February 26, 2010

Support local art, ya’ll!

Everyone should come out and see the current show at the University of Tennessee’s Ewing Gallery! The official opening reception (= snacks!) is March 5th (5-9pm), to coincide with other First Friday events. This MFA Masters Thesis show features the work of several talented artists, including Briena Harmening, whose work addresses certain issues of southern identity and culture. An enormous amount of work goes into the process of an MFA, and the thesis show is the culmination of it all. Let’s help celebrate these folks’ achievements!

brienas post card

Briena’s Postcard for the Show: Home Sweet Home, an MFA Installation, Ewing Gallery of Art & Architecture, the Univ. of TN (Knoxville)

February 25, 2010

Now show me something pretty

I stumbled across the artwork of a printmaker by the name of Melissa Brown (her website here) and was really blown away by how much I love this particular print. niagara

NY LOTTO RECEIPT; Niagara, woodcut on hand dyed paper (31x31”) 2009.

There is something about the saturation of the pinks with the little pops of orangey-yellow that really does it for me. I could see this in a yellow lacquered frame, hanging on a gray wall (like a soft felty gray). This is the kind of art I would like to see in a new baby’s room because it is interesting to look at, colorful and not a duck or lamb (no offense to all you duck and lamb lovers out there).

The same artist also did a series using Lottery scratch-off tickets, and it is amazing. Think about how much design is incorporated into each different variety of scratch-off ticket, even though the tickets are ultimately going to be thrown away (the losing ones, at least). Doesn’t this have the appearance of a crazy quilt? What a way to take something headed for the trash and turn it into something beautiful.

run the table scratch off art Run the Table, $798 in used scratch-off tickets, 2009

February 24, 2010

A Very Brady Dinner

My love for the Brady Bunch will never die. There are certain episodes guaranteed to make me laugh no matter how many times I have seen them. The show has it’s own lexicon, with countless phrases which are ingrained in the hearts and minds of fans everywhere. Oh, my nose! and Mom always said you shouldn’t play ball in the house are two of my favesIts ok to admit that you know exactly what I’m talking about here. Another ‘Brady’ phrase that has stuck with me is Peter’s James Cagney impression, pork chopsh and appleshauce. This always (can I say ALWAYS?) comes to my mind when I’m at the grocery store looking at the discounted cuts of pork on display. And Peter is right, these are two dishes that really do go together quite well. Here’s my recipe (if you can call it that) for Peter’s infamous pork chops and applesauce, or maybe a little bit more grown up version.

  • 2 large bone-in pork chops
  • 1 bottle of italian salad dressing
  • 2 granny smith apples, sliced

I like recipes with few ingredients because my attention span can be very short. First, put the apple slices in the bottom of a dutch oven (or baking dish). Then lay the pork chops on top. Finally, pour the dressing over all of it and bake uncovered for 1.5 hours at 350 degrees. 

This turned out to be a tasty dish, in my opinion. Here is my plate with a bite or two taken out of the chop. This is the point at which I screamed, “Wait! I can take a picture of this for my blog!” So here it is. And the peas are just an added bonus. If you need instructions on how to prepare frozen peas, you should head over here and let Gwyneth tell you!

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February 23, 2010

Going to Carolina in my mind…

Or maybe in today’s case, Switzerland. Sometimes life can really get the best of us, especially when the weather is unrelenting. I know some people claim to love the cold weather and snow, but if I don’t see some sunshine on a regular basis, it becomes harder and harder to pry the remote (or the wine bottle…or the chocolate…or whatever) out of my hand and force myself to get out of bed in the morning. And day after day, when I look out my window and see gray sky and bare trees, I begin to feel like Debbie Downer (just without the fun theme music).

Hutwil out the window

Since I can’t physically take myself on a trip anytime soon (except for a mood-boosting trip to the cosmetics aisle of my local CVS…see previous post), I can at least re-visit an occasion when things were much, much brighter! In the sleepy little town of Huttwil (pronounced hoot-ville…try saying it without lifting your shoulders & smiling), everything moves at a slower pace. The grass is seriously greener. This was the view out my hotel window and it never fails to lift my spirits. Maybe it is because when I look at this picture, I remember all the fun that went along with it…how the trip was such a blast and how traveling seems to awaken something in me that feels like my genuine self.

After leaving Switzerland, I was fortunate enough to see some of Austria as well. Even though I can’t see this view out my window, I can still enjoy the photo and the memory of seeing it for the first time. Life is too short and I think it is important to find pretty things everyday to cheer ourselves. And when the sun actually comes out and shines on us, that’s pretty great too. the hills are alive

February 18, 2010

Beauty (and our health) is more than skin deep

My love affair with cosmetics has been a long one. I’m not sure if I can credit this to being a child of the 80s or a child of a former cosmetics counter girl at the now defunct Harveys department store, but any who….I just adore products! There is something hopeful about tearing into a small, shiny package that promises to lift, smooth, firm and illuminate. An entire new outfit might be out the question (budget-wise), but I can always manage to scrape together enough change for some strawberry-flavored shimmer gloss, aptly titled “pink-a-boo” or something equally enticing.

One product that might not be quite as glamorous, but is oh so necessary is the facial cleanser. There are so many brands, types and formulas on the market that it is pretty tough to choose, even with all the advertisements coming our way. Some people use Oil of Olay because that’s what their moms and grandmoms used. Others fancy Dove, a brand which has recently put a spotlight on the idea of beauty in all different forms. I have sworn by many different products (whatever I was hooked on at the time), but kiss my face olive oil soapI’m currently liking this pure olive oil soap from Kiss My Face. The bar is actually kind of greenish brown (not as pretty as those pink Olay beauty bars which I always wanted to buy just for looks) and there isn’t much smell (once again, can’t compete with the Dove Go Fresh beauty bar). The draw of this particular bar is its lack of ingredients (olive oil, water & salt). It’s pretty much no frills, but that is kinda what I was going for. The main reason I chose this soap was its rating by the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database (more on the database in another post!)…a big fat zero out of ten. Ten is the worst a product can be in terms of ingredients that are just no good for us, so zero is best! Any other fans of Kiss My Face products out there? Any other products you love that I should try? In this case, it is perfectly fine to be an enabler and suggest something on which I can become hooked!

February 17, 2010

Starring Flavia de Luce, as herself!

I just finished a book with the most delightful heroine. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley centers around Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist and crime solving gumshoe detective sweetness at the bottom coverwho is only eleven years old. I am always sad when a good book comes to an end, but it helps if the characters have that certain likeability that brings them to life and causes them to really stick with the reader. This got me thinking about some of my other favorite literary characters who have stuck by me through thick and thin. Since Flavia is such a unique individual, it made me wonder: who would be her literary pals?

Some obvious ones (in my 0pinion) are Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Emily of Emily’s Runaway Imagination (Beverly Cleary), and The Secret Garden’s Mary Lennox (Frances Hodgson Burnett). Although I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sally J. Freedman (a Judy Blume title character) and a recently discovered spitfire named Calpurnia Tate (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly). The thing that evolution of calpurnia tateall of these characters have in common is their determination, often in the face of much adversity. Each story is great because the young heroine represented in it is full of spunk, fearless to a fault, and willing to get a little dirty to make things more interesting. I suppose it never occurred to me while I was growing up that characters from books could be role models. But looking back, I realize they were. How I longed to clorox a horse, spy on my neighbors and discover shameful family secrets. I also spent lots of time (in between reading good books) just daydreaming and letting my imagination run away with me. This is just the kind of thing that girls need so much and these characters (and their stories) provided me with that. I’m so glad I got to know them. Who are some of your beloved storybook people?