Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I found this on one of my favorite art/photography sites called It is a cool site and has lots of great art finds on a daily basis.
If you are still in need of a costume idea for a Halloween event tonight and have the artistic ability to pull one of these off, I promise that people will be impressed.
Pop Art


Jack the Pumpkin King

Van Gogh

Roy Lichtenstein
There are a few more here.  I am most impressed by the Pop Art one since it took me several seconds to actually be convinced it was a real person wearing make up.  
I do not have the ability to come up with a unique costume like these and ended up going to a party as Paul Bunyan.  Which means I just wanted an excuse to carry my axe, Jedidiah, around town and dress in pretty much my go to outfit....flannel and boots.  Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Artwork of the Week: Sliced

Sliced by Quentin Vijoux

I thought since today was All Hallows' Eve eve I should post something somewhat gruesome to mark the occasion. So here you have it. 

You can see more of the illustrator's very cool work on his website:

- Cathleen 

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Revenge of Tricky Treats!

This past weekend we hosted our Fifth Annual Halloween Horrorfest so I decided to throw down on the tricky treats spread again, but this time actually TAKE PHOTOS of the gross-looking/good-tasting food we made before our guests completely decimated the blood-curdling buffet. I used the original line-up from a couple of years ago as my guide, but added a few new gruesome characters to liven things up a bit. I left the naming rights to Micky this year, and some of the place cards definitely got a chuckle out of our friends. Feast your eyeballs!

(cheese ball "brain" with Triscuits and Wheat Thins)
[Cheese ball was made from a combination of this recipe and this recipe from Martha.]

Chips & Barf
(little jack-o-lantern spewing forth guacamole with tortilla chips)

Human Vegetables
(the usual suspects: carrots, celery, broccoli, ranch dip and hummus)

Disembodied Mouths 
(apple slices, caramel spread, and mini marshmallow "teeth") 

Kitty Litter Cake
(yellow cake, chocolate frosting, crumbled Golden Oreos and Tootsie Roll "cat turds") 
[Inspired by this recipe.]

Baby Fingers
(Lit'l Smokies wrapped up in crescent roll dough with sliced almond "fingernails" plus ketchup and mustard)

Crapple Sin-amon Muffins
(Apple Cinnamon Muffins whipped up by our gracious co-host Neal Block) 

Breaky Bones
(expertly decorated skeleton cookies made by the beautiful and talented Shannon McKeon

Wishing you all a devilishly delicious Halloween this year! 

- Cathleen 

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Witch

Halloween is less than a week away and although I could do without the candy (except the 100 Grand which is the best candy bar ever created) I do love a good excuse to dress up. I've got a Halloween party this weekend and since I'll be flying solo, I was thinking something along these lines:

Angelica Huston as the Grand High Witch from the movie adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Witches.

She is simultaneously terrifying and fascinating. I first saw The Witches when I was ten years old and it scared the pants off me. But I was totally captivated by Angelica Huston's character. Or maybe it was just Angelica Huston herself. 
So much glamour wrapped up in one person.

And glamour is what Halloween is all about, my friends. Plus, you can't get more Halloween-y than a good witch. 
Or the Grand High Witch, as it happens.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Short Film of the Month: '8' by Acim Vasic

I am no expert movie critic. I don't claim to be some film connoisseur. But I do have a thing for finding interesting and well made shorts. In fact, I find a short film to be a lot more enjoyable than most full-length movies and they don't take up nearly as much time. There are a lot out there and several sites where one can find quality flicks.  The two sites I frequent most are and

Creating a successful short film is, in some ways, harder than a feature-length movie.  They are almost always independently produced and budgets are relatively tiny.  Actors are not always of the highest caliber and a lot of work falls in the laps of a small number of people.  

For these reasons, and many others, it makes finding a really good one very exciting and I hope to post a new one on the last Thursday of every month.

Since we are approaching Veterans Day, I thought this one above, being a military comedy, would be a good start.

'8' by Acim Vasic runs roughly 10 minutes long and doesn't have one word in the script.  Sound and imagery tell the story of two soldiers who cross paths in a setting similar to WWII Bastogne.  It is not laugh out loud funny, but creates a dark humorous tone in a situation that would not be very funny in real life.  There is a bit of a Tom and Jerry-esque battle of the wits between the two soldiers, yet it is accomplished without getting too goofy.  The sound throughout is very crisp and defined, from the crunching of the snow to the heavy breathing of the two men; it helps add to the tension and becomes it's own character in a way. There is also a great appearance by an owl towards the end that is a wonderful little addition.  He is observing the ridiculousness of the showdown and seems to have a real interest in the outcome.

I hope you enjoy this little film as much as I do and I look forward to posting my next short film find in a month.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Hunt for Red (and Green) in October

Rainbow Stocking 
$24.95 from Land of Nod

It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas. Christmas STOCKINGS, that is. We are searching for a new set for our growing family and there is a surprising lack of quality oversized socks to hang from our mantle and fill with toothbrushes and broken candy canes. I want something that looks classic yet not so cute that a surly teenager won't roll his/her eyes when we pull it out every year. See? I'm really thinking ahead on this one. After an exhaustive internet exploration, I think we've narrowed it down to these fine few.

Red & Gray Natural Fair Isle Stocking 
$34.50 from Pottery Barn Kids

Confetti Stocking
$24.95 from Land of Nod

Quilted Red Ribbon Velvet Stocking

Pick Stitch Stocking
$24 from Land of Nod

Ice Skate Glitter Stocking
$34.50 from Pottery Barn Kids

Psst... Land of Nod also has a great selection of novelty stocking stuffers that would thrill adult and kid alike come Christmas morn. Seriously, I would have killed for this bell when I was a whippersnapper. And is there anything funnier than fake dog poop?

- Cathleen 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Artwork of the Week: Visit My Web Site

Visit My Web Site by Charley Harper, 2003

When we left Brooklyn, we finally said goodbye to the little cockroaches that darted across the countertops every time we flipped the kitchen lights on. The new house in Durham has it's own breed of home invaders, however. Spiders sit poised in every corner of this place. I wouldn't say that I'm afraid of bugs, in fact, most of the time I just look the other way. As long as they're not bothering me, I won't bother them. But now that there's a baby crawling around putting all of the things straight into his mouth, I'm trying to keep a tidier house. So I started dust-busting the spiders up, thinking it would be the most effective means to their end and involve the least hand-to-hand combat. Big mistake. When Micky decided it was time to empty out the Dirt Devil last week, they all came crawling out ALIVE AND WELL. I didn't see, but I imagined it probably looked like a giant spider king made of a bunch of smaller angry spiders and I was so grateful he was there to wrestle each one of their spindly legs into the garbage.

Despite my aversion to webs and the cobs that spin them, this is my favorite work by illustrator Charley Harper. The bee stuck in the bottom left of the spider's silk is the very same that I considered getting as a tattoo. 

A lithograph of his original painting is available for $75 on

- Cathleen 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Linear Art

Several years ago, my husband pointed out to me how I love lines. I'd never made the connection even though, as a sculpture major in college, I worked with metal wire for several semesters. But his comment was a revelation and helped me understand why I was so fascinated with using a 2-dimensional medium to make 3-dimensional work.

My focus eventually shifted away from linear work (although it did end up figuring pretty heavily in my senior exhibition) but I never lost the appreciation for a good line. So I enjoyed seeing a couple of Gavin Worth's pieces posted on the interwebs last week. 

Hands Clasped

Mr. Worth's work is interesting because it is 3-dimensional in that it exists in space but still remains on one plane. The position of the viewer determines how the work is received, making it changeable from every standpoint. 

Morning Pose

I once read that a good kid distraction technique was to carry different gauges of wire around in your purse for your children to play with when confronted with unexpected down time or a long wait. Just looking at these wire sculptures makes me want to take this advice and use it for myself!

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Art?

So I found these new paintings online and thought they were really cool.  I love the color and detail and wondered who the artist could be.....


But wait!....these aren't paintings, click here to find out what these images really are....
Nature is impressive.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Taking It to the Next Level

I told you I couldn't stop. I wouldn't normally post another recipe so soon after the last, but I can't help myself. I've taken lunch to the next level over here. Poached IN THE MICROWAVE eggs ON TOP of the magnificent kale you cooked last week. Here's how it's done: 

Microwaved Poached Eggs

2 eggs
2/3 cup water
1/2 tsp vinegar

Crack both eggs into a microwave-safe bowl. Pour the water into the bowl and then add the vinegar. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate then place it into the microwave and heat at 80% power for 1 minute and 40 seconds. Once it beeps, check to see if the whites have solidified. If not, then cook in 10 second rounds until it looks ready. But remember: eggs continue to cook even after you remove them from the heat, so be careful you don't over do it! Remove eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and serve over your Sauteed Kale with Garlic and Sweet Potatoes. Add a side of toast for dipping into those sweet, sweet runny yolks. Decaf Earl Grey tea is optional.

[Modified from]

- Cathleen

Monday, October 14, 2013

Artwork of the Week: Daily News

Daily News by Simona Pries
2010, broken glass panes, 217 x 163 cm

I'm usually a total sucker for bright colors, unusual materials, and multi-layered content. But I can appreciate subtlety too. This work by Swiss artist Simona Pries expresses a beautiful and delicate danger. I like the reflection of light that plays off the surface of the glass depending on where you stand to view the work, and the subtle lines created by the jagged edges against the white walls. 

I also just discovered that she is the author of the piece that I used as my desktop background for the two years I worked at SVA. Huh! Maybe I like minimalist work more than I thought. 

You can see more on the artist's website:

- Cathleen 

[Images courtesy of the artist's website.]

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Wonder of Adaptation

The other day I came across the story of Daniel Kish and I was just blown away. If you're not familiar, Daniel was born with a rare form of cancer that caused him to completely lose his eyesight by the time he was 13 months old. As a baby, he started making clicking noises to explore his environment by listening to the echo. As an adult, his skill of echolocation is so refined that he can ride his bike in traffic and describe his surroundings in detail. He now teaches echolocation to the blind all over the world and has changed many peoples lives as a result.

Isn't life incredible?

Have an inspiring Weekend!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront
I love jackets...jackets are just downright awesome.  I have a few trusty ones, but I'm always in search of another. Grace has decided that as long as she gets me a jacket or tough boots for birthdays and/or Christmas, I will always be happy.  

You may have noticed this, but in many movies and TV shows, when they want to make someone look like a badass, they just throw them in a sweet jacket (or coat).  It can’t just be any jacket, but when it fits well and looks tough, it can make a character.  Some of these shows have people wearing jackets all year round regardless of weather (e.g. Supernatural).     

A solid jacket can be expensive and I rarely actually splurge on a good one.  If you want to find something affordable, durable and manly, jackets designed by Mossimo at Target will fit the bill.  My Mossimo "raggy jacket" has lasted me years and is my go-to when the weather gets cool.  But if you are willing to throw down some cash, I highly recommend the store Scotch & Soda.  It is overtly hipster, but they really know what they are doing when it comes to jackets.  It's a good style reference site even if you may not be willing to actually drop $300.  Here are some examples of current jackets on their site:

Army Jacket With Detacheble Jacquard Lining

Lumberjacket With Teddy Lining

Shirt Jacket With Detachable Inner


Honorable Mention:

This image is the closest thing I could find to the shooting vest worn by "The Governor" on The Walking Dead. The character is a total psycho, but he rocks this vest like a champ. Wearing vests can be quite risky, but one designed and meant for carrying and firing a shotgun is thinks.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

I know kale is like, a super popular superfood and all, but you guys, it's really super tasty too. I know everyone raves about kale chips, and I've tried, but I just can't get behind them. Kale salads? Sure, they're ok. But Sauteed Kale with Garlic and Sweet Potatoes? Now that's my JAM. Seriously. I've eaten this three times in the last week. It might just be my new favorite lunch. Get into it. 

Sauteed Kale with Garlic and Sweet Potatoes

2 T olive oil
1 large sweet potato, cubed with skin on
a sprinkle of sea salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bag of kale, 16 oz
1/4 cup of vegetable or chicken stock
juice of 1/2 a lemon
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup of roasted, salted sunflower seeds (shelled!)

In a large skillet set over medium heat add olive oil, cubed sweet potatoes, and a sprinkle of sea salt and cook for 5 minutesuncovered, without stirring. Then toss potatoes once, cover skillet with lid, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove lid, toss potatoes again then add garlic, cooking all until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the kale. Just dump the whole bag in there. Using tongs, toss everything together so it gets evenly heated. Add the chicken (or veggie) stock to the bottom of the pan, pour lemon juice over the top, sprinkle some pepper on top of that if you're into it, and toss everything once more. Cover with lid and allow to saute/steam for 1-2 minutes more until kale has wilted and turned bright green. Be careful that you don't overcook it. When ready, remove pan from heat and serve with sunflower seeds sprinkled on top. Feeds 2 people generously (I usually go back for seconds), but could easily fill 4 bowls as a nice big side to whatever else you're serving up.

[Modified from]

- Cathleen

Monday, October 7, 2013

Artwork of the Week: Devon Rex Cats

Devon Rex Cats by Krissy McLean
ink  and acrylic on watercolor paper, 9 x 12"

There are four cats that like to hang out in our backyard. If we were still living in Brooklyn they'd probably be considered "feral" but here we assume they belong to someone and just choose to spend their days stretched out in the sunny patches behind our house. There's a fat tannish-cream colored one that I've named "Marshmallow." And an orange striped one I have dubbed "Marmalade." And a mostly white guy with big gray spots that we call "Killer" as I have twice seen him trotting up our driveway with a STILL ALIVE chipmunk dangling from his mouth. As of yesterday, there's a new all-black variety on the scene that I haven't quite gotten a read on yet. I'm not much of a cat ladyI'm pretty allergic to most so I tend to only regard them from afar. But I have to admit that I do appreciate seeing these contented creatures slinking their way through our grass. I may feel differently once I discover they've turned our back 40 into a giant litter box, but until then...cats! Am I right?

Artist Krissy McLean from Toronto, Canada sells her very affordable original artwork on Etsy. You can see more of her work in her shop: KrissyMcLean.

- Cathleen

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nice in Theory?

So, I'm in the market for a mobile for over my daughter's bed and I came across this one. It seems right up my alley 
because it is aesthetically simple, inexpensive, and not too complicated to make. 

via Design Mom

I love the symmetry of the hanging threads and cascade of the little clay diamonds but I keep thinking a couple of tweeks here and there could make it a little more special. I was definitely planning on using a metallic brass-y spray paint instead of the craft paint. And maybe pretty embroidery thread as the stringing material or a more delicate way of attaching the threads to the hoop? 

I'm not sure if I'm trying too hard to make this project work. I have a tendency to keep pressing on when I should just let things go.

Any thoughts? Should I forge ahead or jump ship and try something else? I need to make a decision because I've designated this weekend as my DIY weekend. My esposo is out of town so I need to get some projects done before he gets home and we resume our usual routine of getting NOTHING accomplished. So, seriously, hand over your two cents.

And then have an excellent Crafty Weekend.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Man's Perspective

Hello all you Swings and Arrows readers/followers.  My name is Brian and I have been graciously invited by the wonderful, intelligent, and beautiful women of S and A to give a weekly man’s perspective on art, style, and living.  Hopefully my posts can attract male readers to the blog as well as show the female fans that, although the minds of men are simple, we can still be interesting. 

I had several ideas for my first post but after a short yet enlightening talk with my wife I realized there was only one acceptable subject.  Grace asked me, “What is your passion in life?” After thinking for roughly 10 seconds I answered: ”splitting logs.”  I then attempted to clarify by saying I am passionate about anything having to do with logging and building fires, thinking that would somehow make it seem less ridiculous.  But it was settled.

In a future post I hope to discuss the ways of properly cutting, splitting, stacking, seasoning, and burning wood, but since it could make for quite a lengthy first post I will stick to examining the raw beauty of axes as well as logging and building fires.

The axe is an ancient tool, one that has been used in war and everyday survival for thousands of years.  It gives “man” the ability to both create and destroy and is an item that every man person should own.  The basic design of the axe is beautiful and hasn’t changed much over the years, but there are proper ways to make them and here are some companies that just know how to do it best:

Best Made Co. (My axe, Jedidiah, was forged in their US workshop.)

A good axe can be pricey, but if cared for it will last a lifetime and be an item you cherish.

Best Made Co.

Snow & Neally

Gränsfors Bruk
Once you have purchased and broken in your new axe, you can start to appreciate how splitting logs or (if you are lucky) felling a tree can be tremendously therapeutic, strength-building, and absolutely satisfying.  Once you have split, stacked, and seasoned your wood, you can appreciate the raw, natural joy of building your own fire and watching it burn.

Whether you are in the woods, around a fire pit, or sitting in front of your fireplace, watching a burning crackling fire will always make you feel calm and at ease.  There is really nothing like sitting in front of a roaring fire; it stimulates every sense in a gentle soothing way and there aren’t many things that do this all at once. 

Here is a short film (made by the guys at Best Made Co.) that helps one understand the beauty and art of both logging as well as fire-building. It is well shot and makes me jealous.


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