To learn more about Grace & Julian, purchase their music, watch other videos, or find out about future live engagements visit: www.gracejulian.com
April 30, 2009
To learn more about Grace & Julian, purchase their music, watch other videos, or find out about future live engagements visit: www.gracejulian.com
April 29, 2009
SO. I was feeling good and sorry for myself the other day, when I remembered a conversation I had recently with a new friend. He told me that he kept a "gratitude journal", which I thought was super cool because I'd never met anyone[besides myself] who kept one. It's a concept that I read about in one of my favorite *books a few years ago. I have found that a gratitude journal is a wonderful tool [when used often] to keep score of my multitude of blessings, and occasionally"check my reality" when need be. Reflecting back on that conversation, I tried to remember the last time I'd written in my journal...and I couldn't.
Hell, I wasn't even sure where it was.
I guess it was time to check my reality.
So here's how it works: When you take the time to focus on and write down the things that you're grateful for, your blessings out-weigh your burdens. No, it's not a psychology ploy designed to trick you into feeling better about your life. It's a shift of perceptive energy, which in turn becomes reflective energy. In other words, when you focus on gratitude, your blessings multiply exponentially. Trust me, it works. In the morning or before bed, it doesn't matter.
Write daily, weekly, or whenever you feel like it. Keep in mind that it's just as important [if not more so] to remember your gratitude when things are ducky as when they're sucky! Start with a list of 25 things. Sounds like allot? It won't be. In fact I guarantee you that once you get started, you'll be able to think of more than 25...
Here were mine for today:
I woke up rested, in my comfy bed
I had half & half in my coffee
I have safe drinking water on my tap
My cat loves me
My legs and arms work
I can work
I have food in my pantry
The bus came quickly today, when I needed it to
The little girl on the bus who made me smile REALLY big
I got to talk to my sister on the phone
I've quit smoking, and am feeling and looking better
Barbra Streisand's 2006 Concert is finally on DVD
My family is healthy
I'm going to be a great uncle again
Going bald isn't so bad when you look good in hats
I ate bacon twice today
I'm wearing my favorite, comfy pajamas
My allergies aren't bad
This blog adventure
Will keeping a gratitude journal make you feel like sunshine a roses all day? No. Will it make your problems, sorrows, and stresses disappear? Hardly. It will however give you a better perspective, and a much sweeter vantage point. And for that, I am grateful as well.
April 28, 2009
You know, it's kinda funny. The language used here about bees and honey has from conception- day forward, always been 100% metaphoric. And rather clever, don't you think? That being said, I never dreamed I'd be writing pieces about actual bees OR honey...
In case you haven't heard the buzz, there's a devastating problem with the honey bees. Entire colonies are dying off. Do you know what happens when there aren't bees to pollinate? The ENTIRE food chain[which ends with us by the way] is thrown off its delicate axis. It's yet another reminder that there's no more time to sit around and wait for the environment to fix itself. If you think that there are allot of hungry people in the world now, just ponder for a moment what will happen globally if we don't figure out a way to help the honey bee. It blows my mind that this isn't one of the most talked about issues facing the world today. Perhaps the government controlled media would prefer us not to panic? You needn't depend on mainstream news to inform you of the important issues that challenge the world you live in. Just do your homework, the truth is out there. With our daily, personal struggles that's not always easy to do.
That's probably something that most of us have been very complacent about, isn't it?
The Killer Bees have made it our goal to "share the good stuff" with you by "pollinating information". Now I'd like you to meet some new friends of mine who are trying to make a difference. Read on, then see what you might be able to do to help THE REAL BEES keep on pollinating. Without them, our future is in peril.
Raise your hand if you enjoy any of the following: almonds, apples, oranges, peaches, pumpkins, sunflowers, blueberries, avocados, and soybeans. Delicious, right?You can thank honey bees for that long list of goodness, as these hard working insects are responsible for pollinating more 100 crops nationwide- in other words, $15 billion worth of U.S. agriculture.
Sadly, in recent years, beekeepers have lost more than one-third of their bees to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder[CCD], in which bees mysteriously abandon their hives and die. Pesticides, viruses, poor nutrition, and cell phone signals are often cited as culprits; however, the exact cause of CCD remains uncertain. Experts agree additional research is integral to the preservation of honey bees.
To this end, our goal for the entire month of April is to raise awareness of the plight of the honey bees. How, you ask? To start, our store windows and displays will celebrate all things bee- from amber-filled honey jars to gigantic hive and honeycomb formations made from recycled materials. Secondly, we have partnered with socially responsible clothing company EDUN in the design of two bee tees, made of 100% organic cotton. Lastly, and most significantly, we will make a generous donation to the Department of Entomology at Penn State University, a leader in honey bee and sustainable pollination research. Pretty sweet, eh?
For more information visit www.helpthehoneybees.com
When I spoke with Petra on the phone the other night, I found her to be perfectly delightful with a wonderfully wry sense of humor. Talking about the various farmer's markets in the area made me ripe with anticipation for the buttery Summer days just around the corner. The days when I'll wander around the farmer's market waiting for some gorgeous, straight off the truck hunk of produce to shout out "Michael, take me home for supper"! I can add a honey tasting with my new Honey Lady to my short list of must-do Summer adventures!
MPM: Let's start with the tasty part! How is the honey that you produce different from most store bought honey?
PA: What you generally find in the store is bottled and distributed by a packer. The packer buys the lightest honey from as many sources as possible and blends them all together. Generally the lighter honeys are not only the sweetest, but also, to my taste, the most bland. Mixing it all together ensures a certain uniformity. Right before bottling, the honey is heated briefly to 170 deg F to pasteurize it. Pasteurization will extend shelf life by keeping the honey from granulating as quickly. Unfortunately, the beneficial pollen is also destroyed in the process.
We have chosen to keep the different varietal separate and sell them based on their floral source - to embrace the differences. Right now we offer a really light clover thistle, black locust, black raspberry and buckwheat. When you sample these honeys side by side, you can really taste the differences. The clover thistle is very sweet. The black locust has an herbal undertone that makes it wonderful for teas, the black raspberry (my favorite!) is a bolder honey with a hint of fruit and then there is buckwheat, which I put in a category all it own. It tastes more like molasses than honey.
MPM: As the "mouthpiece" for the Wisconsin Honey Cooperative, what's the word you want to get out?
PA: Honey is yummy! Buy local. Buy as direct as possible. Know where your food comes from and how it is handled.
MPM: What's your take on CCD, and what do you believe can be done to reverse it's effects?
PA: Fact: They have found a virus that could be causing the collapse. Fact: they discovered that mites were the means for spreading the virus. So there is something out there that is causing hive to collapse. But I think there is more to it than that. I see the bees like our canaries in the coal mine. The bees are at the front line of our farming practices. We spread chemicals to keep weeds in check (which bees bring back to the hive). We genetically modify our crops to keep them pest free (why do they fly over hybridized buckwheat fields but "feast" on the non-hybridized buckwheat?). We load them up on trucks and haul them cross country to pollinate our almond groves, allowing them to "feast" on a mono-floral food source (imagine if you ate only broccoli for 3 weeks straight!). A lot of commercial beekeepers also take ALL the honey and then feed them high fructose corn syrup (probably one of the most genetically modified crops out there).
We have chosen to over-winter our bees here in Wisconsin. We have also chosen to keep some honey in reserve to get them through the winter. This is not the easiest nor the most cost effective way of doing things, but I believe it is best for the bees.
MPM: So what's the scoop on genetically engineered bees?
PA: Most of the honey bees out there have been hybridized. They figured out that larger bees make more honey. They have also bred them to be more docile. Unfortunately, larger bees also have a longer time in the larval stage which makes them much more susceptible to mites. Although mites have been around a long time, they have gotten worse as the bees have gotten bigger. There is a movement to regress bees back down to a smaller size to make them more mite resistant.
MPM: If I come down to the farmers market this summer, will Petra give Michael an educational honey tasting?
PA: Everyone that stops at our stall this Summer will have the opportunity to taste every variety we have- available side by side. Mention this blog, and I'll give you a deal on your next honey purchase!
MPM: Our readers thank you in advance Petra!
For more information on Petra's LUSCIOUS HONEY products, or the Wisconsin Honey Cooperative, you can use the this link: www.luscioushoney.com
April 25, 2009
April 19, 2009
I took a little time the other day to "review" all the contents of this blog since it's official launch, back in January of this year. Gee, I sure talk about ART allot! But I believe ART is important.
In a world that's so technology driven, where we communicate more often with our fingers than our voices... it's important to remember that ART mirrors the human condition. In all its forms, ART inspires, conjures, beguiles, and taps our emotions.
It reminds us of who we are, not what we do....
It's time for the Spring Westside Artwalk! So grab your friends, and/or your children and head down to West Vliet Street [in Milwaukee] AND the historic Village of Wauwatosa THIS COMING WEEKEND and explore the diverse art galleries, unique shops, restaurants, and live entertainment. Have fun, and tell 'em The Killer Bees sent you!
By the way, I'll have some of my paintings up at "Camp Studio"[limited engagement]:
7605 Harwood Avenue , in the Village....
Here's what you need to know:
FRIDAY APRIL 24th 5pm-9pm
SATURDAY APRIL 25th 10am-4pm
For more Westside Artwalk details, you can click on the following links:
A ltitle FYI. One of the coolest things about doing this blog is getting the chance to expose not only the talented people I meet, but also some friends of mine I think you should know!
Like these shopkeepers participating in the Westside Artwalk....
April 18, 2009
5211 West North Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53208
Hours of Operation: Wed-Fri 1-5 and Saturdays 10-5
I love quirky places like Samara Studios. The idea that one space can be so multi-functional, multi-faceted, intrigues the hell out of me. This well merchandised little gem on North Avenue, is by no accident a hybrid, but is the brainchild of owners: Scott Meier, Stewart Dempsey, and Maribeth Celek.
Coinciding with the Westside Artwalk is their 2nd Annual 100 for $100 event, where they'll offer more than 100 works of art , each priced at $100 or less. Enjoy complimentary refreshments on Friday evening!
Horticulturist, painter, and Samara Studios co-creator Stewart Dempsey!
57606-08 West Vliet Street
Hours of Operation: Tu, Th, Fri 12-5 / Wed 12-5 / Sat 9-5 / Sun 12-3
Eventually, Sue was able to expand into the space I once occupied, and can now offer you even more of her exciting mix of photography, mixed-media sculpture, ceramics and pottery, paintings, artisan jewelery and ladies accessories!
For more information on Art & Soul Gallery, as well as information on up-coming yoga class sessions, special seminars and events, visit their website by CLICKING HERE: www.artsoul-gallery.com
April 17, 2009
April 11, 2009
But when Armando Pedroso heard THE VOICE it was so LOUD, so CLEAR, he had no choice but to LISTEN. Not that he didn't try to resist it at first....
Like so many others, he had been laid off from an 18 year corporate sales position in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Disheartened, disillusioned, and unsure of how he was going to support himself, he heard THE VOICE. It said PAINT.
Clearly this voice was crazy. Forget the formalities of training, he'd never even had the inclination to paint! But he heard it again. PAINT.
It takes a rather scary leap of faith to begin a personal transformation, but making a professional one usually requires a cannon. Like believing you may have just heard the voice of GOD.
Time and unemployment were running out. So he decided to listen closer...
He came up with a clever hand-crafted "closing gift" that could be sold to real estate agents to give to their clients. Literally "door knocking" on foot, agency to agency he went. The response was not only warm and ecstatic, but the the sales were brisk. Suddenly, there was money to pay the bills and buy groceries. Perhaps that voice wasn't so crazy after all. And perhaps by making that true leap of faith he had discovered his true calling. And discovered grace.
As they say, the rest is history. When I visited Armando at the studio he shares with fellow painter and friend Darren Jones the other day, the first thing I noticed was the swing. Bolted to the concrete ceiling ,with a wide, weathered-finish wood seat. He said people ask him all the time, "why?" His response? "Because I always wanted one."
It's presence immediately establishes a sense of play, and freedom. The kind of freedom you can only know when you allow yourself to have it. Now that I'm thinking about it, I really wish I'd taken it for a spin...
SO! The next time YOU hear a voice, listen carefully. Then locate the most structurally sound place on your ceiling, and hang YOUR swing!
MPM: Going from a corporate sales career to full time self-employed artist has surely changed your routines and lifestyle. What's a day in the life of Armando Pedroso like?
AP: Well, it's just a lot of Fun. Now I know that I am in control of my days, life, and career which is a wonderful way to wake up and start the day. Since I had 18 years of the corporate "7am to 5pm" time schedule ingrained into my being, I still get up at 6am, get a cup of coffee, leisurely do some spiritual readings, mediation and watch the sunrise. This is a calm, drastic and welcome ritual from the awful panic of what to wear, traffic, dreading long meetings and wondering what kind of drama will be going down in the office! From there it is off to the gym for an hour to move from the spiritual realm into the physical where I get the blood flowing and focus strictly on that hour as my time for my body...I really believe that to have a healthy life, one needs for attend to the mind, body, and most important to me the soul. After the gym, it's off the the art studio where I feed my soul by sitting on the "old school style rope swing" I built, that's hanging from the studio ceiling ,and quietly sit and wonder where the energy of the day wants to lead me... as it seems there is a different creative force that wants to express itself daily. I try never to force a specific style out of me when I paint, I create moment to moment, with no expectations. I think if you don't have any expectations and just paint you will never be disappointed at the end of the day because you paint/express what you had to say for that day.
After the studio, its a quiet 9 minute drive home...lol, dinner with friends, some more reading, art paperwork etc. I tend to avoid the television and news as the negative energy it breeds has a huge influence over how one views the world, and themselves. I choose to seek, and give my time to achieving the positive and simple truths of life.
MPM: Your paintings are wonderfully inspirational, but where do your inspirations come from?
AP: That's probably the most asked question I get from people and is to me the hardest question to answer. Inspiration is a flash in moment. An inner voice that says "look at this object or shape", "Did you notice this, did you see that", "That would be fun to try and play with"....and my favorite voice that says "What if you tried"... Everyone has that small voice inside of themselves that leads and guides them, the problem is everyone is so busy worrying about the next moment, or bill, or what to watch on TV or whatever life throws in their path that they ignore the voice that says "Turn left, not right" so, you turn right and there is a truck blocking the street, the voice that says "I 'd love to be a florist, painter, run a marathon, sky dive, travel, read....etc." but they let it pass without taking just a moment to say and give attention to that "what if you tried" calling. I honestly believe that if everyone took the risk and had the faith in themselves to listen and act on that inner voice that says "this is what Id love to do", God would open such amazing doors of opportunity at such lightning speed that you would never question the voice of Inspiration again. So to me, Inspiration is just Listening to your soul speak.
MPM: Your new "Graffiti" series feels like it has more deliberate intent than I've seen in your work before.
AP: Yes, I have a ton of symbolism in my works with all the different textures and materials. In previous works I've had to explain to the viewer where I was going in the painting. In all my works I love to express how Choices, Faith, Trust, Self, Why, Dream, Belief, Serendipity, Flow, Purpose are all in our control. I want my art to express hope and belief in oneself and ones potential and that everything happens for our best interest even if we don't see or understand it.
In the "Graffiti" work I am engaging/leading the viewer more directly through these "words" as a starting point for them to reflect on what those words, textures and materials mean in their lives. How can the words/painting Inspire them to be who they really are and not fear the journey on how to get there.
MPM: I love what you're doing over at Children's Hospital. Would you tell our readers a little more about it?
AP: Children's Memorial Hospital is an interesting story, I first tried to volunteer there years ago after my father passed away, and they felt it was the wrong time for me to volunteer so I never did it. Then in 2002, I was accepted into the "One of Kind Art Show" in Chicago and they asked me if I would teach art at Children's Hospital as part of their community outreach program. I told them I would love to and then told them about being rejected years before...and well, now I am at Children's on regular basis playing and teaching the kids irregular art....On Halloween for example the kids painted all over my clothes pumpkins, ghosts....whatever they wanted, the joy in their faces doing something they thought they "should not be doing" like painting on clothes on a real person was such a joy for them I think I cried!
MPM: You're a self-taught artist, and seem pretty fearless in your experimentation with materials and mediums. Any words of wisdom for anyone who's been wanting to express their inner artist, but doesn't know where to start?
AP: Everything and anything is and can be a piece of art. Life is art and art is life. Think outside of the everyday use of a material or object...fear not! I use everything from roofing tar, plaster, found metals, spray paint, plumbing material, coppers, aluminum's, screen, printed store clothes bags, wires, bolts....the list goes on and on. Art is fun, art is made without thought or reason...it is just in how you see and feel something. It is not complex or difficult if you just let go and DON'T judge yourself ever. Your art is you, no one else, no one is or ever will be you, see life the way you see it or express itself like you will. Embrace art in all its forms and simplicity....it is all around you all the time in everyday objects and experiences, just listen and act on that "Inspirational" voice inside yourself and listen no one else!
April 10, 2009
5225 North Clark Street
Chicago, Illinois 60640
1842 North Damen
Chicago, Illinois 60647
I'm still hooked on them....
I'm thrilled to announce that 4 years later, not only has White Attic thrived in tough economic times, but Terry opened his 2nd location in Bucktown back last November. It's not at all surprising to me though. Terry has a keen eye for mixing the classics in a FRESH way, and is always on top , if not ahead of color trends. That being said, White Attic isn't trendy. It's simply full of smart and fabulous furnishings and accessories. It's always been his goal to to offer affordable pieces that will make your house a home.
And success couldn't have found a nicer guy.
The Lamp Bar was conceived so that his customers could create their own "perfect lamp". There are 17 ceramic bases, available in 30 different colors, 5 shade sizes, and close to 100 fabric shade options. Want a red lamp? A blue lamp with a chocolate shade? They can do that for you! Each lamp is manufactured in the U.S.A. and made to order in approximately 8 weeks. Pricing includes the base and the shade, all custom options, and shipping anywhere in the country.
White Attic offers refinished vintage furniture from the early 1900's to the 1960's. Each piece is hand-selected by Terry, and refinished by the team using low VOC paints and varnishes. Colors are updated seasonally.
Through the years the design concept of "re-inventing" vintage furniture has evolved to include painted furniture as well as naturally finished wood pieces. In both stores you'll find some pieces completely painted, some partially painted, and some with all natural finishes.
April 9, 2009
What if I gave you 3 reasonable arguments to squelch those 3 most common fears about saturated color? Well, that's just the kind of guy I am...
**2 shots of my Master bedroom design for the 2006 Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse.
Note that ceiling isn't white. We'll get to that in another installment....
With age and time people grow taller, then smaller, but a room can't shrink. The most important thing to remember when painting ANY room a saturated color is LIGHT. Dark colors absorb light, so ask yourself; How much natural light does the room get during the day? How much "added" light do I have in evening hours? You can paint a room BLACK if you want to, it simply needs to be adequately lit. Trust me the room will feel more dramatic, but not smaller. I'll talk more than old wives tales, I'll talk the LAW!
Caves are for bats and prehistoric artifacts. Yes, a dark room can feel oppressive, but that has more to do with psychology than even the amount of light in play. VERY IMPORTANT[!]: Warm colors advance, cool colors recede. Not actually, but psychologically they do. If you have a tendency towards claustrophobia, then a red room will NEVER be your friend. Conversely a dark, blue-green room may not bother you at all. You can add or subtract all the light you want to create the perfect ambiance, but if you got head issues, it's better to stick with lighter & cooler.
I save the most obvious for last. What IF you took the risk and it didn't pay off?
I LOVE pushing my clients. Not into places they don't want to go, but into places their afraid to go. I always do a saturation test with a new client to see where their comfort level is. They most often point to the palest, Miami Vice shade at the top of the paint strip. While I never expect them to go all the way down to the darkest value, I usually convince them to meet me in the middle. Not to satisfy my needs, but because I know that in the end, they aren't going to be happy with that shade of sherbet they picked. That's why you hire me. To steer you right!
Sometimes I get the call when the painter is halfway. "Oh my God Michael, I don't think I can do this"! Or, " You better get over here cause I'm SURE this can't be the right color"! But when it's finished, I always get a huge thank you. "Thank you for pushing me". On just a few occasions I've had to say calm down, live with it for 2 weeks, then we'll talk. This usually works too, because sometimes people just aren't used to living with so much color. In the end, after all these years, only TWICE have I had to re-select a lighter color. [ My friend Tiina with 2 i's excluded. Re-selecting paint colors with her is a competitive sport....]
April 3, 2009
- Bee Our Guest
- The R&R Report
- The Buzz
- Interior Motives
- CareerFit with Sonia Mott
- Michael's Musings
Okay that's it for this week. I'll be back next week with a brand new R&R Report, a 2nd installment on my color for interiors series, and Chicago artist Armando Pedroso will Bee Our Guest....
If you are, or ever have been a cigarette smoker, than you know and understand that special relationship that coffee and cigarettes share. Coffee and cigarettes are very dear, and old friends.
Like yin and yang, moths and flames, Laverne & Shirley.
So while it seems that I'm adjusting to not smoking fairly well, my morning coffee seems to be, well, in mourning...
I've been on the patch almost 9 weeks, and it really hasn't been a trial at all. The cravings have become fewer, and much further in-between. In fact, they only seem to come around when I've had a few cocktails, or I'm having my morning coffee. Even then, most mornings are fine... but at least a couple of times a week, my body lets me know that "coffee" just isn't the same without it's friend nicotine. Just like with 2 teenagers who think they've found true love FOREVER, I have to step in and be the adult here. Let coffee know that even though it may never forget cigarettes, it's better off without them, and it'll thank me later. What other choice do I have? Give up caffeine too? Uh, I don't think so!
I have 1 more week on the 14mg patch, then 2 weeks on the 7mg. I'll keep you posted...