15 March 2011

seeing green

Happy (early) St. Patrick's Day!

blessings and happiness,

09 March 2011

yum :)

Well, my suprised worked!  Yesterday after picking up the children from school and making another run to the grocery store, I came home and baked my suprise.  I must say I think they were the best batch I've ever made.  They really turned out quite nicely.  I even called my Mom to tell her what I was making and she was equally suprised with the ambitiousness of my clever undertaking.   :) 

Just in case you'd like to forget about the winter blahs and would like to enjoy a special treat, I'd thought I'd share her recipe with you.

Mom's Lemon Bars

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup contectioner sugar, sifted
1 cup butter
In a large bowl, sift together the flour and confectioner sugar.  Cut in butter until mixture clings together.  (I like to use my hands -- it's easier). 

Press in well-greased 9X13 glass baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  This first part makes the crust.

Ingredients for filling:
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (for me this was 2 lemons)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups granulated sugar

While crust is baking, beat eggs, granulated sugar and lemon juice together.  Sift flour and baking powder together and stir into egg mixture.  Pour over baked crust and bake at 350 for 25 additional minutes.  (You don't have to wait for the crust to cool). 

After lemon bars are baked and out of the oven, before they have cooled completely, sprinkle with more confectioner sugar. (If you wait too long, the sugar won't stick to the top of the lemon bars).  Slice into pieces and enjoy!

blessings and happiness,

08 March 2011

lemon bars ... maybe

So this morning after taking the children to school and Brenna to the orthodontist and then Brenna back to school, I headed to the commissary.  Grocery shopping is my least favorite chore and I really loath going, but it's definitely nice having a full pantry.  (And my family's usually happy about it, too.)

After I got everything unloaded, in the house, and put away, I thought, why don't I surprise everyone and make some lemon bars for a nice after school treat.  Now, let me just say this would be a really BIG surprise for my family, because unless it comes in a box or I can put it in the slow cooker, I don't make it.  I rarely make anything from scratch.  So unless it's Christmas or Thanksgiving, my family doesn't get to enjoy real homemade lemon bars. 

This of course, is a real shame, because they're fabulously good.  That's because it's my mother's recipe and my mother is a fabulous cook.  In any event, I began feeling awfully proud of myself for being so daring and generous as to make something from scratch for my family for no reason at all.  As I pulled out the recipe and began collecting all my ingredients, I discovered that as luck would have it, I was low on sugar.  I only need two cups, but I don't have enough.  So, now I have to go back to the store, uugghhh...

It reminds me of the time when my Mom and I were doing some baking for Thanksgiving last year, and we discovered my only jar of baking powder was three years past the expiration date!  I know, she was horrified, too.  That shows you how often I use baking powder!

As always, my hat is off to you real talented cooks out there.  Maybe by tomorrow I will have successfully assembled all the ingredients I need and happily surprised my family to boot. 

blessings and happiness,

07 March 2011

new beginnings and new work

This is the beginning of a very pretty shawl.  I'm using the Dream in Color yarn I got from the yarn club the other day.  I guess I needed something fresh to work on for a while, because I've had some challenges with the Debbie Bliss sweater.  Despite doing two gauge swatches and being very careful with following the pattern, I'm now on version three.  My first two attempts turned out to be first, too large, and then, too small.  Hopefully, the third one will be just right.  It definitely had both Madeline and I puzzled the other night, because my gauge is spot-on.  So we decided to go up two sizes in the pattern in the hopes that that will fix the problem.  We'll see...

In the mean time, I just wanted to work with something new and this yarn is nice and fresh and green -- it reminds me of spring.  We're still waiting for signs of spring here, so hopefully, this will keep me going until we see the real thing.

So along with making a fresh start on something with my knitting, I'm also making a fresh start with something in my art.  As I mentioned the other day, I feel like something new and big is growing and sprouting in my little art world.  New ideas are sprouting and growing in my little noggin. 
So here it is...

I'm writing a book!  A children's book.  A children's chapter book to be specific.  The kind of introductory chapter books that still have pictures.  I really want to do the illustrations as well.  I hope to share the whole process here with you.

This is a realy big deal, a really big leap of faith into the unknown for me.  I feel in my heart that this is something I've been meant to do for a long time, but I'm only just now getting the courage to do it. 

Not only am I a bit nervous because I've never done this before, but also because I occassionally have a little voice of Doubt that likes to taunt my brave little steppings out into the big world. 

It says things like, "Who do you think you are?" and "You've never even taken a creative writting class, let alone have a degree in English.  What makes you think you can write a book?!" and "You don't have a fine arts degree or any formal training; what makes you think you can illustrate a book?" and even more ominously, "How on earth are you going to find a publisher?"

So, there it is.  My big exciting (scarey) announcement.  I feel oddly that I'm finely heading into the purpose and destiny I was meant for.  Like for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm doing exactly what I'm suppossed to do.  

Please pray for me.  For courage and wisdom and inspiration and grace and favor, to complete the work, that the work will be good and worthwhile and be published.  And that it will bring happiness and joy to the children who read it.

I thank you as always for listening reading.  I thank you in advance for your prayers and encouragement.  I thank you for going along with me on this crazy artful journey.

blessings and happiness,

04 March 2011

knit night

After a lovely day at home yesterday feeling a sense of accomplishment and anticipating new things on the horizon, I was able to join some friends at knit night.  My friend, Madeline, who owns a lovely yarn shop in Edwardsville, IL, hosts an after hours knit night every Thursday night.  I rarely get to go, but yesterday was one of my rare appearances -- it was so nice to be there.

We all just sit around and chat and laugh and knit.  It's a wonderful way to spend an evening.  I continued to work on my sweater still in progress and enjoyed watching other people show off and tell about their projects.  One of my friends dyes and sells her own yarn and will soon be selling it on etsy under the name Skeined Alive.  Her tag line is Dyed and Gone to Heaven.  Isn't that cool? 

Of course, it's difficult not to be charmed by new and colorful yarn.  Madeline started a really neat monthly yarn club for us.  Each month we receive one mystery skein of Dream in Color yarn.  This month's yarn is Smooshy sock yarn.  It's 20% cashmere, so it's feels lovely.  They named the color Irish Sprout, how appropriate as we're waiting for any sign of spring to start sprouting around here. 

Next post, I think I'd like share what it is exactly that has me so excited and why I'm really looking forward to bright things on the horizon.  I don't want to keep it a secret.  Plus I could probably use your advise, suggestions and encouragement as well.  In the mean time, I wish you a peaceful, relaxing weekend filled with signs of spring.

blessings and happiness,

03 March 2011

something big

Today I feel like I am standing on the ridge line of a beautiful mountain with a panoramic view before me and that something big and something special is brewing inside me and it's about to come out.  I feel like this little life of mine is about to go down a very new and exciting path.  I think good things are going to be given birth and I'm hopeful that God will help me and continue to strengthen and inspire me along the way. 

New roads always hold new adventures and sights and discoveries.  I'm really looking forward to that part.  It's like the anticipation you feel when you're getting ready to go on a trip to a place you've never been.  I felt that giddy excitement last summer, when Rob and I took a wonderful trip to the Pacific Northwest.  Such a beautiful place -- I can't wait to go again some day.

As always, thanks for going with me on this artful journey.  I can't wait to share more of it with you. 

blessings and happiness,

02 March 2011

sew looking forward to

This is a lovely book of sewing projects that caught my eye one day at my local art supply store.  I resisted the urge to buy it straight away and opted instead (difficult though it was) to ask for it for Christmas.  And my wonderful hubby blessed me it.  I've really been looking forward to making a couple of things from it and just haven't taken the plunge yet.

The patterns are all included and it is very well written with plenty of detailed instructions and suggestions for each design.  There are skirts, dresses, tops, and even jackets.

I only have two problems:  1)  I can't decide which one to do first, and   
2)  almost all of the patterns require the use of a zipper or button holes.  I know this may sound like heresy to those experienced seamstresses among you, but in my entire sewing career (which is not impressive), I have managed to never make anything that required the knowledge and skills for either of these.  So...

my fear of the unknown, may be overcome by my desire to have something cute to wear when it finally gets warmer.  Enter a sewing class at my local sewing shop.  I have a very excellent fabric and all-things-sewing shop nearby, so I may in the near future (at my Mom's suggestion) take a class to finally learn the skills I so sew desperately need. 

I guess this is a good example of how as an artist, a mom, a writer, a seamstress or whatever, I will always need to stretch myself and overcome some sort of fear or obstacle in order to continue to grow and become a better artist, mom, writer, and seamstress.

What are you stretching yourself to overcome or learn to be a better you?

blessings and happiness,