Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Giant Spiral Pods!

So these are the incredible pods I spoke of in the last blog.  Definitely worth waking up early to photograph these guys.  If anyone out there knows what kind they are please let me know.  The pods are about 12-18'' long and you can see the leaves in these photos.  My guess is locust or acacia?

Monday, July 26, 2010


I am not usually a morning person, but this morning I planned to get up early and photograph some incredible locust pods I saw on my walk the other day.  Although the alarm was set for 7:30 a hungry cat had other ideas at about 6:30.  So I was amazingly out the door by 7:00!

I did photograph the locust pods, but on my way home I ran into my neighbor Ursula who showed me some beautiful pods on her tree, which I also photographed.  As she was leaving she said I should take some photos of her caladium.  Well, I was almost home, my stomach was growling, and to get to the caladium I had to walk all the way around her house because the gate was closed.  More to humor my neighbor, I decided to do it and I am so glad I did.  They might be the best photos I took today.  You just never know where life will take you!
Click on images to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Zen Birds!

I am very excited to announce the release of my new book Zen Birds!  In this book I illustrate thirty species of North American birds in a style inspired by traditional Asian brushwork.  I also wrote short poems that accompany each illustration and that describe the quirky traits and habits peculiar to each species.  This book is a celebration of the amazing lives of birds!

So if any of you out there like birds or know anyone who is interested in birds you can order it from your local bookstore or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

I would like to thank my husband George for his help and inspiration.  I would also like to thank all the people at Adventure Publications who made this book possible...working with you was a pleasure.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pizza on the Grill

It's been so hot here lately that George has been devising ways to use the grill instead of using the oven and this pizza was a great success.  The recipe for the dough is below, typed by George:

1/2 tablespoon yeast
1 cup water
1 cup flour (half can be whole wheat)

1 cup water
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
Flour as needed

I mixed half a tablespoon or so of yeast with 1 cup water, added 1 cup flour (about half whole wheat) and stirred vigorously.  I let the "poolish" sit for about 4 hours at room temp.  (This step can be up to 10 hours if you want.)  Then I added another cup of water, 2 teaspoons (or so) of salt, another half tablespoon or so more yeast, and about 1/4 cup of olive oil.  I mixed in as much flour as needed to form a sticky dough and kneaded it in the bowl for a few minutes.  I let this rise for about an hour, covered. 

Then I punched it down and worked it into 3 or 4 little pizza pies (adding flour as needed).  I let these rest on the counter for about 20 minutes.  They formed a bit of a dry skin on top so I flipped each over onto a cornmeal-dusted pan and put the sauce and toppings on the sticky side.  I kept shaking the pan to make sure the dough wasn't sticking to the pan.  I just slid them right on the hot grill.  I was happy not to have any real sticking-to-the-grill issues that I was worried about.  I had the gas grill at about medium-high and kept the lid closed as much as possible.  I was worried about burning the crust, but that was not really a problem.  Next time I will try to be more brave and keep it on the grill longer. 

I'm sure any pizza dough recipe will work.  We added canned artichokes and fresh mushrooms, but you can add any topping you like.  It was great to keep the heat out of the house!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cypriniformes July

This month I was inspired by this incredible book: Kingyo:The Artistry of Japanese Goldfish. The first time I saw this book I fell in love with these chubby fellows. Their pudgy little bodies are plump and graceful at the same time.

I normally don't include my black and white sketch, but I felt something got lost this time converting it to white for the here it is.
FYI - Cypriniformes is the order for goldfish. I thought it had a nice ring to it.

Happy July!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Purple Coneflower and Garlic

When I'm out walking I see the most amazing things and I always think about returning with the camera and I almost never do.  But the other day after my walk I set out to photograph some garlic plants (below).  Can you believe the beautiful necks on these?  If there were a visual definition for grace this would be it.

On my way back I stopped to take a few shots of the coneflower above.  The exposure on the garlic photos wasn't great, but I did like the way the coneflower shot turned out (click on it to view larger).  You just never know what you will find when you are out.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Guitar Cases

My two nephews loooooooooooove the guitar.  They love wander around the house strumming, singing, and selling tickets to their concerts.  "Tia Ness" enjoys these concerts so much she decided it was time they have proper guitar cases.   This meant taking the 4-year-old on an outing to JoAnn's to pick out fabric for himself and his little brother.

The cases were not as easy I had in my head...but sewing projects never are.  I even added a gusset which sounds more impressive than it is, but I didn't even know the meaning of the word before this project. (FYI - a piece of fabric sewn into a seam to add breadth).

I was also excited to use a zipper foot for the first time.  I'm not sure I did it right, but it turned out OK in the end and the two rockin' boys liked their cases.