24 April 2011

Dream Home

This is my dream home... and it's for sale!  I stumbled across the place while reading an article on Yahoo! about houses with unique indoor pools.  The address is 309 Taconic Rd, Greenwich, CT, the house is 26,000 sq. ft. while the lot is 914,760 sq ft and it costs $15,950,000 (they lowered it from $17 mil a couple months ago).  Chump change.

I decided to document the photos here because A. I wanted to show you all this beautiful home, and B. I wanted to remember what it looked like when I'm designing my lovely estate home some day (and it WILL happen, folks, just takes time and patience).

Some foyer, huh.

 French country kitchen with a wood burning oven for all your pizza making needs.

Theater Room: Of all the giant homes in all the world, I had to come across this one...

Dining Room.  I prefer a deeper red on the walls, as well as a smaller fireplace... I would trip and fall into that one!

 This is the kind of "country" chic style I prefer.

The main reason I fell in love with the place: a large 2 (well, 1 and a half) story library.  

Plenty of room to grow your own vegetables and herbs.

Wine Cellar and Tasting Room.  Nuff said. 

Gated (obviously) and mature trees!

 1920's style elevator-- I feel like I'm in an episode of Poirot (kudos to you if you get that reference).

 Replace the billiard table with air hockey and we're set. And again with the dangerously HUGE fireplace...

Stunning landscapes.

And finally: the pool.  Now you know why I had to see the rest of the place.

If you're a millionaire in need of a home and you've stumbled across my blog, look this place up on Trulia.  And if you buy it: please invite me over for dinner as a thank-you.

22 April 2011

Bird Drawings

One of my specialties in high school was drawing birds.  The lines of the feathers work well with my technique, and I usually chose birds as subjects because I love color and they always offered the most.  Enjoy!

Hummingbird. Colored Pencil. This was an early piece-- I'd say I was 15.  Please excuse my background, they're my hardest part and I was trying something here.

Raven. Colored Pencil.  My teacher helped me with the background and I really like it.

Parrot in Black and White.  This was done with a bottle of ink and bamboo sticks on special paper.  This sucker is nice and big, about 1.5x1 ft. and I loved every minute of doing this.  It's made up entirely of small lines.

Toucan Sam. Colored Pencil. Not sure how I like the flower background-- I'd probably do something else now, but the bird turned out well.  Also a lot of fun to do... see what I mean about color?

Duck. Colored Pencil.  

Flower Drawings

Flowers were my other specialty.  These three are actually color photo copies of 3 drawings I donated to an auction as well.  They don't do the drawings justice but they're pretty good copies anyway.

White flowers. Colored Pencil.

Pink Rose. Colored Pencil.  And I lied about this one.  I did this for a friend who wanted the rose below but lost the bid.  She and her husband actually ended up paying me after they received the drawing even though I didn't charge them, so it's technically my first and only commissioned work.

Red Rose. Colored Pencil. This is 99% colored pencil, but I used a red oil pastel to brighten up some key areas.

High School Drawings

Eye/Nose/Mouth Study in Black & White.  Done with ebony pencil, my art teach was preparing us for drawing portraits.  The all belong to celebrities, the names are as follows from left to right:
Christy Turlington, Johnny Depp, Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Melina Kanakaredes (no eye), George Clooney's eye in the top right corner, J Lo's mouth below it, and I have no clue who the bottom right nose belongs to.

Flowers in Ink.  This was an illustration with text drawing.  It's not my favorite because the contrast is too dark-- not enough whites.

Butterfly in Ink-- Contour Line Drawing.  One of the first studies we did in art class was contour lines: one continuous line making up an entire image.  This 2x1 butterfly is one entire line, I just stopped when class ended and started up in the same spot the next day. It creates a neat effect.

Dress in Ink-- Stippled.  An assignment asking us to do an advertisement: I chose Marshall Field's and a designer gown. Once again, this dress is made entirely of tiny dots from a small-tipped marker.

Tree and Mountain scene in Oil Pastels.

Horse with Flowers: Black & White Still Life in Ebony Pencil.  This won me a blue ribbon at the regional art fair-- I was 14.  Our big art class project for the semester was to choose a portion of a large central display my teacher set up in the classroom and draw what we see.  I chose this old horse wrapped with silk flowers.  My family noted that if you look carefully, it appears to have the face of a pirate in it... so weird.

Teddy Bear on Tricycle: Black & White Still Life in Ebony Pencil.  This I did when I was 16. Same concept as the above horse.  I won a 2nd place red ribbon as I think some of the background is off and the contract could have been strong, but I'm liking it more and more as I get older.

Angela Bassett as Billie Holiday, photograph from "Face Forward" by Kevyn Aucoin, Colored Pencil.  

21 April 2011


Besides being an excellent blogger (please hold your scoffs til the end), I can draw.  Unless you're a family member or friend I've known since childhood, most people don't know I have this God-given talent.  Sadly I chose not to harness this in college-- a small regret-- but thankfully paper and pencils are abundant in my home.  Lately I've had this urge to draw again; it's extremely theraputic, I love working with my hands, and it always presents a variety of challenges.  For some reason God has yet to reveal to me, I am able draw what I see and as I say, "enhance" reality.  Though I can't create beautiful works straight from my imagination, I can still create lovely drawings.  And I don't paint... yet... I'd love to learn.

So here are a few of my more recent works, though I hope to have my high school art up in a later post.  Pardon me for not having these images scanned: I don't have a scanner.

Black and White Jester.  This is an unfinished Jester from the video game Fable 2 done with Ebony Pencil .  When I'm done with my current project (a submission to Game Informer Magazine), I will finish the poor fellow.

Yellow Rose (colored pencil).  This I did for a charity auction for the Harper College Festival Chorus about 3 years ago.  I did several flower pieces actually, as birds and flowers are my strong suit.  However, I'm trying to branch away from that and do more figure drawing then hopefully move into landscape.

Woman Wearing Valentino.  This is from an image in Vogue Magazine; it's done with a fine tipped marker pen and the entire figure is made up of tiny dots, a technique called stippling. The shadow was done with a thicker marker and filled in, not stippled.

Hope you like these and I look forward to showing more in the future.

11 April 2011

Confidence is Key

Yesterday my older brother got married.  Even though we're not super close and tend to get on each other's nerves, I am thrilled at his choice of wife and firmly believe they will live happily ever after.  There was some drama surrounding the wedding, but everything seemed to go off without a hitch, everyone had a blast, and I can firmly say it's the best wedding I've attended-- next to mine, of course.  :)

The most frustrating part for me was... myself, actually.  I was a bridesmaid and have known about my position for months, yet managed not to shed 1 pound before the big day.  Picture a pimply, 315 pound white whale in a shiny, spaghetti strap blue dress and you get the idea of my self-disgust.  Although, my hair looked awesome (someone else did it for me, thank goodness) and my makeup was how I usually do it.  Leading up to the wedding, I went through a range of emotions from anger to depression about being morbidly obese and embarrassing myself in front of family, friends, and strangers.  There were times I almost refused to go altogether (that would never have happened).  After doing hair and makeup but before putting on the dress, I felt good.  When I first put on the dress without straps (we were supposed to go strapless but my awkward boobs wouldn't allow that even after I had the thing altered) I almost burst into tears of embarrassment and my temper flared because I knew I'd look like an idiot and end up flashing everyone at the church.  Fortunately the straps made everything come together in a more appropriate fashion and I felt... better.

And then, after a deep breath and a prayer, I reached a fork in the road and chose the path less traveled: confidence.  I decided I could either be embarrassed, introverted, and not fully participate in the festivities OR I could smile, talk to everyone, and HAVE FUN.  You know what? I had such an amazing time and got so many unwarranted compliments on how beautiful I looked, and I think it's because I felt beautiful.  My smile was bright, I ate and drank like everyone else, greeted friends and family, and when the dancing started I hit the floor with energy and a sense of humor.  I should probably note that I have high energy relatives who love to dance and make fools of themselves at weddings.  It's kind of special.  People on the outside looking in always compliment us on our lively, fun-loving nature, and that we're good people because we encourage others to dance with us... and we all happen to be nice.  We're party animals.

So I danced.  And I got other people to dance, grabbing unsuspecting onlookers and challenging them to give us their best moves.  I didn't feel foolish, had a great time, and from what I could tell, no one really thought I was an idiot.  Confidence truly makes a difference.  Unfortunately, seeing the photos the day after is another story; all that inner strength completely deflated once I saw myself on the dance floor.  Honestly, I can't believe people didn't run in the other direction when my giant form came at them to dance, all that fat rippling with my red face and back completely soaked. I still had an amazing time, I don't regret one moment, but those photos are a firm reminder of my ongoing trek toward health and happiness with myself.

05 April 2011

Smashed Potato Soup

This is a hearty, low fat option for potato soup that still has a ton of flavor and only takes 30 minutes to make.

Makes 4 servings         Prep time: 10 minutes         Cook time: 10 minutes


1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 package (1 pound 4 oz) refrigerated mashed potatoes or 3 cups instant mashed potatoes
1-14.5oz can 99% fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 Tbsp snipped fresh parsley

Optional toppings: sliced green onions, reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese, crisp crumbled turkey bacon


Coarsely chop carrot and celery.  Place mashed potatoes in a 3 qt saucepan.  Gradually add broth and milk, whisking until mixture is smooth. Stir in carrot, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and parsley. Ladle soup into bowls; top with desired toppings. Serve with hot rolls.

Hodge Podge Tips

I doubled the recipe (unintentionally)-- I highly recommend doing that.

The idea of store bought mashed potatoes of any kind grosses me out, so I mashed my own.  For the doubled recipe I use 2 russet potatoes, so you could get away with 1 large potato for the above recipe.  It takes a little longer to do it that way but it's cheaper, you skip all the preservatives and chemicals in the other stuff, and you can still do it all in one pot.  Excellent.

For a little more flavor, add some dried minced onion.  Next time, I think I'll try chopping some fresh onion and adding it when I add the carrots and celery.

Since I've gone vegetarian now, I used vegetable broth instead of chicken.  Store bought for time purposes, but I hope to start making it homemade.

Be generous with the parsley.  Happy cooking!

Cinnamon Chip Scones

These are the best scones ever... no joke.  Not dry and completely flavorful.

Makes 12 Servings        Prep time: 25 minutes         Bake time: 10 minutes


3-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar, divided
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup buttermilk
1 package (10oz) cinnamon baking chips
2 Tbsp butter, melted


In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in buttermilk just until moistened.  Fold in chips.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 10-12 times or until dough is no longer sticky. Divide in half; gently pat or roll each portion into a 7 inch circle.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Separate wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned.  Serve with coffee or tea... mmmmm...

Hodge Podge Tips

Cinnamon chips can be hard to come by so you may have to check several grocery stores.  Otherwise I'd recommend using milk chocolate chips.  Honestly, this dough offers a great base for any sweet flavoring: white chocolate & raspberry, blueberries, cranberries... have fun.

These scones bake up rather large so I'd suggest 6 to a pan and spaced well.  They're so big that they can be cut in half-- they go farther and are less calories.