Sunday, February 26, 2012

Things...

                                                      
                                                             A watercolor in progress.


 A pastel that might have a little more work needed. Not completely happy about the colors on the flower in the forground.

Zentangle--my new obsession!



The title of this page was going to be"life gets in the way"...but that is a little more true than I feel like admitting right now. Let's see, what has been happening over here at Casa CrazyLife. Well, I'm back in school full time. Yep, at 47, I am still in school. I am working on the art degree that I wanted to do before I started popping out little ones and life got so busy. While life is still busy, the little ones are now seniors in high school, so I felt it was time to go back and just do it! That said, I would highly advise youngsters to get their college DONE before having a life..or kids. It is strange sometimes sitting in class and being the age of the other students mother..or older. It has had it's humorous moments though, like when one kid told me I was a LOT older than his mother, then realized what he said and almost choked on his tongue. I just laughed--the truth is, I AM older than a lot of these kids' moms. I have enjoyed being around them immensely. I know teenagers and young people sometimes get a bad rap, but the truth is, there are a lot of good kids out there.

We have been really lucky so far weatherwise for February. It was 70 degrees a couple days ago and today it was in the high 50's, which is VERY unusual. Especially since we've had snow, hail and everything in between in the prior weeks. This might make for a crazy tornado season though, so I am dreading that.

I am in the middle of trying to get our garage cleaned and purged of all the stuff that seemed important to bring over from the old house but has been clogging our garage for the past 4 years. I can't believe we've been in this house for 4 years!! Time sure flies!! My goal in the next 4 months is to get rid of at least half the stuff in the house and garage. We don't use most of it and it is just STUFF that clutters the arteries of our life. Time for change ! I'm really bad about hanging on to stuff "just in case". That's going to stop. Our garbage man is going to hate us--thankfully we get credits towards what we recycle, so that is going to pay off. And the Goodwill will be getting a windfall from us! LOL. It's all good.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Summer Heat

As with most of the nation, we have been in the middle of quite a battle with Mother Nature over whether it is appropriate to turn on the heater in the middle of summer. As we are finding out, she has control of that thermostat.

 It is baking here.

Temps hit over 110*F yesterday and I  can officially say I am tired of summer. All the heat has put a damper on my plans to get to the studio every day to paint in oils. but I have decided that on the days that I don't make the 45 minute drive to the studio, I will spend my time working on watercolor paintings and drawings. Those supplies and paintings I can keep/do at home since the cats do not seem to be attracted to them.

 I have been spending a little more time than is probably financially feasible at used books stores lately and have found quite a few out of print art book gems at crazy low prices as opposed to their secondary market value on Amazon. Score! After reading through my cache of goodies, one of thing has caught my eye and has really started to sink in. All of the artists in the books I bought emphasize doing detailed sketchbook value and composition drawings before ever putting the brush to the canvas. I usually just dive right in and work it out as I go along, which does not always turn out well. So in the future, I will keep my sketchbooks at hand and follow the advice of the other artists and make value sketches and comp sketches first. It seems so simple, not sure why this has not been a habit for me.

Also on the art subject, I have decided to add pastels to my "stuff that I do". It seems like a cross between painting and drawing and I have been intensely attracted to the velvety richness of the pastel paintings that I have seen, so I decided to give it a whirl. Given the fact that it is a medium notorious for producing dust and all kinds of pigment stains, this is definitely something that I will be doing at the studio. I ordered a 90 color set from ASW along with some clear Artspectrum pastel primer and a spray fixative, so as soon as the crazy business of this week is over, I plan to hit the studio to experiment. I was a little concerned about buying aerosol fixative in these temps--can you imagine how much fun that would have been if that package had been left on my unshaded doorstep for the day?! Luckily we were home when it got here. The cans were really hot even with just being in the truck. A friend of mine works for 911 dispatch and she said that this heat has been causing propane tanks to explode--I had visions of having a flaming box on my front porch.

School starts up in a couple weeks and I have to say I am really looking forward to it. The summer has been nice, but I am looking forward to the routine of getting up and being with people in a classroom every day. Since I am transferring to Wichita State University to finish up a BFA, I will have an art history and a foundational design class and lab. Lots of reading, I am sure. Unfortunately, only one art related class at Butler Community College will fit into my schedule. I will be taking jewelry design 2 since I was pretty sure I would not have time to get from one campus to the other in time to take any other classes. I do have to say I am excited about transferring to WSU. We toured their art department and it seems like it is going to be a great atmosphere for learning and growing.

On the home front, we are gearing up for the start of the school year for the twins. They are going to be seniors next year, which just doesn't seem possible. Where did the time go? It seems like yesterday I was the room mom in an elementary school classroom. Both boys decided they want to go military after school. Mark has gone with the Marines and Jeremy has gone Navy. Both boys are early entry, which mean they have signed and sworn in now, but won't go until after they graduate from high school next year. It just doesn't seem possible that they are that age...That means next year this time, my nest will be empty. Not even sure how I am going to handle that. I'm sure it will be interesting to enter this new season of life.

No pics today. My computer and Blogger don't seem to want to talk to each other today.

Monday, July 25, 2011

AND here we are again....

I'm not even gonna say it....oh heck, yes I am: Has it really been this long since I've posted?

Yep! So here is the rundown on what has been happening at Casa Crazylife I went back to school to finish an art degree. It is something I have wanted to do since before the kids were born, but life just got in the way. I have been taking classes at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas but it is time to move on to a 4 year college. I am really going to miss it there. I can't even begin to explain how much I have learned from the art professors there! However, I am at a point where there really are no more art classes that I can take so I have to get my rear over to Wichita State University to finish the degree. I will be working on a BFA (Bachelors of Fine Art) in Studio, with an emphasis in painting. It will be nice to have less of a drive, but I do still have a studio in El Dorado that I am hanging onto. It took FOREVER for a space to open up and I am LOVING the fact that I have a place to work now. When I took possession of the studio, the wall with the windows on it and the wall next to it were a dark pumpkin color. Pretty, but they were too dark for a painting studio. The built in desk had been used as a palette at some point and was quite dismal looking. All the walls were dingy, so after a couple coats of light taupe paint, the walls really look great. My husband stripped the desk and stained it a cherry color and it looks FABULOUS! He does such awesome work!
My two windows...On now has an air conditioner in it since we discovered that it is impossible to be up there in 100 degree and higher temps without getting really overcome by the heat. Cute Man aka. husband is stripping the counter top and the desktop in front. Love them sexy orange gloves!!!
More stripper action..I mean, wood stripping ...of course...
Now for the another funny quirk we discovered. When I got the studio, this carpet was already there. The director of the museum that owns the building said if i didn't want the carpet, just roll it up and leave it in the common area that is shared with the other artists. so, I lifted it and...
WHAT>?!!! Seriously. There are no tiles in the exact shape of the carpet..LOL...I'll throw down some inexpensive tiles and get rid of the carpet....

I haven't been up there as much as I would like up to this point, but I only moved into the studio in June, so I am still getting a schedule worked out. It is really wonderful to finally have a place to create! I will start posting paintings as I get them done. School starts back up in the latter part of August, so I am getting a schedule figured out and will start getting down to work!

To end--a couple things I did last semester. There were a lot more, I'll post more later.



Just a little of what has been going on at Casa Crazylife. Hope you have been having a great year so far too!

Friday, January 07, 2011

2011 Already?!!

2010 was an interesting and challenging year.

My family added 2 people when my oldest and his girlfriend moved back home in order to find a job here (he had previously lived 7 hours away), school kept me crazy busy but super satisfied, and I have had to come to terms with having a parent who is ill. My Dad underwent chemotherapy and radiation for cancer in several areas of his body at the beginning of this Fall semester, so it has been a really bumpy ride here at Casa CrazyLife. When you are younger, it seems like your parents are invincible and are going to be strong forever. Then life happens and you realize that they are just as human as the rest of us, which is a hard pill to swallow. Dad is still fighting the good fight. I'm not sure where this chapter of my life is going to end up, but I am also having to come to terms with the fact that we are not always the author of our life story. There is a bigger story being written and we do not always know the plot..

That said, I have been on a quest to simplify a lot of the areas of my life where there has been to much excess and lack of focus. I went back to school to work on an art degree. When I was younger, that is what I had originally wanted to do, then the reality of having kids moved in and I changed majors. My advice to the younger set is to keep with the original dream. You can always find ways to make a living and you will be more fulfilled in the long run and not have to backtrack. I have started taking classes at a junior college where the instructors absolutely ROCK! LOL...I have had a lot of learning and growing pains, but I am really excited about the progress and direction I've gained under their guidance. Eventually I will move on to the 4 year college here in town, but in the meantime I am going part time and focusing on growing and learning as much as I can from my instructors. It is interesting going back to school when you are the closer to the age of your fellow students parents--and in some cases, a lot older than their parents...But I will say that as much as I hear people complain about young kids in college, I've seen much more from this age group than bad. It is interesting to see someone just starting out and how their view of the world is untainted by the realities of life. I think our views and attitudes do change once we have a little dust under our saddle, but it is refreshing to see younger points of view. I am working on putting together a portfolio and trying to take some workshops this year with other artists. That will mean more travel in 2011, which I am excited about. I love to travel!

Other than that, life goes on at Casa CrazyLife at dizzying speeds. I'm sure it is the same at your home too! Happy 2011! May we all prosper and grow in the New Year!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

And So Goes Life....

I was reminded the other day that life is very busy and it seems to be passing by at the speed of light. And then I checked this blog and realized I have not posted since AUGUST!!!! Yikes. I won't even make excuses or promises to be better. Instead I will tell you what has been happening at Casa Crazylife in the passing months..

School: I am back in school taking art related courses right now. At this point I am going back to what I had hoped to do before my oldest was born. The semester is winding down, but it has been a mad dash to get everything done. I am taking a 2D design class, a life drawing class and a second jewelry class. I've loved them all but it seems the 2D class has swallowed a huge portion of my time this semester. It has been VERY labor intensive, but I think it has made me take a look at several design principles that will help me in the fine art area. My life drawing class has been fantastic too. I am going to do a project class next semester in the life drawing mode, so I am looking forward to seeing where this takes me. The jewelry class has been interesting in that I have been learning some basic lapidary skills that I have REALLY enjoyed in addition to the silversmithing.

On the home front, the twins have been REALLY busy this semester with football, which just ended. From there we go straight into wrestling season. Only one of the boys is wrestling this year. School and other stuff keeps both of them really busy, and us too!

My oldest and his girlfriend are living with us temporarily while they look for jobs and a place of their own. It has been a big adjustment for all of us, but it really is nice to have him closer to home. That said, I do miss going up to Iowa. I really loved it in Iowa City. I might have to road trip there next year if I can find time in between my other planned trips to Washington, Texas and New Mexico.

I had hoped to accomplish so much more over the summer in regards to getting the house in order and finally decorated, but that lagged a lot. After the rush of the holidays are over, I am going to regroup and get some projects lined out to start the process. Painting was #1 on the list, but that is going to have to go to the end of the line. So instead I will focus on cosmetic stuff and organizing. We've been in this house for 2 years and still have a garage full of STUFF. Time to unload and lighten up a bit!

So there you have it--in a nutshell! I will make an effort to keep updated over the next couple months and not be such a bad blogger! LOL.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cuban Bread...BIG YUM!

While my son and I were in Kansas City for a handmade pasta class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City, I went to Whole Foods Market and picked up an August copy of Tastebud magazine. It is a free magazine distributed in Kansas City and it is always packed with interesting recipes and shopping ideas that revolve around food. This month, there is a recipe for "Cuban bread"  that caught my attention (since you know what a bona fide carb and baking freak I am) and haunted me. So last night I had to just give in to the temptation and bake that bread!

OMG!! It was fabulous!
Here is the recipe-it was a reprint from a Jan/Feb 1996 issue of a Cook's magazine column by Jane and Michael Stern. Darn it--now I am going to have to hunt down a back issue of that magazine! However, here is the recipe. Try it, I promise it's slightly sourdough tang will hook you on the first bite that you take . As for me, I'm making more this weekend, I want to teach the kids how to bake a good loaf of bread and this one fits the bill. Do remember to mist the oven--it does make a difference in the crust. This crust is simply divine!!

Cuban Bread

1 pkg yeast ( I used 1Tblsp. bulk yeast)
2 Tblsp. sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water (110-112 degrees)
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour (I used bread flour)
2 tsp salt (I used sea salt)
1/3 cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and the sugar in 2/3 cup warm water. when foamy, whisk in 1 cup of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 4 hours in a warm place. (I let mine sit for about 6 since I had errands to run)

Stir in the remaining 2/3 cup water. Combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt and beat into the yeast mixture. Add veggie oil and beat until dough just holds together. (I let the dough hook on my KitchenAide mixer do the job for about 5 minutes). Turn the dough onto a floured surface and let rest while you clean and oil the bowl.

Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, 5-6 minutes, adding only enough flour to make the dough workable and soft. (again, I let my dough hook do that job..I love my KitchenAide!), Return the dough to the oiled bowl and turn the dough once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. (I started this whole process late at night, so I covered the dough and sat it in the fridge overnight to slow rise. In the morning I set the covered bowl on the counter to come to room temp and rise more--it does add a lot to the flavor)

Lightly oil a french bread pan (I used a cookie sheet since I don't have a french bread pan) and punch down dough. Divide into 2 parts and roll each part into a 16-18 inch rope. Put in the prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Slash each loaf with a very sharp knife 2-3 times along the top and mist the loaves with water (I also misted the heck out of the oven. My hair is permanently frizzed) .

Bake in a preheated oven until the loaves are light and golden--20 to 25 minutes, misting them again when they have been in the oven for 7 minutes (again, I can't follow instructions, so I misted mine a couple more times, just to buck the system.  I know-I'm such a rebel...)

Spread with butter, gorge yourself until you can't move and grin like the cat that ate the canary. THIS IS SERIOUSLY GOOD STUFF!!!



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where Did the Summer Go..Again...

I can't believe school starts for both the boys and I in the next couple weeks. Where did summer go? It seems like time flew by so quickly that I really didn't have time to do a lot of anything, but the reality is that is didn't really "fly", I just didn't get a whole heck of a lot done this summer. I guess I need to step up and review my list before the cold weather sets in. Some things MUST get done, like pulling the old wallpaper off the family room, sanding the walls smooth, then priming and painting...along with some of the furniture refinishing projects I have laying around the house....plus I am hoping to get a measure of redecorating done.



I have three art classes this semester and I'm really looking forward to all of them. My life drawing is the one class that is making me nervous since I tend to be a perfectionist and want to draw things "right"..having a model to draw from is going to be exciting, but I get caught up in the little things like wanting to get it all correct the first time around. I am going to work on not getting frustrated and being OK with imperfection while I get the process down....I guess that is going to be a challenge, but I think I'm going to really enjoy the opportunity to practice this. I also have another jewelry class and a 2 dimensional design class, which will be fun. I feel fortunate that all the instructors are people that I am really comfortable with. I really wish this was a 4 yr college, I would definitely stay, even with the 50 minute daily commute! I have to work on putting together a portfolio of work in the coming semesters so that I can transfer over to Wichita State University's art department. I want to transfer over to either the printmaking or the painting department. Printmaking (relief or intaglio) is my love, but lately I am finding that I like oil painting too. I'm nowhere near mastering it or even being proficient in it yet, but I really enjoy it. We'll just have to see where the path leads, I guess. I would love to have studio space where I could just spread my stuff out and not have to worry about getting paint and charcoal on my light carpeting..hopefully that comes into fruition this semester.


On my reading shelf this month is "The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken..." I bought this book several months back when I got interested in making my own ravioli and pastas. In a week, my oldest and I are going to Kansas City to learn how to make homemade pasta at the Culinary Center of Kansas City--the same place I went earlier this summer with one of the twins to learn how to make sushi (which we have become sushi making fools around here!)...There are SO many classes that they are offering this Fall that I'd love to take, but alas, the drive in combination with school and home schedules make it impossible to take the really cool classes they offer during the week. A lot of their classes are taught by KC professional chefs, so they are the least busy during the week since Friday-Sat is the big time for restaurants..KCCC does have a couple classes on the weekends that I might take though. I guess I'll have to wait until summers for now. What I like about this book so far is it details not only her quest for the techniques and the recipes that she is craving, it also highlights the fundamental hunger of connections to family. In her case, as in many families, those connections are strained. So far I am only halfway through the book, but am finding that I completely understand where she came from, is coming from and hoping to get back to. I should be finishing the book this week and will give a more in depth review. So far, it's a keeper.