Wednesday, April 16, 2014

gentle surprises


i snapped these photos during lunch on monday after an easy spring rain. the light streaming from the sky was simply wonderful!



















when i awoke the next morning, snow dusted everything and mother nature was smiling at her surprise. i like quiet, laid back surprises so this one was just fine with me. and, of course, it didn't last and we have sunny 50 degree weather today.

click here to read an article that ran about me, my art and my life back in my hometown that ran in our local paper on sunday. i'm very humbled by the attention.

wishing you sunny skies and only very gentle surprises.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

seeking balance


my life these days seems to be all about seeking balance -- balancing making money to support myself and quiet down time to regenerate. i tend to wear myself out and then crash, my own worst enemy. creating a peaceful dwelling place brings contentment in the chaos. (art above by magaly, one of my faves!)



a constant respite from the madness is crocheting. this afghan is over 8 feet long and almost 5 feet wide -- all created over the winter. i love the colors and the skinny stripes and was sad when it was finished. i still need to work those pesky strings in at the ends but really i kind of like them in all their imperfection (like me).



now i'm working on this afghan which i've nicknamed mint chocolate chip! it will be considerably smaller and will rest on the white wicker chair in my bathroom.




part of balancing my life is controlling possessions, desiring a level of minimalism that gives me just enough without feeling weighted down by too much stuff. i found the above bowls at goodwill and paired them up to hold jewelry in my bathroom. they make me smile.





greek salad is my current food craze! have you tried ken's steak house greek salad dressing? love!



and then there is zoe, the sweetest dog ever, who loves unconditionally and makes my heart sing. here, she is patiently letting my grandkids dress her in doll clothes.

i find balance more difficult and more necessary than in the past, still learning the lessons of not giving too much of myself away.


women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance how much of ourselves we give away. -- barbara de angelis

Friday, March 21, 2014

keep your face toward the sunshine



i don't think i could ever have too much sunshine in my life. my mood, my outlook, my work ethic, even my hair, are all better on sunny days. the breakfast nook in my new place is all windows and i love watching the sun slant thru, creating artful shadows and spots of yummy brightness.




my plants are all sighing in contentment these days as winter has finally given up and allowed spring to ease into place. i can't recall a tougher winter or a more welcome spring. as with many things in life, it is easy to say winter wasn't really that bad now that spring is on the cusp.




 soon my doors and windows will be thrown open to warm breezes and bird song. my heart will be singing along with joy.




i started some spinach and lettuce seeds indoors and move this $5 mortar mixing tub from lowe's from one sunny spot to another. it's time to move it outside and let these yearning plants grow tall and strong. just like me, they seek a warm spot in the sun.

"keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you." walt whitman


turn it up loud and drink it in, my friends!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

humbled and happy


what a surprise when i opened up my gmail on monday to see a sweet comment from kerri saying "where have you gone, julie king? I have been a fan and visitor of your blog for a long while and it has been so long that I am worried that something has happened to you. if you get this message, please leave a sign that you are okay." i am a-ok, kerri, and you are so nice to ask! that's me today (trying to let my hair grown out) alive and well. i'm living in my hometown close to my kids and grandkids and working at a small USA toy manufacturer doing design work, creating products, writing copy, buying materials, having FUN. one of my goals in moving back "home" was to get out of the corporate rat race and simplify my life. this job totally fits the bill and is only four blocks from my sweet apartment. yes, i can walk to work!


the chalkboard sign in my kitchen reads "i am in charge of how i feel and today i am choosing happiness". i learned the hard way to  make good choices in my life and i feel the path i'm on now is the healthiest i've been in a long time. isn't that just the sweetest space above? i create art on that table in the breakfast nook. i love it!



yes, i am still making art although i don't consider it therapy anymore. now, it's just plain fun! i closed my etsy shop down a while ago but may consider re-opening it one day. for now, i like the low stress of creating when i want, selling a piece now and then and feeling no pressure to create.



while getting my fingers messy with paint, i developed a little technique for hand cutting paper stencils and using them to "paint" onto canvasses. it is super messy, easy and fun. it motivated me to start teaching art classes in my hometown -- all very low key. i usually teach one adult class and one kids class a month, weather permitting. the classes are called "happy messy fun art class" and i like spreading that around in my small way.



i've had a little luck selling art at a local coffee shop and it still surprises me when i sell art straight off of my facebook page.



although i don't get out and around with my nikon quite as often as i used to, i still enjoy taking photos and tromping around out in nature.



i've wanted to write a memoir for a long time and have joined a writer's group which has been very motivational, cathartic and supportive. after a long dry spell, i'm finally blooming again. looking back over the last decade or more of my life, i'm grateful the strong people who believed in me and pushed me to seek more in my life -- the life i truly deserved all along. i feel truly blessed to have come out the other side of a major depression. i'm humbled and happy. what more can we ask for, my friends?

Monday, April 8, 2013

spooner spawns forker in indiana town


i don't remember having a spooner as a child. but, at some point my mom bought a pretty cut glass container, set it in the middle of the kitchen table, filled it with teaspoons and called it a spooner. a bit of research just taught me that a spooner or spoon holder dates back to the victorian era when having a pretty "vase" of spoons on the table was a welcoming gesture and also a sign of at least modest wealth.



when i moved back to hagerstown a couple of years ago i wanted a spooner. looking back, i may have thought that my days of being spooned were over (hee hee) so i needed to creatively add the word spoon to my vocabulary in another way. who knows. i'm just weird about these kinds of things, i guess. i'm not fond of cut glass so i wanted a more unique vessel. my friend bonnie and i were shopping an antique store and bonnie spotted a clear glass container that reads "keystone egg and cream beater". it was love at first sight and i adopted it as my spooner.




a few weeks ago bonnie and i were shopping another antique mall in indy and i eyed a man inspecting a clear glass container that had "feet" and some markings that i couldn't quite see. i got as close as i could without invading his personal space. then he called his wife over and she inspected it as well. i heard him say something about it having been part of a mixer set. i was intrigued and i wanted it . . . bad!




bonnie and i went on our way and i saw a lot of cool things in that mall but my mind was still on that footed container. i figured the couple had already bought it but, always hopeful, i wandered back by its location before we left. and there it was. when i actually had it in my own hands i could see that it had measurements on one side -- 1/4 PT. up to 1 1/2 PT. i had no idea what i would do with it but i gladly paid the $9 price to make it my own.


on our way home bonnie asked what i planned to do with the measuring jar and i replied that i really had no idea. i was simply attracted to it. days and days later i was grabbing a spoon out of my spooner when it hit me. why would i be a narrow-minded, discriminatory person? why give spoons so much extra attention and leave the forks in a dark, boring drawer? so, yes, i grabbed my forks from their dungeon, put them in that magical container and created my own forker. yes i did! and i smile every time i need a fork, yes, i do!






Friday, April 5, 2013

shamrock


delicate and fragile
silently hiding in the shade
your glory shines
in your trefoil leaves
and long slender stems



constant and abiding
you greet me each morning
illiciting a smile
and a prayer of thanksgiving
for the blessings you give




kindred spirits like us
understand that beauty fades
but the joyous hearts
at our core
are reborn in the morning sun

photos (c) julie king

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

the secret life of quiche


for some reason i've been craving quiche lately. i often wonder what causes these weird, out-of-the-blue longings. is it a metabolic imbalance in my body? could i be low on potassium or iron? is the cosmic void sending me a way-too-subtle message? anyway, i decided to whip up a batch of quiche on sunday and this recipe more than satisfied my craving.

i found a recipe online (somewhere?) and then added my spin to it. here goes:

brown 8 slices of bacon and crumble

toss 8 oz of shredded swiss cheese and the crumbled bacon together and put in the bottom of a large pie pan

mix together in a bowl:
6 eggs
2 T melted butter
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c milk
salt & pepper
shredded fresh spinach

pour contents of bowl into the pie pan and cook for 35-45 minutes at 350




it smelled so good that i could barely wait for it to cool to cut into it. yummo! i ate two rather large pieces. then i went back to crocheting a wonderfully slouchy hobo bag in a tweedy brown. as the afternoon wore on (me in my pajamas with doggy zoe asleep on my feet, watching a marathon of friends reruns) i could hear whisperings coming from the kitchen. i snuck in there a couple of times to see what was going on but all was still and quiet. as my fevered fingers double crocheted and back-looped-only, the whispers became more urgent. it seemed to be calling 'julie, julie . . . you know you want me". finally i could wait no more; i answered the call of that quiche and popped it right back into the oven on warm. and yes, you guessed it. i ate two more substantially awesome pieces.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

deodorant (or lack thereof)


me at 60 years young


a few weeks ago i accidentally let myself run out of deodorant. i knew i was running low but thought i had an extra stick set back somewhere. maybe in the make-up drawer or under the new pack of toilet paper? the next day the extra stick was nowhere to be found and i thought ok i'll just stop at cvs on my way to work at the antique mall and buy some. slow-moving traffic and a long line at mcd's (did everyone want need a large sweet tea that morning?) prevented the deodorant purchase. just thinking about not wearing deodorant made me break out in a sweat. there is no sugar coating the situation; by mid-afternoon i was hearing the voice of the grinch in my head. i stink, stank, stunk!!

fast forward to the day of my 60th birthday and my daughter wanted to take me out for dinner and a movie. i wanted to see a romantic comedy but there was nothing playing so i suggested we see lincoln. from the get-go i was captivated by the cinematography. the cigar smoke floating in the light from the window was mesmerizing. daniel day lewis was wonderful. i've always loved james spader and he did not disappoint. but overriding all of these thoughts and feelings was a nagging memory of my afternoon without deodorant. my mind kept focusing on how many un-deodorized, cigar-smoking men were closely gathered in the room. remembering how badly i reeked after only a few hours, i seriously wondered how they could stand each other's company. 

at this point, i was struggling big time to hold my giggles inside. i kept telling myself to straighten up and act like the adult that i surely ought to be at 60 years old. but it was nearly impossible to do. it didn't help that my bladder was bursting. and then, in the middle of that bladder-wrenching hilarity, i had an epiphany. i knew that i was back. i was okay. i had weathered a relentless, sometimes hopeless, always painful, mid-life crisis and i'd come out on the other side. still laughing, still loving life, still poking fun at myself -- i was 60 years old and i felt whole and happy.

and then i got up and giggled all the way to the bathroom to pee.


Monday, February 11, 2013

this makes me smile


i love this time of year for the plethora of wonderful gardening mail order catalogs i receive. i can spend hours perusing the selection of plants and vegetables. i dream about the kind of garden i would have if only. if only i could garden full time. if only i had a country farmhouse with a large plot of land. if only i had access to free (or very cheap) muscle. if only the muscle was available and found me wildly mildly attractive. i digress.

this year's crop (pun intended) of gardening catalogs do not disappoint. take the new 2013 burpee catalog (not literally -- if you try to grab it, i'll smack your hand). this one is a feast for the eyes. my favorite part is the "new" section full of fun, new hybrids with entertaining names like "sweet thing hot pepper" on page 4. one 24" tall plant produces loads of 6-9" cayenne-shaped peppers that transition from green to yellow to orange to red. i imagine relaxing on the deck with a book, silently watching the peppers change colors like a family of chameleons. this makes me smile.

on page 7 i'm drawn to the "caracas carrot". only 2-3" long each carrot has a deep orange color and is loaded with flavor. i imagine myself reclining at the edge of the garden while munching on a juicy caracas and painting orange-filled paintings in my mind. this makes me smile.

and then there's the "sugar heart pea" on page 9. it's a 2012 taste test winner and totally fat free. i imagine an 8' x 10' room filled with 37 bushel baskets of different varieties of peas. in the middle of the green mounds is a wonderfully thin woman (me!) taking her fill of every single kind of 100% fat free pea. this makes me smile.

but as always, reality sets in. my gardens never live up to my expectations. i want to blame it on lack of muscle (be still my beating heart) but i know it's that my garden standards are a bit too high. i want to have meryl streep's garden in the movie it's complicated. her garden is an awesome arrangement of weed-free raised beds, each filled with a bounty of beautiful vegetables. i imagine it's me there in that garden in those super-cute bibs, with that adorable gardening hat and the harvest basket slung over my arm. the basket is filled with sweet thing peppers, caracas carrots and sugar heart peas, all the produce needed to make the awesome dinner i'm cooking for my faithful muscle man. this makes me smile.   

 









Saturday, February 9, 2013

fear is a funny thing


a couple of weeks ago i was working in the kitchen and noticed that my dog zoe had disappeared. i thought she was resting so i headed to the bedroom. no zoe on the bed. than i checked the living room. no zoe on the couch. keep in mind that i'm living in a small (but adorable) 4 room apartment; there aren't alot of places to hide. i called "zoe zoe" and heard scrambling noises and a thump coming from the bathroom. she came running down the hall. i made over her and asked her why she was hiding in the bathroom. she cocked her head and gave me one of those looks that make me so wish she could speak. but since she can't and i'm not clairvoyant, i went on with my evening sans an answer.

the next night i was mixing up a quick veggie quiche when it happened again. zoe disappeared and when i found her she was hiding in the bathtub!! she seemed scared and so pathetic. i began to worry that she was suffering from having lost her twin bella a couple of months ago or maybe she wasn't adjusting to living in town in an apartment. i hugged her and held her on my lap making over her and telling her how much i love her. once she seemed reassured i headed back to the kitchen to take my dinner out of the oven. that's when my overzealous smoke alarm (incongruously located in the kitchen??!!) went off as happens almost every time i use the oven. and it hit me  . . . zoe is afraid of the smoke alarm! if her quivering little body had not been so sad i would have laughed out loud. the bathtub? really?

all this got me to thinking about fear and our comfort zones. if you watch the evening news you can get a full list of things we should fear and worry about -- the flu, global warming, higher taxes, healthcare costs, aging and the list goes on and on. i sometimes feel like it would take 3 of me to keep myself adequately safeguarded from all the possible dangers lurking over me. my personal comfort zone simply won't abide non-stop worry. i choose not to worry every second of the day and maybe even less than once a week. i'm shooting for less than 1 minute of worry a month!

so what do i choose over worry and fear? i choose to walk my dog at least 3 times a day with my head held high, my step light and carefree and my soul filled with hope. i choose to visit my friends at the library where i check out books and movies that inspire me to be a better person and lift my spirits high. i choose to do something every day that makes me laugh, the big, belly-shaking kind of laugh that makes my eyes water and my heart soar. i choose to fill my home with houseplants that live and breathe instead of material possessions that i simply don't need. i choose to be silly and funny with my grandkids and to make memorable moments that shape their lives. i choose to reach out to a friend every week to say hey let's grab  a pizza or come walk zoe with me. you get the drift here. i choose to live a simple life that nourishes my soul.

fear is a funny thing and i choose to laugh it away. and, just for kicks and giggles, one evening i may join zoe in the bathtub. who knows, maybe she knows a secret or two about living a brave, peaceful life.







Sunday, July 22, 2012

summer love




















out and about with my nikon these days when it is cool enough to step outside. i'm hoping to get back into a routine of taking photos every day. i do so enjoy capturing the play of light and shadow.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

fleeting









some of the best things in life are fleeting. sweet, warm babes too quickly grow. a snowflake perfect in symmetry and icy wonder quickly melts. juicy red raspberries fall from the vine initiating the year-long wait for more. the heady aroma of succulent lilly-of-the-valley fades as summer blooms.
perhaps these things are most special because they are fleeting. it truly is the small things in life that keep me inspired and engaged.