I've been asked to begin a blog that shows a "how-to" for the things that bring pleasure to my life. So, the intent of this blog is to share recipes, gardening, composting, sewing, crafts, art, everyday projects and even psychology tips to aid in healing wounds and living the life you're meant to live, a life with purpose!
Art PrintsArt Prints

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I had the pleasure of Administrating a second Art contest. We had a three-way tie for first place.

Contest: Angels and All Things Spiritual, 3 way tie for first place:

Enlightened by Lisa Kramer
or at my web site: http://www.lisakramerart.com/
Enlightened, 30X15 Oil on canvas
was the icon image for the contest, "Angels and Spiritual Things."

First place by popular vote:

Your Seven Angels Wednesday, by Anna Duyunova
You can find Anna Duyunova at Fine Art America at:
Upon receiving my interview questions, Anna Duyunova said, "When I was a kid, I liked to play with pencils. I imagined and created my own stories on paper, and build my own world with shapes and colours. At age of seven I started to explore Fine Art in Children Art Studio, and participated in many children exhibitions. I continued my Fine Art education in many private art studious, and finally in Institute of Theatre and Fine Art, where I studied academic painting and drawing for five years.
In many years I developed my own style, based on some traditions of European and Asian cultures, and my own belief what Art is not imitation of nature. Art has a super power to speak about lyric and dramatic poetry of life. It can evoke feelings, bring memories, and new thoughts. It is our personal experience and dream world, our passion and escape from triviality. In my works I like to show the beauty of the ordinary things. I draw and paint with mystery realism, showing the enhancement of nature. I am getting inspired by the music, by nature, my travel impressions and some memories. I am working in my home based studio in Calgary. I admire a lot of artists, but my most favourite is Mikhail Vrubel.
My pen and ink drawings from the series” Your Seven Angels” based on the idea of Angel Guardians and our everyday routine through the week. ” It convey mood ,looking at them, we are thinking about our every days,” - responded one comment to this series,so I think the viewer understood my idea well.
My works can be found mostly in private collections and electronic galleries. I was invited for exhibitions by few galleries. They found me in on line galleries. My resent exhibitions are in Galleria Monteoliveto in France and Italy, and in Agora Gallery, New York, USA.
I do not know about the future, but I would like to create Art as long as I can.
I can email you another image of my work, hopefully it will be better."
Anna Duyunova

First place by popular vote:

Angel Alone by Carmela Brennan
You can find Carmela Brennan at Fine Art America at:
I began the interview questions for Carmela Brennan  with, "Tell us about you --and the age you began to experiment with art?" She answered, "Ever since I could pick up a pencil I could draw. As a child and throughout my life I have always been able to draw. But I feel I only truly began to 'experiment' with art about three years ago (at the age of 36!) when I decided this is what I wanted to do with my life. This was when I first began to paint, to be honest I'm still experimenting and hope I will be for the rest of my life."
"I read your bio on FAA. Can your share a story of how life affected your art dreams?"
"Being an artist always seemed out of my reach. Yes I could draw, but it was always in stolen moments and my sketches were kept in a drawer or discarded. I was advised that my ambitions were 'unrealistic'. My partner was the first person who made me believe in my ability, and encouraged me to follow my dreams. We bought a house three years ago and turned one of the rooms into a studio - no canvas, no paints, no brushes, but this empty room was my studio, my space to be what I always wanted be, to do what I always wanted to do. So I built my collection of paints and brushes over time and started to paint. It was very frustrating at the start, but I took my time to learn techniques and slowly but surely things started to fall into place and I haven't looked back."

"You have stated that you are a self-trained artist. I have viewed your work and it is obvious that you are gifted; can you describe where your talent stems from?"
"The 'ability' is something I have always had, but the 'talent' comes from hard work. Reading books, researching artists I admire, learning their techniques and most of all opening my mind to all possibilities."

"What is the story behind the title of your work?"
"Even divine creatures can feel alone."

"What is your inspiration?"
"My inspiration hangs on the walls of the worlds galleries."

"Do you have a hero, or admire a famous-master-of-your-craft?"
"Everyday I discover an artist, either living today or from centuries ago that truly leave me in awe and fires my desire to be a better painter, it would be impossible and unfair to name just one."

"Where did you paint this work (location)?"
"In my studio, partly from reference photos and partly from my imagination and just trying things out."

"What do you want this painting to say to all who view it?"
"I'd like people to tell me what the painting says to them, as oppose to what I want it to say to them, as I always find this more fascinating."

"What does the future hold for you as an artist?"
"Painting, painting and more painting!"
First place by popular vote:
The Earth and the Guardian by Cheppy Japz
You can find Cheppy Japz at Fine Art America at:
I sent Cheppy Japz his interview questions, mind you he is not from this country; however, I think his answers are beautiful with his accent as is, so I did not want to do much editing. He responded with, "I am happy to find that I won the contest, thanks to the voter and especially to you who make this contest and let my works displayed. Furthermore, my grateful that you giving me a chance to let my work and feature written in your blog and group's page.

Here are my answer to your questions, hope they could meet your expectation since English is not my native. Please, feel free to do some editing or even change to your editorial style.

I was born in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia 1 month less to 43 yrs ago, in the city that many musician, artist and other creative product surrounding me. In fact, those environment didn't made me actively do any experiment in any arts. But I do enjoyed their artworks and mainly in music. In 1987 I traveled to Bali Island (other part of Indonesia) and decided to live there. In this island (known as the island of Gods to travelers) I found even more attracted to many kinds of art while the arts atmosphere are very strong. Many artworks admiring me and easily find anywhere here, blends with the culture and nature, such as; painting, stone and wood carving, traditional dance and many other kind of arts. Still, it's not makes me taking part on any of its, actively.
Story begin on 2001, a turning point periods, when lot of problems were happened in my life from my job to my private life. To make it short, that hard times has changed my understanding of life, opened my spiritual eyes and see life in different way than before. Many new ideas of seeing people's behavior, seeing things happened and the existence of me in this world were suddenly came into my mind. I started to realized many simple things in daily life were meaningful and amaze me. Those things attract me to digging more deeply, sharpen my spirituality in tends to seek my role in this life and what is life supposed to be in this universe. I start learning to understand many religions, beliefs or even daily human behavior from any cultures, any level of intellectual or economic and any ages by observed them without any judgment. I went through high and low but that moment I felt as my 're-born'.

Those experience of my life taking me to the point that I could see the amazing works of the universe in managing life. His law of life is absolute. Every little things happens in this universe would be balancing by itself, no matter what it is! (I symbolize this as 'a harmony colors of life' which in real, it is also true that every colors of nature are in harmony). There is no one could avoid this nature's law.
In the other hand, I also see many peoples are fail to understand this law. They trying to race amongst them to become superior. They hard efforts of its resulting dishonor, expropriation, greediness, enmity, hatred and any other negative vibrations which will turn into anger. Ironically, they getting use to it and believe those things are suppose to be normal in order to reach 'success' in life. This struggling affect of peoples are seem as making disharmony to the balance of nature to me. Unrealized that nature will balancing of what they did, they start to blame it to life itself and call it 'reality of life' which usually a bitter and unfair one.

I start to make drawings on November last year, begins of my effort tried to draw a face appeared in my dream that time. It was the first stranger face in my dream appeared so clearly and I could remember the face when I woke up (named 'Vague' in my FAA page). Considering I never learn to draw, even always failed in photo drawing, I just following my 'hand' instinctively and surprised myself on the result of my very first drawing. Since that, I decided to use drawing as my medium to share understanding from the experience of my spiritual life. In which I lay to the nature's vibration on the drawing process. Black and white of the pencil drawing I choose is symbolizing of my negative vibrations I still have in the adjustment phase of my past life.

The Earth and The Guardian is parallel to the above experience. Symbolized the failure of most people to see (understand) the Nature's Law. I do a little experiment to random kinds of people and most of them easily seen earth in the drawing (a drawing of planet/ earth) and failed/ hardly to see the face of 'the guardian'. Its reflecting the condition of most people think or do in life, Focusing their life on material things, struggle in and fight amongst them only to ended with miserable feeling because forgetting the Nature's Law; 'every actions will cause re-actions' (balance effect). But more than that, my message through this drawing is 'Once we could see (understand) the Guardian face (Nature's Law) it will not easily turn off from it', otherwise, now is hard to put the same feeling as the first, to see the earth.

Hope the above story could answer all your question, Lisa. Please do not hesitate, if you find unclear explanation or have something else to ask. It would be my pleasure to give you a clearer answer.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recipe for the best Butternut Squash Bisque soup that I've ever had!

Last night I was trying out several new recipes. One of them was a keeper! Due to popular demand of my friends, lol... here is the recipe. Enjoy...

Butternut Squash Bisque Soup

1 1/2 to 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled (skin cut off), seeded, and cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks.

Save seeds for roasting (olive oil, salt pepper, 425 degrees until brownish) or throw them into your compost with the skin and stringy pulp.

Try buying squash with a long trunk, that is where the meat is and has less seeds. Cut off skin.

2 Tbls unsalted butter (Land O Lakes has a great taste)
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly in a colander to remove any and all dirt.

Salt and Pepper
4 C's vegetable broth (store-bought or make your own stock by bringing a variety of vegetables to a boil. Don't worry about skins or even cutting them nice. Once at a boil, then simmer until all the life is out of the veggies, easy!) --Then I like to strain it using a cheesecloth and throw away these bland veggies who gave all their goodness to your stock!

1 or 2 Cups water
3 fresh sprigs of thyme

1 fresh sprig of lemon thyme (lemon variety optional, I grow herbs, so it was convenient).
2 Bay leaves

Pinch of cayenne pepper (These are easy to dehydrate if you grow them, otherwise, just use store-bought out of the herb section)
Sour Cream, or whatever garnish you desire (optional).

Note: The reason this soup is so flavorful is because it is done in layers, layers of flavor. So, don't skip a step and put everything into one pot all at once, because it will not turn out as good.
1. Place squash in a bowl, cover and microwave until fork can easily poke squash, 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Set aside when done.

2. While the squash is cooking, melt butter in Dutch oven (I used an enamel coated cast-iron one). Add squash, leek and 1 tea salt; cook on high, stirring occasionally, until squash pieces begin to break down and brown fond (browned squash bits stick to sides or bottom of pan) forms in bottom of pan, 10 to 13 minutes to get the squash brown.
3. Add 2 Cups vegetable broth and scrape the bottom and side of pot to loosen and dissolve fond. Add remaining 2 Cups of broth, 1 C of water, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and cayenne. Bring back to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until leeks are fully tender, 7 minutes. I low-simmered mine for an additional 25 minutes to get more flavor concentration, however, it is not necessary.

4. Remove and discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Working in batches using your blender only 2/3rds full -- not more-- and process in batches until smooth, 2 minutes.

5. This step 5 is optional, it depends on how thick or runny you like your bisque. I did not need to do step 5 because I like a thick bisque. Return soup to pot and bring to simmer, thinning with up to 1 Cup of water to desired consistency. If you want to make it more decantant (for me it becomes too rich if I do this, but you can use heavy cream or cream fresh instead of this last cup of water; --or warm up the cream and place it in a gravy boat so that it can be poured into the soup as desired by taste). Cream can make pretty decorative patterns in soup too. The heavier the cream, the less likely it will curdle, i.e.: milk you would have to take more care in warming up than the cream.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. (Optional) Serve with dollop of sour cream, pistachio's, chives, cilantro, fried leeks or onions. This time I used sour cream, chives, cilantro and pistachios. Next time I will fry leeks, yum. ;-) I can share that recipe too, if anyone wants to fry some leeks!

Note: These pictures I took today because we had the leftover soup for lunch. I didn't get a picture of the finished soup Saturday night. We noted that this soup was even better today as leftovers than the eve I made it!
Light a candle and Enjoy! Lol, I found this unique candle on the internet and thought it was cute. It was at: http://www.100candles.com/items/item_8359.htm for anyone interested.