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Baltimore, MD
USA

Cat and Milk Studio: artwork by Caroline Devereaux.  Illustration, commissioned art, comics and sketches from an artist in Baltimore, Maryland.

Blog (USE THIS TO ADD POSTS)

Cat and Milk Studio news, and anecdotes from artist, Caroline Devereaux. Illustrations in progress and sales and discounts on commission portraits are posted here. 

Filtering by Category: Life

Hello World!

Caroline Devereaux

Welcome

I launched this new website to kick-start my new full-time profession. My wonderfully-supportive husband-to-be agreed that I could leave traditional work in order to establish a business doing something I love: making art. In exchange, I promised I'd learn how to cook.  Although I have been doing art my entire life, and taking commissions for nearly 10 years, art has always been relegated to a mental back-burner; a pastime that would never actually pay the bills. Now, you can read along as I put that theory (and myself) to the test.

This is only my 3rd 'official' day as a freelance artist/homemaker/wedding planner/home remodeler but I'd like to report that so far, things are pretty darn great.  

What's this blog for?

In short: Squarespace.com comes with blogging capabilities, so I thought, "I better start a blog to get my money's worth."  I have high hopes for blogging about the new discoveries I am making in any of the areas listed above as part of my newly-acquired profession. 

ARTIST  
Squarespace.com - I've been a Wordpress gal for quite some time, but since this service touts itself for displaying portfolios, I thought I'd give it a whirl.  My initial reactions were: "Dang! that's expensive!" but I splashed out because it has lots of built-in applications like e-commerce and invoicing. Also, I'd heard a lot people talk about how easy it is.  Reactions that came later: I'm not really too crazy about the layout function of content editor, or the fact that my image files aren't stored in a handy online library. On the plus side:  I started this blog.

HOMEMAKER  
I used a Magic Eraser for the first time on a staircase railing that had turned brown and gummy from finger-grease.  It worked really well!  So well, in fact, that I only cleaned half the railing so everyone could admire the difference. 

WEDDING PLANNER 
Surfed the web and decided that a good first step would be to make more money...

HOME REMODELER 

  Let's focus on relocating the cat hair tumble-weeds before moving on to bigger projects.

Let's focus on relocating the cat hair tumble-weeds before moving on to bigger projects.

The Botulism Question

Caroline Devereaux

J and I spent the better part of an entire day bottling barbecue sauce.  It was one of those deceptive Pinterest-inspired ideas that we thought would be a cost- and effort-saving way to get our holiday gifts made in one fell swoop.  

Bottling tomato-based elixirs is more complicated than just dumping it into a tupperware bin and loading it into the freezer.  However, we weren't aware of this until we'd already ordered bottles, created and printed labels, and bought $60 worth of ingredients

Rather than a delightful afternoon of giggling and dabbing tomato sauce on each other's noses while It's a Wonderful Life played in the background, we were surrounded by stacks of sticky pots and pans, muddling through an improvised sterilization process for which we were completely unprepared. Starting by boiling bottles and caps for a half hour, but finding ourselves without the recommended pressure cooker to finish the job, we opted for another boiling water bath after the bottles had been filled with steaming sauce.   

The bottles were left out to cool, and we were pleased to find the majority of the lug caps had suction-popped inward. However, visions of angry phone calls from hospitalized, botulism-riddled friends and family lead me to load the bottles into the fridge as soon as possible, and toss in a recommendation to "KEEP FROZEN and once open, consume within 2 weeks." We gave (sentenced) our loved ones to consuming 14.5 oz. of barbecue sauce in a 14-day time span. Merry Christmas. 

 

Ways to Warm Up Your Chicken (Not the Oven)

Caroline Devereaux

It is our first winter with chickens, and already I've learned a lot. We insulated the coop with thick plastic sheeting, and built a water heater that would make MacGyver proud. (According to my research, dehydration is the leading cause of backyard chicken mortality.)

Mingo, our smallest chicken, has already been through some rough winters; she lost several toes to frostbite in up-state New York, where she was a homeless beggar-bird. A few weeks ago, she started molting, and watching her go bald in the blustery cold was more than I could bear. On the advice of several chicken-health blogs, I busted out the ol' knitting needles and made a her tiny chicken sweater. The result was adorable.

I am a "jazz knitter" so I make up my pattern as I go. Mingo's sweater was based on this idea >> 

In case you ever get a mad hair to make a chicken sweater of your own, I will share some tips:

1.  Don't use super-bulky yarn.  If your chicken is as minuscule as Ms. Mingo, she will not be able to walk too well under the weight of "so much" yarn.  She also couldn't fold her wings down flat, which is why I decided that she should not actually wear the sweater outside after all. 

2. Use safety pins instead of velcro or button-closures.  Who has velcro lying around?  And buttons are more likely to fall off/get eaten up by the birds. 

3.  Have a good camera ready.  You're gonna wanna document this. 

I am happy to report that Mingo the tiny chicken is over the hump. She has really perked up since her feathers have been coming back in. 

Journal of a Plague-Free Year.

Caroline Devereaux

When you don't have a job, you can't complain about not having enough time. And yet, that is what I tell people when I explain why I haven't read a book cover-to-cover in about 4 years.  However, since I have subscribed to Audible.com, I actually do have literature injected into my life, especially on days when I'm just caulking and painting the living room or sketching. 

Lately I've been listening to Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe. It was recommended in a 10-hour lecture about the history of London that I really enjoyed.  Defoe was a little kid when the Black Death visited London, but he writes from the perspective of a grown man who stayed in the city throughout 'the distemper.'  As you can imagine, it's chock full of grisly and harrowing descriptions of plague victims, but he also gives account of how the city government and population formed hasty policies to try to contain a huge, deadly disaster.  It must've felt like the end of the world.  It's interesting to hear the same questions laid to Ebola in 2014 as where made of the Bubonic Plague in 1665. 

"It may be proper to ask here how long it may be supposed men might have the seeds of the contagion in them before it discovered itself in this fatal manner, and how long they might go about seemingly whole, and yet be contagious to all those that came near them. I believe the most experienced physicians cannot answer this question directly any more than I can ... it may lie dormant in the spirits or in the blood-vessels a very considerable time." 

But calamities, no matter what year, tend to bring people together. Ebola and the associated hysteria hasn't produced these affects in America. It seems that conservatives and others are no closer to recognizing the humanity of Africans than they were before 'the distemper.' 

"Here we may observe and I hope it will not be amiss to take notice of it that a near view of death would soon reconcile men of good principles one to another, and that it is chiefly owing to our easy situation in life and our putting these things far from us that our breaches are fomented, ill blood continued, prejudices, breach of charity and of Christian union, so much kept and so far carried on among us as it is. Another plague year would reconcile all these differences; a close conversing with death, or with diseases that threaten death, would scum off the gall from our tempers, remove the animosities among us, and bring us to see with differing eyes than those which we looked on things with before. "

View of downtown London from Franks Cafe (a bar on the top of a parking garage) in Peckham. Would've stayed here longer except it was darn chilly. 

 

2 Comics.

Caroline Devereaux

This week's post is a couple of comics based on our recent experiences. You wouldn't know it from the tone of these, but we are actually really excited to be making concrete wedding plans.  I only had time to scribble these 2:  samples of a rich stockpile of ideas. Admittedly, most of my ideas are just illustrating the hilarious and brilliant things J says-- intentionally or by accident.

Chicken Poop Lasagna

Caroline Devereaux

Baltimore City ordinances dictate that our chicken coop must be mobile. However, Baltimore City rats mandate security modifications that will make the coop immobile.  Like burying wire 12" into the lawn. 

image.jpg
image.jpg

In order to thwart our furry neighbors, we wrapped 1/2" hardware cloth around the bottom of our coop.  The result is a rather unpleasant industrial-style floor for the ladies ("rage cage"), but the added weight was negligible.  This week I will cushion their tootsies and learn about COMPOSTING as we try out "Deep Litter Bedding Method.

 A sketch from Kauai.  I sold these for $15 a pop -- more than enough for a day at the beach. 

A sketch from Kauai.  I sold these for $15 a pop -- more than enough for a day at the beach. 

The deep litter method, according to my research, involves making the floor of your chicken coop serve double duty as the compost bin. The bedding breaks down,  giving off heat for the birds in winter, and this method is way less maintenance pour moi (bonus.)  The coop will probably not be "mobile," when filled with lasagna-like layers of wood shavings and chicken poo, but we can call a bunch of friends over to lift it if the inspector comes to call. 

I've always been leery of composting, as it seems to entail a lot of science. Tracking 'greens' and 'browns' and having just the right depth for the heat and weight to break things down. In short,  I don't really want to think about garbage that much. But the great thing about being unemployed is that I have all these extra brain cells laying around, and all the time in the world to research garbage, so all I have to do is muster some motivation.