Monday, July 25, 2011

What to Be?

I have spent some time in my studio recently, experimenting with new designs and styles.  This is one of my latest.  I almost always use words, so I decided to use lots of words.  I still used a variety of patterned papers (on the sides), some vintage hardware (on the top) and a few old buttons.  I like the conversation this one generates.
Inspired by words and repetition...Looking at simplicity and pattern...

Accessorized with brightly colored and patterned papers on each sides... and vintage buttons on the corners....

Even the back has advice for you...

This very bossy collage has something to say.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Recipe - Cucumber Basil Martini

Is it happy hour, yet?  Now, here's the perfect summer cocktail.  It is of my own creation, I hope you enjoy it!

Cucumber Basil Martini

2 oz. Gin
1.2 oz. Extra Dry Vermouth
splash olive juice (optional)
1 slices cucumber
2 leaves basil
crushed ice

Muddle the cucumber and basil leaves in the bottom of a shaker.  Add crushed ice.  Add all the liquids and shake.  Strain into a pre-chilled glass.  Garnish with olives or cucumber.  I like mine a bit chunky, so I opened the shaker and spooned a bit of crushed ice, and a few basil leaves and cucumber pieces into my glass.
(Note:  If you aren't a gin drinker, you could always use vodka.  But, it's a shame to not drink gin!)
Relax and Enjoy!

Recipe - Tomato Basil Salad (Two ways)

I have a garden.  I try my best to grow a few tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, leafy greens, strawberries and herbs.  This year I am failing miserably.  Quite sad. 
Perhaps it's Mother Nature who is not cooperating.  The early part of the season was too wet and cool for the tomatoes, now this heat wave has made it too hot and dry.  The rabbits have bit the bean plant off at the base, the birds stolen the strawberries, the squirrels have picked and eaten the few green tomatoes!
The only thing that has been growing well are the herbs.  Basil, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, mint, cilantro, chamomile, and sage.  I love using fresh herbs!
Today I will have two recipes using fresh herbs - one now and one for happy hour.  (Be sure to check back.)

Tomato Basil Salad (Two ways)

Salad #1 - Ingredients
Grape tomatoes
Fresh Basil (several small bunches)
Parmesan -Reggiano
Balsamic Vinegar (or White Balsamic Vinegar)
Cracked Pepper
Kosher Salt

Halve the grape tomatoes.  Chiffonade the basil (roll the leaves in a tight roll and slice finely to make strips of basil). Grate the cheese.  Toss the tomatoes, a generous amount of cheese and basil together.  Sprinkle with 1 - 2 teaspoons of vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Let the flavors marry for an hour before serving.

(Ok, I know, I don't have measurements for this recipe.  It would depend on how much you'd like.  As this dish doesn't save more than a day or so, because the basil will wilt, I would make just as much as you would like to serve.)

Salad #2 - Ingredients
Grape tomatoes
Fresh Basil (several small bunches)
Fresh Mozzarella Pearls
Balsamic Vinegar (or White Balsamic Vinegar)
Cracked Pepper
Kosher Salt

Halve the grape tomatoes. Chiffonade the basil (roll the leaves in a tight roll and slice finely to make strips of basil). Toss an equal amount of mozzarella pearls and tomatoes.  Add the basil.  Sprinkle with 1 - 2 teaspoons of vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Let the flavors marry for an hour before serving.

We love these salads - my daughter can put one together in a jiffy while I make the rest of the dinner.  It's so nice to enjoy fresh herbs from the garden, even if everything else is pretty miserable this season.

(Check back later for a great happy hour recipe - you won't be disappointed!)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hearts on a Hike

Last week the girls and I went on a hike.  We went to one of my favorite hiking places, Marshall Mesa Trail.  It's a fairly easy, scenic trail head about 20 minutes from our house.  When we're hiking, we look for things, flowers, birds, and animals.  Just for fun, I suggested we look for hearts.  (inspired by another blogger - who posts Random Hearts - I told my girls that we should take photos of all the hearts we see).  A fairly odd thing to look for, but you would be amazed... I am not sure if we see what we want to see or if they are always there.  Call me crazy if you want, but this is what we found that day. (Be prepared - this is a photo heavy post)

 We spent a few minutes making hearts - and then looking for them. I was surprised at how many hearts we actually found on our hike. We looked for hearts in the rock, leaves, shadows, flowers, and sky.

Petal hearts fallen from this wild rose.
Look at the top of this mal-formed flower.

The sightings didn't stop there.
Shadow heart.
Lots of hearts in the rocks.
Graffiti heart in the sandstone.

Lichen heart on a rock.
Look between the girls, a heart worn away in the sandstone.
Take a closer look at that heart.
Worn away in the sandstone.

We found too many rocks and pebbles on the trail - here is just a sampling:
And finally, a heart shaped pool or water as we end our hike.
So, we found some hearts on a hike.  A little cheesy, yes.  A little silly, yes.  But, the proof is in the pictures.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A new home

The bits and pieces of rust and springs and coils that I have stashed away in my collage collection, are beginning to find new homes...

I love this rusty square nut.  I wonder what it held together so long ago.

Two old square nails sprout up at flowers.  Another fastener acts as door.

A coil curves from the peak.

The words from a Danish proverb, "The road to a friend's house is never long" complete the canvas. 
The bits and pieces of a time gone by have found a new home. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bits of rust and other things...

Some bits and pieces from my studio...

I found this box of old springs and coils when I was helping my family clean out my Grandpa's "stuff."  It was several years ago - long before my itch to collage started.  I am not sure why, but I said, "I'll take that."  I got some funny looks from the family.  I am not sure why he saved them; maybe he had the same collecting gene that I have.

This tray of rusty bits came from my uncle. I KNOW he shares the same collecting gene that I have.  The little pieces of old hardware had been removed from their useful places, they may  have been discarded, perhaps replaced.  My uncle, tossed them all together - On my last visit, I commented on how useful they could be... and they were mine.  I don't think he had a predesignated home for these little bits of rust. 

All these pieces are finding new homes...look here for a good example of how I put this refuse to good use.  I am so glad to have these strange little treasures.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Recipe - Grandma's Cobbler

My mom and I loved to go shopping and out to lunch.  It was kind of a special treat to go to the mall and eat at Grandma's.  The mall, now defunct, was fun to walk around, but Grandma's Restaurant, was really our favorite.  It had that 80's "country charm" that was so popular then (and not so much now). The menu items were simple and homey, with a Southern bent.  We always ordered the cobbler; my favorite was peach. 

One day my mom asked the waitress if they would share the recipe.  She sent the cook out, who spouted off the recipe and my mom took notes.  The recipe came with quantities that would feed a mess hall, but we cut it down and I have been using the recipe for Grandma's Cobbler ever since.
This time I used mixed berries, but you can use whatever fresh fruit is in season.  In a pinch, I am sure frozen fruit would work well, too.

Grandma's Cobbler

3 cups mixed berries or sliced peaches
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar (divided)
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup dry tapioca (or less)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix berries, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 T tapioca (use 1/4 cup for juicier fruit), and 1/2 stick of melted butter.  Let sit while you mix the batter.
Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg and 1 cup milk in a bowl, until smooth.  Add vanilla and cinnamon.

Pour 1/2 stick of melted butter in 8 x 8 baking dish (I used a round one with no difference).  Top with batter.  Top the batter with the berries. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

The result of this recipe is a warm baked fruit with a golden cakey topping.  You could certainly experiment with different combinations of fruit.  Next time I want to try adding an oat or granola topping to add extra crunch.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


 Summer has settled a bit - into a lazy routine.  I have managed to find a few hours in the studio, here and there.  This 5 x 7 collage is my first completion of the summer.  Using a calendar from an old check register and a bit of blue-print...

I added a little house, a spring, a rusty key hole, and an old button.

The best thing
to hold onto in life
is each other.
-Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars
or sailed an uncharted land,
or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's all in the details...

Details added to the side of the collage.
You can see the "before" in this post.
I guess you could say I am a detail oriented person.  At least, I like to think I am.  I make an effort to be attend to the details when I am throwing a party, wrapping a gift, or planning an event.  Even the little things pop into my mind, like menu cards, coordinating colors, or finding the right cocktail napkins.  It may not matter to everyone, but it matters to me - and I know that I will appreciate my details, even if no one else notices.
When I started taking my collages to The Purple Poppy, I decided I needed to step up my collages a little bit.  The collages needed hangers on the back, no problem.  But as I flipped each one over to attach the saw-tooth hanger, I discovered that the backs were ugly.  Now, I know you're thinking, who cares? It is the back after all.  But, it bothered me. 
The back of a collage,
with paper, vintage stamp and sticker.

First, each flat, hard canvas board received a wooden box, rather than a frame, to elevate it.  I built these boxes using scrap wood, and attached them with wood glue.  Then I was able to add a saw-tooth hanger to the back.  The boxes also allow the collage to sit, perhaps on a book shelf or end table.

I also decided to add some details. I felt that each collage (on hard canvas) needed to be backed in some kind of patterned paper. Then I also added one or two tiny details, a vintage button, an old postage stamp or a little word.
With this collage, I added coordinating paper as well as wrapping
collage elements around the edges.
Adding the box behind the canvas also meant that I had to continue the collage around the edges.  For some, this meant continuing the painting, for other it meant adding a complementary paper to the sides.  With others, I continued the elements of the collage around the edges.  This wrap-around collaging has allowed more space to add details. 

The end result is that each collage is now a complete piece. I am so pleased with the results.  Now, each of my collages is created with all the details in mind.
Once a flat canvas collage, this now has depth and dimension. 
It feels and looks so much more complete.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Recipe - Hungarian Basic Pancake (Palacsinta)

The Palacsinta is probably the most requested recipe when my dad is here for a visit.  Of half Hungarian, half German descent, and 100% good cook, he is always the one to make this very special breakfast for my girls.
This is the Hungarian version of the Crepe.  The Hungarians would say they had the first - the French might say theirs was first, but many cultures have their own version of a thin pancake suited for filling.  Who knows? The Chinese probably had theirs before anyone else.
Being that we have a bit of Hungarian heritage in our family, this a is a favorite.  This recipe is adapted from George Lang's Cuisine of Hungary.

Palacsinta (said polly-chinta)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 t sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup carbonated water
butter (for cooking)

Mix the first 5 ingredients to make a smooth batter. Let the batter rest for up to 1 hour.  Stir in the carbonated water just before cooking, gently mix with a whisk until incorporated. 
Heat an 8 or 10 inch crepe pan (flat fry pan). When hot, place a small amount of butter on the pan.  Let the butter melt.  Using a ladle, Pour the batter onto the hot pan, twirl the pan to coat.  (Until  you figure out how much to ladle on, pour off the extra batter so your pancake is not too thick.  Try to get just the right amount to coat the pan.)
Two pans of palacsintas, ready to flip.
When the top bubbles, and the bubbles stay open, carefully flip the pancake.  Cook a 30 seconds more to brown that side.  Remove to a warm plate in a warm oven.
Continue the process until you've used all the batter.  The recipe will make at least 1 dozen palacsintas.
The palacsintas, flipped and golden.
Serve the pancakes with various jams and preserves.  Apricot and cherry are our favorites.  Make a narrow line of jam down the center of the pancake, fold along the line and roll up.  Top with powdered sugar or syrup.  Serve with fresh cut fruit.
A stack of warm palacsintas ready to be filled and eaten.
These are a little labor intensive, but well worth the work.  My girls love them!  I hope you do, too!
Mmmm! Breakfast.