The Last Day of Summer

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Today is the last day of summer break that I'll ever have as a student. It is strange to think about. I'm entering the last year of my MFA degree as you know, and I've gotten entirely used to the cyclical nature of the school year. All along I've relied on summer as a time to recapture my sanity. After I am done with my degree, I will try to get an adjunct teaching position, but with the economy the way it is now, many totally qualified people are having to look elsewhere to make a living.
So much of the next few years of my life is completely out of my hands. I've been having a bit of anxiety over the whole situation, especially when people ask me about what my plans are. In the midst of the chaos of this last week of summer break, I've been cooking a lot. It calms me down.
Chocolate Chip, Zucchini, and Flax Muffins:
choccolate chip, flax, and zucchini muffins
Pasta with homeade fresh tomato basil sauce with tomato and mozzarella salad:
pasta with tomato salad
We've been getting so much food out of our garden as well. We've been eating well. This is about what we've been getting out of it every day:
loot from the garden
Plus the tomatoes and the cucumbers have started to ripen as well. I made some homemade hummus this week too so that I could make some veggie sandwiches with hummus, cucumber, tomato, and feta cheese on them. I've been eating those for lunch almost every day.

I also spent a good chunk of this week in the studio, which was good. Ann and I met there one day and had coffee afterwords. Ann is a fellow classmate and makes really beautiful artwork. I hope you have a chance to visit her blog - A Beautiful Party - she needs some cheering up this week too.
'Hellcat' - By Ann Flowers

Back to the Grind

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I'm grasping on to the last little bits of summer. I've got a few short days to prepare for the semester - classes start this coming Monday and there is a lot to do. There is a lot on my plate this semester, and I hope I can keep up with it all. I am both excited and intimidated by this last year of school.
As far as my studio work goes, I've been off to a productive start. I just finished this painting, part of a series of lace paintings that are framed in formerly gaudy salvaged frames.
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These paintings are done from observation: hand drawn from commercially produced vintage lace. They are done in ink, with a brush and an ink pen. I draw the general layout with pencil first, and then fill in the negative areas each by each. They are part of a larger series that is exploring handmade items, and their commercial counterparts.
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I am also working on a wall sculpture/installation that deals with some of the same issues, but from a different approach. I've sewn, structured, and stuffed eight little pieces so far, and I am in the midst of seaming them all together, and crocheting doily panels to cover the tops of them.
fungus 01
It has been a really peaceful and cool morning, and I'm hoping to make some progress on these today. I think I'll also be posting later on my garden. It has gone nuts! We've been eating so well these last few weeks!

Instability

August Storm
I took this photo a week ago to the day. I was driving home in the evening, and the sky to the south was bright with heat lightening. Most of it was hard to see through the dense hazy sky, but it was so beautiful.
When I got home, Nate and I sat out behind our apartment (which looks out into this field), put the camera on a tripod, and tried to catch the lightening. I only got a few successful shots, but it was really nice to sit and watch the sky light up.

In the Studio

I've been chugging away with some ideas I've had for a while now. Lets see where this goes.
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studio 01

studio 02

I've also been getting a lot out of my garden lately. Everything is ripening and maturing all at once.
My favorite (at the moment) is the swiss chard. I feel like I am eating candy because of the colors.
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And I've been using herbs every day as well.
garden 9
Clockwise from the top left: thai basil, italian basil, cilantro, chives, and lemon balm.
My sunflowers are taller than me as well. :)

Nate's Show at the Fixx Coffeehouse

A couple of nights ago the husband played a show at the Fixx Coffeehouse in Milwaukee. Both my younger sisters, my sister's fiance, and my dad made it out through the fog and the rain to see the show.
nates concert
It was a nice relaxing night of acoustic music. He played with a good friend of his, Tony Memmel (Nate just got done recording his new CD), and they switched off throughout the night.
nates concert
It was nice to see my sisters as well!
Amy and Zach:
nates concert
Molls... :)
nates concert
We also got to see my sister's new house, which is really nice. Nate and I have been daydreaming about houses a lot lately, but alas, we have no idea where we'll end up due to the crazy nature of the economy and the unpredictability of both of our professions. Ahh well. One can still daydream right?

Check out their music here:

In the Studio

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I've been working on some unresolved work lately, and I think I'm getting more towards where I want to be. The piece above is about 4 x 6" including the frame, it was done from this salvaged frame from the thrift store. I really like how it turned out.
This next school year is going to be the last year of my MFA degree, and I am both nervous and excited for it. I am going to be teaching Life Drawing again, which is going to be great, but at the same time balancing teaching, graduate assistantships, my classes, studio work, my marriage, family, and friends can be exhausting and overwhelming. I am trying to really get a good start on my thesis work (or at least work out all of the big kinks) before this semester starts. Sometimes I've got a tendency to psych myself out about the amount of work I've got ahead of myself, and it can be crippling to my studio work. I really want to avoid that this coming year.
lace painting3
So I'm starting some work ahead of time, and really trying to figure out a general direction for my thesis show. These paintings may or may not be a part of it, but they were something I had to do just to see if they would work.
lace painting1
The second painting is much larger, but still has an oval format. The frame I'm using is this one, which I thrifted a while ago. It is painted in the same color as the frame above.
They are both dealing with issues I am really interested in. Longevity, decoration vs. fine art, absence, presence of the hand vs. machine made items, and so forth.
Hopefully they will take me somewhere new. Also, I am more than open to feedback on these, let me know what you think of them!

New Vintage Items in My Etsy Shop!

I've been trying to cut down lately on what I own, so one solution to this is to finally post some of my collected vintage items in my Etsy Shop.
Fancy Purse 1
I've always had a hard time getting rid of things, but I'm in dire need of a new laptop, so I'm looking at it as a fund raising opportunity.
Suede Boots 1
I've always been a hardcore thrift shopper - most of what I own has come to me either second hand or through craigslist or relatives. I've always seen having a limited amount of funds as a challenge rather than a limitation.
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I love that if you look hard enough, you can find things that are really amazing. I love spending an afternoon treasure hunting. :)
White Gladiator Sandals 2
Maybe I'll go thrifting tomorrow...

In Full Bloom

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The garden has been growing like mad these last few weeks. We are just on the brink of having a constant supply of beans, tomatoes, swiss chard, and romaine. So far it has been a cool and wet growing season. The tomatoes are coming in pretty late because they need a bit more sunshine. The zucchini on the other hand is producing like mad. We've already gotten 6 zucchini, and I've made veggie wraps with grilled zucchini, chicken zucchini curry, and 3 zucchini spice cakes. If you have any good zucchini recipes to share, let me know! :)
Here are some of the rest of the goods:
Lemon Balm
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Yesterday I grabbed some leaves from these and made myself some tea. It was d-lish.
Cucumbers:
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These have been sprawling like mad, but no cucumbers yet. Pretty flowers though!
Yellow Pear Tomatoes:
garden 4
I can't wait for these to start ripening. I don't know if many will make it past the garden without me eating them!
Baby Romaine Lettuce:
garden 1
These shot up like mad - hopefully they won't bolt now that it is getting hotter outside. The seeds I bought are bolt resistant, so keep your fingers crossed for me.
We've also been enjoying the chives and thai basil on a daily basis. :)
bruschetta pizza
It is so great to be able to have a garden at our apartments. It is going to be hard for me to leave when I am done with my MFA if I end up going somewhere where I can't have a garden.

Good Friends, Good Times

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Over the last week and a half I've been busy catching up with my good friends and my sisters. I've been all over Wisconsin and Illinois. It all started with the Dells, I met my little sisters for a few days of water parks and shopping. We had a great time going on water slides, eating lots of food, and trying on lots of clothes. The weather couldn't have been nicer, not too hot, not too cold. It was really great to spend some time with them - we all live a good two hour drive from one another. Molls, my youngest sister, just turned 16 and is getting her license soon. She has also passed Amy, the middle child, in height which is just plain weird. Hopefully she won't pass me up, she's got a couple inches to go before that happens. Amy just got engaged about a week ago as well! I am super exited for her and her fiance. I don't think she could have picked a nicer guy. Plus, I think Nate is going to enjoy having another guy around in my family of all girls!
But alas, I didn't bring my camera... I've got to start remembering to bring it along more!
After that adventure, Nate and I got together with our good friends from college - Johnny and Tony. They've always been really great friends to us, not just the kind of friends that call you up when they need something. We hung out in Madison and stayed at Johnny's parents house. The next morning we just relaxed in the pool, and had a good chance to catch up with one another. It was uneventful in the best of ways.
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A few days later, Tony and I made a trip into Chicago to go gallery hopping and meet up with another friend of ours, Elizabeth, who Tony has known since he was a kiddo, and I met in undergrad. Tony was in Art Ed, and Elizabeth and I were both painting majors. We explored the sights (and smells...) of the West Loop.
chitown 01
Tony is living in Vegas now, and I'm pretty sure he will end up in LA someday. I miss him a ton already, and keep trying to convince him to come back to the midwest. He is actually more like a brother to me. We joke that we were separated at birth, like Tia and Tamara.
We parted ways after gallery hopping, and I met Nate in Wrigleyville later that night to go see Josh Ritter. You may recall we've seen him quite a few times - but his live shows never get old.
josh ritter concert
It was a wonderful concert to top a stellar week.
Wow, no wonder I am a little tired today. :)

Back to Reality

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The rest of the trip photos can be found here:
Western Trip
And now that I'm finally finished documenting our trip, I can get back to blogging about our 'normal' lives. :)
Here is a sneak peak:
sketchbook pages
...More to come shortly.....