Saturday, July 27, 2013


The best thing about these "Art of Wild Abandonment" classes I'm always taking is that they teach you to loosen up and let go of the need for perfection. The project I've been working on this weekend was no exception. In fact, I think it was designed to get us more comfortable with goopy and goofy! We had the option of doing it on paper, canvas, or even a piece of board. I chose none of the above. Ever since I started using this spare copy of Simple Abundance as an art journal, I've been wondering what to do with the cover. I think this project just might be the perfect solution.

I started off by slopping some gesso on it, and spreading it around with my hands. That'll loosen you up for sure!

Next I painted the cover with two or three colors of acrylic paint. Then I took some of those security envelopes I've been saving and used the patterned paper to cut out some flower heads, leaves, and a jam jar vase. I glued them down with gesso, gave the entire cover a thin coat of gesso, then sort of wiped/scraped it away in places where I wanted color or pattern to show through.

The original project went on to add some 3-D bits to the flowers, but since I would be handling this constantly, instead of hanging it on the wall, I decided to leave those out.

All that was left was to add a bit of water color paint and some pen work. Oh yeah, and one of my hand-carved stamps.

I think I like it!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Have I ever shown you my indoor cactus, which sits atop my Chinese cabinet? I think it's especially snazzy at night, when I plug it in.

It goes particularly well with my indoor armadillo.

The ceramic one. Not the stuffed one.

What is the plural of piece de resistance? Pieces de resistance? Okay, the pieces de resistance, in my opinion, are the fine masterpieces which surround them both, painted by my dear mother-in-law, Theda. This happens to be my personal favorite.

Do I have exquisite taste, or what?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Okay, this is just weird. I went to the grocery store a few days ago, and instead of their usual roundish shape, all the red onions in the bin were torpedo shaped?

Is this bizarre, or what?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


"The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star." ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

My post about the Tomato Pesto Tart yesterday got me to thinkin' about French galettes in general, and that got me to thinking about an amazing woman whom I never got the chance to meet. She was a school teacher in D.C. whose sister married a Frenchman. She spent most every summer with them in France, and the rest of the year she would blog about it here...

If you recall, when we first got back from our river cruise through southern France a couple of years ago, I was a bit obsessed with all things French. Okay, truthfully? I've always been obsessed with all things French, but for a few months there, it was especially bad. Stumbling upon her blog helped ease the pain a bit. Since she was heading off to France just as I was coming back, and taking a break from blogging, I used that time to go back to the very beginning of her blog, and worked my way forward. Yep, I read three years worth of blog posts in just three months -- that's how obsessed I was!

The blog is about many, many things, not just cooking. However, she happens to cook the way I like to cook -- very simply, but with the best of ingredients -- and she often turns to galettes when seasonal fruits are plentiful. Here are a couple of her recipes.

Raspberry Galette

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Pastry dough for a 9" galette (I cheat and use Pillsbury ready made crusts)
1 - 1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries, depending on size
3 T. of white sugar
1 T. cornstarch
sheet of baking parchment, enough to cover a medium sized rimmed cookie sheet

In a bowl, gently toss the raspberries with the sugar and cornstarch. If you prefer a sweeter juice, add more sugar. If you prefer a thicker juice, add more cornstarch.

Take the prepared pate brisee from the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a floured surface then place it on the parchment. Transfer rolled dough on the parchment to the cookie sheet.

Place the raspberry mixture on the pastry dough leaving a 2" border. Gently fold and pleat the border up over the raspberry filling.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is brown and the juice has formed. Cut and serve once the galette has cooled and set.

Blackberry-Nectarine Galette

The directions for making this galette are pretty much the same, however this recipe makes two galettes.

pastry dough for 2-9" galettes
1 pint blackberries
3 - 5 nectarines, sliced
3 T. sugar
1 T. cornstarch

Bake 30 minutes at 400 F.

Sadly, not long after I discovered this blog, the writer's life went through a bit of turmoil, she decided that she'd said all she had to say, and she gave up writing the blog. Fortunately for me, she never took it down (I just checked!). Why do I say "fortunately"? Well, every summer I get to thinking about that trip again, and then I get to feelin' a bit of French-deprivation. It's pretty severe right now, since I had to scroll through all of my photos from the trip in order to do that summer market art project the other day. I'm thinking that reading back through some of her posts might be just what the doctor ordered, since she knows all those things that most of the French know, but which so few Americans really get.

"Think of it as an opportunity for jump-starting your creativity. Cooking is one of the best ways for your authentic self to remind your conscious self that you are an artist...scraping, slicing, shredding, stirring, simmering, sauteing are all sleights of hand that switch your conscious mind onto artistic, automatic pilot. Once the conscious mind is distracted, the creative mind takes over, even if you aren't aware of it." ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance

Mais oui!

Monday, July 22, 2013


I went a little nuts when I placed my last order with The Bountiful Sprout, which is why my kitchen counter is now covered in all sorts of tomatoes, from tiny yellow and orange cherry tomatoes, through the medium sized Juliets, and on to some beautiful red slicers and a few gorgeous heirlooms. As I sat this morning, thinking about all my favorite ways to use them, it occurred to me that I should probably share that information with you guys. In return, perhaps you can give me a few new ideas to try?

Tickled, as usual, by the way those color-mad tomatoes match my Bakelite utensils.
The first thing I usually do, upon bringing home some fresh tomatoes, is to pick a slicer that is bruised or damaged, or close to being overripe. I cut out any bad parts, and use what's left to make an old fashioned tomato sammich. I'm not a big fan of either mayo or mushy white bread, but this is where I make an exception, since there's no other way to make this sandwich. You try to fancy this up with extra ingredients, and you're gonna be sorry. Just spread white bread with good mayo, pile on the sliced, fresh-from-the-garden 'maters, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper, et voila! The best thing you ever tasted.

Next up would be a Caprese salad. In fact, we will probably be having several variations on that this week, since I happen to have a nice ball of fresh mozzarella in the fridge. A couple of days ago I sliced a variety of tomatoes into a dish, layered with slices of the mozzarella. Then I whisked up a quick red wine vinaigrette and drizzled it over all, and topped them with some slivered fresh basil. Tonight I may use a few slices of red tomato, skip making the dressing, and just drizzle them with a bit of good olive oil first, then a bit of balsamic. Sometimes I just drizzle them with pesto.

Not long ago I gave you my simple fresh tomato sauce recipe, where you just let them marinate at room temperature for several hours, then serve over warm pasta or toasted Italian bread. Sometimes I also use this recipe I found in my Jamie At Home cookbook, from Jamie Oliver.

I usually make some variation of a Greek Salad, like this one from our Jamie-inspired Greek Easter Feast a few years back...

or a Provencal salad, something like this:

There should be a recipe for this over in my sidebar.
You can always roast your romas or those prolific little Juliettes, when they all come ripe at once, then use them over pasta, or atop goat cheese that has been spread on toasted bread.

I roast mine with garlic, thyme, and olive oil, then store them in the fridge.
Last but not least, there's this super simple, but super yummy recipe for a Tomato Pesto Tart that I discovered last year.

Guess that's about it for my fresh tomato repertoire. What about you? What's your favorite way to use them?

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Have you ever heard of a Circle Journal? I hadn't, until just recently, but as soon as one of my Wild Summer Art classmates explained the concept and asked for volunteers, I jumped right on board! A Circle Journal is something like a Round Robin quilt, which goes from house to house, with each person contributing to the final product. In our case there will be fifteen participants, and the first step was for each of us to choose or make a journal to use.

I opted to use this handmade journal, which a dear new friend gifted me with not long ago. We're calling it a Wild Girls Circle Journal, and since I'd been using this one for some of my Wild Summer Art projects, it already had the perfect title on its cover!

The hardest part will be letting go of it for almost a year, which is how long it will take for the journal to make its rounds and come back to me. Before I send it off to the person whose name follows mine on The List, there are a few things I must do...

such as creating a title page for the inside cover...

and creating at least one double page spread of my own in it. After that it will work its way around the list, with each person adding their own spread -- no set theme or style, just whatever they feel like creating at the time. Meanwhile, fourteen different journals will be showing up at my house, one approximately every three weeks, and I will be adding a bit of my own art journaling to each of those. I bet I'll make a lot of new friends in the process, as we have set up a special facebook page where we can communicate with one another during these fun-filled months, and post pictures of the work we are adding to the journals.

Just one or two things left to do here, before I send this baby out into the world. Each journal needs a sign-in page of sorts. I've opted for a sign-in pocket to go inside the back cover, which each artist can stick a decorated tag into.

Just have to figure out which pic and what info I want to include on the back of this tag, then it's Arrivederci, Baby!