Monday, July 30, 2012

Inspiration Monday: People Too

I am a musician as well as an artist so when I came across one of People Too's Sheet Music pieces on Pinterest, I was enthralled! I love how he uses the lines, notes, and, really, everything on the page to create vignettes that are simply drawn, but yet quite complex. The more you look, the more amazing details you see.

Etude 6 by People Too

Here's another:

65. Etude by People Too

People Too creates other wonderful art and paper sculptures, but I'm just quite taken with the imagination, creativity, and playfulness of the sheet music so that's my inspiration for today. Their other work might be inspiration for another Monday!

Etude 81 by People Too

(Please note that the work in this post was originally incorrectly attributed to the work of Mike Lemanski. All images are the works of People Too. Visit People Too's website or their shop on Artflakes to see more of  their 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, July 27, 2012

Friday Food: Crispy Fudge Layer Bars

For a period of time, I went to one of my grandmother's houses after school. She had a chest freezer full of different types of cookies to choose from for a snack. I remember hovering over her freezer trying to decide which flavors to have that afternoon. These Crispy Fudge Layer Bars were one of my favorites. I'd get my plate of cookies and some milk and spend the rest of the afternoon watching Tom & Jerry, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie with my grandmother and great uncle. Great memories!

Crispy Fudge Layer Bars

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter + 2 Tbsp
4 cups miniature marshmallows or 40 regular marshmallows
5 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup (1/2 of a 14oz can) sweetened condensed milk

Combine peanut butter, 1/4 cup butter, and marshmallows in a large sauce pan. Cook until melted.
Stir in cereal until coated. Press half of cereal mixture into a butter 12" x 8" x 2" dish.
In microwave, melt 2 Tbsp butter and chocolate on high for 1 min or until melted. Stir and blend in sweetened condensed milk. Spoon over cereal mixture. Top with remaining cereal mixture.
Refrigerate about 1 hour before cutting.
Freezes well.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Daring Adventure in Collage

I mentioned in this week's Inspiration Monday post that the new book Daring Adventures in Paint had inspired me to make a collage. Chapter 2 has a really great quilt-like patchwork collage. I decided to try one of my own. I didn't really have great collaging materials on hand, but used leftover pieces of fabric, parts of unusable linoleum block prints I had made, one of my old business cards, Christmas scrapbooking paper that I usually use for origami, part of a postcard, and a little tuft of cotton smoke (I can just hear one of my old architecture professors grumbling about that). It's a little darker than I was going for and the house is floating in space, but I'm okay with it for a first try! And, who knows, I might mess with it some more!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Inspiration Monday: Daring Adventures in Paint

This week's inspiration is a book: Daring Adventures in Paint. I know that I profiled its author, Mati Rose McDonough, on Inspiration Monday a few weeks ago, but that was for the inspiration of her art. Her new book is inspirational in an entirely different way. So inspirational, in fact, that I got the book on Thursday, read it on Friday, and started collaging on Saturday. It doesn't get more inspirational than that!

There are wonderful, brightly colored photographs taking you step-by-step through a variety of techniques to help broaden your creativity, as well as places to find inspiration and questions to help nudge you out of any artistic blocks you might be having. I'm pretty new to painting and haven't collaged since elementary school, but this book gave me what I needed to just do it. And that was in just one afternoon with the book!

From Daring Adventures in Paint by Mati Rose McDonough

Some of the inspiration I got from Daring Adventures in Paint? Be loose. Be colorful. Layer more. Add things to your art that you wouldn't usually expect like silver leaf, feathers, a piece of an old sewing pattern... Be more mindful of your environment and locality for inspiration. Show the world your magic.

by Mati Rose 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. If you order Daring Adventures in Paint from Mati's Etsy shop, she will sign it and include a print. 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, July 20, 2012

Friday Food: Black Magic Cake

My birthday was last week. In an unfortunate turn of events, I ended up spending it by myself. Being the impatient type, I didn't want to wait for my husband to return and make me my birthday cake. I decided to just do it myself.

Birthdays are a time for tradition, so I stuck to what my mom always made for birthdays: Black Magic Cake with Mocha Frosting. Mmmm....And I stuck with the simple version that my mom also favors, just making a sheet cake. For me, this goes back to the impatience: if I make a layer cake or cupcakes, it'll take longer to frost. Alas, I should have waited longer for this cake to cool though since I rather made a mess of the frosting.

I'm not a coffee drinker unless it's iced and mostly milk, but I love Mocha Frosting. I love it so much in fact, that when I was a kid, I used to peel the frosting off the cake and eat it last. I think the coffee flavor is pretty subtle, especially in the cake, but if it's too much for you, you can play with the amount of cocoa powder and make the frosting chocolatey-er. I'm not sure where the frosting recipe originally came from, but I have seen the Black Magic Cake recipe in a Hershey's Cookbook. Happy birthday to me!

Black Magic Cake with Mocha Frosting

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong black coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee and 1 cup boiling water)
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (or 1 Tbsp vinegar and milk to equal 1 cup)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 13" x 9" x 2"  pan or 2-9" round pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes for sheet cake or 30-35 minutes for layer pans.
Cool completely on wire rack.

Mocha Frosting

3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsp hot coffee (or 1 tsp instant coffee and 3 Tbsp boiling water)
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt

Mix all ingredients until smooth and frost the cooled cake!
 Note: You may need to make additional frosting if you make a layer cake.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Inspiration Monday: Colonial Williamsburg

Today's inspiration is a place rather than an artist. My husband and I are history junkies and he went to the College of William and Mary so when we get the opportunity, we stop by Colonial Williamsburg. We had the opportunity yesterday to be transported back to the 18th century when Benedict Arnold was speaking in front of the Virginia capitol building, the British ruled, and the colonies were fighting for independence. But for those of us with an artistic bent, Colonial Williamsburg is about more than United States history. It's about the music - the fife and drum corps, the street musicians playing tin flutes and mandolins, the singers in the taverns keeping old ballads alive.

It's about the trades and seeing the artisans at work dying yarn, weaving cloth, weaving baskets, blacksmithing, building furniture, making barrels, making bricks, building a timber frame, silversmithing, making shoes, binding books...

Photo from

It's also about the art museums - the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum - with their amazing examples the works of American artisans. Colonial Williamsburg is great inspiration to get out there and work with your hands and create wonderful, and useful, everyday items using traditional methods.

Photo from

(The second and third images  are from Colonial Williamsburg's website because, despite carrying the camera everywhere,  we just didn't take any photos on our trip yesterday. The first image is from one of our previous trips. Visit Colonial Williamsburg's website to learn more.. 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, July 13, 2012

Friday Food: Shrimp Dip

My husband was in search of something to bring to a recent potluck picnic and settled on this Shrimp Dip. It's supposed to be formed into a ball, but it wasn't really stiff enough for that so he turned it into a dip and served it in a pretty bowl with the cocktail sauce around the edges and crackers surrounding. It was yummy! (Sorry the photograph doesn't really look all that appetizing!)

Shrimp Dip

1 small onion
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese
2 (6 oz) cans small shrimp
6 oz. frozen salad shrimp
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 jar cocktail sauce

Soften cream cheese to room temperature. Drain liquid from shrimp.
Mix cream cheese, frozen shrimp, canned shrimp, onions, and horseradish.
Place in a bowl. Refrigerate 5+ hours.
Pour cocktail sauce around edges of bowl. Serve dip with crackers.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Beauty

We haven't done a very good job at planting our flower gardens for optimal summer enjoyment. We have lots of things blooming in the spring, a little in early summer, and nothing as we move towards fall. We have grand plans for our yard that haven't yet materialized and adding bright summer flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds is on the list. One day we'll prioritize gardening and get that done. One of our last summer bloomers are our fiery red daylilies. They're so pretty this year, I thought I'd share this blast of July with you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Inspiration Monday: Andy Goldsworthy

My inspirational choice today is a departure from the normal prints and paintings that I show, but I've been feeling a bit trapped indoors by all the heat we've been having and thought I'd focus on some truly outdoor art. I first became aware of Andy Goldsworthy while in architecture school and I've been entranced by his work ever since. I love the way he uses natural elements to make beautiful impermanent sculptures.

Andy Goldsworthy

Many of his sculptures are architectural from arches to eggs. Without knowledge of architectural principles, ice and stones would never stand or stand as beautifully.

Andy Goldsworthy

By creating patterns and using similar colors and shapes, even sticks and leaves become art. All inspiration to look at natural objects that we might think of nuisances in our yards as potential elements of a new art piece.

Andy Goldsworthy
(All images are the works of Andy Goldsworthy. Visit Andy Goldsworthy's portfolio to see more of his work. Seach to find Andy's books with even more beautiful photographs. 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, July 6, 2012

Friday Food: Asian Slaw

Looking for a simple recipe for a picnic or potluck? This one is perfect and a real crowd pleaser. You throw everything together the day before, stick it in the fridge, and toss it just before serving. Do make sure you give it the 24 hours to sit so the noodles will soften on their own. But really, how much easier can it get? (My apologies that the photograph is refrigerated and pre-toss. I took this to a picnic on the 4th of July and so didn't have the opportunity to photograph it just before serving and there wasn't any to bring home!)

Asian Slaw

2 packages beef ramen noodles
1 bag (16 oz) coleslaw mix
1 cup sliced toasted almonds
1 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup red wine or rice wine vinegar

Crush ramen noodles and place in a large bowl. Top with coleslaw mix. Sprinkle with almonds and sunflower kernels on top.
In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, vinegar, and contents of flavor packets from the noodles. Pour over slaw. Do not stir.
Cover and chill for 24 hours. Toss just before serving.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Inspiration Monday: William Hays

Yes, I'm aware I'm posting Inspiration Monday on Tuesday. I could blame it on the terrible storms we had here on Friday night, but we are fortunate to have power and no tree damage unlike some of our neighbors just blocks away. I could blame it on being away this weekend, but I brought my laptop with me and had internet access. So no excuses, other than just being oblivious to Monday's arrival this week. Anyway, on to this week's inspiration!

I found William Hays' multi-colored linocuts on Etsy and they are definitely something to aspire to! The detail and the use of color are amazing, especially when you know the process of creating such prints and getting each successive layer of color registered, or lined up, perfectly.

Paper Shadows, 6-color linocut, by William Hays

Many of his prints have snow in them. Hopefully viewing them on a hot day like today is having a cooling effect on you! I grew up not far from William's home so the subjects are familiar to me and have a nostalgic feeling for me.

Green River Bridge, linocut and watercolor, by William Hays

These linocuts are inspiring both from the technical aspects of creating a multi-colored linoleum block print, but also from the artistic perspectives William takes in creating the scenes he depicts.

Sugaring Season, 6-color embossed linocut, by William Hays
(All images are the works of William Hays. Visit William's Etsy shop to see more of his 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.)