Making Butter

I learned how to make butter when I was a kid growing up with my grandparents. My grandmother taught me how to make butter in a jar and then I went to North Dakota, my Aunt Hilda also taught me how to make bottle butter. (She also showed me real churn butter but that is for another post)It’s really very simple… heavy cream… a little salt and a little bit of elbow grease.

Hand squeezed butter
Hand squeezed butter

First you pour a couple cups of heavy cream into a container… it could be a jar or a cup or some kind of a mixing container… whatever is comfortable for you. It doesn’t have to be measured or anything.  I never really measure. I just pour stuff in and like my grandma used to say…”it turns out pretty good by guess and by golly…”

Stir cream until it separates
Stir cream until it separates

Add salt to taste and stir cream until it separates. Once you can see a kind of Milky, watery substance separating from the fat that ultimately becomes the butter…stir for a little bit longer. It will get harder to stir and then it will get very grainy.

Hand squeeze the butter
Hand squeeze the butter

You can use cheese cloth for this next part or you can do it like both my grandma and Aunt Hilda did and just pick it up in your hand and squeeze the liquid out between your fingers. It will be messy…but oh so fun! Just keep squeezing until all the liquid runs out and you have a little ball of butter left in your hand. Do this in small handfuls until the entire batch has been squeezed into little balls of butter. Voila! you are done. Now…go bake bread! Next post!

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How to bypass a propane tank on an old RV

*Disclaimer…I am not a professional plumber or licensed in any way. If you blow yourself up doing this…it’s not my fault! If you are not confident in your ability to do this yourself…don’t do it yourself and pay someone with the skills to do it safely.

Coffee made on an RV stove
Coffee made on an RV stove

I have an old RV that I have parked at Tiger Mountain and am not able to get it to a location to refill the LP tank so that I can use the appliances inside. I decided the best way to deal with this is to bypass the onboard tank so that I can use a standard gas grill tank.

propane tank bypass
I bypassed the onboard tank so I could use a standard propane grill tank for my RV appliances

After not finding the answers to my questions after tons of YouTube videos and asking friends and family what to do…I went to talk to the local hardware store staff. Finally…I have the answer and was able to do the work myself! I figured I would share this with my followers so that maybe…just maybe what took me a few hurdles will be much more simple for you if you need the info.

propane gauge
propane gauge

First things first! make sure your onboard tank is empty. Then, turn it off to make sure you are not cutting the pipe while there is gas in it. Some old tanks have a gauge so you can see if it is empty. Some don’t, so use your best judgement on how to be sure it is empty.

propane valve
Be sure to turn off the propane

I wasn’t sure if my gauge was accurate, so I just used it up until it was obvious that it was empty and then left it “on” with all windows open in the RV for a few minutes after I made my last pot of coffee to be sure the lines were empty.

Once I was sure the lines were empty, I turned the valve to “Closed” and used a pipe cutter

pipe cutter
pipe cutter

to take a small section of the pipe out so I could use it as a guide when I went to the hardware store to find the parts needed.

pipe section
The pipe section I removed with a pipe cutter

When working with gas lines, you will need a compression connector that can attach to a thread-less copper tube. Because my RV is a 1977, it has an older copper tubing that is no longer available at most hardware stores. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t find a 1/2″ fitting that would work and was prepared to have to make due with a retrofit of some type. Luckily for me, the thickness of the tubing is all that was really different. the advantage to using the compression connection is that it will fit the outside circumference and the inside will not make that big of a difference in the LP flow.

compression connector and flare valve
compression connector and flare valve

I also had to pick up a 1/2 to 3/8 flare valve so that I would have a place to thread the propane hose connector. Putting it all together was pretty easy to do. The biggest thing is make sure you tighten the fittings and check for leaks with a soap solution to be sure you are well connected.

RV stove burner
RV stove burner after onboard propane bypass
Please, if you have concerns or are not comfortable doing this yourself…have a professional do the work for you. It may cost a few bucks but that is well worth your safety and sanity!

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Sunsets make happy

Looking through the multitude of Facebook posts, I find myself skipping over the political stands and “woe is me” suction of the daily life in the city. Focusing instead on the many sunset and sunrise pictures posted by the fortunate few who see them from exotic locations and share them with glee as they walk you through the day that led to the phenomenal sun kissed images of the setting orb of light.

SunsetHorses at sunset
I’m not jealous…I may not have the sea as a dunking hole for the orb, but I have hills and valleys a plenty. Even in the city…I see a few folks here and there posting some of the most amazing sunsets with a foreground of hustle and bustle chaotic enough to start a wave of crazy! Yet, the sunset is serene and calm…never asking for awe, but surely receiving it from the sigh of delight and subtle moan of inner pleasure…Setting sunSunset with clouds
As I gaze upon the light…setting softly into the hills…I wonder…will tomorrow be as momentous? Is this as good as it gets? Will the days that follow be as glorious as right now?! Why bother with the questions? Why waste this precious moment wondering what will be? Enjoy…then behold the next morning…sun set from the past…rises again even better than the last!20170819_06402220170812_063019
Grateful…thankful…inspired…

Always find the happy in your day!

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Fencing- Repurposing tomato cages


I was lucky enough to get some free tomato cages and decided that I would use them to make a fence.  I wasn’t quite sure how to do it then, so I started playing with the idea of a gabion. Gabion is basically rocks and some kind of wire mesh and you can use it to make everything from bench seating to retaining walls. I started playing with that idea and created a bar for my fire pit first just to see how it worked. Gabion bar by firepit I Incorporated some of the things I learned from that into using these tomato cages to make fence posts. I’m going to use barbed wire to connect them all but this is basically what I went through to create the Caged system to hold the rocks. Gabion fence post made from tomato cageIt’s a tomato cage which has a fairly large hole between the wires so I use some additional mesh wire mesh to kind of supplement the tomato cage. The tomato cage just becomes the actual structure of it and then the rest of the mesh just helps hold the rocks in.Mesh added to strengthen tomato cageWire mesh bottom added to to.ato cage




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rizzo-rocky-lookWest

How I found out I’m lost


Have you ever climbed out of bed in the morning feeling like there was just something missing in your life? You couldn’t figure out what it was but you knew there was a hole in your big picture?

I’ve been feeling like that a lot lately. First I thought it was because I have lost so many people I love in less than a year…My mom, 2 aunts, a cat and a dog. Then I thought maybe it was because I’ve become so overwhelmed by politics that I was just “upset” and that all would be well once the shock of the current craziness wears off.  I quickly realized that the crazy is here to stay for at least 4 years and there is not much I can do about it other than stay away from the extremes on either side of the political pendulum.

After some soul searching and a few cups of my favorite homemade ginger and cinnamon tea, I decided to meditate on it for a while and see if my universal connection could give me some answers. Come to find out…it wasn’t anything external at all…I was missing…I have been going through the motions and doing what I’m supposed to do on a very superficial level. I have not been ME for a while now.




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I know I said I could manage a full-time job and continue to do art and be creative. Well, maybe I was wrong. I did manage to have a show every month of 2016 but many of the shows were just recycled versions of the ones before. I only created a few small new works in 2016. Again, I will give myself a bit of slack. I was hit hard by death and devastation in 2016 and the fact that I kept my head up at all was only due to my grandma in my head saying…”find the blue jeans…”

I guess sometimes you have to get lost in order to find yourself. I know deep in my heart that TM is “home” for me. I feel homesick when I can’t get up there. I am working to get a small cabin built there and have started on the studio space. I spent every moment I could there last summer and even into late fall trying to get things ready for the thaw this year so my “home” can be completed.

Here is a link to a post on Facebook after I built a cabinet stair for the studio. And this is the beginning of the hole in the ground… waiting for spring thaw to build the cabin…digging-foundation

I’ve been very lost this past year. I’ve kept moving forward but haven’t been myself. I have been creative but not in the typical sense…I’m not making grand paintings, but I did create an awesome cabinet stair and I’m hoping to find me on my mountain top this spring and summer. I’m hoping to find that deep need for creative outlet will keep me going through anything the universe has in store for me. Sometimes the thick gets in the way and we get lost…but I have faith that the journey to find my way out will not only keep me moving forward but will offer experiences to feed my creative energy once I find my way out of being lost.

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Life after the death of a loved one



Moving on after losing a loved one is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I haven’t mastered it by any stretch of the imagination. When my dad and Grampa and even my dog died in 1999, I was a wreck for over a year…When my mom and aunt and even another dog died in 2016… I…I just haven’t been quite the same. I’m going through the motions. I’m building a cabin at TM and I get up and go to work every day but I have to force myself to “be strong” and not fall apart every time someone looks at me.

This is my first attempt at getting back into the real world. I had stopped blogging when I went back to a “real job” and I swore I could do it without losing my handle on art so I put some energy into painting and I had art in a gallery every month of 2016, but I just haven’t been able to really go anywhere with it because I really just don’t know how. I struggle to talk about anything now. Its been hard for so long now…I’m not sure how to start. This may all seem like gibberish…that’s fine…If I can just get the pump primed by letting the emotional block loose just a bit…

I guess I’m at that age where everyone I know is either taking care of a parent or they have lost a parent recently and that makes it even harder to let out my emotion because I don’t want to make it all about me when I see so many others going through the same thing and hurting just as bad. Even those of us with issues with our parents from youth have learned to see beyond those petty issues and see the person we once thought was invincible become weak and frail and somehow we found ourselves hopelessly in love with the person we once thought just “didn’t get us”… Saying good-bye is so much easier when you are angry…when you let in the love…it hurts so…so much more…

Thanks for putting up with my babble…it may take a few tries to get the words to flow again…I have so many things I want to say…I just have to figure out how to get them out of me…

Love and hugs and happy thoughts…

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Selling Out

daisies by ajai
It takes me less than an hour to paint these and I sold 3 of them…

Are you a sell out? You know that thing they call an artist when they actually find a way to make a living from their art…

I’ve heard it so many times at show openings and art gatherings…”Did you hear about (pick a name)?! What a sell out! They totally compromised their art to make a buck!” Well…let me tell you something…if you were a vegan for moral issues, not health issues… stranded on a rock in the middle of nowhere and hadn’t eaten for days and someone showed up with a piece of fish…would you be a sell out for eating it or a survivor who could climb down off the rock with your new found energy from eating the fish?

I like to think of myself as a fairly moral person and I have professed for years that I don’t want to fit in a box and be labeled and have to conform to societies definition of “ok” but I am also a survivor. I have survived many traumatic situations and it is because I have a will to look for ways to make what I see as “right” fit into what the world “expects” from me. I still refuse to fit into one box but I am figuring out how to use societies boxes to survive.

Recently, I was invited to participate in an art festival in Colorado http://www.flavorsofcolorado.com/ and they asked me to bring a little bit of everything I do…I was so excited to have an opportunity to spill out of the box and show off all my skills and talents…It was perfect! I didn’t have to have a niche…I didn’t have to have ONE box! So I took a bunch of boxes and paintings and stuff and a little bit of this and a little bit of that…I took so much stuff I couldn’t see out the windows as I drove down the scenic highway to get to the festival!

I sold a little of everything but didn’t sell much of anything…bummer…what a buzz kill… I did sell some of my “quick demo” paintings that I thought were ok, but not spectacular…and I sold some jewelry and other small things… But the weather was fantastic and I got to sit with my feet in the cool grass and listen to fabulous music all weekend! I also had time to visit with my neighboring vendors and learn from their experiences and see some of them work their magic!

The Vail Valley Art Guild, http://www.vailvalleyartguild.com/ had some wonderful artists and did demonstrations and had everything from pottery to painting and photography and I truly enjoyed watching them work and looking at their art, but like me…they didn’t sell much. Not that their work wasn’t phenomenal…it was truly inspiring! Folks just don’t go to festivals like that to buy expensive art and then have to carry it around a festival the rest of the day…

One vendor was particularly successful selling…They had one thing and it could fit in a purse or pocket or worn as they walked through the fair… Urban Poncho, http://www.myurbanponcho.com/ was just raking in the $$$ so I watched and took mental notes as Anne did her thing. I could probably sell them now too after hearing the sales pitch over and over and over…she had customers standing 3-4 deep listening to her go on and on all weekend about the many ways to wear that ONE poncho!

Ok…so you ask…”I thought you didn’t want to have to have a niche?! It sounds like Urban Poncho has a niche…” Well…you are right! They do…but they have many niches…The main partner that started the company has “multiple businesse[s] a print brokering online business called www.NicePricePrints.com, a direct mail business, and have owned and published multiple magazines in the past. Furthermore, as a hobby I started sewing and have been a seamstress ever since.” (quote taken from the About page on their website)

So…it’s not just about not wanting to fit in a box…it’s about being able to fit society’s box into what you do. So…again don’t fit in society’s box…fit society’s box into what you do…you can still do everything, but don’t put your eggs in the same box with your anvil!

So what’s my take away? Folks at festivals want something small and easy to manage at the fair. My new mantra for festivals is… “If it fits in a pocket or purse…it can still be diverse…” I will keep making my jewelry and small objects for festivals. That is one consistency I found between this festival and the last one…my jewelry sells…and I will keep doing my paintings but reserve them for gallery shows where they can be seen and not blown over by wind and folks looking are more willing to put it in their car and take it home because they aren’t going to be walking around a festival for another 3 hours…

break rules make money

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ~Pablo Picasso

Have you ever wondered how you can make a living as an artist instead of just doing it as a hobby?

The art world rules say you have to find a niche and get gallery representation. A lot of the blogs and business advice sites out there today say keep your day job, but I would like to offer another option…do whatever it takes and be willing to open your world to a variety of income sources to kick the day job and keep your bills paid with your creative works. In other words, don’t just rely on getting into gallery shows to pay the bills. Look at other sources of income like teaching, commission projects, online sales and festivals.

Also, dare to be yourself! You don’t have to be like everyone else who sells to make a sale. Try stepping out of your comfort zone and maybe even be willing to be laughed at. Be odd, be out there and be dangerous if that is true to who you are.

Ultimately it boils down to having a positive outlook and a willingness to be criticized and ridiculed for not following the rules…but YOU are an ARTIST…so break some rules!

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Caitlyn Jenner

Yesterday, Caitlyn Jenner gave a very emotional speech at the ESPY Awards. You can watch it here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LZt7hDR6YYU 

I feel absolutely compelled to talk about my feelings about this subject. For a long time I have felt very upset that our society puts so much pressure on everyone to fit in a box of one kind or another. You must check the box on most job applications and any time you fill out a survey for a company or product… Are you white, black, other…do you identify as male, female, LGBT…WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING BOX???!!!!!

Before I get too much into the Jenner thing, I feel I need to preface it with my thoughts from when they passed the same sex marriage law and opened up a new world for people who love each other to be able to live freely within a monogamous relationship protected by law, I got so angry when I found out folks were “deleting folks from their “friends” lists for supporting same sex marriage… prejudice is so much bigger than black/white…gay/straight…fat/skinny…tall/short…male/female…the list goes on and on…it is a shame that people look for the difference instead of the similarities…open your mind…‪#‎WEAREALLHUMAN‬! and if you gotta know my labels….I’m a tall, fat, straight, white, girl that can swing a bat, and an ax and cook up a mess and hold my own in a garage…go ahead and delete me…I support HUMANITY!” (quote taken directly from my Facebook page from a post from Dani Day June 28 at 6:49am)

That post brought in many comments and private messages including one person who basically attacked me for NOT DELETING folks who disagreed with my point of view! My response to that is below…taken from the thread referenced above…

“I just recieved a very interesting message (based on this post) so I am putting this out there for anyone wanting to know my views…I am a very outspoken person and will speak my mind when i feel the urg…but just like I speak out about folks deleting folks for supporting, I will not delet folks for not supporting. If anyone attacks me personally, I will stand up…If anyone attacks someone I care about, I will stand up…if anyone attacks someone I don’t know and I hear about it or witness it…I will stand up! but I believe equality is ALL encompassing and I believe everyone has a right to what they think and feel and believe. Therefore…I will not delete you for not thinking what I think…I will not delete you for not jumping on my bandwagon…I even read oposing comments and statements here and elsewhere so that I can be informed of the other views to round out my own perceptions of the world. I don’t run away from conflict…I embrace it and look for ways to bridge the gap…not make it bigger…I don’t care if you are on one side or the other…I am ME and I think what I think and I want ALL people to be respected for being HUMAN…my crayon box has many colors and some are even broken, but my crayons all make beautiful pictures…with LOVE and HUMANITY in mind…”

With all that said…when I first heard that Bruce Jenner was going to step into the world as a woman, I was angry…not that “he” was hiding his true feelings or that it put any question about “his” masculinity or sexuality or whether that meant he was any less of a person or any of the other ridiculous reasons I have heard people disrespecting the choice he made…

I was angry because I felt like it is such a shame that this society has put so much pressure on us to fit in a box that we have to choose to undergo extreme body reconstruction and hormone treatments to fit in a box that we were not born to be in! I am not saying there is anything wrong with a male identifying as female or vise/versa…I was born with boobs and a vagina but I feel more like a “man” by societal norms than a “woman” at times because I am 6’3″ and am very capable of taking care of myself and can handle power tools as well as any “man”…yet I was lucky enough to have a mom and grandparents that taught me that I could do or be anything I wanted and it was never an issue of sex.

Sometimes I feel like the reason so many Transgendered people kill themselves and do things to basically mutilate themselves is because this society tells them they HAVE to conform to a box of this societies choosing and if they don’t fit, they will cut parts off…add parts on…augment, suck out or do anything they can to fit…if they don’t want to cut up their bodies, they tend to just end the suffering…WTF???!!! And this isn’t just a Transgendered issue!!!! Women and Men who do not change their sex physically mutilate themselves to fit in the box labeled “beauty” that this society has placed in every store window and iPhone!!!

I commend Caitlyn for sticking up for all the Trans folks out there and saying that its ok to be who you are…but I still disagree that you should have to chop off your adams apple or do anything else to surgically/hormonally change your body you were born with…the reason Bruce felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body is because society wouldn’t allow “him” to wear a dress in public or play with nail polish or have long hair or what ever other societal stigmas disallowed the person inside to be fully the person inside…

Maybe it’s easier for me…I’m a woman and for whatever reason, we are more accepted when we wear jeans and short hair than when a man wears long hair and a dress…but that again is the FUCKED UP way society has made the rules for identity boxes…I wear my hair short sometime…sometimes it’s long…sometimes I wear pants…sometimes I wear a dress…but most of the time, I just wear what’s comfortable…I don’t wear makeup very often and when I do it’s because society says I’m “supposed” to when I go out or to a job interview…that sucks!!!

I have worn many labels in my life and I have been forced to pick some for folks to understand me better through their filters but I am taking a stand now that I will do my best not to wear anymore labels!!! I will avoid being placed in BOXES…I have boobs and a vagina! I don’t shave my legs or under arms…cuz it’s there for a reason…I like to paint my nails sometimes because I like pretty colors…I like to play rough but will cry if I get hurt… I love men…I love women…I love people…I identify and get along more with most men than I do with most women…but I have had wonderful relationships with both…I’m not going to put a label on what that is other than it is ME and I am OK being ME!

Bravo Caitlyn for doing your thing…I wish I could have met you as Bruce but love you as Caitlyn too! I’m sorry you have had to endure so much pain physically and emotionally to find yourself and claim your identity…I hope that we as a society can get to a point where people don’t have to go to the extremes that you did to get the world to hear you and accept you…

One day, I hope that all people can be accepted no matter what their race, religion, sex, color, height, weight, job, income, cup size (boobs or balls) or any other potential boxed identity may be…

color-me_ajai

step 1.1 (money makes the world go ’round)

So…in Step One, I said…”…eliminate all things, people and emotional baggage that serves no purpose toward helping me reach my highest potential in the creative process!”

Somehow, I thought I could give up all my worldly possessions and become some sort of Zen master as I embarked on this journey. I was already starting out with pocket change and thought pennies and a little pocket lint could get me started on my grand journey and new adventure! Then…I got the utility bill…and the tax man visited and I had to pay for gas to get to the new Tiger Mountain…wow…what a buzz kill!

I thought to myself, “I could just find more project work!” That is what I have been doing for over a year now trying to supplement my measly earnings from my now drastically cut back “job” and all I would need to do is land that awesome gig building a website to get me over the hump and back on the track that leads to creative freedom and spiritual growth.

In my quest for projects, I ran across ad after ad grabbing at my desire to reach my full potential in art and the creative process and scam after scam from “get rich and find your center” programs and online tutorials from various religious and spiritual sales people. When did Buddhism start charging money for enlightenment? I must have missed that memo…

The beast within quickly came to the surface as I realized I need money and I need it badly! The internal fight over money vs sanity has set in and I find myself battling my own desires for peace and tranquility…I can easily justify going back to the corporate world I so despise to make a buck or two to get me through…WTF?! I know me…I know that if I go back to that world, I will get sucked in and drained of all of my desire to create and possibly my desire to live…so why would I even consider it?

Because I am scared…I’m scared of success and failure at the same time…what if I put everything I have into just making and selling art? Well…if I am successful, I have to do it indefinitely. OMG…what does that mean? If I am not successful, what does that mean? I’m not good enough? F***! I have been halfassing it for a while now…I do a little art and mostly newsletters and web updates and dumb stuff that pays pretty well but sucks rocks for enjoy ability…I’m like the dog and bone story…I’m walking over the bridge with my bone in my mouth looking at my reflection in the water below…should I drop the bone and go after the one I see reflected or keep trotting over the bridge to the other side? I don’t want to lose the bone I already have for one that may not really be there…

Time to get back on the horse! I need to get organized…I need to make more art! Starting right now! So here it is…if you would like to print this and color it…please post it to my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ILikeAjaiArt

color-me_ajai
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