Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 Endicott Alumni Art Show

I put this painting in the 2011 Endicott Alumni Show this year, which starts today and runs through August 5th. If you haven't seen the new Center for the Arts at Endicott it's worth the trip over there—there's always an interesting exhibit or performance.

This painting is on a salt marsh that I found off Rt. 133 heading into Essex from Ipswich, at the end  of a narrow road that cuts across a marshy area. It was an early summer morning, and it was odd to see the boat high and dry in the marshes, with Hog Island (Ipswich) in the background. My brushstrokes almost look like pastels here.

POSTSCRIPT: Alas, the paintings did not sell so is still available. Please contact me for pricing info if you are interested

Monday, May 30, 2011


Photo, Dan Ryan

The alliums are in full bloom in the garden, and the irises are just popping open. Once these purple treasures fade they make way for a whole new color scheme in summer—pinks. The pink flowers blend nicely with the leaves of the purple heuchera (coral bells) and the underside of those gorgeous ornamental rhubarb leaves.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Peach blossom

photo, Dan Ryan

Last year I planted a peach tree in my French potager garden—okay, kitchen garden. It's been espaliered on the trellis that holds in my wild patch of raspberries. It had lots of beautiful pink blossoms this year and I am hoping for at least a few peaches, though I have read that I should pull them off and encourage new plant growth rather than fruit growth in such a young plant. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Down to the sea

A new show opens May 28th at the Gallery Della-Piana called  "Down to the Sea. . ." I have three seascape oil paintings in the show, including the foggy sail painting below, and three graphic design pieces that I posted on this blog May 4th. Go see the show!

Sea Fever
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

                                   —By John Masefield (1878-1967)

photo, Dan Ryan

Monday, May 23, 2011

One Fish, two fish...


...Fred fish, blue fish. What, that isn't how it goes? 

It's that time of year again—time to clean out the fish pond and go buy some new "Freds" from the fish store. These are 4 of the original 5 goldfish from last summer, all named Fred. They started out as The Five Freds last spring but one kicked the bucket within 24 hours. We nurtured them all summer long, they were happy and grew quite large, and we all became very attached as a family. We had every intention of wintering them over but a blue heron came around last Thanksgiving with something else entirely in mind... dinner. It's tough living out here in the country. 

Homegrown greens

photo, Diane Carnevale

Growing your own veggies are a source of enormous pride. I don't grow too many—ridiculous amounts of various tomatoes, tri-colored string beans (purple, green, and yellow), French breakfast radishes (the fastest crop ever!), yellow patty-pan squash, pickling cukes, and sometimes artichokes when I'm luck eough to find them at the nursery. I grow a pumpkin or zucchini, but mainly for the blossoms, to stuff with ricotta cheese the way he Italians do. Some years I grow carrots, purple, yellow, orange, and red ones, but they never really grow very big. Sometimes I grow onions. And lettuce. I always grow lettuce. The beautiful baby leaves, a true mesclun (mix) are polka dotted with chive blossoms, which have a lovely mild onion taste. I pull them off the stem and sprinkle them over salads like confetti. The herb garden is packed with a huge variety—more on that some other day, time to make a salad!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Berry blast!

photo, Dan Ryan

This is actually a fiber blast breakfast because I make my pancakes with whole grains, and I also mix in unprocessed bran and ground flax seeds. Between the pancakes and the berries there's approximately 15 grams of fiber in this delicious breakfast! Add to that some agave nectar or maple syrup and it's nothin' but good and good for ya.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How much wood...?

Aaaah, country living—birds chirping, peepers peeping, chipmunks chipping, and daaamn woodchucks. Now, as you can see by the bucolic photo above, Mr. Woodchuck is admittedly very adorable here amongst the sweet anemone blossoms and emerging hosta leaves, daintily foraging for birdseed that has dropped from the feeders. However, he, or one of his his vegetarian relatives, can quite casually decapitate an entire plant faster than you can say "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck..." all without a shred of remorse. One of us simply HAS to go. Click here to see more photos of this fellah, who I later named Woody, later in the season. 

Here he is again up on a chair, giving me the stink eye.
I'm watching you Mr. Woodchuck.

 photos, Diane Carnevale

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spanakopita reinvented

That's not something you catch, it's just a Greek name for a delicious, savory spinach and feta creation. What does a nice Italian-Irish-Scottish-English-Dutch gal like me know about Greek cooking? Growing up we had a Russian / Polish neighbor named Manishka (Manya to us) who was larger than life in many ways, including her stature. She was married to a gentle Greek man named Peter Kotsofolis. Manishka Kotsofolis, what a treasure!! She was a slightly eccentric and highly creative Leo with a flair for the dramatic as all Leos have. I should know because our birthdays were just one day apart in late July. Manya and Pete had the first hookah pipe in the neighborhood (okay, probably the only hookah pipe on the North Shore), she was deep into horoscopes, making detailed charts for people (fire signs, sun rising, and all that language), and she made those incredibly colorful and detailed Ukranian decorated eggs. Her biggest creative passion though, was cooking. James Beard and Julia Child were always with her in the kitchen by way of their cookbooks, and because Manya was great friends with my mother, her cooking influenced my mom, and subsequently me. Manya and Pete celebrated Russian Orthodox Easter in a big way, which always included tons of very exotic foods and libations such as lamb, unusual sweet breads and desserts, and dozens upon dozens of deeply red dyed eggs. And there was always spanakopita. Layers of buttery, crunchy phyllo dough, spinach with a hint of dill, scallions, nutmeg, and lots of feta cheese. The Greeks make it in a big sheet pan and slice it up. I usually make it into smaller individual sized triangles, but sometimes when time is short I make them like this, in little individual open-faced phyllo cups. I know, I know—it's cheating, and Mayna would probably roll in her grave, but the flavors are all there. 

photos, Diane Carnevale

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lime hostas

Newly emerging lime green leaves of hosta Fire Island are a striking contrast against the dark earth. These particular hostas are in the chocolate garden, and when they are fully leafed out they look great under the canopy of the lacy black Sambucus leaves. photo, Dan Ryan

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mr. Smith's path

photo, Dan Ryan

Last fall our neighbor to the back of us, Mr. Smith, was kind enough to make a stone path that flows from his yard to our yard. This is a quagmire of wild brush by the end of the summer, so this makes the journey to their place on hot summer days (to lounge by their pool and sip cocktails!) an easier one. It's also great for Mark when he comes over to borrows our fence pole digger. Love that cool neighbor vibe! To thank I surprised him by covertly and surreptitiously planting drifts of small daffs and grape muscari along the path last fall. Here's the spring show, coming up through the sea of emerging Lily of the Valley.

Nearby on Essex Street there is a huge patch of daffodils that spread some serious sunshine to passersby.

photo, Diane Carnevale

 photo, Diane Carnevale

I know that made you smile.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lemon thyme cake

For mom... she loves anything lemony, so I baked her a lemon thyme cake and bought her a small lemon tree. The cake is a Barefoot Contessa recipe, and I added in the thyme, which is shown here garnished with fragrant lemon balm and a yellow pansy blossom.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Madame X & Dr. Pozzi

Inspired by... Portraits by John Singer Sargent 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Therapy... for my hands!

  Photo, Diane Carnevale

Gardening is torture on my hands! Not that I don't love my "Foxgloves" in loads of fabulous colors, but for some garden chores you've just gotta pull the gloves off. For years Crabtree & Evelyn's Gardeners Hand Therapy cream has been my go-to relief from this kind of torture. Love this stuff.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sea graphics

I created these sea themed graphics for an upcoming show at the Gallery Della-Piana called "Down to the Sea. . ." When I visit Elissa's gallery I am always impressed by the eclectic collections of art she has there. These graphics literally appeared in my head as a dream the morning after one such visit. The dreamy colors and the electronic "sketches" developed quickly, but the execution of the graphics took days to complete. I had them printed and plan to frame them in a snappy modern frame of some sort.  

POSTSCRIPT: The top graphic sold at the gallery show but the other two are still available. Contact me if you are interested!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Avocado for breakfast

Avocado, pink grapefruit, and black raspberries. The combination of these colorful superfoods make a delicious breakfast. Add it on a bed of baby spinach leaves with some crunchy macadamia nuts and a light dressing made with diced shallots, grapefruit juice, and grapeseed oil, and this breakfast turns into a super healthy salad.

Photos, Diane & Dan

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tomato plants on a sunny windowsill

Photo, Dan Ryan

I am trying to keep these young tomato plants healthy until it's warm enough to plant them outside. Some plants already have delicate little blossoms. I place them under a fluorescent grow light overnight, put them outside on warm sunny days, and then schlepp them back inside after the sun sets. It's all such a labor of love, but the rewards later in the summer will be great!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blue Jay feathers

Photo, Diane Carnevale

Happy May! I found a blue jay feather under the hemlock trees in our yard. Then I found another one nearby... and another... and another. Then I found a trail of feathers leading to a whole cluster of feathers and a spindly little bird leg. Looks like someone ate Mr. Blue Jay for lunch. I'll honor him by placing his feathers somewhere in the garden.