Posted in Generic Ramblings, Week 33 More Pinterest Art 4/16/17 - 4/22/17

Happy Easter!

Regardless of your religion or faith, today was beautiful and I hope it was for you, too.

Literally beautiful.

We had some severe storms roll in last night: damaging winds, large hail…the worst was to the north, and they, thankfully, also have no damage reports. Today the sun shone gloriously. Seventy degrees, a bit of a wind – enough to make it too chilly for my husband to fish but pleasant otherwise – partly cloudy later in the day. Thanks to the rain, it smelled wonderful; I believe the word for that is petrichor (thanks, Doctor Who!), and for whatever reason the flowers and trees and all the colors were vivid and brilliant.

Like usual, I walked the dogs separately this morning. I’m used to seeing a lot of people out and about. Although I identify a Christian, we haven’t attended church in several years, so I rise later than usual on a Sunday, and it’s that time of day. Today there were significantly more than usual (and there are seven churches within three blocks – or less – of our house), and I attributed that to the holiday.

It was SO nice today, though, that I took my own walk just a little bit ago. And there were STILL a lot of people out and about. Some of that was weather, and clearly some of that was holiday, because a lot of people are visiting family. And I realized that I have never been at home, in town, for Easter. We’ve always been out of town – either in Cedar Rapids at my grandma’s house or in Johnston with my parents. 

What I’m going to write next is going to be very judgemental. (You’ve been warned.) It IS followed but a BUT, though, and as we all know when a sentence is followed with a “but” that second half is what you reallly mean.

I’ve never been all that impressed with the town I live in. Due to several factors, we have a higher percentage of folks that “live hard,” shall we say. We have pretty much the whole spectrum, but we have more “rough” families than most communities. 

BUT….this town always surprises me. 

Today, the surprise came in all the people I saw out and about this afternoon. Some were out walking their dogs, riding bikes, or just taking walks. There were kids on scooters, people grilling out (I almost want a hotdog right now, and I hate hot dogs!) and people just hanging out on the porch or on the flat beds of trucks – spending time with each other. I don’t get to see that side of the town’s values very often, and it was so clear today! And so refreshing to see1

At one house there was an Easter egg hunt going on. The adults counted down, then the kids all ran around. What was really cool is that there was a wide age range of kids, and the older ones did a great job of leaving the eggs that were out in the open for the younger ones to get, while they searched in trees and under lawn items and such. 

There’s a road closed not far from my house, and another family was using that open space to play baseball. This is such an Anatoly anywhere in this day and age, and it just delighted me to see it and what inspired me to write this post.

It’s not that I doin’t have a good time with my family when we go visit for holidays and such. Heck, we had a hunt for my nieces and nephews yesterday and played games. Except for the hunt, it was mostly indoor fun, since it was gearing up for storms all day and unpleasant to be outside.

But even when there was more family to gather, it didn’t look like what I saw today. Most of my family was kind of old. There was good food and good laughter, but not the level of activity I saw. I wasn’t jealous, but I loved what I was seeing. It was surprising because of my judgemental attitude, and it was surprising because I didn’t think anyone did stuff like that anymore.

I hope that you were able to spend time with someone important and had some fun today, regardless of your belief system, and I hope the weather was as wonderful for you as it was for us.

Posted in Generic Ramblings

Sterzings, A Taste of My Childhood

Sterzings are potato chips made in southeast Iowa, in the river town of Burlington. They’re shipped out all over the place, though I also couldn’t tell you how far. Heck, sometimes it’s hard to find them in other parts of Iowa.

A similar big company product would be Lay’s original, but these are much better. They have a distinct taste and just the right amount of salt. They have a crunchier crunch than Lay’s, too. Even though our store carries them fairly consistently, I don’t buy chips very often at all, and when I do it’s usually tortilla with salsa or quest.

I was driven to write about them, because I purchased some yesterday on a whim. (Never shop hungry, not even if you’re going at a weird time, on a weird day, just to avoid the Easter crowd.) Biting into one as part of this evening’s meal (paired with my grilled cheese sandwich), it brought me straight back to my grandma’s house.

Although she would occasionally buy Lay’s or Ruffles, it was almost always Sterzings. For grilling in summer or casual lunch, we’d have them with the meal. Usually it was part of an evening snack. Once opened, there were always stored in a “clear” Tupperware container, probably advertised for this use.

Now, although I dont’ eat them often at all, something about it this time took me right back. Maybe it’s because were I still a kid and living at home, it’s the kind of weekend where right after school/work, my parents would load us up and head to Cedar Rapids to spend the weekend. (They’re both from there and all my grandparents lived there until they eventually all passed away.) I mean, it is Easter weekend.

It was just such a pleasant and unexpected reaction to eating a potato chip that I had to write about it. (Although I did post date it until Saturday, just in case I didn’t get any art in, since we’ll be celebrating Easter with my parents a day early, so I won’t be home.)


Two interesting and related facts:

1 – That’s the same cookie jar my grandma had in her kitchen.

2 – When my husband and I went to Las Vegas and at at Batista’s Hole in the Wall, we were standing in line behind a couple – the man was wearing a Sterzings t-shirt. We had found one of our own! They were from Burlington (the original capital of Iowa and about a 20 minute drive from my husband’s hometown), we were seated next to each other, and became quick friends.

Posted in Generic Ramblings

The Last of the Biographical Blogs

I’ve been using blog ideas lists for my weekly posts, meant to be about me, my beliefs, ideas, interests, etc. I had two left before I had to come up with a new list.

 The first was “what’s in your makeup bag.” Seriously. When I saw that, I planned on skipping it, and I am. Aside from chapstick and a lip color of some sort (and something to tie my hair back), I am not in the habit of carrying makeup on a regular basis. And to blog about what’s in my collection is stupid, especially since I’m almost but not quite as far from a makeup aficionado as one can get.

The next was “why I blog,” I kind of already did this when I started this blog. The answer is: to make myself a better artist. I wanted to learn to draw and sketch. My goal was to do something every day. And I am. 

To hold myself accountable to doing something every day, I blog about it. I post my sketch every day – even the bad ones or the ones in progress. Sometimes I’m working ahead, but it still counts. Along the way, I intended to add the weekly bit so any followers I might accrue would get to know me better.

However, having that extra blog a week (such as this one) is getting to be too much. And no one cares. I’m not that interesting of a person, and if people are reading them at all, they’re not good enough to get likes. 

Now, I’m not in this for the likes per se, but I don’t like wasting my time or anyone else’s. My two best liked weekly blogs were the ones with the Ray Bradbury quote , and the one about places I’ve traveled. And I’m not hurt by this; really, I’m not. Plus, it detracts from the whole point of the blog as a whole – becoming a better artist.

So….I am retiring the weekly “me” post. That doesn’t mean this type of post won’t appear again; it just won’t be on a regular basis. If something that people might be able to relate to is going on in my life, or the world and I have an opinion or connection with it, or if something strikes me in any way, I will of course blog about it and share.  

To those of you who have read this and any of my other weekly posts (not just the daily sketch posts), even if you never clicked “like” (and if you didn’t, my feelings aren’t hurt and I’m not looking to make you do so), thank you. 

Now I can focus on the most important part – the art.

Posted in Generic Ramblings

Places I’ve Traveled

I’ve been more places than some but not as many as even more. Here are the places I’ve been (that I can remember), state first in alphabetical order then countries. The list does not include drive-through and stopovers.

Alabama – stayed overnight in Mobile before a cruise

Illinois – Chicago for the Titanic exhibit and museums

Iowa – well, technically I live here, but I’ve traveled around it – for fun, even

Kansas – Kansas City, for debate nationals

Louisiana – New Orleans, college choir trip

Maryland – Annapolis and Washington D.C. And surrounding area – during elementary school (4th grade or so) with my parents and stayed with my great uncle

Massachusetts – Boston and surrounding area in 2016 (including Plymouth, Salem, and a cape)

Minnesota – Minneapolis several times – including to see A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie theater, college drama club trips, and a David Bowie concert, also to the Alton Alips ski place (not as far north as Minneapolis) in 8th grade

Missouri – Kansas City and St Louis – family trips (and band) to amusement parks and Hannibal

Nebraska – Omaha Zoo with Girl Scouts and Lincoln for a music competition

Nevada – Las Vegas with the husband, just for fun

New York – New York City, college choir trip

South Dakota – family trip to the badlands

Texas – San Antonio for a college choir trip and our honeymoon, and Dallas for debate nationals

France – high school trip, included St. Etienne, Lyon, and Paris, a visit to Mont Blanc, so I may have touched another country there, and I’m pretty sure the “country” house my host family owned and took me to is in Germany

Mexico – twice, once on a cruise (including Cozumel and Progreso) with my husband and his parents, once to a resort in Cozumel with my husband and my own parents

And in 2018 — Scotland and Ireland!!!

Posted in Generic Ramblings

Looking Forward to….

This was a hard topic, given that it’s the very last day of my spring break. Don’t get me wrong; I like what I do well enough and can’t think of any other realistic job I’d rather do, but if I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t. However, here is a non-comprehensive list of things/events I’m looking forward to, in no particular order.

-playing in the pit orchestra for Oklahoma!

-knitting night tomorrow

-my trip to Scotland/Ireland in 2018

-the arcade auction (in November and sometime before Adventureland opens again, although that might have been February)

-the return of Doctor Who in April

-the return of Stranger Things

-the end of the school year (i.e. Summer break)

-retirement

-the Iowa State Fair

Posted in Generic Ramblings, Week 27 Poses & Shadows 3/5/17 - 3/11/17

Favorite Recipe

Although I love to bake (and am quite good at it, especially pies and cookies), I’m not a fan of cooking. I can do it, and it turns out good to middling, because I don’t have a flair for it. 

I once read something that went along these lines: Why does it take 2 hours to cook something, 1 minute to eat it, and three days to clean up? That’s me. There’s so much prep involved, and I just want to get things done and eat. 

It’s true of baking as well, but I think the main difference between cooking and baking is that cooking you pretty much have to do and at a really inconvenient time of day where you’re usually already tired and overworked. Baking, on the other hand, is mostly done for pleasure and at your convenience.

That’s a long and different way of saying that I don’t really have a favorite recipe. I have a few that I go to time and again, and my husband really enjoys my gumbo. However, it’s not real gumbo, and I wouldn’t want to shame myself to anyone who knows what real gumbo is. 

And the other recipes? You can find thousands like them all over Pinterest or with a quick google search. They’re quick, mediocre, and usually put out by food companies. 

However, if I had to pick a favorite, I’d choose something with one of the world’s two greatest flavor combinations. One is peanut butter and chocolate. Here is the other:

S’mores (most of this came from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

 1 large marshmallow 

1 graham cracker 

1 (1.5 ounce) bar chocolate candy bar (Hershey’s plain is best)

Directions

Heat the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to brown and melt. Most people brown it lightly or just warm it up. Me? I light it on fire and blow it out, repeating several times until it’s nice and black and crisp. Do what works for YOU.

Break the graham cracker in half. Sandwich the chocolate between the cracker and the hot marshmallow. Allow the marshmallow to cool a moment before eating.