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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year


First, call the Fire Marshall



Our potatoe farmer friend from Idaho brought this Jeroboam. It holds 4 standard size bottles of Champagne
No one noticed the large pile of wood by the pond ....and then it was ablaze, a stroke or two before midnight. Gene gave a short little speech. It was all about ridding yourself of everything negative. He handed each guest a large sheath of tall grasses, something substantial to hold on to. Each person and not at the same time, and only when they were ready, tossed the sheath into the fire. You could actually feel the lightness of spirit as the flames shot higher and higher.


As soon as my exotic, beautiful and longtime friend Susie realized her opportunity she raced back to the house and reappeared with a slip of paper. She tossed it into the fire. The flames picked it up and hurled it into the freezing air as we watched it disappear into the night. In her high heels and little black cocktail dress she chased after it. And with great determination she tossed it back into the fire. And this time it burned. Mission accomplished! What was so important in this written message on that little slip of paper? We will never know.

On New Years Eve we call the Fire Marshall. Yes, we are going to have another bonfire. No need to send the Fire Engines.


Wishing each and everyone of you lightness of spirit.

Gina

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ware for the Noble Table


"Ware for the Noble Table" is the title of Maiolica to be found at the Faenza, Italy Museum Collection
amyxart

This style of Maiolica is called the "Bianchi Style" or Faenza White Style.
Unlike earlier Maiolica, which was almost completely covered with decoration, the Faenza White, from the middle of the 16th to the end of the 17th century, is only partially painted.

I also spotted similar noble plates in the Leeuwarden Princesshof Museum of Holland. Both exhibits were indelibly printed upon my mind.


I promised myself that I would have such beautiful dinnerware one day. And why not, I can paint them myself.




Each one of my very large plates (8 of them) is different, however, they have one thing in common. They all incorporate my beautiful Allee, my tree lined path to my house.



I know, you say she is not of Royal Birth, but maybe she is. Maybe you would also like to feel special. I would be happy to paint a few for you.

Gina

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Very Ugly Chairs




It is the round Table I spied at the Garage Sale

You can cover a table with a pretty cloth, no one is the wiser


The ugly chairs came with the table

Gene promised to take them to the Landfill.....why are they still here?

They are the most comfortable chairs EVER and you can move several of them with one hand.

As soon as the weather warms up a bit the ugly chairs will get a make-over. There is a new spray paint that sticks to anything, even plastic.

What do you think?

Gina




Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas to all creatures, Great and Small





Stanley, our old Gentleman Cat. He disappears for most of the day to snooze under the Christmas Tree. What does he think when the tree is gone?

See those black spots on his nose? He fights big battles out in the Alfalfa fields with voles, little creatures with very sharp beaver-like teeth.

Gina

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas



Der Wheinachtsbaum, a beautiful Tradition









This year as in every year, a week before Christmas, we pack a picnic, and head for the Forest. Several weeks earlier, Gene along with our friends and neighbors, stood in line for a U. S. Forest Tree Cutting Permit. The Forest Service designates certain areas for permits. These areas need to be "thinned" so that more grasslands will be available for the many deer and elk we have in our area.







The snow was deep. The truck could only safely go a few miles. The cross county skies took us the rest of the way. We found the perfect tree. We had planned well, except for one important item. WE SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT THE FLEXIBLE FLYER.


You don't know the Fexible Flyer? Well of course, it is a sleigh. How much easier it would have been had we brought the sleigh. But never mind, we had lots of laughs pulling the tree down the mountain and there was champagne and pate and little toasts at the bottom.






I wish you all and especially my wonderful Bloggers from near and the far corners of the world, a very beautiful Christmas and a New Year filled with love, happiness and good health.


Gina

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Peking Duck for Christmas ?



A European Holiday tradition - Duck a l'Orange



IttyBitty and Tilly



A car pulled up. Not so unusual. We have people coming down our lane all of the time. They usually ask silly questions.

A little boy was sitting in the back seat. Tears streaming down his small face. He was clutching a tiny yellow duckling to his chest.

You see, we have a very large pond behind our house.

The little duckling followed me everywhere. I named him "Ittybitty".

After spending a few days and nights in a warm box in our kitchen we decided that it was time to introduce him to the pond. We made a small enclosure of wire fencing, under a tree and partly in the pond. He knew immediately that this was the place where he should have been all along.

A long way away, clear across the pond, Tilly, our resident goose, was watching our every move. Tilly can be quite bossy. She likes to pick up ducks and toss them away from the feeding trough. She bosses the wild geese. She chases the dogs and cat.

She was churning the water to get to the tiny creature. I picked up a stick, just in case. Tilly swam to the wire fence, lifted it and claimed Ittybitty. From then on, the two were inseparable.

A few weeks later, the little boy came by to see his friend. He called and called for it. That was the last time the small boy came to see his duckling. It didn't know him anymore.

Ittybitty turned out to be a big and fat Peking Duck. She abandoned Tilly and took up with three beautiful Greenheads (Mallard Ducks). The Greenhead boys, always two on her left and one on her right, accompany Ittybitty to wherever she wants to go.

Ittybitty will not be Duck a l'Orange for Christmas or even the New Years Eve Dinner.

Gina

Monday, December 21, 2009

To paint or not to paint.



Is it an antique? Is it valuable? I don't think so! Let me paint it.






It was nothing special, but it was the right size, but so unsightly. Would a little paint make it more pleasant to look at?























A little red paint, a little gold paint, and a few oil paints squeezed onto a palette, several brushes and the deed was done.
(While the panels were drying outside in the sun, the rooster left his signature).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Brilliant Idea



Special presents for Christmas


Not to confuse two very special people, let me explain. I have two students, both named Cindy. One Cindy comes for private painting lessons. She is the very accomplished Potter who signs her pieces "White Buffalo Pottery".


And then there is Cindy, my student who has taken maiolica painting lessons through our College program. It is this Cindy who has had a brilliant idea, I think.


She asked each of her small children to paint a picture. Anything they wanted to paint. She did not interfere and just let them paint. She commented on their fine work and nothing more was said about it.


Each day, while her children were at school, she copied the paintings onto tile, hand painting them exactly as her children painted them. Only this time she painted the images onto ceramic tiles.


I fired these wonderful murals for her in my kiln. Cindy will give them to her children on Christmas morning. Now, this is what I call a brilliant idea.



So, without further ado, here are the murals:











Gina

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pomanders



Is anyone still making Pomanders?





Pomanders have long been a Holiday tradition. They look and smell so festive. Making Pomanders is a perfect project for children.

Use a knitting needle or crochet hook to punch little holes into oranges, lemons or limes. Insert whole cloves into fruit. Cover the entire fruit or add only a few cloves. Either way, the spice-rich aroma will fill your house. A pretty ribbon tied around the middle, gives them an extra special holiday look.

Pomanders will keep for years if you toss them into a mixture of powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Turn pomanders often and make sure you have enough of the spice mixture to cover the fruit. In about two weeks your finished pomanders can be hung into closets or cupboards.
Gina

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Wall that is special


You know that a wall in my house is just not any wall




It is more effective if the walls have an "orange rind texture"




You will need 2 colors of latex paint. Use the brighter color for the first coat. Let dry and apply second coat. Use a large, almost dry brush. Apply in circular motion to achieve a "cloud like" appearance.


With a soft cloth apply, with a circular motion, a brown furniture oil stain. With acrylic paints stamp design onto walls in an irregular fashion. Last coat, stamp more leaf designs with bronzing powders or metallic paints. The thin lines are painted with a small brush in a twirling motion. My stamps were cut from old computer mouse pads.




Can you believe that this is the same wall as above?


This paint technique works well with other color combinations. Each coat of paint and each color contributes to the whole. The result? Your walls will always glow, no matter rain or shine, day or night, sleet or snow.

Gina


Monday, December 14, 2009

Kirschwasser


Kirschwasser as fine as any you can buy.


Maryam of My Marrakech posted a great recipe for making vanilla extract. It really works.

For years I have been making a fine Liquor called "Kirschwasser". It is just as simple to make as is the vanilla extract.

I usually make this Liquor when the sour cherries are ripe.




Fill large canning jars 1/2 full with cherries (pits and all). Pour "simple syrup" (1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, heated until dissolved) over cherries until cherries are covered. Fill remaining jar with a good vodka or gin. Let stand for several months in cool and dark place. Give jar a gentle shake now and then.

Note: You can try frozen or canned cherries, however, the cherries must still have their pits. It is the cherry pits that enhance the Kirschwasser flavor.

Strain and pour into crystal decanters. Please remember to save the macerated cherries. They are perfect for a fine Kirschwasser Torte. (Be careful, remove the cherry pits).

Gina

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do you love Urns as much as I do?



They are everywhere. Inside my house, and outside my house, and in the greenhouse; they are everywhere.




They will hold anything and everything
Fruit lasts longer than flowers but snow is so fleeting

Gives even the most humble more importance
























Inside or out, always perfection







I even paint them on ceramics


My newest urns, just out of the kiln this morning




And as you come into my home, there is an urn to greet you

Gina

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Most Popular Guy in Town



He is gone for hours, visiting Ladies in town


Gene and his first Love, his Ford Jubilee Tractor


It is very cold outside this morning, minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit. And we have had our first big winterstorm. A lot of snow. That means that many Ladies need to be rescued.

Their Hero is on his way with his 1953 Jubilee Tractor!


Gene's tractor is busy all year; it not only moves snow, it carves ditches, it ploughs the garden, it moves irrigation pipes and takes little boys and girls for rides.



Is this really what it looked like only a few months ago? I think, in Utah, we take the seasons too much to heart.

Gina



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ice Age coming?

Global Warming?
Not here!








It was 25 degrees below zero this morning


Even the Chickens are on Strike.


Only 3 eggs this morning.


The Pond is almost frozen over.


The Ducks have to be fed twice a day.


The Ford Jubilee Tractor had to be warmed.



And, I had to shovel the balconies



Gina

Monday, December 7, 2009

Do you recognize these?


Where are they from? They appear to be very old! Are they?


Could they be from Egypt? (That is what my professor of Anthropology thinks)
















Or could they be from the Far East?
The figures are only 7 inches tall.
They are made of wood.








About 35 years ago, an elderly, very well dressed couple, brought these figures into a Santa Barbara consignment shop. The owner of the shop was not interested in purchasing them.

Could I purchase them? They sold them to me for under $10, all of them.

The silver haired couple didn't look like they were needy. Why did they risk rejection? And for so little!

Gina

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sinfully Good


Christmas Cookies that will melt in your Mouth


My Family has been baking these Christmas Cookies for several Generations


Even better when you let them "age" for a month

Recipe
Cream together 1 cup unsalted butter
and 2/3 cup sugar
Beat in 1 egg, 1tsp vanilla, pinch of salt, 1 Tb of orange rind, 1 Tb of fresh lemon juice
Add 2 and 1/2 cups of sifted flour
Mix until well blended
Cool (not chill) dough for 1 hour
Cut out 2 cookie shapes, same size, cut center hole into one cookie
stack cookies and fill with preserves
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until barely colored.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Gina


Friday, December 4, 2009

No need to go to Deruta, Italy


This window display could be found in many places of Italy where fine Maiolica is painted.


Every time I visit the studio of my student Cindy Ericksen I am impressed not only by the expertise of her painting but also by the sheer volume of her work




Cindy is a very fine potter, trained through a strenuous program at the University of Utah. Like me, she received a degree in Anthropology from the University. Maybe it is the old bones and old sherds of pottery that brought us together.



Only a year ago, Cindy came to me for lessons in painting in the Italian Maiolica style. The name of her studio is "White Buffalo Pottery". As a young mother and wife, Cindy was diagnosed with a very serious illness. Not long after, in a dream, a white buffalo appeared with a message. The message gave her the strength to follow through with treatments that saved her life.

Cindy does not actively sell her art, although she has been approached by several galleries. She loves to create and experiment. She is proficient in many disciplines. On rare occasions, when urged to sell some of her pieces, she donates all proceeds to her favorite charity (see an earlier post "Talent and Compassion", Oct. 17, 2009).
And if you express admiration for a certain piece of her art she will most likely hand it to you with a smile.
Gina

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why Art and Alfalfa?






We live in the middle of a very large Alfalfa field, that's why!








First came the house (building on left), then my "Folly" (building to the far right) which consists of guesthouse, greenhouse, workshop and garages all in one.

And then we built the Barn, my favorite Building.




When I say "we built" I mean it. We studied Andrea Palladio's small villas in Italy; and this is what we came up with. The main house was first, then the "Folly" and then the Barn.


It made a nice courtyard design with a large horsetrough fountain in the middle. All in all about 3 years in the making. We designed, we laid marble floors, we executed all of the paint finishes, I painted all of the tiles, we stuccoed walls and posts and we loved every minute of it. We had help, of course.


We were thrilled and sad at the same time when everything was finished.


Gina




Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hand Block Printed Toile de Jouy Paper Ribbon

Print your own - 180 feet of ribbon


Block printed on 6" wide masking paper
Roll out the masking paper and stamp with dark blue acrylic paint

Wrap packages with plain brown paper and decorate with "ribbon"

Stamps from "Rubber Stampede"






Pretty as any 18th century French Toile de Jouy fabric
Gina