Thursday, May 26, 2011

Down-shifting.


Sometimes we need a little reminder not to expect so much of ourselves.  To give ourselves a break.  That to give our best is absolutely good.enough.  Because the world goes on around, no matter what.  I love this poem by Mary Oliver, where she states this so eloquently.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves. 
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 
Meanwhile the world goes on. 
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers. 
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again. 
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

If you've done all you can do today, and still feel the pressure of all that's left to do, give yourself permission, right now, to stop and breathe.  You've come so far, accomplished so much.  Hold that dear.  Remember it.  Feel proud.  I know, we still can do so much more.  And we will.  But right now, let's just sit together for a quiet moment and just be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Step by Step

I can't remember where I saw these words awhile back...

"every step you take
is a step away
from where you used to be"

Don't you love that?  It really got me to thinking about moving forward,  making changes, improving...all of that.  And really, I'm not talking about sweeping or radical changes.  Just a tweak here and there.  Making a conscious choice to make each step I do take a little better, a little more purposeful.  And living life authentically.  And what does that really mean to me?  Hmm.  I don't know about you, but I can get caught up in "the routine", and the to-do list, and the stuff.  And through the busy-ness that all of that brings, I don't notice that my hostas are growing like crazy in the garden, or that the tiny birds with yellow bellies are flocking to my bird feeder.  It's all about making choices, right?  I can choose to go on autopilot through my day, ticking items off the checklist, rushing hither and yon.  Or.  I can choose to slow it down.  Pay attention to the springtime smells when I've top down driving around town.  Have my latte "for here" instead of "to go" in a paper cup.  Mm-hmm.  I'd like to slow these steps down a bit.  It will all get done.  This isn't a race.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Can't Top Muffin Tops

They're the best part of the muffin, right?  A few years ago, I bought myself a muffin-top-pan.  Yup.  Just makes muffin tops.  Genius!  If you don't have one of these, get thee down to the Bullseye Boutique wikiwiki and get one.  You won't be sorry.

This morning I made Banana Chocolate Chip muffin tops, and I thought you might like the recipe.

Tammy's Can't Top Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops

3 large ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1 egg
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour, to make them feel healthy
1 teaspoon each, baking soda and salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet is my fave
Turbinado sugar crystals

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease muffin top pan and set aside.

In a bowl, mash bananas - you should end up with about a cup.  Beat in sugar, then egg, then butter.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  In another bowl, mix together your flours, baking soda and salt.  Add to banana mixture and stir just until all flour is moistened.  Pour batter into muffin top pan, a scant 1/4 cup in each.  Sprinkle sugar crystals on top of each muffin top.

Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wet Paint

While I was at Artfest last month, I took a painting class from Syd.  It was fantastic!  I adore her style, and to spend a day painting with her was such fun!  I've been playing around with some of her techniques, adding them to my own, and seeing what happens.  Loving it!

Working as an artist and building my creative business has me doing a lot of exploring, discovering, uncovering.  I feel a bit like Nancy Drew, with paint on my fingers.  It's a good mode to be in, though, and one where I feel very comfortable.  Things are moving along well in my studio.  Summer is just around the corner, and I am applying for a few summer art fairs and artsy/antique-y festivals.  Applications for fall shows are starting to come out, too.  I've got no shortage of ideas for new products and tons of sketches to be painted.  My estate sale wish list is loaded with "props" I hope to find for display in my show booth...things like a wicker plant stand for my art prints, tab-top sheer curtain panels for "walls", and old doors and screen doors to hinge together for a hanging system.  A treasure hunt and future d-i-y projects.  Heaven!

Hope today finds you full of inspiration and dream-doing.  It's the stuff life is made of, n'est-ce pas? 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Will Walk for Chocolate

It was Groupon weekend!  We had a Groupon for an over night stay at The Benson, which was so fun!  We love staying downtown over the weekend, playing tourist.  We are so good about exploring little neighborhoods tucked away in cities we visit when we travel.  But we sometimes forget to do that in our own hometown.  So, a few times a year, we'll spend a night in downtown Portland, and explore our fun city.


The Benson is truly one of my favorites.  It is classic Portland to me.  The Palm Court lobby bar is a wonderful place to take your book, have a glass of wine, and pretend to read whilst people-watching.  El Gaucho has magnificent food.  And the rooms are to-die-for-comfy.  We had a junior suite this weekend, and enjoyed having the extra bit of lounging room (all the better to utilize those decadent bathrobes and slippers...with another glass of wine).  The bathroom has a big cast iron tub, perfect for a bubbly-bath. 

Also, aren't my new shoes a.dor.a.ble.???

The cherry blossoms are gorgeous right now.  These are the late-bloomers.  Big pink fluffy confetti poufs.
 So, where does the title for this post come in?  Well.  We had a second Groupon for a Chocolate Decadence Tour with Portland Walking Tours.  How.Fun.Is.That?!  Highly recommend!  It took about two-and-a-half hours, covering about a mile-and-a-half and about 6-8 stops along the way.  Favorites like Cacao, Moonstruck, and even back to the Palm Court at The Benson for a chocolate martini.

 
While sipping, our tour guide Brad gave us a little run-down on the magic chocolate pod, cacao.   Quite fascinating, really, how my chocolate bar comes from a seed pod.

 These are little cacao nibs from the plant.  Reminded me a lot of espresso beans.  Upon tasting (like crunching on bark, frankly) you do get the sense of chocolate in there somewhere.

 On the tour, we passed this bit of art, a tribute to the Zoo Bombers, as well as a place for them to store their gear. 

 Apparently, this group of daredevils rides Max up to Washington Park with their kiddie bikes, then bomb down, down, down all the way into Portland.  Funny!

 There is even a sightless person, who is called "The Blind Bomber" and rides on a tandem bike behind a sighted Bomber.  Crazy.

 A little sampling of our samplings.  Each stop had several little tastings for us from truffles, to drinking chocolate, to bon bons, to, believe it or not, dark chocolate basalmic vinegar.  Delish.

 Surprisingly, we weren't completely chocolated-out at the end of the tour.  Oh sure, we had our fill.  We just weren't on overload.  Perfect.

 Some of the presentation was eye-candy itself.




 Our new friend at Cacao, describing different levels of cacao within different chocolates.  Really interesting.

Supersuperfun afternoon.