Most artists and art historians are farmiliar with the term Memento Mori, a Latin phrase that means remember that you must die. I suppose that for many people this is perhaps an unwanted and unsettling reminder of their own mortality, but the tradition of this reminder is old---existing long before even the term was invented, people have used death as a reminder to live their lives.
It is no secret that I am going through a serious skull phase in my creativity. I love them, beautiful and simple. Artistically the skeleton and skull have been themes in the careers of countless artists. One of the first keys to drawing human anatomy is to understand the skeleton that lies beneath the human form, giving us our shape. Most every artist goes through a phase, or phases, where they explore the skeleton within their art.
Recently it seems that death has been more pronounced in our lives, three people I care about have recently passed. Death has been on my mind a great deal. I think it is only natural that my art has been exploring this theme as I work out my feelings on the subject. Mostly I am thinking of death as not particularly terrifying; sad to be temporarily separated from those we care about...but there is also something unifying about that subject too.
So it has been with a playful and loving heart that I explore this subject. I am thinking about where we are all headed, but also that we are all the same underneath. There is something quite beautiful in that thought I believe.
Preschool has begun again and that means that the landscape of our morning routine has changed. We have gone from leisurely mornings to fast paced breakfast/dress/goooo. We are all adjusting, more or less. While Elise and I both miss Cordelia while she is away we have discovered that our window of one-on-one time is quite a special time too.
I think it is such a gift to give Elise a bit of undivided attention. When Cordelia was the same age she had all of my attention. While I suppose that probably isn't great either, I am so glad for a few extra hours each week I get to give Elise all of my focus.
It has been so fun to listen to every thought that pops into her mind. When Cordelia is around the two sisters talk and play, leaving me to watch that beautiful friendship. However, when it is just Elise and I she really has a lot more to say. And boy can this girl talk!!! She is so intelligent, speaking in complete sentences and working her way through past, present and future tenses. I guess that happens when she has so many people talking with her throughout the day.
She is so funny! Her sense of humor is sharp already. I am pretty sure we are in for it with this one. She has a certain clarity of understanding that lends itself to humor.
She is also so loving! Yesterday as the girls were eating lunch, I had long since finished, she kept hopping down from her seat to hug me and kiss me. She would whisper that she loved me and then run back to her seat.
Anyway, these mornings with my youngest have been a real treat. Now, if you will excuse me I have some two year old snuggling to do.
had blueberries on the brain when I awoke this morning. Apparently my
oldest daughter did too as she asked for some straight off. I decided
that it must be a sign that I need to make some blueberry bars. You'll
find the recipe below, the whole thing takes under an hour and you'll
have a tasty treat! My daughter declared it the best thing I've ever
made. She has three and a half years of daily exposure to my food
making. Just sayin'.
For the Cookie Base
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1 c vegan margarine
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp EnerG Egg Replacer + 2 T warm water, mixed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt For the Blueberry Topping
2 1/2 c frozen organic blueberries
2 T orange juice
1/2 c sugar
1 T cornstarch
For the Crumble
3/4 c oats
1/4 c vegan margarine
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
For the cookie base
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together the sugars and the margarine.
2. Add in the vanilla, Egg Replacer mix, cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking powder. Mix.
3. Add in the flour a cup at a time.
When you have a nicely mixed dough gently press it into a lightly oiled cookie
sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
While the cookie base is baking make the blueberry topping
1. In a small sauce pan mix the orange juice, sugar and cornstarch.
2. Add the blueberries and heat over medium high.Stirring occasionally.
Use the back of your spoon to gently mash some, not all, of the
berries. When the sauce begins to thicken, it will take just a few
minutes, remove from heat.
Then onto the Crumble
1. Mix everything together in no special order.
Finally to put it all together
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Spread the blueberry mixture evenly across the top of the cookie base.
3. Loosely sprinkle the crumble across the top.
4. Bake for another 12 minutes. remove from oven and let cool.
Makes 18 bars.
So a friend left four large bamboo poles at my house. I wasn't quite sure what we'd do with them, but I knew they would be put to good use. I am one of those people who hates to waste, and I was certain that I would be making a garden trellis of some sort with the bamboo, perhaps next spring. I assumed that the bamboo would gather dust in a quiet corner of our garage until 2015. I assumed wrong.
Yesterday afternoon while I was getting some work done Eric and the girls found the bamboo and decided to improvise a teepee. I must emphasize the use of the word improvise. Eric tied the four bamboo poles together and used a dog toy to stabilize the structure. Next he draped the frame with my painting drop cloth. While the result wasn't exactly the most beautiful teepee in the world it was an instant hit. The girls freaked out!
They had a clubhouse, a place of their own. The two sisters would draw the edges closed as they played happily inside. The only disturbance I heard was when Cordelia was deeply offended that Elise would bring a Thomas the Train book inside...apparently that was against the rules. Otherwise they played a lot. Betty Sprinkles was happy to be part of the fun (Bumblebee preferred to lounge in the sun).
Soon enough the girls kicked Eric and I out of their teepee and I took the opportunity to do a little back porch reading!
-I don't love popcorn. I mean it is fine, but mostly it is just salty air.
- I love to drink vinegar. It makes me sweat, but I can just gulp it down. Eric is unsettled by this phenomenon and will hide vinegar from me.
- I don't know if I have mentioned this before, probably have, but here it comes again. I HATE inflatable animals and I want to bite them. See this? I want to bite it. This one? Yep, want to bite it.
-I am terrified of trimming my dog's toenails. I always make them bleed (just a tiny bit) and yelp. It is a horror show.
- Our house has a weird half/basement thing. it isn't a crawlspace as you can mostly stand up, it is more like a hunchspace. Anyway, it frightens me.
-I was disappointed in my broccoli this year, you know the stuff I grew in my garden. I found myself berating the broccoli. Not my coolest moment.
-I am naturally a total slob, but I love my husband who is a neatnik and I see the value in a clean home. I do clean All. The. Time. So I have little acts of rebellion. For instance, I leave the lid off of my chocolate chips (sub-confession I have a box of chocolate chips that I got through on a weekly/two-weekly basis) and when Eric asks, "Can you try and close the lid?" I say, as kindly as possible, "Probably not."
- I am a total Francophile. I want to go to France again so very badly. In a million years when we have no student loans I look forward to extended vacations there, or even living there part time....but really I probably will pass away before I pay off my student debt.
- I am obsessed with noses. I looove to look at interesting noses. For me the perfect nose is just a bit imperfect. Perhaps it leans to one side, is a little large, has uneven nostrils (you probably do!), but best of all a slight bump! Lovely. Nothing is more dull to me than a perfect nose.
-I totally lied there, MANY things are more dull than a perfect nose. For example: listening to Robert Stack read Ulysses in a whisper, while interesting at first I am certain it would soon become quite dull---wait, is he dead? If he is dead and whisper reading Ulysses then it is interesting. Slow blinks are pretty dull. Gum chewing, dull. Elbow scratches, dull. Grocery shopping with a list is dull. Listening to your own whistling boog is dull. So, yeah.
Photo tyyyyyyyyyyyme! Here are some of the photos from my phone taken over the past week.
Here I am waiting to head home after the Annual Dinner at the museum where Eric curates. My dogs were barking!
My handsome husband.
Somewhere outside of Laramie. We pulled over so Eric could take photos with the camera and I casually snapped a photo from the car while the girls watched Dora in the back.
Cordelia heading to school. I am almost certain that I didn't not not didn't not brush her hair after this photo was taken.
Betty Sprinkles has one desire, to be comfy cozy. She often sneaks upstairs to sleep on Elise's toddler bed. She isn't allowed on the furniture, but she really feels that she is above the dog beds scattered throughout the house. Sigh.
We have a bajillion tons of apples.
The girls and I have been picking apples for an hour at a time, but we still can't seem to make a dent.
I love making my own dressing, it is so inexpensive and I can make
whatever sounds good to me. Break out from you boring dressing daze and
make your own. Once you figure out the basics you can adjust to suit
your needs. When I am on my own I often cut way back on fats, adding
more for guests who might not like the high acidity of vinegars...I am
not that way.
Anyway, here is a recipe brought over from Rooted Vegan.
honey mustard dressing from your pre-vegan days? It was good! You could
use it on salads, in wraps, on sandwiches, drink it straight---anyone?
Just me? Don't judge.
Anyway, those days can be yours
once again. Cheer with me! Here is a simple and tasty recipe that you
can put together in a jiff.
1/3 c vegan mayo (I used Vegenaise)
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 T agave
1 scallion, thinly sliced, green part only
1/8 tsp oregano
2 T lemon juice
1 T grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. It really doesn't matter what order you use.
2. Whisk all of the ingredients until well combined.
3. Use on your favorite salad or wrap or whatever floats your boat.
Earlier this year, just before summer hit, Eric and I were making our plans for summer projects. We had quite a list, but one item on the list had us both a bit jazzed. We planned to build a little path with steps through to connect our upper and lower yard.
Let me explain, our back yard is bisected into two portions: Upper yard and lower yard. The two sections are separated by a sloping area that the previous owner filled with snow on the mountain (a plant that likes to spread out). While it looked pretty good there was no real cohesion between the two spaces. We used the upper yard for most everything and the lower area is where our food garden is planted. There is, to the side a small path to get between the two yards, but it just seemed very disconnected.
So Eric and I made our plans...then didn't find the time. Yesterday I was out there staring at the space and I fell into a creative yard work trance. Trust me that is a thing. There is supportive science (this is what it feels like). I just started moving stuff around. We had all sorts of pavers and rocks that were left from when I tore up our patio earlier this year (we planted grass in its place) . So I just dug in and started arranging the pavers and stones. I dug out all of the plants and laid in the steps.
First I pulled the edging that was already in place and created the space for a path. Next I kinda leveled the ground, but I wanted a pretty rustic looking path so it wasn't really a priority. I just wanted it flat enough that nobody will trip. Next I dug into the slope and placed flat pavers to create two steps. I guesstimated the distance between the steps. For the rise of the steps I embedded large rocks into the soil for stability.
Finally used soil to fill in the empty spaces between the pavers. I also added bits of broken pots to the sides, embedded in the soil in a safe manner (don't want any punctured feet).
I hosed down the steps and mushed the mud around as I worked, making sure that the steps and pathway were stable. I am so pleased with the result and I cannot wait to see it next summer when everything grows in and fills out the space. The two spaces are much more cohesive now!
Next summer we plan to add a few more garden beds and install a proper garden fence to keep our dogs from rooting around. We also want to have an arbor with the Virginia Creeper that goes over the new pathway.
Yesterday was Cordelia's third, first day of pre-school (read 2013 here and 2012 here). This year was a bit bittersweet as she was returning when all of her friends were starting kindergarten. She missed the cut-off for kindergarten by a couple of weeks. Once we all wrapped our minds around that it was pretty easy to get back in the swing of things. Eric and I were positive and careful to emphasize the fact that she gets to make all kinds of new friends. She is a pretty awesome girl and was ready and raring to go, bright and early (at 3am, then 6am).
She had carefully chosen her outfit several days earlier and could hardly wait to get the new school clothes on to her small frame. She chose a black and white striped dress with a red belt, black and white polka-dotted leggings, a sweater and her brand new backpack. Elise was super impressed.
When we were finally ready to head to school she pretty much bolted to the car. We made the drive and Elise kept chatting, but Cordelia had her head in the game. I am sure she was imagining everything that would happen.
Upon arrival the parking lot was packed with parents. First days are always intense as parents like to linger (been there), but now we waited to be let in and had a little vegan chat with her teach, took a picture and said our goodbyes. Cordelia pretty much just waved us off, like yeah-yeah whatever.
Once we made the drop Elise required a little explanation, but then she just wanted Eric to take her picture too.
When we picked her up a few hours later she was very happy with her teacher and told me she made a new friend, but she could neither name nor describe her. Anyway, here we go into our last year of pre-school with Cordelia.
We had a lovely weekend. Did you? On Saturday we drove up into the mountains to check out the Braille Trail, a trail made especially for the visually impaired. We told the girls we were going for a little hike in the forest. Cordelia was totally in the know and happy, Elise was screaming, "We're going to the forest!" When I asked her what a forest is, she was stumped. She knew soon enough. We coasted through the trees and up into the beautiful forest that is just beyond our community. It was awesome! The girls had a blast, Eric went rogue and wandered through the hills taking photos. We stopped by a little creek. We took our sweet time...or rather the girls took their sweet time and we were happy to watch and encourage.
When we finished the trail we decided to continue on through the mountains, so our adventure ended up spanning much of the day and it was such a beautiful treat to explore our own backyard and take in the beauty of our state.