Friday, January 31, 2014

Aloo ka Paratha

I have been trying some recipes out before the monks get here, looking for things that have simple ingredients and are easy and quick to make. I tested these parathas last week and served them with a bowl of vegetable curry. Really good and really easy. I got the recipe from a Nepal website, but I thought this photo was nice and I like the way the directions are written, fun to read. There are lots of recipes for paratha, just google if this recipe challenges you. Most any vegetable can be used, we had potato ones and we will be having them a lot around here. I changed the recipe directions slightly because I just roll that way, but they were still great.

Ingredients required: 
  • Wheat Flour   ( I only had unbleached white flout but it was fine)
  • Onion(4-5 medium size)  ( I used 1 green onion)
  • Garlic  (1 clove)
  • Ginger  (1/4 tsp. I am adding these quantities , they aren't given!)
  • Cumin  (1/2 tsp)
  • Salt  (to taste)
  • Potato(2-3 medium size)
  • Red Chili Powder  (1/4 tsp or hotter if you like)
  • Green Chili(1-2)
I also used  1/4 tsp of anise seed and it gave them a very nice fragrance and flavor. The recipe from the NEpal site used them. I would have posted that one but now I can't find it and I just scribbled down the ingredients, of course.....

आवश्यक सामग्री
  • गेहूं का आटा
  • प्याज (4-5 मध्यम आकार)
  • लहसुन
  • अदरक
  • जीरा
  • नमक
  • आलू (2-3 मध्यम आकार)
  • लाल मिर्च पाउडर
  • हरी मिर्च (1-2)

Steps To Cook:

  • Boil Potato ( आलू  ) for some time.
  • Take it out of water,and peel its skin and mash it thoroughly.
  • Cut Onion ( प्याज  ), Garlic ( लहसुन ), Ginger ( अदरक ) into very small pieces.
  • Add Salt ( नमक ), Cumin ( जीरा ), Red Chili Powder ( लाल मिर्च पाउडर ), Green Chili ( हरी मिर्च ) to it and mix it again.
  • Now make a dough out of Flour ( गेहूं का आटा ).
  • After you have made it,take small piece of it and make cup like structure out of it.
  • Now fill that cup like structure with the above stuffs that you prepared.
  • Seal(close) the open portion. 
  • Now flatten it slowly and make it 3 to 4 cm in diameter.
  • Heat Tawa and put some oil to it and spread it all over the tawa.
  • Put this flattened dough on tawa. Heat on one side and then overturn it.
  • Put oil on both sides and heat it again for some time.

Note:If you want crispy parathas then heat it in a low flame.

Cooking time : 15 minute

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Here comes February. It's up there with my other least favorite month, August. Ugh, lets just get through it together, shall we?

The monks will be here for half of it, so that will help. I got word today that they are stuck in Atlanta in that southern ice mess. Imagine.....  monks from Tibet in frozen Atlanta Georgia..... the world is odd.

Let your soul shine!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Monks are coming!

The monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery are returning to Chapel Hill for two weeks in February. You may remember my blog posts about them last June when they visited the Saxapahaw area to construct the sand mandala. We loved being a part of this event. The monastery has been using the video Wesley shot and they have asked her to come back and document the pageant. Wesley enthusiastically offered our house for them to stay in while they are here, so we will have three of the monks living with us for two weeks. How cool is this!?

I have been trying out some recipes from Nepal that I found online and some that the coordinator of the event gave me. They are not much different from how we eat now. Lots of curry, cumin, tumeric, garam masala, veggies and rice. I'll be sharing this adventure with you, although, out of respect for the monks, not a lot of photos here at home. I am also going to be helping out with the kids classes at the Artscenter that they will be conducting, so that will be lots of fun. Looks like an exciting February for us, glad I got this cold business out of the way last week!

I hope that you can find some time in your schedules to come and meet the monks. They are incredibly special people and you will be so glad you came! Here's what's happening:

Events Scheduled for Sacred Art Tour February 2014
February 5, 2014 at 7PM
The ArtsCenter located at 300 E. Main Street in Carrboro NC

Mandala Construction Schedule for February 9th to 15th
There is no admission to the opening and closing ceremonies or during the construction of the mandala, but your donations will be greatly appreciated.  A Tibetan Bazaar will be set up for the sale of Tibetan handicrafts created by the Tibetan refugee community located in South India refugee settlements.

100% of all proceeds go directly to support, educate, house, feed and clothe the 2000+ refugee monks living at Drepung Gomang Monastery located in the Lama Camp of the Tibetan Colony located in Karnataka, India. Visit us on Facebook at The Art of Compassion or at for more information

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Back it up

Gerry shared his cold with me, so I have been home all week, mostly laying on the sofa coughing and whining. We are also suffering with tech hell this week. Gerry is one of the most capable people I know when it comes to computers, but we had a technical glitch this week. We use an old Mac here at the house for recording household finances, online banking, storing music and his personal stuff. I have a Mac for my stuff, Wes has one for school, Gerry has one for work, we have a couple of other Macs that are dead. We got a lot of apple computer stuff! What we don't do enough of is backing up those computers. Gerry has all his work computer stuff backed up, but we are slack on the others. That said, Wesley's hard drive filled up with school work last week, so she had to dump stuff on my external hard drive. Then Gerry's home Mac crashed, just plumb died. OMG! Do you know the havoc this has caused?!?!? He sucked it up and bought a new Macbook air, quite nice and he has spent this week getting his computer geek pal to rip out the hard drive on the old dead Mac and setting up a new computer. New software, new passwords, finding things, losing things, it has been a nightmare to watch from my comfy sofa spot.

After watching all this, I decided it might be a good idea to get all my files transferred over to my external hard drive. I have spent two days sorting through files and photos, I dumped over 10,000 images and put countless others into folders that now make sense. I found a bunch of photos of old work, like the one above, I made some pretty cool stuff a few years ago....

If you do not have a system for backing up your computer, ie; an external hard drive, I strongly suggest you run out right now and get one, they don't cost that much, and will save you much headache, trust me! Back that shit up!

In other tech hell, we dumped Time Warner Cable this week. I won't go into the many reasons, just try calling them on the phone sometime, and you will know plenty. The programming sucks, we hardly ever watch TV and so we gave it up. We bought an antenna so we can access Public TV and local channels for news and weather, when we can actually tolerate even watching that. I have found new things I love about Public TV though. Downton Abbey for one. I know, I'm late to the party, what a great show! Public TV is doing some really good programming and I have missed it because I have been scrolling through cable channels trying to sort through reality TV for something decent or just turning off the TV altogether. Since I have been wallowing on the sofa for a week, its been good to have our local UNC TV channel to watch. Go Public TV! We now use the Xbox or Wesley's Wii U for Netflix and Hulu movies and TV programs.

Another thing we dumped is our phone service. Gerry bought Magic Jack for our phone and it's the coolest thing. I can even program it to work through my ipad and I can now use my ipad as a phone for free. We will save so much money making these few changes, I don't know why we have been so late to the 21st century party. Inertia I suppose.  A new paradigm for the Broomes :)

So, if you are like us and are dragging into the new technology world, check out magic jack, home antennas, which have come a long way, and get a dang external hard drive! We are now up to speed with our communications technology, wooo hoooo!  Or you could be really smart, and just read a good book. I''m trying to do that more also. Have a good weekend, stay well!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cotton picking house

Happy Martin Luther King day everyone. I hope you have a nice holiday today!
I have been going through my hard drive sorting old photos and I came across this piece. I made this a couple of years ago, it sold almost as soon as it came out of the kiln. I never made another one. I think I would like to revisit this idea and make more of these.

The image is of two African American women picking cotton in the south. I had a long talk with my friend Candace one day about how I wanted to make some pieces that represented the old slave houses I used to visit as a kid. I love these little houses and feel like they deserve to be honored for the lives that lived in them. However, I am not African American and can't begin to even pretend I understand the history of slavery in the south, so I felt that maybe it wasn't my place, but Candace assured me that it's a history that belongs to all of us, and we all have a part of it in our lives. There were families living in these places, loving, praying, caring for one another and they deserve to be remembered. And so, I made this one. I loved it and I wish I could remember who owns it now. I think this form has influenced many of the pieces I have made. Only one person has actually recognized that. When I did the workshop with Nina Bagley she mentioned that they reminded her of the slave houses in the south, why yes Ms. Bagley, you are so right!

I felt much more authentic using the image of the cotton workers with this piece. My grandfather grew up on a cotton farm in Georgia, he picked cotton, in fact he had to quit school in the sixth grade to work the farm. My grandmother had to quit school in the 4th grade to go to work in the cotton mill. My grandfather also worked in the cotton mill, lived in the little mill house a block away and raised four kids on a poor man's cotton mill salary. He missed only one day of work in 50 years and then he retired, without even so much as a goodbye from the management of the mill. My mom was so mad at them, she drove up from Myrtle Beach and went to the mill and shamed them. Go mom!

Anyway, I'm reading this book right now, I'm working on plays about the Civil War, and today is MLK day. This white girl has a lot of this topic of slavery and injustice on my mind, I would like to find a resting place for it all.............

peace ya'll

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Alien deer and empty spaces

Dear Mom and Dad:
Merry Christmas! This year, above all, I am grateful to be home with the two of you, that we are all healthy and happy, here in this cozy home. That is the greatest gift of all.
Today, as we celebrate the occasion long ago when Jesus was dropped off by aliens, this painting of us as alien deer commemorates that. I hope you like it.
I love you guys and all of these gifts are just a small token of that Happy Happy Christmas!

 Can I just say, I love this child! Who wouldn't!  I hope she doesn't mind me sharing with you this card that was under our Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Her gift to us. The sweetest gift of all. Just in case you think she was taught that Jesus came to us by aliens, let me clear that up, she wrote a story about Jesus and aliens, ok?!

She packed up Monday and left to go back to school. The house is still, quiet.  Gerry had to go over to Raleigh to photograph the POTUS (president of the United States) and I am here alone. I have candle lit in our front room that is now going to be the place I am going to try and do yoga every morning.  There is a thick fog and the crows are crowing at my window. Peace fills this room.

Back to a house without a child in it. It takes a few days to readjust when Wes leaves. We get into such a pattern together. We have tea at the kitchen table in the mornings, we sit and talk late in the afternoons, we cook together, we eat dinner together, we go shopping, we go buy books and music, we visit friends. And then, poof, she is gone, and I have to get into a different pattern. Last night in my sleep I heard her say Mom, and it woke me up. Scary, unsettling......

My mother once said to me that I was her whole life, that her life revolved around me and depended on me and without me she had nothing. This is a heavy burden to bare. I have tried to keep that in mind and never believe that about Wesley. She is the thing I love most in the world, her and her dad, but I have a life and don't depend on her for all of my happiness and existence. This helps me let her go. I have things that I am interested in and I enjoy our separate space as much as I enjoy our time together. A healthy balance.

This is Jasper. Wes emailed me this photo yesterday. We gave her an aquarium for her room at school for Christmas and now I have a grandchild. I love him like that, and lord help me, I miss the fish too! We kept him in the kitchen during the holidays and I got used to watching him while I washed the dishes or cooked. Now that space is empty too.

I may have to get a fish.....
Love you , Wesley, come home sooooon!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Brand authenticity

 In my last post I was talking about branding myself. I lived in a world of salesmen/women for most of my early career, although I wasn't always a salesperson, I could be good at it when I tried. But the ick was always there for me, because the companies I worked for pushed me harder and harder when I was selling. More sales goals, more customers, more, more, more. Drive the brand! But my real true self was an artist, a designer, why was I trying to sell shit? Also, there was always dishonesty present somehow. My mama raised me not to "tell stories", and this was my foundation, even though I could very easily be a pathological liar without a whole bunch of effort. I have always told Wesley, it's easier to remember the truth, the lies you can never remember, so just be honest and life will be easier. Selling never felt honest to me. Never authentic. Now I find myself once again in the selling game, but trying to do it in a more authentic and soul nourishing way. But selling is selling and with selling comes marketing.

The term "branding" also brings on the ick for me. I worked for brand driven companies and I get it, but it's not the same when you are selling work you have loved all along the way of making it.  To brand yourself as an artist isn't quite the same as a Mac apple or a Nike swish. It's more about the visual and mental connection someone makes with you and your name when they see a piece of your work.

So that has been my goal. To make work that represents me and not be all over the place with inconsistent design, like I was before. You know what I'm talking about. The potter down the road makes the perfect soap dish and you say to yourself, hey I like that, I can make that, and you make one. And then you are picking up your fired work at the local community studio and you see such a cool handbuilt vase, and you say, hey I can do that, and you make one..... and so on, until you have nothing but a hodge podge of work that was inspired by someone else and your voice is nowhere to be found. I did this. And then I took workshops and everything I made looked like the person that taught us workshop participants how to make the same thing they were making. And then I tried to make everything I saw in Ceramics Monthly magazines. And then I bought the work of other potters and tried to figure out how they turned that foot, or how they got that rim like that. Mine never had the same feel as those pieces. They weren't authentic.

And then...... I searched for my own voice, because my skills were stronger, I had more knowledge and I could go forth and make work and when someone saw it they said, hey Tracey Broome made that. I picked an iconic image of my work. Then I put that image on postcards and business cards, and blog headers and every publication that asked for a photo. I kept my body of work consistent, my themes, my colors, my forms, all consistent. And I got brand recognition, ta da! And then I got burnt out, haha!

My point is, I want my art to be honest. I want it to speak to someone. I would also like to earn a decent income with my work, but I'm afraid the process of selling what I make takes away from what I make. What a pickle! Another pickle is being a Libra. What I say and believe today might be gone tomorrow and I might say and believe something entirely different.
For instance. I have been deciding to slow my work down and make what I want, spend time with it, get a nice collection together and then decide where to show it, if anyone wants to, that is.

Then yesterday, I was talking to a gallery that is interested in my work. I sent some samples, lots of price points and they said, "we love your stars". Well, I love my stars too, they are very pretty. But, that takes me down the road of inexpensive mass producing, exactly what I was thinking I would get away from. But, those stars sell, so make them I shall...... and there is also the fact that I bought a loom and I took a jewelry making workshop, so where do I fit all of that in? How do you stay consistent with a body of work when you want to do so many different things? So..... I ponder all of this and while my studio is a frozen tundra, I sketch, make notes, do yoga, drink tea, spend time with my family, make some jewelry, think about weaving (the math!) and hope for some warmer days sooooon, so I can get on with some new ideas!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Branding 101 part one

I've been spending some time sorting through my hard drive, looking at photos of old work, sorting through receipts from shows, trying to make sense of what works and what doesn't work and why I was compelled to waste away 2013 and be so unproductive. The photos and receipts from 2010-2012 showed me very clearly why I took a year off. I worked my ass off! I can't believe how much work I made and how many shows I did. No wonder I needed a break. It has also shown me that I made some pretty damn good pieces. Some I had forgotten about. I have photos of experimental things that never quite made it, and I would like to revisit some of those ideas. There are some pieces that I would like to make more of. It has been really good to go back and look at my history, so to speak, and see how far my work has really come. Time to move forward. I don't exactly need to re-brand myself, but I do need to continue the brand and grow. Just gotta git up off my lazy arse!

Branding thoughts from the Etsy article:

What is my brand's essence? What is my story?
 I am a southern girl, born and raised in the south. It's what I love, it's who I am. I tell stories. My work has its origins from my love of the south and what I want to express about where I come from and what I love. It's like I have this image in my mind of a thing I love and for some reason I want to use my hands to express that image, make sense?

I made this piece for myself. Gerry's mother put this little cat in his Christmas stocking one year along with this note:

I wanted to honor this little cat and the note, so I made a barn with a niche for it, and tucked the note in with the little statue. I love it, and it constantly reminds me of my sweet mother in law and the sweet little boy that wrapped up this cat every year and gave it to his mother. What a great story! That's what I love about making these pieces. The story that comes with them.....

Why do I make my items?
I ask myself that all the time, why do I feel compelled to do this? more thought required here..... it's about the story, I think......

What is important and consistent about my product? How is my product different?
The consistency seems to be the house/barn form. The story. I feel a strong connection to this form for some reason. Could we get into some deep psychological questions of my absurd childhood and how I am creating the home I wish I had? Maaaaybeeee...... wanting a safe and stable environment, creating it through these houses I make? maaaaybeee......   wanting better memories of home? uh huh......

how is my product different?
 I make it, it's authentic, each piece is unique and tells a tale.
I don't know..... more thought required here.

Use 20-10-4 words that describe my work
I'll come back to this later, whew!

Who is my customer?
80%  white affluent female, usually very attractive, well dressed, very nice, 30+ years of age
connects with a story my piece tells or asks for a commission for their own story

20% white male, 30+ years of age, my work reminds them of something they connect with

I would like a more diverse audience, younger collectors, a broader ethnic group, how do I reach them and what speaks to them?.......

Who is my competition?
Who isn't, I live in clay world here in NC, it's hard and it's a competitive medium. Ugh...why do I do this again?!

This is a good exercise and worth spending more time on. I can't work in my studio right now, it's just too dang cold, so doing things like this is a good way to spend some morning time, get the wheels turning, the soil tilled, the seeds planted. I may take up some blog space as I ponder all of this. If I bore you to tears, sorry, but this is the way I am able to work things out in my head, here in my blog space. So read if you want to or just stop by quickly and say hello!

Friday, January 10, 2014


Every week I get Etsy emails and I very rarely have time to sit down and really read everything that is highlighted and linked to other pages. This morning, I got one and there was a link to Branding 101.
Back in the late 90's I had a brief career that ended badly with Jansport. It was a small but rapidly growing company then and they were brand driven like nobody's business. If I only learned one thing while at that company, besides ignoring lawyers, it was brand marketing.

In 2011, I set out to do just that, brand myself. And it worked. I was a busy busy girl in 2012. Constant emails from galleries and shows and customers and my business took off, sales were great. I busted my ass marketing myself and it paid off. I also nearly had a brain aneurysm trying to keep up with it all and make authentic work. So, I took a break from the marketing and the making. And guess what? A slow 2013..... no galleries called, no shows opened up to me, hellllooooo, anybody out there remember meeee?!?!?  What? If I don't shout out to the world, nobody's gonna buy anything? WTF?! Does this mean the only way I am going to successfully sell my work is if I bust my ass every single day to promote it? UGH! Do I want this?!?!

 Now here we are, a brand spanking new year, a clean slate, a new beginning, new ideas. What to do with that?  I am slowly unfolding myself from my cocoon. Old work that hasn't sold, for reasons I can't figure out, is coming back from galleries (look for a clearance sale soon!). Show applications are sitting in my email folders. Do I go back down that road? If I applied for the shows I have applications for right now, I would be sending out a total of about $800 in show fees already. God almighty, how are artists supposed to ever make any money?! I let the galleries do the work for me last year, and sales were ok, not great. I sold 12 barns in my studio in one week in December vs. one barn in one year at one particular gallery. So what does that tell me?

This branding article has me thinking. If I want to continue making the work I make, and I think I do, how will I do it? I've tried a lot of different things, some worked some didn't. Galleries sort of work, my Etsy shop works when I put in the time, the studio tour works, but that is one month out of the year. Some shows work, some don't, but some of them cost a lot of money and many depend on the weather, which sucked last year. My blog works. I'm sure facebook would work, but I detest it.......pass. Being invited to exhibitions is always nice and my work often sells, but they only ask for a few pieces and it's only worth it basically for the exposure and a little ego stroking. I'm not set up to keep up a store front, although I think that would really work for me, I am good at selling, at least when I'm in a good mood, ha! I'll tell you what really really worked. A newspaper article about me. Now, if I could get magazines and newspapers to only write about me every day, I would buy all of us a trip to Richard Branson's private island for a vacation!

So....... Defining my brand..... (from the etsy article). I'm going to work on this a bit today and blog a bit about this exercise. I think it will be good for me. Stay tuned if you are interested in what I come up with!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The best of the best

Gerry, Wesley and I are just getting home from Alabama after a brief trip to attend the memorial for Associated Press photographer, Dave Martin. This room was filled with the best of the best. AP photographers, editors and writers that have documented the events of our world, some of them for over 30 years, some of them Pulitzer Prize winners. Many of them have covered wars, Super Bowls, hurricanes, elections, countless sporting events and news events, and on and on. If you have looked at a photo in a magazine or a newspaper, or online, chances are it was one of theirs.

For one brief moment in time, they all came together to honor one of their own, all of them sharing a love and respect for a fellow photographer that taught them so much. Even the Governor of Alabama showed up. I was overwhelmed with the talent in this room and filled with respect and admiration for what they do. As the wife of an AP photographer and the mother of an AP kid, I also shared a common sadness for Dave's wife and children. I saw the respect and admiration these people had for this man lift that family up. As each person spoke about Dave, there was laughter and love and strength passed on to his wife, his daughter, and his son. As we watched the slideshow that was prepared, we witnessed the work of a talented photographer that has documented for us our history during the past decades. We were blessed to have him as a witness to the events of our time here on Earth.

We are home now with our hearts full and looking ahead to a year filled with promise and thoughts of how short our time here really is. I can only hope to touch a fraction of the lives that Dave Martin did and to somehow make a small contribution while I am here.......

peace ya'll

Thursday, January 2, 2014


As you might have guessed from my previous post, 2014 got off to a less than wonderful start. Spending New Year's Day thinking about preparations for attending a friend's funeral in Alabama is not what we expected for the first day of the new year. We did go to a party later in the day and enjoyed some good food, good music and a nice afternoon outside by the fire talking to funny and kind and talented people and it smoothed the edges of the day a bit. Thanks Bob and Laura for a great afternoon!

Gerry has two ball games to shoot today, Wesley and I went out and spent some Christmas cash that was gifted to us, and I have been jotting notes down like crazy for ideas I have for the coming year of art making. I'm excited about what's a brewing! When I get back in the studio, I will let you know what's going on.

 It's a gray and rainy afternoon here today. I have a new book and I'm gonna pour some hot cider, get my down blanket and snuggle in for the rest of the afternoon.

re: the window photo. I bought some spray snow this year and sprayed all the windows downstairs with it. I have never used this stuff, but I loved it and think it would be fun to use all year long, writing different messages on the windows. I do have a very tacky streak, but I'm fine with that!

Hope everyone had a happy start to the new year and will have a prosperous and joyful 2014
peace ya'll

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goodbye Mullet

Dave Martin, standing,  photo by John Bazemore-AP
We woke up to a sad email from AP this morning. Gerry's former boss and long time mentor Dave Martin ("Mullet" to his friends)was shooting the Chick fil a bowl last night and had a heart attack on the field at the end of the game. He was transported to the hospital and died early this morning. Not exactly the way we had planned to start 2014. It's certainly a time for reflection on what is important and how precious life is.

The story is reported here

Being an AP photographer is a stressful job. The work is hard, the stress level is hard, the physical and mental demands are great. Trust me I know this, I watch it every day with Gerry. This is the second AP photographer to die on the job since Gerry started almost ten years ago. Gerry takes excellent care of himself, watches what he eats, exercises, takes advantage of days off to rest. But still, the stress is there 24/7.

My heart breaks for this family. Dave's wife will spend New Year's Day making arrangements to bury her husband, who died way too young. His two children will no longer have their father there for advise and support, their children will not know their grandfather. It's a sad loss and one Gerry is trying to get his head around today.

Hug those you love, time is fleeting, life is short and can end so unexpectedly.............