Monday, December 28, 2015


 ….thanks to some major planning which included having the table good to go days ahead of schedule and all of the Christmas cards sent!

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I decided to spare everyone the musical Crackers and fortunately these from William Sonoma arrived just in time!

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Trudy never forgets Kita at Christmas and here she’s finding out if she’s been naughty or nice.  Need we say?

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Well, naughty though she be she got her treat anyway.

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…along with a great bath from ‘Must Love Dogs’.  Patient Liz tried for almost an hour to get Kita into the tub and then sent out a S.O.S.  Vicki & I got into the van and Vicki had to climb into the tub  while I pushed Kita from the rear.  It definitely takes more than a village.  Kita loves jumping into Liz’s vehicle but she’s learned about the tub and that stubborn Akita takes over.  Later we all got drenched when puppy decided to shake it off!

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I guess it was worth it.  Clean puppy.

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Dr. Eileen said she doesn’t mind this and for the three hours she was here Kita did not leave her alone. Now Eileen, along with Vicki, are the ‘weakest links’ in Kita’s training according to Mary Beth.

IMG 8473That beautiful Christmas  moon was directly over the studio…..

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Amy and I went to the Beverly Hills Hotel to personally give Santa our requests…..

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 We told St. Nick we were especially good this year…...

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Next stop, the Polo Lounge for lunch…..

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….and to be serenaded by the strolling carollers.

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Love you Amy!

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Oh yes, the Mystery Man.  Just look at his cuff…..

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Time out for beauty, marveling at creation…..…...

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Rex is in Switzerland so I get to enjoy the Peonies Amy got him for Christmas……Lucky me!

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Christmas day & we’re good to go…….

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Eating Duck pate while we wait for my fashionista mom…..

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The Honey Baked Ham was a winner…...

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Mom & Otto share a moment…..

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The salad was amazing with so many yummies in it including Pomegranates and Dragon Fruit.

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Kita didn’t mind being cordoned off as she had a big Greenie from Lynne Sims…..

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Little cookies that you put onto your hot chocolate mugs. Where does Sweet Lynne find these things?

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Happy Birthday Otto.  Kinda a bummer being born on the 25th as it cuts into the amount of gifts one receives.

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Not sure where she finds them but Nikka always comes up with the most delightful cards…..musical of course!

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 This was definitely a Class ‘A' Bear Hug! Actually ‘choke hold’ is more like it!

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 Another cute card…….

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 This is the most beautiful ornament ever and the box it came in is even more so….

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 Nikka shows Sir Charles the ‘finger puppets’ from his card…..

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 Charles was delighted…..

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 No Kita, you can’t go home with mom….

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 We love you one and all and send our love wrapped in wishes for a super grand 2016!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

HOLIDAY LAYERED JELLO MOLD for People Who Don't Like Jello


Tomiko phoned from Northern California last night and asked me for my recipe for an old fashioned jello mold that’s sure to please everyone!

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I make it in a teflon angel food pan that I first lightly wipe with Wesson Oil…..

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Actually this recipe could be enough for two large molds and I usually just use a glass bowl for the second mold.


Add 2 cups boiling water to one large package of Lemon Jello and stir ‘till dissolved then add

1 1/2 cups very cold water and place in the refrigerator until it’s slightly thickened.

Place a THIN layer of the Jello in your mold and on top of that add pineapple sections (as shown), Maraschino Cherries and if you like…green pears, arranging in a design that pleases you. On top of the fruit place a little more of the Lemon Jello.  Refrigerate until firm.


Add 2 cups boiling water to one large package Strawberry Jello stirring to dissolve.

Add ONE cup very cold water and refrigerate until it starts to thicken.


Whip thoroughly until it’s light andf frothy and more than tripled in volume.


2 sliced bananas

1 or 2 small cans of crushed and thoroughly drained pineapple (I then squeeze the fruit in paper towels to make sure all the liquid is out)

At least 1/2 cup of chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

About 7 sliced Marachino Cherries

You may also add small marshmallows if you like but they will be in the dressing)

Lightly fold in one large carton of Sour Cream so that it stays in chunks

Pour into mold and refrigerate until firm.


Add 2 cups boiling water to one large package of Black Raspberry Jello (or Black Cherry).

Drain one can or jar of Boysenberries using the liquid to make a portion of the 1 1/2 cups cold water you’re adding next.  When slightly set, add the drained Boysenberries and place in your mold.

NOTE:  I would make this the day ahead as the bananas don’t keep too well.

To un-mold I fill the kitchen sink with very warm water and jiggle the mold about in it for a few seconds ….lift out and using a sharp knife, go along the outside of the mold to check if it’s loosened.  Place a large plate or platter on top and carefully flip over.  If the mold doesn’t easily come out take a hot towels and place around mold to loosen.  Garnish as you please.


MYSTERY DRESSING FOR YOUR JELLO MOLD , otherwise known as The Pink Stuff (See if anyone can tell what the ingredients are)

Melt one 10 1/2 oz. bag of miniature marshmallows in a double boiler with

the juice from one large jar of red Maraschino Cherries 

Stir occasionally until completely melted.

Remove from heat and add about 12 diced Maraschino Cherries and one large carton of Sour Cream combining thoroughly.

Wishing you a delicious Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015


   I saw The Bridges of Madison County at the Ahmanson and driving back had quite a discussion on what love is…..

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  I ‘loved’ their tree…...

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Amazing Marsha Ramos had an open house.  She’s my template for doing good but as she’s set the bar so high it’s rather tough.  I first met Marsha when she was Mayor of Burbank and we were both judges for the DWP's school art contest.

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 I was able to finish up my Christmas shopping with wonderful hand made with love items created by Sister Regina Palamara to benefit the Cabrini Mission of Ethiopia.

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 Time for dinner at my new favorite place.  Commonwealth.  It’s in Burbank but honestly, you won’t get more amazing food anywhere in L.A.

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 Hudson Valley Duck Confit, Sauce Charcutiere, Pickled Papaya, Toasted Bread

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 Must have this every time….Truffle Mushroom Risotto, Mascarpone, Truffle Butter

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 You know I gotta have Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras!

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 Back in the studio.  Nikka used a ladder to create this scene at the top of some cabinets.

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 The ‘blinged out bunny’ is my mom and the blue bear got stuck in the bag and can’t climb out!

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 Sweet Amy checks out the tree…..

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 ….As does The Pie…..

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 Everyone loves ‘Painting White Birds’ and the Huntington class was no exception.

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 That’s correct Santa, you heard right….I’ve been NICE…got it???? Don’t look so surprised.

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 Festivities at the University Club in Pasadena….

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 I asked for a RARE Ribeye…...

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 It’s no secret that Kita is in love with Brett.  Krista is tolerated along with the rest of us…...

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 Studio tree approval.  Can’t wait ‘till next year to put up the one downstairs.  Puppy should be behaving by then.

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This is probably how she will feel about it.

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 Michael Powers comes from MA to paint his annual Christmas card. This year’s theme was an ‘Adirondack Dream’ showing the Seventh Lake Road Bridge and a typical Adirondack chair painted red for Santa!

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Of course Nikka did a fabulous job converting the image to greeting cards.

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It was so much fun!

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Get out the Christmas Crackers!  These musical ones are the best.  I’m the conductor….everyone has a numbered ‘horn’ and when I point at them they have to toot as directed.  Oh the power of it all.  Anyway, they’re so much fun and you’ll wind up laughing so much it will be hard to get any semblance of a tune out of your guests.

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I think I’ve finished the Christmas cards so if you haven’t received one from us PLEASE let me know.  All shopping is done, menu planned…check, check, check!  WHEW!

IMG 8116Wishing you the loveliest Christmas ever!



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.