Friday, December 17, 2010

Watercolor and recipes


Well, 8 days until Christmas and I finally got my holiday card done...but zero of them are in the mail. And in all reality, they probably won't be till this weekend. So if the card misses you, here it is. And you can look forward to having it in your mailbox in January. Just cross off the Holidays part and write in New Year...or you could collage it with letters from a magazine. That would be very artsy of you!

Today was cold but not nearly as cold as it has been. Temps in the single digits has essentially paralyzed this southern city, so we were all joyous to wake up to a balmy 30 degrees this morning. But still my 545am walk chilled me to my bones and all I wanted when I got home from my tromp with the pup was a hot muffin and a delicious cup of coffee. The coffee was ready (I love you) but the muffin was no where to be found. Maybe this weekend we can make one of these happen for the drive north (9 hours in the car on Sunday)...

Muffins from Jessie the Chef!

Butternut Squash Muffins....

Yield: 24 Muffins
3.5 Cups All Purpose Flour
1.25 Cups Granulated Sugar
1.25 Cups Light Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
.5 teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Butternut Squash Puree, ( I used one can Organic puree)
(if you can't find it, you can use pumpkin, or cook and puree a butternut squash)
.25 Cups Yogurt ( I used nonfat Vanilla, but you can use soy yogurt, or whatever you choose)
1 Cup Almond Milk ( I used Vanilla Almond Milk, but you can use Soymilk, or dairy milk)
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
.25 Cup Honey ( You can use molasses to make it vegan, but I like honey better)

Combine flour, sugars, baking powder and salt.
In a different bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.
Put the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well, until smooth, but do not over mix.

I added dried cranberries, about three quarters of a cup or so. You can add them when you add the wet ingredients.

or.... 

Spiced Yogurt Muffins


Oh hell, maybe I'll just make both.








Monday, December 13, 2010

Stolen with gratitude

There is this friend I have in Nashville and her birthday is tomorrow. (You'll notice that a lot of people in my life are December babies like me! What can I say...birds of a feather flock together.)

I could spend about two hours writing about how much she has changed my life since I moved here a year and a half ago. How much love she has given me and how much strength I have gained from watching her grow and change this past year. But that would be mushy, and who really wants to read mushy?

She has two birthdays really...December 14th and February1st. The first is the day of her actual birth (thanks Momma Lemon, you did good!) and the second is the day of her re-birth, a day in which she was able to start over. She's told me that she wants to hold off on the real celebration until February... but I couldn't let this week pass by without a note of love and gratitude for the day that made her exist in the first place.

So to honor her, I stole a poem from her blog. Us teachers have a snow day down here in Nashville. And, although there are about a million things I love about this woman, her ability to bring poems into my life may be at the top of that list. So here is one that I had hanging by my desk in graduate school, but forgot about until it showed up from her just the other day.

Love you A. Happy Birthday week.



Walking Home from Oak-Head
 
There is something
about the snow-laden sky
in winter
in the late afternoon
 
that brings to the heart elation
and the lovely meaninglessness
of time.
Whenever I get home - whenever -
 
somebody loves me there.
Meanwhile
I stand in the same dark peace
as any pine tree,
 
or wander on slowly
like the still unhurried wind,
waiting,
as for a gift,
 
for the snow to begin
which it does
at first casually,
then, irrepressibly.
 
Wherever else I live -
in music, in words,
in the fires of the heart,
I abide just as deeply
 
in this nameless, indivisible place,
this world,
which is falling apart now,
which is white and wild,
 
which is faithful beyond all our expressions of faith,
our deepest prayers.
Don't worry, sooner or later I'll be home.
Red-cheeked from the roused wind,
 
I'll stand in the doorway
stamping my boots and slapping my hands,
my shoulders
covered with stars.
 
~ Mary Oliver ~

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The perfect birthday dress...

I know there are people out there that are shy about their birthday. Turns out, I'm not one of them. In fact, I like to embrace the idea of the "birthday month", a term in which the boyfriend supported beautifully by leaving flowers at my doorstep on December 1st (yes, thank you- he's perfect).

However, even though I love my birthday...shopping for the birthday dress is always a bit of a struggle Cold December nights don't offer a ton of thrilling options in Pittsburgh, PA. Thanks to ModCloth I found these...you can click on the name to get more info.
Kick Back & Relax Dress
Kick Back and Relax
..colored tights and boots?
Too Nice of a Night Dress
Too Nice of Night
...sparkled earing and flats?
Geode to Joy Dress
Geode to Joy
...perhaps I am envisioning my January trip to Vegas in this frock but still, it's pretty good.



Send thoughts. I could use some help on this one. I hate internet shopping, I need to feel the fabric of something before I buy it. But it's fun to look and dream about all the exciting things I will smile about in the coming weeks....

Now, to tackle that to do list! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Procrastination productivity

8x10 IT ALWAYS SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE UNTIL IT IS DONE (print in cream and black)
Found here


These days have seemed, well...impossible. I'm up to my ears in projects, report writing, kiln firings, and trying to stay warm in the suddenly cold Nashville winter (even though I am really loving the sub zero temps). But the work! Eh! I feel like my to do list is never ending. And if you know me (or live with me) you know my ability to procrastinate the life out of times like this is really what I am made of.

Last night the boyfriend and I had a perfect night of this "procrastination productivity". An impromptu date to the local burger joint was an expense that our wallets didn't love but our hearts really needed. Check out this menu and if your taste buds don't start up you are nuts. I had the lamb...it was unbelievable.

So one more push is all I need. A week and a half until I am "home for the holidays". I've already started some resolution writing. Nothing like thinking about future goals to help you procrastinate the ones right in front of you. 

:)




Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snow on Sunday

 It's Sunday and it's snowing...winter is here. Hooray! I've decided that winter was made for projects and I've got a couple things brewing that I want to accomplish. A couple of new art ventures (two of which I hope to start today), some musical (I guess that is art too), and a big correspondence push (watch your mailboxes people). I'm thrilled, my creative expression is about to explode.

I love how the gray, cold, slush of the season pushes poets and artists (and really everyone) to hibernate and perculate thoughts and artistic brainpower. I will never forget those countless freezing cold months of winter in New Hampshire during college. I would sit in my little studio, with the wood stove roaring and my hands freezing, making pot after pot on the wheel. Desperately trying to get it right and warm myself with the beauty of the art forming in front of me.

So here I go, off to the studio and taking with me two pieces of inspiration. One, this photograph from a lovely holiday store


Image of Winter Light 8x10 Photograph
Jennifer Causey Photograph


And two, some Robert Frost. Because who better to talk about winter with?


Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening



Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

An opportunity



A gas leak at school has given me an unexpected 3 day weekend. There are a millions things I could do today...but a stuffy head is leaving me in bed for most of the morning. I'll just take this as an opportunity to not do anything exhausting. Yes, I think that sounds like a fine plan.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

She said...


She said: "The way I write, I have a novel in my head for a long time that I think about, and in those months it is so beautiful, so incredibly profound . ... The novel in my imagination travels with me like a small lavender moth making loopy circles around my head." She said: "As soon as I start to put it on the page I kill it. It always breaks my heart. For me, the greatest challenge is to stick with the book I'm writing when what I want to do is hit the delete button."
And she said: "I believe that my gift in this world is not that I'm smarter or more talented than anyone else: it's that I had a singular goal. I don't want other stuff: friends, kids, travel. What makes me happy is writing."
Happy birthday to a woman who has saved me more times than she will ever know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Murder in the dark...

A couple of shots from a 1920's murder mystery party we attended this past weekend in Southern California. Needless to say, the outfits were to die for...





Man oh man am I crossing my fingers that Santa will bring me a new camera this year! Oh world of beautiful photos with perfect lighting... I am coming to you soon!

Things that open

During one of my 5th grade drawing assignments last week I asked a fifth grade girl to draw "Things that open". She smiled and at the end of the class she turned this into me with a proud look on her face saying, "Look at how many things I thought of!"



I can tell you about  a million reasons why I love this drawing. The thin lines, the negative space, and the way in which she stacked everything together as if she was making a grocery list (just to name a few). But, most of all , it makes me think about all of the things that are opening up in my life, here and now. Scary things, big things, happy things, exciting things, and most of all very quiet wonderful things. And although the scary stuff often feels like the biggest...this drawing helps me see the wonderful a little more clear.

Nothing like a 5th grader drawing kitchen appliances to help you with life's biggest questions.

Am I taking my job too seriously?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Morning thanks

There are a lot of things that I am grateful for this year, a million really. But in the end there is one constant that I am so happy that I have. And this wonderful blogger put it into better words than I ever could...

Dear Mornings


My mornings have just been it for me this fall. My walks, my meditations, my quiet classroom before the children stampede in, dog and boyfriend hugs, oats with almond butter,  and of course hot coffee in the french press. They are just really good. And allow me the quietness to be thankful for everything else I have.


This morning, I wish I had time to write you all a thank you note. For everything that makes me smile and feel warm inside. But just so you know, I'm feeling really warm these days. There is just a lot of love in the air.

So...Happy Thanksgiving. And thanks, for all the giving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fantasying frigid...

There is something about this time of year that makes me ache for snow. The smell of it, the taste of it, and the desire to put on every wool sweater on I own, wrap myself in a blanket, and drink hot earl gray tea. The anticipation of winter is upon me. I'm ready for it. Bring it on.

Oh wait, it was a high of 74 in Nashville today. Hmmm...not exactly what I was aiming for.

I know, "cry me a river" you're saying. Having to deal with lovely weather in the middle of November is not awful at all. The heat bill is low and taking the dog outside to pee at 8pm is pretty lovely. But still, if it was snowing I would make these pear and ginger scones, wrap myself in this sweater, and drink any of these cups by a hot fire. And even though I have a long winter a head of me with a lot of cold nights, shivering mornings, and break the bank heat bills... I kinda want to transport myself back to Oregon right now. Where a 40% chance of  snow is forecasted all day tomorrow.

Soon I'll be reporting from Southern California for a very non-snowy Thanksgiving vacation. Where are you during this thankful time of the year? Oh and guess what? I am thankful for YOU.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Aristotle
Billy Collins


This is the beginning. 
Almost anything can happen. 
This is where you find 
the creation of light, a fish wriggling onto land, 
the first word of Paradise Lost on an empty page. 
Think of an egg, the letter A, 
a woman ironing on a bare stage as the heavy curtain rises. 
This is the very beginning. 
The first-person narrator introduces himself, 
tells us about his lineage. 
The mezzo-soprano stands in the wings. 
Here the climbers are studying a map 
or pulling on their long woolen socks. 
This is early on, years before the Ark, dawn. 
The profile of an animal is being smeared 
on the wall of a cave, 
and you have not yet learned to crawl. 
This is the opening, the gambit, 
a pawn moving forward an inch. 
This is your first night with her, your first night without her. 
This is the first part 
where the wheels begin to turn, 
where the elevator begins its ascent, 
before the doors lurch apart. 
 
This is the middle.
Things have had time to get complicated,
messy, really. Nothing is simple anymore.
Cities have sprouted up along the rivers
teeming with people at cross-purposes –
a million schemes, a million wild looks.
Disappointment unsolders his knapsack
here and pitches his ragged tent.
This is the sticky part where the plot congeals,
where the action suddenly reverses
or swerves off in an outrageous direction.
Here the narrator devotes a long paragraph
to why Miriam does not want Edward's child.
Someone hides a letter under a pillow.
Here the aria rises to a pitch,
a song of betrayal, salted with revenge.
And the climbing party is stuck on a ledge
halfway up the mountain.
This is the bridge, the painful modulation.
This is the thick of things.
So much is crowded into the middle –
the guitars of Spain, piles of ripe avocados,
Russian uniforms, noisy parties,
lakeside kisses, arguments heard through a wall
too much to name, too much to think about.
 
And this is the end,
the car running out of road,
the river losing its name in an ocean,
the long nose of the photographed horse
touching the white electronic line.
This is the colophon, the last elephant in the parade,
the empty wheelchair, and pigeons floating down in the evening.
Here the stage is littered with bodies,
the narrator leads the characters to their cells,
and the climbers are in their graves.
It is me hitting the period
and you closing the book.
It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen
and St. Clement with an anchor around his neck.
This is the final bit
thinning away to nothing.
This is the end, according to Aristotle,
what we have all been waiting for,
what everything comes down to,
the destination we cannot help imagining,
a streak of light in the sky,
a hat on a peg, and outside the cabin, falling leaves.

Tonight I get to be in the same room as the man that wrote this poem. The last time that happened I was a senior in college in a poetry class. He walked in and stole the room with his smile, laugher, and overall presence of being. When he read his poems, tears flooded my eyes...not knowing that someone so real and familiar could write words that connected so deeply with myself.


Tonight will be different. My scarf and jeans will be replaced with a ball gown and heels. But I hope I get to cry the same way, because even though everything in my life has changed...I really don't feel all that different.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Warmth





An incredible trip to New England this weekend brought me back to my roots in a way that I desperately needed. The cold and wet weather kept us from my favorite beach but spurred an afternoon of puddle jumping, hot cider, and joyful love that could not be replicated. During an evening of soup making we laughed and played like little children. Artists, writers, cooks, and storytellers. It was invigorating to be a part of this group of people again. Although a large portion of my heart is sad that I am no longer surrounded by this love, it is so good to know that even after being gone for 3 years...none of it has vanished. 


To warm ourselves from the wet fall weather we made soup, a project led by my dear friend and fabulous chef Skye Bonney (who knew that buttercup squash was SO much better than butternut!). The soup simmered as we listened to music and laughed. And of course...we danced.








This, followed by a day in Boston with more women that I adore (pictures from the city, the food, and those faces of sunshine soon to come) pieced together a perfect visit to a place I will forever call my second home. Thanks to all who made it so special. I am warm with all of the love I got- officially ready for winter.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Green Dino amongst Pink Princesses


Yes, that is me on far right, age 5. Man oh man do I miss that pink tutu. And every Halloween I think how great it would be, to be dress like a green dinosaur today.

Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Morning Sky

I wish I had my camera this morning when I was walking into school because this is exactly what the sky looked liked (thanks goodness for Google images). Stunning shades of peachy orange and crystal blue mixed together in a way that only complementary colors can. At first the glare hurt my eyes and I had to look away. But then my eyes adjusted and as middle school parents dropped their children off in large SUV's and BMW's I stood on the side walk and stared up. 


"Ms. Cox, what are you looking at?" 
"The sky."
"Why?"
"Because if you look at it, you'll realize it's worth staring at."
"Oh yea, wow...."

This week has been a struggle for me. The business of fall and the dark mornings make it hard to get out of bed. But a special concert this weekend, a trip to my second home in a week, and a west coast Thanksgiving linger closely on my calender. Oh, and I even have something BIG brewing in the aisles of my brain. I'm not quite ready to share it, but soon I promise. 
PS. Turns out when you Google "Morning Sky" you come up first with Google images and then this. I really can't decide which one I love more. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn


Here's to a hot toddy, leaf glowing, pancake making, pumpkin carving, cuddle on the couch with chai kind of weekend.

I . love. autumn. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gloriously easy apple galette


Apples. Sugar. Lemon. Cinnamon. Flour. Seriously, that is all it is. And it was amazingly good...I made two of them.



Full recipe credit goes to my FAVORITE blog...3191 visual blogging. If you haven't checked these women out yet, you must. Their photos, their lives, and their recipes are simply stunning. Not to mention that they hail from two of my favorite cities and old stomping grounds, Portland OR and Portland ME (which happen to be 3,191 miles apart- get it?). 




Genius I tell you, genius. (The pie and the blog).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Under the Sea

I went to visit my sister and her family at the Tennessee Aquarium a couple weeks ago. Watching her children play in the darkness of this underwater world was stunning.





But, as always...watching my sister thrive as a mother was even better. The love she gives...man oh man is it big.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I heart fall break

Two and half days + one weekend off of writing, teaching, learning, and enlightening the artistic minds of middle school girls. (Inhale one BIG sigh of relief). Here is my to do list...I really hope I can stick to it.



Bake this so I can eat it for breakfast every morning
3191visualblogging
Spend at least an hour and a half here buying a million veggies to make the best soup you have ever tasted.

Go running here because the leaves have finally started to turn beautiful shades of orange                                                              
            
  












Finishing reading this, not like I need more introspection in my life but...hey, why not?     

And run away with the boyfriend to this magical place, to celebrate our one year of love
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We'll see if I come back.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bawling tears of joy and celebration

One of my very dearest friends from childhood was married yesterday. No parents, no friends. Just her, her love, her sister, and his roommate who officiated- all together in City Hall in San Francisco. After it was over she called me to tell me the news (preparing me before the mass email was sent out to their world wide family of friends and relatives). First I told her she was lying, then I smiled, and then I cried...for the next three hours straight.

I guess when the girl that has shared everything with you tells you she's married, you realize that life has suddenly started to go by really really quickly.

Love to you both. I can't wait to wrap my arms around you in celebration. 

Emily and Andrew: 10/8/2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The mug of the evening (this one made by yours truly)- filled with Earthy Digest tea.

Yum and goodnight.

A sip with soul

My school brought potter and professor Regis Brodie to speak to our high school art students today. After 45 min in a lecture room with him I was aching to get on the wheel and make some work (luckily fall break is just around the corner). But, even more I was aching for more beautiful ceramics to own. I've been improving my collection over the years but I need more. Especially from artists like these...


Sarah Burns

Tim Christensen

Chris Gustin

Don Williams


Kristen Kieffer


One day I strive to own 100% handmade dish ware. It just has a soul to it that porcelain china does not. Mugs are my favorite...especially on a cool day today with some hot green tea.

What is your favorite mug to drink out of? Send pictures! I'll post my favorite tonight.

Friday, October 1, 2010

You can do it, just let go.

CM 2010
I wouldn't be a good art teacher if I didn't try to push my art agenda on everyone I know. I can't tell you how many people in my life say they are awful at art, especially drawing. Guess what? I used to say the same thing. 


CM 2010
Seriously, before I started teaching drawing was my least favorite way to express my artistic endeavors. Until I realized two things: 1.) It doesn't matter if it looks good because the act of silently drawing is the best meditation out there, and 2.) I'm certainty not getting any better by not doing it.


During a lecture with Nick Bantock years ago, he said "Art is the balance of intuitive knowledge and letting go." So here is a little motivation to jump start YOUR letting go. 


James McMullen has started a brilliant series in the Times on getting back to drawing. These little pieces are so inspiring and if they won't make you pick up a pencil while at your desk I don't know what will.

Getting Back to the Phantom Skill


CM 2010




Have fun. Your assignment is due by Christmas.






Drawings by Caitlin Matthews (Spanish teacher by trade, artist by cups of tea and vegan treats at night)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The healing kind

Needless to say, I am very into my dog right now. 3 posts in one month about the same yellow mutt? Sorry...I just can't help myself. This week especially, she's never off of my mind. Those eyes...those ears! Breaks your freakin' heart. Actually no...this poem does.

Dharma

by Billy Collins

The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her doghouse
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.


Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers?


Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose, 
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.


If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she
would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager 
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.

Think good thoughts for Sandee this week. An aliment has left her hurt up for a while...healing thoughts, safe thoughts. Many thanks.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

"I'm a big kid now..."

Recently, I've been feeling very grown up. The job, the dog, the boyfriend...everything in my life feels incredibly good and purposeful. Like I was really thinking, when I made these choices about the direction I wanted my life to go in. And turns out I made the right choices, well so far at least.

But then I see pictures like this...

Mishalulu.com

...and I desperately want to be small again.

The kind of small where everything is taken care of. No decisions, no work, no shopping or driving or caring about anything, except your favorite doll (mine was a little brown hair dolly named Pandy) and your parents kiss at the end of the night (are there lions?).

And even though being a big time grown up, with really wonderful things happening in life, is amazing. I am still really jealous of that pink skirt and the carelessness that goes with it.

Go to Mishalulu for more pictures of beautiful children wearing amazing clothes. It might just make you pull out that old baby doll and say hello.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A perfect combination

Two things that I am appreciating this week: dogs and dawn.

Every morning this week I have crawled out of bed at 5:40am to properly spend time with my new life companion, Sandee. This dog is the definition of love in the morning time, she cuddles, and snuggles, and licks your face desperately saying "I have to pee, I have pee!". So, I rise, splash my face with water and spend the early two hours of the morning with this face...

I've always loved the idea of calling myself an "Early Riser". In fact, I would argue that mornings are the most quiet and peaceful moment of the day. Walking amongst dark houses with people sleeping, I almost soften my foot step as to not wake them up and quiet her leash when we jog across the street. And, each of these mornings when we get back Sandee and I sit at the bedroom window, me with my coffee and her with her chew toy, to watch the squirrels rustle about in their morning routine.

It's a different kind of morning than I've had in a while. Thank goodness.