Missy T Graduation Photos


A few weeks back I got to go do photos of Missy T for her graduation.  She is an incredibly talented young woman and I am so happy to call her a friend.  So my goal for our photo dates was to just be her annoying friend with a camera and get some shots that show the beautiful girl I know.

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Chalk and Attachments



I’ve been thinking about first loves a lot lately.  Mostly prompted by two fantastic books, both written by Rainbow Rowell, Attachments and Eleanor & Park.   Attachments is about how long it can take you to recover from a broken heart & what it feels like to open up and find a new love.  Eleanor & Park is about first love in all its headlong glory.

So that got me thinking about falling in love and how much it can feel like springtime.  Which is not an original analogy at all… but still.

And that’s kind of what inspired this drawing.

Some times I try to do things in pencil or charcoal and something in my brain just wont let me.  And I wasn’t feeling the water colors cause I really wanted to touch & convey movement.  If I had clay I would have tried sculpting what I was feeling. So I went with chalk.  Which I really need to stop doing on the living room floor cause my rug is starting to collect interesting colors.  Much like my room at Mom’s house.  Sorry Mom.

Its been a few weeks since I felt like doing anything artistic at all.  But then last night after reading, working in the garden & playing with Saff I cranked up Lana Del Ray and made a mess.  I felt like the gate got left open and my right brain got loose.  It was great.

That feeling was somewhat of a surprise since I spent most of the time pulling weeds and thinking too much about the first time I fell in love.  The whole better to have loved & lost versus never loved at all quandary.   So yeah, I was WAY too far into my head and it took a couple of hours of playing in the dirt to get out of there.  Stupid brain.

Dearest Douglas


Its been a Douglas Adams kind of week.

To start with was the KLCC Brewfest in Eugene last weekend where I sampled a glass of the PanGalacticGargleBlaster Beer from Falling Sky Brewery which is incidentally also from Eugene.  Bitter & hoppy… much like the drink described in HHG.

the alcoholic equivalent of a mugging – expensive and bad for the head” and states that the effect of one “is like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick”.

Then was the illustration Friday challenge.  Storm.  Which went through several revisions in my head and on paper before I landed on this with the aim of illustrating the following excerpt from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

“And as he drove on, the rain clouds dragged down the sky after him for, though he did not know it, Rob McKenna was a Rain God. All he knew was that his working days were miserable and he had a succession of lousy holidays. All the clouds knew was that they loved him and wanted to be near him, to cherish him and to water him.”


Personal Storm

Read more from the quoted chapter HERE.

Incidentally the quote above came to mind while I was washing the dishes, thinking about Douglas Adams and listening to Weather With You by the Finn Brothers.

And if you dont know about Douglas, HHG, or Finn Brothers… I suggest you get enlightened quickly because you simply will never be a Hoopy Frood till you do.



Ok, as far as illustrations go this is a complete failure, so I didn’t send it to the IF site.  Cant honestly say you are illustrating something if you just write the words down in a different style.

But… my favorite collection of Myths is from Rudyard Kipling.  I got completely wrapped up in re-reading the Jungle Book collection and his poetry this week.  I also realized that I can NOT draw jungle animals from memory, and my house is sadly lacking in books with pictures of jungle animals.  Do’H!

So instead I went with watercolor & rusty calligraphy for the opening lines of The Law of the Jungle.

The Law of the Jungle

The Law of the Jungle

And in case you aren’t real familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s works may I suggest Toomai of the Elephants, and The White Seal… two of my absolute favorites that I really hope to play around with illustrating this weekend.

I will remember what I was, I am sick of rope and chain– I will remember my old strength and all my forest affairs. I will not sell my back to man for a bundle of sugar-cane: I will go out to my own kind, and the wood-folk in their lairs.

I will go out until the day, until the morning break– Out to the wind’s untainted kiss, the water’s clean caress; I will forget my ankle-ring and snap my picket stake. I will revisit my lost loves, and playmates masterless! 

– Opening Poetry from Toomai of the Elephants

The Monk of HyBrasil


This week’s Illustration Friday word was Ocean.

From where I stand the Ocean both inspires and intimidates me.  While I am safely at home I can hear its roar which reminds me of its power, its boundaries, and its constancy.  On days where I need a break it is there for me to travel along.  It coughs up treasures for me to find, shells, spray paint cans, seaweed.

The story of HyBrasil is one of my favorite Irish stories.  Much like that of Atlantis, it is an Island with either a city or monastery or castle on it (depending on the version you hear) that lies beneath the waves.  It has been woven into Irish folk-lore since man first sailed away from the shore.  The version I am most familiar with is that of Saint Brendan the Navigator who set sail in a leather boat, and found the island after hearing of it from a holy man, and following tips from a bird on Paradise Island.  I like to imagine this island truly does exist and it is still sitting on a shoal under the ocean.  Once upon a time it was visible and occupied but that was when the tides and currents traveled a different route.  Nowadays the only Monks inhabiting it are of the Seal variety.

Monk of HyBrasil

In addition to letting my imagination loose on the project I re-discovered how much I enjoy watercolors despite the fact its been over a decade since I last played with them.  I also realized how much I can use some practice at watercolors!  Oh well, the goal was to have fun, which I did.

Watercolors in the Living room

New As Illustrated by Orn


New Illustration (1 of 1)

Hey, whats up?  Whats new?  Isn’t that what you say to friends?  So looking backward at the new things I experienced in 2012 here is what New means to me.  In particular what was new in 2012.

Lots of new music –  A Silent Films & the Band Barcelona were the saving grace to the Blue October Concert my sister and I attended, these two really great bands were brand new to me and I promptly went home and downloaded their albums.  Rebecca Ferguson is my girl crush du jour, an amazing voice that makes me think maybe Aretha Franklin and Macy Grey had a baby who listened to a lot of Tracy Chapman.  I also fell in love with Gotye… and I don’t mean the one pop song that saturated every radiostation… I mean the guy’s whole stinking catalog.  Then watching him perform live at McMenamins Edgefield on the Lawn with a Ruby Red in hand my family around me watching some of the coolest original graphic art work paired with his music sealed the deal.  Oh, and how on earth could I leave out my little Honey Honey Band?  With lyrics to their new song Thin Line “‘Cause I want whiskey when I’m sick, And a man when I’m well, But it’s nice to have them both sometimes, When I feel like raising hell” which resounded in a big way with this lil’ whiskey lovin’ girl.

New Experiences – The biggest of which was the trip to Mexico.  On a whim I signed up for a week-long cooking class deep in Mexico… on my own!  On the way down I spent the day in Houston, which was not long enough to see all Huston… but was enough time for me to get stuck in the barren and scorched patch of dirt they call a park.  I am sorry Texas people… but y’all don’t know what a park is till you’ve been to Oregon.  Parks have green in them, and not just at the golf course.  Mexico was a learning experience every single day, from new cooking skills, to new ways to think about food, to learning history, soaking in the scenery, and meeting new people.  I also got to drink Pulque on a hacienda tour while in Mexico and toured the underground pyramid in Cholula.  Two very uniquely new experiences.

New Four Legged Friends – Looking back on my facebook activity profile I’ve noticed a strong trend towards the dog-centric aspect of my life. From our very long babysitting of Buddy & Holly the Beagle Babies, to mega wrestling matches with Burton & Buddy, loudmouth contests with Haus, to spa weekends with sweet miss Daisy, to a chaotic weekend with Kona, the last year introduced us to lots of new dog-friends and gave my carpet a run for its money.  Saffy and I also completed basic obedience training for the second time with our new teacher Dina of Surf City Dog Training and it made a huge difference.  Next year I hope to do level 2 training with Dina and plan more dog-days where Saffy and I just do things that are fun for her… hikes, swims, beach, dog park visits.

New Skills – Once again my Mexico experience weighs in heavily with beefed up skills in the kitchen including but not limited to: stuffing chiles, making tortillas, de-stickering Nopales pads, and having a better grasp on making Mexican sauces and cooking beans.  I think overall it taught me more about using ingredients I’m familiar with in a completely new way, and that in itself has been very fun.  Also in the culinary department is more experience cooking for friends with dietary restrictions.  And since I already consider cooking for my friends a special way of saying “I Love You”, I now feel I can say it louder by feeding them things that dont give them tummy troubles.  In the studio its hard to say one new skill I learned, but with the help of some new tools my existing skills have improved.  I think my finished jewelery is starting to look like the real thing!  Er… most of the time!  And personally I made it a goal to schedule time with my friends and only missed a couple play-dates due to ill-timed colds & coughs.  It has been really wonderful getting to connect with my friends and to at least let them know I WANT to spend time with them.  Sounds silly, but it became a very important part of my year and a new habit I will try to hang on to.

There were so many other things that were new to Orn-land this last year and I am so happy to look back on my calendars and remember the fun times the travel and all the NEW that filled my hours.  I am already plotting and planning for what New things I can do in 2013!

How about you?  What did you do that was new to you?  Do you have plans to do something new in 2013?

12 Cups of Pumpkin


Currently in my car I have: an immersion blender, Carhart jacket, tennis racket, beach towel, Spanish lesson CD’s and half a bag of trail mix.   Up till yesterday I also was driving around with a rather large pumpkin in the back seat as well.  The pumpkin was abandoned by a tenant at a rental property our company manages.  So it came back to the office with the cleaners and I snagged it.  I figured hey, I like pumpkin… and this is free… so SWEET!

Things got a little more dicey when I got that thing home.  None of my knives would get a grip on sawing the monster in half.  Ever since the watermelon incident of 2005 which involved a serrated blade, a trip to the ER, and several stitches in my thumb, I have not been super excited about the idea of trying to saw through things in the kitchen.   But after sharpening a blade, and giving myself a quick little pep talk, I went after the behemoth.  Eventually I got it all sliced up real nice and I STILL HAVE ALL MY FINGERS!!!  YAY!!!

A couple of hours in the oven, some more handiwork with a knife and I ended up with a crazy big pile of pumpkin.

After processing our grand total came to 12 cups of pumpkin purée.  Which was at once both overwhelming and inspirational.  What could I make with all this pumpkin that would not be boring? and wouldn’t turn Saffer’s & I orange?   Well as of Sunday night here is the breakdown:

  • Approx 2 cups of roasted pumpkin went into Saffer’s kibble… cause it turns out my dog LOVES Pumpkin!
  • 6 cups got reduced down to 4 small jars of pumpkin butter
  • 2 cups pumpkin purée got included with a few other ingredients and turned into pumpkin bread
  • 10 oz of purée were reduced down to 5 oz and was included in pasta dough for pumpkin pasta… which unfortunately did not keep much of the light pumpkin flavor… so I will need to fiddle with that idea.
  • Which leaves me with about 4 cups give or take of purée that went into the freezer and will either become pasta sauce, or ravioli filling, or soup, or custard, or pie…. or… or … or…

However this also made me start thinking about how this gigantic source of FOOD was originally intended as decoration on someones front porch.  It’s hard to pinpoint the number of lbs of pumpkin that the US produces each year.  Most sources speak only in the $$$ value of the crops.  Quoting from AGMRC.org “In 2011, pumpkins were harvested from 47,300 acres from the top six states and were valued at $113 million.”  That is a WHOLE lot of pumpkin my friends!  So don’t just glue mustaches & googly eyes on these gorgeous little gourds (you know who you are), get out your baking dishes and turn them into something really wonderful and nourishing for your family!

And after you are done with all that baking… make sure you guard the cooling racks!

Is it really as EASY as PIE?


Well for some people anyways. Pie isn’t particularly easy for me. After the flour explosion has been contained, liquids are sopped up from the counter, and I scrape off the dough stuck to my sock there may or may not be something edible coming out of the oven in 45 minutes time. So where did the phrase “Easy as Pie” come from anyhow? Well according to phrases.uk.org this particular phrase fits the equation of a very common type of phrase, the X as Y quotient. Easy as Pie, Nice as Pie, Sweet as Sugar, White as Snow, Quiet as Mice, etc…
To quote directly from the website: “The usage first comes in the phrase ‘as nice as pie’, as found here in 1855: ‘For nearly a week afterwards, the domestics observed significantly to each other, that Miss Isabella was as ‘nice as pie!’”
Mark Twain frequently used just ‘pie’ to mean pleasant or accommodating: In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884 : “You’re always as polite as pie to them.”
“So he took him to his own house, and dressed him up clean and nice,… and was just old pie to him, so to speak.”
Pie was also used at that time for something that was easy to accomplish; for example, in The US magazine Sporting Life, May 1886: “As for stealing second and third, it’s like eating pie.”
And various other phrase-ology websites seem to agree with the above quotation.
So it seems to me that the staying power of this particular phrase comes directly from the Nice-ness factor inherent in Pie. You don’t have to be able to build a good pie in order to enjoy pie. Nor do you need to even own a pie pan to partake in the blissful feeling of eating that perfect slice of your favorite pie. Nostalgic memories of your (fill in your favorite relative)_______ (and now your favorite flavor)_________ pie are optional.

Far flung places


It has been a while since I did something REALLY out of my comfort zone, and even longer since I went on a trip that I just WANTED to do!  So last December when Groupon put out an offer for a Mexican Home Cooking School in Tlaxcala, Mexico I thought about it for about a week, consulted a couple of friends, and then signed myself up for the deal.

Well last Saturday night I returned to Oregon from my week-long adventure in Mexico.  I’m still searching for the right words to sum up my trip.  I learned a lot about hospitality, communication, and of course cooking!

In the next few weeks I plan to try various recipes from the trip and report back on my success or failures as I try to recreate the food of Central Mexico in my Pacific Northwest kitchen.   For today though I am starting out slow with Ensalada de Nopales, Frijoles Negros, and maybe some Salsa.

Yes I know you can buy them in a jar… but where is the fun in that?