Day 57: Mixing it up a bit! Playing with yarn.
This yarn winding session turned into a full scale stash reorganization. I loved it! It also made me want to ditch the art stuff and play with yarn exclusively for a while.
Day 58: Started a set of rainbow inchies. Yes, that’s a technical artist term.
Day 59: Sadly my photo treatment of these little guys is better than the actual work. They’re headed to the trash.
Sometimes things just don’t work out. These little guys made me think I need remedial stamping classes because I mangled it so badly. Truly, the best thing about them are the photos I took. Oh well, moving on.
Day 60: Quick ATC tonight and I am off to take my own advice!
I had no idea how this would turn out. The paper is silver reflective. I stamped it and then painted it. It was short and sweet to make. Exactly what I needed after the long day I had.
Day 61: Too much likes previous day? Maybe I need new colors?
Day 62: This is why you tape the watercolor paper down. Back of the blue paper.
Day 63: Making a book out of the green/blue page. I’ll entertain suggestions as to what to put in it.
I like making books out of this watercolor paper. We’ll see what it turns into next week!
Thoughts from the week:
I’ve been thinking a lot about the artist community that has sprung up around me as I work on this year long project. I’ve mentioned Mary here before. While she and I don’t practice the same sort of art (she’s a musician) I find my chats with her on creativity and the process of creativity line up nicely regardless of which art we are discussing. I did some design work for her last fall and she introduced me to Starr Weems. Starr did the amazing artwork for Mary’s last album. And I have a bit of working artist crush on her at the moment. The three of us met for lunch one day and formed the Vague Coffee Wavers. I’m pretty sure that’s the name of the artist commune we will start if we ever get around to it. I also have Renée, who is working on a project quite similar to mine in scope but she’s abstaining from the Twitter/Facebook/blog attention seeking that I seem to be engaging in at present. It’s a nice group of women that I enjoy checking in with to see what they are working on. It reminds me a bit of college and my studio classes. I loved being able to come together as a group and work on our individual pieces and then take a step back and talk about what everyone was doing and then offer suggestions. The brainstorming was so valuable to me! It helped me learn to creatively visually problem solve.
Next week I start a letterpress class at our local Printmaking Collective. Amy and I will be going the next three Thursdays to class, so those days will feature some prints! I’m absurdly excited about it. Here’s to finding more artists for the collective.
I haven’t posted a recipe in a while and since my mom was asking for the chocolate cake recipe I made for Eli’s birthday, you guys get a new recipe.
I cut it out of the local paper several years ago and the writer claims it’s from the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa box. I don’t use Hershey’s. I use Penzey’s Dutch Process Cocoa and I’m pretty sure that if heaven doesn’t contain copious amounts of this cocoa, I don’t want in.
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans or one 13×9-inch baking pan.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin!). Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
Bake for 30-35 minutes for round pans, 35-40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
6 TBS butter
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk (I always need a bit more than 1/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat butter in mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. Makes enough to cover the round cakes generously.
As always with this much chocolate and vanilla, the cake will be super strong and sweet on the first day and perfectly mellow the next. So if you need to really impress someone with your baking skills, make it the day before.
Occasionally I’ll let the kids pull up the step stool to the cart/island in the middle of our kitchen and we will eat a meal there. That meal is sometimes breakfast: homemade donuts where they get to dip or roll the donuts in their choice of toppings. When it’s lunch or dinner I put out a variety of meats, cheeses, fruit and crackers for them to munch on and in my head I call it antipasto. (I know, I know, antipasto is really an appetizer but sometimes you just have to eat only appetizers and desert.) Eli and Liza love to eat off of the cutting board and assemble their own food. We have a lot of fun and the kids talk and we all laugh. Since my kids rarely eat the same things, it’s a chance for us to gather and truly share a meal. Here’s a list of the items I pull from but it can be changed around to suit your kids.
Antipasto for Kids
cut up chicken nuggets (we always have leftover nuggets in our fridge)
blueberries (we always have dried but fresh would certainly work)
cut up grape tomatoes
Triscuits (Quattro Formaggio are my favorite)
french bread (when we have it)
ketchup (it is Eli we’re talking about here, so of course, there’s ketchup)
Everybody gets their own dip bowl(s) so I get to use my tiny dishes!
A friend gave me this recipe a couple of years ago. I’ve made it with frozen strawberries a few times but nothing beats fresh berries. You can pretty much make it in one bowl with a wooden spoon which makes it super easy and yummy to boot. The baking time can vary a little bit depending on how juicy the berries are. It’s supposedly from the Portland Palate, 1992.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsps ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cup fresh strawberries chopped
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I recently used macadamia nuts and it was awesome!)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and soda. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, strawberries and nuts. Add to flour mixture.
Pour into prepared pan and bake in 350° oven for 50 to 60 minutes.
I’m always looking for a way to sneak some spinach in our diets. This is a great option as the spinach gets flavored by the fajita seasoning so unless you KNOW there is spinach in there you can’t taste it. The dipping sauce you can make more or less hot by adjusting the amounts of red pepper and hot sauce. This is from Southern Living from about a million years ago.
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (1-ounce) envelope fajita seasoning mix
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 (6-ounce) packages refrigerated Southwestern-flavored chicken breast strips, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11-ounce) can yellow corn with red and green bell peppers, drained
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers
6 (10-inch) flour tortillas
Combine spinach and fajita seasoning in a large nonstick skillet; add broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, 5 minutes. Stir in chicken and next 3 ingredients; simmer until cheese melts. Let mixture cool slightly before next step.
Spread 1/2-3/4 cup chicken mixture on 1 side of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edges.
Roll up tortillas tightly, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes.
Unwrap rollups, and cut into slices. (I usually do halves.) For neater slices, avoid overfilling the tortilla, and roll tightly. Before serving, cut the tortilla on the diagonal.
Tex-Mex Mayonnaise for Dipping
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons milk
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.
This is a recipe that my mom cut out of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette many years ago and I suppose it is the reverse-engineered version of a dip from a restaurant in Little Rock called Trio’s. The dip looks like it’s still on the menu too. We love it at Casa Granade and I make it at least once a month to take with us to a gathering or we eat it all ourselves for lunch on a Saturday.
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, chopped
1/3 c Parmesan Cheese
1 can Ro-Tel
1/4 c purple onion, diced
10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
chopped jalapeños to taste
Put all in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until cheese is smooth, stirring periodically.
I usually serve with corn chips but the recipe actually calls for baked pitas. I don’t use the pitas because I can never make them quick enough to eat with the dip or get enough made to finish the dip off. The pitas really do make it awesome.
Cut pitas into wedges. Brush with melted butter and then shake on lemon pepper and cumin. Bake at 325° until crisp. Serve with spinach dip.
This is the banana bread recipe I use these days. I like it because the cream cheese makes it moist and the topping of cinnamon makes it breakfast or dessert. I didn’t realize until I looked it up in the Southern Living recipe database just now that it was sent in by an Alabamian. So thanks Willie Monroe for the fabulous bread!
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (1 1/4 pounds unpeeled bananas, about 4 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
I alter it to use 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 2 cups all-purpose. I think it tastes better and it sneaks a bit of whole grain into Eli’s diet while he isn’t looking.
Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8- x 4-inch loafpans.
Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides pull away from pan, shielding with aluminum foil last 15 minutes to prevent browning, if necessary. Cool bread in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks before slicing.
Cinnamon Crisp-Topped Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread: Prepare bread batter as directed, and spoon into desired pans. Stir together 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar; 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans; 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon melted butter; and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter. Bake and cool as directed.
This is May’s recipe for grits and truthfully I don’t make it often enough. This dish is yummy with a grilled pork chop or chicken. Tastes great for breakfast the next morning too. I actually prefer them for breakfast. Or is that lunch? Or maybe snack? Usually the whole bowl is gone before dinner the next night…
1 cup quick grits
1 stick butter
1 lb of cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add grits, cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add butter, eggs and cheese. Bake in a greased dish at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until mostly set.
I’ve been making this recipe for 13 years from a Reader’s Digest cookbook (of all things!) I got when I got married. The first time I made it, I had one pot to make it in and I hadn’t cooked much, so it was a fair bit of thinking for my 22 year old brain to make it work. Chances are if you’ve visited my house more than once, you’ve gotten to eat this dish. We have company coming tonight so it’s our old standby to the rescue!
1/2 cup butter
4 cups thinly sliced Vidalia Onions (sweet onions will work out of season, Vidalia are best)
1 lb. beef tenderloin or sirloin, sliced into 1/2” cubes
3 tbs. flour
1 tbs. dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 qt. beef broth
2 cups cooked fettuccine
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions; sauté, stirring often, until caramelized but not burned, 15-20 minutes. With slotted spoon remove onions to medium bowl. Add beef to pan; brown well on all sides. Return onions and any juices to pan. In a small bowl mix flour, sugar, cumin, salt & pepper. Add to pan; stir 1 minute until bubbly. Gradually add broth, simmer 10 minutes. Combine noodles and beef mixture in large baking dish. Spread cheese on top. Bake in 350° for 20-30 minutes.
This bread is so easy to make. Once it’s baked you’ll be glad that it makes two loaves since most of the first one will be gone before they are even cool. This recipe came to me by the same friend that gave me the Mississippi State Sin Dip.
3 c flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t baking powder
2 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c milk
1 c plus 2 T oil
4 T poppy seeds
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t almond extract
1 1/2 t butter extract
Put all ingredients in a bowl and beat for 2 minutes. Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
3/4 c powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t butter extract
1/2 t almond extract
1/4 c orange juice
Mix glaze ingredients and glaze bread while hot.