Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This holiday season I am more excited than ever for all of the festivities and preparing for them!  I attribute this to: 1) not approaching finals, as I was at this time the last five years and 2) having the newlywed feeling of 'setting up home' and the desire for our apartment to look festive.  Growing up we often got our Christmas tree close to Christmas, this was in part due to the fact that the last few years my parents would wait until my brother and I got home before getting our tree.  I was in the Nutcracker many times, and the notion of decking out the tree Christmas Eve seemed especially romantic to me.  And although we never waited that long, it did seem tempting.  This year I want to set up for the holidays early!  You may say I am getting ahead of myself.  Thanksgiving dinner has yet to be served!  I am just excited for it to be winter and a time to celebrate with people you love. 

I was affected by my cousin Mrs. Potter's blog post on being thankful.  Today is really a time to reflect and thank God for all that He has provided for us.  This season I want to relish the time.  I am excited about making crafts, decorating our apartment, going Christmas shopping and I will be careful not to get too wrapped up in all of the material things I want and just really enjoy this special season.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Renaissance Painting

I am taking a painting class in the Carracci Tradition.  The Carracci tradition comes out of a school of thinking during the Renaissance that describes the way artists paint.  Objective painting, or painting what you see in reality as opposed to copying a photograph or other painting, is practiced.  Drawing accurately is the first step of painting in the Carracci tradition!  This excites me because I enjoy drawing and consider myself to have a practiced eye.  Since beginning architecture school, I have believed that it is important to train oneself how to see in order to draw convincingly.  Although my previous paintings have been less photo realistic than my work in this class, I have always striven to find correct proportions in the objects I am painting.

In addition to painting from life, there is a method to applying pigment in the Carracci tradition.  First one begins by painting a monochrome underpainting.  Once completed, one glazes color pigments atop the underpainting.  These glazes have a high amount of medium and/or vehicle relative to the amount of oil paint.  It is important to understand the viscosity and opacity of different paints in order to apply even coats that make up the painting.

I am in the monochromatic underpainting stage of the process.  I am painting a still life composed of a miniature Chinese clay soldier, a platter of fruit, a small pitcher, and a flower.  A striped cloth is draped behind the composition.

I realize this blog post sounds more like an essay than a usual entry, but in order to keep current on what is happening in my Thursday painting classes one has to understand the background.  In fact, this is an abridged version of my first class where my teacher, lets call him my maestro, explained his painting theory -only with bits of his life spliced in.  If he can move on from the typewriter, he should write a blog!  The University of Cliff Smith, that is what some of the veteran students call the class.  Cliff is quite a character, and in our class over the art store he is able to teach fully in the Carracci tradition, free of the usual curriculum requirements of the colleges he also teaches at.

For fun, here is a look at some of the paintings I have done prior to this class.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mr. Johnson's Birthday

Yesterday was Mr. Johnson's birthday. Wooo hoo the big 24!  And we ate sooo much crab to celebrate.  We went to dinner downtown at Todai, an all you can eat seafood buffet where you can eat for free on your birthday.  Fortunately we avoided the singing.  This restaurant has come to its senses and realized the only people excited to have "Happy Birthday" sung to them by the wait staff are kids.  I had never eaten snow crab before but I am now hooked.  Snow crab on ice served with a little cocktail sauce, mmm mmm.  They also had hot dungeness crab and lots of shrimp.  It was a very seafood birthday weekend, on Saturday his sister made a wonderful bouillabaisse.  I hope you had a great birthday Nick!

Monday, November 9, 2009


Wow, all I can say is wow!  I did not expect a facial to be such a wonderful experience.  I suppose I just expected a green face mask applied, maybe a little massaging of my face or cucumbers over my eyes.  I did not expect sheer Bliss (sorry for the pun, I recieved my facial at Bliss Salon) but the word really does fit.   Even now as I am typing I feel I am in a bit of an aromatic daze.  First off it was so warm and comfortable in the room and the lights were dimmed.  My thoughts went away as she gentaly massaged different creams onto my face.  But it wasn't always gentle, she applied specific pressure to my temples, my nose and then she began to massage my head, arms, hands, neck and shoulders.  I consentrated on the sensation, the dark beneath my eyelids, and everything else around me melted away.  At one point she misted cool essence of lemon verbena onto my face.  Thank you Jen and Jeremy, this was a truly enjoyable graduation gift!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pizza Night

I had fun making some very delicious pizza for dinner.  Growing up, for a while Mom would make pizza every Friday night.  She would make Italian bread and use part of the dough for pizza dough.  She would also make the sauce, which I actually made several times, and then we all would have fun deciding which toppings to dress our pizzas in.  We got pretty creative.

Since being married I have made bread several times, but this was the first time to make pizza.  I took some time in deciding the topping combination and I think it paid off!  I made one pizza margherita with Greek olives to add an original touch; it helps living in the city where you can buy fresh mozzarella.  The other pizza was more American in style, it had a generous helping of red onions, some roasted red peppers, and half Italian sausage, half mushroom.  Mr. Johnson admitted this was the best homemade pizza he has eaten, and better than Ken's Artisan Pizza (our favorite here in Portland) and rivals with the pizza we ate for my birthday in Naples! 


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lamp Light

My white lamp makes me smile.  It is new(ish.)  I brought it home soon after being married.  It matches Mrs. Potter's lamp which I had seen and adored, so when I went to visit her I chanced upon the lamp in the shop where she had found hers.  I was rather ecstatic about my purchase; it was the first thing that I bought for our apartment.  I like the way the glass base glows warmly from the light.  It brings a modern touch to the living room which I would like to build off of over time.  Mmm reading Jane Eyre by lamp light.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Hearty Fall Cooking

Last week was a very Moosewood week in the Johnson kitchen.  I tried several recipes from the New Moosewood Cookbook.  Being a rather blustery fall set of days, I hit up the casserole section.  My favorite was Cauliflower-Cheese Pie with grated potato crust.  How can you go wrong with a cauliflower and cheese combination?  This was very satisfying, and would also make a delicious special-occasion brunch item.  But the real winner was the dinner I made on Halloween.  This did not actually come from the Moosewood cookbook, but from the classic Joy of Cooking.  New England Clam Chowder, served with my own Sourdough bread, and Pecan Pie for dessert.  Warning, if anyone comes to dinner soon they may be served this!  We could not manage to snack any more when we headed over to my friend's for a party in which the dressed-up version of Amy Sedaris was practicing "hospitality under the influence."  Very well I might add, that fondue was really tempting me!