Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What We Found While Picking Up Trash At The River #2. Or Is It #3?

Heck I don't know. I've logged so many hours picking up trash this fall that I cannot remember how many times I've done it, done blogged it, and done been annoyed and angry that people give so few craps about this beautiful land.


Here's some more of the ridiculous, sad and bizarre sights we have beheld while picking up trash on the banks of the mighty Mississippi.

YOOOOO HOO! We see YOO using the riverfront as YOOR own personal landfill!

Did you see what I did there?

What can I say? I'm an artist. Not a comedian. Er, comedienne? I'm really not too sure.

My litter has a first name-it's O-S-C-A-R...

I got a million of 'em...

Styrofoam. And plastic. Blindingly white. Not even a slight chance that somebody could accidentally leave this stuff behind.

Again, large piece of styrofoam. No way you could miss it as you left the riverside.

Piece of styrofoam that had been around so long it had actually begun to camouflage itself. Cheeky monkey.

What's that? Yes, MORE styrofoam! This styrofoam is masquerading as a habitat for grasshoppers.

At this point in the day, I was really starting to feel like maybe we should just ban styrofoam altogether. And plastic. And fishing line. And beer. And humans.

Hey, Billy Cramer! I found your Dreft bottle!

This was an interesting find. It is a dried out piece of fish carcass. You can see the eye hole there towards the top. Underneath was a stunning set of bones still attached to the skin. The skin was very hard in some places, and quite papery in others, but had no fishy smell. I was pleasantly surprised by all of these observations, as dead animals are not something I spend much time examining. Bones are extremely inspiring, though.

This is the underside of the fish carcass. It is just an absolutely stunning, sculptural network of points and lace and frilly bits and bobs. I never knew bones could be so beautiful. But look there in the middle and what do you see? A little bit of paper. Trash.

You can see it better in this closeup.

I mean, how dang disappointing does it get? I find this beautiful bit of nature's trash and even it has been affected by human trash.


Come on, humans. Stop being so lazy. Put your trash/recyclables in their appropriate receptacles. Is your car so small or cramped that you cannot fit a soda bottle or drink box or bit of styrofoam in it, so that you can take it home to dispose of?

No. It isn't.

We only have one Earth. It really is true, you know. Isn't it better for all of us if we just do our danged part and help keep her clean?

Help put me out of my self-appointed, non-paying, part-time job by picking up after yourself and your offspring, man!

Thank you.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Snapshot-Forgotten Cotton Candy

Have you ever wondered what happens to a bag of county fair cotton candy if you hide it in the cupboard and forget about it after you leave the fair? Wonder no more.

Apparently, deep down inside, it yearns to be a hamburger patty, so that's what it becomes.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What We Found While Picking Up Trash At The River #1

We've been picking up trash for an Environmental Science project. What started out as obligation has quickly morphed into something I feel compelled to do, for so many reasons.

It is my new favorite therapy. Getting lost in nature is the balm for so many ills, but caring for nature while you are lost in it, is such a fulfilling, soul renewing, creativity refreshing way of spending time. You can't help but feel GOOD after spending a few hours removing trash that poses environmental hazards from the skin of the earth. Not to mention, it makes the landscape safer for little humans to explore, something that is always on my mind as I want my littles to have the freedom to make discoveries without having to worry about them getting cut or hurt by broken glass, sharp plastics or entangling lengths of fishing wire.

I will admit though, that picking up litter can also make you very angry with humans very quickly. Because you find the most ridiculous examples of lazy, blatant littering.

You gotta counter that with the knowledge that you're making a positive impact and setting a good example. Plus, you never know when your example will inspire someone else to action.

I thought I'd share a few snaps from our last excursion, because picking up trash is always interesting.

I didn't set this up. My husband found it. Some litterers are more creative than others I guess...

Why? Just, why?

Pure laziness. 

"Hey, come look at these grasshoppers!" "Yeah. They're mating." "Are you sure? They aren't moving. I think the one is just sitting on the other." "Yeah....MATING." "Well, they're very slow at it..."

There were several of these right under my feet as I went to get out of our vehicle. Thank you, lazy fisherman, for dumping your bait on the ground and leaving it where people park and walk. Couldn't you have at least thrown it in the bushes? 

I also collected some big, rusty metal hooks which I'll be using for an art piece. Thank God I was the one to stumble onto them, as some sweet baby might have had their foot pierced through their shoe by those. Preventing that kind of tragedy is definitely something I can feel good about.

You can do it too! Won't you please consider?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pumpkins And Sprinkles

College has kept me super busy lately.

Like, BIZ. E.

And of course I am the dummy who has to make things more time consuming than they already are.

Recently, I had a birthday. I also had a research paper and a speech due the same day. A demonstration speech. You know the type-five minutes, show your audience how to do something easy and bam! You're done. That's it.

Only, I couldn't think of something quick and easy. All the things I like to do are time consuming.

So I went with cake. Because it was my birthday!

And because I am a dummy.

And then, of course, I was under pressure, and my son was cranky and my husband was on a business trip, and everything that could go wrong did, so I ended up with a cake that I was embarrassed to bring. And I couldn't read my notecards so I left out half the stuff I had written on them, and it feels awkward to look down at them when I'm trying to show people something, so I felt pretty silly afterwards. Not the best speech I've ever given, or cake I've made, that's for sure.

It did taste good, though. And that's the most important part.

Plus, I had enough batter left over to make mini cakes for my kids. Which made them happy.

And that's the moral of my story.

In the end, nobody will care too much if the cake looks awful, so long as it tastes good.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Work: Cluster But-ton.

This is a new little piece I made for the Independent Art class I am taking this semester.

It was inspired by the thousands of tiny, algae covered shells encrusting the rocks along the river that we encountered a couple weekends ago.

I love this piece. It is heavy and substantial for such a small, little guy. I love the way that the whole is far more interesting than any singular component that went into it. I love the way that the suggestions of movement and struggle and suffocation can be achieved with color and texture.

I will definitely be making more of these.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Chocolate Cherry Pecan Brownies

Sometimes you just need brownies for dinner.

I made these for the kids and I on Saturday.

Don't judge me. We had a long week.

Ingredients For Bars

1 Cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 or 3/4 cup chopped chocolate cherry candy(Nestle Delightfulls, Andes)

Ingredients For Topping

1/2 cup chopped cherry chocolate candies
 chopped pecans

These are one bowl bars. I drop the fats, sugar and eggs into my mixer, beat well, then add all the dry stuff, incorporating the candy last. Then pour into a greased 8x8 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or so. Bars are done when toothpick inserted near center comes out mostly clean. You might have melted chocolate on the toothpick, be careful not to mistake that for raw dough or you could end up with overcooked brownies. Don't ask me how I know this.

To make the topping, all you do is sprinkle your candy on top of the hot brownies then spread as it melts. Sprinkle your pecans on top of the chocolate "frosting", then slide pan back into your oven for a couple minutes so the nuts can toast. Toasty nuts. That's what you're looking for.

I thought I'd make the joke before you did.

Let brownies cool a few minutes if you want to make them easier to cut. Or just get a fork and eat straight from the pan. You'll save yourself from having to wash an extra dish. That's water conservation. Very eco-friendly.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Baked Black Beauty Eggplant And Cucumbers With Tomatoes and Cheese

My garden is wrapping itself up and I've been wracking my brains to find ways to use up the last cukes and tomatoes because I'm too lazy to cut up anymore for freezing, I'm all salad-ed out, and they are maturing in random, small amounts. Like, one every few days.

C'mon tomaters! Get your crap together! Your mistress is getting tired and lazy and wants you to organize yourselves so she can make one big batch of salsa or sauce and be done for the year!

Wait, what was I saying?

Oh yeah, enter the two Black Beauty eggplants that I picked off my two lone little plants a while back. They were shriveling in the fridge and I knew I needed to use them quickly. Seeing a sad little tomato and a couple of cukes on the counter, I wondered if they might make amiable companions and decided to combine them under a sprinkling of cheese before letting them frolic in the oven.

I am quite happy with the results, so I thought I'd share my method just in case anybody else has this combo of edibles hanging out in their garden too.

Here's what I used-

2 Black Beauty eggplants
1 medium cuke
1 medium tomato
olive oil
pepper jack cheese
sharp English cheddar

And that was it!

To Make-

Sweat(or don't sweat-you choose) the eggplant after washing, slicing off stems/leaves and slicing into 1/4 inch or so wide pieces. Slice the cukes into similarly sized pieces. Cut tomato into chunks or dice it into smaller pieces. Layer vegetables into a buttered dish, drizzle lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for as long as necessary(vegetables are cooked through and cheese is melted). I think I cooked mine for about 20 0r 25 minutes.

AFTER. I clarified, in case you couldn't tell...

That's it! Easy and delicious. Maybe healthy?

I don't know. Who cares? CHEESE.

This may not look delicious, but trust me, it is.