Friday, September 19, 2014

Pushing myself out on a limb...

The thing about being retired...  I cannot believe time passes by so fast!  Whomever said being retired gives you too much free time was obviously not retired! Of course it has only been a few months still and I have had a zillion and one items on the longest to-do list in the world, so as I get through a lot of those things that needed to be done, I will indeed have more free time.

One of my intentions is to pursue a lot more artsy stuff and today I stepped a little out on a limb, or rather PUSHED myself out on a limb and bought some larger canvases!

Michael ' s had a buy 3 for the price of 1 sale today and I bought 6 large gallery wrapped canvases, from 20x24 to 24x36 inches. I have never painted larger than 16x20 inches before... here is my opportunity! 

I will be driving up to Oregon tomorrow for a few days to visit with my friend Evie who will be down from Alaska, then when I get back next week, who knows, maybe I will open up one of these canvases and get started! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Out and about on a a muggy Thursday...

I am driving to Oregon this weekend and needed to clear some things out of my car. One thing was a large old comforter I had been carrying around until I could get it to the City Pound. They  are the people we took our dear Maggie to for cremation and we found out they needed donations of old blankets and comforters so we decided to give them an old blue one we no longer use (too many holes from cat claws!). They are down on Front Street under a mess of freeways in a weird little area I only recently discovered.

So as I was leaving I turned to look at their little garden and saw these delightful critters:

Even though several of them were rather dried out it was a cute attempt at making the garden suit the building. Of course to make it more realistic there should have been a topiary of a dog catcher running after one of them with a big net, doncha think?

Monday, September 15, 2014

A few more backgrounds...

It seems once I start playing with my Gelli plate I just cannot stop! I pulled it out again last night and made yet more backgrounds for some postcards! The orange and blue ones are just for me and the metallics is for the upcoming black-metallics post card swap over on MMSA.

These are just the starting layers. Each one is a piece of cardboard that I cut into 4 cards. No idea yet what I will do next but I like to have all phases of the cards around in case my muse hits me on the head and tells me she wants to play!

Sharing these oranges one with Mandarin Orange Monday.

Sharing these blues one with Blue Monday.

And these 2 metallics and black are the start for the upcoming swap over on MMSA.

As I make these into post cards I will show them here... might be a while because I like to have a lot of variety at hand to choose from.

Also linked to:
Creative Every Day

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Made a few more postcards...

This time not for a swap but to keep on hand for sending out Mail Art. These are similar to ones I made before but different color sets.  I have pieces of cardboard big enough to make 4 post cards so I did 2 sheets of it with gelli prints and stamping then I cut them up and doodled and stamped more. Now that I have started swapping and putting my snail mail addy out there I am starting to get mail art I want to respond to and now I have a few post cards ready to go!

Linked to:
Creative Every Day

Friday, September 12, 2014

Intentions vs Reality...

I love the idea of setting intentions to do something. We do that in yoga class a lot. It would happen more if I actually went as much as I intended to go, but that goes in the reality part later. I had a lot of intentions for once I retired...

and the reality of it so far is that a lot of them are happening at a very slow rate. I know, everyone tells me I have all the time in the world... but I don't really. I have this one moment. One moment then another moment.  I have today. Then tomorrow I will have another today. THAT is where I am falling down... I have a lot of things planned for future days but am not doing them each today.

If that doesn't make sense, don't worry... it is just lately forming in my own mind as well. This whole retirement thing is a little different that I had imagined too. That is ok, it is just not what I expected. Which is also ok... one of my intentions was to let go of some of my tight expectations..

Today I am doing a lot of food shopping. This is one of the lovely benches outside of Nugget Market, a sort of cross between Whole Foods and a regular supermarket. I want to go get some coffee and sit on this bench but it is too hot, so I will sit inside and contemplate more on intentions...

Sharing the bench with Weekly Top Shot.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Garden visitor...

As I was reaching for my geranium to re-pot into a larger container I was greeted by this cutie! A praying mantis always seem to be saying "I'm ready for my close up now!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Visiting Alameda...

Last Saturday I took Andy to Alameda for his birthday surprise. I had a great many things planned but it ended up that the first one was so fascinating we stayed there over 4 hours and didn't do any of the other things I had on my list (and I had thought we would run out of things to do! Hah! Silly me!)...

Our day started with a filling breakfast from the Wren's Cafe, nestled along Highway 80 about 35 minutes out of Sacramento. Here is a photo from their Facebook page because I totally forgot to take a photo of it that morning!

Then we drove down 80 to 880 and into Alameda. I had not been there for probably 40 years and had never been to anything historical there so this was a treat for me too.

I had several places on my list:  USS Hornet, Alameda Naval Museum, a microbrewery, the Pinball Museum... a little history and hopefully a lot of fun!

The USS Hornet has quite a history, both in wartime and with the space program. HERE is info all about it and how to get there if you are in the area. I took a ton of photos but here are just a few to show you the vastness of it all...

HERE is my Flickr album if you would like to see more photos from the USS Hornet excursion.

After spending 4+ hours at the USS Hornet though, we were hungry and went searching for lunch at 2 pm. Found it in a delightful deli on Webster Street too! (Forgot to take photos of the food, we were so hungry!)

Then Andy decided he would rather do the Pinball Museum another time and so we took off for another old favorite, Port Costa and the Warehouse Cafe. We hadn't been there for several years so we stopped in for a brew before heading home. An eclectic biker bar dive if you've ever seen one, but lots of brews and that afternoon a very funny bartender who kept us amused.

I was glad Andy enjoyed his birthday surprise as it is sometimes quite a challenge to come up with something inventive for him, especially after he has surprised me the month before for my birthday! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

From the garden...

The basil and tomatoes are from the garden.  Add fresh mozzarella from the market along with some nice oil and vinegar and we have tonight's starter... Caprese salad.  Yum!

This used to be one of my favorite salads when I lived in Italy that study summer (was it 2006?). Our little Florence apartment was near a lovely street for shopping and we could get all these ingredients easily. Good memories of good times! I will have to dig up some photos from that summer one of these days!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Second set of asemic post cards...

For the same swap I mentioned the other day on THIS blog entry.    HERE is the original MMSA swap page.

I wanted to send in 4 cards but had only 3 of the backgrounds I used, so I made another set of 3 more today on a different background. Now I have one each to save for my reference.

So these started with a lighter background and I used some map scraps, old gelli paper scraps, postage stamp, other ephimera from an antiques catalog, a hand-carved rubber stamp and pens.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hot pink and orange...

When Evie and I had our first apartment in San Francisco way back (1970?), it was painted a lot of bright colors. I remember the bathroom was bright pink and orange! THIS MMSA swap reminds me of that! The swap was for hot pink and orange so I took some white cardboard and gelli printed those two colors to start, swirling them around and getting nice blobs of color. That would have been fine for the swap but I had to add something, so I added a couple of stamps...

Here is one of them closer up to see the  color blends:

As with all these swaps, part of the fun is in making them and then part of it is in receiving post cards from others! It is amazing to see the variety from the same prompt.

Linked to:
Mandarin Orange Monday
Paint Party Friday

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Asemic postcard for swap...

Sometimes a challenge comes along that intrigues me so I need to drop everything else and do it. Such was the asemic writing postcard challenge for MMSA (Make Me Some Art swaps). Asemic writing is wordless and without contextual meaning. 

Google has a lot of cool examples of asemic art HERE.

This evening I played around with it using 3 previously Gelli-printed post cards. I also used: tissue pattern paper,  stamps from India, topo map fragments, black and purple pens. This is what I came up with.:

I will probably use 2 of them for the swap and keep one for myself as usual. Then I will probably make a few others in a different look so I can send in the maximum of 4 for the swap. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Getting back to Mail Art...

I took a long break from doing Mail Art these last years but those of you who knew me back when might remember all my stamping and mail art post card days... well, they might be coming back! Now that I have time to play, AND a new Post Office Box, I have reawakened my fondness for interesting little pieces of art via snail mail, aka mail art.

My friend Leslie has been doing this for a while (and has sent me things now and then) and also introduced me to the MMSA site (Make Me Some Art) a year or more ago, but I only did that sporadically. I also now and then made some post cards or ATCs for SwapBot then stopped when I had no extra time to play. Now I have time and I plan to let that be more of my art fun -- things I can fit into little snippets of time here and there and which are so much fun to do.

So yesterday I finally sent Leslie one of the two bird postcards we made together months ago. I forgot to scan the one I sent but it was very similar to this one which I kept:

Then today I continued to work on a few cards I had gelli-printed and stamped a long while ago but had never done anything else with. I added some doodles and paint pens and got them ready to send out. The top two are near ready to go, the bottom 2 need more work:

They made me think of the art pages I did last year in Roben-Marie Smith's style so I added more doodles in that vein. Nothing too serious, just something light hearted to send as a mail art postcard.

Want to exchange mail art cards with me? My snail mail info is in the CONTACT ME tab above...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Moving on...

On the plane, coming home from a visit to my sister in Oregon, I happened to look up and kitty-corner to me was a man typing up a welcome back to school Powerpoint presentation. It hit me then that I don't have to do those anymore and I smiled.

Today is the first day of school for my teacher friends here. I think it is finally sinking in:  I have retired! I no longer have that stress hanging over me and I can finally relax into the next chapter of my life. Up until now it has still felt like "summer vacation" so it wasn't as definite. But now, the vacation time is over and I don't have to go back to school. I am smiling.

So I went out into my garden to see what I could find and aside from the dying flowers and old veggies from the summer there was a bit of life...

A couple of our new lavender plants are in full bloom and smell great! The others are still with buds but no open flowers, a little slower to get started. I want to fill the garden with scent now that I have time to work in it! Time to research good fall plantings and what I can do now for great spring flowers.

This year I will remember to plant the sweet peas in the late Fall so we actually have them in the Spring...

It's already on my calendar!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Goodbye Maggie

RIP Sweet Maggie... 1999-2014

You came to us a LBD (little brown dog) and stole our hearts with your smart sweet personality. Thank you for 15 years of life together.  You will be so missed.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hanging out...

For my birthday last weekend Andy took me to the Big Springs Gardens for a lovely hike and delicious lunch.

I find it very difficult to believe I am 62. The sixties always seemed SO OLD to me... Now that I am there, they don't feel anything like I imagined. Not that I can really put into words what I thought I would feel like.

And I think when I was working I FELT older than I do now. Nothing like retiring to bring on some energy!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Making fruit leathers on a hot day...

I really hadn't planned this blog to be a cooking one, but I have been having so much fun with my new dehydrator that I wanted to catalog the results here. Today after the extreme heat (100s these days) has made all my apricots ripen and start to fall of the tree, I picked a bunch more and decided to try out apricot fruit leather for roll-ups. Yesterday we took the dehydrator outside so it wouldn't keep heating up the kitchen. I was working on a makeshift outdoor area for these today.

So I took a bunch of ripe apricots...

soaked them in a citric acid/water solution for 5 minutes then blended them up the best I could in my old funky blender...

spread it out on the mats  (which look just like my silicon baking and crafts mats) that are for fruit leathers...

and put them in to dry.

They should take around 4 hours so I will know later this evening if it worked. Seemed it was not as smooth as it should have been AND it was very hard to spread out evenly so that might affect how it dries. We shall see.

Friday, July 25, 2014

First batch results...

Here are the delicious results from the first batch of dehydrating.

Tasty beef jerky (not spicy enough for Andy but I like it just fine!):

And here is the first batch of fruits:  apriots (from our tree), apple, and pineapple:

Today we moved the dehydrator outside because it really does heat up the kitchen/house and it is already hot enough (today is day 1 of 5 days promised to be over 100 degrees!). So it is outside the kitchen door and now I am drying more apricots, another apple and trying an orange.

The trick to not having the fruit brown up is to soak them for 10 minutes or so in a solution made with water and citric acid. Andy got a package of citric acid from the Coop for me a few months ago when I told him I wanted to look out for it. I am eager to get more peaches and nectarines now at the Farmer's Market so I can dry those too! And then in the fall, pears! I think dried pears are my all-time favorites!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

IKEA and the dehydrator...

Yay! My dehydrator came yesterday so today we went out to IKEA to get another one of these to put it on:

The dehydrator fits perfectly on top and this little table fit perfectly into a small space by our back door where there was also an outlet. And the amazing part is that we tested out if we could have the dehydrator and the microwave on at the same time and we could! Doesn't work with the toaster and microwave-- old circuits don't like that combo!

THIS  is the dehydrator I got from Amazon:  (Excalibur)
I wanted to be able to make my own beef jerkey from good (grass-fed) beef and without preservatives and soy sauce. That way I could limit the amount of sugars and salts in it as well and just be able to make smaller batches as needed. So I am experimenting today. 

I got a lovely 2 pound London Broil from Winterport Farms at the Farmer's Market last weekend. I am only using half of it to start with as my first experiment. So I sliced it very thin, then made my marinade, got the meat all juicy with marinade... (easy peasy: coconut aminos, maple syrup, salt, pepper, a little garlic and onion powders based on THIS recipe.)

then into a ziploc bag and into the fridge overnight. I will start the dehydrating part in the morning.

Meanwhile I started in on the apricots from our tree. I soaked them in a citric acid-water bath (so they hopefully won't get too brown) before putting them into the dehydrator...

On the dehydrator rack. Just making one rack to start with so I can see how they do overnight... lots more apricots to follow!

Tomorrow I will be adding the some pineapple and maybe an apple to the fruit trays, then when they are done, up the temp to 165 for the beef jerky. The nice thing about this dehydrator is that there are two controls: one for temperature and one a timer. AND it is square with top air flow from the back so all rows dry evenly. My funky old one was on-off and air from the bottom so you constantly had to change the rows around and there wasn't as much surface area since it had a big hole in the center. This one has already won me over!

Now that I am retired I have plans to do a lot more homemade foods and really focus on healthy eating. I usually eat pretty well anyway but now I have no excuses! And it's fun anyway... sort of Little House on the Prairie meets City Life. Without the dresses!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Home and the farmer's market...

Got home from my month-long Nova Scotia journey late Monday (well really for me it was 4 am on Tuesday) so spent most of Tuesday jetlagged. Amazingly the rest of the week FLEW by and here it is Sunday already!

And Sundays are always good for the Farmer's Market:

Today we found a stall with carnivorous plants! Beautiful ones too -- Pitcher Plants, Venus Flytraps, and more! Pricey but pretty!

And there was the usual wonderful flowers, fruit and veggies... we didn't need much today but it is always fun walking though the market and taking in all the scents (basil was strong in the air today). And there were amazing sunflowers!

Yesterday I bought myself an early birthday present of a very nice dehydrator and am looking forward to making my own beef jerkey as well as a lot of dried fruits and vegetables. It is supposed to arrive on Thursday so I imagine next weekend might be a busy one for drying things! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

More Cape Breton...

With more to follow. I sort of gave up trying to post on the blog this time. My thoughts on all this in a later post when I get home next week.
Visit to a coal mine, more beaches, nice drives...
Had a wonderful time visiting with Leah... more on that too when I can figure out how to link her page on mobile-blogger (I miss my normal computer!) *** EDITED: Here is Leah's wonderful BLOG!