Archive for May, 2010

As is usually the case with any long weekend, I am sitting here with the knowledge that I have to return to work tomorrow and wondering, ‘Where did the past three days go?!’. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess…

I was up and at ’em first thing on Saturday morning to head over to West Seattle for my work day at the encaustic studio. The instructors of the workshop I took in March have a great space set up over there for renters, where I had everything I needed right at my fingertips in order to make a lovely little mess. It was a productive day for me, as I finished a couple of pieces and got started on a couple of others, but still, even after nine hours in the studio, I wanted more. These sorts of intense art sessions are exhausting, but completely energizing at the same time. Can’t wait to get back in there. Here’s a sneak peek – more photos to come when I have the whole ‘collection’ done.

Yesterday we zipped down to Portland for a long-overdue visit with my brother and his family. As I’ve said after every trip down there over the past two years, I can’t believe how Elise has changed since I saw her last. She is taller, faster, chattier, and showing major signs of favoritism toward her Uncle Shane (I won’t hold this against her).  One of her favorite toys these days is the Magna-Doodle that Shane and I bought her for Christmas, and she spent quite a bit of time on my lap this weekend, drawing to her heart’s content.  Whatever I asked her to draw, whether it was an elephant, a penguin, or a picture of her Grandpa, she responded enthusiastically with, “OK, sure!” (her latest catch phrase), and proceeded to give it her best shot.  Granted, all of her doodles bear a striking a resemblance to one another, and I’m not sure I could differentiate her giraffe from her representation of Uncle Shane, but she gets an A+ for effort.  She also loves to read, and had a lot of fun pulling books off the shelves left and right during our visit to Powell’s this weekend.  I like to think of her as a future book club member-in-training.  Goodness, I love this little girl!

And so, another weekend come and gone (sigh).  But it was so, so good while it lasted!

No really big happenings in the Schnell household these days, but nonetheless, a small handful of ‘newsworthy’ (I use that term lightly) updates…

First, remember my ultra-ambitious hundred-push-up challenge?  According to my original schedule, I should have joined the push-up century club five weeks ago.  But…due to a vacation-related derailment, and a weakness on my part in general, I’m still slowly working my way toward that goal.  Last night I was able to do 25 consecutive push-ups.  Not too shabby, but I’ve got a ways to go…

Second, our little backyard seed patch is finally starting to show some progress!  We’re several weeks away from harvest, but still, these little carrot-tops show definite promise, don’t you think?

Finally, some exciting news on the artistic front: a good friend of mine had a fund-raiser last week for a non-profit group she’s working with, and asked me donate some of my art for the cause.  I framed three of my prints with a hope and a prayer that somebody might find them buy-worthy, and two of them sold!  This was the very first time that money has been paid for a Kelly Schnell original, so this was kind of a big deal for me.  Very affirming.

Yes, May was a relatively quiet month (not that watching carrots sprout isn’t thrilling), but the next few weeks are shaping up to be good and busy – a trip to Portland, a camping weekend with friends, a couple of days in the encaustic studio, and (God-willing) plenty of sunshine and dinners on the grill.  And push-ups.  Lots of push-ups.

I haven’t been posting about all of my reading endeavors lately, because I felt like I ran out of ways to say, “I liked it”, or “It was too long”, but Jane Eyre consumed enough hours of my life to warrant a blog post.  I started this book two months ago, put it down for a week for a quick fling with David Sedaris, then (grudgingly) picked it back up again, determined to finish what I started.  Man, I wanted to love a classic like this, but this book really felt like a struggle.  The lengthy descriptions of the English landscape were too wordy, and the conversation felt incredibly stiff and overly formal.  I was frustrated by the fact that I had a such hard time placing myself in the middle of the story.  Then I realized that this book was published 163 years ago, and I was suddenly amazed at how much the English language has remained relatively unchanged over the past century-and-a-half.  Granted, Jane never used the word ‘dude’ or referred to Mr. Rochester as ‘smokin’ hot’, but the fact that I was able to understand 99.9% of this book’s contents seems surprising.  And I will admit, the last quarter of the book did really capture my attention, as I read on to see which fate Jane would choose.  So I’m glad I finished it; I’m glad my ‘literary horizons’ have been broadened.  Plus, it looks darn pretty sitting on my bookshelf…

I’ve been spending a lot of time flipping through furniture catalogs lately, tempting myself with plenty of stuff that we really don’t need.  So rather than buy the items on those dog-eared pages…Voila.

chair (2010.05.12):

sofa (2010.05.16):

table (2010.05.22):

I’m taking a break from the weekly sketches for the next few weeks, but only so that I can focus on some other art projects.  So stay tuned!

I guess the Schnells are one year closer to becoming an old married couple, as May 20th marked our fourth anniversary.  Lucky for me, Shane was feeling exceptionally romantic and booked us an overnight getaway in a secret location – my only instructions were to meet him at the ferry terminal at noon on Thursday.  His plans were revealed as we boarded the Bainbridge Island boat – he had reserved us a night at a little cottage tucked away on the island.  It felt nice to look back at the Seattle skyline with my husband, to know that we were cruising away from work, from the house, and from the daily grind, so that we could spend the next 24 hours focusing on each other.  We were due for some ‘us’ time.

Any good getaway includes plenty of indulgent food, so after fish ‘n chips and beer at the Harbour Public House, we zipped right over to Mora for ice cream.  They have 48 flavors there.  My lifelong dream is to try them ALL.  Post-ice cream, we headed over to Fort Ward Park for a little afternoon nature walk.  The sun was shining, the wind was whispering the trees, the woods were rich with just about every imaginable shade of green, and so the stage was set for a perfectly sappy hand-in-hand anniversary stroll.  Lovely.  A snake temporarily startled me out of my bliss, but he seemed much more interested in the slug he was trying to devour than he was in us, so we continued on our way.

After our walk, we were ready to check into our cottage, crack open a bottle of wine, and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing.  Our accommodations were perfect – cozy, quiet, and nestled in among the trees…  Ten minutes there, and I was ready to move in.

We had a fabulous dinner at Agate Pass, and after a spontaneous 20-minute detour to check out the casino we passed on the way back to our place (I won $15 at my first slot machine and decided to quit while I was ahead), we were ready to call it a night.  Turning in at 10 pm is another sure sign that we’re on our way to becoming an old married couple.

Sleeping in is also a crucial part of a good getaway, and so we did just that on Friday morning, rolling out of bed in time to devour the delicious homemade breakfast that was delivered to our door.  Fresh-baked scones and French-press coffee, enjoyed from a little table next to a window that looks out into the forest?  Yes, please!  I really was enamored with the woods – ferns and moss and green, green trees as far as the eye can see.  I can feel myself becoming more and more of a Northwestern-er every day.

And then it was time to bid the island farewell and cruise back toward Seattle.  And yes, that means heading back to work, and the house, and the daily grind, but it also means heading home with the man I love.  Candles and wine and afternoon walks in the woods are all good things, but I suppose there’s also romance to be found in an evening spent on the couch together watching a baseball game, or a quick kiss good-bye on our way out the door in the morning.  So until May 20th rolls around again, I will be savoring the goodness of the day-in, day-out, which is really what’s gotten us through the last four years, and will carry us through the next forty.

After spending a year on the waiting list, Shane and I found out on Thursday night that a plot had opened up for us in our neighborhood’s P-Patch.  We debated for a moment over whether or not we wanted the added responsibility of another garden, but after thinking about the pros and cons, and then realizing that several of the cons were actually pros (having to take a 10-minute walk out to the garden a few nights a week to water it is in fact a very good thing for us), we snatched it up.  And so 80 square feet of fertile soil was ours, for a ridiculously small annual fee and the simple commitment to ‘actively garden’ our plot (in other words, make a reasonable effort to grow something other than weeds).  Today was planting day, and after a trip to Lowe’s and our favorite local nursery, we were ready to roll.  In the space of a couple of hours, we dropped in tomatoes, strawberries, snap peas, lemon cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, three kinds of salad greens, cilantro, and a row of carrot and beet seeds, left over from our April backyard planting.  When the weather warms up just a little more, we’ll plant a couple of different peppers.  I am thrilled by the possibilities of fresh salads and homemade salsas, so I’m hoping we’ll start off Farm Schnell with a banner crop.  We’ll see…  If nothing else, this will be a great opportunity for us to get outside together in the evenings and connect with our neighbors who are growing their own gardens right next to ours.  Alright – that’s not completely the truth – the promise of quality time isn’t quite enough:  GROW, little plants, GROW!!!

Oh, what a weekend…  Busy, but full of so many good things.  The weather in Seattle was phenomenal, and we spent every moment possible outdoors, loading up on vitamin D.

On Saturday morning, we headed over to the International District to volunteer with our friends from our community group at Danny Woo Garden.  This is a community garden which was created for elderly immigrant residents living in this area just south of downtown Seattle, to foster their connections to the earth and to the surrounding neighborhood.  It is an amazing space, terraced with patch after patch of vegetables, fruits, and flowers, tended to by a generation and a culture of people that have an intimate knowledge of and respect for the soil.  Our mission, as part of our church’s urging to ‘bless our neighbors’, was simple:  do whatever needed doing.  This meant weeding, digging, planting, transplanting, sowing, building, chopping, and generally having a blast doing our small part to support the growth and sustenance of the garden.  Once we were all given our tasks, we divided and conquered, and accomplished what I would like to think was a pretty decent chunk of work.  Four hours after our arrival, peas had been planted under a new supporting trellis, much of the garden waste pile had been broken down and prepared for compost, the flagstone path in the children’s garden had been mended, several planter beds were freshly cleaned of weeds, and we were one dirty, tired, happy bunch.

The G-man was a huge help that day – what he lacked in ability, he made up for in spirit:

The dudes, ready for action.:

Shane and Jack were labeled our ‘trusty swordsmen’ and were given the task of chopping up some the larger garden waste for the compost pile.  I can’t decide how I feel about this photo – funny, or kinda scary…?

Michelle, Jon, and I were put on a ‘fern rescue mission’ – moving several struggling ferns from a sunny spot to the this shadier space in the garden.  Here they are, mid-mission:

Some of the gang (Shane was supposed to snap a photo as Jack was in mid-jump, but he’s a little quick on the trigger…):

Some garden lovelies:

It was fun to see us all rally to get things done, and the intent of the garden to build relationships rang true as we labored together, laughed together, and pigged out together as we rewarded ourselves with Vietnamese sandwiches from the deli down the street.  And I gotta say, the good, good earth feels especially good when enjoyed under the sunshine with some of your very dearest friends.

Been playing around with stuff that’s a little more abstract, messier, free-er, looser.  This style is not my forte, but it’s been fun.  And it’s nice to switch out my pen for a paintbrush now and then…

meteor (2010.03.28) – torn paper, watercolor, and thread:

hexy (2010.04.11) – acrylic paint over lace stencil, cut paper:

flip side (2010.04.12) – cut paper, acrylic paint, thread:

featherweight (2010.05.05) – torn paper, acrylic paint, and ink:

Every once in awhile, I have one of those moments that makes me think, ‘Duuuuude, I love Seattle!’.  Exhibits A and B:

These longer hours of daylight have made me feel like we actually have more hours in the day, so when I got home from the gym tonight, instead of crashing out on the couch and calling it a day, I popped in the door and asked Shane if he’d be up for heading out to dinner at our most favorite pizza place.  With work and work-outs and the general to-do’s of our lives, it’s rare that we spontaneously go out on a weeknight, since we both need frequent low-key evenings at home to recharge, but I felt the need to celebrate our sun-shiny evening.  And I knew a night out at Tutta Bella would be an easy sell to the husband, considering that he has never turned down an offer of pizza in the 11 years I’ve known him.  We took our table by the window and ordered a couple of our favorites – the Giovanni, topped with prosciutto and arugula, was perfection, and the salame Pino never disappoints.  But considering this is the third time we’ve eaten pizza from this place in the last two weeks, I’d say we’re now due for a pizza fast – somehow cheese, salted meats, and pizza crust aren’t part of that ‘healthier eating’ plan I’ve been working on.  Actually, I might just have to rethink that plan altogether…

On our way home, we saw hints of pink in the sky over Beacon Hill, so we decided to jet over to the bridge that overlooks downtown and Elliott Bay to catch the final remnants the sunset – and although it was chilly out there, I felt like we were getting the first little peek of the summer that’s in store for us.  And that makes me very, very happy.

There could not exist a more perfect book to read while on vacation.  Funny and light, hard to put down, full of witty little passages that I enjoyed reading aloud to Shane.  I have fond memories of the day I spent camped out on the beach with David Sedaris in one hand and a margarita in the other.  Seriously, though, this is funny stuff.  From the tales his rural upbringing in North Carolina to his days spent theater-hopping in Paris, he is able to infuse his life experiences with a humor that is one part sarcasm, one part cynicism, and two parts total light-heartedness.  I especially loved the stories that dealt with his struggle to learn the French language and could relate to several of his experiences.  This passage is classic:

“There are, I have noticed, two basic types of French spoken by Americans vacationing in Paris; the Hard Kind and the Easy Kind.  The Hard Kind involves the conjugation of wily verbs and the science of placing them alongside various other words in order to form such sentences as “I go him say good afternoon” and “No, not to him I no go it him say now.”  The second, less complicated form of French amounts to screaming English at the top of your lungs, much the same way you’d shout at a deaf person or the dog you thought you could train to say off the sofa.”

I’m looking forward to picking up more of his stuff – the true test will come when I find out whether he is just as funny on a rainy day in Seattle as he is on a sunny beach in Mexico…  I’ll let you know.