Sunday, June 27, 2010

4th of July is coming!

I can't believe we're a week away from the 4th of July!  It's my favorite holiday.  I love the parades, the food, the weather, and the fact that no presents are ionvolved!  We almost always spend the 4th at the Oregon Coast.  For years, we've had a float in the parade, but since the kids are out of the house, we just go and watch.  This year, however, we've planned something special, so you'll have to check back and see what we did. Meanwhile, I've had fun making red, white and blue for my Etsy shop and thought I'd share a few of my favorites:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Local Interest-La Grande

We drove over to La Grande last month to watch DS play in a brass quintet performance at EOU. He graduated last June, but still DJ's on the campus radio shows and plays his tuba on occasion.  It seemed like a good time to take a road trip with the wet spring that we've had- plus, it was a good chance to visit with our son.
DS is real proud of his community, and enjoyed showing us some shops that he thought I might like.  One charming one was the Potters House Gallery.  Below, check out the little Garden Shed associated with the shop. 
The shop owners Bob and Judy Jensen, stand in front of their store filled with treasures.  Bob offers some Raku painting classes that would be fun to check out.  In the six years that we have been going to La Grande, it's been nice to see some fun little shops and restaurants crop up. 
We found lots of garden art for sale.  I brought home some colorful metal flowers to put in my garden, while waiting for the real ones to  bloom.
Inside, were lots of treasures, mostly consigned by local artisans.  This shop has some great touches for your home, as well as being a perfect place to find a special gift.
Below, I'd been hearing about Trent Bray's Bird shop for the past year, so it was nice to be able to check it out in person.  He has a great selection of quality feeders, lots of seed varieties, and sells some premium beer as well.  Remember, this is a college town
Trent hosts Bird Walking Tours if you want to know more about identifying local birds, and I thought it would be interesting to sign up for one sometime.
You can see what a great selection of feeders he has.  I bought a Hummingbird feeder that's mostly glass and is very easy to clean.  It's become a huge attraction in the yard and often has four birds trying to feed at the same time!
There's also a great selection of Bird Books.
Disc Golf is big in La Grande and the standings are posted in the shop.
Trent is definitely a 'hands on' owner. If you're in La Grande, this shop is worth a visit if you are interested in  birds.

The Mt. Emily's Ale House (not pictured), should be on your stop as well, since they have some of the best pizza in Oregon. Try the Thai Chicken with Peanuts and you won't be disappointed.

Garden Color

For borders, my 'go to' plant is the New Guinea Impatient.  They can tolerate more sun than traditional Impatient's, and will fill in nicely.  In warmer zones, you can plant them as early as March, but here in the NW, where it's been such a rainy spring, I'm finally getting around to planting them!  That was my job last night- luckily, the soil was moist and workable and they went in pretty quickly. As they fill in, I'll post a photo of my garden, but I'm about a month behind since it's been so wet!  Roses and Peonies are full of rust spots...grrrr!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Movin' On

We had another fun meeting of  The Art Buddies (We really do need an official name), at Dinah's yesterday.   We decided to save 'backgrounds' for another time when more of us could attend-which may be in the fall with everyone's summer schedules.  Anyway, we were the 'Mighty Four' and had fun thanks to Dinah's hospitality, lovely flowers, and  everyone's good company.   We s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d  our comfort zone painting car fenders, and in spite of the comments "OMG, This is hard!" etc. I think we had some pretty good results!
In case you're wondering about the flowers: Dinah salvaged a fantastic vase from the trash in her office.  The shape allows the flowers to be arranged perfectly, hence the photo.  We started talking about cameras, and the consensus is that people are loving the Canon PowerShot.  Mine's a SD960 IS with 12.1 MegaPixels.  This whole digital thing is relatively new to me, despite the fact that I've been a professional photographer since college.  With a Hasselblad, all you needed was a good light meter, some knowledge of posing and light composition and you were set!  Digital is a whole other story.  In many ways, now you can do so much more with a lot less of a camera investment. I was able to put my camera on Macro 2x and get the close-ups of this peony.  We decided to bring our cameras and the instruction book that came with it to our next session, and teach ourselves how to take pictures for our art.
Below, Carol shared her find from Art Media.  There's no tray on the bottom for pencils etc, but it tilts up and you can tape your work on it.  It's great if you don't want to sit all the time while painting.
It's always fun to have Show and Tell (Thank you, Jude).  I always think we learn a lot from each other.  I always hate it when I take an art class and don't get to see other students finished work.  Above, Carol shared a recent finished pencil drawing, and showed a layering technique in which you paint a grey wash and then add your color for increased value.  Maybe she will do a show and tell when we're all together.  Carol showed us some of her beautiful work.  I especially loved the creek scene below, where she used pencils on watercolor paper, and it had a lovely texture.
Dinah shared this Lake Oswego bridge painting from her journal.  I was so impressed, since I've tried to paint that same bridge with dismal results!
Hard at work...
I brought some car photos from an exhibit from the High Museum in Atlanta, and it was fun painting them.  I had to leave before everyone was finished, but I think we did good!
Carol's great color mix
Dinah emailed me her finished work.  WOW, it's fantastic!  She even got the overhead display light reflection. 
Judy made this impressive drawing, and then added a wash.  The drawing is so good, you wouldn't want the paint to distract, so the wash was perfect.

My car with the fun wheel interest.

Monday, June 07, 2010

What's your Favorite Summer Holiday Dish?

We've been eating pretty healthy around here, but with Memorial Day being the unofficial start of summer, you just have to have a little Potato Salad!  This is where I get my 15 seconds of fame- from my Mother at least!  I'm convinced it's the dill.

Vickie's Potato salad
8 Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 c. light mayonnaise
1/4 pickle juice
1/4 c mustard
1 c chopped sweet pickles
1 c. chopped celery
5 scallions chopped 
3 tablespoons fresh or dried dill
5 hard boiled eggs chopped

boil potatoes until soft, drain, peel, and cut into cubes
in a large bowl, add ingredients, toss, cover and refrigerate
top with Italian Parsley, and Hungarian paprika
Great served with ribs, and corn on the cob!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Dining in Luxury

After a hard day of wine tasting, we wanted to get a quick bite before picking up the dogs at Mom's. It used to be the kids, now it's the dogs!  LOL  Anyway, after munching our way through the Oregon wine country, on lovely cheeses and pate and chocolate, we just wanted a light meal.  It worked out perfectly to also check out the new Allison Inn and Spa.  Wow, what an amazing place.  I could see coming here for a special anniversary or occasion, since it's quite spendy-rooms start at $295 a night....but, what a beautiful place! 
From the back, it's four stories tall! 
The building is very sleek and modern, and as you can see, the rock work is incredible! 
Beautiful natural features.  There were lots of places with covered decks, so even in Oregon's unpredictable weather, you could sit outside.
I loved all the things they used for sustainability, like the succulent roof-top gardens!
The grounds had a beautiful 'English Garden' feel... 
We ordered food in the bar area, and you could see the chefs preparing meals in the kitchen.  The dinningroom is on the left.

Rick ordered sausage with mashed potatoes, and I ordered a burger with feta and caramelized onions, which he also shared.  it was all very good.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Ghost Hill Cellars

We happened upon this wonderful spot while driving on the back roads on our wine tasting adventure.  It looked so interesting that we had to stop, and were welcomed by Mike Bayless and his wife, Dendra.   The winery is on the land that Mike's grandparents bought in 1906, and was once a sheep ranch.  It's called Ghost Hill, since legend has it that a miner was murdered for his gold near Oaks Springs Road.  Apparently, more gold was taken out of Oregon in the 19th Century than in California!
The Tasting Room at Ghost Hill reminded me of the Oregon Wineries in the 70's.  When I transferred up here from The S.F. Bay Area in the late 70's, most of the wineries were in the vintner's garages or makeshift  outbuildings.  Those vintners went on to become some of the biggest names in the Oregon wine industry.  The Bayless' were tasting a  Rose and a Pinot, both lovely.  Rose wines are pretty unusual in Oregon, but theirs had a refreshing light grapefruit taste. It will be fun to watch these wines develop.  
Some friends were visiting and displaying their Rolls and Bentley cars.  I had so much fun  photographing them for watercolor painting later.
Everyone was so was a fun ending to a memorable day!