Saturday, May 23, 2009

Before and After: Working with Trash

When I begin working on a new piece of art I start by addressing what bothers me. Trash bothers me, especially after a hurricane when the garbage trucks cannot pick-up the trash for a week. With all the trash I see, I can't help thinking about how wonderful it would be if companies were required to list all the materials they used for their packaging on their products like the nutrition facts on the back of food containers. 

Yes, recycling is an easy way to get rid of all the packaging, plastic, etc. but is that enough? It seems like such a waste to me. I think we should consider our purchases by factoring in the packaging and what we are going to do with all the waste; not just pass it along to the recycle bin. It is almost like making it o.k. to purchase all the bulk you want because, "it can be recycled." Recycling is great, but after you have repurposed everything you possibly can. 

The piece above is made everything left around my house. My house always seems to be in constant motion. Stuff moves from room to room. We consume food that has packaging. What to do with the leftover packaging is a constant challenge. Plus, people give me things all the time. Like the silverware in this piece. I didn't design the piece and then look for items to put in it. The mismatched fork and knife has been in my silverware drawer for the past two years; glaring at me; waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. Unmatched and unwanted, I couldn't just recycle it or give it to Goodwill. What would they do with it? 

Everyone creates art for different reasons. For me, its my voice saying the things I want to say, but just can't get it out in words. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer is Everywhere and I Couldn't be Happier

Summer starts early in South Florida. With temperatures in the mid 80's in May it feels like summer to me. Seasons do change in Miami, subtle yes, but changes just the same. 

 I know it is summer when...

 1. My pool is warm enough to swim in. Not just splash around my big toe, but a real swim especially just before bed. There is nothing like a moonlit swim when my gardenias bushes surrounding my pool are in bloom.

 2. My garden becomes a tropical paradise. The heliconias start shooting out blooms twelve inches high and the Royal Poinsettia trees burst into an explosion of red. Color is alive and vibrant everywhere, an artist’s dream. (See photos:

 3. The smell of sunscreen is everywhere. My oldest son starts complaining because he hates the smell of sunscreen. Why can't we make a sunscreen that smells good and doesn't burn when you rub your eyes? I would make my life so much easier. What Miami mom hasn't chased her kids around with the sunscreen bottle trying to get out the door?

4. The days are gloriously long. It's light out when I go to work in the morning and somehow I have more energy to go for a bike ride or a swim with the kids before dinner. 

 5. The bay is flat and perfect for kayaking, my favorite sport. I don't mind getting wet when the water is warm and refreshing and because the water is calm I see more wildlife. I still get startled every time I hear a loud “whoosh” next to me: dolphins.

 6. The heat slows everyone down. It seems like the whole city relaxes. Sure everyone complains about heat, but the balmy nights are heaven.

7. I don't care how clean my house is. I can't explain it, but the mess just doesn't bother me like it does during the winter holidays. 

8. All you need is a bikini, sandals, sunscreen, cover-up and a hat. You can go anywhere like that in Miami… or at least any place you would want to go.

9. Mangoes are in season. There are over 250 varieties of mangoes. Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens has a mango Festival every year. This year it is the weekend of July 11th. I never miss it. I even plan my vacation around it. They have mango tasting, mango workshops and even sell the mango trees. I always recommend tasting a mango before you purchase the tree. The taste and texture varies from super sweet to a bland cooking variety and from smooth to stringy. My favorites are: Ice Cream, Haden, Kent and Carrie.

10. There are no excuses needed to go on an adventure. That is what you are suppose to do during the summer: go places, try new things, explore.

The part that I love most about summer is I get to reunite with my family. My kids will be grown before I get another change to chase them down the beach laughing all the way. I like just hanging out with them pondering over a big decision of the day like: what type of cookies we should bake.

Hope you summer brings you joy and tell me about your next adventure...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Is your cup half recession or half opportunity?

I know we are in a recession, but do we all have to be so down in the dumps about it all the time? I really believe its going to be ok. Maybe I am alone here, but if we really think about it we can look at the good things about a recession.

Opportunities are there only if you have the right attitude to find them.

1. Rethink where you are. If you are out of work, now is an opportunity to really get creative. Many people picked their careers based on how much money they projected they could make, not their true passion. Opportunity is waiting... let your heart lead you. Whatever you love to do, only you can bring your special spin on it.

2. Less really is more. When you have less it creates an opportunity to think differently, freer. I am happiest when I am camping. It is the time when I have the least amount of stuff and very little to worry about. Now is the time to see how much happier you can be with less stuff. Its just weighs you down plus, its an opportunity to give the things you don't really need to someone who needs it. 

3. Now that its slower at the office, it is the perfect opportunity to network and branch out into different areas that you have always wanted to do. Be brave and ask someone that your respect and admire to be your mentor. Don't worry, its not too late and mentoring is not just for college kids; we are all learning together.

4. Cut down on groceries by growing your own vegetable garden. Here is an opportunity to discover what vegetables really taste like. Vegetables taste incredibly better homegrown; they are better for you; you kids will actually like vegetables; and you get to reduce some of you stress by working out in the fresh air.

5. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Now is the opportunity to see how resourceful you can be. Its really where our pioneers started form. Imagine what the early settlers would use and create out of all of the things that we throw out and guiltlessly toss in the recycle bin if they were here today.

6. Opportunities are endless and so is this list. I hope you will add to this list and realize your cup is half opportunity.

Nancy Martini

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Want your kids to be more creative? Let them be bored...

The plan to get your kids to be more creative this summer is really simple. Let them be bored. Yes, I said bored – really bored and I promise it will be ok. It is truly the best way to be creative; discover who you are; and most importantly, decide what you want to do with your life. So many kids are over-scheduled, stressed-out and just plain tired. How can they be creative when everything is planned out for them every minute of the day? 

When I was a kid, my mom sent me outside everyday after homework and I didn't come home until just before dark. My neighborhood friends were out there too, so together we explored, laughed, created and learned in our backyards. 

We created all kinds of adventures. I remember once designing an entire circus after finding 5' wooden wire cable wheels left in the trash. It was so much fun! We even did a show for our school because all the kids were talking about it. I have to admit we did get bored in our backyard sometimes, but not for long because that's the point: nobody stays bored because we can't stand it, then we creatively come up with something to do or make.

I was reminded of this subject last night because by teenage son was giving me a hard time because I do not let my kids watch tv on school nights. I didn't give in. It would have been easier, but he did come up with something. When I was watering my garden this morning, I found wires coming out of his bedroom window attached to a contraption made out of recycled soda bottles taped to a jar with water in it. I am not sure what it is. I hope it is some sort of antenna. 

I'm not looking for any of my children to be artists, I just want them to be able to creatively find a solution to any problem that crosses their path and to know their ideas count.

Let me know what you invent on your next adventure...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It is always fun to play a prank on my kids... especially on Mother's Day.

This morning I woke up early, as usual, then went outside to breathe in the incredible aroma from my gardenia bushes that are in full bloom. Realizing I had much to do, I started the laundry and came across a package in the linen closet when I was putting away the towels. I knew right away it had to be my Mother's Day gift from my three kids that they had hidden to surprise me with on Mother's Day. The temptation to mess with my kids was too great, so I decided to hide the package.

I went about my regular busy morning. After the laundry, I started working in my garden. I had the patio door cracked open so I could hear what was happening in the house. My family started waking up. Once they were all up, they went collectively to find my present and it wasn't there. Of course they all started all blaming each other in a way that only siblings can: who messed-up and and who's fault it was. Meanwhile, I was cracking-up in the garden – when they saw the look on my face when I walked-in they all yelled in unison... MOM!

Friday, May 8, 2009

For your next low budgeted project try Oops! Paint

Thankfully I discovered oops! paint about six months ago. Oops! paint is the leftover paint at Home Depot and other hardware stores that was mixed for their customers, but for whatever reason the customer rejected the paint and did not purchase it.  Once the paint is mixed it is hard to sell, so they cut the price down to $5 for a gallon and $1 for a quart. 

Oops! paint is perfect for many applications. I use it mostly for set designs and scenery backgrounds where I need a lot of paint. There are endless uses for this paint, especially for kid's art projects that are more about the experience not the end product.

If what they have in stock is not to your liking, and you know your color mixing, you can ask the guys that mix the paint to add pigment to the paint to get closer to the color you want. They usually don't like to do this, but ask nice and they will. Be patient, it is hit or miss most of the time. You just have to look for the little oops! paint shelf every time you go.

It is really important to read the can. It might be oil or latex or even stain. I would not recommend it for something really special or of great value. It is rejected paint after all.

I was thrilled last week to get two gallons (two similar shades of blue) of outdoor paint. I got a 5 gallon bucket and mixed the two gallons throughly together. Now I will have enough to brighten up my back patio. A fresh new look for $10 is hard to beat.

Nancy Martini

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Martini's Pesto... Lazy Girl Style

I make this all the recipe all the time. It is one thing that everyone in my family likes and is quick and easy - no blender or food processor needed.

Cook and rinse your pasta. Any will do, but I prefer whole wheat penne.

All you basically need: basil, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Find fresh basil, parsley or whatever leafy herb you have growing in your garden. Grab two big handfuls and wash it well – chop it up with a knife.

Take one handful of pine nuts (whole no need to chop) or walnut - chopped.

Small handful of sun dried tomatoes - chopped.

Mix these ingredients in with the pasta, then drizzle olive oil over it.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Make it like a salad. I hate to measure everything, it just means I have more to clean later.


Nancy Martini

Mother's Day

It's almost Mother's Day and I can't help remembering my very favorite Mother's Day ever...

It was about seven years ago, my oldest son was seven, my daughter was five and the baby was 18 months. Xander, my oldest, was raising money for the Salvation Army. He learned how to shine shoes and would shine shoes for people after church on Sunday. He made a lot of money and was ready to donate it. I can't remember why he picked the Salvation Army. It probably had something to do with ringing the bells with his Dad at Christmas time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Creating Great Avatar or Profile Images: 7 Tips

Avatars are very interesting and say a lot about you. A little mini snapshot of yourself; who you are and what you do. Personal photos say a lot about a person. I have been using photos of my clients to place in their brochures, bios, websites etc. for years and the rules for avatars are the same, just a different platform. 

Here are few tips to make better avatar to increase your business. (If you a looking to increase your love life you will have to visit another blog or have separate accounts...)

1. Use a current photo. Believe it or not people are more interesting once they have been around more, done more. Who seeks advise or is racing to do business from someone right out of college? Plus, when you finally get really successful where someone wants to interview you or meet with you all your creditability that you have built up for years is shot. Admit it... we all feel differently about people who use ten-year-old photos of themselves.

2. Be comfortable. Your feelings show in a photo, so if you are uncomfortable with getting your picture taken make your photographer take lots of photos. I don't mean 2o; I mean until you are tired and don't care anymore. That is at the point you will look like yourself.

3. Dress the part. If you have a serious job like an attorney you need to look like an attorney. If you are in a creative industry then wear something interesting and unique. Who would trust an attorney that shows up in shorts and flip flops? 

4.  Don't look too provocative for business. Mom is still right.  You will waste so much time meeting people who want to "get to know you better" under the pretense of work. 

5. Make your avatar standout. Break out of the square! Do something to make your avatar different than the sea of photos out there. Add some type, a symbol, different shape – anything that says something specifically about you.

6. Know your brand. Stay consistent with who you are and what you are selling. (more on this later...)

7. Be kind to yourself. What you hate about your features nobody else sees until you point it out. So stop already! You are the only one that can be you. So be true to yourself and you will look great!

When I look at avatars I can't help thinking about the old four frame black and white photo strips we all use to love to take in a photo booth behind a pulled curtain. I think it is because when you get a lot of tweets the photos are repeated in a vertical a row.  So have some fun and let me know if you need help...

Nancy Martini


Saturday, May 2, 2009


I have only been on twitter for a few days now and I am already tired of looking at myself in my avatar (ID photo).  It almost feels like ground hog day, only I don't get to change my outfit or my hair or most importantly my mood. 

Avatars are really interesting. I have so many clients that insist on using very old photos of themselves for their brochure and website. Not to mention all the people who uncomfortably quietly ask me to touch them up in Photoshop.  All of this is fine until you have to meet someone in person or if you get lucky enough to be interviewed on a visual platform. Then, your creditability is instantly shot. 

It is really hard to convince people to use a current photo. I try to explain to them that your personality shows more as you age. You come to be someone really interesting. Someone we all want to learn about, someone to get valued advice from as we navigate through this complicated adventure called life.