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Loving Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Lagoon view, Cleveland Museum of Art, Clevelan...
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I’ve always loved art and art history. Beyond the art itself, I love to learn about the time periods and the life and times of the artists.  Museums are perfect for this and our day trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art in the University Circle area of Cleveland was superb.  We all left with our favorites from our first trip which I’ll entertain in this blog.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is huge and half-way through an enormous expansion, which will leave it even bigger in five years.  It was almost overwhelming to try to see just the second floor in 3 hours or less, especially because we wanted to appreciate each piece and read about all of them. I was trying to read the information cards on each piece to the kids and Emma had a barrage of questions that I was answering. I felt as if I was trying to teach 15 years of school in half an hour, because I was not just teaching art, I was teaching history, mythology, religion, culture, customs, economics, design, wardrobe…..

We chose a few of our favorites from this trip and we hope you enjoy them too:

Nassem loves Early American History and Colonial History. He enjoys the history of New England, the colonies, the formation of America. His favorite piece of art was an oil painting by Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865) called “Harbor in Boston with the City in the Distance (1846-47, oil on canvas).”  The electronic photo of the painting, below, was taken from the blog of Henry Adams, professor of American Art at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He writes that Lane’s paintings are now costly and very rare, but he was able to secure one from the descendant of its original owner who purchased from Lane.

You can also few the piece on the Cleveland Museum of Art website at : http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&csearch=Artist%20/%20Maker:Fitz%20Henry%20Lane

He also liked the painting called “George Washington at the Battle of Princeton (1779) by Charles Wilson Peale. He said that in all his research on the Internet he sees this one pop up frequently. He loves everything Presidential. Addie thought it was neat because Emma has been drawing all sorts of her own versions of George Washington since learning about Presidents on President’s Day.   Peale painted George Washington many times during his career. The Cleveland Museum of Art houses this in their colonial section.

When asking Emma what her favorite part of the museum was she just yelled a resounding “everything!!” She was partial to the Van Gogh paintings though. She knows he is one of my favorite painters and was very excited to learn about him this year in first grade art class where they were tasked with drawing their own “Starry Starry Night” by Van Gogh.  She liked the color that Monet and Manet and other Impressionists used in their oil paintings and appreciated the colors and dreamy look of the Van Goghs. She came home and drew her own rendition of some of the Van Gogh paintings they had such as, “Adeline Ravoux (1890, oil on fabric).”  Van Gogh painted this portrait of the 16-year-old daughter of an innkeeper where he was staying  just two months prior to when he died, and was quoted as saying that it wasn’t really a photographic resemblance but “wanted it to convey impassioned aspects of contemporary life through the use of the modern taste for color.”  She is a little green and blue, which Emma picked up on since her rendition of the lady looked a little like a blue person from the movie “Avatar.”

You can view Van Gogh’s painting on the The Cleveland Museum of Art’s website here:  http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?pid=%7B91ADCD8F-992A-45A5-8599-70835467DF5E%7D&coid=3526974&clabel=highlights and below is Emma’s version.

For me, Claude Monet is another of my favorites. I love the Impressionists. They have a lot of nice Monet, as well as other Impressionists at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  My favorite of the day though was “The Red Kerchief (1873, oil on fabric)” by Monet (French, 1840-1926). I love anything that is like the old fairy tales and it reminded me and Addie of Little Red Riding Hood.  In actuality, it is a painting that Monet did of his wife, peering at us through a locked door as she bustles by looking cold or scared. It was a few years before she died and many people interpret the painting as having been representative of the problems in their relationship (he was in love with another woman). However, it formerly was of a couple looking into the door, until he repainted it as his wife.  Other people find it representative of the Impressionist movement and their issues with being accepted by the art world at the time, as they were refused gallery shows and their work rejected frequently.  Either way, it was a painting that he kept with him till his death in 1926. I love the use of the brush, the texture of the stroke, the use of color so that the red just pops out at the viewer.

View it on the Museum’s website at: http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&sliderpos=2

Addie said her best time of the day was seeing the big horse and knight dressed in armor. She takes after her mommy and daddy!  Their armor room, called the Armor Court, is amazing. It is full of all kinds of Italian, Spanish, British and more armor pieces and the top of the room adorned in beautiful tapestries.  Tim said this room was his favorite as well.  Though the museum has a great medieval collection located on the first floor, this Armor Court is up on the second floor with the European art

View an up close and side photo of the knight and horse in armor on the Museum website at: http://www.clevelandart.org/collections/collection%20online.aspx?type=refresh&sliderpos=2&searchoption=1

We also had the opportunity to view their new exhibition “The Lure of Painted Poetry: Japanese and Korean Art” which just opened today and will be on display until August.  It consisted of beautifully light and airy ink drawings on screens and cloth, as well as gorgeous bridal gown that Addie liked (but felt it might be too big for her) because of its vibrant colors (still vibrant though many hundreds of year old).  Emma was enthralled by how whole words were drawn using one calligraphy symbol.  Their poetry was not just words, but art flowing onto paper.  The Museum writes, “The show features every art form, including painting, calligraphy, and craft, that transformed Chinese lyrical aesthetics in the Korean Joseon period and in the Japanese Muromachi, Momoyama, and Edo periods.”  You can view more info here:  http://www.clevelandart.org/visit/Exhibitions.aspx

All my children are little budding artists and I hope trips like these inspire them even more. Here’s some bad camera phone photos of the kids with several Van Goghs:

I can’t wait to let you know what our favorites are from our next trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art of another art museum! Who is your favorite artist or the best art museum you’ve been to?

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Malabar Farm’s Maple Syrup Festival in Photos

We had a super fun time this weekend at Malabar Farm, part of the Ohio State Park system and located in Lucas, Ohio near Mansfield and Ashland.  It was their Maple Syrup Festival and my 11-year-old son wanted to learn all he could about tapping maple trees for tree sap and making it into sugar and syrup. He loves the pioneer and native american historical demonstrations and anything that has to do with ecologically self-sustaining yourself. It was a lot of fun for the kids, and I thought it was a great opportunity for not only photos with my family, but for Breathe Beauty Art and Photography as well. Set back in the forest near Malabar Farm’s historical Pugh Cabin and Louis Bromfield‘s Sugar Shack, it was the perfect environment for relaxing and taking photos with nature. We also crossed Malabar Farm and went to the actual farm itself, something we do several times a year since my son is an avid conservationalist. He loves to learn about Bromfield’s life, check out the wind turbines, the solar compacting trash can, solar panels, the historical mansion. He is enthralled by care for the environment (you can find him on Twitter @environmentlife) and the education that this Ohio State Park offers is incredible. If you’ve never been, check it out at www.malabarfarm.org.

I just love to go to take photos. I guess we all have our favorite things and mine of course is taking photos! Tim, my fiance, actually took some of these photos as well. View the slide show below to see photos of Malabar Farm, the Maple Syrup Festival, and my family enjoying the day. I think the girls’ favorite part was the maple sugar leaf cookies, maple popcorn, maple fudge, chocolate walnut fudge……

If you like my photos of Malabar Farm, please inquire with me at breathebeautyartandphotography@hotmail.com

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My Recipe for Pumpkin Carving with Kids

Pumpkins are just about one of the most beautiful gourds that nature produces. They make for beautiful photos from awaiting a home while in the pumpkin patch to family photos to traditional snapshots from festive fun.  Wonderfully vibrant for Fall decorating they are also used for the  family fun tradition of carving Jack-o-lanterns. This escapade in carving scary faces or happy darlings first probably came about in 1866 in North America, citing folklore about frightening away demons on All Hallow’s Eve.   At our house we love our beautiful pumpkins so much that we wait to carve them on Halloween day or evening (well, Mom could just not get around to it too) and light them on Halloween night to scare away the ghosts. 

My Recipe for Carving Pumpkins with Children

Ingredients:

1 cup of Wow, Mom, you’re strong with a knife
1/2 cup of Ewwww, it is kinda yucky inside
1/2 cup of laughing at my fiance for not even coming near touching the stringy goop
2 cups of “but I was doing it first!” in relation to trying to scoop the guts out
1/4 cup of patience (for Mom)
A dash of excitement as we carve in the face
A smidge of brute strength to get through the rind
1 t. of smiles as the kids watch their progress in delight
1 T. of wonderment over what the seeds might taste like
1/2 t. of fun spending time with your children
3 cups of pure delight over putting candles inside after dark and watching them glow

Directions:
Carve out the top of your pumpkin and put seeds in one bowl (for roasting later) and the goop in the next.  Let the children feel the consistency of the pumpkin innards, the seeds, wonder why some have more pulp than others, and talk about pumpkins.  After they are cleaned out inside, cut out the faces (parents should do this) and let the kids offer suggestions.  Get out the paint and let them paint faces and works of art on the smaller pumpkins.  Allow them time to be creative.  Let the painted pumpkins dry.  Throw away the “yucky” stuff and wash the seeds.  Prepare the seeds for roasting (see below).  Once dry, place a candle in the pumpkin and light (easier inside than out due to wind), put on the tops, and carry to the porch. Have fun watching your kids gleam with excitement at the lighted Jack-O-Lanterns.  Take lots of photos.

 This year we carved a kitty face into our large pumpkin and in one of the smaller ones, we did hearts for eyes and Emma painted it and a third smaller one Addie painted (she did not want the insides taken out).  The kids were so excited watching them glow in the dark.  They felt so proud of themselves.  The joy of doing these small priceless activities and traditions with your children is something that is so pure and so meaningful.

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

Spread butter on a cookie sheet. Place washed pumpkin seeds on the tray and  sprinkle with salt.  Sometimes we put on garlic powder or Tastefully Simple’s Fiesta Dip Spice.  Place in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Yum!  The best thing about this tasty Fall snack is how good they are for you offering protein, zinc, magnesium, and they help lower cholesterol!


Have Fun with Your Children

Many people are too busy these days and don’t take the time to actually “be” with their children. Working, running from here to there, mobile and electronic devices on 24/7, our kids are over scheduled and families just plainly over busy.  I know that our family is busy too. We are building our own businesses, working, volunteering, social networking, and more. BUT….

I quit my full-time job a year and a half ago to work from home, be my own boss, and care for my 3-year-old. Now, my time is MY time and my family is the priority. It does take organization and proper planning, but I can pick my kids up from school each day. I can do their homework with them.  I schedule time into my busy schedule to play card and board games with my children several days a week. We read books, I to them and my 7-year-old to me.  We talk. We bake together. We paint, color, craft, cut, glue, and just be creative together. We take walks down the street and examine the leaves, the flowers, the trees, the berries, the architecture. We talk about birds, bugs, mushrooms, squirrels. We take hikes to nature parks and photograph flowers, animals, insects, foliage. We pick apples and pumpkins.

So what do my children learn from all of this?  They learn that family is important. The know they have parents who love them. From this they learn self-confidence, intelligence, organization skills, love. Far beyond this, they learn to be creative through art and how to use their imaginations. This leads to thinking outside of the box and problem solving in future careers. They learn math, reading, shapes, colors from playing card and board games. They learn that everything is not about winning.

What else?

They learn science from our outdoor excursions, they learn the color spectrum for their artistic pursuits. They learn history, engineering, and architecture from examining old neighborhoods. For the older kids, they can apply what they learn in school to the real world.  They learn math from calculating measurements in the kitchen as they bake with me. They see how the fruits of the earth feed us. They understand nutrition and fitness.

I know that education and learning far exceeds what they get during the school day and it is our responsibility as parents to encourage their growth and offer them continuous learning opportunities.

What will you do with your child today?


Perfect Autumn Notecards

It has been a long week/weekend and I just didn’t want to start another week without writing something. Until I write again, let me tease you with fact I found yet another awesome apple cake recipe. Actually my mom found it, and with some of my own tweaking of the recipe, it turned out fabulous. It was the best cake I have ever had! I made it with homemade cooked brown sugar frosting just like my grandmother used to make for her kids. I promise, the next post will be those recipes!

We went to the pumpkin patch and have taken in all the different hues of the orange spectrum along with even some “albino” ones. The orange pumpkins with the purple field flower (gotta find that name!), the cornstalks, the bees and beetles nibbling on the purplish gourd flowers all were magnificent to explore. The wagon ride to and from the patch was fun for the kids of course.  We went to Honey Haven Farms (www.honeyhavenfarm.com)  in Ashland, Ohio and the Boyer family is tremendously wonderful to the community and their patrons!

I’ve taken a lot more photos too of the changing leaves and all the nook and crannies you find during fall walks that take your breath away. I’ll enlighten readers more on some of those interesting tidbits soon as well. I just love the vibrant reds, yellows, oranges and browns.

Isn’t this you favorite time of year?

And in closing for now, I have several more autumn notecards sets for sale that I know you’ll love. Take a peek at www.breathebeautyartandphotographybyerin.artfire.com and toss some in your virtual checkout basket to write notes to your friends today!


What to make with the Fuji Apple? MMMM….

What have you been doing on these wonderful Autumn days? We’ve been visiting apple orchards, a pumpkin patch, and taking many photos of lovely, colorful Fall leaves! I’ve been taking many, many photos of apples and apple orchards, pumpkins, gorgeous leaves and more so I can offer wonderful Fall prints and notecards on my online store at www.breathebeautyartandphotographybyerin.artfire.com.

Yesterday we visited a second apple orchard in Ashland County, Ohio, near Jeromesville. We took a jaunt out to Scenic Ridge Fruit Farm. The most apples they had in season were the Fiji apples. I had vaguely remembered that apple name, but was unsure of it. A medium to small size apple, it’s faded red and white colors were very pretty. I knew I wanted to bake, so I wasn’t sure if it was tart or sweet. We quickly wiped off one and tasted it. Very sweet and yummy!!! We proceeded to pick one and a half bushels (3 big baskets-only one basket of 1/2 bushel is pictured above).  The kids once again had so much fun choosing apples and I loved photographing them and the apples too. At one of their nearby ponds we also saw two large swans! The day was perfect. Upon coming home, I was wondering what a fuji apple was and so today I’ve done my research.  The figi apple came to the United States  in the 1980s and is a cross between our beloved red delicious and the heirloom variety of Virginia Rawls Jennet (or Ralls Genet technically) made by the Japanese in the 1930s.  They are such a pretty color and are much denser, sweeter, and crisper than most apples. They also have a much larger shelf life, even without refrigeration! With refrigeration, they can last 5-6 months! This was great news as I’ll have plenty of time to bake them all.  I’ll try to share my recipes and baking trials with you here, but this is a recipe I found that I will try first!! Doesn’t it sound yummy???

Fuji Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Why Fujis? This not-too-sugary cake (inspired by carrot cake) is best when made with fairly sweet apples. Plus, it’s important to choose an apple variety with a sturdy structure so that it won’t break down during baking. Fuji apples fill the bill on both counts.

12 SERVINGS

Recipe by Dorie Greenspan; Photograph by Richard Pierce 

Fuji Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
 

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon, apple brandy, or rum (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 medium Fuji or Gala apples (13 to 14 ounces total), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (about 6 ounces)

Frosting

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)
  • Coarsely chopped toasted pecans (for garnish)

Special equipment

  • 2 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides

Preparation

CAKE

  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper round. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then bourbon, if desired (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 additions alternately with applesauce in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in apples and pecans. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth tops.
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 15 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment paper. Place another rack atop 1 cake and invert again so that cake is rounded side up. Repeat with second cake. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and store at room temperature.

FROSTING

  • Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Using long serrated knife, trim off rounded tops of cakes to make level; brush off any loose crumbs. Transfer 1 cake to platter, trimmed side up. Drop half of frosting (about 1 1/2 cups) by spoonfuls atop cake. Spread frosting evenly to edges of cake. Top with second cake, trimmed side down. Drop remaining frosting by spoonfuls onto top of cake, leaving sides of cake plain. Spread frosting to top edges of cake, swirling and creating peaks, if desired. Sprinkle with pecans. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour to allow frosting to set slightly. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.

Read More http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2009/10/fuji_apple_spice_cake_with_cream_cheese_frosting#ixzz12dV9DRNl