Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Life these days

1. It has been snowing (lightly) for days. I love it. It looks pretty on our neighbors' lattice.
2. I was taking pictures of how the paper flowers look from inside and thinking, man- I just can't get a nice shot of them between the ugly blinds and rolled up towels we have wedged in the gaps to block drafts...I wish I could get everything to look clean and beautiful and perfect. But then I thought, Why get worked up over that? Life is good. So here's pictures of how things really look.
3. I'm working on a new drawing from the Book of Kells.
4. Little girl took a bath this morning without screaming her head off the whole time. Win!
5. J brought his juice cup to me while I was drawing and calmly asked for a refill. This is a huge improvement over his tendency to holler at me from the family room. I have been telling him that that is inappropriate behavior and he needs to come find me instead of yelling...and it worked? Whoa!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Colorful window flowers

Earlier this winter was the first time in ages that I made paper snowflakes. I made around 40 of them in various sizes and taped them in the windows of our house and they looked so pretty, but once March arrived, it just seemed a little depressing to have them up (even though snow is forecast for seven of the next ten days- ha!). A couple weeks ago B gave me the idea of doing the same kind of thing but with colored paper, to look like flowers. Our house is all white, so the pop of color could look really cool from outside (especially during the long, slow transition from winter to spring that we have here). Well, I was instantly sold on that idea- thanks, hubby!- and the next morning eagerly browsed Neenah paper. I knew I needed paper similar to what I’d used for the snowflakes: text weight and pearlized/iridescent. I couldn’t believe it when I found the same paper I’d used for the snowflakes (which I’d ordered from them in 2008), plus a bunch of other gloriously hued papers. They have this amazing deal where you can buy sample packs of 5, 12.5x19-inch sheets for less than $2 (shipping prices are a bit of a buzzkill though), which is perfect for this project. I ordered eight colors! They arrived about a week later; B laughed as I gazed at the shimmery colors with a crazed grin on my face.

Next comes cutting the paper into squares. Each sheet can be made into 3 squares: 12.5x12.5”, 6.5x6.5” and 6x6”, plus a 6x0.5” strip (save it!). I’m going to layer the snowflake/flowers since many flowers are more than one color and it’ll add some nice contrast.

Here they are in process! We have a lot of windows, and even though I'm limiting the scope to the windows that can be seen from the road (which is the majority of them), and since I believe that more is better- I'm aiming for about 40 flowers, plus some leaves that I'll cut separately from the green paper. More pictures to come soon, once they're all finished and taped-- I mean, "installed" (sounds so much better in artspeak)-- in the windows.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Molasses chocolate chip cookies recipe

I tried to donate blood yesterday. For the third time this year, my iron levels were too low to donate (not too low for my health, though). Frustrated, I stopped by the store on the way home and bought a big ol' bottle of blackstrap molasses (it's high in iron) and then made these cookies.

Here is the original recipe:

I modified it to suit my desires and I think they turned out really well: chewy with a little bit of crunch, courtesy of the sugar you roll the balls of dough in before baking.
  • For the Cookies
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon brewed coffee -OR- natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 3-4 ounces (1/3 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3-4 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 3-4 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 3 ounces raisins
  • For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating for Rolling
  • about ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. For the Cookies - Melt the butter in a large bowl and cool slightly. Add the next ingredients, through salt, mixing well. Add the flours and baking soda and stir to just incorporate; batter will be thick.
  2. Fold in the chocolate chips and raisins. Cover mixing bowl and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days, prior to baking.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F, line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  4. For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating for Rolling - In a small bowl, combine about ¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and stir to combine.
  5. Scoop out balls and roll them each in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, and place on baking trays, spaced about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 8 to 9 minutes, or until tops have just set.
  6. Makes about 40 cookies.
If you're interested in learning more about iron and the many things that inhibit the absorption of it and so's pretty complex...go ahead and google it. I take a women's multivitamin, but the calcium in it prevents the iron from being fully absorbed. Fiber (like in beans and lentils, which are good sources of iron), cocoa powder, some teas, and many other things block iron to some degree. And, obviously, I'm not eating these cookies solely for their iron-boosting properties. We love spinach, beans, lentils, nuts, raisins, and many other non-meat sources of iron, but maybe the other nutritional properties of those foods are not allowing me to get all I need. My goal is to donate blood five times this year, so I'm taking an iron supplement with some orange juice (vitamin C aids the absorption of iron) before bed every night to try to keep those levels elevated.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Aaaand, done!

Took a couple months (mostly while watching hockey games- go Coyotes....) and about 5,500 seed beads. It measures about 7.5" across. Yay!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

2 things I've been working on...

1) Beady #5 (almost done!)
2) GIFs

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

My kids love this smoothie, which is great because it's easy to make and packed with good stuff (assuming you're not allergic to peanuts or dairy, I guess) for busy little ones who don't love to sit still and eat.

I have a VitaMix that holds about 64 ounces, so my recipe is scaled to use the whole canister. Use a kitchen scale. If you don't have one, I highly recommend the EatSmart precision pro digital scale. It's $20 well spent.

6-7 Bananas (about 25-30 oz)
25 oz Half and half (same number of ounces as however much banana you have)
5 oz Peanut butter (almond butter works well, too)
1 T Vanilla (0.5 oz)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Add all ingredients to the canister of a blender and...(wait for it...)...Blend!

Pour into 6-oz Mason jars, attach lids, and freeze! Makes about 10 or 11 smoothies, which can be thawed in a microwave in about a minute. Easy!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

*Yawn! Stretch!* 6 years later...

5 things from 2/5/18

1. The amaryllis I got for Christmas has exploded into bloom. It's like a never-ending crimson firework.

2. When I read well-known stories to Marty and JD sometimes I like to mess with the words, like, for example, the beginning of most Curious George stories: “This is Pokemon. He was a good little watermelon and always very jumpy.” They laugh and tell me to stop.

3. Tonight while Marty and I were saying goodnight to each other:
Me: Goodnight.
Marty: Goodnight.
Me: Sleep tight.
Marty: Sleep tight.
Me: Sweet dreams.
Marty: Sweet dreams.
Me: See you in the morning.
Marty: See you in the morning.
Me: I love you.
Marty: I love you.
Me: Purple elephant.
Marty: You’re funny, Mom.
I was just checking to make sure he was listening.

4. Today was a busy day and it went fast. I did four loads of laundry, vacuumed downstairs, made bread, did dishes, made chicken soup. Marty and JD loved the soup, Marty raved about how delicious the broth was. They always surprise me- I'll make something for dinner that I'm pretty sure they won't love, but then they end up devouring it.

5. It seems like all conversations with my boys inevitably wind up on the subject of poop, bums, or death.