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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Remember the pear in my watercolor still life?

It is now on top of this "Warm Pear and Walnut Cake", just out of the oven, delicious! [Do you see the "pear" towel in the background?]

The recipe can be found in this book, "Enlightened Cakes" by Camilla V. Saulsbury. Written to encourage the use of less sugar, but not sugar substitutes. Her recipes are wonderful!

Warm Pear and Walnut Cake (with my modifications)

nonstick baking spray

3 T. butter

1t. vanilla extract

2 oz. walnut pieces (about 1/2 c.)

1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached flour

2 large eggs

1/4 t. salt

2 medium or one large ripe pear -cored and sliced thin (do not peel)

2 t. turbinado sugar (for sprinkling over the top before baking)

Preheat oven to 425 and spray the pan (8" is large enough) with baking spray.

In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat, cool slightly. add vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of a FOOD PROCESSOR process the walnuts, brown sugar and flour until the nuts are finely ground.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add salt. Fold in the flour/nut mixture, then the butter mixture. Spread batter into prepared pan. Arrange pear slices evenly over the batter and sprinkle with turbinado (raw) sugar.

Bake 22-25 minutes until cake tests done. Cut in slices and serve ( vanilla yogurt might be good on this...I used some Devon cream...yummm!]

I just heard that one of my donations, the sewing caddy* below, to Haiti by Hand [Etsy shop] has sold! The money goes to a cottage industry in Haiti. I encourage you to look at the things in the shop and/or to donate your handmade art to be listed for this cause!

This is my current watercolor, in progress....I am "warming up" my painting "muscles" and it is lots of fun! This painting will be for sale on my ETSY shop soon. It shows the rainbow chard which I bought from the organic food store next to where I work. I am trying to eat more nutritiously and some of the fruits and vegetables are so beautiful that I love to paint them before dining on them!

Here is a link to the Swiss Chard Saute recipe which I made last night.
Mr. Pear even enjoyed it!
Re: my on-going strained muscle- I overdid it again having so much fun yesterday. There is something quite questionable about the wisdom of lifting heavy Le Creuset cookware from the oven when trying to "rest" one's arm. Today, just watercolor and read...nap???
[Mr. Pear is out shoveling is so great to have a man around the house!]
* sewing caddy pattern in Anna Maria Horner's "Seams to Me" sewing book.

Friday, January 29, 2010

We're having a winter storm...and....This is my 700th post!

Here is the photo of the snowman block which I promised you. I am scheduled to teach this block of the month (which I am designing) at the sewing shop, tomorrow. However, we will probably not be open, and real snowmen will be appearing all over town!

I took this photo out the front window, a few minutes ago. Things have changed since then, we now have large fluffy flakes cascading silently into our world. This is SO much better than the relentless ice which fell a year ago! I am off work today, as everything here closes when the streets get icy. This wonderful day is all mine, I feel. I am doing some "old" (as in "same ole, same ole") things, crafts, reading, blogging. But I am trying some new things this week.

One new thing, fennel. I had never bought a fennel bulb before. Yesterday, I decided to try one. The bulb below has been oven roasted with sea salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It will be my lunch. The stalks and feathery part of the fennel are in a crock pot with a small pork loin which I browned in an iron skillet first. The fennel is under the roast which is topped with sea salt and lemon slices. We will have that for dinner. [I won't be thinking that Mr. Pear will eat the fennel stalks but they should impart a delicate flavor to the pork roast.]

My other plans for new foods include Swiss chard which I'm sure I will have to eat by myself, as well. This is a new path for me...trying to eat much less sugar ( I can't give up honey yet, though!) and switching to green tea instead of coffee. [Is this really ME???? I always loved coffee.....first thing EVERY morning!]
I can only say that the "wake-up" call my body gave me with all the pain a week ago, has made me look for a different path. The one not yet taken. It might be interesting....getting out of a rut and all! I am going to take CARE of ME this time, which includes completing a series of helpful sessions with the chiropractor in the next six weeks and seeing them on an on-going basis! [I've learned that I do love being taken care of, and even if I have to pay for it, I'm worth it!]

Of course, the skills I've had for years, sewing, crochet (see granny squares in photo), knitting are still available to me.
I just have to be careful and not overdo....same thing with typing on this computer! Here is my little Singer Featherweight which I carried up from the icy cold basement studio. I used it to make a yoga bag for my new yoga mat.
We have a wonderful local TV channel which has a daily yoga session each morning at 10:00 so I was able to do that today too! [It's great being off work! LOL!]
Much of my quiet day is left....after the fennel bulb lunch, I can read or even set up a still life and try a watercolor painting. Thank-goodness for the crock-pot, I don't have to stop and cook again!
I hope you have a lovely day too, wherever you are! Try a path not taken!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A great idea for those of us who make things.....

This evening as the TV is being used by Mr. Pear for NFL playoff games, I am browsing your blogs!

At Colette's[A Bird in the Hand], I came across this charming badge (above) and link to Rebecca who has been helping sell handmade items from Haiti. With the current chaos Haitian artisans cannot produce many items for sale. The idea is that we can "take up the slack", so to speak and donate handmade things to raise money for this cottage industry.

I will be sending some of my ETSY listings to Rebecca and hope this will inspire others to donate to or purchase from the "Haiti by Hand", Etsy shop.

Please stop by and visit Rebecca and perhaps purchase one of the delightful creations donated to help her with the Haitian craft development program!


Wednesday update: I have been seeing Dr. Allen Roberds, chiropractor. I am amazed at how much better I am feeling, and without the aid of drugs!!!!

I am doing a small bit of knitting and sewing. Also reading. [Dr. Roberds even detected that I was a little bit dyslexic and has helped with that! ---I thought it was just ADD...going to a chiropractic doctor is an interesting journey!]

I've been back at work for short periods and today will be a full day. Our area is bracing for a winter storm, due tomorrow evening. I'm pretty sure I will be home (not at work) on Friday as everything will be shut down awaiting a thaw. We are praying that it is not a severe ice storm like last January when we lost power for a week!

Saturday, I am scheduled to teach a block of the month. I am designing the quilt blocks myself this year! They are whimiscal applique blocks. The first one is a snowman. I will post him later!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday, UPDATE:

Experiencing intense muscle spasms the last few days, (and having visited both a walk-in-clinic and then a chiropractor) I stayed off the Rx's and just tried to let my body heal itself. I rested and read 3 books...but relaxing was hard for me. Feeling guilty for missing work...etc..
Doing things became more and more difficult and painful. Finally last night, when I hurt so bad (both arms now) and couldn't even hold the telephone while talking to daughter Laura, I decided to go back on all the Rx's including the methylprednisolone. Today, I am just resting and hoping.....not able to "DO" anything, watch movies and sleep. I know that being able to relax is a big part of healing...and that has included a few gentle yoga stretches.
Now, I must quit typing too! [although, doing this "creative" blog post has probably relaxed me more than anything else for days! Blogging to relieve journaling it IS good for us!]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I am "handicapped" for the moment....can only type with my right hand today. So this will be a brief post! [I strained my shoulder back and left arm doing several days of machine quilting on a quilt top. Even though I took breaks, I over did it!]

I want to share this delicious salad recipe which I found from Martha Stewart! It tasted so refreshing (but still "filling") after eating the usual comfort foods of winter! [ I tried several times to make a link within the text here...and haven't been able to. Could it be my MEDs???? LOL! Or more likely, Martha has some programing which takes away the link!]

The ingredients are spinach, cooked chicken (sliced thin), avocado slices, almond slices, red grapes cut in half and dressing of your choice. Delicious!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Seven Lilas......or self-portrait multiplied and simplified.

A photo collage of shots taken with multiple mirrors which I edited in Adobe Photoshop. This is what I played with tonight to unwind.[not that I am that "wound-up"! I just don't feel complete unless I get to play with some kind of art/journaling every day or so!]

This style is called "notepaper". I don't know why it is just 2 colors...and I didn't have a choice of the colors either, but I rather like the high contrast and my image being reduced to simple shapes. Since it was "notepaper", I thought I should write on it...and perhaps I will, using the text feature in Photoshop, or printing it out (yikes, what a lot of ink that would take!!!) and making notecards...for now I will just use it for a blog note!

On a more serious note.....( I'm not smiling in these photos you see...)

I'm grateful for all I have and for the blogging world. To be able to "play" and live in a warm environment....etc. Many blessings every moment! I know that even if there were 7 of me I could still not do much without others! By joining together we can raise the level of good which can be done! If you have not found a way to help out the suffering world, especially Haiti, this week, visit this link to Jamaican singer Wyclif Jean. $5.00 donations from many people will add up!

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviours. Keep your behaviours positive, because your behaviours become your habits. Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny." Mahatma Gandhi

I found this quote (above) in Robert Genn's newletter today. He is an artist in Canada. His newsletter provides guidance and encouragement for artists (or anyone interested in the creative life).

I truly believe that being positive keeps us young and strong. I try to write this blog in a positive way, enjoying life's little moments. [The photo above, selected from my files, is of my granddaughter in a Halloween parade a few years ago. I love that she was and angel for that holiday, rather than a ghoul!]

Sometimes, however, I do come across things which are not upbeat or positive, but feel I need to share them. This link (below) is to one such piece of information. Cash register and credit card receipts often contain BPA's. This toxin (an estrogen-mimicking pollutant) has been shown to cause changes in the development of fetuses. NOT GOOD. Dr. Oz has mentioned this and recommends that women of child-bearing age should wash their hands well after handling the receipts. [Which of course sends the chemicals into the water supply.....another story/worry!] Who would have thought that we have to be "on guard" so much; shopping CAN be dangerous!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

It has been another cold day here. The shop where I work was closed. Funny thing about the "south", we stay home when there is the least little snow and cold.
I spent today finishing this "infinity scarf" ( soft teal in photo above) for my daughter. It was knitted on size 15 circular needles using two strands of with a bit of wool for warmth. You can find patterns and get the idea of how to knit this by "Googling" "infinity scarf pattern".
I have enough yarn, in a slightly different color combination, for another scarf. I will give my hands a rest though, and start one of the library books I just picked up [yes, we called, and the library WAS open!]
I chose several books, mysteries by M.C. Beaton and by Alexander McCall Smith (he was under McCall, not Smith) all of which are set in Scotland. This will probably make me want to make more tea and scones. I also picked up a novel by the late Madeline L'Engle, "Certain Women". I love her books and don't think I have read this one!
I think of you who are in much colder areas and hope you are staying warm this January!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Fun with the Holga camera yesterday....or "I finally got some film!"

The camera has only a few simple settings, just point and shoot! I did a deliberate double exposure of our elm tree and the house across the street, above. I think this is my favorite of these shots taken as the shadows were lengthening on the snow-covered yards. This elm is so large and powerful that it has an almost mystical presence for me. Last year's ice storm took out much of the canopy but it has survived!

My snow-covered garden bench and our mailbox are two of my other favorite images. How many years have these things been in our yard, providing a quiet place to sit on the one hand and fun and interesting news and packages on the other!

These other photos were taken either in the shade or about an hour later when the sun was lower; they show a slight rosy color on the horizon. Some of the photos have the "black soft edge corners" which are typical of the "vignette" effect the Holga is famous for. I definitely like the sunny ones best...funny thing too, Mr. Pear told me that I was using Black and White film, so I was surprised when I picked up the developed pictures this afternoon!

I am sharing the camera for awhile with my friend, it will be fun to see what she photographs!

Looking down the street, it is almost sunset now.

By the way, my friend, Sr. Macrina Weiderkehr is a wonderful photographer as well as a poet.
Visit here for a chance to order this calendar from her monastery, St. Scholastica's in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The sun is out, but the temperature is still below freezing. More snow came last night!

It is time to pile another quilt on the bed!

This quilt is called "Just Breathe", it is one of my latest quilts. I love the bright colors and fabrics, especially the turquoise!

Now that the Christmas decorations are removed for another year, I have mental space to fill. Working on a quilt is always a great thing in January, you can snuggle under there while you hand quilt the top! Here is a photo showing part of a quilt which I started appliqueing in 1993. It was a block of the month from PIECE O'Cake quilt designers. It is called "Through Grandmother's Window ". The pieced diamond setting is my own idea! After hand quilting, I will finish the look by using prairie points along the edges in lieu of a traditional binding.

Below, a close look at part of a block! It has 12 blocks and is a double bed size quilt.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

A treat for a cold day-

Turmeric Milk Recipe This looks so pretty in the cup (photo from the Yoga + webpage) it is bound to be delicious! I do love charming mugs and cups, always!

We had 2+ inches of snow last night, and it is below freezing here all day. A beautiful world for a Sunday!

This drink is helpful for sniffles etc. ( I have been fighting off sneezing and sniffles since Christmas) , It is a good sleep aid too. Naptime anyone?

Friday, January 01, 2010

It has been a wonderful day!!!!!

[Scones waiting to go in the oven!]

A sunny, wonderful first day of 2010!

I managed to take a walk with dear Mr. Pear which made me so full of energy and hungry that I decided to bake some scones.

I happened to have some clotted cream just waiting to go on the warm scone, along with some wonderful jam (Four Fruits).

Mr. Pear helped me get the scone photo with our temperamental digital camera, then we sat down with a pot of tea, and enjoyed every lovely bite!


After all the baking and the tea time treat, I felt my creative energies going in a good down to the studio, though it was getting late. No time to execute a masterpiece, not even time to set up a still life, but I could pull out my scissors and glue and do collage!

First, I did this cover for an inexpensive "brown paper bag" moleskine. Now it will be fun to use as an art journal.

The other collages I did were in a hardback book which my friend Paula and I are "altering" with paint and collage.[ I posted a couple of the pages I did today here .]

Notes on Gratitude

I often think how lucky I am to be able to cook and eat lovely foods and to post about doing it. This is a wide, international Internet and I do hope that no one who is suffering from hunger stops by and suffers even more because of a post. I am grateful for being able to eat as well as we do, and I do not take it for granted! Cooking takes a lot of my creative energy and I love sharing the inspiration and enthusiam!
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." (Cicero) [So, I am working on having gratitude!]

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