My Favorite Things – When the Stars Align

Outdoor concerts are NOT my thing.  I don’t really like attending them and I don’t particularly like performing them either.  But every once in a while the stars align – or, maybe more correctly, the weather cooperates – and I can’t think of a better way to spend the day.  Cap it off with an evening off for “date night” with my husband and I’m in heaven.

At 2 p.m. today in the pit at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this was the task at hand.

In the NYCB pit

(And speaking of “hands”, my Bridge bid at intermission threw my partner for a curve!)

Bridge Hand

With the show concluded, my husband and I headed to Chianti for a romantic dinner à deux…

Dinner at Chianti

And then on to the local frozen yogurt hot spot for his and hers sundaes.

frozen yogurt at night

What could be more perfect?  Maybe only this…

lanterns and the moon



Filed under Influences, My Favorite Things, New York

Perfecting the Pencil Pant: The Odyssey Continues…

Call me a woman on a mission, obsessed…or maybe, just plain crazy.  After sewing 5 pairs of pants from the same pencil pants pattern, I guess you can say I’m determined to master the art of the perfect pencil pant.

I’m after a slim silhouette with a side zip and tapered legs – all in an elegant material with a wee bit of stretch.  This is me (in my dreams):

satin pencil pantsThe first pair I made came out well (take a look here), but the higher waist band wasn’t all that comfortable so I decided to alter the pattern.  Pairs #2 and #3 were less successful since I opted for fabrics without stretch and ended up with pants that I couldn’t sit down in.  Those pants have since gone to the Goodwill Gods (or to aliens who stand around all day.)

With Pair #4, I dropped down the waist and had much better success with the fit, but some not-so-attractive waist-band gaping (take a look here.)

So in addition to taking off and redoing the waistband on Pair #4, I decided to modify the pattern further for yet another pair.  In Pair #5 (made in a stretch satin fabric) I dropped down the the waist and removed the waist-band entirely.  I tried on Pair #5 every step of the way and was delighted with the fit as I worked.  However, after I finished sewing the final seam on the no-waistband “waistband”, the result was not only waist gaping but waist RUFFLING!  I would have taken a picture, but was so horrified that I reached for the seam ripper instead of the camera.

Trust me when I say that my pants looked like this…

ruffled paper bag pants


After some hefty taking in on the front and back seams, the problem appears to be fixed.  I’m happy to present Pair #5 in two views:

new satin pants

new satin pants side view

Of course, the test will come this week after I’ve sat in these pants for a performance.  The beauty of stretch fabric is that it gives.  The downfall is that it gives.  If I stand up and my pants fall off…well, that won’t be good.

Stay tuned!


Filed under illustration, Influences, Jo's Journey, marker and ink illustration, materials, motivation, Tool Box

Friday’s Thought – Nature’s Treasures

diamonds on the water

“To the dull mind nature is leaden.  To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.”

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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Filed under Friday's Thought, Press, wisdom

My Favorite Things – Inheriting the Gardening Gene

I’m very proud of my balcony garden…and for those of you who care, here is a mid-summer update of how things now stand (grow?)

My 2014 summer balcony

My Dahlias seem very happy.  In fact, I think there’s been a little hanky-panky going on.  Although I planted orange and yellow flowers, the new blooms are emerging  in this lovely salmon shade.

orange dahlia

The New Guinea Impatiens are also thriving, and seem to love soaking up the afternoon sun.


And I’ve got tomatoes!  At last count, 14 of ‘em!  I didn’t look at the label when I purchased the plant so I don’t know what kind of tomatoes I actually have.  (But I’m hoping they are cherry tomatoes so that we can eat them soon!)


My white geranium is still going strong…

white geranium

And the Mandevilla plant embraced the railing and created an explosion of pink!

mandevilla blossom

I’ve also got a few “lazy man’s” plants.  A tiny cactus sits atop our patio table…

succulent rose cactus

And the Aloe nearby gets bigger by the day.


Thriving plants = One Happy Gardener!

succulent ground cover plant in clay pot


Filed under Influences, My Favorite Things, New York, photography

Time Warp, or Maybe Just Beginner’s Luck?

I’ve always been envious of artists whose work is so free, yet assured, that they can create their originals in pen.

Take for example, the work of famed illustrator Rene Gruau:

Rene Gruau illustration

Being a risk-adverse type of person (not to mention that my initial attempts 3 years ago drawing with pen were beyond embarrassing – hello, Close Encounters of the Third Kind?), that kind of freedom has certainly eluded me.  In fact, I wrote in yesterday’s post that I expected to get good at drawing with pen in maybe…

40 years

But the seed was planted again in my brain.  Last night, just for fun, I took out my nice heavy-weight Borden & Riley Bristol Art papers (I have pads in 3 different weights) and doodled with my markers to see which weight was the best fit.   And, perhaps just to prove to myself that I shouldn’t even try to draw in pen, I doodled this “fashionista”…

doodle fashionista

Yes, it looks like her right foot is on backwards and that she has a dust bunny for a pet, but the whole exercise was oddly encouraging.  And today when I decided to continue the experiment, here’s what emerged…

Speechless for blog


Overnight success?  Beginner’s luck?  No.  (And certainly not when you consider that I’ve been creating fashion-based illustrations for the past 3 years!)

Proof that hard work and goal-setting works?

I’ll let you be the judge on that one….



Filed under art, illustration, marker and ink illustration, motivation, techniques

Can You Spot the Differences…(and Give Me Your Opinion?)

Lately, I’ve been working towards more freedom in my illustrations…with the secret hope that someday (in another 40 years?) I’ll be able to create the illustrations from the get-go in pen.

Yesterday when I was working on my “illustration du jour” I was just putting in the finishing touches when I went a little heavy-handed with one of my pens and – in my eyes – ruined the illustration.  So I started again. The result is that I now have two illustrations that appear very similar, but are still quite different.  Funny what the flick of a pen can do!

My husband surprised me with his preference; however, since I’m still on the fence over which one I prefer, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Do you prefer….


The Happy Gardener for Blog2


or, B.
The Happy Gardener for Blog


Filed under art, illustration, Influences, marker and ink illustration, materials, New work

Friday’s Thought – In the Language of the Heart

pink rose

“The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.” 


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Filed under Friday's Thought, Influences, photography, wisdom