Saturday, July 30, 2011

Strictly Chocolate:Brownie Tart

I missed last week...well, actually I only missed posting my recipe on Saturday.  
The problem is that all summer long I have been off schedule 
and I have NOT reserved chocolate for my Saturdays.  
So here I am attempting to get my eating habits back on a schedule 
and eat healthier during the week.  

A couple of weeks ago, I made a trip to Borders Book Store,which is now closing.  :-(
But before that happened I was in their cookbook section and came home with two inspiring cookbooks.  
The first book I picked up was "500 Chocolate Delights"
and it certainly is delightful!
Usually prior to cooking I have to make a trip to the grocery store to buy some special ingredient.  Today I am desperately in need of a long strolling tour of the grocery store to stock up on everything from butter to produce so when I found this recipe that made me drool and I had everything in my pantry I jumped at the chance to whip it up.

It is so simple.  
Get Recipe:

{This moment}

{this moment}

 In response to Lana's It Seams to be Sew Friday posts:
 A single photo - no words, capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 
(And speaking of Lana....her moment to savor and remember is a special announcement this week!  Congratulations, Lana!)

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paint Party Friday: The Art Party

Last Friday I had a great opportunity to get together with friends in one of their art studios along with a number of other women, most of whom are or had been art teachers.  It was a wonderfully creative experience.  Everyone was working on different things, including sewing.  
Never a dull moment, the conversation flowed!  

Sometimes I feel intimidated when working among other artists which is exactly why I think it is a very important experience to have right now before school starts again.  I can put myself in my students' place and understand their fears and help to alleviate some of them by the words I speak and the projects I assign.  

The piece I started on Friday started off as a traditional watercolor but because everyone was trying to stretch themselves and most started their paintings minus the preliminary drawings so that the pieces were freer and looser.   I had to jump in and follow along.  I must say it is difficult for me to abandon my safe zone and venture out into uncharted territory
...I never allowed the piece to be "precious" to me!  
By that I mean if it ended up lining the trash can...
so be it...
I would just start another.  
I allowed myself to play and have fun. 

I have worked on this every evening while listening to a movie or something in the background.  
It has numerous layers.  
I applied a little bit of stamping, numerous watercolor washes, detailed in watercolor pencil and then outlined using a Sharpie and then went back in varying values in the designs. 
It has been a positive experience.  
Although I may not abandon my traditional style of painting, it certainly has changed my perspective.
Have a great Paint Party Friday
I know I will!

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Friday, July 22, 2011

{this moment}

 A New Friday ritual inspired by Soule Mama.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Strictly Satruday: Candy Corn Butterfingers

I am always on the prowl for a good chocolate recipe for our Strictly Saturday's Chocolate post.
Linda from Buzzing and Bumbling (who so happens to be my sister) found this recipe and sent it to me to make for my husband because he loves Butterfingers.

Lee's birthday is this next week which makes this a good time to make something special for him.

Linda did the baking this weekend and sent me a photo to submit to you.  I still have to make mine but I know if Linda is recommending them it is a sure thing!

Homemade Butterfingers
1 lb. candy corn
16 oz. jar peanut butter (I used Jif, but the sweeter the better)
16 oz. pkg. chocolate candy coating (I just melted chocolate chips)
Melt candy corn in the microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and continue to cook in 15 second intervals until melted, stirring each time. Stir in peanut butter. Spread mixture in an 8 x 8 square pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Either melt chocolate chips and spread over the mixture or dipped chilled bars in melted chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator until firm. Cut into narrow bars.
 Yum!  I have to make these myself!  

My poor old county boy, husband brought me candied corn on our first Valentine's Day together.  He thought I would be so pleased because I loved candy corn and he said the only other thing he could find were those "heart shaped boxes of candy" which by the way was exactly what I wanted. 

Communicate is so important!

I now know after all these years together that he was trying to please me and I should have communicated what I wanted before the time came. 

Now, I say forget those heart shaped boxes, and no candy.  Why not just an evening together and not ON Valentine's Day but maybe the weekend before or the weekend after. 
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Paint Party Friday:Letting Loose

"Letting Loose", a multi-layer mixed media is my most recent creative adventure.
I have been on an exploration of  artistic websites lately and one of you posted about sewing together multi layers of magazine pages and then painting with gesso.
I thought that was a really fun idea and NOW
I can not find that post!
If you have read this article or if you wrote it please, leave the site in a comment or email me.
I so want to reread this and try my hand at this.

"Another Journey" is another mixed media. 

It was painted/drawn while watching the Diary of a Wimpy Kid with four children surrounding me at home.  I'm not sure if the movie influenced me at all in the drawing but I do know that I have had a hard time focusing on serious work lately. The kids agreed that upon completion they would help me come up with a childrens story to go with the drawing. 
I am sure there is a story here somewhere. 

The summer is already almost over (at least for teachers) and I have hardly begun to do the things I had planned on sidewalks around the house a quilt
....make a doll with my granddaughter
...make a trip to the hill country
...make a trip to the coast....make a trip anywhere!.....
...mostly paint every day
but I have done other fun things and soon there will be a new grandson. 
We have all begun making our predictions on the arrival date. 
(I chose August 31st as the arrival date.  He is due September 5th ...I just have a feeling.)

Well, have a happy Paint Party Friday!
I am!
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Artsee Bloggers

Just a quick little note to tell you about a new blog indexing artists.  If you are interesting in associating yourself with it there is contact information on the site.  
I am listed under Drawing/Painting but other categories include fabric, mixed media, digital, etc.  
I visited this morning and have already been inspired!!!!
The link is on the sidebar but if you don't see it go here.

Artsee Bloggers
Thanks to the dedication of Geri Centonze from My Heart Art Blog Artseebloggers is launching today!
Thank you, Geri. 
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Strictly Saturday: Sandies, Sugar Cookies and Hot Fudge Sauce

What a wonderful summer we are having. 

I baked two chocolate cakes this week for two different occasions and Pecan Sandies for my non-chocolate lover in my family.  (Yes, there are some of those.)  One of our smallest members of our household does not like chocolate and while I baked chocolate cake for our Fourth of July party he wanted to know what I was making for him.  I had previously told him I would make cookies for him so he was ready. Together we whipped up Pecan Sandies.  He loved helping me spoon out the dough on the pan with the cookie dough scoop, and we watched closely as they baked  but once they came out of the oven he realized this was the end of the production and it was not what he was expecting.

In his sweet little three year old voice he said that was not the kind of roll cookies he meant.  His arms went up and he quickly began gesturing a simultaneous back and forth  motion in front of his chest and I realized he wanted rolled sugar cookies. 

So today I will be giving you three recipes: 
Pecan Sandies, our Best Ever Sugar Cookies and  Hot Fudge Sauce.
It's all good!

 Pecan Sandies
You may know these cookies by another name.  Some times they may be called Mexican Wedding Cookies, or some other variation of the name.  It is an old recipe.  In fact, I think this is one of the first cookies I made out of my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book back in 1971.  (I question the use of  "new" in the title of a book!)  They almost melt in your mouth.  Just the right amount of sweet to be good with a cup of tea or a cup of coffee and they are quick to make.  I can get all of them on one cookie sheet because they do not spread. Makes about 3 dozen.
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsps water
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Powdered sugar to roll baked cookies
Cream together the butter and sugar, add water and vanilla, then combine the flour. Chill for 4 hours. Shape dough in balls, crescents or fingers.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.
Cool slightly and roll in powdered sugar.
Best Ever Sugar Cookies
Now I must tell you the story of this next cookie recipe and explain why my family does not call these the Best Ever Sugar Cookies although it is the only sugar cookie recipe we will use. My four children are all grown and have children of their own now.  My four are all close in age.  At a fairly early age they would beg to make sugar cookies because they loved to roll out the dough or they loved to eat the dough.  One day I agreed to help them make the dough and let them roll it out and cut the dough.  When I got to a point where they could take over  I left all four of the children in the kitchen rolling and cutting out cookies. I was cleaning and occasionally would pop in to check on them. 
After quite a long time of the kids "working" at this, the dough was beginning to not be so clean looking (yes, they did originally wash hands) and had a more golden look (some might say brown) than the original dough.  Yuck!  I was getting tired of the mess in the kitchen and supper time was coming up soon. 

Decorated for Baby Shower
I came into the kitchen and took the rolling pin,quickly flattened the dough and rolled it out.  Got out the pizza cutter and made quick cuts one direction then cut across the opposite direction making quick squares as I announced,
"You can just call these 'Mama Got Mad Cookies'" 
So today, my kids and those who have heard the story will still make "Mama Got Mad Cookies" and everyone knows just which cookies they are.  For you they will be called 
Best Ever Sugar Cookies
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Sift together: 3 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and  1/2 tsp salt,   
  • Beat in: 1 cup softened butter, 1 egg, 3 T milk, and 1 tsp vanilla
  • Mix about 1 or 2 minutes on low speed until blended.
Roll out dough 1/3 at a time. 
I like my cookies thin, but some people like them thicker so experiment and see what you like.
Bake on un-greased cookie sheet for 5 - 8 minutes.  Makes 6 -7 dozen medium sized cookies depending on thickness.
You may decorate or eat plain.  You decide.  I use a powdered sugar glaze when I ice mine. 

Hot Fudge Sauce
Recently I went to the home of friends for ice cream.  My contribution was the hot fudge sauce. 
It took me no more time than it took to open a can of sweetened condensed milk,measure out a few chocolate chips, get a pat of butter, and a splash of milk and pop in the microwave and I had a great hot fudge sauce. 

I had to "test" the flavor a few times before proceeding but it is fast and delicious.

Hot Fudge Sauce
  • 1 can sweetened evaporated milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T milk
Put everything in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 2 minutes checking and stirring occasionally.
Serve warm over ice cream.  Leftover can be stored in the refrigerator.
Yesterday, Linda, my sister and I shopped.
We came home with new cookbooks.  I bought "500 Chocolate Delights" and we both bought "The Cookie and Biscuit Bible".  I can't wait to dive in and find some interesting recipes to share.
Happy Baking!

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Friday, July 8, 2011

{this moment}

In response to Lana's blog {this moment}.  
Lana says "A New Friday ritual inspired by Soule Mama. A single photo - no words -capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment'
in the comments for all to find and see."
If you want to play along go to the link for Lana's blog and leave a comment and your url.  
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Paint Party Friday: No Paint just Pen & Ink

Such a small little pen & ink but at least I did something myself this week.

It is only 9" by 4" on watercolor paper.
This was a drawing I had completed in May but decided it was too small to paint in watercolor to get the details I wanted.  The heads are smaller than a dime.

Yesterday I needed a creative outlet and completed this in an hour or so.
I normally would use technical pens with variable nibs but I did not have them and used a fine tip Sharpie.
I normally would do stippling but I did hatching.
I normally would paint but I just did pen & ink.

I thought I wasn't going to have anything for Paint Party Friday but I did do this.
I also, did some tangling this week and created a decent zentangle
but the grandbabies loved drawing on my paper and ended up coloring it in for me and I just let them.  Their love of art is worth the sacrifice of a zentangle or two. 

There is a ton of creativity going on at our house, mostly with the grandbabies.
But I did do something creative.

Happy Paint Party Friday!
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Outdoor Games:Team Challenge

Part of the fun of the Fourth of July 
is being able to play outdoors with friends and family.

Our family hosted a teen party this Fourth.  The family came up with this game. 

Team Challenge:

The game board is the back yard:

The object of the team is to direct a blindfolded team member through a maze without stepping into the yellow mine field, yellow line or on opposing team colored circles as quickly as possible but must step in the teams color circles to advance to finish..

Start Line
We used  Rustoleum marking spray paint.  Not only does it wash out with water, it  does not hurt your grass

    • We made our triangular "field" about 25'-30'.
    • Our circles were about 10"-12".  (I used a pizza box a plate as a template to cut my circles to use as a template for spraying.)
    • We marked the tip of the triangle as the start and another corner for the big finish. (see photo below)
    • Between Start and finish we sprayed circles in an equal number of red, white and blue circles with dividing lines  which marked off three sections of the field with a yellow line with an opening in the line AND most importantly we had our explosive "mines" marked in yellow circles placed strategically among the field.
    • Our circles were about 10"-12".  (I used a pizza box a plate as a template to cut my circles to use as a template for spraying.)
    • One person must be a time keeper and one person must be a referee.
    • Optional: We used Mardi gras necklaces from Target  as tokens.  Each team member who crossed the finish line got a necklace in the team color.  At completion the winning team gets a second necklace in a different color. 
    • Teams were chosen and given the following instructions:
      • Each member walks the field but not all have to complete it.
      • Alternate between teams: Red Team, Blue Team and White Team one member at a time. 
      • First player is blindfolded and placed on Start.
      • The remaining team members must verbally direct the blindfolded member through the field to the finish line without stepping on any yellow mine, yellow line or opposing team's circles but they must step on their team's color circles to advance to finish.
      • The first time a team player steps on any forbidden zone they must restart at the beginning.  
      • The second time a team player steps on any forbidden zone the player is out.
      • No one other than the blindfolder player may be inside the perimeters of the field during a play. 
      • Only team members may direct blindfolded player directing from the outer perimeter of the field.  
      • Winner of the game is the team with the most members making it through the field in the shortest amount of time.
    This game is good for team building skills or just a fun time. There is no set pattern of where the circles are placed and we provided a good bit of "green" space which safe zone.

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