A Spot of Tea

I never know where the inspiration for my daily drawings will come from. It could be a snippet of conversation with a friend or family member. It could be a new recipe I’ve seen on Food Network or it could be something that got mentioned on Facebook. And today’s entry is inspired by a Facebook post.

An old friend recently highlighted a site that features vintage teapots. I loved it because I used to have quite a collection of them.

However, when I downsized from my house to a small apartment, most of them had to go. I had to pick and choose what I could actually take with me to a more compact living space. But I did keep a few of my favorites.

This is a drawing of the few teapots I have left. Two are Hall collectibles, one is a Paragon from England and one is Bavarian china. They make me smile when I look at them.

teapots

Fortunately, I was able to keep more of my English teacup sets since they take up less room. Some of the ones I have are quite valuable so I can’t bear to part with them yet.

teacups

Preparing tea is not a fussy endeavor at all. It is pure pleasure. And I was reminded of that a couple years ago…

I was in Italy taking an art class and two of the other ladies there were from England. Several times a day they would have to break for a “cuppa.” Off they would go to the kitchen and plug in the electric kettle. In two minutes flat they would be sipping their refreshment and be renewed. I made a habit of joining them.

Needless to say, one of the first purchases I made when I got back home to Ohio was an electric kettle. What a wondrous thing! It heats up instantly and you can have the perfect cup of tea (or broth) in no time flat!

So, yes, I’ve given up coffee in favor of tea. I DO love coffee but it doesn’t love me. I save it for special occasions.

In the meantime, I enjoy trying out all kinds of tea.

Have a “spot” anyone?

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Free at Last!

With respect to MLK, I am not referring to civil rights here.

No, I am celebrating the fact that I finally got my steam mop fixed. By myself!

I posted here about 10 days ago that I sorely missed having a cleaning lady. A lament brought on because my new steam mop was out of order… I couldn’t get the lid off the old bottle of spray solution to put on the new bottle to refill the mop. So I cut the lid off the bottle with a Ginsu knife and went at it with the pliers. I chewed that thing to pieces and still the lid wouldn’t budge.

But I wouldn’t give up.

I left the gnarled lid and pliers on the counter and every day I would look at it and curse under my breath. Then I’d give it a few more twists with the pliers before dropping it again. This went on for a good week or so.

Then, yesterday, with one mighty effort, the thing let loose! I was shocked. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Suddenly I had the lid I needed – maybe a bit worse for wear – and it was free to put on the new bottle.

I scrambled to the pantry, screwed the lid onto the bottle and clicked it into the mop. Voila! Good to go!

I was so excited I immediately commenced cleaning the john. And believe me, few things will excite me enough to do that willingly!

Soon all was sparkling and as I mopped my way out of the bathroom, steam hissing, I just stood for a moment and almost heard the angels sing.

Is that a bit dramatic? Maybe. But you try wrestling a stuck lid with the pliers for over a week and see how victorious you feel when you win!

The way I see it, life is hard enough. I’m ready to rejoice over any achievement these days!

However, I do not claim to be June Cleaver. Which is why I spoofed myself in my sketch book over this incident…

steam mop

I had looked at some 50s advertisements and found one for Surf Washing Powder that said “I was in a fix.” That struck me funny. Of course that ad featured a woman making her man happy by cleaning, so I left the man part out. Nope to the man… it was just me and the pliers for over a week.

So that lid is free at last and I am a happy independent girl.

But if you want to visit, you should call first. I don’t have a cleaning lady so I might need to get out the steam mop and give the bath a once-over.

Creatively Fickle

I am so fickle!

I will spend months making vintage-style handkerchiefs and then suddenly I switch to knitting socks. (Yes, I knit socks!) And before you know it, I’m back into the sketching… which I am now doing as though on a mission. Mission for what? Creativity, I guess. Because that’s the one thing that makes me happy any time, any day.

That’s why I’ll have 25 sketch blog posts in a row and then drop it for months.

But all that means is that I’m off on another mission. Maybe cooking… maybe gardening… maybe making cotton dishcloths for everyone I know…

So I’m fickle. About sticking to any particular thing, that is.

The one thing you can be sure of is that I do something creative every day. I’m more than a bit obsessed with that. I will write a story, draw my lunch, salivate over colors of yarn or oil paint… But the one thing that makes me feel alive and passionate is something creative.

Meanwhile, I’ve done some un-related drawings the past couple days. But they do reflect what is going on in my world. (All be it, not a terribly exciting world!)

Lisa2First is a new sketch of my friend Lisa. This one actually turned out to look like her. Score!

Then I took a break and made some split pea soup. I LOVE split pea soup. And I was so thrilled to have all the ingredients on hand (which means I don’t have to interrupt my drawing and go to the store) that I did a sketchbook page about it.

Honestly, anything can be the subject of a sketchbook page. split pea soup

Then, I totally switched gears to sketch a new purchase I recently made… JACKS

I’m talking about the children’s game of times past with the metal jacks and red rubber ball that you bounce while you challenge yourself through a series of picking up the jacks off the floor. I loved this game as a child! Would sit on the back porch and play for hours all by myself.

I wouldn’t have recalled this game at all but one of my high school era friends on facebook posted a picture of a set of jacks with the caption… “does anyone remember these?” Yeh, I do! And I remember them being so much fun that I immediately went to Amazon and ordered a set for my “grandkid shelf” – the games and books I keep just for them when they visit. Jacks

Of course, when the jacks arrived at my door, I opened them up and sat down to play. Which meant sitting on the floor. Which is very awkward now with my two titanium knees. Which meant I couldn’t bounce the ball too high because if it got away from me, I would have a hard time chasing it.

Still, it was enjoyable. Even though it took me at least 20 tries to complete the first stage of the game… “onesies.” But I did it. And it was fun and made me smile. Now I’m drawing the jacks and putting them on the shelf for the grands.

At least when I teach them to play, they can chase the blasted runaway ball and bring it back!

But it won’t cure me of being fickle…

the Iron Man Arm

What if you were a kid born without a forearm, but good prosthetics cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars? And you can’t get one because you’d outgrow it in six months.

Then, what if someone invented a cool super-hero style robotic arm that is only a few hundred dollars? And they let you pick whether you want a Transformer arm… a Blue Man arm… or even an Iron Man arm!

Take a look at this video to see how the original Iron Man is passing on the glory to a kid who wants to be like him…

Thanks to a group of engineering students at a Florida college, this project is taking off. And yes, they could turn it into a commercial success and charge whatever they want for these robo-arms. But they haven’t done that. One student commented, “who should make money off a kid who needs an arm?” I can’t tell you how that comment wakes up my hippy-dippy sensibilities! Bravo to the students who donate their skills and time to do this!

And listen to this…

One father said that the questions his kid gets have completely changed since he got the new arm.

Old questions: What happened to your arm? Did a shark bite it off? Did you get run over by a car? Were you just born weird?

New questions: You are so cool… where did you get that arm? How does it work? Show us what you can do! Do you have super powers??

Now if that doesn’t make the whole project worthwhile, I don’t know what would.

iron man arm So that’s my sketchbook entry for today.

I love it because one kid said he can’t wait to high-five everyone he knows (and he thinks that will probably be at least 106 people!) Another said he wants to give his mom a real hug with two hands. And a 12-year-old said it would sure be nice to ask a pretty girl to dance and be able to put one arm around her while leading with the other…

You can read more about this project on their facebook page, Limbitless Solutions. They are looking for engineers, designers and artists to contribute and expand the project.

I hope you all are having an inspired day!

Marvelous Marinara

If I am obsessed about anything… it has to be TOMATOES.

I love to eat them.

I love to grow them.

I love to paint them.

I love to cook them.

I truly think I have the heart and soul of an Italian. Because besides fresh tomatoes – which are delightful to eat right off the vine – the next best thing is marinara sauce. Who can live without it?? I can’t…

Now I only grow a few plants. Honestly, if you grow them right, a few plants will produce enough tomatoes for a family. And that’s all I can be responsible for. I would feel guilty if I had enough of the ruby fruits for an army. God forbid any go to waste.

So I also grow some parsley, oregano and basil. And when they all come ripe, I pick until I swoon with the fragrance of the Italian saints. I pretend I’m my grandmother while I harvest everything into my upfolded apron and bring it all into the house. Then I plan how to preserve the bounty until the next growing season. What a joy!

So here’s how I make marinara…

marinara

Of course this happened last fall and I’m just now getting it recorded into my sketchbook. No matter…

There’s time to grow tomatoes… and there’s time to DRAW tomatoes. I am fortunate enough to do both as time permits.

And just think… I’ve been eating these harvested fruits all winter and soon it will be time to plant the garden again.

Thanks be to God for the blessing of TOMATOES!!!

PS… I just realized that I made a similar post late last August called “the Tomatoes Won’t Wait!” – complete with some of the same photos…. Sigh… I guess that just proves how much I love tomatoes! I really can’t help myself about them…

Spring is Coming!

Oh how I love Spring!!!

However, it sneaks up on me like a cat stalking a mouse. I wait and wait for it to get here and then all of a sudden it has come and gone! Of course, I’m never TOTALLY oblivious. The trees do come to life with the most gorgeous pastel blooms… all shades of pink and white and lavender. And I delight in cherry blossoms and tulips pushing their dainty heads above ground. Then there are grape hyacinths and phlox and sand cherry florets. Those can hardly be ignored.

I also adore the lily of the valley. Even if it throws me into conniptions of sneezing. Man, that tiny sprig has an almighty powerfulness about it! One little stalk in a vase on your work desk will let you know all day who’s taking over the room! Much as I love it, I would have to take the clipping to the far side of my work area so it didn’t drive my nose bonkers!

But the highlight of the spring season – beyond flowers – is the Morel Mushroom! My dad called them “sponges” and would take us out to the woods to hunt for them. Sadly, I could rarely find them. I knew what they looked like, but they hid – incognito- in their shrouded little place among the base of trees and fallen logs.

Now here’s the thing… I think you either have a talent for finding the morels or you don’t. I once had a neighbor lady who was so good at hunting them that here’s what she did… she would actually have her husband drive her around on rural county roads while she hung her head out the window in search of morels. Every once in a while she would yell “stop!” and he did…

She was a little mite of a thing while he was a big ole brute. So he would stay in the car while she raced out and disappeared into the woods. Soon she would be back with a load of morels that would shame a priest into confession. In fact, she always got so many, that as long as I was her neighbor, she gave me a mess of them, too! Glory be, they were wonderful!

But that was many years ago and I haven’t had a taste of a morel in more than a decade. Some years ago I did come across them in a locally owned grocery. I saw them and stopped dead in my tracks. Morels? For sale in the grocery? Really?

Yep – and only $12.99 a pound.

Huh???

Well, I had to have some, so I put a few in a plastic produce bag and held my breath at the checkout.

Funny enough, they weigh almost nothing, so a dozen or so was less than a couple bucks. Sure wish I could find those again – I’d buy a whole big bunch!!!

Anyway, it is almost SPRING. And all the delights that come with it are on the way. And whether or not I have any lilies-of-the-valley… OR… morel mushrooms… I’ll be doing my annual once-a-year happy dance. I dearly love SPRING for so many reasons. And I do get to wondering these days how many more springs I have left.. which truly makes each one all the more precious to me! And here’s my sketch for today in honor of spring being almost here…

lilys2

So if you are an Ohio-an like me… run outside when the temps get above freezing. Watch for the bulbs to start blooming. Enjoy the creek waters rising higher and the mushrooms poking their spongy heads above ground.

And if you know anyone who hunts morels and has a sweet spot or honey hole where they find more than they can use – tell them I need a stash of those delightful morsels to remind me how fun life can be when the earth comes back to life after the winter freeze.

Viva le Spring!

The Cleaning Lady Dilemma…

Please, God, let me have a cleaning lady again…

Because, really, I HATE to clean. Not that I haven’t been doing it all my life…

But luxury, for me, is a cleaning lady (person) twice a month!

Back when I had a corporate job, a 4 BR house and was on my own, I DID have a cleaning lady. She was AWESOME. She would notice things I never looked at and took care of them pronto.

I would come home and the house was sparkling – straight out of Leave-It-To-Beaver-Land.cleaning lady

I would inhale the scent of pine-sol and float around my abode like a fairy sniffing magic dust.

That evening I would slide into my newly made bed, smelling the fresh sheets and drifting off to dream-ville knowing that anyone could knock on my door and I would say, “why, come on in!”

Now… I live in a 1BR apt. It doesn’t need a cleaning lady. I would be remiss to spend my meager retirement income on such a luxury. But oh how I want to!

Today, for instance, I got out my new “steam mop” to clean the floors. I had already swept and wanted to finish off the process. But the sprayer thing didn’t spray. I tried and tried. No spray.

So I clicked the cleaner bottle out of its holder and it was empty. Oh… OK!
I went to the pantry and got a new bottle. BUT… it needed the lid off the old bottle to fit into the slot on the mop handle. Okey Dokey.

Ahem…

I could not, for the life of me, get the lid off the old bottle to put it on the new bottle.

And believe me, I tried. First with tapping… then pounding… the old bottle on the counter. Hmmmm.

Next I got a butter knife and tried to pry the lid off.

Then I pounded some more and pried some more. I got out the pliers.

Still, the lid wouldn’t budge. So I got out my old Ginsu Knife from the 80s – it will cut through anything!

After sawing off the lid from the empty container, I still couldn’t put it on the new bottle.

Back to the butter knife and pliers. No luck.

Half an hour later I was seriously considering taking said lid out to the driveway and running it over with the car a few times. But I knew that wouldn’t work.

So I stood back and looked at the mess I had created. My arms were aching and the expensive mop was sitting idly by in the corner. But I would not be beaten…

I took the new bottle of cleaning liquid and poured a small amount out onto the floor. I then ran the mop over it to accomplish the cleaning. Voila – mission accomplished.

Now that is NOT how that pricey mop is to be used! And I still don’t know what the answer is. All I know is I desperately need a cleaning lady!
Please, God, let me have a cleaning lady in my itty bitty apartment! Please, please, please!!!

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