Tag Archives: artist

I found my mojo! In a pot. (Warning: graphic images)

In a 5-gallon stockpot, to be precise. Yes, I’m cooking, and it’s as shocking to me as it is to Josh, who claims that in the last two weekends I’d spent more time in the kitchen than in the four years he’d known me. And to be honest, he is only slightly exaggerating.

It started as part of this overall pledge I made to myself, to be healthier and to not ever let myself get as run down as I was right before Christmas. It was both the mental health and the physical, its kind of difficult to separate them. To be honest, the stress is still there, even though the workload has slowed, I think my nerves are worn out raw – I cried again at work last week and even took a day off when I woke up crying in the morning. It mostly has to do with an unpopular decision I made and several people passively-aggressively letting me know just how unpopular I am at the moment. It will pass, but I have to survive the next couple of weeks somehow.

So back to the stockpot. When I was making that pledge, I have recognized that part of the whole mind-body calamity had to do with what I eat. Normally it’s pretty healthy, meat and veg, but it has been repetitive and I have started sneaking in snacks, even sugary chocolate. Every single afternoon, around 3pm I would nearly lose the will to live and prop myself with some hot chocolate, or birthday cake (always someone having a birthday!) or something else just to get to the finish line. As a result, my slowly creeping weight finally reached the number I saw only once before, about ten years ago, right before I had a major crisis and left the US for Australia. I knew that eating sugar was a bad idea, but when you feel like you’re in a crisis every day, survival comes first. But it had to change.

I’ve read about bone broths before and thought I’d introduce them as a snack, not a full-on broth diet like I’d heard of, but more as a supplement. The trouble is, every commercially available broth I’d tried tastes bad, anywhere from “bland” to “slightly bitter with a touch of puke” to full-on “is this made from poo?”

So I decided to make my own. How hard can it be?

It’s not that easy, actually. Turns out you need to know some basics, like “don’t let it boil, ever” and “buy a decent pot and strainer”. Oh, and which bones to get. I tried to boil beef bones and they do smell like roadkill, so I’ve concentrated on making good chicken stock. Yes, stock, because my ex-firefighter husband won’t let me leave the gas on overnight, so 4-5 hours of cooking is all I can do. True to my perfectionist ways, I have researched and experimented and basically had to “science the shit out of it”.

But it was worth it.

Not only have I made gallons of “liquid gold” that tastes delicious in any soup and even as a drink, but I have also lost two pounds in just over a week! Yes, almost a kilo of fat, and I have not changed anything other than eating as much of my own creations as I wanted. I still have a “breakfast sandwich” every morning, made by Josh with eggs, bacon, and love, but the rest of it has been soups of various kinds – tomato, pumpkin, potato, and leek. I have been full and did not even crave the chocolate fixes. It was a miracle of sorts, losing weight without actually trying. I do go to the gym almost every lunch, mind you, but that did not work before. I just had strong musculature wrapped in a fluffy layer of fat.

I decided to document this miracle in detail, should it continue. So here are the graphic images I have mentioned earlier:

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I am already less bloated in these photos, although I did not expect my whole stomach to stick out quite so much. On the positive side, I did not expect to see the faint outline of abs, woo-hoo!

I know what you’re thinking, what is this? The author-turn artist now starts a diet fad? I promise to keep revealing photos to a minimum, just wanted to share with you something that’s simple and has made a huge difference for me in the last week. If it keeps on working, I will update you further, for now, try making a stock/broth/whatever you wanna call it at home. The web is full of recipes and all of us can do with more nutrients and less garbage in our lives.

And guess what? All that time in the kitchen did not stop me from slowly progressing on those fiery dining room walls.

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I don’t know if it’s the nutrients or the active meditation of skimming a slowly simmering pot, but I feel good right now. Hope you do too.

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Filed under General thoughts

I said “no” and the Universe said “yes”

I said “no” to a major promotion.

This may not be such a big deal, but I’m still in disbelief over my own audacity. I mean, I got tapped on the shoulder by an executive and was offered to take on a major project, the likes of which my organization has not yet seen. When I wondered out loud about how I was going to manage this in addition to my already stressful job, the executive offered to backfill part of my job. There was a new title with “Executive” to be had and no doubt extra compensation, although we did not get to the details of that. The project was sure to propel me right up to the next step of the corporate ladder.

So I said “yes”.

Oh yeah, minor detail – I said “yes” at first, like a good girl, one that bites more than she can chew and then chews like hell. I said “yes” and then proceeded to stress for two weeks about what the hell I am doing, all the way to a panic attack last Sunday, complete with chest pains. Then, Monday morning I called the executive and ever so politely withdrew from the project. She couldn’t believe it at first, even tried to come up with some arrangement, where I finish a couple of major projects already on the way and then take on this one, but finally agreed that she needed someone here and now. I was relieved. Sad, because my damn stressful job won’t let me take on something cool and exciting, but relieved. I went to my calendar and cancelled several hours worth of meetings I no longer had to attend.

Then the coolest thing happened. The little bit of spare brain capacity got flooded with a creative tsunami the likes of which I have not experienced in months. Have a look – all of this happened within approximately 30 hours, which included some sleep and a few snacks:

          

Yes, it’s a ginormous Christmas card. It was somewhere between complaining about the heat and how I can’t imagine Christmas in 30-plus degree weather and admiring my coworkers’ zest for decorating that I came up with this idea. I did not know if I would be able to pull it off, I just knew I had to do it. I found a store that sells primed canvas by meter, taped a 1.6mX2.5m piece of it to my (now ruined) dining room wall and went nuts. Saturday night date night got cancelled and I had to make a mad dash back to the art store for more paint, but the next day I was sneaking into work to hang this up on the glass wall of my office. I have the Monday off, so don’t yet know how it was received, but it doesn’t even matter – I was high on endorphins all day. Thank you, Universe, for giving back my creativity.

Oh, and thanks again for something unexpected – my Twitter thread of progress photos almost went viral:

I’ve never had any of my tweets get so many retweets and likes in such a short time. I’ve posted excerpts from my books and photos of my portraits, which took painstaking days to complete, and they gathered some interest, but never like this. Dozens of people left comments, and I am now left wondering about why this particular painting provoked such an emotional response. Is it the season? Or the mood of it? Does it have something to do with it’s size? Or how quickly it was completed? If you have thoughtsd on this, please let me know – one thing for sure, I may stray away from the portraiture for another test.

So things are great. Except now I have to paint the entire dining room wall – and not with Dulax, but with a mural exactly like this painting, because Josh said so 🙂

 

 

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Filed under Painting

The one I almost threw away

I have been super busy. Interestingly, it’s easy to work hard when you love what you’re doing and all you get is positive feedback and nobody yet giving your work a one-star review, publicly wishing that they could burn it. However, I am also learning just how frustrating art could be. So frustrating, in fact, that I wanted to throw my last painting into the garbage bin:

Persistence 11

Yep, this one almost did not happen, because at some point I’d decided that I just can’t. Freaking. Blend. Acrylics:

Persistence 3

It was late at night. Josh went to bed, after trying to cajole me for an hour to give it a rest, which is not something I do often. I finally gave up and decided that this one was not to be. Some famous painter said that he was happy if one out of ten paintings was good, so the next morning I started playing with it. Then an amazing thing happened – because I had already written this particular piece of canvas off, I was no longer scared to try bold colors and fearless highlights. And somehow, (I am once again completely puzzled at how this happened), I made a painting at which I just. Can’t. Stop. Staring.

This is my number four and the first one that has a name. Persistence. Because she taught me not to stop and now that I know, I will continue no matter how ugly the progress stages get. I didn’t even take the most shocking one, where I scraped back her cheeks. Here are the ones I did take:

Thank you Persistence. I won’t forget.

 

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Filed under Painting

In other news: it turns out I can paint

Somehow, I have managed through over 45 years not knowing this. Then as previously moaned, I hit a deep well of dark depression and decided to try my hand at  painting with acrylics. It’s now three weeks later and I have just finished my third ever portrait on canvas:

My family is in a state of what I can describe as a “proud shock.” I am shocked too, because in fact my whole life I was convinced that I’m absolute rubbish at painting. I can now remember a mandatory art class in high school that may have prompted this self-belief – my old-school Soviet teacher yelling at me, because I just couldn’t get the point that the shadows are supposed to be purple. Once I got that, he stopped yelling, but I guess the damage was done. I have made sculptures before, but my artistic efforts have so far been limited to drawing princesses and unicorns on request. Even choosing a colour for walls was a drawn-out, painfull process of buying and painting on samples of no less than 11 shades of grey. When I started painting three weeks ago, I was hoping to just get my mind off the stress and the recent series of unfortunate events. My first painting was crap:

However, one magical thing did happen – I loved painting it. And I wanted to paint more. And true to myself, I wanted the next one to be better. So I watched a bunch of YouTube tutorials, bought some more paint and the next one was indeed a bit better:

So I watched more tutorials, bought more supplies, and the result surprised me. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen the painstakingly slow progress shots, if not – here they are. Cause progress is fun!

Speaking of progress, I now have my husband’s agreement to indefinitely delay converting one of the two living rooms in the new old house into an awesome master bedroom. Because it is already awesome as my studio:

That’s all for now. I didn’t get a chance to write a post about Amazon ads, but will do so when I get temporarily sick of painting, which could happen. Hope it would be only temporary, if it does.

I also hope that if you suddenly remember someone yelling at you as a kid, something about how you could never do X, that you would immediately make plans to try X at the earliest opportunity. You never know what may happen.

 

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Filed under Painting