Sunday, December 28, 2014

CHRISTMAS DINNER at the Reilly's......

…..rounded out the celebrating.  It’s always something I really look forward to and the fun and frivolity is matched only by the great food.  Seems that all the guests are ‘accomplished foodies’ and bring a favorite dish to the party.  (I managed to bring myself!)

The stockings (an array of Sandie’s awesome needlepoint) were hung by the chimney with care…..but the fire’s on so Santa beware!

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The tree bright and sparkly with presents to bare…...

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O.K., enough of that.  Let’s get on with the food…...

Sandie Girl did the most amazing salmon rub…..

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Instructions were given….

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Along with directions for the appetizers…..The blue cheese goes onto the cracker followed by a honeycomb drizzle which is then topped by a candied pecan…..soooo good!

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Meanwhile Jim was explaining his new ‘Rabbit’.

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Is this a beautiful table or what!  So elegant…..

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Bob contributed the squash/corn soup.  Pancetta on top of goat cheese made a perfect combination.This was so delicious I had to get seconds.  Piggy piggy! 

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This salad, made by Linda with it’s Roquefort dressing, was so refreshing I had to get a second helping atop my entree.

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So out of control….

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During dinner Jim gave one of his famous quizzes and the group got a B-.  The question that was for the five and under group was a puzzlement.  Does anyone remember ‘Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”????

After dinner there was the opening of the presents……Linda didn’t want to return the amazingly soft throw made from Bamboo!  Could not believe it!!!

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Sandie and Jim went to it like that five year old I mentioned….no offense folks….

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Another Linda taking a picture of me taking her picture.  Sound familiar???

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Well, I didn’t get a photo of everyone but promise to do better next year (if I’m invited back).  I had to be home by nine and so I missed the absolutely hysterical charades that  I do love so much!  Bummer…..

Next day, class in the studio and everyone did beautifully.  I am so beyond description proud.

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It was great fun and that is what I wish for you in the coming year!


…..started out with a movie (Exodus) 

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and dinner at Bar Verde with Laurie Pie.

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While meeting Flame, this adorable senior Belgium Shepherd along the way.

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Going home I thought a casting call went out for the largest Santa…..The white area you see is the roof line of the house!

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I’m so glad I got to see Amy’s tree.  Next year, have her trim yours!

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Mary Beth loved hearing how our Christmas card came to be thanks to Eileen Ogle and her wreath giving!

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Thanks to Amy’s table decorating & Nikka’s flowers, we’re ready to party!

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It was wonderful having lovely Denise over to share Christmas with us….

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We had time to chat and then mom and Nikka came…..

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We started off with a Brie en Croute (apple pecan) from Neiman Marcus.  Oh my, it’s all warm, creamy, cheesy goodness.  (It arrives frozen and you have to bake it in the oven.)

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Back to the table where some of Santa’s helpers are having a bit of fun and frivolity…..

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Can you believe I didn’t cook????  First time ever and boy was I glad.  We ordered just about everything from Gourmet 88 and it was absolutely delicious! From the BBQ spareribs and fried shrimp for appetizers to the main dishes… yumminess!  You can see the Christmas Crackers which we popped before dessert and as I was the conductor, with a years practice, found the group to be vastly improved from last years chaos.IMG 1776

After all that gluttony, dessert was simple…….fruit and ice cream.

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 This ice cream is my new favorite.

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Charles loved all his presents…..IMG 1784

I especially loved my cards….Nikka finds the best, best and they’re usually musical!IMG 1794

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Bravo everyone!

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Emma gets a high five from Kita on the evenings celebrating!IMG 1814

We send you all our love wrapped up in wishes for a beautiful year to come!!!IMG 1760

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The 2014 CHRISTMAS PARTY in the STUDIO......

……was the best ever…..or do I say that every year?  Everyone brings a special dish for lunch and we all go totally wild. Kc has instructions not to come if she doesn’t bring her smoked salmon specialty that's on sourdough with an amazing cheese spread dotted with capers. They’re half gone here.  Soooooo good!

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But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Nikka finished trimming the tree and setting up her adorable little vignettes all over the place.  They’re hidden surprises!

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This scenario took a little doing.  It’s Santa in his sled….

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There’s tissue paper underneath for snow….

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Then the reindeer have to be attached with golden reins.

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Can you stand it???  On to the party.  How cute is this card from Kc….it’s the reason Kita isn’t allowed into the studio.  Thank you Kc for this keeper of a card and for the beautiful plant.

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Kathy makes the most delicious Chinese Chicken Salad and we got the recipe for the dressing.  It went beautifully with Pam’s yummy duck!

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Colleen brought about 50 pounds of treats from Porto’s! Who brought the Spring Rolls?

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Lots of sweets and cakes and breads.

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Kathy gifts everyone with a beautiful calendar for the coming year that has her exquisite art work featured at the top.

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Here it is!

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O.K. Laurie, put down the bunny and no one will get hurt.

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What’s going on here….everyone wants Bunny!

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We can all relax….bunny is safe!

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Everyone finally settled down and got back to painting.  Dear Amy is doing such lovely work.

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This is one of the paintings Clara worked on earlier in the week.  I had mounted them for her as a surprise so she could see how extraordinary they are!

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Thank you one and all for making this day so very special and for all your touching, lovely gifts that mean so much to me as do you all. It’s been a grand and glorious year and you’ve done so many beautiful paintings that gladden my heart.


 Here’s Saturday’s studio class sending love and Merry Christmas wishes to you!!!

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There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.