December 31, 2007

Recent conversations with Lara

Misha and Lara at the zoo, Lara getting over her initial fear of the bears:

M: Look at that bear!
L: The beah have to take a baf! Beah is so dutty!


Walking in the park, Lara picked up a big stick and used it as a walking stick. Later she threw it away and picked up a new small twig which instantly broke upon her putting her weight on it: "Oh, no, this is not a walking stick!"


In the Children's Museum, while waiting for story time to start:

L: (loudly yelling while pointing at "How the Grinch Stole Christmas") This is a bad book! This is a bad book!
A: (after a lot of surrounding parents laugh) Well, ok, then we don't have to read it.
L: (pausing to reconsider, then pointing at the Grinch again) No, this is a bad guy!


In the park, looking at a statue of a ram:

A: Look, a goat.
L: No, is statue of a ram!
A: Oh, you're right, it's a ram!
L: Ram have a tail.
A: That's true. Does Lara have a tail?
L: No... (pausing) Ya have pony tail!


After I tried to read her a book meant for slightly older kids: "This is not a good book. This is not a good cat story." I just love the implication here that Lara has had vast experience with various stories, and comparatively? This one is no good.


Lara has decided that "lunch" means food that tastes bad, whereas "dinner" is food that tastes good. So when we get home in the middle of the day and I offer her the food I made for lunch she yells, "No, no lunch! Want dinna! Want dinna pweeze!"


Lara recently had her first ear infection and learned about medicine and how it makes you feel better. So, later, watching the movie "Babe" and seeing the scene where the pig gets sick she says, "Oh, pig needs medicine!" We were impressed at the connection there.


The winner for most impressive memory and connection formation is this one:

A few days ago we were looking at the Christmas tree ornaments in Dunkin Donuts and I showed Lara our reflection in a tiny red ball. Today, we went to Anthropologie and saw workers cleaning the windows in order to change the displays. We stood for a while and watched them using squeegees and rags until I said, "Oh, look how clean those windows are!" To which Lara promptly pointed and replied, "Can see our wefection!"

December 29, 2007

Lara Eating Cream of Wheat

Ok, I promise to get back to less lazy blogging sometime soon, but seriously, how cute is she? I can't get over it.

December 25, 2007

A Brief Break from Break

A little post to interrupt my little bloggie break.

Hanukkah with Misha's family and my vising mom was on Sunday. I believe these videos appropriately convey the fun level.

Ok, back to break. Hope you are all having a beautiful holiday season!

December 18, 2007

The Featured Artist on

... is me! I am sooo flattered and thrilled! Lots and lots of thanks to JoAnn from Curbly who conducted a really fun email interview with insightful and interesting questions, and who put together a great article. Check it out here right on the Curbly homepage.

And if you are visiting this blog from that site, welcome! Pull up a chair, let's sit and chat.

A little rant

The colors on this one are really striking. I'm always impressed by those brave enough to put art in very strong colors on their walls. Here, my initial response to the request for a red background was a muted, grey-specked affair, but Rychelle insisted on a dark barn red - with great results.

Stencil Portrait - baby Rychelle

Incidentally, I added a flower applique onto a new grey hoodie, using some iron-on interfacing on pieces of old clothes. The hoodie is from the boy's department, and was so blank that I thought it needed a little something more.

Grey hoodie with flower applique

Speaking of which, I have a bone to pick with the manufacturers of girls' clothing. Boys' clothes are practical, sturdy, and season-appropriate. Right now, for winter, they have warm sweatpants, fleece-lined khakis, thick sweaters, and the like. Girls? Girls are apparently never supposed to go outside. Ever. Their clothes are a mockery of winter clothes - miniskirts made of corduroy, edged with fake fur. Tiny denim dresses with short sleeves, with snowflakes embroidered on them. "Sweaters" made of the thinnest possible knit cotton. And of course everything in the pinkest pinky pink. And people seem to buy this idea that girls should just be cold. I cannot stand the very frequent sight around here of parents walking, swathed in heavy puffy winter jackets, pants, and boots, while their girls walk next to them shivering in tiny "winter" skirts with bare legs (I'm sorry, but tights don't count as pants when it's 30 degrees). What's the deal? All I know is, Lara is dressed head to toe in what I find in the boys department.

Ahem. Rant over. Carry on.

December 17, 2007

Some random tidbits

A collage portrait of Tricia's son all ready to go in the mail tomorrow to get to her in time for the holidays.

Stencil Portrait - Tricia's son

I really love how many people ordered the stencil portraits as holiday gifts. It makes me feel all warm and cheery to be even a small part of someone's present. I really really love giving gifts. I mean, obviously I love getting them too, and there have been many times when Misha just busts some perfect thing out of nowhere - but there is something about thinking deeply about the needs and wants of someone else and then trying to match their style and desire that I really enjoy. Though some of that deliberation has taken a bit of a backseat now that Lara isn't really shopping-compatible.

Speaking of matching someone's style, I bought myself a little holiday gift as well: this porcelain Cat Girl necklace made by Kata Golda from the Twig shop.

Cat Girl Porcelain Necklace by Kata Golda

How cute is everything in that store? Ridiculous. I am now a little bit obsessed with this bauble, probably because I so rarely buy frivolous things for myself. I wore it this weekend to a super fantabulous party at my friend Caitlin's house, and darned if it didn't up the fun level! Ok, ok, what actually upped the fun level was the surprisingly tense game of full contact Trivial Pursuit, completely with championship bracket. Or maybe it was the amazing food. But most likely just the thrill of staying up past my bedtime with friends whom I never get to see and with whom time flies in a whirl of laughter. I love you guys!

December 16, 2007

More fishies

Another really fun trip this morning to the Camden Aquarium... or rather the Adventure Aquarium as it's now called, after its new and improved super-duper enspiffening. Sadly we didn't get a picture of Lara's favorite hippos, but here are some poorly lit action shots.

I love this one because of the little bonus Lara in the reflection on the glass. She's smiling at those tiny purple fishies!

I have to admit, we reached my disgust threshold today. I'm no animal lover on a good day, and all day looking at these crazy things started to really make my skin crawl by the end. I mean, look at that ridiculous lobster thing! Yuck!

December 14, 2007

A coordinated set

Karen asked for portraits of her two daughters, and I love the way they turned out. They don't match, but they do go together so well (even more so in real life, where the purple is a little more muted than my camera can capture). The portrait of her older daughter with an umbrella is one of the best examples yet of how amazing a dynamic photograph becomes when reduced to the stark lines of a stencil. So great.

Stencil Portrait - Karen's older daughter

Stencil Portrait - Karen's younger daughter

I am completely fascinated by stencils because of the way they play on our minds' desire to find patterns in what we are seeing. By taking away the vast majority of details in a picture, stencils force us to extrapolate and add in new details to complete an image from an array of amorphous and otherwise meaningless shapes. It's just extraordinary to think about how desperate we are to connect, to find meaning, to coordinate and organize, and to recognize something known in the midst of ostensible chaos.

December 13, 2007

Lara the Ichthyologist

Start 'em early, start 'em young. Seriously, if you think our trip to the aquarium was for naught, check this out:

December 12, 2007

A few more on the drying rack

Well, metaphorically speaking, anyway. We live in a two-bedroom apartment, so not so much with the actual piece of furniture devoted just to drying paintings.

Tiiu's happy son

Stencil Portrait - Tiiu's son

Kari's smiley daughter

Stencil Portrait - Kari's daughter

Thank you to everyone who has been ordering these! I love making them, and I hope they are making all of you happy.

December 8, 2007

Aquarium Day

You know how sometimes, even if you had a fantastic morning of going to the Aquarium where you saw the most unbelievably colorful exotic fish and sharks and turtles and hippos, and jumped around the whole place with unbridled delight, and pet a jellyfish and almost pet a tiny turtle, and then talked all day about how the "hippo looked at Wawee and Mama and Da-ee and fishies and shahk moosium and Mama and Da-ee and Wawee!", and instantly wanted to read the shark sticker book as soon as you got home, you wake up from a nap and feel groggy and sort of out of sorts? Doesn't it feel kind of like this?

december 8 - 1

But of course you know it won't last for long. Soon enough you'll be marveling at the giant cranes and construction site elevators soaring up into what passes for skyscrapers in Philadelphia...

december 8 - 2

... and giving Eskimo kissies to the Daddy you were crankily whining at only minutes before.

december 8 - 3

The on to the turtle park playground where you will name the big turtle "Wawee" and the tiny turtle "Mama" and then the medium turtle also "Wawee"...

december 8 - 4

... and Mommy will swing you around and around till you squeal "Wee! Carasel! Carasel!"

december 8 - 5

And a day happily started will end with joy.

December 7, 2007

Henry's New Little Kitchen

Thanks so much to Jenn of for sharing pictures of the stove her father-in-law built from my plans! Didn't come out great? I love that red fabric.

Here it is in progress:

And here is the finished product, along with some cutie pie cookies Jenn made out of felt:

December 6, 2007

Stencil Collage

Stencil Portrait - Sara's daughter

Sara's lovely daughter

This was really fun to do. The collages are so vastly different than the oils to work on. There's almost no connection at all, beyond the initial stencil rendering. I love working on this tiny scale (this one is 5 x 7), where slivers of paper transform the entire image and where painting the stencil on is a little magical, because the image seems to float up out of the background papers with each brush stroke. It always reminds me of The Agony and the Ecstasy's imagined description of Michaelangelo explaining the way he works with marble - he has Michaelangelo say that he can see the figured embedded in the stone, and it's just a matter of chipping away the pieces that aren't part of the figure. I'm not even remotely comparing myself to Michaelangelo here, but that image of a statue emerging from a rock slab feels very similar to the stencil portrait emerging from the collage.

December 5, 2007

First Night

The light was just magical yesterday evening.

december 4 - 3

Lara's first night of Hanukkah started with her absolute favorite activity - "look at pickies of Wawee on the computa".

december 4 - 2

Such a wonderful night. Misha came home a little early from work, and to my delight we actually ended up living out some of the events of the book about Hanukkah that we got for Lara as her first present. I made latkes and realized that we were short one egg, so we "borrowed" from our next-door neighbor, just like the little girl in the The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes. Lara was entranced by the candles, though she was disappointed to learn that they were not to be followed by "and now cake!" like the ones a month ago. She wouldn't eat a bite of latke, but was a big fan of unwrapping her present. Incidentally, the latkes came out so yummy!

Hanukkah potato latkes

2 pounds of peeled, grated potatoes,
2 eggs
1 grated onion

Beat eggs with salt and pepper. Add potatoes and onion and mix well. Heat a a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, then add dollops of potato mixture with a large spoon and flatten slightly in the skillet. Cook 4-5 on each side, until nicely browned. Sop up extra oiliness with a paper towel. I like mine with sour cream, but Misha eats them with apple sauce.

December 4, 2007

Baking breakfast

Banana bread

Made from the recipe from this book (which is amazing by the way - it's written in a very down to earth, calm tone and is just very reassuring. The author has an "anyone can cook" mentality, and it really does have at least one recipe for every single thing I've ever looked up). I skipped the coconut and walnuts, and added one more banana than he suggests (I mean, I had to use up all the brown bananas, right?). It came out great - sweet, dense, yummy for breakfast with giant mug of tea.

December 3, 2007

New Portraits and a Mild Disaster

These came out great! If I dare say so myself... ahem. My camera can't seem to catch the colors exactly right, and noodling around Photoshop didn't work this time. The purple is lighter in real life and the green is more faded.

Karen's beautiful daughter

Stencil Portrait - Karen's daughter

Chantelle's peacefully sleeping niece

Stencil Portrait - Chantelle's niece

I finished these today, and then disaster struck in the form of my computer eating the entire folder of these stencils, their originals, and everything in between. Gargh! I was thinking about calling Geek Squad if only because of their charming commercials... but maybe I'll just plot along for now. I do at least have pictures of all the finished pieces. And to think that I used to be an IT developer and consultant! Now I feel like a grade-A moron (scroll about halfway down the page to the Meat Council movie) about these things.

December 2, 2007


Some monster pancakes this morning in honor of Lara's favorite movie. She'd already dismembered one by the time I got the camera out.

december 2 - 1

Lara loves cooking the pancakes, not just eating them. She can recite the list of ingredients right down to the "baka powda" and mixes the batter. I listen to her and her daddy in the kitchen and smile.

Other cooking happens as well. Check out that monster omelet!

december 2 - 3

december 2 - 2

I keep forgetting to mention the hilarious syntax Lara has now adopted - narrating "Mommy says" or "Dada says" or "Wawee says" after speaking ("Want to watch monster movie Wawee says!"). I assume it's from all the books. This might be reading too deeply into it, but I do love that she associates most closely with the omniscient narrator rather than the characters in her stories.

December 1, 2007

New Stencil Portrait

Stencil Portrait - Jack & Dad

I just love the way this one came out. The original picture was just beautiful also - such an iconic pose of calm protectiveness.

These have been so fun to make - thank you so much to everyone who has ordered a portrait! I am really enjoying working on them.