Wednesday, November 28, 2012

789 Posts

At 789 posts, I have reached my google storage limit.

Thanks blogger, its been great. I'm off to search for a new platform! ADIOS!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Art and Music.

When I am stressed, basic decision making ability goes completely out the window. Even something simple like picking out a flavor of ice cream or deciding what brand of toilet paper to buy becomes difficult. My response is a quiet, 'I don't know' because honestly....I don't want to decide, I don't want to be in charge. I just want someone else to tell me what to do.

There are certain, stressful situations in which I don't mind being in charge. There are times when my survival mechanism kicks in and I can easily remain calm and take care of the very serious things that need to be addressed. But later, when faced with the reality of the new normal, the stress possesses me and I am unable to function at my regular pace.

Earlier this week, I was out with friends and someone decided to put some money in the jukebox. "Come on, Nellie, help me pick out some songs," he said. We stood in front of the touch screen, as he scrolled through an alphabetized selection, waiting on me to choose something I liked. I felt completely frozen. I couldn't choose a single song I wanted to hear. Finally, after several minutes of choosing nothing, I dragged over a friend with a very sophisticated level of musical knowledge to help him. And I scurried away, tail between my legs.

Its times like this, when I am feeling underwhelmed, self-conscious and embarrassed that I am quite pleased to retreat inward and become an introvert. I want to grasp tightly to my thoughts without letting a single one escape as part of the conversation. I don't want to hide out at home, alone....I still want to to be among friends, but I do not want to be the center of attention. I just want to listen. To exist on the outskirts of the conversation, asking questions, soaking in the answers, but not revealing my own  opinions.

Later that night, I was sitting around with a group of friends who were discussing the White Stripes. The three of them went on an on about their favorite album, favorite songs, least favorite songs, and side projects of Jack White. It was as if they were speaking a different language. Sure, I have listened to the White Stripes, and I can generally identify a song of theirs when I hear it. However, I lack any an all ability to name any albums or song titles.

This is true of most music for me. I love to listen to music....usually, I adopt a favorite CD and play it on repeat for a long time, as if no other music even exists. It becomes a sound track for a particular season and when I hear it again, later, I recall that time of my life and the music conjures up special memories. I would never claim to have any real knowledge of any bands or musicians.

In fact, I don't have a favorite band....and I don't actively seek out concerts. If I am writing, or working at school, I rarely turn on music....It isn't a necessity for me to function. Sometimes I revel in the stillness and quiet of my classroom and my home.

Suddenly, the group realized that I hadn't contributed anything to this conversation. They apologized for leaving me out and someone quickly asked me who my favorite artist is....

I completely froze.

I went from fondly listening to a foreign language, and appreciating the experts discussing their opinions to being thrust in the spotlight of a question that I wasn't prepared to answer.

"Um...I dunno....I like a lot of different ones...I don't really want to talk about work." Yeah, I actually said that. It was the most awkward transition, and one I've later thought about what I would've said if asked again....I was outwardly uncomfortable and inwardly writhing....a total....'ahem, I carried a watermelon' moment.

A few friends of them threw out their favorites, some artists I had never heard of....putting me even more into a silent, frozen uncomfortable position. I should have said that music and art are seasonal for me....I go through periods of time when I am completely obsessed with one particular genre, usually because I am studying it for the benefit of my students.

I don't HAVE a FAVORITE artist....I can appreciate all art to some extent. If I walk into a gallery and see a Anselm Kiefer, I get really excited but I would never say that he is a favorite, that would just be....weird....I can appreciate his work, but I would never hang it in my home. Just as I might get excited about a Hopper, or an O'keeffe, I would never say that any single work is my favorite painting ever. Who is your favorite artist? That is such a loaded question...especially for an art teacher who happens to love every single thing.

Art is more of an experience for me. When I think about my time in Venice, for example, I will never forget the juxtaposition of the historical architecture with the modern, voluptuous sculptures of Fernando Botero. Now, whenever I see a Botero I am transported back to the shiny, smooth sculptures, poised as a Renaissance era classical Greek bronze in the streets and alleys of the Floating City. I actually have a Botero print hanging in my house...but his work isn't one of my favorites, really....I just appreciate it for that experience.

At that particular moment, none of these ideas about art bubbled up to the surface....I just sat there, dumbfounded by my own embarrassing display of knowledge about nothing....I knew nothing...I said nothing...and I was humiliated by my own behavior.

I guess with this post, I am trying to rectify the situation. I'm thinking of all those 'could've' 'should've' 'would've' things I wish I had said. I'm also trying to find blame in the fact that I have been under a lot of stress lately, and that is why I froze...not because I'm uninteresting with no knowledge of art or opinions about music whatsoever.

I will never be an expert on music, or art....I will have my interval, in which I study everything about Ancient Chinese art and culture...or in which I listen to that Shakira CD on repeat a thousand times....but a few weeks later, both of those things will fade into the file of that season, melded with that time in my life, like the familiar smell of my mom's perfume, conjured much later as part of the vernal spirit of my youth.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Smörgåstårta aka Swedish Sandwich Cake

Over the summer, I found an amazing book while thrift shopping in Galveston. The recipe I was dying to try was the Party Sandwich Loaf. I stuck pretty closely to the original recipe in the book. On Pinterest, I spotted another version of this cake that is much more "Swedish" which is filled with smoked salmon and smoked herring mousse. It looks incredible, topped with smoked Salmon and shrimp...definitely a wower if you are wanting something more refined. My recipe sure impressed everyone who tried that I know how to put it together, I am definitely open to doing some creative fillings and other sandwich toppings. 

Foodarama Party Book copyright 1959

Party Sandwich Loaf Recipe

1 small round loaf white bread (I used sourdough)
Softened butter or margarine
Ham and Celery Filling
Curried Egg filling
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
Avocado filling
Cream cheese (I used 2 packages)
Light cream (I used a 16 oz sour cream)
Sliced stuffed olives
Sprigs of parsley
Other vegetables to garnish

Ham and celery filling: Combine 1 cup ground cooked ham, 1/2 cup finely chopped celery and enough mayonaise to moisten

Curried egg filling: Combine 4 finely chopped hard-cooked eggs, 1/2 tsp. curry powder and enough mayonaise to moisten. (I used a lot more than 1/2 tsp. and it was soo good)

Avocado filling: Mash 2 fully ripe avocados; add 2 Tbsp. highly seasoned French Dressing. Stir until well blended. (Not sure what 'highly seasoned French Dressing means so I just bought the one that said sweet and tangy)

Cut bread loaf, crosswise into four thick slices. Spread each slice with butter. Spread bottom slice with Ham and Celery Filling. Top with second bread slice; spread with Curried Egg Filling. Top with slices of tomato and third bread slice. Spread with Avocado filling; top with remaining bread slice. Mash cream cheese; stir in enough cream so cheese will spread easily; beat until smooth. Spread on top and sides of loaf. Garnish with olive slices and parsley. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes about 12 servings.

I mixed up a little extra cream cheese and sour cream than necessary, and I also had some of the ham filling left over so I threw it all together and it was a delicious veggie dip for the extra carrots and radishes I used for garnish.

Veggies I used on top:
Thinly sliced lemon
Olives (I didn't use black but they would've been good too!)
Cherry (or grape) tomatoes
Carrots (using my apple corer, I cut rings)

I was afraid the bread would get soggy, but it stayed was a big hit at the fall fest party I went to Saturday night!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Knob Noster.

Each fall I look forward to the Missouri Art Education Association conference. It is held at the Camp BobWhite State Park in Knob Noster, Missouri near Warrensburg. It is a good three hour drive to the campground and the accommodations are notably primitive. We sleep in bunk beds in a cabin without air conditioning or heat. The presentations and demonstrations are held in open air tents. The local Boy Scout troop prepares our meals (and I must say, the food is fantastic--bread bowls with soup, BBQ and biscuits and gravy--all of my favorite foods). Perhaps the best thing about Knob Noster is the camaraderie among the people. Every single person there is an art teacher, and every person at the conference does the same job on a day-to-day basis so there is always someone to talk to who 'gets it'. It is one of my favorite things of the is a place where I can be myself.

You can read more details from Knob Noster conferences in previous posts.
Knob Noster 2010, Knob Noster 2009

And from last year, 2011....I guess I never posted these photos.

I needle felted this iPhone case last match my ugly sweater. Isn't it awesome!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I love a good sunset.

Okay, now I am going to go all 'girl gets a camera, thinks she is a photographer and takes pictures of barbed wire and sunsets' on you. I know, these photos are totally cliche. But I don't even care. I brake for sunsets. And sunrises. I pull the car over and hop out if I see a pretty silhouette.

my first fried twinkie ever.

If you've never been to the War Eagle craft fair in Arkansas, you should really try to go just once.

 And if you do are a few things to keep in mind.

 #1 It really doesn't matter if you go at 9:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m., you will be stuck in traffic for at least an be ready to entertain yourself.
#2 The traffic really isn't that bad...because you are surrounded by Arkansas in the fall. And it is gorgeous.
#3 Watch out for Turkey legs in the parking field. We ran over this one. It made me hungry for a turkey leg. And then I saw the grease stain on the tire. And I still wanted one.
#4 Put a bird on it.
#5 War Eagle has amazing food. I decided to try something new. A fried twinkie. My first ever. And probably my last. It tasted like a funnel cake.

#6 Funnel cakes and kettle corn are delicious.

#7 Cotton candy is delicious too. Especially to kids.
#8 There are some pretty cool crafts at War Eagle. Many of the things I saw were from Pinterest. Some were new to me...and I thought, hey, I wonder if I can find a DIY for that on Pinterest....or hey, I could probably figure that out...and do it with my students....I wonder where I can get 50 metal rods?
#9 Wear comfortable shoes.
#10 Or just have someone push you in a stroller.
#11 Real craftsmen are so cool.
#12 Some people are hard core about craft fairs. Rain, sleet, or two broke feet....they are there. (Back to # 9, wear comfortable shoes.)

#13 Arkansas really is beautiful this time of year. My favorite part of the whole event was sitting by the river, enjoying the shade, watching the people.

Some of my favorite memories are days like this. When the sun is shining, and I'm trying something new. I'm so happy to have my new camera. It was a fun day taking pictures and telling the story of War Eagle.