on orders and thinking about the new projects I've been wanting to develop but that have been pushed to the back burner in the past week or so of updating the website (those silk screened T-shirts!). It's so exciting to have so many orders. I love packaging my things off and sending them out into the world. Maybe the fact that all these things sit in my hands for some amount of time being stitched, sewn or painted makes them extra special to me.

Time to fix my cup of coffee and get to work. I've got Easter cupcakes to make (making mini, bite-sized cupcakes because my son usually just ends up eating all the icing off big cupcakes - so the thought occurred to me that if they're bite-size he may just very well pop the whole thing into his mouth instead of meticulously eating all the frosting). I've got a sandy floor to sweep (rolled up pants came inside yesterday from the sandbox with a concealed load of sand). I've got booties to make, goodie bags to sew and paintings to finish. Big day!

Thanks again everyone. Yesterday was a great day for me. As my husband keeps saying, I'm a "TV Supastar"!!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

ms. martha & me

Don't forget!
Today is the day!
If you miss the show, you can watch it online:
click HERE for BIBS
click HERE for BOOTIES
~~BIG smile~~

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

our colorful kid

I've written enough "bad mommy" stories to make you all wonder about my parenting abilities. But to show that I actually am a pretty darn good mother, let me explain what I did for breakfast yesterday. You see, we're in that three-year-old phase where we consider ourselves lucky to get anything into our little guy's tummy. "I don't like that!" We hear that a lot now, even though he does very much, in fact, like that. So when the little boy woke up yesterday asking for red pancakes, I jumped right to it. Yes folks, RED pancakes. Maybe it was a mistake to whip up those green pancakes a few weeks ago for St. Patrick's Day. Now he's going to be asking for pancakes every color of the rainbow. These came out a little closer to hot pink, but I didn't hear any complaints. He gobbled up eight of these mini cakes! Red Pancakes, the new breakfast of champions, or at least for our little champ, that is.

Since I'm on the topic of three-year-olds, I'd like to share some of the phrases the husband has been teaching our son. My favorite, which popped out of nowhere this morning is, "Snap!" Every child should be taught, "Oh Snap!" And in trying to avoid bad language, my husband and I have converted our exclamations to those used by Thomas and Friends. "Sh*t!" becomes "Bust my buffers!" and "D*mn it" becomes "Bother!". My son walks around the park shouting, "bother!" every time another kid is using something he wants to play with. Another favorite - "Watchu talkin bout Willis?" I love it that my son breaks out singing Tiny Bubbles whenever we blow bubbles and Baby it's Cold Outside whenever we talk about chilly weather. My husband has been working on Me and my Shadow as well as Summertime. Oh, and his very favorite song? For the Longest Time by Billy Joel, which he simply calls "the happy song". "Please you play the happy song???" Yep - unconventional in every single way and I love it. But that's not me, that's my husband. I just sit back and love it. Me, I'm the red pancake sort. Colorful parenting literally and figuratively.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

rising obsession

I’ve got a new obsession: baking bread. I usually bake bread around the holidays. Before the bread maker that was a major commitment. Now with the bread maker, I set it to the “dough” setting and let it do all the hard work for me – mix, knead, rise, punch down, rise, knead. But I still prefer to do the shaping, final rise and baking myself. This is going to sound crazy, but it just doesn’t taste as good to me if it actually bakes in the bread maker. I know it’s all in my head because the ingredients are all the same – maybe I’ll brush the top with an egg wash and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds – but for the most part it’s the same dough, just a different oven. So, this renewed interest in bread baking rose from my desire to make whole wheat sourdough bread. I know you can buy it at Trader Joe’s, but I swear every time I go in that store I come out with bags of macadamia nuts/ almonds/ pistachios/ cashews, all kinds of wonderful frozen dinners (enchiladas, phyllo wrapped shrimp, orange chicken), too much wine and fancy, expensive juice. Not to mention flowers. Cut flowers, cute little plants in cute little pots, orchids and potted herbs. All stuff I don’t need, all stuff that can break my already fragile budget. So, I generally try to avoid Trader Joe’s if at all possible. So…I’ll make my own wheat sourdough thank you very much. And, as you may or may not know, sourdough is no Wonder Bread. There’s the issue of the sourdough starter to be dealt with. A testy concoction that requires days of attention. And, since mine still isn’t quite as sour as I’d like it to be, it continues to demand my attention – mixing and sitting in a warm spot and feeding it milk. (hey, just like a baby!) So, as my sourdough starter continues to develop and mature, the loaves of bread will keep popping out of the oven for us to enjoy. Yum! (I wonder how I could get those guys up at Boudin to sneak me a tablespoon of their starter.)

Monday, April 02, 2007

in the news

The article appeared in yesterday's paper and it was just WONDERFUL. Cameron Leigh James did a great job and the photographs look great. It was so exciting to see my little creations in print! You can see if for yourself here:

North County Times Article

My Martha day is this Thursday. Still nervous to see it. But also excited. I still can't believe it all happened. Seeing it will put it all in perspective - oh, you mean to say it wasn't just a dream??? I'm so interested to watch Martha, because at the time of the taping I was so absorbed in the project. It was hardly like she and I were sitting around the kitchen table sipping tea and stitching booties. She wasn't very chatty at all, actually. I have to wonder if she wasn't in the best of moods because the night before the taping she was on The Late Show and I heard David wasn't very nice to her. (oh David you bully!) Even Martha can have a bad day, right? It just stinks that her bad day was my great day. Or, maybe it's all in my head. I just don't remember her saying a whole lot. Like I said, can't wait to see it for myself.