Tuesday, August 19, 2014

15 Minutes of Fame for My Etch-A-Sketch

In addition to my Smiling Cat Studio shop, I also have a Smiling Cat Vintage shop on Etsy where I'm ridding myself of the detritus of my childhood. Those boxes of stuff my dad had in his attic? Most all of it is fair game. That and other family and in-law items make up most of my shop so that I've purchased very little and still have quite a bit of variety.

I pin items on my Smiling Cat Vintage Pinterest board when I post them. There are a few items that get a lot of interest there and it does bring many people to my Etsy shop. Though I sold it months ago, the Etch-A-Sketch is by far the most popular with over 750 pins.

And now that very Etch-A-Sketch is starring in a music video! Well, maybe not starring, but it has a cameo in Best Not Broken's "I Won't Stop Loving You" video and as Director, Tanit Sakakini, says "is the catalyst for the dramatic, third-act 'fight scene!'" Check it out!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Still Collaging

Mati Rose McDonough's Daring Adventures in Collage class ended several weeks ago, but I find myself still collaging. This is good. I needed a creative push and the class was perfect. I can try out pieces of paper without committing to where I'm going to put them, then once I'm satisfied I can glue them down. Ink and paint seem more permanent to me, though I know they can also be fixed by rethinking a line or adding more paint. With collage, I can make fanciful scenes more easily than I can with my current drawing skills. I can make my crazy imagination visible or just throw pieces together to make something more abstract. Fun stuff!

This collage began with a red 2 that was on the ticket left in my car when I had it serviced last week. You'll also find bits of a tea box and a Kleenex box, a shopping bag, wrapping paper, tissue paper, netting from a bag of oranges, a bit from a Colonial Williamsburg brochure and a party hat, and some Zentangle elements. The piece in the upper left corner? When I have leftover paint, I brush and roll and dot it onto paper so I can use the result for other projects.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Daring Adventures in Collage: Week 4.5

This week's Daring Adventures in Collage assignment is about Dynamic Compositions, but I haven't gotten that far yet. This collage has been percolating on my desk over the past week. It started with a patchwork background of flowers from a catalog. There was a little hole left where I placed the owl. Then I minutes here and there over a couple of days trying to figure out what the owl was doing. I knew he had a garden hat, but did he have a body? Was he in a fanciful house? Maybe a tree? Yes! A tree! A plaid tree!

Well, then what? Another day or two passed and I started thinking about the Owl and the Pussycat. I found a cat who draped over the tree branches nicely and read the poem. Turns out the poem is all ocean and stars and happiness. I looked at the annoyed looking owl and the insomniac cat and decided the honeymoon is over for those two. The next thing I knew, "Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl! How charmingly sweet you sing!" became "Pussy said to the Owl, 'You noisy old fowl! Stop singing, so I may sleep!" Apologies to Edward Lear!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Daring Adventures in Collage: Week 4

So excited to be featured on the class page for Daring Adventures in Collage Week 3's Surrealist Collage! Remember Mama Bobcat and her basket full of kittens? Instructor Mati Rose McDonough said, "This one by Terri is just amazing! Kittens!!! It makes me smile each time I see it. I just noticed that she is marching towards a wine glass too;) I love how she just did it in her notebook with some quick paint strokes as a background. Well done, Terri!" That made my day!

Week 4 is an Unconventional Surface collage - so anything other than the usual canvas or paper surface. I decided to use on of the multitudes of old CDs I have around that I'm sure I'll figure out some creative use for some day. In my head, this was going to be a bird with a 3D head sticking out, but it turned into a flower instead. I used several catalogs I had around for the collage pieces and left some of the shiny CD showing for bling. And, of course, there's a garden gnome in there for good measure. I've got lots more CDs, the bird may be yet to come!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Daring Adventures In Collage: Week 3

This week's Daring Adventures in Collage assignment was a Surrealist Collage. I thought that would be a difficult task, but with the great inspiration provided by the instructor, Mati Rose McDonough, this proved to be the most fun collage yet! I plan to try more of these that escape reality a bit more than this collage does.

Meet stylish Momma Bobcat and her basket full of kittens (and a wolf). I figure after dealing with all of these kittens, she needed a big glass of wine! This collage has an acrylic paint and tissue paper background to add color since the composition was a bit too beige. I used a catalog model, a zoo brochure, an advertising postcard, and a daily cat calendar. The basket is a linocut that I created. I added a light paint wash to give it some color.

I decided to buy a visual journal this week so I could have a place to be messy, yet orderly since the pages are bound together. The canvases were feeling a bit too precious and made me feel like I should hang everything I did whether I liked it or not. Of course, now if I make something I really like, I have to decide whether I want to tear it out of the journal or not, so maybe paper is not precious enough? Ah, the quandary of the artist.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Daring Adventures in Collage: Week 2

For the second week of the Daring Adventures in Collage class, we were to create a Messy Collage. The idea was to not think to much, but to rip up pieces and add paint. In reality, I did think about it a bit, because I wasn't able to make the collage in one sitting. I ripped and stuck the paper and let it dry for a day before adding the paint. And, of course, I surveyed in between to decide what to do with the paint, though the white splotches were an impulsive addition.

Since my last canvas was so large, I used a 6" square canvas this time. The collage paper is the insides of 4 different envelopes, music, and a car from a Mazda ad I got in the mail. I applied the paint with an adhesive seam roller (like a brayer, but only 1 1/2" wide) and a spongy round spouncer and removed some of it with a wet paper towel.

As a bonus, I couldn't bear to just throw away to reddish-orangey-yellow paint I had mixed so I put it on another canvas to use for another project!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Daring Adventures in Collage: Week 1

I'm taking another art class to jump start my creativity which I haven't been taking time to nurture lately. This time it is Daring Adventures in Collage with Mati Rose McDonough. I have taken 2 previous classes with Mati (Daring Adventures in Paint and  Get Your Paint On) and both have helped me to experiment and to be less literal. While it might be nice to achieve perfection in my drawings and paintings, I'm just not a strong enough artist to do that and besides, that's not the style I'm drawn to. But, it's hard for me not to try to get those lines exactly right. These classes help me to embrace imperfection and try to be looser in my interpretations.

Daring Adventures in Collage takes off from the Daring Adventures in Paint class and book, but instead of focusing on paint with a bit of collage, we're focusing on collage with a little bit of paint! The first week's assignment was Creature Collage on a wood background.

 I repurposed a 16"x17" piece of one of my husband's grad school architectural models. It was a floor of a mill building and so has many parallel lines drawn to represent the wood flooring and a series of holes where posts were to hold up the second floor. If you look closely, you might notice flowers and butterflies in line to cover the holes. The wood had some interesting graining that I painted with green watercolor to turn it into a tree. For the collage materials, I used scrapbooking paper, part of a Kleenex box, old maps, music, wrapping paper, travel brochures, fabric from a sample book, and those free stickers and address labels you get in the mail.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Food: Spiced Pork Chops

I was looking for something different to do with my pork chops and found this Taste of Home recipe that I had cut out at some point. (I have cut out more recipes than I could ever possibly try! I think it's an illness...) This recipe is a little sweet, but tasty. And it smelled yummily familiar as it cooked. Something from my childhood, but I never did figure out what. Enjoy!

Spiced Pork Chops

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
4 pork loin chops (about 3/4" thick)
1 to 2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

In a shallow dish, combine the first 10 ingredients; dredge pork s=chops on both sides.
In a skillet, brown chops in oil on both sides.
Place in a greased 13"x 9" x 2" baking dish. Combine ketchup, water, and brown sugar; pour over chops. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until tender.
Yield: 4 servings.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Food: Chicken Hula

Still struggling a bit with the focus of my blog, but we gotta eat! So I'll stick with Friday Food until the blog focus becomes clearer (in fact, that might be a blog posting in itself!)

I've been cutting out recipes since I got my first apartment in college, so this recipe may be vintage at this point! It came from Dole pineapple add and is a quick way to prepare a tropical chicken dish. I serve it with rice so the sauce has somewhere to go. I prepared this on the stove, but the chicken can be cooked on the grill and served with the sauce which you would prepare on the stove. Enjoy it as the days get warmer!

Chicken Hula

1-20 oz can pineapple slices or chunks (undrained)
4 boneless, skinless split chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 to 4 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
1 Tbsp corn starch
Rub chicken with garlic; sprinkle with salt. Heat oil in large pan and brown chicken on both sides.
Combine pineapple juice with honey, soy sauce, lemon or lime juice, and cornstarch. Add to pan. Heat chicken until cooked through. Sauce will thicken.
Add pineapple, heat through.
Serve pineapple and sauce with chicken.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Food: Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I got a nifty bright red covered square Le Creuset casserole dish for Christmas which had this recipe inside. You can serve this as a dessert with caramel sauce and brandied whipped cream or for breakfast with maple syrup, but I actually just served it plain as a side dish with dinner. I figured it was pumpkin, so it's a vegetable, right? As always, I suggest overdoing the spices by heaping the measuring spoons to add to the flavor.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 can (15 oz) 100% pure pumpkin
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
3 large eggs
2 cups milk (or half and half)
6 thick slices good quality raisin bread, cut into large dice (about 6 cups)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 2.5 liter casserole.
Heat pumpkin, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until sputtering hot.
Meanwhile, beat eggs in a medium bowl. Working slowly at first to keep eggs from curdling, whisk pumpkin mixture into eggs. Continue to whisk in pumpkin mixture until smooth, then whisk in milk.
Add raisin bread. Gently toss to coat, then turn into prepared casserole. Cover casserole and bake 20 minutes.
Remove lid, sprinkle with walnuts and bake uncovered, until fully set (30 minutes). Remove from oven and let stand until ready to serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Food: Cheddar Potato Strips

I love potatoes, but prefer them with a little pizzazz rather than "just plain." This is a simple and easy recipe with tasty results. The recipe comes from an old Taste of Home magazine and is a little crinkly from being used so many times. I made these with Orange Maple Glazed Chicken. Enjoy!

Cheddar Potato Strips

3 large potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish, arrange potatoes in a single layer. Pour milk over potatoes. Dot with butter; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Food: Orange-Maple Glazed Chicken

Somehow the last 2 Fridays have slipped away without blogging. I feel another post coming on about planning and scheduling blog postings... Thankfully, I have been cooking at home more often in 2014, so it's not that I don't have any recipes to share. And they're not all cookies either!

Orange-Maple Glazed Chicken is a recipe from Healthy Cooking magazine, but with some changes. The original recipe is for the grill - I made this in a pan on the stove. If you want to make the original grill recipe, baste the chicken with the orange juice mixture as it is cooking and grill until the juices run clear. Otherwise, do as I did!

Orange-Maple Glazed Chicken

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup maple syrup (the real stuff!)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt, divided
3/4 tsp pepper, divided
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz each)

In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and orange peel. Remove from heat; set aside.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with remaining salt and pepper and place in heated pan. Cook chicken in covered pan for 5 minutes then turn chicken over, add orange juice mixture, and cook, covered, until juices run clear, turning as needed.
Serve with remaining juice from pan, if desired.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Food: Pennsylvania Dutch Corn and Chicken Soup

This recipe is a quick and tastier alternative to canned soup. It's great on a cold winter afternoon (hopefully we won't have many more of these this year!) and should have the health giving properties of any other chicken soup. The recipe is from Cook's Country magazine, which tests their recipes repeatedly to come up with the best flavors, ingredients, and textures. It's a magazine worth checking out if you haven't.

Pennsylvania Dutch Corn and Chicken Soup

1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn, thawed
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, sliced thin
salt and pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 12 oz), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3 cups egg noodles

Combine 2 cups corn and 2 cups broth in blender and puree until smooth. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onion, celery, remaining corn, and 1/2 tsp salt until softened. 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in remaining broth, chicken, noodles, and pureed corn mixture. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until noodles are tender and chicken is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Food: Spaghetti Squash Casserole

If you've never tried spaghetti squash, it's an interesting and easy-to-fix vegetable that you can use to sneak more healthy stuff into a veggie-hater's meal. It is exactly what it says it is - a squash that forms spaghetti-like strands when cooked. It's easy to prepare and has a slightly sweet taste. Try it! See what you think!

This recipe comes from an old Taste of Home magazine and is basically a baked spaghetti casserole using squash instead of pasta.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

1 small spaghetti squash (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
1/2 cup water
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (8 oz) diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Place with cut side down in a baking dish. Add water. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until it is easily pierced with a fork. When cool enough to handle, scoop out squash, separating strands with a fork.
In a skillet, cook beef, onion, red pepper, and garlic until meat is browned and the vegetables are tender. Drain. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, and squash. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Transfer to an ungreased 1-1/2 quart baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese; let stand a few minutes.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Food: Brown Sugar Applesauce Cookies

These were hands down my favorite cookies from my Christmas cooking spree. They're spicy with a browned butter frosting on top. Mmmm... I ended up making several batches of these because I gave them all away before packing up the cookies for my family. I'll definitely be making them again. The recipe is from a Penzey Spice catalog.

Brown Sugar Applesauce Cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Beat together the brown sugar, shortening, applesauce, and egg. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or more.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drop the dough by rounded spoonful about 2" apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes until browned. Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Cool, then spread with frosting.


1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbsp milk

Heat the butter over medium heat until delicate brown, usually 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat in the milk until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies.

Yield: 3-4 dozen depending on the size of your spoonful.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Cat Butt"

You really have to think outside of the box when choosing keywords for items in an Etsy shop. I'm pretty sure I was running out of ideas when I tagged the linocut below with "cat butt", but you know what? People actually search for that. Makes you wonder what they're really looking for, doesn't it?


Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Food: Dipped Ritz

As always, I made lots of cookies this past Christmas - over 500 to be exact. I remembered to photograph some of them, so that's where I'll start with the resurrection of Friday Food. Dipped Ritz was one of my mother-in-law's recipes that my husband and his sister always loved. She was a big baker, so I knew that some of her recipes would need to find their way into my Christmas baking this year. I asked my husband to be chief dipper for these to give him that connection to his mom. Tasty and therapeutic cookies - what more could you want?

Dipped Ritz

48 Ritz crackers
Peanut butter
6 blocks of almond bark or Borden's white chocolate candy coating
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1 Tbsp Crisco (not butter)

Spread peanut butter between 2 Ritz crackers to make a sandwich. Set aside.
Melt chocolate with butterscotch chips over low heat in double boiler on stove, stirring as it melts to keep it from sticking to bottom of pan.
Dip peanut butter crackers in melted chocolate mixture using tongs. Set on waxed paper to harden.
Makes about 24 confections.

Note: Use only dry utensils for melting or stirring as a drop or two of moisture could cause the coating to solidify or separate. To thin for dipping, add a little more Crisco and stir until smooth. DO NOT add water, milk, oil, margarine, or butter to thin.

Another note: Miniature Ritz Bits sandwiches can be used instead of the larger crackers.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

What? You're saying we're a month into 2014? Yes, but for me, the new year comes at an awkward time. We're usually traveling, we have to put all the Christmas stuff away, we've got all kinds of sweets left over from the holidays, the days are short, the weather is bad...none of this is conducive to the fresh start that the new year requires.

This year, I noticed that Chinese New Year fell on January 31st and I thought that would be a great time for that fresh start. We're home, the goodies are gone, the days are getting longer, we're coming out of the coldest temperatures in years, we've had time to find a groove.

The groove is no small feat. It's been over a year since we've had anything resembling a normal schedule. We were away from home for more than half of 2013 and spent over 2 weeks of our year driving. My mother-in-law passed away after 15 months in hospice care with my husband and his sister as the primary caregivers. We spent 6 months clearing and renovating her house to put it on the market. During that time my sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer and finished chemo.

We made some day trips for respite in the first few months of the year and longer trips for relaxation, family visits, and work later in the year. We did the best we could to make life feel normal when we were at home, but there was still always something hanging over our heads, something that our brains were processing even when we were trying to keep up with work and volunteer obligations or have dinner with friends.

Despite the challenges, despite ignoring this blog for 6 months, despite having little time for social media interaction, I saw increased sales in my Smiling Cat Studio and Smiling Cat Vintage shops.  That encourages me. With more effort in 2014, I'm sure to continue to see increased sales.

The new year's resolutions then?
  • Cook at home again so Friday Food will become a regular feature here again.
  • Become active in social media again.
  • Work on many of those ideas that have been bubbling in my sketchbook over the last year.
  • Increase wholesale venues.
  • Get all this vintage stuff listed and sold!
  • Eat less, walk more.
  • Enjoy being at home.
  • Always start the new year on February 1st!