Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Watercolor Wednesday

I have been experimenting with some wet-in-wet painting techniques and some wax resist. I have also been trying (only somewhat successfully) to draw birds. I guess it is just lack of practice but bird shapes don't seem to come naturally to me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More From Chicago

Here are just a few more photos from our trip to Chicago last weekend. We stayed at the The Hotel Allegro ( in the theater district. We've stayed there before but they've done a wonderful remodel in an Art Deco/Funky Eclectic style since I was there last. The hotel has great service, is centrally located in the Loop, and has a free nightly wine hour for guests. The only small complaint I have is that the rooms are somewhat small but who wants to spend their vacation in the hotel room, anyway?
The photo above and below are shots of the lobby. I would love to take the pink velvet couch home with me :)

While we were in Chicago, we met a friend for breakfast at Orange on N. Clark (easy to get to from the Loop, just take the red line to Belmont and it's a short walk from there)
Below is a picture of the delicious and beautiful Frushi. Everything was good and the prices were very reasonable. If you want to beat the crowd on weekends, get there before ten.

This last photo below is of the restored Tiffany dome at the Chicago Cultural Center. The center has lots and lots of neat architectural details, art exhibits, and one of the Chicago's Visitor's Centers is located on the first floor. The gift shop looks like it is stocked with some cool and unique souvenirs, but was closed on Sunday when we stopped by (bummer).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Macy's (Marshall Fields) on State Street

I was disappointed when I realized that I wouldn't be able to see the flower show going on at the Macy's in downtown Minneapolis. That is, I was disappointed until I realized that I would be in Chicago for the weekend and could see the show at the Macy's on State Street (formerly known as The Marshall Fields Mothership)! I have always wanted to visit the store, anyway, since it is an historical landmark in Chicago. Even if you aren't a big shopper, I would recommend a visit if you are interested in the decorative arts or Tiffany glasswork (more on that further down)

Above is a version of the famous clock, done in glass by Seattle glass artisans.

Here are some photos of the flower show on the first floor. Flamingos and the color pink featured prominently in all of the displays.

Below are some photos of the store's other cool features. I think there are ten or twelve different floors of merchandise....and the famous Walnut Room restaurant, as well (sadly, we didn't have time or funds to eat there).
Below is the the famed Tiffany Ceiling on the 5th floor. It was built in 1907 and is absolutely stunning when seen in person. There is a visitor's center on the 7th floor (which has a nice display that highlights the store's place in Chicago history) and the kind folks there were happy to point me in the right direction.

Below is a close-up detail of some of the ceiling tilework.

I couldn't resist putting this last photo in (below). We got distracted for a little while by the FAO Schwartz toy section and these awesomely large (probably 6-8 feet?) stuffed creatures. We checked out some of the prices, and let's just say that these will not be going home with us anytime soon. I suppose we don't really have space in our apartment for them, anyway.

Como Park Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

My sister and I went to the zoo and conservatory ( last Thursday (her birthday). The pic above is a of a baby "mustache monkey" (I could look up the actual name but I don't feel like it). They also had a baby orangutan and a baby giraffe - both adorable, of course.

It was a beautiful day outside but the conservatory is nice to visit even (or especially) on a crummy day. They still had there spring flower display in the sunken garden, showing tons of tulips, daffodils, foxglove, and lilies. I believe that the summer show will begin in early May.

One of the nice things about the zoo and conservatory is that they don't charge a hefty fee. I think that the suggested donation is two dollars, which means that it is an affordable outing for families, students, and even poor artists :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Watercolor Wednesday

Here is a photo and detail of a watercolor I finished today. I had my first watercolor "class" last night and it was fun. There are a lot of different painting styles represented, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, I completely overworked the painting I did in class last night and ruined it beyond repair, I think. I'll take a look at it next week and see if there is any way of salvaging it. It's hard to know when to stop sometimes :(

Monday, April 13, 2009


Saturday night we sat down to decorate eggs, only to realize that we had no vinegar for traditional egg-dying. So, we went to town with crayons, stickers, and markers (non-toxic, of course).
Below are the little baskets we made for our family (all grown except my nephew). I got this kit from Target on clearance a few months ago; it's supposed to be for a baby shower but I thought it worked pretty well for Easter. Each little bucket was just big enough for a few pieces of candy and a mini squirt gun.

Magazine Monday - Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Curd and Mascarpone

For my sister's birthday I made this Lemon Layer Cake from the April 2003 edition of Bon Appetit. You can find the recipe here:

I took some short cuts in that I didn't make my own lemon curd (only because I didn't have enough eggs; it looks pretty easy) and I used half cream cheese/half mascarpone to save a little money.

The recipe was pretty easy over all - just a little fiddly. It gave me a chance to work on my egg separating, egg white whipping, and egg white folding skills.

Next time I would make twice the amount of simple syrup to really soak the layers as they were just a little bit drier than I'd like. The cake isn't the star here, anyway - it's all about the delicious, tangy, fluffy frosting/filling.

One other thing - my frosting gun is still broken so I couldn't do any fancy piping. So, the end result was a little rustic but still tasty.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Around Town

It looks like it's going to be a beautiful Easter weekend here in the Twin Cities! Finally, some good weather. Here are a few things I'm thinking of doing this weekend:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Watercolor Wednesday

Here is just a detail from a watercolor that I finished last night. I couldn't get a good photo of the painting as a whole. Plus, I think it might still need some work. I like this portion of the painting, though.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Blogs of Note

I've added some new blogs to my favorites:

Time to Shake Things Up!

Spring has sprung (or is in the process of springing, anyway) and it's time to clean up my blog.

I've updated the recent reading and have made a promise to myself that I will keep it updated. Despite what it may look like, I am actually a fast reader and usually have a fiction and nonfiction book going at the same time.

I'm also going to be posting much more frequently. To motivate myself, I'm introducing some new weekly or semi-weekly features, including:

  • Magazine Mondays - This one is inspired by another blog ( I'll be posting either a delicious dessert created from a magazine recipe or a craft project/art technique from a magazine. Hopefully, this will justify all of the space those magazines are taking up.....
  • Watercolor Wednesday - Yup, I'm bringing this one back. I've signed up for a watercolor class that meets on Tuesday evenings and will post new paintings each Wednesday.
  • Around Town - I'll be highlighting cool events for the upcoming weekend or showing pics of recent outings around town.