Tuesday, August 27, 2013

St. Mary's Basilica, Covington, KY - Sketchbook

A couple weeks ago Christina and I went to Kentucky to sketch the St. Mary's Basilica in Covington. From the outside it is totally amazing, but then you go inside and you can't even believe your eyes!  The amount of stained glass is mind boggling and it is crazy-beautiful.  Not to mention the intricate wood carving and the Duveneck murals.  If you are ever in Covington it is well worth it to visit.

I have really enjoyed these sketching outings with Christina.  She is so talented and I learn so much from her every time we sketch.  I love to watch how she begins a drawing and it has been really helpful to see how she depicts texture and shadow.  Not to mention I love how she paints her skies.  You can see her sketch of this same building here.  Thanks so much Christina for getting me out there - you're work inspires me to keep at it!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shitake Log

My friend Margot gave us a shitake log a few months ago.  We left it outside and nothing much happened with it.  But a couple weeks ago we went to her house and saw that she had a crazy motherload of shitakes.  It turns out you have to soak the log for 24 hours for it to develop.  We soaked the log last week and now we are in business!  The first night George cooked them in butter and I do believe they were the tastiest mushrooms I've ever had.  I don't know if it was the butter or the mushrooms, but I am loving the log!  Thank you Margot!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Screen Porch/Pergola Addition

I've been excited to post this project for a while now.  I helped my dad design and plan a screen porch addition, outside patio, pergola, and fireplace.  It all started with what my dad likes to refer to as "varmints."  His old wood deck had "varmints" living under it and he wanted to get rid of them.  The deck was pretty old so I suggested he add a screen porch like I did.  I did a mock-up in Photoshop (below) of what I thought it should look like last spring.  He showed it to his talented contractor, Jeff Boos.  And last fall Jeff built it in about 2 weeks!  I can't recommend him enough.  Not only was he on budget and on schedule, but he does beautiful work and has a great sense of design.

I have been waiting to write this post because my dad had the landscaping done this summer and I wanted the grass to grow in.  And this past Sunday the final touch was installed... the pagoda.  We had been looking for a while for a pagoda and we found the perfect one at Aquatic and Garden Decor in West Chester.  It felt really good to put it in place and call the job done!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trumpet Vine

I know it's August when the corners of the driveway start to disappear in trumpet vines.  Last week I decided it was time to take the driveway back and when I got out there I couldn't bear to throw the flowers away.  I wasn't sure how trumpet vines would do in a flower arrangement but I was pleasantly surprised.  Their saggy heads looked beautiful all together and they lasted about three days before dropping to the floor. 

At times I think the vines in my back yard will be the end of me and when I read this quote by Abraham Lincoln I thought it was appropriate, "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"  Even though I was literally trying to destroy them, I do feel a bit friendlier towards them now.  I think we may even have a peace treaty - I give them the driveway for a month and then I cut their heads off for a nice flower arrangement...and everyone is happy.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Elm St., Cincinnati, OH - Sketch

Christina and I went to Washington Park to sketch a couple weeks ago.  If you don't live in Cincinnati and you ever come to visit you should definitely go downtown.  The architecture is really beautiful and many of the old buildings are now being renovated.  The buildings in my sketch are on Elm St. just next to the park.  Christina sketched in one direction (you can see her sketch here) and I sketched in the other. It's always interesting to sketch outside in a public place.  There were not only colorful buildings, but a few colorful personalities, as well as a biting fly that tortured us.  But in the end it was great fun and hopefully we will go again this week!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bitter Melon

Last week George and my neighbor John took a trip up to Jungle Jim's with the express purpose to go and buy weird food.  "And did they succeed?" you ask?  I'll let you be the judge. 

They came home with 5 kinds of extremely bitter beer, burro bananas, stinky blue cheese and the bitter melon you see above.  When I saw the melon I was intrigued by its green, knobby body and when George cut it open I loved the pattern created by the seeds inside.  But I let its beauty fool me into tasting it and I can only describe it as incredibly hideous.  This melon activated every bitter taste bud on my tongue and I immediately had to drink some water to rid my mouth of the overwhelming bitterness.  Of course, George happily ate his and stir fried it for dinner.  I will never understand his affinity for the bitter.  As they say, "De gustibus non est disputandum!" - "There's no accounting for taste!"