Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Food: July 4th Bean Casserole

Entertaining for Independence Day? Fourth of July Bean Casserole is a good dish for a party at your own house or to bring to a picnic. You can make it as is for a hearty meal or side dish or remove the bacon and beef and get a can of baked beans without pork for the vegetarian version. We made this recently the night before a picnic and put it in a crock pot to reheat it prior to eating. The original recipe came from an old Taste of Home magazine.

4th of July Bean Casserole

1/2 pound sliced bacon, diced
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 can (28 oz) pork and beans
1 can (17 oz) lima beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15-16 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp prepared mustard
2 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, cook bacon, beef, and onion until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain. Transfer to a greased 2-1/2 quart baking dish; add all of the beans and mix well.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir into beef and bean mixture.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer.
Yield: 12 servings.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

30 Days of Creativity: Days 19-24

I may have to throw in the towel on the 30 Days of Creativity and make it 24 Days of Creativity - I've had too much going on this week to do anything creative. Lots of driving and events that make it hard to even squeeze in a doodle here and there. The last entry on the graphic below really says it all. In the last 6 days though, I created an exhibit for the release of our new book Blacksburg Then & Now, practiced my clarinet for 2 big upcoming concerts, doodled about our cat who used to watch the birdhouse, made Blueberry Pudding Cake, doodled about running out of creative time, and spent a lot of time on the road.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Inspiration Monday: Janet Bell

I found Janet Bell by way of Pinterest. Someone had pinned "St. Ives Here We Come." The bright colors evoked bright sunshine and memories of the laid back, always summery world of the Caribbean for me. I have collected some brightly colored tropical birds and oil drum art on trips there in the past and Janet's paintings would be the perfect complement!

St. Ives Here We Come by Janet Bell

The soft colors of the beach huts offset by a field of flowers reminds me of my own New England beach experiences. I can almost smell the sea breeze and hear the seagulls.

Sunny Blooms by Janet Bell

I love the view through the window and the sheer curtains billowing slightly in the breeze. Janet's work is inspiration to use bright sunny colors that evoke an enjoyable place to be and to get myself on a vacation to the beach. And soon!

Fish for Supper by Janet Bell
(All images are the works of Janet Bell. Visit Janet's website to see more of her work or click on the links above. The works featured on Inspiration Monday are those that I enjoy and I have not been compensated in any way to include them on my blog.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Food: Blueberry Pudding Cake

This is one of my favorite summertime recipes because it's easy, tasty, and versatile. It is originally from an old issue of Taste of Home magazine. I've made it with blueberries, strawberries, and peaches. I'm sure it would be good with apples or other fruits (or combinations of fruits) too. I usually make it with fresh fruit, but you could use frozen or canned if that's all you've got. Since blueberry season is upon us, I made it with blueberries this time. The blueberries sit on the bottom with a sweet cakey top. If the blueberries seem sticky to you, cut back on the cornstarch. Enjoy!

Blueberry Pudding Cake

2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 cup boiling water

Toss the blueberries with cinnamon and lemon juice; place in a greased 8-inch square baking dish.
Melt the butter in the microwave in a bowl. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and milk. Stir together then spoon over berries.
Combine sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle over batter. Slowly pour boiling water over all.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until the cake test done.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

30 Days of Creativity: Days 13 - 18

Wow, June is going fast, isn't it? I'm sorry that the painting and collage class I was going to take was cancelled - that would have gotten me out of the doodling rut that I have been in this week. Doodles are good when you don't have a lot of time and aren't home with all of your arts and crafts supplies. You never know what will come out when you start doodling. For 30 Days of Creativity, during the past 6 days I have created: cloud doodles (which required getting out my old meteorology text book!), something that turned into a monster, Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookies, a sketch of the flowers on my porch, a Sunday doodle, and channeled Kermit the Frog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Inspiration Monday: The Sketchbook Project

I came across The Sketchbook Project a few months ago and was reminded of it again this afternoon as I was playing in my own sketchbook. I marvel at those who can take a book of blank paper and make it into something great. My sketchbooks tend to look more like random ideas thrown on a page in a less-than random format. It seems I try to organize my randomness and end up with something that isn't particularly pleasing to the eye. The artists of The Sketchbook Project have created wonderful and imaginative objects of their sketchbooks that are great inspiration in all sorts of ways!

Some are humorous looks at life, like the sketchbook of Aries Galindo:

Bearing Gifts by Aries Galindo

Some sketched the world around them, like the sketchbook of Francesco Zorzi:

Mapping Home by Francesco Zorzi

Some are collaged, like the sketchbook of Sally Westcott:

Blackbird - a one page book by Sally Westcott

Look for The Sketchbook Project 2012 exhibit at a museum near you for inspiration this summer or if you are already inspired, participate in The Sketchbook Project 2013!
(All images are the works of the artists of The Sketchbook Project. Visit Art House Co-op to see more of  sketchbooks or click on the links above. The works featured on Inspiration Monday are those that I enjoy and I have not been compensated in any way to include them on my blog.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Food: Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's my great uncle's 96th birthday on Monday. Since I don't live near enough to bake a cake, I always send cookies or brownies of some kind to celebrate the day. It's hot so I chose something I knew would ship well. The original recipe came from an old Mrs. Fields Cookie Book. Every recipe I've tried from the book has been yummy!

Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure lemon extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground coriander
1-12oz bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a large bowl, melt butter in microwave. Mix butter and sugar together. Add eggs and lemon extract and beat well.
Add flour, baking soda, and coriander and blend until just combined. Don't overmix.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake for 15 minutes. Do not brown. Immediately transfer with spatula to cool surface or racks.
Makes about 4 dozen.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

30 Days of Creativity: Days 7-12

What creative things have I done in the second 6 days of Junes 30 Days of Creativity? I made Chinatown Chicken Simmer, I started and finished an embroidered map of Blacksburg, Virginia's 16 squares, I made an Etsy treasury in honor of the robins who left the nest on my porch, I played with my old Spirograph, and I made a weather doodle while waiting for my husband. It really is helpful for my general creativity to force myself to do something creative every day - I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One Tired Robin (Part 2)

Back in April, I had a robin nesting on the porch just outside of my studio window who brought up 3 little ones in less than a month. She came back again in May to plump up her nest and raise some more chicks. Here are some photos I caught of her and the kids. Some are a bit blurry because I took them through the window so as not to scare her away.

Waiting, waiting...

Feed us Momma, FEED US!

Yup, there's 4 of us - and its CROWDED in here!

Last one! "You want me to WHAT?"

I left the nest, now what?
I really enjoyed watching the little ones grow up and take off. I did feel bad because I inadvertently rushed the last one out of the nest - he jumped when I went to get the mail and his mom was squawking at him. He was more than a day later than the others, so hopefully he was ready and she was telling him to go and not to stay! I wish them all Godspeed, good worms, and no cats! It's time to clean the porch!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Inspiration Monday: Mati McDonough

If you follow my blog, you'll know that I recently took the Get Your Paint On class with Mati McDonough and Lisa Congdon. I was attracted to the class by the color and whimsy of their art. Before the class started, I used Lisa for Inspiration Monday. Today is Mati's turn!

Butterfly Trio by Mati McDonough

The butterflies are bright and cheery and each has a different pattern that makes it individual, but connects the painting as a whole. The image below is such a simple drawing and subject matter, but it is engaging. The dress is cute, the birds are perfect on the clothesline. Very sweet! The dress and towel are detailed with patterns of their own.

Laundry Day by Mati McDonough

I enjoy the repetition of the blocks and birds, but also the variation of the colors of the blocks and birds, their directionality, and that the birds don't stay in the blocks. All elements to inspire me in my own work!

How to Identify a Bird by Mati McDonough
(All images are the works of Mati Rose McDonough. Visit Mati's website to see more of her work or click on the links above. The works featured on Inspiration Monday are those that I enjoy and I have not been compensated in any way to include them on my blog.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Backyard Bird Watching Treasury

The last of the 4 baby robins on my porch flew off yesterday. I've enjoyed watching them and created an Etsy treasury in their honor this morning.

'Backyard Bird Watching' by SmilingCatStudio

I've been enjoying watching a nest of baby robins grow up and leave home. I've been - bird watching.

3 Speckled Robin Eggs...French Farmhouse Country Wedding Shabby Chic Hand Sculpted Favors - TheUglyDuckling1962 Antique Binoculars Corrado Cutlery Town & Country 8 X 40 - ARTinBOXES Bird Chirping Weather - thewheatfield Bird bath preening with snow surreal  Blue bird statue - CustomPosterDesigns
Abstract Nature Photography bird, tree branches, early spring - theartofobservation Bird Tree with Robin - 8x10 archival watercolor print by Tracy Lizotte - TracyLizotteStudios Upcyled Brown Mushroom-Like Shallow Bird Bath Bird Feeder -OOAK - UpcycledStuff The radically rare Nikkor 400mm f5.6 ED IF AIS lens. - Iheartcamera
How to Watch Birds Roger Barton 1965 Bird Watching - sorrythankyou79 Skies of Blue - 8x10 Fine Art Photograph - kameronelisabeth Organic Hand Embroidered Wall Hanging Nest with Robin Eggs- I WILL BE BACK - BelleCoccinelle Don't Look... Birds Bathing Funny Painted Sign - 2ChicksAndABasket
A Worm Print - haphazardcreativity Peeping Tom greeting card for cat lovers - Fyersart 8x10 Matte The High Line black and white bird print - impulseART Bird Painting - Baby Robin -Original Painting on Canvas by Nancy Jean - Gift for Mother - thePaintedSky

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Food: Chinatown Chicken Simmer

I think this recipe originally came from a Dole pineapple can. I've had it for a long time and it has been well used because I usually have the ingredients on hand. The first few times I made it, the flavor was good, but I had cooked the chicken to death. The trick is to brown the chicken as it says, but it doesn't need to be cooked through when it is browned because it will finish cooking when it simmers. Then it will be tender and juicy. There is a lot of sauce, so I serve it over rice.

Chinatown Chicken Simmer

1 can (20 oz) pineapple
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 pounds chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 large onion, sliced
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup lite soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Drain pineapple, reserve juice.
Mix 1/4 cup pineapple juice with cornstarch.
Brown chicken well in oil. Add garlic, onion, and ginger, saute.
Mix remaining juice with remaining ingredients; pour over chicken.
Cover, simmer 30 minutes.
Stir cornstarch mixture into pan juices. Cook until sauce boils.
Add pineapple, heat through.
Serves 4-6.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

30 Days of Creativity: Days 1-6

To keep the creative juices flowing after the Get Your Paint On class, I joined 30 Days of Creativity which "is a global social initiative encouraging people to create stuff (anything) every day for 30 days in June." I tend to think of arts and crafts as creative, but sometimes dismiss other things that are as well. 30 Days of Creativity is helping me realize that there are certain things I do weekly that I don't really think of as creative, but are (baking something new, playing my clarinet in the community band,...). Although I'm trying to do something out of my regular comfort zone each day of June, there are certain days when I don't have time for that and will count baking and playing music as my creativity for the day.

So what have I done in Days 1 through 6? I've made Strawberry Lemon Cake (yummy by the way!), sketched the view from my back door, made beaded fan pulls, made new pillows for the couch, created some embroidery hoop art, and gone to community band rehearsal. You can follow my 30 Days of Creativity Pinterest board if you want to see my daily creations.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Inspiration Monday: Katie Daisy

This sort of intermission between spring and summer seems the perfect time for inspiration from Katie Daisy. I first found her art on Pinterest and was inspired by the words and colors of her work.

Love What You Do by Katie Daisy

The flowers and colors just make me happy, thinking of a warm, sunny day full of the fragrances of blooming flowers, the sounds of chirping birds, and colorful butterflies fluttering by.

Butterfly Collection by Katie Daisy

I love Katie's use of color on this whimsical cottage in the woods. Her work inspires me to use color (lots of it!) and in unexpected places.

Someday Cottage by Katie Daisy
(All images are the works of Katie Daisy. Visit Katie's website to see more of  her work or click on the links above. The works featured on Inspiration Monday are those that I enjoy and I have not been compensated in any way to include them on my blog.)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Food: Strawberry Lemon Cake

This recipe was originally Strawberry Lemonade Muffins in the March 2012 issue of Southern Living, but I wanted to make this as a dessert so I decided to turn it into a cake instead. I also made a couple of substitutions from the original recipe that are reflected here. Since this is to be served to guests later this evening, I haven't cut it yet so stay tuned for a better photograph! I also haven't tasted it, but the batter was yummy so I'm betting the cake is too. Besides, aren't all Southern Living recipes yummy?

Strawberry Lemon Cake

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 - 8oz container low fat sour cream
1 1/2 tsp dried lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 cup diced strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt butter in mixing bowl in microwave. Add sour cream, lemon peel, lemon juice, and eggs. Stir together.
Add flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 cup sugar. Stir until just moistened.
Gently fold strawberries into batter.
Spoon batter into a greased 8" x 12" pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar over batter.
Bake 25-30 min or until golden brown and toothpick is clean.
Cool 10 minutes before serving.