Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Illustration Friday: Imagine

Imagine all the people living life in peace...

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and Hannukah, and a joyous New Year filled with abundant peace. (Hey, you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sophie Presents the Letter V: a short film

This is why you have to always have the camera ready... you can't script stuff like this! Of course, if I had PLANNED to make a movie, the dishwasher would have been closed and the living room wouldn't have looked like the toy box threw up. But what can I say, this is real life! Sophie, by the way, will be 3 at the end of February.

Click here to see the movie. UPDATE: Link's fixed! Watch it right on the screen.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Illustration Friday: Surprise!

I got the biggest surprise of my life on a morning in September about two years ago.

I was songleading again at church for the first time since Sophie was born. One minute, I was standing in front of the congregation, singing; the next, I passed out cold and took the podium down with me. After several tiny cups of orange juice and "I'm not diabetic, I think I'm pregnant"s later, the EMTs decided to take me to the emergency room since my blood pressure was amazingly low. The only way out is up the aisle during the next mass. "We're NOT." I beg. "Close your eyes." I'm told. The hush that comes over the church as I'm carried out on a stretcher, oxygen mask on face, makes me squinch my eyes shut even tighter.

Paul and Sophie follow us the hospital and my parents are phoned. Nobody will let me eat on the off chance the pregnancy is ectopic and they have to operate, which makes me want to throw up just thinking about it. Starvation and nausea duke it out. Starvation wins. While they're getting someone to do an ultrasound, we urge Paul to go eat something at the cafeteria; they'll page him, maybe he can smuggle me back a burger or something. Anyway, I just went through a year of ultrasounds, so this is old hat. So when they tell me 15 minutes later to go in, I figure we'll start without him.

I say hello to the technician in the darkened room and get ready to be told the worst. Or at least, the usual. "Is everything okay?" I ask as she starts poking around.

"Fine. Everything's fine."

"Oh, good." I breathe, finally. "As long as it's not twins," I joke.

She doesn't say anything.

She has the screen turned slightly away from me but I know enough to know that what I can see definitely does not look like Sophie's sonograms did. There are two sacs. Two little dots.

"It's not twins, RIGHT?"

"Let's just wait until your husband gets here, and we'll go over things, okay?"

"It's TWINS, ISN'T IT?! Oh, my God!"

I continue along in this vein for about 60 more seconds when blessedly, Paul walks in the room, eyes adjusting to the darkness, 7-month-old Sophie on one arm, her backpack on the other. The poor man immediately gets hit with, "Look at that screen! LOOK AT IT! DO YOU SEE WHAT'S ON THAT SCREEN? TWO! TWO! TWINS! WE! ARE! HAVING! TWINS!" And I can see the look of absolute terrified shock that comes over his face that I know must be on my own. The poor technician takes this opportunity to point out the nicer points of the ultrasound; they're probably fraternal, they don't share a sac or a placenta, and all I can think is THERE ARE TWO OF THEM IN THERE OH DEAR LORD.

It took me a looooooong time to get used to the thought. Peter and Angela were a surprise, as defined on Roseanne back in the 90's. Her son asks if he was a mistake. "No! You're a surprise. A surprise," she tells him, "is something you didn't even know you wanted until you got it."

Surprise. Their sticky kisses, the way they yell "Mama!" when I walk into the room like I am the greatest thing EVER, their belly laughs, the way they shake their little butts and dance when we play "Linus and Lucy" for them and Angela yells out "Chaba-Shoopy! Chaba-Shoopy!" (Charlie Brown and Snoopy), the way they worship the ground their big sister walks on - nobody is more surprised than I am at the way my heart is so amazingly wide open to overflowing with enormous amounts of love. They've multiplied my capacity for loving and caring and feeling, exponentially. It's been a long, hard, exhausting road to get here, filled with surgeries (mine and the kids'), months in the NICU, monitors, medications, and therapy, but I can actually say it's all been worth it.


Monday, December 05, 2005

You are a good mother already.

My mom photocopied this article and gave it to me. Reading this along with my new find (How She Really Does It: The Secrets of Success from Stay-at-work Moms) convinces me that things in society need to change, and soon.

Did anyone see Desperate Housewives last night? Lynette said "I'm a good mother" and the other mom said, "But that's not good enough for me, I want to be a GREAT mother" (so she won't put her child in daycare or let anyone else touch her.)

Why do we buy into this crap? Why do I have to APOLOGIZE for needing to work so we have health insurance? Why is it that a man can have three kids, work, and travel, and be considered a good father because he's such a good provider, but if a woman does it, she's an awful mother for neglecting her children, even if her husband stays home to be with the children full time?

Why is there such a divide between mothers? Mothers who work, mothers who quit their jobs and stay home. Mothers who make everything from scratch, mothers who order a pizza so they can spend another hour having one on one time with their kids. Mothers who nurse, mothers who can't or won't. (There's nothing that makes you feel worse than having another mother say to you, "Well, as long as you know that formula isn't the best thing for your baby." I was so tempted to say, "Formula is better for them than a mother in a mental institution right now." but I held my tongue.)

Listen up:

Mothers need to stop letting others dictate what being a good mother means. Not Martha Stewart, not that horrible nazi-esque What To Expect series of books, not the super-mom at the park or playgroup, not anyone you see on TV. This is seriously one of the most important things I've learned about being a mom. What works for me may very well not work at all for you. We've been blessed to have hours where one of us can be with the kids all the time, in our house. Not everyone is so lucky. I work, not only because I need to, but because I want to, and the fact that I have my family's and employer's support is wonderful. I try to cook as much from scratch and organically as possible. If you open a can of Beefaroni in front of me, I will say absolutely nothing about it, because obviously this works for you. That doesn't mean I won't try new things, or ever stop learning, because Lord knows these kids are growing and changing and hopefully, so am I. But can we please stop being so critical of each other, and maybe join forces to make this world a better place for our kids?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Illustration Friday: Blue

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

One wonderful Sophie! Ah ah ah...

Sophie is obsessed with the Count.

Every morning, when we sit on the futon in my studio and watch Sesame Street, Sophie waits with bated breath for the appearance of the Count. When she hears the first few notes of his theme music, she starts to hyperventilate and has to half-hide under the quilt. She talks like the Count, she loves numbers, and she pretends she's the Countess almost every day. Peter and Angela now think you're supposed to yell "Ah ah ah!" after every number, and don't even get me started on what they all do during a thunderstorm.

My brother saw this hero-worship in person when we were all watching a Christmas special at my parents' house and the Count made a surprise appearance. Sophie immediately laid prostrate on the floor and covered her eyes - she wanted to look at him, but she couldn't bear it. My brother couldn't believe it.

"She can't even look at him!"

"Well, that's because she loves him so much."

"I swear to God, it's just like a teenager seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show!" he marveled. He grabbed the remote and rewound it so we could watch her grovel again.

We even made her a Count poster to put stickers on when she uses the potty:

I've had these images for quite a while, but it was Dooce's sidesplitting commentary that made me finally post them... thank you, my little Sachertorte!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Illustration Friday: Small

"The tiny seed inside split open and began to sprout and grow." A page from an unfinished story I've been working on.

I have a necklace I wear almost every day. It's not impressive looking at all. It's a tiny globe of glass, and inside is a mustard seed. The story of the mustard seed is one of faith; you're not required to have the hugest, most impressive, earth shaking faith. All you need is to begin with something small - faith the size of a mustard seed. And in case you didn't know, from this tiny seed grows a huge, flowering plant.

I try to keep that in mind for everything; I don't have to have huge ideas, enormous inspirations, the biggest and best plan. All I need to do is start with a small seed of thought and let it grow and flower from there.

"If you have faith no bigger even than a mustard seed ...nothing will prove impossible to you" —Matthew 17:20 and 24.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Get a Wakeup call from Kermit the Frog!

Apparently Target is having a 2 day sale after Thanksgiving, and you can register on the site to have Kermit give you a wakeup call! My shopping is 99% done (#22), but we're having Kermit call us anyway!

You can see the commercials here (the banjo one is my favorite - "My grandmother plays faster than that!")

And see Kermit singing a lullaby here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Illustration Friday: Free

Back in June when I first posted this painting (in the middle of The Artist's Way. ), I asked you what you thought it meant. Now I'll tell you what I think it means. ;)

The red bird is the girl's heart. It's got a safe and comfortable place to be, a place that's got green leaves on it that are starting to grow. The blue bird is singing to the red bird that it's okay to come out, to fly, to try new things and new adventures. It will always be able to return to that safe place, but it has to take a chance.

The girl? I think she's a little ambivalent. She's nurturing towards the red bird - she's almost cradling it and trying to shield it, but at the same time, she's holding the blue bird right up close so they can talk to each other. I think she knows it's time for a change and is hoping the red bird will make the right decision and fly away, free.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Illustration Friday: (Lord, Give Me) Strength

...when I deal with the boy who needs to wear pajamas backwards to bed, because if he doesn't, he'll take off his diaper and decorate the crib, the walls and himself with the contents. Trust me, it's not pretty.

...to be patient with the girl whose latest trick is emptying her milk into her tray and seeing how high it can go when she smacks it. And more strength to be patient for the way she laughs in my face when I yell not to do that.

...when Sophie treats the church to a rousing rendition of 'The Muppet Show' theme as she marches up the aisle after church.

Thank you for giving me: a sense of humor, wisdom to learn from my bazillion mistakes, and for such nutty children. If they were normal, I wouldn't know what to do with them.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Illustration Friday: Night

A little painting I did when Sophie was teeny.

Nighttime is a wonderful time of the day for me. It's when all the babies are in bed at last, and I have a few hours for myself. After a full day of cooking, art directing, chasing the kids around the yard, reading/singing/dancing, baths, and prayers, I savor having time to create and make my own messes. (Currently, I'm making sock monkeys for the babies, and writing Christmas cards - I plan to mail them out super-early, like last year.) And some nights, I actually just go to sleep. ;)

ps ~ Get cards (and prints) for yourself, here.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

WWJD - no, really.

Whilst channel-hopping last night, annoyed that ANTM was a recap, I stumbled upon Trading Spouses. An over-the-top Christian mom switched places with a new-agey mom (with hair uncannily like mine). It looked like there was a fight a-coming, and of course with the magic of editing and creepy music they can infer all sorts of tension. But what really got me upset and was so not faked was this; the new-age mom meeting the other mom's best friends for the first time. It went something like this:
Friend: So, what do you believe? What are you?

New Age Mom: (Completely taken aback) Well, I was raised Catholic, but now I'm Unitarian.

F: Oh... so what does THAT mean?

NAM: Well, we're all one, you know...

F: Oh, so do you believe in God or some (does quote thingy with her fingers) "Higher Power"? (smirk)

NAM: I believe in God, if that's what you're asking. (Thinking, hello, I just met you!)

F: But would you call yourself a Christian? .... No? Oh, I see. (Turns her back on NAM, goes to kitchen and greets other friends loudly.)
I had to turn this garbage off, I was so annoyed. Not only am I thinking, this is a crappy way to treat anyone, but it's especially rotten if you call yourself a Christian. I pictured Jesus sitting in His armchair throwing the remote down in disgust and going, "No! You guys keep getting this wrong!"

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Go on, see the rest of them. You know you want to.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Illustration Friday: Remote

One of the main concepts of The Artist's Way is that work doesn't come from you, it comes from the Creator and you're just the conduit. I really have absolutely no problem accepting this concept - I mean, look at the simple joyous abundance there is in all of nature! There's not just one kind of flower, or animal, or fish, there are a bazillion of them. God is supremely creative, and the concept of me as God's vessel makes perfect sense to me.

Now... giving up the control and letting God work through me - that's something I need a heap of work on. Lord knows, I'm trying.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Live to be Nine

This movie makes me want to grab my camcorder, my puppets, and my brother and go to the playground and make a video. I love this.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Get a FREE print when you order 5 sets of Holiday Cards!

I'm thrilled to announce a brand new special on my holiday cards:
Choose 5 card sets and get an 8" x 10" print FREE!

Whether you're looking for something deep and thought-provoking, or artwork to just plain make you laugh, this special's for you! These two paintings are the ones I've gotten the most mail about: the thoughtful girl with a tree and two birds; and the one we like to just call "Fishies." Choose any combination of 5 card sets to send out and pick a print for yourself! Each print measures 8" x 10" and is printed on glossy stock with quality inks. Just let me know which print you want in the field marked "Additional Information."

All cards are professionally printed on glossy stock in full, luscious color. And each card shows one of my original watercolor and colored pencil paintings. Or if you just can't decide which to choose, there's an assorted multi-pack so you can have a little of everything.

Go see the cards, read the stories behind them, and check out those prints right here at the French Toast Girl Shop.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Illustration Friday: Cold

Nothing says "cold" like a naked figure playing piano in the snow.

This is the new CD cover for the Winter Recordings at Paul's studio. Little did I know years ago when I did the first cover that it would become the Summer Recordings and we'd need another one. Trying to figure out a companion cover that was seasonal, but not pertaining to any religious holiday; that had plenty of room for text (the student's name, date, etc.); that featured a figure suitably ambiguous that it would be appropriate for any of his students (ranging from kindergarteners to retirees); and that was in the exact same style as I painted several years ago - well, it was a heck of a challenge, to say the least.

I like seeing the covers side by side...

And you can listen to the music that goes on the CDs here - Paul encourages his students to write their own pieces as well; go to this page and click "Brighter Days" to hear an original composition... wish I could have written something like that when I was 14!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Big 34 List

I posted it, finally! See the 34 things I'm working on between now and August 15.

Do you have a "big" list? What's on it?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Illustration Friday: Lost

Doodles from my lost evening. Too tired to do anything but sketch and watch TV - I tried to capture as many faces from the screen as I could.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cheer me up, buttercup...

Someone out there didn't want me to be creative last night.

After a harrowing day (which comes after a harrowing week), I try to take advantage of the kids all being in bed to do some art. I'm going to save time because I have a great pic already done for this week's Illustration Friday; all I have to do is scan it. Except all my watercolour sketchbooks are on the shelf, except this one. I look again. Can't find it, anywhere.

In my house-wide search (so much for time-saving!) I take a second to check my email and get a note about my art that really, really bothered me. (not a critique; I may write more about it later.) While I'm upset from reading this, I hear Sophie getting louder and louder and louder. So I abandon my search, go put on the mantle of mom (did I ever take it off?) and go see what's up.

Sophie has somehow leaked a full sippy cup of water into her crib. Which means a full change of sheets and pajamas in the dark, because the lightbulb burned out on her dresser lamp. She thought this was hilarious; I'm glad one of us did. Oh, and I should mention that she's lucky there was a clean sheet since Peter's latest trick is taking off his clothes during his naptime and peeing on them.

I spent the rest of the evening moodily eating potato chips and watching Leonardo's Dream Machines (engineers use daVinci's sketches and build and test his creations - fascinating!). But creativity-wise, I'm shot.

So please, cheer me up, inspire me, tell me a joke... I need some serious recharging of batteries here.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Henson Stamps are HERE!

RUN to your post office and get them while they're here - the lady behind the counter was impressed that I knew about them so early. I said, "Are you kidding, I've been waiting for these for months!" Anyway, she thinks they'll sell out soon, so if you want them, go get 'em... we got 4 sets and I'm thinking of ordering more. :)

And of course, the quote says:

"When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."

ps ~ the pic of Jim with Kermit, is retouched as far as I know... the original photo I've always seen in that pose, he's holding Bert.

pps ~ Sophie was able to correctly identify everyone on the stamps (exept Statler and Waldorf, she knew who they were but not their names) including Jim Henson. Clearly, we're bringing that child up right....

Monday, September 26, 2005

Illustration Friday: Fresh

So after a gazillion false starts, all of something totally different, I let my mind wander and this is what happened.

This is a work in progress. With a tip o' the hat to Anonymous, I invite serious feedback this week. Constructive criticism, please. Should I watercolor it? Paint a version as big as me? Only do the top half? Leave it alone? What? I have been toying with doing something with layers of acetate and tracing paper, but I really have no idea. Make me think.

ps ~ If you hate it, that's fine. I'm a big girl. You can tell me.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

It's.... PEOPLE!

Taken from one of Paul's childhood Richard Scarry books - now one of Sophie's favorites.
what do people do all day?
Does anyone else find this disturbing?

Closeup, in case you missed it the first time:

She's feeding her family BACON!

Our version is from 1968... the book is abridged now, and what's been cut? Hmmmm...
(from an Amazon.com review:) They removed 4 stories from the original: busy (stay at home) mom, water treatment plants, electricity and how we get it, and Sgt. Murphy the Busytown policeman.
Wonder why? Some reviewers complain that the women's roles are sexist. But we know the real truth:


Friday, September 23, 2005

The auction's over...

Congratulations! Kendra Drury Vanasse is the new proud owner of a french toast girl original painting! Thanks to Kendra, a generous donation will be made to the Mercy Corps Hurricane Katrina Fund.

I kind of like the idea of sending out this painting and giving it a new home - maybe I'll get to the point where it doesn't take a disaster for me to part with a piece of my art and I could (gasp!) actually sell originals and let them fly free.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A giant, pink, knitted bunny.

Check out this article about a giant knitted pink bunny. [via Loobylu]

"An enormous pink bunny has been erected on an Italian mountainside where it will stay for the next 20 years."

My first thought was, how cool! But then after sending it around, too many questions came up, like, how many mice are going to be living in this thing in 20 years? What kind of rot is going to set in? My boss thinks its all an elaborate photoshop hoax, and no matter how much I really want to believe that it was "knitted by dozens of grannies out of pink wool", I still find it hard to swallow.

This can't possibly be real.... can it?

ps ~ More Big Bunny (of the demented sort) here. Make sure you listen to the theme song.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Illustration Friday: Escape

Autobiography in Five Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place, but it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in...it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Experiments and good deeds

Things may look a little different as I try to clean up the code on the page - please bear with me! By the way, I think I finally got my site feed to work, so feel free to blogroll away! (Um... and if it doesn't work, please tell me.)

ps ~ more good works: Patrick McDonnell of Mutts fame is auctioning off an original, hand-colored Sunday strip and donating 100% of the proceeds to the Humane Society's work to aid animals in need in the devastated areas left behind by Hurricane Katrina. (I had the honor of scanning it in, and let me tell you, it's gorgeous!) Go check it out here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Illustration Friday: Depth

I'm wordless. You make up a caption.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Been sad, been thinking lots.

9/11 and Katrina have brought about lots of memories, lots of feelings of helplessness, lots of panic and nightmares of terroristic things happening to my own children. Not too much I can do about it but to try to hug them lots and pray till it passes. Everything I do seems like just a drop in the bucket.

I've been playing this song as much as I can until I can get the CD (out tomorrow; that's something to look forward to).

Like so many girls, Jenny Wren could sing
But a broken heart took her song away
Like the other girls, Jenny Wren took wing
She could see the world and its foolish ways
How we spend our days casting love aside
Losing sight of life, day by day
She saw poverty, breaking all the home
Wounded warriors, took her song away
But the day will come, Jenny Wren will sing
When this broken world mends its foolish ways
Now we spend our days catching up on life
All because of you, Jenny Wren

(from Paul McCartney's new album, which you can sample here .)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Own an original painting and help Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Once again, I'm auctioning an original painting for charity. I will donate 100% of the proceeds of the sale to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts (Mercy Corps Katrina Relief Fund).

(detail above; click here for full image)

The painting measures 18"x24" with an image area of 16"x22" and is painted on acid-free, recycled bristol board with a vellum finish, using acrylics and coloured pencil.

Ever since the hurricane, I've had sleepless nights, unable to get images from the news reports out of my head. All I can think about is how I would feel if anything happened to our children - how do you explain to a baby that there's nothing for her to eat or drink? Or where her home is? I've been hugging my babies especially tight right now and praying hard.

Our hearts go out to all affected by this disaster - especially the children. It's my hope that every child and family affected by this tragedy will be able to follow their dreams and still reach for the stars.

The auction is here on eBay and will be running until close to midnight on September 12.

Even if you've already made a donation and won't be be bidding here, please spread the word and post a link if you have a blog or forward this in an email - every cent will be donated to the disaster relief efforts, and every penny can help.

Monday, September 05, 2005

illustration friday: roots
Illustration Friday: Roots

I think many times, what's going on under the surface is more interesting than what the rest of the world sees.

A defining concept from the Artist's Way is the need to nurture and protect your new and growing ideas before exposing them to the rest of the world and allowing them to be hurt. Know that for every little fragile shoot emerging out of the dust, there's a widespread and deep system of roots to support it. Right now; I have lots and lots of roots and a few brand new shoots starting to be brave and stick their heads up.

p.s. ~ Just wanted to let everyone know a previous Illustration Friday painting of mine is being auctioned to raise funds for Mercy Corps Hurricane Katrina Fund. Here's your chance to own an original painting and to do some good for people so desperately in need of help.

p.p.s ~ Check out also Art For Katrina, a site where many other artists are donating their work and efforts.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

artist's way coverI did it! At long last, and after starting on four seperate occasions since 1997, I FINALLY FINISHED THE ARTIST'S WAY! I truly think this time was different - whether it's because I was more ready for it, or had a stronger support system, or because I made my self accountable by sending weekly updates and emails, or because I finally faced my fears head-on - I honestly don't know. Maybe it was a combination of all of the above. I signed a contract with myself for the next three months to continue doing my morning pages (and drew a big rainbow on it). I have a plan outlined for the next few months to help me reach my goals, and I have a dedicated support system I keep in touch with on a regular basis. ps ~ If you signed up for the weekly email updates, I can't tell you how much it's helped me, and I hope it's helped you too. (You get one more email this weekend....)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I am married, but not settled - more stirred up I think. Still rebellious, still searching for inner peace. I see.... how life has molded our partnership; how living with and loving this man has surprised me, has turned out to be something I never expected... [We] are a thousand times blessed. In the sun and in the darkness as well, we can be happy together. Married, I am happy. Married, I am free.* Happy Birthday (and Anniversary, earlier this month) to my Paul. *again, from Singing Lessons by Judy Collins.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Illustration Friday: Dream This weekend I had a tremendous experience that I don't know if I could do justice to here with a limited amount of space. Suffice it to say, I made a request of God and it was filled INSTANTLY, in a very personal and humbling and visual way. While writing down the experience and the dream that preceded it, ideas for paintings came POURING out onto the paper, images I'd carried with me for years but never seriously entertained putting down. I think all in all there were 11 of them and 7 or more were all on the same theme - it occurred to me I could have a showing of all of them, and tell the stories that went with them. All very uplifting and hopeful. I also felt the urge to write myself a permission slip - and again, the words came tumbling out onto the paper. Permission to paint whatever I wanted, for myself. Permission to paint the same picture as many times as I needed to - big, small, different mediums - maybe they'd be easier to let go of if I had more than one to give away or sell! I put a big dotted line around it and boxed it. I think I was giving myself permission but it was God's hand guiding the pen. illustration friday: dream I wish you inspiration and love and the power to give yourself permission to do whatever it is you're afraid to do. Doors are opening.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The other french toast recipe. 'Kay, this is how I make french toast when there's just us (the 5 of us) at home. I don't have measurements, I just kind of mix things together so they look right - so no fear of measurements or anything technical here. It's all look and feel (and taste)! This is my own recipe, totally made up out of my head, from the days when I was a kid and would wake up early on Saturday morning to make toast for the family and then, while it was cooking, run outside and grab strawberries out of the front garden to put on top. Alas, now the deer at my parent's house eat every growing thing in sight and renegade squirrels make off with the rest, but I continue the tradition by making this for my family now and with my own strawberry patch. Note: you can make this as healthy or unhealthy as you like. The point is to experiment and have fun with it. Just please don't copy this to your site and pass it off as your own, or the karma of the toast will come back by clogging your arteries and sending you to an early grave. Don't say I didn't warn you. Feel free to share it, though. You need: - bread (whole wheat, italian, whatever you want!), figure at least 2 slices per person - 1 or 2 eggs - milk - vanilla - cinnamon - butter/margarine - fun extras - berries, whipped cream, maple syrup, strawberry syrup, powdered sugar Get a low bowl - you're looking for something wide and low, like a soup dish. (You don't want to bend your bread!) If you're making it just for you, use one egg, (more people or you want more for later, use two) and then pour enough milk in there so that when you mix it up it's a nice buttery color. I throw in a splash of vanilla as well. I shoot for well-mixed batter with NO big strands of egg white. Whip it, whip it good. Get your pan ready with butter; melt it so that when you have your drippy slice of battery bread you're all set to pop it in there. Then generously sprinkle cinnamon on top of your batter and place a slice of bread in the bowl. I for one don't like soggy toast at all, so I plop the bread in and quickly turn it over to the other side. Put it in the pan with the melted butter, cinnamon side down. Do the same with other slices till you fill up your pan. I happen to hate french toast with pieces of fried egg hanging off it, but if you mixed it well enough, this won't be a problem. If you do like your toast that way, then mix less. While they're browning, sprinkle cinnamon on the sides facing up. Dot with tiny pats of butter; they'll melt on the top as the bottom browns. I like my toast on the crispy side, so I like to get them good and brown like grilled cheese. When you like the way the bottom looks, flip it. When the undersides get nice and brown, remove them from the pan and do the next batch. Pay attention to the toast - turn down the heat if they're getting to dark too fast; and don't be afraid to slide another teeny pat of butter in there if you think it needs it. ;) Ways to serve your toast like we do at our house: - Please, serve it on a nice plate. - Try lots of fun toppings! Some of our favorites are: berries of all sorts, powdered sugar, whipped cream, bananas, nutella... or a combination of any of the above - Please, please, please, don't use Wonder bread, artificial syrup, or other fake stuff. Try the real deal and you probably won't want to go back to that overprocessed stuff. (That being said, my husband the Nature Boy actually prefers Aunt Jemimah to maple syrup. To each his own.) - Allow yourself to eat it sitting down, put on some nice music, and enjoy your food instead of eating it off a paper plate, standing up at the counter while you sip your reheated coffee from the styrofoam container. (This goes for all your food, not just french toast!) Have fun! You can freeze the leftovers... not that we ever have a crazy thing like that in our house!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Angela speaks! Take a listen to the littlest muffin recite some of her favorite words, with a yee! or two thrown in for good measure. Click here to listen to Angela [mp3]

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Illustration Friday: Reflection. As I did quite a bit of reflection of the soul-searching sort last week, I figured I'd be literal this week. This is from a large drawing I did almost entirely in teeny tiny crosshatchings many years ago. While the monotony got to me eventually and I stopped using this technique soon after, I still love this picture. Closeup.... whatever was I thinking?!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

French Toast Girl is 6, and we're celebrating with new stuff! In honor of the site's sixth anniversary, we're offering two exciting new products! A journal/sketchbook and glossy print, both featuring my blossom faerie watercolour painting. It's taken me a while to produce new stuff because I'm such a stickler for perfection, but these two really are something special! Wanna create? Carry around the journal/sketchbook and keep your dreams close by. Glossy cover and unlined pages. Our wire-bound with 160 unlined pages. 12pt glossy paper cover, coated for scratch resistance. Measures 5" x 8". Or bring some magic into your home with the glossy poster print. It has a wide border and looks great matted or hung plain. Measures 16" x 20" and fits standard frames. Printed on heavyweight 7 mil semi-gloss paper using superior dye inks. What are you waiting for? Go! Look!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Illustration Friday: Wise It's my birthday. I'm not sure if this past year has made me smarter, but it has made me a bit wiser. I've learned so much about finding joy and pleasure wherever I can find it, in the smallest things. I've learned that it's okay to be vulnerable, to be broken, to not be the superest, bestest, happiest supermom ever. That being human is perfectly acceptable. I've learned how vital art is to my well-being - that I am an artist, and that the act of creating and painting can save my very life. I've surprised myself by discovering that I love to work from home, that I can set up 33 things to do in a year and do most of them, that I am much stronger than I think. I've found out a lot about nutrition and the way food is grown and processed that will change the way my family and I eat for the rest of our lives. I've learned that many of the obstacles I think I face, I've created myself. And that I'm the one with the power to clear them away. I've let go of past hurts and misconceptions that made me scared to dream BIG. I've learned that prayer can take many forms, including singing, painting, and taking time to notice the simple beauty in a leaf. I've also learned to say thank you much more often. I've learned to accept whatever blessings come my way with open arms, instead of saying "I'm not worthy" or trying to think what I can give back in return. and... I've learned that treating myself as precious makes me strong.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Illustration Friday: Empty

Monday, August 08, 2005

A brand new look... done at last! See the latest collaboration between Paul and me.... his completely redone and beautified website! (You can see the old one here.) I would post screen caps, but as it's late and I've been flirting all evening with defenstration for this #$%@^&#!! computer (newer one's sitting on the floor next to me, ready to go), I'll have to pass for tonight. Trust me. It's pretty. And if you like it, tell Paul, he'll be thrilled! Oh, and defenestration is one of my favorite words. Ever. If I could, I'd have it on my business card, "Art Director and Defenestrator." Sounds impressive, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Yeah, yeah, yeah! I have found possibly THE greatest internet radio station of all time - an all Paul McCartney (and Beatles, and Beatle-related) musical extravaganza. I actually heard songs on there that I not only didn't know, but had never heard of. (Yes! There is such a thing! Everyone who knows me is shocked, good and proper.) Go. Listen. Now. And sing along, loudly. ps ~ Does anyone know the song the quote at the top of my comments box comes from? You get bonus points. (You, dear, who already probably not only knows all the songs I don't, but quite possibly knows ones Paul himself hasn't even dreamed up yet - please hold off until others have had a chance.) pps ~ And did you know there's a new McCartney album out next month? Homemade, playing all the instruments himself (again). No sign of artwork...it can't be worse than last time.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Illustration Friday: Aging I have been doing a lot of thinking about aging lately. For one thing, my birthday's in two weeks; for another, I'm on Week Eight in The Artist's Way and one of my tasks is to picture my life in 5 and 10 years' time. This has been the point where I usually quit (tried four times before) because I have a very hard time stating my dreams out loud and actually planning for them. It scares the pants off me, really. But this time I think I'm ready for it. (And there will be much more about all that later.) I have had a couple of wonderful "age mentors" in my life. They have taught me that you can be in your 60's (and your 90's!) and be vibrant, alert, ready for a party or to go biking through Costa Rica. They shake up my ideas about what grandmas can do, or be. So now, knowing that I get incredibly cranky when I'm not at my fullest strength (witness me after my surgery with three babies this year), I've decided to do all I can NOW while I'm still disgustingly healthy to stay that way; to form habits of good eating, clean living, and exercise that will stay with me all my life; to keep my mind and creativity alert and to always be open to learn something new. I plan to be active (probably with long white hair, to boot!) for an awful long time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

#10 and #17 With less than a month left to go, I'm bearing down on my Big 33 List. I'm doing a 5k tonight (walking! I can't run to save my life) and getting my first haircut in three years this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Illustration Friday: Tranquility After the storm comes peace, but you have to make it through the storm first. This song has had a profound effect on me this week. I've been through my storm, and earned my peace.

Friday, July 22, 2005

So busy, I can't sit still. Well, here's another Friday without an illustration to my name. In addition to the usual work/family stuff, I'm now working on having a poster and journal for sale on the site, I'm redsigning a large website, and am in the process of designing 4 CDs. Not to mention doing the Artist's Way and all that involves. So new illos are out until I can finish up all this other stuff. I do have to say that God/the Universe is sending LOADS of opportunities my way, one of which is so exciting I can't talk about it, and I have been welcoming them all with open arms. Bring on the blessings!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Revelations and Blessings Had a fun weekend - on Saturday, we turned in our form for the HP Scavenger Hunt and picked up our copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at the local bookstore. By Sunday morning at 6am, I'd finished it - I was really going to try to stretch this one out and make it last... and somehow, I couldn't do it! On Sunday Snowflake and Lucky came over for lunch, pretty much the first time we've entertained since the twins were born. Petey showed off his newfound abilities by saying Snowflake's name - a truly wonderful thing as mostly his sounds have been limited to "AAAAGH!" and "uh-oh!" And yes, it was absolutely wonderful as well to see them and spend time talking about things that had nothing to do with the kids. In doing The Artist's Way again (on my Big 33 List), I've been surprised this time by having a revelation almost every week, something that never happened to me before. It's dawned on me recently just how truly and deeply blessed I am. Years ago, I gave a talk called "So Blessed" as its theme, but it seems in recent years - with the babies all so little at the same time, the twins' prematurity, the doctors, the recovery, the day to day struggle; the crushing post-partum depression - I didn't feel very blessed at all. I felt burdened. People would pass me struggling to push this mammoth triple stroller on our walks and call out, "God bless you!" and I would shout back, "Thank you! I need it!" But in the past couple of days, I have truly felt again how deeply and strongly God has blessed my life. And then I've also just realized that when people say, "I have no idea how you get so much done, you must be on special vitamins, etc." that God's blessed me in that way too by giving me extra energy and an ability to work hard and get things done quickly. I never gave it much thought before, I just always thought that was just me. But maybe I've been blessed with extra energy because God knew I'd need it to keep up with the kids and be able to do the work that makes me happy and keep everything in balance. In my studio used to be a framed note from a high-school religious education class. It said, "What you are is God's gift to you. What you become is your gift to God." Maybe it's time for me to really start thinking what to do with my gifts.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

My boy Petey-Pop...you make my heart go giddy-up Peter's surgery went just great - the actual procedure itself took about 15 minutes. Before surgery, despite getting up at 5:30 in the morning and having nothing to eat since 7 the night before, he was sweet and quiet and charmed the pants off everyone he came in contact with. They let him have his precious duckie at all times and even gave him a puppet to keep, made by volunteers. He was so entranced by the bag it came in that he didn't really care for the puppet, but whatever works.... When the operating room team all said, "Hi, Peter!" he just giggled right back at them. I was able to be with him and hold him as he had anesthesia, and he gave everyone his wonderful sweet Petey smile. Waking up was tough, but not as rough as it seemed to be for Sophie. (We also knew what to expect!) An hour after the procedure, he was back to his cute self. And no, we didn't bring earplugs for the whole recovery room - he never once did the tortured-kitten scream! Could it be that he's giving it up? As soon as we got home, he started playing and had breakfast. Angela and Sophie missed him - Angela especially seemed to be upset by him not being there! So the followup is this - a little Tylenol when he wakes up from his nap, eardrops tonight and tomorrow, and that's it! What a difference from Sophie's experience... and then he'll have a visit with the dr. next week just to check that everything's in place, and then every three months after that. The plan is for the tubes to stay in for about a year, and then fall out on their own. (Anything else can mean more surgery.) Here's hoping that they stay in, do what they're supposed to, and help the boy to HEAR. Thanks for all your prayers. Keep 'em coming! ps ~ I have to add that the nurses said I was the best (meaning calmest) Mom they'd ever seen in the recovery room. I've been there before.... this was nothing! ;)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Petey's surgery is tomorrow morning. Hopefully, these tubes will be the answer we've been looking for, and Peter will be able to hear (and learn to speak) properly. Oh,and if having fluid drain from his ears means he will be more comfortable and give up that kitten-getting-run-over-by-a-steamroller shriek, that would only be the sweetest of icings on the cake. Please send a little prayer our way whenever you can.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

for all you commuters... I’ve been starting off every morning painting now. I spent my ”commute time” one rainy morning sitting on the porch with my watercolours, Spackle, the neighbor’s fluffy cat, a big mug of coffee, and a bowl of my homemade granola with peaches, blueberries, kiwi, and raspberries I picked with Angela from our garden. p.s. ~ Anyone want to commute to my house and hang out with me on the porch? Bring your laptop! category |