Friday, June 29, 2012

Rich Iced Coffee Treat and Mocha Syrup

This is one of my favorite summer afternoon treats.

It's simple to make, and delicious, and turns a regular day into a celebration.

Take some cold coffee. I make a little extra in the morning and save it for later. Make sure you take it off the burner so that it doesn't get burned. Burned coffee is not a treat. Or you can make one of those fancy cold brewed coffees that I never get around to, because I always have leftover coffee in my coffee maker. (Actually, after reading that tutorial, I really want to try it. I know where to get gallon glass jars.)

Pour your coffee into a glass and add milk or cream to your desired lightness. Or leave it black if that is your taste.

Add ice.

Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Coffee ice cream also works. As does chocolate. Truth is, the pictured coffee has butter pecan ice cream, because that is what I had in the freezer.

Pour on some lovely chocolate syrup. Here is where you want to be careful. I find that regular hersheys syrup is not that good, but dark chocolate hersheys is works well. I also don't like mine too chocolatey so I add just enough for a slight sweetness, but if you wanted yours more mocha, add more chocolate.

I did not use store bought chocolate syrup here. I made my own, because I have been feeling disappointed with store bought varieties. It was very easy and is very delicious. And I added coffee too my syrup because I wanted it to be a bit darker. Here is my chocolate syrup recipe, which is technically, probably a mocha syrup.

Mocha Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup strong coffee
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
pinch sea salt

In a heavy sauce pan, heat water, coffee and sugar together over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for a few minutes. Add cocoa powder a bit at a time, whisking into the sugar syrup until incorporated. Add vanilla and sea salt. Simmer for a few minutes more.

Let cool and pour into a glass jar for storage in the refrigerator.

According to my children, who got to taste the syrup before bed, "Mommy! I will DIE if I don't get more chocolate syrup!" It's that good. Or they're that dramatic. Not sure which.

This is a syrup and does not get thick in the refrigerator, so is always ready to pour onto ice cream or into milk or iced coffee. It is not a chocolate or hot fudge sauce, but thin like a syrup. I think this recipe could stand cutting out the water entirely and making it all coffee. I can't actually taste the coffee in the syrup, as it compliments the stronger chocolate flavor and just gives it a richer taste, rather than a mocha taste. A cup of espresso might make it a powerful mocha flavor. If anyone tries that, I'd love to hear how it works out.

Anyway, enjoy your Friday. Have a chocolate creamy treat for me.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blue Girl of the Wide Open Skies

Blue Girl of the Wide Open Skies
acrylic on watercolor paper
3" x 4"

Sometimes I want to experiment a little. The other day while I was painting, I liked a stage of underpainting. I have often been attracted to an unfinished looking painting or sketch, there's something about the "developing" feeling that I like. So when I started a new little portrait, I decided to go all the way with the underpainting, allow the off colors to come through... well, no, not come through, to be the painting.

This is part of what it means to me to be free in art. I get a whim, a feeling, an urge, and go with it, even if it isn't the way you're "supposed" to do it.

I feel that this is one way to discover who you are as an artist. I believe that this is what it means to push boundaries or think outside of the box or be creative.  When you get a "what if?" question, you try to answer that what if. What if I left off the finishing touches that make it all pretty? What if I let the insides show? What if I didn't use traditional colors. What if I didn't already have the answer?

Another experiment I tried here was with the color.

When I first started my painting every day exercises, I would often reach into my art bag and pull out three paint tubes, and whatever I pulled out would guide my painting for the day. It was fun to just go with the flow  and see what would happen when I put the random colors together. Sometimes it was a disaster, but sometimes, using colors that were not my "usual" color preferences opened up whole new worlds for me. It was almost like speaking another language.

I took a chance with the random colors I first pulled out of a bag with this painting, and came up with the blue and a bright yellow. It reminded me of when I was in school and the teacher gave us the challenge of painting only with complimentary colors and white and seeing what we could come up with. So I added orange to my painting and the titan buff.

I like the freedom this experiment gave me. The freedom to break away from what it's supposed to be and to explore exciting interactions of color. The freedom from my usual solutions to representation.

There is a paradox in this freedom I experience, because I have actually set myself up with very tight constraints.  I am allowed only four colors. I am allowed only 3" x 4" of space.

And yet, despite the constraints, my imagination is free to try new possibilities, new strategies, new paintings that go beyond where I was before.

Oh, I like this idea of limiting where I can go with a painting. At least until I find myself in a place where I have something definite to say, until I am ready to go deeper into something.

Give it a try. Create based on a narrow theme or with few materials. Try small things, or time limits, and within those constraints, see where your imagination and ingenuity can take you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

 Miniature Bound Fabric Treasure Book
felt, cotton, thread, glitter glue

My daughter found this in her dollhouse and brought it to me to read to her. I made it for her a couple of Christmases ago, and it kind of got lost in the avalanche of crafting and toys. So I thought I'd post about it here... because it's the little things that make life good, right? This is a little thing.

On the front, I drew a diamond in glitter glue, because it is a treasure.
 I particularly thought it was interesting because she already CAN read this. It's not real difficult. But the point was she wanted ME to read it.
 Because it's about love.
 It's about a message from mommy to her,

See, her name is Ivy so I appliqued felt ivy leaves into the book.

the end.

I might even have looked up how to bind a book to put it together.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Can Be Found In Shadows (Be Happy)

What Can Be Found In Shadows (Be Happy)
acrylic on paper, moleskine notebook

It's all a mystery, to me, this process of creating.

I never know what I'm going to end up with, even though I have a plan and an idea. Even thought I think I know what is going to happen when I sit down to create, I never do.

So although creating is a mystery... I have become the detective, following the clues and searching out the next truth. Just like an episodic mystery show... I find the solution to this mystery, and another mystery is laid out before me, like a cliffhanger, hooking me into the next show.

I had the idea of a woman lost in flowers, or coming out of flowers. I remember seeing something on pinterest, and pinned it, but didn't go back to it when I started drawing.

 And then when I wanted to paint something this morning and took out my moleskine, there was this drawing ready to be drawn. It wasn't what I planned, but I followed the clue.
 Then I thought about an under painting. I wanted to use pink, but I also wanted to have blue shadows, but I wanted them to be subtle... so...
 And I knew I wanted to work with black, dark brown and cream, along with the pink of the flowers that I had planned. And this is also when I added the pink to the face, it echoes the flowers as well as giving that blushing look. For some reason, I made the skin around the eyes pink. Perhaps it was just a whim, or perhaps somewhere in my head, I wanted the tenderness of pink eyes, like white rabbits, or girls who have been crying.
 Then I started to add in the green for the foliage. Although I like a limited palette, I knew I wanted a lot of green, and wanted it to look loose and irregular.  I'll tell you a little secret here...instead of just randomly adding green for the leaves, I wrote words, very loosely all over the background. I wrote "be happy" in messy script, in many directions, overlapping the other words. You can't see it at all, I checked. It just looks like loosely painted foliage. And actually, I probably added more green than I would have if I hadn't written it on there. I also added another shade of rosy/browny pink to the roses for shadows and to the face, also.

This is also where I striped her shirt. I didn't want the foliage to take over her shirt, but I also didn't want it black. I'm really pleased with the stripe. It adds a graphic note, but still acts as camouflage. Most of the paintings that are in my moleskine right now have a lot of camouflage going on in them... and I'm not sure why. (A mystery for another day.)
 Then, I spent some time on the face, painting over the under painting with titan buff, mixing some with the brown for shadows. You can still see some of the pink under painting, but she no longer looks eerie.
 Then I added some more brown for emphasis. I'm not quite sure I don't prefer her without dark brown. I kind of like the baldness of the face without eyelashes and eyebrows, but I did it, so I went with it. Maybe I'll try another portrait sometime with a nice open face. But she does have brown/black hair, so it would make sense that her eyelashes and brows would be dark.
 But to tell the truth, I was feeling that she was a little fussy with all the tiny brushstrokes on her face, so I took a bigger brush and covered most of her face with more titan buff, leaving just the details on the features.  I love titan buff. I don't care if it's not really flesh colored. I also added in a tiny bit of white high lights. I wanted her to look a little moist, tears and tenderness and light.  I added some black to the hair, to give it a little depth, and added the black heart. The original sketch had the heart pendant and I wanted to keep it, but for some reason, I didn't want it to look like a pendant. I wanted it to look like writing. I suppose because of the writing that is camouflaged as rose bushes. These are details you would never know unless I told you. And look here, I just did.
The last step, I tried to make her hair look curlier, don't know why, just wanted to. And then I brought the curls out into the green, to integrate the two colors and make the girl more a part of the rose bush. I added brown curls all the way through the painting.

So there I've gone and demystified my painting process.

That's what happens when I have my camera sitting on my kitchen table on a sunny day, next to my painting

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Want To Be Free and How We Measure the Universe

I Want To Be Free, and How We Measure the Universe
acrylic on vintage dinosaur book page

Sometimes, I get frustrated.

I have the urge to paint something or write something, but it has not done enough percolating around inside of my brain to come out.

I want to be free in my creativity, I want to have the answers to these big questions... sometimes all I want are the questions, and I don't even have the right questions to get where I want to go.

I think when I forget that this is all a process, that's when I start to get blocked up. It's because I expect everything I do to be genius, to thrill me, to be "right." But the truth is, when you are taking chances and trying new things, and making it up as you go along, well, then sometimes it isn't going to work out.

You'll have false starts and ugly results and sometimes just 'meh'.

And that's ok. Keep trying. Keep picking up that paintbrush. Keep sitting down at that keyboard. Keep going. Don't give up.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Never Give Up (rainbows and light)

don't give up
acrylic on paper

This is something that I have to keep telling myself, on a regular basis.

It's hard to remember when you keep trying and don't always see results right away.

When I painted this, I was thinking about dandelions. Dandelions are irrepressible. They keep going, bright and yellow and full of wishes.

And I wanted to add rainbows, because I'm part of the Optimism Crew *pound pound* rainbows and light. 


(Does that sound ridiculous? It made me laugh pretty hard when I tossed up my jazz fingers gang sign at work yesterday.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Celebrate the Process, Not Just the Successes

YES champagne charm celebration card

I made this little charm greeting card for a celebration, combining the banner and champagne glass that I painted and cut out a while ago with the golden beads and fishing line, the stamped backdrop and the fancy edge. I even added a gold edging with paint.

I think it's important that we remember to celebrate the moments of our lives. Sometimes they can be small moments, like a success with a new craft project...and sometimes they can be big moments, like a wedding or a new baby. Usually, they're something in the middle.

Butterfly Charm celebration card

Sometimes, I forget to celebrate my successes, and I get wrapped up in the hard work that I still have to do. Or worse, I get wrapped up in the things that DON'T work out, and I forget to celebrate the things that do.

I like the idea of sending cards to people in celebration. It's a little way to make their day special. Maybe we should send cards more often, write letters more often, celebrate people for smaller reasons or life in progress.

"I love what you're doing with your blog!"

"Your son is getting to be so grown and cute. You are a great mom!"

"I'm so proud of you for going for your dreams!"

"You are so brave, no matter what happens. You never give up!"

"Boy oh boy are you a good cook!"

I think I need to send more cards, because I certainly know people who are being brave and trying new things and putting all the daily effort into things that won't see results for years and years.

And I also need to find ways to celebrate my own process, my own small efforts on big journeys. Because I have them, even if I tend to gloss over them and instead just see where I'm falling short. What can a celebration consist of? My daughter always wants birthday candles and sprinkles... I guess there's something to that. My son wants seafood. That's what he wants, shrimp and calamari and mussels. They both like staying up late, popcorn with movies, sparklers, parades and free toys. What do I like? Chocolate, margaritas, cafe dates with myself where I get to write in my journal, sitting on the porch painting, home baked desserts, new books, new art supplies, buying a print from etsy.

I think I need to make a list of all the things I like to do for celebration, and then, when something good happens, I need to pick something from the list and do it.

What are ways that you celebrate your little successes in your daily life? How do you honor the steps forward that you've made?

Monday, June 18, 2012

This Is Your Ticket

I can't promise that it will be easy, in fact, I can promise that it won't be easy, but today, I am telling you that you have permission to follow your dreams and go for that thing that fills your soul with light.

Take that first step. Take the next one, and the one after that. It might be a very long journey. There might be long convoluted detours. You might be delayed. You might pick up travel companions along the way, and you might lose some. You might get weary. You might lose faith in even the existence of that glorious destination. Try anyway.

This is a ticket that says, Yes, you have the right to try for that very hard, very beautiful thing that you have always longed for.

This ticket says your dreams are worth the sacrifice, the hard work, the road less traveled.

Sorry for the dark picture. But in a way, the dark picture is fitting. This ticket was drawn during the middle of the night, because I had to. And the photo was taken in the middle of a thunderstorm, because when the sun was shining, I forgot about what I wanted to do.

Well there's something else for you. Sometimes we need those storms, those shadowed moments, to remember what it is that fills us with light.

So, like I said, you have permission to follow your dreams.

This is your ticket.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Rowena's Butter Beer

 Rowena's Butter Beer
(aka Cream Soda Float with Salted Caramel Sauce and Butter Pecan Ice Cream)

I've started planning on my son's Harry Potter birthday party, and one of the things I was thinking about was how to make the Butter Beer.

So when I found my salted caramel recipe yesterday I thought I'd try out the idea I was kicking around in my old noggin.

So I stopped at the corner store to grab a small bottle of cream soda, and a carton of butter pecan icecream, and when I got home, I threw it all together to see what would happen-- if it would taste good as I suspected or if it would be overwhelmingly sweet and not something I'd want to serve anyone. It's pretty simple, once you make the caramel sauce.

 One or two scoops butter pecan icecream.
 One teaspoon (more or less to taste) of salted caramel sauce.
 Fill the glass with cream soda. Woah, watch the foam bubble up.

 Woah. That looks pretty good.
 Woah. Woah. That is really good. Oh ma gah. Who the heck thought this up? Oh yeah, me. Get away from me little boy, this is mine. Go grow up and create your own super yummy Harry Potter inspired summer drinks.
OMG. Look at that foamy goodness all swirled with buttery caramel.

Just so you know I did actually let the boy finish it. I wasn't quite the piggy mom that I wanted to be and  I let him taste test his new butter beer recipe. I was gratified by that icecream soda slurp that the straw makes when it gets to the bottom of the yumminess.

And all the worries about the salted caramel sauce being too salty all disappeared, because with the sweetness of the cream soda and the butter pecan icecream, the salty sauce just adds a flavorful layer of depth and actually cuts what could have been a cloying and overly sweet drink.

But, I must say that when I make it for the party, I will use smaller glasses, because it was pretty darn sweet. A dessert all by itself, and if I am going to get a dozen kids out of my house after the party without going into sugar shock, I'm going to have to make the portions smaller.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Salted Caramel Sauce Delight

Oh yummy.

Yesterday I was taken with the urge to try to make a salted caramel sauce. Luckily I came across this on pinterest.

I've never made caramel sauce before, so I pretty much followed the recipe exactly... well, except I cut it in half, since this was an experiment and I didn't know if it would work out. Oh yeah, and I didn't have heavy cream so I used half and half. And my butter was salted, so I cut back on the sea salt.

Oh all right.... I'll tell you what I did. I'll also tell you what I learned after I went and consulted my friendly neighborhood pastry chef, Susan.

1 cup white sugar.
6 TBS salted butter
1/2 cup half and half.
about a teaspoon of sea salt (not fancy flaky sea salt)

I covered the bottom of a heavy, large pot with the sugar and heated over medium high heat, stirring pretty much continuously. It took a long time. At first I thought I was doing something wrong, because it wasn't clumping up like the recipe said, it was just getting to be hot sugar. But as Susan pointed out to me, it takes a while for sugar to get up to 300 degrees. Interesting she kept saying 300 degrees, because the original recipe said 350.

So soon it clumped up and I stirred it with a whisk like the recipe said until all the sugar was melted. And then I stopped stirring because the stirring will make it seize up. I swirled the pot a bit until it got to the right color. I didn't use a thermometer, because I didn't have one, and I thought I"d seen sugar being cooked enough to be able to judge the correct color change.

Then when it got to a nice caramelly color, I put in the butter all at the same time. Good thing the original recipe warned that it will boil up quite a bit (which is why you need a bigger pot than you'd assume) It really boiled up. Susan says that's because it's 300 degrees and it will bring the butter up to that temperature, but then it settles down and I stirred it until the butter was melted completely and then I turned off the heat.

That's when I added the half and half, and I think I should have done it even more slowly, because it REALLY boiled up and I almost burned myself. So be careful. Whisk again until the cream is incorporated and add the sea salt and whisk until smooth. Let cool 10-15 minutes and put in a glass jar.

I must say that I didn't wait 15 minutes. I HAD to taste test it.

My caramel sauce is quite salty. And the caramel has a very slight bitterness to it, because I think I cooked it just a tiny bit too long. Susan told me it was because the caramel kept cooking after the butter and cream was added, so that counted for the darker taste than I wanted. I thought I was so clever to "know" the right color for the caramel, and then I got confounded by the rest of the cooking process. Oh well, live and learn.

I also told Susan that I thought my caramel sauce was a tiny bit too grainy, and she said that it was okay, and that I could just heat it up and stir it and it would get smooth again. Have I mentioned how much I love having a pastry chef at my disposal? Pastry chefs have sweet brains for picking. Susan also told me to use better butter and that I would be surprised by how good butter would affect my baking.

However, the toasty flavor and excess salt in my caramel sauce did not stop me from enjoying it by the spoonful and giving myself a stomach ache.

Sadly, I did not have the brainstorm of dipping sliced apples into the salted caramel sauce until I already had the stomach ache. Because when combined with the sweetness of the apple, all the saltiness of the caramel sauce is offset and instead it is just an explosion of flavor.

Oh my god. So good.

I recommend anyone try it. It wasn't hard, although getting it to the right temperature/color is a little intimidating. If you want to try it, I also recommend that you go to the original recipe link, because not only is it more complete than mine, but she also has pictures. I was too frightened of burning sugar to take pictures, plus my light sucked.

All in all, I enjoyed this experiment and am looking forward to all the delightful treats I will be able to grace with a salted caramel sauce.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Patronus Charms from Plastic Toys

 Silver Stag (Patronus Charm)

I have begun my crafts for my sons upcoming Harry Potter Birthday Party. I've been collecting cheap little plastic animals from thrift stores and (shh) the bottom of my kids' toy box. Then I painted them with silver craft paint. Very easy.

To be honest I think I should have used some gesso on them first and maybe given them a coat of shellac or something, but this is just a small favor in what will be a craft intensive event. So, I'm going easy here. I'm sure the five to seven year olds won't really mind.

Here is the whole menagerie of patronus charms that I made. My favorites are the elephant and the frog, for some reason. 

What I still need to figure out is how I will give these little guys out. I want them to be an activity/game.   My first thought was to put them in balloons and the kids have to pop a balloon to get them out. Like learning the patronus charm, you have to work at it and you have no idea what patronus will come up until you do.

But I think they are too big to fit in a balloon. I was going to put them in a pinata, but I want one to go to each kid, not a free for all as everyone scrambles on the ground. Hmmm. Dilemma.

Does anyone have any brilliant, clever, simple and fun ideas for a game that can result in a patronus charm favor? I really am stumped here.  A grab bag? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

You Can Ride This Storm

You Can Ride This Storm
acrylic and watercolor on paper
5"x8" journal page

I painted this gray seascape a few days ago. Inspired by a photo I saw on line and memories of being at the beach in Florida and watching those daily storms rolling across the horizon.

I used the wrong paper and the wrong size brush and it really wasn't planned out right, but it wasn't supposed to be a planned out image. It was the feeling of the moment, something I tried to capture. The truth is, I don't always manage to capture what I want to capture. Sometimes I make something else entirely. And then I look at what I have and say to myself, "Self, what can I do with what I have in my hands?"

I don't always know what to do with it. I haven't found a purpose yet or haven't figured out what I want to see. So sometimes I put the things away until I discover what I want to make out of what I have.

Creative Storm

Today, I have a billion and one projects going on and responsibilities and a mess of nerves.

This is my storm today.

I'm going to remember what it feels like to watch that storm coming in, the wind in my face, the smell of ozone and finally the deluge.

And I'm going to remember also that the storm always passes. The calm returns. 

Remember that you can ride this storm, whatever it is.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Life Rules

Life Rules
pen and paper

The other day I was browsing pinterest and stumbled upon some nice handwritten life rules. I didn't pin it because.... I don't know why, and now I can't find it, but it must have stuck with me, because I took out my journal and wrote up my own life rules.

These are the essence of some of the things I have learned over the course of my life. Much of it is about being creative, but frankly, I think it goes for everything. These are the things I have to learn over and over again, the things that get me somewhere and the things I have to remember when I am lost.

But on the plus side, none of these things are terribly hard things, they take a bit of practice and a bit of faith.

This is about living. This is about getting through. This is about enjoying your life. This is about being on the journey with your whole heart.

If I thought about it for a long time, I could probably come up with even more. But this is what fills the page and I am satisfied. So here she is.  Rowena's life rules.

What would your life rules be? It helps to see them written down.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Greeting Cards with Tea Party Charms

 Greeting Card with Tea Pot charm

Now you see what I had in mind with all my little doo dad paintings. I had a request for a couple of cards. Let me tell you, research and development can take a long time.

But then, I love to futz with things and figure out how I can make them work. I like to invent things and create new solutions. And make pretty things, of course.

Greeting Card with Tea Party Charm

I like to think of these as little bits of joy that can be sent in the mail. The little pleasures in life that you can hang up on a wall to remind yourself that it's the little things that make life happy. Or put into a book and used as a book mark.

I'm a little obsessed with books lately, the idea of reading, the adventure of stories, the mystery of a new novel, the education in a non fiction book.

I suppose it's today's kick off festival for the library summer reading program, or maybe it's because my son is becoming a reader and I am reliving my youth as an avid reader.

Maybe I'll turn the rest of my little doo-dads that I painted into book marks. Goodness knows, between my own reading and my kids', I'm reading enough books right now to need more book marks. I mean, receipts and scrap paper will do the trick, but it's nice to have something pretty to put between the pages, just another pleasant thing about reading.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Hooray for Summer!

 Hooray for Summer!

We're getting really excited over here for summer. Hoping for long days and green shadows, sprinklers and popsicles, projects and adventures.

Tomorrow is the last day of school and the kick off for the library reading program, with games and crafts and prizes and lots of fun down town. I think that's why I whipped together this little package of joy.

It's a book (vintage, which I was planning on using for a craft project) wrapped in brown paper, which I love and can't help wrapping everything in as I sing Favorite Things. Then I decorated it with some little flags I made and the "hooray!" banner. Those are little illustrations that I already posted about, so I'm kind of pleased that I figured out something to do with them.

That's what summer feels like to me. A wrapped present, a celebration, a mystery, and the possibility of adventure... because to me, a book is always an adventure. I guess you know what kind of gal I am.
We've already started on the summer preparations, since the girl has been out of school for a while. This is her lilac bush tent/fort/hideout. 

 She's giving the thumbs up.
And this was the beginning of a play, put on with a neighbor, who is the one who had the brilliant idea to dress up in costumes. Somehow costumes always make things seem to be more of an event.

As for me, I'm getting together a summer bucket list of activities and adventures to go on. I've been spending some time on planning the kids portion of the summer, because the end of school is so near, but underneath that is my personal bucket list, pushing at the mom.

I've got some things I need to do. And I've got to figure out a way to get those things done when I've got two rambunctious kids around all day and a part time job as well.

What have you done to fit your passions into a full life with work and kids? Any tips on incorporating summer break into your personal work?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Butterflies, Flowers and the Creative Process

 Watercolor Painting

I spent the day yesterday painting. Not one painting, but these little illustrations, little things that make me happy, that I think are lovely. I got all sorts of photo references from pinterest. It's such a good tool for those of us who are visually oriented.

I've been a little obsessed with stationery and illustration and lettering. I don't really know what I am going to do with them. It's all still in development. What if I end up not using them at all?

I guess that's the risk of making art, or really anything. The risk of life, even. You don't know how things are going to turn out, if you will like it or if it will all fit together, or if you'll change your mind thirty minutes after you've painted out the last stroke and put the work away never to look at it again. Or if you make something and the world does not receive it well and no one really resonates with it and it just disappears into a drawer somewhere.
I guess that's why you need to enjoy the process of creating, of living, or working. If you're after it all just for the results, for the end product, for the pay or public acclaim, then you are missing the joy that you can get from actually making, from living, from experiencing life and trying new things. The physical loveliness of paint washing on the paper, colors deepening as you add layers, the thrill when something you planned turns out, unexpectedly, to be far more lovely than you were imagining, the hunt for ideas that make you sing.

What this basically comes down to is about enjoying the process.

Release the worry about what it all means and where it is all going. Trust that you are going somewhere you need to go.  Even if these pretty flowers, butterflies and celebratory snacks never go where my vague ideas thought, even if they DO get stuffed into a drawer never to see the light of day, the act of creating them may take me farther down my path. Maybe painting these pages is not about the pages that I've painted, but about the act of painting.

I do so love to paint, you see. And I don't do it nearly enough. So if this project got me to take out my trusty winsor newton travel paint set, then maybe that was the point. Maybe I've already gotten something out of this project because of the thought that I put into writing this post, and the creative process?

Whatever it is, in and of itself, creating is a worthy activity. Not just for what you can create, not just for items that you could sell and posts that you could write, but because creating brings beauty into the world. Creating is you envisioning possibility and making it real in the world.

And let me tell you, there are no limits to where THAT can take you.

So take some time and imagine those possibilities, those things you'd like to see come real in the world, a painting, a novel, a beautiful room, a garden, a meal, and put your energy into creating them.  Put aside your worries about how it might go wrong or take too long or be a disappointment, because the act of creating is transformative, no matter the results.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Summer Reading Book Mark for Boys Who Like to Read

 Summer Reading Book Mark
orange elephant stamps, embroidery floss, and scrap menus

We're gearing up for the summer over here, and more importantly, for the summer reading program at our awesome public library. After school (countdown to the last day!) we went to pick out a hefty stock of books. They love reading and G in particular is after some sort of prize where he reads a bazillion books this summer.

To encourage him, I decided he was going to need a book mark all of his own. Also so he can put his book down, because as soon as he took it out of the library, he was ALL OVER that mummy riddle book.

 He couldn't even close the book to walk home from the library. 

Or to pose with the neighbors dinosaur sculpture. Ivy is all over posing with the dinosaur.

I said dinosaur sculpture. THERE'S A DINOSAUR ON THE LAWN, GABRIEL!

 Or how about the squirrel with the white tail.   That's pretty cool. It has a white tail. Have you ever seen a squirrel with a white tail? Gabriel? Gabriel?

Oh okay, When DO the mommy mummies get presents? (Mummies Day, of course.)

Like I said, someone needs his own book mark.  Good night Mummy Riddles, and hello summer reading.
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