Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Illustration Friday - Whiskers

It's not yet December but I am decorating our tree and unpacking our Christmas storage boxes means this is going on our wall again.  Pefect for sharing on Illustration Friday this week...Whiskers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Life is a Gift (And so are Friends!)

Hanging in L's entryway
It's been 11 days since my "Yesterday I fell Off a Cliff" post in which I wrote about hearing tragic news about a friend of a friend that really made me stop and appreciate life.  I was brimming with gratitude and thankfulness for my own healthy and happy life.  I had no idea that 3 days later I would hear the earth shattering news that one of my dearest friends, L, has a brain tumor.  The first thing I did was call our friend A.

I have been friends with L & A for 17 years.  L & A, along with the boys who would become their husbands (and my husband) went to college together.  Since I met them all a few years after college I like to refer to myself as the newcomer in the group.  As three couples together we used to call ourselves "the six pack."  I've joked in posts before that L and her family are the largest collectors of my artwork.  She is a faithful reader of my blog and even commented on my "cliff" post just hours before she found herself being rushed to the hospital.

For an agonizing day all we knew was that L had a tumor but not what kind nor if it was treatable. A came to my house to wait for news and finally we learned that it was "the best kind of tumor you can have."  Operable and benign.  In less than a week L had two surgeries, the tumor was removed and she is now recovering at home.  I summarized it here in two or three short sentences with a happy ending, but for all involved, especially my dear friend L, it was the longest week in our lives. 

Life is a gift, every moment is a gift.  It can change in an instant.  L is the luckiest girl in the world. She had an army of friends and family sending positive thoughts, praying, bringing Red Vines and making sure she was never alone.  She had one of the best neurosurgeons in the country, a brand new state of the art hospital, the most amazing nurses (seriously...they were awesome!)

Hanging in L's dining room
A & I have been addicted to each other, with dozens of daily texts and phone calls, hugs and tears. We spent hours in the hospital with L every day (and night!)  The three of us are forever bonded now in a way we never imagined we would be.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, too.  I love my friends and am so fortunate to have them in my life.

Celebrating L's birthday in the hospital. She requested A's famous coconut cake
The three of us at a wedding over a decade ago.  Me, A & L.
Easter, 2012

 And oh yes, it was Thanksgiving last week!  I know I had A LOT to be thankful for. 
I hope you did, too.

 Sharing this with my friend at Paint Party Friday...because online friends are also a gift!
Paint Party Friday

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunny Sunday and a work in progress

First off, thanks for all the lovely comments on my last post
Yesterday was pouring rain so I started a new painting.

Laying down some color

Starting to add detail
After a rainy Saturday it's a gloriously sunny Sunday here.  Everything seems fresh and clean.
 We are planning a little road trip to Target...sadly we don't have one here.  Hoping to get a bit of Christmas shopping done and then back home to work on the painting.
Happy Sunday!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Yesterday I Fell Off a Cliff**

**This all happened a few days ago...but I've been writing this post in my head and the "yesterday" stuck.  And it wasn't really a cliff...but in some ways it was...

The other morning after the bell rang and my kids were ushered into their classrooms I ran into a friend who was visibly upset.  She told me that another mom at our school, a close friend of hers, had gone to the doctor for stomach pain and ended up rushed into surgery and diagnosed with colon cancer that has already doesn't look good.  I don't really know this other mom, our daughters are in the same grade but have never had a class together.  I know her by name and by sight only.  Even so...I can't help but be affected by such news.  She is my age, very involved at school, a successful professional, a mom to two young daughters (her other girl is in kindergarten.) 

As I walked back to my car, distracted by the horrible news, I fell off the sidewalk right into the street.  I can't explain it...I just walked right off the sidewalk.  In the split second that my body lost balance I glanced down and realized that instead of solid concrete beneath my foot I had just stepped into thin air.  As I fell forward onto my hands and knees there was that strange time suspension...a million things flashed through my mind in what was less than a second.  I was sure I would break a bone...or worse, fall in front of a car driven by a harried parent rushing off to work.  Fortunately neither happened.  I survived with a bit of raw skin and some bruises.  My fall was terrifying only for a second or two...the bruises still hurt but they will be gone soon.  I am so lucky.

The other mom...she must have felt terrified too, but instead of falling off an 8 inch curb she was falling off a cliff into an unimaginable abyss.  The news she received that day is my worst nightmare and I'm sure it was hers, too.  I don't know what will happen to her.  I hope it's not as bad as what I heard.   When we hear tragic stories like this we are reminded that we need to live each moment to its fullest.  There is no telling when it might all fall away.  

I always admire those who keep art journals...I'm not so good at it...but I wanted to reaffirm all of the great things in my life.  The things I love and the things I am thankful for.

It's easy to take things for granted and forget the gratitude.

I do know that I feel incredibly lucky and I feel so THANKFUL.

  In some ways I do feel like I fell off a cliff instead of a little curb because I feel different than I did a few days ago.  I feel such a deep appreciation for my life. 
Can I say it again? 
I feel very, very thankful.

just noticed my typo...sheesh...should say "OF" not "OFF!"

What are you thankful for?

 Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends at Paint Party Friday

Paint Party Friday


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Apple Cranberry Thanksgiving Salad

The first time I spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws I was served this salad and have been hooked ever since.  Every Fall when I see fresh cranberries at the store I immediately start craving this salad.  It's the thing everyone asks me to bring to holiday meals.  It's sweet & tangy and a light & healthy balance to the heavier holiday favorites on your plate.
Apple Cranberry Thanksgiving Salad
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
3 T sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 T cider vinegar
2 t Dijon style mustard
3 tart apples such as Granny Smith or Fuji
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup toasted almonds
Romaine lettuce leaves
Chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Cut cranberries in half.  Toss with sugar and refrigerate covered, overnight (or at least several hours)

 Whisk together oils, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.

Core apples and cut into bite sized pieces, leaving skin on.  Slice celery.  Toast almonds in shallow baking pan and allow to cool (or buy pre-toasted).  Add apples, celery and almonds to dressing mixture and refrigerate covered, 1 hour.

Line a bowl or serving dish with romaine leaves. 
 Add cranberries to apple mixture.

Mound salad over romaine lettuce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve.  At a big holiday meal, people will just spoon out the salad, leaving the romaine leaves as decoration but today I served myself on a single plate and the romaine will be part of my salad.  You can also chop the romaine and toss the whole thing.  I've also made this with dried cranberries when fresh are not available. 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Long Weekend

Some pictures from our long weekend.
Sunset in Dana Point 

Disneyland at Christmas time.

Max's first time on California Screamin'!
Rosey and I keeping the galaxy safe from the evil Zurg



Friday, November 9, 2012


I've been spending time on myself lately. Like most moms, I find it easy to look after my family but difficult to look after myself. Most women think they can't spare the time, or the expense and it seems some women have an almost pathological unwillingness to ask for help. Guilty as charged. But I am slowly learning that the investment in myself is the best investment I can make for my family. More yoga, regular massages to help manage chronic neck and shoulder pain AND...visits to a homeopathic allergist, both for my son and myself. (I will keep you posted on the results!)

I feel a bit guilty in the morning when I need to decide if I should go to yoga before or after my massage. It sounds ridiculously decadent but I can tell you that I have been happier and more patient and more fun to be kids have said to me more than once lately: "you are funny," and they mean funny=haha, not funny=weird!

Lately I've been doing a lot of doodling...and for me doodles always end up of the floral variety...especially flowers inspired by Hungarian folk art. Here are doodles from my sketchbook while I was glued to the television watching election news and results. Since this blog is my personal space, I can tell you that I am happy with the election results, not just on a federal level bit also closer to home. Californians voted to help fund public education on a variety of levels and I am thrilled.

This weekend we are heading to Laguna Beach to visit with family and celebrate my niece's birthday.  I originally wanted to paint her a mermaid.  I started something which never went past this stage.  I kind of hate it (which is actually a feeling I have for much of my artwork at one stage or another!)  I can't decide if I can keep at it or if she needs to be abandoned.  My niece is getting a mermaid dolly instead...because I can't pull this together in time for departure...

And finally...some pics of hikes we have taken lately.

 Happy PPF and Happy Friday and Happy long weekend and Happy Veteran's Day.
Paint Party Friday

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Beautiful Weeds

Last week I experimented with a limited color palette.  Today I took it a step further and used only one color.  In the spirit of sketching on a lazy Sunday, I sketched in bed, on a Sunday morning while sipping coffee.  

I used a black water coluble pencil and then went over the pencil lines with a wet brush.   I wanted a more washed, watercolor look so I decided to run a large wet brush over the whole thing.  I was nervous I would end up with gray blobs but I like the way it came out and I think it's not bad for about a 30 minute effort!
Dried Sweet Fennel weeds.  Taken on my iPhone while hiking with aObi a few days ago.
It was sunny by the end of our hike.