Monday, 2 December 2013

What's Next?

Better busy than bored is my motto.

It's been busy! I'm not bored! But I'm not doing enough drawing and zentangling. (Although the Paint Spot has truly profited from my 'good intentions'!) It's been a long time since I've done one of the Diva's challenges - though I FAITHFULLY look at them every week. I just don't seem to have the mental space/time to put pen to paper until Sunday... the only day I can't submit!

Brene Brown stopped me cold one day when I listed to her say the following: "Unused creativity is NOT benign".


Really... I didn't hear that right. She couldn't have said "NOT benign".

Yep. She did. She really said it. 

Working on expressing my creativity. Loving how it makes me feel.

Boo-kee, Caykes, Well, String

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Busy and slow

It's been a busy week, 
but a lovely slow weekend...

The Diva's challenge was to use Knightsbridge and Tipple... duo tangle. It was fun and it was interesting to see where it went. 

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Have I learned my lesson?

I'm a planner. Ask any of my friends. I'm pretty good at it. 

This weekend was a fun little trip to Calgary, 3 hours south. Friday after work was the PERFECT drive. Sunny, warm, golden fields and trees just turning to autumn colours. I had cobbled together a new "Drive" playlist and the music was LOUD.

I got to the airport, suffered louts at the gas station (2 cut in front of me in line!) and went to pick up my friend, whom I adore. She's everything I'm not - tall (!), always gorgeous, relaxed, and always in the moment (while I'm always looking ahead..). I love how she sees life beautifully. She is a tad disorganized, however, and so I had NO idea what flight (I'd been given a time only... and no, didn't have any more details). In the end I had the wrong time, wrong airline and wrong originating city. 

I wasn't annoyed, but I was a wee bit impatient. 

Here's where the humility comes in. After we finally connected, I realized: I had lost my parking card. So it was $25.20 to pay for the day. Grr. We had a lovely evening talking over supper and watching Brene Brown's TED Talks. Then I lost my hotel room card this morning.

Now I'm home. And I left my laptop power cord AT the hotel! Good grief. I never do these things. So either it's early-onset dementia, OR I'm supposed to learn something. I hope I have. This lack of focus is driving me crazy!

Last night and this morning I finished off the Diva's latest challenge. I LOVE the colours. I love the simplicity of B&W zentangles, but I'm always drawn in by colour. Always. 

I took Diva's and LeeAnn's wonderful suggestions for how to use colour - so I wet the tile and dropped watercolour pigments on top, let it dry and then started the tangling! This has been a wonderful lesson...

Time to shut down the computer (to save power... another friend will return the cord to me tomorrow)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

What's for supper?

I call my cookbook "But I JUST Fed Them Yesterday!", and no, that's not a joke.

I am a competent cook. Not a great one, but a good one, with occasional flashes of brilliance. To be really good, I'd have to think about food more, but to be completely honest, food is wonderful when I'm hungry, but not that captivating if I'm sated, which is most of the time. Wine, on the other hand... but that's another post!

Today is a lovely serotinal September day and when I got into my oven-hot car after work, I immediately thought that this was the right day for my favourite hot-day meal: Lemon Spaghetti.

I actually saw this meal made on TV. It might be the only recipe I have from a TV show! But it is perfection on a hot summer evening. We paired it with a Gray Monk Pinot Gris - fruity, slightly effervescent, a beautiful background note to the pasta, fresh lemon, parmesan and the fresh green of basil. If it were colder, I might think of adding a grind or two of fresh pepper, but not on a beautiful hot day like today!

Fresh Lemon Spaghetti

Squeeze about 3 lemons for about 1/2 c fresh juice.
(Zest one of the lemons first)
Finely grate about 2/3c fresh parmesan cheese
Chop about 1/2c fresh basil.

Boil 1 lb (package) of spaghetti or spaghettini according to the directions on the package. Drain and put back into pot.

Drizzle about 1/4c GOOD olive oil over and stir.
Add in lemon juice, parmesan and basil. Stir well. Serve.

Since Matt and Tara and Alex were all here for supper, we barbecued a strip loin steak and cut it into thin strips to add a little protein, and added some sourdough bread.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Circuitous Thinking

First day of work. It rained crazy-making. Would whoever is doing a daily rain dance, please STOP? The sump pump (which kindly pumps out the low spot for several neighbours as well) was going for hours throughout the day (at 2000 gal/hr)... Blessedly the rain had gone by the time I went home from work.

I took a first try at my first DuoTangle challenge from the Diva. Interrresssting!

I will try another approach, but I try to do my first without looking at anyone else's... maybe now I will check out how others are handling the challenge.

Tangles: Cirquital and Opus

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Walk on!

I'm on a hiatus between jobs, and STILL there is very little time to play. I think it must be a personality flaw...

I've been getting lots done though - there was a surprise family wedding photo session in our backyard July 6 (young friends)... only 48 hours notice for 40-ish relatives! But some emergency weeding had everything looking just fine just in time, (THANK you Shantelle and Tara!) and the storms held off, so all was well. 

Yesterday I injured my toe - not too badly but it did require 3 stitches. So I got home, put my foot up and had my wine close by, and a good novel in hand. First time since my last day um, 2 weeks ago... 
(I originally posted this B&W photo and my son didn't notice the bandages; he thought I was being "arty".)

I've taken a slower day today, but it IS mid-evening and I've just finished the Diva's challenge from this week.

She asked us to use a stencil. Now here's the thing. In the distant past, we had a house in Whitehorse (Yukon - think 1898 Gold Rush) and I stencilled stars and flowers and art deco all over. It was amazing (I know, but really it was great). 

This spring we had a boarder arriving, so I cleaned up (!) and I threw out all the old stencils, thinking it was unlikely I would need them. 
Always what happens!
So I kept looking and found a box FULL of Creative Memories art cards. Thumbing through, Calgary and Southern Alberta flood recovery is still on my mind, so the cowboy boot was pulled... Walk on, Albertans!
Patterns I know I used: Shattuck, Huggins, Jonqal, N'zeppel, Finery, Bunzo, Inapod

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Variations on a theme

The Diva's challenge takes a deceptively simple tangle "Birdie Feet" ... 

What can I do with that?

Learn a few more borders, apparently!

Tangles I know I used: Birdie Feet, Bird on a Wire, Puffle, Assunta/Paizel, Eyelet & Ribbon, Shattuck, Unme

Friday, 28 June 2013

You are not alone (part 2)

Thinking of those struggling with the huge challenges of flooding in southern Alberta 

and in the Himalayas, India...

Here's another tangle I drew while thinking of hope... (first one here)

Rope for working together, pearls and shell for finding both unexpected beauty and treasure, and new growth.

Tangles I know I used: Perk, Twisted Rope, Pokeroot, Purk

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

You are not alone

A couple years ago I heard a wise woman discuss how our words fail us when we hope to offer comfort. Too many times what we say feels trite... too small... and not helpful.

The feelings and hopes behind those words are not small or trite, it's just that the words fail us.

She suggested that there are words that help, are true, and run deep:
"you are not alone"

Really, that's usually what we want, what we need to hear when the going is tough, rough and hard.

Calgary, Uttarakhand (India): you are not alone. We stand with you - in thought, in prayer, in donations, sometimes even right beside you with a hand (or a shovel). 

You are not alone.

My prayer is that out of this time there will be beauty and growth. I don't know how, but I know it can happen.

The Diva's challenge can be found here. Tangles I know I used: Copada, Purk, Kandysnake, Pais, Msst

Part 2 here

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The gift of a moment

Carmyn Joy is a gifted young artist. I'm barely biased at all - she photographed our daughter's wedding!

Take two minutes to breathe with Carmyn: 

in the small, find joy

(I tried to embed this vimeo right here, but technology is not behaving. Click on the link... go on... it's 2 minutes. Go for it. What are you waiting for?)

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

No rules

I like working within the rules mostly - things just seem to work out better. 

Well, not rules, exactly, but guidelines?

I love process, I love how good ideas put together create more than they were alone.

So a zentangle without using zentangles... eeek. Challenge posted on the Diva's website...

It was fun, but I like a little more structure in my world! Or, as I've been known to say: "JUST let me plan it: then I can be spontaneous!"

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Getting back to it

It's been a hectic month... although sort of one of those months where I can't really tell what I've accomplished... There was weeding, many guests for meals, more weeding and oh oops, a very sore arm/neck (physio is busy till next Thursday).  

Oh, and I applied for and was offered (and accepted) a new job, and am starting mid July...

Here's my playing with the Diva's latest challenge:

The challenge is all about the grid "unchained". I did rather enjoy the way patterns make new patterns together. Ah, another metaphor for life. I LOVE metaphors!

I also decided on a signature block. We'll see if that changes over time.

Patterns I know I used (not many this time): large is Mooka, small include Hurry, Onomato.

It's been a good weekend: more tangles for fun:

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Balancing Act

The road to hell… paved with good intentions. So went my intent to post something in response to the Diva’s challenge every week!

But I took time today to let some of the busy-ness out of my brain.

This challenge was to use white and dark in equal balance. 

In life, I like balance, but I hate dark. And this, like life, isn’t perfectly balanced as I can’t count worth beans! But the play of dark to light helps me see similar patterns from different perspectives. Yep. That's a metaphor!

Patterns I know I used: Hollibaugh, Grass Border & Droplet, Dyzzee,

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Earth Day

My Earth day Zentangles

The first just happened. I didn't really know where I was going with it. A friend commented that it is very botanical, likely because here in cool Alberta I really want spring. Too true!

The second was inspired partially through Helen Williams at A Little Lime because I really wanted to learn how to do a scrolled feather... and I love the pattern! This is also my first foray into including colour in Zentangle art...

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

What is Real Beauty?

I love Dove commercials. Even though I don't buy the brand, I love that they depart from the mainstream of perfection and Photoshop, and reveal people as their real selves (I worry that I'm missing some deception, but that might just be paranoia). 

See the newest Dove mini documentary on Real Beauty here. I found it thoughtful, and it reminds me that we must, we MUST! be more self- compassionate.

I'm getting a cold (yes I'm whining). Here's my next contribution to the Diva's challenge.

I used a negative star shape and learned several new tangles. I was kinda surprised when the Paradox rose out of the page after shading it! But the 3D effect is kind of fun...

I think this turned into a starfish... it has an aquatic feel.

Tangles I know I used: Bitten, Florez, Paradox, Mooka, Droplets (?), Verdigoh, Wist, Msst

Monday, 15 April 2013

Seek and ye shall find?

I was given a daily calendar for 2012 – everything geared towards gratitude. And while I agreed with the sentiments, I thought it would be mostly kitschy. Every so often though, it surprised me with quotes that caught me where it counts. Thoreau was one (you can see my surprise here) but it was Winston Churchill that hit me the hardest talking about hobbies.
“To be really happy and really safe
one ought to have at least two or three hobbies,
and they must all be real.”

Scared the willies outta me. Especially when I saw excellent science that backed up this wisdom (my post here). So I've been on the keen look-out for what might fit for me.

In late March, a friend suggested that we might put up his friend who would be taking a course here in Edmonton. Through her emails, I saw she was a CZT. After looking that up, I suggested that she could teach me something about this interesting activity. She said yes, but she doesn’t come for another week and a half. Being patient is not my strongest point … so I started looking at Zentangles and they have HOOKED me!

For years I’ve avoided doodling because it made me mad. It never turned out anything like I had in my head. Tangles are tools that allow me to get those pieces out.
Hallelujah, I have a hobby! (A second hobby, because I read very widely).

Yes, I’m a little frustrated because I don’t yet know very many tangles (“patterns”), and shading techniques seem to be less explained. But I am really enjoying all of this. The practice, even the train wrecks. I see patterns everywhere. (Oh, I saw those before, but honestly, I had nowhere to “put” them.)

I promised some promising links, as many of my friends newly introduced to my new introduction are asking questions. Someone should start a Wikipedia page, because there isn’t one yet!
While they can look complicated, Zentangles are made a stroke at a time. There is no pre-determined pattern or solution yet there are limits on the freedom, and it’s these constraints that provide potential. It’s pretty cool!

Founders Rick Roberts & Maria Thomas have a website and a blog.

There are hundreds of patterns:

There are some good books. I have purchased a couple e-books from the site, as well as “The Joy of Zentangle” from Chapters.

Lastly, I found a blogger ("the Diva") from Saskatoon. She puts out a weekly challenge – so I’ve committed to trying to submit something for that challenge weekly…  The best part is the worldwide submissions posted each week, and the creativity for each challenge is awe-inspiring.

Did I mention that the sun SHINES brighter, the grass is GREENER, and food TASTES better?  
Tangles I know I used! Papyrus, Twilight Zone, Chemystery, Sandswirl, Msst, Zinger

Friday, 12 April 2013

all boxed in

This week's challenge from the Diva is to use a box string to form patterns.

To be honest, only having started with Zentangles this at the beginning of this month, a mere 10 days ago or so, I wish I just had time to play and learn the patterns: I'd just sit and do them in order so I could practice, memorize, and get better at them!

Instead, I start by looking at the links and then finding patterns I want to learn to use.
Then, to keep it challenging, I wanted to incorporate initials of Sue and Tim, who are recently engaged. I understand that creating a tangle that has a "right side up" is not quite fitting into the rules (if you look at the first photo posted, you will see that I could turn it around and any side is "right"), but I enjoyed the challenge of working within the requirements of their initials. This one was my second try as the first was too busy. The reason it is so sepia toned is that I used an Instagram filter... and I liked it even better than the black.

I'm off tonight and will give this tangle to Sue at her "giftless" shower... No, I never WAS very good at obeying the rules!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

All tangled up

I was struck to cold immobility by a comment BrenĂ© Brown made in conversation with Oprah: “Unexpressed creativity is not benign.

After a moment I recovered movement and replayed the clip; indeed, to my horror, I’d heard correctly: “Unexpressed creativity is not benign. In fact, it metastasizes.


So much in trouble. (And oh, how I hate to be "in trouble"!)

As a little girl, I never wanted to be a singer or movie star; I dreamed of and worked towards being an artist. Everything else looked boring or difficult. Now, after years of non-artistic endeavor, I've found that being a nurse, working on research or policy is actually pretty interesting. And important. And rewarding.

A note here – early and middle adulthood is all about developing a career, building and making a home, having and raising kids – it is pretty distracting. I have continued to read, but my creativity outlet has dwindled.

I have known for years (maybe decades but that’s my inside voice) that I should (I need) find that outlet. Without descending into whining, it’s been very hard to find. I haven’t had much time to practice, so when projects have been less than stellar, that’s been another excuse – it “doesn’t look good”.

I dabble in projects here and there by building a house or planning an event, and at other times tell myself that being an appreciator of beauty in all its forms is pretty much being creative in the flesh. (Insert rude sound here). Nope. It’s not really a substitute.

A friend of a friend is staying with us in a month. She sent me some links to her blog (to be real we need to have an online presence?)… and I found something pretty darn interesting for me. Zentangles. A type of codified doodling...

I’m trying to do one every couple of days to learn the patterns. I have some projects in mind but I’m the student for now.

Here’s today's:
I have a small sense of a gentle spring rain misting down...

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

What am I hoping for?

As I was driving west last evening, I saw a shooting star (I never see shooting stars!)… and I wished upon it. 
Lucien, Mississippi (Franklin County) iron bridge over McCall creek with winter snow on a sunny morning. Frosty trees in the background of this beautiful landscape.

The sky was pale blue deepening to navy, and the bare tree branches stretched hopefully above the pale horizon. The star fell behind the string-like latticing of a walk-over bridge, and I choose to see that as an additional good omen: 
  • the star to wish on, 
  • the bridge to cross over, 
  • the trees meditatively waiting for spring.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Salty thoughts

I was a terribly picky eater as a kid. My favourite meal was steak, baked potato and canned spinach. Other than that, dessert. I never liked fruit or vegetables and really only ate so I was permitted to get to the sweet at the end. These bad habits were only reinforced by never feeling hungry. (I've ALWAYS had irritable bowel, and without getting into graphic detail, it meant that I was nauseated almost every day till my mid-40s. Really). So on average I only ate about 3 "meals" over two days and if I was traveling, I barely ate at all - which WAS helpful when I was a very poor student!

I asked for my first recipe when I was 15 from Glenys' mom. I had reluctantly tasted the chili and was surprised that I liked it. Serendipitously I started a wonderful gift to myself - recording that recipe and many others followed. I've collected extra tasty recipes as I've run across them, and only ever been turned down once! It took some time in the 1990s, but I put everything together in a cookbook that I titled "But I Just Fed Them Yesterday!".

20 years ago I read that the average family cooks about 10 meals in rotation. So if that average family improves the nutrition of just one meal at a time, that's great progress. I've thought of this often as I have cooked for my gang. And this past few months, I've started a new tradition that is SO easy I must share. It started, to be honest, because I was so blinkin' mad at companies for selling horrendously salt-loaded chicken broth. And if it was sodium "reduced", check out the fat content... oh sigh.

YESTERDAY (after 4+ years with this appliance, I found out that the freezer door tilts out for easy of access... who knew!)

Clean Out Your Fridge Broth
The advantage to this broth is that you clean up that carcass, you empty your fridge of oldish vegetables, and make something healthy AND useful!
  • Start with the a chicken carcass or ham bone, cooked OR raw, it doesn't matter. (I have also used raw chicken wingtips, necks and backbones when spatchcocking/ butterflying a chicken for BBQing)
  • Throw it in a big pot.
  • Rummage through the fridge and snag anything that looks useful, especially if it's on its "last legs". I usually include:
    • onion
    • carrots
    • celery
    • bay leaf
    • peppercorns 
    • enough salt to make it 'sweet', but not overtly salty
  • Other items could be (only limited by imagination)
    • carrot and pototo peel
    • ginger
    • mushroom stems
    • peas, beans, celery 
  • Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for a few hours.
  • Strain out so only liquid is left. Usually this is at night so I put it in the fridge overnight.
  • Ladle into muffin tins. Don't be tempted to make 1 and 2 cup (and larger) freezer units. Big ice broth blocks are much harder to use. Muffin tins are about 1/4c each - a perfect size to melt quickly when you need broth. Pop into the freezer. 

After they are frozen, pop out into a freezer bag, label and store in the freezer till you need it. By using 1/4 c pucks, it's EASY to add the correct amount to a recipe!   

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


Are resolutions at all useful?
It’s the second day of the New Year – 2013. It’s been 2 months since I posted on my blog – so typical of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

I lose my voice with SAD. Each day’s struggle becomes a little deeper, a little murkier, a bigger challenge. I have high hopes that my SAD Lights (or as the kids used to call them, my “happy lights”), will stave off the tiredness.

Here’s where I am grateful: SAD is a sliding scale – many in northern regions get the “February blues”. Let’s call that the mild end of the scale. Others at the severe end go on antidepressants. Most winters, I just get tired. My energy is a memory most days. Mornings are hard, afternoons are hard, and sometimes I slip into bed to read around 8 PM. Not so bad, really.

But it’s the New Year and resolutions must be considered and discarded. I’ve decided to pick up three: 
  • Eat out of our freezer and pantry – work down the inventory! (Jocelyn is moving out today, and Amelia is getting married on February 18).
  • Take a daily photo for the year. The best advice I’ve heard is to take lots of photos throughout the day and choose one. Here’s mine for today:

And my comment: "Back to work today after eleven days off. Sometimes I feel like two different people - one at work, and real me." 
  • And, I chose one word for my year. It’s not the word I WANTED to chose, but it’s been staring me in the face and I know it’s the right one. I won’t say what it is JUST yet, but maybe after it has sunk from my brain (I have head knowledge) to my heart and gut, I’ll share.