Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Great Pine Cone Adventure

As a working mom, it seems like I am endlessly juggling schedules. From early release days at school to President's Day, institute days, and holiday breaks, I often feel like the kids spend more time out of school than in. While I don't have the luxury of taking all of the same days off that Katie has off, I do take some and try to make them fun days rather than cleaning, laundry and grocery store catch-up days.

 The kids are on Spring Break this week and thanks to my best friend who is back in the work force this year and our husbands, we have all managed to take time off work to spend trading off the children. Our kids are a year apart in age (their son, Scotty, is 8 and our daughter, Katie, is 9) and they play miraculously well together.

 Yesterday was my day.

 I didn't plan any activities and was feeling mildly guilty about it. In a world where we schedule "playdates" having an entirely unscheduled day can feel a bit irresponsible. I know I 'm about to sound like our parents when I say this but I remembered back to my childhood when playdates didn't exist and going out to play was exactly that. Our imaginations were all we had to rely on for entertainment. We'd  get on our bikes and ride around  for hours, stopping at parks and creeks along the way, catching frogs, climbing trees, and chasing the ice cream truck around the neighborhood. We'd return home hours later, smelling like dirt and grass, grimy enough to turn our bath water instantly brown but having had a great adventure!

I decided to refuse to feel guilty about not having a plan and, instead, packed the kids a picnic lunch and sent them on a pine cone hunt. "Go have fun, kids! Have an adventure!" I said, patting myself on the back for coming up with this spectacular idea that didn't involve computers, TV's, or gaming systems! Go mom!

To my surprise, they were back in 10 minutes. They handed me their empty lunch bag and 2 grocery bags filled to the brim with pine cones. A bit miffed, I scratched my head and said "wow that's a lot of pine cones!"  The kids announced they wanted to do "arts and crafts" with them. OK, I can go with the flow... I pulled out paint, brushes, elmer's glue, and glitter glue and they went to town decorating. Still a bit puzzled, I thought to myself  where the heck did they get this many pine cones so fast?

I let them go for a while and then I noticed they were making thank you notes so I asked, "who are the thank you notes for?" to which my daughter replied, "this nice man gave us two full bags of pine cones when we were sitting under the tree eating our lunch." And just to clarify (because I know you're thinking what I was thinking, the "nice man" really was a nice retired man who lives near us)

I had big dreams for their great pine cone adventure but I digress. I still think they had fun: 



look at those smiles!

Dinner and Drawing: Journal Page Metamorphosis.....

Dinner and Drawing: Journal Page Metamorphosis.....: Funny where our process takes us......... This......... Started off as this....... A little bit of time has...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Journal Page Metamorphosis.....

Funny where our process takes us.........

Started off as this.......

A little bit of time has gone by since my last blog post 
because I've been doing

Tubby Time

Biscuit, Labradoodle

Madden, Soft Coated Wheaton Puppy

Ziva, the Puggle


have a great day!!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I was so tired after work last night that this is about all I could muster on my journal page. I learned this type of lettering in a letter lab workshop by Lori Vliegen, aka Elvie Studios. Check out her blog:

Still beautiful glorious summer weather here in Chicago and spring break at Lake Forest Kennel Club is almost underway! Stay tuned for fun dog photos and more art!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Journal Page....In Progress

This is the journal page I started over the weekend. I started in my mixed media journal by first gluing pages together to fortify my surface. I followed with 2 layers of gesso on each page to prepare my surface. I added pages I tore out of a  book I am altering and added some torn strips of masking tape. I covered that with pastels and acrylic paint, scrubbing the covered surface with a baby wipe to blend and combine the colors.

I am really excited about the sort of vintage, old-fashioned look that is emerging from painting and pastelling over the masking tape. I went in and drew some rough flowers with black sharpie marker because I wanted to add some organic marks and lines to the composition.

I'm not sure where this is headed at this point but that's why I love Art Journaling so much. I can let it be and let it tell me where it wants to go. This helps inform my approach to any art piece I begin. I think it's getting a little muddy and is crying out for contrast. I will continue to listen to it. Stay tuned to see how this one evolves!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Simple Sunday

One of my dearest friends, who, like myself is of Irish and German descent (not exactly the pillars of culinary creativity), married an Italian man with a mother who could quite possibly out-cook Mario Batali. Ever since my friend's mother in law showed me this dish, it has been a staple in our weekly menu. This recipe for Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions is a rustic, easy-to-prepare dish that can be great for a crowd or for a simple Sunday night meal.  It is budget friendly and oh-so satisfying. I love simple dishes that are as fabulous as this one! We like to pop it in the oven around 4:00 on a lazy Sunday afternoon for an early dinner with relatively no clean-up. This easy meal is a perfect way to serve your family dinner without having a gargantuan Sunday night-dinner mess to clean up when all you really want to do is wind down after the weekend and savor a couple more hours of peace before the work and school week start up again. Serve these yummy sausages with pasta or on warm French Bread as a rustic sandwich. Add pizza and mozzarella cheese for some added "zazz". Hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!


1 package of Mild or Hot Italian Sausage
1 Medium Onion
1 Medium Green Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning

Place Italian Sausage in a baking dish
Cut up Onion and Green Peppers in good sized chunks & throw in with the sausage

Generously coat everything with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sprinkle Generously with Italian Seasonings
Toss with your hands to coat sausage, onions, and peppers

Cover with Aluminum Foil and Bake in 425 degree oven for about 90 minutes or until sausage is super tender and browned on the outside

Serve as a sandwich with warm french bread and a side salad

Options: Add pizza sauce and mozzarella or provolone cheese to your sandwich for a twist!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dog Daze

It's the most glorious day today! March 14 and it's 77 degrees, sunny, and breezy! Doggy Daycare is in full swing and I think I have Spring Fever!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Finding Purpose

$1.00 at Salvation Army

I found this beauty of a  mug at the Salvation Army Store for $1.00! When I saw this perfect little gem on the dusty shelf among 70's style glassware, harvest gold-rimmed dishes, broken lamps and broken baskets, I turned it around in my hands and wondered to myself, "who would get rid of this?"
Maybe someone bought it at an art show to drink coffee out of and found it to be a bit too wide brimmed. Or maybe it didn't fit in the cabinet with the other coffee cups? Or, maybe the person traded in their ecclectic collection of mugs for a "rustic" matching set of  mugs from Pottery Barn? Maybe it was a terrible gift from someone's Aunt Edith.
I admit, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it but it was really pretty to me, in perfect condition and.....did I mention it was only $1.00? I love these types of pieces because they are so visually pleasing.  It reminded me of another mug I bought at an art show in Connecticut that I've always adored. I'm sure I paid $20.00 for it.

$20.00 at Art Show

There was no way I was passing it up. I knew I'd find it a purpose somewhere in my life. So, I brought it home and tried drinking coffee out of it. It was a bit too wide brimmed. It didn't really fit in the cabinet with my matching ceramic mugs either.  I think it might beg for Broccoli Cheese or French Onion Soup but for now it sits on my desk at work and holds business cards, pens, and highlighters until I find it's perfect purpose.

 I think it looks happy, don't you?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Every artist was first an amateur.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since I haven't been practicing my art regularly for a good part of my adult life, I have a hard time saying I am an "artist". I have often referred to myself as an "amateur" artist.  I remember when I started drawing portraits and how critical I was of my work (still am!!) but felt like I couldn't look at my work objectively (still can't!!). Was it ok? Was it not? Was I missing things that I couldn't see but a more experienced artist would see as blatantly wrong and amateurish? I look back at my portraits now and think to myself, wow! I did that! It might not be perfect but I showed up on the page and did my best.
Not bad for an amateur!

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rest Period

Mid-winter in the Midwest is always a little challenging. Grey skies and cold weather prove uninspiring while leafless trees and frozen ground just make me want to curl up under a blanket and hide for a while. Summer is still a little too far away to get excited about and spring can be non-existent around here. Let's face it, it's a depressing time of the year. Not much to look at or to look forward to. Even though the sun has been out and I've been taking my vitamin D I'm still struggling with finding my energy and inspiration. In spite of a few new projects, I feel like I'm spinning my wheels, not getting anywhere. I feel the proverbial dark cloud looming over my head and that I'm living inside of myself a lot. I feel like my spirit went dormant. So, naturally I ask myself the question, "what the heck is wrong with me?"
Maybe feeling dormant isn't a bad thing. Maybe I shouldn't feel like I have to be constantly productive or that I have to apologize for being a little slower, a little off right now. If trees can do it, why can’t I? We are all a part of the natural cycle, right? As humans, we feel we need to endlessly & tirelessly keep going, ignoring our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being but nature has a better idea: Take a break in order to guarantee prosperity in livlier times. Which also guarantees our survival.  Instead of fuming at my psyche for going on vacation without me, I should join it and lay dormant for a while. Conserve my energy for future growth and prosperity.
I think nature's got it right.
Just becasue we're not actively doing something doesn't mean we're not still growing.

Journal Page in Progress

Journal Page in Progress

Journal Page in Progress

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pizza Party

Let me just start by saying this: I am a bread person. I love bread! In all it's glorious forms! Give me bread with real butter any day over cake and I am a happy happy girl. My obsession with bread grew to a new level when I was given a Panasonic Bread Machine as a gift from my mother in law back in 1996. When I first received it, I made every kind of bread in the Bread Machine Bread Cookbook.....jalapeno cheddar bread, Italian bread, sourdough bread, you name it I made it. And ate it! And I loved all of it. But I think the very best part about this bread machine was the fact that it could make dough! As dough!  I would buy all kinds of different toppings and have pizza party night at my apartment with beer and friends. It was super fun! Life was good!

A few years went by and, sadly, the bread machine was forgotten, stored away in the back of  a dark it's place on the countertop a shiny new panini maker and the promise of all kinds of yummy sandwiches.

One summer vacation I was visiting my in laws in South Carolina and my mother in law made New York Style pizzeria pizza that was to die for! I asked her how she made it and it all started with dough from the bread machine and a few simple ingredients. Bread machine? Wait....I have one of those.......

I scribbled down the recipe and when I returned home, I rescued my beloved bread machine from the depths of it's storage place, dusted it off and in 2 1/2 hours....voila! Pizzeria Pizza at home! After that I think I made it twice a week for several months.What can I say? I get a little stuck on things! But it tastes better than ordering out and costs almost nothing to make!

Tonight's dinner at my house, needless to say, is New York Style Pizza. I hope I inspire you to dust off your old bread maker (mine still works like a charm even after all of these years) and make some pizza at home.

DOUGH: 1 1/4 Cups Warm Water, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 3 Cups bread flour, 1 envelope of yeast

SAUCE: 1 can (14.5 oz) whole tomatoes (drain liquid), 2 garlic cloves, 1 tsp oregano, and a pinch of kosher salt puree in a blender......TOPPINGS: Whatever you like!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, bake for about 10 minutes, check frequently


p.s. don't write your blog while the pizza is in the oven or else you run the risk of overcooking it like I did! (*sigh*) It was still delicioso!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Perhaps today my blog should be called Dinner, Dogs, and Drawing. I have neither art to share nor reflective words today....but I just had to share this face only a mother could love! This big hunk of burning love visited our groom shop today! Happy Friday

Have a great weekend and get your creativity on!