30 October 2013

Unveiling a new product joining the I Make Stuff line-up!

Aren't they pretty?   (It's the dots, I know it.  I love polka-dots)

You are looking at 4oz of lovely, soft, aloe-based lotions with delightful scents.  Not too strong though, there is nothing I dislike more than a greasy hand creme you can smell from five miles away. 

These are scented just enough to be enjoyable but not enough to be overpowering.

Scents included in the new line are-

*fresh clean shave
*cranberry apple
*Christmas candy
*spiced pumpkin
*white tea & ginger
*oatmeal & honey
*chai tea
*fruit & almond

Look for them soon at the Line Mountain High School, Mandata, Pa.  craft show (this Saturday Nov 2nd from 9-3) and at the Handmade Baby Fair in Camp Hill, Pa at OMBaby - December 7th 9-5)

Also coming soon to the Brickhouse Craft Shop in Millersburg, Pa.

29 October 2013

Calzones and kid-made pizzas

 You'll remember a few weeks ago I posted a new pizza recipe we tried out.  It was a big hit and here's what we made with it....

While the dough was rising I whipped up a quick ricotta cheese filling for calzones and also chopped up some various ingredients for toppings and the calzones.

The ricotta mix was 1 C ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, plus one egg.

For the filling we used some salami, imported ham, smoked turkey, mushrooms, onions, spinach, and I slices tomatoes as well.   There is also shredded mozarella of course.

In a small saucepan I used some homemade tomato sauce (from my canning this summer)  and I added a secret weapon....

 I picked this up locally at a craft fair I attended.  It is amazing.  I have no clue how someone goes about smoking honey but I don't need to know.   Adding this to the sauce gave it such a nice flavor and sweetness!

Self assembly is the best part of the job.


Pizza with tomatoes.

It was a soft crust, not thin but not what I would call super thick either.   They all liked it.

28 October 2013

This year's Halloween costume attempt.

This is a Leafman from the movie Epic.   

This is my attempt at Leafman armor.   Please do not tell me it looks like a ninja turtle.  We have been over that.   Although adding the embellishments to the armor made it look less shell-like and more ornate.   If I was a better whiz at my sewing machine, I would have considered stitching on the designs, instead I used a sharpie.  Don't judge me. 

 This is Sonic the Hedgehog's hair..... things.  It's not purple, it's blue. 

This is what I have as of 8:00pm last night.   Now I need to find some red sneakers and white gloves, plus rig up a mask of some sort to help hold all that head-stuff on the hood up on his little head.   Plus the leafman needs a ridiculous looking pointy helmet thing.   See above picture if you don't believe me.

Question is, can I finish by Wednesday?

25 October 2013

What is art and who is an artist? - my 200th post

As you may remember, I am currently in the process of making artworks for a Graduate Level Art show as the culmination of my M.Ed in Art Education.   I've been working like crazy, trying to find my "style" and I have been struggling with this dilemma; an I a "real" artist?

When I was in college in my ahem younger years, the arguments over what is really and truly "ART" were never ending.  The fine art majors believed they were superior to the art education majors because they took themselves more seriously as artists.  They were the ones dressed in ripped tights and black boots, with pink and purple hair (in the 90s that was unusual) always trying to be as different and unique as they could be. 

On the other hand, those of us in art education were thinking ahead to working in the schools systems, where pink and purple hair and pierced eyebrows would surely put our resumes at the bottom of the circular files after our preliminary interviews.

My artworks from high school were all watercolor buildings and landscapes.   Very realistic and naturalistic.  Many people would classify those paintings as art, without question, because they are now framed and behind glass.  You can recognize what is there.  Plus people (around here anyway) want to hang things they like and recognize above their couches.   So are these "couch paintings" art?  Is that my style?

Every day I work in the elementary art classroom, trying to get kids to color the sky all the way to the ground.  Introducing the elements and principles of art at their basic, first stages.   But I also draw and paint.   I draw dinosaurs and butterflies for and with my own kids.  I paint murals in kids rooms and at their baseball fields.   I'm currently painting soccer balls, volleyballs, and footballs for the seniors in my district.   I make things with my hands with traditional art materials.  Does that make me a "real" artist?

Today I'm creating some works with handmade papers and layers the colors and shapes to make a textural surface.   I will later go back and add in some hand-stitching.  It is definitely abstract.   Is that more "real" because it's abstract?

So to you, my readers, I pose this set of questions...  What is Art to you?  and in your opinion, who is an artist?

22 October 2013

Banana-nut bread with dates

There is nothing I love more than a quick bread recipe.  And banana bread is the most delicious one to start your day off right. 

While working in a bakery for many, many years, I learned this simple trick....  when you're bananas start to get over-ripe, toss them whole right into the freezer in a zip top bag.  Yes, peel and all.

When your baking day arrives, pull them out onto a plate to thaw.  Do not be alarmed.  The peel will be black, it is just what the banana does in the cold.    When they are thawed enough you can pull off the top and squeeze out the fruit like a tube of toothpaste.

This recipe makes two loaves of bread.

4 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated lemon or orange zest
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1/2 cup chopped dates

-Mix dry ingredients together (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg - set aside
-In a mixing bowl - beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy
-Add bananas to butter and sugar mixture, beat until mashed together.
-Add one egg at a time and blend until combined after each addition.
-Add dry ingredients in 1/2 cup increments until well-blended.
-Remove from mixer, with a spatula, stir in walnuts, dates and lemon or orange zest
-Divide into two 9"x5" loaf pans.
-Bake in 350 degree F oven until tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn bread out onto wire rack to cool

Banana-nut bread with dates on ziplist

We cut into the first loaf before it even has a chance to cool.  You can still see the steam rising off the slices.

You can also freeze the second loaf for breakfast at a later time.   I double wrap it with plastic wrap and foil, then put it into a zip top freezer bag.  That is, on the days I don't think we'll eat it before the week is up.  Usually the first loaf is our dessert the first night, and then slices of the second for breakfast the next day.  

21 October 2013

It's Monday again

Well!   Good Monday morning to you today.  I am camera-less so I can't show you all I worked on and made this weekend but I can tell you it was a good one. 

The "shutdown" gave me an unexpected weekend at home so I jumped into an impromptu craft stroll that was a big success.  So much so that we're planning a spring and summer version to add to the fall one.  The wind could have been a bit more cooperative but it was a nice time at any rate.

I finished up the King size T-Shirt quilt (and a whole week and a half early!)  King size quilts are hard on the arms! 

That will be shipping out today.  Gives me a few days to add some finishing touches to my kids Halloween costumes this year.  One Sonic the Hedgehog and one Leafman (from the movie Epic) in the works. 

The girl wanted to be a horse, so I found her a costume online.  So far she has worn it 45 times.  I think she likes it.

Have a great day and see you tomorrow with a banana bread recipe that flies off the cooling rack!  It's so good!

18 October 2013

Kitchen sign

I'd like to share a corner of my kitchen with you today.

I moved into this 1937 farmhouse about a dozen years ago.   One of the first tasks we had to complete was the big pile of wood stuffed in the space underneath the front porch.  Unfortunately, that huge stack of wood had become quite a lovely place for a rampaging heard of termites so just about everything we pulled out was rotted and destroyed. 

That also meant the wood floor of the porch received some termite damage as well.

During that repair work, we pulled off the facing boards of the porch and there were a few large pieces I was able to recover from the burn pile.  I just love old wooden planks.  I made a doorknob towel hanger for my downstairs bath with one that had the most white paint left on it.  A few thick coats of poly sealed it in place.

With another I made this sign for the blank spot above the doorway in my kitchen.

A few brushes of white paint over the rough surface and large rubber stamps gave me this sign that makes everyone giggle when they first see it.

Just under my sign and to the right of the doorway I had another blank spot so this summer I framed some of my mother's and grandmother's recipe cards.   I love their handwriting on the cards, I love that it is their favorite recipes, and I love the history behind each card.

That's just one corner of my kitchen.

I'm attending an impromptu mini-craft festival this weekend.  Many of us were rained out last weekend so when we got online to talk about it, we decided to make one of our own!  

If you are in the area for the Gratz Fair Craft Show, stop in to Millersburg as well.  

Happy Friday Y'all.  :)

15 October 2013

A Simple Roasted Chicken

There is something wonderfully magical about a simple roasted chicken that makes a perfect end to crisp fall day.  The smells of chicken, onions, and lemon from the oven leads everyone inside to warm up and look forward to a delicious dinner.

The cast of ingredients in addition to a whole chicken are onion, lemon, and some fresh herbs.


I picked a hand full of herbs from my window box to place inside the cavity of the chicken.  Some parsley, oregano, thyme, and globe basil.

I also have some chive olive oil which I used to drizzle onto the chicken and the pan to keep it from sticking.   I just picked and washed some fresh chives and placed them in the bottle along with extra virgin olive oil. 

The onion and lemons are quartered, the lemons squeezed over the chicken before stuffing them inside with the herbs.   Any extra ingredients are placed in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan.   A little oil on the top with salt and pepper.  Don't be afraid to season heavily.  It needs it.

You can also tie up the drumsticks if  you prefer.  It keeps the chicken looking a little more plump as it roasts.

Place in a preheated 400-425 degree F oven covered with some foil for about 45-50 minutes.  Remove foil for the remaining 15 minutes or until the chick is thoroughly cooked.   Use a meat thermometer to test.

Simple, easy, and delicious as it can be.

14 October 2013

Weekend + two

A rather simple and quiet weekend around here, which is just what I enjoy the most.  How about a few highlight photos?

 I did manage a little cooking this weekend, however bland it might seem.  It was still good comfort food for us and I'll post the recipe for my Simple Roasted Chicken tomorrow for Recipe Tuesday. 

Due to my strange scheduling I still have two more days off to look forward to so I'm hoping to finish up this large quilt (just need the final quilting, it's all sandwiched and ready to go....) 

Plus I'm making a batch of Pioneer Woman's Granola Bars today.  A favorite here with the kids.  This time I'm subbing in some mini-choc chips.  Let's see how that goes.   I toasted off the oatmeal yesterday while I had the oven on for my chicken.

Happy Monday and enjoy your day.

12 October 2013

Weekend plans have been rained out.

We received close to 5 inches of rain in the last two days so most of the local fall festivals have been cancelled.   Which worked out well for me since I came down with something stomach thing and spent most of my Friday on the couch.  

Please explain to me why there are so many food related commercials on all the channels??   Ugh, I did not enjoy that.  I did manage a piece of toast and some Sierra Mist but that was about it all day.

On tap for my long weekend without a craft show is another big t-shirt quilt push.   I finally put together a layout I'm pleased with and I'll be piecing it together this afternoon.

I'd like to do some cooking, we'll see if  I'm up to that today.  Might be a good see-what's-in-the-freezer-to-reheat day.   I'm glad I put away extra meals just for this sort of occasion.

Have a good and dry weekend everyone!

10 October 2013

Some other things I've been working on.... or how I'm pretending I'm a "real artist"

Have I mentioned what I've been working on recently?  I mean, I've shown you odds and ends of craft fair things, and some house projects, but have I talked about my Graduate Art Show?

On top of mommy stuff, running a household, teaching, craft fairing, and general laundry mayhem, I've been working on preparing artworks for my Master of Arts degree in Art Education.   20 years after finishing my B.S. degree in Art Ed.

 Not that it took me that long to work on the degree, I just didn't get started until 2011 when life-as-I-knew-it changed completely.  I figured, everything else was going to be different now, might as well toss in some career development into the fray too, right?

I wrote a bit about my studio course in Papermaking two summers ago.   Here, here, here, and here, with a class recap post here.  This semester and next I'll be working with the same professor (and my graduate adviser) to complete some Graduate level artworks for a show all my own.   My first big "important" art show.

This stresses me.

I'm an artist, but I do all sorts of odds and ends things.  I paint basketballs and soccer balls for graduating seniors in my school district, I paint murals at the baseball field, I make giant checks for the PTO fundraisers.   I'm not a "real" artist.  Am I?   I am I suppose.  I just don't feel professional and authorized to have an art show.

Anyway..... here's some things I've been working on just to entertain you on this Thursday.  It's a mix up combination of paper making, fibers, sewing, and hand stitching.  

The center piece will have another 9-patch section below in a different color.

And a few close-ups....


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