Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Latest

After yesterday morning's Hallmark moment, my day fell on its face and went splat. I had a wrestling match with Anabelle to get her into her carseat, she screamed all the way from Child's Play to home and my car's air conditioner on its very highest setting wasn't high enough. I cursed the 111 degree heat, and I cursed Las Vegas and called it "God forsaken."
Though my haircut appointment (and thus my moment to bask in trashy magazines and stare into space while someone else washes my hair) was cancelled at the last minute, I didn't cancel my babysitter. I went to the art store to buy myself some bristol board and new pens. Then I went to the library and drew for an hour. Heaven!
I continue to struggle with quieting my inner critic, but talking to my mom this morning I realized again that we all struggle with that -- no matter what medium you work in. For those of you who might not know, my mom's a journalist for the Evanston Roundtable.
Speaking of my mom, she gave me this "recipe" to make for dinner during my cooking strike:

black beans
fresh corn
fresh lime juice
queso fresco

Here are some pics of what I've been working on:

Here is the start of a portrait of my wonderful and fabulous husband Patrick:

And here are my new favorite pens:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Best Ever

This morning before breakfast Anabelle and I sat in the green chair and listened to Neko Case and a skipping Crystal Gayle.  She seemed so happy there on my lap, bouncing on my knees, which surprised me because she is so wiggly now.  Pulling herself over to the floor lamp to yank on its legs (watching me while I warn her with my eyes, grrrr) is her new favorite thing.  And then, oh this is so my favorite part, she snuggled up close and lay her head on my chest, and we just sat there together.  It was 30 seconds of everything that's good in this world.  

Here are some more Best Evers:

Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood's podcasts on
I mentioned her website before; I have been listening to her interviews with artists everyday while I draw.  Jennifer is a very insightful interviewer, and now I feel like she is a link to the art world for me!!

I learned about Jennifer's podcasts because she interviewed Abby Glassenberg, an artist/blogger/mom who I stumbled upon one day while I was searching the web.  The name of Abby's website,
caught my eye and inspired me to do my art "while she [Anabelle] naps."  Pretty cool huh?

I've also recently learned about
You can create your own textile designs, and at spoonflower there is NO MINIMUM order to print your very own design!!!!  Whaaaa?!!  Will my dream of creating textiles really come true some day?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ho Hum

It's a hot hot July day in the desert, and the Brown family is bored.  After a jaunt to the bookstore, we are back home drinking iced lattes and wondering what to do with ourselves.  Pat googled "Summerlin upcoming public events" for family activity ideas, and the response was a very meager one:

no upcoming events. 

Oh my.  This leads me to the question on many Vegans' minds: is Las Vegas truly "a soul-less city" with no roots and no culture?  Or maybe Pat and I are bored because in actuality, we are just boring people. 
There.  Some topics to ponder this afternoon.  

Friday, July 24, 2009

Champagne Grapes and the Un-surprise Party

Hello all!  
Patrick's 31st birthday was on Wednesday, and I planned a surprise party for him - which was indeed a surprise until I blew it the day before.  Our conversation went something like this:
Kate:  Are you suspicious?
Patrick: No.  What would I be suspicious about?
Kate:  Are you suspicious that I'm having a surprise birthday party for you?


Anyway, there were 11 of us, and it was so much fun!  Anna helped me cook all day which was challenging with Anabelle army-crawling over to Buzz's water bowl every chance she got.  We made watermelon/blueberry/mint salad,  a really yummy spinach salad from epicurious, and a coconut cake from Barefoot Contessa.   I set out several cheeses, champagne grapes, salami, edamame, yummy bread and nuts for starters, and even though Pat wasn't surprised he really appreciated it all.  

We have about a pound of champagne grapes left over lucky for Anabelle.  They are the perfect size for her little fingers.  She LOVES them, and why wouldn't she?  They are as sweet as candy, and they go POP in your mouth.

Here is the recipe for Pat's birthday salad straight from

Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken, Mango, and Raspberries Szwarc

Gourmet  | July 1996

Sandy Szwarc: Albuquerque, New Mexico

yield: Serves 2 generously


For dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar*
  • 1 tablespoon balsmic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh gingerroot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 whole skinless boneless chicken breast (3/4 pound), halved
  • 1 bunch spinach (about 3/4 pound), coarse stems discarded and leaves washed well and spun dry
  • 1 firm-ripe mango, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 2/3 cup raspberries, picked over
  • 4 scallions, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse

  • * Available at specialty foods shops and some supermarkets.


Make dressing:
In a bowl whisk together all dressing ingredients except oil. Add oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk until emulsified. (Dressing may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.)

In a shallow dish or a resealable plastic bag coat chicken with 3 tablespoons dressing. (Marinate chicken, covered and chilled, 2 hours.)

Heat an oiled well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and grill chicken, drained, until cooked through, about 7 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a platter and cool. (Chicken may be made up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.)

Cut chicken into 1/4-inch-thick slices and in a large bowl combine with remaining ingredients. Drizzle remaining dressing over salad and toss gently to combine well.

On another note, I have been listening to podcasts on, my new favorite website.  There are over 100 audio interviews with artists.  The one I am currently listening to is with a master quilter named Sharon Schamber (  Her creative process is SO interesting, and her quilts are absolutely unreal.  She talks a lot about getting into her creative zone -- allowing the right side of her brain to completely take over (and that is, in my opinion, when you lose track of time and your surroundings fall away - love that!).  While I listen I have been working on a drawing and trying my hardest not to let my inner critic take over; I just want to see where my hand takes me.  I find it incredibly difficult not to forecast what the end result of my drawing will be -- what the composition should be, whether the drawing is any good, whether people will like it.  I am trying my best to just enjoy the journey and see what comes of it.  
Already I am so inspired by the detail in Sharon's quilts that I am determined to take this little drawing I am doing and make it larger -- 24" x 36" or so...  I love being able to use the hours when Anabelle naps to delve in and do my art.  However my struggle remains, as always, what do I have to say as an artist?  Is my final product just... to be pretty?  

Here's a detail: 

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hairdryer Hot

We are back in loverly Las Vegas where the temperature outside is a whopping 109 degrees. Ugh.  It feels like we are in a big hairdryer.    
We had a wonderful month in Boston, Cuttyhunk and Evanston.  Pat is happy to have Anabelle and me back at the ranch, and though I miss being surrounded by all the family, it is nice to set up shop in our own home again.  Anabelle is back to sleeping well; yesterday she napped for a total of FIVE hours between her morning and afternoon naps!  Lucky for me because I napped too.    
I have NOT been busy making art, but I have been busy in the kitchen and the laundry room.  I am actually really enjoying it!  Unpacking and sorting and cleaning has given me a real sense of... calm.  Plus it gives me real satisfaction to be cooking Anabelle's meals again.  Here is the cookbook I LOVE:  Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel. 

Here's a picture of Anabelle on Cuttyhunk.  I love it because everything about her looks soft. During our month away she perfected her wave, learned how to clap and how to put her arms up in the air when you ask her "how big is Anabelle?"  SO BIG!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Jolly 4th

HELLOOO fellow followers! oh my goodness, now that i actually have a following i have been lagging on my entries. vacation apparently makes me a bit too lackadaisical. in any case. i would like to formally tell you all thank you! for supporting my endeavors. it warms my heart.

we are now in evanston at my mom and don's for a couple of weeks. anabelle has learned to give kisses - a direct result from all the love she has been getting, i'm sure. she dives forward with an open mouth and plants one on a cheek or a mouth, whichever comes first. she has mastered waving, and now we are working on the art of sharing -- passing her new ball back and forth. she's only just discovered that she can let the ball go, and then what happens is that she will get it back.

we went to Lighthouse Beach the other day. What a strange transitional time i am going through... last time i was there i was a kid myself, lolling in the shallow water and ordering Chaco Tacos from the ice cream truck. now i find myself sitting in a circle of young moms, prying fistfuls of sand out of our babies' mouths. anabelle sat rather quietly there in her pink addidas pants (ha) inspecting the sand, and it wasn't until we were getting ready to drive home that i realized she was gumming a little black stone.

today is overcast, but hopefully the rain will hold off until, well... tomorrow. we just can not be bothered with it today; there is a parade to go to, and bbqs to attend!!!! pat and i went to the wilmette fireworks last night. the 4th of july has truly become one of my favorite holidays, and evanston today is america at its best.

I have not forgotten my art. it will continue, i promise.