Friday, January 28, 2011

Symphony in Shadows

This watercolor painting is 4" by 6 " and was painted on Arches 140 lb watercolor paper.  It is an original painting.  It is unusual of me to paint a portrait without very much face showing. 

The afternoon shadows are lengthening and she must be on her way ...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Moss Memories

The Night is mother of the Day,
The Winter of the Spring,
And ever upon old Decay
The greenest mosses cling.

~ A Dream of Summer {1847}
John Greenleaf Whittier

Some of my fondest childhood memories involved playing in woods.  I always thought moss was one of the most beautiful plants.  My cousins and I would make a moss "carpet" when we would make a pretend house in the woods.  What a lush floor it made, like green velvet. I lived in the the city, well... a small town,  but I didn't see much moss growing around my neighborhood. Seeing moss was a special occasion for me.

Several months ago I saw some little pots of moss for sale at my favorite nursery here in Texas.  I didn't buy any but later thought of them often.  I made a special trip one day, several months later, to the nursery to buy some little pots of moss.  I was told they didn't have any more, it was a product they sold during the spring

What a thrill, finding beautiful green moss during the frigid month of January!

Last week, I was pacing in the "backyard" as the pool guy was repairing damaged (frozen) pool pump part$. Actually we have no backyard, I guess it could be better described as a courtyard.  Lo and behold, while I was pacing back and forth, hoping the repairman would not find more pump damage, I noticed some moss growing in a terra cotta pot!  Not much moss but it was still beautiful green moss!  Today I went out with a spoon and carefully removed it and replanted it in a little white pear shaped dish.  After Googling, I see for moss to thrive, it would be best grown in a terrarium. I have the perfect container for this so I plan on trying my luck in the spring with making a small terrarium.  I can look at the little world of the terrarium and pretend it is my little rain forest.

Goodness, I think that little bit of moss was important to me because as I have written about before, I have felt "nature" deprived living here amongst all this concrete.  I take it as a compliment when Clint makes the statement, "It takes so little to make you happy."  Thanks, Clint!  {It is true, most of the time! ;-) }

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A recent portrait ...


Pastel portrait, 11 x 14 inches, drawn on Canson Mi Teintes paper.

For the actual drawing, I used a color photograph as a reference photo.
 This is a black and white copy I printed off to save
since I returned the original photograph.

During December I worked on some portrait commissions.  This one done in pastels/pastel pencils measures 11" by 14" and was drawn on Canson Mi Teintes Paper. The reference photo shown was one I printed off of an original color photograph.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just because it looks good ...

I had such high hopes for this recipe, who wouldn't with such a descriptive title:

Savory Slow-Cooked Chicken Cacciatore

This recipe was in the Sunday paper coupon section, along with a coupon for Swanson Broth.  I have been trying to use the Crock Pot more often, it helps with the house showing schedule currently in our lives. It seemed like a natural that I should make this dish.

It was a disappoinment, the sauce was watery, bland and to me had a strange taste.  I am wondering if the strange taste came from the can of fire roasted tomatoes.  Needless to say, I will not be making it anymore.  Clint and I were in total agreement about this dish being a flop. 

Just because a dish looks good doesn't mean it is good!

Savory Slow-Cooked Chicken Cacciatore 
Savory?  I don't think so!

My little mini "cooking" spree continued the next morning.  I made some homemade pimento cheese, it has a variety of cheeses...American, cheddar, Swiss, cream cheese and Monterey Jack. To the cheese I added pimentos and Hellmanns mayonnaise.

Usually I mix just grated American cheese and mayonnaise together
to make Pimento Cheese.  This version had several different
cheeses that I had on hand.

Simple tuna salad ... tuna, boiled egg, celery,  little pickle relish and mayonnaise.
Sometimes I add a few lightly toasted chopped pecans to tuna salad.

Pecan Tassies

My little cooking spree ended on a good note, a sweet note, these tassies are delicious.  I have a recipe that calls for less butter, I am not able to locate right now.  I used the Pampered Chef recipe that came with their Mini-Tart Shaper, a must item for making tarts. Here is my slightly revised version of the recipe:

Basic Dough
1/2 cup butter
1 pkg (3 ounces) cream cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour

Let butter and cream cheese soften to room temperature. Mix together.  Add flour and mix to form a soft dough.  Chill dough at least one hour.

Form the dough into 24 walnut sized balls.  Place each ball of dough in a mini-muffin cup.  Dip the mini-tart shaper in flour, then press into the dough to shape perfect tarts. (You can do this by hand if you do not have a tart shaper)

The Filling
2 tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped pecans (The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups, you can use much less if desired)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all the ingredients until well blended.  Fill each unbaked tart shell.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Dust tops with powdered sugar when cool.  Also, don't attempt to remove tarts from mini muffin pan until cooled.

Tassies and tea, a perfect way to end a little cooking spree ♥

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Year with Edgar

The first time I was introduced to the poem, Annabel Lee, I remember it like it was yesterday.  My aunt had just received her latest "Book of the Month Club" selection and she had chosen The Best Loved Poems of the American People. She began telling me a little about Edgar Allan Poe and then read me his poem, Annabel Lee, from her new book. I remember where I was standing when she read it, I had never heard anything as beautiful. My love affair with Edgar Allan Poe began that day, I was probably about ten years old.

My dear Edgar ...

My treasured autographed photo of  Edgar ...

Detail from the above autographed photo ...

The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Complete and Unabridged.
Clint's copy, a birthday gift from his mom and dad, 1984.

Okay, back to reality and my "year" spent with Edgar Allan Poe.  In reality I spent a year reading
Kenneth Silverman's, Edgar A. Poe, Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance.  Referred to as a
"biography that will be a lasting monument among Poe studies." This book made me more
aware of Poe's association with other early American poets. One favorite quote about the book is "A book that
is as readable as any fiction published this year...  ~Houston Chronicle


Clint also shared a love of Edgar Allan Poe.  In 2002, we visited the
Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

We visited Poe's grave and had our photographs made by the monument.  Unfortunately
the  photos are still on a floppy disk :-(

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.
 ~ Edgar Allan Poe



I originally posted this blog in January 2011.  It was fun to make the little vignettes
and make believe, at least for a little while. 

Thanks to you all for your visit and comments.

February 12, 2012

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Little Snowman

I love snowmen!  Always have, always will.  I especially love making snowmen.  Living in Texas the past seven years, it has become more difficult to build the large snowmen like we used to do in my old childhood neighborhood.  No, I am not twelve years old anymore but as long as I am able, I still want to continue to make snowmen.

This morning I decided to make a small snowman, he measures about 11 inches without his forlorn top hat.  I have to tell you, the 11 foot tall snowmen (and women, too!) are much easier to make.  I brought in the snow from outside in a plastic container.  I made snowballs for the body on the kitchen counter and then put them in the freezer.

Pleased with their shape and size, I then decided on materials for the head and body.  I got out some mulling spices and picked out two cloves for the eyebrows.  For the eyes I chose some round dried balls from the mulling spices, I am not sure what they are, perhaps some kind of peppercorn?  A bit of dried orange peel made a cute little nose and another dried piece gave him that crooked little smile.

The old crumpled looking top hat I sketched out on a piece of construction paper.  I  cut it out and made a few touches with a Magic Maker and a white pencil for some details.  I taped a toothpick on the back to poke it on top of his head. 

Found a little tie for his neck and fresh blue berries were used for his buttons.  For his arms I cut some dead stems from an old hanging basket.  This snowman has some boots.  I dyed some snow using black food coloring (what a mess!) and formed some boots.  He just had to have some rosy cheeks so I diluted a few drops of red food coloring and brushed some color on his face.

So far, so good.  I kept the snowballs for the body and the black "boots" in the freezer.  Now it was time to put on the eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth.  There was a problem, the snow had formed into frozen balls in the freezer and the parts would not stick.  I had to make a fresh snowball for the face, the eyes kept falling out.  I blurted out to Clint,  "what can I use to keep his eyes in" and Clint had the perfect answer:  glue :-D

Finally got him together for his photo shoot using toothpicks, a wooden skewer and Elmer's Glue!

We look at a snowman and know not only his days are numbers, but even his hours.  Maybe that is what makes them so special, their lives are so fleeting and we just have to enjoy the time we have with them.  This thought came to me as I was making this snowman, I was reminded of our own lives and one of my favorite verses from James: 

Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.   James 4:14   NRSV

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Glorious Day in May

One of the most important sculpture displays in the United States at Green McAdoo
Cultural Center in Clinton, Tennessee. 

Thursday, May 17, 2007
2:00 PM

This is the day the Lord hath made,
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24 KJV

On May 17, 2007, I attended the monument unveiling and dedication of  the Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton, Tennessee.  It truly was a glorious and beautiful day!  Tennessee Govenor Phil Bredesen spoke at the event and "praised the 'courageous men and women' who 'stood up against hatred,' and walked down the former segregated Green McAdoo School and into history books".  Nine of the twelve students who desegregated Clinton High School on August 27, 1956, were in attendance as the life-sized statues of them were unveiled at the Green McAdoo Cultural Center on School Street.

Cleo Ellis, President of the Green McAdoo Cultural Center, welcomed the attendees. A prayer followed delivered by The Reverend Alan Jones, Green McAdoo Cultural Center Board Member and Pastor of  Asbury United Methodist Church in Clinton, Tennessee.

Governor Phil Bredesen in center with guests.  If anyone can identify the other
individuals, please let me know so I can include their names.

My sister Patti with the Green McAdoo Cultural Center in the background.

Beautiful view of downtown Clinton from the Green McAdoo Cultural Center with the mountains
in the background.

Front page coverage of this historical event in the local newspapers.

The sculptor of the twelve bronze statues, William F. Duffy. The bronze statues honoring
the twelve students took about a year to make using clay, plaster and rubber molds,
as well as wax and bronze.  Duffy worked from photographs.  I felt honored to meet him and 
talk with him for a few minutes.  Duffy's work is very durable and designed
to withstand time, weather and human contact.  Duffy maintains a studio in
Baltimore, MD, and is represented exclusively by the Large Art Company.

It was a thrill to see long ago friend, Lana Seivers, with the Govenor's entourage who
had arrived from Nashville for the days' festivities.  Lana at the time was the Commissioner
of Education for the State of Tennessee.  We're proud of you, Lana! ♥

Did anyone else notice my top and the sculptor's shirt are quite similar? :-)


The stunning statues silhouetted against a clear blue May sky.

Govenor Bredesen addressed the crowd at the dedication before the unveiling.

The Green McAdoo Cultural Center, May 17, 2007.
Clinton, Tennessee

Oh, the emotions!  In the foreground of this photo is
sculptor William Duffy.  One can only imagine his emotions involved in the blood,
sweat and tears he put into the creation of these beautiful works of art.

It is hard to describe the emotions heard and felt when the sculptures were
unveiled. So many emotions involved in the
collective "sigh" as the drape was lifted.
There were the silent tears, too.

A perfect May Day.

May we always remember "The Clinton 12":
Gail Epps Upton, Alvah McSwain Lambert, Maurice Soles, Theresser Caswell, JoAnn Allen
Boyce, Regina Turner Smith, Minnie Dickey Jones, William (Bill) Lantham, Alfred
Williams [not pictured: Robert Thacker and Ronald Hayden ~1942-1966)]

Carolyn Wilkerson sung at the dedication, she sang "America" accompanied by Jason Moore.  At the closing, she sang "I'm Still Holding On to His Hand"

Here is a version of the closing song, "I'm Still Holding On", sung by Deborah
Barnes with Luther Barnes and the Red Budd Choir: