Monday, December 28, 2015

You Are What You Eat

With Christmas now a big box of fond memories to store away, you are probably right there with me with all your new stored Real Estate.  Talking tummy and hiney, here.  

Every year we spend Christmas at the beach, and tradition demands that I gather these ingredients from our local beach grocery:

You can see the Real Estate
accretion products piled up
here on my counter top 
overlooking the 
Intracoastal Waterway.

As the oven heats up, I am mixing like mad,
doubling up on the chocolate chips
and the walnuts, of course.
Love walnuts.

The best part
about all this work
you get to lick the extra dough
off your fingers when it piles up
on the spoon 
and you have to scrape it off.


The wait while they bake is excruciating...
And then, out of the oven
comes this loveliness.

I like to eat them while the
chocolate is still warm
and gooey
and fragrant.

And then I have another.
Because I can.

There are always paybacks for too much of a good thing, and it's now time to start paying...
because my bathroom scale has Nuclear Alerts going off when I just pass by it...

I don't even have to step on it to hear the sirens going off.

So, this is what I'll do to soothe the scales and zip my pants up again:

It's back to Brazil...this time for their Dietary Guidelines, not for Fajas.

1.  Eat Fresh, never processed Veggies and Fruits.
Include some dried beans, in moderation.

2.  Eat Fresh Fish that comes from a reputable source.
Eat roasted, grilled, or boiled chicken, made at home.

3.  Drink lots of clear clean water.

4.  Walk.  A lot.  Climb stairs.  Stretch and pull and twist and shout.

5.  Cook At Home so I can keep my food additives under control.

6.  Don't eat anything out of a box or bag - no processed foods.

7.  Eat Apple Slices, Celery Sticks, Carrot Sticks, Citrus Fruits for snacks.

If you want to take a look (and you should) at Brazil's down-to-earth guidelines,
you can view them HERE.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing recipes and tips 
with you to rope in that Extra Real Estate
without using a Faja!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Managing a Wildlife Refuge in Atlanta

We live just outside Atlanta, in a densely packed suburban neighborhood.
Fine restaurants, a rich selection of arts and entertainment venues, Pro Sports, 
and the Atlanta Merchandise Mart are all within a short drive.
Luckily, my talented Hubby has managed to make our property beautiful and serene...
we are pretty intense in our business lives and really need that calm space. 

We have a beautiful little pond for evening reflection and cocktails before dinner. 
Sometimes, however, it is not so serene.

Check out these Naughty Geese:

And this Blue Heron, who is NOT a favorite guest, because he is a voracious fish eater:

We also regularly have these enormous Snapping Turtles who move in 
and start eating everything that wriggles 
every single Spring. 

We used to catch them and release them in a nearby creek to keep them from murdering every small animal 
in our pond, 
including our Baby Wood Ducks!
It was classic Bad Behavior in our minds.
By hauling them off, we THOUGHT we had ended our problem.

They came back, from miles away.  Every time.  We started marking them, because we couldn't believe they would travel that far, and land right back in our/their pond again.  
But it was true...they came "home" and so we caved.  

Now, Hubby feeds them in the summer with fish scraps, veggies, 
and the occasional freezer burned piece of red meat that I refuse to cook.  
They particularly love that.

We have a large back yard that Hubby carved out of some scruffy woods and we love that, too.  Since he can't stop himself from putting out corn and other wild life goodies, 
it also attracts a wide assortment of land critters.   
Our fave back yard Wild Life Visitor looks like this:

He doesn't kill anything, he's mysterious, and he sort of looks like Rudolph.  You know?

It took years to get the rules laid down for our wildlife and they taught us a few things, too.  Just when we all got all comfy with each other and the rules were set, 
THIS happened:

Very, very bad behavior.

And then, a herd of Otters moved in and romped around the pond in broad daylight.
Gobbling our fish, they treated this felled tree like a swing set in a playground
while they were out on recess from stuffing themselves with our carp,
bream, catfish, bass and crayfish.

See this naughty head?

And this swirl he and his girlfriend made while they played chase?

I declared war.
First up - ammo.

I have dropped depth charges, fired off Quarter Stick Missiles, 
and carpet bombed the entire pond.
Hopefully, no one will call the cops.

I have left this guy and his brother on patrol - they are motion activated, 
with cackling, blinking lights, and violent shaking of their cages.
They LOVE to be unleashed.

And no, I haven't put up our Christmas tree yet.  
I'm too busy managing a Wildlife Refuge in Atlanta.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Message from China Brings Me Home

It is November again - a year since I have written an entry on my Blog.  Unbelievable how day to day activities add up to a year of one's life...A kaleidoscope of images and flashes of events are still alive and bright for the year of 2015, but the most earth shaking event for me this year happened quietly, as I watched a message from China bloom across my computer monitor and explode into my heart.

For quite some time, I've been deeply involved in refining my artistic skills by taking online courses from a gifted teacher and artist - Lilla Rogers.  She knows how to pull images out of you that you are surprised at, and grateful for.  So I've been drawing and drawing and drawing.  For about two years or so.

And then, she teamed up with another gifted artist, Margo Tantau, VP of Design and Creative at Midwest CBK to offer an online course in how to mock up your artwork onto Home Decor items, for presentation to Art Directors.  Like this:

Since I am all about creating artwork and Home Decor items, I did a double fist pump and was probably the first person to sign up when registration opened.  And then class started.  When the week was over and it was time to present, I was not prepared and my presentation was awful.
What the heck?

I passed it off as fatigue, since we were traveling that week and I felt disrupted.  So, on to week two.  And the same thing happened.  This was my most looked-forward to class in over two years, and I was absolutely blowing it.  I lost my confidence, the worst thing that can happen to an artist.  Then we got to the week about ceramic substrates.  

Margo posted a documentation of her trip to Dehua in Fujian Province in China,
where she had gone to take a look at a ceramics factory.  
She posted photos and a great narrative of her trip to the factory, which produced items similar to  the ones pictured above, but with more quietness. Suddenly, reading her article and studying her photos, I had tears in my eyes.  Because just like that, I knew why I was so unprepared
for presentation day every single week.

Since we were working to place our art on three dimensional objects,  my inner magnet had snapped to the process of Making the object rather than Drawing the artwork for that object.  

I had been snatched off the Planet of Drawing, and placed back on the Planet of Making.  

You see, when things like this are Made in China, they are made by people, using their hands and eyes to turn an idea into a useful object.  People make hundreds or thousands of those items.  With their hands.  See?  Hand. Made.  Each and every piece that comes out of that ceramics factory in Dehua is handled many, many times, with hands that feel and appreciate the thing that has been Made.  And that is what was messing me up.  I kept getting fascinated with the idea of Designing, Engineering, and Making an Object, and THEN making the artwork to put on it.
By then, every single week, I was out of time to make good artwork.

I was hungry to make something, simple as that.
I had been away too long from where I am anchored.
Making Things with My Hands.

I started gentle, poking around my fabric stash and tassel-making supplies:

Then I got all rowdy and started fooling around with "Mash-Up Pillows".
That felt really good.

So I moved on into experimenting with transferring some of my artwork on to fabric or wood or ceramics or oyster shells or
who knows what.
Now I am engineering, trouble shooting,
discovering my own way to do this. 

It will come, because I am a Maker of Things.

Who knew it would take a tray of plain white porcelain bowls
going into a kiln in Dehua, China
to introduce Me back to Myself?


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