Thursday, July 30, 2009

One of My Favorite Foods...

Bread! Having grown up in Germany, I learned to love good bread - fresh, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. So, yesterday I tried out a new recipe I found here. It's Mark Bittman's no-knead, slow-rise bread and it is EXCELLENT! (I varied it from the original recipe by using half whole-wheat flour.)

The process was longer than usual as the bread had to be started the day before, but well worth the wait.
The finished loaf is crusty, chewy and simply delicious!
And how better to use it than in a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) sandwich with the first tomato from our yard! Heavenly!!
Well, I told you all I might have more art to show today, but I don't. I just didn't feel inspired today to work on anything (feeling sort of stuck with my latest piece), but hopefully that will be different tomorrow! I guess I created bread instead of art...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wet Dog

Our Winslow is a beautiful mixed breed from Animal Humane and we don't know what kind of a mix he is, although we suspect that he's at least part husky. But we do know that he LOVES water. When he was a puppy, we took him on a walk and let him off the leash for the first time, not paying attention to the pool of standing water a little ways to our right. He, on the other hand was paying close attention, took a flying leap into the water, and came out smelling of sulfur. We drove home with the windows wide open and immediately took him into the shower to get him cleaned off.

Well, he loved getting a shower and ever since then he tries to get in the shower with us on a daily basis. For the most part, we keep him out (unless he really needs a bath), but last Sunday he was faster than me and got in while I wasn't looking.
Winslow also has a very thick undercoat and sheds a good bit. Our neighbors made us aware of this wonderful tool - a dog shedding blade - which gets rid of the shedding fur. We thought he might object, but he loves it. We take him out in the backyard, he lays down and we brush him. The first time it looked like snow flurries in our yard and Winslow like he'd lost 5 pounds. I can't believe how much this has helped with the fur balls flying around in our house! Not being a great lover of the vacuum cleaner, I am thrilled...
Just in case you are wondering - I am working on a piece of art. It's not ready for show and tell yet, but hopefully tomorrow!

Now, I am off to make dinner (whole grain pasta with tomatoes, smoked chicken, feta cheese and fresh basil - yum!) and then to visit your blogs! Wishing you a wonderful evening!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Homemade Muesli

Daniel made a batch of his homemade cereal last night and I thought I'd share the recipe because it is just so good. I call it granola, but it's really more like muesli. Every time, the mixture changes a little depending on what we have on hand, but it's always delicious!
Homemade Muesli
by Daniel Powers

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat flakes
1 cup rye flaks (or spelt or barley, etc.)
1 cup hazelnuts (or half hazelnuts, half almonds)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (yesterday Daniel used half sunflower, half pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 cup dried apricots, chopped (yesterday, he used dried cranberries and figs instead)
1/4 cup canola oil

Pour oil in 9 x 13 pyrex dish and put in cold oven.
Heat oven (with pyrex dish in it) to 375 degrees.
While oven is heating, add nuts, to food processor and pulse to chop coarsely (or chop by hand).
Add 4 cups of grains - bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
Add rest of ingredients (except dried fruit) - bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
Take dish from oven, place on rack and cool.
When cooled, add dried fruit.
Store in cool place.

As you can see, the variations are endless. You can vary the flakes, the nuts, the seeds, the dried fruit or you can add cinnamon. Eat with milk or yogurt and add fresh fruit if you want to (excellent with blueberries or strawberries).


Do you make your own cereal? What do you put in it?

P.S. Daniel told me he uses less oil now than he did when we wrote down the recipe, so I've changed the oil amount to 1/4 cup.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Williamsburg and a Big Thank You

Finally I am getting around to showing you the last set of pictures from our recent road trip - beautiful Williamsburg, VA! We have a good friend who lives there and when we visited last time on New Years, it was so windy and cold that we barely saw anything of this historic town. But this time the weather was gorgeous and we had the best time!

We loved this beautifully maintained garden and got some inspiration for our garden next year! We were also able talk with some of the gardeners there about the problems we are encountering with gardening in the south.
Look at those castor bean plants! They seemed more like shade trees to me! In our yard, they are about half the size. When we asked why, we learned that it is the power of manure...

After we got back, Daniel learned that one of his ancestors used to work in this building when the town was first settled. We didn't know at the time, so of course now we have to go back!
Alright, now something I have been so remiss in doing. A big thank you for two awards I was given while on our road trip. This first one received from Darla, whose blog I so enjoy every single day! Thank you!!

And this lovely award was given to me by Angela Recada, a fellow German native whose blog is just wonderfully inspiring! I am so grateful!Make sure you visit both of their blogs! I know I am supposed to pass this along to other bloggers, but I am so busy today (Daniel starts teaching again tomorrow) that I am simply passing it on to you all. All of you inspire me daily with your blog posts, your photos, your artwork, your writing, your thoughtful comments on my blog, simply by being you and sharing yourself with me!

I am very grateful for each and every one of you and am so glad we got to meet (at least in cyberspace).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

IF - Idle...and...Mixing it up with Melange - Whisper

In a rare idle moment, she finally heard the urgent whisper of her heart.

I painted her this morning while the words were swirling around in my mind and thought she'd be perfect for this week's Illustration Friday theme of Idle AND the Mixing it up with Melange theme of Whisper.

It seems that I can't stop painting these women and am amazed how each one looks unique and has something different to say. Again, I used molding paste on a 5 x 7 gessoed piece of 140 lb cold-pressed watercolor paper. I made sure to create some good texture before then painting over it with acrylic paint. The colors I used are so unusual for me, but I really, really ended up loving them all together! If this lovely lady speaks to you like she does to me, you can find her in my little Etsy shop.

Tomorrow, I promise to show the last of our road trip pictures and share a couple of awards I am way behind on passing on... In the meantime, I hope you are all having a wonderfully creative weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Art and a Movie

I've been busy again painting another woman and I just love her! I again used molding paste for the texture and then painted over it with acrylic paint. There's something about those two women I recently painted (and I have a feeling there will be more...) that touches me deeply. As they appear from my brush, I am in awe of this creative process that surprises me every single time! Even though I am quite attached to her, she is available in my Etsy shop.

This afternoon we decided to go to the movies, but beforehand we stopped at another antique store close to the movie theater, where I found yet another great deal! I discovered this little book of the Fifty Best Poems of America. This tiny book is not in good shape, but will be perfect to use in some of my mixed media art. Quite a find indeed!
Now to the movie... About once a year (sometimes even less than than), Daniel and I decide to go see a movie on the big screen. Today was that day this year! Many, many people had told us that we absolutely needed to see the movie Up in the theater, so that's what we did, even though we are usually not into animated movies. It was fantastic, one of the best movies we've seen! So good in fact that I am posting the trailer right here for you to enjoy!

If you haven't seen it yet, if you like to laugh, if you love dogs, go see it! I think you'll love it as much as we did!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Collage Play with Crowabout

Several weeks ago I came across the Collage Play with Crowabout group on Flickr and, finally got busy and participated. Once a week, Nancy Baumiller posts collage images for the group members to use in a collage for a weekly challenge. I had fun with this one and actually liked it so much in the end that I listed it on Etsy.

In other news, Daniel and I went to downtown Savannah today to try out a Middle Eastern Deli Daniel recently discovered (yummy!) and then we visited a couple of antique malls. Contrary to so many of you, I usually do not enjoy antiquing. Not because I don't like the things that are offered, but because I get so overwhelmed and never quite know if I am really getting a deal. So, much to our surprise, I found a little pale yellow vase, which looks great in our kitchen and an old German postcard - both of those for $2. Was that a deal or what?!?
I still have two awards to list that my kind blogger friends bestowed on me a few days ago and one more set of photos from our road trip. I'll get to that tomorrow or the day after. Plus, I am working on my artwork... Life is good! I hope for you as well!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Illustration Friday - Tango

She wished that, just once, someone would ask her to dance the Tango...

I never seem to get my act together to create artwork for the weekly Illustration Friday topic, so this week I made an extra effort.

This was something new I tried and I just love how she turned out! I worked on a 5 x 7 clayboard, did an image transfer all in greens as a background, which is all but painted over now. I then covered the whole board with molding paste and gave it texture before painting the image with acrylic paints. I love the color palate I used (very different for me) and the texture of the finished piece.

I have to say, I am always surprised with my paintings, especially when I paint people - their facial expressions sort of happen while I paint and I never know what they will look like when finished, but they always touch me in some way. The same with this woman - she tugs at my heartstrings!

And if she tugs at yours, she is available in my little Etsy shop.

Fresh Figs and Chocolate Cookies

Yesterday we harvested our first small bowl full of fresh figs from our fig tree. Every morning we check to make sure we get to them before the birds do and yesterday, some of the figs were finally ripe. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand the birds - there's not much to compare with a sweet, juicy fig and later in the summer, I will be happy to share, but not these first ones (I barely share them with Daniel)...

Now, Daniel and I eat a very healthy diet for the most part - no refined sugar or flour, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, etc. But once in a while, I have the urge to bake with all the "right" ingredients - butter, sugar, flour, and chocolate! Yesterday was one of those days and I found the perfect excuse:

My very first Etsy sale!! Thank you, Diantha for helping me get my business started. I am so happy that my little collage is on its way to you! Come to think of it, I should have sent a few celebration cookies as well...
I am including the recipe for these cookies (which we got from our friend Diane in Albuquerque) for all of you who have a sweet tooth as they are the best chocolate cookies I have ever tasted!

Double Chocolate Cookies (I added dark chocolate chips as well, which made them Triple Chocolate Cookies.)
From Cooks Illustrated, Sept. 1999 issue

Sift together and set aside:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 t baking powder
1 t salt

16 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped & melted

4 large eggs, beaten with
2 t vanilla, and sprinkled with
2 t instant coffee powder

10 T (1 1/4 sticks) butter, softened but firm
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

How to:
(CI is very particular about how to do each step. Use your own judgment!)

1. Cream butter (approx. 15 seconds w/ hand mixer), then beat in sugars until combined (approx. 1 1/2 min.). It will look granular.

2. On low, beat in egg mixture (1 min.), then chocolate (1 min.), then flour mixture (1 min.), scraping between each. Do not overbeat.

3. Cover w/ plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until consistency is scoopable and fudgy, approx. 30 min.

4. Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Preheat to 350. Line cookie sheets w/ parchment.

5. Scoop golfball-sized balls 1 1/2 inches apart. (don't skimp)

6. Bake 10 min., turning sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through.

7. Cool 10 minutes on pan then slide parchment to rack.

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Very good with nuts or chocolate chips (white, regular, or dark) as well.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

New Collage

Last night I couldn't sleep, so I got up and started making art for a while. This is the result and I really like it! I just played with pieces of paper and images I had laying around to see if I could make them work together and pull it all together with some acrylic washes. I had a lot of fun and drifted off to sleep easily afterwards.

Yesterday was one of those days where I just have so much good stuff swirling around in my brain that I can't find rest. I was thinking about how I could use several lives at once to do all the things I want to do. I could use separate lives for making art, traveling with Daniel, reading all the good books out there, cooking, seeing friends, blogging, crafting, etc. Do you know what I mean?

Whenever I think of getting into something in depth, I realize that there are so many things I love to do that I can only do some of them as intensely as I like. And then I visit your blogs and you inspire me to completely new things and I wonder where I'll ever find the time...

How do you get everything done you want to? Or do you?

P.S. I liked my new collage so much I listed it in my Etsy shop. {SOLD}

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Roots and Cherries

I have two more posts for you of our road trip and then I am back to other things, art included! While we were on the road in New York, we came close to two little towns that were settled by Daniel's ancestors. Daniel has been a genealogy enthusiast for a long time.

Some years ago, through his research, we found a large branch of his family in France that we are now very close to. We have visited them (that's an incredible story for another post) and some of them have visited us here. When one of their ancestors came to the United States from France in the 1830's, he helped settle the town of Swormville near Niagara Falls. Incidentally, the French relatives all thought that he had not survived the voyage to the New World because they never heard from him again. Were they surprised when they found out about all their relatives in the States!

Daniel thinks that this might be the house his ancestors built and lived in.
Of course, we had to visit the old cemeteries to see if we found any headstones with his family names. And we did!! It was also interesting for me to see how many headstones were engraved entirely in German.

Then, further on our way in New York, we came by the small town of Lima, which was settled by a different branch of Daniel's family. This meant visiting the church and graveyard, where we didn't find anything, but many of the old headstones were so weathered that they were unreadable.

We decided to ask at the gas station if there were any other old cemeteries in the area. The attendant gave us some directions, which she wasn't sure about. We decided to follow them and found the yellow barn she was talking about.
Just beyond the yellow barn, to the right of the road we found a tiny, very old cemetery, barely visible. We couldn't believe she even knew of its existence. There were hardly any headstones with legible inscriptions and many were missing altogether.
The big find, though, were the huge and old cherry trees filled with delicious black cherries. We both ate our fill!

I've been working on several pieces of art these past few days and here's a little sneak peek. I'm playing with a whole new technique, which is so much fun! I'll share more about it soon...
Hope you are all having a lovely weekend!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

German Farms

I am taking a little break from the road trip pictures (there are just a few more) to share some photos of German farms. The farm house above is very special in that it is the house my grandmother (my dad's mom) grew up in. We all spent many happy hours there, and it is still in the family today, run as a hotel and pub.

Now, the farmhouse in the photo below (I don't know who the person in the picture is) is where I learned to ride horses. I started when I was 13 and during the following 6 years, I probably spent more time there than I did at home. Only a few minutes from our house by bike, this farm was a true oasis!
The following three pictures of typical farms I scanned from a book I have about the Münsterland, the area we moved to when I was 12 (before then we had lived near Heidelberg). In his job, my dad became acquainted with many farmers in the area and we spent much time and many vacations on those farms. Those are some of my happiest memories!

The following is a beautiful farm house close to my dad's house. I think we were more impressed by the big trees than the house, which is barely visible...
And here the buildings on a horse farm just around the corner from where my dad lives now - a beautiful place!
In looking through old photos and some books of the region around Münster, I was reminded again of how beautiful it truly is - with palaces, moated castles, farms, horses, old villages, houses, churches, the best farmers market in the region, and gorgeous nature. It has also made a name for itself with an important sculpture exhibit that attract international artists. Maybe I'll do some posts about it once in a while if you all are interested...