Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Muse

One of Olive's most striking features is her ears. It is the number one thing she gets complimented on when we're out and about, besides "Wow, she gets around well on 3 legs."

One ear sticks straight up while the other flops down.

One morning I caught her shadow on the wall and just loved the lines of it.  I had a thought that if I ever got a tattoo (which I probably would never do), I would want the single line outline of her head and ears. 

So, one day when I had a few minutes in the hot shop (glassblowing studio) to make a small quick project at the end of class... I had an idea.

I started with a small ball and pulled out a quick little Olive head. The color is a really dark purple, almost black, with a clear foot as a base.
It's a ring holder!

It lives in our bathroom now to hold our rings. I don't wear a lot of rings, usually just my engagement ring and wedding band (I pulled all of my rings out for this photo) and it easily holds my rings and Jon's wedding band.  When I get a chance, I might try to make another one for the kitchen sink area. I've been rolling out dough for bread pretty frequently now so another ring holder would be useful there.

Oh, and I took these photos with my new light tent. It worked pretty well! We've been having more sun now, but this is more convenient than carrying each piece out into the light to get photos. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Street Art Reykjavik

I can only imagine that Iceland is a dark and grey place in the winter. Street art adds some color to the city, especially in areas of downtown Reykjavik. Judging from the size and work put into some of these pieces, as well as the ubiquity of the street art, I would assume that many of these pieces were sanctioned.

This was a very cheery alley way between buildings.  The two photos above are the two walls on either side of the alley.

I'm not sure what these are called... utility boxes? Either way, these are cheerier than the bland grey or green you'd see in most cities.

I like the use of a building feature, here that small box, although I'm not sure it's original purpose, in the artwork.  Remember this signature (would it be Riel? Ryel? I'm not sure) because we'll see it again later.

I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And I'm all out of bubblegum. 
A giraffe in 3D glasses - what?!?

I don't think the green tag is the original artist's signature - if you look around the net you can find many shots of this piece without it. I have to say I wish it wasn't there. To me, this is a perfect example of a "tag" taking away from "street art." 

A group of teens laughed and said something about "tourists" when they saw me snapping these shots. But, seriously, how great is this?

This has a great poem about snow capped mountains and the top of the building looks like a snow capped mountain. But look carefully, that snow up top isn't paint, it was some kind of white sequins so that the snow appeared to be sparkling. Beautiful and creative. 

Here's someone else's shot from another angle, you can see the shining sequins a little better.

Just look at how the mountains
so very mighty be
sharp as razors at the top
they span the land & sea

But don't forget that though
majestic spires capped with snow
from each and every grain of sand
they grow

The pimply kid and the tags or throw-ups along the bottom came along later and were not a part of the original piece. Take a look at this shot of the original snow capped mountain piece taken in 2009, more than 3 years before my visit.

And on the right is the Riel tag again, although I think it goes with the two white figures on the right, not with the snow capped mountain piece. Although, I cannot find a picture of the mountain poem without it, so maybe they do go together. I'm not sure.

Looks like that pimply kid might be the same artist as on the last piece, just judging from the style.

There's an article on entitled Reykjavik's wild street art that shows this seal piece, above, under construction.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Street Art Paris

I've been interested in street art for a few years, since I had a case in NYC defending a young man charged with making graffiti.

To me, there is a difference between street art and graffiti.  Graffiti, in my mind, is "tags" like names, nicknames, or gang symbols. We had a lot of graffiti in my neighborhood in Jersey City, and I didn't like it.

Street art makes an area more beautiful, brightens your day, and brings color to a drab cityscape. Now, obviously there's the question of whether the building owner wants the addition to their building, and that's what makes in controversial.

On our honeymoon in Paris I saw a lot of great street art.

One of the more famous examples of street art is the "space invaders" by Invader which can be spotted all over Paris, if you have a keen eye.

Some of the most clever art I enjoyed was made with stickers on existing street signs. 
In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, even the crosswalk man carries a baguette.

This last one was in the red light district, obviously!

And some more traditional street art:

I loved the street art in Paris that I picked up this great book to help me remember all of the great art I didn't get a chance to photograph. It's a pretty great little book of photos.

Coming soon... a few great street art photos I snapped in Iceland!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sangria, a social lubricant

I have to report that making friends is going well. I've been making an effort to go out and meet people and keep in touch with new Seattle friends that I meet (I could do better at keeping in touch with east coast friends, that is something I have to work on) and my reward is new friendships and acquaintances.

Saturday night I went to a meetup group get-together and I made my famous sangria.

This is less of a recipe and more of a "how I made it." The thing about Sangria is you've got to be creative, work with what you have, and no two batches will ever be exactly the same.

In my situation, I needed to make a big batch (I planned on 4 bottles of wine) and I needed to be able to carry it to the party without spilling it.  What I did was prep the fruit with the liquor so that I could carry it to the party (ok, fine, Jon carried it) and add wine at the party, topping it off as the night progressed.

Start with the fruit: Buy what looks good and is easily available. I went for a big variety. I used two lemons, two limes, two apples (one red and one green), two large oranges, a quart of strawberries and a small jar of maraschino cherries. Other fruit would've been great too though - pineapple maybe, or raspberries, but not mango, because I'm allergic to mango.

I zested and squeezed the lemons and added their zest and juice to a large pitcher. I squeezed the two limes into the pitcher. You can put a strainer over the top of the pitcher as you juice the lemon and limes so that no seeds sneak past you.  I cut up the apples into small wedges and threw them in the pitcher. I peeled the oranges and picked out the pits, then dropped the segments into the pitcher. I cut the green tops off the strawberries and chopped them up small and added them to the mix.

I usually like to use a sweet flavored brandy, like kirsch or liqueur but since I didn't have any, I dumped the whole little jar of maraschino cherries, syrup and all, into the pitcher. That did double duty as a fruit flavor and a sweetener.

Now for the liquor. As I said, I didn't have any kirsch. I picked up a 750 ml bottle of cheap brandy.
I also had a 750 ml bottle of Absolut SF, which is grape, dragon fruit and papaya flavored vodka. But you could use any flavors! I used about half of each of those bottles, poured them right on top of the fruit.  I stirred that all together and let it marinate in the fridge overnight.

Again, in an ideal world, I would have had the fruit and liquor marinating with the wine.  But I planned on bringing 4 bottles of wine to the party, and I just don't have any huge pitchers that could hold all of that.  Maybe in my next life I'll have one of these big beverage dispensers for this situation. But I can't imagine lugging this up the steep hill to the party either!

A note on selecting wine: go with cheap wine, but nothing too sweet. (Or, if you get a sweet wine, cut back on the flavored vodka and the sweet fruits.) Any kind of spanish red table wine is best. You could probably even buy one of of those big huge gallon jugs of wine - that would be great.  I bought 4 bottles of Red Guitar Sangria, which is a fruit flavored Spanish red wine, that I found at the bargain price of $1.99 each.  You can't beat that. I put the bottles of wine in the fridge the night before the party also.

On the day of the party, I brought one empty prettier glass pitcher to the party, plus the pitcher with the fruit and liquor plus 4 bottles of wine, a bottle of seltzer and a big bag of ice.  I poured about a quarter of the fruit & liquor mixture into the pitcher, one bottle of wine, and I topped it off with about a quarter of the bottle of seltzer (half liter) and a cup of ice.  I left a wooden spoon in the pitcher so people could control how much fruit they poured into their glass.

It was a hit at the party, and I periodically went back to it to add more of the fruit mixture, another bottle of wine, more seltzer, and more ice.  It was a hit!  And as it emptied, I noticed people were adding more wine that other party guests had brought, or adding the sangria fruit to glasses of other wine. All night, I got compliments on the sangria, and it really warmed people up in a room full of strangers/new friends!

But beware of those apples - they soaked up the liquor and got potent! Don't say I didn't warn you!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cherry Blossoms Blossoming

I lived in Newark, NJ for three years. And while there were many (many!) downsides to living in Newark, one of the biggest highlights was going to Branch Brook Park in mid-April to see the cherry blossoms. Branch Brook Park has more than 4,000 cherry trees, more than any other location in the United States. (Take that, Washington, D.C.!) 

The University of Washington has more than 30 cherry trees.  It's beauty on a smaller scale. But, beauty nonetheless.

There were many people out taking photos. When I asked someone on campus where to find the quad with the cherry trees, her instructions were "Head down this hill and follow the people with cameras."  In this photo you can see a man photographing a woman and children on the right and a man photographing a woman in the tree. 

Of course I had to pose little Miss Olive under the cherry trees.

She's a good model.

I'm pretty sure UW is going to want to use this in their college brochure next year.  
Husky? What husky?

Jon & Olive

Olive & Me

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

This Sign is Bipolar

Get it?  Get it?  Ha ha.

Yes, I pulled over just to get a picture of these signs just so I could make this corny joke on my blog that no one reads. Want to make something of it?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bowled Over

I haven't posted many photos of my glass in a while mainly because it hasn't been easy to get out in good light to take photos.  But this afternoon was sunny, so Olive and I ran up to the roof deck to take some photos.

This is another "sucky bowl."

I think I made this during our private lesson when Hadley was here back in February.

One of the cool things about this, is that the frit was not so orange. It was kind of a dull, bland yellow. But I was told that it would cook up to be a "fire engine orange." I know, I've never seen an orange fire engine before either, but it's a fair description because it is a bright orange.

I really like how using frit leaves a little bit of transparency in the color. I like that effect.

For contrast, here's another bowl I made later in the semester.  I used white color bar for the bowl and a bit of purple color bar for the lip wrap.  On this one, my teacher helped me by making a clear glass foot.  This is not a sucky bowl, this is an actual formed bowl. So I think it shows a lot more progression in my technique.

I think it looks a little lopsided in the top photo, but that might just be the camera angle.

The good news is that I ordered a photography tent off Amazon so I think that the future will bring more professional photos! I'll be happy to be able to keep photos of my glass, especially the pieces I decide to give away.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Moments of Bliss

It's Sunday morning. I took Olive out on a walk this morning. It was chilly but the sun was shining. Mt. Rainier wasn't out, in fact, I haven't seen it in a week or so, but the Olympic mountain range was out in full beauty.

Back home now, I'm sitting on the couch, with the sun streaming through the window, knitting, with the Bob Marley station playing on Pandora, sipping coffee spiked with Bailey's in honor of St. Patrick.

Olive is on the floor, positioned in the sun, playing with her ball. Pushing it under the TV stand, digging it back out. Occasionally looking to us to help her retrieve it when her game goes too far.

My husband is in the kitchen, making crepes. As each one comes off the grill, he says "Oh, this is a really good one, you're definitely getting this one."  He fills them with a salted chocolate caramel sauce we brought home from Brittany, France, on our honeymoon.

I find myself thinking, "This is my life. This is a very good life. A very very good life."

More and more often, I find myself thinking this.  In the glassblowing studio, seeing a goblet form out of molten glass.  On a hike, pushing myself sweaty, being pulled up a hill by my skinny little dog with big ears. Spotting the mountains and the lakes and the sound as I drive home on I-5.

This is my life.  And it is a very very good life.

My apartment is messy. I've had the same clothes sitting in the dryer for a few days now. I still have a few boxes to unpack that I may never get to. I have a few projects around the house I have to do. It'd be nice to have a job and not have money be so tight. (It'd be even nicer to win the lottery or somehow have money not be so tight without having to work.) It'd be great if Olive didn't have severe separation anxiety, if I didn't have to think about when and how I could leave her without our neighbor complaining about her crying. But all of that is secondary.

I have a very good life. For me, it's always sunny in Seattle.

Monday, March 11, 2013

All Apologies

First, apologies to my blog readers. I was away last week. I had a lovely tropical vacation. (I know, a vacation from what, considering I'm not working... a vacation from cloudiness?)

The mountain views on the flight from Seattle to Houston were beautiful. How quickly I have become a mountain lover.

Now the flat land in Houston and in Florida just looked so... flat!

I went to Florida for 4 days and saw my parents. It was freezing in Orlando! If you could stand to sit outside, you could have this whole beautiful pool to yourself.

Then I went on a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas with my friend Melissa from college.  We didn't know it was spring break until we got onboard!

It was us and a few hundred co-eds. Drunk co-eds. Sometimes vomiting co-eds, dancing co-eds, and dirty dancing (very dirty dancing) co-eds. Phew. But we survived and had a good time.

I even got a little quiet time on a hammock with a good book. That was all I needed.  That and the "coco loco," some kind of frozen concoction that involved plenty of rum.

But, things back home weren't so good... Little Olive missed me too much and cried too much during the day. One neighbor decided to complain to the management offices instead of speaking to us directly. The management office didn't tell us which neighbor had complained but we had a pretty good idea who it was, because we have talked to our other neighbors and they all said she wasn't bothering them. Jon ended up taking her to doggy day care everyday for the rest of the week to avoid a further problem.

I decided to kill 'em with kindness and picked up a few boxes of Caribbean Rum Balls in the Bahamas. I used photo software to make a little cover for each box. It has an adorable photo of Olive (who could be mad at that face?) and a note:

The note reads "I'm sorry if I disturbed you last week. My mom was away and I'm still getting used to being home alone. Thanks for understanding. Love, Olive in Apt. ___"

We went to each of our neighbors so Olive could issue her apologies and hand out her treats in person. Or, in dog. We told each neighbor that we've only had her for a few months and that she came from a home with 140 dogs so she's never been alone before. Two of our three neighbors said, "Oh, I didn't notice, it was no problem, but thanks for the rum balls." The third neighbor, the one we suspect complained, said, "Well, I'm only home on Mondays," the complaint was made on a Monday, go figure, then "What flavors are the rum balls?"  

I'm hoping that anyone who is respected by a personal apology and sweetened with rum balls would have the decency to complain to us directly next time there is a problem rather than go to the management office, but I guess you never know how some people will react. We do know one thing, Miss Olive is going to have to learn to be quiet on Mondays.

(Yes, that's another Nirvana song title in the blog post title. I'm officially a Seattleite now.)