Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Yarn Along - More Socks

I've not been knitting as much as I'd like, but I did manage to finish the socks I had previously shown you. They turned beautifully. I really liked the KnitPicks hand painted sock yarn. And the name of the colorway, "Wicked Witch" was very appropriate for the season, dont' you think?
I've started another pair of socks (I'm destashing all of my horded sock yarn) with Rowan fine art hand painted sock yarn in various shades of blue. Very pretty!
Now for the "what am I reading" part of Ginny's Yarn Along, I'm still on the Skandinavian mystery kick. Daniel had read a few books by Håkan Nesser and really liked them, so I'm on the first one in the Inspector Van Veeteren series. So far it's really good! 

If you are a knitter and/or a reader, head on over to Ginny's blog for some great inspiration!


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Color Studies

I was so happy to be on a roll again with blogging and then Hurrican Matthew happened. Days of watching where it was going and how strong it was getting. Days of wondering if we were going to have to evacuate or if we could stay.
Days of making our house storm ready, preparing for long stretches without power and possible evacuation. Making hotel reservations inland, thinking about everything we needed for us, four cats and Winslow for a few days, and making sure we had all important papers with us. The rest of our "stuff" suddenly didn't seem all that important anymore. We did what we could to make sure it would be safe.
First there the probability we'd have to evacuate, then a polite urging from city officials, (which is when we left) and finally mandatory evacuation. We were safe in a hotel room with all of our critters. They all got along great. Everyone was calm and content. Even when we lost power at our hotel (this was a large storm), we were all still quite happy. And also a little nervous about what we might come home to.
We listened to the local news on our weather radio and it sounded like the storm had been very strong with a lot of destruction. When the evacuation order was lifted, we came home to our house and property perfectly intact. No damage! We were so grateful! It's sad to see how many hundreds of old trees fell in this storm. And it's beautiful to see how everyone came together to help each other out.
We finally got power back and then (much later) our internet and for us life is back to normal, which is certainly not the case for so many others. Again, I'm so grateful!

One thing I did notice though - my art has changed. I started painting in watercolor with a very limited palette (three colors only) and I love it! It's a new challenge and a completely different process for me.

And that's the thing I love about life: nothing ever stays the same!

Linking to the ever fabulous and inspiring Paint Party Friday.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Chocolate Truffles

I'm always looking for handmade gifts that are easy, special and good for all kinds of occasions. Recently, I discovered chocolate truffles. I used to make them for gifts quite a bit many, many years ago, but then I forgot about them. Although I'm not sure how I could. They are so delicious!
So when Daniel recently mentioned them as a possible gift to take to a birthday dinner, I thought it was a great idea! Since then, I've tried three different recipes with varying results:

1. The first I tried was by Ree Drummond. They were easy to roll into little balls, but I found that using sweetened condensed milk instead of cream made them very sweet. Too sweet for my taste. I also didn't dip them in chocolate, but dusted them with cocoa powder.

2. Then I tried one I found on the Bon Appetit website. They were quite good, but for some reason they stayed rather soft. Maybe because it used 9 oz of chocolate to 1 1/4 cup cream.

3. Today, I made a recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. So far, I like this one best. It uses 12 oz of chocolate to 1 cup of cream, which makes for a very nice texture. I mixed dark chocolate with a little bit of semi-sweet and dusted them with Trader Joe's drinking cocoa powder. Good choice! And a perfect gift!!
No matter what recipe you use, always go for really good quality chocolate. Plus, you can add all kinds of flavorings to the ganache and also vary the toppings. The websites all have great ideas. I happen to like the traditional truffle best!

Here's to chocolate! And to you...


Friday, September 30, 2016

Playing with Color

When I say I just play with color, that is true and it's also in a way much more. The whole purpose of me painting the way I do is to develop my intuition, which I am finding is actually quite strong and accurate - now that I no longer ignore it.
When I went to school as a kid, everything was all about doing things "right."  I found the same thing when I was taking "serious" art classes. I had a hard time being creative and allowing my imagination to guide me when I was concerned about doing it correctly.
That's why I started playing with color and shapes before I even think about painting an animal. There is no way to get these wrong, at least in the beginning layers.
So when I start a painting, I am very tuned in to how I feel and the energy of the day (sounds weird, but that's what happens). And then I feel drawn to certain colors and color combinations.
I don't question it, I just take the colors and start. The first layer will lead to the next one and so on. And at some point I either see an animal in the shapes or an animal pops into my head and that's the one I go with. No questions asked. I assume my intuition is working correctly.
This is actually a watercolor card I painted for a friend who lost her sweet dog. 
Everything in the universe is vibration, including color. I have tried to have a more monochrome palette or to use black and white and one additional color, but that's just not me. At least at this point in my life.
I seem to be made of bright colors and when I paint with them they feel right to me every time!
At the moment I'm drawn very much to accents of neon pink, as you can see in the first four paintings I'm showing you today.
Every painting doesn't just carry the vibration and energies of the colors, but also all of the love and good wishes I pour into it while painting. I hope you can feel it, too!!

Some of these small paintings have already found their forever homes, but a few are still available at my Daily Paintworks Gallery.

I'm linking this to the wonderful Paint Party Friday group. If you want to be inspired, head on over for some fantastic art!!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Recipe: Pretzel Buns

As soon as the latest issue of LandLust Magazine hits the shelves in Germany, my dad sends me a copy here to the US. I love this magazine - reading it and looking at the pictures is like a mini escape to Germany. 
So, when this latest issue had recipes for pretzels and pretzel buns, I knew I had to try making them immediately. As long as I can remember, I have loved pretzels. Growing up in Germany, they were a regular part of my life. And while we can find them here now once in a while, they aren't quite the same.
 So, by popular request on Facebook, I translated the recipe and adapted it to American ingredients.

Pretzel Buns
(makes about 16 buns)


500g All-Purpose Flour
2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
40g softened butter

For the brine:
50g baking soda

Possible toppings:
coarse salt,
seeds (sesame, poppy, pumpkin, sunflower),
or a little grated cheese

1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 320ml lukewarm water.
2. Using the dough hook on the mixer, work the flour, salt and softened butter into the yeast water. Knead the soft dough for at least five minutes (I had to add a little more flour to keep the dough from sticking).
3. Form the dough into a ball, put into a large bowl, cover and allow to rise for either 2 hours at room temperature or over night in the refrigerator. (I allowed it to rise over night and made the buns for breakfast.)
4. After the dough has risen, divide it into 16 equal parts, form each one of them into a small ball, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 465 degrees F (240 C).
5. Meanwhile bring 1.5 liters of water to a simmer. Add the baking soda carefully as it will foam quite a bit initially.
6. Add three or four of the dough buns at a time to the simmering water for about 45 seconds, turning them once.
7. Remove from the water, allow excess water to drip off and put on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (I used a Silpat baking mat, which worked great.) With a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of each bun and sprinkle with your topping of choice. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
8. Bake for 15 minutes or until nicely browned and your kitchen smells like a German bakery.
9. Try not to devour all of them. By yourself. In one sitting.

Enjoy!! Easy and delicious! And if you make the dough the night before, you can have fresh buns for breakfast. Also, they freeze really well.

A note: This recipe is easiest if you have an electronic kitchen scale that also measures in grams. For the liquids, 1 ml is equal to 1 gram, so you can weigh them on the scale as well.

Tomorrow, I'll have a bunch of art for you! In the meantime, have a beautiful Thursday!