Dog Days of Summer

Maybe the best $30 I've ever spent:
best spent $30 ever
I have a feeling I'll be spending a large majority of the remaining summer sitting right there.
Hammock Time
Sketchbook and some music - a great way to spend the afternoon!

The garden has also been coming along nicely.  We've harvested about 5 good sized zucchini, a bunch of herbs, swiss chard, and baby romaine.
Baby Romaine and Swiss Chard
The black-eyed susans are almost in bloom!  
I still can't believe how huge the lettuce is!
And we've been making good use of it too.  We have a 10 foot row of swiss chard, and a 10 foot row (that was half destroyed by rabbits) of baby romaine, and we've had more than enough salad for the two of us.  Last night we used lettuce and rosemary from our garden to make these turkey burgers:  
perfect turkey burgers
A quick tip when growing your own lettuce - often times it can get pretty bitter if eaten right from the garden.  If you have a lettuce that is bitter - try washing it off and putting it in the fridge for a day or so - cooling it takes away most of the bitter flavor.  

I'm looking forward to tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, jalapenos, and peppers.  I'm also thinking that I'll be expanding the garden a bit next summer. :)  What are you growing this summer?  Anything new and exciting?

In the Skies

There has been a heat wave running through the Midwest.  Highs in the upper 90's paired with 90% humidity makes for a heat index in the 120's.
The week before all of this heat came through, we had some pretty unstable weather.  I'd been loving the mix of sun and storms.

When you live in such a flat area, you become acutely aware of the sky.

Words of Wisdom

I came across this quote today, and thought it was a fitting quote for those of us trying to eke out a living in a creative field.  Especially those of us just starting out:

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. 
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. 
A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. 
We all go through this. 
And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. 
You’ve just gotta fight your way through."

- Ira Glass

So, back to the studio I go.
089 - watercolors

Bunnies and Bunnies

Right after I started this painting of a couple ceramic bunnies:
112 - bunnies

I saw this tiny baby bunny outside:
Tiny bunny in the yard

This little guy could easily fit in the palm of my hand.  So tiny!!

If this is the reason the swiss chard is being eaten in my garden, I think I'm okay with that.  The tiny thing couldn't even hop properly - it is still trying to figure out how to get everything in sync.  :)

In the Studio

Working in the studio today:
Using frisket to block out areas that I want to keep white - frisket is a liquid that repels water.

And the finished painting:
 Spirit Lake - Watercolor - 11x14.5
Spirit Lake - 11 x 14.5 - Watercolor






The weather here has been a bit unstable lately, but it has resulted in some amazing sunsets!  Last night's was no exception!

Watercolor Study

Just finished a watercolor study for an oil painting I'll be starting soon.  Here it is in progress:
106 - Study

And here's the finished study:
6"x12" - Watercolor

Weekend at Spirit Lake







We were down in Spirit Lake/ Okoboji Iowa this weekend for a gig that Nate played.  We decided to camp at Marble Beach on Spirit Lake instead of drive home after the gig - and it proved to be a wise decision.  Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

Wedding Season

This last week we made the long haul back to Milwaukee to attend Nate's cousin's wedding.  It was a beautiful (albeit hot!) outdoor ceremony, and we were so glad to be able to get back to Wisconsin for it.

171 - Wedding
Uncle Ed or "Eddie Boy", Grandma Edwards, and Brian or "Moose" - Nicknames are a big thing on this side of the family. :)

170 - Wedding
Jenny and Moose - so cute!

151 - Wedding
Myself and Nate - we clean up alright!

And there was no better way to end a beautiful night than with fireworks!

Congrats Brian and Jenny!

Things I've Devoured Recently.

Grilled shrimp, red potatoes, and corn on the cob with chive butter.  It is really easy to make.
You need: 2 lb small red potatoes, 4-6 ears of corn on the cob, 1 lb pre-cooked shrimp, olive oil spray, salt, lime wedges (optional)
Step 1: Boil water in a large stock pot  - while waiting for the water to boil shuck the corn and break each ear in half.
Step 2: Add potatoes to boiling water and cook them for 20 minutes - while they are cooking put your shrimp on the skewers, spray them with a light coat of olive oil spray, and season them with your choice of seasoning.  I like to use spicy chipotle lime seasoning.
Step 3: Once the potatoes have been cooked for 20 minutes, add the corn to the water with the potatoes for 8-10 more minutes.  While the corn is cooking - cook your shrimp on the grill or on a grill pan.  Because they are already cooked, you are just going to cook them long enough to heat them up and singe the edges a bit.
Step 4: Drain the veggies & serve with butter and salt.
(If you want to make the chive butter simply microwave about 3 tablespoons of butter until it is melted, and add a teaspoon or two of fresh cut-up chives - muddle slightly with a spoon to release the flavor & serve!)

I also tried a new veggie this week - garlic scapes - which are the flowering stem of hardneck garlic varieties.  The flower stalk is harvested from the plant to force it to put more energy into creating the garlic itself.  The scapes taste extremely garlicky when they are uncooked - and can be made into pesto or grilled up to mellow out their flavor.  I simply tossed them in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, lightly salted them, grilled them in a grill pan on medium high heat until tender, and then topped them with some grated parmesan cheese.

They were really good - they tasted like a slightly garlicky version of asparagus.  I love summertime because there is so much fresh food that you can buy locally - It really inspires me to cook a lot!


Finished another drawing today for the collaborative project I've been working on with Joseph Briggs.  I started this one before we went to Wisconsin (where we've been for the past few days for a wedding/visit) and finally finished it today.  
Here it is in sketch phase:

Halfway through:

And finished:

Rendering flat walls in colored pencil is extremely hard.  It is silly how time consuming this tiny drawing was!