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!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Three Widows.

She seemed a bit down and quieter than usual. Understandably so during the holidays.

My Aunt Nancy joined us for Thanksgiving Dinner this year.

The last time I saw her was during my uncle's funeral over two months ago.

Normally they'd celebrate together with his side of the family but now that he's gone, my mom invited her over along with my other aunt.

Strange to think my mom and both aunts now have being a widow in common.

And how different the dynamic changes when certain people are gone from the setting and when new ones are added.

"Three Widows" 
Pen and ink and marker in Moleskine journal - (NFS)

I'm glad they could join us. My mom and her sisters have always been very close and it's nice seeing them together.

I hope this becomes a regular thing during the holidays.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Holding on for something better.

Holding on phrasal v. 1. Maintaining one's grip; clinging. 2. Continuing to do something; persisting. 3. Waiting for something wanted or requested.

All this build-up but in the end I never did make a go of it.

And I feel like I've let them down--the kind people I've met there and have stayed in touch with.

Parts of my time there, I've forgotten but I remember feeling a strong connection to that city. That's what tells me to keep holding on for something better. 

Even if I never get there, it's what the goal represents that's most important.

My exclusive access to staff-only positions was renewed yet again this month and will now last until November 2015.

One more year to apply to job openings out there. Another chance to make Seattle my home.

So on this day of all days, I'm very grateful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

T'is the season…for bows!

Bow Boy is back in action!

The district manager of the arts-and-crafts store I work at is visiting all of the stores in our district this week to make sure we're ready for Black Friday (and Saturday and Sunday).

The store manager asked that I make more Christmas bows for sale, as part of the holiday decor but also as an example to customers what could be made out of the ribbon we sell.

I'm all caught up so I said yes. Here's some of what I created this week:

It's been fun and challenging taking something as varied in texture and as flat as ribbon and shaping it into something 3-dimensional and artistic.

I went for different color combinations and patterns and textures…and of course, glitter ribbon! (It got all over my face, dress slacks and crotch area--awkward!)

In the end, my fingers were nicked and sore from twisting and handling so much wired ribbon but I enjoyed it.

Bows RULE!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Buy My Love.

The arts-and-crafts store I work at recently updated the playlist heard on the overhead speakers.

Some of it good, some of it not.

Here's a song that leaves me dancing awkwardly in the side aisles whenever it comes on.


I'm enjoying it while it lasts because the Christmas songs will be here SOON--a sign the holiday shopping madness is upon us!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Leaf stamps!

Mysterious and ghost-like, they seem to appear out of nowhere.

I've been noticing a lot of these leaf images while walking to and from work…..

Usually after an autumn rain or when the ground is especially cool and saturated.

But they're not just watermarks from fallen leaves because they linger on the sidewalk for several days or longer--well after everything is dry again.

The best way to describe them is the residue of each leaf mixes with the wetness underneath it, creating a sort of stamped impression on the pavement. Cool!

They remind me of primitive, prehistoric markings.

Now I find myself scanning sidewalks and searching for more.

How many of these "leaf stamps" have you seen lately?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Auntie Nancy's Rosary.

Memories turned tangible. Love into prayer. Prayer into memories.

When I heard of the process, I thought it'd make the perfect gift.

My mom had taken three red roses from my uncle's funeral service back in September (which I dried). When I read that roses could be turned into rosaries, I commissioned a jewelry-maker on Etsy to do just that!

Here's what we got from those roses in return…

It's so simple yet very powerful.

Obviously, great care and detail were taken to create each prayer bead and then string them together into a rosary.

It's a work of art that has real meaning and purpose--something I'm growing more and more passionate about in my own work.

Now my aunt will have a reminder of my Uncle Harry that she can pray on and help keep him close to her heart.

Thank you, SP, my aunt loves it!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Let it go.

Ideas, photographs, notes. The past. 

All thrown out.

I've been getting rid of a lot of my stuff these past few weeks. Things I've been holding onto for 15 years--or longer.

Much of it was from my early 20's when I created the most art (wasn't working at that time). Who knew purging would be such a process.

Sifting through the memories and discarding items without mercy.

Childhood action figures and comic book things. Art supplies collecting dust. Creative projects waiting to be born.

It's been hard to let it go.

But I can't hold onto it forever. It weighs me down and I need to be light if I'm to be free and living on my own one day.

The past is in the past, right Elsa?

I'm saying goodbye to what once was in hopes I'll one day say hello to something more AMAZING than I could ever imagine.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Return to me.

"You rise like a wave in the ocean
And you fall gently back to the sea
Now I want to know how to hold you
Return to me
Return to me.

You shine like the moon over water 
And you darken the sky when you leave
Now I want to know how to keep you
Return to me
Return to me
Turn to me
Return to me.

Everything I tell you has been spoken
And everything I say was said before
But everything I feel is for the first time
And everything I feel, I feel for you.

I am here calling the wind
I am here calling your name
I am here calling you back
Return to me
Return to me.

I know what it means to be lonely
And I know what it means to be free
Now I want to know how to love you
Return to me
Return to me.

I am here calling the wind
I am here calling your name
I am here calling you back 
Return to me
Return to me.

I am here
Return to me."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Until next year, assholes.

Degenerates. Drunks. Losers.

More commonly known as Cubs fans.

Yesterday was the last hometown game of the season and I couldn't be HAPPIER or more relieved. (I wanted to buy a cake and some balloons and c-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-e!)

For the past six months I've had to tolerate them on my train to and from the city.

Imagine twenty and thirty-somethings, clad in red and blue, being loud and obnoxious--and laughing at nothingness.

I could spot them (and hear them) from a mile away (the cans of beer in their hands are the first giveaway).

The video speaks for itself.

But I'm free of them now. I'm free!

Now during my commute, I'll no longer overhear discussions of whores and getting wasted, or homophobic remarks, and how badly they lost yet another game.

I won't have to deal with any of that until April of next year when baseball starts again.

Go back to your bars and trailer parks and wherever else lowlifes dwell. I won't miss you one bit!

Until next year, assholes.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Going on three.

It doesn't seem that long ago at all.

Today marks the three-year anniversary of working at my university job. And I couldn't be happier about that.

Everyone there has been so nice and professional--even the students we help on a daily basis.

And of course, the student workers make the job FUN and the night-shift fly by.

The environment is very safe, inviting, studious, and peaceful.

A perfect way to end a long work-day.

I still do hope for something full-time within the university but as far as part-time jobs go, I'm blessed to have it.

I'm proud to say I work there.

Behind the front desk.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


I'm so glad this week is over with.

Last friday was the wake for my Uncle Harry and yesterday was his funeral.

A rose from my uncle's funeral service.

The message during the priest's homily dealt with the preciousness of time.

Father talked about the passage of time and about not wasting it. To recount how my uncle spent his life but also how we are spending ours now

That we need to make the most of the time we are given and be a light to others, help those in need, and live a life filled with real purpose.

Those words seared into me for I feel like I'm investing time in things I don't want (an example being work). There must be more to me than just working at the crafts store and the university job.

I always dreamed of doing GREAT things as an adult yet I'm doing anything but…and fear I never will.

I don't know what do but I try reassuring myself time is still on my side.

Dean, give it time. Time will tell. And all will be known…in time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Final send-off.

It reminded me of a birth but instead of loved ones gathered around to usher in life, they ushered in death.

Yesterday my uncle's immediate family huddled at his bedside in the hospital…one last time. 

My aunt, cousins, his brother and sisters, his grandchildren--even the family dog made an appearance. All the people who were there for him this past year-and-a-half to say their goodbyes.

On my way to work, my aunt called and told me my uncle passed away in his hospital room around 5:30 this morning.

I feel bad for keeping my distance and not taking on an active role towards the end, but my youngest cousin took care of his dad beautifully.

I will miss his heavy Chicago accent, his laugh which was reminiscent of Barney Rubble's, and whenever he'd call me "sunshine".

Rest in peace, Uncle Harry. I love you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


My aunt said he was asking about me. That it'd mean a lot to him to see me before he passes.

My youngest and only remaining uncle (no blood relation) was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer about 1 1/2 years ago. Unlike my Uncle Bill though, the doctors were able to remove most of the tumor except for some "grit".

He seemed to be making progress with the chemo and was determined to fight, but things steadily declined over the last few months and even more drastically in the past couple weeks.

We were told this morning that he could go any day now.

It's hard to be sympathetic because he was abusive to my aunt and cousins when I was growing up. I guess I've always held it against him on their behalf. Felt like he deserved all he was getting now.

But it was important to have compassion so I visited him earlier today at the hospital. He was on too much morphine to really recognize anyone and slept most of the day.

I made him a glitter cross like the one I gave my coworker a couple years back. Should he wake when I'm not there, my cousins can show him and he'll know I was there in spirit.

For my Uncle Harry.

He's still family in spite of the past…and in a lot of pain. 

Poor thing. His body will succumb soon.

Any day now…..

Friday, August 29, 2014

One of those milestones.

I never expected to be there this long but here I am.

Today marks my four-year anniversary working at the crafts store.

I still feel like quitting everyday I have to go in but am thankful to have a job and proud to have lasted in one place for so long.

It's one of those milestones that depresses me more than anything though.

But it is what it is…for now.

Me at work this week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

For Mr. Grey…..

"My name is Ariel
And I want to be free
It is your sorrow
That has made a slave of me
Forgive me
Forgive me
But you are all I know
Forgive me for leaving.

The day is breaking now
It's time to go away
I'm so afraid to leave
But more afraid to stay
Forgive me
For leaving 
The sadness in your eyes
Forgive me."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Flower heart!

Fellow blogger, Naomi, did a blogpost about Mail Art artists she liked…and I made her list!

So how could I not send her something.

Reading through her blog you'll see Naomi often talks about her family and art and creating things.

Images of her daughters, new baby, and nature. Ladybugs among paper clouds and watercolored animals.

I tried to capture the essence of all of that and mailed her this…..

I took a piece of backing board (used for storing comic books) and cut it into the shape of a heart.

Then I glued down as many artificial flower heads that would fit onto the 6" space.

To finish it off, the edge of the heart was lined with shimmering tinsel yarn!

The address side covered with decorative paper.

A part of me wanted to push the boundaries of what the post office would deliver.

One concept of Mail Art is that the mail itself is the artwork so this was sent as-is without any packaging. 

Would she get it in one piece? Would she get it at all?


I always hoped to be married one day with a family of my own.

Hopefully this Mail Art can be a symbol of how blessed Naomi truly is to have that.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Abstract Minnie Mouse!

"I'm going to miss you, Dean," she said.

"I'm not going anywhere," I replied.

"I am," she told me.

And that's how I learned the assistant store manager at the crafts store had given her two-weeks notice.

Her husband got promoted at his job which means she'd have to be home to be with her children--at least for now.

I do think the stresses of the job were a factor too but perhaps I'm projecting my own feelings onto the situation.

In any case, I wanted to make her something to remember me by.

She LOVES all things Disney and the color pink. So this is what I made her…..

Acrylic on canvas - 12" x 12" (NFS)

I flooded the canvas with as many shades of pink as I could:  coral, fuchsia, blush colors.

An image I found online of Minnie Mouse was then transferred over the abstract painting. Copyright infringement and tracing. Double whammy! But I wanted it to be 100% accurate and time was of the essence.

Here's the abstract painting with just the pencil overlay…..

Working at the crafts store is NOT easy. I still hate that job every day I go to work. But it's my coworkers that make it worthwhile. We bicker and squabble and laugh together--just like a family. And it's always sad to see one of our own go.

Today was the assistant store manager's last day. As we hugged our goodbyes, I told her we WILL keep in touch. That I know for certain.

It was a pleasure working with you, Kari! You rock!