March 21, 2020

DG, day 1
Sycamore tree and tulips, Day 1, 3/15/2020 (watercolor, Inktense pencil, watercolor crayons on watercolor paper)

This has certainly been an odd week for One SoCal Girl, as I am sure it’s been an unusual mid-March week for you as well. Lately it feels like I’ve been on a kind of roller coaster of thoughts and emotions. So, since I am to be home for the foreseeable future I decided to sketch and write a little something for the next couple weeks, starting last Sunday. 

Day 1, Sunday, 3/15/2020 

Ok, I am as ready as I will ever be with regards to staying inside/home indefinitely. But before I could actually say that without shivering uncontrollably or screaming out loud I decided I would need to fortify my soul with something beautiful. So, I went to the Descanso Gardens yesterday to walk among the tulips I have been so desperate to see. Not complaining, but it’s been a sort of wet March in SoCal and I wasn’t sure that would work. But when I woke up Saturday morning it wasn’t raining and I headed over there. (One of my sketching groups had actually planned an official visit that day to welcome spring at the Descanso. I think because of all the bad news it didn’t happen.) I noticed that Urban Sketchers challenged all of us to engage in an indoor virtual meeting with USk Milano—sketching what we could see just outside our windows at 11 in the morning. I was wandering the hills and dales of Descanso Gardens at that time, but I did see that an artist friend had done a sweet sketch of her cat looking in at her through her garden window.

Later Saturday evening I looked at all the pictures I took that morning, wondering which tulip landscape I would paint and write about for this first week. It was then I got the idea I should try to sketch or paint something every day I was inside. Creating art and/or writing on a daily basis is not such a novel thing for Urban Sketchers. There was a recent challenge to sketch at least 100 people from midnight, March 9 to midnight, March 13. But of course, being inside for days on end is pretty novel for sketchers and non-sketchers alike. 

DG, day 2
Tulips next to the train station, Day 2, 3/16/2020 (watercolor and Inktense pencil on watercolor paper)

Day 2, Monday, 3/16/2020

Today I did another watercolor of tulips, as I needed to see something bright and colorful on this dark winter SoCal day. 

My son was visiting family in Santa Clara County and realized if he didn’t leave before midnight, he would be stuck there until who knows when. So, he whipped into action and bought 10 pounds of frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts. On his way home that afternoon/evening he got stuck in the snow and had to stay in a motel overnight. He had a fridge in his room, but of course all the chicken defrosted. He brought it to me the next day and I began a plan of how to cook/save the chicken. 

Never one for wasting food I cooked all of it, making stock for soup. I added chicken, carrots, celery and rotini pasta for a pot of chicken soup. Some I chopped into pieces, making chicken salad with fresh apples, and a tiny bit of red onion. I pounded the rest into paillards. (If you don’t know about a paillards, check out the recipe below.) 

Chicken Paillards with Lemon-Butter Sauce (from MarthaStewart.com)

2 breast halves (pounded into 4 pallairds)

salt and pepper

1 to 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

3 to 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1/4 cup minced shallots

3/4 cup of chicken stock

juice of one lemon

washed/clean spinach

Making the pallairds

For this recipe you will be making 4 pallairds. This means you will need two breast halves. 

  1. Cut the meat off the bone, if you have bone in chicken. Or just get two boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (Oh, I had a few of those…)
  2. Press your hand on the top of the first piece, and slice the meat horizontally, cutting it almost all the way through. Open it like a book.
  3. Place this piece of meat between a sheet of plastic wrap. Working from the center out, pound with the smooth side of a mallet until the meat is 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick. (I use a rolling pin.) Cut this flattened chicken into 2 pieces.
  4. Do the same for the other piece of breast meat.

The rest

Season the 4 pallairds on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter int a large skillet over medium heat until the butter melts, but is not burned. Add 2 paillards to the pan and cook the first side until it’s golden brown (about 2 minutes). Flip them and cook the other side the same way. Transfer the meat to an oven safe dish and place them in the oven at a low temperature. Do the same with the remaining paillards—putting all 4 in the oven to stay warm.

Add the shallots to the frying pan, with butter and/or oil as needed. Stir the shallots often until they are golden brown (about 1 minute). Add the lemon juice and chicken stock (a little white wine instead of the lemon juice is nice to add as well) to the pan. Deglaze the pan by scraping brown bits of chicken from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half (about 3 minutes). Gradually stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter until it has just melted. Season to taste.

Martha doesn’t say to put the cooked paillards back into the sauce. I do because it keeps the meat warm. Put the meat and a generous amount of sauce on a small helping of cleaned raw spinach. The sauce is tangy and hot, and when poured over the spinach, it wilts just a bit. Maybe make some biscuits for dunking?

Day 3, Tuesday, 3/17/2020 (Sketch of a glen at the Descanso)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Day 4, Wednesday, 3/18/2020 (Art of woven cherry trees at the Descanso)

I didn’t add the art for today either. But if you want an idea of what it looks like, look at my February 1, 2020 post where you will see the same woven trees. But for this one the cherry trees, just coming into bloom, are the star of the piece.

Kind of a sad Descanso day really as the Descanso Gardens will be closing tomorrow, 3/19 and will remain closed until further notice. Glad I have so many images I can conjure up to take me there in my imagination when I wish. I am all the more thankful that I wandered around there last Saturday. See you again soon, my treasured place.

Day 5, Thursday, 3/19/2020 (Art of close up of lilac blossoms on gray toned paper)

Today’s art looked rather uninspired as I did it in a hurry—trying to adhere to my self exiled challenge of doing one piece of art a day. I had grand plans to spend more time on this one, imaging the amazing smell of the lilacs last Saturday. But I wound up spending most of the morning and afternoon participating in a live video webcast about Breathing, Digestion and Swallowing. Bet you wish you’d done the same…no, huh? Better luck tomorrow…

DG, day 6
Pot of tulips at Descanso Gardens entrance, Day 6, 3/20/2020 (watercolors, Inktense pencils and watercolor crayons)

Happy first day of spring! Here are some more tulips that were at the front entrance last week. 

I plan to do a Day 7 sketch later today. I think I have just the perfect garden vista in mind. Hope you are staying safe and away. Stay tuned…

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