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Thursday, December 18, 2014

No place like Home for the Holidays Paint Party Friday


Revamped advent Calendar in the style of a box. Still needs some finishing touches!
As I thumbed through my address book  I realized how different this era is than when I was raised.  So few people  stay in one place for a lifetime. There's something to be said for living in the same house most of your childhood, getting married then returning home during the holidays.  Sauntering through the old rooms, eying familiar items from  childhood, opening the fridge to the same condiments and traditional Christmas foods from holidays past! It seems people made more sacrifices to stay put  during my parents era than they do  today! 
When you open the doors there are 24 little drawers to pull out. The original is too ugly to show!

With a  fifty percent divorce rate and a few dips in the economy things have gone awry. There is just not the same stability that past generations enjoyed with  their families, where grandpa and grandma lived in the same house until they died and all the  aunts and uncles did the same! Back then  home was the same place for decades! 

People seem to want bigger and better, or they split and can't afford the family home. Only a hand full of the people I know have lived in their homes ten years or longer! The majority of my  old neighbors living in elite homes  are all now divorced and moved on. It seems the ones who struggled to hang on to their modest homes during tough  times, ones who have renovated from the sweat of their brow, or raised several children, are still in their homes twenty odd years later!

Save a few addresses, sadly my address book is now defunct. Some people are only in our lives for a season, I guess  it's the ones that count  that stay a lifetime.  Even though things get  old and overlooked, renovations are put on hold, there is something so comforting about being in the same familiar place for years! 

Beardos parents have been in their three bedroom basement  home over fourty years. They  raised ten children and even though certain rooms have been renovated there is one  room  that still has the same curtains from the seventies. Curtains my mom once owned too! All the children come home for Christmas with their families.There is something so loving and comfortable about being there! It's a feeling that can't be bottled into words!
Digital Color edit

When I was young I wanted things to look perfect, surround myself in beauty, to stay current. When I was married the  longest we stayed in a home was nine years. There was always a reason to move.  Having been in my home sixteen years now I realize for me there is truer value in  permanence and stability. I am a homebody, some people have more of a gypsy spirit and need change often, others are economically forced to move whether they want to or not!

Life is ever changing, with technology, morals, and attitudes. Still  there is something to be said for going home and knowing things might be a little tattered here and there, but it's filled with love,  good memories and comfort that fill your heart with joy like no other!
Do you love your home as much as I do mine?
 Didn't get cards out in time this year. Inside its says Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!!
Click on the photo for a better affect!
Wishing all my blog friends a  Holiday filled with Love, Peace
and snippets of Joy where possible!

To those suffering loss, or illness, be kind to yourself and remember 
the season is short and a New Year is around the bend.
In that, there is always HOPE!
May you ALL be blessed with good things!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Baking, Lights and some Action

Beardo landed in a Music Trade Magazine.
You can read more about it here!
photo Courtesy of Pepper
Cupcake ended up in an article on the popularity of the Ugly Christmas sweater here!
Cupcake is in all red!
Beardo, Cupcake and I spent the day baking as a labour of love!

With mobility issues I sat at the table doing what I do best,
cutting out several double batches of cookies,
Cupcake added the sprinkles.
Photo courtesy of Pepper
First we made our traditional Shortbreads passed through the generations!
The secret is to knead the dough for twenty minutes
You can make them ahead so they shorten up before Christmas.
They get way better with age!!
They freeze well too!

One pound of real butter
One Cup of Light BROWN sugar
Four cups of  all purpose flour

Knead for twenty minutes, put the timer on.
They can be cut into shapes or used with a cookie press
Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit  for 45 minutes or until golden brown
We like them a little overdone rather than underdone!

Even though we use the metric system in Canada.....I still bake using the imperial system
 Photo Courtesy of Pepper

 These are ginger molasses ones I rolled in balls then dipped in sugar!
Cupcake has an egg allergy so we used an egg substitute
 and they turned out beautifully!
Soft and yummy! 

Ginger Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup margarine melted
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
 1/2 tsp ginger
mix 1/2 Cup sugar with the margarine and egg add molasses
Then mix in dry  ingredients
secret is to cover and chill for one hour
preheat to 375 degrees
 roll into small balls
Dip into the other 1/2 cup of sugar.
Cook 8 to 10 minutes...ours took 12 minutes!

Photo Courtesy of Pepper
 Amazing Almond Roca

1 cup of  Real Butter
1 cup of sugar
2 tables of corn syrup
2 tablespoons of water
1 cup of  toasted (until golden brown) slivered almonds
2 of your favorite plain dark chocolate bars
(we use purdys chocolate because I'm a bit of a chocolate snob)

Add butter, sugar, corn syrup and water to a large pot
(it needs room to foam up a bit, non stick is best)
turn on medium heat  
  stir only until  melts....then leave it to rise to
290 degrees Fahrenheit with a candy thermometer

then quickly stir in 3/4 cup of the toasted slivered almonds 

into the mix and dump it onto a cookie sheet!
Break the chocolate bar into small pieces and drop it onto
the hot candy mix. Spread evenly  as it melts
Then crush the remaining 1/4 cup of toasted almonds
and sprinkle on the the top while chocolate is still warm
place in fridge to cool

later crack it with a knife and place in a container
Makes a wonderful gift too!
Photo Courtesy of Pepper
While they made the almond Roca which I have done

 traditionally each Christmas and Valentines day for years!
I made Perogies!! Oh yes I did.... They made the potato, 

cheddar cheese and onion mixture while  I made the dough 
and rolled and pinched them all. Then  Beardo boiled 
them up! I've randomly made them only on a rare occasion 
since I was a kid....they are so much work!

They were the best I have ever made them too!!
Courtesy of Pepperpf instagram
I made them unconventionally bigger than normal,  

 not one opened up while boiling! A rare occurrence.
We fried them as left overs the next day! So yummy!

In the meantime I have been working on revamping
 an event calendar.These are small boxes 
of Christmas trees
 They are difficult because I don't like working small.

This is a superficial post only because lately there has
 been so much sadness of late! Cooking with my kids 
all day brought so much joy, and you can always 
be sure fits of laughter will ensue!

Here are a few photos of the lights Beardo and Cupcake 
saw at Vancouver Stanley Park this year. 
The Firemen put it together as a fundraiser for burn victims! 
So many good people in this world doing wonderful
 things for others!! 
We need to stay focused on that!

You can click on the photos to get a better feel for 
the lights! All photos Courtesy of Pepper
Can you imagine the joy of seeing this through a childs eyes!
I took cupcake here when she was little, it was such a long lineup
with half as many lights! We had roasted chestnuts.... 
which are way overrated...
I don't remember liking them! 
They're much better in the Nat King Coles Christmas Song!

 What is your favorite Christmas recipe?

Friday, December 05, 2014

Art by others paint party friday

Pretty sure you must be sick of my tiny piano, however I thought you might enjoy seeing the lineup of other ones in their artful glory! One was sent back east to be done by a fairly renowned Canadian artist but hasn't arrived back yet. I'm very curious to see that one as well!

Beardo Captured  all these photos for the silent auction! This is unquestionably mine!

Other than mine do you have a favorite?

I did a full post that  completely disappeared! I surmise  the subject was  not fitting to go with these lovely pieces of artwork. So I will heed the universal message shorten it up and post again!
This Leopard one is done by a tattoo artist! It's gorgeous in person! I am so in awe of it! 
You can feel the heart that went into this piece when you see it in person!
This week a young  thirty year old male acquaintance of my daughter passed away! Messages on his facebook allude to despair. Cupcake was devastated and cried most of her work day.  In the past she had  talked him through a heartbreak, illness of his mother and a few other dilemmas. In return he gave her his old android phone and fixed her antique one when it crashed a few times!

This one is done by a band, the stencils was computer generated  then all the details were cut 
  with an x-acto knife and pasted to the piano! It took hours and hours to get this perfection~

They had a lovely  comradery and she baked him banana bread   and made a huge basket for his  former girlfriend a few Christmases ago as a thank-you!
This one is marbled with a counter top material...

He was well loved by everyone who knew him! People are  
shocked and  devastated by his demise
A  very large acrylic painting almost the same comes with this one! 
Mine was chosen with this one by a reporter to be in the News Paper.
Sadly the photographer did not do it justice!

A last message, " I'd rather die a winner, than live as a loser" with the horrible image of a heart punctured by swords was posted on his instagram.
The next two are done in Acrylic
Even though I never met the young man I knew who he was and felt 
deeply affected for everyone who loved him. Especially his mother and sisters!

These are all  painted ukuleles

Life is a roller coast ride of deep dips of sadness and equally wonderful highs of glory!
I wish he could have navigated the sorrow with a better ending.
This one is completely wood burned...his work is amazing in person. The photo doesn't do it justice!
May he rest in peace.

Turned horizontal this one is a mountain scene sanded to
look like the natural wear old musicians had on their instruments!
I am working on this project this week, it's will be revealed next week in completion!

Throwback Thursday my Cupcake at four, twenty five years ago!
What would you say to  a young person wrestling with the idea of suicide?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Layers with A Burst of Joy paint party friday

Paint Party Friday

" A Burst of Joy" finally finished!
Inspired by one of my favorite older paintings here!

I have a large ugly upright piano that's been with me 50 years. I  have always wanted to paint  it! Beardo insists that I don't touch the beloved rosewood melody maker he has now claimed. Instead he brought me this tiny piano to revamp for Charity. Beardo has been complimenting me daily on my paint job! He tells me he loves it!
It's being included in an  auction  for the  music therapy program at Childrens Hospital  that he's facilitating at work! 
Before version of the Tiny working "Shelf Piano" for a charity auction!
I was so nervous to do this project. Especially with such a  high gloss finish to cover up! I fought with it, as paint  chipped off the pre sanded and gessoed piano. So many intricate bits to tape and avoid. I am so grateful for the many many coats of varnish that made  the colour pop and protected the paint ! It is exciting  to be part of the lineup doing these pianos  Hopefully I can blog about the whole display in the next week or so!  
I have made the first bid on my piano!

I'm envious of artists who create thin layered paintings perfectly in one try. But that's not me! I tend to create thick bulky layers! I love searching the strokes of paint for images too. Since I was a child I'd searched patterns in wallpaper, on towels, or sheets, in the clouds, or on a floor, for any different form than was presented!  My eye would study blankly searching for images other than what immediately appeared. Maybe why I was called a daydreamer by many a teacher! Today it's called meditating. Of course school wasn't exactly the best place to zone out practice it! 

   I love the intricate layers of humans in all their frailties, their joy and sorrow.  The layers of experience  that forms how they think and what they believe in!  I like to know the essence of their soul!   It's all so very interesting to me! I have always been one to search beyond what is presented by  human beings too!  
 As the pendulum swings from happiness to grief the holidays can be difficult for those suffering loss or illness! What's worked best for me is a diversion from the normal routine. Change it up. Keep the past as a sacred memory, but don't be afraid to change the way you do things!

 When  first divorced I tried painfully to keep things the same so Cupcake  would feel  secure.  Leaving photos as they were, and sticking to a normal routine the best I could until she adjusted. However during the holidays I had to change a few things! While navigating the  emotional chaos of divorce there were a few seasons void of spirit so we focused on giving to others.  It  brought us such joy diverting our own sorrows, while replanting the spirit and filling us up. It has carried on through the years.
The back of the tiny piano
Even when we didn't have  the fiscal means to give monetarily, there were so many other ways to give. Asking others for charitable donation in a non monetary way for a homeless shelter, donating crocheted hats, socks, scarves and time. Gathering up unused coats for the homeless. Baking for a busy single mom or dear friend. Helping a single mom wrap Christmas gifts or minding her children while she shops alone. Finding people who may need a little extra and sharing it. Introducing a shut in to their own creativity.  Putting together little baskets for those single moms struggling through the season, the elderly and those who would never ask for help.
People seem more willing to give if you initiate the action. Met with disdain as she shopped for coupon items, the moment Cupcake  mentioned the items were being donated to a woman's shelter the cashiers  demeanor would abruptly change as they too offered up help!  Giving is contagious and once people hear what you're doing they want to join in, even customers waiting in line behind her seemed less impatient! With social media it's been easier to spot people in our midst that could use a hand up, so that's what we do now!
When life is tough, holidays can be rough. I say treat yourself like your own best friend.
Spoil yourself a bit, do something different that you have always wanted to try!
Create new layers!!
What will you change up this holiday season so you can cope or help someone else cope?

As a Canadian we Celebrate Thanksgiving in October so I would like to take this time to say Happy Thanksgiving to my beautiful American friends, I hope you celebrate with love!
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