Sunday, March 22, 2015

Two becomes three…again.

I've waited a LONG time for something better and it finally happened.

I got a new part-time job!

It's in another department of the university I already work for. The afternoon shift. Perfect because I can work the new job and literally take one floor down to my night-shift at the second job (I'm allowed to work in two different departments).

The best part is, because both jobs total 40 hours, I'll now qualify for benefits!

And of course, I can finally say goodbye to the crafts store once and for all…sort of.

I gave my two-weeks notice last Friday but the store manager asked if I'd work just on Sundays to complete the time edits for payroll.

The university jobs are both Monday-Friday so it wouldn't conflict with anything and I think the store manager likes the idea of me being around so I can train my replacement and help troubleshoot should they run into problems.

As much as that job frustrates me, I've worked at the crafts store for almost five years. It's hard to let it go and all the people I've come to know along the way.

So in two weeks I'll be working three jobs. I've done it before--I know I can do it again.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Love is out there.

Another LONG week working in the city.

Freshly-fallen snow crunched at my feet as more showered down between the skyscrapers.

Across the street were three construction signs, lined up one after the other.

Someone had drawn a heart on their snow-covered faces.

Someone still believes in love, I thought.

It has become increasingly discouraging for me being alone and single (more than usual).

At times I've given up hope of meeting someone…of finding love.

How fitting I found the hearts.

Three signs (literally) reminding me love is out there.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Vacuuming on Valentine's Day.

I asked several of my coworkers what their plans were for Valentine's Day.

All of them said spending the day with their boyfriend/girlfriend.

When they asked me in return, I replied, "Vacuuming at home."

Sadly, that's the truth.

Even though Valentine's Day can be hard for those of us who are single, I'm still very happy for the people who do have someone to love and be in love with.

They are truly blessed in that way.

I hope to be so lucky.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Justin's heart" (Shared Journal - Page 6)

He was standing across from me. An inner peace and happiness warmed me.

I wanted to tell him everything my heart felt but didn't know how. So I said nothing. That was the last I saw him. Gone from my life as if never being there at all.

::: Step one - Pencil drawing :::

At one time I thought he'd be the one to marry. How naive of me.

I've already mourned the loss of him but still wonder how he is. Hard to believe it's been five years.

This is one of my entries for the Shared Journal I'm doing. The sketch book felt a safe spot for it.

::: Step 2 - Underpainting (watercolor and ink) :::

He will always hold his first husband in his heart--as he should. So long as he's not shutting out others who will love him now.

Surely he's started a new life for himself and he deserves that. Wherever he is, whomever he's with, I hope he's healthy and happy and whole.

God bless you, Justin Sullivan.

I love you.

::: Step 3 - Completion :::

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shared Journal--the beginning.

I just went along with it. It was all his idea.

Fellow artist, David K. Small and I started a Shared Journal!

A journal we'd each add to and then mail back to one another once our page(s) was finished. Back and forth until the journal was completed.

David thought it was a good way for both of us to draw and paint more. And I like to think we'd feed off each other's creativity.

This is the sketch book that was purchased:

(Bee Paper - Aquabee, spiral-bound, mixed media - 9" X 9")

And here's the cover after I added texture medium and then David painted it…..

Love that stylized "D", David!

Here are several of David's entries so far--mine will be in a separate post:

::: Inside flap :::

::: Page 4 :::

::: Page 5 :::

There are no real rules we're following in terms of medium or subject matter, so it'll be interesting what we come up with along the way.

It's been hard giving up control knowing someone else will want to do things their way (I'm argumentative and stubborn…sometimes). But I guess that's the whole point. Letting go and creating something amazing--together.

Let's go for it, smallville!

[To see more of David's artwork, art quilts, acrylic paintings, and MORE, be sure to follow his facebook page. And don't miss out on his art giveaways there either!]

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mr. Gordon.

The department at my university job not only serves students but also the general public. We get our fair share of crazies and homeless from time to time.

One of our "regulars" is an older alum that feels compelled to tell us (loudly) what's going on in his life--everything from bed bugs in his apartment to his bank putting fraudulent charges on his account.

He mainly comes in to use our computers, looking at street level views of google maps, sometimes hours on end.

I've seen him searching through the trash, he mutters to himself, wears the same overcoat everyday, and is always dragging carry-on luggage behind him.

Whenever he'd come up to the front desk, I'd be polite but engage as little as possible, not wanting to get caught up in one of his drawn-out stories (he tends to latch onto you otherwise).

He's more of a nuisance than anything. At times I'd mimic his thick city accent and repeat his stories to my coworkers. Making light of the situation--and the frustrations of dealing with him, but at his expense.

Shame on me. Growing up in school, I was made fun of and harassed just for being who I was. And now I'm essentially doing the same thing.

He came up to the front desk the other day before leaving to wish me a good night (as usual).

Out-of-nowhere he added, "An hour from now, fourteen years ago, my mother had passed."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said.

"Well, that was a a long time ago," he replied, brushing it off. But there were imperceptible tears in his eyes. "It still gets me even now."

In that moment it hit me that for all his oddities he's still very much a human.

I smiled and wished him a good night as I always do. "Take care," I said.

Forgive me, Mr. Gordon. From now on I will try looking at you in a new light.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Exploding Doughnut turns SIX today!

With social media ever-evolving, I don't know where that leaves my blog(s), but it's still here--for now…and I'm glad about that.

Thanks to everyone who has supported my art and words this far.

This blog would be nothing without all of you!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Shake-up at the university.

Oh shit!

Let's just say I was disappointed when I heard the news.

But as the poem goes, nothing gold can stay.

There are changes taking place at my university job.

When I first started over three years ago, my supervisor was a bit of a nightmare. Impatient, aggressive, mean at times. I'm convinced she has demon-blood in her veins. Thankfully she was relieved of watching over the Loop location about a year-and-a-half ago.

Well there's been another restructuring and she's back in charge of the downtown campus where I work.

Because I work the weeknight shift, I'll rarely see her but just knowing she'll be around at anytime puts a damper on things.

We were also notified a full-time colleague will be permanently sent to the Northside location.

To top it all off, of the nine AWESOME students working for us, eight are graduating this year and new ones will have to be hired to replace them.

It feels like we're loose pieces in a snowglobe that's just been shaken.

Hopefully those of us that remain can adapt to the changes once everything's settled and not lose the amazing dynamic our department has.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Married Engagement.

There was happiness on her face. She showed me the ring. Engaged. My God.

One of my student workers told me her boyfriend of five years proposed over Christmas break. They're still quite young but are planning for a long engagement and a wedding when they're both done with school.

And the other day, the department-head at my old city job e-mailed me saying him and his partner of 17 years got married last month.

Both my student worker and former coworker are AWESOME. They totally deserve it. It warms my heart to hear their news yet I'm a touch saddened it's not my news.

Don't I deserve it too?

I LOVE this!!

How does love find some so easily and effortlessly but for the rest of us, we wander, adrift and alone? I don't think I'll ever understand that.

Will I ever meet a wonderful man who will propose and marry me one day?

God, I sure hope so.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tagging cats!

You know if I end up in hell one day, I'll be scratched non-stop by cats for all eternity.

That's what I get--but it'll be worth it. .;)

Another year over, another cat calendar defaced at work.

Here are my favorite sharpie "enhancements" from the past year courtesy of my office space…



Cool cat.


Maybe she's born with it--maybe it's Maybelline.

Ah, the memories.

Which do YOU like the best?

I've done so many of these, maybe I should add "cat-tagger" to my resume.

Tee hee hee.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The whole year in one post!

This year is just about gone. Good! It wasn't a particularly great one for me.

Here's a look back at the past twelve months.

Every blogpost from this year rolled into one neat little package.

Feel free to read an entry you may have missed or browse the archive for ones worth checking out again.

Let's go for it!


(1-6-14) Decorate a cat!
(1-15-14) Wordless Wednesday - Falling Rice (the corner of Michigan Ave. and Adams)
(1-18-14) "Marry The Night" - Owl - Step 6 - Completion!
(1-22-14) 3 + 2
(1-28-14) Brrrr!!!


(2-1-14) Anal action! Cocaine! Gay muscle men! Violent sex!
(2-9-14) My dull life!
(2-12-14) Wordless Wednesday - Falling Mice (the corner of Michigan Ave. and 11th Street)
(2-22-14) Watching artwork being made.
(2-28-14) Love signs.


(3-5-14) Wordless Wednesday - Another "love" (the corner of Michigan Ave. and 11th Street)
(3-16-14) Jesus penny!
(3-19-14) Wordless Wednesday - Falling Ice-T (near the corner of Michigan Ave. and 11th Street)
(3-20-14) Scared for the future.
(3-26-14) Wordless Wednesday - Falling Devices (near the corner of Michigan Ave. and 11th Street)
(3-28-14) I'm an all-star!


(4-14-14) Something cutesy in the meantime.
(4-25-14) Where you're going.
(4-30-14) 34 into 35.


(5-9-14) "Husband-quality."
(5-23-14) Shitty, shitty, shitty!!


(6-6-14) Art unexpected.
(6-18-14) Pressed flowers…by mail!
(6-22-14) Betty's magical pony!
(6-29-14) No sense of Pride.


(7-11-14) Exceeds Expectations!
(7-25-14) Abstract Minnie Mouse!


(8-7-14) Flower heart!
(8-17-14) For Mr. Grey…..
(8-29-14) One of those milestones.


(9-9-14) Cancer…again.
(9-10-14) Final send-off.
(9-14-14) Time.
(9-17-14) Wordless Wednesday - Stop (lying near Roosevelt Road Bridge)
(9-20-14) Going on three.
(9-25-14) Until next year, assholes.
(9-29-14) Return to me.


(10-1-14) Wordless Wednesday - Fallen sparrow
(10-11-14) Let it go.


(11-1-14) Auntie Nancy's Rosary.
(11-9-14) Leaf stamps!
(11-13-14) Buy My Love.
(11-21-14) T'is the season…for bows!
(11-27-14) Holding on for something better.
(11-30-14) Three Widows.


(12-5-14) Dots!
(12-12-14) I hope you have enough.
(12-17-14) Wordless Wednesday - Demolition at 21st St. and Calumet Ave. (two blocks from the historic Prairie Avenue District)
(12-18-14) Christmas music…nope!
(12-21-14) Super, Mega Car Bows!
(12-25-14) Christmas Crab!
(12-29-14) Color Train!
(12-30-14) Red Velvet Brownies!
(12-31-14) The whole year in one post!

I have no idea what next year will bring but I hope it's WONDERFUL…for all of us.

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Red Velvet Brownies!

I brought four dozen of these to work in the morning and half were gone by noon. Enough said!

Red velvet brownies!!

I modified a basic brownie recipe incorporating traditional red velvet cake elements.

It's a marriage of two great desserts…with zero chance of a divorce!

Here it is (feel free to scale down the recipe to your desired ratio):


Red Velvet Brownies 
(makes three 8" x 8" pans - 16 bite-size brownies per pan)


1 1/2 cups of butter (three sticks)
3 cups of white sugar
6 eggs
3 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of buttermilk
A splash of vinegar
1 bottle of red food coloring (1 oz.)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips


3 tablespoons of butter (softened)
3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
A couple splashes of half-and-half or buttermilk
(You can also add a bit of cream cheese if desired)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large saucepan/pot, melt butter. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, vanilla, food coloring, buttermilk, vinegar.
3. When mixture has cooled, stir in the eggs and add the remaining dry ingredients (cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, flour). Mix in your choice of chocolate chips.
4. Divide into three 8" x 8" pans (greased and/or lined with parchment paper/foil).
5. Bake for 24-26 minutes. They are done when an inserted knife comes out slightly unclean and the edges have removed from the sides of the pan.
6. Combine frosting ingredients and...
7. …top brownies with frosting while warm and fresh from the oven.


The intense red color makes them a great choice for holiday baking and chocolate lovers will gobble them up.

If you give these a try, let me know what you think!


Monday, December 29, 2014

Color Train!

I live on the far south side of Chicago. Right across the street are railroad tracks. Several of them.

That particular area gets all the freight trains leaving the city, making their way through Indiana and beyond.

They give a metallic screech when they brake and BOOM when the cargo cars clang and lock together.

And when the trains thunder by--sometimes two or three at a time--they vibrate the floors of the house and rattle the windows.

It's something I've gotten used to over the years and will miss when I eventually leave here.

I noticed one freight train was especially colorful the other day. Every color of the rainbow...well, almost!

Here are some of them…

Bright orange.

Red on light gray.

Nothin' but green!



They're like giant Lego blocks stacked upon one another and their bold hues caught my eye. I love it when that happens.

Where did you find unexpected color today?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Crab!

A bit of handcrafted, holiday cheer mailed my way!

Look what fellow blogger, Randy, made me.


This lovely crab ornament now hangs on the family Christmas Tree along with his starfish, seahorse, and turtle.

Thank you, Randy! As always--I love it!

And depending on where you live in the world, I hope everyone has/had/is having a Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Super, Mega Car Bows!

The girth. The length. The size.

It felt so BIG in my hands, I almost didn't know what to do with it.


Get your minds out of the gutter people…I'm talking about bows!

It's the last push at the crafts store to sell our remaining Christmas stock. So naturally my store manager asked me to make more bows that customers can buy to put on a gift.

I don't mean to bow brag but they've been selling, sometimes several each day. That doesn't sound like a lot but over the course of a few weeks it adds up.

We even got a couple requests for car bows to top a vehicle with. Seemed a bit daunting to make such a large one (they use up to 15 yards versus the normal 3 three yards) but I gave it a go.

Here they are!


They look so showy and impressive but I guess that's the idea if you're giving someone a new automobile as a present.

And in less than two minutes after putting them out on the sales floor, one my car bows sold. How cool is that!

It's been fun watching customers eyeing my creations and thrilling when something I've made--sometimes that day--gets sold.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas music…nope!

Silver Bells. Not this time.

Little Drummer Boy? Sorry, kid.

All I want for Christmas is you. Nope, not even you, Mariah.

There's something noticeably absent from the arts-and-crafts store I work at…the Christmas music!

The tech people sent us a new music player a couple months back and that's when I noticed the Christmas songs didn't start playing in November--or at all this month like they're supposed to. Unheard of!

Whenever I'd point out the glitch to my coworkers they'd all say the same thing, "Good!"

When you work in retail you kinda want to forget the holidays and the stress and madness it brings, so having the musical reminders gone is a welcome reprieve of sorts.

Here's an obscure but catchy tune currently playing at the store instead:

Oooh, I love it!

Sorry, Rudolph…maybe next year.


Friday, December 12, 2014

I hope you have enough.

The smell of fried eggs and pancakes permeated the restaurant. We sat across from each other. I thought his work-tie was knotted too tightly and a bit askew.

Even though our time together never led to a relationship, it was nice seeing him again and catching up...

I had breakfast earlier in the week with someone I went on several dates with over the summer.

He cut into his biscuits and gravy without remorse and talked about his new boyfriend.

I smiled and pushed forkfuls of crispy hashbrowns into the ketchup edging my plate.

He seemed to be doing well and said he was satisfied, wishing the same for me:

"I hope you get to travel wherever you want to go. Get to do all the things you've dreamed of. And are loved enough so you're never yearning for more. One day, I hope you have enough."

Cut paper and ink in Moleskine journal - (NFS)

He told me he'd always be around if I needed him and we agreed to keep in touch and remain in each other's lives.

I'd like that.

And like him, maybe one day I can say I have enough.

Friday, December 5, 2014


I look at my blog and think blah.

Exploding Doughnut is over five years old and its layout has become dated and underwhelming.

It needs a makeover!

A screen-shot of my original layout.

I'd like to keep the dot pattern for the background but freshen it up a bit.

I've been playing around with my own designs and started painting dot patterns to replace the system-generated one.

Here's a watercolor sample I did:

It's a touch "loud" but I like the variety of colors.

It reminds me of my Abstract Squares series.

I'll continue playing around with ideas and tweak the painted dots some more.

My goal is to have a new, custom layout at the start of the new year.

Dot. Dot. Dot!