luscious lemons

Today, we picked up 5 fresh picked lemons for $1 from a nearby home. They were huge and looked and smelled delicious! Those luscious lemons made some homemade lemonade and fresh lemon bars. mmm ...

Perfect Lemonade Recipe found on Simply Recipes.

Fresh Lemon Bar Recipe is from the cookbook 365 Favorite Brand Name Cookie Recipes.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (although I usually add another 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • grated peel of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 and 1/4 cup flour
Lemon Layer:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 and 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • grated peel of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 2 lemons (6 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • confectioner's sugar
To make crust, in a bowl blend butter, sugar and lemon peel. Gradually stir in flour to form a soft crumbly dough. Press evenly into the bottom of an aluminum foil lined 13x9x2 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to prepare lemon layer. In a large bowl whisk eggs well. Stir together sugar, flour and baking powder. Gradually whisk sugar mixture into eggs. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice and vanilla. Pour over hot baked crust. Return to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool. Using foil on two sides, lift out the cookie base. With a wet knife cut into bars or squares. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.



google reader tips

Google Reader Tricks for Craft Bloggers from Diane Gilleland on Vimeo.

I love Google Reader and use it for all my blog reading. Diane Gilleland put together this awesome video of tricks for all the cool things that Google Reader can do to help you organize your blog reading. There were of couple of things I never realized. So glad I took a few minutes to watch.


creative every day: body

I’m heading into the final week of working with the body theme for Creative Every Day. I have been slowly working on this body painting (which is still in progress). My pregnancy profile body shadow is the starting point for this piece of art. The outline was drawn by me in 2006 when I was 8 months preggo with Hudson. To see what others have been working on for the body theme, just click here.


quieting the bully

Leah, over at Creative Every Day has been writing some very inspiring posts about this month's theme, Body. This one really struck me today: How to be gentle with your body and your art.

In her post about being gentle to your body Leah talks about her inner "drill sergeant" that barks orders about everything from her body to her artwork. I certainly have one of those. My inner "drill sergeant" or "bully" barks orders to me about success, freedom, health, parenting and following my dreams of being an artist and what that means (some days it means one thing and other days completely different). These orders often leave me feeling confused, unfocused and like a failure. Because I am a Jill-of-all-trades it makes it that much harder to become a master of any of them. Although my inner "bully" demands that I be. I tend to push forward in many areas of my life all at once and then am left feeling sad, angry and unhappy because I am unable to meet all those goals all the time. I want to grow and learn and I also want to just be and enjoy the small wonders in life. My desire to grow and learn ends up bulling my gentler needs for serenity and living in the moment. Leah goes on to say how she has found a gentler approach to her body and creativity and offer suggestions on how we can all do so. Taken from her post:

So how can you take a more gentle approach to your art, your body and life in general?

  • Give yourself permission to do it imperfectly
  • Check in with yourself, notice what you your spirit is craving.
  • Have a dialogue with your inner drill sergeant (aka your inner critic)
  • Take your to-do list down a notch and simplify what you plan to do. Make it doable.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments. Make an already done list!
  • List the things you're grateful for.
  • Treat yourself.
  • Notice what delights you and add more of those experiences to your life.
  • Play with being gentle as an experiment, see what happens.
The list goes on. What would you add to it?

I have done many of these suggestions since I began my path for being a more peaceful being yet, I struggle often. It was amazing to read on her blog comments that so many other creative people comment that they feel the same way. They too had an inner "drill sergeant" that disrupts there lives and stifles creativity. It’s hopeful to hear that I'm not alone and I too can learn quite my inner bully and enjoy a more gentle life where I can accomplish my dreams and be kinder to myself in the process.

Wow, thanks so much for your post, your honesty and openness, Leah.


design: bar mitzvah invitation

I have been a busy bee designing invitations lately and I'm really excited about all of them! Here is my first finished design so far this year. This one is for a bar mitzvah.


kids art: monster banks

How cute are these little monster banks?! A couple of weekends ago we set up a painting studio on the kitchen table and the boys created these adorably spooky monster banks. I love them. The little monsters and the banks too!


art masterpiece: lee-smith and hopper

Every other Wednesday I will head into 2 kindergarten classes to volunteer my time as an Art Masterpiece Guide. It is a program through the Mesa Public School district. Basically I give a short art history lesson with assigned prints.

This week was my first lesson. I was REALLY nervous. I don't get in front of people to speak often so, the idea of sitting in front of 2 classes of kids had me a little (okay, a lot) on edge. I even dressed in a black top so the kids wouldn't see me sweat. But, I shouldn't have worried. The kids were adorable. The were really excited to see me and do something different. They loved looking at the artwork, picking out the subject, colors, and expressing their feelings on the artwork. I told them a little about the artist but, mostly I asked open ended questions and let the kids speak.

Here are the prints I presented this week and what we learned in the process.

Boy with a Tire by Hughie Lee-Smith, 1952
  1. About the artist.
    Hughie Lee-Smith was born in Florida in 1915 and lived to be 85 years old. He painted with oil paints. He was a realistic painter of crumbling city life.

  2. What do you see in the painting?
    Boy, Tire, Eyes - The eyes are the most living part of the painting.

  3. What else do you see?
    Buildings – old, crumbling, empty.
    Windows – Empty, no light, no people, arches over windows.
    Road – No cars driving or parked on the street, rocks in the road, road not traveled much.
    Fence – Realistic can almost touch the wood.

  4. We talked about the “elements of design” in this painting. Line, Shape, Color, Texture, Space.

  5. The artist is communicating with you. He’s giving you a message. He wants you to think! Colors and textures give feeling to a painting. How does this painting make you feel? Sad, empty, lonely

  6. Why do you think the artist painted it? What was his message? He wants you to feel sad, uncomfortable. Why? He wants you to appreciate what you have, care about others and maybe do something to help people who are sad, empty and lonely.

    I was so excited when one of the girls in class got the message of this picture. She hit it right on the nose. She said "I think he wants you to be happy with what you have". Then we discussed how we can help others who are sad and lonely and by being a friend we could help make this little boy happy.

French Six Day Bicycle Racer by Edward Hopper, 1937

  1. About the Artist
    Edward Hopper was born in New York in 1882 (that’s 128 years ago!) and he lived to be 85 years old. He painted with oil paints. He was an America impressionist/realist painter. That means he painted people and places he saw in everyday life.

  2. What do you see in the painting?
    In this painting we are taken behind the scenes of a bicycle race. 2 men, the rider and helper. How do you know which one is the rider? He is wearing tights was the answer. We discussed why he wore tights and other athletes that wear tight uniforms.

  3. What else do you see?
    Bicycles – Shows the types of sporting event, bike race.
    Flag – Shows that he is a Frenchman since it is a French Flag.

    The rider is likely the Frenchman Alfred Letourner, one of the great six day bicycle champions during the time this was painted. He is best remembered for breaking the paced bicycle speed record in 1941.

  4. We talked about the “elements of design” in this painting: Line, Shape, Color, Texture, Space.

  5. The artist is communicating with you. He’s giving you a message. He wants you to think! Colors and textures give feeling to a painting. How does this painting make you feel? Still, focused, resting to gain energy for next race.

  6. Why do you think the artist painted it? What was his message? He shows you how an athlete feels behind the scenes in the world of sports when the excitement and cheers of the crowd are absent.
I learned so much about the artwork while researching about it and from the kids feedback, which was awesome. I love to learn. I even dreamed of being an art teacher in training last night. Hmm ... I had a feeling getting involved in this program would have me thinking ...


meditation: phrases of loving kindness

I have been (very slowly) reading Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg. Throughout my life I have embraced meditation. I have never practiced it regularly instead, I have turned to it in times of stress or anxiety or sleeplessness. I was first introduced to it as a teenager and practiced it before bed. I think incorporating meditation into my life will have a profound effect on my overall well-being. That is why I included it in my new years goals for 2010. At the end of each chapter in the book their are exercises to try. Here is the one I'm currently practicing.

Excerpt taken from the book Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg

Exercise: Phrases of Loving Kindness

In doing metta practice, we gently repeat phrases that are meaningful in terms of what we wish, first for ourselves and then for others. We begin by befriending ourselves. Classically there are four phrases used.
  • "May I be free from danger"
  • "May I have mental happiness"
  • "May I have physical happiness"
  • "May I have ease of well-being"
Sit comfortably. You can begin with five minutes of reflection on the good within you or your wish to be happy. Then choose three or four phrases you most deeply wish for yourself, and repeat them over and over again.
The author goes on to describe each of the four phrases meaning in detail, with some alternate options or you may choose your own 3 or 4 phrases that are significant to you. I choose to coordinate the phrase with my breath, it's easier for me to move from one idea to the next that way but you can do it anyway you like.

Let me know if you try this yourself and what you thought of the exercise :)


good dad

I love my husband. He is an awesome father to our children. It's parent teacher conferences today and we aren't both able to attend. He suggested we flip a coin. I suggested he go, since I volunteer in Ethan's class I see his classroom and talk to his teacher often. He jumped at the idea. I love that he wants to go. He'll be sitting in a teensy-weensy chair at a teensy-weensy table talking about our little one and I'll be at home with a big smile, feeling grateful.


new website splash page

I loaded a new splash page on my website to help direct traffic to the area of Creative Stash they would like to see. I'm so excited to have this step done. I still need to cater each section appropriately to the topic but, this is a start in the right direction.


sketchy doodle

pattern on my eye glass case

I joined another group on meetup.com. I'm such a groupie! I can't help it, I love seeking out and connecting with like minded people. The group is called sketchy doodle and the mission is to practice sketching in a small informal group, meet other people who like to sketch, develop your artistic skills, and learn by seeing how other people draw. Sunday was my first sketchy doodle adventure.

tiger eye from a Swarovski ad

cogs from inside the candy factory store

plants located around the edge of the food court

imagery from the paradise bakery signage

I really can't remember when I sketched for fun with other people. I have sketched with others at school or for a design job but, both of those have certain goals you are trying to obtain. To just sketch for fun with others was nice. We had small conversations with one another between creative bursts and in the end we shared with one another what we created.

We met in a mall food court. In a setting with so many people around it's no wonder most sketched people. I love seeing the different styles of drawing each one possessed. Figure drawing isn't my favorite and I haven't done it in about 10 years so, I stuck to my comfort zone and sketched other images I saw while looking around.


vegetarian shepherd's pie

Last Monday, we tried a vegetarian shepherd's pie recipe I found on allrecipes.com. I find all my recipes on that website! "This meatless comfort food is packed with high-antioxidant vegetables, plus curry's anti-cancer curcumin." by USA WEEKEND columnist Jean Carper.

Bert & I enjoyed this recipe (the kids just ate the topping). The flavors blended well, the mashed red potato topping with peas was fabulous and it had my favorite ingredient, eggplant! The curry suggested was a tad overpowering but, as it cooled the flavor mellowed. I still think I may cut the curry in half next time.

See Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Learn about the Meatless Mondays Campaign


creative every day: body

I have been working on my project for the Creative Every Day Challenge. The (totally optional) theme for January is Body. This was a perfect theme for me to start on. Three and a half years ago when I was 8 months pregnant with Hudson I drew a shadow of my baby bump profile onto a canvas. Since our move almost 3 years ago it has packed away in our garage. It's still in our garage but, now it's sitting on my easel in progress instead of stored away in a box.


monthly goal meet up

I'm participating in the Meet Up which is a monthly goal sharing group. Goals, goals, goals ... everywhere I turn I'm reading about, thinking about and jotting down goals. I guess it makes sense since it's the beginning of a new year and new decade!

Here were my December goals ...

  1. graphics referral sheet with info & prices - done!
  2. creative stash website splash page - done but, needs to be loaded online
  3. craft and bake with the kids - of course!
  4. create handmade gifts - a few but, yes!
  5. spread holiday cheer - as much as I could!
Because I have a few freelance design projects in the works I plan to focus on those in January, getting to any of these biz goals would just be gravy...
  1. load new creative stash website splash page
  2. creative stash business cards
  3. add bookmarks to etsy shop
  4. add magnets to etsy shop
  5. gift packaging idea & photo for etsy shop
The monthly goal Meet Up has found a new home thanks to Liz at Athena Dreams. Thanks Liz! Wishing you all a creative and productive month!


new year, new goals

I have to say, I love making new year's resolutions. Being the goal-setter and list-maker that I am, that’s not surprising. It's my favorite way to start the year fresh. Looking back and thinking ahead. Although, I do need help in learning how to stand still in the present sometimes. This year I want to continue in the direction I've been headed; simplifying, healthy living, creating and peace. I narrowed my list of creative and personal goals down to my top 13.
  1. meditate and journal every week
  2. plan a date with each of my kids once a month
  3. create 4 new paintings
  4. save $1,000 emergency fund
  5. work on how to respond calmly rather than react when situations become tense
  6. work on my fitness 4x a week: yoga, zumba and weight lifting
  7. reach next weight loss goal of 18lbs. lost by the end of the year
  8. learn how to use my sewing machine
  9. grow herbs and vegetables in our backyard
  10. continue to make healthy eating choices and work on cutting out sugar and hfcs
  11. volunteer my time and energy to those less fortunate at least 2 times this year
  12. engage in outdoor activities: hiking, swimming, picnics and evening walks
  13. create, grow and network etsy store & freelance design (20 hours a month max)
Many wishes for health, happiness, growth and peace in 2010!