Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Painting Experiment

A few weeks ago I was at the Chicago Botanical Garden and took lots of pictures.  The water lilies were especially enthralling.  I took this picture intentionally out of focus because I loved the splashes of color and the impressionist look.
 Of course I took another one in focus, and then I wondered what it would be like to paint this fairly simple scene . . .
I first tried watercolor.  There are things I like about it, but I wish I knew how to make the colors in the flowers pop more!
 Then I tried acrylic on a slightly larger surface.  There were things that were easier about acrylic, like the fact that you can paint completely over something if you don't like it!  And I felt the need to add a third flower just to make the space work better.
Any tips from seasoned painters out there?  (Besides the fact that maybe I should sign up for a class!)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

County Fair!

I must confess that, although I grew up in a small farming town, I didn't appreciate it.  Living in a town with only one movie theater and no shopping malls was boring!  So I attended college in the Chicago area and stayed.  Now I love all things country related -- locally grown produce and locally raised meat, fresh air . . . (oh no -- I'm starting to hum the theme song from Green Acres!)

Anyway, this afternoon I had a chance to go to the local county fair, and it was wonderful!  Here's a few images from our time:  We watched pig races,
 learned how farm kids did chores a few years ago,
 got the evil eye from a watchful cow,
 hung out in a butterfly garden
 and rode the rides!
It was a wonderful taste of the country for these city folks!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Keeping Cool in the City

When I was in Chicago last week, we walked over the the fountains at Millennium Park and had a grand time cooling off our feet in the water and watching all the kids playing and splashing.  Here's some of my favorite pics from that day.
There are two giant pictures of people at either end of the fountain, and at a certain time, water spouts out of their mouths.  It's a little bizarre looking.
 But the kids love it.
 The little ones were the most fun to watch.
 She had just a moment's peace before there were kids splashing all around.
And this little girl also found a moment to enjoy some solitude.
What a great way to enjoy a hot summer's day!  I hope you are finding ways to keep cool as well!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A New Perspective

I accompanied my youngest daughter to her apartment in the city this morning.  While she was busy with organizing, I was enjoying the view from her 17th story window.  I truly had a bird's eye view.
Buckingham Fountain is spectacular, and Navy Pier is in the background.  I processed the picture to look a little vintage, using a technique I learned in Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class.
 This couple seemed to be trying to decide if it was safe to venture forth . . .
Officers on duty on their bikes.
It was a lovely day to spy on people from my overhead perch!  I'll have to come visit her more often!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

When Life Gives you Lemons . . .

Making Basil Lemonade! 

Lots of work, but oh, so refreshing!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Morning Walk

In our Beyond Layers class, Kim invited us to share some photos of our surrounding area -- scenes of things we are thankful for.  So this morning I leashed up Skyler and took advantage of an overcast sky to enjoy one of my favorite walks.  Here's a few photos to allow you to come along with me.  I played with these first three in Photoshop.  I love all the wildflowers that I see on my walks.
 This is Lake Carlton, the larger of two lakes in our community.
 Lake Herriot is smaller and has gotten a bit swampy with the hot weather and lack of rain.  But it's still pretty with the bridges and trees.
Another loop of my walking path.  These lights are very quaint looking, but they are so bright that all the neighbors have complained that they can't sleep at night.
 I took this picture because it looks very out of context -- almost like it should be September and not July.  A product of this hot, dry summer.  Poor trees.
 I love the look of laundry hanging on the line!  So old-fashioned looking, but very green nowadays.  I wish I had a couple of trees or posts in my yard so I could hang laundry.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of my area.  I'm looking forward to seeing where some of my Beyond Layers classmates call home as well!

Friday, July 6, 2012


In the Midwest, we are not used to the intense, unrelenting heat and humidity that we have been experiencing lately.  But I do prefer this to the dark, cold days of the Midwest winters.  So I have decided to compile a list of things I love to do in the summer to cool off:

  • Go to the pool!  We have a lovely pool in our subdivision that is never too crowded and always delightful.
  • Go to the library.  It's nice and cool, they have ongoing art displays each month, there are shelves and shelves of books just waiting to be perused . . . need I go on?
  • Enjoy a nice, refreshing beverage.  Since we have a bumper crop of mint in our backyard, I've been making virgin mojitos on a hot days:  12 mint leaves muddled with 1/2 a lime and a little simple syrup or sugar.  Add club soda and some ice cubes and it's a sure-fire way to cool off!  (You can make simple syrup by combining equal parts of boiling water and sugar.  Stir until dissolved, and then cool.  Keep it in the fridge and add to iced tea and other cold drinks that need a little sweetener.)
  • Some of my other favorite cold drinks are:  McDonald's sweet tea or frozen strawberry lemonade, Dunkin Donuts' vanilla iced latte, root beer floats, Caribou's iced chai tea, . . .
  • Turn on the fan and play in my studio -- at least until the sun moves around and shines into my western facing window.  Then it's usually pool time!
  • Turn on the sprinkler late in the evening.  Even if I don't get wet in the spray, there's something very cooling about watching the water droplets drench the garden.
That's a pretty good start to my list. I want to add a picture that I braved the heat in my yard to take this morning.  Last night when I was watering, I saw a sweet little bird sitting on a nest in our tree.  So I tried to get a couple of shots of him/her this morning, but there's quite a bit of foliage around the nest.  I'm not sure what kind of bird it is:
Of course, these pics are awful.  But the sweet little bird is faithfully tending the nest in the heat.  I've been making sure to keep the birdbath filled with fresh water so our feathered visitors can cool off a bit.  Maybe I need to camp out near the birdbath to get some good pics . . .

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, America!

And who doesn't love a good parade?

And fireworks tonight!!!!