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Archive for Folk Art and Doll Making


nature-meets-construction-by-riveroflifelisajoy-number-two-scan.jpgNATURE MEETS CONSTRUCTION” BY RIVEROFLIFELISAJOY   

I felt led to curl my lines, and then I found a ruler that called out to me.  I blended  two types of lines and found that the sharp pointed edges and the curled soft ones could coexist!–thus…”Nature Meets Construction”—  

  Check out JayJewels work at the Fireoflifejayjewels @wordpress.com. Jay Jewels my son is 14 years old and shares my love of the arts! 

When you cannot afford the movies, and video rental but you have a piece of pen and paper….draw….

I draw for my health, and strength.  I love the arts!  Try it!  You might bring down your blood pressure, and increase positive outlook!

Get the family in on  art work too.  Grandmother, baby,  husband,  and teenagers….have a family night and get a lot of art supplies and see what you and your loved ones can create with a crayon, or paint.  Remember to use news paper on your tables.

If you are suffering from family loss,  sometimes you can express yourself better by drawing out your feelings in a picture.  Some pictures may be dark, but so what?  Let those feelings out and you will ease some of the pain.  Hey,  nothing beats a try!  You might enjoy it!

Job stress tends to shorten lives.  Paint,  hobbies,  knitting,  singing,  writing helps. 

Spend time talking to your kids over a jar of crayons, construction paper and finger paints.  For the older kids get the chinese ink and water color.  You will see that alot of things get talked about during art work time in your house.  Then make dinner and see how peaceful meal time can be after a Saturday of Art work!!!!


LIFE STARTS HERE.jpg   Sometimes in life we find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control.  It is important to use coping mechanisms that are not harmful to ourselves and our families and our society.  I am always deep in battle with my financial problems.  But I have several HEALTHY METHODS to lower my blood pressure, and prevent myself from over eating.  So look at my work.  Think it over.  Maybe it is not so beautiful….but it is much better of an outlet for anxiety than other negative behaviors!  The Holiday season can be very stressful–what with the shopping for that hard to please loved one, to the parties, and dinners that take alot of planning,  or worse yet for those of us who have lost loved ones.  You may not have money,  you may have a different holiday this year than last….but use your creative brain and  work it out.  Find healthy  activities.  If you can not jog…then write,  or paint,  or sing.  Just get involved!  You will feel better.  Just incase you get the Holiday Blues!LIFE STARTS HERE.jpgHUNGER AND DOUBT.jpgFlower of Hunger2nd-art-work.jpgThe holidays can be fun….but shopping and spending money can be scary! Take your time and enjoy the HOLIDAYS!

Art work explained:

#1-  Life Starts Here:

This piece was using the yellow background with the swirls of dark blue,  black,  or brown to give contrast and texture.  I looked at it and felt that it appeared to look like a genome or fertilized egg in the process of the life cycle.

#2-Hunger and Doubt:

This piece was with a teal green center and dark colors surrounding it.  It represented the wait throughout the summer for my car to get out of Pep Boyz!

#3- Flower of Hunger:

This picture was drawn on an evening before my break through in August.  I was waiting for some financial issues to be adjusted.  The night before, I was concerned and going over issues that had to be addressed.

#4- 2nd ArtWork—Chinese Ink:

The concept behind this is the black ink against the background of water color and symbols of the language.

I painted about 20 pictures.  But these are just a few that I thought would be nice to have displayed.  Just to give a break between my blogs. 

I love being creative!  It inspires me.  I hope you take the time to inspire yourself. 

Ca’mon—push yourself away from the computer and then try a few drawings….it is really enjoyable.

A note about the fine  arts and my personal health.  I wanted to inspire those who may have serious medical conditions.  I will relate some stories in future blogs.  But right here I will tell you about a surgery I had. 

It was so scarey for me!  I had been having surgery for two years straight on different problems.  The final year was the third surgery unrelated  to the others.  But it was scarey nonetheless! 

 I used another technique of singing to cope.  I found a variety of inspirational songs,  or gospel songs and I have a marathon of singing.  I will do a private mini-concert of positive songs. I even wrote 5 inspirational songs on my own.

 Before we moved I used my Pevy Amp aInd microphone and would sing.  I only would sing during the day–so as not to disturb my neighbors.  I would feel better about my surgery!  I believed  that those fine arts activities that I did at home helped to heal my medical condition. 

 Atleast it made me more calm and resolute about my condition and my doctors.  I found myself  at peace inspite of my situation.  That is why I hope others will give it a try.  Look,  I am already overweight!  I also have highblood pressure. 

If I have to have any type of medical procedure done that involves anesthesia  the doctors are very careful with me.  I did have knee  surgery and I had difficulty waking up.  I realized how serious  any invasive techniques can be when done with sedation. 

Being calm is key.  But lowering blood pressure naturally by losing weight is the best.  I myself am still working on that.  But if you want to start,  take out some paper and begin to draw. 

I bet you will find some of the answers to your inner most thoughts present in your drawings.

Till next blog:


Cakes and Cookies My Aunt Ellen Used to Bake! * Holiday Baking!!

dinner-wit-us-steppinhowards.jpgMy grandparents used to live on Pacific Street in Brooklyn New York when I was born in 1961.  My parents had left Brooklyn before I was born and purchased a home in Queens New York. 

 I remember visiting  my grandparents and my Great Aunt Ellen for the holidays.  Sometimes my father would drive into Brooklyn and pick up my mother’s parents and Aunt Ellen.

They would then spend ThanksGiving with us in Queens.  Aunt Ellen would always have “bags of plaid or green with rolling wheels filled with great smelling cookies,  cakes,  and ingredients to help my mother out with the Thanks Giving Feast! 

It was a wonderful time of togetherness!  I was about 5 or 6 when a picture had been taken of everybody at the table from my mother and father to the rest of the family gathered around for the prayer and the meal at the table.  I always knew that this was supposed to be a special time. 

  They were imigrants from Virginia.  My Great Aunt Ellen was a spinster.  She was a member of a 7th Day Adventist church. 

She was well known for her hand made dolls,  her cooking and her baking!  She would cook for church functions  all the time.  But  she made her living cooking every day for a family of a wealthy  Building Designer named Freidman. 

 My Aunt Ellen lived at the Friedman  house on on Argiel Road 6 days a week. She cared for the two daughters, cleaned the house, and cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  She was a devote 7th Day Adventist so she attended church every Saturday.  She was my favorite person to see when I went to my grandparents home. 

I did not realize how special that apartment was until just now.  Because so many of the things that I love to do are threaded by the love and quiet personality I had observed  of my Aunt Ellen. 

She spoke volumes with her actions by constantly being busy.  She did not preach at you…she was just a quiet loving presence.  She went away every year and baked up state at the Religious Retreats of the 7th Day Adventist. 

When she passed it was a difficult time because she represented a era of my life.  She lived long enough to meet my son after he was born, and she was talking to him and even recognized him and everyone else up until her dying moment. 

Aunt Ellen had passed at the age of 86 years old.  She left behind her hand made dolls and her quiet  love for God and his word.  Her bedroom was filled with Bibles and 7th Day Adventist literature. 

The Freidman daugthers were middle aged women and they cried with great emotion at the wake and funeral.  They stated that she was their second mother and they were in mourning for the dear Ellen.

Ellen’s Cakes*

Yellow Cake with milk Chocolate Frosting: 

I would love to sneak pieces and pieces of cake and eat until my stomach hurt!!! She would make a three layer cake with the frosting between the layers.  I loved to eat the chocolate all by itself! The cake was the bonus.  My son  always asks me why do I love chocolate so much.  I think it truly is a comfort food for me.  It reminds me of Aunt Ellen’s baking —I guess.  She would sometimes put walnuts in the milk chocolate frosting.  Every thing Aunt Ellen did was from scratch!  No Betty Crocker for Aunt Ellen back in the 60’s and 70’s! 

Classic White Cake with Coconut Frosting:

I would enjoy this cake also.  It was light and fluffy, and had a pinapple center.  Again all of her baking was done from scratch.  Sometimes if I arrived on the one day she had off from the Friedman’s home,  I would get to see Aunt Ellen in the midst of baking!  (I have come to realize now, that is why I like to cook, and bake so much–when I have time!) I also love to knit, and sew by hand.  I just do not have the time that I would like to devote to handcrafting!

Lemon Pound Cake:

There was no frosting on this cake….but the lemon was strong and the cake was firm but moist.  I remember savoring the tangy lemony taste with a cup of milk!  I did not like milk back then,  but if Aunt Ellen baked something you would certainly expect to see me with a cup of milk!

Vanilla Drops:

These Vanilla Drop Cookies were hard as a rock!  But once you got them in your mouth you kept eating, and eating till they were all gone!   Aunt Ellen used baking soda, baking powder,  yeast, and all of the traditional ingredients.  Sometimes she would have me sift the flour for her baking.  That was my favorite task when helping her out.  She would chide me, or admonish me to do this or do that, or sit down so I wouldn’t spill anything!   She never patted me on the head, or even kissed my cheek.  She was very quiet and just plodded along her course until she finished one project of baking or another.

Chocolate/ Walnut,  and or Chocolat Chip Cookies:

Yes, I saved the best for  last.  These cookies were the best for me.  I would eat, and eat those cookies until my mother would tell me to stop it!  I would sneak back into the kitchen and look inside this special roasting pot that Aunt Ellen would store her completed cookie projects inside of  wax paper,  foil, and little plastic bags. 

 I just loved to smell the flour and odor of baked goods as I would walk into  that kitchen and take a cookie or two.  I would check the kitchen table for evidence of a new baking project —you know ingredients of walnuts already cracked and waiting in little bags or containers. 

 I would then go across to the window and look out and see the elevated train station with people waiting for their train above Altantic Avenue.  I would go back to the living room with my cookies!

Cakes I attempt to make>>>

Now that Aunt Ellen is gone for some years now,  I still find myself loving home baked goods.  I cannot recreate them from scratch but I go to the supermarket and pick up the boxes of BETTY CROCKER or Duncan Hines Cake mixes!  I will list the group I will be making for this ThanksGiving Weekend:

 Duncan Hines- Moist Deluxe Classic White Cake

****I have premade White Frosting with rainbow sprinkles for the White Cake.

Duncan Hines- Moist Deluxe **Red Velvet Cake

****I will use the premade Ducan Hines White Frosting for the Red Velvet Cake.

Duncan HInes- Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden Cake

****I will use the premade milk chocolate frosting for the Golden Cake.

****Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies

I do not need any frosting on my brownies!

Two more are not cake but something I have discovered that are tasty:

Concord Foods  Apple Crisp-  I purchased this mix in King Kullen,  but I have also purchased it in Waldbaums,  and Pathmark Stores.

All that is needed is simple butter, and Fresh Apples!  You can put icecream on this after it is prepared.  It is great tasting and easy to make too!

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix-  This is the only mix that comes close to the old fashioned taste of Aunt Ellen’s cooking and her bisquits! 

I truly enjoyed reminiscing with you about my love of Aunt Ellen,  and her special quiet ways.

Enjoy your ThanksGiving Weekend,  and the Special People in your lives!