Apple Twist


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I gave up for a bit on another lemon painting I’ve been working on. It was trying to kill me. It was pouring lemon juice on my wounds. So I switched over to painting an apple. And I loooooove this one. It’s the apple of my eye.

Apple Twist.JPG

Apple Twist 12″ x 12″ oil on board

This particular apple became the feature ingredient in apple pancakes later that day. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Nothing says fall like apple pancakes.

Original is available for sale here. Prints and swag and lovely schtuffs and thingsies here and here.


Cassie Bustamante’s Review


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This whole real estate thing is still madness, but I’ve had some time to paint and will hopefully be posting a new painting soon. Distraction is good right now, between the stress of daily life and the trauma we’re feeling as a nation following the shooting in Vegas. If any of you are in need of a little distraction, too, here are some book reviews Cassie Bustamante posted, including one of my book, Fractured Memories. And while you’re there, look around the rest of her blog. She’s got great decorating ideas and a project gallery.

Know a caregiver, or someone with dementia, or someone who knows someone with dementia, or someone who knows someone who knows someone else who’s a caregiver? Or heck, do you know a person? Well, you should tell them about my book, Fractured Memories: Because Demented People Need Love, Too. Part memoir and part coffee table art book, I recount my family’s heartbreaking and hilarious journey through my father’s dementia. Available to purchase here (this is my favorite way if you live in the U.S.), here or here if you’d rather get the eBook than a print copy, and here (especially if you want a hard cover copy).

Book cover 1

Don’t Let Your Lemons Get In A Twist


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Whoooooo, it has been a week, y’all. A serious week. I got my lazy ass in gear and worked out on Monday (by which I mean that I did zumba with no music with my friend in her living room), and then looked at some commercial real estate. I had lunch with a friend that I hadn’t seen in almost a year, and then looked at more commercial real estate on Tuesday. Wednesday, I drove over to a little nothing town in the middle on NC to test-ride a couple horses with my mom (who is looking to buy for herself), then she and S and I spent the night in Winston-Salem, my old stomping grounds. Who’s a giant ball of pain now? This girl!!! But it was totally worth it because I haven’t gotten to horseback ride in about 6 years, and, assuming the horse passes the vet check, we found my mom a new buddy. On Thursday, we went to a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, then visited my paintings on the Wake Forest University campus, had a little lunch, and came back home. And then spent the rest of the evening discussing a game plan regarding the commercial real estate we looked at on Tuesday. Really, we’ve been doing pretty much nothing but discussing real estate for the last month or so. And I am worn out. This brain? It’s actually just a matzo ball by now. Or maybe a dumpling. Either way, it’s soft and soupy and not much of a thinker. I needed a break.

So I spent the day painting, then napping, then painting, then napping, then painting some more. Turns out, painting actually requires thought, damnit. Who knew? It’s exhausting. But I was able to listen to podcasts while I painted and finally not think about real estate for a minute and a half. Ahhhhhhhhh. And now, I present the fruits of my labor:

Lemon Twist I

Lemon Twist I 5″ x 5″ oil on canvas

Get it?!! Fruits of my labor? Admit it, you kinda sorta secretly liked that pun, didn’t you? Anyway, this is actually one of 2 lemon paintings I worked on today. Hopefully the other, which is significantly larger, will be done in the next week or so. If you like this one, you can buy it on my website at or get prints or other fun thingsies here and here.

And one more thing: today would have been my parents’ anniversary. They need to come up with a way of acknowledging occasions like this, when it’s no longer happy. Saying “Happy Anniversary,” seems inappropriate now that my dad is dead, but I still want to let my mom know that I’m thinking of her, and them, and marking this day in some way. So maybe we need to come up with a phrase like, “Marking Anniversary,” or “Acknowledging Anniversary,” or “Nostalgic Anniversary,” or “I Really Love You And Know This Day Might Be Hard But I’m Still Kinda Sorta Celebrating Your Marriage.” Or something. So Mom, when you read this, pick which ever of those phrases you like best. Love you.

Low Hanging Apple


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Remember how I had a dream that I did a series of paintings and called them “Low Hanging Fruit” and then, instead of being a normal human, I got up and sketched several? Well, here’s the second one, fresh off the easel.

Low Hanging Apple.JPG

Low Hanging Apple 6″ x 6″ oil on board 


The original is for sale here, and you can get prints and things here.

Some Things Don’t Change


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So, um, yeah. I turned *cough* 40 today. Yeah. Not sure how I feel about that. But then, I realize not much has changed since my first birthday. Sure, I’m a little less blonde,  and my hair’s a little longer. I weigh a little more. But my math skills are probably comparable. My dexterity is slightly better when it comes to painting, but not when it comes to just about anything else. My taste in alcohol has become moderately more refined. But some things really don’t change. I mean, cake is still cake:

Emilys first birthday cake schmeer

birthday frosting corrected 2

Okay, so my photoshop skills may need some work (photoshop didn’t exist when I was born!!!), but frosting still reigns supreme. Yes, that is real frosting and yes, it was delicious. Thank you, Frosting, for 40 wonderful years. Here’s to 40 more.

Trumpet in Red


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I finally managed to organize my studio enough to paint again. It still has a ways to go as I try to find places to store all the crap I brought home when we closed the paint and sip studio, but at least there’s enough table top/easel space to do a little arting. And since it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I thought I’d make today’s post about “arrrrrrrrrrrt.” You’re welcome for that.

I’ve been working on this painting for over a year, and by “working on this painting,” I mostly mean it’s been glaring at me accusingly for long stretches of time while I avoid making eye contact with it. It’s the largest piece I’ve done that is this detailed (and at 16″ x 20″ it’s not even that big, but still), and it was not a happy process for me. Too many straight lines and confusing reflections. Too much thinking required. But I finally took a couple days and powered through and finished the asshole. And now we’re besties. It’s been sitting happily on my easel for a couple days drying and cooing at me and telling me how grateful it is that I finished it.

Trumpet in Red_compressed

Trumpet in Red 16″ x 20″ oil on board 

But all that cooing is starting to get on my nerves ever so slightly. So maybe someone should buy it, like, right now. You can do so here. You can also get prints and other fun stuff here and here.

Come Rain or Come Shine or Come Insecurity


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I’m sad, guys. I don’t know why I’m sad now. I just know that I’m grieving my dad HARD right now. I know grief comes in waves. I think partly that this is because I’m in a period of real transition now that I’ve closed the paint and sip studio and things have stalled with the next adventure. Insecurity in my life isn’t helping. I think it’s also because it’s the time of year that I tend to get a depression flare. It happens just about every year around this time: my depression kicks it up a notch and my brain starts telling me I’m a giant loser and a miserable person who makes terrible, cowardly choices, and the future is very, very bleak. Again, insecurity in my life isn’t helping.

I’ve been having nightmares about my dad again. I say “nightmares,” but they’re not really scary – just really, really sad. I’ve woken up crying several times. And my dreams always share one feature: he always has dementia. He’ll be in different stages, but he’s never just him. In a dream a couple days ago, I was dancing to “Come Rain or Come Shine” with him, and for a split second, he was dancing and interacting with me like he was normal and healthy, and I thought, “This is a dream, but it’s a fantastic dream. I’ve got to keep this going.” I very rarely am aware that I’m  dreaming, but I knew it this time and I was desperate for it to continue. And then, in an instant, he changed and I kept grabbing his arms and trying to force him and my dream to come back. I woke up so bloody angry that I couldn’t even remember him as my fully functioning father in a dream. Why can’t I think of him that way? Why is it always him in some stage of dementia?

Two nights ago, I had a flashback. I was feeling really tired and a little nauseated and lay down, and suddenly I was convinced that I was crumpled up, crying, in the hallway outside of the room where my dad was dying. I could hear the oxygen machine going and smell the nursing home stink. I could feel the carpet underneath me and the wallpaper at my back. PTSD, anyone? Ugh. I just want to forget those final three, pain-filled days.

So yeah, it’s been a hard couple weeks. And Wednesday is my 40th birthday. How can I celebrate it without including my dad? How can he not be here for it? He’s supposed to be here for it. I miss him so damn much all the damn time.

But there’s nothing I can do about it. And since I’m in a depressive cycle, I need to focus on the good things. I’ll share one with you.  This is the pit I discovered when I cut open an avocado for lunch today:

avocado pit

How cool is that? It looks like a tree. Or Audrey II (there was that total eclipse of the sun a little while back…). Or brains. There is an excellent possibility that I chased the cats around the house with it chanting, “braaaaaaaains.” I may have also tried to chase S around the house with it and he may have taken it from me and thrown it out when I wouldn’t stop. It may also have attracted fruit flies and I may also being currently trying to get them drunk/kill them on cheap white wine and dish soap. Hey, it’s not the worst way to go.

Life goes on, come rain or come shine.

There’s a Fungus Among Us


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I was hoping to have exciting news to tell you all today about our next big adventure, but it looks like things have stalled. So I’m going to hold off on telling you about it and instead just say that I will probably be bald in the near future as all the stress is causing me to tear my hair out. And my head is kinda lumpy, so I don’t expect it to be a good look on me. Send bourbon posthaste.

In the mean time, I wanted to tell you about smut. Apparently, smut is edible, y’all. Confused? Well, let me elucidate*.

I’m talking about corn. And smut. Specifically, corn smut.  That, apparently, is a thing. Wanna know how I know? We have it at the haunt. Instead of a corn maze, we have a smut maze. And it is creeeeeeeepy! This is what I mean:

Revolting, right? Revolting and edible – like, delicacy edible. It’s called Huitlacoche. In Mexico, it’s considered to be gourmet, like truffles: American farmers have tried everything to eradicate it, but they really should have been harvesting it and selling it at top dollar to Mexican restaurants.

Generally, I’m not very adventurous when it comes to my food, but I figure, if I can eat Francy Feast (that’s what I call fancy French cuisine like snails), I can eat what is, essentially, just a mushroom growing on some corn. I found out a little late that this stuff could be eaten, so I have less to harvest than I would have a couple weeks ago, but that didn’t stop me from forcing the bile back down in my throat as I picked the exploding gray kernels, then gleefully running around with a plastic bag of my pickings singing, “I’ve got a bag of smut! I’ve got a bag of smut!” as though I was Jack Sparrow with a jar of dirt. The neighbors may be worried.

I’m not a cook, so I’ve frozen my bag o’ smut and will be saving it for my friend (who made the mistake of telling me about huitlacoche in the first place) to cook up into something yummy for me when I see him in November. It’s sitting in the bottom of my freezer right now, looking like bag of horrific skin growths. I have to admit that I’m not overly excited at what it’ll taste like, but I reaaaaaaally want to be able to say that I’ve eaten a bag of smut.

I’ll do my best to remember to post about what smut tastes like when the time comes. Until then, seriously, send bourbon. The stress of everything is killing me.

* I can’t hear the word “elucidate” without thinking of this, which cheers me up, so I’ll be playing it on repeat for the forseeable future. My cats approve.

Dogwood Mural


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I started working on a privately commissioned mural last spring, but had to quit for the summer because of the rain and the heat. This weekend, I was finally able to finish it up. I started by drawing it on in chalk, then filling everything in in white. Then it was just a matter of adding color. I used an exterior enamel paint since it’ll be exposed to the elements. Each panel took about 2-3 hours, but it turned out well and I’m happy with it. And even more importantly, the owner is happy with it!

dogwood fence 3

Here you can see some of the chalk lines and the first layer of white, as well as the pink on a few flowers.

dogwood fence 2dogwood fence 1

Now I just have to polyurethane the hell out of it to preserve it!