Painting Frida

20170607_171130

This didn’t start as a painting of Frida Kahlo. I started by making a collage background using mostly ephemera collected on our trip to Italy, such as maps, postage stamps and pages from a little book.

20170609_071627 20170609_071709

Then I painted an angel that, in my mind, was Italian. I was thinking of my friend (and sister-out-law, now that she’s not my sister-in-law), Victoria, and the Italian woman in her past.  Side note here: Victoria loves Frida Kahlo.

This is the original version:

20170524_081140

I struggled with her face and ended up collaging an oval piece of paper over the first several tries and taking another go at it – you can see the edge of the paper. But I was happy with the final painting….or as happy as I usually am.  I get a little tired of them when I’m working on them. I spend some time on them and sometimes need a little break when I’m done.

The yellow bird and big pink flower both ended up staying on her head – I was trying to decide which one and I decided to go with both. Permission granted.

20170609_071612

When I put the painting up on a shelf in my office, several people commented that it looked like “that artist,” or “Oh, it’s Frida!”  I disagreed, but thanked them. I mean, they both had dark hair in a bun with a big flower (or a few) in it. But after the third person said it looked like Frida, I decided to give my Italian angel a makeover.

I think she went from sweet to strong.

20170524_081200 20170609_071458

It took some work to make the changes I thought she needed, but it was worth it and now I love the painting, and so does Victoria.

Thank you for stopping by.

20170609_071742

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Crafts

Beautiful Florence

Looking back through my pictures and Florence is as beautiful as I remember.

We had what was probably the best Airbnb apartment of our whole trip. It was less than two blocks to the River Arno and the Ponte alla Carraia (the second bridge west of the Ponte Vecchio), and probably 15 minutes walk to the train station. Well, 15 minutes for us. If you ask an Italian how long a walk, they would probably say 5 minutes. They all seem to walk very briskly and everything is “just 5 minutes walk away.”

Just inside is the well-equipped kitchen and one bathroom, then up stone stairs to the two bedrooms and up another flight to another bathroom.

Right by the bridge was a gelataria, Gelataria Carraia. This was another fabulous gelato shop, also on several Top Ten lists.

We loved living in a neighborhood that offered laundromat, grocery store, bakery, brewery and gelataria all within a short walking distance.

 

S. Forno Panaficio, the bakery, was a beautiful shop with a vaulted ceiling. I asked a woman behind the counter how long they’d been open and she said they’d been there for four years, but there had been a bakery in that location for “at least 100 years.”  Everything we tried was delicious.

Rem was  happy to sample a flight of beer at Archea Brewery in our neighborhood, a small place, as well as at Beer House Club, which had more space, and more beers to taste.

Walking around there was so much to see.

From this huge wall, portal and door…

To a strange doorknocker, there were beautiful and unique things at every turn.

This poster turned out to be the first of several similar ones we saw later in the trip. Blub.

An open-air bus was a nice, relaxed way to see some of the city. Sitting in the sunshine with my husband, classical music playing on the headphones between the tour information, toodling around Florence wasn’t a bad way to spend the afternoon.

And David. Ah, David. There are two replicas displayed outdoors. We saw them both.  The bronze, below, is in Piazzale Michelangelo.

Rem was not interested in waiting in line to visit a museum, so I saw the original marble by myself (for the second time – my first visit was when I was there 18 years ago).  It was a long line but I’m glad I went back.

We didn’t go inside the Duomo, but the exterior is an extravagant wedding cake of a design in elaborately carved white, green and pink marble. The terra cotta dome is magnificent and I loved catching glimpses of it as we moved around the historic center of the city.

We enjoyed a classic dinner: bistecca alla fiorentina, or literally Steak Florentine: grilled Porterhouse steaks.

And of course we enjoyed shopping in the food stalls in the Mercado Centrale and cooking dinner in our own kitchen.  I also hit the stalls outside and bought a new purse and some scarves.

Soon enough, it was time for another train journey – off to Lucca.

Thanks for coming along.

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking, Life

On to Naples (and a recipe)

 

After the history and elegant pomp of Rome, Naples felt more real, somehow, and more gritty. The stylish and tasteful Romans made me wonder where those who weren’t so chic and slim were. Naples was bursting with exuberant fashion. Skintight, low cut, bright colors, sparkles, zippers, studs, snakeskin, leopard print and fur were on show and often many of those in one outfit. It seemed as if there were even more smokers than in Rome.

We stayed in the historic center, with narrow alleys and plenty of graffiti, something we didn’t notice in Rome.

20170325_103101

 

20170325_094649

The entrance to our building was a smaller door cut into one of these enormous doors. We had to both step over and duck down going through the door.  You can see the outline of the small door in the lower right of the large doors.

20170324_102227

On our way to visit the Cimitero delle Fontanelle,  I saw this church and at first thought it was covered in mosaics. As we got closer, I realized the artwork was done in paint.

20170324_131819

The color scheme in the ossuary was more somber.

20170324_133436

20170324_135353

Although it was cool and peaceful, I found it a little creepy.

Back at our apartment, I felt like a local, hanging our laundry out on the balcony.

Later we strolled Spaccanapoli and Tribunale, two long, narrow streets in the historic center of the city, tasting some of the delicious fried snacks as we went along. We saw a line at a counter like this, and joined it before we even knew what everyone was queuing for. The case seemed bursting with rice balls, potato croquettes, fried zucchini, fried eggplant etc. We soon learned everyone was waiting for a fresh batch of frittatine: deep-fried pasta formed into fat discs, stuffed with minced pork, bechamel sauce, and peas. Worth the wait.

20170324_191233

Our hostess, Maria, had encouraged us to visit her favorite pizzeria, stating it made the best pizza in Naples. She went on to say she believed Naples made the best pizza in Italy, and Italy made the best pizza in the world. How could we resist the opportunity to taste this amazing pizza?

20170324_192939

OK, the huge crowd outside Gino Sorbillo was a little disheartening. The wait for a table was over an hour. But we realized we could order it to go (or “take away”) and we had our pizza in about 15 or 20 minutes. It was a warm evening and we found a bench nearby to enjoy our traditional Neapolitan pizza all’aperto (outdoors). It was delicious and not at all like the the pizza I’m used to. The crust is quite thin with blistered, almost burned spots, the sauce on top almost soupy and the cheese was amazing. That doesn’t sound like much, but I wish we could have had it again.

20170324_194232

We finished the evening with gelato (of course) at Gay Odin, a chocolate shop and gelateria. They were closing up or we might have stayed to choose a chocolate or two. The pretty box, below, was part of their window display.

The next morning we couldn’t resist a return trip to Spaccanapoli for pastry, sfogliatella on the left and Baba au Rhum, on the right, two Neapolitan classics.

I discovered cannoli are not from Naples, but Sicily.  Lucky for me, some pastry shops had them for sale.  This crisp tube of fried dough was filled with sweet, creamy ricotta studded with bits of chocolate and candied orange peel.

Rem downing an espresso.

With our day off to a great start, we headed down to the waterfront and strolled along, enjoying the view of Mt. Vesuvius.

Eventually, we picked a seafood restaurant on a pier and had lunch here:

The waiter recommended pezzogna, a local fish, grilled with olive oil, salt and lemon, and a side of grilled vegetables.

In the afternoon we rode the funicular railway. Unfortunately, a taxi driver claimed that the two longest lines were closed until April (it was still March), and we didn’t know better. When I kept asking about the other two lines, he  finally said scathingly, “It’s a TOURIST train!” I responded with “And we’re tourists!” He did take us and then overcharged us but as we said at the time, it was all part of the authentic experience!

From the funicular we walked to Castel Sant’Elmo, a medieval fortress, and enjoyed the views.

That evening, our last in Naples, was the first time we cooked on our trip. We found some kitchens better equipped than others, but we took real pleasure in exploring grocery stores and markets and doing our best to create delicious Italian dinners.

I had downloaded Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, an updated combination of  her The Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian, to my Kindle, so I was ready to go.  The small Carrefour grocery up the street was very well stocked with beautiful pastas, cheeses (I got a hunk of Parmigiano at a great price and carried it with us all the way to Venice) and produce, including the zucchini blossoms that I couldn’t resist.

Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

Barely adapted from Marcella Hazan

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

12 to 16 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

2 red or yellow bell peppers, diced (I bought a giant one, so only used one)

salt and pepper to taste

1 can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes with their juice

1 lb. pasta (she recommended wide pappardelle noodles, but we used orecchiette or little ears)

1 tablespoon butter

1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, saute about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the sausage and brown, breaking up large pieces as it cooks. After the sausage is lightly browned, about 3 or 4 minutes, add the peppers. Continue cooking another 6 to 8 minutes
  3. Add the tomato with juice, breaking up large pieces. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer watery.
  4. In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions.
  5. Drain pasta and toss with butter, sauce and cheese.

Big success. This is an easy and delicious recipe.

The zucchini blossoms were less of a win. I stuffed them with a little luscious ricotta cheese and planned to make a thin batter and fry them, but I didn’t want to purchase a whole bag of flour so fried them without any batter. Good but not what they could have been.  Still, it was nice to be cooking in our “own” place.

We enjoyed a good little slice of Naples but the next morning it was time to catch a train to Florence.

Thanks for coming along.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Life

First Stop: Rome

Rem and I went on an awesome honeymoon to Italy and I’m finally feeling caught up after struggling with jet lag and the mundane business of normal life when we returned. I’ve been wanting to share some of our photos.

I took a journal and some art supplies with me. I wasn’t planning on doing much crafting during the trip, but I wanted the option. It wasn’t until we were on the flight home that I actually put them to any use. Here’s my little mini crafting kit.

The first photo and this one, below, show my opening layout, done on the plane. I collected quite a bit of ephemera on the trip, and I’m using the bits of collected tickets, maps, postcards, candy wrappers, etc., that I saved to illustrate the journal.

Our first stop was Rome.

We arrived in the evening and crashed at our Airbnb.

The next morning Rem figured out the Moka pot, for his morning coffee, and we headed out early.

Everything looked amazing. The streets were sparkling clean, the window displays were colorful and amusing, the good looking people passing by were beautifully dressed (though many were smoking) and the buildings were grandiose or simple but all seemed to have lovely architectural details. It felt a little bit like we were in a Disney set version of Rome.

Even though the day was overcast, we were happy to be on vacation in a new place, exploring both the simple neighborhood flower shop, and the famous sites, like our selfie atop the Spanish Steps.

(I always forget where to look when I take a selfie).  You can see St. Peter’s Basilica behind us.

We walked for miles that day. We had Pizza Bianca: thin, chewy baked dough with oil and salt but no sauce or cheese, at Forno di Campo di Fiori, then walked through a small Farmer’s Market on our way to the Vatican.

It was a Wednesday, and the Pope had spoken to the masses, but was done and gone before we arrived.  Crews were dismantling the platforms where he’d been seated, and loading up the rows and rows of chairs.

We had our first pizza a taglio, sheet pizza, sold in squares by weight.  It was SO good! This pizza is usually sold at stands or small shops for take away or to be eaten at the counter.  Pizza at a pizzeria is usually individual round pizza and it is most often eaten for dinner, with a knife and fork.

We took care of the business of purchasing Italian SIM cards for our mobile phones, rode the metro, people watched and, later, went out for dinner at ‘Gusto Osteria, choosing several small plates with bread so we were sure to have room for gelato.

Tagliere di Salumi, 5 varieta (5 kinds of salami and other cured meats)

Fiori di Zucca, fritti (fried zucchini flowers)

Carciofi alla Giuda (Deep fried Jewish Style Artichokes)

The most amazing and delicious dish was the artichoke, which was warm, crunchy, salty and kind of nutty.

More walking so we could see the Trevi Fountain at night. We weren’t the only ones with this idea.

Gelato and then up the four flights to our apartment. Our first day had been a long one.

Our visit to Rome was brief, but we still had a few hours before departing. Breakfast, a visit to an art supply store so I could pick up an Italian glue stick, packing and more gelato. We’d seen an article listing top ten gelato’s in Rome and #1 in the story was actually the gelateria a few doors down from our apartment! We obviously couldn’t leave without a taste.

A quirky doll-repair shop and another beautiful produce stand.

Art store treats: washi tape, fat graphite pencils and a glue stick, all of which are perfect souvenirs for me.

A taste of honey-basil gelato (good, but didn’t want a whole scoop), then off to catch our train to Naples.

Grazie mille for your visit. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Life

Blue Haired Mermaid

20170115_105105

When I started this piece, I didn’t have any image in mind. I started by collaging around the sides, leaving space in the middle for a face. Most of the collage elements were eventually covered but they’re still part of the process and add texture.

Next, I started on her face. Coming back to work on it fresh one evening I had this clear thought “I’m going to give her blue hair!” You could say it came out of the blue.

20170115_105134

After I finished her blue hair, I decided she just might be a mermaid. So I put bubbles into her hair and added a seahorse and a fish.

20170115_105126

I noticed that some of the textured paper I used in the collage looked kind of like a sand dollar, so I used paint to enhance it.

20170115_105119

I decided to extend the collage and paint onto the edges of the canvas board. I was so pleased with how it turned out that I went back to an earlier piece and did the same thing.

20170119_131139

20170119_131324

The little snippet of music includes the lyric “…found me…”. Love that.

No mantra has occurred to me yet. I love her wild blue hair and her strong, steady gaze. She speaks to the Pisces in me.

20170119_131351

For now she is in my office, on a shelf over my computer, so I see her all the time. She looks at everyone who comes into the office.

As always, I appreciate your visit.

20170119_130924

1 Comment

Filed under Crafts

Love One Another

20161119_074910

This angel painting was created for my sister, Kathleen. She asked if maybe I had a painting sitting around she could put up in the office at her new job. Since I give the pieces away, I didn’t have one on a back shelf, but I offered to make one for her.

Her next question: could I do an angel painting of her dog, Stella? Hmm. I suggested I could try including Stella, but wanted to incorporate a guide as well.

20161119_074726

I used this picture of Stella after a rainy hike for inspiration.

wet-puppy

The simplest, most basic mantra “Love One Another,” is a good reminder to everyone these days.

20161119_074706

As usual, it is a mixed media piece with collage, paint, rubber stamping and oil pastels.

20161119_074742

20161119_074813

I love all the layers and texture.

I’m also really pleased how the angel wings create the look of a wing on Stella.

20161119_074728

I think I would be comforted if a guide or angel made herself known to me and she was carrying a puppy.

20161119_074647

Coming soon: a blue haired angel. Or maybe she’s a mermaid…

Thanks for the visit!

Here’s a bonus Stella picture, from her puppyhood.

img_0175

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Crafts

You Are Awesome!

20170212_144746

My 2017 Valentine’s were inspired by this patchwork wall in Kelly Rae Robert’s new home studio.

20170207_141041

Of course I was working on a much smaller scale. Instead of cutting, scoring and folding card stock for my mini cards, I bought place cards from the Paper Source.  To fit in small glassine envelopes, I cut 1/4 inch off each card to reduce it from 3.5 x 2.5 inches, to 3.25 to 2.5 inches.

I love how intricate they look. I create them by the page, then cut them into smaller sizes to layer onto the card fronts.  Cover a sheet of plain copy paper with adhesive (I like Tombow adhesive) and start building up your patchwork.

20170207_090409

Cover the whole page, going off the edges.

20170207_104829

Trim the edges evenly, then cut into the size needed for the cards. In this case, I cut then into 3 inch by 2.25 inches and used some vertically, and some horizontally.

These pictures show the page, above, as I trimmed it to smaller sizes, embellished the pieces and glued them onto little cards.

20170207_105844

20170207_110143.jpg

20170207_110506.jpg

20170207_110506

20170207_112457

I enjoy uses as much of the page as possible, piecing together almost every scrap.

20170207_144204

Look in front of these finished cards to see the tiny bit left over from one 8.5 x 11 sheet of copy paper, covered with patchwork and cut into pieces.

20170207_143706

I used gold trimmed Christmas cards and glittery calendar pages for some of the punched heart embellishments. It makes me happy to reuse paper ephemera and give it new life.

The greeting inside is created with a rubber stamp from Oh, Hello Friend:

You are Awesome, Loved, Wonderful, Beautiful & Adored!

A good thing for everyone to hear every once in awhile.

I was watching a Kelly Rae Roberts video while I stamped Valentine’s.

20170212_144726

After I sign the inside and put my initials on the back, each one goes into a little glassine envelope. It looks a lot like wax paper – kind of glossy and transparent at the same time. I stamp the front and use washi tape on the back. I like how the colorful cards looks in the translucent envelopes.

20170212_170743

20170212_170851Here they are spread out:

20170207_150630

…and stacked up.

20170212_171507

Wishing you all lots of love.

Speaking of love, this is the sign I made and carried when I participated with my sisters and nieces, in the rain, at the San Francisco Woman’s March last month:

16114383_10208223036389079_8065110064780831478_n

Thanks for stopping by.

20170207_150709

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Crafts