overdoing it

So, it's possible I got a little carried away with the Indian food. Things came to a head Friday night, when we had a friend over for dinner. I couldn't even imagine making anything but Indian, since I have been swimming in those waters. The meal was delicious, but I stood up from the table and told Michael "I don't think I need to eat again for a week or two." It's been three days, and still all I want is brat food. My tummy needs comfort, and I just want to sit around and eat grits all day.

One can only eat so many grits (theoretically), so I have been on a hunt for other bland, bland, yummy-but-bland options. I have had lots bananas and kefir, pushed the limits a bit with panzanella and then fig and roquefort flat bread. Today I decided that miso soup was in order. Not only have I never made miso soup, I've never really liked it that much. It's warm and brothy, but I could never understand why it was so intentionally bland. Today I understood, but in the end, I couldn't resist propping it up a bit.

I started with the recipe on the lid.

I used fresh mushrooms in place of the carrot/cabbage. I also used a bit more miso and 1/2 cube of tofu.

Delicious and simple! I'm exciting to really dress this up next time!

the eternal kitchen project

Two years ago we decided we had no intention of cooking a single meal in this kitchen. An older gentleman had been here alone for a while, and everything was covered with 30 years of grime. We could have spent a week cleaning, but instead we chose two days of demolition. See many more kitchen progress photos here.

It only made sense to open the kitchen to the dining and living rooms.

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And the drop ceiling with fluorescent lights had to go.

And we really should get rid of the window that gets pummeled by golf balls. Lets add a bigger, prettier one on the side with a view of the water.

And we'll want to look out the window while we wash dishes, so we should probably move the sink.

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I will do almost anything to cut down on cleaning time, and slab doors are the answer.

A kitchen sink is a luxury I will never again take for granted. Especially this one that's deep enough to bathe a toddler.

Stay tuned for more photos of kitchen projects we're completing this week.

the not-so-excellent side of being a creative person

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.”
- Pearl S. Buck

This has been a favorite quote of mine for a very long time. I certainly don't think I am the "cruelly delicate organism" Pearl Buck describes, but I definitely identify with the "very breath is cut off from him(her)" part. For the whole of my life, even as a tiny kid, I have had days when I am so overwhelmed with the enormity of WHAT TO MAKE that I can't do anything other than sit and stare at the wall.

Today is one of those days. I have had several lately. I have four pages of jewelry sketches and one page each of small and large metal pieces to cut and weld. I have three pages of edits to the new website detailed. I have two pages of story ideas and 26 pages of outline for a cookbook I'm writing. I have 264 photos awaiting editing, and seven projects around the house to finish up. The above list is partial, maybe half of what I have relentlessly planned and detailed. That's embarrassing. I'm a planner. 

So why can't I move? I have meditated three times already today. Meditation is typically a magical project list sorter. I finish and I instantly know what to do first. It's not working today.

So I'm writing. And next I'm going to walk. When I feel this way, I walk. Since I bought this damned fitbit last August, I have logged over 1000 miles. Truthfully, I love the damned fitbit. Walking 4-8 miles every single day is miraculous. It's momentum. If you're stuck, in any way stuck, start walking. It helps. Don't wait for anyone else. Don't invite anyone else. And if you have a smart phone, download a podcast app. And learn while you're walking. You'll feel less guilty being away from your work or your family for an hour or two every day.  If anyone knows why days like these happen, fill me in. I hope you are kicking more ass than I am today.

ps. Subscribe below, and I'll send you my list of favorite podcasts! 

buddha heart

I sure do love this. I don't know if it's an accurate reference, but I call this "Buddha heart". This is a really eloquent description of something I believe so strongly...every day is a new challenge/opportunity to abandon judgement and just be loving. I might read this again if I have to go to the mall between now and Christmas. ;) by David Foster Wallace

"Please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it’s hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to."

"But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down."

what a drunken watercolor pirate taught me about life and business

Many years ago, I took a class in watercolor painting at a community art center. The instructor was a well-known local artist, whose work I had always admired. There are a lot of bad watercolors out there. Not bad, but stuff that should probably have been completed in acrylic for the tightness of hand and exactness of color placement. I sure don’t want to sound judgmental about art – it is every artist’s prerogative to do whatever the hell makes them happy with those supplies. Again…make a joyful noise!   But back to the point…Carol’s watercolors had always seemed to me to be the height of the medium. They were pitch perfect, or whatever the visual equivalent. She was an older gal, so she painted a lot of flowers (a generalization, but at least it’s a true generalization that older ladies tend to paint lots of flowers). But Carol’s flowers were awesome. They spoke to me, unlike any other watercolored flowers ever. They were big and fluid and transparent in all the right places and saturated in all the other right places. In the same way that sometimes I read a beautiful sentence five times because I love the way if feels on my tongue and sounds in my ear, I could look at Carol’s flowers for days.

So I took Carol’s class, not because I really wanted to watercolor much, but because I needed a few hours away from the kids. And because I was just so hungry to capture that pitch perfectness before it slipped away.  I wasn’t sure when or why I would need that, but I wanted to capture it anyway.  I had no idea how much I was going to learn about myself in those four short hours. Ooh…foreshadowing!

I should mention that the only medium I had truly explored in depth prior to this day was pen and ink illustration….pretty precise stuff, right?

The class was a nightmare!  OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but this event took place 14 years ago and I feel anxiety in my neck right now just thinking about it.

My sense memory is of feeling like a passenger on the Andrea Gail in The Perfect Storm…rocking, reeling, dodging sprays that crash up the side of the boat.

Carol was like a drunken watercolor pirate! She wielded a brush the size of a small broom, and she dipped it in the water up to the metal every time! There would be no gentle touch on a paper towel to remove the visible drips…no way. In fact, it sometimes seemed like she was flinging the brush faster to keep from losing the water, much like the way you can swing a full bucket around your head and centrifugal force will keep you dry.

Somewhere along the way to the paper, Carol would touch brush to palette and pick up a bit of color, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the runny filth of the palette.  Surely she would just end up with mud on the paper at this rate. I had to stop myself from diving past my fellow students to blot up the gray moat that was threatening to run onto the table. I was so distracted by the seizing in my chest that I learned very little about watercolor that day.

But…big but… I learned more about life and my own creative process in that day than I have in any day since.

 I am pent up!!!  This was a huge revelation. If you ask me to describe myself, I will surely tell you I am the crazy girl who dances on tables. I actually believe that to be true about myself until pressed to give an example of a single time I danced on a table. There was that one time I won $50 for wearing a nasty nun costume in a cowboy bar (no dancing involved…long story), but other than that….I’m more likely to be the voice of reason, watching quietly from the shadows. I don’t really understand why I hold such a skewed view of myself, but I guess that’s a question for another time. I mean honestly, if the memory of a wet(drenched) piece of watercolor paper and a muddy palette have the power to make my throat constrict 14 years later, I have issues!

I have spent so many years motivating myself with fear, cautiously charting my path to avoid obstacles, planning incessantly, constantly noodling on the “best” way to approach every situation, using a tiny brush to make sure the paint went only exactly where I intended, plotting every business move ad nauseum so as not to get caught unprepared.  What a damned waste!

Lately I have worked hard at prying the fingers of fear away from my throat. I am not free of his grasp, but he and I have a very different relationship today. I finally recognize fear for what he is…a man-made invention created to control lawless and risky behavior that makes other frightened people nervous. Fear is the great inhibitor. Indulging fear sucks the joy and momentum out of EVERYTHING!

Attempting to chart a “safe” path through life, love, business, the forest, this day, this piece of art robs us of its joy.

Serendipity happens when you tell your rational, critically thinking, pent-up self to sit down and shut the hell up. Stop allowing fear to steal your momentum. Don’t rationalize. Don’t justify. Don’t fear. Do now, plan later! LIVE!!!

Use the brush the size of a small broom. Dip it in the water all the way up to the metal. Take it straight to the paper, and witness the beauty that results from your reckless abandon! Access the intuitive, primal, human part of yourself! Art and love and business and life are all better when approached with reckless abandon! What do you have to lose?

I adore this quote! Maybe you can find something in it for yourself today.




“There are so many hammocks to catch you if you fall, so many laws to keep you from experience. All these cities I have been in the last few weeks make me fully understand the cozy, stifling state in which most people pass through life. I don't want to pass through life like a smooth plane ride. All you do is get to breathe and copulate and finally die. I don't want to go with the smooth skin and the calm brow. I hope I end up a blithering idiot cursing the sun - hallucinating, screaming, giving obscene and inane lectures on street corners and public parks. People will walk by and say, "Look at that drooling idiot. What a basket case." I will turn and say to them "It is you who are the basket case. For every moment you hated your job, cursed your wife and sold yourself to a dream that you didn't even conceive. For the times your soul screamed yes and you said no. For all of that. For your self-torture, I see the glowing eyes of the sun! The air talks to me! I am at all times!" And maybe, the passersby will drop a coin into my cup.”

- Henry Rollins

whew, I sure love this.

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for,

and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.


It doesn't interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool

for love, for your dreams,

for the adventure of being alive.


It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.

I want to know if you have touched

the centre of your own sorrow,

if you have been opened by life's betrayals

or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.


I want to know if you can sit with pain,

mine or your own, without moving to hide it

or fade it or fix it.


I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own.

if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy

fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes

without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic,

remember the limitations of being human.


It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true.

I want to know if you can disappoint another

to be true to yourself.


If you can bear the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.


If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty every day,

and if you can source your own life from its presence.


I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine,

and still stand at the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”


It doesn't interest me to know where you live,

or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,

weary and bruised to the bone,

and do what needs to be done to feed the children.


It doesn't interest me who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.


It doesn't interest me where or what

or with whom you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you from the inside

when all else falls away.


I want to know if you can be alone with yourself,

and if you truly like the company

you keep in the empty moments.


- The Invitation, Oriah

thoughts on inspiration, part 1

I wish I had a cookie for every time I have been asked... "where do you get your inspiration?"

I find this such a funny question. Not a dumb question, just a funny question.

Hmmm...how to put to words what I think about the topic of inspiration as it relates to creativity. I just revised the title of this post by adding "part 1", because this is such a monstrous topic that even just my little thoughts on it will never fit in one post. Here goes...starting with a confession...

For 40 years, I was a reluctant artist.

I thought that "artist" was a term reserved for people who had either a God-given talent or a college art degree. Art was an exclusive world, populated by people who knew about tertiary colors and negative space. Those artists were otherworldly...and immersed in their art. They saw and heard things I didn't. They were "inspired"!

I took classes...I sketched...I played with paint...I created pretty things...I made the world around me more aesthetically pleasing. But I still didn't call myself an artist. I was secretly afraid the real artists would have exposed me as an imposter. Did I just say that out loud? Puke!

It turns out that the issue was bigger than just art. I was still wrapped up in the idea that I needed approval for anything and everything. The gift of maturity is the realization that we are "bozos on the bus". We are all just trucking along, every day making what seems like the best decision at the time. And, one of my favorite quotes..."you wouldn't worry nearly so much what other people thought of you if you realized how very seldom they do". So one day I decided that anyone who would care to judge me probably had bigger mountains to climb that I did, and I decided to embrace the parts of myself that I liked best, without any thought to whether they would be pleasing to others.

And then I recognized that I had always been an artist. We have all always been artists. The fear of judgement squeezed the creativity out of us for a while, but now we can do it simply because we like it. And we are already good enough! I think it's sort of the same as "make a joyful noise".

So...back to inspiration...

When people ask me that question, I want to give them a big hug and say...

Silly goose! You already know the answer to that question. I am inspired by everything beautiful, just like you! By the leaf that falls and the breeze that blows and the paint that chips and the baby that giggles and the building with pretty carving and the water that rolls over the rocks and the blues, played really loud.

There's nothing magically inspired about me. I am just someone who finally got the noise of her life quieted down enough to hear the music that we all have playing inside. You are an artist! You are inspired! You can do anything! It might not feel like it right now, but it's just because there are more pressing things on your plate. Be patient and kind with yourself. Your time will come.

In the meantime, start loving the inspired part of you by adding fresh herbs to the same old dinner you are making. Eat it while sitting in the grass by a tree instead of on the couch. Turn off the television and look instead at photos in a book or the faces of your children. Go for a long drive with your eyes open for a change. Squeeze a lemon in your water. Wake your damn self up. Those are the things I do when I am struggling to feel inspired.

And holy smokes, please don't give me that look like you think I'm one of those "Real Artists". I wouldn't know a tertiary color if it hit me in the negative space.

Loves, buddies!

btw...I am going to write more about inspiration, but only if you promise to share yours also.

birds on a wire

I made these last week for a very sweet boy.

 He wanted to give a special memento to his high school girlfriend

 as they parted, off to college in different states.

He remembered a time when they had enjoyed watching birds canoodling on a wire.

My instructions to Grayson were

"Draw me some birds...diagonal wire...and make them canoodle."

As you can see, Gray nailed it. The etching worked out pretty well also,

if I do say so myself.

Helping someone make a memory is pretty fun stuff!

a perfect day

Every year in early July, my friends Steve and Marie invite me to spend the weekend at their amazing lavender farm. In all fairness, they also invite a few thousand of their other closest friends. They have a beautiful spot perched above Lake Lowell near Nampa and a lovely collection of family and friends.


The festival is a great opportunity for me to catch up with my customers and friends. As you can see from the photos, it is a magical experience!

behind the 8 ball

Remind me again why I couldn’t spare a couple of additional hours on that cool, beautiful late May morning when I started planting the garden… 

Did I stop to grab a bowl of cereal? Was I running off to drive one of the kids somewhere? Did I have a flash of inspiration that couldn’t wait? What about all the days since? Was there never an hour or two that I could have spared to plant THE REST of the garden? So, here I sit on the last day of June with tall plants at the ends of the garden promising tomatoes and onions, corn and tomatillos, squashes, melons, tomatoes and chiles. If only it weren’t for the middle third, bare naked and sprouting weeds. Can a garden look embarrassed? I’m here to tell you that it can. Isn’t it true that we all have things we postpone and neglect beyond the point of ridiculousness? For some it’s health, for others it’s money or relationships. We just can’t seem to find the time. In hindsight, though, it’s pretty hard to understand why an hour or two (or five minutes) can’t be found to tend to the most important tasks. I tend to go through cycles of neglect, when I just feel too busy to deal with things that don’t demand my attention. Until they wake me up in the night. So it was with the garden. At 3am I finally realized today is the day. Off I go…more photos to follow.