Monday, March 31, 2008

Bread, or Doorstop?

For Christmas, MarbleMan gave me a bit of sourdough starter from a 250 year-old batch he'd found through a catalog. Mmmmmmmm. The first several batches of bread were fantastic! Great crumb, easy recipe (found on-line), and it made wonderful French toast when a few days old. But lately, something's gone awry. I can't figure it out. The starter bubbles nicely when fed, the sponge is very light and bubbly, but after kneading, these last two batches of loaves refused to rise, and they came out so dense they were actually hard to slice. Now today, I'm baking another batch and I think they'll make fabulous doorstops. This week I'll try feeding it a few times to strengthen the starter. Then I think it's time to go back to basics to see what happens when I make a plain recipe - no whole wheat, no raisins, olives, or any other additives.

The good news is that since I'm on a perpetual diet, no sourdough in the house will help me out a lot. Bread is my nemesis - I can never have just one slice. And it calls my name at 3 in the morning, whispering "Yoooo-hoooooo. I taste really good toasted and spread with butter and honey". Or maybe that's MarbleMan calling... :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Muffin Tops

Spring has officially Sprung here in the South. The days are getting longer and warmer, the apple and plum trees are in full flower while the dogwoods are budding and just beginning to blossom. This time of year marks the point at which I try on my summer clothes from the previous year and realize, with shock, that my muffin top is back. NNNNOOoooo! My favorite crop pants will need a button extender, and the world will just have to see flab rolls under my shirts while I whip my butt into gear and get back to my daily walks.

Today Marble Man is home sick with a cold and Pooch is snuggling with him for change. I peeled on my Nike walking clothes and girlie Adidas sneakers with the cute hot-pink details, grabbed my pedometer and ipod, and hit the road for a nice moderate 30 minute walk. A couple of easy, slow songs ran while I did my ten minute warm-up, and then I got down to business. I'm so out of shape, I felt like Tin Man moaning for his oil can. My hips and knees were creaking until well past my halfway point. But, I cruised along on my way home and then reached "The Hill": this steep short hill to my street which totally kicked my butt. I felt as though my heart popped right out of my chest. I looked back when I reached the top to see if it was laying by the side of the road. Thankfully it wasn't so I assume it's right where it's supposed to be.

Now we're in Daylight Saving Time, and I'm fully committed to walking every day after dinner (unless it's raining). If I can keep it up, I should be able to shed the final 25 pounds to reach the goal my doctor set for me last year. I'll also give up eating muffins for breakfast - no more eating a part to strengthen a part!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This is the Life

I am in the midst of a perfect moment in a perfect day.

The day started out with a visit from my Ya-ya's - the closest friends I have ever had. We drank coffee, schmoozed, and got caught up with all our news. We haven't been together in over a month so there was much to share over muffins and coffeecake.

When they left, I was over-caffeinated and took the dog for a mini walk. I was struck by the beauty of the day: The air was warm, very windy and full of birdsong. The daffodils, forsythia, and camellias are blooming, basking in the sunshine. Bluebirds and cardinals were at the birdbath. I felt like I'd just walked into a Disney movie. (For a moment I was afraid to look down in case I had unbeknownst acquired a princess gown and might suddenly burst into a trilling song.) I needed to take a moment to breathe and admire what was going on around me.

Now, hours later, here I sit in the den with the window open, listening to the wind and watching the pines swaying above. The dog gave up begging me to pick him up and went to sleep on the rug at my feet. He alternates between periods of snuffling and snoring, and currently chases dream rabbits with his entire body running, twitching and dream-barking. To tell you the truth I envy his ability to sleep with such abandon. Maybe I'll sign off now and join him in an afternoon nap.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hey! Check Out Those Beady little eyes!

OK, now that I have had some time to reflect over the past four months, I realize I've done way more work than I thought! In late October, I was in my studio doing bead stringing, and did some yummy stuff. Here's the photographic proof (Keep in mind this is amateur photography here.):

(I've been incorporating some of my beautiful buttons in my necklaces. - check out the amazing gold and red one above.)

Then, at Christmas time, I couldn't get to the studio with any predictable regularity. This is when I started experimenting with bead-woven spiral ropes. I love this technique! I've amassed so many spirals that they need their own storage box. I'd say it's time to start looking for a way to sell some pieces. I mean, how'm I going to pay for more beads when I use up my (considerable) stash? Here are some pictures of those:

I should point out that the display stand I used is smaller than the average person. The necklaces are all between 16 and 18 inches long. So, they fall just below the hollow of the throat - not as far down the chest as they look here.

So far, I'm doing OK with teeny tiny seed beads, but I'm a little worried that my eyes are going to squint up and then I really will have "beady little eyes"! Not a look I'm going for. Yet.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Beaded, Roped, and Tied

After a year of puppysitting our sick dog, I finally snapped and declared I'm taking back my life to a small degree. The only way the pooch is happy is when I am on the sofa, watching tv, and he is in my lap (or at least, off to my side). This makes it tough to get any work done.

I recently taught myself how to do a spiral rope bead weaving technique which is very do-able while sitting on the sofa with a dog in my lap. Yay! (I was starting to feel my brain slowly leaking out my eyeballs from watching so much television.) I use a tray in which I have all my little sushi dipping dishes full of beads. This sits on the sofa next to me within easy reach.

Now I'm heavily stocked with spiral ropes in beautiful colors. I need to get into the studio to put the finishing touches on, like clasps and pendants. After all these years of working as an artist I still have these narcissistic moments when I finish something. I drape it on a display and leave it out so I can look at it and admire while I finish up the next one. I can't help it - I work hard at what I do and take great pride in doing fine and delicate pieces.