Coastal Therapy

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Rem and I went to Sea Ranch the day after the election. It was just lucky timing, but I’m so glad we had time away from our computers and phones due to severely limited cell coverage and v e r y slow internet. We also didn’t turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper.

Instead of focusing on bad news, I took walks and Rem went on bike rides.

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Crashing surf churned up extra foam which made it look as if someone had used the wrong kind of soap in a dishwasher.

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We sat in front of the fire and watched the flames instead of watching the news.

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I took a good, long walk on most days.

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One afternoon we baked focaccia.

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I spent lots of time crafting too, but I’ll show that in another post.

We also took a long drive one day, going north and then turning inland to follow a road we hadn’t been on before. We ended up in Boonville and visited the Anderson Valley Brewing Company.

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Do what you can to keep your perspective.  Treat yourself and those around you with love and kindness.  Long walks, especially on a beach, were great for me.

Thanks for the visit.

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Angel of Courage

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These angels just have a way of popping into my consciousness and then into reality.  When I learned a friend, who is also a former colleague and choir member, was facing serious health challenges, I decided to paint her an angel.

We had a heat spell and a few nights after I had the idea, it was too hot to sleep and I decided to start painting. I thought of my friend, K, and sat down at my craft table. I started with a collage and paint background and  outlined a generic face, then looked at some photos of K on my laptop.  But, in spite of seeing and confirming her red hair, I had a very clear vision of a Nordic blonde.

“No, red hair.” I thought to myself. I attempted a sketch of K’s hairstyle. Nope. That didn’t work. I tried sketching a whimsical style, piled up loops and curls. The image of swinging, pale blonde hair was too strong to ignore. I started to sketch and what you see here is the finished version. Clearly not a redhead.

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This shows the piece before I finished the background and added the mantra.

Once I opened myself up to the picture that seemed to be making itself known to me, or, I should say making herself known to me, this whole painting went together very quickly.  I collaged and painted for a few hours that first evening, then over the next few days I grabbed time before work when I could and also after dinner until she was done. I was very focused and in the flow.

That’s not to say every decision and every brushstroke was the right one from the start. I had a mantra in mind when I started, from a song I’d heard in our choir rehearsal. I looked up the lyric I could remember: “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”  Leonard Cohen has that in a song, but the song I’d been learning was a different one.

It didn’t really  matter because a different song was playing in my head and is the one that ended up on the piece.

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I’d painted a kind of stormy background in the upper part of the painting, thinking about the crack and the light getting in. But it worked with this mantra as well.  The song continues: “Though the night is dark, and I am far from home. Thanks be to God, the morning light appears. The storm is passing over. The storm is passing over. The storm is passing over. Alleluia.”  I added some “morning light” to the upper right corner.

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My angel needed a halo. I started with a light blue circle behind her head. Nice but it wasn’t really doing it for me. Then I watched my weekly Kelly Rae Unscripted video and she created a beautiful collaged flower halo. I laid out some flowers and it was perfect.

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Gold paint inside the flower halo and a few sequins, gold dots and little hearts and she was done.

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I got a text from my friend a few days after I finished painting the angel. She very sweetly suggested if I needed a model for one of my angel paintings, she would be happy to be one.  I told her I had already completed a painting for her, but explained it didn’t look like her.  She was delighted and I made arrangements to go visit K in the hospital.

Before the visit, the painting is passed around at a choir rehearsal so everyone can infuse it with love and good wishes. My singing partner (we sing together for Threshold Choir clients every week), go to visit K and sing with her and to give her this blonde angel.  Our choir has a weekly singing report and this is what I wrote about our visit:

Family photos, colorful scarves, cards and (faux) flowers fill the shelves and drape over bed and chair. Books are stacked on the wide windowsill. The TV is showing beautiful, peaceful nature scenes, the large window embraces a view that includes Mt. Tam, two bridges and San Francisco, and essential oils scent the air. It is NOT your typical hospital room.

K is doing well, though her hair has started to fall out, her mood and spirits are positive and full of gratitude. We visit and sing and I give her the angel painting that was passed around and sung to at rehearsal. It is a  joyful, loving time, with brief visits from hospital staff, that K calls by name, and the gorgeous view outside punctuated with Blue Angels flying by, leaving hazy contrails in the sky.

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Thank you for your visit. Please feel free to share your comments.

 

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Be Kind

Yes, I’m back with another angel painting, my fifth. This one is a bit different than the ones I’ve done previously.

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She is my Angel of Wisdom. In the Spirit Wings e-course I’ve been taking, the artist used a technique of layering collage and paint and then using sandpaper to sand down some of the layers, giving the piece an aged look.  I decided that I wanted to paint an old, wise face.

I’d seen a fantastic photo of actress Olivia de Havilland at 98, taken by photographer Andy Gotts.  It is a beautiful, black and white portrait of a person who looks as if she has some great stories to tell.

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I’m still really new to painting faces and now I wanted to paint a more complicated face then the ones I’ve been painting.  This one has wrinkles!

These photos shows the progress: A rough sketch of the face, and developing the background, building up and sanding down layers of paper and paint. And then painting the face which goes through transitions when I struggled to get the shape of the head and the eyes right. Scroll through them to see the piece evolve.

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I was frustrated with the sanding process because the paper I used often just came off in a partial layer, revealing not a glimpse of the color and paint underneath, but instead the soft, white, boring middle of the paper. But I just layered on more paint and paper.  Here are some close ups of the layers.

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I worked and worked on her eyes, at one point layering gel medium over the canvas because I’d made such a mess. It created other challenges, but eventually I finished them. The lines, soft wrinkles, and the pearls all created challenges for me, and I spent a lot of time on this piece.

As for the mantra, this Angel of Wisdom has the most simple, basic message. Be Kind. That is the big one.  Be kind.  A friend and I were talking and he said “Be kind. Show up. Listen. Give hugs.” He believes these are the most simple principles to live by.  I too believe that these are all excellent life guides. I left off the last one, not that I don’t like hugs, but I thought the other three were appropriate in more situations.

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Anne Lamott has written about showing up, especially when we don’t know what else to do. I mention it in a previous post here.   Be kind. Show up. Listen. Thank you, j, for the conversation that provided me with the right mantra for my angel.

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Thank you all for showing up to read my post and listen to my words. I truly appreciate every visit.

 

 

 

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Love Respect Compassion

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I really struggled with this angel. I should have stopped and taken pictures while I was working on the painting, but I was too focused on the task at hand.

This is my 4th angel painting and the theme we were working on for this one, in the Spirit Wings online course, was Angel of Sacred Ordinariness.  I chose to use bits of envelopes and postage stamps in the background collage and the blue-patterned lining of security envelopes for her dress, because they are fairly ordinary items.

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And though a postage stamp on an envelope isn’t that extraordinary, a letter or card from a friend is pretty sacred and special . Several of the stamps I used are from mail sent by friends and one is from an old letter postmarked 1925 I found in a vintage and antiques shop.

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But what about the struggle, you may ask? Well, we were painting our angel faces on bare wood for the canvas or background. I found this very challenging and my angel’s face went through many iterations before I created something I was ok with.  The wood was much less forgiving than the gessoed canvases I’d first worked with. The original face had a shorter chin and longer nose and blonde hair.  She looked kind of snarky.

In fact, I was calling her the Snarky Angel for a little while, but I was able to soften her expression, lengthen her chin a little and shorten her nose a bit.  Now she looks more like she has something mischievous in mind.

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For this painting, I didn’t have a certain person in mind and I didn’t have a mantra when I started.  But this is what came to me when I was ready to add the words.  Barely any of the wood grain still shows in the painting. What you can see on the painting – the layers of color in her face (trying to improve on the proportion and expression) meant I covered the grain. But it does show around the words.

Thank you for your visit and for the lovely comments about this series of angel paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

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Olive Tapenade Tart Soleil

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If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I love Smitten Kitchen. It is my favorite food blog and is as much a pleasure to visit for the writing as it is for the recipes. When I wanted to make something special to bring to the memorial for my sister-in-law, this is where I looked.

I didn’t follow the filling recipe, though it looks tasty. I used an olive tapenade recipe I’ve served on little toasted French bread rounds. The recipe made a lot more filling than needed for the tart, so I’ve scaled it down here.

If you have leftover filling you can spread in a sandwich or add it to a salad.  As Deb Perelman mentions in Smitten Kitchen, you could try other savory fillings, such as pesto or something with sharp cheese, or try a sweet version with Nutella.

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Olive Tapenade Tart Soleil with Lemon Feta Dip

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Tart Ingredients:

2 packages puff pastry (thawed overnight in fridge)

1 clove garlic, peeled

leaves from a sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 can (7.5 oz.) ripe olives, drained
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

1/4 oil-packed sun dried tomatoes (I was out so used a few tablespoons of tomato paste)

about 1/4 cup olive oil

1 egg yolk

water

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Dip Ingredients
6 ounces feta, crumbled (Trader Joe’s sells Pastures of Eden brand feta. It is creamy and a little less salty than some – I love it)
2 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice or more to taste

Directions:

Make the filling: Blend all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor with the chopping blade until finely chopped. With motor running, slowly pour in olive oil until smooth and spreadable. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble the tart: Roll one package  of puff pastry flat and cut a 12-inch circle; use a 12-inch round platter (I have a mesh screen splatter guard that worked well) for a guide or cut a pattern from parchment paper. Repeat with second dough, setting one aside in the fridge until needed.

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Put first round on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread filling on dough, leaving 1 inch margin around the edge. Dab edges with water and place second round on top.

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Set a small glass (about 2.5 inches across) upside down in the middle of the tart. Using scissors, carefully cut through both layers of dough and the filling, cutting it into four sections. Leave the center, under the glass, intact.

Now cut each section in half, making 8 pieces, and again, making 16 strips and finally one last round ending with 32 strips of pastry.

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Remove the glass and twist each strip of pastry carefully.

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Beat the egg yolk in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of water and brush over pastry dough, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown all over.

While tart is baking, make Lemon Feta dip. Combine all dip ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with a chopping blade and process until smooth. Place in bowl for dipping.

Remove tart from oven, let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a serving platter.

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I’d barely gotten it onto the buffet table when my youngest brother sampled it, twisting off a spiraled ray of pastry and olive. Before I could take a picture, he had another on his plate.  I cropped the photo to show the rest of the tart.

Thanks for the visit.

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Love People, Feed Them Tasty Food

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Love People, Feed Them Tasty Food.

Suresa Dundes had that on a bumper sticker on her car and it was the basic concept for an open house celebrating her life. Suresa, my sister-in-law, died in August after an 11 year battle with cancer.

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Suresa and Michael on their wedding day. Michael is the oldest of my five siblings.

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Suresa with her girls; Leah and Miriam (the one with the spoon). Clearly loving people and feeding them tasty food has been a life long practice.

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Suresa, Michael, Leah, and her boyfriend Robert, Miriam, and her boyfriend Nick.

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Miriam and Nick’s wedding celebration, moved up so Suresa could be there.

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Rest in peace, Suresa.

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You Are Loved

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This angel painting came together pretty quickly. I had a person in mind while I worked on it, and I even had a tiny photo of my friend which I used for inspiration. I don’t think I’m a skilled enough artist to create a realistic portrait, but I tried to capture some characteristics of this person.

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I started with a collage background, using sheet music (she’s a singer) and lots of flowers. This was following another lesson in the Kelly Rae Roberts angel painting ecourse I’m taking, Spirit Wings.

In each project, we’ve learned about different mediums to create the face. For this one, we used Faber-Castell Gelatos but the set I purchased didn’t have quite the range of color I wanted, so I also used Pitt pens.

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I didn’t really get step-by-step photos, but here you can see the rough sketch of the face. I used a brown Stabilo All, which works on the kind of plastic surface of the dried gel medium covering the sheet music. It also blends in later when I added color to the face.

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Another layer of collage added more pink roses and other flowers. The words are lyrics from a song we sing in Threshold Choir.

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I had the honor of visiting my friend at home and presenting my painting to her. She was delighted. I could not have asked for a better response.

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Thank you for visiting, please come back again.

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