Category Archives: Adventures

The Prodigal Blogger

The word “prodigal” is easily misused. We’ve so often heard the parable of “The Prodigal Son” that we have come to think it means returning after a long and possibly ill-planned absence when in fact, it has nothing to do with absence. It is about lavish and wasteful spending. (True story. Read the definition, and reread the parable. You’ll come to see it in a new light if you’ve never understood the meaning previously. Not that the actual text uses the word prodigal, but we attach it so often, it’s almost become canon. Anyhow…)

I figure I’m going to twist words just a little more in applying it to myself. Yes, I am in fact returning, so in that sense, I am using the common non-definition. But also, I am currently overflowing with hopefulness. It’s a good way to start the new year, no? Very shortly, I’m going to be quite prodigal in my resolutions– a tradition I’ve always considered rather silly, but one that just feels right in my current mood. But first, a bit of back-story.

The last few weeks have been a bit rough– not necessarily dismal, but just stressful. On one hand, there’s the typical holiday crunch. On the other, I was pet sitting and thus driving between work, home, and the other house every 4 to 5 hours, living in two places at once. On top of that, I was experiencing more car trouble, borrowing my boyfriend’s car (which thankfully he’d left here while out-of-town), and then finally giving up entirely and purchasing a new car– so then there was the stress of car switching, as well as finances. And the end of the week culminated with plans changing umpteen times and not enough sleep. I was truly ready to skip celebrating and fall asleep early on New Years, which is saying something because I’m NEVER asleep before midnight. However, I’d promised to go to a friend’s party, so off I went.

I knew a few people, and of course, I was my usual wallflower self — which I really do enjoy, I might add. I feel I make a rather pretty wallflower. Or… something. But watching our small crowd dancing like fools and enjoying themselves, chatting with new and old friends when they were too tired to dance, helping with cooking, listening to the babble and chatter– it was an aura of infectious exuberance. By the end of the night, I’d even been dragged into dancing a little, albeit after things had calmed some.

We spent the first day of the year in such a comfortable fellowship, enjoying a late breakfast and chatting with slug-a-beds ensconced in blankets, and walking to the park where we all sprawled in a circle in the grass laughing and listening to children laugh. At the end we even hopped a low fence and picked our way from rock to rock in a verdant gully of watercress and mud (in which I nearly lost my shoe when I chose a particularly deceiving bit of ground which swallowed my foot and ankle.) We laughed and explored and I was glorious with my girly ballet flats mud plastered and sprouting crushed bits of green.

In our last hour before leaving, we contemplated the approaching year. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but there really is a lot to come. I think it is a year of changes. For one thing, I have just purchased a car. That’s a major financial decision, which is going to change many things. But with that added stress, I will also have added security and even a few luxuries. Also, Koby is graduating in April, and his choices and career paths will affect mine. It’s possible I could move out and get a full-time job. And maybe, now that he’s so close to graduation, there is more to hope for. Maybe. It could be a big year.

And thus, with so much exuberance (I couldn’t help but be caught up in it) and so many hopes, I feel I can afford to be a bit prodigal in my resolutions. Even if in the back of my head, I’m hearing Lumiere suggesting “Promises you don’t intend to keep,” I am shushing that voice. At this moment, I have every intention of fulfilling them. The rational part of my brain can occupy itself with finances while I take a moment to scrawl a few bold promises.

  1. One blog post a week (Wednesdays perhaps?) even if some of them are about past artistic activities I never managed to chronicle. I intend to make use of the scheduled publishing feature and time travel a bit.
  2. More regular art– whether mixed media, jewelry, sewing, or writing. I need something to post about, don’t I? The challenge is this is I hope to settle on a weekly quota of time or else finished pieces. The specifics still require thought.
  3. Related to that is that I want to limit my spending on art materials by only using materials I already have. I have a few exceptions– refilling or replenishing something exhaustible (glue?), procuring small item needed for a particular project (thread?), and indulging in the 7 Gypsies’ Binderie Punch I’ve been waiting to come back into stock so I can finish a certain project. But in general, no new supplies! I have enough projects waiting to be finished, or worse, started.
  4. A corollary of the above– watch my spending in general. I have more financial responsibilities to think of, and I should have been saving more all along anyhow. Less eating out, less art supplies, more use of the library.
  5. Exercise on the treadmill or Wii fit at least 2 hours a week. It might be a trick of the eye, but I’m feeling a bit curvier in the wrong places. Someday those wrong places need to go in a fancy white dress. I’d rather they look photo-worthy when that time comes.
  6. Maintain better contact with people. This means gathering addresses, writing letters, making phone calls, smoke signals and what-have-you.
  7. Keep a written journal. While I am not going to hold myself to daily writings, I’m hoping I can train myself to write in one most days. It would likely jumpstart my creativity, and if nothing else, provide fodder for art journal pages.
  8. Read more books from my ever-growing list of to-read and to-read-again. A few include the rest of the Wheel of Time series, a whole slew of other fantasy, Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, and a host of old favorites I’m itching to reread.
  9. Find a third job for now (Starbucks maybe?) and look into a full-time job.

Overly ambitious much? Just a smidge. But as I said, I was feeling prodigal.


Tissue Paper Dilemma

As the title says, I have a dilemma! I love using tissue paper in my collage because it layers beautifully, both with beeswax and with glue. In the last year, I’ve been both buying interesting looking tissue paper, as well as rescuing what would otherwise go in the garbage after parties. I now limit myself to colors and patterns I don’t already have (or have very little of) but either way, it’s become an organizational problem. Originally, I had it in one of the plastic drawers in one of those Rubbermaid drawer towers. However, it quickly got so full I couldn’t even open and close it properly. Then about 4 months ago, I found an old accordion file from school, and decided that was the solution. I organized it by color, and it’s been great for finding just what I need. BUT even so, I have several similar shades in each little divided section, and then in my sections for patterns, it’s getting downright crowded! And– this is the part that is the most troubling– it’s a huge effort to wrestle it closed, and even closed, it’s so fat it barely fits in my desk drawer.

Take a gander at my current set up:

This is what it looks like “closed”– if you can call it that. Notice how it’s bulging, and that poor elastic strap is going to snap. Either I need a much stronger strap (like the belt around the Monster Book of Monsters in Harry Potter, perhaps?) or else I need a different solution.

This is what it looks like when open. I am not holding it at all. It quite literally pops open to that wide.

So, I’m asking you, lovely readers. What should I do? Here are my needs:

  • organization by color
  • space efficient (preferably able to fit in said drawer as I have NO floor space left, very little desk space, and would need to do some serious rearranging to get shelf space)
  • Easy to get in and out
  • Friendly to wrinkled and torn paper (the set-ups with the dowels are lovely, but intended for brand new, full size sheets)

Tom Kha Gai

Okay, so I KNOW this is an art blog. And I KNOW my resolution was to do three projects each week– implication that they’d be ART projects, but… I think this counts. Because… it does. And because I was having such a low week and couldn’t get started. And because it was definitely a project.

For the last month or two, I’ve been craving Tom Kha Gai– Thai Coconut Chicken Soup– off and on. A week back, I had the opportunity to get thai food with a friend who is back from London for a few weeks. (I’ll have to tell you about the present he got me later.) I got a whole pot of Tom Kha Gai in the awesome special flaming soup pot they have– one day I want my own flaming soup pot. I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially with my throat roughed up as it was.  I enjoyed the left overs too. And then… I still wanted more. Apparently the craving was not appeased.

I looked up a few recipes, and though I was initially a bit daunted, I at first thought I’d do it with friends, then got impatient. So… I purchased the ingredients and made the first batch last night. Many ingredients I had to find at the local seafood market– lemongrass, galangal, palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves, good quality coconut milk, etc. The fish sauce I had previously, and the mushrooms and chicken stock could be found in any grocery store.

I planned to get cooking as soon as I got home from work, as tuesday we usually just have left overs or fix our own food.  It was the perfect day. Except– I got home and my mother had brought home chicken. Nonetheless, I went at it at midnight (being that I am a night owl anyhow).

Rather than use just one recipe, I cobbled together three to get it as close to the restaurant type as I could. What I ended up with was this (or thereabouts):

  • 2 cans coconut milk (chaokoh brand this time…)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, sliced and ground (retain upper stalk for extra flavor)
  • 1 oz (as best I could estimate) galangal, grated (or finely chopped if you are surprised to find you don’t have a grater after all)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half.
  • 2-3 thai chilies, chopped (or 4 if you think it’s not spicy enough because it takes a minute for the kick to catch up. Unless you REALLY like spicy, I don’t suggest adding the fourth chili. Thankfully, I do.)
  • 2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb port0bello mushrooms, chopped (I think I want different mushrooms next time, but oh well)
  • 1 or 2 lumps palm sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (I’d suggest less)
  • 2 teaspoons red curry (mainly for color, but… didn’t hurt flavor-wise)
  • a large sprinkle of saffron (for color)

Basically, toss lemongrass and stalk, galangal, chilies, lime leaves, and palm sugar into a pot with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil(and if you’re smart, you’ll allow it to boil longer than I did so the lemongrass will soften a bit). Add coconut milk, fish sauce, curry, and saffron. Reduce heat and stir. Add mushrooms and chicken. Cook until chicken is fully cooked.

Observations:

  • Lemongrass smells AMAZING. Like lemondrops. I want to cook more things with lemongrass just for the smell, and I don’t even like lemons much. It’s a bit woody in texture though.
  • Kaffir lime leaves smell like limes.
  • Galangal is HARD to chop. Even more difficult to chop up tiny. Hence the purchase of a grater as my family apparently lacks one at the moment. Smells like a radishy ginger.
  • Coconut milk soup as I made it was not nearly as orangey-colored as it was at the restaurant. Not sure. Maybe the tamarind stuff in one of the recipes?
  • Fresh Thai basil might have been good.
  • Thai Chilies take a bit to catch up with you. At first taste, they aren’t that spicy, but about 30 seconds later, its much stronger. Keep that in mind before adding extra chilies.
  • I may add bamboo or snowpeas in the future.

Projects for this week down: 1 out 3

Time left: 1 day (I may have to fudge this).


I think I need a push

I am probably speaking into the darkness here, but I thought I’d share my lack of progress. I’ve been fairly discouraged the last few days, artistically and otherwise, not to mention mildly sick. I’m starting to doubt my goal is reasonable. I’ve picked my three projects, but before I can even start I need to clean my desk (and the cat-box beneath it, which I seriously suspect my sister leaves entirely to me). Thus… I have to contend with clutter, smell, fatigue, and a general lack of inspiration (I have my projects to start from, but I don’t particularly know where I am going with them.) I intended to start last night, or at least clean, and be elbow deep in art by now. So far… not so good.

2010 is off to a poor start.


New Years Resolutions

The Context:

Last November I participated in NaNoWriMo (hence my sudden absence). Thus, I was writing 1667 words a day towards a very poorly plotted quasi-fantasy novel. It was a huge challenge, and for the first time in the 4 or 5 years I’ve participated, I actually won (defined by reaching 50,000 words before midnight on November 30). I even did that despite sabotage by my computer. Hurrah. I never did reach the end, but I really want to work on my art for awhile.

The Conundrum:

This last week, I saw the movie  “Julie and Julia,” which chronicles the story of a woman (Julie) who gives herself one year to work her way through Julia Child’s cookbook “French Cuisine for Servantless American Cooks” — and blogs about it. I really only have a minimal interest in cooking, but I thought “Wow. I want to have some kind of goal like that for my art.”  For the last few days I’ve been thinking. Then, I realized, “Oh my word, New Years is coming!!!”  Thus I started thinking harder.  Now, in the last few hours of 2009 I’ve (mostly) settled upon something.

The Goal:

“Each week, I will choose and complete (x amount) of projects directly from or inspired by one in an art magazine, art book, or blog tutorial.”

I still need to define “X” (I’m thinking 3? Any input on that?) and I may need to have an exception for complete (in case it’s a large, multi-step project, in which case, perhaps it can be broken into chunks?) I’m still working this out.

The Rest:

In the meantime, I am having a fairly tame New Years Eve playing on the wii with my parents and enjoying a few snacks. Tomorrow, however, the challenge will begin (after the traditional movie with my family).

Other New Years Resolutions:

  • Finish the gawky novel I began in November– if for no other reason, so that I can pick it apart and start over.
  • Continue on the wii fit at least a little bit (I am vaguely skinny by default, NOT because I’m healthy).
  • Get a teaching position, or at the very least, MORE jobs.
  • Save enough to move out.

What does 2010 hold for you?


An Expedition on foot into the Wine Country…

wine-country-vineyards5True to my resolution to add adventure into my life, I have embarked on a little journey. This morning, I woke up at a reasonable hour (which, for me, is noon…) packed a journal, my camera, and a lunch, and headed out. Temecula is famous for two things: hot air balloons, and the wineries. My house is about a mile away from the beginning of the wine country, and so, I set out.

The day was windy and warm (Southern California is not known to comprehend the concept of winter) and without a cloud. The wind blew towards me, pushing my hair out of my face and streaming it out behind me. It was peaceful, aside from the cars driving by (it is a major road in town, after all). Unfortunately, the grapes were not in season,but there was a beauty to the deadness. The dried and brown vines possessed a dignity neither better nor worse than green, but simply present, even in barrenness. I stopped frequently to take pictures, many of which are posted here. After a few hours, I found a shady spot of grass in the courtyard of a church building and stopped for a snack before trekking the 3 miles back into the sun. I was tired and just a bit sun-toasted when I returned home, but it was nice to get out, and nice to take some pictures.

wine-country-me2 wine-country-vineyards2 wine-country-bailys wine-country-vineyards10 wine-country-hills-and-brush2

See more pictures