Monday, December 29, 2008


The biggest snow storm(s) in Portland in 100 years! Unbelievable! Usually, if we get any snow, its gone in a day or so. Not this year, two weeks of snow. Airport closed for multiple days and the roads were nearly impassable. We just don't have the snowplows and equipment to deal with this much snow. And then, it started to rain and its just all gone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tlaquepaque, Mexico -- Shoppers Paradise

Gary and I just returned from a trip to Mexico. We flew into Guadalajara on Friday the 30th and headed on over to Tlaquepaque, a small town on the edge of Guadalajara. Flying into G. was different than our usual trip because its not a 'tourist' airport like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. It's a big modern airport but it is set up for Mexicans not tourists. Everything went smoothly, maybe even more smoothly because there were fewer newbies fumbling with immigration forms. We were picked up by a driver from our hotel, the Quinta Don Jose. It was a wonderful little hotel, I highly recommend it.
The whole reason for going to Tlaquepaque is SHOPPING! This town is ground zero for Mexican arts and crafts. Very high quality, very good prices. Lots of wholesale buyers from around the world shop here. What we didn't expect is the amount and quality of contemporary Mexican furniture and art. If you are furnishing a new house (or an old one) and like either contemporary, 'artsy' furniture or rustic, solid furniture, you should really consider a trip here. I know you could save more than enough to pay for the shipping and the trip. I wish I could have gotten some photos of the furniture to show you but most places didn't allow pictures.
On Saturday, we left the hotel, walked two blocks and were on the a great pedestrian shopping street. We checked out every shop on the street (and some of the surrounding streets), had a great lunch at Adobe Fonda and plotted our overall shopping strategy for the next few days.
On Sunday, we took an organized tour from the hotel to Tonala, the next small town. Tonala is famous for having the furniture, class, pottery and paper mache factories that supply Tlaquepaque. In this case factory, can mean anything from one guy in the courtyard of his house to maybe 20 workers blowing glass. We visited a couple of artists (I bought a very nice vase) and then went to the famous Sunday flea market. It was about a mile of market stalls set up on the side of the road selling everything from shoes to toys to kitchen goods to traditional Mexican crafts to cds to ?? Actually pretty overwhelming and the quality of art was not too good. A fun experience but I wouldn't do it again. We did get lunch in the market with all the locals. Crammed into a market stall, seated on a rickety plastic stool. We split a Torta, which is kind of a sandwich but better. This on was toasted on a hot grill then had sauce poured all over it, yum!

We did make one purchase in the flea market. Gary decided he needed a paper mache parrot for his media room. I really wanted a flamingo but it was BIG and the parrot was hard enough to get home.
Monday we rented a car and drove to Lake Chapala, a large lake just half an hour south. Lots of Americans retire there. Tons of cars with US and Canada plates. Cute little towns but the people were really old and it was very "American". Nice drive though.
Tuesday was the day to commit! We bought some outdoor light fixtures for our yard. They have to be made and shipped to us. We also bought a couple of small figures made of old car parts. And I got a new purse by Sergio Bustamante. Sergio Bustamante is an amazing sculptor. I really wanted his bronze wall sculptures for the front of my house but I didn't have a spare $45,000 this month, LOL. So I settled for a purse, actually the purse was more than I would usually spend but the details are so cool and my darling hubby was being generous with me.
I really liked this town and want to return with some girlfriends who would more enjoy shopping. Gary was a good sport but he runs out of patience with 'just looking'.
After 5 days of fun in Tlaquepaque, we flew to Puerto Vallarta and spent 5 days at Punta Mita where Gary had a meeting. Victoria joined us there. Kinda the usual resort stuff nothing too unusual except for the heat. Oh My God, never travel to PV in September. I don't care how good the deal is, there is a reason it is considered the low season. It was about 90 degrees and I swear 100% humidity. Our friends from Florida and Louisiana didn't mind but I thought I would die. The only upside I could see was that the ocean was so warm that we got to go diving without a wetsuit. At 70 feet the water was 87 degrees. The freedom of diving in bathing suit with only a couple of pounds of weight was amazing. I loved that. We ate at a couple fun spots. Margaritas in Punta de Mita is a beach fish restaurant where we had yummy whole grilled fish. It was so hot that afternoon. The waiter rounded up all their fans and positioned them around us, funny but a life saver.
The other new dining treat we discovered was Tacon de Marlin. A scrappy little spot across from the airport. If you know Puerto Vallarta, it's over the footbridge from the airport. I've seen it for years but we've never gone in, frankly, it looks like a truck stop kind of place. It is really, really good. They serve seafood burritos, all kinds. We had the smoked marlin burrito. It is delicious. Gary was in heaven, I'm sure we will have to go there every time now.
I did a small amount of shopping in PV. Went to my all time favorite store there, Peyote People. They specialize in Huachol art (I'll do a whole post about this style someday) but have recently expanded into some other high-quality Mexican art. I got this beautiful caterina.
Unfortunately, she is as fragile as she is beautiful. I'll be spending some quality time with tweezers and superglue to put some of her parts back on.
That's the latest around here, I'll try to be a better blogger and post more often. See you around,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Feeling sentimental...

My little girl is graduating high school on Friday and I find myself uncharacteristically sentimental. Usually these 'milestone' events don't affect me too much but lately I am thinking a lot about the passage of time and growing up. I am remembering myself at her age and thinking about the choices I made and the roads I could have taken but passed up. I love my life but I have been wondering what it would have looked like 'if only I had...'. I tend toward the very pragmatic and have always picked myself up and moved on from my errors and misfortunes so this looking backward is very unusual for me. I think that looking at my girl and seeing the vast possibilities laid out in front of her that has me reflecting so soberly on my life. She is so excited to start college but I think the change is affecting her as well. She has been spending more time with me and her dad than ever before. We have been having fairly deep conversations and she is updating me on every little thing she is doing. It's been really nice. I am enjoying this time we have, and I'll really miss her in the fall. I know it's time and that she is ready (guess I did OK in the parenting department) but I'll still miss her.

Well, I think that's enough for today or I'll make myself cry (and I almost never cry!). Thanks for listening to me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Poor, poor puppy

My poor little baby! While I was away this weekend visiting my sister, my sweet little doggy had an unfortunate incident. Stop reading now if you are easily grossed out! She got an infected anal gland and had to have emergency surgery! When I took this picture, she still had the drain in and was seriously unhappy. She just sat and whimpered whenever I left the room. Fortunatly, the vet has removed the drain and she doesn't have to wear the bucket anymore, HOORAY! She is feeling much better and is acting more like her old self.

The funny part of this story is that I had left my 18-year-old daughter home alone that weekend because she is "so mature and responsible". I left on Thursday evening and Friday morning I get the first call. "The instant hot water tap is free-flowing, what do I do? HELP!" So I talk her thru that. Friday about 3pm, "How do I turn on the AC?" (the first hot day of the year) So I talk her thru that. Friday about 8pm, she calls and tells me the dog is sick, the anal gland has burst (I know, gross!) and what should she do. I talk her thru calling the vet, finding the ER vet and getting the dog to the ER. Of course, she has to go back on Saturday and spend the rest of the weekend nursing the dog. I think she was really grateful when I got home and could take over. This being a responsible adult is not all it was cracked up to be.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Junk Drawer Jewelry

I'm taking a class at the DIY Lounge at Collage (a really cool art/paper store in Portland) called Junk Drawer Jewelry taught by Bridget Benton. Its a basic jewelry class incorporating junk, hardware store finds, stamping, inks and whatever into cool jewelry. The instructor is a fun girl, helpful and knowledgeable. I went Wednesday night and had a blast. I made a bracelet and this pendent. I need to decide how to hang it but I think it's pretty cool. Next week we are going to make stuff with bicycle tire inner tubes.
I'd really like to learn to make jewelry and am buying books like a mad woman. I've been looking into taking some metalsmithing classes but for some reason, I'm kinda scared. Its the usual nonsense, you know "what if everybody else knows what they are doing" "what if I really suck at it" "what if I catch my hair on fire with the torch" LOL So for now, I'm sticking with cold connections and just trying our assemblage inspired work. It sure is fun, and you'll never go to the hardware store the same again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Red Rock Canyon

We did something new this year in Las Vegas. We hiked in the Red Rock Canyon park. So beautiful. Here are a few pictures that don't do it justice at all.

Vegas Baby!

I've been MIA for a few days because my hubbie and I went to Las Vegas for some sun and fun. Found both in abundance! We don't gamble but we manage to find lots of other things to do. We usually stay for about 3 days but this was a long trip - 5 whole days of sunshine. We stayed at the Wynn hotel which was great, such a nice hotel. Big, beautiful rooms; awesome restaurants and a great pool. It's across the street from the Fashion Show mall (Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom etc) and the other corner is the new Palazzo Hotel and the Venetian with all of their cool shops (and a canal with gondolas, inside!).

Here are my top Vegas tips (can't help you with blackjack or poker)

  1. Walk down the strip to the La Salsa restaurant near MGM for their $3.95 breakfast special - 2 eggs, potatoes, tortillas & bacon, sausage or ham. You can't beat that!

  2. If your hotel has a "European" style pool, AKA topless, try it out. I never see anybody topless but it's always quieter and less crowded than the main pool and it's over 21 so no screaming kids.

  3. Wear good shoes! Everything is much, much farther than you think. I managed to get a blister the first day and had to fight it for the whole rest of the time I was there.

  4. Dress up! You cannot be overdressed in Vegas. This is your chance to wear the heels, push up bra, short skirt, big hair, jewelry or whatever makes you feel fabulous. Time enough to be sensible at home.

  5. Drink water, lots and lots of water. The dry desert air, hot sun, air conditioning and margaritas will dehydrate you terribly.

We tried something new this year, went hiking at Red Rocks park. I'll tell you all about it and post some pictures later.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Paint Over Technique

An experiment with Lisa Bibi's paint over technique. Lisa taught at ArtFest this year and I read an article about her in Somerset magazine. This is my humble attempt at her style. It turned out pretty good and was fun. I think it needs something more in the upper left, don't you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Stephanie tagged me the other day. Once I figured out what was a "tag", I started to fret. How can I tag 7 other people, I don't really know 7 other people who blog (and Stephanie tagged the one other person I do know personally, LOL). Is it OK to tag strangers? I am so new to this whole blogging thing that I really don't know. I'm just going to take the plunge and hope that nobody minds being tagged by me.

Here are the rules:
1. Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the RULES on your blog.
3. Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on y our blog.
4. Tag 7 people and link to them.
5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

7 Random Things About Me

1. I race cars, autocross to be exact.

2. I went to 13 public schools in 6 states from K-12. And I don't consider it a bad thing.

3. I am a horrible golfer, even though I take lots of lessons and actually enjoy it. I think it's hopeless.

4. I own well over 100 pairs of shoes -- I don't think that's too many, do you?

5. I love SCUBA diving and have been to over 200' deep. Now that really is too deep. This is me in Fiji, yup those are sharks behind me, how cool is that!

6. I turn the wrong way out of elevators, stores and hotel rooms about 80% of the time. You'd think that I would at least have a 50/50 chance, wouldn't you? NOPE!

7. I've visited every Disney Park in the world. That is me in the blue shirt with my mother, sister and daughter at Hong Kong Disneyland.

I am tagging the following people:
Kristi,, an ArtFest acquaintance
Dorit Elisha,, a wonderful mixed media artist, author and teacher
Lisa,, a very cool girl I met at ArtFest - interesting blog
Julie,, fellow ArtFester
Amy,, I know she has already been tagged but cut me a break, I don't have that many blogs to tag.
Mary Beth Shaw,, fabulous artist and ArtFest teacher
Alecia Paulson,, great photographer and blogger

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My beautiful girl

Just a real quick post to show you my baby girl -- pretty much all grown up now. Last night was her senior prom and we couldn't believe how beautiful and adult she looked. Of course, she had some slack-jawed boy with her, but we'll just ignore him, LOL.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pinhole Cameras

A pinhole camera is a simple camera without a glass lens. They can be made out of almost anything, instructions are available all over the web along with how to calculate the exposure time. Corbis has posted several extremely cool PRINTABLE pinhole cameras -- for free.
clipped from

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Here is a lovely image shot with a pinhole camera. I would be proud of this image from any camera, its even more impressive when you consider the simplicity of the equipment. I am going to get going on this project and try it out.

Alessandra Lami, "In the park in a sunny day"
Bologna, Italy
"Mamya 645 6x4.5 camera fitted with homemade pinhole, diameter 0.35 mm, F 160, B&W negative Ilford FP4Plus 125 ISO, exposure time 3 sec, EV 14"

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Monday, April 14, 2008


I think I spend more time cleaning and organizing my studio than actually working on art. In fact, I KNOW it! Is that a bad thing? I actually love touching and sorting out all my treasures. All those pristene sheets of paper, full tubes of paint and sparkly piles of beads. How can I mess them up? Maybe that's the root of the problem. If I actual use my treasures to create something, maybe it won't be any good, maybe my things are prettier or more valuable in their original state???? When I take classes, I am forced to sit down and DO something. In reality, it's almost always a good result. Why is it so scary to face that quiet studio, so full of potential? I actually found myself cleaning baseboards today when I could have been making art. Am I psycho or what?
This blog is my first baby steps toward putting myself out in the world as an artist, not as a stay-at-home mom who makes 'stuff'. Not that there is anything wrong with being a stay-at-home mom who makes 'stuff' but I have been hiding behind that label too long. I am hoping the tiny pressure of keeping up this blog with kick me into creating more regularly. If you have any good advice, feel free to offer it up.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Color is very much about atmosphere and emotion and the feel of a place. - Alex Webb

My primary art form and creative outlet has been photography for the last few years. I have taken several classes from the Rocky Mountain School of Photography and have taken thousands of images. With all that, you'd think I would be a pro by now. Not so! I am still amazed at how hard it is to make a image with impact and how easy it is to completely mess it up. When I look at my favorite images, I see a few recurring themes. When I am shooting just for the sake of art (as opposed to documenting an event or place) I am attracted to abstract forms and color. These images are all about color and line, the actual item being photographed is not relevant to the final image. In reviewing these images, I am reminded of how much pleasure I got in making them. I really must spend more time with my camera. If you would like to see more of my macro photography, please visit my SmugMug page.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I attended a great art retreat last weekend in Port Townsend, Washington called ArtFest. It was my first time attending this particular retreat and it was amazing. We immersed ourselves in art, without having to worry about laundry, cooking, children and the 'real' world. I met so many fabulously interesting women who, like me, are in a stage of their lives where they are wondering exactly who to be now that the children are grown. As well as so many confident, great artists that generously shared their knowledge, skills and friendship with me.

I took three great classes and learned something from all of them. From Nina Bagley, I took a class called "Wee Book". We made a tiny book from copper, fabric and paper to hold small treasures. What fun! I'll post a picture of it soon.

Then I took "Nature Imprinted" from Dorit Elisha. We learned to make gelatin prints of natural materials. An easy, fun process that has great potential for me. Here is a quickie collage I made in class using the prints:

My final class was with Mary Beth Shaw "Exploring the Abstract". This class was my favorite. I really feel that I stretched out and moved beyond 'craft' into 'art'. Mary Beth was so encouraging and supportive. She demonstrated several, new to me, techniques that I love! I will be exploring this medium a lot more in the very near future. Stay tuned!

I finally gave in...

Everybody I know has a blog and I have finally caved to the pressure. I will try to post frequently. We will see how it goes...