Tuesday, October 28, 2008

.i miss my photoshop.

This has not really been much of an eventful week.  I'm still working on getting Aislin's costume together (I know, I'm running out of time).  The hardest thing was trying to figure out what to dress the wee girl in!  I thought, 'Hey! Let's dress her up as a fairy!'  Then, tempuratures plummeted to 40 degrees!  So. . . I've decided, she's going to be a gypsy this year.  Fully clothed, head covered, warm.  

I've been looking at some blogs and flickr accounts here in the last few days and I'm simply amazed at how beautiful everyones images are!  Which then, of course, got me to missing my Photoshop.  My PC killed over a few months back, again, after having it fixed.  We think that there was a power surge in the house we're renting (the wiring is really messy), and that the power strip that we had didn't do much of anything, obviously, to protect it.  So right now I've been using the Mac Notebook.  Unfortunately,  I don't have PS on it since the one I have was for Windows.  Argh!!  Oh but looking at the use of layers and texture is AMAZING!!  Zee, over at Pixieblossoms, was nice enough to leave some links to tutorials on her blog.  I'm dying to play with some of my older photos to give it an even more vintage feel.  I miss my Photoshop.  :o(  I guess, for now, I shall continue to utilize iPhoto, but it's just NOT the same!!

I have been trying to write some poetry lately.  Honestly, I'm not quite brave enough to share it with all of you just yet.  But before I go, I wanted to leave you with some lovely words.  This time, from the poet, Amy Lowell. 

Life is a stream 
On which we strew
Petal by petal the flower of our heart;
The end lost in dream,
They float past our view, 
We only watch their glad, early start.
Freighted with hope,
Crimsoned with joy,
We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;
The widening scope,
Their distant employ,
We never shall know.  And the stream as it flows
Sweeps them away,
Each one is gone
Every beyond into infinite ways.
We alone stay
While years hurry on,
The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

.a lesson from the teapot.

One of my most favorite quotes of all time came from the mouth of the great artist, Pablo Picasso.  "Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."  And although I have claimed this quote for myself, I don't think I truly understood the message behind the words, well at least until now.
During a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine, who happens to be a brilliant floral designer and artist, we came about the subject of "the fear of facing the blank canvas."  I told him that although I was driven to be "creative" I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn't produce anything, or rather that it took FOREVER to come up with an idea.  With his calm, soft rumble for a voice, he said, "You know, it's the times when I approach a canvas and say to myself that I'm just going to experiment and have no expectations.  And you know, when I approach any project with that frame of mind, my best pieces are created."  
I took in what he said and realized that that is exactly what that quote was conveying.  Children have no fear when the crayons and paper are laid out in front of them.  All they see is color and an opportunity to let their imagination spill out.  When the art and craft supplies are brought out, there is usually excitement in the air, as the kids clap their little hands together and shout out their joy for this chance to create.  You see their minds working as groups of circles and lines are formed, colored brushstrokes overlapping.  I don't believe any of them are concerned whether or not their art piece is going to be sold or put up to hang in an art gallery.  They, very simply, create.  Not a worry.  Not a care.  
So I took this frame of mind with me when I was invited to accompany my best friend Joani to a pottery party with some other ladies, most of whom I had never met before.  The place we went to was a little studio called  Brushfire Pottery in Green Hills.  The walls are lined with shelves full of different unfinished pottery pieces to paint.  With a small studio fee, you buy the piece you want to paint and once you've done that, you leave it with them to finish with a clear glaze and firing.  After a week, it is ready to pick up.  Well, I found exactly what I wanted to paint as soon as I got there.  A teapot.  Go figure.  I knew what I wanted, and with it being Autumn, I wanted my colors to reflect that.  I grabbed my colors and went to town,  practically oblivious to the fact that there were other people there.  I brushed on my colors, starting first from the top and working my way to the base.  Then I saw an opportunity to use a loofah to dab brown speckles onto my piece.  FINALLY!!  I was filled with confidence and excitement!  I was determined that I was going to have fun!  I didn't try to analyze the outcome of my teapot, or give a care as to what the others thought.  I think the fact that with glazes, since you don't see the results right away, this was probably a good thing.  It meant that I had to have faith that whatever I created was still going to look awesome.  And it does.  I love my little teapot!!

I learned a valuable lesson that night.  Every child is an artist.  We are still that child within.  Sure, not everyone is a Picasso, a Monet, or DaVinci.  But we all can create, all it takes is forgetting all your cares.  Don't worry about anything.  Simply grab your colors and go to town with them!!  You'll be surprised AND delighted at the outcome.  I know I did!  ;o)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

.a week in black and white.

There aren't too many celebrities out there that I can truly say I admire.  So many seem too overly consumed with themselves and so far out of touch with the real, tangible world in which the rest of us live.  I can say though, that there is one actress that I do have a deep respect for - Angelina Jolie.  I say this, not because I'm her fervent follower who has seen all of her movies (I have not, only 4), I say it because she is real.  For anyone to give a good chunk of their paycheck to see good come to those who are less fortunate than us, I say the woman deserves the title she has of Goodwill Ambassador.  Going from badass punk chick to the loving mother of SIX, how can you not admire that?  But this is not the reason for my post, so let me move on.  

Being a big fan of photography, I was impressed to see that Brad Pitt was commissioned by W Magazine to photograph Angelina within a span of a week.  He did, and I must say that I was extremely impressed.  The photos were all showcased in black and white.  Most of them were done in low light which gave the images a lot of grain, but a lot of emotion.  I loved them!  I was truly inspired by the tone of these photos, whether it was a loving image of Jolie with her children or a quirky shot of her making a funny face.  It captured emotion and to me, that is the purpose of photography.  

Starting tomorrow, I too will challenge myself to capture black and white photos, with a much more intimate look into the life of my family and the world around me.  Give me a week and we'll see what I can capture!!  This should be interesting.  I have been needing a good photo project to get me going anyhoos!  :o)  Stay tuned. . . 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

.the hotel cafe tour.

It is WAY passed my bed time!  It seems that the Red Bull that I had while at Exit/In has not completely worn off yet.  That's okay.  I just wanted to share what an awesome night I had, with my kid sis, experiencing the Hotel Cafe Tour.  By far, one of the best shows I've ever had the pleasure of going to.  It featured some of the most talented women in music today, in my opinion.  Two of my faves were there:  Priscilla Ahn and Ingrid Michaelson.  Prior to hearing those two lovelies, a wonderful new voice opened the act.  Meiko.  Well, new to me anyways.  A sweet voice and a witty sense of humor, I truly enjoyed her song "Real Real Sweet" which was written to spite a gal who was under the impression her boyfriend had a fling with the singer.  Ha!  Next, another wonderful voice came from Katie Herzig.  Her song, "Forevermore" has won my heart, with its sweet childlike lyrics and jolly melody!   Unfortunately, due to an illness, singer Brooke Fraser was not able to attend tonight's gig.  Garrison Starr filled in for her, and what a treat!   Her last album, The Girl that Killed September, when mentioned, got a shout out from a man in the crowd, who soon became referred to as "Colt 45 Guy" throughout the evening. Another singer I almost forgot (it's 2 in the morning!) Erin McCarley  added to the show a more edgier rock sound, compared to the more folk, acoustics, played by the likes of Priscilla Ahn and Meiko.  And speaking of Priscilla Ahn, she is sweet, just as her voice, and ditsy funny.  Like when she brought out the kazoo and didn't know why the crowd chuckled.  Gotta love her!  And finally, Ingrid Michaelson.  Her entrance was introduced with 70s jive grooves off the electric guitar and bass.  And she played it off well with a walk to accompany the music.  The crowd was putty in her hands as she got us to sing, clap, and laugh with her.  All performers, including host Jason Kanakis, gave the eager listeners, fans, and some dude just there to check out the chicks, a good laugh and some awesome music!  So for those of you who may be living in any of the towns that these guys and gals shall be playing, I say mark your calendars because you're in for a wonderful time!  (I apologize if this isn't quite the most eloquent blog post.  It is seriously too early in the morning for me to think eloquently.  Just be glad I spelled most words correctly.  Ha!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

.sew what?.

Okay, working for a bookstore, I realize, is dangerous.  Especially for someone who LOVES books!!  Oh well!  Once again, while shelving some new titles, I noticed a new addition to the craft/hobby section.  Needless to say, while on a break, I had to make my way back over there to skim it over.  The book I have been waiting for has finally arrived!!  It is called Free-Style Handmade Bags & Skirts, by the editors of Woonjin Publishing, a talented group based out of Korea.  

What I love about this book is that it features a diverse array of skirts, as well as, totes.  With the ever fashionable A-line skirt created from scratch to reforming a pair of camouflage pants, there are so many patterns to work with to create a skirt that is definitely YOU.  The instructions seem rather easy to follow, and all the patterns are included with the book.  Only drawback:  the patterns are based on a size 4, which I am FAR from!  Ha!  

The book is a fun one to add to any seamstress' collection, or anyone that is interested in sewing.  I already have an alteration project in mind.  But that will be for another blog.  All I ask is that you wish me luck!

Monday, October 20, 2008

.beauty in nature.

Ahh. . . I LOVE this time of year! Autumn. It is a time of transition, color, and beauty. When I lack inspiration, all I have to do is look to nature. I altered this photo of a tree I had taken yesterday to give it a vintage feel. Mostly I did it to be able to enhance the lines and texture, as to not be distracted by the intense blue sky. And boy was it intense! There is such beauty in nature. During fall, as well as in springtime, I am left in awe by what wondrous lovelies there are to see around us. O, Autumn, the Muse of so many a-poet! I shall leave with you all today a piece from the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
with banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
and stately oxen harnessed to they wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
outstretched with benedictions o'er the land,
blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!

Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
so long beneath the heaven's o'erhanging eaves;
thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
and, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

.writing for the soul.

Throughout my life, poems have always held a special place with me.  Not that I can say that I am in any way a poet.  Nor can I say that I have a vast collection of poets sitting upon my book shelf.  As a matter of fact, I only have two:  Robert Burns and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The importance of what poetry is to me is that it has been an outlet to express oneself in such a way that it provokes emotion, not just of the writer, but moreso the reader.  Whether that emotion be joy, sorrow, anger, love.  There is no denying that there is a beauty in poetry.  If it were not the case, Shakespeare's plays would not hold as much weight and reverence amongst the masses if they had been written without meter and prose.   

So where does all this blabbering about poetry and such lead to?  Well, nowhere big really.  As some of you may know, with many of the life changes that I have had in just the last several years, I have become quite jaded with myself.   Numb.  Any fire, any creative, emotional blaze that burned within me has been dwindled to mere embers now.  Or so it seems.  I have been trying desperately to incorporate ways of creating something everyday.  ANYTHING.  It has been quite difficult.  Even a simple 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 card looks like a oversized canvas that I am to paint and there is no idea, no inspiration in sight.  So that is where poetry has, once again, made its way back into my life.  Pulling out the thoughts already cluttering my mind, and displaying them down on paper.  Perhaps, even as a drawing.  Not as a literal drawing with pencil or paint, but rather drawing with words, with metaphors.     

While on a break at work, I browsed through our poetry section.  I was actually on a mission to find W.H. Auden's works, but in the process found the above book:  Poetry as Spiritual Practice, by Robert McDowell.  I am just a few chapters into this book, and already I can sense that it has given me the encouragement that I need to write again.  Not that I was great by any means.  I just needed something that was going to help me to find ways to wake my emotions up.  And although my creative heart seems a little cool to the touch, those mere embers, covered up by ash and dust, will soon indeed spark a wildfire once more!  I hope so anyway. ;o)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

.an experimental sunday.

It is Sunday morning. The world seems a little brighter outside, with leaves glistening in the early sun rays, dancing to a song carried upon the fall breeze. As I sat here, gazing out my kitchen window earlier this morning, I felt as if this was an invitation to join the outside for a little while. So I brought my camera along to see what I could capture.
Quite honestly, most of the images I shot seemed too "ordinary." I guess I was looking for something a little more unique to the eye. I looked up to the sun, as it shined through trees, and simply squinted. Yes, squinted. It's rather amazing how things take on a whole other appearance when you look at them through squinted eyes, like a nearly blind person, without their glasses, trying desperately to see...clearer. Ha! So I held up my camera, aiming it towards the trees then, ever so slightly, turning my lens out of focus, blurring the world in front of me. The sharp edges of branches, softened, so much so that they seem to disappear. Leaves, sky and reflections of light all transformed into orbs of color.

Friday, October 10, 2008

.a cup of chai.

If I had to choose my favorite "spiced" drink, followed by eggnog, my favorite would have to be chai. Surprisingly, there are many people that don't really know what chai is. I was introduced to the beverage, with origins that stem from India, by a co-worker while standing in line at a Starbucks. I remember the warmth of this slightly sweet, milky drink, laced with a wonderful collaboration of cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, cloves, anise star, and cardamom.

What we all refer to as "chai tea" here in the States, is actually called "masala chai" in India. The word chai, in most countries beside the Western world, actually means "tea." The word masala is an Indian term used when several spices are mixed together for a dish or drink. To prepare this drink, black tea and spices are added to warm milk and usually sweetened with sugar or honey. Here lately, while fighting the allergies and congestion in my lungs, due to the change of season, I've been drinking the tea without milk. The flavors of all the spices are more intense, especially the black pepper.

The wonderful thing about chai is that there are different combinations of spices that can be used to make up this drink. Although there are the usual ingredients, as shown above, some brands, such as Zhena's Gypsy Tea's "Fireside Chai" uses rooibos, ginger, cloves, orange, and nutmeg. Another spin on the drink, which I have recently been introduced to, is called the "dirty chai." Prepared the same way as the original drink, only with the added shot (or two) of espresso. While it is served at Starbucks, you don't have to stand in line there to enjoy a cup of Tazo's Organic Chai. Tazo, as well as several other brands, are readily available in the tea & coffee aisle of your local grocery store. So make up a cup and enjoy the invigorating taste of chai. A good tea book to add to your library: The New Tea Book, by Sara Perry.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

.mmm...it's sundae.

Okay, so there's not too much to really write about today.  It is Sunday.  It's been a beautiful weekend spent with friends and family.  An outing and sleepover with the wee one and my "bff" Joani, a trip into Dickson, TN to check out some of the local shops, a powwow held at Leiper's Fork in Franklin.  And the weather has been simply gorgeous!  So what must one do to top off such a wonderful weekend?  For me, it was to make a stop to Maggie Moos and get a waffle bowl full of that yummy sundae goodness!  Mmmm. . . fudge. . . 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

.autumn leaves.

I have to say that this is my favorite time of year.  Autumn.  The trees begin to put on their more colorful attire.  The air is crisp and full of the promises of change.  During a recent trip to the park, I decided to gather a few leaves that had fallen off a sugargum tree.  Today, in an attempt to add some creativity into my routine, I pulled out my embossing powders and made imprints with these leaves.  Mixing several different "fall colors" onto the same imprint, I thought the results were pretty lovely.  Then again, nature is always an inspiration for me, with its simple yet finely detailed beauty.