Monthly Archives: November 2011

Moose-norah & Christ-moose Tree

I am not a huge fan of holiday cards (for reasons that I won’t get into right now – although, I do have a GREAT story about Christmas cards/letters that we have been receiving from total strangers for the last 6 years. Maybe I’ll share it soon. It’s hilarious, I promise.). But all the other illustrators are doing it, so I did too. Because I’m a follower like that, ya know.

So, yeah, I designed one. I went so far as to almost order them. Then my efforts stalled.

Do I really want to spend the money on cards that I may or may not have the motivation to actually address and mail? My track record for making it to the post office in a timely manner is not so great (probably because the nearest post office is filled with surly aging postal workers and lunatics of varying degrees. That, and I’m lazy.)

I could always sell them in my Etsy shop. But, I’m going out of town in two days and my shop will be closed for over a week.

Hmm. I don’t know. This is what I get for bandwagon jumping.

Anyway, here’s the card…

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There’s a Sale at Penney’s!

Okay, actually the sale is in my Etsy shop, but I couldn’t resist the Airplane! reference. Honestly, who can? That’s comedy gold right there!

Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh yeah, the sale in my Etsy shop. So, I’m having a sale and, unlike those major retailers, I did not subtly raise my prices over the past several months so that I could convince you that you’re getting a great deal when you’re really not. You also don’t have to stand in line with a bunch of surly, sleep-deprived people who may or may not sneeze on you and give you a cold. Any way you slice it, it’s a pretty sweet deal.

So, visit my shop and enter the coupon code GOBBLEWOBBLE to get 20% off your entire purchase. C’mon, you know you want to!

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Whatcha Gonna Do With All That Junk?

So, as I so subtly hinted yesterday, I am getting rid of most of what is in my portfolio. If I’m ever going to get anywhere, I need to create an almost entirely new body of work and/or fix a lot of my existing work. That means I am left with a bunch of prints that I have no real use for.

Do you want them? Do you know someone who might? Make me an offer.

I accept many forms of payment – pocket lint (only the high-end stuff), chocolate, undue praise, wine (preferably the kind one wouldn’t drink out of a paper bag), magic beans, poultry and/or livestock (in accordance with local ordinances, of course), things you found on the subway, your art (because it has to be better than mine), or change you found in your couch cushions.

Here are the illustrations that I have prints of and their sizes:


Izzy the Dog Sings a Duet – 8×12″ print (this print is currently spoken for)


Izzy the Dog in the Rain – 8×12″ print


Izzy the Dog Picks a Flower
– 8×12″ print (this print is currently spoken for)


Sleeping Izzy the Dog – 8×12″ print

How to Fight an Evil Carrot – 6×8″ print

Bad Teeth – 6×8″ print (this print is currently spoken for)

Prints are available unless otherwise noted.

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One Man’s Trash…

I’ve been dreading this.

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say about the whole portfolio review experience. The following anecdote probably sums it up pretty well.

When I got home from the conference on Sunday, my husband was helping me bring my things in from the car.

He: I wasn’t sure where you wanted your portfolio.
Me: In the trash.

Now that a few days have passed, I realize just how ridiculous that statement is. I mean, throwing out all that paper would be wasteful and environmentally irresponsible. I should probably just give it to one of my cat-owning friends to line their litter box with.

My portfolio review was with an AD from Abrams. Among his accomplishments are art directing the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and giving two workshops at the conference. He also finds bacon delicious.

Sorry, I felt the need for a non-sequitur there.

He was friendly. Seemed to like me. I mean, why wouldn’t he? Everyone loves a neurotic Jew. Well, except for maybe Mia Farrow. But, I digress.

From the beginning, I got the distinct feeling that he didn’t much care for my work. Not that I can blame him. I wasn’t happy with most of the pieces I included. But unexpected surgery (and a decided lack of talent) kind of put the kibosh on my plans to clean up my older work and create new, better work. So, he was mostly looking at (to put it nicely) junk.

Izzy the Dog did not go over well. He was lukewarm toward Everett the Owl. The only pieces he really seemed to care for were what he called the ‘funny stuff’. Also, known as the not-quite-kid-appropriate stuff and the there’s-really-no-use-for-this-other-than-to-put-it-on-my-blog stuff.  He also told me there’s no money in this business.

Sigh. The old ‘don’t quit your day job’ routine. Well, the joke’s on you, Mr. Art Director, I don’t have a day job!

There were a few positive nuggets amidst the rubble. He was impressed by my ability to give myself assignments…and complete them. He also said I had interesting stories (talk about a non-sequitur). And he complimented me on being able to (water)color inside the lines. Okay, even the positive stuff is starting to sound bad now, so I’m just going to stop.

Oddly, when it was all over, I didn’t feel so bad. I went to my next workshop, schmoozed with another artist, sat through the final keynote. All was right with the world. I left the conference, started driving toward home, let it all sink in, and…bawled like a baby.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

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Daily Sketches : Henry the Goose

So, I was sketching this goose and decided to make a quick color version for Sir (I like to give him little watercolor doodles – usually when I pick him up from school). He asked me what her name was. I told him that I didn’t know. He then told me that her name is Henry. Not exactly what I had in mind, but we’ll go with it.

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Daily Sketches : Turkeyfoot(less)

The fact that I am able to sketch anything at all right now means one of two things. Either the full impact of my portfolio review hasn’t hit me yet or I have somehow grown an ever-so-slightly thicker skin. More on that later. Maybe.

Anyway, here is a turkey who, because I apparently can’t draw the nethermost extremities of poultry, is missing his feet. This actually isn’t for a Thanksgiving illustration, but for another project I am working on (because I am a glutton for punishment). Again, more on that later.

20111115-100159.jpg

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Fused, Slumped, and Pretty Sweet (if I do say so myself)

Hey, kids, I have finally emerged from my drug-induced haze! Hooray!

The post-surgery pain hasn’t left me completely, but it is manageable with just a little Advil here and there,which means I can now spend (most) of my day in an upright and un-looped condition.

To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot from last Tuesday through about Saturday. It’s all kind of a jumble of painkillers,  blood,  Arrested Development, ice packs, and pudding cups.

While I was convalescing, my husband was kind enough to go and fetch my finished fused glass pieces from the class I took two weeks ago. I was so excited to seem them. (Well, as excited as one could be while biting on a giant gauze pad and randomly passing out.)

They turned out even better than I expected! In fact, I loved them so much that I used one of my few moments of semi-lucidity to get online and start shopping for kilns. Let’s just say that it is a good thing I didn’t have access to my wallet (and it was time for another pain pill) or I probably would have made a very expensive impulse buy. Instead, I passed out.

Crisis averted.

I still desperately want a kiln, but they are far too pricey and would most likely fry the wiring in our old house (we can’t even turn on the microwave and toaster oven at the same time, lest we trip the damn breaker).

Aaaaanyway, I wanted to share how I made these in case anyone else wants to give it a try. I found a pattern online for something similar, but it didn’t really give the best instructions. If you know how to cut glass, this is actually a pretty simple process.

Square Fused/Slumped Dishes

The first thing that I did was cut three 5″ squares of glass to serve as the base (I used an aqua color for two of them and a swirly blue/light blue for the third).

After I had my bases, I started cutting random squares and rectangles out of several different colors of glass (in shades of blue and green). I was advised not to stack the glass pieces more than three high (including the base). So, I arranged the larger squares/rectangles on the bottom and then put a smaller square/rectangle on top (you can see this in the process photo at right).

I continued arranging and fitting the cut pieces together until the entire base was covered. I tried not to leave any large gaps in between pieces, but a little extra space is fine. It is hard to cut pieces that will fit together perfectly.

Then came the fun part (that took me for-freaking-ever to finish). I pushed the top two layers of glass of the base and began cleaning the pieces. You want to use window cleaner and paper towel to get any fingerprints, bits of glass, etc. off.

After each piece was clean and dry, I used a toothpick to apply some hairspray (yep, the instructor gave us each a little cup of hairspray to stick the pieces together) and then put each piece back onto the base in the original arrangement.

Since I don’t have a kiln (yet…heh, heh), the instructor took the pieces with her to fire in her kiln. I am told that the process involved firing each piece until it fully fused and then firing each one a second time in mold (this process is called slumping). This second firing is what gives the dishes their raised sides. Otherwise, they would have just been flat squares.

The whole process is fairly easy if you have glass-cutting experience. Even if you don’t, it is all a series of straight cuts, so very beginner friendly.

Here are a few more photos of the finished pieces…

photos : fused glass dishes by yours truly

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From Vine to Pie : Vanilla Pumpkin Pie

Currently on Day 3 of my recovery. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you all on the other side of my drug-induced haze very soon. Until then, here’s the second part of my fresh pumpkin pie tutorial/recipe/thingy.

So, you navigated your way through the pumpkin puree tutorial and you’re ready to pat yourself on the back (go ahead, I’ll wait) and make a pie.

Now, I have yet another confession to make. I cannot make a decent pie crust to save my life. If you can, I applaud you and encourage you to do so before getting started on this recipe (and if you could make a couple extras and toss them my way, that would be swell). If you can’t, then get thee to the grocery store and score yourself one of those frozen jobbies like I usually do. This recipe makes one 9″ pie, so if you don’t feel like doing math and doubling it, just throw the extra pie crust in the freezer.

I found a recipe similar to this years ago and I have tweaked it some. It’s a little lighter on the pumpkin pie spice than most recipes, but the vanilla totally makes up for the toned down spices.

What you need:

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (you’ve totally got this covered, so don’t even think about using the canned stuff!)
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I sometimes like to use my own mixture of cinnamon, cloves, and freshly ground nutmeg)
1 unbaked pie crust

What you need to do:

Preheat oven to 450°.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. (Using a food processor is much easier, but most of the time I can’t be arsed to drag mine out so I do it the old-fashioned way.)

Pour filling into pie crust, pat yourself on the back for not spilling any onto the baking sheet. *Pick up baking sheet oh-so-carefully and proceed to spill filling over the side of the crust. Look to make sure there aren’t any little ears around, curse heavily while cleaning up the mess and then try one more time to get things in the oven without any more spillage.

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake for 40 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool before slicing and serving with **cinnamon whipped cream.

*** Brag incessantly to your friends about how YOUR pie was made with fresh pumpkin and not that canned stuff and/or snicker to yourself when someone gripes that they couldn’t find any canned pumpkin at the grocery store.

* optional
** also optional, but very tasty
*** again, optional, but very good for the old ego

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From Vine to Pie : Pumpkin Puree

I am currently recuperating from oral surgery, so instead of writing a new (drug-induced and likely incomprehensible) post, I’m sharing some oldies but goodies. Here’s a timely post to welcome you all to November. (Also, don’t forget to vote…pretty please?)

I have an embarrassing confession to make. For most of my life, I lived with the understanding that a pumpkin was a large orange thing whose sole purpose was to be cut open, gutted, carved, lit with a candle for a couple of hours, and then trashed and that pumpkin was something that came in a can.

Like most kids whose mothers kept their kitchens stocked with fish sticks and Kraft macaroni and cheese (but only if it was on sale or we had a coupon – otherwise, it was too pricey), I had no idea that one could actually make food without the use of a can opener or powdered processed cheese food. I was raised by a woman whose cooking philosophy has always been ‘If it takes more than five minutes to make, it’s not worth making.’ Needless to say, I had a lot to learn about cooking and I had to do it on my own.

One of the things that I have learned is that just because pumpkin can come out of a can, doesn’t mean it should. A few years back, I was encouraged to try making a real pumpkin pie with real, fresh pumpkin. Believe me when I say, once you’ve tasted pumpkin pie made with fresh pumpkin, there’s no going back. Can be damned!

The most ridiculous thing is that it is so easy and yet, so many people just keep cranking those cans open.

Okay, I admit, making your own pumpkin puree is more work than opening a can, but it is sooooo worth it. I promise.

So, for those of you who are feeling adventurous this fall, here is my tutorial on how to make a right tasty pumpkin pie (Note: I’m going to break this up into two posts – one with instructions on how to make the pumpkin puree and the other on how to make the pie).

Pick Your Pumpkins

It should be noted that not all pumpkins are created equal. The most accessible pumpkins out there were not grown for the purpose of cooking. The very large, flat-bottomed pumpkins that are everywhere this time of year are great for carving jack-o-lanterns, but have no practical purpose beyond being decorative.

Pie pumpkins are small, round, and usually darker in color than decorative pumpkins. There are several different kinds and, until recently, I had always used sugar pumpkins (except for the one time that I mistakenly used decorative pumpkins resulting in a culinary fiasco that can be summed up in one word – yuck). However, last week I discovered Mystic pumpkins at our farmers market and I must say they are quite delicious and sweet.

In general, one small pumpkin will make enough puree for one 9″ pie, so be sure to purchase enough pumpkins for your pie baking needs.

Prepare Your Pumpkins

Once you have your perfect pumpkins, grab a knife and get ready for some fun. Heh.

Cut around the stem of the pumpkin like you would if you were carving a jack-o-lantern. Try to stay as close to the stem as possible though, so as not to create too much waste.

Pop the top off of your pumpkin and discard. Then, with a large knife, cut your pumpkin in half from top to bottom.

Next, prepare to eviscerate your pumpkin.

With a large spoon, scoop out all of the seeds, guts, and stringy bits. If you fancy toasted pumpkin seeds (and extra work) separate the seeds from the innards before tossing them away.

Once your pumpkin halves are all hollowed out and the pumpkin carnage has been hidden away neatly in your trashcan so as not to arouse any suspicions, you are ready to bake!

Bake Your Pumpkins

Preheat oven to 325°.

Place your pumpkin halves on a large cookie sheet with open sides facing down.

Bake pumpkin for 40-60 minutes until the flesh of the pumpkin is fork-tender and peels away easily from the skin.

Remove pumpkin from the oven and let cool slightly while mentally preparing yourself for the next step: skinning (bwhahahahaaa!).

Skin and Puree

While the pumpkin is still warm, peel the flesh away from the skin (that sounds totally gross).

Place your now-naked pumpkin into a food processor or blender and puree until the screaming stops smooth.

Bake It, Cook It, Freeze It…

Now you have fresh pumpkin puree that is ready to fulfill it’s life’s mission as a pie (or muffins, or cookies, or soup, or anything else you might want to make with it).

Or, if you’re completely indecisive, you can throw it in a freezer bag and let it languish for awhile while you decide what to do with it…just try to make a decision before it gets covered in freezer fur.

photos : pumpkins in various states by yours truly

 

 

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