Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasonal Confusion

I don't know about you, but I felt that Christmas really snuck up on us this year.  Don't worry, I am all ready, but it seems that the entire fall just flew by at lightening speed!  Maybe it's because we really haven't had the snow that makes it feel like winter, maybe it's because we've been so busy, or because I am getting older.  Whatever the reason, time seems like it is moving too fast.  The retail stores don't help much, either.  Christmas displays go up before Halloween. Early in December, Hobby Lobby put all their Christmas items on clearance to make way for spring and garden items.  Slow down, folks!

But this one took the cake, for me!

In case you wanted to put Easter Eggs in your Christmas stockings, you can get them at King Soopers. (We took the photo yesterday.)

Bah!  Why is everyone trying to rush through things.

Slow down, and enjoy the day!  Happy holidays everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recipe - Artichoke Dip

Do you need a quick appetizer to take to a party?  Perhaps you need something easy to make before your holiday dinner.  This is a no-fail, quick, hot Artichoke dip that you will love.

Artichoke Dip
1 – 8 oz. package of (less fat) cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 Tablespoon dill or dill blend seasoning
1 can artichoke hearts (not marinated), drained and chopped
1/2 lemon zest (optional)
1 t lemon juice (optional)
4-5 drops hot sauce (I use Cholula brand)

Mix softened cream cheese with remaining ingredients.  Put into small baking dish; bake 350 until bubbly, approx. 30 – 40 min.
Serve with crackers, veggies or French bread.

  • This recipe can easily be doubled.
  • VARIATION:  For a southwestern twist on artichoke dip, add 1 small can of chopped, mild green chiles.  Omit the lemon juice and zest.
  • This recipe can be made a day ahead.  Mix the ingredients, place in baker, cover and refrigerate.  Bake prior to serving.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Elves

I love this vintage Christmas postcard.  I think it would make a great accent for a holiday project.  Feel free to right click the image and to save it for your own personal, artistic use.

"A Very Merry Xmas"
The card is a color illustration postcard.  There is no date of publication, but it was postmarked in Fonda, New York on December 22, 1911, with a 1 cent stamp.

For more vintage images, and holiday postcards, visit my other blog: Postcards, etc.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Omnivore 100 - re-visit

I first came across this foodie list when I was writing my first blog several years ago.  I completed it - I even had to look up a few of the foods.  This list has traveled foodie blogs worldwide - I thought I would revisit it so that I could see where I stand. 

The Omnivore's 100 came from Jill and Andrew's UK blog Very Good Taste
From their blog:
"Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food – but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.
Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results."
The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
Mole poblano
96. Bagel and
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake
(PS. The list has generated a lot of questions, so I’ve created an FAQ for it over here!)"

I left their text intact (including the instructions - you'll notice the British spelling), and I left their wikipedia links intact for easy access to information and definitions.  Their list is very thorough.  I wonder if an American foodie list would be a bit different from an UK foodie list?
So, how did you fare?  I had 60 out of 100.  What's your favorite?  What's your least favorite?  Which item would you never try?
If you post your own Omnivore 100, post a link to your blog in my comments section, I would love to see how you did!

Monday, December 13, 2010

After Party Let Down

I love entertaining.  Each December we host a big Christmas Open House for friends and family.  We send out our invitations early.  I plan a menu, what will I make new this year?  Which favorites will I make again?  I bake and cook and freeze food.  I decorate and clean and prepare.  I love to think of all the details: I make tags for all the foods, arrange flowers and centerpieces.  It is truly a labor of love.  I know that all my friends and family appreciate the time at our home, the food I've made, the opportunity to visit with friends, and the holiday spirit.
So what's wrong?
It's over.
So simple.
We've cleaned up the party, put away the food, washed the wine glasses, boxed up the punch bowl.  We've taken out the trash and loaded the recycling bin. 
It's over, till next time.
I guess there is a bit of after party let down.  All that anticipation and planning, and it's gone in a flash.  That flash was a night filled with great people and good cheer, but gone none the less. 
I certainly cannot live from party to party so I have that exciting feeling of happy anticipation, although it sometimes is quite tempting. 
But there is still real life going on the the background, homework, grocery shopping, laundry, appointments and meetings.  School for the kids and friends and friendships to care for.  There are still floors to sweep and trash to take out and bills to pay. No matter how many parties there are, life is still here.  And, that is what I have to attend to.
So, I need to remind myself to keep it all in perspective.  Life is not just a party, or a vacation, though we may sometimes wish it were. 
Now I move on to the next... planning for Christmas and a house full of guests.  Getting the Christmas menu put together, it is my turn to host this year.  What should I make?  Oh, and also, let's keep it all in perspective.  Amid the drama of the holidays, the excitement of the gifts and food and candy and cookies and wine and bows and wrapping, life goes on.  Remind myself to enjoy the mundane, simple, sweet, exciting, boring or difficult moments. Life goes on.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Recipe - Antipasti & Marinated Vegetables

This is one of my favorite appetizers to serve at a party or before Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.  I love the art of it.  Just look at the color and the texture.  The flavors are just as good.  The sweet marinated cherry peppers play nicely off the hard, salty cheese and the crisp and tangy vegetables.  Serve with good bread and good wine.  Each person can mix and match to suit their tastes.  It's a crowd pleaser!

Antipasti Platter

1 pound assorted sliced, gourmet deli meats (such as Italian salami, spicy capocollo, prosciutto,  and mortadella)
1/2 pound high quality Parmigiano-Reggiano, cut into irregular chunks
Marinated vegetables (recipe follows)
Marinated artichoke hearts
Kalamata or Marinated Olives
Peperoncini or marinated cherry peppers (or both)
1 loaf focaccia bread, sliced
1 box crispy Italian breadsticks

Arrange the meats, cheeses, and focaccia on a large platter. Place the marinated vegetables, olives and peppers in small serving bowls.  Place breadsticks, upright, in a decorative container. 

Marinated Vegetables
8 cups assorted vegetables (such as carrots, green beans, zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli)
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Cut the carrots and zucchini into long stick, about ¼ wide.  Break cauliflower and broccoli into florets.  Blanch each type of vegetable to desired doneness.  They should be bright and crisp.  Stop the cooking by rinsing in cold water.  Drain well.

Whisk all remaining ingredients in bowl; toss with vegetable mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 2 days. Bring vegetables to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper; serve.

  • Find a good olive bar to buy the peppers and olives.  Any variety of interesting olives and peppers would work for the platter.
  • Use a variety of meats, vegetables, olives and peppers to create colorful appetizer.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday Sculpture Series

(Yes, I know, I am a day late.  Better late than never!)

This beautiful sculpture named Liv, was created by local artist Arabella Tattershall.  It is created from copper coated steel and stands 4'6" tall with a bottom diameter of 4'.  The pieces is designed with the intention of allowing plants to wind their way in and out of the open weave gown towards the leafy bodice of the dress.
Tattershall says of her work, "I am enamored with leaves. They keep falling into my pieces, as they would from a tree, and I accept their gifts of seasonal engagement in the guises of frailty, tenacity, color and shape."  
This piece sits in front of Embellishments, a boutique at 611 S. Public Road.  It is a nice complement to the 2010 Art on the Street Sculpture walk.  This pieces is available for purchase for $7,500.

(posted as part of Art Everyday Month)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shop Local - Support Small Business

Get creative!  Give creative! Shop Local!
We all know that we are supposed to "shop local."  There are many reasons to shop local - you support the tax base in your own community, you potentially support a small business owner, you can find local goods at local stores, you can reduce your carbon footprint, you can find unique items that aren't available at big box stores, and you can buy from local artisans.  Be a little more creative in your gift giving this year. 

Purple Poppy

There is even a national movement called Small Business Saturday, which has been designated as Saturday, November 27.  It's sponsored by American Express and hopefully will give support to small businesses nationwide.  I think it's a great idea.  Shop at small businesses this Saturday, but also shop at small businesses on Black Friday and next Tuesday and the following Thursday.  Don't stop!

You can take things a bit further and also commit to shop small businesses on-line, as well, instead of the big websites. Look at craft sites, like Etsy.  Or find small businesses to order from for your holiday gift giving.  There are plenty of companies on-line that are not mega-stores.  For interesting and unique gifts for pool players, check out Lafayette's Pool Dawg.  They not only have gifts for billiard lovers, but also for dart players and poker players.  A further look at their site and you will find game room furniture, lamps, game room wall art and clocks and even a few good thematic movies.  This on-line only, local store has a lot to offer.
Indulge Bakery

If you live in or around Lafayette, Colorado,  you should know that Lafayette is a great place to shop.  At first glance, you may not see all that Lafayette has to offer.  You can find gifts, home accessories and art at Purple Poppy, Timbalier, and Embellishments.  You can find jewelry and fine art at Particulars.  There are great flowers, plants and gifts at the Lafayette Florist.  You can find antiques at Jeri's Antiques and Noble Treasures.  You can stop for coffee at Cannon Mine or Mojo.  To satisfy your sweet tooth stop in Indulge for cakes and pastries or you can get hot chocolate or ice cream at Eats and Sweets, on Festival Plaza.  Hanna's sells sandwiches and delicious dinners to go. You can get lunch at Zamparalli, Pinnochio, Tutti, Martino's, Smash Burger, or Efrain's. 

There are plenty of events around the holidays, as well.  Check out the city's Events listings.

Where can you shop or eat in your town?  Do you have small businesses you can support?  Think outside the box, think away from the national chains.  Get creative with your gift giving.  There are many options to make your holiday gift giving much more interesting this year.

(and just in case you were wondering... this is not a paid advertisement.  Just a little PSA to do my part in my small town...I like my town)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Recipe - Cranberry Martini

Frozen Cranberry Martini

½ cup plus 2 T cranberry juice
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup fresh frozen cranberries, rinsed
3 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
4 oz. vodka
3 oz. Grand Marnier   

Pour all ingredients into the pitcher of a blender. Fill pitcher with ice. Blend until smooth. Add cranberry syrup from sugared cranberries to thin to desired consistency.  Use extra cranberry juice if you have no syrup.
Pour into a sugar rimmed glass & enjoy!  Serve with Sugared Cranberries at your next cocktail party or holiday dinner.
Substitute tequila for vodka to make a Frozen Cranberry Margarita.

( I would have posted a recipe Thursday or Friday of this week, but seeing how this is the perfect cocktail for your Thanksgiving festivities, I thought you might need the recipe early.  Enjoy!)

New Toy - Art Every Day #23

I have a new toy. 
I am almost giddy about it.
Yesterday I bought myself a 1 inch square punch, like this one.  It's an Inchie Punch!

I am so excited, I can hardly stand it! 
I went to the chilly studio and punched and punched and punched. 

Two different colleges started to form.  A bright patchwork of paper squares in random pattern and color.

And a black and white patchwork of squares.
Two more works in progress. 
Obviously I can't just put down a random assortment of paper squares on a canvas, or can I?  Should I incorporate some of my already completed inchie collages?  Should I use the patchwork as a background for a bigger collage? 
Oh the possibilities are seemingly endless.  I love my new toy! 
To be creative today, I have new possibilities.
(Part of Art Every Day Month sponsored by Creative Everyday.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time and again - Art Every Day - Day 22

This collage is the companion to this one, called Endless Possibilities.  I paired them as companions because I worked in a similar style, with similar elements, and similar colors.  But I like this one so much better.  The words seem to resonate with me more than the words on the other one.  I love the element of time in this one, and the eager little girl towards the bottom of the piece.  I added the layer of meshy paper and miniature clothespins at the top.  I may continue to add to this one by adding some metal elements and maybe even clip something into the clothespins.  Any ideas of how to complete this one?  Sometimes I don't know when I am done.  Does anyone else have that problem?

(This post is part of Art Every Day Month.  I am so happy I signed up.  It has pushed me to work on art, or at least think about art for at least a small moment each day.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Sculpture Series - Art Every Day #21

Ayse, by Belgin Yucelen (photo by C. A. Crandall)

This piece is a cast sand resin sculpture by Belgin Yucelen.  Ayse weighs 200 pounds and measures 3' x 2' x 3'4".  It is installed along Public Road in Old Town Lafayette, just south of Simpson Street.  She sits in the gardens in front of the Metro Brokers.
I like this larger than life quality that she embodies in this woman.  In her figurative work, Yucelen aims to reveal the beauty and the perfection of the human form. Her art is meant to stimulate the viewer’s imagination and reveal the peacefulness and the purity of the sculpture through the beauty of a woman’s body as it is created.
Old town Lafayette is a perfect place to celebrate Art Every Day.  There are 12 sculpture on loan installed in our sculpture walk as well as 5 additional permanent installations.  A brief stroll down Public Road will be sure to get your artistic ideas flowing.  In addition to the public art, there are several art galleries and antique shops.
For more information about Lafayette's Art on the Street Sculpture Walk, visit the city's website.  This work is available for purchase for $8,800.
Lafayette is a great place to be to celebrate art!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Art Every Day - Day 19

Art Every Day # 19 comes from a recent trip to the Denver Botanic Garden, where I was inspired by the fall colors and unique plants.
Art can be found in the garden
Look at these crazy flower stalks,
the stems run through the center of the blossom-

 and the bloom appears to be upside-down
and if you look closely, the petals are fuzzy. 

Recipe - Kale Chips (Art Every Day - Day 18)

(A Day Late for Art Every Day Month)
Today's Art Every Day comes in the form of food.  After a couple of sugary recipes, it's time for something a bit more healthy: Baked Kale Chips.  You may be saying, "WHAT?! Ick!" But, wait!  Hear me out...
These crispy little treats have made their rounds on cooking blogs, on diet menus and have been tauted as the next best thing to the potato chip, so I decided I needed to try for myself.  Here's what you do:

Washed curly kale, stems removed.
Baked Kale Chips
1 bunch curly kale
1 T olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Kale tossed with olive oil and parmesan
 Wash kale (I do this by soaking for a few minutes in a bowl of cool water.  You will be amazed at how much dirt and silt is left in the bowl.) Remove the large stems from the center of the leaves.  Let leave dry on a paper towel.  When dry, tear leaves into smaller (about 2 inch) pieces  into a dry bowl.  Toss with 1 T olive oil, salt (about 2 teaspoons), pepper and 1 T grated parm. Line 2 baking sheets with foil, spray baking sheets with oil.  Arrange leaves on a foil lined baking sheet in a single layer.  1 bunch of kale may take two baking sheets.  Top with more parm.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until dry looking.

Baked kale, cooling on baking sheet

  • Be sure the leaves are somewhat dry before tossing with oil, so they don't steam in your oven.
  • Add additional herbs and spices to change the flavor.  Try garlic powder, cayenne pepper, or chili powder.
  • Go easy on the salt, the chips shrink and the salt becomes more concentrated.
  • Let cool completely before storing.
  • Store in a covered container in a cool place for up to a week.
Crispy kale chips
So, what's the verdict?  Are these the next potato chip?  No, they most decidedly are not.  But they are a  unique crispy treat that are curiously addictive.  I can see that they would be a great garnish on top of a steak or hearty bean soup.  They could be spiced up or down.  They make a great "Bat Wing" food item for your Halloween Buffet.  They are unique, healthy, crispy, spicy, tasty, and interesting.  Don't let anyone fool you that they are a substitute for other type of chips, but I think that they can hold their own.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Art Every Day - Day 17

letter C letter r letter e
a letter T letter E
letter A letter R letter T

Find creative letters on Spell with flickr

For my Art Every Day month post I decided to post someone else's creative idea - but it's one that I use to spark my creativity and may inspire you, too.

Uses: print and use in collage, make a card, send a message, use in a blog, send a letter, make a sign, use for a name plaque, spell your name, spell your kids' names, send in an email,

Best things about it: it's free, it's eclectic, there are endless possibilities and combinations.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Art Every Day - Day 16

Just checking in for Art Every Day Month, sponsored the the blog Creative Every Day.  I have been working on this one throughout the month - I am not sure if it has reached completion.
"Endless Possibilities"
I was inspired by fall colors and lots of words - I used paint, handmade paper, vintage stamps, vintage tickets, word clippings, metal bits and pieces of wood beneath some of the labels to create dimension.  All of it is on a painted and walnut ink stained 8 x 10 flat canvas.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Creative Every Day

I strive to be creative every day.  I do this with my cooking, my home, my family, my art.  I even try to devote time every day (even if it is just a half hour) to making some art.  I have been following the Creative Every Day blog  and have wanted to hop on board... until now, I have been too busy to take time to write about it... and some days too busy to be creative.  But, here on day 15 of Creative Every Day Month, I am joining the movement.
So here is today's creativity.  A brief stint in the studio to work on some inchies:

Inchies, in progress.  Some are easy to complete,
others are waiting for the right word or detail to be finished.

These ones are done, I think. 
They will someday be part of a bigger collage or maybe a card. 

Recipe - Sugared Cranberries

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to share more cranberry recipes.   The Cranberry Salsa I posted last month is a great Turkey-Day appetizer, but these little tid-bits make great noshing from now until New Years.  Be sure to stock up on cranberries, they last about a week in a cool dark place (not the refrigerator.)  These are the best for cocktail parties or on a dessert bar or as a homemade hostess or teacher gift, or when you want a crisp sweet bite.
Sugared Cranberries
(From Cooking Light)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 package fresh cranberries, washed and picked over.
3/4 cup superfine sugar (available in the baking aisle)

Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat and let cool for up to 5 minutes. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.

  • The steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere.
  • Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week, but do not refrigerate
  • Use the cranberry syrup to make cranberry margaritas (next week's recipe)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Sculpture Series

One of the great things about living in my small town of Lafayette, Colorado, is art.  While we aren't as artsy at Taos, New Mexico, or Telluride, Colorado, we are evolving to be an art oriented community.  It is great to be a member of this community during this metamorphosis from small town to town with an identity.

Last year the city started its Art on the Street Sculputre Walk.  We installed 8 sculptures as part of an art on-loan public art program.  This year we expanded our offering to 12 pieces.  Additionally, Lafayette owns 7 pieces as part of its permanent collection.  Not bad for such a little town. 

I want to take a moment to introduce you to the art in our town.
Today's sculpture was created by Lafayette artist, J. Lucas Loeffler. Part of the permanent collection, Sky Dance is one of four sculptures installed at Festival Plaza in the heart of Old Town Lafayette. It was part of the first year of Art on the Street.  It won the People's Choice Award and was donated by the artist to the city.

This bronze piece is beautiful and has fine attention to detail.   Loeffler says, "Years ago I was privileged enough to witness what is referred to as a Ghost Dance - a Native American Ceremony which exhibits many dancers in various forms. The dancer that most fascinated me was the Eagle Dancer. To anyone not present, it would be hard to believe what happened next. The Eagle Dancer seemed to become one with the flame, take flight and vanish into the night sky. This image was a driving inspiration to create this body of work."

J. Lucas Loeffler was born in 1972 on the east coast and moved to Boulder in 1976. At an early age, Lucas showed interest in many disciplines; however, sculpture was the one that suited him most.  After high school, Lucas started his own company while simultaneously pursuing his sculpting career. He cast his first bronze pieces at the age of 26. That same year he was accepted into a gallery in Santa Fe, who would sell his first sculpture to a museum in Germany. Since then, he has been in many ongoing exhibits, both private and public. Lucas has established the drive and creativity needed to pursue his dreams and still runs the company he started many years ago while consistently sculpting new pieces.
I hope you enjoy the first installment of my Lafayette art tour.  If you're in town, take a tour for yourself and enjoy the art around town.

Friday, November 12, 2010

10 Things I Learned

Fall is that funny time of year, I look forward to all that it is, cool, colorful, changing, crisp, cozy, but it has its bittersweet bits as well. It is a nostalgic time of year for me. Each fall I find myself thinking about all the things my mom taught me. I never got to thank her for these lessons. With my gratitude for her, I will share them with you:

1. Save everything, you never know when you will need it. I think my studio was meant to be. When we were moving our business into the studio, Kerry and I certainly had a head start getting it set up, with all the wonderful art supplies that my mom had collected over the years. Now it is where I have set up my things: art, sewing, collage, painting.
2. Surround yourself with beautiful things, in the garden, on your walls, in your home. Those things don't have to be expensive, just put care in what you do and how you do them.
3. Never save the good china, silver or crystal for a special day. What is the point of having all those special things if they are hidden away in a cabinet, or in a box?
4. And, if it breaks, that’s okay. After all, they are just things.
5. Always have enough good food and drink in the house to entertain at the drop of a hat.  Anyone who knows me, knows I can throw a party in a minute.
6. Everyone is beautiful, in his own way. This one drove me nuts as a teenager. I actually think it was part of a song lyric from the 70's that my mom tormented me with--does anyone recognize it? Always the optimist, my mom could find beauty in anyone or anything. I appreciate it now.
7. Be inclusive, the more the merrier. Holidays and parties were grand affairs at our house!
8. Never turn away a friend. Whatever a friend or relative needed, my mom was sure to try and accommodate.
9. Laughter is necessary and contagious. My home was always filled with laughter and happiness.
10. Be kind, it’s that simple.

I wrote that post three years ago and posted it on the blog I shared with my friend and business partner, Kerry.  I can’t believe that time goes by so quickly.  With just a few minor modifications it still applies today.  The only change is that since then, Kerry and I have closed our jewelry business and no longer run it out of my backyard studio.  The Schoolhouse, as it is known by many, was my mom’s studio dream, and today is where I house all my art supplies and work on collages and such. 

I miss her more than I could express in words.  Sometimes it is too raw and bitter, other times that pain has mellowed.  I hope that I can honor her memory and the lessons she passed on and shared.  Sometimes I need reminders.  Numbers 6 – 10 are so important and so often overlooked in today’s society.  They are a good reminder to me about how I want to live my life and who I want to be.

It has been 12 years since my mom died. It was too soon, so sudden, and we had way too many plans for her to go. But her legacy lives on in so many ways. And I hope that I learned enough of her lessons so that I can continue her vision.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Decorating with collections

I inherited a gene for collecting.  Some call it hoarding, or being a pack rat, hopefully it really isn't that extreme and it can be more delicately called "collecting."  Collecting can cause it's own problems: where to store a collection, when to stop, and what to do when a collection gets out of control.  Never fear, collections can be tamed, and in some cases it is okay to say goodbye to a collection.

My first collection gone wild was a collection of suns and moons that I started in the 90's.  Remember those?  Celestial imagery was everywhere.  I thought it was charming, so I bought, created, and collected many, many suns and moons.  My family got on board and I couldn't pass one holiday or birthday without receiving at least one celestial gift.  You can imagine that eventually it spiraled out of control.  I had a solution.  Confine them.  Instead of having suns and moons strewn about the house, I decorated the bathroom with them.  It wasn't even a full fledged bathroom, more of a powder room.  To embrace the theme, I painted the walls a bright orange and hung the best of the suns and moons on all four walls.  I must admit, it was a bit overpowering, but it was confined and contained.  It was kitschy and cute. 
Since then, I have broken that collection and I only have one unique ceramic sun left on a wall in my home.
I learned a lesson, though.  Grouping items is a great way to display confine a collection.  I used this technique when designing one of the bathrooms in our 1890's home renovation. I have a large collection of vintage photos.  Some are family shots and some have been collected at flea markets and yard sales just because they are interesting.

Using black and white in that bathroom seemed like a natural choice.  I found a white waffle weave shower curtain, and simple black towels.  I framed my collection of hand me down antique photos in black wood frames, and incorporated some black and white artwork as well.  I decoupaged a tissue box with black and white imagery.  I scoured the other parts of my house for a white kettle, a white pitcher (to put flowers in), a black glass bowl (for soaps). I painted the walls white and the built in shelving, window trim and door trims black. 

The overall effect is quite nice and was easy to achieve.  I didn't have to spend much to get the look.  I used old photos and vases.  The frames, if they weren't black, were painted or found at local discount stores.  I made the tissue box and the polka dot candle with black and white papers and Mod Podge. 

With white walls and only black accessories, there is potential for an easy switch up, if I want one.  I can add red towels in December for a pop of color.  If I find a really great antique accessory with a bit of color, I could add that too.  It's a great look, and I haven't tired of it yet!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Diabetes Awareness Month

Last year, a very dear friend of ours was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  She was 11 at the time.  While I have had several friends who've also have Type 1 Diabetes, I have learned more about this disease in the past year than I had known before.  As the CDC is releasing information that numbers are rising for Type 2 Diabetes, it is important to be aware of Type 1 Diabetes as well.  They are different. 

Our friend, and her family, have learned the ins and outs of Type 1 Diabetes.  They have experienced how people react, how schools handle kids with special circumstances, and how to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.  They are now on a life-long journey of living with diabetes.  You can follow their story on the blog Type A Mom Type 1 Kid.

In the meantime, take a look at the information.  It is important to know.  November is Diabetes Awareness Month.  Share what you know, pass this along, spread the word.  Information is the key!

Information from the JDRF – Basic info on type 1 diabetes.  
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved.
Affects Children and Adults
Type 1 diabetes usually strikes children, adolescents, and young adults, but it can be diagnosed in adults as well. It comes on suddenly, causes dependence on injected or pumped insulin for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications.
Needs Constant Attention
To stay alive, people with type 1 diabetes must take multiple insulin injections daily or continually infuse insulin through a pump. They must also test their blood sugar by pricking their fingers for blood six or more times a day. While trying to balance insulin doses with their food intake and daily activities, people with this form of diabetes still must always be prepared for serious hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions, both of which can be life-limiting and life threatening.
Not Cured By Insulin
While insulin injections or infusions allow a person with type 1 to stay alive, they do not cure diabetes, nor do they necessarily prevent the possibility of the disease’s devastating effects, which may include: kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputations, heart attack, stroke, and pregnancy complications.
Difficult to Manage
Despite paying rigorous attention to maintaining a meal plan and exercise regimen and always injecting the proper amount of insulin, people with type 1 diabetes face many other factors that can adversely affect efforts to tightly control blood sugar levels. These factors include stress, hormonal changes, periods of growth, physical activity, medications, illness/infection, and fatigue.

  • As many as three million Americans may have type 1 diabetes.
  • Each year, more than 15,000 children – 40 per day – are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the U.S.
Warning Signs
Warning signs of type 1 diabetes may occur suddenly and include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sugar in the urine
  • Fruity odor on the breath
  • Heavy or labored breathing
  • Stupor or unconsciousness

Monday, November 8, 2010

Recipe - Truffles

 I think it's time for a recipe. 
This one is worth trying as the holidays approach.  I happened across this recipe while I was watching the Food Network and saw a show called 5 Ingredient Fix.  The show was new to me and I was unfamiliar with the host, Claire Robinson, although I have found I like her recipes and her tips. Her guest for the day was pastry chef Keegan Gerhard and they made hand rolled chocolate truffles. I have always been intimidated by candy making but they made it looked so easy I thought I had to try it!  I made them for Halloween.

Chocolate Truffles

8 ounces good dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)

8 ounces heavy cream

Coatings for rolling:
cocoa powder, decorative sugar, sprinkles, spices, chopped nuts

Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate.  Scald the cream in a saucepan (heat over medium heat, stirring so the cream doesn't scorch on the bottom, until almost boiling)  Add the cream to the melted chocolate and mix with a wire whisk.   Here is where you wonder if something is wrong with the recipe.  The chocolate and cream don't seem to want to mix together, but don't worry.  Keep mixing and you will get a beautiful, shiny chocolate ganache.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  The ganache needs to be firm enough to scoop.


Using a small scoop, place small balls of chocolate on a lined cookie sheet.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.  Then, working quickly in small batches, roll the lumps of chocolate in your hands and then roll into the toppings.  Place in petit four cups or covered container and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
    Rolling truffles.
  • This recipe has two spots where I wondered what went wrong.  First, when I combined the cream and the chocolate, mixing took longer than I expected.  Have patience.  Second, when rolling the balls, I found they melted quickly.  My solutions: place them in the freezer for a few minutes or don't obsess about hand rolled truffles being perfectly round.
  • I see so many places for creativity with this recipe.  I mixed (1 t) cayenne pepper with one of my (3 T)rolling sugars and made spicy truffles.  I mixed cinnamon with another.  The cayenne was my favorite.
  • Use the warm ganache as a "frosting" for muffins or cupcakes.  Hold the muffin upside down and dip it into the ganache.  We did this with pumpkin muffins - delicious!
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  (After 5 days, they taste fine but the toppings "melt")

Finished truffles, Chocolate Cayenne on the left with orange sugar;
Plain Chocolate with black sugar on the right.