Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Review: "The Breakdown" by B. A. Paris

"The Breakdown" by B. A. Paris will be released on June 20, 2017. Paris also wrote "Behind Closed Doors" which has fantastic reviews and it is on my to read list. Knowing that Paris had written this book heavily influenced me to agree to review "The Breakdown". I had heard such great reviews and also had heard about "Behind Closed Doors" so often that I was thrilled to get my hands on the newest thriller by this author.

Cass is in her mid thirties but she's worried she's losing her memory especially since her mother suffered from early onset dementia before her death recently. Everything is made worse when, on a dark and stormy night, Cass witnesses a murder victim right before her horrible murder. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and on the wrong road. She'd promised her new husband that she'd never take that backroad at night but in a moment of panic she wants to get home quickly, she breaks her promise. On that road she sees a woman sitting in her car. She doesn't stop and help, she's afraid of the storm and wants to get home but now she can't live with the guilt. When Cass learns the woman is dead she is distressed that she left the woman stranded and vulnerable. Cass's guilt sets off further hand wringing, memory problems and anxiety. Over time Cass gets worse, does she have dementia like her mother? Is her paranoia about the killer stalking her mean she has a mental disorder? Will her life ever get back to normal? No one believes her and she just wishes she could forget that woman like she seems to be forgetting everything else.

I had so many feelings about this book as I read it. I started out being excited and anxious to get stuck into the story. I thought I had it figured out by the first chapter but knew it would be a good story anyway. Then for about half of the book I just wanted it to move faster. I felt like it should have been edited to be shorter. I thought the writer didn't need to go on and on and on about phone calls and anxiety experienced by Cass. When finally in the last fifth of the book it started moving I found I was not exactly right about who done it or why. I found my enjoyment increased a whole star in about two pages.

I must admit that Cass was a little simpering and she didn't help herself at all in the beginning. I found that eminently frustrating. I found myself yelling at my Kindle, begging the main character to think outside the box and get a backbone. The writing was well done and truly conveyed the anxiety and debilitating loss of hope one would feel at thinking one had early onset dementia. My final note would be that I wished in the end Cass hadn't blamed herself for not loving the murderer enough. As though what she could have done would have saved the murder victim. If the book hadn't gone there, to blame the victim in the last few pages I certainly would have given this book four stars. I'm taking half a star away  because innocent victims should never blame themselves unnecessarily. I wish the author had left the main character in a slightly brighter place, I found it a real let down when Cass blamed herself once again.

I do actually recommend this book, just know that the middle is going to frustrate you. The ending is well worth it though. Just ignore Cass's last few thoughts.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Book Review: "The Missing Dead" by Kerry Wilkinson

"The Missing Dead" by Kerry Wilkinson is the sixth installment of his Jessica Daniel series. This book has already been released so if you're interested you can find it now in bookstores and online as an e-book. I was lucky enough to get the first book in the series, "Locked In" for 99¢ so I could get to know the main character well before delving into book six.

This is a twisted, complicated mystery that starts with a missing teen. Oliver was babysitting but when the parents of his charge come home they find their little girl fast asleep but no Oliver. Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is called in to find out where the teen has gone. By the time they find Oliver murdered, another murder has happened with very similar characteristics. Det. Daniel must winnow out the connection between the two murders and figure out who the culprit is. It will take her into the underworld of strip clubs and thugs. 

I really wanted to like this series. Unfortunately, I found myself somewhat underwhelmed. This book was only a three for me. It's not like the mystery isn't good, I just didn't connect enough to the character of Jessica. I found this surprising. Jessica Daniel is a no nonsense spitfire of a character who throws it back as much as she takes it when dealing with colleagues. She pushes hard for answers and runs herself even harder than she does the constables who work under her. I should have liked her. I really don't know why I didn't. Since it was a good, solid mystery with no flaws to speak of and the writing was good and the main protagonist was complicated and relatable I have to put it down to just not the right fit for me. It happens. I guess what I'm saying is that although I am putting this review up, you may want to look at other people's reviews to balance my blasé attitude toward this otherwise good read. So many other reviewers love this series. In fact, that's why I was excited to try it. Maybe I"m just having an off week. I hope you as the reader give this series a try, even though it wasn't for me, I still would recommended it to friends and family.


Friday, May 19, 2017

It's Paint Porn Time Again!

Calling all artists, calling all artists! Yes, I know how much we ALL love looking at other artists' stuff. It's one of my very favorite guilty pleasures, drooling over someone else's palette, paint bag, travel set or art shopping haul. So, since I just had my 47th birthday on Wednesday, I thought I'd show & tell all the lovely little art trinkets I was so thrilled to receive.
First and foremost, I got the High Chroma Qor Six tube set. Not only does this let me try Qor watercolors for the first time but I so totally wanted the tin the paints came in! It's the perfect size to make a full but compact palette. I ended up getting a total of 37 colors into this small palette that only measures about 4" x 6" (it's the size of an index card). I used some full and some half pans, mostly I did that so I could tell where colors fell. As most of you would know, if you don't have some way of telling, a line of ten colors can get confusing as darker dried watercolors all look black, lol. The High Chroma set includes 5ml tubes of Cobalt Teal, Green Gold, Quin Gold, Transp Pyrrole Orange, Quin Magenta, and Dioxazine Purple.
Next, my lovely Aunt Mic decided to surprise me with a little present every day of my birthday week! It was so fun to have something to open every morning. She must have talked to my mom and they trolled my bucket list of art supplies I drool over, lol. One of the coolest things is a very accurate eraser, the thinnest and most agile eraser line on the market. It's called Tombow Mono Zero Eraser and it's so thin that you can erase even the tiniest line. I'll be using it mostly for pencil work when one wants to get to the most impossible spot without disturbing the drawing. I am so thrilled to also now have Caran d'Arche Technalo water soluble pencils. There were a bunch of other wonderful stuff including another cool eraser for smudging using the lightest touch, pens and even a stencil set as I'm rubbish at lettering, I was well spoiled.

As you can tell, much of the above involves working on detail pencil art so as a final gift I was so thrilled to get a set of 24 Derwent Tinted Chracoal. I love how the lead colors are just slightly tinted and they can be liquified with a water brush to give even more interesting colors and effects. I can't wait to try them.

So, there'll be several more paintings of art supplies. I mean, when you have all these puuurrrty new things you should immortalized them in your sketchbook, right? 

If you are interested, here's the list of the paint colors and brands that are in my shiny new palette. Oh, and also if you're interested, I attached each pan using a magnet cut and glued to the bottom of each plastic piece using silicone glue. I tried previously just relying on the sticky backing on the magnet strip but I found when I pulled a color out the magnet was strong enough to pull off the plastic instead of out of the tin, lol. Addition of a tiny bit of silicone glue worked perfectly. Now everything magnetically attaches to the palette and can be switched out anytime I want to. Here's the list of colors, left to right, top to bottom. (DS=Daniel Smith, S=Schmincke, W&N=Winsor & Newton)
Row 1 (turquoises & Purples):
Cobalt Teal (DS), Prussian Green (S), Aqua Green (W&N) , Phthalo Green (DS), Quin Violet (W&N), Carbazole Violet (DS), Moonglow (DS), Neutral Tint (S)

Row 2 (Greens):
Green Gold (QOR), Phthalo Yellow green (DS), Leaf Green (Sap), Sap Green (Holbein), Sap Green (Schmincke), Hooker's Green (Sennelier), Serpentine Genuine (DS), Sap Green (DS), Shadow Green (Holbein)

Row 3 (Yellows):
Pure Yellow (Schmincke), New Gamboge (DS), Yellow Ochre (S), Quin Gold (DS), Burnt Sienna (DS), Burnt Umber (S), Buff Titanium (DS)

Row 4 (Blues):
Manganese Blue (), Cerulean Blue (W&N), French Ultramarine (DS), Phthalo Sapphire (W&N), PB60 (DS), Indigo (W&N), Payne’s Blue Grey (S)

Row 5 (Reds):
Transparent Orange (S) ,Permanent Red (S), Quin Red (Sennelier), Sanguine Red (W&N), Opera Pink (DS), Permanent Rose (W&N), Quin Magenta (DS)

I'll be joining up this week with Paint Party Friday. Why don't you head on over and see what gorgeous art has been created this week!
Talk soon, promise.


Friday, May 5, 2017

LIMITED EDITION: "The Perfect Sketchbook 2017"

Hiya. I've done a post like this before, I mean about The Perfect Sketchbook. I wrote all about the funding campaign two years ago, you can read all about it HERE. I'm telling you this because I got an email this morning saying that the maker, Erwin Lian, has done a limited edition of this sketchbook for 2017. Here's some of the information about the sketchbook from their website (I'm not affiliated, I just know it's a great sketchbook).

Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.
Wonderful PaperGreat for Watercolor and other Media
I just wanted any artist out there who has a little money burning a hole through your pocket to know that there are only a little less than THIRTY left to be purchased out of the nine hundred they made. The count down is on so if you want one, RUN over and grab yourself a spectacular Perfect Sketchbook. Oh, and if anyone wants to buy me one for my birthday this May16th then go for it, ;o).

Ok, so click on the picture below or THIS LINK to go to buy The Perfect Sketchbook. Talk soon with some actual art, sorry I've been MIA for a while. :o)


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: "The Perfect Stranger" by Megan Miranda

"The Perfect Stranger" is Megan Miranda's latest book. I had previously loved "All The Missing Girls" and given it high marks for both mystery and character development so I had really high hopes for this new book. I'm so glad I put in to review it as it held up spectacularly to my expectations. "The Perfect Stranger" is already out in print so go pick it up at your local bookstore.

You know when you read a book and after you're done you find yourself wondering about what the characters are up to now? It's like they become real people to you and you want to phone them up and ask how they're doing, suggest you go for a cuppa and chat about their lives after such a harrowing experience. Are you still with the boyfriend? Did you finally settle down and find happiness in that little town you moved to? How's it going my friend? Ya, this is one of those books, I just cannot seem to let the characters go. That is such a good thing.

I crave these kind of books, the ones that get under your skin and set your world a little on a tilt. Once again, Megan Miranda has written wonderfully knowable characters that she has fleshed out by winding the details into the story. Leah Stevens used to be a journalist, now she's run from her life in Boston to a little town in Pennsylvania to teach high school. Leah will be living with her old friend Emmy Grey but their new start is marred when a woman who looks like Leah is assaulted and Emmy disappears. To protect her new life Leah will have to manipulate the truth and the past to stay above water. The local police are confused and Leah isn't helping by keeping details to herself. She's going to have to trust someone or she may not ever unravel the truth about where Emmy has gone.

This mystery works on so many levels. "The Perfect Stranger" sucks you into the labyrinth of Leah's life and the reader is given salient details in a slow, piecemeal fashion which stretches the tension. By the last quarter of the book the reader aches to understand where all the pieces of this puzzle fit together. The ending is so satisfying that I almost sighed in satisfaction, like one does when one finishes the last bite of an especially delicious dessert, good to the last word.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Counting Sheep

I have a new bed. That's not new news, actually I got the bed January 11th of this year. I remember because it was two days after my cancer diagnosis. I realized that I was certainly going to need good sleep in the next year and my old mattress was sorrowfully old. In fact, I'm embarrassed to say that it even had a spring that had sprung out the bottom side. I had been putting off mattress shopping, hoping to save a little more so I could buy a good one like my old one had been twenty years ago.

So, on January 11th my mom accompanied me to go spend a boat load of money on a great mattress. I had already done research on which mattress would be best for me, so off we went to wrangle the best price we could from a Serta dealer. We spent almost an hour listening to the salesman talk about the Serta Mattress I wanted, he didn't seem to get that we were sold, lol. I was sitting on a near sofa and next to me was a HUGE Counting Sheep. I made a comment that I assumed that I also got a big SHEEP when I purchased this expensive mattress, lol. The salesman dead panned me and said they had small ones to give away. I pinned him with my eyes and insisted that I was sure one came with the mattress, right?? RIGHT??? He laughed and said that I could certainly have a sheep too. YAY.

He went away to write out the agreement as mom perused the showroom and I waited on the sofa. Fifteen minutes later I sauntered across the showroom, figuring it must be time to sign on the dotted line. Yep, signed my life away, my visa groaned. The salesman then said thank you for shopping with him. Then there was this conversation,

Me: "Where's my sheep?"
Him: "Oh, you really wanted one?"
Me: "Yep."
Him: "Oh.... Uh, I don't have one up here."
Me: "But I want one. I mean, is there one in the back, like in a big sheep bucket?"

"Uhhh... " He picked up the phone and asked if there was a sheep back there. A woman from the back room showed up but by then the sales guy was talking to people who were perusing the showroom. The woman looked at me and said, "he always ignores me. JOHN, HEADS UP!!" Then she threw my sheep with a great spiral throw directly at the salesman's head. John handed me my sheep, he had a slight scowl on his face. I had to bite my tongue not to laugh out loud.

I mean, hey, I just plunked down more than $1500 dollars and I WANTED THAT FREAKING SHEEP! I think I deserved him. He was gonna be my cancer protection sheep. I know it's kinda obvious but his name is FIVE. I mean, if you had your name tattooed on your ass it would behoove your new owner to buy a clue and call you that, right?? Right. ;o)

Anyway, here's Five the counting sheep (Oh, he has a side job protecting me).

I'll be joining Paint Party Friday, come on over and see all the other art, it'll make you happy, promise. I need a coffee, painting my sheep made me tired. I guess staring at him really works. ;o)


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Dreaming Of The Smell Of Ripe Tomatoes

Gosh I wish it were warmer. This week I've painted up ripe tomatoes and I miss that smell. It's such a unique scent when you put your nose right up to where the stem meets ripe flesh. There's nothing better in the hot summer months. I have plans to can my own salsa and tomato sauce.

Last year I made my own catsup. Holy cow it's so good I really do eat it with a spoon! It's so much better than the bottled stuff you buy. This year, since the catsup (or tomato jam, as I call it) was so successful I'm also planning on making my own spiced tomato paste. It'll be a lot of boiling down of bushels of fresh, ripe tomatoes but I know it'll be worth it. Now all we have to do is put a bums rush on summer. Maybe if we all boycott winter together mother nature will get the message that we've had enough cold. I think I'll have to text her and complain. ;o)

Anyway, here's "Salsa", let's hope I'm sniffing tomatoes soon. (Yes, it's annoying that my scanner slightly over exposes my artwork, lol)

Title: "Salsa"
I'm adding this tomato to this week's Paint Party Friday hosted by the wonderful Eva & Kristin. Have a great upcoming week!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day - Are You A Feminist?

Today is International Women's Day. Wikipedia states that today, March 8th is the major day for the global celebration of women. In different regions the focus of the celebrations range from general celebration of respect and appreciation towards women, to a celebration of women's economic, political and social achievements.

Today, I'm inspired to put down my opinion on a subject close to my heart. I think it's quite misunderstood. Currently, many view "Feminist" is a derogatory term that's equated with being masculine and strident. This is a falsehood. To be a feminist simply means believing in the equality between men and women, supporting the idea that women deserve the same rights under the law as men.  Feminine and feminist are not mutually exclusive. One can have the wonderful qualities of womanhood and still be a Feminist. It is also true that men can still be masculine while also holding the belief that the women in their lives are their equal.

Where people seem to be getting confused is when manners and common courtesy enter the picture. Just because a man opens a door or pulls out the seat for a woman doesn't mean he thinks of her as less. A gallant man is not sexist, he is mannerly. It is gentlemanly behavior to have manners and be polite. Holding a woman's chair should be equated to using please & thank you. It is a form of politeness and shows good manners.

Unisex is not the goal of Feminism, equality is. Men and women make a great team working together. Each gender brings their own strengths to the party. The value of those strengths is what's equal. This is a good thing and anyone misunderstanding what the Feminist Movement really is can be comforted by that. As the French say... "
Vive La Différence!"


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Hero Worshiping

Ford Focus
Ok, I have to admit, I have a little crush on a guy in my building. I don't know his name or even if he's married (sorry to Mrs. Hero if he is). Here's the story...

I get up on Tuesday to go to a doctor's appointment at 10:30 in the morning. Dr. Kyle would be making sure the chemotherapy device that was implanted is situated in the right place and working. I'd been waiting a month to get this appointment so I could stop worrying. Obviously I didn't want to miss this appointment.

Mom's driving me so we head out to the car at around five minutes to ten. There's a sprinkling of snow on the car but it's starting to melt in the slightly warm sun. We get in to start the car so we can warm up the windows and scrape off the ice only to find... nothing. Nope. Deadsville. No vrrrrrmmm, vrrrmmmm. Not even a cough, cough. Just a click, click, click. DAMN. The battery's dead and it's cold out here. Mom starts to swear like a sailor. (she only does that when she's really frustrated). What are we gonna do? We'd forgotten the cell phone upstairs and even if we had it we wouldn't have had the doctor's phone number programmed in. We were sooooo screwed, and gonna miss this appointment. Mom gets out and rushes to the corner of the building, muttering to herself.

Just as she's about to disappear around the corner a guy (our hero) nearly bumps into her. She stops short and asks tentatively whether he might have jumper cables???? PPPLLLEEEAAASEEEE SAYYY YESSSS, I can nearly see the thought bubble over her head). Hero guy not only has cables but will help in any way he can. He seriously is the nicest guy I've nearly met in ages, lol. As I said, I didn't even get his name. As our car made that glorious vroom, vroom sound I nudged mom to stick her head out the window and get his apartment number. I had ulterior plans.

Long story short, we're only a few minutes late to the doctor's appointment and since doctors are always running late anyway, we're good. Now you know why I have a hero worshiping crush on some guy I don't even know. He rescued us and he'll never know just how important that appointment was. I got him some really decadent truffle chocolates and I wrapped them with a bow and added this card that I whipped up in, well, two hours or so, lol. He was worth it and you know I always love making art.

I'm joining this friday's Paint Party Friday, jump over and see the spectacular art submitted. I'm already working on next week's painting as it's much more involved than my usual. Yes, there's actually a background to this one, who knew? Anyway, here's the start of tomatoes. Wonder what I should title it? How about "Dreaming of Tomato Jam". If you come up with a better title (try to make me laugh, I dare ya), put it in the comments section. Oh and officially, Thank you to the wonderful guy who rescued us on Tuesday February 28, 2017 in our apartment building parking lot. As it says above, YOU ROCK.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Deconstructed Lemonade

After I painted up my lemons today I was trying to think up a good title. Then I thought, ya, I'll just look up quotes about lemons! Who knew there only seems to be quotes based on the tried and true, "When life gives you lemons...". But here's my favorite iteration.
"I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. Then try to find someone whose life has given them vodka."
~Ron White
Title: "Deconstructed Lemonade"
Anyway, these were such a bear to paint. I think it's because there's not much variation in yellows. I mean I have Pure Yellow from Schmincke and New Gamboge from Daniel Smith. I can use the Quin gold for light shadows but then for the darker ones I had to go with Burnt Sienna and Quin Burnt Orange. I really didn't find any of the shadows really worked like I wanted them to. The only fix was to use some Payne's Grey which was NOT how the reference photo looked. But then I'm not trying to recreate a photo, it's supposed to be my interpretation. I do love how the bowl turned out though.

I am adding this week's artwork to Paint Party Friday. Come on over and see all the pretty colors!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Don't Count Your Chickens...

...before they're hatched. I thought I'd do a more precise piece of art this time. I guess I'm feeling a bit out of control as of late. Although I'm exercising, both cardio and weights and eating between 800 and 1000 calories, I'm not losing weight very quickly. This is my only way of controlling how I deal with the cancer and losing so slowly is seriously messing with my brain. I'm guessing that's why I want to micro-control my artwork today. 

In the end, I don't think the egg carton looks controlled, it looks, happily, like my style. YAY, I have a style! But the roundness of the eggs and the blocky, textured construction of the carton was going to take some serious finesse, I knew that going in.
Title: "Don't Count Your Chickens"
(Cllick to Enlarge)
I have to say, I'm absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. I ended up using buff titanium mixed with neutral tint and it gave the best kind of oatmeal-ish color. I'm just so happy that I'm tackling projects that I've put off. I really didn't think I could accomplish these pieces, I didn't think my skill had gotten to the level needed to capture egg cartons, tulips or daffodils. Who knew taking six  months off painting could improve my skill set??

On a fun note though I'll post a GREAT chicken recipe below. I've just started (at the beginning of this year) using an Instant Pot but I'm totally addicted to the appliance already, lol. This recipe is SO easy and tastes fantastic. It makes about two cups of totally delicious sauce that works out to only have 5 calories per tablespoon! Anyway, I thought a chicken recipe would be appropriate to go with the eggs... I wonder which came first? ;o)

Jenn’s Barbecue Sauce Chicken

1 cup ketchup (250ml) (we make our own tomato jam, low sugar)
6 pieces sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & minced (or half a small jar)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 c Splenda
1/2 c minced onion (or a 1/4 c onion flakes)
1 Tbsp minced garlic (generous)
3/4 c bone broth (you can use any broth or even water if necessary)
2 tsp smoked sweet Paprika
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp pure cranberry juice (eliminate if unavailable)
2 tsp white wine
4-5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (Kirkland)

For After Sauce & Chicken is Cooked:
1 Tbsp our mustard (use a grainy mustard)
1 Tbsp dijon (heaping)
2 Tbsp cornstarch + 1/4 c water (scant) to make slurry

  1. Put instant pot on sauté and cook the onion, add a little broth if it’s sticking to bottom.
  2. Mix all other ingred. except chicken in bowl and pour into instant pot after turning off sauté function. Stir until incorporated.
  3. Add chicken and immerse it all in sauce.
  4. Set instant pot on manual for 7 minutes.
  5. Let cook then wait 10 min and do an quick release.
  6. Remove chicken, turn on sauté, add cornstarch slurry. Whisk until thickened.
  7. Add the other ingred. after sauce has thickened, whisk until incorporated.
  8. Let cool. Sauce has 5 calories per Tbsp. (calories may be slightly higher if using normal ketchup)
I'll be linking to Paint Party Friday, there are some seriously good artists over there!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ooh, Paint Porn!!

I know, don't all we artist love, just LOVE seeing the palette of other painters. I absolutely love it when my fellow artists swatch their new paint or show their new tools. I don't have new tools (I'm still coveting the Whiskey Painter's Master Palette and have for AGES but that's nothing new). I do however have new paint, some from Winsor & Newton and some from Daniel Smith. I can't help myself, I'm more addicted to color than I am hazelnut coffee, which is saying something!

About a year ago I saw Winsor & Newton's Twilight Series swatches and fell in love with the colors! Normally I tend to like Daniel Smith and Schmencke but sometimes W&N can have some spectacular colors. Their Limited Edition Twilight Series has six beautiful colors that are inspired by that special evening sky. I purchased mine from Jackson's Art Supply but Dick Blick is still carrying all the  5ml tube colors.

I purchased the Sanguine Red, Quin Violet and Aqua Green. I've been looking for that color red forever and the Quin Violet & aqua green are quite unique. Dick Blick has all of the Twilight colors in stock, here are the links for those of you who want them. (Sanguine Red, Smalt Blue, Quin Violet, Chromium Black, Cobalt Green Deep, Aqua Green). Here are a few pics to show the colors better.
(Click to Enlarge)(Click to Enlarge)
The other color I've actually re-added into my palette is Opera Pink by Daniel Smith. I originally had Opera from Holbein when I first started painting years ago. I then took it out when I found out it was really fugitive, not stable in light. I found out recently from a good friend who's a fantastic painter that if you put a lightfast color over any fugitive color then it's much more stable. She says she's never seen any fading when using this technique so YAY I get my favorite color of all time back!!! HELLO OPERA PINK!
Title: "Six Minus One" (click to enlarge)
I decided to do a painting using all of the four new colors so I could get used to them. The Aqua green is used as the base for half of the greens and the darkest green, obviously it's a great mixing color. Actually, all four colors work beautifully as mixing colors but I was extra surprised to find that Opera also seems to brighten any orange-pink-red-maroon that you add it to. I found that my dark pinks were getting a little muddy so I slapped a glaze of opera over those sections to brighten them. Opera works just like pure yellow works over any green-blue-red that you glaze with it. That's a little trick my friend and guru Tracey taught me in her Delicious Paint class. Seriously great class by the way.

Another thing I did this week is add a new section to my sidebar. I'm collecting my favorite blogs to visit. I already keep a small place in the sidebar with links where I join challenges. This new section will be friend's and fellow artist's blogs that inspire me to do art and be a more prolific and better artist. I sure hope you go and look at these blogs as I know they will inspire you also and give you a smile when you most need one. So far I have Tracey Fletcher King, Sandra Busby and Nicola McLean (no relation, I don't think, lol).

And finally, here's a quote that I read on Brenda Swenson's Blog. It resonated with me just as much as it resonated with her so I thought I'd share it.
"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed--you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men, and, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a man. You may run me for a profit or run me for ruin--it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am a habit!                                                                                              - John Di Lemme
Have a great day everyone, talk later, Eh? I'll be back with a new painting soon! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Daffodils For Good People

You know, I'm darn lucky. I haven't had Grandparents for a long time. My grandfather on my mom's side died when I was five. Although I was an adult when my grandmother died, she had Alzheimer's disease for many years before her death in 2003. I was never close to my father's parents as they were distant both emotionally and physically.

I feel lucky though to have met our next door neighbors, Cathy & Steven. They seem to have taken me under their wing and I have to admit, I have so missed feeling that kind of love from grandparent-like figures. It really does feel like I've inherited a spectacular set of loving grandparents and I can't even express what that caring means to me. They always ask after my health (they know I have cancer, they were one of the first people I told). They also leave us tiny little treasures on our doorstep. Like when they go to the local veggie market and bring us back some baby greens packaged up with a bow. Oh how those salads taste the best!
"Daffodils In Jug" for Cathy & Steven
After I told them about my diagnosis Cathy showed up with this Jug filled with just-starting-to-open daffodils and I had to let them see just how beautiful they looked after they fully bloomed. There is nothing more comforting than feeling the love from people older and wiser than you, especially when I'd normally be nothing to them. They love me anyway. I love them back in huge buckets full. They fill my heart with appreciation for all their caring. Who could ask for anything more?


Thursday, February 2, 2017

And Finally... I'm BACK!!!

My gosh, I can't believe it's been six months since I put art up on my blog. I'll be honest, this is the first time I've picked up a paint brush in all that time. I wanted to but I've been... well, busy doesn't even cover it. I just couldn't paint so instead I read many, many, MANY books. Let me show you my first painting of 2017 then I'll tell you why I've been away for such a long time.

(Rainbow Radishes Tied With A Bow)
As 2017 got started I had to do some serious thinking about whether I was finally gonna come clean and explain what's been going on. I couldn't make a decision because the subject matter is so personal. What I decided to do is take a page out of one of my most beloved friend's playbook and tell the truth. Several years ago Tracey Fletcher King told the blogosphere what was happening in her life and I think it helped her get through it all just because she then didn't have to use subterfuge to explain her bloggy behavior. I think sharing her situation helped her in more ways that can be expressed. So, here we go.

I found out two weeks ago that I have endometrial cancer. In the last several years I've had some serious bleeding issues but since uterine cancer usually happens to women older than me, no one was that worried so I was put on a drug to stop the bleeding until I could lose weight enough to make surgery safe.

I've had weight issues all my life and never could figure out why I couldn't lose weight. Five years ago I found out I have celiac disease and once I switched to gluten free everything I lost a huge amount of weight. But since I had been undiagnosed for 40 years, I was still terribly sick (I also had more weight to lose for surgery to be truly safe). So surgery at that point would have been dangerous. The oral medication to stop the bleeding was a stop-gap so I could improve my health and lose a little more weight. Unfortunately, losing weight on this medication was IMPOSSIBLE. In fact, I gained almost every pound I had lost all while eating about a thousand calories a day.

Six months ago I decided I had to try getting off the oral meds so I could lose weight. My Gynecologist was against it as it was a possibility that the bleeding was in fact cancer and if it was, then the medication was acting like a chemotherapy device, keeping the cancer dormant. My argument was that no matter what, I needed to lose weight, whether it was cancer or not because they can't operate without me being thinner. Since I can't lose weight on the oral medication I thought the risk was worth it I mean, I was only forty-five, my chances of cancer were low. So I stopped taking the meds and lost half of what I'd gained in the last few years.. again, lol.

But then the hemorrhaging started and it shouldn't have started so quickly after stopping the oral meds. The biopsy came back a couple weeks ago as stage one endometrial cancer. I feel very lucky that they think it's stage one except the only real treatment is surgery. They did put in a chemotherapy device when they biopsied and that should help slow the growth and prevent excess bleeding. What I have to do now is lose weight. 

So that's where I am now. I didn't want to feel alone and I knew that I had friends out there that used to like my art so I thought I'd tell the truth and feel just a little less lonely. I promise to keep you all posted, I mean, if anyone out there is hopefully still reading this, lol. I intend to do what Tracey did, paint my way through this thing to help keep my sanity. She tells me it really helps and I sure do feel better putting brush and paint to paper.

I'll be painting regularly so if you're reading this you can be sure I'll be back, no hiding anymore. I've bought some new paints that I thought I'd swatch and I know all artists love peeking in on another artist's palette, hey, paint porn! LOL. I'm so glad to be back painting, I really missed it and I missed sharing my work. Talk soon, K?


Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: "The Elusive Elixir" by Gigi Pandian

"The Elusive Elixir" by Gigi Pandian is the latest book in the Gargoyle series and it comes out January 8, 2017. I love this series, it's so wonderfully creative. The previous books are: "The Accidental Alchemist" and "The Masquerading Magician", just click the links to read my reviews on these previous books.

Zoe Faust is and alchemist, she uses plants and herbs to make healing elixirs. Her best friend is a gargoyle named Dorian who has come to life but now is inexplicably turing back into stone. Zoe has been trying desperately to find a cure to save Dorian before he is trapped in his own stone shell. 

This time Zoe travels back and forth from Portland to Paris looking for answers to cure her friend and solve another murder that seems connected to alchemy. Zoe feels watched and wonders if she has a stalker who is interested in the dangerous backward alchemy she's researching to cure Dorian. Is it possible her stalker is also the murderer? It will take all her "little grey cells" to winnow out what is happening and she just might have to sacrifice herself to save her friends.

I love this series. I have rated both previous books as an excellent romp through a unique mystery that combines magic, alchemy, cooking and the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Before I started this series I knew nearly nothing about Veganism but since I've gone Paleo in the last several years, I eagerly devoured the side themes in this mystery series. Dorian is not only a living gargoyle but he is also a professionally trained french chef. His mentor was a famous chef who went blind and so without knowing Dorian was a gargoyle, the blind chef taught all he knew to the "strange, deformed little man".

I also loved how the author weaves alchemy into her wonderfully imaginative mysteries. I would love it if magic were true so reading about alchemical possibilities imbues the mystery within Pangian's book with a sprinkling of magical whimsy. 

I would highly recommend that if you haven't picked up this series, that you start at the beginning before reading "The Elusive Elixir" as you just wouldn't enjoy it as much without all the background. This latest book brings many of the open story lines to a satisfying close, although I'm sure there will still be more gargoyle books. We are left hanging about finding the person who is stalking Zoe and weather she is in danger from him. As I said previously, I have loved this series for it's unusual and unique story line. I do have to admit though that this latest book was only a 3.5 out of five for me. I did really enjoy finally getting answers to questions from the last two books though so if you have read previous gargoyle books you'll love getting conclusions from this book. It's just fun to read a less serious mystery that is full of whimsy and great food! I recommend that you suspend your disbelief, buy this series and curl up with a good book. You'll be so glad you did.


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