Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dancing in the Rain!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Garlic scapes

Garlic scapes are the curling top of hardneck garlic plants.  As they grow they get really curly and then they need to be cut off so the plant can put all of its energy into the bulb instead of the flower.  They can be used in pesto, saute, dips, soups, in dips, pretty much how you would use garlic, just a little more mellow flavor.    With their unique curls and slender stems, I thought it would be fun to turn them into a little piece of art. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Lucky Day

I was picking strawberries this afternoon and I have clover popping up here and there.  Sometimes I pull it, sometimes I just leave it, but today I looked at a large patch and thought "I'm going to find a four leaf clover" and within 30 seconds I had myself a four leaf clover!  As I was looking at it to make sure it was indeed a four leaf clover I noticed that two of the leaves were still connected at the base, so they were not completely separate.  I wondered if this would still qualify as a four leaf clover or not?  I then thought to myself, "I'm going to find another four leaf clover and within 15 seconds I had myself another four leaf clover!  This time it was without a doubt a four leaf clover, and that it indeed had four separate leaves.  What are the chances of that?  I haven't found a four leaf clover since I was a kid.  I pull a lot of clover out of our garden and flower beds and will sometimes quickly look or just keep my eyes open for that extra leaf, but today I just knew I would find one.  How cool is that?  I love it.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

She's got talent!

While reading "The Artist's Magazine" I came across Ali Cavanaugh and was completely intrigued by her use of figures in her work.   She works with watercolor on a dampened clay surface in a modified version of fresco.  I would love to learn more about this technique.

artist painter painting ali cavanaugh

All of her figures are against a pure white background, many of them the face is hidden or turned away as if covering their face from a bright light.  Gestures and body language play an important part in the composition, while the arms are usually covered in brightly patterned socks.  It's interesting how she uses the light and will even have parts of the figure that are completely overexposed and therefore not even painted.

I love how expressive these paintings are even though in many of them you can't even see the face.  The bold colors and patterns add to the emotions,  I'm completely amazed that these are watercolors. 

 Very striking work.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Inspired, then uninspired, but now inspired again!

Recently I picked up a few copies of  "The Artist's Magazine" from our library for  50 cents and I am totally loving them.  I've read them from front to back.

 A lot of the work seems to be in oil, but there is some watercolor, acrylic, pastel,  and a bit of mixed media.   Much of the work is figurative, but there is also landscapes and still life.   Reading about all of the artists, techniques, styles, art school and inspiration makes me long for art school again and almost makes me want to paint a still life, but not quite, but  oh how I would love to take life drawing again.

step-by-step instruction, how to draw the human figure
By Robert T. Barrett

So even though I've been totally loving this magazine, I think partly why I haven't been too inspired to paint lately is because of this magazine.  It has made me rethink what I'm doing, questioning my style, my talent, my own inspirations, where I am going with it all.  It is so hard not to look at all of those talented artists and feel a bit inferior and compare myself to them, that I may not be a real artist because I paint "cute" things or because I don't paint in oils or I don't have an art degree, or my artwork isn't serious enough.  So while I've been enjoying this magazine, it has also brought up all of these issues within me.

I've realized this is all part of the growing process as an artist and also as a person.  I'm learning that it really doesn't do me any good to compare myself with others, it gets me no where but down.  I know much of it has to do with gaining confidence in myself and with my artwork.  And I'm slowly learning to do this.

I feel like I'm slowly coming out of my little funk.   I'm realizing there is no need  to compare myself with others(it definitely doesn't make me feel good),  but I can learn from them and incorporate that into my own style and growth.  I love to paint and draw, and I especially love to cut and paste too.  I know I could never be patient enough to work on a realistic portrait painted in oils, I'll leave that to them, but amazingly I'm patient enough to cut out hundreds of small petals and glue them down to form a flower.  This is what makes me happy, this is what makes my little heart sing,  this is what I know I love, learning to be me and expressing "me"!

                                                                                                      "In Bloom"  by me!

Sunday, June 10, 2012



Saturday, June 9, 2012



I actually picked up my pencil and paintbrush today and started a painting!  Yeahh!  My goodness, it has been awhile, it feels good.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer time is:

homemade strawberry ice cream!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happiness is:

the simple things

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hanging With The Girls

Hanging with the Girls

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

To-Do Lists


I think it's time for me to start taking my art a little bit more seriously.  I have to-do lists of things pertaining to my art and the business side of things that need to get done, but I never seem to have time to get around to this list.  My art always seems to take the back burner to everything and everyone else.  For the most part I've been okay with this.  So much of my time is invested into my family and taking care of them, but I'm really feeling like I need to start making something more out of my art and take it to a level higher.  I feel like I'm ready to do this!

I've never been much of a list maker, but over the past year I've gotten better about it and have realized that it really takes the stress off of me to put things on paper instead of having them float around in my brain all the time cluttering things up.  I have enough daily distractions without adding more to it.

fields of dandelions

I've been making weekly lists of things to do around the house and also with my art.  All of my chores get accomplished every week, but my art business  list gets totally neglected. Why do I do this  I wonder?  I'm not making much money at it for starters, so I feel guilty when I do put time towards it instead of doing things around the house, I almost feel like I'm wasting my time when there are other more important things to do.  Sad thing is, sometimes those more "important" things that I feel I should be doing are things like cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming.  I really need to learn to give my art biz some quality time and not feel guilty about doing something that I truly love to do.  I really want to be able to make this work and make some money at this and not have to go back to work as a nurse. I know that this is possible.

I need to change my mindset.  From now on my art biz list is going to be just as important as my "chore" list.

For some reason I seem to respond better if I call it a "list" as opposed to  my "goals".  I don't know if I feel too intimidated by the word "goal"  or if it sounds more unattainable and just out of reach, "list"   feels so much more doable to me and it feels like it has more priority and I should get to it right away!

With that being said, here is my to-do list for my biz for the  month of June:

1)  Change my mindset!  Take myself and my artwork more seriously!
2)  Order note cards and get them in my Etsy shop and at the local boutique where I sell my art.
3)  Submit artwork to Stampington & Company and to Cloth Paper Scissors. I've been wanting to
     do this for quite awhile.
4)  Find a resource for affordable frames for my artwork so I can frame them to display at local         
5)  Order supplies such as mattes, clear sleeves, envelopes etc.  (money is tight so I keep putting this
      off, but it then prevents me from selling more)
6)  Make list of things to do to prepare for art the Driftless Area Art Festival.

These items have been on my list of things to do for months!  Now that I've put it out there, I have to do it.  A nice little push for myself.  To some this may not seem like much, but with strawberries in full swing, (I spent at least 1 1/2 hrs this evening just picking them, now I have to do something with them, and tomorrow there will be more to pick!) the raspberries are just starting,  my days will be filled with picking, jamming, and freezing.  I seem to have so little time right now but I can do it!

What are your goals, or I should I say,  what is on your list for the month of June?


Monday, June 4, 2012

I Finally Have Chickens!

Yes indeed, I have chickens!  YEAH!  I've been wanting them for years and finally got 4 today!  This was my belated Mother's Day present.  My husband started working on the coop Mother's Day weekend and we finally finished it up yesterday.

It's not the fanciest coop.   It was our neighbors eight grade project from last spring that he never quite finished up.  It sat in their yard unfinished for the past year and my husband bought it from him for $50 and did a few minor modifications and now we have a coop.  We had some old wire fencing that we had taken down after moving into our house and we are using that for the day pen to give them some more room.  Eventually I'd like to figure out some electric fencing or some sort of portable coop so they can go out in the yard and also in the garden in the fall and spring.

I wanted to start with chicks, but my husband wanted instant egg layers.  It didn't take us long to find some people who had too many chickens and were looking to get rid of a few. 

We haven't come up with names yet, but the girl on the right is a Silver Laced Wyandotte, and the girl on the right is a Light Brahma, she is quite fluffy and even has feathers on her feet.

These two girls are Partridge Rocks.  I've already figured out how to tell the two apart! 
Luckily the people who we got them from have 4 kids, so they are used to children being around them.  My kids went running at the fence and the chickens didn't even flinch. 

They are also used to dogs being around too, which is nice.  Our dog Cosmo was intently watching the chickens.   Years ago she was an almost chicken killer, but was stopped very quickly while visiting a farm a few years back.  I already caught her stalking the chickens once today.  She is not to be trusted!

And look at this, we already got our first egg this evening!  What good little girls!  The kids were so excited to find this already, jumping around and singing with excitement!  Fischer doesn't want us to eat it, he thinks we should save it!  

Much of my afternoon and evening was spent watching the chickens.  I think I'm in love already!  My husband wanted to make sure that they were all tucked in for the night, very sweet, which is what I'm going to do before I head off to bed myself!

What's in a Name?

 Rock outcropping at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve

Three years ago we decided to move back from Idaho to our home state of Wisconsin.  My husband was born and raised in Madison and I'm from the Milwaukee area.  We picked a small town  on the west side of the state to call home, Viroqua.  My grandparents (both sides) lived in this area of the state, which is called the Driftless Area.  This region of the state was left uncovered by the glaciers.  Because of this,  the land didn't have the leveling effect of continental glaciers, and so it has been exposed to weather and erosion which has resulted in deep valleys that drain into the Mississippi River over the span of 243 million years.   To me this means beautiful rolling hills, valleys and very fertile soil. 

                                                                                            Viroqua is just Southest of La Crosse

Within this region is the Kickapoo River, named after the Kickapoo Indians.  The name means "one who goes here, then there."   The river is very crooked and doubles back on itself in places.  It is 130 miles long, but as the crow flies, it is only 60 miles!

My grandparents had a farm along the Kickapoo River and growing up I was always so fascinated with the name.  I always got such a kick saying the name and telling people that my grandparents lived along the Kickapoo River, because not too many people had ever heard of this river, so it was a totally new word to them.  I suppose also as a kid there probably was the silliness factor of the word "poo" being at the end! 

This area of the state has always held a special place in my heart.  All of my grandparents have since passed and all of my relatives moved out of the area as soon as they grew up, except an uncle who lives a 1/2 hour away.  It's hard for me to understand why anyone would want to move away from this beautiful area, but back then farming was pretty much the only option and this county is actually one of the poorest in the state, so the cities had a lot more to offer back then. 

When I was looking to start a blog, I wanted a name which reflected this area and the meaning it held for me.  It was between Driftless and Kickapoo for the name in the title, and I opted for Kickapoo because of my family roots and Chronicles because this blog is a time line of events in my life.

This blog has become mainly about my art, but looking at the meaning of Kickapoo again makes me realize that maybe my blog needs to go here and there a little bit more, just like the river!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

15 Random Things About Me

nature in red
                                                                                           "Nature in Red"  available here

  1. I love, love, LOVE to play hockey.
  2. Running is my anti-depressant.  I feel so much better physically and mentally when I do it.
  3. I started out in college in Fine Arts, changed to nursing after a year and a half,  graduated as a RN,  went back to art school 3 years later but was only able to do a year because it was just too much for me to go to school and work evenings and night shift at the hospital.  I quit working as a nurse 2 1/2 years ago to be a SAHM and work on my art.   Now I really wish I had my art degree!  Maybe someday:)
  4.  I haven't used shampoo or conditioner on my hair for 3 years!  I used to use organic hair products until I read an article in my local food cooperative about carciogens in "organic" personal care products.  You can find loads of information about this and so much more at the Organic Consumers Website.  I now use baking soda and water to wash it and then apple cider vinegar to rinse with.  I only wash it once every 2-3 weeks.  I do get it wet everyday in the shower though.  I've never used anything on my kids either!  No one can even tell the difference.  I got my inspiration from Amy Karol over at Angry Chicken, and my recipes from here 
  5. As soon as the weather warms up I go barefoot as much as I can.  It makes for  some pretty dirty feet, especially when I've been out in the garden!
  6. I look forward to Mondays.  It always feels like a fresh start, new beginnings and wide open possibilities.
  7. I love the sounds of crickets, thunderstorms, rain and waking up to Howler monkeys in the tree tops at night.  (I got to experience this in Costa Rica, Panama and Brazil)
  8. I've always dreamed of going to the Amazon and made it there 9 years ago with my husband.  What a truly amazing and spectacular place.  Someday I'd like to take my kids there to experience it.
  9. I take a nap every afternoon with my 4 y/o Amelia!  I never used to be a napper  until 2 years ago when my husband laid down with her a few days in a row and then she wouldn't sleep by herself, so I started laying down with her.  Initially it was very hard for me to take the time out of my day to do this, but now it is something I look forward to.  Our little saying before we fall asleep is, "pillows together, hands together".   She has  to hold my hand in order to fall asleep.  Very sweet!
  10. I fell in love with chickens after traveling in Central and South America.   Ever since then  I have always wanted chickens.  Part of the deal when we moved back to Wisconsin from Idaho was that I could chickens.  We've been back for 3 years now and I still don't have chickens, but I will soon!
  11. I get REALLY obsessed when I am reading a really good book.  I can't think about anything else except reading it.  I even make deals with myself in order to read more.  For example I will tell myself things such as, if you vacuum the kitchen you can read a couple more pages, or once you hang the laundry you can finish up the chapter, while supper is cooking you can read a few more pages.  It  can get kind of exhausting!  Needless to say I haven't read any fiction books lately, though I'm starting to feel the urge to get lost in a book for a few days.
  12. I could listen to Moby all the time.  ( actually I do!)
  13. I am allergic to horseradish and celeriac(celery root).
  14. My favorite late night snack is peanut butter toast with a glass of milk.
  15. I'm an introvert.  I was so shy in high school that everyone thought I was just stuck up, but really I was just too terrified to talk!  I thought that going through nursing school and being a nurse would help me face those fears and force me to interact with people and it did just that and I'm very thankful.  I can't wait to read the book by  Susan Cain, "Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our Smiling Family

 drawing by amelia

The prompt for today was a picture of me smiling!  What do you think?  I love it!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Too Busy To Paint But Up For A Challenge

As you can see by this picture of a blank canvas laying on my table, there hasn't been any painting going on!

It seems in the last few weeks there really has been a shift around here.  Fischer's last week of school is next week, but I already feel like summer has started.  My days have been filled with lots of gardening, yard work and lots of time outside.  The days are longer which means our normal routine has shifted.  Supper used to be at 5pm and has now been happening at 6 and a few times even later.  Bedtime for the kids used to be 7:30, no later than 8:00, but now we are lucky if we can get the kids in bed by 8:00.  It rarely seems to happen lately.  This shift in bedtime has effected MY time.  I would usually paint after the kids are in bed, but I have found that by the time the kids are all tucked in and my chores are finished that it is 9:00 or 9:30 already.  Most evenings I find myself too tired to paint.

My inspiration has been side-lined during all of this.  I know that it will take a few more weeks to settle into our new routine and then the inspiration will be back.

In the meantime though, my garden is all planted.  We had our first large harvest of strawberries today which means many more days of picking are ahead, along with jam making, ice cream making, freezing and dehydrating.

Amelia and Fischer tasted their first raspberry of the season today so raspberry picking will soon follow.  My raspberries are loaded this year and can't wait to make raspberry ice cream for the first time. 

A few days ago I rendered lard for the first time using this recipe which I found on SouleMama.  I'm not sure if it worked.  It isn't as white as I'd like and it also has a bit of the "piggy" smell.  I'm going to try it with some chocolate cookies to see how it tastes.  I have 6 1/2 pints and another 1/2 of  a bag to render so hopefully it works!  I had no clue going into it what I was doing, so the next time I'll have a better idea of what I'm looking for.   And those cracklings, they are the crisp bits you get at the end after rendering, wow, they are yummy!

Tonight I would have loved to have painted, but  I opted for a bonfire with the family and some warm strawberry rhubarb cobbler with ice cream instead. 

Who knew you could swing and eat cobbler at the same time!

 With all that has been going on lately, I've been neglecting my blog.  I really dislike writing so it is pretty easy to do, but at the same time I'd really like to connect more with the online community.  One of my favorite new blogs that I've been following is Nature's Nurture which is written by Sarah and is "a blog about everything simple, natural, and homemade."  All of which is right up my alley.  While looking at her blog today I saw that she is doing the Summer Blog Challenge
with Going Green With the Grizls, and it starts today,
and I thought why not?  I'm always up for a good little challenge.  I know I would never initiate this on my own, and my blogging needs some improvement and help.   

Going Green with the Grizls

Hmmm, now will I really be able to post for 90 days straight?  We will see! (to be honest, I'll be surprised if I can do it for a week straight!)  Luckily there is a list of prompts to give us some directions.  Some of them are kind of personal which I am a very private person and this will help me share more.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.
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