My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

Life brings you joy, happiness, challenges, changes and a long list of other things. This last year I sold my beach house, got a divorce and could only afford a small older cottage. It is amazing how well we all can adopt.

So begins a new story in my life in a small waterfront town in Washington half a year, and in California the other half. The little house has literally nothing in the yard, but brush that people left for years under the trees. My gardener from my last house took out two full dump trucks full of yard waste and etc. I have spent a lot of time putting down beauty bark, and will slowly plant the garden. (not today) Friends have been generous with gleanings from their gardens, so I know in the long run it will be lovely and carefree! (In appearance, not maintenance)

The entire little house has been painted the brightest white available, and I would love to replace doors, trim and cabinets, but that is not in the budget at the moment. I cheated on the drawing, as the house is actually yellow, not my favorite color! So hopefully next summer we can paint it a nice dark gray.

Every day is a new and mostly fun challenge. Today I discovered who ever lived here waxed the ceramic tile floor. It was already kind of an ugly light pink, but it never looked clean. Today Clorox and a brush on my knees, and a metal scraper, helped it look a tiny bit better.

I serendipitously came to see my first love from college again about a year ago. His late wife was a sorority sister, a beautiful and smart woman whose Celebration of Life I attended. It was wonderful to see they had a wonderful life together. I guess I had always wondered how his life had gone. It was a beautiful celebration and I was so happy to know he had a good life and two wonderful children. It was amazing to reconnect with so many of my AX sorority sisters from fifty years ago.

Over time Reed & I talked and discovered, both being widowed there was still some magic in life. We are having a amazing time getting to know each other in our seventies. You never know what will happen in life.

With the wildfires and COVET 19 life is not simple for anyone. The air quality was so bad in Washington when I wrote this, I was not sure if it is even a good idea to go to my garage to paint. We are having strange times. I feel lucky to be sharing it with someone so positive, loving and laughing.

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

Red Meets Black!

In addition to sketching and doing a relatively impressionistic type paint, I love doing big abstracts. This one did not take much time, but just made me happy painting. I usually put on some great music and just enjoy the energy. Stacey Kent is my newest artist of choice. I was introduced to her music when staying a friend’s house. With all the fires going on in Washington, Oregon and California the idea struck me that the all the fury of the fires leaves behind the sadness of the blackened trees and lost homes.

This is fairly large at 48″ wide x 24″ tall.

Red Meets Black!

Love sketching

I was in Vacaville, California when the pandemic began and it was a time, when the big excitement of the day was going for a drive or sitting on the front porch having a glass of wine. I don’t sit still well, so got some pens and started sketching the neighborhood. My oil paints were still in Washington, so could not paint. (Won’t do that again). Here are some of the in house and neighborhood sketches done at that time.

I started with simple sketches around the house.

Beautiful roses in a vase. Probably should have added color. (Oh well)

Drew the house on the corner.

And the house across the street.

Then added color to the house on the corner across the street.

Another house right across the street

And added color

Drew a tree rose in the front garden

Drove back to Bainbridge where I drew my girlfriend’s flower pot. I moved to my little Port Ludlow Cottage and spent the next couple of months trying to organize and move in to the house.

My friend and I were out and about and stopped in Port Gamble in a newly opened wine bar for a glass and a charcuterie plate and I like the house so I took a photo on the way out and drew the house below. I had an extra frame, so I framed the house and dropped by as a gift to the owners.

Once in a while it is just fun to do a nice and unexpected gift!

Love sketching

Potato | Spinach Galette

2

Since I had already made the pie crust and there was enough for two, I thought a savory galette might be good.  I am staying with a friend while waiting for my new home to close escrow next week, and we both love to cook.  I was looking online and found a recipe for potato galette.  We have been trying to order our food online with the COVET 19 and she sort of accidentally ordered way too many potatoes.  So instead of nine potatoes, she received nine pounds of potatoes.  How to creatively use more potatoes.

Use the other half of the pie crust recipe that I made yesterday:

Ingredients:

 

3 cups (375g) Plain Flour (unbleached and unfortified)
2 tbsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

2 sticks (220g) of Butter
(small cold cubed)
1 beaten Egg mixed with
3/4 cup Milk (cold)

 

HOW TO PREPARE PASTRY:

  1. Mix flour, sugar & salt to evenly distribute the dry ingredients
  2. Add cold butter cubes with the flour mix and work with hands or pastry knives until it transforms into small pea-sized crumbs
    (Use cold utensils )
    3) Add egg and milk mixture till the mixture comes together
  3. Make a well with the flour crumbs mixture adding the egg and milk mixture in the well and lightly handling the mixture
    (do not knead)
  4. Incorporate all ingredients together to form a dryish dough
  5. Wrap it well with cling film & refrigerate for 1 hour
  6. Roll out the dough split it in half for two pie crust and roll it out bigger than the pie dish
  7. Fit the rolled out pie dough in the greased and floured pie dish making sure pie dough is press all around the crevices of the dish so it doesn’t sink in or collapse when cooking.
  8. Cut around the edge of the pie dish and refrigerate again for 20 before egg washing it and filling it with pie filling and cooking in the oven.
    Enjoy!

FILLING

2 potatoes ( I used Yukon) slice thinly with a Mandolin (1/8″ thick)

4 TB unsalted butter

1 Yellow onion ( I had half a red and a shallot) so used those

Bacon – you pick how much, but be cooked and cut up (Maybe 2 slices)

Spinach = (one big bunch) cooked down with garlic

1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano Shredded Cheese

Egg wash – one egg whisked with a little water

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons chopped chives

3 tablespoons white vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

Flaky salt, for topping

 

HOW TO PUT IT TOGETHER

  1. Directions

    1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 25 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
    3. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Working in batches, fry the potatoes, flipping once, until just tender and beginning to brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the potatoes to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain, then remove the paper towel. Sprinkle the potatoes with the chives, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine.
    4. Roll your pie dough out into a 13-inch circle and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Whisk the egg with a splash of water in a small bowl and brush it onto the dough, leaving a 2-inch perimeter. In the center of the dough, layer up the toppings in this order: half the onions, half the Parmesan cheese and then half of the potatoes, in a fanned even layer. Top with the remaining onions, remaining cheese, the other half of the potatoes and any additional chives or black pepper from the bottom of the pan. Brush the edges of the crust with egg and then fold them up around the potatoes. Brush the outside edges with egg and sprinkle with flaky salt.
    5. Bake until the pie crust edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the galette with the remaining tablespoon of vinegar before serving.
Potato | Spinach Galette

Painting and Puppy

Do they go together?

It has been a couple of weeks since I have been able to be in my studio.  Having a new puppy has not helped.  She is very cute but very busy!  Most days I truly wonder if a puppy really adds to your life or just wastes your time.  I don’t feel like you get much in return at this point in time.  She is finally old enough that she can be in my art studio when I am working but has to be in a crate or she would literally “eat” my artwork, as she eats everything else in path.

Just now I went to make another cup of coffee, but the barn door to the laundry room where I make my coffee got knocked off the track by the puppy and it is going to have to stay that way all day.  It is too heavy for me to life to put back on the track. The cat is locked in the laundry room but at least he has food and water and can get to his litter box and he has freedom from the puppy and I am mostly wishing I had freedom from the puppy.

Sunday when my husband was home and my youngest son visiting, I could finally put the puppy in the hands of someone else and go back to my studio to paint.

 

1.jpg

Last weekend I traveled to the Celebration of Life of one of my college sorority sisters in Vacaville.  It was a bittersweet experience.  It was wonderful to see many of my sorority sisters, but hard to share the passing of one.  It was dear to see her husband, as he was my first boyfriend in college before he met her.  It was so wonderful to see what a rich and full life they had together as they showed photos throughout the years of their long and happy marriage.  It made me feel so good to know what a wonderful life they had together.

The upbeat part of the trip was that I was lucky to spend some time with my oldest son and granddaughter.  We drove out the coast near Santa Cruz, where we took a wonderful and beautiful walk along the beach.  We walked through a farm that is open to the public with several older buildings and some historic sites.  The painting above is of one of the buildings that I photographed along our walk.

3.jpg   Here is the photograph that I painted.  I loved that it looked like one time it was loved, but now it was old and forlorn.  I took several photos of other buildings and think I may do a series of paintings of the area.

Yesterday it was cold and rainy and even though I should have gone to Urban Sketchers in the morning, I chose to try to spend it in my studio with my puppy.  It is funny, if I turn on a movie, she is like a little child and watches the movie without complaint, so I was able to paint the following piece from a photo I took in Poulsbo at the marina.

2.jpg

I am out to the studio again after I either go out to buy a coffee or I almost forgot I do have a French Press that is not locked in the laundry room.

Anyone want a very cute Aussie Kee that will eventually be a great companion for someone much younger?

Painting and Puppy

As the puppy grows

IMG_2081.jpgI miss my peaceful mornings.  Wake up when the sun rises, pet the cat at the top of the stairs, feed the cat, have a cup of coffee, read my email, put away the dishes, start the laundry.  Quiet and peaceful!

Mornings are not relaxing anymore.  I still wake up, but jump out of bed to make the pup does not make a mess.  Pet the cat a much shorter time at the top of the stairs.  Take the puppy out to poop.  Clean up poop and wash down kennel.  Come back in rain or shine and feed the cat as the dog jumps all over the place, carry the cat holding the tail out of the puppies reach so he can’t bite it.  Collect the dog dish and three different ingredients, to make sure the puppy has “good healthy poop”.  Puppy gets so excited she bangs my knee into the wall, so there is the second puppy bruise this week.  Feed puppy and immediately take her outside to do her duty for a second time.
OMG, I finally get to make coffee after I spray down the puppy pee.  Come back in to put away dishes and start daily laundry; hear a lot of noise in the laundry room and the puppy’s tail and back legs are all that can be seen by the cat litter door.  Pull out the puppy, close and fasten the door to the laundry room so she cannot get in, but the cat cannot get out. Poor cat, probably just had the poop scared out of him.  The cat has terrible mats in his fur for the first time in four years.  Called a groomer to come to the house and cut out the mats.  She said the cat is probably stressed.  It will be a mere $100 to groom the cat and we have to give him a sedative.
Pick up my coffee cup, so maybe I can have it slightly warm.  (Got to remember to use the thermal cup) . Coffee has cooled down, but as I walk to my office I notice another pile of poop in front of the guest bath.  Humm, the laundry door is closed so I cannot get paper towels.  Use toilet paper to clean up the mess.  Sterilize with cleanser and walk toward my office to read email and etc, and there are three more piles by the front door.  How much can any puppy poop and why three times in three different places?
I do not think this is the right way to start your day!  I love my puppy, but not so sure I love my life with a puppy.  Got to think about this.
Puppy is finally quiet.  Cat is locked in the laundry room.  I think I like my cat more than the puppy.
And another day begins…..
As the puppy grows

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).

1.jpg

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!

1.jpg

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

Art Classes

William Wrey.jpg

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.

IMG_1886.jpg

Here are a few of his paintings:

download.jpg  images.jpg .

   download-2.jpg .  download-1.jpg

                                                       images-1.jpg

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.

Boat block in.jpg

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.

Boat done.jpg

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

The Art of Turning 70 Years Old!

Turning seventy is a pretty big marker in your life, kind of like a “land-mine”.  You are there, it is the climax, as unfortunately, it is mostly downhill after 70, with health issues, brain issues and with what personally worries me the most: stamina!

As we go through life we make wonderful friends, have wonderful adventures and experiences, enjoy our family time and spend a lot of time working at some job to support our lifestyle and our hobbies, adventures, and family.  We live hectic busy lives racing from event to event, sport to sport, meeting to meeting and don’t realize we love it, till it is done and our children are grown and live elsewhere. But the memories and the joy of them remain.

I am lucky enough to have one beautiful granddaughter that spends time with me throughout the year, but does not live closeby; so I do miss the everyday experiences with her and regret she does not live closer.  Still, at eight we have a wonderful and loving relationship.

This year I decided to have a party for my Birthday, which I have not done since I was sixty and will not do again unless I turn 100. (But I will be too senile by then to know if I had one or not) . Ha Ha

My youngest son and granddaughter and I made seven types of sausage one summer day and ate the “go-betweens” for dinner.  That is called “not changing and cleaning the sausage stuffer between recipes”.  They were so good, my husband and I made two more kinds one night after he got home from work.  It was a lot of fun and over 100 sausages of all different kinds were made.

I had decided to have a 70th Birthday party, so sent out Evites and Emails to about 150 friends and family.  I used to have parties with my women friends when I was in my late forties and early fifties and single, and more than one hundred people would show up.  I would make the entree, and everyone would bring food and wine.  It was easy and great fun!  One year everyone had to wear red, so my whole house was a sea of red.  One year it was a “silly slipper” party and the best slippers won a price.  Invitations were mailed and each person could meet a friend.  We all made lots of new friends this way and had fun and lots of laughs.  I had expectations of this being the same for my 70th!

My dear friends of forty years came up from Del Mar for the celebration, and friends of fifty years came, even after recent back surgery.  Most of my book club, my Table Five Women’s group, and a variety of neighbors, ex-students and local friends came and we had a lovely evening.  But it was not the hundred or more that used to arrive.

Glam shortened 3

The Evite card had a photo of me at 30 saying the “Glamour is Gone”, but the party has just begun.   In many ways that is just not true.  I believe the quiet time of life has just begun.  Since I am no longer working, I awake when I desire. (not too late with new puppy) and enjoy my days painting, cooking and reading  (Seventy-five books last year and fifty-one so far this year). I no longer participate in Rotary or the local Chamber and interestingly enough only one person attended from those years of service.

This Birthday is the last of the big parties I will attempt to have.  We may be eating sausage for the next ten years anyway.  I so very much appreciate my friends that took the time to stop by and love the cards and several gifts.  I have come to the realization, that as our friends grow older, they travel more, spend time with newly extended families and do not respond to invitations.  In life, we are always learning. I love all the Birthday Greetings that I receive via Social Media and accept that Social Media is beginning to replace or attempting to replace meaningful relationships.

I remember when, before cell phones with contact lists, I had over a hundred telephones memorized and now I cannot even tell you those of my spouse or my sons without referring to my cell phone.  Email and text and messages via Facebook have replaced many happy phone calls and coffee dates with friends.  Thinking about this I wonder what it will be by the time I turn eighty?

70th Birthday girl .jpg

None of this is a complaint!  It is a realization that life changes as we age.  Our families live all over the world.  Our friends are busy with their families traveling all over the world to stay close to them. My summer birthday date sends people to weddings and the births of grandchildren; the last hurrah of good weather for those traveling in this area and people so much on the go there is not enough time for everything.

I had really wanted to just go to Ireland, but that was not in the cards.  From now on I am going to be traveling on my birthday and enjoying it.  No more weeks of prep for a party or a day or two of clean up afterward.  I am accepting that I am too old and too dang tired.

I have always been lucky in life that I have wonderful friends and I intend to keep them close and love them more than ever, but I am going to put “me first” for once and save my money and travel and paint.

So Happy Birthday to Me and thank you to all my family and friends for making it wonderful!!!

 

 

 

The Art of Turning 70 Years Old!