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Archive for June, 2011

I’m a big fat nerd when I travel.  The very thing that used to make me roll my eyes at my mom as a kid is what I do now.  I pack all my food when I travel.  My mom’s primary motivation was monetary (and that’s definitely part of the picture for me as I hate spending $20+ at the airport just on a bottle of water, a sandwich and a snack, I mean really?!??) but I am also strongly motivated by the environment and the disposable nature of airport dining.

So I always pack a snack bag and I make no apologies about it.  Moms do it all the time for their kids, so why don’t we do it for ourselves?  I’ve learned over the years that being environmentally conscious and/or frugal requires planning.  No instant gratification here.  But it really doesn’t take that much time and with some smart choices, you’ll be spending a LOT less and also using less resources.

Oftentimes people believe that strict TSA requirements = no food.  That’s not the case at all.  Sure, you can’t bring liquids totalling more than 3 ounces, but you can bring your own sandwiches, snacks, fruit, even fruit salad like I did.

On this trip I packed a PB sandwich (wrapped in a reusable sandwich wrap, like the ones you can find here), a fruit salad in a glass Pyrex bowl, slices of cheese, an apple and an oat bar.

I always bring my water bottle and fill it up at the water fountain once I pass security:

I bring my reusable coffee mug and stop by the coffee shop (iced coffee on this warm day):

I even bring my cloth napkin!  And sure, it may cause some to raise eyebrows, but frankly, I don’t really care (and actually was paid a compliment by my airplane neighbor!).

One thing I did roll the dice on (and lost unfortunately) was my choice of sandwich.  Because we didn’t have a lot of options in the house, I went with peanut butter, but soon learned we were on a peanut free flight due to an allergy (and last thing I want to do is cause a mid-flight emergency for someone!) so I wasn’t able to enjoy my sandwich until after I landed; luckily I brought enough goodies to hold me over otherwise.

So next time you’re preparing for a flight, why not do a little prep and planning and pack yourself a snack pack?  It may not seem like a big eco-step, but like I always say…every little step counts and the cumulative effects of a bunch of people taking little steps can make a huge difference!

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I’ve mentioned it before, but I have a love affair with Rhode Island.  The nostalgic memories associated with this state are so good, they are almost painful.  I spent a good portion of my younger years in this state’s playground, so my parents always make it a point to take me back when I come home during the warm season.

I think the thing I love most about the Rhode Island shore is its predictability.  It looks very much the same as it always has.  Sure, there is a new grocery store in the area and even a Dunkin Donuts that’s fairly new.  But other than that, there’s been very little development.  It’s very much the way it has always been.  Pure and unadulterated.

We spent the day at the beach, an hour plus of that time riding waves in the cool but comfortable ocean water.  Later we had dinner at a favorite seafood restaurant on the shoreline of a little fishing town.  We visited the local lighthouse, pointed out familiar spots and reminisced over “remember when…” conversations.

And I sighed.  I sighed a lot.  I really miss that place.

It’s quiet, rustic, and un-hurried.

Mom and pop shops, saltbox houses, and hardworking fishing vessels.

Clam and lobster shacks, ice cream stands and loads of charm.

Just something about this place…

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Well, in usual fashion and with complete predictability I’m going through the “gee, it seems so much better here than I last remember” and “I could get used to this again” feelings.  It’s easy to forget why you left a place (or a relationship or a job…insert any situation here) when you moonlight back in that scenario.

Beautiful orchards in Middlefield, CT

I’ve had a great, albeit jam-packed, couple of days and being on vacation makes this place look that much greener than it was when it was my norm.  I know I hate the hurried pace of this place, the wild humidity:

These curls need to be kept up at all times!

and the lack of visual inspiration (compared to Colorado, that is).  But being with my family – in the company of  my girls – is so wildly comforting and fun.

My crazy nieces

We visited some of my favorite spots, like Lyman Orchards, where we loaded up on apple cider, honey butter, cinnamon cider donut holes, homemade hummus, dips and other goodies.

Farm fresh goodies...mmm

Talk about New England goodness

And it seems like all the things that were lacking back in the day is now here.  Things like dog parks (there was maybe one in the entire state when we lived here) and now they are dotting the place.  Things like recreation – spotty at best – and now old train tracks have been converted into beautiful bike trails and things like water parks made out of natural features are here.  The old campus town where we once hung our hats for a couple of years has sprouted some new great restaurants and cultural spots.

This water park was in the basin of a large rock quarry and has everything from zip lines to cliff jumping to assorted water rides/games

What gives!!!  Makes me wonder if this stuff was here if we would have left…

But I also know that sometimes you have to leave a place to really understand what it was you were escaping, what it was you were seeking (or what was it that was lacking) and what new things you experienced and learned to truly appreciate what you had.  Things that I took for granted before, I see in a new light.

So is the grass greener?  Who knows…I certainly don’t.  It could be the old adage of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and it could just be that I wish I could be in two places at once.  It’s hard to know the right answer when the heart is in limbo.  Hoping that by the end of my week+ that I’ll be ready to get back to CO.  If I’m not, then I’ll have some soul searching to do, that’s for sure.

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So things may get a little spotty around here…I’m getting ready to embark on an 11 day trip back to Connecticut to visit with family (while David and pups hold down the fort back here).  I saw my folks in February but haven’t seen my sister or nieces since November and boy has it made me homesick.  Typically they come out once a year to visit as well, but my sister has embarked on year round grad school and my nieces, well they’re teenagers and planning ahead and stealing time from friends to hang out with their Auntie in the Colorado mountains reaaaallly isn’t a priority, if you know what I mean.

11 days with family and away from David is a long time, but we notice that when I only go up for a week that I haven’t “tired” of anyone and then I get homesick when I get back and start doing the “maybe we should move back” talk, which David really dislikes as he hates the East Coast.  By the end of day 11, me thinks I’ll be clamoring to get back home (and I mean that with the utmost love, family!) and will have my homesickness cured for the next 6 months *wink*

But there are many things I’m looking forward to….like:

  • the comfort and security of being in the company of my small nuclear family
  • having someone cook yummy food for me everyday (and with my family, that means LOTS of grilling – yum!)
  • hanging out in lawn chairs in the green, green grass and amongst the abundant deciduous trees – both my sister and parents have great backyards
  • never having a moment of dry skin (although the curse of that is wicked humidity, hello Diana Ross hair)
  • Dunkin Donuts coffee; as a New Englander, I grew up on the manna and there are no DD shops in Colorado!  I usually gain a couple pounds each visit back to CT from OD’ing on the creamy, sweet concoction (I refuse to do anything non-fat or sugar free when I’m there…it’s an all out “large-light-and-sweet-coffee” dessert-like beverage I drink multiple times a day when I’m there); oh the buzz I’ll have!
  • Swimming leisurely – both my parents and sis have pools (the only way to cool off as kids pre-AC days) and my parents, who have chilled out tremendously since retiring 10 years ago, are big “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, put the Jimmy Buffet on” kind of folks, so they’ll surely be placing an adult beverage in my hand while I soak lazily in the pool

Yep, these are my folks! (In Cancun this past spring)

  • Playing card games – this is a popular tradition in my family; we don’t all sit around watching TV, we play games and games generate laughter…I always look forward to the nightly board and card games
  • Simple things like running errands with my sister – as mentioned, she works full-time, has 2 teenage daughters, is a grad student and is clearly a busy mom; when I go home, oftentimes she is so busy that our time spent together is running errands with her and frankly I love it;  grocery store run?  game on.  dropping a teen off at an ice cream joint and back again in two hours?  no problem.  a run to Staples to pick up supplies for a school project (for either her or her girls)?  cool.  It may sound strange, but I miss these nuances to the day, I miss being in her presence and oftentimes the deepest conversations occur in the minutiae of the day

My sis and me in Vegas in '09

  • Seeing the ocean; I was warned when moving to the mountains that my almost 30 years of life was always near a body of water.  We always lived and vacationed relatively near the ocean and moving to a land-locked state would be a tough transition for a girl who had the salty air and water in her blood.  (Even David and I were married on the CT shoreline).  Granted the beauty of the mountains has helped to off-set my longing for the shore, but I still miss it.  So my parents have made plans to take me to the ocean in Rhode Island where I spent every weekend as a child camping (see that post here); even my girlfriend who lives on the CT shoreline has offered to pick me up and bring me back to her shoreline for a day; California it ain’t but I still love it and the tranquility the shoreline brings

Charlestown Breachway, Rhode Island

So with that in mind, my posts may be sporadic (in frequency and in theme) but hope you don’t mind tagging along with me on my trip back to my childhood home. :)

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So I didn’t paint anything this week as I’ve got the “week before I go on vacation” crunch going on and had 3 wholesale orders this weekend.  However, I did do a couple extra pieces last week that I didn’t share with you yet.

Now, I know some people have a love/hate relationship with Oprah.  I am of the former group and consider her, in many ways, a spiritual mentor.  I religiously watched Oprah ever since I was a child and really appreciate the deep pearls of wisdom she imparted. In many ways, she encouraged me to find my calling – inspirational art. If it weren’t for her, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to take the leap of leaving my corporate job to pursue this life.

When her last episode aired, I began watching with a heavy heart, but finished the show feeling more enlightened. I saved the episode and watched it again, this time with journal in hand. I wanted a way to share her wisdom with others in an artistic, visual way. I believe that her insight needs to be shared with others.

So with that in mind, I created 3 pieces incorporating quotes from her last show.  I plan on making these into cards, but have the purple “energy” and yellow “illuminate” originals in my store now (I already sold the red “find your calling” one but have more coming along that theme).  I plan on making 15 different Oprahisms in all.

Hope these pieces give you food for thought…

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Here are some lovely treasuries this week which is what I need as this cheerful girl is off to a grumpy start to her week!  (See, I do have cranky moments…it’s not always sunshine and puppies ;) – but I am trying to let go of some hang ups I’ve got going on!)

ANYWAYs…here are those lovely treasuries!

p.s. I love you guys…my readers; you bring cheer to my day!

I get to see my sister next week who I haven’t seen since November, so this treasury is oh-so-fitting.  Can’t Wait!

Usually I resign myself to only having one cup of coffee in the morning; today, I think I shall make it three!

Another “key to my heart” treasury!  I never get weary of looking at old skeleton keys!

Now this is fun and reminds me of my childhood; going back to my childhood home next week and the idea of soaking in the summer (and seeing the ocean) is already making me feel better

Peace, love and gratitude…beautiful mantras that I have to be especially mindful of practicing when I’m cranky (sure it’s easy when you’re happy, but doing it when you’re not requires a special skill in mindfulness!)

See, I’m already feeling better…

Thanks for checking out all the lovely handmade treasures people are making!  Good day everyone…

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Photo Monday: Lotus

I was really hoping to capture an unusual snow shot for you this morning; we had a very rare soaking of rain last night and the snow line dropped to 9,000 feet (and we’re at 8,300) but it’s still raining this morning and foggy so I can see the mountains from here…perhaps later in the week?

Meanwhile I’ll leave you with these beautiful lotus flowers.  Have a great day and start to your week!

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Typically I favor a dessert with chocolate over anything else.  I’m not usually a fruity dessert kind of person.  But this recipe…it’s our favorite summertime dessert, hands down.

I first found this recipe at AllRecipes.com while looking for something cool and that I didn’t have to bake in a hot house.  David is also partial to citrus flavors so I decided to give it a try.  We loved it and continue to make it often (actually made this only 2 weeks ago and David requested it again as his “birthday cake” this week).

It’s so simple, it’s stupid…and takes about 5 minutes, 10 max to put it together.

I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit over time, but here’s the original.  And here’s mine:

Ingredients:

8 oz. block of cream cheese, brought to room temperature

14 oz. can of sweetened, condensed milk

3 limes, zested and juiced

1.5 tsp. vanilla extract

8 oz. frozen whipped cream topping, thawed (or you can use fresh whipped cream or even canned whipped cream!)

1.5 c. graham cracker crumbs

6 tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:

Zest the outer peel of 3 limes, yielding a couple tablespoons and set aside.  Mix room temp. cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and juice of the 3 limes at a high speed for about 2 minutes.   Fold in 1/2 of the whipped cream and 1/2 of the lime zest to the mixture and set aside.  Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and form into pie plate.   Pour cheesecake mix onto pie crust, then top with remaining whipped cream and lime zest.  Cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow it to set.  Enjoy this cool treat on a hot day.

I didn't have enough good skins (i.e. older limes) to zest, otherwise I would've had about double this amount

 

I started with the rolling pin method to crushing my graham crackers but accidentally put it in a reused bag that had holes in it...

...then I resorted to the food processor!

 


I had leftover whipped cream in a can from my hot cocoa days, but it was dating soon, so I decided to use it in this batch; normally the top looks more smooth

Now, go make this!

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Family photos week in review

David’s birthday was this week and he’s taking time off so it’s been nice having his company during the week.  We’re planning on taking a couple local day trips to the museum, the local mountain in the area (Mt. Evans which has the highest altitude road in North America at over 14,000 feet) and spend time tooling around Golden, a charming town not to far from us but where we never spend time in.  Staycations can be kinda fun when you spend time in a local area that often is taken for granted.

Here’s how the pups are doing…

Sierra, sweet, old Sierra.  She’s getting ornery with old age and will groan for an hour leading up to mealtime.  Then she’ll park her body in front of the fridge in final protest.

Eating and hanging out on the deck is all she wants to do these days, so I’m happy to oblige her interests.  She’s our sweet girl.

Now sorry for the lighting on these next few pictures…it was late at night but I had to capture the absolute cuteness of this sequence…

Zoe likes to do this billy goat thing, only with David…she’ll jump on the top of the couch then sit with her paws on his shoulders.  It’s a peculiar yet obviously funny thing.

But on this night, instead of using him as a rock to perch off of, she began to snuggle

Aww, isn’t this so cute?

Okay, insert melting mama heart here…

And then there’s Peanut:

Still sleeping…

It was a particularly warm day when I found her half-heartedly laying in her bed and on the cool floor

She’s a Peanut alright…

And the weather has been PERFECT…the kind you wanna keep all summer long before it gets too hot.  So we spent time almost daily on the deck, whether it be getting some sun, reading at sunset or lunching during a sunny/puffy cloud day in our jammies like we did on David’s birthday:

David says, “don’t mind the bed head” ;)

Then we went out for dinner that night…

It really was a great week…one that I gladly remembered to count my blessings each night, falling asleep before I could finish my list.  Hope yours was great too :)

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I’ve got some exciting shop news going on this week.

First, I just learned that my Gratitude Mosaic will be included in an upcoming issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors, a magazine that’s popular with mixed media artists.  This one I didn’t even submit to but my photo was found and the Asst. Editor liked the message behind it.  I gifted it to my sister to help remind her to count blessings when things get tough and to “Grow Flowers of Gratitude in the Soil of Prayer”

Then I also got word this week that my Heartsy deal was approved and will be featuring sometime in July…I’ll be sure to let you know when that is, but keep in mind it’s a one day deal only (like Groupon) so if you want to get in on the deal, check back often or subscribe so you don’t miss out!

And then I’ve got another wholesale account in the works which contributes to a big goal of mine for this summer, especially getting into local boutiques/shops.

It’s all been busy but good!  And here’s what’s new in the shop this week (mostly new options of older images, but I’ve got some previously unreleased originals newly listed as well as a fun new circus-inspired box set):

If you’re curious to see these items, you can go to my shop.  Thanks for taking a peek; have a great weekend everyone! ♥

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