Monday, February 25, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Painted Elephant Stamp and Art Journal Page

Here's a six-second Vine video of the stamp I carved, the link is pause-able but here's the gif:

And I used it in this art journal page where I tried out my new Dylusions. Wow are they ever awesome. Great color saturation.

(click to see this full sized)
I did lots of reverse stenciling on these pages I think it's a technique I'll be using a lot more. 

I love being able to do different spray techniques on the background and the foreground and still only have one layer.

The stamp has been wonderful for notecards, I've made zillions as I had a ton of notes to write lately.
They've been very well received so... yay!

Thanks so much for popping in.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Prayer Flags

I've been wanting to make some prayer flags for awhile. So when I was painting this canvas for a different project, I was able to get seven flags from it.

Just a little tip, if you know you'll be using your canvas as fabric (not a painting or art piece in it's own right) it's sometimes easier to start with a theme or large, simple drawing to start getting paint down.

In this instance, I painted very basic flowers. It helped save me from an orderly march of stencils and such across the space.

Next I ripped the canvas into 5x11 inch pieces. Then I folded over the top by about 3 inches making the prayer flag the customary 5x8.

As you can see in the picture, while I was sewing them together I couldn't resist adding a few bits of scrap canvas here and there in the form of tags and ruffles.

In my opinion, cutting apart just about anything makes it much more interesting. Where the whole cloth above was okay - it's certainly bright and cheerful but not terribly inspired - the flags below have all sorts of variety and interest.

Next I started stenciling, painting and decorating each flag. Here are two I have completed:

Here's a little bit about prayer flags from Wikipedia, I think a lot of people have misconceptions about them:

Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all...
The prayers of a flag become a permanent part of the universe as the images fade from exposure to the elements. Just as life moves on and is replaced by new life, Tibetans renew their hopes for the world by continually mounting new flags alongside the old. This act symbolizes a welcoming of life's changes and an acknowledgment that all beings are part of a greater ongoing cycle.

I also have a Pinterest board of prayer flags if you are interested in seeing beautiful pictures from Tibet

You can read more about The Prayer Flag Project at this blog, including tutorials.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Easy Valentine's Floats and Other ideas

"Cupid Cocktails" were very popular with my crew. 

They have SUPER-LOW standards as we don't really celebrate Valentine's Day unless my mom makes me feel guilty about it :-)

(this was a year ago, he's grown up so much!)

Edit: and now this year:

For the more ambitious among you:

My favorite Valentine's image:

And my Valentine's wish for you:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Popcorn Crunch Treat

This is SO good. Like make it tonight, good. 

I decided to make this instead of the usual Valentine's Day candy and baking and my kids all said we need to make this a tradition - high praise indeed.

The recipe is an adaptation of Cupid Crunch by Plain Chicken. That recipe looked AMAZING but way too sweet for our families taste. This is more savory and less intense.

Valentine's Popcorn Crunch Treat

1 (24 oz) package vanilla Almond Bark 
3 bags of  microwave popcorn, popped (We used Pop Secret Butter and it was AWESOME. I don't think this would work very well with regular air popped popcorn)
1 1/2- 2 cups cups Pretzels
1 1/2 cup dry roasted, salted peanuts
1 1/2 cups M&Ms (Valentine colors) I used most of a large bag.

Pop popcorn and place in a (very) large bowl. Be careful of kernels, you don't want to break your teeth. I avoided kernels by transferring the popcorn a handful at a time (claw style) so any kernels would fall to the bottom and not end up in the food.

  Pour peanuts, pretzels, and M&Ms on top.

Chop up almond bark. Melt. Pour over popcorn mixture. Stir until everything is well coated.

 Spread out onto waxed paper covered baking sheets (or your counter). Let sit until completely dry and then break up into clumps.

Seriously, make this. It's so good! It also makes great little gifts packaged up in a cellophane bag.

And if you like yours more candy and less crunch be sure to check out the original recipe. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dark Chocolate and Whiskey Cupcakes: Cake # 48

Would you believe I made these last Valentine's Day and never blogged them. 
Shame on me. Let me make it right.

Dark Chocolate and Whiskey Cupcakes

For the Cake:

 2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup Jack Daniels Whiskey
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, stir the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, coffee, whiskey, buttermilk and oil.

 Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. 

Spoon the mixture into prepared cupcake wrappers. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. 

For the Dark Chocolate Whiskey Ganache:

16 ounces good quality dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 cup Jack Daniels Whiskey

Melt and stir. 

Chill in the fridge while the cupcakes bake and cool.

Cut out centers from your cupcakes. You can use a cupcake tool or a knife. If using a knife, I recommend cutting out a cone shape - it's easier.

Give your ganache a little stir. Set aside 2 cups of ganache for the frosting.

 See how thick it set up. Yummy!

Fill the cupcake centers with ganache.

Now for the frosting. Most recipes I've seen call for even more Jack Daniels in the frosting but I tasted the cake (centers are made for snacking) with some ganache and it was PLENTY whiskey enough for my tasts. These are not subtle cupcakes folks. So I DID NOT add more JD. I stuck with plain chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Whiskey Buttercream

1 lb. butter, softened
1- 3 ounce package white chocolate, vanilla or cheesecake instant pudding mix
2 cups Dark Chocolate Whiskey ganache
1/2 cup sifted dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
more whiskey to taste

Beat the butter and pudding mix together on medium high speed for about 5 minutes.
Add ganache, cocoa powder and heavy cream.  Beat for another 5 minutes.
Add powdered sugar a little bit at a time, to taste, and beat for at least 5 more minutes. 
(Seriously! For frosting? This is eternal!)

*Add whiskey 1 TBL at a time until you love the flavor.

Wow. Never made a frosting even close to this fluffy before. I'm impressed. Fine. 

Review: I found theses to be very strong on the whiskey flavor but the chocolate wasn't as prominent in the cake itself. The ganache and the frosting more than made up for the deficit but I like my cake to be really flavorful and the flavor was mostly whiskey. Perhaps if I'd skipped the JD in the ganache and in the frosting it would have been a bit more balanced. If you have a whiskey lover in your life these will be a huge hit.

A side note, I also found these to be a bit too oily and rich. It could be the high elevation that I bake at, or it could be all the fat in the recipe (cake, ganache and frosting is certainly 'special occasion'). Either way, when I make them again I'll be replacing half the oil with applesauce. I might fill them with something lighter too - like a custard.

Overall: I'd give them a B. It's been a year and I haven't reached for the recipe again but I have kept them in mind when I've wanted a sophisticated dessert.

Recipe adapted from several sources most of which referenced Fields of Cake.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

If I Could Hold a Star Handmade Canvas

If I could reach up and hold a star for every time you've made me smile, the entire evening sky would be in the palm of my hand.

I thought this one was appropriate to close the series with, as the romance of the quote seems particularly appealing so close to valentine's Day.

Here's the back side:

And all three together.

If you are interested in any of these pieces please email me. I haven't listed them on Etsy yet.

Please click on the picture to see them full-sized.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Don't Let Your Struggle Become Your Identity

Today is my 40th birthday. 

I thought I'd be older. 
Sure of myself
Further along my journey
Healthy and Whole

But I also never imagined that I'd be 

So dedicated to my family 
Living an artful Life
Actively seeking beauty
Pretty good in the kitchen
Madly and hopelessly in love with my husband of 18 years.
On the 10th year of my health struggle but still fundamentally me-ish.

Because one of the things I strive for is the message of this art,

Don't Let Your Struggle Become Your Identity


This "canvas" is actually a See's candy box. How great is that?