Research can be deadly (OR) Why Scotland?

So, as I’m writing (yay!), I’m listening to a guided meditation.  There is a very calming voice in my ears telling me that I am intimately connected to the creative power of the Universe.

I’m also looking at pictures of the Scottish countryside, because that’s where the next part of my story takes place. Why Scotland? Why do American writers always go back to Scotland? I’ll tell you why: because it’s pure dead brilliant that’s why. And if you’ve ever been there, you know what I’m talking about. It’s been over 20 years since the summer I spent there, and it still pulls me back.

eilean donan castle

My husband thinks I’m crazy. I’m sure he thinks it’s just a nerd-fantasy thing, and yeah it’s that, too. I’m a nerd, I like fantasy, so that’s cool. But he probably wishes I would shut up about it –  the same way I get when people talk about football.

Eye-Roll-gif-6

But looking at the pictures helps me get in the mindset. Where my characters are, what they’re doing, the topography they’re traveling through. If I can see it in my mind’s eye, I can follow them, and let them show me what’s going to happen next. It also helps me focus.

Why is research deadly? Because like so many other things – like blogging for instance (ahem) – it takes away from what I should be doing, which is writing.

The searches, images, and learning more about the things in my story help me feel connected to what’s going on in that world, as opposed to letting my mind wander back to the dusting and the laundry pile. Not to mention that it’s Christmas and that puts a whole new spin on the lack of writing time. Even though research (er, Google) can be a deadly distraction from your daily word count, sometimes you just need to dump the everyday garbage out of your head before you can make way for your story. Don’t overthink and don’t be too hard on yourself.

clear your head (y-oman.com)

Thankfully, I’m making progress. I keep telling myself that all I have to do is keep moving my story forward, and it will tell me where it needs to go.

So now I’m going to stop blogging and researching and get back to writing. Happy Holidays everyone.

xoxo heidi.

Enjoy some pictures of Scotland (click for source):

Black Watch Regimental colours

d1182071f86b0626b8f8cab348293cb1

birks of aberfeldy
birks of aberfeldy
the Isle of Mull, with Duart Castle, from Bike Scotland
the Isle of Mull, with Duart Castle, from Bike Scotland
Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull ©Mitchell Ratner, Smile of the Dandelion (with permission)
St. Kilda, www.kilda.org
St. Kilda, http://www.kilda.org
Kelpies at Falkirk, ©Ben Williams, bbc.co.uk
Kelpies at Falkirk, ©Ben Williams, bbc.co.uk
Jamie and Claire; Outlander
Jamie and Claire; Outlander

— If anyone ever says to you, “Hey I’ve got an aunt who lives in Glasgow, you want to hang out for the summer?” Say yes.

— More Scotland info here.

— the meditation currently in my ears: click here.

Merry Christmas.

Juniper is waiting for Santa :)
Juniper is waiting for Santa :)

Kittens and Puppies and Homework Oh My

Today I wanted a day off. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to do anything. But you know, 4 hours of yard work and two trips to home depot, dinner to make, laundry to do, toilets to clean, and oh, yeah. Homework.

I already need a beer.

It’s been a busy year and a lot is always going on. There’s always so much to do. And 99.9% of my creative energy has gone towards school. This is what I’ve been up to this past few months:

Next time, I’ll show you what I’ve been up to since I’ve started at ASU! It’s crazy! I’m surrounded by thousands of young people every day. Talk about a fish out of water.

this is me in my childhood development class
this is me in my childhood development class

If anyone has any questions on the art process, what do you DO in art classes anyway? What are we learning? on choosing to go back to college full-time, as a 43-year-old wife and a mother of 2, I’d be happy to answer them. Please leave a comment below.

And if you’re wondering, “Why, of all fields of study to choose from, and in a struggling economy, would anyone go to ART SCHOOL?”

here’s why:

So your son or daughter wants to be an ART major?!

by Adriene Jenik, director, ASU School of Art

 

Thanks for stopping by.

xo Heidi

Lennon & Maisy sing “That’s What’s Up,” OR: Why I Can’t Get This Song Out of My Head

I usually speed right past this kind of stuff on Facebook, but when my sister-in-law posted this video I clicked on it for 2 reasons:

1. She dedicated her post to my brother, John, along with her friends and family.

FB CM edited

2. I knew that if she liked it, I would like it, too. And it wouldn’t be some corny piece of crap.

I can’t imagine ever being this crazy talented, especially as a kid. But these two sisters sing so beautifully, and so well together, that this song is an instant Happy-Place earworm, as Linda Holmes likes to say. The song, “That’s What’s Up,” is originally by a band called Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Where the original reminds me of a tinny ode to School House Rock,  the girls’ version has a much more pure, sweet vocal melody and an engaging, natural performance.

Why can’t I get this song out of my head? Just listen; you’ll see what I mean:

Watching these girls, it reminds me of my Goddaughter and her sister – you can tell the girls love each other. It’s clear that Lennon & Maisy have been singing together since they were little (which you can see in their youtube videos). Their joy is evident.

And it scares the hell out of me.

Because they ARE so talented, I dread some skeevy “talent manager” getting a hold of them, and before you know it,  we see Lennon and Maisy wearing too much hair & makeup and stylist-induced designer outfits on The Today Show, like some E! network wannabes. And they get all stupid and slutty and spoiled.

PLEASE DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN! Please, parents of Lennon and Maisy, you seem like good people, you seem to be doing a great job raising these kids so far. I have to say, I have never heard of these two before they landed in my Facebook feed. (The duo are regulars on the series “Nashville,” and have made several television appearances.) So far, they are already off to a good start :) keep up the good work.

Don’t sell them out, don’t let them loose in the Hollywood machine. Care for them, raise them, make them do their homework, make them work shitty jobs to pay for their new car, make them respect themselves and their bodies, and don’t let them turn into slutty little brats.


miley cyrus before and after

Just let them grow up to be themselves.

If you’re still on the fence as to whether you like them or not, this song will definitely sell you.

***

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Thanks for stopping by (San Diego),

Heidi

White Chocolate Grill Couscous Copycat Recipe

If you’ve ever been to White Chocolate Grill and had their Couscous salad, you have probably been looking for the recipe ever since. The closest you will find is this teaser of a recipe from the WCGCooks.com blog. It’s not quite the one you want, but it’s a good start. I used that recipe as a base, tried to remember what all was in the deliciousness of what I had at the restaurant, and came up with my own. It’s probably not exactly like the one they serve, but it’s pretty yummy, and you can always play around with ingredients to see what you like the best. Here is the base recipe (from WCGCooks.com): Lemon Apricot Couscous with Toasted Almonds
Yield 1 Quart

  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 Tbs Honey
  • 1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Instant Moroccan Couscous
  • ½ cup Minced Dried Apricots
  • ½ cup Toasted Almond Slivers
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Parsley

Method:  1.Bring the water, honey, olive oil and salt to a rolling boil. 2.Take off the heat and stir in the couscous and apricots, cover and allow to stand for
approx. 5 minutes until the seasoned water has absorbed into the couscous.
3.Fluff with a fork before serving. 4.Place warm couscous on a platter and top with the toasted slivered almonds and chopped
parsley. I change this up depending on what I have on hand. white chocolate grill cous cous   This time, I made the couscous, and added (about a handful of each, chopped):

  • Parsley
  • Fresh Mint
  • Basil
  • Green Onion
  • Yellow Pepper
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Dried Apricots
  • Toasted Almonds
  • Roasted Pistachios
  • Grape Tomatoes (not pictured – I forgot, and added them later!)
  • and Feta Cheese

Instead of serving the couscous warm, I rinsed it with cool water, dressed it with olive oil, & lemon juice & a little bit of honey. A splash of balsamic vinegar, and Kosher salt to taste. It’s sooo good, and a perfect lighter side dish, goes great with grilled salmon, burgers, or all by itself. white chocolate grill, cous cous, recipe, And if you are looking for a great recipe for Grilled Salmon, here is my favorite. I comes out great, every time! (Just make sure your grill is well oiled.) From Taku Glacier Lodge in Alaska: Taku Lodge Basted Grilled Salmon (From myrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • About 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • About 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 pieces (about 6 oz. each; max. 1 1/4 in. thick) boned, skinned wild salmon fillet
  • 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter
  • Lemon wedges

Preparation 1. In a large, wide bowl or 9- by 13-inch baking dish, stir brown sugar, wine, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until sugar is dissolved. 2. Rinse fish and pat dry. Add to marinade and turn to coat. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours. 3. Lift salmon from marinade and transfer to a 12- by 17-inch baking pan. Pour marinade into a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan over medium-high heat; add butter and stir until butter is melted and mixture is simmering, 4 to 5 minutes. 4. Lay salmon, skinned side down, on a generously oiled grill over a solid bed of medium-hot coals or medium-high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds). Brush fish generously with the baste; close lid if using a gas grill. Cook until salmon pieces are well browned on the bottom, 3 1/2 to 4 minutes (keep a spray bottle filled with clean water on hand to spritz any flare-ups). With a wide spatula, carefully turn pieces; brush tops with baste and continue to cook, basting often, until the salmon is just opaque but still moist-looking in the center of the thickest part (cut to test), about 5 to 6 minutes longer. Discard any remaining baste. 5. Transfer salmon to a warm platter or plates and garnish with lemon wedges. Add more salt and pepper to taste. I always use wild caught salmon, and just do a whole fillet at once. (pictured with a wasabi-crusted tuna steak). taku lodge grilled salmon recipe Enjoy!

Catching up

This site is experiencing technical difficulties. If you are having problems viewing photos, please be patient, I’m working on it. Thanks!

I can’t believe how fast this year is going. We are already a week away from midterms. The Barrett-Jackson car show, the Phoenix Open, and the Arabian Horse Show have come and gone. It’s getting ready to be spring, and we’ve only just had our first rain of the year. Probably one of the more perfect times in our corner of the desert, and what people fall in love with when they come for a visit. Especially with the kind of winter everyone has been suffering through this year! Polar vortex indeed.

Chicago, I love you. But I’m so glad I’m not there right now.

It makes me glad to be here, but at the same time the snowbirds glory in our 80° February, what they don’t realize is that even for us, it’s unseasonably warm – and dry. It harkens to a tough year ahead for fire season, drought, habitat loss, and stress on wildlife. Not to mention a scorching May – September. I’m trying not to think of that now, and just revel in the glory of living someplace snow-and-windchill free.

salt margaritas

I feel a blog re-vamp coming on (again), so look for some changes coming up. While I have loved using WordPress.org, and having the customization freedom it offers, I am frustrated by the fact that when I read through some of my posts, half the time the pictures don’t show up (WTF?). And the whole hosting situation is a pain in the rear. So I’m looking to move the whole operation over to another web hosting site, hopefully with lots of improvements.

I’m taking Austin Kleon‘s advice from STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST, and stealing ideas for how to make this site better. Austin sends out occasional newsletters with a quick update on his projects, along with links to interesting things he’s found on the internet recently. Alex Yeske from Dreams + Jeans blogs beautiful pictures and product recommendations. I really like how both of these bloggers give a succinct post, paired with images, and suggestions from around the web, and hope to implement their best practices here. 

I’d also like to make to make this site better for YOU, my readers. Any comments? Suggestions on improvements? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

Here are some recent photos:

My work wall before a re-do
my new workspace, ready for inspiration
a typography sketch
this is from my life drawing class.
I draw naked people.
one of the best things about Arizona: sunsets.
my chickens decided to lay their eggs in the compost pile.
more typography practice
another sunset :)
juniper, our new puppy, likes to hang out with Keira while she eats.
wax barbie molds I’m working on for a sculpture project.
me, posing in sculpture class – trying to figure out how to pose Barbie for my sculpture. Suffering for your art means sometimes exposing your true dorkiness.
barbie parts, a tree, and a desk…hmmm, what will it be? Stay tuned.
My #1 Monkey, winning a soccer game. Love the color combo.
I told him his Polish was showing :)
My #2 Monkey, hogging my spot. That’s ok. No matter how big they get, I still like to watch them sleep.
a birthday present for my sister-in-law. I’ve been really inspired by a uk artist found here: http://lexwilson.co.uk/
My first non-school exhibition
pretty mama Chroicoragh ♡
A reader came to visit. She’d never seen Gypsy Horses in person, and we had a great time playing with the girls. Thanks, Jordan!

 

How to win an art scholarship

This is how I applied for and won an art-based scholarship.

The Bethel E. Ells Scholarship is awarded to a part- or full-time art or art humanities major. I believe there is more than one recipient, but I’m not sure of the number. Here is the info from the application:

For students majoring in Art, this includes Drawing, Painting, Computer Graphics, Photography, and Sculpture or Art Humanities.

Continue reading How to win an art scholarship

Thanks

So, I’m sure you’ve noticed a huge gap in posts. I mean, of course you have, because you’re a regular reader and you love my wit, and you can’t WAIT until you see a new post from me!

Kind of like how I am with The Hermitage, Dreams + Jeans, and Fine Art Tips.

A lot has been going on. I have been taking 17 credit hours this semester, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve worked so hard and been so happy in that work. I’m telling you right now: If you’ve been in a slump, or maybe want to advance in your career but lack of a degree is holding you back; GO TO SCHOOL, even if it’s just one class at a time.

journey

There’s nothing that will revive you more than feeding your brain. It’s the perfect time in the economy, too. Things are starting to bounce back, but it’s slow going and business is still slow enough that if you wanted to, you could squeeze in a morning or evening class. Some of them are scheduled to only meet once a week, if that’s all you can commit. There are loads of scholarships available, and enrollment is down, so they WANT you to go to school.

But assuming you can afford one class per semester – maybe two – what would you take? What has always piqued your interest? Ancient Egypt? Art History 101- Prehistoric to the Gothic, or World History to 1500.

king tut

What have you always wondered more about? How to really use Excel, so you can go up a paygrade at work? CIS 105 or Excel Level I.

Or, have you always wondered why rocks look like this? Take Geology 101! I liked it so much I took 102 as well.

sandstone

Why don’t you do something for you? You’ve always wanted to try painting. Remember how much you loved watching Bob Ross? I recommend taking Color Theory first. It’s been a challenge, but a good one!

Think about it.

Besides school, we’ve had a few birthdays

IMG_5997

IMG_6667 - Version 2

and lost our two best friends :(

Butter (aka Best Dog in the World) was 13, and Pepper (2nd Best Dog in the World) was 12. They passed away within a month of each other.

butter and pepper

Our new girl, Juniper, was a birthday surprise, and missed meeting Pepper by two days, but kept Butter company for the last month. She’s adorable, and smart, and keeps us all on our toes.

Juniper

The horses have gotten hairy. They got a post-Halloween treat.

horses eating pumpkin

Keira is still for sale. It’s strange, I think she must be waiting for the perfect home. I’ve had several people interested in her, and a few offers, but they all fell through for various reasons. All she needs is time and attention. She’s super smart and sweet, and responds well to training (see video on her page). I’m so surprised she hasn’t sold yet, because she’s pretty close to perfect. But that’s just my opinion ;)

keira

I gave my first class lecture

lecture ARH101

and we’ve had some rain.

IMG_7123
my Land Art installation, titled “Direction”

Coming up, I’ve got a post on a popular author, a round-up of my projects for the semester, an out-of-town writing conference (so exciting!), and after Christmas, I get to go visit my family. Please continue to keep my sister-in-law and our parents in your thoughts. This is our first holiday without John, and he is greatly missed.

john & chris

Here and now, it’s holiday time in the desert, cool and crisp in the morning, sunny in the afternoon.

I’m thankful for it all – my family, our health & home, the opportunities we have.

And to you, for taking the time to visit.

smiley face, rocks

Much love,

Heidi

If you’d like to do more online browsing, please stop by my friends’ sites:

Pb Crazy

r. mccormack writes

taysteele.com

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TracyJoyCreative