Saturday, February 8, 2014

Harvest Stew

I love going to the Alachua County Farmer's Market and experiencing new culinary discoveries.  This is the Harvest Stew we made this week.  
Our first step was to remove the packaging from 2 pounds of ground pork that we purchased from Graham Farms and cook the pork in the crock pot on high for a few hours.  There is a thin layer of wax paper on the pork so make sure you remove that.  When the pork is cooked, we break it up into crumbled pieces and freeze one pound for use later in the week, and set the other pound aside for use in the stew.  We drain the juice and put it in the refrigerator so that we can skim all of the fat from the top.  The fat free broth is added back to the crock pot for part of our stock.  

Next, we cut up 3 onions and 3 mild peppers and sauteed them with corn in coconut oil.  When the vegetables were caramelized, we added them to the crock pot.

We love the fresh tomatoes we find at the Farmer's Market.  We cut up all of the tomatoes making sure not to loose any of the juice and added it to our already hot iron skillet.  We also added our bunch of fresh parsley, salt and chipolte.  When the tomatoes had cooked down in their own juices and made their own tomato sauce, we added the sauce to the crock pot as well.  
I diced our carrots and put them in the microwave for a few minutes.  Then, I sauteed them in the same skillet to caramelize the flavor.  When they were starting to brown, I added them to the crock pot as well.  

Finally, I sauteed the purple cabbage in the more coconut oil.  It helps the cabage retain its color and sweetens the flavor.  
For an additional boost of flavor we washed the carrot top greens thoroughly and then juiced them.  

The simmered juice added a wonderful flavor to the broth for the stew.  

Here is the wonderful pot of Harvest Stew we enjoyed this week.  The only other items added were a few cups of water and some chic peas.  Yum!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Farmer's Market Food Challenge

  • Eat locally grown and produced food purchased directly from local growers at my local farmer's market (Alachua County Farmer's Market)
  • Eat seasonally
  • Eat healthily and increase the nutritional value of the food I am eating and serving my family
  • Rise to the creative challenge of feeding my family delicious and healthy food from the farmer's market
  • Reduce the amount of money we spend on food
  • Reduce my carbon foot print
  • Support local farmers and producers
  • Get to know the growers and their products and discover what my family enjoys eating and how they like it prepared
  • Adapt, modify and create recipes using items from the Farmer's Market
  • Try to get to the market early enough every Saturday so as not to miss key items that are offered like eggs, milk and strawberries, but also place orders with farmers for items that are critical to my food supply for the week
  • Only buy enough food for one week unless there are items that are seasonal that will freeze well.  
2 Month Check-In:
  • We have discovered that we like some carrots better than others.  We even know how to pick out turnips now.  Who knew?
  • We have our staple items that we use every week
  • We are creating new recipes almost every week 
  • We are becoming more confident in spending all of our food budget at the Farmer's Market.  We spent less than $10 at Publix this week.
  • We are practicing a no trash policy.  We bring our own bags and so far the only things we have had to buy in their containers are yogurt, milk and ranch dressing.  We will find ways to reuse those containers.  Other containers we return to the farmer the next week.
  • We have eliminated the need for canned foods and artificial seasonings or ingredients.  I now know how to cook with all fresh ingredients and seasonings and create flavor full meals.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

My Mentors Interview Series: Effy Wild

As an artist and art instructor, I am extremely grateful for those teachers who have inspired, encouraged and supported my development as an artist. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share this interview with you.  I have been taking classes with Effy Wild for a year now. I started by taking Book of Days her art journal course.

(Keep reading for a video and the giveaway!)

Tammy Dial Gray (TDG): Welcome Effy Wild! I am so glad to have you with us today!
Effy Wild (EW): I am so excited to be here with you!
TDG: Effy Wild, I know you as an art instructor, community builder, painter, writer, and a keeper of art journals. Why are these practices so important to you?

EW: Ever since I can remember, I have longed for ways to express what was happening inside myself. For many, many years, I was a writer and built community around poetry and creative prose. I developed a horrible case of writer’s block after a very traumatic family crisis (addiction hit our family full force), and in my attempts to unblock myself, I discovered art journaling. There was something so satisfying about expressing myself *without words* and after taking every class I could get my hands on, it morphed into my primary mode of self-expression rather than merely a way to ‘unblock’. I was so excited about what I was learning, both about art journaling and myself that I *had to share*. It’s in my nature to grow communities around the things I’m passionate about. I’m a bit of an evangelist that way! So when I knew how effective art journaling was, how amazingly healing ART was, I reached out. I shared. And I’ve been lucky enough to see the growth and expansion of one of the kindest, most amazing tribes I
've ever been a part of!

TDG: I am blown away by  your approach to creating art journal pages  They are so much more than a "pretty page." How has the practice of keeping an art journal helped you on your personal journey?

EW: I am a survivor of severe childhood trauma. While writing was always a helpful way to come into awareness about what was ‘now’ and what was triggered past stuff, I didn't find it very helpful in terms of changing the patterns I was uncovering. Art feels magical to me in that the effort that goes into creating an art journal spread seems to set change in motion. It seems to communicate with a deeper, more powerful part of my ‘inner committee’ that can actual act on the wisdom I glean from my art practice. Where before I had years’ worth of morning pages (written journals) all complaining about the same patterns and behaviors, now I have art journals full of tangible proof of how much I’ve changed. Since I began art journaling, I've got from a sense of purposelessness to a sense of vocation. I've gone from a deep sense of loneliness to being surrounded by an incredible tribe. I’ve gone from accepting crappy treatment in relationships to standing up for myself and demanding respect (or walking away when it isn't forthcoming). I've gone from desperately wanting everyone to like me (which does remain an issue for me) to learning how to self-love rather than seek love outside of myself.

Art journaling seems alchemical to me. It seems to allow me to take the dross of every day and spin it into the gold of personal empowerment, meaningful work, self-awareness, and authenticity. It also keeps me so busy that there’s little time to spiral into depression, which has been a huge boon.

TDG: A profound lesson that you demonstrate is "showing up to the page" which is a technique you use in collaboration with your process of layering. Through the  process you teach of layering and listening to the self, I learned that while I might not know where I was going with a page when I started, an unfolding of my heart and soul happens as I participate in creating the work. You teach us how to "find ourselves" on the page. It almost feels like the layers of my page are like the outer layers of an onion and as I put the layers down, I get closer to what my heart and soul are aching to express. Can you speak to how this process works for you and why you find it so important to meet yourself in your work?

I refer to this process as ‘reverse excavation’. Even though you are building layers up on the page, it actually feels like a kind of archeological dig. As I layer, I am actually ‘digging in’ and going deeper, uncovering my own inner wisdom. Digging deeply into the stuff beneath whatever is going on with me is something I’ve learned to love to do even though it is often painful. I believe that you can’t heal what’s hidden. I believe that shadow stuff (Jungian) needs to be gently dug up and brought into the light before it can be effectively dealt with. In digging it up, layer after layer, I am bringing shadow into light. There’s another benefit to this – especially since I do a lot of this on camera for my classes – and that is that my shadow stuff gets *witnessed*. This witnessing shines a light on the shadowy places. It is an incredibly healing activity, even when healing isn’t my intention.

TDG: Another profound "take away" I have relearned from you is the art of the reframe. I was so in awe when I saw you work through your personal challenges and reframe situations. It is a life skill that is life changing. How would you describe a reframe and how did you develop this talent as a part of your personal practice and can you speak to how it impacts your art?

EW: The reframe is a process of turning something that feels like dead weight or negative ‘stink think’ – a belief or situation that is just full of yuck – and turning it around. I learned this from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” in which she advocates turning every negative thought we have or write our morning pages into affirmations. While I’m not a huge fan of affirmations as a healing tool because they feel a little too much like faking it, I do find it effective to find *what is true* in any given situation, and focusing on that. For example, if I’m working on my journal and a thought or image comes up that is just not helpful (like “This really sucks” or “I am so tired of being mistreated” or “I wish I could get a handle on my emotions”, I will work to reframe it so that I am working with a positive, helpful statement instead of a negative one. “This really sucks” might turn into “Challenges Grow Me In Strength” – which is absolutely true, right? And totally affirming. “I am so tired of being mistreated” might morph into “I am worthy of excellent treatment”. True! “I wish I could get a handle on my emotions” might seem like an okay goal to have, but it is actually kind of self-shaming. My emotions don’t need ‘handling’. They need respecting, so I might reframe that statement into “I let myself feel so I can heal…”

This is a skill I've demonstrated often in Book Of Days since I am a walking minefield of negative self-talk, but I have found my crappy old tape really winding down over the last few years, and I find I need the reframe less and less often. Helpful, positive thoughts come more often now than the negative, unhelpful ones and I attribute this change to my art practice.

TDG: One of the ways that you describe yourself is that you keep things "real." I have certainly found that true as you have allowed yourself to be vulnerable within your community by sharing what is going on with you. I find that this correlates beautifully with your method of creating an art journal page. On camera you have shown us what to do when a page goes through awkward stages or something just doesn't look quite like you want it to. I have found it extremely helpful to learn from your methods of recovering a page and from coming back from a personal challenge. How did you find the courage to be so human and real in your work?

EW: I grew up in a family for whom the appearance of things was far more important than the underlying reality. This was incredibly traumatic for me, since I was always highly sensitive to hypocrisy and injustice. Even at a very young age I was infuriated with the way ‘how it looked’ seemed to take precedence over how it really was. As a survivor of abuse, I was steeped in ‘don’t tell, don’t feel’ messages. When this messaging became truly toxic in my early twenties (I was in an abusive relationship), I began (slowly but surely) to break free. I began to use my voice, even though it was dangerous. I began to talk and tell and feel out loud. This was absolutely the only way I could begin to heal, and so I model that in my work and my life as best as I am able. Does it take courage? Yeah. It does. Being this vulnerable in a place as scary as the Internet can be, in a place where people feel free to be hypercritical and even mean and insulting is *terrifying*, but it is also incredibly gratifying to see the impact of my ‘real’ on others, so I can’t not do it. Courage is feeling the feel and doing it anyway, so yeah. I’ll claim courage as one of my super powers.

TDG: What do you find rewarding about your art practice and teaching? What is the compliment or feedback that has touched you the most?

EW: I work primarily with women, and while the financial rewards are certainly nice because they help me feel financially sovereign for the first time in my life, what really rocks my socks is watching women step into their own personal sovereignty. I get so many letters from women who see themselves in me and because I’ve been brave enough to reveal shadow stuff, THEY feel brave enough to reveal shadow stuff. Wounds heal. People change their very LIVES as a result. I get to facilitate that? ME? That’s crazy affirming and rewarding, and while I know THEY are doing their own work, I also know that I modeled the work they are doing. Sometimes all we need is permission. Sometimes permission comes in the form of witnessing someone else doing what we know we need to do for ourselves. It is a calling I am so grateful I answered. It is second only to parenting in terms of meaningful work. Watching women come into their own is the very best feedback I could ever ask for. Ever. And that women trust me with their shadow stuff (mostly in private letters and messages) is the greatest compliment I’ve ever received. Ever. Bar none. The trust placed in me by my tribe is better than any accolade I could ever imagine receiving.

TDG: I know the next session of BOD is open for registration, now. Can you tell us about BOD and what participants can expect in the program?

EW: Book Of Days is an 18 week immersion in the art of self-inquiry and memory keeping through mixed media art journaling. For the duration of the class, students get lots of instruction and art journaling demonstration designed to inspire them to fill up their own ‘Book Of Days’. Each week, I deliver three videos: A discussion video in which I muse on my process, supplies I used or discovered, techniques I am loving, a “Book Of Mirrors” video in which I demonstrate doing inner work in the journal, and a “Book Of Days” video in which I demonstrate memory keeping in the journal. The videos are meant to be watched for inspirational purposes, but the real meat is in the doing. To that end, I provide challenges, journal prompts, and constant, tender hand holding in our Facebook Group. The class also includes an additional four week Boot Camp in bookbinding, and art journaling 101. Boot Camp on it’s own has been called ‘worth the price of admission’, and I agree. It is jam packed with instruction that, once taken, will lead you to a healing, fulfilling intentional creativity practice. You can expect fun, deep digging, gorgeous spreads, new skills, confidence, sharing, sisterhood, and a lot of love & glitter.
TDG: Are there any other offerings that you would like to share with us?

EW: I’m teaching in Life Book 2013 this year, and my lesson on turning on your heart light goes live in August. ( I am also doing a HUGE GIVEAWAY for a seat in BOD2013 Session Two!  (Please see the video below.)

TDG: Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your work with us here today. I honor your impact in my life.

EW: Namaste, lovely Tammy! Thank you for your thoughtful questions!  

Effy has a GIVEAWAY and a sample of her class here.  

Please visit Effy using the following links:

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Mentors Interview Series: Jodi Ohl

As an artist and art instructor, I am very grateful to the teachers who have inspired me and have had an impact on my artitistic life.  Jodi Ohl is one of my mentors.  I have taken both her Painterly in Pink and Twinks on Yupo classes and am looking forward to her next course.  As I prepare to take her next class I knew I wanted to share the joy of Jodi Ohl with you.

Her next class is: Funky Little City Scapes
Her Blog: Sweet Repeats
Her Etsy: JodiOhl
Facebook: SweetRepeatsStudioShoppe

Gratefully, Jodi agreed to participate in an interview and is willing to tell us more about the new class she has coming up that starts July 12th.

Tammy Dial Gray (TDG): Welcome, Jodi Ohl.  So glad to have you with us!
Jodi Ohl (JO):
Thank you, Tammy!  It’s a pleasure to be here to chat with you today!

TDG: When did you first realize that you are an artist?  What went into your transition from being a bank manager to becoming a full-time artist?
JO:I don’t know if there ever was one moment that I just woke up and said, yes, I’m an artist. It has been more of a long term evolution of acknowledging the creative side of me, something I truly believe is in everyone.  My creative side has manifested in many different ways over the years.  For example, I was a musician for many years playing piano and flute, and then I moved on to writing and minored in creative writing in college.  It took many years however for me to develop my creative side to the point I actually could make a living at it.   In a lot of ways, I wasn’t a very disciplined artist when I was younger.  Rather, I needed structure in my career path and as it turned out; I rose through the ranks at several different organizations and became a bank manager for a good portion of my corporate career.  It was during the latter part of my career in finance that I had some personal situations that drew me back into creating more and more.    It was a life preserver that I held onto which eventually led me to calmer waters personally and reignited my fire for the arts.  The transition from corporate life to a creative life took a lot of planning and soul searching, especially being a single parent, my decision wasn’t just affecting me, and it would affect my son so it was not a total leap of faith. Looking back now, the timing had to do with several big opportunities that I just couldn’t take on while still working at the bank so I was at a crossroads where I had to make a decision to go one way or another and I decided to give it a shot. I figured I could try this for 6 months and if it didn’t work, I can go back to the bank.  I’m still here. J

TDG: Do you think your art has a message?  If so, what kinds of messages do you intend to share through your art?

JO: I hope a lot of my personal feelings come out in my art when I create it and the viewer resonates with those messages I hope to convey, and those would be a sense of empowerment-you can do anything you set your mind to, messages of home and community and belonging, of reaching out and becoming a part of life rather than just a voyeur of it.  My art tends to be very colorful and playful, not super serious but at the same time, if you look closely, there are a lot of layers to it including hidden messages and symbolic themes incorporated throughout many of the pieces.  This year has been an  emotional  one for my family.  A sudden death of a close family member reminded me very quickly that life is short and taking time out to enjoy it and do what you love with those you love are very important.  I have been incorporating a lot of ‘seize the day’ carpe diem type of messages in my latest pieces.     In any case, I hope those that follow my art are inspired by my story. I totally get the chaos of working full time in or outside of the home, the trying to be ‘it all’ for everyone you touch and how if you don’t slow down and take stock of what is really important to you and your family, you lose a good portion of life by chasing after things rather than enjoying what you have, when you have it.

TDG: I know that in addition to the online classes you teach, you also teach and inspire through your magazine submissions. How did you make the transition to being a teaching artist and what inspires you about teaching?

Well, many artists that are full time artists have different paths that they take to make  a living  full time doing what they love, for some it may be doing art shows in addition to selling in galleries or online, or perhaps they design products for companies, or having open studio events…who knows, perhaps combinations of all these things.  Writing for magazines helped me really break down the projects I was doing in ways that everyone, experienced or not, could understand and hopefully be inspired by what I was doing enough to take it and make it their own.  As a manager in my former life, I spent the good portion of my day coaching and mentoring my team and peers in the business which has helped me transition into the teaching end of the art spectrum.  When I teach, it is so gratifying to have my students feel that spark of passion that I feel when creating, when they have the moment of clarity and suddenly realize they can do this, too…well it is wonderful feeling to see it all transpire.  I’ve come across a lot of people that are very similar to me in the classes, those that really crave a sense of calmness and peace for whatever reason.  Being able to guide these students into a place that really sparks their own creativity which in turn, helps soothe their heart and soul, is also very gratifying. I could go on and on about teaching, the truth of the matter is,  I learn as much from my students as they do from me.

TDG: There are many things I appreciate about your style of teaching and one of them is that you teach techniques that allow for individual expression.  Your students are able to take those techniques and create their own unique pieces of art.  Would you please tell us a little bit about the new class you are offering, the kinds of techniques we will be learning and how we can sign up for the course?

JO:Thank you for saying that Tammy, I really appreciate it.  Yes, I obviously have projects and ideas I want to share with my students when I teach a class, but I always encourage my students to make it their own. I’m always hesitant to give colors out in my supply list and not because I want to be proprietary about it, I just want my students to choose colors that speak to them, and I want to encourage that individuality throughout my classes. In my newest class which will be offered at Icreateflix  (which is a new website one of my former students created with her team of creative partners) is called “Funky LittleCityscapes”.  It may not be a city scape you create and it may not be little (see I’m allowing for some flexibility there), but it will definitely be funky!  The project that will be highlighted is a whimsical collection of houses, buildings, stores, anything your heart desires painted with acrylics on canvas.  I will be teaching the students about building layers, using gel mediums and other mixed media  techniques to create rich, fun compositions. We will also discuss color and color combinations as that seems to be a question I get over and over again.  As the project comes together, I will also give many tips throughout the class on how to embellish and fine tune your compositions.   This class will begin July 12th and be open ended for 12 months (perhaps longer,  but to ensure you have the longest access to the class as possible, registration is open now . Your subscription will start on the day the class opens.   This class will also include a full paint along so in addition to seeing all the step outs and working together on a piece, I will also do one from start to finish.  I hope to see some you and some of your readers in class, it’s going to be a lot of fun!!

TDG: Thank you so much for participating in this interview, Jodi Ohl.  I am looking forward to the start of the next class.

 Thank you Tammy for having me, it’s been a lot of fun chatting with you. I appreciate everyone stopping by and ‘hanging’ out with us today as well!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Hibiscus" Twinks on Yupo

"Hibiscus" Twinkling H2O's on Yupo
I recently took Twinks on Yupo a course by Jodi Ohl. I learned about using the amazing substrate of Yupo paper.  Jodi shares many tips and tricks in the class.
For this piece, I mixed together Golden's Tar Gel and Self Leveling Gel and put it in a small bottle that I was able to "draw" the main shape of the hibiscus with.  After that layer was dry, I painted the page using Twinkling H2O watercolor paints which are made by Luminarte.  When the paint layers were completely dry I used a damp paper towel and the Sea Foam Stencil from the Water Series and wiped away the paint leaving the circles in the background of the piece.    Finally, I used my Faber-Castell Pitt Pen: Artist Four-Pen Set and doodled all around the piece.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Fantasy Forest" 18 x 24 Intuitive Painting

"Fantasy Forest" Intuitive Painting by Tammy Dial Gray
This week I played with layers and layers and feelings that bubbled to the surface.  I thought about connectivity and abundance, history and ecology and thought deeply about how these ideas have been represented in animated forest scenes such as the movies Avatar and The Secret of Kells.  This painting is what developed from those reflections.

Here is a more detailed shot:
Close Up of "Fantasy Forest" an intuitive painting by Tammy Dial Gray

You can read more about this piece here

Friday, May 17, 2013

"His Gift" Acrylic Abstract on Canvas

"His Gift" Acrylic on Canvas Abstract Art
I recently purchased a package of 20 canvases.  I have never had this many blank canvases at one time.  They only thing I had in mind when I bought them was that they would be colorful, textural and meaningful.  Most of the art I purchase is abstract spiritual art.  So, I asked myself why I wasn't creating more art along those lines.  This is what resulted.  The first canvas out of a box of 20.

Currently, it is adding brilliant color to my home and it will be in a show on the 28th.  However, it is available if you would like to have this piece in your home.

Thank you for stopping by!