Saturday, April 30, 2011

Design Based Art Therapy

Here's proof that design can be therapeutic!...

I am a full time mom, wife and artist- and a part time expressive therapist and teacher.

I am an "expressive therapist"- and not a Clinical Art Therapist because I didn't complete my masters program (I gave birth to ZZ 1/2 way through- I haven't found the time to go back;), but still I was fortunate enough to get a job in the field without a masters.  I work part time on the inpatient units of a psychiatric hospital every other weekend- and I really love the work.  I look forward to going in every day I'm there, and I am go grateful for the time, conversations and experiences people share with me during my (mostly art, but sometime yoga, or even sometimes kickball groups).  Today was a particularly rewarding, although difficult day - so I felt like I should share some of the stuff I do there with you all.

This project/exercise I came up with about a year ago while flipping through an old Real Simple in the office at work one day.  I found this multi-page spread on "chairs under $100"- there were all sorts- probably about 200.  I thought it would be a super-cool starting point for an art therapy group- a design-based art therapy group:) I used the spread that day- and then came up with my own chair spread sheet- collected from various sources.

So- here's how it goes:

I cut out all of these chairs- spread them on the table- I also put out white 11"x18" paper, pencils, markers, colored pencils, watercolors, brushes, glue sticks, magazines-
and give the following directive:

"choose the chair that best represents you and create a composition using that chair- it may contain words, images or both. You may use some or all of the materials that are here." Once they are completed everyone is welcome to share what they came up with- explaining why they chose their specific chair.

The variety of outcomes from patients is so interesting- from collages, to poems, to paintings.  It's a really versatile and enlightening exercise!

If I had a fancy computer program- I would have scanned the spread sheets in- but you get the idea-
I also would have circled the round red swivel chair for me- because it looks comfy and safe, a little retro-modern in style, it's a fun color (although I'd prefer it in yellow), and I'd be able to cross my legs in it (my preferred way of sitting:)

So- if you were a chair- which would you be and why?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Totally Terrific Tofu Tacos:)

I have been a veggie for nearly half my life- 15 years- insane right?  and for most of that time- I have NOT been a fan of tofu- strange, right?  Why?  because I am NOT a fan of the giggly, wiggly tofu with no flavor- it reminds me of eggs, and custard (other things I'm not a big fan of unless they are scrambled heavily and smothered with cheese...)
Recently I came across a recipe for tofu in this here cookbook (a Christmas gift from my very thoughtful MIL)

The author, Toni Fiore explains how she keeps packages of extra firm tofu in her freezer- and then thaws it on the counter- chops it up and "squeezes" out the excess water.  Why do this- well, it totally changes the consistency!  That's right- no more gelatinous tofu folks!  It cooks up kind of chewy (when baked), and firm yet tender (when sauteed). So far I've made terriaki baked tofu triangles- REALLY good!, and recently I tried a Mexican version.

Here's how it wentr down- I had a hankering for tacos (LOVE them).  So I used crumbled pre-frozen tofu as the taco meat substitute.
Check it out!

I thawed the tofu on the counter all day- in the afternoon I removed it from its package- sliced it and strained it with a weight on top (it was still slightly frozen)

Then I chopped it up! (excuse the leftover oranges from lunch:),

and I put it back in the strainer and literally pressed it with my fists to squeeze out the excess H2O,

popped it in a hot, dry skillet and stirred it for about 6 min.s over medium high heat to get any extra water out- and brown it up a bit.

While it was cooking I concocted my seasoning mix- I chose chili powder, cumin, Adobo, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and salt.

Once the tofu was a bit brown I removed it from the pan,

and sauteed 1 medium onion and 3 cloves of garlic in a little EVOO.

When they were "transparent" I dumped in the browned tofu, spices and 11/2 cups of water.

I cooked that until the water was absorbed- another 8 min., and toasted up my taco shells:)

I also gathered my accoutrement's- I chose chopped avocado, spinach,cherry tomatoes, pico, salsa, sour cream, and scallions- Yummmmy!

Ooohhh and how could forget- my closest kitchen comrade - CHEESE!

I decided to invite the children to make their won- hoping it might encourage more indulgent  eating on their part  (they can be somewhat picky) Z was psyched! The little guy on the other hand did this-

yes- that's right- it's the darn left over lunchtime orange again that he nabbed off the counter and threw on his taco:) He's a trip...enough said!

Here's how me and D's looked.  My consensus- they were excellent!(otherwise I would not be posting this recipe).  In the past I use the "veggie ground round" meat substitute- but I figured I tried try the least processed route- and it turned out pretty good! You could totally "play" with the spices and change it up a bit- or even add some tomato puree maybe?

Totally Terrific Tofu Tacos
1 package extra firm tofu frozen, then thawed
2 Tbsp cumin
1Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Adobo
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
taco shells/ tortilla chips

Strain and squeeze excess water out of thawed tofu, cube and sautee in dry pan on medium high heat until lightly browned, about 6 minutes.  Remove form pan, sauttee onion and garlic in 2 tsp olive oil until transparent- add in tofu, spices and water- simmer until water is absorbed. Serve on taco shells or as a nacho topping.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend Wedding

So- I was somehow roped into being the designated photographer for my brother-in-laws wedding this weekend.  I was nervous- since I am VERY far from being a professional photographer- but I was willing to take on the job- and I will say- it was a lot of work- but it was fun! 
I am still in the process of editing the pictures- but here are a few of my favs!  Oh- and ZZ was the flower girl- she looked super sweet- and was SO excited!!!!

The bride was so beautiful!
I love this father daughter shot!
Here are Z and Grammy- so sweet:)
She was a trooper- through the whole ceremony-picture taking afterwards- and even the reception- awesome!  We opted to leave the little guy home with Shuggie and Pop (thank goodness- best decision ever!) although his presence was missed:)

They are a beautiful couple.
I really appreciate attending weddings- it always seems to reafirm the comitement D and I made nearly 7 years ago...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm Featured on LGN!!!!

Check me out on Little Green Notebook!

I was inspired by her post a few months back- which then inspired my ink blot style painting (inspired by Warhol's Rorschach...the cover of J-Z's Bio Decoded)...and I am honored to be on such a great interior design blog! Thank you Jenny for the feature!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Latest Art, Clay Inspiration, and Soup

As you may already know- I have 2 shows coming up!!!!  Exciting- YES! slightly nerve wracking- yes indeed!

So- in turn, I've been painting a lot- which is always wonderful...I keep thinking to myself..."if I can make a career out this- how amazing would that be???"  this is something I've been doing for years- but to be able to do it, and make a living out of it- now that would be unbelievable.  I'll keep you posted on that front!

Here are some work shots from the past week

These first two are painted on clayboard- a hard- smooth substrate that I've used when I took the encaustics workshop- I thought I'd give it a try.  Although I like the paintings- I think the absorbency and texture of canvas fits this series better.
I also bought 1 of these quick wooden frame kits (they come in all sorts of sizes, are real wood, and a snap to assemble!) to try out on the board painting, I think it finishes it off nicely!  I have 4 of these board paintings completed, (6" x  6") for the upcoming shows.

and recent inspiration

this brings me to this amazing gift I received from Shug yesterday...
this pottery is SO beautiful.  We had pieces of it around the house growing up- and now I have my own piece:)  It's from a place in Dartmouth MA- called Salt Marsh Potterycheck out their site!

#1- I LOVE salt marshes:)
#2- I really love clay and pottery
#3- particularly, their pieces and process inspire me beyond belief- (something I didn't even make the connection to until I received this little bowl the other day is that the process they use for their pottery- is similar to my current painting/printing process- so cool!

Look at this adorable sea horse bowl
and this goregous trivet! (both pictures from their website!)
Thank you Mom!

I'd like to end this post with a delicious picture of today's lunch (and yesterday's dinner)- as I was gobbling it up I was thinking to myself -"jeez- I should have taken process pics to do a post on this recipe because it's SOOO good"- so my sister stopped for lunch and said- just post the recipe (it is pretty simple and self explanatory- so- here it is!

Creamy Vegan Potato, Corn, Kale Chowder

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion (diced)
2 Tbsp flour
2 medium potatoes (cubed)- sweets would be good too!
11/2 cups fresh, frozen, or canned corn (in order of preference)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
4 cups veggie broth
salt and pepper
3 cups finely chopped kale

Finely chop onion- add to pan with EVOO- saute until transparent- sprinkle flour on top of cooking onions, stir to combine- cook medium high 1 min. Add cubed potatoes, corn, minced garlic and salt and pepper- cook 5 min- until potatoes start to brown. Add broth- bring to a boil- boil 6 minutes- turn down to simmer- simmer until potatoes are to desired tenderness- remove from heat- add chopped kale- stir to combine, cover until ready to eat!

I served it last night with the delicious sweet potato biscuits posted here,  and today at lunch with toasted garlic cheesy naan (a staple purchase in the Trader Joe's frozen food isle:)


Sunday, April 17, 2011


This is what we've been doing lately in our backyard....
The water play was my idea (we bust out the kiddie pool as soon as it hits 50 degrees:) It occupies little minds for very long periods of time!

The brick throwing on the other hand- was NOT my idea (I swear)...but we go with it:)  We take the "natural consequence" approach to parenting;)

I'm not sure yet what we are conditioning for-- grecco-roman wrestling?...shot put?...strong man competition????

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Interview On LBR, What I've Been Doing and Twins!!!!!

Good friend, blogger, artist and soon to be art-show partner Lola Rain visited this weekend and did an artist interview with me!  Please check it out on her blog today!
I have not posted in a while- It's been busy round here!
Here's what Ive been up so- I will try to keep the commentary brief, so as not to bore you;)

2a: Big house project- PAINTING TRIM!!!!  Not so exciting- terribly tedious- but very much needed. The only issue with this undertaking is TIME- and the fact that once you paint one area- you really see how badly the rest of it needs to be done.
Case in point:

(and NO it is not I that got the paint on the poor vintage wallpaper- it was like that when we moved in:(
Here is the staircase before/after:
Here is my problem area- not sure how I'm gonna reach up to this spot...right now the only solution is looking like a brush tied to the end of a broom- which will be tough to keep it neat...I will keep you posted!
Oh- and yes- the railing will be repainted soon too- that IS marker on the rail in front of you- courtesy of little Mosie Man!

Goal- to get all of the entryway trim (upstairs and down) as well as the french doors to the living/dining room done before my show on May 7th- where (hopefully) a bunch of lovely people will be walking through my house checking out the murals and artwork!...I want it to look nice:)
also- the inside of the front door will done in high gloss black
2b:I've also been spending a lot of time in the are some of the WIP (works in progress)

2c: and lastly- we have been having some serious rain here (fine with me- everything is starting to sprout which is nice!) Well- you know that we got a new roof recently- last night in the rain I discovered that one of the gutters was not reattached properly- here's a shot from earlier today.....
it was making a crazy-loud drippy noise- so I decided to give myself a little thrill and balance on the radiator in front of the window- while leaning out of the top 1/2 of the window on the second floor- hammer in hand- praying not to fall to my serious injury in the rhododendron below...

....I made it!  I am alive and well- although the gutter is not perfect- its better!

onto the final topic of today....
We recently discovered that we have twins at our house!
Twin ponies!!!!

Here's how the conversation went...
Z: "Mommy look- these two ponies are the same!"
Me: "Oh wow- they are the same! How cool!  they're twins! What's that picture on their bottom..?"
Z: "A paintbrush!"
Me: "Oh cool- what do you think their name is?"
Z: "Oh...probably Collage!!!!"
(she's a butterfly fairy...I'm working on refining the fine art of face painting- prepping for Z's summer birthday party)

Ummmmm- okay...I was thinking more like Monet or something similar- along the line of french impressionists....but Collage sounds good to me:)