Brooke Gaar-Bever: The Five Question Interview

Brooke Gaar-Bever is the owner, creator of OtherPeoplesFamily! She collects found photos in antique shops, flea markets, etc. and turns them into black and white watercolor images and portraits. Her paintings are inspired by these photos, as well as people and places which interest her. She lives with a disability called hEDS and uses painting as a form of physical therapy.

Brooke lives in Taylor with her husband Nathan, and a pack of sweet senior dogs.

1. Why did you move to Taylor? 

We moved to Taylor in 2013 because of our love of 100+ year old houses. Taylor had quite a few to choose from in our price range, so it was a good fit.  

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I’ve always had a love of museums and the visual arts. In college I studied art history and restoration and was classically trained as an art conservator. Due to a medical condition I can no longer perform art restoration, but I started to paint 5 years ago as a form of physical therapy. My inspiration comes from found photos, books, and film. My favorite recent series is of Appalachian serpent handlers.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

In the past five years, I learned that family doesn’t have to be blood-related, it’s okay to take time for myself, and I don’t always have to be in control, (still working on this one!).

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I read one book a week and have a different theme each month. My current topic is injustice within the criminal justice system. This week, I’m reading the autobiography Solitary by Albert Woodfox, who spent 40 years in solitary confinement. 

5. Cake or Pie?

I really like cake, but I LOVE homemade vegan cherry pie!

Shop www.otherpeoplesfamily.etsy.com
Instagram @otherpeoplesfamily

Ashley Smith: The Five Question Interview

Ashley with “Hunter T” and “Poe”

Ashley Smith and her husband Kyle opened The Clever Tiger on June 14th, 2018. Their vision is to serve, inspire, and lead in the  growth and sustainment of the art community. In less than two years it has become a natural community hub for art events and art activities for adults and children.

Ashley is a painter and ceramic sculpture artist. Her husband Kyle is a custom framer and woodworker. They live near downtown Elgin with their three daughters.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I grew up in Elgin, moved away, and then moved back 2 different times.  In total, I have lived in Elgin for about 20 years but only started getting to know the community after opening the local gallery.  Before this, I spent so much time commuting that I was never able to spend time enjoying Elgin.  As a child, my parents commuted to Austin for work, I went to primary school in Round Rock, and as an adult, I traveled to Austin and San Antonio for work and college. 

“Good Witch” 18×24 Acrylic on wood

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

Creating is the one talent that I have always been confident of.  Before creating art full-time, I helped create products, projects, business plans, etc.  I find that teaching actually propels my creating by forcing consistent practice and designing lesson plans for a variety of ages and skill levels.

“Lit” 12×16 in. Acrylic on canvas

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Children are the most creative souls around and if we do not nurture this creativity, they are in danger of losing it. 

If you tap into your deepest emotions and “failures”, creating leads to inspiration and deeper thought for others.

You can only grow if you push boundaries and try something you never have before. 

“Thom Yorke” 4’x4′ Acrylic on wood panel

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Currently, I am working on  a painting series of old Elgin, Texas buildings, a new portrait series, and beginning work on my next solo exhibition (re-defining the works of masters.)  While painting, I mostly listen to Thom Yorke, Mars Volta, and anything that help tap into the vibe of the specific piece.  

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie. I prefer homemade pie to any cake in existence. I love making apple pie, and wish blueberry was much more prevalent.  

@artby_ashsmith
theclevertiger.com
@theclevertiger

Social Distancing… Now We’re All Cottage Core

Image by Kerstin Riemer from Pixabay

This article caught my eye last week, and at the time I found it a bit twee. Today, the reality of working mostly from home for the next couple weeks has my mind just reeling with all the knitting, gardening, and cooking that is possible between emails, Slacks, conference calls and production work.

Really, the biggest gain are the 2+ hours of commuting every day. I’m excited to have time to cook weekday meals, which have become a rarity at Chez Vee.

Years ago, a fellow waiter asked me what my superpower would be if I had one. I proudly replied, “The ability to create tasty and nutritious meals with barely anything in the cupboard.”

He blinked at me and said, “How sad.”

I disagree. After all, an apron is just a cape on backward.

I have a lot of great stuff to cook, but am also excited to dust off my cape and use my super power.

Stay healthy y’all!

Read the article here

Fifteen Years & Counting

I cannot believe I started this blog 15 years ago today.

Bean & Noodle started as a Typepad blog in 2005 and is now a blog + online shop for my letterpress cards and silverware.

There are many reasons people blog. Some people blog in hopes of landing a fat book deal. Others blog about specific subjects and somehow become regarded as experts in the field. Some may actually have the expertise to back it, some just have experiences to share and a voice that makes people listen. Artists, designers and stylists blog because it’s a super user friendly way to show their work instead of a website.

Why did I start blogging? 

Mine is a more personal reason. I started blogging to share my life with the women in my family… most importantly, at that time, my mother who I met in 2004. My sister and I were reunited with our mother who had given us up for adoption in the 1970s. We had spent the three years prior to adoption with an amazing foster family, with whom we have always remained in contact. We had not seen my mother since I was almost 5, and my sister was almost 2. When my sister found her, we traveled to New Jersey to visit her for a week. We knew she’d been a musician and artist (my parents were folk musicians in the 1960s… I was born in ’65, my sister in ’67). We discovered that she had been a weaver.

This struck a chord with me as I had always been drawn to textiles and had no idea why. My sister shares our mother’s love and talent for photography. I taught myself to knit when I returned home and have been knitting almost daily since. I feel I am tapping into some genetic memory every time I pick up my needles and yarn to knit.

I won’t go into much more detail, because this story belongs to my sister as much as it belongs to me. I mention it only to shed a little light on why it was so important for me to embark on, what seemed to me the ultimate narcissistic endeavour. I mean who really gives a shit if I finally finished my alpaca shawl and that after a long, crappy day only the comfort of a simple roast chicken and mashed potatoes would feel like a hug?

I can count on one hand the number of people who do.

Facebook and Instagram lured me away from here for a while, but this past year I have found I like sharing here more than ever. I’m no writer, but I like to write and share things that I find funny, beautiful, or helpful. It’s also fun to look back at older posts. If you follow the link at the end of this post to my first ever blog posts…. you’ll find I still blog about knitting, cooking, and digging in the dirt.

Today I realize the real reason I started blogging was to show Toni that I have a good life. I am happy, have a wonderful husband, dogs and cats, that I am creating stuff all the time. That her decision did not destroy our lives.

And I pray every day that it did not destroy hers.

P.S. Check out my first ever post here

Lee Charlton: The Five Question Interview

Lee Charlton is the artist/owner at Felting Farmer Lady where she creates sculptures with wool, spins, and knits. She also sells hand-dyed fibers, roving, and handspun yarns for other fiber enthusiasts.

She lives on a small homestead farm in Central Texas with her husband and a host of critters.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved to Bastrop County in 1985 along with a group of friends when we found a most beautiful spot of land in the western part of the county.  It just happened to be in the Elgin ISD.  We raised 3 children here, all of whom attended the Elgin public schools.  In 2005 we bought a sweet little farm just south of Elgin which we share with 2 sheep, a pig, 3 donkeys, an old bull, 4 dogs and a cat.  The farm welcomes all sorts of visitors and especially the grandchildren.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I am not one that holds still well and love when my hands are busy.  Taking wool and creating beauty just fills my heart, it’s plain and simple.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I have always done crafty things but until I retired in 2011, had never attempted an art form that needed to be developed over time.  In the last five years I have learned to keep at it over and over and over again until what is in my mind communicates with what my hands create and the result pleases me. I have learned how to run a small business, all sorts of social media promotional stuff that is a pain but necessary and tackled creating a website which I am quite proud of.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Hmmm, I have to divide my time between creating product for my on-line business (I sell wool to others who do needle felting and spinning so process a lot of raw wool by washing and dyeing) and my own creating.  Needle felting is creating sculptures with wool.  I also spin yarn, knit and most recently, have dived into botanical printing. Botanical printing is a process that draws out the tannins from leaves onto wool/silk and cotton fabrics.  I use natural dyes to modify these prints as well.

This time of year I am busy planning upcoming workshops, doing taxes and all the fiddly stuff one has to do. I have several large projects swirling in my head that I want to tackle this year.  Spring will be a lovely time to get started.

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie! A good apple pie is the essence of life.

feltingfarmerlady.com
@feltingfarmerlady
Facebook

Emma Clark: The Five Question Interview

Emma in her home studio

Emma Clark is the artist/owner of Ferret & Fern where she creates nature-inspired illustrations and handmade accessories, responsibly crafted to minimize environmental impact.

Keeping with her love of nature, Emma tries to source her materials as responsibly as possible. Using ethically sourced fabrics, or second-hand fabric from clothing, fabric, and remnants when she can find them. 

She makes her own natural dyes, sourced or grown locally when possible, and also uses non toxic printing inks.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

We moved to Elgin initially because we could afford a place downtown, being able to walk to shops and bars was really important to me. Having lived here a while though, I realise how much Elgin has to offer in the way of community and life style! Small town life is definitely the way forward 😊

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

This is a hard one… I don’t think I could name any one thing, if I don’t create anything I get itchy and anxious. I find the process of creating intellectually challenging and incredibly rewarding. Making something beautiful from a simple idea is the best feeling! 

Turmeric Dyed Organic Silk Scarf

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

How to open myself up to people to build new and better friendships. That owning a dog is just as amazing as I thought it would be! That I make art for myself and not for others.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Original art for “It’s Hot in Texas” print

 I’m making a crochet cardigan, I’m reading a book called Overstory, and watching Carnival Row and Picard

5. Cake or Pie?

Cake vs sweet pie – cake! Cake vs savoury pie – pie!

ferretandfern.com
Etsy shop
@ferretandfern

“Now listen…”

Now Listen…

This is how our neighbor Julia began her sentences when she was making a point. She was usually pointing a finger at me too.

When we first bought our home we had a lot of work to do, we installed central air, pulled up carpeting, refinished the hardwoods and seemed to have a paintrush in my hand Friday-Sunday. We stayed in our rental in Austin for a month, and drove out here every night after work and on the weekends to work. I would leave work, go by and grab Roscoe and head out to the “new house”in Elgin. Our meals were mostly of the drive-thru variety. 

One Sunday morning during that month Julia invited us to come by for lunch at noon. We cleaned ourselves up and head on over at noon. She had been cooking all morning for us. She’d made fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, green beans, rolls, and chocolate pie. We were blown away at such hospitality and knew we’d made the right move to this small town. We love telling that story to people who wonder why the hell we moved from Austin to a small town who’s claim to fame is sausage and bricks.

While we were getting excited for our first Christmas in our new home, I’d noticed she had all the candied fruits and nuts to make fruit cake, but she’d recently taken a fall and said she wasn’t up to the task that year. I’d never made one so volunteered to help her. Once the fruit cake was baked, she covered it with cheesecloth and pulled a plastic wrapped bottle of Mogen David from her deep freeze, unscrewed the cap and drizzled it over the top. Julia was a good Baptist woman so I assume this bottle had been in her home since I graduated high school in 1983.

The next morning, I walked next door to give her the molasses I’d picked up for her at HEB, so she can make her rolls. Mind you she was moving in a week and was hell bent on baking rolls for her family’s holiday meals. She’d tried to substitute with the sorghum she had, but she said they tasted nasty. She told me that she started baking her rolls every October, and just put them up in the freezer until they came by to fetch her to spend the holidays with them. She was really sad that she wouldn’t be able to do this anymore.

Julia gave us the buffet that is now the work table in my print studio. She gave me her yarn tote too, though it fell apart years ago. She crocheted, she said it was her constant companion and reached for it beside her chair every night when she was watching TV, much the way I do with my knitting.

In September of 2007 Julia was beginning to pack up her to move into assisted living close to her son and his family. She was a few months shy of her 90th birthday and had been living alone since her husband Roscoe died in 1993. She was a pistol, and lived in that house since before ours was moved from San Marcos and plunked down next hers in 1950.

As we were getting closer to actually inhabiting each room of our home, and hanging artwork and family photos, Julia was next door taking hers down. 

We miss her being next door, but luckily the new owners are great neighbors and renovating the old house to reveal its original beauty, they love it as much as Julia did. 

I only wish I’d remembered to ask her for the recipe for those rolls…

Grow + Share

Holy guacamole! How is my garden still producing so many peppers and cherry tomatoes! There has been so much rain this summer that I’ve hardly watered and fully expected my garden to shrivel up by now. What’s a girl to do with such an embarrassment of riches? Well, it’s Tuesday, so I know one of our community food banks is open so I picked what I could, washed my bounty, bagged it, and dropped it off with volunteers at the Elgin Community Cupboard.

Did you know that most local food pantries can accept home-grown produce? Contact them first, but many of your local organizations will gladly accept washed, home-grown produce to offer their clients. Ample Harvest  has a Find a Pantry link in the Gardeners Donate Food header in the main menu to help you find a local food bank or soup kitchen that would love to accept your produce and backyard eggs.

Links:
Ample Harvest
Elgin Community Cupboard

Spread it on!

Tex-Mex Pimento Cheese

Serve this spread with the usual crackers, spread on a sandwich in place of a slice of regular cheddar. I promise it will not disappoint.

Makes 4 Cups (recipe easily halved)

2 cups jalapeño jack, shredded
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1/3 cup chopped pimentos
1/8 cup chopped pickled jalapeños
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s is my favorite)
1/4 sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1/2  teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2  teaspoon granulated onion
1/4  teaspoon cumin
1/2  teaspoon chili powder
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of sugar

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a standing mixer bowl. Mix thoroughly with the paddle attachment until creamy and the pimentos are well distributed. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Pimento cheese will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.

Pro Tip: While you can certainly use pre-shredded cheese (and I have in a pinch) your spread will be creamier and the shreds less separated if you grate your cheese with a box grater.