I found an elk skull on a hike in Northern Colorado and hauled it home with me because it was so beautiful and I knew that it would look stunning if I painted it gold. They are such gigantic animals and you can get a sense of scale from the image below where I’m holding the skull.
On the hike we came across an entire elk skeleton. Every bone was perfectly dried and it was scattered over 400 square feet as if some type of explosion happened. I hiked out with the skull, sacrum and a vertebrae.I ended up losing my balance when crossing over some fallen trees and the vertebrae fell out of my pack. I didn’t even realize that happened until I got back to the truck.
Since we started the hike in the middle of the night we had the chance to hear the elk bugle across the mountains. I had never heard that sound before. The bugle of the bull elk is a distinctive sound that begins deep-toned and becomes a high pitched squeal before ending in a succession of grunts. My husband had a mouth reed and mimicked the female elk call. They had a bit of back and forth conversation across the mountains and after about ten minutes the bull elk traveled in another direction.
This elk skull is from a female. If she gave birth then the calf would have passed right by the sacrum. I kept thinking about that as I held the sacrum in my hand.
I say—> it’s okay to play with your food as long as you eat it after the fun is over.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Need an easy last minute gift? Go buy some beets for your sweetie! Beets are full of health benefits and they’re known as “Nature’s Viagra.” Below I posted a few creative garnishes you can add to a healthy dose of beet-vegetable juice as well as a link to a super sweet recipe for homemade beetroot lipstick.
Give the gift of health:
Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
Beets are high in many vitamins and minerals. To name a few- potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene and folic acid.
Beets cleanse the body. They are a wonderful tonic for the liver, works as a purifier for the blood, and can help prevent various forms of cancer.
Beets help your mental health. They contain trytophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being, similar to chocolate.
Beets boost your brain and energy levels. They are high in natural nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is known to expand the walls of blood vessels so you can enjoy more oxygen, more nutrients, and more energy. Blood flow!
Beet flowers: thinly sliced beets anchored on a tooth pick with basil leaves. See the tutorial here. I attached the beet flowers to celery that I sliced and curled in cool water.
I use a clean piece of paper to create a perfect heart stencil. Press the paper on the sliced beet to get an outline of the diameter of your heart, fold the paper in half and cut out the perfect heart with a pair of scissors. Then use a very sharp knife to slice around the heart stencil.
The starburst shape above is a golden beet that adds wonderful color to your garnish. I also blanched the pineapple greens to make the color pop. Below you can see the before (left) and after (right) effects of blanching the greens.
Make some homemade lipstick with beetroot powder! I tried out a few recipes and the one from Gingerly Made turned out the best. The ingredient list is so simple: beeswax, shea butter and beet root powder.
Below shows what the lipstick looks like immediately after “cooking” it (left) and the final color when dry (right). The effect on your lips is a very subtle, natural looking lip tint. To see the final look on your lips you can reference the last two photos on the Treasures and Travels blog link here. Their recipe uses fresh beets instead of beet root powder but the result is similar.
Here’s a great Valentine’s Day song that perfectly describes the color of beets- Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and The Shondells (1969). This song makes me feel like I’m in love when I listen to it. The pink/orange geometric set in this video is amazing. Check it out.
And Joan Jett does a great cover of Crimson & Clover, too. She looks amazing in her muscle tee, tight leather pants and sneakers throughout the video!
I randomly came across this Human Heart illustration while doing an image search online and it is perfectly fitting for Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure who the original artist is, but I think most people could relate to the humor and honesty portrayed here. Most people could also relate to the highs and lows of love, particularly around Valentine’s Day, and this artist nailed it in one simple illustration.
I put together a series of Valentine’s Day inspired images from my photo library. It is peppered with a few images of great gift ideas.
Before you begin, here is a classic Mirah song to listen to while you browse the Valentine’s Day inspired images below.
Alter Eco Dark Blackout Organic Chocolate. Fairly traded, organically grown, and 85% cocoa! Simple and pure delight. Have a piece first thing in the morning on Valentine’s Day.
In Fiore based in San Francisco “is total floral seduction for your skin and for your soul” (as their website states). They use certified organic or wild-crafted essential oils, herbal infusions, and floral waters to create balms, oils and more for your skin. A friend of mine worked at In Fiore and she got me hooked on the Vetiver balm. It smells divine.
I saw this bedroom (above left) in an article in Dwell Magazine years ago and the image stuck with me. I love the lavender ceiling (they claimed that it’s ), the upside-down lingerie artwork and the simplicity of this room. I painted the ceiling of my bedroom lavender in my last apartment and I can vouch for its calming effect. Also, having lavender on the ceiling creates a unique lighting effect during the day- a subtle, rose-colored-ombre hugs the walls which makes the perfect nap environment. Read the full Dwell article here about this West Village home
I have always been impressed with Urban Outfitters’ lingerie designs. They have a tendency to create soft silhouettes in contrast to the puffy, padded, underwire-laden designs that flood the market. The labels Silence + Noise, Kimchi Blue and Out From Under have designs this season that are lovely, comfy and vintage-inspired. I suggest getting the Silence + Noise Alexis Strappy Soft Bras in every color (above). Or as seen below, treat your lady friend to the Silence + Noise Front O-Ring Strappy Bralette, the Out From Under Sheer Lace-Back Bralette, or the Kimchi Blue Allover Scalloped Lace Bralette (more colors available on the UO website).
Create a sprinkle topper for your smoothie that tastes just like Red Hots candy by mixing the following spices in equal parts: turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon. Then dust the mixture through a small heart stencil on top of the smoothie. The spicy-icy combination is mood altering.
I recently found an original sketch for some t-shirts that I designed for a few friends that said “COOL BOOBS” in bubble letters. The design was hand screen-printed on tight, white cotton tees so that the letters would stretch across their chest and be barely legible. One friend mentioned that she still has the t-shirt which is now almost 10 years old and threadbare. It’s probably in peak condition at this point. Make a tight t-shirt for your sweetie!
Above is a pencil drawing that my mom did in February 1997. She was forced to do this by my high school art teacher at a parent-teacher meeting. I saved it because it is beautiful. If you don’t normally draw or make art, but you decide to make some art for someone special you might melt their heart.
My vegan-gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe can be found here. They’re protein-packed so your health nut friends will like them, too. Make + share these and you will win hearts — forever.
You can’t go wrong with gifting a pair of American Apparel Stripe Thigh-High Socks. Think about it, you could buy someone a long, fuzzy robe, or you could buy them these thigh-high tube socks. Both will keep them warm around the house, but one will keep them warmer. Find more great options from American Apparel in their Hosiery & Socks section.
This week’s #wcw is artist Margaret Kilgallen.
She created murals indoors and on the streets that pay homage to American folk art, printmaking, and letterpress, and recall a time when personal craft and handmade signs were the dominant aesthetic.
I like her statement from the PBS film about her and her husband Barry McGee (also an artist):
“I do spend a lot of time trying to perfect my line work and my hand. But my hand will always be imperfect because it’s human. If I’m doing really big letters and I spend a lot of time going over the line and over the line trying to make it straight, I’ll never be able to make it straight. From a distance it might look straight, but when you get close up you can always see the lines waver. And I think that’s where the beauty is.”
Margaret died of breast cancer in 2001, less than a month after giving birth to her daughter, Asha. She was 33 years old. It’s tragic that her daughter had less than 30 days in the presence of her mother. On a hopeful note, Margaret leaves behind an incredible collection of imagery for Asha to connect with.
Every time that I sit on my couch I think of artist Sonya Young James. She is a textile designer and fiber artist based in Atlanta, Georgia and she inspired me to make a wool, hand-felted throw that hangs over the back of my couch.
The throw has been on the back of my couch for some time now so it now more “matted” but when I first finished the piece it was much more fluffy as you can see in the photos below.
I hand-felted and needle felted the entire piece with roving wool and sheep curls. I purchased all the wool that I used from an Etsy store called La Tea Da Designs based out of Southern California. Felting is a process that I really enjoy because I like the smell of wool, warm soapy water, the repetitive motion of needle felting and the magic that transforms loose wool combined with a bit of soapy friction into one solid piece.
Although I made a bunch of pompoms as well they didn’t seem right for my throw so I didn’t include them. However, they make great hairpieces for kids.
Below are photos of five of Sonya’s finished pieces that first inspired me to make a wool, hand-felted throw:
Her wool throws are warm, inviting, and somewhat quirky. I fell in love with them instantly and knew I had to try to make one, too. I researched Sonya’s work and found that she documents a lot of her process in her Flickr account. I particularly love the photos where she’s felting the wool by dragging it behind a van and drying her finished pieces out in the sun. Sonya is a “maker” and it’s obvious that she’s a true lover of nature and all its wonderful shapes, colors and textures.
And lastly, this is not one of Sonya’s pompoms below, but how cute would this addition be on your couch!?
While conducting some inventory overhaul at work I came across a piece of tattered, gold paper. I could still see some beauty and potential in this paper and used it to conduct some initial backdrop test shots with product placed in the foreground. I used an X-acto knife to cut a triangular pattern in the paper and worked with my photographer friend, Michael, to create lighting and shadow effects that would add more depth to the overall pattern.I really liked the results of the first test, but I wanted to take it further because I knew that a monochromatic backdrop would be more subtle and allow for more lighting experimentation.
This is Michael (below), my photographer friend who helped me conduct the backdrop tests. Here he is standing in front of the backdrop against a white wall. I like the sense of scale that this photo provides…and I love his smile here.
The results of our second set of tests are below. We were both really happy with the results. I styled the flowers and Michael lit the paper from several different angles which changed the look dramatically. The possibilities are endless and I love how light and shadow interact with a simple piece of paper to create such variety and depth. I will definitely experiment with more paper backdrops and also devise a way to make them more durable for reuse.