Monday, February 20, 2012

Looser? Sort Of.....

Watercolor Gerber Daisy
on Canson Limited Edition Paper
Pineapple Sketchbook


More practice of painting loose with no pencil.

I purchased some leftover Valentine's Day flowers after the big love fest was over. Since I love Gerber daisies and I hated seeming them go to waste, I thought they would make good practice.

They've done well, but they're just about on their last legs. I decided it was time to get busy with the paint!

Everything was going along fairly well this morning until I managed to smear the lower right corner of the daisy.

Since I was working with both Perylene Red and Anthraquinoid Red, I knew there would be no lifting the color—both pigments stain. Not to mention that this paper doesn't allow for corrections very well anyway.

So, if you can't fix it, feature it!

I threw some paint at it and called it done. I may or may not go back and add some journaling.

What have you been "featuring" on your sketchbook pages lately?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Overcoming a Lifelong Fear!!

Fried Corn Fritters
No, this is not becoming a food blog! However, I feel compelled to share that I have met and overcome a lifelong fear of...................hot grease!

Yeah, I know....not all that thrilling, but true, all the same. I have been afraid of hot grease since I will big enough to know what hot grease was and I wasn't even big enough to reach the stove yet!

My mother doesn't understand it nor does she know where the fear came from. She doesn't remember me ever getting close enough to the stove to get burnt by a pop of grease. Mom even wonders if she may have gotten burned while she was pregnant with me, if you believe those kinds of things.

Still, when my hubby asked me to make deep fried corn fritters for Valentine's Day, I knew my moment had come to face down my fear.

Failure was not an option.

After realizing I fully intended to try frying the fritters, my husband casually suggested that perhaps I should wait until he got home from work! I guess I should have been insulted, but it was actually a pretty funny comment at the time.

I carefully heated the grease in the kitchen kettle my mother had given us a few years ago and set about mixing up the fritter batter. When the grease reached 400º, I started dropping in the batter.

It took a several attempts and testing a few different tools before I had the nice round, puffy fritters you see in the photo.

But let me tell you, I was the domestic diva last night when Chris popped one in his mouth and pronounced it excellent! (Mind you, he hasn't had his mother's in 6 or 7 years, so I didn't have any real stiff competition.)

I had finally bested my fear of the hot grease. Yay me!!!

Corn Fritters
1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup (8 oz.) cream-style corn

Fat for deep frying

Preheat the oil while mixing the batter.

Sift flour with baking powder, salt and sugar into mixing bowl. In separate bowl, combine eggs, milk and corn. Once mixed, add to dry ingredients. Stir only until dry ingredients are moist. 

Drop batter by teaspoonfuls into hot grease (357º - 400º F). Fry until golden brown, approx. 2 minutes on each side. Drain and place on absorbent paper. 

Serve hot and plain or sprinkle with confectionary sugar or drip syrup of your choice on the fritters. (Remember, this is the South—we put sugar in and on anything and everything!)

Enjoy!

Yield: Approximately 30

This will conclude the food portion of our blogging! Unless I do something else fabulous.....like beignets! Hee!!

P.S. This is a "special occasion" food unless you're looking to fast-track yourself to a heart attack!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lessons Learned

White Velvet Cake
Buttercream Frosting
Pink Sugar Sprinkles
Whether baking or painting, life can provide lessons in unexpected places.

I decided I wanted to try a recipe I found on the web called White Velvet Cake because we absolutely love Red Velvet Cake! Besides, I thought it would be a fun treat for Chris. And Leott. And Paul. And Mom and Dad.....and anybody else who can grab fast enough!

White Velvet.....doesn't that just sound like really good cake?

It is.

So where do the lessons come in?

I don't know how much baking you do from scratch, but I can tell you I don't do a lot.

Sugar, sweets, bread and pasta are the bane of my existence. I have no willpower whatsoever when it comes to anything in the sweets category.

I find it best to simply avoid them.

Therefore, I don't bake them.

Because then I will eat them. ALL of them. Until they are GONE.

Hmmm, I digress.....

In preparing the batter, I learned my mixer is not big enough nor strong enough (it's as old or older than I am!) to prepare the batter as they describe in the recipe.

Next time, I'll do it in batches and then combine it together in the end.

The cake was suppose to be light and fluffy....instead, it's rather dense. It has a fabulous flavor though—almost like wedding cake if you happen to be a fan of really, Really, REALLY good wedding cake! (Yes. I am.)

White Velvet Cake
Valentine's Day
2012
Watercolor
Pineapple Journal
Like most new recipes and new art styles, it takes a little practice and a little tweaking to make it your own.

I am not a loose painter.

I am determined to become one.

This was done without pencil, going in direct with paint.

Sometimes, having a plan (pencil lines) can be helpful. Other times, it can be restrictive.

Like the cake, this didn't quite turn out to my expectations.....I have no idea why it looks like it's sliding downhill.

But like the cake recipe, I'll keep tweaking this new style of painting until I get closer to what I see in my mind's eye.

Will it ever match?

Not likely.

It might be even better!

I hope you have a fabulous Valentine's Day!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I hear a piece of cake calling my name..........

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Classes Over at ImaginaryTrips.com!


NEW Classes, NEW Destinations, and LOTS of changes!


It's only taken a couple of months longer than expected, but finally, finally, all of the classes are up at ImaginaryTrips.com! LOTS of changes going on, great new destinations and a new way to take an Imaginary Trip. 

We'll be debuting the new web site, The Imaginary Realm, with the launch of our first ALL NEW class this year, An Imaginary Visit to the Beach! The Beach Visit begins on February 23rd and is now open for registration! The new Imaginary Realm web site will have a new and improved video delivery system, members only areas and Independent Learning Classes!

Right after we go to the beach, we'll be going on An Imaginary Trip to Ireland! This class is also open for registration. There are new destinations as well—Greece, San Francisco and a visit to a Japanese Garden! We'll also be returning to some of our favorite destinations—Italy, NOLA, Paris and Autumn.

Some more of the changes you'll see:
  • All of the news from ImaginaryTrips.com is now on the very front page of the web site! Just scroll down the page to see all the Updates. 
  • One of the things you'll find on the front page is a link to a schedule for ALL of the 2012 classes (scheduled so far—there are a few more I want to add so check back often!). You can also download the schedule.
  • The web site now has an all new structure to help folks find their way around the web site—it's broken down by Imaginary Trips, Imaginary Visits and Independent Learning Classes (ILC)
  • Speaking of Independent Learning Classes (ILC), this is an all-new category of classes currently being created. These classes are for those of us who are too crazy-busy with work and travel to take a scheduled class or who like to learn at our own pace. There's still more work to be done, but we hope to debut these classes in early March!
I hope you'll come by and check out the new schedule along with all the fun changes!

(P.S. As a special treat for yourself, run the cursor side to side at the top of the art image—it looks like it's snowing on the swan—too cool!)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Goals, Words, Years and A Bonus

Walking in the mall shortly after the new year, I saw this sign in a store window.

It pretty much sums up the way I feel about 2012. I will own it.

So why am I just now posting about word-of-the-year, goals and such....on February 1st?

Well, if you read the blog, you know 2011 ended on a sad note and 2012 started on a sad, worried note.
“The days are long, but 
the years short. ”
Since time has continued its relentless march forward, I find that I need/want/must go with it.

A Glance Back

Looking back at 2011, I can say the year was truly a year of challenge. Highest highs, lowest lows, outrageously good times and unable-to-breathe scary. I am pleased to have survived as well as by all that I accomplished.

Finally, as I face 2012, to go farther, higher and deeper.

When I look forward, I see new challenges to take on and overcome, new highs to aspire to, new delights to celebrate, accomplishments to revel in, new places to see and new friendships to build.

The Speed of Forward

I am learning there are many speeds to forward. My plan had been to hit 2012 with the throttle open as wide as it would go. The Universe had other plans, plans to slow me down. Way down.

I fought it for a while. A fruitless activity and a waste of energy. I've settled down now into a much slow pace forward. I'm getting a lot of behind the scenes stuff done that if I were traveling at full throttle, wouldn't get done properly nor with the detail it needs.

I won't say I don't rail against the current speed. I do. I hear a soft chuckle in the nether regions of my mind. Perhaps a whisper that says "all in good time, child, all in good time."

A Wise Word

My word last year was move and boy, did I! I moved my body (exercise), I started the move of my business to a totally different host, set up, web site and more, I went to NOLA and had a blast! I moved my mind and myself past obstacles, challenges, and sadness.

What word could I possibly choose to guide me, ground me, be an advocate, and otherwise remind me to enjoy every minute of every day as much as possible?

That's a pretty tall order for one word.

At the very end of last year, I was trying on bodacious and audacious as my watchwords for 2012.

Then the sadness came along with some other obstacles. The slowing down I could do nothing about.

And I didn't feel audacious or bodacious anymore.....still, I wanted a word that would remind me of the present moment, to celebrate the accomplishments of the moment, to savor life in the moment while also keeping my eye on moving forward.

In the end, I chose two words, revel and best.

I chose revel to help me to enjoy every minute of the day as much as possible. Even set backs, slow downs, obstacles and challenges. They're often gifts. We just have to change our perspective sometimes to recognize the value they bring. I chose the word to remind me to revel in small things as well as big and to celebrate them rather than rushing to the next challenge, obstacle, or task.

Inspired by KJ's gentle wisdom over at Catching Happiness, I decided to choose a second word. When I settled on best, it was so I would ask myself the necessary questions so that I would stay aware of the choices, decisions, energy and resources I put into any situation....is this the best decision I can make? [Make it and move on.]

Is this the best thing for me to be eating right now? [No, put the donut down and go get an apple.]

Does this situation require my very best or is good enough okay? [Good enough is okay. Put the extra energy towards the next challenge.]

Own It

I believe revel and best will help me to own 2012 and to make it mine. There will be missteps, obstacles, failures, struggles, fear, celebration, joy, tears of sadness and happiness.

With any luck at all, when I look back over 2012, I'll be able to say that not only did I own it, I made it count. I made it a good one.

A Bonus

(Congratulations if you made it this far! I know this is a ridiculously long post and I promise to be more brief in the future!)

One of the things I did way back at the beginning of 2011 was to write a few sentences down using my word of the year move. These sentences were written as if it were already the end of the year and I was writing an overview in December of all my accomplishments. Some examples follow:

  • I really moved forward with the business by changing the way I deliver the class material.
  • Moving my body has really helped me to move towards better health.
  • I finally get to move around and visit different parts of the country with Imaginary Trips Made Real!

I also wrote a few that didn't happen and that's okay. These did! By writing out these sentences using my WOTY, I was setting intentions, putting myself and the Universe on notice that I had things to do, places to be, people to meet!

I was just recently introduced to a new tool called futureme.org. It is a tool that allows you to write a letter to yourself and then have it delivered on whatever date in the future you want. You can even add a photo if you so choose. You can make it anonymous and public or keep it private.

The Challenge

So here is my challenge to each of you to help make 2012 your best year yet is to write a letter to yourself as if it were December 2012. Talk about all the things you accomplished, all the goals you met, the challenges you overcame. Set a powerful intention to yourself NOW.

The letter will help you to see what you accomplished in the 11 months to come.

Perhaps you'll want to send more frequent letters (I have mine set for the seasons' solstice).

Here's to our year. 2012. Let's own it—together!

[DM, this ones for you!]