Holiday Haze

Hi Everyone,

There are no deep and thoughtful thoughts today.  I am surrounded by Christmas chaos and a to do list depressingly long.   Winter has set in and my normally cheerful disposition sinks along with the temperatures.

Cold and gloomy, but trying to put on a festive face.

D. and I have been working long hours at his business.  I will have to admit to looking forward to the end of deer season in another month.  Next year he will be retired and hopefully the late night hours will not be so often.

I am pretty sure Amazon loves me this year and the UPS guy hates me.  There have been deliveries every day this week because I have neither the time or inclination to fight my way through stores for Christmas presents.  So far I have not had to step foot inside a single store and only plan for one quick stop to get gift cards this weekend.  That should be the end of the shopping!

I did get this guy finished this week. He doesn’t look terribly festive either.

Decorations have been pretty minimal too.  I got greenery up outside Thanksgiving weekend as well as the Christmas tree.  We have an artificial tree and over the years my son, along with my daughter, were chief tree builders.  I had to do it this year and realized just what a frustrating job it is.

Biggest accomplishment so far has been getting the Christmas tree up and sort of decorated.

Cooking is not happening at the moment either.  No time with all the hours at the shop.  Meals are generally soup and crackers.  Christmas goodies probably are not going to happen at all.  I hope to get our weekly pizza made tonight.  That may be this week’s highlight for food.

Next year I think I will put a note in my calendar to get the Christmas shopping done in July and cook plenty of meals to freeze well before the beginning of deer season.  Right now I feel like a squirrel who can’t find her nuts the day before a blizzard!

I have included a few of this week’s photos to break up this downer of a post.  Hopefully by next week’s post I will have wrangled in the chaos and will be in more cheerful spirits.

We are very thankful for finally get rain after two long months of drought. This was the sky after the rain left. Beautiful rain and beautiful sky.

We did wake up this morning, look out the kitchen window and find Bob the Houdini Horse staring in at us, wanting his breakfast.  Wish I had managed a photo of that!  Leave it to the crazy horse to give us a much needed laugh for the day.

Wishing you a calm, peaceful, organized week!

Advertisements

Creative drought

Do you hear that sizzle?  Smell smoke?  That’s my brain.  It’s fried.  Not much going on up there all week.

The emotional and social overload from last week mixed with several days of non-stop home remodel planning has left me in a small creative drought.  Because of my work as a designer I don’t really get the option of turning everything off, but luckily I haven’t had any heavy duty design challenges this week.  I can crank out business card designs in my sleep.

Thankfully this isn’t a creative desert.  Those are bad.  I just need a short break to focus on day-to-day routines and some mindless work to get back in the groove.

So what do I do when I find myself in a drought?  Strangely enough I usually find myself cooking.  Those near and dear to me find this amusing.  Why?  I don’t really like to cook.  That doesn’t mean I’m a bad cook.  No one goes running to Olive Garden when I pull out a skillet. They actually come home from distant lands and ask for my cooking and I have won a chili cook-off in my time.  I just do not enjoy having to feed myself or others every single day.

I have no idea why I find myself in the kitchen when the other creative outlets are blocked.  Maybe it is the visual enjoyment of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Maybe it is the chance to experiment with new recipes or flavors.  Beats me. Most of the time I resent the fact that I have stop what I am working on to feed myself!

Another drought buster is working in the dirt.  This doesn’t help much in the winter, but now that Spring is warming up and the plants need tending I am all in.  My favorite?  Weeding!  Yes, I’m crazy, but for some reason there is an instant gratification in yanking those suckers out by the roots (I worry myself sometimes). If you find yourself in a drought brought on by some anger issues this is the best.  Heck, it might keep you out of jail.  I know, I know, weeding is in the same category as laundry and dishes. They just keep coming back.  Tearing your clothes or breaking dishes in the throes of a meltdown is an expensive habit though.  Weeding is all good.  Your yard and garden look good, you have gotten a dose of vitamin D and exercise and you have extinguished some demons.  Ok, you might need a manicure afterwards. Is that a bad thing?

There.  I have given you a couple of options to combat creative blocks/droughts. Another is to go take a long hike.  Nature cures many ailments.

desert

But what if you find yourself in the Sahara Desert of creative blocks?  I have only had a couple, but those couple actually lasted years. They are very, very bad.  I feel your pain if that is where you are.  You crave a creative outlet.  You need to express something, but not a drop is coming out no matter how hard you squeeze.  You try to move forward but produce only the blandest most pitiful work.

I have only found two solutions. Time and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. They work together.  If you haven’t heard of The Artist’s Way go to Amazon and get it (no affiliate).  If you do creative work and you haven’t reached a desert yet, be prepared.  No, this is not a short cut out of the desert.  It takes time.  Most deserts are the result of serious life issues.  Sometimes it is an illness, bad relationship or tragic event.  Often they are a culmination of several such events at one time. You did not find yourself in the desert suddenly and you will not get out quickly.

Take the time to go through Julia’s program. It is a healing process and you need it. You will find out things about yourself you need to know. I do not recommend just waiting out the time in the desert.  I’m pretty sure Julia Cameron was put on this earth to write her book for us.  You don’t usually work through the issues just waiting. Often artists find themselves in a bottle of alcohol or pills when they try to wait this out.

So what am I going to do this weekend to end the drought?  Tonight is some quality fire pit/grilling/nature time.  Saturday we will be at my bonus daughter’s horse show most of the day with a little floor tiling prep and stall mucking time.  Sunday is supposed to be raining and that calls for a Sunday afternoon nap! I should be in good shape by Monday.

I hope you have a lovely drought free week.

Photo credit

And a little more education

Happy Halfway Through February!  If you read last week’s post you know that I do not like the month of February.  By now I am getting cabin fever and needing Spring badly.

I’m running behind today so this might be short depending on how my morning goes.  Last week I talked about how I seem to be using YouTube often to learn new things.  No tuition required!  That has been continuing into this week as well.  I have been studying how to install tile.  I will let you know how that goes in a few weeks. Prayers requested.

Here is a little watercolor painting I did last week. It is actually a jungle illustration.  I can show you the finished product in March.

Jungle background 2

What else have I done this week? Oh, I fixed one FABULOUS dinner with a honey sriracha sauce.

I IMG_2762have been leery of taking on Asian cooking since a seriously botched Chinese dish about a decade ago that my children still laugh about.  It was so bad that we actually ate grilled cheese sandwiches instead.

Something that has been increasingly on my mind is the state of our planet Earth.  I have no desire to get into the politics of the environment, and I am not a member of any environmental group, but my intuition is ringing loud and clear that we are very likely on the tipping point of saving or destroying ourselves.  I believe the Earth will recover from our selfishness and arrogance, but we probably will not.

My kids have called me their “hippy momma” forever because I have always been the recycling, vegetarian, food-growing kind of gal.  It just seems to be in my DNA to make my lifestyle as earth friendly as I reasonably can.  Not to say I can’t do better.  I am always looking for little tweaks to improve.  So, starting next week I am just going to add to my posts ways to make small lifestyle adjustments or pass along some information that might be a light bulb moment for someone to take action toward healing our home.

We can pass laws and clamor for corporations and governments to do something to stop ruining our earth, water and air, but it will still come down to human beings taking responsibility for their actions each and every day to stop the destruction of ourselves.  No more ignoring the signs of things to come.  Poverty and suffering are only going to get worse if we don’t clean up the water, air and dirt. I have no control over wars starting or ending and am not even sure that the vote I cast in an election counts, but each little effort I undertake at least makes my tiny minuscule drop in the ocean one better drop.

Aren’t I just a ray of sunshine today? Oh, go out and hug a tree.  You will both feel better.

Have a wonderful week!

 

Tomato soup anyone?

No, you are not on the wrong blog.  Yes, I have deviated a little from the artsy stuff, but still in the realm of creativity.  Cooking is creative, especially the way I do it.  There has never been a recipe that I could follow exactly.  Come to think of it I don’t follow patterns or instructions exactly either.  I digress.  Back to the soup.

You know all those garden pictures you have been seeing here? IMG_2225 August garden

This year’s garden has done well.  Only our corn did not make it into the freezer or jars.  Why was that you ask?  Because a marauding band of masked thugs attacked our cornfield and left in in ruin. raccoonsAfter jars and jars of plain tomatoes, tomatoes with garlic and basil, and salsa we were running out of ideas of what to do with all the tomatoes.  We still have many jars of spaghetti sauce left from last year.  We were beginning to contemplate how to make tomato dog food.  Then I remembered my favorite Roasted Tomato Soup recipe.  It takes some time to make, but it is SOOOOOO much better than the canned stuff in the grocery store and you know what you put in it!.  So here is my recipe for you to try.  You don’t have to can it like we did.  It took forever to do the canning, but I will thank myself in February when we have this with a grilled cheese sandwich and I am wishing I had all those fresh ripe tomatoes laying around.

Tomato soup

Just remember, I consider recipes as guidelines.  Taste this as you make it and add or subtract what you like.  Sometimes you need to add a little sugar if the tomatoes are really acidic.  Most of the time if you let it simmer for a couple of hours after you put it through the blender it mellows out, so wait before you add any sugar to see if you really need it.

Roasted Tomato Soup

2 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes halved, seeded, cored
1 med. onion cut into equal slices
2 garlic cloves
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 T olive oil
3 cups chicken stock (I use veggie stock)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place tomatoes, onion, garlic and thyme on foil covered baking sheet (use a deep one, these get very juicy), drizzle with olive oil and toss. Roast for two hours (I rarely go this long, less time doesn’t seem to make much difference).

Cool tomatoes, discard skins, put into stockpot (with garlic, onions and thyme) add broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Remove thyme and bay leaves and season to taste. Blend until smooth and creamy. Stir in cream if desired. Simmer 10 more minutes.

I usually make a small vat of the stuff and prefer basil instead of or in addition to the thyme. In the winter I usually use tomatoes I froze during the summer.

 

Raccoon photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/28994435@N05/10164296833″>Lake Merced 76</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;