Discovering Kale

December 29, 2013

Curly kale

Curly kale

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Kale for breakfast, sauteed with a little onion and mushrooms -- a nest for a fried egg.

Kale for breakfast, sautéed with a little onion and mushrooms — a nest for a fried egg

Until this winter, I’ve never cooked with kale.  So discovering how much I like it feels like a new adventure in eating.  I am in the honeymoon stage, singing its praises like a new convert.  Have you been saved?

It turns out that kale is one of those superfoods you should be incorporating into your diet for healthy living.  An article in the May 2013 issue of the AARP Magazine touts its benefits:  “Rich in vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting, kale also contains lutein, a nutrient that reduces the risk of cataracts and other eye disorders.  One serving of cooked kale has nearly triple the amount of lutein that a serving of raw spinach has.”

So good and good for you, too.

Watercolor sketch of kale leaf

Watercolor sketch of kale leaf

 

 

 

 

 

Central Park with path, benches and lamps

Central Park with path, benches and lamps

Central Park in autumn left me with feelings of nostalgia and romance.  I found that the special effects manipulations on my Photo Express iPad app helped to evoke these soft and elegiac feelings better than the unedited photos.  For example, consider these three versions of the above photo:

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Which one do you like best?  It’s hard to choose, isn’t it?

I did get carried away with the dramatic, artsy manipulations of my photos from Central Park.  I hope you like the kaleidoscope of colors and images as much as I do.

The Mall

The Mall

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Watercolor sketch of oak leaves and acorns from the trees lining the reservoir at Central Park

Watercolor sketch of oak leaves and acorns from the trees lining the reservoir at Central Park

 

 

Cascading fullness of ginkgo leaves

Cascading fullness of ginkgo leaves

The sidewalks of New York’s East Village are lined with ginkgo trees which add a bright and welcome yellow to the street scenes there.  I’d never seen such large, mature ginkgo trees.  The ones I’ve seen in the parking strips of Seattle streets are spindly in comparison.  A label on a tree near Gramercy Park identified these ginkgos as “Maidenhair” trees.  I guess the cascading leaves do put me in mind of curly locks and tresses of fairy tale maidens.

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It was uncanny how I kept encountering ginkgo trees and leaves on this visit to NYC.  I saw ginkgo leaves carved into a pillar at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens . . .

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. . . and a miniature, groomed ginkgo in the bonsai exhibit there.

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And then when I wandered through the “Beyond Love: The Robert Indiana Retrospective” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, I saw that he created a piece of ginkgo art:

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So it’s probably no wonder that all of these encounters inspired me to render my own watercolor sketch of some ginkgo leaves.

My watercolor sketch of gingko leaves from the trees in the East Village

My watercolor sketch of ginkgo leaves from the trees in the East Village

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden

New York’s train/subway system makes it so easy to get around.  I took the No. 2 train to the stop at the Brooklyn Museum Station, which was just a few yards from the Eastern Parkway entrance to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.  The garden was a green oasis of quiet on a November day, such a contrast to the busy city streets.  Some trees still held on to their colorful fall foliage, and I couldn’t help but tuck away a few fallen leaves to take back to the apartment and use as models for more watercolor sketches.  I swear I am like a squirrel driven to forage before winter!  (I had to make sure I removed my stash of leaves and acorns from the apartment before I left, or my niece would have wondered if a squirrel had come in through the windows while she was away.)

The well-ordered gardens and paths, conservatories, pools, and arbors provided restful vistas for the eyes.  Lots of photo opportunities here.

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Cut-leaf beech

Cut-leaf beech

London plane tree

London plane tree

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In the Steinhardt Conservatory

In the Steinhardt Conservatory

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From the special bonsai exhibit

From the special bonsai exhibit

“When I design each individual tree, I try to communicate the spirit of that tree and, hopefully, evoke the imagery of a special, natural environment.”
–Curator of the Bonsai Exhibit, Julian Velasco

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Watercolor sketch of scarlet oak and ginkgo leaves

Watercolor sketch of scarlet oak and ginkgo leaves

Watercolor sketch of front and back of fallen leaf

Watercolor sketch of front and back of fallen leaf

Watercolor sketch of oak leaves of NYC

Watercolor sketch of oak leaves of NYC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2013

November 28, 2013

Watercolor sketch of Thanksgiving greetings

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
— Author Unknown

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

NYC Vignettes: The Cloisters

November 27, 2013

Effigies in the Gothic Chapel Glass Gallery, The Cloisters

Effigies in the Gothic Chapel Glass Gallery, The Cloisters

The first time I visited NYC with my husband, we simply ran out of time before we had a chance to trek north to The Cloisters, a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This time one of my top priorities was to remedy that oversight.   I took the subway train to the 190th Street Station and disembarked to face a lovely 10- or 15-minute walk through the grounds, which overlook the Hudson River, to the Cloisters Museum entrance.

The Cloisters' grounds

The Cloisters’ grounds

The Cloisters Museum entrance

The Cloisters Museum entrance

The  Cloisters is a collection of medieval art and architecture.  The various cloister walks make you feel as if you were back in a medieval monastery or nunnery.  I loved the stained glass windows and their reflections, the massive and somber stone walls, the unicorn tapestries and madonna statues.

One of the pillared cloisters

One of the pillared cloisters

Langon Chapel

Langon Chapel

Stained glass reflections

Stained glass reflections

Another of the cloisters

Another of the cloisters

And as stunning as the art and architecture was, the most impressive part of my visit was a sound installation in the Fuentiduena Chapel.  This celebration of sacred music, called The Forty Part Motet by Janet Cardiff, featured the Choir of England’s Salisbury Cathedral.  Each voice was recorded separately and then played back through 40 speakers placed in a oval-shape.  The music, a blend of sounds, resounded and resonated in the small chapel.  I had first read about this special sound exhibition in Gwarlingo, a blog I follow.  The way she describes her experience listening to Cardiff’s work inspired me to make a special effort to include The Cloisters on my NYC itinerary.  That post also includes a link to the music, and I urge you to take 10 minutes or so to listen to the full cycle.  The music is the best part of today’s post, I assure you!

Janet Cardiff's The Forty Part Motet

Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet

I did manage to do a little sketching on this trip, and here is my work from The Cloisters:

Kneeling Virgin, The Cloisters

Kneeling Virgin, The Cloisters

On-site pencil sketch, The Cloisters

On-site pencil sketch, The Cloisters

Watercolor sketch of the Kneeling Virgin

Watercolor sketch of the Kneeling Virgin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without Regret

November 16, 2013

Watercolor sketch of fallen maple leaves

Watercolor sketch of fallen maple leaves

“When I rise up
let me rise up joyful
like a bird.

When I fall
let me fall without regret
like a leaf.”
     — Wendell Berry, from “Prayers and Sayings of the Made Farmer”