Saturday, June 30, 2007

Half Year Mark

Can you believe it is the last day of June?!? The year is half over, yowza did that ever go fast!
So, I thought for my final day of hosting Saturday Try Day for Create A Connection that I'd suggest we all try to look at our yearly goals or resolutions.

I was going to fudge, but what the heck, I'll be honest here. I had five resolutions that I blogged about in January as part of doing Self Portrait Challenge every week. The goals weren't too specific, but they were doable and important to me. None of them you will note included any art/career goals, those I gave myself a break on since we are still doing this house remodel and my studio will be getting moved again (third time) next month. I knew that putting that pressure on myself would be counterproductive, so I basically took a goal sabbatical in that area of my life.

So here were the five resolutions that I made and how I'm doing on them so far this year.
1) Spend more time with my pets

I've definitely done this. Just ask them. We know each other even better now, just in six months. And we had three pets die in this time period, two chickens and a parakeet. Not bird flu, just their time to go. It was hard, but I didn't have a really deep connection with them, like I do with the cats and dog. This might sound weird, but I have a clearer communication going with them now that I am paying more attention to them. Sometimes I feel like I'm eavesdropping on their conversations with each other and that they are surprised that I know what they're saying.

2)Eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day

I have succeeded at this, especially lately. We are on week four of our Camp Joy CSA organic produce basket, and nothing has gotten tossed onto the compost heap. It is all going in the blender baby, for those super green smoothies I'm eating/drinking every day.

I'm so glad that I'm back in the habit of eating fresh fruits and vegies, it is a habit that I'm planning on keeping! Here's a pic of my pomegranate tree (well it is only a bush size so far), with a blossom and a fruit showing, yay!

3) Stop and smell the roses

Yes, I'm doing that, definitely. Literally and figuratively. Been very "in my head" this year so far, pensive at times, and just thoughtful and curious at other times. Taking time to stop and enjoy is another habit that is worth continuing to cultivate.
Here is my favorite rose in the garden, it has such a lovely scent, and the colours are subtly different on each bloom.

4)Walk more

Nope, not doing this. I'm definitely moving around more, but still not walking much more than before. I have my weeks where my energy level is high enough and pain levels are low enough that I do increase my walking, but they don't last and neither do I. If I push myself too much it rebounds and worsens, so I just don't do it. I think I may have to change this resolution to move more instead of walk more.
Someday I'll have to calculate the percentage grade on our street so that people will understand why I can't just go out my front door and walk around the block. Living on the side of the mountain makes that little neighborhood walk into a hike. Having to drive somewhere to take a walk seems kinda silly to me.
I am walking around in my yard a lot more, mostly accompanied by my camera. It fools me into thinking that I'm just taking pictures (call me easily fooled I guess!). Here is a view through our fig tree.

5)Be Here Now

This was mostly about savoring the time I have with my kids and I'm definitely making some good progress here. I'll be honest and say that this surprised me and turned out to be the hardest goal to fulfill in a real and concrete manner. But I've found that it is a a cumulative thing, this learning to fully be in the present. Part of it was getting out of my own way, what worked for me was to continue with daily meditation practice. Making that space in my head available to experience what I was doing, at the time. Instead of analyzing and evaluating the experience later on, on my internal movie screen.

I'm keeping these same resolutions for the next six months. Except for the Walk More is now Move More. Also, today I'm having a talk with myself about art/career goals, more on that later after the conference in my head adjourns...

How about you? Have you seen 43 Things?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bruschetta, Ah Bruschetta

We're on a bit of a bruschetta kick around here these days. Especially since we went to La Bruschetta for graduation dinner. They have a whole menu of just bruschetta, *squee*

I took these pictures to show off some of our recent creations, and by coincidence, Charlotte hosting Get To Know You over at Create a Connection asked us to share pics and recipes today.

So here we go, the Stiller version of making bruschetta.

To start off all of our bruschetta recipes so far to date:
1)We buy a nice fresh baguette, maybe sourdough, maybe not, slice kinda diagonally into pieces, 2) brush top of each slice lightly with olive oil, and then toast in a 400F oven for a little bit.

First up was Marc's Olive Love.

1 can of kalamata olives (pitted of course), 1/2 white onion, a tablespoon of olive oil and a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped up in a food processor.
I know it looks a bit dog-food-esque, but believe me, if you like olives, this was Olive Heavenly in your mouth.
Spread mixture on the prepared toasted bread slices, back into the oven for a little bit, maybe 6 minutes

This is Zach's TriColore
Slice ripe Roma tomatoes, top with a slice of fresh mozzarella (the kind sold in water!), and fresh basil leaves.
Bake atop the prepared bread slices for about 5 minutes.

Eat it all up in about two minutes flat. Fight over who gets the last piece.
Now loll around the living room moaning like a stuffed Roman after a big feast.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Environmental Final

For my final environmental photo for Self Portrait Challenge, I thought I'd portray what I spend most of my time doing all the summer long. Watering!
We spend a majority of time outside so I like to have nice gardens to be out in. That and I'm addicted to going to garden centers and bringing home tons of new plants to see what the *&%$ deer will or won't eat. This of course means I must keep the plants that make up the gardens alive.
This picture was taken at 10am yesterday morning as I watered the hottest part of the deck where it was already over 90F. Where we live, we have little humidity, no rain all summer long, and thus increasing fire danger as summer progresses. So I like to keep a nice green and growing circle around our home as a hopefull firebreak against the worst-case scenario fire I worry about every single year.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Colour Swapped!

I received this enormously long mysterious box on Saturday from my Create a Connection ,Colour Swap partner, Rosalyn-Sue... she runs Operation Stars & Stripes, a great organization dedicated to supporting US troops. Check them out and see if you can participate.
And just looky what she sent!! A huge roll of purply papers, all different and unique and oh so very usable. One is tie dyed, one is even embroidered, how cool is that?!
And the package there on the right with the bow is a set of purple fibers wrapped around clothespins, what darling packaging, brilliant!
I love the cute little card too, very fiber-riffic Rosalyn-Sue, thanks so much for being such a great swap partner.
Now to go figure out what to use this purple yumminess for, stay tuned....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Scattergories 3

Playing Scattergories with DebR once again.

Rules are same as before - each answer has to start with the same letter as the first letter of your name and if an answer is a place name it should be real, not fictional. If someone who answers before you has the same first letter, try to come up with different answers than they did. Now on to…
Scattergories 3
Your name: Julie

A type of tree or shrub: Jasmine or Juniper

Something an astronaut would study: Jupiter

Eight-letter word:
Feeling electrified; highly ecstatic

A sports team (any sport): Jacksonville Jaguars

A character in movie or play: Jane Hudson (From "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?")"sister,sister oh so fair. why is there blood all over your hair?

A nickname (or endearment) for someone you like: JuJuBee

Something that could get you arrested: Job Discrimination

Something you’d take to a picnic: Jug of Juice

A reason someone might get an award, medal, or trophy: Jump Rope Marathon

Something that makes you smile: Jumping on trampolines!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Herd of Cats

I'm surrounded by cats. This morning I woke up without being able to move one way or the other, being pinned on both sides by two cats. This first one is Spike. He is our teenager cat, still bugging the older cats, but mellowing out considerably. Now we find he is sleeping a lot more, hey, just like a teenager!

This is Zippy, my cat, and the oldest. When it gets too crazy on the bed (ie other cats have gotten too close, or I'm rolling around too much), he jumps up on the headboard and drapes himself over all the books and other stuff.

Finally this is Rexie, our fluffiest cat. He is a really lovey dovey cat, with these tremendously long whiskers and a very floppy belly. Whenever you sit down outside, he appears, ready to be petted. Or inside, he is always sleeping next to my son Alex.

We are happily Ruled by Cats.
They make the rules around here really. Here are some that I've noticed:

1. Don't come right away when called.
2. Don't enter the house with another cat, you must enter alone.
3. Eat the dogfood. Don't let the dog eat the catfood.
4. Toilet water tastes better than bowl water, just ask the dog.
5. When covered in burrs or foxtails make sure to snuggle into all the blankets on the bed.
6. Bite the hand that brushes you.
7. Dogs are for teasing.
8. If you want to go out at night, just scratch at the new carpet, they wake right up !
9. Pay no attention to the lady with the camera, she'll go away eventually.
10. If they're reading something, quick, sit on it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Graduation Day

Here is my environmental self portrait for the Self Portrait Challenge this week.

In this picture I am at my son's middle school graduation this past Thursday. Now he is a high schooler, gasp!

Trying very hard not to well up with proud tears, or fearful tears, or happy tears, or any tears whatsoever. Not so successful at that. Oh well, I cried at kindergarten graduation too. If I'm not crying, I'm not feeling I suppose.

Anyways, feeling safe, secure and very happy in my element as supportive mother, proud parent, member of the school community and so on. And a sunburned gardener too, if you check out my neck and shoulder.

Meanwhile, back at the local thrift store, I got a hat pattern, for
Or chapeaux sensass. Sensass? Is that really French for Terrific? I'm thinking that means something else, isn't formidable or terrible a better translation? I never took French, so I do not know!

And a book I've been looking for: Upholstering At Home. Yay, now perhaps the chairs will get redone with somewhat more expertise than my usual staple gun assisted upholstering method!...

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Clematis Inspired Shirt

Look at my clematis! I'm so excited that it has bloomed so well finally. Many many years of one or two blossoms and then nada. This year it is going and going and spreading along the fence. Hooray! I'm ready to run out and get some more to cover the whole danged fence!

Here is my shirt with the now fabric covered buttons.
Previously it was a man's button down shirt that my husband somehow ripped the elbow out of. It was refashioned into a shirt for me, which I detailed here.
Anyways, the dark grey buttons no longer went with the flowery sleeves and collars which I'd added. So I tracked down a gizmo for covering buttons with your own fabric, cut some circles out of the same fabric and covered those buttons. Really easy, and I think it makes the shirt look much more finished.
Anyways, the flower fabric really reminded me of the clematis, almost the same colors in it! Even though it might be a gazania or something...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Trying Something New

I'm hostessing Saturday's Try Day on Create a Connection all month long. This weekend I suggested everyone try something new to eat.
This picture kind of sums that up, don't you think? Here is my younger son Alexander, enjoying some squid at the graduation dinner we went out to for my older son Zachary's junior high graduation. He loves squid and is always trying to get me to eat the legs. I like the rounds of squid or the calamari patties you can buy, but the legs always ick me out too much to eat. But I gathered all my courage and tried one. And it didn't wriggle in my mouth like I thought it would, and the suckers didn't grab onto the inside of my cheek, and it didn't try to ooze off my tongue. And it tasted more squid-like than the other pieces of squid I usually try. And that is good! So I tried something new. Hooray!
I also was reading in the Green for Life book about the green tops of root vegetables having even more nutrients than the roots (like carrots), so out of the organic CSA basket from Camp Joy, I pulled out a lovely bunch of carrots, wrestled off the tops, rinsed them off and tossed them into my green smoothie for the day. Yum! Even more fresh, green flavor for me to enjoy. Sorry bout that to our pet bunny, you'll have to make do with just carrots now.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Blog Scattergories

It is Friday Night, and I'm Playing Blog Scattergories with DebR:

Rules: each answer has to start with the same letter as the first letter of your name and if an answer is a place name it should be real, not fictional.

Scattergories 2

Your name: Julie

A Country: Jamaica

A Song Title: Jeepers Creepers (where'd ya get those peepers?)

An Artist (painter, photographer, etc): Jasper Johns

A Reason to stay home from Work or School: Juntocracy (a government run by a junta)

Something you’d see at a Zoo: Jaguar

A Snack: JellyBeans

A Character in a Book: Juliet Capulet

Something Icky: Japanese Beetles

A Six-letter Word: Jester
Something Breakable: Jar of Jelly Beans
Non-Alcoholic Drink: Julep
Something you Whisper: Just try me...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

It Is A Bloggy Bloggy World

Some more fun questions from the Getting To Know You hostess, Charlotte over at Create a Connection.

When did you begin your first blog and what inspired you to do so?

This is my first blog that I really kept up with. I won't count my one post try at livejournal ages ago. Anyways, I started this newfangled blogging thing on October 25, 2004.
I temember that I was spending a whole lot of time glued to my computer that week, stressing about the election. (sigh).
I was inspired to do so by reading Dijanne Cevaal, a friend I knew from on an online quilt/fiber arts list community. I was having trouble with updating my website regularly, and I thought this might "fill in" and also be able to show process photos and dialog too.

Do you have more than one blog? Why? How are they different?

I have one that I was keeping up last year as part of doing the Daily Devotions challenge, making art everyday. I did make art everyday (or awfully close to it), but I didn't keep up the blog completely. High Fiber Content Daily Devotions. I also am a contributor to a few blogs, like Create a Connection, Wardrobe Refashion (as part of signing up for the challenge!), Self Portrait Challenge, and the moribund Simple Still Life.

How would you characterize your blog?CreativePoliticalInformationalCommunity-orientedOr something else?

I would say it is ME oriented. And I am creative and political and hopefully informative and somewhat community-oriented. So, um, yes?!

To paraphrase Oprah, what is "one thing you know for sure" about blogging?

You never ever know who is reading your blog. People from around the world, or down the street. So make sure that you remember that when you post.

Is it important to you to get feedback in terms of comments or pings? Why or why not?

Some posts I don't expect feedback, or even want it. But when I post a picture of new art that I've made or a poem that I've worked hard on, it is really nice to hear some comments.

What 3 blogs would you recommend to our readers and why?

Lately I'm having fun reading :

Neil Gaiman lately, he is such a great author and general creative person, plus he is a real person, who is funny and has bees!

Passive-Agressive Notes - I forget how I found this one, but it reminds me of how very glad I no longer work out in the corporate world, or live in a dorm, or have roomates!

GiveAway of the Day - I know I don't need more software (just ask my groaning computer), but this is freeeeeee. And possibly useful! At some point.


A friend and I are doing some collage collaboration work. We each started out with a blank journal, and are choosing words for each other to inspire a collage. Then we are sending the books back and forth, being inspired by each other's work. I thought I'd share what I have done so far with that project.

The first word my friend Rue chose for me was "Cherish". The words in my collage say: I choose to cherish the unexplained. Like love for instance! No matter how much time it takes. I choose to cherish.

Here is the Cherish collage that I did in my friend Rue's book. Some of the imagery came from my Amnesty International magazine, a story about a friendship that sprang up between a family behind the Iron Curtain and a family in England, all brought about through the Amnesty penpal program.

This is my "title page, in my book, which started out life as a book of watercolor postcards.

Here is the front cover, paper painted with walnut ink over crayon rubbings, and the ridged section is from a cool box that I saved. The ribbon is from an amazon present! See, never throw anything away!

And the back cover, this is a paper napkin, I colored over it with pearly crayons. It is kind of fragile, so I think I'll seal it somehow.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Barcelona Bark Shirt

As promised here is what I made to wear out of Marion's Barcelona Bark pictures. There was a light and dark version of her picture, so I tiled them using Microsoft Word. Then I printed the image out on a t-shirt transfer. Remember if you are using text to reverse the image when you print, otherwise you'll have backwards letters! Mine happens to be Xerox brand, but there are of course tons of alternative choices out on the market.

I had a plain white t-shirt that I had been planning to dye, but had otherwise gone unworn since it was boring and I just don't do boring very well. So I am counting this as a Wardrobe Refashion, which is: taking something you have, transforming it, and making it even more wearable!

My trick with transfers is to first iron the t-shirt really really smooth

And instead of just using the ironing board which is kinda squishy, I put an old cutting board which is nice and smooth inside the shirt. That way you won't get anything transfering through to the back of your shirt, which can happen with some of the transfer brands.

Follow the directions, each type seems to be different, some want steam, some high heat, some not.

Once it has cooled a bit start peeling at a corner. If there is a lot of resistance, you probably haven't ironed enough. Try a bit more heat, and attempt to peel off once more.

Voila' a new and interesting/mysterious shirt to wear!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

This Year is almost over

By that I mean the end of the school year.
And when that happens, you know that the end of the school year craziness is going on!
The usual whirlwind of class parties, field trips, last-minute school projects, dances, etc.
Oldest son, Zach is graduating from middle school! Yahoo, on to high school for him!
And youngest son, Alex is off to science camp for the final week of school. Weird, huh? He decided he finally wanted to cut his hair to "freak people out on the last day". Which worked quite well! So I cut it for him. Yes that is the same young man, hard to believe, huh?!

The quail are making crazy, ill-advised maneuvers these days. This family literally jumped out in front of me on our street, mom, dad and all the little bitty babies scootling around and then hiding in the bush on the left. Luckily I was paying attention and didn't smash them all. And I had my camera handy to get this picture. Click on it so you can see the teeny babies.

I've taken Joanna up on her Green Smoothie Challenge for June. Thirty days of drinking 32oz. of a green smoothie, inspired Victoria Boutenko's Green For Life book (which I just bought yesterday).
Here is one of the first ones I've enjoyed. It is worth drinking just to experience this green colour in person! Wow! I need to figure out how to dye this exact shade. Electric, vibrant and oh so very tasty. This was made of half a bunch of spinach, 3 leaves of kale, 3 leaves of chard, 1 banana, 1 cup frozen peaches, some water and 1T agave, 2T of FlaxSeed Oil. Yummy, and I'm so full, I can't snack or anything. I'm not planning on turning into a raw food advocate, don't worry. But I have been trying to figure out how to eat more dark, leafy greens and this is working for me. I do have to share what I blend up with Alex, he loves these!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It was 20 years ago today

Oh man oh man what a great bunch of questions from Charlotte for this week's Getting to Know You over on Create a Connection!
Title of this post courtesy of the 40th (eep!) anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album (not cd!) by the Beatles. When I heard it, I thought that it was eponomously titled, didn't realize it was by those Beatles.

Where were you in 1987? School, working? Single,married, attached? What were you doing creatively?
I was working, my very first job out of college, at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company at the Palo Alto Research Labs, in Palo Alto, California. Learning the ins and outs of accounting in a giant company with government contracts. I had moved away from Berkeley and Oakland as it was just too hard to commute. I worked with a lot of interesting programs, the investigation of the o-ring failure that caused the first Space Shuttle disaster was really cool, and quite fast paced (all relative!), and then there was the underground nuclear testing:

I was attached already, to my future husband, Marc. He also worked at LMSC, as one of those irresistible scientists. We were doing a lot of hiking and camping and just generally having fun.

Creatively, I wasn't doing much art specifically. I was doing some kinds of crafty kind of stuff, I'll admit to going through a silk flower phase along with everyone else within a 20 mile radius of Michael's. I also was learning how to cook, that could be considered creative...

I did a little tiny bit of sewing, I recall making curtains, truck curtains, pillow covers, the world's ugliest sweatshirt for Marc, and matching weightlifting baggy pants for us. We did actually weightlift together! Yes people I used to have well-defined biceps. Not a picture of me, but at one point my arms did look this good. They are still strong, just a little jigglier...

Where were you in 1997? What would you like to share about the nineties?
Wow, a lot happened in only ten years. We had been married for 7 years, being together for 11 years. Both kids had been born, Zach would have 4 and Alex 2. The nineties were fun and frustrating years of transitioning from being a worker bee filled with angst and drive, pouring all my energy into work for companies that could have cared less to pouring that same energy into raising good people and learning to be myself, a mother without a job besides that. I utilized the internet a lot for interaction with other women who were doing the same thing, which helped a lot. I also discovered and had removed my first lump and started getting quite ill with what I later learned was Dercum's Disease, which I still, unfortunately have.

I began sewing lots of stuff, mostly toys, puppets, stuff for our home, but then I began quilting too then, first just making baby quilts for my boys, and then working up to bed quilts for us, and leaping full force into art quilting. Finding my way on my own, and with the assistance of QuiltArt online.

Where did you plan to be or think you'd be in 2007? Have you realized your goals?

I thought I'd be owning my own business, wasn't sure what it would be, but I knew I wasn't going back to the corporate world. I'm just not suited for it. Or it isn't ready for me, perhaps?! So, kinda sorta, yes. I have a business, but have not gone full tilt at it quite yet. That is coming, I can feel it building up like a volcano that will be exploding soon. Still not sure if it is going to involve just making art, or writing, or teaching, or all three. All shall be revealed....

I also thought I'd be enjoying seeing what my kids would be like 10 years older. Boy is that ever true. I'm so proud of both of them, they bring me uncountable joy every day. I also figured I'd still loving my husband, and yes indeed I do. And not the same as 10 years ago, but even more, in different ways, I didn't know that love that has stayed around this long was so rich and satisfying. I did not think I would be so far down the road with the progression of my disease, I am working every day to deal with it though, thus my new motto: Do It Anyways.

What is one thing about your present life you love and one you'd like to change?
One thing I love about my present life is the gift of unstructured time.

One thing I'd like to change about my present life is being too unstructured and not getting enough done!

How do you see your life in 2017? Do you have any goals or dreams for your future?
Gosh, in 10 years, I'll be 53.
I'm envisioning that I'll be more established with my business, and my goal is to be successful at what I'm doing with my art.
I am envisioning my kids having graduated college and out of the nest on their own. My dream for them is to be happy and healthy.
I am envisioning Marc's company having"gone public" and we'll be bazillionaires gallivanting about the world on a whim. How''s that for dreaming big?