Sunday, August 30, 2009

White Plains

The first thing I noticed when we arrived into Westchester County Airport yesterday evening was the dramatic change in climate.  Upstate New York has had a mild, rainy summer and it shows everywhere in the green leafiness of the place.  Cloudy and cool, it was a shock to the senses after our hot and arid home environment.

I find myself somewhat melancholy.  It may be harder, in some ways, to say goodbye to her this time when we leave.  Last year I was so relieved that she was excited and doing well as we arrived at Purchase that it was easier than I expected to say farewell to her.  This time, it feels like it may be more difficult, at least for me.  We'll see. She is happy to be coming back to school, happy to reunite with all her friends.  My hope is that her enthusiasm carries all of us through the transition.

We are getting a late start on the move-in to the dorm.  I woke up with the beginnings of a migraine which I hope to squelch before I do anything else.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bag mania....packing a carry-on for a long trip

If someone had told me 10 years ago I could travel for 2.5 weeks overseas with one carry-on bag I would have laughed! I always took more clothing than I needed, along with too much of everything else. A few years ago I traveled with one bag for the first time, and I swear I won't ever go back! Many people have asked how I do it, and since I am packing for this trip I decided to photo-document the process. Here goes:

I use an Eagle Creek "Load Warrior" 22 inch carry-on. It weighs 6.5 pounds empty.

The empty bag....nothing fancy here

Since it has a retractable handle, I pack small items in the ridges such as my umbrella,
anorak, and a small roll of t.p. (my experience in Europe is that toilet paper isn't a sure-thing).

For the first time I will be carrying a large digital SLR camera and 2 lenses. These additions have presented a packing challenge! I broke the camera down into the smallest components for travel, packing the body in a foam envelope.
Each lens is packed in a sock!

all my clothing is in this packing envelope, also made by Eagle Creek.

I have 2 pashmina scarves, 4 tops, 1 dress, & 1 skirt.
I carry one extra pair of shoes.
Note that everything is black and white! Each item works with everything else.
It all dries quickly. I still might cull a couple more things from the pack...

This cube (also Eagle Creek) holds a couple changes of underwear and socks,
a foldable water bottle, quick-drying towel, 2 moleskin notebooks,
a small set of watercolors, & double-sided tape.
I write and send postcards to myself as I travel.
It is a treat to receive them after I get back!

This is my "liquids" clear plastic bag, found at the Container Store.
The surface-area is the size of a one-quart ziploc, but this bag has a base so it holds more.
I purchased several one-ounce flip-top bottles for shampoo, etc., and I have several packets of Woolite for washing out my clothing as needed.
This is what I pull out for my friends at the TSA to look at when going through security. Grrr.

Another of the plastic bags holds all my cords. Sheesh.
I can't help it: I'm a nerd.

My cute little MacBook Air in a lovely red Speck protective cover.
I just bought the padded Incase sleeve. So cute! So lightweight!

The liquids case and the laptop are situated on the surface so I can quickly pull them out to go through security. Grrrrr. Oh well......

See how nicely it all fits inside?
For this trip I plan to use a small daypack and travel wallet in lieu of a purse
since I'll be carrying my larger camera a great deal of the time.

My dog is not happy to see the suitcase.
Don't worry: she stays with close friends of ours who
spoil her rotten while we are away!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Preparing to travel

I leave on Saturday to take our youngest daughter back to college for her sophomore year @ SUNY Purchase (near White Plains NY).  We move her into the dorm on Sunday, 8/30, and she begins classes the following day.  It should be a relatively easy move this time, as we left most of her dorm-room stuff in a storage unit.  I hope this proves to be the case....
Tim and I leave for Europe from New York on 9/1 for just over 2 weeks.  He has a trade show in Amsterdam the 2nd week of our stay.  We decided to arrive early and leave the first week unplanned.  I have no idea where we are going other than that we will fly in and out of Amsterdam.
With luck (and decent internet service) I will be writing about our travels.  I'm taking my new camera, and hope to upload some photos as I write.  
I have everything packed in a carry-on bag.  I'm very pleased about this, given the fact that I'm hauling a much larger camera and 2 (possibly 3) lenses.  Several packets of Woolite will be used to deal with my shortage of clothing.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I plan to carry a very small day-pack in lieu of a purse, but will use a travel-wallet (one of those things with a long strap) to keep my passport close.
I find it more than a little humorous that I can travel this lightly to Europe and I take everything but the kitchen sink when I attend the Houston quilt festival (there will be an article about this in the newest Quilting Arts publication this fall).
I think I'll photograph my packing system and add some shots later.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Julie & Julia

I have been looking forward to this movie for some time. I saw it yesterday, and I absolutely loved it! It probably matters whether or not you like to cook (I do). I liked how the movie jumped back and forth between the lives of the two women. The set for Julia's early years in Paris was luscious. I want that car! I want to live in that Paris apartment!

I ordered her first cookbook from amazon, and intend to take it out for a few spins in the kitchen.
I am currently reading the book, "The Sharper the Knife, the Less You Cry", by Kathleen Flinn, about a woman who loses her job and decides to enroll in Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris (Julia Child's alma mater). A perfect accompaniment to the movie!
Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume One (1) (Vol 1)The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris at the World's Most Famous Cooking School [SHARPER YOUR KNIFE THE LES]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Iowa Barn Quilts

This barn was photographed near Ankeny, Iowa
just off I-35

I noticed the lovely Barn Quilts for the first time when my family traveled to north-central Iowa in January, 2009, to visit my in-laws. My oldest daughter, who lives in Philadelphia, was convinced that these were hex signs (something that the Pennsylvania Dutch adorn their barns with). Apparently the quilts are an effort to draw attention to the dwindling number of old barns that still grace the Iowa countryside.

A member of the quiltart list mentioned that Donna Sue Groves is credited with starting
the project in Ohio to honor her mother and to help rural Adams County, OH. The project has grown and is now in more than 20 states. Here is her interview for Quilters' SOS-Save Our Stories, located on the Alliance for American Quilts website. I am a board member of this organization, and would like to encourage you to visit the site:

We returned from another trip to Iowa yesterday. I have been looking for information on the internet that explains the recent phenomenon. There doesn't seem to be a central site, but here is a bit more information:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Camera

My husband gave me a new Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera for my birthday. It has been many years since I shot with an SLR, and of course, that was before I owned my first point-and-shoot digital. Not only do I have this camera, but I received a proper lighting set-up. I intend to get serious about shooting better images of my work. Tim mentioned that the telephoto lens has motion stabilization (wha????) in it, which seems unimaginable. I have a steep learning curve awaiting me with this new camera. Bring it!

Here is a link to the specs for the camera:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I do love my cake

I enjoyed my first slice of birthday cake

I had a lovely birthday with loads of good wishes from family and friends. Thanks, everyone!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Leslie, age 1, August 10, 1955

I'm 55 years old today! I relish each year of my life and simply don't understand when others complain about aging.

I'm feeling sentimental. Here are a few of my thoughts:
I miss my mother, father, and sister. Today, and every day of my life.
I have a wonderful husband who is truly the most interesting person I know. I do not have words to define what this man means to me.
Three daughters who have each given me more joy than I can hold. I'm honored to be their mother.
I have a truly incredible array of friends, who have laughed and cried with me, made art with me, flown with me, held my hand when it needed holding, "smacked me up the side of the head" when I needed smacking. Thank you for the gift of your friendship.

Every single day is precious. This is not a dress rehearsal.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More encaustic workshop images

I am posting a link to Deanna Wood's images from the encaustic workshop. Images are posted with permission from the photographer, as well as workshop participants.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Encaustic Workshop, Day Two

collage, encaustic on wood panel
oil, paper, plastic toy, metal key

encaustic on wood panel
oil, manipulated with resist

encaustic monoprint on paper
Shiva paint sticks

encaustic monoprint on paper
Shiva paintsticks and water-soluble oil pastel crayons

Day 2 of our encaustic workshop was equally satisfying. In addition to working on wood substrate we learned how to create encaustic monoprints on paper and cloth. This was fascinating to me! It opens up a new set of possibilities for combining paper and cloth. I am interested in pushing the two paper monoprints, seen above, with watercolor and cloth. Since the oil will act as a resist on the paper, I hope to overlay some watercolor and then applique some cloth onto the surface.
It was interesting to experiment with the various paint sticks and pigment in encaustic media to see how it behaved on both paper and cloth. Interestingly, the metallic Shiva paint sticks didn't work very well on either, but they were especially disappointing on the cloth. I had a set of Shiva metallic, and Shiva non-metallic (student grade). I theorize that the micah in the Shiva metallic sticks acted as a barrier to absorption. I need to test the higher grade non-metallics to see if they behave the same as the student-grade paint sticks. The best results on cloth were achieved with the water-soluble oil sticks. Another student had good results with the watercolor crayons on cloth.
It seems that very little will be needed in the way of basic supplies to do encaustic work at home: medium (which consists of beeswax and damar crystals), oil paint or encaustic pigment, and a heat-controlled surface such as a warming tray, a heat gun, and a few tools to manipulate the wax.
If I work in my home studio I will place a box fan in my studio window to vent outward. I think ventilation is an important safety concern.

My next project is to find the surface of my two studio work tables. I'm overwhelmed with post-project clutter! Help!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Encaustic Workshop, Day One

Collage, encaustic
oil, paper, hand-dyed silk, dried flower, beads, gold leaf, wood chopsticks
techniques used: collage, inlay
10x10 inches

collage, encaustic
oil, paper, dried leaves
techniques used: collage, etching
5x5 inches

collage, encaustic
oil, acrylic, post-consumer paper, art paper
techniques used: collage, inlay, etching
(thermofax print on paper is from a drawing I made of myself at age 2)
8x8 inches

collage, encaustic
techniques used: etching, inlay, and scraping
6x6 inches

What a wonderful day of creative discovery! Today was my first-ever experience working with encaustics. I have long been an admirer of the process, so I jumped at the opportunity to spend 2 days in a workshop devoted to it.
Deanna Wood, from Denton TX, facilitated the workshop at Stamp Antonio, a wonderful shop located a few miles down the road from my home.
I created these 4 pieces today. The top one is truly "over-the-top" with collaged items. I wonder how long the chopsticks will hang in there! I used some of my wax shavings to create
3-dimensional "flowers" at the top of the board. It will look better when I work with the wax tomorrow. I decided to leave it alone to cure a bit more before I tackle it again. The dried rose in the lower left-hand corner was taken from an floral arrangement of a dear friend last fall. I am satisfied with the other 3 pieces as they are.
Here is the website of our instructor:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Where Marshmellows come from.....

tell me these don't look like marshmellows!
(actually, these are plastic-wrapped hay bales)

This is an old photo I took while on vacation in Vancouver/Victoria BC in 2006. It has been so hot in San Antonio I was dreaming about that vacation, taken around this time 3 years ago.
I stumbled upon this photo and it made me laugh: we joked that this is where marshmellows are grown!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Garden update

This retaining wall is located just outside my studio window

Studio window on left edge of photo, this shot 
looks back toward the house

My newly landscaped garden is doing well despite the horrific heat and drought.  I have been very pleased with my new "dry creek bed" garden area.  Throughout the spring I had a multitude of bulbs and enjoyed my new Japanese maple tree.  The bird bath is a very popular
place, as are the numerous feeders.  Tim and I sit on the patio and have our morning coffee while observing the Lesser Goldfinches eat thistle from both the feeder and the dried coneflower pods, which I left deliberately for just such activity.  The black-chinned hummingbirds have been numerous.  

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Beautiful wedding party at the Long Beach Hyatt

This gorgeous bride (center) is being escorted to her vehicle by her entire family
(mother on left, groom on the right)
a tearful hug with her mother and father

the entire family gathers around the vehicle as the bride and groom prepare to leave

On the last day of the Long Beach festival we saw this Indian couple and their family departing the hotel.  I marveled at the colorful wedding party, as well as all the guests.  Indian women are so beautiful, and their incredible saris only accentuate that fact.
Frankly, I love the fact that the bride wears red.  It was a sight to behold!