Jambalaya

Jambalaya has its origins in several rice-based dishes well attested in the Mediterranean cuisines of West Africa, Spain, and France, especially in the West African dish Jollof, the Spanish dish Paella (native to Valencia), and the French dish known as Jambalaia (native to Provence).

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I combined a couple of recipes and added a few ingredients of my own.  I didn’t have chicken but would have added that to enhance the flavor. I love shrimp and would have added it at the end, but my husband does not eat it.

Ingredients:

2 TBL olive oil (EVOO)

1 pound sausage ( I used mild Italian that I made)

1 onion (chopped)

1 red or yellow bell pepper (chopped)

3 stalks celery (sliced thinly)

3 garlic (chopped)

2 TSP Cajon seasoning

1 TSP oregano ( I prefer fresh)

Pinch of Cayenne

1 TSP Scallions (white part) and save the green and slice for serving

14 oz chopped tomatoes with chili

Beef stock ( one container) I used homemade chicken stock

2 cups cooked rice

1 cup of okra (fresh or frozen-thawed)

Add some shrimp if you like it

  1.  Sauté chicken in olive oil until cooked and the sausage is lightly browned.  Set aside.
  2.  Sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery,  and garlic until soft.
  3. Add rice, liquids, and seasonings.  Add the cooked rice, chicken (or beef) stock, crushed tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, oregano, cayenne, and bay leaf.  Give everything a good stir.
  4. Cover and cook.  Then cook for 20 minutes, being sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so (to prevent burning) until the rice is nearly tender.
  5. Add the okra and shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until the shrimp is pink and opaque.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper (add Cajun seasoning, if needed).
  7. Serve warm.  Garnished with green sliced scallions and enjoy!
Jambalaya

Sausage & Chicken Soup

Since we have a lot of sausages leftover from my birthday, I am attempting to find creative ways to use it, so we don’t get tired of it or waste it. This soup was rich and very delicious and I would definitely make it again.  Add a little crust of bread for dipping and it is a wonderfully easy dinner.  You could add a little rice or pasta of preference if you need more substance to your meal.  I used all low-sodium products to make it healthier than the original recipe.  I threw a little shave Parmesano Reggiano on top, but I do that to a lot of dishes.   Enjoy this Fall soup!

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Ingredients

 to Add all ingredients to list

Direction

  1. In a stockpot or Dutch oven, brown sausage with garlic. Stir in broth, tomatoes and carrots, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in beans with liquid and zucchini. Cover, and simmer another 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
  3. Remove from heat, and add spinach. Replace lid allowing the heat from the soup to cook the spinach leaves. Soup is ready to serve after 5 minutes.
Sausage & Chicken Soup

Tarta de Santiago Recipe – Spanish Almond Cake

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An authentic recipe for the Spanish Almond Cake found on the Camino de Santiago.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Gluten-Free

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (1 3/4 cups) whole almonds, preferably blanched
  • 6 large eggs separated
  • 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 drops almond extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Instructions

  • Finely grind the almonds in a food processor.
  • With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a smooth pale cream. Beat in the zests and almond extract. Add the ground almonds and mix very well.
  • With clean beaters, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the egg and almond mixture (the mixture is thick, so you will need to fold it quite a bit).
  • Grease an 11-inch springform pan, preferably nonstick, with butter and dust it with flour or spray with cooking spray. Pour in the cake batter, and bake into a preheated 350°F for 40 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch. Let cool before turning out.
  • Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Or, if you like, cut a St. James Cross out of paper. Place it in the middle of the cake, and dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar, then remove the paper.

Notes

Stencil the top of the cake using the traditional cross symbol of Saint James.
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Tarta de Santiago Recipe – Spanish Almond Cake

Dog Eats Books

All my life I have loved to read and collect books.  My cookbook and art book collection is dear to me and I refer to them often.  Apparently, they not only look good but taste good to our new puppy.  I have learned in the last couple of weeks if you do not hear puppy activity and the puppy is not within eyesight, the puppy is into ‘no good’.  As I mentioned in my last dog blog, we blocked off the entire living room, with its tempting bookshelves, my grand piano, area rug, and fabric chairs, but in my office design books are on a couple of low shelves.  I try to let the puppy be with me in the office, but if the jingling of her bell is silent, I know the teeth are active. (or she is peeing or pooping)

This morning, sitting quietly in my office and reading email, I noticed the silence. Time to do the “house tour” to discover the whereabouts of ms. puppy.  First walkabout reveals lovely new piles or gifts by the front door and several runny ones on my tile. What a great to start your day, but at least I had time for a coffee after taking her outside, feeding her, feeding the cat and hosing down the outside.  Oops, better go outside as I forgot to hose down the outside.

Did I mention while taking the puppy out for her first visit to the outside kennel, a bald eagle flew over my head about twenty feet above, luckily with a salmon about half the size of the eagle in its talons.  I did realize that the puppy is finally almost too big to be considered good eagle meals.  Yippee ~ yard time.  Oops, the yard is not effectively fenced.

Second quiet time walkabout finds puppy gleefully chewing on one of my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbooks that I had in with the design books on the lower shelf in my office.  It now has lovely teeth marks on the corner with a couple tabs missing, but it is still usable.

So now the bottom shelf is sprayed with Lavender oil, as apparently, puppies do not like the smell.  While spraying the shelf, I notice once again the jingle of puppy is not heard. Ah, the door to upstairs is open and the puppy is exploring the upstairs bedroom, which is not allowed as the floor is carpeted.

Quiet time for a moment, as the puppy is asleep by the gate to upstairs, the cat is hanging out adding hair to the top of a chair in the gated living room and I have a moment to add to this blog.

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When I started my blog, it was about interior design, art, and cooking.  Bringing a puppy into a house changes all the dynamics of not only your home but your life.  I never thought the above sprayer would be the dominant accessory in our home.  I have seven of these in strategical places throughout the main floor.  The puppy likes to growl and attack your leg or pant leg, whichever is more convenient. The puppy does not like water sprayed on its face, so not only are these on many tables, I carry one in hand for protection from the growing monster.

On the other hand, I never imagined my personal residence overtaken by puppy gates, chew toys, spray bottles and fences.  I do love the “little monster”, but right now I am not sure how much I like the changes it has brought into my life.  I have not been in my art studio since we brought her home, other than to clean it and get it ready for guests.

My friends keep telling me all this will pass. I would like to take a break today and sit in my favorite reading chair by the fireplace downstairs, but the puppy at the cord to the lamp.  Think I’ll go for a car ride (with the puppy in the crate) so I have a little quiet time.

Dog Eats Books

The Quiet Teacher

David Marty is a local to our area artist that teaches two-day classes in Edmonds at The Cole Gallery and sometimes once a week for six weeks on Bainbridge Island at The Winslow Art Center.  I have taken four classes from his so far with two in Edmonds and two on Bainbridge.  It is always interesting to see the level of the painters at the two different environments.  In Edmonds, there are usually a couple artists that are quite accomplished blended with more with little or no experience. I always learn at least one tidbit that helps to improve my own paintings.  Bainbridge classes are often comprised of many of the same artists that I have taken other classes with, and most all have been painting for several years.

Dave’s work is not quite as loose as some other Plein Artists, but it is always beautifully done. Coming from an illustrators background, his drawing is always “right-on'”. I have improved my drawing skills taking his classes and doing Urban Sketching with a group on Bainbridge Island.

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In David’s classes the entire class paints from the same photograph.  It is so interesting to watch throughout as the artists turn the photographs into beautiful paintings.  If you were to look at the finished pieces you realize just how differently people see. I love watching the artistic process as many of the pieces transform as they are painted.

In the classes on Bainbridge, we were always given a homework assignment to work on at home and bring for critique the following week. Painting Class 1.jpg

This was the first piece we worked on in class.  David would do a demo in the morning, then we all painted the rest of the afternoon and put up our work for a critique at the end of the session.  This class was to work on water receding in the distance.  I walked away content with this piece.

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The second was a scene of a lake and the challenge was to show the lilies on the surface without making it look speckled.  The one above is mine.

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We next worked on the reflections and lighting in this lake scene.

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This was painted from a photo with a row of flowers.  I did not love the photo, so I reversed it in Photoshop and added a little girl picking the flowers in the front.  Once finished I thought and think it looks a bit trite.

Then we started painting a couple of roads, which I thought was great fun. Painting Class 5.jpg

I can always tell when I enjoy the topic we are painting, as I most likely will be happy with the result.

 

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How to make a wall of trees look interesting was a challenge and it was a homework assignment.  I did feel this was successful as it has variety and keeps your interest.   David never says anything negative about your work, but makes quiet thoughtful suggestions on what might improve it.

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Making rocks look like rocks is always a challenge and how to get the right color, so they look real but beautiful at the same time.  This was hard to capture, but I think it reads as rocks.

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Another road with the task of making the road appear beautiful and interesting while receding believably into the background.

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Painting the Night Scene of a city was fairly new to me.  I went with a little whimsy and fun and more abstract than real.  David liked how I did the lights in the background and thought he might change his to a little more like mine.  Boy, did that make me smile.

 

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We all painted “The Red Barn”.  Growing up on a farm, I have always been attracted to barns and have painted several over my life as an artist.  This is a small 8 x 10 inch with a bad glare in the photo, but it was fun doing.

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Homework assignment to paint clouds.  The tidbit I learned from this exercise is that clouds are always parallel to the earth at the bottom, so they are flat at the bottom.  Not my favorite painting, but it was a very simplistic photo.

 

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The homework assignment was to capture the clouds in a painting from a photo of the clouds.  Mine was a good as anyone else in the class, but nothing I would try to sell.

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Everyone in the class liked this, but I sanded it down and repainted the canvas.  The wave looked more like a ledge than waves to me.

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Beach walkers One.

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Beach walkers Two.  I did not like the first rendition, so I painted it a second time.  Not sure that I like either of them.

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From the sea, we moved to snow scenes.  I painted the one on the left in class, but it left me feeling unsuccessful, so I painted the one on the right.  It is a fun exercise to paint the same photo more than once and in slightly different styles.

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With the next homework assignment of snow, I painted the first horizontally and the same scene vertically.  Working on composition helps you see the same thing in a different manner.

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I brought in a photo I found online of Port Gamble, so we all had a take on this.  Port Gamble.jpg

In this case, I have the photo and thought it might be fun for you to see my translation of the photo.  I left out the tree in the foreground.  I do love the mist of the photo and feel at least I captured the essence of the mist.

 

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We were to paint this stream for homework.  Often when I look at a photo, I wonder what would be the best way to try to make this come to life.  When David showed his homework, it was mostly in browns, and I must admit that his rendition was more appealing than my greener version.

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One of the students brought in a photo of Madronas on her property, and while they are lovely, it was a test of sorts to make an interesting painting.

 

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Here is the photo. 2.jpg

First version

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Finished version adding more darks.  I often do not go dark enough, so this was a great lesson in contrast.

The next class I took from David was at Cole Gallery and the class was about learning to paint moving water and how to draw your eye to the water.

 

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I was pleased with the first painting but got my reflections off on the second.

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This was the final painting in that particular class.  I do see water and color in a different way than before, and everyone in the class liked this painting.  I am not so sure that painting just water is my favorite.

Every time I do take a class with Dave, I learn at least one thing.  I enjoy watching how he holds his paintbrush to achieve the look he desires.  Every stroke is thought out and it important.  There is not scrubbing!

The Quiet Teacher

The Man From Australia

My last class, and probably the last one I will take for a while was from a well-known and respected artist from Australia.  Colley Whisson came to teach a four-day class at The Winslow Art Center and people from all over the country came to take the class.  He was funny and told great stories and talked a lot!  And talked a lot, but taught a lot too!  He paints a wide variety of topics and creates beautiful paintings from very simple photos.

The first day he did a demo for most of the morning and into the afternoon.  We were then given a photograph of the painting he had previously done from the same photo.

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It was a very simple beach scene which did not seem exciting, but using the brush strokes he showed us and the limited palate, I was very pleased with my finished piece.  I think I was one of few in the class that he did not “touch” my canvas.  He made one suggestion but seemed to like my work.  (Yippee!!!)

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Day two was an old cabin and it was interesting to see in a class of twelve or more that were no two even similar.  Mine featured the smallest cabin. Once again, he did not jump in and work on my painting and made one or two suggestions.  This is a small canvas and I liked using a larger brush than I had in the past.

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Day three after the morning demo he set us free on copying his painting.  Other than saying I should move the chicken or the fountain, he seemed to like my work.  He did make one perspective change that was right-on.  I am getting used to using the bigger brush and like the look.  I would never have selected this view to paint, but I think it turned out pretty fair.

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The fourth and last day we painted Plein Aire in the garden that used to belong to a friend of mine. I had not been in the garden since she sold the home after her parent’s passed away within months of each other.  It is a whimsical and beautifully lush garden.  As I walked in, I loved the contrast of the blue pot in the distance and the bright pink flowers close-up.  After I came home and looked at a photo I had taken and what I had painted I darkened the background for more contrast.  At his suggestion, I added more paint in the foreground and I think the effect is quite positive.

Colley is an excellent teacher that does beautiful paintings and makes his living selling his art in Australia.

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I love the simplicity of his work along with the beautiful brushwork.  One thing he said that will now remain a constant in my work going forward is that you need to have a quiet space to contrast the brushwork.  Brilliant~

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Simple composition with beautiful colors and brushwork. And I really do not like blue, but like the work overall.

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I call this elegantly simple, but fascinating.

 

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As you can see from the four examples I shared of his work, it is colorful, but controlled and beautifully painted.  I would definitely take his class another time. There were many little jewels that I learned from this master artist.

The Man From Australia

Paleo Sausage & Cauliflower Casserole

1.jpgIngredients

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 oz. Italian sausage, casings removed

1 medium yellow onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

4 sprigs thyme

1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup almond flour

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the cauliflower florets to the pot and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the florets with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook for 8-10 minutes until browned, using a spoon to break into small pieces. Stir in the onion, garlic, and thyme. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the tomatoes and juices to the pan and cook for 5 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Remove the skillet from heat and carefully stir in the cauliflower. Transfer the mixture to a 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with almond flour. Bake for 20 minutes, and then turn the oven to broil and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Garnish with parsley to serve.
Paleo Sausage & Cauliflower Casserole

Take the right class

One of the other classes this summer was given by an artist that paints in oil, but more successfully in watercolor. When I arrived at the class I realized everyone else taking the class was painting watercolors.  I do Urban Sketching and luckily had my kit in the car, so I could do watercolor. It was NOT why I was taking the class.  It was an expensive class and I had to drive an hour each way to attend.  I only attended two of the four days.  I think I learned everything I could the first day.

The class was about painting moving water, so we were drawing from printed the examples on the first day.  I quickly learned it was a very beginning class and many of the students had very little drawing experience, let alone watercolor experience.  They had a lot of drawing equipment, but not educated skill.

The teacher had, as many do, sent out an extensive list of supplies with several new (to me) oil paint colors.  So I had to find the colors quickly and $$$$ before the class.  I did not use even one of the colors required and more than that the use of these color combination was never discussed or explained.  The teacher was a lovely talented lady and I enjoyed talking with her but did not enjoy the scattered and unorganized class.

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In this small watercolor, we were to work on the direction the flow of the water, by bringing the edge over the top and puddling it at the bottom.  That was the extent of what I learned in class.  The next day we went to a local park to paint moving water, but there was no moving water.  There was a rather stagnant pond. I did a small watercolor of it but did not like the result, so put it in the “not to be shared” file, otherwise known as the trash can or round file. gaz.jpg

Later in the day, I did the little gazebo by the water, but there was nothing new it this either.

I will continue to admire Julie Gilbert Pollard’s work, but what she does versus what she teaches are two different things.  I would have loved to have learned how to use the new colors that I bought for the class.  I will never take a class that attempts to teach both watercolor and oil painting as the approaches are the complete opposite.  In oil painting, you generally start with the darks and in watercolor painting, you add them last.  2.jpg

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The other thing in signing up for a class, find out the experience of the other class members overall.  If there are a lot of beginners in the class they are “time hogs’.  They don’t mean to be, but they just want to learn so much more.

I have taken classes taught by the same teacher at different locations and discovered when most of the class is beginning, you don’t walk away with nearly as much new information.  The other “light goes off”, was that every artist thinks that their way is the best and sometimes the only way to do art.  Keep in mind there are a lot of different ways to come to a beautiful painting.

Take the right class

Art Classes

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William Wray is a very talented artist and came from Los Angeles to teach at The Winslow Art Center this summer.  Signing up for the class, which was quite expensive, I was hoping to learn how to take my more impressionistic painting to a more edgy look, but it was a class about extreme basics and blocking, which is always a good refresher, but not what I was hoping to learn.

The first morning of class, he announced that there was no democracy in this class. We were to do as he required.  I commented that right now in the world, we don’t really know what a democracy is anyway, so it did not really matter.  Not so sure he liked my comment.

We spent three days working on 2″ x 3″ drawings and if he and only he approved of our drawing, we could move on to painting in two colors.  Middle of the day on the first day, he reviewed one of my drawings of a gas station and comment:  “That is about a B+”.  Considering he had not said anything to any of the other drawings in the class, I just commented back: “Well, that would be the lowest grade I have gotten in the last twenty years.”   I complete my Ph.D. at 62 with a GPA of 3.85 having gotten a couple of A-‘s, but no B’s.    He was no sure what to think of my comment.  I felt it was a little “macho” at the time and at this point in my life, I am not out to impress anyone.

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Here are a few of his paintings:

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I was attracted to the etherial rawness of his work and hoped to be able to learn from a person I considered masterful.  I walked away with a couple of new ideas, a few new artist’s works of whom I was unaware, but I did not feel the class brought any real “ah ha’s”.  I could have learned as much studying his work.  The technique was not shared.  This is the only class I have taken where I actually think the narcissism of the artist got in way of actually teaching students anything new.

There were several successful professional artists in the class.  I wondered what they felt about the experience, as it was more of an experience than a learning environment.  I did not save any of the small tonal works that I did as I did not like them, and did not feel I learned much new from them.  I was frustrated in the class.

Our first day out Plein Aire painting, I could not find anything that looked remotely interesting to paint in our 2″ x 3″ block.  He came to talk to me and asked me how I reacted to classes I hated in high school or college.  I told him, the problem was that I loved my classes and loved learning.  The only thing in high school that upset me about a class was the time I spilled acid on a new pair of shoes and ruined them.   I didn’t mention the one class I had to drop in college as I stayed out all night partying rather than studying for a test.

I was being sarcastic, as I felt it had nothing to do with painting and irked me a bit.  I started not to attend the last day of class, but it was by the marina and I love the water and boats.  My first drawing and painting, which I did not save was of a “floating” dock.  He came by and said my perspective was off.  I told him the dock had moved.  For some reason, he had not noticed that the dock was not stationary and moved with the tide.  I just laughed.

Later that day, I sketched a little tug-like boat at the dock. and he said it was “ok” to paint.  IMG_1887.jpg

So first we had to do a “block-in” using only three values.

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Then we could actually put the painting on a 6″ x 8″ canvas.  Mine is below.  It is certainly not one of my favorite works, but it was on par with other work in the class.

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Conclusion:     Find out how and what the teacher is going to teach and don’t bother taking classes that only go over basics if you do not need that level of instruction.  Don’t take too many classes in a close time frame, as it is only and always confusing.  My lessons of classes grew my credit card bill and didn’t expand my knowledge as much as I would have desired.  I can see improvement in my painting, but it was only from a couple of the classes.

Art Classes

It is an official “Puppy Take-over”

My house is no longer the serenely lovely home by the sea.  It is a maze of puppy cages, toys, and protective barriers.  The cat now has to eat behind the barrier in my living room and my home has the essence of Lavender, as puppies apparently do not chew where you spray Lavender.  Or I only hope it has a Lavender scent and not something else.

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The puppy, known as Coco, loves to tug and pull on the corners of my living room chairs and thinks my grand piano legs need resculpting.  So here we have a very short (17 feet) barrier, which gives the cat a safe place to leave cat hair.

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As you enter our once rather, kind of elegant front door, you are now greeted by the small dog kennel, where Coco goes when your patience has neared an end.  This happens more when there is more than one person in the house, as she gets too excited.  The kennel is filled with at least $100 worth of toys and chews, and a water bowl.

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Venturing out onto our once scenic back deck is another “station” for puppy break time.  Sometimes she loves to sit here and count the birds and other times she howls till you shamefully let her back in so she can annoy you.

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Moving on in the yard is the “Poop Training” kennel, where you run down the stairs and out to the yard every time she sits by the back door.  But she doesn’t always give you the warning gesture and we should now own stock in paper towels and toilet paper.  Luckily now she only has access to wood and stone floors.  Before we put up the seventeen-foot barrier, our living room area rug was her favorite depository. I never did love that rug, so hoping it might see it’s demise and have to be replaced.  Ha Ha

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In my what used to be organized in my laundry is the sleeping crate, where she does finally sleep through the night and finally “makes” it through the night.  There is another one of these crates in the back of my Mercedes for travel.  As I attempted to put the divider up between the back and the seats, where she stayed happily and peed.  Luckily the area was already protected with a rubber mat, so cleaning was relatively easy, but I did have to leave all the windows open to air out the smell.

Like the kennel in the back yard, there is a matching one that is a bit taller for the garage, for if and when we dare to have company.

 

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Then, there is that moment, and it only takes a moment when you are trying to work in your office and the knawing you here is not that yummy stick that you bought hundreds of, but the even yummier molding that just might have to be repaired.

Better yet is the collection of spray bottles and etc, that are now on the counter in the Laundry Room. Must be prepared in the event of another happy chewing event!  There is additionally the spray bottles throughout the house to stop Coco from chasing you and growling and attempting to rip your pants off your body at you try to walk through your formerly peaceful house.

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And don’t forget the dog bed that is more of a toy than a bed, as it mysteriously moves throughout the house.  It started out under my desk after I moved the printer, so she would not eat yet another set of cords.

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And the look that says “You Love Me” and I am worth it.

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It is an official “Puppy Take-over”