Friday, February 29, 2008

Beautiful Things

Hello all!

I have not been feeling so good these past few days. I finally discovered after much pain, worry and uncertainty that I have a salivary gland infection. I can tell you of all the things I expected to hear, that wasn't one of them - I've never even heard of it! Anyhoo, I'm on anti-biotics to become biotic free, which has less than lovely side-effects which are haunting me at the moment. So to get my mind off of pain and nausea, I wanted to share a few beautiful things that I would buy were I rich. Dreaming about things is almost more fun than actually getting them. I think one of the worst feelings in the world is not wanting not being hungry. Of course, hunger only works as a good feeling if you have the reasonable hope of getting food :) So, were I richer than I am today, here is something sweet and pretty from doe san francisco I would buy:

Isn't that so preeeeety? It makes me want to fill it with rich, handmade hot chocolate and take it on a sumptuous picnic. I would put it in this basket from Williams Sonoma, and find a peaceful, sunny riverbank to lounge on:
And now some braggadocio for my sister-in-law. She has recently completed a gorgeous Steeplechase Hat for going to the horse races. I think it is SO beautiful, I just had to brag about it to the world! She made several yoyos with button and fabric centers and affixed them to this classy straw hat...oh I am so envious! She tells me she will wear this with a mustard yellow anthropologie dress, and I can't wait to see them together. I LOVE anthropologie, and this hat would certainly be right at home sitting on an anthropologie shelf selling for hundreds. Here are some lovely shots she took:

My favorite flower is the one on the lower left with the sweet little beaded center. Classy and crafty, what more could you ask for in a hat? Oh yeah, gorgeous hair underneath. Must find out what she uses to get her hair so glossy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Moon and Her Hair

© Moonbeam 2008

I thought I was about due to post about painting since that is my most all-consuming passion. This painting came at a tumultuous time in my life, so the style is a bit wild. My painting teacher saw it and said he thought it was joyful. One thing is certain - I was determined to use vibrant color. I had been looking at a lot of Kandinsky's work, as well as Miro's when I began painting, so their influence is somewhat obvious. The thought process began when I was in the shower enjoying the patterns created by my hair on the wall. I tend to look for skeletal supporting patterns to use in my paintings; something to hold the piece together and allow me to play with texture and color. Usually that takes the form of trees, which I love to use for their connotations of silence, stillness, growth, and the plethora of visual possibilities. What other subject is so linear, calligraphic and basic? They can be shown as thin, lyrical branches, or heavily crusted trunks with gnarly roots. This subject is my favorite, and was present in most of my paintings during my senior year in school. However, I wanted to try something different, and on a smaller scale (this painting is about 1 1/2' x 2'). The hair on the shower wall looked ghostly and playful, and presented a challenge in capturing the precise curves and lines on a canvas. One thing I love about the surrealist and abstract art of the 1930's is a preoccupation with randomness and chance. The fact that the hair on the shower wall took it's form by chance was very appealing to me. I took several pictures of the wall, then played with it on the computer until I had a clear black and white pattern.

© Moonbeam 2008

Then I proceeded with texture, my great love in painting. This time I used shredded paper...all in all not my favorite process or result, but I like trying new things to achieve a 3D element.

© Moonbeam 2008

Another element I love to use is floral pattern. I almost wish I had left the painting like the picture below. It's so simple and clean. I was a bit lost during the process though, so I kept going, hoping to feel found again.

© Moonbeam 2008

While I am glad I learned some important things throughout, this was not my favorite process. It was quite stressful trying to resolve this very new texture (usually I use some sort of fabric), the intensity of the colors, and the strange looseness of the line pattern. I love that it appears light and playful and there are certain areas which are very satisfying, but all in all I was left feeling somewhat unfulfilled. I consider it a valuable exploration.

© Moonbeam 2008

So I named this "The Moon and Her Hair." I chose this after a great deal of thought, and decided it would be best to communicate the unearthly nature of the image, and include a hint of where the line pattern came from - this Moonbeam's hair.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Monster Booties Take Over Manhattan!!

These are the completed booties I mentioned in my last post. I told you they were cute! Do you like how I got the Empire State Building in the background? These booties mean business. I gave them to my supervisor today...I never get tired of how people react to handknit gifts. Even those who don't have a grasp of the process still appreciate the effort and quality. I also scored a piece of pink & white cake which I'm taking home to my hubby. I also have some leftover Boston cream pie, which came from my company's Boston office. They bet 100 pies that they would win the superbowl, and my office bet 100 cheesecakes they wouldn't. I felt like a traitor eating that pie! Oh well, I may as well be consoled for my loss, right?

So these booties were knit with Lamb's Pride worsted weight wool/mohair blend. I used scraps of the same brand in pink wool for the detail ties. I believe I used #2 double pointed needles to knit these to gauge...the pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts called for #5, but also called for angora which I decided against. I'm broke, so I used what I had on hand. I DID want them to be a little fuzzy, so I held some sort of furry thin stuff I bought years ago in Boston along with the worsted. It's the same stuff I used to knit the airy scarf. The effect is to give them a little white cloudy halo, and also a nice little detail up close. Both yarns are white, so the detail is not quite as pronounced as I would have liked. Oh well. At least they're fuzzy.

The process of knitting these was AMAZING. I was blown away by the techniques. Basically you start with the toe and double knit for a couple of inches. If you have never done this, it's hard to imagine what that means until you try it. My mind blew up when I realized what I was doing. You bascially knit both the top and bottom at the same time - INSIDE OUT. How cool is that?!? While you're knitting, it turns into a little pillow (I wish now I'd taken a picture of that part), then you separate the stitches onto two needles so it can come apart and be turned inside out. I also got to use a three needle bind-off for the heel, which was really fun. I think I've done it before, but I never can remember techniques until I do them a billion times. I had to follow the books very good instructions for both booties - yes I am so stupid I couldn't even remember it from one to the other. I also knit them about a week apart (in other words I was knitting the last blasted bootie last night until 12:30. ARGH.) So my hubby (patient as ever) and I are a bit tired today. The book didn't say anything about blocking (a bit tricky with a tiny 3-D item), but I decided they needed some kind of blocking because they looked very funky, so I stuffed them with tissue paper and sprayed them down generously with water. Overnight they dried and it made a world of difference. I love blocking! Especially when it involves no pins :)

Here are a few more shots of the booties livin' up the city life!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Meatless Lasagna

This was a cursed process from the beginning. Ok, well it wasn't that bad. It was just an incredibly stupid idea to handmake pasta (without a pasta machine), then make sauce, then slice and grate fresh cheese, then mix fillings with fresh herbs, then bake at 4000° in an already broiling apartment ALL ON A WEEK NIGHT when the laundry lies languishing in heaps on the floor. Not my brightest moment. Fortunately, the lasagna turned out well. Not only was it edible, it was actually husband (aka the Turkey - mutual term of endearment....yes we are nuts) gave this a 7 out of 10. He hates giving things numbers but I usually whine until he does. I think I will obstain from whining next time.....he is painfully honest. However, he did say this is the best lasagna he's ever had without meat. Backhanded compliment, but praise nonetheless!

and here it is in it's messy glory.

Ok, so I liked the noodles I made...I'm shocked they came out so yummy actually. I didn't have a pasta machine, and after getting a resounding "no don't make pasta without a machine" from a co-worker with experience, I was thinking I should use boxed pasta. I am part hippie, part stubborn ass, and full measure impatient (and also broke) so I really wanted handmade pasta NOW. I am a bit grandiose, admittedly. I generally think anything is possible, then I break my back to get it done. Sometimes that pays off beautifully, and MOST times it results in lots of other things being neglected (like the heaps of laundry and hungry husbands). Fortunately I married a super sweetie so he was understanding....he has seen my crazed, maniacal enthusiasm many times before, and he knows to patiently step out of the way and forebear unless I'm an immediate threat to myself. SO, I thought the great chefs of Italy used to make pasta without machines, so dang it so can I. And I did! I was half expecting it to be lumpy, floury and gross, but it was quite delicious. The machine would make it easier, but hey, I need exercise anyway. And I live to do it all myself. From that point on, everything within a 4 foot radius of me was covered in tomato juice, flour and grated cheese. Oh the humanity. The turkey was so patient. I'm sure it helped that we had new Boston Legal discs to watch while the blasted lasagna baked for 45 minutes. We ended up eating at 9:30, which is insanely late for us. We're usually trying to eat anything not moving by 7:00. Oh well, as turkey would say, "somethin' dif'rent."

eat me!

After all the effort, this should have been the worlds greatest lasagna. It wasn't, but it was pretty dang good. And now I don't have to cook today or tomorrow! I have cornbread pictures to show you, but not with me. I made it the day before yesterday. That came out swimmingly which is what got me so excited to keep trying new things. Tonight is laundry night, which means knitting night. I can't stand to sit at the laundromat and watch whatever lifetime movie they have on. GAG. I always bring my ipod and knitting. Today I must finish the baby booties I'm knitting for my supervisor at work. She's having a baby shower tomorrow and this is my excuse to not donate $20 for a group gift. YEAH RIGHT! They don't pay me well enough for that garbage. Handknit baby booties are better anyway. You'll see...they're cute.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Oh, come on Patriots

I am annoyed the Patriots lost. Before I have you thinking I'm an actual sports fan however, I shall move on to more important things like food. Especially the made-from-scratch scrumdidliumptious kind! Such was my first attempt at making pizza! I'm so happy with how it turned out. I followed the Williams Sonoma directions for the dough, and used the Pizza Margherita recipe - YUM! I got my workout for sure kneading the dough. I thought, 10 minutes - pshaw! Man that was a long 10 minutes. I would have been lost in this department if I didn't have experience kneading clay in pottery. It's actually pretty fun, so I can't complain.

I forgot to take a picture with it in one piece, but fortunately snapped a couple of shots before we devoured it while watching the super bowl begin.

Oh, those thin, crunchy, flavorful basil leaves! My husband deemed this extra good, which is high praise indeed. I think I need to scrub my baking sheet though.

This is all that was left after about 15 minutes...

...which I am going to gobble for an afternoon snack while here at work. I'm definitely doing this again!