Queen’s Ink this weekend

I am off to my last teaching gig of the year. Sooooooo excited about this one, as it’s a brand new venue for me. I’ll be at The Queen’s Ink in Savage, Maryland teaching assemblage, collage and jewelry — my favorite things in the entire world!

Patti Euler, the owner of Queen’s Ink and I have been chatting for years now every CHA (Craft and Hobby Association trade show) about me making a trip to her fabulous mixed-media art supply store. Well, we finally said to each other, “No more talking about it; let’s do this!” And so we shall. Just so you know a bit about Patti. Not only is she a smart businesswoman and store owner, she is an incredible mixed-media artist in her own right. She’s also an art educator too. Can’t wait for dinners. We have so much to talk about. (grin)

Classes are full, so this post is more an update to let you all know what I’m up to and where I will be this weekend. Here’s a look at the projects and techniques my folks will be learning and making Sept. 16, 17 and 18th.

Juxtaposition Assemblage: Found Objects and Resin Casting

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Fun, Funky and Functional Art Journal 

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Gypsy Heart Necklace 

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Be sure to check out The Queen’s Ink website and if you are ever in the area, please visit Patti’s store. Honestly, for an artsy person such as myself, it doesn’t get much better than this! JenSig

Love, Gratitude and Labor Day

This long holiday weekend was filled with family, friends and FUN. Many moments have taken root in my mind and will be known from here on out as simply “good times”. As I go about my work today, one memory keeps coming to the forefront. To tell it though, is to tell a little story.

I have two generations in my children; an almost 17-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter. It’s challenging when your children’s ages are a wide gap. The teenager is into his electronics and wants to stay up all night. He doesn’t care too much to talk, but when he does have something important on his mind, you bet he wants to talk about it at midnight. The little one wants to play make believe, Minecraft and art and gets tired by 9 p.m. (thank goodness, as does mommy). They rarely play together because their interests are too varied. Sure, they love each other. My son is a caring big brother and watches over his sister who absolutely adores him. But my time as a mother is split between two distinct generations with different levels of needs and wants.

The one common denominator my kids share is that they are home bodies. They love being with their friends, but they both believe every play date (for the littles) and general hang out time (for the teens) should be at our house. This is something my husband and I enjoy. Sure it costs more in food and mess and pure parenting energy, but I know where my kids are, what they’re talking about and what interests them. When they get with their friends having fun, they forget mom and dad are within earshot and we get a glimpse into their world from a different vantage point.

Even the bigs still act like the littles sometimes at the family cabin.

Even the bigs still act like the littles sometimes at the family cabin.

Such was the case this Labor Day weekend at our cabin. We have a separate little mother-in-law house complete with bathroom that we’ve essentially handed over to the teenagers. The littles take over the living room. If the weather is nice, like this last weekend, the grownups get to enjoy the deck all to ourselves. Well, until the littles come looking for a snack, a drink or a hug.

My son has two best buddies who’ve been like my own “spare set” of kids since kindergarten and first grade. I love these boys and have done my fair share of play dates, camping trips and sleepovers. These boys came to the house Friday about noon and didn’t leave until Monday at 4 p.m. Other teenagers came and went in those three days. At one time on Saturday I looked up and there were 10 kids milling between the hang out house and the pool table in my husband’s garage. I made tacos for them and they scarfed the food like a plague of locusts, leaving no crumbs behind.

At the same time the teens were hanging out, my daughter’s best friends — my second set of “spare kids” also spent the long weekend with us and my daughter was beyond happy to have the company.

Feeding our friend's horses is always a fun family activity when at the woods.

Feeding our friend’s horses is always a fun family activity when at the woods.

Sunday evening, my husband and I took a walk around the neighborhood. I put the big kids (son and spares) in charge of the little kids (daughter and spares) and told them to all play tag in the yard. We heard laughter and yelling from children as we were walking up the hill a few streets over. My husband dropped my hand and put it to his ear.

“Is that our kids?”

I cocked my head sideways to listen closely. “Yes,” I said with a big, happy smile. “All six of them.”

I was quiet the rest of the walk, my heart filled with gratitude for my children, my friends’ children who entrust them to our care, our family cabin and holidays in the woods where we gather. There’s no place on earth where I’m more at home or more at peace.

I've loved this little face since he was just a few days old. One of my "spare kids" whom I love as though he's my own.

I’ve loved this little face since he was just a few days old. One of my “spare littles”

Here’s wishing you a week filled with love and gratitude.

JenSig

Back to Charity Wings Art Center

It’s August in Phoenix. You know what that means? Yep, this Zonie is heading to San Diego to get out of the heat and dip my toes (whole body!) into the cool Pacific ocean. And if I’m going to San Diego, you also know what that means. Yep, an art class at Charity Wings Art Center. In case you’re not on their newsletter list, here is the info. Elena and her volunteers put out today about my Deep Dive Journal Class:

CharityWingsJournalClass

I recently decided to take a Work in Progress Journal – it had been a WIP for over a year — and get re-inspired. I found some amazing Octopus paper napkins on clearance at Pier 1 and viola! brand new imagery. That lead me to faux finishing up some resin castings and a brand new deep sea theme was born. Here’s a peek at what we’ll be making. Lots of yummy techniques here in order to achieve all that texture.

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To learn more, head on over to Charity Wings website and register. Hurry spaces are limited and my classes in San Marcos almost always sell out.

 

Summer veggies, yum

FarmersmarketSummer

This past Saturday, hubby and I spent the morning doing one of our favorite summer activities. We spent some time at the local farmer’s market picking out organic vegetables. The little market in Pine, AZ is small but mighty. It’s run by one of my best friend’s partners, and let me tell you this man’s garden is his one true passion. Bill is able to grow vegetables here that, frankly, provoke envy from others in town who’re also into their summer gardens. Diane is an artist and she created all the ambiance to showcase the veggies. Check out her cute chalkboard signs and red bins for color. She’s also hand carved a cute linocut logo and screen printed cotton bags and aprons.

We’ve had Diane and Bill for dinner at our family cabin many times and I’ve learned a lot about the subject, including all the little nuances people love to tell when they have a passion. For me, buying the fruits of Bill’s labor is a little like buying a piece of art from someone who I really like. Whenever we bring them home, I immediately jump onto the internet to look up a fabulous new recipe to experiment with. It’s really fun to know we’re immediately going from garden to table.

This week, we bought sweet little potatoes, leeks, zucchini, carrots and a mix of salad greens. I had pulled out a ham bone from the freezer the night before and decided to cook it down. I had planned to make some lentil soup and use the ham leftovers, but after visiting the farmer’s market, I decided to make potato, leak and ham soup. My family always gobbles this up, so I make it quite often during winter months. This is a recipe I know like the back of my hand. Hubby was so excited about fresh zucchini that he asked me to saute them up immediately for a snack while I was getting the soup ready. You can see them in the photo above.

Since I’m on summer break with my kids right now and not spending much time in my studio, I decided to share some creative cooking. Here’s my own recipe for this yummy soup.

potatosoup

4 cups of diced potatoes

3 leeks, white and bright green parts of the stem

3 carrots (four if they are smaller from the garden like mine were)

1 1/2 cups diced ham

2 tablespoons Better than Bouillon chicken broth

1 1/2 tablespoons Avocado oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tablespoon dried Herbs de Provence (if you don’t have it, use dried Italian seasoning spices)

salt to taste

4 cups water

1 cup half and half

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 stick butter

Directions:

Put diced carrots into pot with 4 cups water, 1 tablespoon of chicken Better and Bouillon and bring to boil. Cook carrots until they are soft.

Caramelize leeks in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil (I’ve been buying avocado oil at Costco and using more than my EVOO)

Add diced carrots to caramelized leeks and cook until soft

Add cooked carrots and leeks to pot with cooked potatoes

Add diced ham

Make a roux —

place 1/2 stick of butter in a skillet and melt

Add 2 tablespoons of flour to butter and 1 tablespoon of chicken Better and Bouillon and stir until its a thick paste

Add 1 cup half and half to the mixture and stir until its creamy and smooth with no lumps

Add the roux to the potato soup

Add salt to taste

Cover pot and turn to simmer

And just for a little fun, I wanted to share this Ryan Gosling meme that I found on the Internet that relates to my theme. Um, yeah, he can cook for me any time.🙂

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I hope you’re enjoying your summer and getting time to be creative in whatever way your muse inspires.

JenSig

Feeling beachy…

It’s hot hot hot and dry as a bone in Phoenix right now. As I run errands, I’m like most Phoenicians where I can’t get the air conditioner in my car to cool down quick enough. Yes, it’s fun to post 70-degree weather photos on Facebook during the winter months when it’s blizzard conditions in the Midwest and East Coast, but I can tell you we Zonies pay for our sunshine smugness every single summer.

Since I’ve been dreaming about my favorite summer getaway – San Diego and it’s gorgeous beaches – with no opportunity of leaving town for a visit, I decided to spend the morning in my studio making some dreamy, beach-inspired jewelry. Here’s a simple cast resin focal and seashell bead bracelet design that I whipped up. If I can’t be cool, at least I can look cool, right???

Seashellbracelet1JenCushman

Thinking it’s time to put on a cotton summer dress, my new bracelet, some strappy sandals and get hubby to take me for sushi. When life gives you hot lemons, it’s time to make some toddies! Forget that crap…I’ll take all of the above and a icy cold margarita. Now we’re talking!

I hope you are enjoying your summer and getting in some much needed maker time.

JenSig

A new painting

I’ve been in my studio with nothing but canvas and paints and my imagination. In my last blog post, I wrote that I had planned to do a little intuitive painting session. I wanted to show the results of this. It felt so good to turn on the music and feel the journey color and form wanted to take. With this piece, I literally just went with the flow.

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When I wrote the words free twice, I was thinking of my folks. The four feathers are myself, my husband and my kids. The three flowers are my three animals – two dogs and a cat and the three stepping stones are the spiritual path I walk leading to my little heart studio. This painting makes me happy. Feels like healing is beginning…

Miss you!

Today is the one year anniversary of my beloved father’s passing. From the moment I woke this morning, I’ve felt him with me. Hanging out just over my shoulder. Teasing me softly like he did when I was a child. Poking me ever so gently in the ribs so I will notice him and come in for a cuddle. My dad wasn’t one to just come out and say, “hey, give me a hug” when he needed one. He was more likely to find a joke or a pun or a silly way to make me stop in my tracks and look at him. Almost like a little boy who pulls the little girl’s ponytail to get her attention.

Jendad

My father was witty and clever, so much so that he always managed to break the shell of this very serious little girl and make her burst into full belly laughter. My husband has a very similar humor, and while he’s very different from my father in a myriad of ways, I think the fact that he can always make me laugh is one of his most endearing qualities.

My father and my husband were/are fun people. While I can definitely have fun, I have to work a little harder at it. I’d rather spend my time getting to know someone for who they are. Their hopes and fears. What do they love? What do they need? These men – these beautiful men — are more likely to make you feel so safe and secure in their presence that you just melt into a naturally relaxed state where fun is simply the best option.

When I jumped onto Facebook this morning, it wanted to show me memories of one year ago today. What I saw were the photos of us in France with our students. While they were truly happy memories, I decided not to re-post them again to my wall today. When my dad passed last year, I wasn’t able to fully take it in because there were some big responsibilities on my shoulders; A dozen women whose dreams were to visit Paris and La Cascade and learn jewelry from Susan. It was an incredible trip, and the distraction of it was divine.

My dad was in hospice for three months before his passing. Even as he grew weak and ready to return home, he knew what he was doing. He made me promise to continue my trip. He and my mother never traveled outside the US in their entire lives, and he was extremely proud that both his daughters have traveled many parts of the world.

What a difference a year makes. Today I am home in my studio. I have the air conditioning turned down low and my studio is spotlessly clean and ready for me to work. As soon as I finish a few things on my computer, I’m planning to put some singer/songwriter music on Spotify and pull out my paints and canvases. My soul wants to do some intuitive abstract painting today and I’m going to listen.

My daughter is at art camp, hubby at work and son at his summer college classes. The house is quiet and my dad is with me. Time to see what my inner creativity wants to do.

JenSig