Monday, July 06, 2009

Charlotte Symphony, Spoons, and Lots of Smiles


It was Friday night, July 3rd, and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra was having a free concert in Southpark and there was going to be a wonderful fireworks display too.  So, other than the cost of gas, we decided it was well worth the fun to take the children to hear the orchestra and enjoy the fireworks.  We were also hoping it would not be as crowded as if it were on the 4th.

>> Keep Reading

Friday, July 03, 2009

Summertime Craft & Cooking Fun with Kids!


Now that the kids are home and out of school for the summer, around here we are always looking for something fun to do with our kids.  I, personally, do not like them sitting in front of the computer, playing the Wii, or X-Box, all day long.  It is bad for their eyes and bad for their brain.  So, we limit their use of electronics and encourage our children to read and do other things that are better for them - like crafts, cooking, painting, playing outside, riding their bicycles and scooters, playing board games, and reading.  There is so much that they can do that does not require an electronic device or a computer, and I recently found 2 books that have encouraged my children to try something new and fun.

>> Keep Reading

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Baked Bird's Nest for a Summer Morning Breakfast


This has got to be the most interesting breakfast I've seen yet, and of course, that's because Beth's culinary skills have no limitations. Talk about delicious, nutritious, and a perfect way to start your summer morning.

>> Keep Reading

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Artists' Specials Series


When I find something educational and entertaining, I'll be the first to share it with you here.  After yesterday's post, I had several readers ask about a Winslow Homer movie after a reply I had made to my friend Beth in the comments.  We have a set of movies called The Artists' Specials Series that we have enjoyed time and time again.  Whenever I want inspiration, I pull out one or two of the movies.  I originally saw these specials on HBO about 4 years ago and immediately went online to purchase the movies.  They were that good.  Here are the movies that are in the Artists' Specials Series ... 

>> Keep Reading

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summertime and Edward Potthast


I don't know what it is about summertime, but every summer, I get all wrapped up in the paintings of Edward Henry Potthast.  I love his work.  I can't stop looking at it and studying his brushstrokes.  My own work has been greatly influenced by this artist.  His paintings make me happy.  There is a brightness and joy that can be felt from his paintings. Although my favorite artists were the impressionists - Renoir, Monet, Manet, Cassatt, Degas - it is the work of this American Impressionist, Edward Potthast, that I believe has had one of the greatest impacts on my own body of work.  And so, I would like to tell you a bit about this artist whom I love ...

>> Keep Reading

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Phantom is Mesmerizing


For over 20 years I have wanted to see "The Phantom of the Opera" at the theatre.  And Sarah was just as anxious to see the play after seeing the movie and falling in love with the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.  So, a couple of months ago, we purchased 3 tickets for an afternoon at the Belks Blumenthal Performing Arts Theatre in Charlotte, and Sarah, Matthew, and I spent several hours being completely mesmerized by the performance.

>> Keep Reading

Friday, June 26, 2009

Take A Look At Yourself
And Then Make A Change


AN UNPRECEDENTED PHENOMENON HAS OCCURRED ACROSS AMERICA!!! Apparently thousands of 40-60 year olds have been admitted to hospitals from coast to coast in Cardiac Arrest due to a night long dance tribute to Michael Jackson. 

>> Keep Reading

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Delicious Lasagna Roll Ups & Emile Henry Ruffled Bakerware



We've got a WINNER!  Look at the bottom of this post for the lucky Reader!

Oh Man does this ever look delicious!  Nothing makes my stomach growl with joy like getting a recipe from Beth in my inbox.  I am definitely in the mood for this tonight for the family dinner.  How about you?  And, to celebrate this wonderful Italian dish, I've got a French surprise for you at the end.

>> Keep Reading

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hello, I Must Be Going


I just finished reading the book "Hello, I Must Be Going" by Christie Hodgen, and as much as I enjoyed the book, I found it to be, at times, puzzling.  The young narrator is Frankie Hawthorne, who is growing up in a lower-income family with a younger brother, Teddy who can be difficult at times, a mother, Gerry, who is a waitress at a Friendly's Restaurant and a chain smoker, and a father, Randall, who was a Vietnam Veteran and an amputee, who masks his depression through his comedy.  The book is supposed to be set in the year 1980, but I sense it more to be set in the early 1970s as the family is suffering from a detached appreciation for Vietnam Vets as a result of a very unpopular war.

>> Keep Reading

Sunday, June 21, 2009

We Need Fathers to Step Up


By President Barack Obama

(And a tribute to my own father at the end)

As the father of two young girls who have shown such poise, humor, and patience in the unconventional life into which they have been thrust, I mark this Father’s Day—our first in the White House—with a deep sense of gratitude. One of the greatest benefits of being President is that I now live right above the office. I see my girls off to school nearly every morning and have dinner with them nearly every night. It is a welcome change after so many years out on the campaign trail and commuting between Chicago and Capitol Hill.

>> Keep Reading

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Rusting Away" 11x14 Oil on Canvas


"Rusting Away" 11x14 Oil on Canvas.

$320.00 (unframed)

I took a little more time on this little fella and I enjoyed working on the detail.  I also mixed my own greens rather than use them right out of the tube.  I mixed Ivory Black with Lemon Yellow in different variations to achieve the different green hues.  I think in this painting, the dulled-out greens look more natural in this barn setting. 

>> Keep Reading

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Peek Into My Studio


I did not paint today.  I did not do laundry today either (although I probably should have).  I didn't take a nap either (and I usually do that!).  Instead, I cleaned and organized my studio, cleaned my brushes, and looked through my reference material to prepare for my next painting. 

After I finished, I thought I would give you a tour of my studio.  It's nothing fancy.  This would normally be the living room of our home, but we believe that each room should be useful.  No "pretty" rooms in our house.  We use them all, and fortunately, our home has the space we need for all of our activities.

>> Keep Reading

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Quiet Morning Walk


I don't know what got into me this morning.  I actually got up at 6:15 and decided to take a walk with Adolf.  I rarely ever go for a walk, and I realize that I desperately need to change my ways.  I am not getting enough exercise.

>> Keep Reading

Monday, June 15, 2009

Delicious Vanilla French Toast


Yeah baby!  This is what I call "breakfast" and thanks to my friend, Beth, I've got the recipe to share with you.  Woohoo! 

>> Keep Reading

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Cow in Field" 8x16 Oil on Panel


Today's new artwork:

"Cow in Field" 8x16 Oil on Panel.

$250.00 (unframed)

Here is a close up of our friendly cow ...

>> Keep Reading

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Church Steeples in Oil - A Tutorial


I enjoy painting different subjects.  Still, I have some favorites - Barns, landscapes, horses, cityscapes, and churches.  There is something about these subjects that draw me into the painting process.  Today, I decided to paint at least 1 small oil painting, and thought it would be a good opportunity to teach those of you who are interested, how I go about preparing a canvas from sketch to completed painting.  In this case, it was a very small painting - 5x7 inches, and it took me 2 hours from start to finish. Well, almost finished anyway.

>> Keep Reading

Friday, June 12, 2009

Click click Here, Click click There


This is my good friend, Liz.  Her hair is a bit of a mess, but she drove to Atlanta and back to Charlotte on Sunday and by the time she got to our house she was tired.  Still beautiful, but tired.  She didn't want me taking her picture.  She smiled for this one though.

>> Keep Reading

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Child Abduction Emergency in North Carolina?


You've got to be kidding, right?  Everyone is in bed sleeping and Matthew was spending the night with his best friend next door.  They are always having sleepovers.  Well, at almost 1:00am the phone rings and it is Matthew crying and wanting to come home.  "Sure bud, I'll meet you outside.  Is everything alright?"  I asked.  "I don't feel good, Mom.  I want to come home."  So, I ran outside in the drizzle and met my little boy in the driveway.  He ran into my arms and we walked inside.  He was shaking and really upset.

>> Keep Reading

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Bit of Heart & Soul on the Homefront


Sunday was a great day.  Big Bear turned 50 and he can no longer call me his "old lady."  Yep, I'm 6 weeks older than Bob.  Big deal.  My gpa was higher than his when we graduated from high school too.  ha ha.  Okay, time to get back to the music ...

>>Keep Reading

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Remember Me


This video was created by a 15 year old girl - Lizzie Palmer.  It is absolutely beautiful and I had to share it with my readers.  Enjoy...

>> Keep Reading

The Adventures of Gregory


Sunday was Big Bear's 50th Birthday and we were ready to celebrate.  We invited 20 of our close friends and neighbors over for the celebration.  I, however, had my sights on the cutest fella at the party - Gregory.

>> Keep Reading

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Bright Beautiful Flowers


We've all had a tough week, so while I cleaned the house with the kids, preparing for Big Bear's 50th Birthday bash tomorrow evening, he ran some errands. 

>> Keep Reading

Time Has a Way


I woke up this morning reflecting on the fact that time has a way of healing all wounds - well, maybe not all wounds and not all the time.  When the wounds concern your children, whether they are self-inflicted wounds, inflicted by your children, or inflicted by others - they still hurt.  There is always a grieving process.

In that process, there is always some lowlife out in the world who wants to rub your nose in it, make you hurt more, kick you while you're down.  Yes, there are some seriously sick individuals out in the world as I have unfortunately come to learn as a result of having this online journal.

>> Keep Reading

Friday, June 05, 2009

Storyboards & Photoshop CS4


I've been wanting to learn how to create storyboards in Photoshop for some time now, but today, I actually took the time to figure it out and it's really easy and fun too!

Before I learned how to do this myself, though, I picked up a few actions and storyboards that were free online and have been using them. 

>> Keep Reading

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

You Can Lead a Horse To Water


We've all heard the adage "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink."  Well, this horse has walked away from the water entirely.  That horse being Kathleen.

>> Keep Reading

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Injured Toes, Bunny Ears, and Nice Folks


Two days ago, while playing at his best friend's house next door, Matthew rammed his little toe of his right foot into a chest of drawers.  Ouch.  He came home and put ice on it and he seemed to be okay.  He even slept well that night. 

>> Keep Reading

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Opportunity Knocks


Yep, Big Bear is on the road again to Maryland, another 9 hour drive - but this time he isn't carrying a casket in the back.  Nope, he's going on an interview - a very promising opportunity, and he is looking forward to having the conversation.

>> Keep Reading

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Highschool Yearbook Memories


Do you remember how exciting it was to get your yearbook towards the end of the school year?  I sure do.  It was always fun passing the yearbook around to my friends and having them sign my yearbook.  Now, my little girl is experiencing the same thing.  The fun.  The memories.  The friends.  The sports.  The football games. 

>> Keep Reading

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Life Well Lived


This has been a difficult week.  A somber week.  A sad week.  Even my own dreams have been strange - a feeling of being lost, alone, frightened.  Losing a parent is second in heartfelt sadness only to losing a child I think.  There is something about the loss that changes the entire dynamic of our lives.  It forces us to reflect on our own lives and our own legacy in this world.

I want to remember my mother-in-law for the life she lived.  A pictorial walk down memory lane for those who knew her, those who were a part of her life, and those who never knew her.  She was a special lady.  Full of spunk and vinegar.  Full of love and laughter.  We are all better for having known her.  So here, I want to share with you a bit of what I know about my mother-in-law ...

>> Keep Reading

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Passing On to Be With Her Beloved


At 2am, Bob and I received a phone call from the nursing home where Bob's mother, Geneva, resides.  They didn't think she was going to make it through the night and thought that we should get there as soon as we could.  Exhausted, Bob and I left the children in the care of our oldest daughter, Kathleen, and drove the hour to the nursing home.  It was a quiet and somber trip.

>> Keep Reading

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fine Art, Mayor Nancy Anderson, Congresswoman Sue Myrick, and Me


Sunday was a great day.  My girls and I got ourselves dressed and fixed up for the presentation of awards at the Weddington Town Hall.  I was a speaker and presenter at the ceremony of the 2009 Congressional Art Competition sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives and Congresswoman Sue Myrick of North Carolina.  It was an exciting experience.

>> Keep Reading

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Singingirl's Devilish Eggs


Isn’t it funny how deviled eggs just seem to “go” when you put them out at a party or gathering? Double the recipe for a large group of people.

>> Keep Reading

Monday, May 18, 2009

A BIG Day at the Races!


There is no way to explain clearly the excitement and enthusiasm, the downright joy and jubilation, that a 12 year old boy experiences when told by his daddy that he has 2 tickets to attend the NASCAR Race at Lowes Motor Speedway.  Nope, I can't begin to tell you the lifetime memory that day had on my boy.  All I can do is show it to you in pictures and share with you the stories they told me about their dad & son day out this past Saturday.

>> Keep Reading

Saturday, May 16, 2009

There's a Lot of Young, Promising Talent in North Carolina


About a month ago I received a request from Congresswoman Sue Myrick's office to be a judge in this year's Congressional Art Competition.  I agreed.  I was one of 3 judges from my county of Union to attend the exhibition of artwork from promising young high school students in the area who had applied to be a part of the competition.

>> Keep Reading

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Fashioned Potato Salad - Yum


By Beth Sollars "Singingirl Cooks!"

This recipe is the perfect way to kick off your memorial day weekend!  So, kick your potato salad up a notch and try this delicious concoction for your weekend memories. Finely chopped colorful vegetables give this great flavor. Paul named this one for me. He said it was anything but old fashioned potato salad!

>> Keep Reading

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Where Have My Babies Gone?


I can't help it.  I'm a bit melancholy lately.  I look around me and see my children - a few all grown up.  Others close behind.  And, a grandson who is rambunctious and growing up so fast too.  Where have my babies gone? 

>> Keep Reading

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Peepers Birthday Visit


It was a beautiful day on my birthday and we were all getting ready to go out as a family and enjoy the day.  Glen came running into my bedroom enthusiastically "Mom!  Our bluebird is back and knocking on the window!"  "Really?"  I asked as I ran out of the bedroom only half dressed.  "Look Mom" and then Glen pointed to the big paladian window in our foyer.  There was Peepers, flying into the window as if determined to get in the house.

>> Keep Reading

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Tribute to My Mother, My Hero, My Friend

My mother.  Her strength amazes me.

>> Keep Reading

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Daughter's Day Out


This is the best Mother's Day weekend I've ever had.  I am surrounded by all of my children and it is wonderful.  To celebrate this wonderful event we had a daughter's day out - Kathleen, Sarah, and me.  All smiles, all happy, just a perfect day with my girls.

>> Keep Reading

Friday, May 08, 2009

Oh! What Nice Navigation You Have! ©


As you can see, I've been busy this week updating Raisin Toast to make it easier for you, my wonderful readers, to navigate the site, enjoy posts in other sections, and hopefully find things a little easier.  It has been a lot of work.

>> Keep Reading

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Simple Indoor Garden


By Kathleen Smith (Susan's Big Girl)

You don't need a backyard to grow a beautiful garden. If you have a little bit of space, a container, and some sunshine, then you have all the necessary ingredients to bring a little green into your home.

>> Keep Reading

Monday, May 04, 2009

Harry Potter Witches Brew with
A Magic Trunk for You ©


We Have A Winner!

It’s been over 10 years since author JK Rowling first introduced us to the magic of Harry Potter and to a world of wizards, witchcraft, and fantastic creatures. When I purchased the first book 10 years ago "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," I couldn't put it down.  It was nothing like anything I had ever read before, and although I am not a big fan of witchcraft and wizardry, I found Harry Potter to be incredibly entertaining and exciting, filling my imagination with vivid imagery.  I was hooked.  Any author that can build a story such as this around one character - Harry Potter - deserves much recognition.

>> Keep Reading
... to discover the secret trunk, under the sorcerer's stone, past the goblet of fire, and through the order of the phoenix that holds the key to your prize.  Woohoo! and Abra Cadabra Foo Bah Mawn Waserpan!

Friday, May 01, 2009

A Miscellaneous post


Sometimes you just have to say something, and I've been working so hard to update my site that I haven't posted in what? 2 days?  So here's what's happenin...

>> Keep Reading (but only if you have nothing better to do)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Favorite Things


The other day, Kathleen asked me to make a list of my favorite things and then she wrote them all over a Renoir painting.  Sorry, Auguste, but my daughter is creative like that.  I wanted to share her story with you that she published on her new blog: Katrunk (an abbreviation for Kathleen's Trunk).

>> Keep Reading

It's a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood


It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...

>> Keep Reading, or singing - whichever you prefer

Monday, April 27, 2009

And then I Turned 50


>> Keep Reading

Irony is a Strange Bedfellow


This is supposed to be a happy day.  Today is my 50th birthday and will hopefully be the day I get my second wind.  But, for the last 25 years I have thought, in the back of my mind, that I would not live to be 50.  Death seemed to knock at the door of my subconscious.  Well, death is knocking at the door, and the call came at 3:00am as we were all sleeping.  Not mine, but my mother-in-law's.

>> Keep Reading

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Making Beautiful Music Together

Saturday was an interesting day, the best part of which was listening to the children play music.  Thanks to a very nice tax return, we pumped up the creative processes in our music room by hooking up the baby grand piano to a midi interface and a MacBook laptop with Logic Express so that Sarah could create and turn her music into notation, record, and then upload it to iTunes.  Right now, she is the only one working the hardest to get her beautiful compositions on iTunes.  Matthew still has a way to go.

>> Keep Reading

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mollycoddle Me and I'll Mollycoddle You too


I am so lucky.  Really, I am.  You see, my birthday falls just after we receive our tax return.  Which means I'm spoiled and I know it.  Although I must admit that I prefer to take my kids out and spoil them rotten with clothes and buy them a few things that they want, I don't mind being mollycoddled myself.  And since this birthday is a biggy, I've decided that I'm going to have a little splurge.

>> Keep Reading (especially if you want to win a great contest!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Here I Go Again


I know, I know.  I'm never satisfied.  Actually, I'm sorta satisfied - with the layout and design of my site.  But, I've been told by several people that I have too many sections and they don't know where to go first.  Okay, I hear ya people!  But my life is so complicated and complex that it's difficult to narrow down my life into a few sections.  But, I'm going to give it the old college try - to make it easier for you and me and whoever else wanders over here to my place.

>> Keep Reading