Sunday, February 28, 2010


Dear Knitting,
I know you have my mojo.
I would like it back now.
I have searched for hours, looking for the perfect hat pattern to hide my growing-out-because-I-want-braids hair. I have decided on no less than three different patterns, finding my stash or needle supply to be lacking something required for each. Heck, I finally searched for slouchy lace hats, knitted with worsted weight cotton yarn on needles between the sizes of 5 and 10 and came up with a superb example. I gathered my yarn. I printed my pattern. I pawed through the glass jar where I keep my needles.
I came up with my size six set of double-pointeds and discovered that I am short by two. How can that happen?
I have looked in my knitting bag, all my purses and secret yarn-hiding hole in this house. They are nowhere to be found.
Obviously, this is all your fault.
What happened between us? Is it the Fun Fur scarf I'm working on? You know I would never offer you acrylic novelty yarn if it were up to me. My friend brought the yarn to me and needed help - she doesn't know how to knit. What else was I supposed to do? So I cast on a no-brainer scarf for her - so what?
Yes, it's soft and fuzzy, but it's not fulfilling in the way that alpaca laceweight can be. Don't even get me started on the angora yarn I almost spent my month's grocery budget on at the state fair!
Listen. Here's the deal.
If you give me back my mojo, once this scarf is finished, we'll cast on something yummy. Cashmere? No problem. That buttery soft, cloud-colored merino laceweight that I got for Christmas? Absolutely. I promise to use my nice bamboo needles too.
Do we have a deal?

<3 me

Saturday, February 27, 2010


With apologies, I must confess that I am feeling uncharacteristically quiet as of late. I'm sure my words will come back to me in no time.
I think that I am just sitting back and quietly watching new things unfold - I am filled with so much gratitude for the changes in direction, the classes, the music, and the blessing of leaving a job that was suffocating my heart.
Things are slowing down for me in the most wonderful way. I am getting caught up with years of to-do lists and old promises to friends and soon I will be tackling projects that have been waiting in the wings for ever so long.
I know it doesn't sound like slow life, but to me it is. It's refreshing to unburden my shoulders, one old and heavy thing at a time, all the while gathering up new dreams and hopes.
I will keep posting photos here and there for a bit until I find my voice again. I dearly hope that keeps you all entertained enough that you will still be here when it comes back.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


When I happened upon this cozy little scene last weekend, I just wanted to sit down in one of these chairs and knit.

Probably with some deliciously soft, organic cotton.
Wish I'd had a wide angle lens so you could see more of it...

Daily Bliss: my new food obsession: air-popped popcorn seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, cumin & chili powder with a squeeze of fresh lime over the top. hello, lunch!
Wake-up Playlist: Lovesong of the Buzzard, Iron & Wine

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Something Pretty

Today, on my porch:

Daily Bliss: a morning bath with open windows & rain
Wake-up Playlist: I Love You, Michael Franti & Spearhead; Calendar Girl, Neil Sedaka

Monday, February 22, 2010

This was a day in which I

Held and kissed my baby nephew
Actually washed the dishes

Parked in illegal places to
Take some pictures for my homework assignment
(which would never happen if Chris were in the car)

Ate a king-sized candy bar
Bought some flowers
Taught a couple of piano lessons
Listened to so much music
Made lists
Long, long lists
Made dinner out of found objects from my pantry
Procrastinated a lot
Especially about giving my dog a bath
Which I eventually did, with the help of my iPod

Got caught hanging over the bathtub, hands full of dog shampoo,
(I didn't hear Chris come through the front door)

The dog doesn't have fleas anymore. Neither do I, I'm sure.
Plan to go to bed early.

Daily Bliss: finally finding some resurrection fern to photograph
Wake-up Playlist: Resurrection Fern, Iron & Wine (notice a pattern here?)

Sunday, February 21, 2010


We had the loveliest weekend.
Friday, we kept the kids out of school and went to Universal Studios. We had some free passes, so, we were really excited to go! The kids had lots of fun and we finally talked Andrew into his first real roller coaster. He's not exactly Mr. Risk-Taker. There was money exchanged.
I have no problem with bribing my children.
Saturday morning, I attended a lovely brunch in celebration of my friend's birthday. I got to play with her camera and take some pictures of the party (I sure hope there were a few good ones, Christina!). I left straight from there to shoot the portraits of my friend Allison's that I showed you yesterday. And then I got to start photographing for my homework assignment. I pretty much spent the whole weekend with a camera in my hand. Not a bad deal, I suppose.
This week's assignment will involve gathering lots of images in order to illustrate a poem/song lyric. Of course, I'm going with a song lyric. All will be revealed in time. Mostly, I'm just saying that because I'm too tired to explain any of this in any sort of detail.
So, I still have lots of images to gather up. After church this morning, Chris and I took the kids out to a nature preserve in search of a certain plant I'm hoping to photograph. We didn't have much luck finding it, but the weather was so absolutely beautiful! We just meandered around the trails, looking at the water, listening to the birds,

and we ran across this little armadillo!

He was just rooting around in the dirt, blissfully unaware of our presence. I've heard that they can't see very well at all. He crossed our path quite close, nose to the ground, sifting through dirt and dried grasses. It was almost as if he'd misplaced his house and was hoping to stumble across it any moment.
I know most people don't like armadillos, but we thought him rather nice and especially adorable.

Daily Bliss: the hubs - cracking me up today with one-liners at every turn

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Portrait of a Poet

I had the Most Fun Photo Shoot today! My friend Allison, who is a poet (among many other things, but that's how I most like to introduce her), came to town and we tromped around downtown to all my favorite buildings and spots to take some pictures. She even straddled some train tracks and sat in a random display of chairs outside an "antiques" store! I had been so looking forward to this bit of time with such a kindred - it does a heart some good to be next to another so much the same and I just knew that she'd be game for climbing on things and laying around on things and any other strange thing I asked her to do.
Here's a rough look at a few of my favorite shots - though there were so many good ones, it was incredibly hard to pick favorites!

Daily Bliss: mimosas and a lovely brunch - happy birthday Christina!
Wake-up Playlist: Passing Afternoon, Iron & Wine

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Girl Rocks

Me: That's a pretty picture you're drawing there (noticing the swirly, pointy, flower-ish shape on the page).

Emma: It's a symbol for girls that says, "Hey. I'm a girl. I can get by on my own, thanks. It's for girls who know what they're doing."

Me: Cool. I love the colors.

Daily Bliss: a bath, smack in the middle of the afternoon
Wake-up Playlist: Man on the Moon, REM

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Turned In

I did end up turning in several of the butterfly pictures for my homework tonight, after I tweaked them a bit to brighten them up. I also turned in pictures of my ancient camellia bush that lives in my back yard. I'm not going to post the whole series of both here, just a few of my favorite shots in their edited state.

Next week's assignment, and I would presume past next week as well, is pretty Photoshop-intensive. I'll be hunting and gathering lots of images and a few lines of poetry too and I know this isn't one that you guys will want to try at this point. I know some of you are wanting to post some photos related to the last couple of assignments I've had, so now's your chance!

Mom, I promise there will be typewriter pictures soon.

Daily Bliss: chocolate for lunch and kissin' on my baby nephew
Wake-up Playlist: Ordinary World, Duran Duran

Monday, February 15, 2010

This Week's Assignment

"This should be a pretty easy assignment," is what I seem to remember saying. Walking around my subject and finding different ways to look at it is what I do when I have a camera in my hand. I don't have to learn how to do that. Shooting the pictures this week would not be a problem - it's just that I can't seem to pick a subject.
Oh, I went for a walk and stuff. I didn't want to go to Lake Mirror, because that's where I always take pictures. It's where everybody always takes pictures. But I drove and drove, looking for something that caught my eye and I finally just parked it at the lake to see what I could find. I had my kids with me and at least one of them was a pretty unwilling participant.
So, I've photographed this butterfly statue before. I think lots of people have, because it's so pretty. I also think I've taken most of these angles and perspectives before, but it was there and it suited my assignment, so I did it. These could probably use a little adjustment - they're a little underexposed. Blerg.

I liked this pair of trees with birds in them. I suppose it's hard to say whether the birds are the subject or the trees are. I think that, maybe a little bit of both, but we're going to go with the trees. Just so I look like I know what I'm talking about.

Sigh. I hope I have time tomorrow to keep looking...I mean, I like these, but I don't love them. Maybe my problem is that I'm still busy. I'm still looking for that sweet spot where I have enough mental space to settle into a creative groove - where I have the time to wander and land, unexpectedly, right where I wanted to be in the first place.

Too Much

There is too much life that has happened to me in the last week to cover here in a post. Too, too, too much.
Life has come at me fast lately, but I have been pressing on toward the goal of Friday-of-this-week. Until then, I have had loads of piano music to learn, loads of students to work with and some performances I'm getting paid for and am a little nervous that I won't be able to pull off.
But after Friday, life will settle into the wonderful new normal I've chosen for myself. I will have my daytime hours free (mostly) for creating and making music. I'll be teaching and busy in the afternoons, but the white space will be back in my life. I am so looking forward to making sense of my home and my self again.
On top of this being the busy season for pianists, and me being new at it and stuff, our house was broken into last week. Most of you already know that via Facebook or Twitter, but I thought I'd put it out here too.
I wasn't home and neither were the kids and I am so, so deeply grateful for that. Our back window was broken so the men could get in and they, well, they really knew what they were doing.
We don't have a lot of valuables, to be honest. We don't have much. But they managed to find nearly everything we own that had value. A few pieces of special jewelry, our small electronics, the kids' game systems - that sort of thing. They stuffed it into one of Andrew's backpacks and headed out the back door.

But they didn't count on my neighbor being there.

He has an alarm in his back yard that alerts him to activity in the alley behind our houses and he saw what was going on. He called 911 right away. The police were already nearby and cut the guys off at the end of the alley, with all of our stuff still on them!

So. Bad guys are in jail. We have our stuff. And our neighbor even boarded up the back window for us so we didn't freeze in this weird weather we're having.

Stress? Yeah, maybe. But I'm too busy living my life right to even think about it. We were violated, yes, but it's over. We're moving on.

And I totally made my neighbor some cookies - the vegan white chocolate chip lime ones that I make for very special occasions. Some of you have had those cookies at my house and you know that they are quite a reward indeed. Maybe they're not quite enough to express the gratitude we have for our wonderful neighbor's quick thinking and actions, but it's a start.

Daily Bliss: spending time outside with my kids on a gorgeous day
Wake-up Playlist: There have been so many songs in my head, it's really hard to say which one is the first one every day! This feature will be back with more regularity soon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


What a relief! My professor liked my pictures just fine.
As for the white-on-white portraits of Andrew, he said it was beautiful work - that they were fantastic portraits. He did not complain about the shirt being a little pink-ish like I thought he might. He didn't say anything of the sort. He just thought they were great.
The student theater shots went over really well too. There were a few of us that really wowed him and I was in that group. There was definitely one girl who kicked my hiney at this assignment, but that's OK. It was a really tough assignment and I'm happy that he said my work was nice and very professional. He said the skin tones were very natural - almost like natural light.
So. I breathed a big sigh of relief and broke out in hives and then it was all over.
Moving on.
There is a new assignment, friends. I'm talking to you, you know. All of you who couldn't wait to take pictures with me and haven't posted a single shot since the first week, you know who you are! This one is simple and fun and I hope I see some pretty pictures on your blogs!
This is designed to pull you out of your comfort zone. Most of us frame a shot and kind of stay where we initially plant our feet. This time, though, you get to choose a subject - any old subject that tickles your fancy or triggers your shutter finger or what-have-you. Next? Take pictures. Thoroughly. Take pictures from every angle, from above, from below, from near and from far. Frame it with its surroundings. Use a macro lens too. Explore your subject until you are absolutely sick of it. I suppose that this will be one of those things that sticks in my mind forever when I take pictures after this - I will always remember to try a different angle before I put the lens cap back on. You will too.

Daily Bliss: playing Beethoven with the windows open and rain pouring down outside


I finally found my camera's usb cable. Whew! I was getting a little worried that my Disney pictures would just live forever inside my camera and never come back out.
Chris' mom and dad gave us tickets to Magic Kingdom for Christmas. The kids were so excited! Well, I was pretty excited too. We haven't been in a really long time and both of our kids are old enough now to really enjoy it and remember it.
We stayed from open to close and did every ride and show on our can't-miss-it list, which is pretty great. If you have ever been to Disney, you understand how long the lines can be. There are times of the year when you can spend pretty much your whole day waiting in the lines and end up going on only a handful of rides! Bleah.
Anyway, I only had my little (not-so-great) camera with me and was so worried about my shadows and reflections assignment that I mostly was panicking and trying to take interesting pictures for my class.
That's unfortunate because now, I only have a few pictures of my own children at Disney (forehead slap).
Wanna see 'em anyway?
Thought so.

Waiting to get in the gates:

Tom Sawyer Island:

Picking out some souvenirs:

Driving rocket ships (I was in the ship sitting behind Emma and turned the camera backwards, over my head, to snap the picture of Chris and Drew):

Formerly the WEDway People Mover, now the Tomorrowland Transit Authority:

A Brave Knight and his Trusty Steed lead the charge on the carousel:

Imprisoned by the evil emperor Zurg:

We had so much fun doing this. I love spending time with my family anyway, but just the four of us spending such a special day together was over-the-top fantastic.
Thanks, Mom and Dad S!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Good Stuff

Remember one time how I made toffee and told you how easy it was and you all loved it? And then we all gained ten pounds?
Good times.

Ready for another easy, sinful treat?
I was dreaming up a caramel-filled chocolate cake for my mom and sister-in-law's combined birthday party this weekend. The only problem is that I'm allergic to corn syrup and caramel = corn syrup. So I started Googling, and stumbled upon this Mexican caramel candy called cajeta. It's a little time-consuming, but it's really super easy and, uh, I'm eating a bowl of it right now with a spoon. In my defense, I'm going to have to take dairy out of my diet again, so I'm living it up right now. Tomorrow? I'll be sad.
The cinnamon cajeta recipe can be found here.

But wait! There's more!

I was a little worried about hanging all my cake dreams on one un-tested recipe, so I searched out a backup plan and discovered the coolest thing. Did you know that you can boil a still-sealed can of sweetened condensed milk and get caramel? I know, right? It's so cool. And a little dangerous.
I don't just mean dangerous to my jeans' zippers either.
If you accidentally lose track of yourself and let the water evaporate out of the pan, the can will explode!
But if you can be vigilant and keep it covered with boiling water (remove the paper label first, please) for 2-4 hours, depending on whether you want caramel sauce or pudding, you get something delicious. Currently, a giant spoon of that deliciousness is melted into a cup of hazelnut decaf coffee sitting next to the bowl of cajeta I'm shoveling into my mouth.
The cake was pretty good. I used the cajeta because I loved the cinnamon flavor in it. I will, however, be looking to replace my vegan chocolate cake recipe with something a little more frost-able. I'm either losing my touch or my house's elevation has changed or I was doing the recipe wrong for a while, causing the cake to be better than it is when I actually follow the recipe. I'm betting on #3. If I knew what I was doing wrong in the first place, I'd just do that again, but I have no idea what it was.

PS - for the Superbowl tonight, we made a Man Dinner that was invented one night during a conversation with my brother. I am sure we are not the first to think of chili pizza, but I had never heard of/eaten it before. But chili (since this is dude food, you probably want to use canned chili) is based on a tomato sauce, right? And it has meat in it, right? And it's good with cheese. So, you just spread the chili on a pizza crust, top with Mexican blend shredded cheese, and bake to your heart's content. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and Chipotle Tabasco sauce and - yum.

Like I said - no dairy after today, living it up, etcetera, etcetera.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Field Trip

Here are some of my best shots from my photography class' "field trip" to shoot student production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile:

It was challenging and lots of fun to try and take pictures in this environment. We were asked to wait until after the production to shoot and the students all came back on stage and ran through various scenes for us. That was so helpful because there were points at which the director would ask them to hold still so we (students, too) would have a chance at getting a decent shot.
The play itself, I thought, was cleverly written and had some fantastic things to say about the similarities between art and science and perhaps the misunderstandings the two have of each other. I was a little annoyed that the clever dialogue was punctuated with ridiculous comedic elements, though. But when I was looking up the title for this post, I discovered it was written by Steve Martin and it all made so much sense. Somehow, with that understanding, I can forgive it. I can even appreciate it. I know - what a fickle critic I am. I have never claimed to have good taste or judgment when it comes to art.
Anyway, there you have it. I hope some of my photos go over well in class. I'll let you know how it all comes out next week.