Thursday, March 18, 2010

Making a start

Being in my 40’s, I still refer to myself as approaching middle age, as if I’m not there yet. In fact, I’m in my late 40’s, so I really am middle aged, and that’s assuming I’m going to live to be about a hundred! So by now, you’d think I would’ve figured some things out. Like, what do I want to do with my life? I’m referring specifically to what creative outlet to focus on. It's not too late to start, provided I DO start something. A change of habits is a good start. For the past several years, something has been bugging me. I’ve been spreading my time around amongst a dozen or so disciplines, but I feel that discipline is exactly what I lack. And just dabbling with all these media hasn’t gotten me anywhere with any particular one of them. So I could fade away into mediocrity with the contentment that I was a ‘very creative person who could make almost anything’, but no one outside my circle of friends and family would know it.

The trouble is, I’m a sick woman! No, don’t worry, I’m not terminal in the way that ‘sick’ usually means. But I constantly regurgitate the beginnings of fussy little projects and I can’t seem to give up any of my mind-numbingly tedious hobbies, in order to focus on the ‘artist that I wanted to be when I grew up’. If I eliminated these time-suckers, like knitting or beading, with a concentrated focus on making art everyday, I would probably make some headway. My use of the word ‘art’ there means paintings, drawings, that kind of fine art. I realize anything can be done artfully, or become an art form. But as a child when I used to say I wanted to be an artist when I grow up, I’m sure I didn’t mean a knitter! And while I do feel like I’m an artist now, I have so many other things that take up my artmaking time, that I am not prolific in that artmaking. And suffering from Art Distraction Disorder (ADD), I’m not prolific at much of anything individually. Collectively, I make a lot of unique, half-finished things, and all the while, I have a body of work (paintings) in my head that are haunting me. I haven’t made time for that kind of art in months. I know I should work in that direction everyday and let nothing interfere, but suffering from creative schizophrenia, that’s easier said than done. So when Hubbs suggested I start a blog about a year ago, I naively dismissed it as a sure way to pigeon-hole me into a single media- ARGH!

Then I got involved in an intense project redesigning our dining room into something resembling Captain Nemo’s Nautilus from the original Disney movie ’20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’. (Future posts will go into more detail.) As I’m wrapping this project up, (really, I’d say I’m 85% done) Hubbs voiced something that I was also thinking… ‘You should’ve chronicled the project all along and blogged about it’. I wish I had. We took a few pictures here and there (with our cell phone cameras, no less), but they are of such inferior quality that I hesitate posting them for all to see. So I’m in search of a better digital SLR, which pretty much locks me in with this blogging idea, right? Actually, I am embarking on this road as a way to put pressure on myself, (welcome pressure, mind you) so that I will keep momentum going on whatever project I feel like working on. I’m not going to worry about being all over the place with my choice of media. Some of my work may fascinate you, some may bore you. But I will NOT be pigeon-holed. Any given post may highlight a house-décor project, or a recipe, or some parts of our garden (sheesh- it’s 50’ x 115’, no kidding!), or beading, or knitting, or crocheting, or drawing, painting, carving, sewing,… (breathe…) and that’s probably not the complete list. I may do nothing more than ramble now and then. So I can’t really say what I’ll lock in on mostly, but what I CAN promise you is this: Whatever project I work on will likely be fraught with complications! I refuse to work from a pattern too closely, or copy someone else’s work. I may be influenced by something, but that is merely a starting point. It would be a shame to create a masterpiece by hand and have the result be something nearly identical to hundreds, possibly thousands of items around the world. If I’m going to go to the trouble, then I want it to be so freakin’ complicated that no one (in their right mind) would EVER end up in the same place! Yes, that I can promise you!

Ok, so all excuses aside, I’m sure there’s a digital point-and-shoot around here somewhere that should render moderately decent photos to get me started until I get the SLR camera of my dreams. Here’s a teaser (cell phone camera shot) of the Nautilus Room in its current 85% completed state. Many more details on this room will follow soon, I promise.

In conclusion of my very first post, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite recipes. I don’t begin to claim I’m on the same level as the divas and goddesses of the food blog world. Molly… Deb… I cower in unworthiness when performing in your arena. (Sorry, I don’t mean to exclude any guys… Tim of l+d, you’re awesome!) But I’ll offer a favorite recipe, Spinach Balls, as a light way to dive into my intensely complex, project-oriented blog. Contrary to my mantra of complicating things, these vegetable appetizers are remarkably easy to make. They taste like stuffing and even appeal to those who hate vegetables. All I know about the source of this recipe is the name Kate DiLullo, which was typed on my aging yellowed clipping. I have no recollection of what cookbook or magazine it came from. I found it in the late 80’s and have been making these ever since. Everyone loves them. If you don’t love them, there’s something way more wrong with you than any sickness I suffer from! Seek help.

Hot Spinach Balls
large eggs
2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, cooked according to package directions, drained and squeezed thoroughly dry
1 cup minced onion
¾ cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup lightly salted butter or margarine, melted
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh-grated is the best!)
2 ½ cups (two 5 oz. boxes) crumb-type seasoned stuffing mix (*see Note)

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except stuffing mix. When well blended, stir in stuffing mix and let stand 20 minutes while mixture firms slightly and absorbs liquids. Shape mixture into balls and arrange in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake about 20 minutes (depending on the size of the balls), until hot and lightly browned. Spinach balls may be cooled, wrapped and frozen. Reheat on baking sheet for 10 – 15 minutes in 350 degree F. oven. This recipe makes about a hundred pieces, again, depending on the size.

*Note: This recipe can be modified in many ways, adding kale, cabbage, mustard greens, chard, or any combination of greens, as long as you simmer them until cooked thoroughly and soft, keeping them in the same proportion as the original spinach amount. Or you may want to jazz it up with jalapeños or any number of fresh herbs. With the addition of your own herbs, I would suggest eliminating or cutting back on the seasoning packet that comes with the stuffing. Some stuffing mixes combine their seasonings and bread crumbs together, so that makes it a little harder to separate. You may wish to substitute other hard grated cheeses or a blend instead of using all Parmesan. I recommend shaping the spinach balls in small sizes (1-2 bites) so they cook all the way through before browning too much on the outside. This has become a standard food on our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus, almost replacing the need for a regular dish of stuffing. Enjoy!


  1. Wow, you sound like an artistic roller coaster ride. Your spinach balls sure *look* delicious. At least your food fotography skills are well-developed. Proof of chefability is in the pudding, or in this case, spinach, of course.

    Looking forward to seeing more pics of your symptoms...

  2. Ooohh! I know the artist that you are...ADD or not. Can't wait to see more of your projects!

  3. I have personnaly seen the contents of this blog, and they are wonderful.

  4. The spinach balls are GREAT, and your artistic ability is fabulous.

  5. Oh, hey, I forgot to comment on the spinach balls. I made them and since they have more of a dressing flavor than spinach, I might even get my sis-in-law to try them. Looking forward to more culinary creations.

  6. Your spinach balls are great. And your creativity
    and skill is amazing. Keep up the good work. I'll be waiting and watching for further blogs.

  7. Your Nemo Room is incredible! WOW! Please show more!!

    Dennis Chamberland