Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Meditation

Winslow Homer's Sleigh Ride 

Christmas Eve Meditation

There is a hush that comes on Christmas Eve—
Life's hurry and its stress grow far away; 
And something in the silence seems to weave 
A mood akin to sadness, yet we say 
A "Merry Christmas" to the friends we meet, 
And all the while we feel that mystic spell, 
As if the Christ Child came on noiseless feet, 
With something old, yet ever new, to tell 
The eyes grow misty, yet they shed no tear, 
And those that we have lost, somehow seem near.

by Margaret E Bruner (1886-1970)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy winter solstice!

At Midwinter—also known as the Winter Solstice—it's time to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. We bid farewell to the Holly King and welcome the Oak King (that's him in the illustration above). With him we welcome the return of the sun and green (eventually) begins to envelope the earth. After today—the shortest day of the year—the earth begins to wake up from its slumber, then the days start getting longer and warmer ... but before all that it gets snowier here in the Northeast!

At Midsummer—also known as the Summer Solstice—the Holly King slays the Oak King to rule over the winter months. The days become shorter as we say farewell to the sun until the Winter Solstice comes around again on December 21st, when  mother nature shuts down for her winter slumber. This almost doesn't make sense when you consider those warm summer days, but there you have it.

Both solstices are symbolic of an eternal cycle of fertility, growth, death and rebirth. Happy winter solstice, and hooray for longer, brighter days ahead!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What becomes a legend most?

Not enough words... 

Glad you are with your love—somewhere over the rainbow. 
I will miss you.

M. H.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

An awfully big adventure

 I think Peter Pan got it right—it's all just a big adventure!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dahlia madness

It's not too early to plan for next year's garden... is it?? Surely not! I have already ordered a dozen (3 each of 4 different varieties) spectacular magenta and shell pink colored dahlias... all influenced by my neighbor Robin, who has the most enchanting cottage garden ever. This year her fenced-in front yard garden was—among other flowers—a riot of pink and yellow dahlias, and pink cosmos. She grew this one particular dinner plate dahlia called Emory Paul, which I coveted and simply had to have. There's Robin in the photo below, hiding behind one of her glorious, Emory Paul dahlias! The dahlia shown above is called Pretty in Pink. We've got a long way to go until next spring, but I am glad I bought my dahlias before they sold out. Quick—go order some dahlias too!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The juice bar is open!

Happy December! Time to detox from the T-day indulgences with some super healthy juices. Shown here are a fabby-fab mix of fruit and veggies to inject my cells with vitamin goodness. These juices make a great, one-day juice blast. Starting on the far left:

• tomatoey gazpacho

• Carrot, orange and sweet potato juice

• Lemony chicken broth with a dash of turmeric

• Lemony green and lemongrass tea

• Kale lemonade, made with lemon, green apples, kiwi, parsley ginger and avocado

• Blackberry and blueberry with a little coconut milk, splash of pom juice and splash of water

• Red beets, raspberries, fresh cranberries, a bit of freshly grated ginger, a smidge of honey, a splash of pom juice and water.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Turkey with a twist...

... or a roll! Most years we cook up a turkey on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, mainly so we can have a few  leftover sandwiches the following week. We've been cooking boneless, stuffed turkey breast roulades for several years now. This year we stuffed our roulade with baby spinach leaves, and a stuffing made with the usual onions and celery, but also added in turkey sausage, fresh chopped parsley, dried apricots, and whole pecans. When the turkey roulade is cooked and sliced, the result is a colorful, succulent, mosaic of turkey and stuffing goodness. Here's how we make it:

The toughest part of making this roulade is removing the bone from the turkey (not for the faint of heart). If you aren't up for it, perhaps you can sweet talk your butcher into doing it. It's job security for them, right? After you wrangle your turkey, butterfly the meat out flat, season with salt and black pepper, stuff it with whatever stuffing you wish. We like adding this layer of green spinach leaves before adding the stuffing in. 

Carefully roll the turkey, then tie the roulade with kitchen twine at at least three sections so the roulade doesn't explode. We also add trips of bacon to keep Tom Turkey moist (I know, right?!), but you can skip this part if you wish. Then just pop that bad boy in a toasty 350° oven for about an hour and a half until the inside reaches a temp of 160° with a meat thermometer. If you wanted to cook this for Thanksgiving, all of this prepping and stuffing business can be done the day before. Nice, neat and easy-peasy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Currently coveting—a bit of Iris!

How's this for a dream gift? This year—as part of Neiman Marcus's fantasy gift offerings—you can purchase a little bit of Iris Apfel's unique, unparalleled, and indomitable style. The Iris Apfel Trunk is a treasure trove of jewels and other accessories.

This giant red lacquered steamer trunk with myriad pull-out drawers has been stuffed to the gills with global, girly goodies, including necklaces, bracelets, belts, handbags, scarves and well... Iris style! There are over 200 pieces—antique vintage and newly made—that have each been chosen by Iris herself to represent her crazy awesome s-t-y-l-e. The pieces are all handcrafted by women in places such as Nepal, Turkey, India, Afghanistan, Tibet, Haiti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, and beyond. The fantasy trunk gift includes a personal styling session and lunch with Apfel at the Neiman Marcus flagship store in downtown NYC. (OMG... what would you wear?!) Iris is one of my favorite fashion icons, and is still rocking it at age 94. I would love to know if she and Tony Doucette ever hung out together. Seriously. They both pulled off  the "More is More" thing quite fabulously. Tempted? Watch the video here. Oh, and this little trunk will only set you back  $80,000. A girl can dream, can't she?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Crane Estate art show & sale—2015

This coming weekend is the Trustees of Reservations annual juried Crane Estate art show & sale! It's a nice chance to visit and view "... art highlighting the beauty of North Shore's landscapes and landmarks." I have 5 paintings in the show this year. The smaller ones are priced lower (think Christmas prezzies!).

The show is free and open to the public from 10AM to 4PM Saturday and Sunday. Also, there is a preview party Friday night (tonight!) from 7 to 10 PM, and the ticket price includes an open bar, catered hors d'oeuvres, and live music. They throw a good bash, so hope to see you there. 

Even without the awesome art show, the Crane Estate is beautiful to visit this time of year, magically perched on a hillside that overlooks the Atlantic ocean. The kids can run wild and the adults can pop inside to see the paintings, then you can take a long walk on Crane's Beach, or stop into Russell Orchards on the way home for some apples or cider donuts. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Color inspiration—Scottish heather

This is one of my favorite photos that we snapped in the Isle of Skye during our recent two-week spin around the Scottish countryside. (Hi Sheep!) What a beautiful country. The hillsides weren't just speckled with heath and heather plants—they were magnificently swathed in it. Although we have a small patchwork of a heath and heather garden in the front of our house, it's not quite this colored heather, which I seriously covet.

I sway towards these purply-mauve colors in my garden anyhow. Below is one of my flower borders in the spring, with alliums in full bloom, and two species of irises that are not too far behind and ready to bloom. This fall I planted heaps of mauve colored tulips in this flower border, so next spring it will be a symphony of mauve and purple colors, which—I hope—will remind me of this particular spot in Scotland... minus the sheep.

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Morning Soliloquy

Sunday Morning Soliloquy: 10 x 20  

New (ish) work. What is this enigmatic energy that keeps pulling me back to the beautiful North Shore marshes? They are ever-changing and alive, yet full of peace and tranquility.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Gorgeous Portrait—Maureen O'Hara

The movie industry lost a screen legend today. I was a huge fan of Irish actress Maureen O'Hara, who made it to a ripe old age of 95. Maybe it's because I watch the Turner Classic Movies channel and have seen nearly all of her older films, or maybe because I've been to the area in Ireland where she filmed The Quiet Man with John Wayne, or maybe just because I'm a sucker for a beautiful redhead. In any case, she was feisty and I liked that about her.

She was stunningly beautiful in The Black Swan, along with Tyrone Power, and she portrayed a gorgeous gypsy Esmerelda along with Charles Laughton in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Even if you don't watch the old classic films, surely you saw Miracle on 34th Street art least once in your life, in which she played little Susan Walker's mom. Maureen did a great interview with James Lipton on Inside the Actor's Studio in the past few years, and her spitfire and spunk was showing even in her nineties. Hail and farewell, Miss O'Hara.

“I loved Mary Kate Danaher. 
I loved the hell and fire in her. 
She was a terrific dame, tough, 
and didn’t let herself get walked on.”

— Maureen O'Hara
about her character in The Quiet Man

Click on the gorgeous portraits label below for more gorgeousness!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Elissa's Poppies

Elissa's Poppies: 9 x 12 

This is another "Hide & Seek" piece that I am putting in the upcoming Crane Estate / Castle Hill show. The painting is my interpretation of my friend Elissa's patch of poppies in springtime. The buds are just about to emerge into their orange-red blossoms. It looks like a mad tangle, but the blues and silvery greens are so very lovely. Can you find the hidden something?

Snake heads rising through a wicked tangle of silver foliage, 
their carmine fiery tongues waiting to emerge... 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek: 10 x 20 
Marsh in Ipswich, MA 

This is a new work painted for the upcoming Crane Estate / Castle Hill show, whose theme this year is called "Hide & Seek." (Click on paintings to see them larger.) In that spirit, if you look very closely in this painting, you may find a certain something. It's difficult to see in this small photo, so hope you can make it to the show to see in person!  More details on the Castle Hill show to come soon.

Here is the painting in progress.

and finally, framed

Monday, October 12, 2015

Borlotti beans

Let's talk beans, shall we?! I love the annual pink borlotti bounty that I harvest from my garden each October. These beans are super easy to grow, and their pink speckled shells always remind me of Lily Pulitzer. They are the the last thing to ripen in my garden—long after the cucumbers and tomatoes have waned—and just as the last of the pears have fallen from the trees. My routine is to shell them while sipping a glass of wine... the way an Italian nona in the Tuscan countryside would do. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

I simmer the beans in a porcelain bowl filled with chicken broth, a good healthy drizzle of olive oil, garlic cloves, sliced tomatoes, sprigs of rosemary, and salt and pepper. I also add some crushed red pepper flakes. I cover and cook in a 350°oven for about an hour. The beans come out soft and the garlic is like buttah. The flavorful beans are fabulous with a piece of crunchy bread, or sometimes I make a borlotti bean bruschetta. The word bruschetta [pronounced bru-SKET-ah] is from the Italian word bruscare, which means to char. I urge you to grow these beans next summer!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Winding road, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Here's a quick watercolor sketch that I made today in Scotland. The wild heather growing on the hillsides here is glorious! We've enjoyed weaving along the serpenting, single-track roads here, and wonder, as always, what's around the next corner?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Great Scot!


I've been a bit enchanted with these Scottish Highland cows since forever ago, and of course they are ubiquitous here in Scotland.... and also the sheep. There are zillions of sheep here!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

London (and Scotland) calling!

We're heading over to the other side of the big Pond! Some of the activities we have planed in London involve visiting as many museums as our feet can take, seeing David Suchet (you Poirot fans know precisely who I mean) as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest (one of my fave Oscar Wild plays), seeing a play at Will's Globe Theater, hitting bits of the London Design Festival, and whatever other serendipitous magic comes our way. I strongly suspect that at some point pints of ale may be involved. After a few days of fast city life, we'll take a train up to Edinburgh, hop in a car and explore the mystical Scotland countryside. I'll check in from time to time with photos and perhaps some roadside watercolor sketches.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gifts from the garden!

Those little yellow pear tomatoes 
are my fave. I've picked zillions of 
them this summer!

Monday, August 3, 2015

August morning

August Morning  4 x 6" 

I saw the Van Gogh exhibit at the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown earlier this week, and Vincent's Green Wheat Fields painting (shown below) directly influenced this small en plein air painting that I made yesterday.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The color squash blossom!

Inspired by... the color squash blossom. 

The Veuve Clicquot balloons are festive,
and I love Cecil Beaton's advice.... 
Be daring, be different!

To see more colors, click on the "color blocks" label below.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Quinoa salad with Thai peanut dressing

Okay, so what isn't good with Thai peanut sauce?! Slathered on soba noodles or grilled chicken perhaps? How about swirling some of that yummy peanut sauce over a bed of good-for-you protein rich quinoa and crunchy veggies and cashews? This colorful salad has been floating around the blogs-osphere and Pinterest for a few years now, and I got a chance to taste a version of it when my cousin Jean brought a big bowl of it to the annual 4th of July party. Delicious!

Prep all of the ingredients beforehand, 
then combine them at the last moment to
keep this salad crisp.

Salad Ingredients:
¾ cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups purple cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced or juliennned
½ purple onion, diced or in long half moons
¼ cup green onions, diced
1 cup carrots diced, shredded, or juliennned
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup cashew halves or peanuts 
Fresh lime to squeeze over 

Thai peanut dressing ingredients:
¼ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey (or agave nectar)
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon dried chili peppers
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons water

Cook quinoa—Rinse quinoa under running cold water in fine mesh strainer (this helps get out that bitter outer coating). In a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. Add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat, place in large bowl and mix with a few tablespoons of the peanut dressing. Use as much or as little of the peanut dressing as you desire. I go light and add a bit more over the entire salad later.

Veggies—Cut and prep all your veggies while your quinoa is simmering away.

Thai peanut dressingAdd peanut butter and honey to a medium microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add in soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame and coconut oils, chili peppers, and freshly grated ginger, and stir until mixture is smooth and creamy. Then stir in a water to thin a bit.

Assemble saladIn a big bowl, or individual salad bowls, add in purple cabbage red pepper, purple onion,  carrots, and cilantro, and finally, the quinoa. Mix the salad, drizzle a little more dressing on top, then garnish with the cashews and green onions. Serve chilled (or at room temperature) with lime wedges. A splash of lime really brightens and balances the flavors of the heavy peanut sauce.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Perusing through Persian books

I was researching Persian books for a book that I am designing for work and came upon these beautiful illuminated Persian book pages. I have no idea what the calligraphic script writings mean, but like the gloriously rich Irish illuminated manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells, these Persian books were most likely created to document and spread the word of their religion. Whatever their meaning, aesthetically they are simply breathtaking. Such detail! The calligraphy and decorative borders are lovely, but I especially love their intense color palettes.