Morning walk inspiration

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I am like a kid when it comes to finding something, anything, growing on our hillside or near the creek. Each find is a special treat for me. All but one (the last one) of these grow wild here and I assume they are wildflowers. The last one is a plant that has amazed me in that it has lasted through subzero temps, but this year it amazed me by blooming for the first time. Who knew?  A tropical looking plant that survives harsh winters but never dies back? No idea what it is.

Spring has sprung!

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Daffodils in Washoe Valley

I had great plans last year to litter the hillside below our house with beautiful bright daffodils to announce that spring was here. I love the fact that they will multiply and return each year. I had planted the ones you see, plus a few around a couple other trees, the first winter we were here. Unfortunately I was unable to do any planting the end of last year so I am  not looking out on a massive sea of yellow daffodils. Luckily it only takes a few to cheer me! I am happy every time I look out and see these.

Product Photography…

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I was doing so well making headway with the store’s product photography and then I got ….distracted.

It is no secret to those who check out the Boutique’s new items that I like using photo props, and I am using them more and more. If I had more time I would probably lose myself in practicing photography more often. Hunting for them is also a great excuse for reviving my love of visiting garage and estate sales. I love old things. Rusty, dented, sometimes even dirty old pieces of household history (and don’t get me started on interesting rocks!). They all just have so much character. They also keep me from becoming weary of photographing item after item on a stark white background.

Antique Lock with White Flower

Don’t get me wrong, I think some things need a simple white background in order to capture and convey certain qualities, but even with a white background I find myself leaning more and more to the shadowy dark side.

Amber Treads Lampwork

Amber Treads Lampwork

Oh, yes. That delicate white flower up there? Believe it or not, it is a trailing weed that will run rampant, choking the life out of more delicate plants in my yard if I don’t keep it in check. I decided it was about time it did something positive for me, and when I took the time to look at it more closely I realized how truly beautiful it was.

 

Not so restful waiting.

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bronze hands, Berkeley

There has been very little resting but my hands are trying to quietly wait until the studio is set up again, there is peace in the house (change that to reduced chaos in the household because, let’s be realistic!) and I can once again focus on art.

Summer is flying by, the vegetable garden is in full swing, though the tomatoes are being stubborn little buggers and we’ve only picked two ripe ones so far! The plants themselves are immense and loaded with green tomatoes but so far, no huge bowls of fresh tomato and basil pasta, my version of caprese salad except with pasta. Last year I canned a great relish using the end of season green tomatoes so even if they don’t ripen I still have something to look forward to!

For those of you who DO have fresh ripe garden tomatoes right now the recipe below is what I do with them. No store bought tomatoes for this recipe unless you are lucky enough to have a store that sells fresh from the farmer. If you don’t have a garden try one of the Farmer’s Market vendors. It also makes a huge difference if you use a rich balsamic and extra virgin olive oil. I don’t go crazy expensive here, but I try to get ones a cut above what I use for cooking.

Caprese Pasta

3 pounds sweet tomatoes, peeled and cut into pieces*
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. high quality balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp. high quality olive oil
1/2 cup loosely packed diced fresh basil leaves
1 pound penne
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated (you can also use slices of fresh mozzarella but I like having the cheese in every bite!)

Toss the tomato pieces and garlic in a bowl with the vinegar and oil. Add basil.Chill.

Cook the pasta al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to chill. Toss with the tomato mixture and add salt and pepper to taste if desired.

I like to serve this chilled. I refrigerate the tomato mixture and pasta separately then toss before serving. Great served with a good french bread to soak up the juices. Enjoy!

*Sometimes if my tomatoes aren’t as sweet as I like I add a touch of sugar to them.

Sunshine is bursting out all over!

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Golden Gazania

Something I miss about doing soft glass is the vividness of the colors. Boro tends to be so much more earthy. While there are crayon-like colors in boro rod they tend, for the most part, to be either difficult to work in small scale due to boiling issues, or thin out too much making them appear translucent. This can work for me with some effects, but when I want bold, bright colors nothing does it for me like soft glass.

Golden Lily

I hope when the studio is finally set up again that I will have two torch stations, one for soft glass (whose color palette has grown exponentially since I stopped using it) and one for borosilicate. For now I’ll just have to enjoy the vivid summer colors in my garden (at least those that have survived the tornado teeth of Mr. Jax.

Orange Lily