The Things That Mean The Most

Lately I seemed to be a little obsessed with money, probably because we’re running out of it, but as I look around my beautiful home I know it’s only stuff. The things that are important to me are the people I love and care about. Dan, Brian, Jessica and her husband John (Happy 1st Anniversary to them today!), my family, and my friends. If I lost everything it would be ok as long as I have them. I’ve made it my mission in life to let those I care about know it. When my Mom died I was devastated. She passed away on a Sunday morning. That night my Dad went out to dinner with Dan and I, and our kids. While we sat at dinner talking about her I said that I hoped she knew how much I loved her, and my Dad replied, “Don’t worry, she knew.”

I always go above and beyond for the people I care about. I know when it is my time to leave this world my children will miss me, but I am also sure that they will know how very much I love and adore them both. I am by nature a thoughtful and generous person. Unfortunately in my adult life I have found that who I am sometimes intimidates people, women in particular. Several years ago I was seeing a therapist and when I talked to her about the way the women in my neighborhood were reacting to me, being mean, snide remarks, etc., she told me to stop showing off. I don’t do things to show off, I do things because I’m nice. I happen to have creative skills and I am grateful for the talents I was born with. I enjoy making gifts for people, and I have a passion for cooking. Somehow that gets misconstrued as me wanting to make others look bad. To be honest I let it bother me for a very long time. Now I don’t care anymore. If people don’t take the time to know me and realize what a truly generous person I am then it is their loss.

What got me off on tonight’s rant you ask? It happens to be the birthday of one of my very good friends, who also happens to be a neighbor.  I don’t have a lot of friends. I tend to be a bit of a loner, always have been. The few friends I do have mean the world to me. I met Lori at one of the neighborhood parties eight years ago when quite frankly no one was talking to me. I was on crutches, just days after surgery for a torn ACL. She saw me standing alone, got me a chair, something to eat and drink, and kept me company for the rest of the evening. I never forgot her thoughtfulness or kindness that night, and she has been consistently the same loyal friend since that night. Today is Lori’s birthday. She is here for dinner, I made one of her favorites, arugula with a balsamic dressing, pan seared medium rare steak, Parmesan cheese tuile and a horseradish cream sauce. Dan made some delicious salads with large tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto. I made her a cake, Devil’s Food with a homemade Dulce de Leche butter cream with a touch of sea salt. Like I said, I like to let the people I love know it.

IMG_6578 IMG_6571 For tonight, something else for Lori. A portrait of one of her other dearest friends, her dog Cocoa. (I should say a portrait in progress)

HappyIMG_6573 Birthday LorIMG_6569i!

Happy New Year!

Best Wishes to all, and may everyone have a good and prosperous year! Let’s hope that goes for us as well. 2013 has been a tough one, not sorry to see it end. Of course there were blessings, too many to mention, but this year there were many obstacles to overcome. The best thing I can say about this past year is that Dan and I weathered it together, and despite all of our troubles, we have never been stronger. That’s pretty good. Time to change our own luck. This will be our year. That is my final resolution to post on this blog. There are those private ones that I made mention of last night, so there is a rather long laundry list ahead. I can do it, we can do it.

For tonight a very simple project, a romantic dinner for two. Two years ago for Christmas, Dan bought me “Menus for Chez Panisse”, by Patricia Curtan. It is a lovely book filled with marvelous menus in both the food listed and the menu design. Right up my alley! I was so inspired that I had intended to make menus for every special occasion and the meal that accompanied it. Of course…best intentions. Although I have made a few. One for tonight, a really quick one because I spent much of the day on the phone, logistical planning for my Dad and his dinner this evening. I’m going to throw in a few old menus just so you get the idea, and possibly some food pics. I haven’t done that in a while, but it really is just another form of art for me.Dinner Invitation

A Summer dinner party#1

Our October Fest oktober fest menu

The October Fest Menu2013 Menu

Tonight’s menuIMG_3449Blue Cheese, Date and Bacon Tart-lets with Blue Cheese Stuffed Date, Bacon wrap and Blue Cheese Sauce…IMG_3450Avocado and Arugula with 20 year aged BalsamicIMG_3478And finally our entrée. Smokey spiced rubbed Filet, with Chimichurri Sauce, Lobster Tail and Roasted Red Potato with Garlic Aioli

Dessert will be in a while, crepes with coffee ice cream and cookie crumble. Happy New Year everyone!

Blending Flavors

I failed to get back to my watercolor portrait today, but not without very good cause. I was very busy pursuing my other great passion, cooking. As an artist I enjoy using all kinds of medium, and for me cooking is another medium. Ingredients are like paint, blending together to create a work of art on a plate. I created a new recipe today. We were watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain in Spain the other night, and by the time it was over I was in a Spanish frame of mind. I love tapas, and unfortunately for us our favorite tapas restaurant in San Diego closed down. We loved going down to the Gaslamp Quarter and sitting at a sidewalk cafe, enjoying some small plates and a pitcher of Sangria while watching the world go by. Of course as most couples do, we would comment on the people walking past. (All in good fun, because we of course are perfect….back to the food…) I created a shrimp dish with Mexican chorizo for lunch. A lovely, rich, smokey sauce, and succulent shrimp dusted in smoked paprika, topped with a little fresh guacamole and chipotle mayo.  Dan gave me a lovely compliment, he said, ” When we watch Anthony Bourdain’s show and watch him eat in these great little restaurants, I always think, “I wish I could eat there.”, and today I did.” Brian loved the base of the dish, but isn’t terribly fond of shrimp. He suggested that he might like chicken instead. So off to the store with my friend Theresa, for a very fun afternoon of ingredient shopping. By four fifteen I was back at the stove and created a different version of the same recipe for dinner. This time a gumbo of sorts with chicken, Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo, with some chopped cilantro and green onion. My guys loved it, cleaned their plates and went back for seconds, actually Brian cleaned the pan as well. Now I just have to remember everything I put in there. I’ve made some great dinners over the years, telling my family to enjoy because they will never have it again. Some of the meals in this house are made from what’s in the fridge and a little kitchen wizardry. I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from painting, but cooking for the people I care about is good for the soul. There are honestly days when I think if I could go back in time and choose a career path to follow, I’m not sure if it would be cooking or art. I guess I’ll just have to continue doing both.




Not the portrait for tonight, but a watercolor. Just something pretty to look at.





A Plethora Of Pen

As a testament to how much I am enjoying the process of pen and ink, I did not one, but three sketches today, and all in I day where I wondered where I might find the time. I was cooking dinner for Brian’s birthday tonight, and as always it is the choice of the birthday boy/girl to decide what it is I will be cooking. Pastitsio, for those of you who are unfamiliar it is Greek lasagna. It can be complicated, and definitely time-consuming, but well worth the effort. Brian also doesn’t love cake and requested a French Silk Pie. Also a little complicated and time-consuming. Between the two I wondered where I might find time for art, but I did. First in the form of a homemade gift certificate, the second sketch while I waited for the base of my Pastitsio cream sauce to cool, and finally at the end of the evening when all was said and done, and everyone was groaning from the amount of food consumed (did I mention that I also made potato ravioli, with a brown butter Alfredo, crispy sage, and a little crumbled bacon?) We were sitting around the kitchen table talking, and I started to doodle. Sketch number three. So this is the part where I tell you all that this will be a very short blog tonight. I was on my feet all day, I ate too much, and I’m tired. This is one of those days when I forget just how old I really am. Lots of energy first thing in the morning, not so much energy by nine at night. Goodnight, I hope you like the work as much as I enjoyed creating it. And just to make you hungry, a photo of my pie.IMG_1465





A Worried Mind

Tonight was a struggle. I started and tossed aside several drawings, unable to find my artistic mojo. I spent the day on the phone with my sisters, our Dad is still having issues from the fall he had last month, in the last twenty-four hours he has been struggling with a great deal of confusion. In the end we discovered that he was suffering from several of the side effects from a new medication. I find myself again feeling frustration, guilt, and a tremendous amount of worry. It is frustrating not being near when my Dad is not well, and as I have mentioned previously my sisters are carrying a heavy load, I feel terrible that I am not there to help. When we made the decision to move to California we didn’t imagine what the future would and could hold. All of that worry got in the way of my creativity. As the evening wore on I tried several ideas, what I ended up with was a simple line drawing of a pot of flowers, and another quite small recycling project. Several weeks ago I had purchased some goat Brie cheese in a circular wooden container. When we were through I kept the container, it’s a bad habit of mine, again with the “I’ll do something with it” notion in the back of my head. As I was putting my pen away I saw the container, which is circular, and thought, “Man in the Moon”. I scanned it into my computer and added a few effects. Not sure what I’ll do with it, but it was fun and took my mind off things for a bit. My second passion, which is cooking, comes easy to me and relaxes me, so a photo of a small plate that we snacked on this evening.  Homemade pesto, peperonata, and sun-dried tomato pesto, with a goat/cream cheese mixture and some crostini. Delicious! Hopefully my Dad will be more himself tomorrow, and I can get back to work.8 31 (1)

8 31 (3)

8 31 (2)

A Word From Mother Earth

I know, I’m under no delusion that I am Mother Earth, but I am after all a mother, and I do indeed reside on Earth…Still in some pain from yesterday’s not so graceful mishap, but not so much that I couldn’t work. I did manage to put together the pieces that I posted last night. I love how all these cabinet doors are coming out. It proves that so much of the “garbage” we throw away can be put to much better use than to add to landfills. It really upsets me when I see trash thrown from car windows, or garbage from a picnic at the park left on the ground.  I know I’ve made it known that I’m a bit of a recycling freak. My favorite fact to share with people when I am trying to make my recycling point is that the energy saved from recycling one aluminum can, can run a television set for three hours. It’s something I read more than twenty years ago, and I assume it’s still true, but even if it isn’t, don’t we all have an obligation to the world at large to make it a better place? Years ago I gave my little factoid to a manager I worked for. He laughed at me. Then I asked him about his six, yes six, children, and didn’t he want to leave a better world for them? Chicago at that time was reporting less than twenty-five years of landfill space left. His answer was that it was their problem. Nice. I want my kids to have a decent future, actually I want his kids and everyone else to have a good future too. All it takes is a little effort. Lets all smile at each other, say please and thank you, and pick up your stuff. Easy enough and it makes life better for all involved. In other words, play nice! Can you tell I’m a mom?

So for tonight, another upcycled cabinet door, almost ready to hang, and I think it looks much better here than sitting in the garbage can. I’m also posting a little feast for the eyes, we had friends come by tonight for dinner. Baked Goat Cheese with a sun-dried tomato pesto jam that I made, a green salad, with blue cheese, Canadian bacon, tomato, and homemade Thousand Island Dressing, and mini cheese burgers with chipotle mayo, cheddar, grilled onion, and guacamole. Good food and good friends, it doesn’t get better than that.8 27 (3)Before…IMG_0869After…almost. I still have a little trim to add. The bottom is the back of an old chair piece I had, and I used a scrap of wood to make the shelf. Painted the whole thing out in a paint named “Misty Morning”.

Now for the food…first the Goat Cheese and jam, alongside a container of fresh herbs I cut from the garden, and the salad, I failed to get a good shot of the burgers, and the blueberry pie that finished the meal!IMG_0874IMG_0877


The Art Of The Plate

My only artwork for today happened in my kitchen. We actually started our day at 6:00 with a garage sale. Someone needs to remind me the next time I say I’m going to have a garage sale how much I hate it. After that a quick house cleaning, and then we had friends come for dinner. That’s where today’s creativity kicked in, handmade ravioli with ricotta, Parmesan, green onion and crispy pancetta, served with a brown butter sage sauce, with mixed greens dressed in a twenty year old aged balsamic and olive oil. Main course, macadamia nut crusted tilapia with mango purée, mango lime butter sauce, and pineapple salsa, served with rice and fresh asparagus. Finally for dessert, puff pastry crust, brushed with white chocolate, that had a touch of almond extract added, with pears, sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, and ginger, served with homemade vanilla sauce, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Have I painted a picture in your mind yet?

I actually did one small piece of art. One of my guests was my friend Emily. She is four and a half. I promised her an invitation to play would come in the mail. I started working on it as soon as she left. I may not have painted a masterpiece on paper tonight, but I definitely had a creative day. Back to the drawing board tomorrow.


7 277 27 1