Friday, May 27, 2011

Art is all around us

As I said in my last post - we recently attended a choir concert. This was a special concert because our high school choir joined to together with Oregon State University's choir. They joined forces and it was an amazing night of music.

But in addition to the music - there was some beautiful art.
The concert was held at the "Grotto" in SE Portland. The Grotto is a catholic sanctuary that is a Portland icon. As a child - it was a place of fascination for me. It sets nestled in a wooded hillside. For years, there has been a large lit cross that sits high on the hillside and can be seen from various locations throughout the city. I actually never went there until I was an adult. It is the location of a wonderful Festival of LIghts during the Holidays. We go there every year to hear our high school choir perform their Holiday music.

The chapel area is made of high ceilings with marble walls and floors. The acoustics are bright and "alive". It is a great location for vocal music. The grounds are a wonderful mix of old and new. I am particularly drawn to the old -Check out their website for a little bit of history. It really is fascinating

As you emerge out of the wooded walkway, it opens into a courtyard - and carved into the cliff is a "cave" which shrines a life-size statue. Regardless of religious beliefs, you can't help but feel a sense of reverence at the sight. What you can't see is the hundreds of flickering candles that surround the cave on either size.

As you approach the cathedral, Mary greets you on the wall -
Once inside, this is the scene that you see as you look up at the ceiling. This immense mural covers a large domed ceiling. It is showing its age in areas, but I would have loved to been around to see the work being created almost a hundred years ago.

Thanks for joining me on my little tour . . .Remember to keep your eyes open to see the beautiful art that is all around you.

And if you vacation on the Oregon Coast this weekend, swing by Oceanside, Oregon and visit with me and the other artists.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Few New Pieces

You know how we always talk about how crazy the Holiday season is?
Well - as a mom of four, I beg to argue that late May/June are just as crazy, if not more so!

This week alone we have had 2 major family events, choir concerts, piano recitals and more.
But I wouldn't trade it for anything -

My beautiful "baby girl" singing with her choir
I love the music events.
I love seeing the progress my kids have made in their endeavors.
I love being together as a family.
It is near perfection.
I mean - isn't family what it is all about?
Sharing pancakes and laughs after the choir concert.
And in between, when I have a little time - I have worked in the studio.
The drawback to all of this is - I have a lot of work to complete - and not much time to do it.
So there has been some multi-tasking happening.
And sometimes that is ok . . .

And sometimes, it is not . . .

I am really happy with the way this 12 x 12 canvas turned out. I love the colors and the textures.
I love the bird - different from my normal simple birds.
She seems to have a bit more of an attitude -
but after my husband shot the photo of the piece, I realized that Yes . . .it is true -
I left out an entire word.
Hmmmm . . .
You would think I would have learned my lesson by now.
Do not . . .repeat DO NOT attempt to talk, watch movies or otherwise engage in attention splitting activities while writing words or phrases.

Oh well - I can repair the silliness.
Maybe someday I will learn my lesson.
Then again . . .maybe not. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dream Envy. . .

We finally have a bit of Spring hit our area. We have had so much rain and cold and misery it is a welcome sight to have the sun inthe sky finally.
It's sunny. The birds are busy. The air is alive.

So why am I not feeling better?

I'm having a hard time lately -
I want to throw all responsibility out the window and go hang in the hammock.
Read a totally mind-less novel.
Dig in the dirt a little.
Plant some flowers.
Take a walk.
Take a nap.
Get a pedicure. . .

I love having my own art business.
I enjoy my day job . . .most days. (But lets face it - if given the choice I would do my art business full time.)
But I also have been self-employed and am not at all dillusional in believing that being self employed means having all kinds of free time.
It means long, long hours. Hours spent not thinking about anything but the "business".
And I do that. I do it gladly.
I spend long hours in my studio painting, producing, researching. . . doing business.
It's hard for me to stop.
Stop and do nothing.
Last night, I was tired and opted not to work in the studio.
I curled up in bed to watch American Idol. I picked up me drawing pad and pencils and was going to work on a doodle -
and nothing came. I drew nothing. A total blank!

I am hoping this is just an indication that I need a little break and it will come back. I have been pursuing alot of different things and quite frankly - I am tired.

I am vowing right here and now to find a way to balance work and the joys of the warmer months.
I will find more time for things like this . . .
This my daughter and her best friend taking a moment for themselves.
I remember when I was younger and I didn't have trouble filling my days with absolutely nothing!
It was divine.
On this day - all my daughter wanted to do was take advantage and live in the moment.
Focus on what was directly in front of her - a beautiful afternoon (although still a little cool), with the sun sliding into the late afternoon.
We could all learn a lesson from that - focus fully on what is directly in front of us and take advantage of the here and now!
In other news - I will be at my annual Memorial Day Sale at Oceanside, Oregon. If you are headed to the Oregon Coast for the holiday weekend - try to stop by and say hi!

And when I am not at the sale, I will be sitting and taking in the view. . .

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Taste of Spring

When I first became a mother, I had this twisted version of what Mother's Day should feel like.
It looked something like a Hallmark card commercial.
And imagine my surprise when reality set in and that was not what it was really like.
The kids still needed their diapers changed, they still threw temper tantrums, dinner still needed to be made, the dishes still needed to be done . . .
Life still went on.

My expectations have changed alot.
And as a result - my idea of the perfect Mother's Day has changed alot as well.

For the better!

It has nothing to do with gifts or cards or breakfast in bed.
Not that I don't love those things.  I do!

But instead - it's about cherishing these people that I gave birth to.
It's about cherishing the time I have with them.

It's about cherishing my mother and the precious time that I get to spend with her.

I had the perfect day this year.
I didn't escape for a nap or run away to a spa.

I spent it in the kitchen
Preparing a wonderful meal for my parents and my family.
I spent it in a very peaceful zen state sharing the experience of cooking with my daughter.

I made bread.
I got into the "kneading zone".
Yes I have a mixer that would do the job for me - but the reality is, I love feeling the change that the dough goes through.
From lumpy and sticky and stiff to smooth and soft and elastic.
It's really very magical.

My daughter worked with me on dessert - a little creation we made on the fly.
Strawberry cream parfaits.
Oh my they were good!

My original intent was a strawberry cream pie.
One of the problems with my cooking is sometimes I just make things up - and sometimes they work.
And sometimes they don't.
And then we adjust - that is what happened here.

We started with pudding.
I found a recipe for homemade vanilla pudding - very simple -
milk, sugar, corn starch, vanilla and a touch of butter.

This is Chrissy stirring the pudding - but in reality, this picture is really about the pants!

Bringing the pudding to a soft boil.
Once the pudding was cooked and cooled, we whipped up some fresh cream and folded it in. We also mashed about 1/3 of the fresh strawberries that we had and let them drain through a strainer so they weren't too "soupy". Those were folded into the pudding/cream mixture.
This was the point when I realized that this was not going to get firm enough for a pie, so we adjusted.

I got out my crystal goblets and we drizzled a little chocolate sauce in each one. 

 A scoop of fresh strawberries went into the bottom of each glass. We took the prebaked pie shells that we had for the "pie that was not to be" and sprinkled the warm crusts with cinnamon and sugar. Just a bit.

We took the crusts out of the pie pans and crumbled them into small pieces and dropped some on the top of the strawberries.

Next came the pudding mixture, more pie crust, more pudding . . .
and finally fresh strawberries and a little pie crust on the top.
Not only did they look beautiful, they tasted fabulous.
Light, creamy, not too sweet . . .

Notice, I didn't say low-cal . . .
But afterall - dessert is a splurge.
And nothing says spring like strawberries.