Monday, May 24, 2010

Gnome Garden

The new gnome garden! I finished this yesterday. I turned a mound into a "terrace" and added new plants.

Seeking: female gnome garden figure of regular gnome stature, who likes huge snails, standing around, greeting guests, and gardening. Do you like cool Oregon weather? If you are female and a gnome, I encourage you to apply.

Overview of the gnome garden. Poppy demonstrating proper use of pathway in the walkway garden.

New arrangement of the heart rocks, Quillan's flower pot and bird's water cup.

Singing Rocks family.

Arrangement of plants in pots and the toad bath. (You know how filthy toads get. Part of gardening really is a service to nature's creatures, right?)

Mr Scoop also using the pathway. What gold star kitties they are today!

I need some special tips on getting step-ables to GROW like crazy in my shady walk way garden. I've been working on this for three years now and can't quite them to take off. Some die off during the winter, which doesn't help. I plant only shade tolerant species and water them lots! Any good advice?

Overview of the walkway fairy garden on a cool Oregon day in May...........

Ugo martian plush

UGO the cybernetic martian is visiting my studio!

The Ugo, the plush version, is a collaboration between comic book artist, Tom Dell'Aringa, of Marooned comic, and me. A limited edition of 10 are currently available through the maroonedcomic site this week.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gardening Tuesdays - Container gardens

I'm HOOKED on miniature gardens in containers! It's a brand new hobby. When we bought this house, three years ago, it had a very empty yard, so we started with the most important: the vegetable garden, then next year- flower gardens, then worked on the lawn, so this year, it's finishing the patio which leaves room for decorating in containers, and miniature gardens.

After a lovely Mother's day brunch, cooked by my family, I took my mom thrifting for fun containers to plant succulents in. I couldn't believe the abundance of FUN things we found. (I'm going to have to learn how to drill through ceramics if I keep this up). The little Dutch girl was built for plants. I added baby strawberry plants to her pockets and hat.

My new Bliss Monkey Studio mascot had a former life as a cookie jar (thrift store find). Break the lid on your fav tea pot or cookie jar? No worries, drill a hole or use lots of rocks at the bottom and don't over water, soil, succulents and wa-la, a happy garden for your sunny window, porch, or friend's house!

I am suddenly fascinated by succulents! After bringing these containers home, I had a look around, and realized I have quite a variety of neglected, overgrown succulents, aloe, and such around the yard and in the house. I took an afternoon to repot and distribute. Let's see if I can get more babies to grow, thus feeding my need to thrift up MORE containers and fill them with little, easy to care for, arrangements.

This one is already gifted. Easy to make: rocks in the bottom for good drainage, new potting soil, baby aloe and succulent plants, and several pretty rocks. Do not over-water. I'm going to have to learn to drill holes in the containers that lack.

For fans of Saffron: he's doing great. After a winter of three surgeries for his leg, and lots of reclusive mending time, he's back outside, playing with the other cats, built up muscle, and almost back to climbing. Yey, happy kitty! Age 3.

Coffee Cozies are Out of This WORLD!!!!

Need a little rocket fuel in your cup? Coffee cozy fans, strap on your seat belts for this journey into bliss space!

You know me, I love to make coffee cozies because I am an art quilter at heart, and I love using those skills to create art for every day objects. Combining my adoration of art quilts and coffee, and my current playful mind space, I bring you space themed coffee cozy series. They make great gifts for those coffee, tea, cocoa drinking friends of yours.

Above: Milky Way Macchiato coffee cozy, named by Facebook fans. Join in the fun at Bliss Monkey Studio fan page on facebook.

Mocha on Mars coffee cozy. Laid flat, you can see more of the quilting, amount of stitch work, and raw edge applique style. Cheers!

Interplanet Janet coffee cozy. Did you grow up with school house rock? If you are like me, you remember those little learning lessons between cartoons on Saturday mornings. In fact, you remember the lovely jingles all TOO well, thus your brain is now full and unable to store anything new.

Cozies currently available in Bliss Monkey Studio shop on Etsy!

For my birthday......

The set up:
For my birthday this year, I asked the kids for one thing: Make me a cake all by yourselves?

Now, Finn, aged 10, and Quillan age 7.5, have been baking cakes from scratch with me since they were old enough to stand on a chair. Both have amazing attention spans, love to measure, use the mixer, lick beaters, help concoct frosting colors, watch me decorate, but clean up........ not so much.

They know the basics (for those who don't bake from scratch, it goes like this....all ingredients at room temp, mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, cream butter and sugar, then eggs = wet mixture, and the third bowl of milk + vanilla. Alternate adding milk/dry into the butter mix. Don't over mix.....)

On their own:
I was confident in their abilities. I got the recipe out, suggested they read it out loud to each other before starting, and to let me know if there were any serious questions, I'd be in the studio...... before I had a chance to pretend I needed something from the house (and wander through the kitchen "not looking"), Finn came in to tell me the batter was all ready but it looked like "soup with chunks of butter they couldn't mix up".

"Did you cream the butter first?"
"Not exactly........"
Me, ".......(breathing)..... ok, let's have a look". I shuffled into the kitchen to find dismayed children hovering over, yep, brown soup. With chunks.

Yes, they read the recipe and measured carefully, all into the same bowl, mixing gently with the wooden spoon. They failed to follow the recipe over to the SECOND column where it goes on to describe HOW to make it. I realized that all these times I've baked, I've read the recipe to them, so they've never tracked a recipe with their own eyes. Column one, column two. So when they didn't see directions, they relied on their recent memories of the last two things we baked: muffins and biscuits (one bowl, wooden spoon).

They were very upset, thinking they had ruined everything. There were tears. I regrouped with the studio perspective. "Ok, so this is not what you set out to do. The process took an unexpected turn. What does any good artist do? Go with it! Let's just SEE what happens!"

They got out the mixer, and creamed the butter chunks into submission, prepped the pan and baked it.

The Finale:
Of course it didn't rise. It was over-mixed, but dang it was moist and delish! Like a brownie instead of cake. They did a great job making frosting (a little help from Max there), and creating two colors, frosting on their own. They were quite proud of using a broken off piece that evoked a "smile", and turning the cake into a face. Creative use of candles, thank god, they didn't go literal there.......

The cake turned out wonderful in the end, and they were so proud. It makes me laugh every time I think about it. I'm definitely asking for cake again next Spring!

Who cleaned up? Me, and I loved every minute of it!

My birthday present from Max was tickets to Cirque du Soleil, Kooza, in Portland. It was our first Cirque show and we had a wonderful experience..... the live experience, and music is fantastic!

The kids were ready for some run around, and tricks of their own. We hit Voodoo doughnuts and the river front park, followed by gorgeous Vietnamese dinner with my sister. Yey for food artistis, visual artists, and performance artists!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Garden Spring cleaning yield? Carrots that accidentally over-Wintered, and some parsnips. They were fresh, sweet and crunchy.

The three plum trees in the yard take turns blooming. Honey bees emerge and fill the tree with busy humming. Winter was slow to release her grip this year.

Kitchen before and after. I get overwhelmed by a full house Spring clean, but DO like doing one area at a time. What hot spots need the most attention? Below is a photo of my coffee/tea counter......Before
As you can see, it's packed with yummy tea and coffee makings, but I can't easily get to anything, I've lost much of the useful counter space, and it looks messy. I was making do with a shelf that was too deep for the space.

Replace it with some cute shelves, carefully chosen from IKEA........

After: narrow metal shelves from IKEA that look 1940's. Cute, and totally appropriate for the space. I can see/reach/find everything. Snacks on top for the kids (nuts, rasins for a quick nibble). Most used teas on the next shelf. Heavy items below. Tea and herbs not used "every day" (as the rule goes) were organized below on a spinner shelf.

I really appreciate the counter space again. Our baking supplies are below, and we can easily mix right here, rather than drag everything across the kitchen to a larger counter. Makes sense.

Now what to do with my mug collection???

Front yard, shade garden bed, Bleeding Hearts.