Saturday, July 31, 2010

My New Apron

A while ago I asked Cayce (on Facebook) to make me an apron I saw on one of my favorite blogs: Black&White Delight. I love black and white things... and I love toile... and this apron was both!

Here is the original picture of the apron that I thought was so super cute I couldn't stand it:

And much to my surprise, because I was kindof joking, she started making me an apron. And not only did she make me one, but she made a matching one for Nola too!

Here is her blog post of the aprons:
Black & White & Cute All Over

If I get around to it I may put up a picture of me in the apron... I just don't have one right now.

But a Woo Hoo and a Thank You to Cayce - my very own personal seamstress!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hey Sweet Cheeks!

So I was sitting in the living room and in walks Sweet Cheeks. Cute as ever, diaper hanging a little low, hand on hips (you take for granted that we automatically know how to stand with our hands on our hips... apparently it takes a little guess work).
So I said to him, "Hey Sweet Cheeks!"
And he quickly spun around, hands still on butt and scowl on face and said, "My NO Sweee Keeks!"
And when he turned back around in toddler anger, I took his Sweet Ass Picture!
Take that little boy!

And like a good mother, I didn't rush to pull up his diaper or fix his shirt. I sat there with my camera hoping for another good photo op! He found his construction hat and added that to his Sweet Ass costume - perfect! If only he had a tool belt... oh well.
At some point he turned and got entranced in the television. He had this stance that just screamed Construction Worker! Shoulders back, hat hangin' to the side, legs apart, butt crack peekin' out - Fabulous! So I took myself another picture. I'm working on my Mom of the Year Award....

So, from Logan to you: "Hey Sweet Cheeks!"

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Venice Triptych Part 3

All about the color this week! I posted Seeing Red(sauce) and The Color Purple, now I'm finally getting around to showing you the color I've put on my paintings. (well, Cayce's paintings)

Here's the window, which is the least painted. Basically a few layers of washing for the background... That's it. But! I did find the perfect window at the Zoo to correct any perspective mistakes I may have made in this one... and I'm sure there are some. I took a picture of the window on the Bird House (which is probably not the official name of the building) for a reference. So this painting may change a bit before the next time you see it.

And we have the middle painting, very much color blocked in. The very beginnings of details down in the bottom left corner is about all I've done here... I'm noticing my lines and angles are slightly - off. So I need to possibly put it up high (like it would be on a wall) and check the angles before moving one too much further. And don't worry - the colors are only the first layer, there won't be bright yellow or red buildings.

And we come to my most completed - the Doorway. As with the other, the angles all need to be checked for proper perspective and adjusted slightly... But I like the colors this one has so far, even though who knows how many more layers and colors will find there way onto it before it's all over.

So there are the first inklings of color. I threw out my back over a month ago and was out for a week - yesterday I re-injured it. Not as bad as the first time, but I don't think I'll be sitting at an easel for several days. So it may be over a week for another progress report. And even though it's been a long time since I last posted about the paintings, this is only about 4 days (2 hours at a time max) worth of painting.... I wish I had more time....

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Color Purple

Purple Pole Beans! My arbor is finally covered in bean plants, and the plants are finally covered in teeny tiny beans! The first to grow up are the purple pole beans. I've seen some Lima and a few regular green beans too. The purple are just so pretty! The vines are dark purple and the flowers on the plant are a bright, lighter purple. And the beans - as you see above - are almost a metallic bright purple. The camera couldn't do them justice... I tired. So I steamed them and they turned green. I knew they were supposed to but was still slightly disappointed when they didn't stay so pretty.

And here is my okra crop - regular green ones and burgundy. I know it's not purple, but let's just say that burgundy is a shade of purple for the sake of my catchy post title. They also turned green after being steamed. But were still yummy. The larger ones were too woody but the small ones were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. (Or, more accurately for those non-okra-lovers out there, they were slime-in-your-mouth fantastic.)

Eating purple things is awesome! Even if they do turn green after cooking....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seeing Red(sauce)

Well - first of all - here are all the types of squash from the garden, just showing them to you all together.

Okay! Now on to the tomatoes! Some of these are mine, but most are from my mom's tomato jungle.

I've never made my own read sauce. I've never really made anything from my garden tomatoes except slices. I usually don't get enough to go through any real trouble. But since I was given all these tomatoes I figured I would give some red sauce a try. So since I don't follow recipes well but had no idea what to do, I just looked up 'red sauce to freeze' on Google. I read about five or six versions of what to do. Then I just went into the kitchen to give it a shot.

First you have to peel the tomatoes. In order to do that you blanch them (drop into boiling water for about a min, or until the skin splits - then drop into ice water to cool off). So I ended up with a pile if skinless tomatoes - which I will say look like hearts, and feel kinda gross... but hey - whatever. My fingernails looked like I had been bleeding. Okay, yuk - back to the food!

After they were peeled I had to core them, get the seeds out, and cut them into chunks. This is about an 8-10 qt bowl of tomato meat.

I sauteed some onion - about one medium, and about five gloves garlic. Took those out of the pan and added the tomatoes. I let them cook as I mushed them. About 30 min, till they were softer.

Then I went outside and picked some herbs - basil, oregano and thyme. Chopped those up and added them into the tomatoes. Added a little sugar because that's what everyone else did (but I forgot how much, so I just threw in a palm full).

After this I started thinking it was too chunky. Which is a-okay with me, but if I wanted my kids to eat this, which of course I did, it would need to loose the chunks.
Tomatoes = Bad. Red = Good.
So I ladled it out and into the food processor. A couple of spins later it was back in the pan. I also put the onion garlic mixture into the food processor and gave them a whirl. And then I got tricky! I grabbed some cooked carrots (cause orange is pretty much red people!) and gave them a whirl and added them to the sauce as well. More secret veggies for the kiddos - they'll never know. For that matter, neither will the husband. All in and on the stove for some slow cooking and reducing. I put the flame on low and just let is sit for about two hours, stirring every once in a while.

And after a couple of hours and some flavor adjustments - it was too sweet and I had to counter with vinagar and salt - I let it cool on the stove for about 30 min. Then I got it ready to freeze. About 2 - 2 1/2 cups in each freezer bag and about 2 or more cups into 1 1/2 ice cube trays. (I always freeze red sauce in ice cube trays and then pop the cubes out and into a freezer bag for quick use - otherwise I would waste a lot, which I used to do all the time.)

So that is my first ever red sauce. I think I will leave out the sugar and basil next time due to the sweet factor - I'm not a fan of sweet red sauce. Husband said it tasted just like REAL red sauce... go figure!

You can freeze it for up to a year - but I'm sure we will have eaten it way before then!

Next up - purple pole beans (they're so purple!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Color Me Bad

Not the awesomely bad 90's group - Color Me Bad the Art Project

My mom got married ... well... I don't remember when it was, a few months ago? maybe? Either way, she went away to Nebraska and invited no one. Do I sound bitter? I am a little, but I'm mostly over it. Back to my point here... they decided to have a reception type thing here in the Lou in their back yard for the family. So I decided to help the kids make some cards for them... it's what we do.

So I took some pictures from their wedding (the one I wasn't at) and did a little of this and a little of that in Photoshop and voila - pictures for the kids to color. I printed them out on heavy paper, folded it over and got out the bucket of crayons.

Nola decided Grandma's hair would look good in pink...

Logan chose to go with some yellow for the faces...

They both colored the insides as well...

And the final product - cards for Mr. & Mrs. Grandpa and Grandma:

I think I want to use this technique to make coloring books for them. It was super easy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Seasonal Projects

I keep adding new projects onto my mental to-do list... I think it's a mile long already! I just spend too much time online looking at what other people are doing (projects, art, sewing, recipes, etc.) and I want to do them all myself!

I tend to spend more time gardening and reading in the the Spring. Planting new seeds, uncovering last years beds, planning new beds and dreaming of vegetables. And this Spring I really started reading again, much to my liking. It had been way too long since I read more than one book in a several month span. And the beginning of this year has seen at least 15 books!

The Summer gets so hot and the kids want to be outside all the time. The plants are all planted and there isn't much to do but wait and harvest... So this year I started painting. I hope to keep it up, even if it becomes a smaller hobby once my current project is finished. But I already have part of my room set up for it, so I might as well keep it that way. And my reading binge has come to a halt. There's something not so appealing about trying to loose yourself in a book while covered in mosquitoes and dripping sweat. But I do have the harvest to look forward to - lots of cooking and freezing for the Winter.

The Fall is when I really start cooking and getting out the yarn. There are so many things to make to stay warm and make the house all good smelling. And candles! Fall is a great time for burning candles all over the house. Maybe this year I will try to maintain my habits of reading and painting into the Fall as well. Fall is also when I start scouting out the locals for a pregnant person to make a baby blanket for.... This year, so far, I don't have a candidate.

And Winter is all about staying inside and crocheting something, blankets, scarves, whatever - I just love to have the warm fuzzy project in my hands. This year I have several ideas piled up. I want to make some dolls for the kids... also possibly for other people's kids if they aren't too hard to make (hello! Christmas presents!).
(side note to all crafty folk out there: I found this awesome blog that stemmed my ideas for the dolls. It's called Dolly Donations. If you have it in you to be crafty and like making things, you should totally check this out! Or just check it out anyway and maybe it will inspire you to be crafty and generous as well.)

And there are the ever-ongoing-never-finished projects. I have photography ideas that could go on forever. Hopefully these will pan out and either turn into some sort of income earning source or if nothing else, more Christmas presents for friends and family.

Right now I have the photo projects I'm working on and the paintings for Cayce's house. I should probably be working on those instead of typing here...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Flora & Fauna

We went to the Zoo the other day. And here are a few pictures of some animals...
I must say, the Okapi and the Zebra are my favorites but I can never get a good picture of the Okapi - they're always hiding in the back. Oh, if only I had a telephoto lens.... But the Zebra showed me his true colors.

Even their butt stripes amaze me. The patterns of a zebra are impressive, even the bootie ones!
And then we saw a lioness in a tree - first time seeing that at the zoo.

And we visited the Stingray Exhibit. Those suckers were big!

And you could touch them and feed them. They were so slimy! I was shocked, even though I have no idea what I expected, of course they would be slimy! But it still made me say, "Eeewww!"

The kids were somewhere between awed and bored. But they talked about it later like it was really cool.

And the classic Saint Louis Zoo shot - kids in front of the Giant Gorilla Statue.

And this year is the 100 year anniversary of the Zoo - so we had to get this shot... Look how adorable they are!

And moving on to the Flora...

My Fairy squash! I have about six so far.

And the yellow one is a One Ball, and the tomatoes of course... the garden is being good to me so far. My window sill is full!

The one ball was yummy - and so were the Fairy squash.

They taste like acorn squash, if you've ever had those. And you cook it the same as well.
So that is my flora and fauna for now... hope you've enjoyed it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Venice Triptych Part 2

I finished all the sketches for the three panels. Here they are.
Panel 1: Window
Panel 2: Waterway
Panel 3: Doorway

And now that they are all finished and ready for some real painting to begin, I don't like the Window. The other two are angles and use lots of perspective, the window is flat facing and not as matchy matchy with the others.... what to do? what to do?

Flip the board over and do it all over again!
Here is the new and improved Panel 1: Window:

This Window is on an angle, which also angles toward the middle panel, as the Doorway does. It uses persepective, and let's face it, it just looks better. I was trying to think of the last time I painted (not in finger paints or tempera) and I think it was when I was pregnant with Nola (she's almost 4 people!)... so I guess the first side of panel 1 can just be chalked up to practice...

Here are the three panels, together at last. These are just sketches so lots more will go into them as the colors go on. I can't wait until after the kids go to bed tonight so I can get out some colors!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Painting Begins!

So I'm finally going to start the painting project I mentioned a bazillion years ago (or last month - whenever). I'm going to paint a picture for my sister Cayce. It will be in her living room for all to see... assuming it doesn't turn out looking like yesterday's trash...

We finally (we meaning them not me) decided on size, layout and content.
And the verdict was a triptych!
A 30 x 30 middle square with 15 x 30 rectangles on either side. The painting will be a romantic Venice theme. Scott, the brother in law, went to Italy at some point and took lots of photos, some of which were at strange angles for some odd reason (inside joke folks, ask Cayce about her husband's photo theory). Anyway - we went through the photo album and found lots of pictures for me to reference for the three pieces. I think there will be some sort of passage way in the center square, a bridge over a water way flanked by buildings. One side piece will have a doorway above the water. The other side piece will have an arched window on an interesting wall. All in very romantic Tuscan colors and hopefully it won't suck.

So to begin the documentation of the project I will include for you the very first stage... the FINALLY cut boards!

And here are the paint sketches for the first two panels:

***Cayce: please feel free to critique or dictate changes if you see something that isn't to your liking - this will, after all, be large and in charge in your living room.***

Monday, July 5, 2010


Kirk was working so the kids and I decided to hang out in the back and front yards together and watch the fireworks... we had a lot of fun! I let them nap for as long as they wanted since we would be staying up late. It worked out pretty good. We went outside around 8pm. And then Nola started asking where the fireworks were around 8:05pm.

They started around 9pm or so... and instantly Nola was scared. She had to sit on my lap - hence the poor firework photography (these were the ONLY ones I got so I just combined them all into a collage). Logan thought it was the coolest thing he's ever seen! He kept yelling out random colors and shapes, "RED CIRCLE!" "BLOO STAR!" and of course, "FIREWORKS!" Nola kept her hands on her ears the entire time and Logan, who must always do what his big sister does, kept his hands somewhere on his head in solidarity. He didn't even know what he was doing... funny.

But we ended up seeing all of two different displays that were both really good. Someday we may venture off our property for the festivities, but for now, this worked out perfectly.

Happy Fourth to you all.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Squish Squash!

I am beside myself with disappointment. The dreaded squash bugs are back. Last year they wiped out all my squash plants... I think I only got a few squash total. This year I was hoping to avoid them. I planted the fairy squash, which is supposed to be resistant to the evil squash bug. I also planted onions around my squash because I read that worked in keeping the SqBugs away. No such luck. They are here. And in abundance. They seriously make my skin crawl. They are so gross and creepy and they move so fast... thank goodness they don't fly - I would freak out! Just look at these nasty creatures! Told you!

I will give credit to the Fairy Squash - it does seem to be unaffected (so far). The summer squashes are not so lucky. I did however get a few. Here is my first, and probably only, EightBall squash along with a yellow crook-neck. I have a few more on the plants which I will probably harvest early to avoid them being eaten or killed.

I have been picking them early, like I said, so it isn't a huge one - but still a good size.

And here is the 8Ball - I think this is the appropriate size to pick it - this is the first year of growing these...

And one more shot of the happy couple before they go under the knife...

And here they are - ready to go into the frying pan with a little butter, EVOO, s&p....

They were absolutely delicioso! I think they taste even better when they are picked young... I really hope I get a few more before it's all said and done. I plan on having Kirk just dig out all the summer squash plants and pitching them due to the bastard bugs.... But I am keeping the hope alive for the winter squash (the fairy) - I have about 4-6 almost ready for picking...

(I will have a fireworks post tomorrow... we had lots of fun.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Holy Tomatoes!

Most people say that you're lucky to get a red tomato before the forth of July... well people, I must be lucky! Here are some of the tomatoes I picked yesterday... I ate about three of them before I thought to take their picture. This bowl contains at least 3 varieties, probably 4. So while the kids wanted the classic PB&Js for lunch today I couldn't pass up eating some of my fresh tomatoes!

I picked three, the really grooved one, which I think is an heirloom of some kind, and two of the smaller ones.. I have no idea what type they are. I cut them in half (you should always cut them across the middles, not from top to bottom, to get all the seeds and goo out - it's a lot easier!) - look how red an juicy! YUM!

Then I cut them into bite sized pieces and added just a touch of red wine vinegar and a drop or three of extra virgin olive oil, and of course some salt and pepper.

So yummy I couldn't stand it! Having all three types of tomatoes in the same salad was really good! Some are tangier and some sweeter than others. It was a really yummy lunch that I grew from seed in my backyard. Now that's good stuff!