28 May 2013

Edinburgh teaser!

For the sake of making myself feel more cheerful on tiresome, overcast and rainy days (such as this one here in Wisco), it helps to think about where I'll be going in three months. Ironic, really, as Scotland has a reputation for being cloudy and rainy and cold. Alas, I am in Wisconsin and that is Scotland; this is here and that is there. It makes all the difference.

And I'll be in college! Again! I'll no longer be working at my current jobs, or eating at the same restaurants, driving the same route, or shopping at the same stores. From experience I know it will be easier to set aside how tiresome rain can be.

When I applied for university accommodation a couple months back, this was my first pick:


Mylne's Court. It's super close to the art college and right smack in the middle of Old Town. At least as far as I can tell from the map. ;) All of my housing choices were in older buildings, even though the university offers several very modern options. Weighing convenience, location and cost, not to mention character, I went with the older ones. They're just more fun! So we'll see if I end up here, or if another choice wins out.

I spent a good chunk of time yesterday going through all of the technical rigamarole that is the U.S. FAFSA (Federal student aid), so that Edinburgh is free to dispense the loan amounts as soon as they are able. On one hand, it's lovely to know that the U.S. can put up loans for me in order to allow study abroad -- apparently this wasn't the case until 2010, so even if I had wanted to go straight to the UK right after college, it wouldn't have been in the cards no matter how hard I wanted it. On the other hand, however, going through what they call "entrance counseling," where you calculate your projected loans and then your living expenses over the course of the next year (yikes!!), and then calculate how much you should earn afterward in order to repay your student loans... well... Let's just say it's been knocked into my head that there will be NO SLACKING after this year is over. And this might be a good time to mention that I won't be slacking during the year either. ;)

Taking each little step one at a time...

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 102

26 May 2013

The Rabbit Gallery

I hopped to downtown Appleton to check out the city's first pop-up gallery, The Rabbit, which is organized by Lawrence University students in conjunction with local artists in order to use vacant shop space on College Avenue, and to forge a much-needed/appreciated connection between Lawrence and the community. Organizations, galleries and artists in the Appleton area have been working more diligently over the last couple of years to bring the arts to the public... and if one is even remotely acquainted with Appleton, it's clear that College Avenue is the place to pull this off -- at least to start.

And things are happening. Houdini Plaza, which connects to my workplace, The Trout Museum of Art, is undergoing a major overhaul and should be finished soon. The Trout Museum itself has become a house for many major arts organizations such as the Makaroff Ballet, White Heron Chorale, Fox Valley Symphony, and more. Lawrence University has the Wriston Art Center Galleries, and their own set of music and theatre programs, but it has been rare indeed that the events of Appleton and those of Lawrence have been brought together cohesively. That's what I like about the Rabbit Gallery: it's a small scale, trendy and classy little gallery space that puts Lawrence students in the community, gives them arts management and entrepreneurial experience, and brings the community into Lawrence's world. 

Not to mention it's a pop-up, and I love pop-up anything!

There is a pretty solid mix of student and local artist work, and some of it is quite interesting! The old art store space provides a great setup. It's up through June 8, so if you want to check it out, and you're in the area, it's in the space where Avenue Art Co. used to be, in the City Center shopping mall at 10 E. College Ave. (access from the street on Sundays).

And on my way back out of town, I happened across this Sunday afternoon demolition, which was striking to see from a couple of blocks away -- a big, gaping building. I actually never knew what this place was, but apparently it was a low-income senior apartment building. I have no idea what's going to happen in this space, and I don't think the city knows either. It's going to be turned into green space, according to the local newspaper, until development plans are made.

Okay then! Happy Sunday!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 104

25 May 2013

Bon week-end!

Is the English saying "toodle-oo," as in, "adios!" derived from the French à tout à l'heure? I've been brushing up on le français and came across that phrase for the first time (why was I never taught that one?) and when I said it out loud a few times, I couldn't say it without laughing. Regardless, a little sleuthing revealed that it's probably not -- that "toodle-oo" is as much a British derivation of "toddle" or "to tootle" someplace (as in "tootling down to the local pub"), but it can't just be coincidence, right?


The photo is from my first trip abroad in 2006, from an extremely long evening walk through Paris on one of the nights we decided to see as much as physically possible on foot.

+ + +

A small piece of pertinent Scotland info: university finance queries and documents are starting to roll in.  I know it's not very exciting -- at all, actually -- but it does indicate that this is real, like. Real-real. I've officially declared intent to enroll, so it's all looking a little more official as the days pass.

The anticipation of summer sometimes feels equal parts stressful and carefree, simply because everything seems to happen in the summer and you also want to be able to do so much. It's going to go by very quickly, but come the end of July, most of the work will be done, and I can seriously start looking forward. And perhaps a little short trip to Paris will be in order... de pratiquer la langue. ;)

A tout à l'heure!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 105

23 May 2013

Oceans and Dreams

I've been busy-shmusy lately and haven't had time to get out and take cool photos. Not to mention the weather has been in agreement with me: stay inside, kiddo. But I thought I'd take that opportunity to share some artwork that is very near and dear to my heart, and which has played the biggest role in just about anything and everything art-related in my life:

Oceans and Dreams: The Art of Lee W. Mothes (a.k.a. my dad)

Since my birth, this art has been part of my life. Not kidding. My dad has worked at home most of my life, in a studio somewhere in the house or very nearby (currently above my sister's coffee shop with gallery space and all). Not only the art has been influential, but the ocean as well. I was born on the Oregon coast, and although I only lived there for a couple of years as a baby, the influence that the west coast has had on my family and continues to have--through these paintings and trips out there--draws me ever more to the west coast. Someday I imagine I'll stay there for a while.

A little history: Lee Mothes was born and raised on the California coast, where the images and inspiration for his paintings are still derived from, although he's lived in Wisconsin for over 25 years. He takes frequent trips out to the west coast for photographs and to take in the atmosphere, so the views and influences are continually fresh.

Mid Morning; watercolor 
For the better part of my childhood, he worked all year round, but in the summers took numerous trips to all parts of the country to participate in art festivals and shows. When I was a teenager, I traveled to many of those with him, to help set up the tent and work, and to take advantage of the complementary artist breakfasts! I learned a lot about the art fair circuit then, and although times have changed a bit, there are still some successful art fairs around. My dad still participates in some local shows, but primarily shows in galleries and splits his time between painting and teaching at a local fine arts charter high school.

He just finished a couple of new pieces (untitled as yet), and I wanted to share one, since they really grabbed my attention:

And then just a few more. This one hung in my apartment for a while:

Maui Thunder; acrylic

Kiwanda White Wave; acrylic

Long Surf; watercolor

Since the shift from all-watercolor to mostly acrylic over the years, and also his focus more on surf and beaches rather than idyllic house porches and patios with the ocean as a backdrop, his work has taken on a more exciting, energetic quality. I've always loved his work, and I wanted to share some of it, especially since I've been lately craving a trip to the west coast. It's been a while.

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 107

22 May 2013


Another weight loss goal reached today, though not far behind the last one. As of today, I've succeeded in dropping below my lowest weight (recorded, remembered) since high school. I've got a little way to go yet before I reach my ultimate goal, but wow, this feels amazing. I'm so happy to catch myself in the mirror and think that I'm looking good, or being able to fit into clothes I thought were long forsaken. From here on out, every number I see on the scale is one I'll have never seen before, and that in itself makes this whole thing worthwhile. I consider this Major Goal Number One, and I'm happy to say I've reached it.

And by the way, that is me up there. I imagine my expression this morning, when I stepped on the scale, was very similar! ;)

21 May 2013

Packing up winter.

When I say I've packed all of my winter clothes already, what that actually means is:

There is a coat in my suitcase.

It's early days yet, at least as far as packing and actual travel planning goes, but I'm starting to think about it more regularly. In a couple months my sister(s), mom and I are hoping to have a rummage sale, in which I hope to get rid of a bunch of clothes I'll never wear again (or never wore in the first place). Sweaters and long-sleeved shirts have definitely passed their use-by date until next fall, so I could start packing a few things to get them out of the way. The catch is that starting to shove all that stuff in the case puts me in about-to-move limbo mode, and I don't know if I'm ready for that yet! ;)

This departure feels different than any other big move I've made because I don't have a place to come back to when term is over, like when I was an undergrad. No matter where I end up, or what I do after I graduate, I'm not planning to come back to the same place. I've decided to downsize pretty massively in order to accommodate the uncertainty and the very good chance that I'll be moving around a little in the next few years. One just never knows.

In about three weeks or so, I should have heard about my financial aid and student confirmation information from the University of Edinburgh, and then can apply for my visa in pretty short order. That requires a quick trip to Milwaukee, the nearest visa application office, for an interview. I'll hear about housing in July (pretty excited about that, actually), and then things really get rolling.

For the first time in this entire 1.5-year process (yes, it has been long and ongoing), I looked at a photograph of Princes Street, Edinburgh the other day and thought, "Holy cats! I'm going to be there! Soon!" It was a nice, exhilarating feeling--the kind I thrive off of when it comes to travel. There's nothing like that particular anticipation! I'm planning on shooting across the pond a few days before move-in to hang out in London, check out some galleries and museums, and revisit some old haunts. Can't wait to book my flight!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 109

20 May 2013

"The earth laughs in flowers."

I'm just a leeeeeettle obsessed with how much the flowers have just gone bonkers suddenly! It's spring! It's spring! It feels like summer, but my, how it is spring. It was worth the long wait. It seemed to take forever for the trees to turn green, let alone for anything to flower, but with a couple days of good rain followed by sun and summer-like temperatures... the neighborhoods are heavy with unbelievable blossoms. I don't think I've ever noticed them so intense. And our own little lilac bush, never in the sunniest spot, has more flowers on it than I've seen in recent memory.

Just a little obsessed. ;)

All of these were taken around the house. The plant life is simply taking over. I love it! And the quote in the post title is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

On a separate, less lovely note, I was unfortunately not selected for the majorest of the major scholarships for school. Although I'm awaiting the verdict on one last opportunity, I'm pretty set to throw in all my chips and take out loans. It's the way it works, but at least from here on out I can focus on the school-and-travel aspect of things -- visa, airfare, accommodation, etc. -- rather than money, money, money, all the time money. It really is tiresome, and there is so much more to be enjoyed and looked forward to than how much it's all going to cost.

It will be worth it!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 110

19 May 2013

A craaaazy weekend!

This weekend has been full of crazy. And I mean in the best-possible-way kind of crazy. A wonderful, baffling, sunny and shiny weekend. 

I don't know what it is about springtime -- the warmer weather, the leaves on the trees, the ability to go outside without throwing on a coat, parka or caribou hide. Yesterday I bared my legs under a dress for the first time in like... years. I know, right? I know. Fire alarms were going off at work for no apparent reason, which sort of set the tone for weirdness. I also spent a ton of money at the mall today, and I never go to the mall, preferring to shop boutiques or online. My sisters and I got together on Friday night for dinner to celebrate [a couple of things], and down the grapevine I've heard of a couple marriage engagements and several first-home purchases and so on... it's got to just be that time of year. Sister Ali expresses my own feelings of "whaaat?" quite nicely:

She also made a killer chocolate mousse using avocado (!!) with homemade whipped cream and fresh-baked snickerdoodles. I love her:

Maddy and Ali prepped dessert; I just enjoyed it. They are so wonderful. I should just use this moment to say how much having sisters totally rules. And I've got a couple of gems for siblings. All our birthdays are in April, so springtime naturally finds us together for celebrating and enjoying one another's company. 

As far as dinner was concerned, my contributions consisted of the side dishes. The fruit salad was one, and my all-time favorite roasted asparagus was the other.

This is my go-to veggie dish. It's amazingly easy and quite quick, and super-duper yummy. I have it a couple times per week usually. If you like asparagus, I feel this is the tastiest way have it at home. All you need is a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roasted Asparagus

Serves 4 as a side

1 bunch asparagus (about a pound or so)
2 tsp olive oil
pinch kosher salt
cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Crack off the thick ends of the asparagus at their natural breaking point. Spread them out on a non-stick cookie sheet and drizzle the olive oil over the asparagus. The oil should just coat the asparagus, making them shine slightly, without much left over. If you need to add a little more, do so sparingly. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, mix the ingredients on top of the pan, thoroughly coating the asparagus and spreading it out evenly around the pan.

Roast asparagus for 12-15 minutes or until browned slightly, the tips just a little crispy. Serve immediately.

18 May 2013

Orange and red - a simple fruit salad

Yesterday, my youngest sister moved home from college for the summer, so my other sister and I decided we should celebrate / get together and have a good homemade dinner. I also received a wonderful belated birthday gift in the form of some amaaaazing news, but I'm not at liberty to share just yet! ;) There shall be plenty more where that's coming from!

Middle sister made some really fantastic-looking fresh, wild salmon that we scoped out at the deli, and I compulsively filled up my shopping cart with nothing but fruit (and some coconut water). It was only after I got home and realized that much fruit for one person was a little overboard, a salad would be perfect for sister dinner!

It's mostly an excuse to photograph gorgeous summer fruits, but the recipe is below, of course! Easy-peasy and super delish.

Simple Orange and Red Fruit Salad

Serves 4

A good-size bunch of red seedless grapes (up to two cups worth, or so)
8-10oz strawberries (half a pack, usually)
1 naval orange, peeled and separated into segments
1 crispy apple (such as Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Cameo)

I like a good, chunky fruit salad, so the grapes go in whole. Follow that with the strawberries, using a small knife to chop off the leaves, and then slice berries in half length-wise, or if they're enormous, then to preferred bite-size. Using a sharp knife, trim any excess pith off the orange and cut into bite size chunks. Slice and chop up the apple and toss in a medium sized bowl. Use a rubber spatula to stir. Serve and enjoy!

The orange juice keeps the apples from oxidizing and turning brown, but if you decide to skip the oranges, you'll want to drizzle in a little lemon juice to keep them looking white and fresh. Having a really crispy apple complements the soft strawberries and oranges, and the grapes add some tang. Of course the beauty of fruit salad is that just about anything can go in one. I'd be up for some blueberries and raspberries next time, and probably some whipped cream on top!

17 May 2013

On a cloudy day...

It's possible to drive through Door County along highway 42, through the well-established harbor towns of Fish Creek and Egg Harbor, up to Ephraim, and never see the Anderson Dock. On the other hand, if you're getting married... you know where the Anderson Dock is. It's traditionally graffitied with the names of boats. Lately it has also become quite popular to write the names and dates of soon-to-be-married or newlywed couples.

So how about some art?! I stopped briefly at one of Door County's more prestigious art galleries, Edgewood Orchard, which features contemporary art from Wisconsin, but also national and international artists. Many of the galleries in Door County feature local work by regional-interest artists, but this one is attractive to me personally in that it carries a wide range of work with a broad spectrum of style and subject.

I went quite a bit out of my art bubble by focusing primarily on the sculptures outside. Edgewood Orchard has a nice winding trail through a large sculpture garden, so I made the most of that. Generally speaking, I'm usually drawn more toward painting and other 2-dimensional work--the wall-hanging kind. Not strictly, of course, but it's what I feel most comfortable with. But I like 3D work, like any 2D work, to have something to say. If it's "pretty" for the sake of decoration, it's just boring. 

Inside and out, Edgewood Orchard had its fair share of interesting work. There was some I didn't care for, of course. On the other hand, there were some things that I would have liked in my house, such as a number of heavy glass bowls by Arcata, California artist George Bucquet at Mad River Glass (which plucked a chord with me since I lived in Arcata for a short while several years ago and miss it still). There were some really magnificent paintings by Craig Blietz of Sister Bay, WI, and some wonderful bronze sculptures of rabbits by Donna Weiser of Los Angeles.

Random Thoughts by Curtis Archer of  Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Point of View by Dennis Heimbach of Middleton, Wisconsin

(Unfortunately, no information. Boo.)

And these scrumptious succulents... anyone know what they are?

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 113

16 May 2013

A day trip to the Door

The first of two posts about a day trip I took to Door County, Wisconsin... pre-summer and just after most of the cafes and galleries opened for the season. I spent a good hour in Peninsula State Park, where I haven't been for at least ten years. The weather was fitful, so it was an abbreviated trip, but as far as Lake Michigan scenery goes, it's hard to beat.

That little bugger hanging off the leaf on the right is just one of bagillions of pesky lake flies. They were unbearable in places. The only major drawback of my visit.

This guy was absolutely enormous, and was keen to make all sorts of bizarre noises. More for his benefit than my entertainment, but it was still amusing.

And fishing. What is a Wisconsin lake without fishing?

So far, this being a newbie blog, I'm really enjoying getting into the swing of documenting my experiences and sharing them with you. That's essentially the reason for starting it up so early before departing for Scotland: if I'm in the habit, all the more to show you and keep up with. Can't wait!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 114