Life’s Lemons

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This growing season, my Meyer Lemon tree produced 11 lemons which is a windfall of abundance after last year’s harvest of one small fruit.  Bright yellow, they hang heavy and ripe, encouraging my culinary creativity and spurring a dinner party.

The adage “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” is a way of life for me literally and figuratively.  I choose the glass-half-full, expecting the best from whatever situation I find myself in.   Researchers at the Mayo Clinic report that a positive perspective provides many benefits.  And it makes me happy, even when life’s lemons surround me.

Embers Sushi Sailing South to OTR

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On Wednesday evenings at Embers, specially priced sushi overshadows the high-quality American style menu and becomes the star of the standing-room-only bar.

Rice barrels embracing fresh fish and colorful vegetables, accompanied by wasabi and gari (pickled ginger) are comfort food to me.  Sushi is visibly delightful; its simplistic presentation calming.

Soon this treat will also be available at a beautifully restored space in Over The Rhine at Kaze.  Located on 14th and Vine, chef/co-owner Hideki Harada will draw upon his training in Osaka to serve sushi and Japanese and Asian-inspired dishes.  I can’t wait!  Until then, enjoy iSPYCINCY’s great summary here.

Your Vote Is A Privilege

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In Ohio, we’ve had our fill of political speeches and commercials, and of closed roads and secret service barricades.  Post-election silence is just around the bend.  Regardless of your choice – vote.

The first year women were allowed to vote in the USA my grandmother cast her ballot.  Never forgetting a vote is a privilege not a right; Grandma took her children with her to vote.  Years later, my Mom took her little girls behind the curtain of the election booth.  My sister has done the same with her children.  Less than 100 years ago, none of this could have happened.

Your voice matters.  Vote!

BzzAgent Gets Another Bee

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Today’s drawing is of a bee, the lively symbol of BzzAgent. I recently visited the Cincinnati Hive (office), where I learned first hand how the company has formalized participation in word-of-mouth marketing.  Anyone can sign up to be an Agent, and will receive products to review and to share with their social network.

It’s social marketing genius.  Marketers gain valued shopper data and advocacy from consumers they may not otherwise reach.  BuzzAgents influence – and their friends, families and colleagues enjoy experiencing new products from global brands, and knowing their voices are heard.  It’s a win-win.  I’m in!

25 Drawings In 31 Days

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31 days ago, I committed to participate in The Nester’s annual 31 day challenge by posting a drawing on my blog every day in October.  I completed 25.  What did I learn?

Plan ahead; don’t wait until you’re in pajamas at 11pm to think about what to draw that day. No second guesses, keep the pen moving; do not erase. A month ago I said I can’t draw, but it appears I can.  Communication doesn’t require perfection.  Be your real self; authenticity is your super-power.

That last bit is paraphrased from Dan Reynolds, super-cool creative guy at Landor.  A recent chat with Dan encouraged me, pen in hand, to continue my drawing experiment with the people who come by my blog to check it out.

Drawing #25 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Everyday Gratitude

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Around-the-clock election coverage transformed into storm coverage, as Sandy hit the northeast coast today. Many people now don’t have what they need.

I am grateful everything in my world tonight is where it was yesterday. Heat and electricity on. Groceries a short drive away.  Remember everyday gratitude. The ordinary becomes precious once it is removed.

Drawing #24 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Seasonal Return to Moksha Yoga

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Temperatures dipped low enough today to have me heading to Moksha Yoga, a favorite hot yoga spot.  Ellen Bradley’s Cincinnati studio kicks it up a notch with both heat and humidity, relaxing the body and providing a comfortable cocoon in the depth of a cold winter.

Ellen’s class at noon today was tough.  Just as my thoughts began to run in circles around my perceived failure, I heard her voice, “Breathe in and allow more space in your mind… breathe out and allow more space in your body.”  Wise words.  And a relaxing reminder our breath is always there to provide us with that choice.

Drawing #23 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

A Bone To Pick

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The phone rang.

“Hello?”
“I’ve got a bone to pick with you…”
“What?!”
“You didn’t show up at the Halloween party.”

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, all about celebrating creativity, not the dead. But my friend Tom – who is a cancer survivor and the subject of today’s drawing – was correct. I didn’t go to the party. I thought I had some good excuses but he cleverly shot down each one.

As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, Tom’s call was a reminder that Halloween isn’t about costumes and ghouls. It’s about living spirits and gatherings that connect us with friends.

Drawing #22 created with Chalk

“Stingy Jack” Jack-O’-Lantern

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20121028-101224.jpgIt’s Halloween week and time to carve a pumpkin!

This traditional activity was originally an Irish custom, tied to the legend of Stingy Jack. Finding himself unwelcome in both heaven and hell, Stingy Jack roamed the earth at night with only the light from a hot coal to guide his way.

Two hundred years ago my Irish ancestors carved and illuminated turnips and beets to ward away his spirit.

Today I set a pumpkin outside my door, welcoming an Irish friend to Sunday dinner.

Drawing #21 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Girl Scouts of Western Ohio – Chair Yoga

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The Girl Scouts of Western Ohio‘s management team planned a wellness day for their staff last week, and I was invited to teach a yoga class.

While Scout leaders participate in activities with the girls, there is an army of staff working behind the scenes in an office all day, to make the scouting experience happen. My class outlined a series of stretches, easily done at a desk, to help increase circulation, flexibility, and reduce stress at the office.

This Yoga Journal article outlines a quick mid-day stretch to lift your energy.

Drawing #20 created with Draw

Cincinnati Ballet’s Alice (in wonderland)

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20121027-214005.jpgA friend was unable to attend dinner and the ballet and asked if I would take her place. She said it was a nice group of people I’d be joining…

Opening night of Alice (in wonderland), accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, was exceptional.  Magically creative, colorful and whimsical, punctuated frequently by audience applause; I’m so glad I agreed to attend.

In the story, Alice shrinks very small and grows very tall.  As the night progressed I felt myself growing taller and taller, filled by my happiness.  Thank you to my new friends for such a nice evening!

Drawing #19 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Seamus Heaney Speaks

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Today’s drawing-of-the-day is of a champagne reception for Seamus Heaney, Nobel Prize winning Irish poet and honored guest of theMercantile Library’s 25th Niehoff Lecture.

After dinner, a poetry reading.   Mr. Heaney’s words, already powerful on the page, became all the more beautiful and poignant transformed by his voice.

Created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

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MARA-Marvelous

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Friends Arlene and Monika hosted a lacy event for charity tonight in Hyde Park Square.

Their lovely lingerie designs front and center, the “MARA” line has been profitable since its inception! Female guests giggled in dressing rooms as they made their selections, and gentlemen chatted over MARA-tinis at the makeshift bar.

Today’s drawing is of MARA’s first, and still most popular, soft and stretchy bralette set.

Drawing #17 created with Eastern Drawing Free by JinHee Park

Sunday Support System

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Weekends wind down quickly, and the last hour of a sunny Sunday is especially precious.

A few special friends consistently choose to spend that hour in my yoga class. Their attendance allows me to develop my teaching skills. I cannot express my depth of gratitude for their support!

Drawing #15 created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Starry Night

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The sky is bright where I live. Illumination is essential for the functionality of a city, and can provide it with a kind of beauty.  But the stars are obscured from me.

On those treasured occasions when I find myself distanced from civilization, I look up toward the darkness and mysterious beauty which is always there, but not always visible to me.

Drawing #14 created with FingerPaint Glow Coloring and Doodle Drawing Free

Red River Gorge State Park

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Organized, focused, and skilled in rappelling, my friend Bob arranged a road trip to Red River Gorge in KY, where he carefully outlined all the steps to ensure our safety before we literally stepped off a cliff!  This beautiful day in the woods provides great subject matter for drawing #13 of my 31 day drawing challenge.

Created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

UC DAAP RetroFittings fashion show

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Each year, the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP school of design presents RetroFittings, a fashion show benefitting St. Vincent de Paul. With a spending limit o $10, DAAP students purchase items at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store to create an outfit.

Over the years as a model, I have worn everything from men’s suiting to a tennis Barbie costume. This year I wore two outfits and one of them is the subject of drawing #11. As you can see, DAAP has no limits on creativity – I was literally dressed as a shipwreck.

Created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

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Washington Park Fountains

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I’m headed downtown to the official opening gala for The Classical Music Walk of Fame at Cincinnati’s Washington Park.

The beautiful fountains located in the center of the park are the subject of drawing #10. When in the park, visitors can make the fountains dance to music of their choosing at http://www.classicalwof.org

Created on Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Window Dressing

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Today’s drawing illustrates the new curtains my guest bedroom is now sporting.  Interior designers suggest making simple updates with the changing seasons to dress up a home.  As I enjoy this new burst of color, I can say the concept works!

Check out more home decorating tips at TheNester’s blog, where I got the inspiration to do my 31 day challenge.

Drawing #9 created with Doodle Buddy for iPad by Pinger, Inc

Serpentine Wall

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At breakfast with friends this weekend, the topic of steak restaurants came up; “What’s your favorite place?”

The listing led to El Coyote in Anderson, a favorite of our good friend David who left us in March for Heaven. I’ve been thinking about him ever since.

Today’s drawing is of Cincinnati’s Purple People Bridge and the Serpentine Wall, where a beautiful service was hosted by David’s family and friends, and where we said goodbye.

Drawing #8 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

First Fire of the Season

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I notice yoga is teaching me is to sit still.

Occasionally I wish I were sitting someplace else.

In my imagination, I see myself sitting by a fire, as it warms smiling faces and toasts marshmallows.  Today’s drawing shows I’m looking forward to enjoying the real thing soon.

Drawing #7 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Butternut Squash Soup

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Fall is in the air!

The crisp cool wind, dark skies and dry leaves have me reaching for ingredients to make this chill-chasing and comforting soup:

Sauté 2 large yellow onions + 1 garlic clove + 2 pounds cubed butternut squash on low heat in 2 heaping Tablespoons of coconut oil until onions are caramelized. Deglaze with 4 cups chicken stock. Add 1/2 cup coarsely shredded potato + 2 cups shredded carrots + 2 cups yellow “cherry” tomatoes which have been halved. Bring to a boil, then turn down immediately to simmer for 30 minutes or until squash is cooked. Puree soup with an immersion blender.

Add 2 large zucchini, cubed + a small finger of fresh ginger root, grated + 3 T sweet Madras Curry Powder and continue to simmer until zucchini is cooked.  Stir in 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg.

While zucchini cooks, sauté 1/2 cup walnuts in 1 T butter + 1 T sugar until heated through.  Garnish with pesto, parmesan cheese, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds.  Serves 4. Freezes well.

Drawing #6 created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Adopt a cat

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Weeks ago a cat appeared at my home. Small, very sweet and well behaved, she continued to visit even though I was not feeding her. One morning, she arrived at my doorstep with a bleeding wound on her back leg.  I took her to the vet, nursed her back to health and fell in love.

The still-unnamed kitty is drawing #5 of the 31 day blog challenge.

Created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Tennis Anyone?

I was invited to play tennis today.

Then I wasn’t invited.  Then I was.

Then I wasn’t sure if I was or wasn’t!  At the last minute, tennis was confirmed and is the subject for drawing #3.

I enjoyed playing under a blue Fall sky surrounded by the bright colors of changing leaves.

But after all of the back and forth, I think I should have spared myself all the uncertain planning. When the process became stressful I could have said “Let’s play sometime next week” and gone for a walk in the park.  Lesson learned!

Created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

Here Comes The Sun

The sun rises each morning and so do I, although the two don’t always coincide.

Today began with Sun Salutations, a series of yoga poses also called Surya Namaskara, meant to wake the body up with gentle movement.

Loosening the joints, moving the breath in and out, stretching and strengthening – this little morning dance is a wonderful wake up call.

And, keeping with my 31 drawings in 31 days challenge, it is also the topic of drawing #2.

Created with MyPaint Free by MyMedia

31 Drawings in 31 Days

I can’t draw.

But today I will start drawing, and plan to continue for the next 31 days.

My month of digital “artwork” is thanks to a challenge from The Nester, who has a popular blog, a beautiful home and who suggests her readers in the blog community do the impossible – create a post a day for the entire month of October.

My artwork this month may look a childish.  But I teach children and I’ve noticed they see the intention in art, not the flaws.  A child’s tree, my tree, and a Rembrandt tree are all simply a tree.   If only we adults could view the world so simply!  Within my drawings I seek only to capture the essence of what I view.  I hope you’ll come along on this challenge with me!

Created with FingerPaint Glow Coloring and Doodle Drawing Free, by Venturesoft LLC