Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Poetic Gift

Walking through NW Portland, we came across a beautiful old traditional house set back off the street looking very much like it belonged in another century.  It was so festive, festooned with lights, and surrounded by red pyracantha bushes.
 As we got closer to it, I realized there was sign that said Poetry.
Free. Take one
(What a lovely gift to share with passers by)

The Shortest Day
Susan Cooper

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us-listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
and hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now.
This year and every year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Portland Art Car

We were out doing some Christmas shopping, when I spied this wild car across the street.  People were just getting ready to pull out of their parking spot, but I ran over and asked them about the story of their car.  They were only too happy to given me the history and let me take some photos.
They painted white squares, spaces for friends to fill in with whatever they wanted.  I guess Art Cars are a big deal around Portland...sort of in the mode of keeping Portland
I've heard that other cities around the country have a similar motto, but I like to think that ours came when then Mayor, Bud Clark, pretended to 'flash' a statue to promote the arts.
The car had all sorts of crazy things!
Especially on top, with antlers, plastic animals, pseudo monsters, trophies...
who wouldn't want a large plastic goldfish on the side of your car?
or three tiny music boxes that actually play...
gnomes show up everywhere...
This isn't exactly Nunsense, but I'm not sure what she's doing...leading an army?
I wondered where that Easter Egg went...only kidding!

Dinner place setting complete with napkin.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Painting Cards with the Art Buddies

It's been just a year since the Art Buddies met at Jude Siegal's Watercolor Journaling Class.  It's been amazing how far we've come.  We all agree that it's been motivating and fun to be accountable to each other, and to getting together on a regular basis has kept us all painting.  Above, JoAnn found some beautiful paintings that she salvaged  from a thrift shop.  One had a grocery list written on the back. It's nice to think that they've been given a new life.
Fall is a great time for vignettes with all the rich colors in the fruits and vegetables available.  Pears and squashes are amazing to paint with all their rich details.
JoAnn brings her sketchbook and paints everywhere.  Here, she captured sea life at the Newport Aquarium.
A fun card idea to paint the inside of a pomegranate and give the details for a cards.
Squash, with a fun border!
Leaves with a wet brush technique.
Joanie painted these lovely cards as a fundraiser for her church.
The cards were so pretty that people were matting and framing them!
We all took a turn at painting cards for a good cause.  It was so relaxing just to slow down and paint. We all are grateful for our group, and look forward to our time together!
It helps to have a space with great lighting.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shabby Chic in Cannon Beach

Mostly wordless Wednesday.  My friends were always talking about an amazing Shop in Cannon Beach OR, where they had the most wonderful assortment of French and Shabby chic furnishings.  Despite several scouting trips to the beach, I could never find it. 
OK, I probably didn't have their card and got the address wrong, but the main drag in Cannon Beach isn't that long!  Anyway, I finally stumbled upon it quite by accident, and found it to be full of beautiful furnishings and fun ideas. It's worth the 'Eye Candy' to check out Seasame and Lilies.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Art Group Reunited

It was a perfect crisp, fall, day when the Art Buddies met in NW Portland to sketch and paint on the go. The rain will soon be here, so we definitely jumped at the chance to paint outdoors. 
Portland has some great architectural details and as we tried to artfully capture them, we freaked out a lot of people.  I guess we must have looked like Census Takers or undercover agents, because we had some anxious strangers coming up to use wanting to know what we were up to.  One man who was putting up twinkle lights and overparked, sheepishly announced he was leaving in a minute, had a good laugh when my friend turned around her sketchbook to reveal that she'd been painting him as he worked. Beware of middle aged women with sketch pads and pencils! 
We never made it past the corner where we started, since there were so many things to sketch in that small area.  From colorful plants to interesting shop windows, we did not lack for material.
We loved a shop called The Polish Pottery Place, on Hoyt, with it's colorful flock of tin chickens, pigs, peacocks and flowers.
This outdoor art was imported from Mexico, and was so colorful and cheery!

JoAnne set up her stool, and got right to work, painting in her colorful style.
Here we all are before heading out for lunch.  Next post I'll show you our finished work.  Note to self, next time bring another film card!  I did have pencil drawing in my book, although you can't see them!
More fun Portland signs.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Power of Nature

Wow, it was one of those cool, crisp mornings on the Oregon Coast.  We were on our way to meet some friends for breakfast, when I made DH pull over so I could take these pictures of the fog burning off the Nehalem Bay.   When I just can't take one more gray, rainy day, I'll look back on this morning and experience the calm and peace of this this beautiful morning.

Book Club Bonanza and a Yummy Chicken Recipe

It's always love to see what other Book Clubs are reading.  There seems to be ceratain books that are 'must reads' every year, and we have a couple of them on our list. Our Book Club makes the reading choices for the year each September.  We only choose books that have a 4 to 5 star rating from Amazon. I thought I'd list our choices since it's always fun to see what everyone is reading.  Most of these I haven't read yet, so I'll just review the two that we have.
Here's our list:
September:  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  Stieg Larsson  This the first in a series that is the 'hot dot' in the publishing world these days. There's so much to this book, that I'll just say that it's an intellectual thriller with lots of violence and a compelling story, with a protagonist that rises above her social limitations.  It's very compelling novel with a call for social justice.  The Club generally liked it, and have moved on to read the rest of the series. 

October: Little Bee  Chris Cleave  This is a beautifully written story, with a compelling main character.  Most people liked the book.

November: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

January:  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

February:  One Day  David Nicholls

April: Freedom, A Novel by Jonathan Frazen

May: Mountains Beyond Mountains  by Paul Farmer

June: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

We limit our club membership to the number of people who can fit around a dinning table.  The Host always serves dinner.  At our last meeting, my friend Valerie, served this wonderful chicken dish.  Don't be fooled by the simplicity of it, it had a wonderful flavor!  She served it with rice, a salad and dessert.

 Anne Shea's Chicken Thighs:

12 chicken thighs

6 whole shallots

6 cloves garlic

4 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cup dry white wine

1 Tbsp. tomato paste (sometimes I add a bit more for color)

1 1/2 cup chicken stock

salt and pepper

Italian parsley - chopped

Trim fat and excess skin from thighs after washing and season with salt and pepper. Brown both sides in 3 Tbsp. of butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil for total of 8 minutes. Transfer to casserole dish and place in 375 degree oven. Drain most of the oil/fat from skillet (leaving a Tbsp. and the brown bits) and add the remainder of the butter and oil and saute the minced garlic and shallots. Add vinegar, wine and stir up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook down about 8 minutes. Whisk tomato paste and simmer 5 more minutes. Add chicken stock adding a little at a time. Mix well. Pour over chicken in the oven and cook for 35 to 45 minutes. Turn chicken halfway through. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Cannery Row in Astoria

Lately, we've been spending a lot of time in Astoria.  The city has been undergoing a resurgence of sorts, with lots of new shops and restaurants opening up.  Even though the economy has taken it's toll, there's still a lot to see.  The boardwalk is a great place to walk, or you can ride the free Trolly if you're so inclined.  I love to stroll along the boardwalk, checking out the shops, restaurants and  passing ships.
We tried this restaurant called The Cannery Cafe, and I had the best Tuna Sandwich on whole wheat ever!  Don't get it toasted.  Their Fish n' Chips look amazing, so I'll definitely come back. 
I'm always on the look out for cool things to watercolor paint, so these lovely flowers will someday be a subject.
I love the monochromatic look of this boat, trolling across the bay.