The Infinity Dreams Award

Mutsumi at Sakura Junction has nominated Art At Hand for the Infinity Dreams Award. I’m very appreciative for the recognition.

Mutsumi is Japanese and is living in London, England. Her blog, Sakura Junction, is a Japanese food blog. I love her presentation and her recipes. Her content reminds me of my mother’s cooking. And because of her heritage and her English home, Mutsumi injects a unique perspective into her blog.

As part of this nomination, I have questions to answer. Here they are:

What is the best thing about the city/town where you live now?
If I had to pick one thing, it’s the weather. San Diego is known for its enjoyable year-round weather. The temperature is usually between 65°-80° F (18°-26° C), and sunny and clear (except for May Gray and June Gloom when it gets some overcast). Being a seaside city, San Diego has a big bay and plenty of beaches where you can enjoy the weather. Sailing, surfing, swimming, bicycling, whale watching, golfing, and shopping are visitors’ favorite activities.

What is the best way of spending time for you?
Because I don’t get home util 8:30pm on weekdays, my husband and I don’t eat dinner together until the weekends. So having a Saturday dinner and a bottle of wine at a bistro with my husband and watching the people walk by is my favorite way to enjoy the moment.

What was the best food you have eaten?
Oh, that is a tough question. I love all foods. But if I had to choose one type of food/meal, I’d have to say the best food I had was at a little family restaurant in Perugia, Italy.

My sister and I traveled all over Europe in college. We stayed in Perugia for a few days. We dared ourselves to go out and eat at a local sit-down restaurant. I don’t remember the name but it was a tiny, intimate restaurant inside an old stone building along an alley. We were nervous. No one spoke English. But we managed to order a 4-course meal. I remember ordering pizza (I think it was the third course). “So this is real Italian pizza!” I thought, as I admired the 6-inch light, thin crust with just a hint of savory sauce and a large wild mushroom and herbs on top. After we finished dinner, my sister and I felt glorious for having eaten as a local. But more than that, we experienced eating in a different place and in a different way. And we communicated without using English. So that meal has a special place in my memory.

What was the best book you have read?
It’s a toss up between Gone with the Wind and The Agony and the Ecstasy. Even though I read a lot, my books are mostly non-fiction. Most of the non-fiction I read wouldn’t qualify for Best Book Read.

What was the best film you have seen?
I enjoy all movies, but for my choice of best film I’ve ever seen, I’d have to say Amelie was amazing. Very unique and artistic and funny.

Where was the best place you have visited?
Florence, Italy. It’s my favorite place. It’s romantic. It’s rich with art and history. I saw Michelangelo’s work everywhere with my own eyes, and I couldn’t believe it!

What was the best/most useful thing you have ever bought?
My iPhone. I can’t live without it.

What was your best memory in your childhood?
Going to visit my mother’s family in Japan when I was eight. My grandmother lived above a neighborhood market. It was a quaint two-story wooden home. I remember the bathtub, which was a huge wooden barrel that you soaked in, as if it were a jacuzzi. The toilet was a raised box with a hole at top. It was a working toilet, but it was different from any I ever saw. During the day, I spent time with my cousins. We’d run through the outdoor markets. Then we’d watch the adults play pachinko, an arcade game where you sit in front of lots of silver balls cascading down a maze and then falling into various holes.

One day, we got the whole family together and visited a temple sitting high atop a mountain. Another time, we went to a public bath for families. I remembering I had to wash and rinse before getting into the hot aqua pool of water that had a waterfall at one side. At night, we sat on cushions on the floor and ate at the low table. Then we slept on tatami mats which were also on the floor. The experience was so unusual for me that I can remember it well.

What was the best decision you made for yourself?
Going to Europe in college. I think all college students in America should travel to some other country to experience how other people live. It was such an eye-opening experience. Americans can easily isolate themselves from the rest of the world. I hope to spend some time traveling in the near future. Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and India are at the top of my list.

What was the best dream you had? (If you remember any)
I have lots of dreams. I keep a dream journal because I get a lot of insight about my subconscious. I think of dreams as my subconscious self playing Pictionary—the game where you communicate only through drawings—with my conscious self.

My best dream was about flying. In it, I’m a small bird learning to fly. At first, I’m trying to get a running start on a grassy field. Then I’m clumsily hovering above the ground for a few minutes. Finally, I am flying high over the landscape with ease. I was a young adult at the time. I probably felt my life was coming together.

What was the best piece of advice you have been given?
To let go of things that don’t add enjoyment to your life and to let go of people who don’t support your purpose in life. A lot of people have told me this when I was young, but I didn’t listen. Especially about letting go of certain people. But as I got older, I took heed of that advice and am forever grateful to those who have advised me.

Photography links

Now, in lieu of nominations, I’m adding some links to other photoblogs/websites to enjoy:

Michael McKenna
Michael creates beautiful zen-like black and white photographic images. Most are of natural settings. I’m attracted to his work because it reflects many Japanese artistic qualities of minimalism and elegance.

Andrea Gentl and Martin Hyers
I read about Andrea and Martin in an article from Click Magazine, a small local magazine geared towards women/mom photographers. They are professional photographers who work together and happen to be married to each other. Their work is stunning. Andrea also has her own blog called Hungry Ghost, which focuses on food and travel.

Dana Gallagher
I saw Dana Gallagher’s work in Martha Stewart’s magazines. Her work is a mix of studio, portraiture, and lifestyle. I like her work because her images exude optimism and joyfulness.


Blogging 101 Assignment: Write to your ideal reader

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.   – Pablo Picasso

I Once Was An Oceanic Conductor

I love the ocean. And the beach.

When I was young, my parents often took my siblings and me to Oceanside Beach. Back in the 1970’s, it was never crowded, and the sand was soft, white, and pristine. As my sisters and brother occupied themselves, I would sometimes walk up to the water’s edge, face the rising waves, breathe in the salty air, and imagine myself conducting an oceanic orchestra.

In my mind, I raised my arms, and the waves paid attention. The higher I rose my arms, the higher the waves. When I lowered my arms, the waves obeyed. I had the power to make the waves crash furiously or undulate calmly. Then I flicked my right wrist and a stampede of white horses appeared out of the surf and raced towards me as seafoam climbed my legs. I would close my eyes and feel the spray as they galloped past me. Then they would get smaller and disappear as the waves reached the shore. Meanwhile, seagulls would fly overhead in synchronized patterns as sandpipers scurried in line at my feet like little ballerinas crossing a stage. (Looking back, I probably saw Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and wanted to be Micky Mouse, who did the same thing but in a sorcerer’s castle.)

A child-like imagination fuels all creativity. But as I grew up and started what we adults call “real life”, a life of responsibility and planned success, I began to ignore this hidden source of energy, and that girl became a distant memory.

The Itch Arrives

Now at the halfway point of my life, I take an account, and my life is good. I love my husband, my family, my home, my friends, my community, and my work. But there’s an itch.

So you’ve got the itch to do something. Write a screenplay, start a painting, write a book, turn your recipe for fudge brownies into a proper business, whatever. You don’t know where the itch came from; it’s almost like it just arrived on your doorstop, uninvited. Until now you were quite happy holding down a real job, being a regular person…Until now.   – Hugh McLeod in his article “How To Be Creative”.

Yes, I’m itching. Like heck. It’s that little girl on the beach wanting to conduct again. I forgot about her, and the itching is not going away.

Finding My Way Back To Me

So how do I appease the girl and make this itching stop?

I have to find my way back to her. And my posts, visual and written, are my way of retracing my footprints to that beach of long ago. I can start to see the girl, who is happily conducting life as she imagines it.

So dear reader, my hope is that you follow the footprints left by you, back to that ideal world you once created, and then live in it today.

My other hope is that this itching will go away.

Blogging 101 Assignment: Introduction

Hi! I’m Serena. I started blogging here at WordPress three months ago. I learned a few things on my own and from fellow bloggers, but now I’d like to learn more through the larger blogging community. So I signed up for WP’s Blogging 101.

Who am I? I’m a graphic designer living in San Diego, California. Most of what I do is print design and production with Adobe Indesign and Illustrator. I enjoy my busy day job, but there’s a lot of creative work that I don’t do anymore, such as photography, painting, and writing.

Why did I start a blog? I wanted a creative outlet. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone (not an easy thing for me). And I knew that a public blog would hold me accountable.

The tougher question for me was “What exactly will I put on my blog?” My original thought was to post some photography, illustrations, and writing. But as I started to get back into photography, which I hadn’t done for some time, I started to enjoy it again.

So my plan now is to do what feels good and spend time on photography for awhile. I’m quite rusty still, but I hope to improve quickly. Later this year, I plan to add some personal artwork.

I’m glad I joined WordPress’s community. There are a lot of talented and thoughtful people here, from all over the world. It’s a great mix of young and not so young, amateur and professional.

And I’m looking forward to meeting others in this session of Blogging 101!