Sunday, December 2, 2012

Final Results from the Test Kitchen--

So here are the final recipes at least until I try out the revisions!  I THINK this is the best idea:

For the filling--  4 or 5 golden delicious apples (5 if they're small)
                           1 Jonagold apple (for a little tartness)
                           1 Empire OR Pink Lady apple (for the tinge of pink)
                           about 1/2 cup of golden raisins (optional)
                           about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
                          4 T of tapioca flour to thicken everything
                           a small splash of vinegar (I used apple cider because that's what was on hand)

Cut the apples into thinish slices and then chop the slices into 1" or so chunks.  Mix all together in a big bowl.

For the crust:    (for a small pie pan, 8" or so) 2 -1/2 to 3 cups of unbleached flour
                                                                         2/3 cup olive oil
                                                                         1 teaspoon salt (I used Celtic sea salt, fine grained)
                                                                         1/3 stick cold unsalted butter
                                                                         4 T iced water

Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl.  Add the olive oil and mix with a fork.  Cut in the butter using two knives or a cutting-in tool (not sure what it's called).  Sprinkle iced water over it all and mix with fork again.  Use your hands to form a ball of dough.  If it's too dry to make a ball, add a LITTLE more oil or water until it sticks together.  Cut the ball in half.

Lay two pieces of waxed paper in a x on the countertop.  Put one hemisphere of dough on it.  Lay another cross of waxed paper over the dough.  Flatten with your hands till it's about an inch thick.  Roll the dough out till it's about 1/8" thick (more or less.  Mine was more).  Peel off the top pieces of waxed paper, and lift the crust with the top sheet of waxed paper that is under it.  Use the waxed paper to help wrangle the crust into the pan without ripping it.  Repeat this whole procedure for the second hemisphere of dough.

Fill the bottom crust with the filling.  Use your finger to wet the rim of the bottom crust with cold water to aid in gluing the two pices of crust together.  Drape the top crust over everything.  Seal the edges.  (Trim first if you need to.  Save the trimmings to make cute little pie-top sculptures).

Prick it several times with a fork to let steam escape.  Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for around an hour.  Check, and leave it in for 15 more minutes to try and get it to brown.  Even if it's still pale after 15 minutes, take it out and let it cool.

Please send me your suggestions and improvements!

Okay, this is a good recipe!  My pie looks pretty bad, lumpy and pale, but it smells good, and I was able to dig a little of the filling out and a chunk of broken crust through the conveniently-located hole near one edge and I can report that this thing tastes great!  I made a few changes to the recipe (my pan is way smaller than Loy's so there were too many apples, and my crust seemed too sparse), so I will make more crust next time.  Let me know how yours comes out if you actually make this thing!
Last weekend we went up to our friends' house near Mount Mitchell and, among other pleasures, had the treat of sitting in front of their wood-fired cookstove while Loy baked an apple pie and the house filled with the lovely aroma.  I sketched the pie after it came out of the oven.  It looked as beautiful as it smelled and tasted, and one of the amazing things about it was that it was made without sugar or any sweetener at all-- just the apples-- and no shortening in the crust-- just olive oil and a little butter for flavor.  How could something so good be so healthy??

Loy told me how she made it, and then I researched this business of an olive-oil crust a bit and made a few notes of some changes I need to make when I make it today-- I was unable to get the exact combination of apples so I substituted Pink Lady for Jonagold, and we're out of butter today, so I'll be leaving that out and just adding a little salt as per a recipe that calls for only olive oil, unbleached flour, water, and salt.  I wrote my changes on the page stub between the two sides of the page spread.

I promise to draw my results and post again after I make it, no matter how mine comes out!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Storm Birds

The day before the super storm three robins landed in our backyard looking stunned and more than a little outraged.  The fluffed out their feathers and spun around.  Then they just stood for a while, looking like stranded travelers in an airport.  We rarely see robins here at this time of year, and these three were clearly not just out poking around for hemlock seeds.  They seemed to be harbingers of something big coming.  Our cat Jesse was so frantic from the strange feeling in the air that he ignored the robins and kept chasing leaves.  The storm in the NC mountains was a hybrid of hurricane fallout and winter storm.  We're so far from the coast that we never get the brunt of a hurricane.  But this time we had very high winds, a bit of rain, and then last night-- snow, which is lingering on today.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Great Collection of Artwork

This post isn't about journals except in a very broad sense.  Last week I made a catalog through for a group of women artists that I used to belong to back in the 80s when I lived in Indana.  I think you'll enjoy seeing the catalog, which should be visible by clicking on the link above.  (I still have to check and make sure this link works.  If not, I'll use a different one and edit this one.) The catalog and the written entries form a kind of group journal that tells about what these artists have been up to the past 35 years.

Well, I can't get the cut and paste code from Blurb to work here, but this is what you can do:  Go to and search for the book by name:  IWCA .  or you can search under my name.  When the book comes up on the Blurb site, click on "Preview" to see all the inside pages.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Our cats over the years have all been good mousers, and as a result we've been frequently given unwanted gifts of dead mice on our doorstep.  The dead mice seem to us to be a special kind of gift-- something the cats apparently really want to give us, but something we really don't need or want.  We always call them "mousies." A few weeks ago it occurred to me that the pieces of unwanted advice I am so tempted to give to my adult children are really mousies in the truest sense of the word.  My journal group had decided for this next month to each develop a completely different practice for our journals-- to keep track of something we've not kept track of before.  I immediately thought of a mousies journal.

I carved a small dead mouse stamp out of  pink carving material.  I slammed together a down and dirty little pamphlet book to use as the journal for the next month.  And as often as I can catch myself with a mousie of advice ripe for the giving, I stamp a mousie in the journal and print the advice in tiny letters on the carcass.  If I have managed to catch the mousie before I lay the advice on the person, I hang the mousie up by its tail.  If the advice escapes, however, that mousie runs across the bottom of the page.  It has been interesting to see how often I harbor mousies, and using the journal has definitely reduced the number of mousies that I am laying on various doorsteps.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Jesse Finally Lets Me Draw Him

My cat Jesse is completely in charge of when I can draw him.  He can tell I'm drawing him even when he's sound asleep.  If I am behind him while he's sleeping and I very stealthily begin to sketch, he waits until I'm committed to the drawing, and then he slowly rotates to a completely different position.  The other day, though, I hung in there and sketched gesture drawings until finally he must have decided it was okay for me to draw him.  When I was finished, he stretched, got up, and went outside.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sleeping Where the WIld Things Are

A couple of months ago we had a screened porch added to the back of our house.   The other night I decided to sleep out there because it was really warm and stuffy in the house.  My husband didn't feel like waking up and moving himself out to the porch, so the cat and I went alone.  All was well -- we admired the fireflies that were so high in the trees of the woods behind our house;  there were the usual frogs and other rural night noises (still amazing and strange to me, having grown up in a city and never spent more than a few weeks in rural areas until moving to Asheville, where the countryside erupts all through the town as well as the outskirts where we live).  But then around midnight Jesse and I both shot upright in the bed at the ululating cries of coyotes.  They were so close!  I've heard them before at night but always on the other side of the house, where they seem to be up on the side of the mountain at the end of the block.  But this time I could tell they were in the woods of the house next door, where our neighbor frequently is host to black bears, wild turkeys, and many birds because he has bird feeders, and the ground beneath them is full of bird seed, which attracts the bears and turkeys. I managed to go back to sleep, but we woke up several more times when the cyoytes began singing again.

Last week when we were in New York visiting, a friend had taught me a way of working in a journal that helps circumvent critical thinking and over-intellectualizing.  I had passed the method on to a group of friends that I had met with last night at a journal group. 

The method of working was something my friend learned in a workshop held at MoMA a few weeks ago.  You begin by collecting images from books and magazines with no plan in mind, just a random collection of whatever has some resonance for you.  Then you trim or cut or tear the pieces that grab you the most and paste them down.  Then, still not thinking it through or planning or trying to Make Art, you paint, stencil, draw, write, whatever else seems to want to come out.  I began mine with the image of a building under a deep, intense blue evening sky.  I had also cut out a snarling animal and painted it roughly all across the bottom.  I added a large moon-like slice of sweet potato, then covered it up (mostly) with a little fragile grass hut, also cut into a moon-like circle.  When I looked at the page afterwards I knew right away how afraid I actually am of the backyard at night.  Sleeping on the porch is going to take some getting used to, in spite of how cool and lovely it is!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tuesday morning I ran from the voting out near my house to the courthouse in downtown Asheville for jury duty.  I amused myself by sketching and writing, as you can see here.  There were several curious things that I noticed and/or overheard.  One curious thing was that when we were sworn in, we could choose to not use a bible.  Those non-bible swearers also had the option to say "I do affirm" instead of the "So help me God" that people say in films about courtrooms.  I can't believe this is a North Carolina innovation;  it must have come down from the feds. 
Today is a lovely soft rainy day, and the cows at the end of our road looked like ships in waves.  Some were sitting down so that only their heads and shoulders stuck up.  Others were standing around nursing babies, and one large and confused-looking cow was mounting other cows in a sort of playful manner.  The babies were romping around like large dogs.  We went for a walk in the woods that border the cow field.  Back home the flowers were drooping in the drizzle. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gwen Diehn's Butter Box Journal Giveaway « Lark Crafts Lark Crafts

Lark is doing a giveaway of a copy of my new bind- up/re-editioning of Decorated Page and Decorated Journal.  Go to the link below to get the details, and YOU may be the lucky winner!  They're also giving away a little butter box journal that I'm making for them. The picture above is from a book published in Spain (Use a Book  by Elisa Pellicani: Barcelona: Consulta Libri Progetti, 2011) that the butter box book appeared in a few months ago.  I had made this particular butter box book from a cookie box, but it's the same design, size, etc.

SO if you'd like a shot at winning either of these books, go to the link and do what they tell you to do!
Gwen Diehn's Butter Box Journal Giveaway « Lark Crafts Lark Crafts

Monday, April 9, 2012

Holy Weekend Willow Paper Redux

For the second year in a row my friend Carol and I gathered several months' worth of willow bark peelings and settled into the paper studio at BookWorks in West Asheville to make a supply of willow bark paper.  I kept careful notes of the procedure, and my journal pages are here:
This kind of project journal is one of my favorites because of its usefulness.  Carol and I were completely dependent on last year's journal notes to remember this willow paper process, and I started a new set of notes for this year, as we were making improvements and trying out a new recipe. 

This year we had the unexpected diversion of a termite swarm as we were getting ready to drain the pulp from the beater.
We also solved a mystery this year in that we realized last year's slow drying time was because we had forgotten to line up the cells in the triwall correctly in reference to the fan.

Below are samples of the two tones of paper that I made.  The one on the right has more abaca (manilla hemp) and cotton linter with the willow.  The one on the left is about half willow and half abaca/cotton linter.  Both have a lovely smooth finish with just enough tooth to be great for drawing on and using gouache and light watercolor.  The whole sheets are 11 x 14".

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sketch Crawling in Asheville

Sunday a group of us braved icy wind and met in downtown Asheville for a downtown sketch crawl.  After a few minutes warming up inside Malaprop's Bookstore we decided to stay warm and defer the outdoor crawl in favor of our old favorite, the Tobacco Barn.  The Tobacco Barn isn't exactly heated in winter, but at least it isn't windy inside.  My pick of the day was this Civil War era fainting couch that the tag said had been fainted on by members of the same southern family for four generations.  It looked handmade and had a hand-carved design inscribed on the odd headboard-like side board.  The upholstery was faded brocade.  I liked the padded bottom of the side board.  The couch was  small and delicate except for its fat ankles.   It was temptingly marked down from $376 to $295, but I didn't dare bring it home.  We're in the market for a bed for our new screened sleeping porch, but I couldn't see my husband getting excited about this find.


Before arriving at the sketch crawl, I had had lunch with a friend at a little cafe downtown.  We had had the most delicious and perfect-for-a-cold-day dish called ginger miso rice bowl.  I whipped out my sketchbook while we were eating and sketched the rice bowl and then listed everything that I thought was in it (left side of page).  Then when I got home I Googled ginger miso sauce and found a couple of recipes (right side of page).

Last night I decided to try to recreate the rice bowl.  This was an adventure for me since I'm not what you would call a natural cook and always have to follow recipes to the letter.  I lack creative imagination and motivation when it comes to cooking, having grown up with a mother who really didn't enjoy cooking and a grandmother who always had a cook.  But my husband and I had come to a crisis in our cooking schedule (he cooks two days, I cook two days, we fend for ourselves the other three) in that neither of us wanted to cook anymore.  We were both completely bored by our usual repertoires.  We had decided that new recipes were in order, and finding this rice bowl actually fired my imagination. 

The page shown above I did after cooking last night.  I drew the finished dish, which was amazingly delicious, and then recreated the recipe.  If you decide to try this out, it reads from top left (step 1) down to bottom left;  then follow the arrow to bottom right (under the word COMBINE) to complete the sauce part.  Then go to top right for step 3 and end with COMBINE.  I am happy to clarify steps and answer questions.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

And the REALLY Final Profile--

Just as I was feeling smug about posting all thirteen of the profiles it occurred to me that 3  + 3 + 6 = 12 and not 13.  And so here's the missing profile, Sarah Bourne's.  Sarah's wonderful work will be familiar to those of you who have read Dec. Journal  as there is much of her work in that book.  She was in Ireland with a group of college students on a trip that Ann Turkle and I led several years ago, and her journals then, as now,  were spectacular.  So here, last (but of course not least), is Sarah's profile.

All the Rest of the Profiles!

This morning in a spurt of ambition I scanned all six of the remaining profiles.  So this will be a big posting.  I don't think I ever explained how the profiles came about nor how they were written.  When Lark asked me to add some material to the bind-up re-editioning I realized this was my chance to showcase some people whose journals I have long admired for their honesty and uniqueness.  These are people who use their journals as an integral part of their lives, and they give me so many ideas for my own journals and art.  I couldn't think of a better way to use the extra pages I was given.

I invited each person to write a short piece describing how they use journals and what their journals do for them.  So each of the profiles was written by the profiled person, not by me.  I wanted to show even more of their work than there was room for, so other pieces by these people are in the gallery section of the book as well as throughout the book.  Many of them already had work in Decorated Page and/or Decorated Journal.  Their generosity has made this book better than the sum of its parts, in my opinion.

Ann Turkle, whose page is shown above, should be familiar to to readers of Dec. Pg. and/or Dec. Jrnl.  In addition to being a journalkeeper of many years, Ann is a writer and contributed the sections on writing prompts to the other books.
Linda Chaves lives in Portugal but travels so extensively that it's hard to find her there.  I met her when she was in Asheville a year or so ago.

Loy is a good friend of mine with whom I spend a lot of time.  I can honestly say I have never seen her without her journal close at hand.  She seems to use it to keep a running commentary of her life.  The bottom journal shown here is an old ledger books that Loy found, so it's very large, not the usual small journal that follows its owners everywhere.  Loy's drawings come out of her imagination.
  Melly's journals relate to her artwork as well as her daily life.  She is experimental and playful with  materials.  She and Pat, shown below, are good friends who live in New York City and are part of a journal study group (which also includes Shirley and Benedicte, whose work you saw in previous postings) that meets very often for the purpose of having adventures and sketching around town.  They let me go with them when I'm in town.  I love watching these women in action!  Pat now uses her iPad (iPat) for sketching a lot of the time-- a new dimension in journaling and sketching.  The page below shows some of her pre-i Pad journal pages, which have the same funny quality as her new iPad pages.

The final profile is Sandy Webster's.  Sandy travels extensively to teach and to research.  Her journals are her research reports and repositories.  They are also the seedbeds of her artwork.  She always makes her own journals, often casing them, as in the Australia journal shown here, so that she has all her materials in the same place as the journal.  Sandy's book on using clay pigments is coming out soon.  To research her book, she traveled to Australia, France, and Italy, collecting pigments as she went, and carrying them home in her travel journal cases in specially-designed little containers that held the paints she had made from the pigments.

Friday, January 27, 2012

More Profiles from The Complete Decorated Journal

I'm changing the sequence of these profiles for today's posting because Shirley Levine, whose page you see here (above), has recently posted a wonderful tutorial on making a journal out of an old book binding.  This posting is in celebration of her, and I urge you to check out the link to an interview with her and to her tutorial:

And now back to the original sequence with two more profiles.  Below is Jill K. Berry's page:

And below is  Kelcey Loomer's profile page. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Advance Copy of The Complete Decorated Journal is HERE!

It wasn't supposed to get here until March, but today my editor at Lark surprised me with an advance copy of the revised Decorated Page!  It's ahead of schedule, but still won't be in bookstores for a few weeks;  so I thought I'd provide some sneak previews over the next few days.  Since my favorite part of the new edition is the collection of journaler profiles, I will post a few of them here for you to enjoy.  Please excuse the crookedness and inadvertent cropping of the right-hand sides of the pages.  It's really hard to get the entire thing on my flatbed scanner.

I'm following their order in the book, so today's three are Laura Ladendorf, Becca Johnson, and Benedicte Caneill. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Drawing in a Greenhouse on a Gloomy Sunday

Yesterday was another in a long string of chilly, breezy, overcast, drizzly days here in Asheville, so a small group of us from my journal group went on a sketch crawl to a local garden center's greenhouse.  As soon as we stepped inside the place we shed our coats and scarves and relaxed in the balmy, sweet-smelling air.  Sinuses opened up, coughs abated, dry skin felt soft, and winter woes vanished.  I love drawing in a greenhouse in winter!

I had some research to do in addition to some drawing, so I went in search of a garden center worker and got good information on dealing with the mealy bugs that are making life tough for my indoor lemon tree.  The first page of my journal, shown here, has my notes about the lemon tree, including the results of the soil test I performed on it when I got home, using the little pH kit I had bought at the garden center.
Then I settled in to drawing in front of a bench filled with paperwhites that had passed their sell-by date and were popping out of their pots, their blossoms gone dry and rattly.   I was remembering a project I did a few years ago.  I bought a few paperwhite narcissus bulbs and planted them on December 1.  Then I drew the bulbs, sprouts, leaves, and eventually the blooms every day for the next 31 days.  I had used 16 large sheets of paper and divided each page in half vertically.  I began drawing in the left hand rectangle of the first page using pencil.  The next day I drew in the right hand rectangle of the same page, only this time I used a different medium.  Then I put the page at the bottom of the stack of paper and didn't look at it until the month was over.  Each day I drew the same paperwhites, but used a different medium or a different point of view or distance from the plant or style of drawing. 

At the end of December I got all the drawings out and spread them out on the floor.  I loved them!  They ended up in a show in Vienna, Austria, as well as digitized and published as a small edition of books that I called "December Paperwhites."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Last night our journal group met over at Asheville BookWorks.  It was an unusually large group for this time of the year when driving can be iffy in the mountains, and the energy was high.  One of the new members had brought a portfolio of large sheets of blue cotton paper that she had  made in the paper mill at BW.  The extraordinary thing about the paper was that she had removed a moon-shaped hole from the pulp on the mould before she couched (lay down) each sheet.  The portfolio was a moon journal.  As Maria turned each sheet over, light from the ceiling fixture shone down through the moon hole onto the page beneath briefly. 

Looking at the moon sheets brought us into a discussion of silence in journals as well as of different ways of structuring time (by lunar month instead of regular months, by fortnights, etc.) in journals.  I was a little sad to realize I had no idea what phase the moon was in last night;  even though I live in a valley that has gorgeous moonrises and moonsets over a mountain range, I've grown complacent about them.  So as I drove home I thought about how a journal can help us notice things as well as remember things.  And I decided to use my little square-inch-a-day journal to help me start noticing things that I take for granted here at home (but would record in a travel journal).

So, when early this morning I pulled out of the driveway and spotted the silvery crescent moon hanging in the branches of a tree across the street, I knew I had my noticing for the day.  Later this afternoon, though,  I noticed crisp little bunches of chives sprouting in clumps in some dead leaves at the base of a tree.  So this is my breaking news for today:  the moon is a waning crescent;  chives are bursting through litter and duff!  And that's what you'll find in my one-inch for today.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Square-a-Day Journal

Here's recent page from a little journal that I started keeping a year ago.  I got the idea from a woman who had a journal similar to this in a show at BookWorks last winter.  My take on it is that I divide each two-page spread into fourteen squares, one for each day of a fortnight or two week period.  Every single day I make a quick sketch and write a few words to highlight or summarize the day.  The spread shown was from the last part of December.  The book has enough pages in it to fit another year's worth of tiny squares.  It's a little butter box journal, only I used a Whole Foods 365 house brand cream cheese box (which has "365" written on the cover-- perfect!).  The directions to make this journal are under "tutorials".

A number of people in my journal group have been keeping this type of journal, and they all have their own takes on it.  I'm trying to loosen up and break out of the squares, but so far I have not been successful, other than to paint in an overall background that sort of reflects the weather.  I love this practice as it takes only a few minutes each day.  Then when you flip back through the year you remember so much more than you would have remembered without the journal.  It helps me see patterns, too.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thanks, Velma!

I got home from a trip to Brooklyn to visit our son and his wife and their two-year-old, Nate, very early this morning.  Unfortunately, my husband and I came home with the same wretched cold that had dogged our heels the whole time we were in Brooklyn.  We had spent the whole time in Brooklyn sniffling and hacking and sneezing and whining and feeling pitiful and sorry for ourselves.  Our daughter-in-law had the same cold and our son and Nate had a minor version of it, so many of the things we had planned to do got cancelled.

So I opened email this morning (after sleeping a few hours) and what did I find but a wonderful comment from someone named Velma about a posting I made last year when I first started Real-Life-Journals.  I went back and read the post Velma was commenting on, and I realized there IS a point to keeping a journal and even to blogging about the thing, even when it's as thin and pitiful as my journal from the past two weeks is.  So this post is for Velma, to thank her for inspiring me.  I dug into my journal from this week and it looked pretty lame, not one bit like an art journal or even a visual verbal journal.  It looks more like notes taken on the back of envelopes.  And I decided, well, that's what it is and that's what real about it.

This first entry I made the day I came down with the cold.  I had hiked to the Brooklyn Museum, one of my favorite places in New York as well as one of my favorite walks (and our kids are moving in two weeks from Park Slope, where they've lived for twelve years, to Maplewood, NJ, so we will no longer live in this neighborhood when we visit them).  I really wanted to be out and about as much as possible.  But it was icy cold and very windy, and by the time I got home  I knew I had made a big mistake.  At any rate, this drawing is of a very fine divination and healing piece in the African collection.  I would like to place my cold in a clay vessel and be done with it.  I have some clay. . . .
The next piece reflects the fact that we spent a lot of time sitting around the kids' apartment.  On this day I had cooked a calzone from a Nonna Stella YouTube (lezione 14) and a kale salad.  Nate and I had had a conversation about the subways that his dad takes to his job in Midtown.  Nate loves all train things, including subways, and is currently fascinated by numbers.  I was trying to figure out how to get to Erik's office by subway, thinking we would go there the next day if we felt up to it (we didn't), and trusting Nate to be a good source of information.  It turned out that he was exactly right!

This third page reflects the continuation of the wretched colds.  We were slumped over tea in a neighborhood cafe on the morning of 12/31 watching pigeons fluff out their feathers as they roosted on top of a building across the street.  I ran out of energy and never finished the drawing.  The recipe was from the night before.  I had copied it from Kerstin's recipe journal as I remembered it from another trip, way back when the kids lived in DC the year after they finished college at AU.
So, yes, these are pretty pitiful entries, but I think they're worth making.  And my vow for 2012 is A Page A Day and a posting once a week.  Pretty daunting, and I've already skipped yesterday.  But onward.  Someday this cold will fade away and the days will grow longer and the mornings will be warmer than the 15 degrees we had this morning.