March 30, 2012

Inspiration: Nature

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." - John Muir

I'm craving Nature at the moment and the peace and serenity it offers. N and I have been contemplating camping these past few months. It's not something we've done before, but it seems like Mother Earth has been calling to us recently and asking us to take relief under her shady trees and rest among her glorious sounds. We haven't yet answered her and until we do, I'll settle on stepping out the back door and breathing in as much fresh air as I can. 

image credit: Reclining Woman, Will Barnet, 1978, via here

March 28, 2012

Handmade: Downton Abbey Card

My lovely mother had a birthday this month and I decided to incorporate her love of Downton Abbey into the card I made for her. I used these Downton Abbey paper dolls from Vulture to create it - very handy since my drawing skills are less than stellar. Since her card was Downton Abbey related, you know her present had to be as well - Season 1 & Season 2 plus the gorgeous coffee table book all in custom polka-dotted wrapping paper I painted myself!

March 26, 2012

Weekend Snapshots

This weekend was especially good. I don't know if it was the gorgeous weather or the fun artsy activities or just the fact that I was able to really relax for the first time in what seems like ages, but it was GOOD my friends. I did my best to capture some of the weekend's greatness with my camera phone.

We took a jaunt over to Laguna Gloria to walk around the grounds and see some gorgeous lake views. We especially liked the male peacock we spied up in a tree. He was gorgeous - the most indescribable peacock blue I've ever see!

We also headed over to the Blanton Museum of Art specifically to check out their Hudson River School exhibition, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed their Go West! exhibition. N particularly like the more contemporary art where he was better able to study some of the painterly technique and brushstrokes the artists employed. 

Saturday evening, I was fortunate to attend a performance by Ballet Austin of Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project with my wonderful mother. The performance was jaw-dropping - intensely powerful and beautiful - I came out of there with a sort of different view on life.

The rest of the weekend was spent outside enjoying the gorgeous weather - taking Lily for walks in the park and spending lots of time on our back deck under the umbrella reading, dining al fresco and watching the birds. As N put it: enjoying la dulce vita!

image credits: all images by me; except the Ballet Austin Light photograph which is by Amitava Sarkar & Hannah Neal from the Light/Holocaust & Humanity Project website.

March 22, 2012

Photography: On Nature, Old Cars & Tractors

While in Oklahoma last month, I had the chance to walk around and take some photographs on our friends' property. They live out in the woods in what N dubs "the treehouse" and they have a lot of cool subject matter all around: from nature itself to old cars and an antique tractor. Here are some of my favorite shots:

March 19, 2012

Eats: Simple Scones

I made these scones this weekend; mostly because N and mine's teas obsession has reached new heights (who doesn't want tea and scones? Together they are heaven!) but also because I've been wanting to try my hand at making my own scones. This recipe for Sweet White Scones adapted by Martha Stewart from Petersham's Nursery that Emma posted on her blog, The Marion House Book, was simple, delicious and really quite dreamy topped with strawberry preserves. I actually halved the recipe so we wouldn't end up with an abundance of scones with no one to eat them all and they turned out just perfect.

Sweet White Scones 
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart and Petersham's Nursery

3 1/8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
Pinch of salt
1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 heaping tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons (3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
3 large eggs
just under 1 cup plus 1 tablespoons milk
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, superfine sugar, and baking powder. Make a well in the center and add butter. Using your fingers, work butter into flour mixture until a crumbly mixture is formed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and milk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead lightly and shape into a round. Roll dough out until it is 1 inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out scones and transfer to prepared baking sheets.
In a small bowl, beat remaining egg and brush the top of each scone; sprinkle each with granulated sugar. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake until golden brown and cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer scones to a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.

Yields approximately 12-14 scones.

March 16, 2012

Glimpses of Spring: Bluebonnets

Bluebonnet season is a known affair here in Texas. If it's March, you can be sure to see families stopped on the side of almost any highway (exception being I35 of course) taking photos in the bluebonnets. Last September, on a whim, I opened a packet of bluebonnet seeds and emptied them in our back yard in the poorest soil we have (they're known for growing in poor soil).

Lo and behold, I spied just a few sprouting to life the other day! A surefire reminder that Spring is here!

March 14, 2012

Inspiration: Duality of Life

"Experience life in all possible ways — good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more 
mature you become.Osho Rajneesh

When life gets crazy and heavy and seemingly hard, it's easy to find oneself consumed and overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what's wrong. One can easily forget that where there is darkness, there too is light. And the more one experiences, both good and bad, the more one grows. Just a little reminder to myself and anyone else who could use it. 

image credit: Abend Am Bodensee - Otto Dix, 1955 via Cave to Canvas

March 12, 2012

Handmade: Yeehaw He's Here Card + Care Package

My dear cousin had a baby boy a couple of months ago, and I've been meaning to send a little something to welcome the little guy into this world for some time now. I finally got my stuff together last week and put a little blue package of love together for them. I found them the cutest cowboy sippy cup at a boutique on our trip to Lockhart and I used it as my inspiration for the card. Thankfully, Easter is almost here so there was a plethora of blue candy in the store that I put in cellophane bags and tied up with blue string. I also put in some gold chocolate coins for good luck and fortune and for fun, I threw in a little race car wind up toy! I hope they enjoyed receiving it as much as I enjoyed putting it together for them!

March 9, 2012

Of the Moment: On Silent Films

At the moment, I'm loving...

This movie and in particular its focus on Georges Melies; the recreation of some of his movies scenes was just magical and the repetition of the iconic Moon with a rocket in its eye brought me back to my first art history class.

This article in The New Yorker, exploring the lost art of silent acting. Especially this bit on Greta Garbo, as described by Roland Barthes after attending a revival of her films in Paris and experienced as viewers in the 1920s would have:

Garbo still belongs to that moment in cinema when capturing the human face still plunged audiences into the deepest ecstasy, when one literally lost oneself in a human image as one would in a philtre, when the face represented a kind of absolute state of the flesh, which could be neither reached nor renounced. 

Oh to have experienced a film like that; there could be no words to describe it! And the bit about Bela Balazas describing the cinema as rebirth of the human in art and praising silence as necessary for its highest achievement:

The gestures of visual man [i.e., the film actor] are not intended to convey concepts which can be expressed in words, but such inner experiences, such non-rational emotions which would still remain unexpressed when everything that can be told has been told.

Whoa, it just blew me away. I think it's time I start taking a second look at silent films. 

Image credits: here; here; here

March 6, 2012

A Little Small Town Charm

We had some friends come in town this past weekend and we took a little trip down to Lockhart for some small town charm and some good 'ole BBQ. N and I had never been down there before, but had always heard good things, so it was about time we made out there. Their downtown is charming and the BBQ ain't too shabby either!

March 1, 2012

Photography: P is for Perfect Ending

Day 30. I suppose technically I'm braking the rules, because I took this shot last week, and not today, for my final photo. But really, it's the perfect photo for me to finish this project with, because without having participated in Souvenir Foto School, I wouldn't have maniacally pulled off the road at 50mph to capture this sight. I think that offsets the fact that I'm bending the rules here.

It was serendipity, this sunset moment, and bitter sweet at the same time. With an unexpected and sudden passing in our family, we headed straight up to Oklahoma to be with family and celebrate a wonderful person's life. Driving along a long country road, we couldn't help noticing how beautiful the sky was, tinged with purple and orange. I knew there weren't going to be many sunsets like the one we were experiencing and I frantically searched for a place to pull off the road so I could try to take some pictures. We finally happened upon a church, of all places, and pulled into its drive. When we parked, we saw the most amazing sight: a small hill overlooking a pond reflecting the most magnificent sky I've ever laid eyes upon! N and I stood there in quiet awe as we silently gave thanks for each other and for this life.

I took so many pictures, not only to capture the beauty to share with others, but to be able to hold onto that moment and that feeling. It was a tough decision to pick just one of the photos; to me, they all represent the perfect ending to a February full of challenge and growth, ever-changing in color, composition and pattern.

Handmade: Birthday Bunting Card

Here's one of the latest cards I've made. It was for my lovely mother-in-law, Jean, for her birthday. I thought lots of fun color was just what was needed to add to the celebration!


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