August 30, 2008

Mystery Plant Growth

Mystery Plant Growth

Wandering around the park this weekend, I ran across these succulent-like growths along the edge of a leaf. I assume this is some kind of parasite? Whatever it is, it certainly is striking.

August 29, 2008

Jean's Triptych

Oils - Jean's layout

Jean ordered a trio of two portraits of her son, and one of the two of them together. I love the way these sizes work together (the large one is 16x20, and the two small ones are 9x12), and the working out these coordinating colors was challenging and fun. It is amazing how big a difference subtle changes make. Originally, we were going to use the brown foreground on the yellow background the the green on the sage - but this created a strange disparity between the cool colors on the left and the warm ones on the right. In theory all the colors meshed, but until I realized that the foregrounds needed to be transposed it just wasn't working. Now, I love it.

August 25, 2008

Doll Furniture and Linens are Finished!

Bed with Doll

I'm so excited! I finally finished the next of my cardboardcular creations - a full set of doll furniture! I also put together a set of instructions for how to build it. Just like my little cardboard kitchen, it is entirely collapsable and held together with joins I designed not to require glue or other fasteners. The instructions are now in my shop.

The instructions include directions for building this bed and sewing this quilt:

Bed

Sewing this mattress and pillow:

Mattress and Pillow

Putting together this chair:

Chair

Constructing this table:

Table

And at the end, you'll end up with a fun, cheap, and recycled toy set that can house dolls up to 18 inches long!

All furniture together

Found II

rusty metal piece

I've been having fun playing with my camera. The instructions that come with it are about the size of a small dictionary, and I always have this nagging sense that if only I read them I would be capable of feats of photographic wizardry. I am actually often beset by this sense of missing out. What if I started reading that Photoshop magazine and learned about vectors and unrasterized layers? How much better would my images be, how much more streamlined my processes of creating them! Ah, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

But for now, I don't even have a tripod and have to rely on the steadiness of my hands. I don't have a light tent and am at the mercy of the weather. Mostly though, I don't have time to become a master of the technology that surrounds me, so I will try to be happy being only its jack.

August 23, 2008

Found

I am addicted to roaming the beach bent at the waist, scouting amidst the sand granules for little treasures. Most are of course fool's gold - delicately colored pebbles that lose their appeal as soon as they dry, tiny paired clam shells that inexplicably become cliched kitsch when removed from their context, polished broken shards that are perfect in the palm of my hand but ones I usually leave behind in a neat little pile next to where our blanket was spread out.

bored shell pieces

Yesterday, however, I found these. Soft, water-smoothed shell fragments each bored and carved in irregular and beautiful patterns. Is there a marine animal that eats the calcium of cast-off shells? Are the holes made by the ocean? There weren't very many of these in the span of shoreline that I combed, and I brought all the ones I could see home to see what happened when they were taken out of their environment. Still lovely through dry, still intriguing, still not hackneyed. Probably destined for jewelry.

August 22, 2008

Beachy Day

The Jersey shore can be really beautiful if you avoid the really crowded boardwalk areas. Misha and Lara played in the sand there this morning.



And I was there too.



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Sorry about the continuingly laconic posts. The turmoil has not subsided.

August 19, 2008

August 15, 2008

Frankenswiffer

Mwahahahaha! I am no longer subject to the whims and vagaries of the Swiffer!

Swiffer bottle hack

When I bought one a couple of years ago, I thought to myself - this is a brilliant thing, but I'll just refill this same bottle of cleanser myself after it runs out. Only apparently the Swiffer people anticipated this, because the "bottle" is not a bottle at all - it looks like it has a screwtop, but instead it is sealed shut. Go ahead, try to uncap the one you have at home. I'll wait for you...

...Ridiculous, right?

So, inspired by this groovy instructable, I hacked my bottle to be endlessly refillable. I used the same method, but went with whatever I had around the house:

- heat up a small part of the bottom of the empty Swiffer bottle with fire (I used matches, but a lighter would be less dangerous)

- puncture a bunch of holes in the heated plastic with an awl

- cut the top of any reclosable container that has a cap (I used a milk jug top)

- glue this container top to the bottom of the Swiffer bottle so that the cap sits above the holes you made with your awl (I used scads of hot glue)

- pop off the cap, fill it up with the cleanser of your choice (I go with half-water half-vinegar), and clean to your heart's delight (with your homemade Swiffer rag of course)!

Hmm... of course, now I see that you could also follow these instructions to work with the faux Swiffer cap itself.

August 11, 2008

Triptych

A trio of stencils for Carol:

Oils - Carol's family 2

Oils - Carol's family 1

Oils - Carol's granddaughter

She designed the background colors herself and I really love how they came out... and honestly, they are better in real life than I was able to capture with the camera. Does anyone out there know how to photograph art, by any chance? I always run into color problems, or else I am unable to avoid getting glare on the shiny surface of the oil paint.

August 10, 2008

Newport

A beautiful, wonderful weekend in Newport, Rhode Island, watching two amazing people promise each other that they will be together forever and ever. I really love weddings for their earnest seriousness, for the emotional and deeply felt public avowals of intimacy and love, for the communal affirmation that souls can be matched in lifelong partnership. I love seeing other couples in the audience smile at each other as vows are recited and squeezing Misha's hand when an officiant talks about the meaning of marriage. The ritual is individual enough to be forever cemented in the heads of the bride and groom as their own - but in the most truly comforting way it is repetitive too, and I sit and play with my wedding ring and feel the present enmesh with memory.

Todd and Erin were married on Saturday on Goat Island, a tiny piece of land off the coast of Newport. It was unbelievable, and perfect in every way. Here is the view from the green on which the ceremony was set up:



Todd, Misha, Sam, and Avi sit on the seawall at the rehearsal:



What the ocean looks like behind them:



The picture-perfect sunset after the ceremony:



Misha and I clean up cute:



I wish I had gotten more pictures, but of course we forgot our camera and were limited by the sad capacity of our cell phone cameras, which have no flash and thus do not function after dark. But it was a marvelous party, with dancing and drinking and laughter. Congratulations, Erin and Todd - may you be forever awash in the love that flowed all around on Saturday.

August 7, 2008

Light and Shadow

Cut Stencils

I've been wanting for a long time to take a picture of my stencils before the painting process. I keep them rolled up, and the sunlight plays appealingly with the translucent cuts. They could potentially make great lampshades, though I'm not sure what kind of material one should use to limit the risk of setting it on fire.

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We are off to Rhode Island for the next few days to go to a wedding. Have a great weekend, everyone!

August 6, 2008

Terrain at Styers

This morning my mom and I went to Terrain at Styers, an extraordinary plant nursery cum home goods store cum delightful garden cafe. It was like something out of a movie - and why shouldn't it be? It's from the makers of Anthropologie and has a very similar design aesthetic (you know, painfully gorgeous and wildly out of my price range). I stealthed some pictures as we wandered around.



The fence behind this parking lot sign is made of long branches of wood woven through a metal frame. I kept picturing how stunning it would be as a property fence.



On the price tag, these were labeled "artifacts."



Rusty chain dangling from a board with peeling yellow and blue paint on it. Whatever it is, it's genius.



The last picture is of the cafe itself, a restored antique greenhouse filled with completely unique planter arrangements, and culminating in a wall of moss and interspersed plants (you can see it in the background of my photo).



I've really never seen anything like this place. Definitely go if you can!

August 5, 2008

Memetastic

So clearly random Google memes are used by bloggers scraping the bottom of the topic barrel, but I'm feeling lazy and curious... Thank, Jay, for the idea - I plugged "Anna needs" into Google, and here are the first ten results.

1. Anna Needs Caffeine. True enough, though never in the form of coffee - only Coke and tea.

2. Anna needs to be excused from class today. Hmm... This reminds me of high school where because of my mom's travel schedule I was allowed to call myself in sick to school. And I didn't abuse that privilege one little bit.

3. Anna Needs A Muesli Bar. Bleh, no, she doesn't.

4. Anna needs to balance out, and find peace without extremes. This is like a fortune cookie. Universally true, thus pretty meaningless.

5. Anna needs verification. Yeah, really. Who goes there? Show me your hall pass.

6. Teen queen Anna needs your help. This is apparently an appeal on behalf of a contestant for the dubious honor of "Miss Teen Queen UK." She needs you to vote for her. You know, before the crystal in her palm starts blinking for Lastday.

7. Anna needs more sleep. Zzzz.

8. Breasts - Anna needs new ones. This is from a plastic surgery ad. I love the way this is phrased, as if they are worn out towels that you need to stop by Bed, Bath, and Beyond to restock. Honey, could you just pick up some new breasts while you're out?

9. Anna needs whatever sense of humour works for her. Wha? Sounds like Anna needs some grammar lessons.

10. Anna needs your attention now. Well, clearly. Who else would keep a blog but someone with a dark hole deep inside that can only be filled with your love.

August 4, 2008

A League of Our Own

We had the best day yesterday - perfect weather, not a cloud in the sky, so lots of outside time. Misha and I got out the baseball gloves and ball and played catch in the park while Lara ran around chasing birds. She was even mildly interested in our game, as evidenced by the quick cell phone photo.



I have to say, doing something outside that is fun for us and not just for her was really... well, really fun. I haven't played catch in probably a couple of years, and as for Misha, he was yet again floored that I am able to throw a small spherical object with some degree of force towards him, and that on its return journey I can pluck said sphere out of its arched path intercepting its trajectory with my glove.

We were also thinking that maybe the reason Lara doesn't really get the whole "play catch" deal is that she doesn't see people doing it very often? She likes us to chase her, so she's not drawing a total blank on games in general. Yesterday she still wasn't extremely thrilled by the ball, and was happier picking up leaves and trying to catch squirrels, but she did want to participate at least a little bit. Either way, time well spent.

August 1, 2008

Sauteed Mushrooms a la Paul Newman

Yumminess for lunch today - some eggplant caviar on toasted bread with cream cheese, and a new creation:

lunch - sauteed mushrooms

Quick sauteed mushrooms a la Newman. Why Paul Newman, you ask? Because he and his daughter make a delightful line of salad dressings (of which the proceeds benefit some cause? or am I imagining things?), one of which is key to this dish.

And so -

* diced mushrooms (I used button, shitake, and portobello. I don't think the combination itself matters, but it is important to have a variety.)
* half a diced white onion
* olive oil
* salt
* garlic powder (or actual minced garlic!)
* Newman's Own (ok, fine, obviously any variety will do) Balsamic Vinaigrette

- heat oil on the pan, then add onion and brown it
- add mushrooms and garlic
- saute for a while, until the mushrooms release their water content and begin to boil in it
- boil like this for 3-4 minutes
- add balsamic vinaigrette (umm... maybe 2-3 tablespoons or so per half a cup of mushrooms? you know, "some.")
- cook some more, until there are only a couple of tablespoons of liquid left
- let sit overnight, and serve warmed