Tuesday, August 31, 2010

appetizing august!

appetizing august!
I loved the food photo collage from July so much that I've decided to make one every month to showcase what we've been cooking recently.

I definitely took a break from cooking as much as I did last month, but we still ate pretty well and tried 11 new recipes in August.

What we were eating and cooking this month: pulled BBQ pork (in Larry's new smoker) and then pescetarian for the rest of the month, so lots of fish (tuna and salmon); a lot of carbs, unfortunately - pasta/mac & cheese, bread, potato salad; poblano peppers that burned my fingers; plums of various colors and sizes; I tasted a pluot for the first time; and lots of cake! Yum! 

Recipes on Vicious Dishes:

Monday, August 30, 2010

the vegetable thief strikes again

I've mentioned before that Gravy really likes vegetables.

Evidently, he especially likes them if they are:
   a) homegrown, and
   b) stolen.

Yesterday, Larry and I spent the day working on the yard, and I tore all the failed plants out of the garden (including the massive zucchini plant that grew so large it blocked the sun and subsequently killed all the other plants. In return, it provided me with a measly two zucchini throughout the whole summer).

One of the recent casualties was my green, supposed to be red (according to the Home Depot tag), bell pepper. Two days ago it was big and healthy and I was still hoping it would turn red...
supposed to be a red bell pepper
Then tragedy struck (which seems to be a common theme with my garden):
green pepper tragedy
I don't know if it fell over from natural causes or if a critter hastened its demise. So I set the pepper on the patio chaise while I continued with my yard work.

Later on, I looked out the living room window and saw this:
the vegetable thief strikes again
"I'll just take it over here..."
the vegetable thief strikes again
I went outside to confront the thief with the evidence...
"What is it, Mom? Can I eat it? Is this a trick?!"
the vegetable thief strikes again
"Let me just have a taste."
the vegetable thief strikes again
the vegetable thief strikes again
"I eat it now."
the vegetable thief strikes again
the vegetable thief strikes again
the vegetable thief strikes again
He ate every last bit of it, seeds and all.
I predict lots of green, supposed to be red, bell peppers growing in our yard next year...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

irish car bomb cake!

So I've been making (and consequently eating) a LOT of cake this month. In my defense, I know a lot of people with August birthdays and I am the baker among our group of friends.

This recipe combines two of my favorite things: beer and chocolate.
There is Guinness in the cake, whiskey in the filling, and Baileys in the frosting.
irish car bomb cake
irish car bomb cake
Read more and get the recipe on Vicious Dishes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


rattlesnake print
I've always loved poster art and bold colors, so it's no surprise that I love screenprinting. I took a class with the Art League School a few years ago and loved it - and in addition to poster art, I also learned how to print on t-shirts which was a fun little bonus. The following year, my Octopus screenprint was displayed at a gallery show in the Torpedo Factory.

I'm really hoping to get back into screenprinting in my home studio - I have a lot of ideas for new prints, though my space for making a mess is rather limited! I'm hoping to have some small prints for sale in the shop soon...

Until then, my orange Rattlesnake screenprint is available in the shop - it's inspired by an actual caution sign I saw in Colorado and looks great in a simple black frame.
rattlesnake print

Monday, August 23, 2010

weekend adventures: ellanor c. lawrence park

Our favorite way to spend a weekend is hiking - and with two adventurous dogs, we have even less of an excuse not to get outside to enjoy a little sunshine and exercise!

While I wish that we could head out to Shenandoah or the mountains of West Virginia (both within a couple of hours from us) every weekend, or that we lived somewhere like Utah or Colorado - such adventures aren't always feasible for us. So we are constantly looking for suburban parks that still offer a little escape from the city and that have nice hiking trails. This weekend we checked out Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, which was perfect for a jaunt in the woods with our loyal companions. There were big trees, meandering creeks with lots of bridges, and a pond full of lilypads.

"Come on! Quit taking pictures and let's go! I've got things to sniff!"
ellanor c. lawrence park
Looking for squirrels:
ellanor c. lawrence park
ellanor c. lawrence park
ellanor c. lawrence park
ellanor c. lawrence park
You know it's a successful adventure when Gravy breaks out the super tongue!
ellanor c. lawrence park
And when they come home and do this:
ellanor c. lawrence park

Friday, August 20, 2010

insane in the brain

Here's a little glimpse inside the mind of a crazy artist:
DSC_0999 ES
I mentioned before that I've been interested in exploring texture in my art recently, but this latest piece really takes the insanity over the top.
DSC_0988 ES
Larry came into my studio last night and his eyes grew wide when he saw what I was working on - all he could say was "Uhh...Rachel...?"

Yes, YES, I know - it's totally OCD. Crazy. Yes, I am using jeweler's pliers to stick all those tiny pieces upright. Insane. But I also think it looks pretty cool.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

shipping to canada + new etsy layout

I am now shipping to Canada!

Also, Etsy just redesigned the shop layouts with a new wider format.
Here's what Funnelcloud Studio looks like with the new format:
new layout

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the claw!

So my day started at 11 am, when four small men with chainsaws hopped over my fence.

(Actually, my day started around 7:30 am when I witnessed Banjo lift his leg on the porch railing, but I chose to rub my eyes, pretend I didn't see it, and go back to bed for a few hours.)

Sayonara, Tree - it is time for you to meet the chipper.
the chipper
Watching Tree Guys work is fascinating, mostly because of the amount of danger involved. For example:

1. The chainsaws! The Tree Guys wield these things as if they are no more capable of cutting off their own limbs than a butter knife. One handed chainsawing? No problem! One handed chainsawing while smoking a cigarette? You got it! One handed chainsawing while smoking a cigarette while suspended from a rope in a tree? Piece of cake!

2. The heights! I'm not a fan of heights, that's true. But the Tree Guys can scamper up a tree like a monkey, with a cigarette in one hand and chainsaw in the other (see #1). Clearly, they don't suffer from sweaty palms or, as Larry likes to call it, The Number Nine A--hole Pucker.

3. The large chunks of dead tree threatening to fall and squash anything in their path. You'd think there'd be some science involved in figuring out the safest way to get a dangling limb to the ground, but I think it's more trial and error combined with a little dumb luck. The Tree Guys' first approach was to bounce the dead limb much like trying to move a car that is stuck in the mud. They did this from below the tree - thankfully it didn't work. Getting the piece down required the Tree Guy to climb the tree with a chainsaw (see #1 and #2). When the dead piece finally came down it swung like a deadly two-ton pendulum, but the Tree Guys on the ground were still smoking their cigarettes and hacking at other branches with their chainsaws.

4. The chipper! We've all heard the horror stories involving wood chippers before. I don't even want to think about it. Which is why I had to look away as the Tree Guys used their own legs to push any stuck limbs into the chipper.

Also, see that red thing above the chipped wood? That's a snow shovel that they tied onto the arm of the chipper with a rope to keep the wood chips from flying all over the yard. Genius.

But my favorite part was THE CLAW!
the claw!

the claw!

Monday, August 16, 2010

design darling

Wow! I just learned that my blue and silver Zinnia print was featured on Design Darling.  Design Darling is a blog written by Mackenzie Horan, a college student who writes about design. She featured my print on a post about stylish ideas for decorating a dorm room.  Thanks Mackenzie!

featured on design darling
zinnia lino print
The blue and silver Zinnia print is available in my shop.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

in progress

I've had the itch to work on some three-dimensional pieces and I've been really interested in texture lately. Here's a sneak peek of a couple of prototypes I've been working on.

Hopefully, they will be available in my shop within the next few weeks!
art in progress
art in progress
art in progress
art in progress

Saturday, August 14, 2010

first treasury!

I'm thrilled and honored that I was featured in a Treasury on Etsy for the first time! My red and silver Zinnia lino print is the first item in the second row.
silver and red
DSC_1023 ES
Big thanks to Verbena Place for selecting my print for this Silver and Red Treasury!
Also, I still have some of these prints available in my shop.

Friday, August 13, 2010

foolin' around

In honor of Friday the 13th, Lost Dog Rescue is collecting photos of happily adopted black dogs.  Black dogs are often the last to be adopted - we've heard the same thing through our greyhound rescue group. It's such a shame that even animals are subject to being judged by their color.

If you aren't familiar with Lost Dog, not only are they an amazing animal rescue group, but they also have a delicious cafe in Arlington, Virginia that serves fabulous pizzas and sandwiches (all named after dogs, of course).

Anyway, I wanted to share this video of our very happy (and slightly weird) black dog, Banjo. He was originally picked up as a stray in Georgia (unfortunately, failed hunting dogs are often abandoned in the southern states and we think this might be what happened to him) and taken to a shelter where he was given a week to live. He was then rescued by Lost Dog and brought up to the Northern Virginia area to their rescue kennel. We were lucky to adopt this guy ten months ago and he keeps us laughing every day.

Foolin' Around from Funnelcloud Rachel on Vimeo.
I realize that the lyrics to the song are referring to a different kind of "foolin' around", but I thought they were the perfect accompaniment to Banjo's antics. Besides, a dog named Banjo has to have a country song as his soundtrack (and also, I needed some music to cover up my maniacal laughing in the background).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the return of Vicious Dishes!

vicious dishes
It's been a few months, but Vicious Dishes is back with a new look and lots of new recipes!

Monday, August 9, 2010

cake for breakfast

Oh yes, yes I did!
italian cream cake
Recipe on Vicious Dishes.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


So...last week there was a big storm. I had run out to the post office to mail some shop orders, and in the meantime, Larry had gotten home. He called me to tell me that a large branch had come down in our yard and busted part of our fence. Crap.

When I got home, I found this:
I don't know about you, but I do not consider this "a branch". I consider this - holy shit - A TREE! This "branch" is over 60 feet long and pretty much fills our backyard.
I then proceeded to say "holy shit" about 64 times in a row.
Holy shit.
Holy shit.
Holy shit.
There was tree everywhere.
Luckily, our house, our shed, and most importantly, our pups and us - were not damaged!
But still - what a freaking mess.
Also, our power was out. While we were inspecting the fallen "branch" we heard several transformers explode. Then we heard sirens. A fire engine stopped in front of our house. An overhead electrical wire had snapped and was dangling into our front yard. The fire department put yellow caution tape around our yard. They lit some flares. Then they left.
power outage
power outage
The power stayed out for three days.
power outage
Luckily, we had some emergency supplies: candles, beer, and our smart phones. That was fun for the first night.
power outage
By the second night it got kind of old. Also, hot (no air conditioning). And smelly (no dishwasher + a big pile of dirty dishes that we weren't about to wash by hand).
power outage
Power outage + candlelight + beer + Jack Kerouac = cure for insomnia!
power outage
That wasn't all though - this morning our neighbors decided to trim the massive Sycamore tree in their front yard on their own. One of them fell out of the tree, and another one pounded on our door. We had to call 911. An ambulance came. I think the guy had a broken arm, but is otherwise ok.

This is why we will leave the removal of the "branch" in our back yard to professionals.