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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Go Have Some Fun

My friend Shirley has shared a tutorial on her blog explaining how to make stamps from flat sheets of foam. Her friend Pat Gaignat had an article published in Cloth Paper Scissors on this technique and Shirley has kindly agreed to give a detailed explanation of what was published in CPS and what Pat taught her. The stamps look great -- they turn out looking like silk screening.  http://www.paperandthreads.com/


I'm inspired tonight by Carol at Swallowcliff's incredibly prolific spirit. She buzzes from project to project like a honeybee, and though she wants her word of the year in 2011 to be "focus," I love this  flitting about because she is always inspiring me with something new.  Recently she was making babushka dolls (she's also calling them dottee dolls), and I'm inclined to try them myself. There are so many different ways you can do them -- from using fabric and paint or embroidery, to paper that is painted or colored or printed, stapled or glued or sewn -- and you can make dolls to hang on a tree or to sit on a shelf or even tiny ones for jewelry.  You get the picture.  http://swallowcliffs.blogspot.com/2010/12/dotee-doll-art-iii.html


And to round out the trio, would you like to make paper roses?  Here's a link to some lovely ones.  Now go have some fun.  http://www.theartfulcrafter.com/paper-flowers-one.html

Monday, December 27, 2010

City Sidewalks

You may have heard we got some snow on the East coast.  We woke up to a blanket of it this morning, transforming the usually noisy, busy streets into a sleepy village. Here are a few pictures I took this morning -- not your usual manic Monday in Manhattan.

Eli's Bread Truck

Birds in Trees

Restaurant on the corner


curved tree 

Downward facing man

9th Ave. Brownstones

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's a Wrap


I don’t give that many gifts any more.  But it seems to take me longer than ever to wrap them and I don’t know why.

I started earlier than ever this year. Usually I wait until the day before so I can see them all unwrapped and make sure my piles for each person are nice and even. Don’t want to give one of my kids a lot and the other too little. 

I tried various folding methods – you know, after you tape the long side you have to fold the ends.  You can fold in the two sides, fold up the bottom and down the top.  Or fold down the top, in the two sides and then up the bottom.  Or (and this is actually the way I was taught) you can fold in one side at a time, going around to each side in a 1-2-3-4 fashion. It got me thinking about who taught me how to wrap presents in the first place. I can’t remember. Can you?

However you fold, I’m finding that coffee liberally laced with Bailey’s Irish cream is helpful in getting the job done. Also, frequent checks on email, stopping to chat with friends online, getting out for fresh air on a dog walk, and chatting with the concierge downstairs are all useful.

Someone suggested I use bags instead of boxes and wrapping paper next year. That’s a great idea. I think I might miss the Bailey’s, though. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Starry Starry Night

Here's my entry for the scavenger hunt challenge I posted earlier this month. The items to include were a star, bird, ornament, pine cone, Christmas tree and snowflake. There's a bit of overlap here, as the ornament is also a snowflake, but there are snowflakes in the background as well.  I created this in all separate layers and added shadows with layer properties. The bird was actually a quilted bird I found on a website that I swirled and added details to make my own. Those pine cones started out as coloring book pages that I posterized, painted with blue and then white, and then added a few filters for effect.  Lots of digital fun here.  I pulled all of it from little bits and pieces of images I found on the web, but recreated them into something completely new.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prepackaged Gingerbread Fun

Yes, I know I could have made the gingerbread cookies myself. But this time of year, I'm busy with a million other things. So buying this kit and bringing it with me to Ally's house seemed like a good idea -- and it was.  Especially when it turned out that her stove wasn't working yet in her new home, so the cookie dough we made for Christmas cookies was going to have to be wrapped and refrigerated for another day.  To the rescue:  our box of gingerbread fun.

We got the first few stars down for the base of the tree before the frosting in the green piping bag burst out of its seams.  So we transferred it to another plastic bag. Carefully. With a lot of laughter involved.


And eventually we had a tree waiting for decoration...


And finally our masterpiece


Aren't we good? Oh and then, the most important part, was that Ally put the tree near the mantle and Bill, Ally and I all stood back to admire the tree. It's always necessary to admire your work and make comments like, "Wow, that looks nice."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Friends

What would we do without our friends?  You know who yours are. Those people you call when you're the happiest, the saddest or just to stay in touch. And definitely the ones you call when you need some help!   (I know you're thinking about yours as you read this.)  I told you last time about my friend who helped me with my knitting, and some of you asked to see it finished, so...... here is a section from the original bad news bears scarf.  All these stitches are supposed to look exactly the same. Clearly they do not. (Though, I have to say, isn't the yarn lovely? It cost me a fortune to make this mess.)


And then, thanks to my angel friend, knitter and seamstress fabulaire Rosie, I was able to create this:


Observe the perfection of the stitches.  The loveliness of the entire knittedness of it.  This only took 5 visits with Rosie to check on whether I was doing the right thing and for her to reassure me Things Were Fine (and to fix the occasional dropped stitch). At one point she thought I might have dropped a stitch 10 rows back and was going to make me UNKNIT 10 rows and re-do them. That was A Sad Day Indeed.   But fortunately, she discovered it was just a "loose stitch," so I was off the hook. :-)


And here am I modeling my new creation.  What?  You thought I would be gifting this?  Not on your life, baby.  This one goes into the Hall of Fame.


By the way, if you are mildly observant you have noticed that earlier that day I was trying on nail polish at Sephora. You scored extra points for noticing before I mentioned it. Very nicely done.

And in other news,

I have some new friends who live nearby and who love art too!  I would tell you all about our day and show you photos but since one of the ladies has already written about it on her blog, you may want to go here and see our fun day:
Reclineart Posterous

Monday, November 29, 2010

Try, Try Again

I took knitting lessons last winter at Purl in the West Village.  I was arguably the worst of the group of 12 women.  I got so mixed up, and then so embarrassed, that I couldn't even hear what the teacher was saying any more when he stood over me to instruct me.  It was humiliating.

I spent the past year on and off practicing. Knit, unravel, knit, unravel.  Finally I decided to knit a scarf.  Knit 200 stitches. Tie off. Start a new row, knit 200 stitches. Rinse and repeat.  I finished a week ago and I must say...that it is arguably the worst scarf I've ever seen.  HUGE holes.  Some rows look knit. Some look purled. Some look like some other sort of unknown stitch. Mystery stitch.

My knitter friend came over to see it and took pity on me. My "helper" knitter friend.  She modeled what a knitter looks like by showing me how she knits. (I'd never seen anyone knit before.)  She watched how I was knitting to see what I was doing right and wrong.  Then she gently reminded me to push the yarn down here, push it up there, and mostly she encouraged me. She rolled balls of yarn for me.  (Nine of them)  She sat while I knit 10 rows of stitching to make sure I was starting out well.

Today I have 4 inches of a new scarf started. Arguably the most perfectly wonderful scarf I have ever seen.  So happy.  So glad I have a friend who took the time to get me on the right track.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat Vintage Style

I'm the angel in the bottom middle (the one
with the ridiculously short bangs).
See that boy to my right? (your
left) He's the first boy I ever
"played doctor" with.



Yes, that is me dressed as St. Teresa. I cannot
imagine any circumstance under which
I thought this was a good idea, but
it's a good thing it was 1963 and 
I attended a Catholic school.

As I write this it is the Saturday night before Halloween in New York City. I just went out to walk the dog after spending two days inside with a bad cold and discovered the streets are peppered with drunken "trick or treaters" on their way to the local bars. I personally saw Batman entering the Social Club with Lady Gaga.  I can attest to that, Perez Hilton.


It reminded me that I was going to blog about Halloween memories. Some of my best memories of my mom were around her creativity -- and on Halloween she was the queen.  For several years on end she made -- easily -- a hundred candy apples to give out to the kids in the neighborhood. Ours was the most popular stop in town, for sure. I remember older boys standing outside the house hollering, "Mrs. Mezzo, I want another one," when she ran out.  After a while she had to stop making them because she couldn't keep up with the demand on that day. 


And we didn't only give.  Halloween was second only to Christmas as a day when my two older brothers could indulge their acquisitive natures, and they didn't miss the opportunity; they took their candy gathering very seriously.They would go out with pillowcases right after school and didn't come back until they were at least 2/3 full. They always had tales about houses with cider and donuts, large Hershey bars or similar treasure.  At the end of the "gathering," we would all dump our booty out on the dining room table, (I'd have something to contribute, but nothing like their loot),  pick out our favorites, and then mom would put the rest in large metal tins and let us eat a little each day.  We were still eating Halloween candy after Christmas.  We knew we were at the end of the candy tins when we were left with green gumdrops or Good 'n Plenty.  Or those Peppermint Patties.  Even at my most desperate sugar moment I couldn't force myself to eat those.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Keeping it Together

My inspiration board had lots of peach and bronze this week. You know how artists have their blue period or pink period?  I think I'm in my pumpkin pie period right now. 


I'd love to paint from a living model, but for now I still have to settle for using magazine pictures, which I tear out and scatter about me.  I often use a nose from this face and eyes from that one.  I usually like to paint very earthy faces, uncluttered yet sophisticated. I use my fingers, brushes, a palette knife - whatever I can find. 


Sometimes I collage first, scrape paint over that to complete the background and then paint my images on top.  For this one I was thinking of doing encaustic wax over it all, but I'm not sure whether I'll do that final step or leave it just as it is. (This particular painting is made with shiva paint sticks, one of my favorite mediums to work in.)

I love the effect of the paint over the collage squares. There is a mosaic tile look, and always a reminder that we are all made of many pieces arranged together, not cut from one cloth as we may appear to be at first glance.  As I was working, I was thinking: what is the glue that holds my life's "pieces" together?  For each of us it is different ... our families, our motivations, our faith.  Some people are always searching to find the answer to that question, while others are certain of the answer throughout their entire lives.  My glue is my love of family first, and my desire to change my world in some permanent way second.  Do you know what your glue is?







Sunday, October 3, 2010

T-shirt necklace tutorial


I had so much fun making this t-shirt necklace!  It's fun and easy to do. For this one I used a plain old grey t-shirt, but you could use a colorful tye-dyed one or a mixture of various colors.    Here are some basic instructions:

1.  Lay the t-shirt flat on the table. Cut off the bottom band.  Now cut layers straight across so that you have round cylinders of t-shirt fabric.

2.  Pull on the round pieces of fabric and they will curl in on themselves to form tubes

3.  Place the fabric around your neck and measure for length. If you would like the necklace shorter, cut each strand and then tie one to the length you like.  Now measure all the others so they match that length, but don't tie them. Just cross their ends over at the spot where they would tie.  Tie the necklace together at that spot with another piece of fabric.  

4.  Now you have your basic necklace.  You can embellish it with buttons (lots or just a few lovely ones), a fancy pin that you change with your outfits, old mismatched earrings, little dangly things that hang from your cell phone or purse, or any other decorative thing you might like. (I have a sheriff's pin my husband purchased for me that I'm planning to pin on one day soon!)

If you have any questions, let me know!  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Baked Eggs with Spinach and Bacon (Aka Happy Birthday Lou)

I don't cook breakfast. Well not usually.

But today is my husband's birthday and lately I've been cooking up quite a little storm in my house, so I knew I wanted to make him something special.  I got this recipe in Bon Appetit's September issue, and I'm just going to say that if I was able to make something that turned out this good the first time around, it is a major hit with me.  Very few ingredients, easy, quick, and impressive. 


I'll show you the end results first and then show you what I did. 



It's beautiful, isn't it?  And it tastes delicious.  This recipe and more can be found at the Bon Appetit website, so I think it's ok if I share it here.  I've been loving my Bon Appetit magazine!!  I think it's helping me become a cook, after all these years.

4 servings
  • PREP: 30 minutes
  • TOTAL: 45 minutes




Ingredients

  • 6 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 1 5-ounce bag baby spinach
  • 2 whole wheat or sourdough English muffins, split horizontally, well toasted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

  • SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

    4 1-cup ramekins

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels. 



        
    Pour off drippings from skillet; reserve drippings. Add spinach to pan, sprinkle with pepper, and toss over medium heat, 1 minute. 

















    Transfer to strainer set over bowl to drain. Brush four 1-cup ramekins with drippings. 



    Crumble bacon.




  • Place 1 toasted English muffin half, split side up, in each ramekin. Divide spinach among ramekins, then sprinkle bacon over, dividing equally. With back of spoon, shape well in center of each ramekin. Gently crack 1 egg into well in each ramekin, keeping yolk intact. Drizzle 1 tablespoon cream over each egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  • Bake eggs until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 14 to 16 minutes.




    Bon Appetit, Birthday Boy!!





Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/quick-recipes/2010/09/baked_eggs_with_bacon_and_spinach#ixzz10gKqET6X

Friday, September 17, 2010

10 things I want to remember about the summer of 2010

in no particular order...

Bill standing in his flip flops and tuxedo, watching and waiting for Ally to arrive at the altar to marry him.

Ally's little salon breakdown on the morning of the wedding and her needing Ben at that moment more than anyone else in the world -- and how he talked her through it.

Distracting Ally before her bridal shower--that endless cup of coffee while we waited.

Shadows and light at Horton House, HF Bar Ranch, Wyoming.

Dewey, Truman, Monty and Zulu in the early morning at the Hamptons.

NOT getting into the Nate show with Kim and Atsuko--but a great afternoon together anyway.

BBQs with Ellen and Frank-margaritas and always too much food.

Geocaching in Central Park and Greenwich Village.

Riding horses at dusk in the foothills of the Bighorns.

Hiking the banks of the Shell Creek with Cindy and the picnic ride to the South Fork.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fashion Week 2010 - Lincoln Center


Fashion week starts tomorrow at its new location - Lincoln Center instead of Bryant Park - NYC. I think everyone will be happy, as there is a dearth of good restaurants in the BP area. I used to live there and hated trying to find anywhere good to eat in the neighborhood. Now I live within a short walk of Lincoln Center and can always find a good place to eat. P.J Clarkes and Rosa Mexicana, both across the street, are doing a booming business today and will likely continue to do so for the next week.  There was lots of commotion this morning as the tents are up, photographers are milling about trying to catch a shot of the fashion somebodies, and construction crews are working on the frame you see behind me and that you'll soon see on the Project Runway finale (if you are a fan). So much excitement!!  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I went into analysis today

...called I Write Like writing analysis.  My friend Ellie from Girl Got Poetry sent me the link, so blame it on her.

So my sample revealed that it was written in the style of Chuck Palahniuk.  I Googled him.  "American transgressional fictional novelist."  I'm guessing he wrote that about himself since, a) it's on Wikipedia, and b) nobody calls someone something like that and gets away with it.  Chuck is best known for the book-to-film missive, Fight Club.

I wasn't all that impressed with the comparison. I want to be Nora Ephron ... and I WANT IT NOW.

I wonder how many samples I'd have to submit to get the right answer?  Ellie said she's thinking of submitting repeatedly until she comes up with an author comparison that feeds her ego.

Hey, I'm just trying for accuracy here.

Let me know who you are if you go into analysis at  I write like

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

GPP Street Team Challenge 44-In a Scrape

The challenge was to use paint and nothing but a credit card to apply. No brushes, sponges, etc.  I often use a CC for some layers but finish with a brush, so it was interesting to see how much I could do with just one tool. Using stencils or masks was optional, so I used an animal skin stencil from Artist Cellar (I also love their metallic Byzantia paints). This could be a background, but in my case I was seeing it as a cave and temple of worship. It's called Houses of the Holy. (yes yes, I was a child of the Led Zeppelin era.)



Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Ghost Story

We stayed at The Big House this year at the HF Bar Ranch -- rather than one of the little cabins as usual.   The house once belonged to the ranch's founder, Doc (Frank O. "Skipper") Horton.  I'm told the doctor couldn't continue practicing because he was color blind, so he left Iowa and went West with his brother-in-law, a Chicago financier, to seek his fortune as some sort of cattle rancher.  It doesn't seem that was a very profitable venture for him, but many of his friends from back East would take the train out to visit him and found they enjoyed hunting, fishing and riding in the beautiful Bighorn mountains.  They'd stay for a month or more, and Doc Horton eventually suggested that, rather than staying in his house, they build cabins of their own for future visits, and so they did -- picking cozy spots near the stream that forked out from nearby Rock Creek.  Those cabins are the same ones ranch guests have been staying in for the past 70+ years. The ranch turned from cattle ranch to dude ranch, and Skipper Horton succeeded big at something -- just not what he'd set out to do.

Anyway, when we were given The Big House for our stay this year, we were also given an earful of ghost stories about the place being haunted -- and when you walk inside the house it's clear to see why. The downstairs hallway has a single 60-watt bulb lighting the hallway.  It's eerie and darkish, and the hallway is lined with dusty books and a model of what looks like a human spine (think Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).  Most of the furniture is original, and that of course lends a certain sense of either macabre or nostalgia to the home.  I found the stories laughable and the upstairs part of the house charming and sunny. I loved staying there all week and didn't want to leave.  I should probably mention, though, that on the third night I woke up around 2 a.m. and saw the dark figure of a man standing at the end of my bed, staring at me.  After about ten seconds he disappeared.  I don't mean he walked out -- I mean he dissolved.  Now I'm fairly clairvoyant about things, and I can read people pretty well without really intending to, so I'm used to that; but those are just feelings and impressions. This is the first time I've ever seen a presence. It was interesting -- and it seems he was only interested in looking at me. Nothing evil feeling-- more just curious, like, "what are you doing in my house?" I waited to see if anything else was going to happen; you know,  those horror movie things like creaking doors and banging shutters.  But no.  I guess he was satisfied seeing who it was that was sleeping in the bedroom of his house.  (I'd like to think he was happy with the new woman in his bed, LOL.)

So there's your ghost story.  And here are some pictures from Horton House at H.F.Bar Ranch:






Below: the view of the ranch house (where we eat)
 from the Horton House. 

















I could go on and on here with these pictures, I took 
so many. I may have spent an hour watching the light change
from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. the first morning in the house. 
Old houses are so beautiful in that way, 
watching the light filtering through the
 windows and seeing how things look 
different every quarter hour.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wyoming

I wish I had better internet service out here because there is so much I'd like to tell you and so many pictures to show you.  Anyway, here is one some of you have seen on facebook or twitter that my husband took of us at dusk on a ride. The weather has been changeable -- some days 60 and some days 90 -- but always pretty sunny, which is good.  The week before we arrived there was golf-ball sized hail, which is not so nice when you are out on a trail.  Riding out here at the H. F. Bar Ranch for the past 8 years has spoiled me for any other kind of riding, and I always look forward to returning each year.  I'll write more when I'm home again in a day or two.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ally and Bill's Wedding July 23, 2010

The weather was beautiful. A little windy and my hair got messed up but who's complaining?  A little hot and humid and we were all schvitzing, but who can complain.  I lost one of the brand new citrine and diamond earrings I just bought for this occasion and got sand in my contact lenses every time that wind kicked up and I was so busy talking I forgot to eat the food, but really who can complain? Not me. Did I mention I got my first moving violation for driving through a red light that day?



Ally's cousin Kathleen


flower girls


Allison's brother Ben walked her down

         the vows



          sand ceremony



the rings (aka the trembling of the hands)


         the groomsmen



the spring lake gazebo

           "senior" flower girl and ring bearer



            cocktail hour on the porch



sand dollar place settings



           inside



 watching the first dance....



           ... choreographed and practiced...



....and there's the dip



this dance was for Lou.



white chocolate seashell favors


"junior" flower girl and ring bearer


          Ally and her cousins




         Ben and Kate



Uncle Al and I ignoring the conga line



Ally and Bill remembered to dance all night
and enjoy their own wedding.