The List of Accomplished Firsts
One of the things about living in Merida that I love is the artist community. So it is only natural that a few of my firsts would be art classes. In July I painted my first acrylic and now January was my first watercolor.
Now when I think watercolor painting I think soft colors and blurred lines (like the painting below) and this is a style for sure but in Chris’s class I learned watercolors can do so much more.
When I entered the class the stage was set with paint and an instruction sheet. The goal was to paint the vegetables that were sitting on the cutting board in front of us. However that is not where we started.
Chris first explained to us about the different brands of paint and paper that could be used and the different effect the brushes would have on different sheets of paper. Then we went through the 6 techniques.
My favorite was when he put salt on the paper and it pulled all the water (and thus the color) towards it. Quite an interesting look.
After going through each style we started painting our own little squares.
I started with the cutting board then the onion and the avocado. Being I like abstract I decided to use alternate colors for everything. Chris was a wonderful teacher as he saw me going out of the box and he encouraged me to run with it.
He then showed us how we could take something and paint around the edges. This he demonstrated with a cilantro leaf. I loved this idea and got quite swept away with it. However as I began this process my painting transformed from a plate of vegetables to a fictional creature.
He then came over and suggested that I do some blotting to paint the sky area which worked out perfectly. He also showed us the check mark bird which I also found appealing. By the end I had a wonderfully weird painting to add to my collection.
I was really surprised how bright the colors remained and how I was able to paint clean lines as well as the soft edges.
Of course when I got home I played a bit with it on photoshop. But the original painting will be framed and hung as I am really proud of this one. Chris also informed us that when framing watercolor it should be hung behind glass as humidity will effect the painting however it should not be touching the glass. So I am still looking for the perfect home for my Avolantro Creature.
The Year of Firsts #8 December
Paddle boarding in Bacalar
The Year of Firsts #7 November
Performing on a stage made from people’s homes
This month I did not set out to achive this “first” activities however a musical first fell into my lap.
This month’s First was performing on a stage made from the wood from people’s homes.
This was an extremely unique experience. Los Similares the 60’s 70’s rock band that I perform with was asked to play at a festival hosted by a small puebla 2 and ½ hours outside of Merida. None of us knew what to expect. After driving through towns on winding roads we arrived at Hanal Balam. It was a beautiful little puebla with farm animals and children running freely. As we approached the stage I was a little nervous as it was quite high, did not have stairs and was made of different sized pieces of wood. Hanah who was assisting us in our set up told us that all the wood had names written on them as they had been taken off the houses in the puebla in order to build this temporary stage.
Part of the reason for the festival was to raise money so the town could build a more permanent stage for future performances. Once the new stage is completed, the people of the puebla would then take back the pieces of wood and return them to the spots they were taken from. Quite an interesting concept. Could you imagine that happening anywhere else? “I am just going to take off this wall or door or roof from my house for a month until the festival is over. “ As we started to play our set more and more people came out of their near by homes to join the activities.
They were so happy to see us there. They were happy to have us standing on their houses to play music for them. But this was a very new experience to them so they did not clap. When we were done playing each song they just smiled and nodded. The children would run up to the stage and then they would run away. So adorable. We were offered rice milk when we were finished playing and stayed to watch the mariachi band that performed after us. It really was an incredible experience and so worth the 5 hours drive. Thanks so music to Maria Moctezuma for organizing such an amazing event.
Being Robin Hood is one of my favorite heros, as is Hawkeye, archery was a no brainer, it had to be on my list. So when I found Maxim Arqueria’s private class was 300 pesos an hour this went to the top of the pile. Julie once again joined me for this First adventure. She had done some archery once before years ago.
The Year of Firsts #5 September
Well those who know me know I do not cook alot. I love to eat but I am a lazy cook. If I cannot make it in 15 minutes I usually just skip it. I eat alot of cold meals at home. But this was a different experience all together. Cooking with these two chefs was not only an education but enjoyable as well. Even though it took 3 hours we had a great time creating this delicious dish. I do think it was partly due to the secret ingredent …. Strawberry gin.
This was of course not in the lassana.
Well to start they gave me a list of ingredients to purchase.
When I arrive with the shopping list we got started on preparing the meat. The ground beef went into the pot right away then I had to peel off the intestines that hold the sausage together so it would fall apart nicely. It looked to me like there was little bits of cheese in the sausage but no, that was fat. This brought back some memories as when I was little I use to help my dad make sausages with the deer meat he would bring home after hunting. We would put the intestines on the end of the meat grinder and it would make the perfect deer sausage. I also remember how often I thought “we are having deer sausage again” and would let out a heavy sigh. Now I realize how lucky I was.
We added the sausage to the meat pan at medium tempature to lightly brown the meat.
After breaking up the sausage we needed to start to soak the noodles. Now I always thought you had to pre-cook the noodles however the process now is just to make them soft in warm water.
I chose the bagette bread for our garlic bread. So we needed to cut off the ends and slice it down the middle. While I was cutting the bread Judy melted the butter and added some of our crushed garlic. Then we needed to take the brush and mix the garlic into the butter every time we went to brush some on.
Once all the bread was coated in a layer of garlic butter they were wrapped for cooking. If you prefer the crunchy garlic bread you can just put it on a pan but we prefered the soft bread.
Now there was no waste those end bit we cut those into bite size pieces and used the leftover butter to make homemade crutons.
After we cooked them in the pan for a bit we transfered them into a bag to shake in some parmesan cheese in.
I would have been happy just eating a bowl of these for dinner.
It was now time to add the sauce. Judy had some sauce already so we just added some more garlic pepper and salt.
So we needed to wait a bit for the sauce to simmer so it was the perfect time for a strawberry gin break. What a delicious beverage. I quite liked it straight but that would have been a dangerous game as it went down smooth and easy so I opted to add the tonic.
Now it was time to get going on the cheese filling. This consisted of 16 oz of ricotta cheese, 6 cups of grated mozza cheese and one whipped egg. All mixed together. Alternativly you could just whip the ricotta and egg together and sprinkle on the mozza.
We first put a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan.
The we removed the noodles from the water and dryed them off a bit before putting a pasta layer into the pan.
We topped the layer of pasta with a layer of the cheese mixture then a layer of the sauce and another layer of the pasta and on and on till we used up all the pasta cheese and sauce
Then we covered the dish and put it into the preheated oven
While the lassana was cooking we could start to prepare the salad dressing. We took 2 cloves of our minced garlic and some olive oil and mashed it up at the bottom of the salad bowl. Then we added 2 little anchovies. and mashed them up too. We added more olive oil salt and pepper and mixed it up.
Now I always thought you needed to add egg to your caesar salad dressing. This spurred the conversation. Traditionally you would use an egg that was cooked for 3 minutes and mash that up and add it to the dressing. Some people add a raw egg and others add mayonaise but Cindy likes to just edit the egg all together so that is what we did. I have to say I did not miss it.
The next step was to rip off (not cut) the ends of the lettuce then wash it all. After washing it we needed to soak it for a bit in ice water. This makes the leaves nice and crisp.
So while the lettuce soaked and the lassana cooked it was once again time to have a little beverage. One more Strawberry gin and tonic.
As we were sipping on our bevy’s the timer went off and it was time for the top layer on the lassana. The last bit of mozzarelli cheeze was sprinkled onto the dish and we returned it to the oven without the cover on it so the top could get a bit crisp.
It needed to cook for another 15 min then we needed to let it rest for another 10 minutes.
At this point it was time to dry the romain lettuce. Cindy wrapped it in dish towels and spun it around a bit then we layed them on the table.
Once it was dry it was time to rip each leaf into a pile of bite size pieces. Cindy told me it was important to not ripe them too small because they will wilt in the dressing if they are too tiny.
At the 5 minute mark of the lassana being ready that is when we tossed the salad. Adding a 1/3 of the lettuce at a time with crutons and paramsan cheese. Once it was tossed we topped it off with more cheese and crutons.
The lassana was ready for cutting and it came out exactly as it should. Everyone was really happy with the dinner. My teachers Judy and Cindy were quite amazing, kind and knowledgeable. I might have another cooking first in my future.
The Year of Firsts #4 August Beer bath spa and magnet pool.
I was starting to scramble this month. It was half over and I had no idea what my next “first” was going to be. I mentioned what I was doing to a few friends who started tossing out ideas. Then I got a message from Julie. “Have you ever done a beer bath?” Well as a matter of fact I have not. (not intentionally anyway lol) So we booked 2 tickets to attend the Neek Ich Casa del Agua Beer bath spa evening. We were told to bring bathing suits, towels and open minds.
Friday came around and turned out to be one of my worst days I have had in a long time. Traffic, set backs and well not a thing I tried to get done got done. It was a very frustrating day so when 6pm came around and it was time to enjoy the spa I was more than ready.
When we arrived we were welcomed with wonderful aromas and smiling faces. Immediately the stress of the day started to fall away.
First, we were directed to the outdoor shower where we were asked to rub cleaning herbs on our bodies. These were rosemary and a few other cleansing herbs.
After covering ourselves and rinsing we were directed to the beer bath jet pools. These pools were made of simple little cinder blocks and were the perfect size for two. The water was warm, not hot, and the beer smelled sweet. There were little cloth bags floating in the water. We found out the water consisted of Patito beer, apple cider vinegar and hops. The host informed us that when entering any of the pools it was best to start with the right foot as it brings good luck. So right left in we went and a calm swept over me.
We were offered a couple beer to drink while we relaxed in the pool. “With or with out ice.” As the sun started to set we heard some birds chirping in the distance and then they landed on the tree in the neighbour’s yard. Juile pointed out that they were the local parrots that fly over Merida. This was the first time I had seen them as well. One more thing to add to my year of firsts. We were told to spend 60 minutes in the pool then we would move to the next one. Both Julie and I started talking about how easy it would be to make one of these at home. The wheels turned for a momment but very quickly the relaxation set in and my mind cleared. Half way thru our 60 minutes they brought out the mud facial. I am not sure what was in this but as she rubbed the concoction on my face with a soft brush I began to imagine I was a Greek goddess being pampered.
At the end of our 20 minutes we were directed to the little fountain sinks to wash off our mud to prepare us for the next pool.
Up next was the reiki stone pool massage. Once again we were directed to enter the pool with our right foot to bring luck. While walking over the stones we were told to have positive intentions. To trust in our own strength and to release any negative energy. To find our own balance. Our palms were to be facing upward while walking on the river stones.
After walking on the river stones we were to move on to our next relaxing activity . The Magnet pool.
This part of the evening, for me, was the sweet spot. The water was being sprayed upward and dropping down in the centre of the pool. The magnets encircled the pool thru thin wires. Once again I was directed to enter the water with my right foot.
The water was much cooler than the beer water and I did not think I would be able to stay in it very long but once I was submerged in the water the cold feeling subsided and turned into a revitalizing fresh experience. The water falling into the centre of the pool was strong enough to massage my head shoulders and back. I started to feel a bit gitty. I could not stop smiling which was strange as I was by myself and there was no reason for laughter. But somehow joy pulsed thru my body. I floated under the waterfall trying to have my whole body touched by this healing massage. Finally after about 20 minutes I felt it was time for me to exit these glorious waters. I sat on the edge of the beer pool for a bit then wandered about the grounds taking in the natural decor and positive energy.
I truly got in touch with my earth child on this excursion.
After Julie finish her reiki session (which she told me was amazing) we thanked our hosts and went outside feeling rejuvenated and a bit hungry so off to get some food.
Keeping with the beer theme of the evening we popped over to Hermana Republica for some beer flights and a delicious dinner of rare tuna and ravoli finished with one of the best carrot cakes I have ever tasted.
The Year of Firsts #3 July Painting a self portrait in Acrylic
When I started this project I did not think I was going to be painting a self portrait. I was painting a tree. A fictional tree at that. Something with no restrains or a look I needed to emulate. I just started painting and it fell out.
After I was finished and was sitting with Karla looking at our finished paintings I saw it. The tree was hair and the trunk the body. The painting was no longer finished and I had my work cut out for me.
So I went home and flipped thru all my gig photos and didn’t I have a picture of me playing the bass that would line up perfectly. Well except that my face was looking at the neck of the guitar and I needed to be singing upward ino order for the angles to work. I kept looking and found a photo that was perfect on the face portion but not the body so I got on my affinity program and spliced them together.
Now just to be clear I could never sing like that while playing the bass. No way man. But that is the beauty of editing.
Once they were put together I was ready to paint.
So I made myself another canvas and the real challange started. How to do this without cheapening the picture already finished. Well I have to admit I did some tracing.
And there was no way I was going to try and do eyes. lol So I opted to make it a silhouette. But then the sky background was so beautiful Karla sugested that the vest be just an outline with the sky coming thru. I liked that idea but I needed to darken the sky in the vest a bit. My skin I matched the color of the tree trunk and my hair matched the color of the leaves. Then there was the guitar. I balanced the color of the green in the tree with the green of the guitar and then the white in the field was balanced with the white of the microphone. The red flowers were balanced with the microphone handle.
On a side note: I have painted in acrlic once before. It was in a class where we all painted a gords.
This was very fun, however the self portrait was much more challenging. And yet much more enjoyable. (I think that had to do a bit with the company and the wine)
I am so pleased with the finished product. Althought I am thinking about doing some of the tree texture on the arms. But I may not.
My first cd was called Earthchild and I have also titled my first self portriat Earthchild as well.
The Year of Firsts #2 June The Skywalk
My heart was pounding the whole time and I have to say my second “First” is going to be hard to top.
There is nothing like seeing millions of people, buildings, and cars looking like ants and toys. Wow was spoken quite alot this glorious afternoon. Thanks so much Trudy for treating me to such a wonderful afternoon.
So for my baby first I put together this song to go with the video they gave us (I edited it a bit) If you want to go on the walk with us have a look.