hellllllo, summer!

I'm fairly certain it's safe to say that summer is here. No more cranking the heat back on at night--it's time for boating, barbecue, and the beach! I kicked things off early last week with a trip to Assateague Island, cooking lots of tasty foods, and starting a deliciously challenging 108 day Ultimate Yogi program. It's tough, but I already feel like a champion! I've decided that besides improved health and strength being goals in this journey, I'll be exploring and pushing myself to create more. 

Alongside this picture + art upload, I'm also posting this to share one of the most refreshing drinks I've ever cooked up--cranberry mint lemonade. Enjoy the pictures, and I hope you'll whip up my guilt-free concoction to enjoy out in the sunshine.

beautiful day on the beach || ocean city, maryland

crescent moon setting on cox creek || chester, maryland

these are all...

...within a stones throw...

...of my house!

I was originally just setting a goal to doodle for about 15 minutes every day, but I've decided to slow down to working on one piece over the course of two days as well as learning + incorporating sanskrit words. This first one is पूरक, which is the inhaling portion of alternate nostril pranayama breathing.

Ohhh, that Vitamin D feels so good! Cannot get enough sunshine lately...

I cannot wait for these babies to be ready! I've got an amazing recipe for stuffed figs that y'all will love.

So, dear reader, you'll recall the guilt free bit about my lemonade, yes? The reason why this lemonade is such a low calorie/sugar drink is because it uses stevia extract as it's sweetener, rather than sugar or another substitute. Never heard of stevia? You're not alone, so lemme throw some quick info at you:

Stevia is a plant in the sunflower family that is grown in the subtropical regions of North + South America. It's been used for centuries by our buddies to the South, both for it's medicinal properties and as a sweetener. Stevia not only about 300 times sweeter than sugar and generally has less than one gram of carbs per serving, it has a negligible effect on blood glucose levels. Recent studies have even shown stevia to promote insulin sensitivity and production--how cool is that?!

this is liquid stevia, but you can also get it in a powdered form!

But Mary! That sounds amazing, and therefore too good to be true. What's the downside? The only one I'm aware of is that Stevia can have an aftertaste, but generally when it's diluted and paired with other flavors, it's impossible to notice. There are also tons of recipes available for baking! I highly suggest giving it a whirl, just make sure you're getting real stevia extract (there are a fair few sweeteners out on the market that are made from stevia, but that aren't the real deal). 

Anyways, as promised, this is a very quick + easy recipe, so y'all are going to get a lot more on the photo end than the written one. On to the lemonade! 

cranberry mint lemonade

  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Lime
  • 2 ounces of unsweetened cranberry concentrate
  • Two sprigs of mint
  • Liquid or powdered stevia extract
  • Ice, as needed
  • one quart container

Wash and muddle half of your mint leaves. Place them in your quart container. Detach the leaves from the other spring 

Cut your citrus in half, and then cut a slice for garnish. Juice citrus fruit in to a bowl and pour in to container (or in to your quart container if the opening is large enough).

Add two ounces of cranberry juice (roughly the equivalent of two shots) as well as 10-20 drops of stevia to the container. I'd suggest starting low, mixing up your drink and tasting before you over-sweeten.

Fill container halfway with ice, then all the way with water. Shake or stir (depending on whether or not you want to make a bad James Bond joke...). Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes in order for the mint flavor to intensify a little.

Pour in to a glass, garnish with your sliced citrus, and enjoy the refreshingly tangy chill this drink brings. Cheers!

Oh. And here's my p.s. for the entry: have an epic mullet! Why? Because it's Friday and because I have to go to work with this fool every day. Have a great weekend everyone!

SCAD sidewalk arts 2013

Hello, hello! Just a short little report after a long weekend in Savannah, Georgia. Thursday was spent enjoying the beautiful weather and visiting with friends, Friday was a day for beach lounging, Saturday got a bit messy (more on that!), and Sunday was another quiet day spent in good company. I'm already gloomy typing this up in the soggy and cold Maryland climes, but what can you do? 

the park was EMPTY when I showed up at 9 to start sculpting | the start of my hands as well as my box of chalk | hands and feet placement

Anyways! The trip was a just-for-giggles thing, but it happened to coincide with my alma matar's Sidewalk Arts Festival. The basic gist of the competition is that the school divides up the entrants (undergrad, graduate, alumni, and prospective students), assigns them a square of sidewalk in the beautiful Forsyth Park, gives out a package of chalk, and let's everyone get creative. Did I compete? You bet I did! I never had the opportunity while attending school to compete because I generally worked weekends, but I'm so glad I had the chance to be apart of the Sidewalk Arts Festival this year. I had a blast getting super dirty (clay and chalk dust from head to toe; my hands are still stained!), seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and getting to talk to so. many. freaking. people. The amount of people constantly walking through shoulder to shoulder to look at work was staggering, and it went on for hours. 

by jen salmon

by alan gallardo

My neighbors to the left happened to be two really awesome kiddies--one was a friend who I'd graduated with last year, and another was a new (but equally jawesome) bud. Jen made a colorful and expressive use of her allotted space, freestylin' her application of chalk and creating some very deeply layered sections. I love the energy going on in her piece! Alan, a native of Venezuela, created a bold and assertive politically-driven work featuring Capriles Radonski in the iconic Uncle Sam getup. He used his skills as a printing and design guru to create a vinyl stencil, which made for such intense line quality. It was amazing to see the reaction of other Venezuelans, as well as hearing hundreds of people butcher the pronunciation of "te quiero". 

As for my square, I decided to take a different approach. The rules state that you can incorporate other materials to create a three dimensional piece, so I ran with it. Drawing (at least not on the SCAD level) is not one of my strong suites, so I decided to dust off my rusty sculpting skills and have some fun. I haven't touched clay since April of 2012, something which plagues me on a daily basis--I get so much from working with my hands on such a visceral level, and I've deeply missed my ceramic studies. But here was the perfect opportunity to jump back in to it! 

linocut piece from 2011

linocut piece from 2011

I based piece on a print I made back in 2011, which explored the lines that make up fingerprints. I also really love sculpting hands, but I'd never done feet before so I was up for a challenge! Here's what I came up with...

my legs were fiiiiilthy. 

seriously...check out that line of people! it was like this for hours.

After having so many catastrophic breaks during the drying and baking process, I really enjoyed creating a clay piece that I knew wouldn't be permanent. I'm thinking I'll have to pursue this in future...maybe some sculpting work in Downtown Annapolis? Anywho! We celebrated this wonderful day spent getting creative and dirty by ordering some shrimp from a "connection" in town. Five pounds of royal reds plus three stone crab claws for $40? And they're fresh as all get out? Yes, please. After scrubbing off as much chalk as possible and applying liberal amounts of aloe to my crispy shoulders, I set to cooking with a big glass of red wine in hand.

I'd never even heard of royal red shrimp, but after a quick google search, I found that they're deep water dwelling delicacies. Because they like to hang out at greater depths than other varieties of shrimp, they're basically pre-seasoned. A little bit of butter and garlic are all you need to cook up these sweet crustaceans. The man who delivered our shrimp also threw in three stone crab claws, which were boiled, chilled and then placed atop a spicy asian coleslaw salad with sliced avocado. Li'l bit of summer squash and spinach, and balsamic asparagus and we were all in heaven--a perfect spring meal after a glorious day.


Savannah is always such a treat--even though this trip was particularly low-key. I didn't get around to seeing all of the people that I'd have liked to this go round, but I'm feeling mighty fortunate to spend time with friends that I love so dearly in the city that I'll always call home. The last few weeks have really put a different spin on how I go about my day-to-day, but I can say I definitely enjoyed myself to the fullest and spread as many good vibes as possible.   --Much love, Mary J.