Monday, November 30, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 363


I've already got all my cyber decorations hung: the keyboard decked out in black ink, paypal invoices strewn across the windows all in the hopes that the money fairy will be there to buy up everything I'm trying to sell on-line.

After all, isn't fiscal gain the true meaning of cyber monday?

Okay so obviously I don't expect to sell anything and figure cyber monday is something invented by newspapers back in the late 90's when they were a little bored one day and thought they could start a rampage on the internet ala Black Friday. (This was before the Steven's theory that the internet was a series of tubes and that one giant fruitcake could clog the whole thing.)

So instead of sitting at my computer staring at my sales page willing it to change I've been working on a few presents for various people for Christmas.

For my Father in Law who went to Michigan State I had a crazy idea to do a painting of a Spartan Helmet (how come everyone is either a Spartan or a Trojan and you never see any Athenians, Romans or Macedonians?).

My husband thought it was a bad idea and would never work out right. I think I proved him wrong.
I'm rather pleased with how it turned out, though Sparty looks a bit too friendly for my tastes. Maybe he just had some really good hummus.

Another idea I had is for a 6 year old girl who's big into pink, princesses and other things Disney says 6 year old girls should be into.

I had a wild idea to make a pendant with a tiara on pink, lots of pink, because at that age who doesn't love wearing jewelry. And sturdy jewelry is the best.
I plan on customizing it with her name later but for anonymity's sake (not that there is much anymore) I decided to show it off before the final adornment.

Does anyone actually plan on buying presents this gray Monday morn? Or can we finally tell the associated press to give cyber Monday a much needed holiday, perhaps somewhere warm with no shopping carts in sight?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 362

It's a curl up on the couch and sleep for 5 hours kinda day:
Every time Essie's all curled up and sleeping and clearly at her most cutest I turn to my husband and ask "Can we get another?"

Wisely he always says "Wait til she wakes up then see if you still want another."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 361

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

"Oh and there will also be a small green man who talks like a stroke victim digging through your knapsack."
The omitted part of the Christmas story.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 360

It's the Day after Thanksgiving and we all know what that means!


Wait, shopping? What are you talking about? No one ever goes shopping after Thanksgiving, that would be unheard of.

No, it's that time when we are finally sanctioned to pull out the Christmas trees, the wreathes and the random ball of what was once lights but is now The Gordian Knot of electrocution.

For the first time in my life I have a mantle I can decorate and I went the traditional and simple route.

I got a string of greenery and laid it across then wound throughout a string of randomly flickering lights which I like a lot as they give more of a candle feel to the lights and when coming up the stairs can also make you think your living room is on fire.
We also had to get some stocking hangers for our little stockings to hang by the chimney with disregard in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be in the yard.

My husband fell for this tree inside of another tree which of course there was only one of.
So to sort of match but still be different I picked a double snowflake stocking hanger which while we were checking out a small boy had to point to his mother and say how pretty and shiny they were.

That's exactly why we picked them. Ooooh Shiny.
And of course Essie needs her own with a special Doggie design to remind Santa that while she wouldn't mind a wooden toy train she could chew on she'd much prefer something with meat in the ingredients.
Mixed in with the stocking hangers are all my various candles to make the house smell a bit more Yuletide, this is one of my favorite wintry pine scents and doesn't it look pretty sitting there?
Have you drug out your tree and lights yet or are you still sleeping off the 4 AM door busting that apparently 92% of Americans take part in?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 359

Happy Thanksgiving!

Or for those who don't or already did celebrate Thanksgiving, happy don't have to cook a turkey or see annoying relatives day!

That's the best day of all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 358

This is Essie May reporting from a local, hang on let me check my sources. Yes, the wildlife are informing me that it is a watering hole of some type for humans.

Apparently they park their large and loud rubber wheel machines for a spell to let us beloved pets out for a walk in the woods and a nice drink.
Mmm, straight from the tap just how I like it.

They say that this is an important stop before we arrive at our destination whatever that may be.

It appears as though my humans are about ready to depart, I should wrap up my report just in time for. . . Hey wait, I'm not finished! Put me Down!
I still have to file my report on the crazy things you people do!

How embarrassing.

Well, this is Essie May saying that it's that time of year when once again all of us pets are shuttled into small cages and put inside big loud machines to visit scary new places and maybe steal some turkey when no one's looking.

Safe Travels everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 357

I am so stressed right now I'm about to scream, oh wait I already did because once again firefox locked up on my computer.

I have 50,000 things to get done: paintings to ship, paintings to photograph, paintings to actually paint, a Christmas present I have to finish, a puppy with more energy than is entropicly possible to be taken care of and of course this blog no one really reads anymore anyway and all to be done in less than 32 hours because after coming right back for the funeral we have to turn right around and go back for Thanksgiving!


Stressed doesn't even begin to cover it. I've hit Godzilla ripping apart the only bridge out of town while a comet is heading to earth level of ripping my hair out stress.

What is it about this stupid time of year that says work your ass off so you can waste a few days stuffing your face with food and opening gifts? At least we're not traveling to Chicago this year, that'd be another week of things I'd have to plan ahead for and at that point Godzilla would have to be attacking the moon and seriously thinking about eating the sun.

Since I just feel like whining today and don't want to waste pretty puppy pictures with my whining, here's one of my latest pendants all up in the shop in its shining glory.
I have another with the same background that has a Menorah on it but again have to take pictures and yada yada yada, more work and more swearing at my slow computer.

Can I run around for a while pinwheeling my arms? That'll make everything all better right?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 356

For me the best part of cooking is when it's time to add the spices. I love the slow addition of one staple and then the balance of another to bring out interesting flavor crossovers.

And about the best place to find fresh and flavorful spices I've found has been Penzeys, our one stop shop for everything Indian.

If getting fresh and wonderful spices that add flavor to a dish isn't enough for you every time they send out a catalog to show off their newest mixes contained within just about every page is a cool new recipe.

As soon as I got their latest Christmas issue I sat down while the puppy masticated on her ball and flipped through where I found a desert I had to try that night.

It's called a Cranberry Duff. I have no idea what a duff is expect apparently it's popular in England and Scotland but oh did the picture look tasty.

Start by sifting together in a big bowel 2 cups of flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp cinnamon.

To that add the wet ingredients of 2 cups whole raw cranberries, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup melted butter and 1 tsp Vanilla extract.
Mix all that up and then pour into an 8 inch square dish where it'll go into the 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

About 25 minutes into the cooking time you'll want to make the butter sauce (the most delectable and diabolical part of the whole thing).

In a sauce pan combine 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup sugar and 3/4 cup of cream and bring that to a boil. Lower the heat and add 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp cinnamon then let that simmer for 10 minutes.

Just pull your duff out of the oven and let it cool for a bit.
Then drench it in the creamy butter sauce and serve.
Oh man is it tasty and super sweet with just a nice balance of tart thanks to the cranberries.

And best of all it's a great way to get rid of any extra whole cranberries you might have hanging around after Thanksgiving and only messes up one bowel and one pan.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 355

We're on our way back to my hometown for my grandfather's funeral right now but to lighten the mood I thought I'd show off some pictures of Essie playing with her new bouncy ball.
I almost got it Mom!
Let those ears fly high!
This is not as easy as it looks. Maybe I should look into some kind of rubber bouncy baseball catchers mitt.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 354

I've been working feverishly to come up with some way to keep my puppy entertained for hours on end.

There was the foolish idea that maybe a stuffed toy would work, 10 minutes and a living room full of stuffing later we moved onto the idea of throwing a ball.

Which lead to about 3 hours of us continually throwing a ball and never getting a moments peace.

Then I had a brain storm. I took one of Missy May's bones (one of Essies many nicknames she's acquired. Like a Russian spy she is) she'd already chewed up.
And then I jammed a couple milk bones inside so she could spend hours licking, biting and chewing to try and get them out.
Every now and then I put a few in loosely so she can get some and it isn't completely futile but so far this has been the best "go to your room and play with your toys by yourself" we've come up with.

And it only cost a bone she already chewed all the tasty stuff off and a couple of milkbones.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 353

Is there any chance someone can be addicted to smelling things? If so, sign me up for Olfactory Anonymous because I can't pass a candle section without having to check to see if what they claim on the label is actually what I smell in the wax.

I rely on Yankee for most of my candle needs but I've found one place that does Halloween scents perfectly. They're called Dark Candles and my all time favorite Halloween scent is Nosferatu. It is this packed with Arabian and Indian spices with a very different musky smell from what you find in average store candles.

It puts me in mind of the old silent movie era in Istanbul fleeing down dark corridors to avoid the demon with fangs (it's about as much contrast you could get from a Twilight inspired candle which I imaging smelling like body glitter and sexual frustration).

But Halloween is long gone so why am I mentioning this place now?

Because they have a really cool Winter sampler pack.
Starting from left to right is Spiked Egg Nog which is light but when burned you get a whiff of the brandy, Winter Solstice which is the first candle that uses spearmint I've smelled to give that bite to the winter air we're all too familiar with, Midnight Mass is a fascinating mix of Frankincense and Myrrh that reminds one of an ancient cathedral draped in gold and purple, and finally Naughty or Nice a chocolate and vanilla blend with some read cream undertones.

If you're looking for some candles for the Holidays that are outside the pine box allow me to recommend the Winter Solstice and Midnight Mass from Dark Candles which contain scents I've never smelled anywhere else.

Speaking of pimping things I also wanted to let everyone know I've gotten my shop all ready for the Holiday season.

Most of my paintings have had 15% taken off and are conveniently all stored in an "On Sale" category.

Which also includes one of my latest pendants, a blooming rose on a silver background.While I'm showing off pendants, even though this bad boy's already sold, I thought any Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fans would enjoy this one.
Now you'll always know where your towel is (I also plan to create a DNA pendant if any mutants happen to follow my blog and want to remind the world how we're all insects to them. Magneto, I'm looking at you.)

Finally, I just created this one yesterday and while it's bound for a "Thank you for buying so many of my paintings" order I am thinking about creating one with the same background but with just the star on it and another with a Menorah.
Whatcha all think?

Have you started your dreaded Holiday shopping yet? I've been so wrapped up in making things for other people to give or buy I haven't gotten anywhere yet.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gift Guide, for the discerning shopper

Black Friday is coming! Black Friday is coming!

Anyone who tries to pawn anyone off on someone else from monetary gain knows that we only have a few days to tell everyone what they must purchase for their own close kith and kin and also make sure to only stock half of it to drive up prices.

So I thought what better way then to present my own Gift Guide, all courtesy of Etsy. Today I did a little slogging through what they claim is the Geekery section though there's about 1 and 1/2 things here that I'd consider geeky.

1. For Mom - Like a mother's free time the cicada only appears once every 14 years and what better way to celebrate that than with this brooch? I can already picture Christmas morning as she unwraps her present from you and screams before pulling out a frying pan and smashing it to bits.
2. For Dad - If you have a Dad with narcolepsy or one that you feel just sleeps too much gift him this Cheshire Cat inspired wallet. You may want to throw a pair of ear plugs in for Mom so she can sleep through the inevitable night terrors and screams every time he goes to dig out his wallet.
3. For Your Pregnant Sister- Because there's nothing a pregnant woman wants to see more than the disembodied head of a child that was cracked open so a small pot of fake grass could be shoved inside its brain.
4. For Grandma - I'd like to think this one is completely self explanatory. What old lady doesn't want a throw pillow in her parlor of a set of breasts complete with nipples from a baby's bottle?
5. For a Teacher - She can use it to teach the children that "Everyone Poops" but not everyone's poop comes in spurs and is clearly dead. Works best for High school or college professors.
6. For Nephew - If his parents have been talking about getting him the latest Pokemon game/movie it is your God given duty to get him this picture so every time he looks at it he'll be reminded that the path of Pokemon is the path of a soulless existence to hell.

7. For a teenage - They will be the talk of the school when they wear this bright pink shark to school strapped securely to their head. Extra points if you can get one to match their prom dress and insist they take pictures wearing it.
8. For anyone else - Who wouldn't kill for a jellyfish vomiting up its latest dinner? Or maybe it's giving birth after slamming a bag of skittles. Regardless, everyone will love you for bringing this joy into their life.
If you follow my gift suggestions there is a very good chance your friends and family will never talk to you again and you won't have to buy them another present next year.

Picture a Day - Day 352

The winter holidays are a time of tradition and classics.

The big food companies aren't pushing their latest and greatest food stuff inventions come the end of the calendar like beet chips or mozzarella that comes stuffed inside a ham roll (actually on second thought maybe they should look into that one).

No, it's back to the basics. Well what they want us to believe are the basics. Everyone knows they had turkey at the first thanksgiving (even though they really didn't) and pumpkin pie (without sugar, that had to be one hell of a lot of fun to watch people eat).

Tradition dictates that for the holidays one has traditional holiday food which makes me wonder just who decided what was tradition and if there was a panel voting what to keep and what to throw out.

"Okay we like the dichotomy of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes but I just don't know if we can get behind including chili dogs. We'll let our focus group test that out at Plymouth rock and they'll get back to you."

The other funny thing about traditions, there's a good chance that for whatever reason a person completely missed the boat on something Madison Avenue would convince you comes standard in every kitchen the second to last Thursday in November.

My husband had never in his life had green bean casserole. There is an onion intolerance that runs through his family, but as I tried to convince him the French's Fried Onion Slivers only count as onion because someone wafted a bit of onion powder on them somewhere down the line.

So I set about and made him his first ever green bean casserole (it was also the first time I'd ever made it and the fact that it turns out so well is a testament to just how damn easy the thing is).
He liked it very much and I'm sure will come very close to licking the bowl clean when we get to the end.

As for me, I've come to realize that I've never had yams or sweet potatoes. Oh and also meatloaf, it's not so much a holiday tradition as it is a Tuesday one but it's still funny sometimes to realize that yep never had one of those American staple foods.

Is there a holiday tradition that for whatever reason you've missed out on all your life? Assuming it's not going to possibly kill you have you ever thought about making your own?

Maybe next year we can sneak a few interesting entries into the "Traditional Holiday Food Board." I've already got a tandoori chicken I think they'd really go for and some mole mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 351

Yesterday I got the call we've all been waiting for for six months now, at 5 AM my grandfather died:For months he'd phase in and out of consciousness while machines kept him just alive.

When I was 11 years old I watched the same thing with my grandmother (these are both my paternal grandparents, my mother's parents died before I was born).

She'd suffered and fought against breast cancer for as long as I can remember. I have some early memories of playing with the few toys and watching Sesame Street at the Cancer center where she'd get her chemo treatments. For some reason they had fountain drinks there so I have a strange association between orange pop and the turbans my grandma wore when she lost her hair.

The cancer won in the end but for months my grandmother slept in a hospital bed in the middle of her living room, delirious and unaware of anything around her.

The kids weren't really allowed around her because she didn't know who we were. But I can still remember all that stuff, the machines, the tubes scattered throughout the house just to keep her heart beating a few more days.

She died 15 years ago and in that time technology's advanced just so far to keep my grandfather dying from cancer alive for a few months longer. He was still just as out and unaware of anything around him, but SCIENCE could keep his body warm.

That's never for me. I hope that when I go it's fast, no slowly inching one step closer to the pearly gates while each day losing what last bit of conscious I worked hard to create through my lifetime.

Terry Pratchett has a much better article on it as he faces the darkness of Alzheimer's.

But because I know that there's no way the U.S. system would ever allow someone who's ready to pass to take it into their own hands so I just have to hope that I won't have any doctors standing by suggesting their latest gadget to my family to try out to extend my non existent life a few more hours.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 350

You know the old adage about how a clean desk is the sign of an empty mind?

Judging by my craft table it's pretty obvious that all the monkeys in my brain are busy churning out a copy of War & Peace on their typewriters. (Monkeys are notorious traditionalists and when offered a computer just pound the keyboard and throw feces at it)
In the right middle is the stash of my latest jewelry endeavours (of which I have a few more pendants to show off at the end of this post and some more Etsy news that is important for anyone who shops there. Also one common cola kills you, but before that weather and the news. So stick around).

Colored pencils and Zombie layer take up most of the back left while one of my latest paintings that should be up for sale soon enough sits in the prime "being worked on" landscape.

Only my mind is so cracked open with candy spilling out that I've gone from the table and had some of my work crash land on the chair too.
It got so bad I actually had to stand to put some last touches on the birch log in front of the tree painting because my chair was otherwise occupied. Paintings are so demanding, you have to pull out chairs for them or open doors for them or even wrap them in bubble wrap before they dare to venture outside. Shesh.

While having a full desk is nice and all, there's a major downside to not having every last little thing cleared off while working.

Mainly in that it just seems inevitable that while the large 16X20 is sprawled out across and you're occupied adding a delicate line you'll bump the card table and your water cup will come crashing down drenching everything. And it was so much that kind of a day I had it happen twice!

Luckily the painting was fine, just a little damp on the back. But Zombie lawyer was soaked so I had to put him out of his misery. I promise he went in the trash with his catchphrase singing through the air "Objection, he's eating the witness!"

Now for my new pendants, the first is a white tree on a simple wooden background. Kinda like my first tree except completely different, since I don't follow a pattern ever every single one of my trees is always different.
This bad boy is available for purchase here for $6.

My second pendant is something that came about as a way to beat back those winter blues, and a gentle reminder that summer will be back unless we all fall into another ice age, in which case the Mammoth is mine!
And this lovely slice of warmth is also up for sale for $6 here.

Finally for anyone who's trying to shop at Etsy for the holidays, a word of warning. There are some horrible bugs over there that the Admin may or may not be in the mood to fix.

The worse offender is Cart timeouts, so when someone goes to check out they get halfway done and then a blank screen appears and they lose everything in the cart.

And to add on top of that, convos are also down. So if you say weren't able to check out and tried to contact the seller and inform them of this there's a good chance they won't get it.

All right before the Holidays too. Since Etsy doesn't feel the need to warn any buyers about this on the front page I thought I'd take the chance and ask you all to pass it along to other Etsy buyers til it's fixed. Thanks.

Now my Monkeys seem to think to heck with War & Peace, they'd rather write an emo vampire book about werewolves that bathe in lip gloss. They're going to need a bit of a talking too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 349

It's hard work being a puppy. There's all those growing pains when overnight you realize you gained another three inches and can't fit under the coffee table anymore, one of the best places you had to chew on your toys in peace.

Then there's the places you can reach now, the kitchen counters or the bed that your owners yell at you all the time to get off of. No fair, I can finally get up here and now you tell me not to.

Yeah, it's just no fun being a puppy sometimes. But then there are those days when it's just you, open land under a bright blue sky and a ball to chase.
I got to visit a park made exclusively for Doggies (as all parks really should be, after all what are you humans going to do with acres of open land? Build more concrete places dogs aren't allowed? That's just silly).

And while it was tons of fun being able to chase after my ball or run around smelling all the new sites I didn't realize one major drawback of the doggie park.

Other doggies.
I'm still a little girl and all these other dogs were so much bigger than me. So there I'd be calmly picking up my ball, and out of the corner of my eye I see a big black streak dart across the field heading towards me wanting to take my ball of course and knocking me over in the process.
Of course I did the only thing a little girl who grew up with rowdy brothers bigger than her could, flipped onto my back into super submissive pose as fast as possible and hoped they'd leave me alone.
But there were a few nice slow doggies there that I could sidle up next to and get a good sniff in without having to worry about them trying to jump all over me, or worse try to sniff my butt!
I thought the best technique to get other doggies to leave me alone would be if they get too close I'd just drop my ball to distract them then run back to hide by Mom and Dad.

Worked every time and no one ever took my ball. I'm sneaky like that.There were other fun things at the Doggie Park than just the ball.

I found the best stick I've ever seen! I just knew my Mom and Dad would try to take it from me so I ran around just outside their grasp with it clutched in my mouth smiling wide.
Apparently while I was busy with my stick some other Doggies decided to have their own Easter Egg hunt, or maybe they were fetching water from a well or collecting for a raffle.

I just know whatever they were up to, their owners were none too pleased. Plastic ice cream buckets are very expensive.
All in all I had a great day at the doggie park finally having the room I need to run my little legs off.
But really, could we possibly insist on not letting any other doggies to the doggie park? Or at least only let in the calm and cool ones who mind their own business and don't bother the little girl with her ball?

Hell really is other dogs.

(I had no idea we had gotten ourselves an Introverted Dog til she had this opportunity to meet so many new dogs and pretty much begged to be taken far away from them. She needs a lot more socialization which she should get over Thanksgiving with her rowdy family.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 348

Ever have one of those pictures that are so strange you just want to put it up without any commentary?

Like a clown making pancakes or a penguin driving a tractor.

This is one of those pictures.
I realized that the pose almost looks like something out of a magazine, but it was mostly accidental.

To help with my larger painting I needed my husband to model a suit for me so I could see the folds in action.

Only when I was getting into position to try and snap the picture our little girl kept thinking that she should really be in the shot. She is after all the most adorable one of the family.

What commenced was us trying to convince her to stand just out of the way so I could get a picture and then because it was so cute try to take one of her with my husband.

And that's why I have a picture of my husband in a suit bending over with his arm out while our little lab puppy stares at him with wonder.

But the picture of a juggling grizzly bear I just can't explain.