About Food…And Right Brain Thoughts

Warning!  If you don’t want to read about food, skip this post!

I am home today!  I don’t think I have been home on a Saturday for the last two months!  So today I am making our “weekend meal”.  Yesterday my husband brought home some fresh picked turnips from the farm, dirt and all.  I cooked a small pan of those and mashed them with butter, salt and pepper, and sugar.  Yumm.  I am also fixing “Deviled Baked Steak”…how appropriate for the season! (I just thought of that while I write. :=)  Round steak dredged in a seasoned flour blend, then browned in oil.  Topped with sliced onions and a tomato-brown sugar mixture, this steak dish bakes for 2 hours into melt-in-your-mouth wonderfood. I will be serving it with mashed potatoes.

Picture 091

I am also trying out a new bread pudding recipe called Caramel Bread Pudding. The caramel sauce prepares in the bottom of the dish while the bread pudding is baking on top. (I’m so domestic today! :=) Actually, I’m probably avoiding cleaning the garage, a task I really need to get around to!)

Picture 088

Since I haven’t been home on Saturdays for so long…we have been just grabbing whatever is in the house to eat on Saturday nights and Sundays (that gets boring), so this will be a treat.

So…what have I been up to this week?  One of my goals was to get my Etsy shop loaded up with my ArtFul Cloth bags since I am having a showcase on Tuesday, October 27th.  I needed to have at least 10 of them listed just to be ready.  Since I have recently gone through a hard drive crash with SOME of the bag pictures on the desktop, I had to do the photography and editing all over again. :=(  This is my first showcase and I have no clue how it will all go, but I am ready.

Picture 079

I have had a textile piece on the wall for a long time that I felt inspired to work on yesterday.  By that I mean, I had some ideas on how to proceed!  So I spent some time with it.  Why is it, when the urge and inspiration hit (and it’s been awhile since I’ve had time or the frame of mind for it), the phone rings.  I could have not answered it, but felt I needed to.  But the whole time I’m finding myself irritated and wanting to get off the phone, which I finally did.  I didn’t want to “lose the moment” or the time.  These times are precious when they come and with the weekend coming and the prospect of my husband being home, I wanted that hour and I wanted it uninterrupted and my mind free to create.  I’m beginning to see that in the left brain world that we live in, no one (except artists, of course) understands the right brain world. The society we live in is not extremely willing to give it place, to give it time or attention.  We are a left brain society for the most part and give honor to the left brain achievers with regularity.

I believe to be successful, an artist needs time to think, really think, to dream, to ponder, to meditate, to notice, to scrutinize.  Coming from the work oriented background that I do, I find it difficult to even give myself that time.  It seems “wasteful” somehow.  When I was growing up, I remember being accused of “daydreaming”, but now I know what that is…it is the right brain wanting to create something.

I read about all these artists creating in their journals every day and it seems totally unreachable to me.  I do spend time online every day “enriching my mind” mostly with news articles and some artists’ articles as well as picking up email and taking care of business.  Perhaps I spend too much time there? I’m a one woman show…with marketing and office work and all promotion on my shoulders as well as creating new work and trying to earn an income to pay for my business expenses. The time may yet come when I will let some things go…I don’t know yet.  All I know right now is that I have an art fair coming up in December that I would like to have some new work for, but I have no ideas.  I think I must be taking a breather after being so busy for the last two months. Perhaps my brain needs a rest…zzzzzzzzzz.

Farm Progress Show

Here, reporting to you  (almost) live from the Farm Progress Show in cool Decatur, IL…there have been TONS of people come through the booths yesterday and today.  My ArtfulCloth Bags have been selling well, scarves not so well.  I’m pleased with my sales and hope to do even better tomorrow, the last day.  There has been interest in a particularly large wallhanging (Southwest Impressions can be seen on my website) and I am interested to see if there will be any followup in the form of cash or charge!

I have forgotten to take pictures of our extremely wonderful breakfasts we are being served at the B & B where I am staying.  Ah…there is one more morning…perhaps I will remember the camera tomorrow!  Fit for a king…this a.m. it was scrambled eggs with sauteed onions and green pepper and cheese gravy (or sauce), sausage patties, homemade biscuits, fresh peaches, juice and coffee. Mmmm…wonderful.  This B & B is situated in an historical part of town and the homes are very old here…like over 100 years old. I should get a picture of it too.

Signing off now…gotta get cleaned up and head up to my room…there aren’t very many three pronged outlets in a 100 year old house, so I am in the kitchen catching up on emails, blogs, and writing this.

Low Temps, Hot Soup, and Homemade Bread…

The temperature was in the teens yesterday, so I found it necessary to make another pot of hot soup.  This time is was hamburger-vegetable (with a bit of leftover chili thrown in for good measure).

dsc04241

Cold weather tends to make me very domestic at times, so….to round out the evening meal, I made some garlic cheese rolls and, since I had a hankering for some french bread,  I made that too, with the breadmaker’s help.  A pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven makes a nice chewy crust on the loaf.

dsc04244

As for art, I am piddling around thinking about things.  I have scheduled my first solo show at a gallery in New Harmony, IN.  It’s set for late 2011.  My theme is already decided, so now I know what I’m doing.  I am preparing for March quilt shows (what to order, how much, etc.) and a lecture and workshop.  I hear the weather will be warming the end of this week, so maybe I will get some dyeing done; that would be nice since it has been awhile.  I need to keep working on silk scarves since they seem to be selling well.  My sewing room is a wreck right now and there is nowhere to work; I had to clear out a table of stuff so my husband can get to the window…he is finishing and putting the trim back up.  These are jobs he does in the winter when his work is slow.  Ah well, spring is coming and it won’t be long.

Wednesday This ‘N That…

In my last post I promised a picture of the jacket I finished at the retreat.  It is actually a “hybrid” using two of SuznQuilts‘ jacket designs, with a twist of my own thrown in.  I wanted to make this jacket just for me.  Valentine’s Day is coming (not that I celebrate it that much), but I thought this jacket was a cute design, so that is why I made it.

dsc04212

dsc04214

New potato soup recipe I made last night…this one has bacon in it. Yummm…I am so stuck on potato soups right now.

dsc04209

Today I am preparing to pack my van so that I can leave early in the morning.  Where am I going?  To another quilting retreat, that’s where! It doesn’t get any better than that.  This one will be held in a quilt shop that has living quarters on the 3rd floor.  Hopefully I will have new finished projects to show when I get back.

On another note, I want to congratulate the new president on a fine inaugural event and I wish him the best of success in governing this great land for the next four years.  May God richly bless him and his family as he embarks on the work ahead.

Catching Up…

Too many things scheduled for the weekend…and now I’m glad it’s  over!  My cookie exchange was Saturday morning.  Here is what remains of the oh, so delicious, chocolate mint brownines…no, I didn’t eat all of them.  This is what is left after sharing them around…and, well, eating a few.

dsc04161To update you on my sugar cookie dilemma…no one gave me any advice on my post, so I did a Google search.  It seems that once you ice sugar cookies, you have to leave them out at least 24 hours so that the icing dries thoroughly.  Do not pack them in anything.  One suggestion was also to pop them in a hot oven for a minute after they have set to make sure they are good and dry.  I also learned about Royal icing from watching a Martha Stewart video. (oh, how I love hi speed internet) I made the sugar cookies on Monday just to try out the recipe.  I figured I could make some more later in the week if needed.  On Thursday I iced them with a basic powdered sugar/water icing.  On Friday I had some of those little icing-in-the-tubes in different colors, so I then did some decorating and let them sit.  My husband kept eating them off the tray on Friday night.  On Saturday my guests remarked how good they were, so I tried one.  They were very delicious; the cookie was nice and crisp/tender, and the icing was just the right touch.  I was very pleased.  I forgot to get pictures of them all decorated and now most of them have gone to new homes.  I have two  left over sitting on top of the pretzels.  I like to have something pretty  for cookie trays at Christmas, so I know I will be making these again.

dsc04162

After the cookie exchange was over, I left and drove about an hour and 20 minutes to go meet up with my friend SuznQuilts .  We ate lunch and she gave me my birthday presents.  Now I have new stamps in my collection.  She has kept a good eye out at yard sales and the like. The thing on the right is very old and we are not sure what it is exactly. However I do know what to do with it.

dsc04158

The next item is very interesting.  It is an old wooden stamp and it  is Chinese.  Pretty cool, huh?!  We think it must be a chicken.

dsc04157

Merry Christmas to all.  I hope your holidays are filled with peace and joy and love as we head into the new year of 2009.

Christmas Baking and Other Items…

Last week I did work on the commission proposal like I said I would.  I also spoke to the bank about a time limit on getting it in.  They said if I got it in after the first of the year that would be fine.  Sigh of relief.  So now I can put it aside to work on Christmas gifts and cookies…

Ok, I need some input on sugar cookies.  I have never liked to make sugar cookies with icing on them, because althought they are so pretty, the icing makes the cookie absorb moisture and go limp.  I see all these pretty decorated sugar cookies and they look so inviting.  So how does one go about keeping the cookie  nice after decorating it?  I have never had any luck with them.  Also, does anyone know if sugar cookies can be frozen and then thawed to decorate without them going limp?  That’s why, as of now, these sugar cookies are not decorated.  I wanted to try out the recipe.  I like this one very much.  It was on the bag of flour.

dsc04132

Then I stood for a couple of hours to make these coated pretzels.  I always like to make pretzels as a nice change of pace on a cookie tray. You know…the salty/sweet thing…

dsc04133

I still have chocolate ones to make (my favorite), but didn’t have any fresh bark  last week.

My neighborhood cookie exchange is this weekend.  My neighbors come over with cookies, we exchange a dozen to each person, we eat a few, and I serve a holiday punch, homemade eggnog,  or special coffee, and we chat.  The past couple of years I have made a hot cranberry tea with cinnamon sticks.  They love it.

There is not very much art making going on.  Every now and then I sit down and quilt on a stack and slash crazy quilt just because I would like to finish it.  I started a meandering job on it several years ago and was not happy with how that was going(I am ripping it out), so now I am using a 12 weight black cotton thread and just quilting around the shapes that are in the blocks.  It’s the worst quilting job I have ever done…and I love it.  How many of you know that you cannot free form quilt a straight line?  At least not without a ruler or something and even then, it would not be easy.  I am free form stitching “lines”;  they are not straight, but it is ok.  It looks like stones and sort of offsets the straight lines of the piecing.  It takes your eye away from that.  I am liking it. It also gave me the idea of how to quilt the inner border…with stone shapes of course.

dsc04135

Handmade Christmas gifts: A friend made an embroidered patch for me for my niece.  Katelyn had requested a sweatshirt with a panda eating bamboo on it, so….it’s a great story, but Katelyn will be getting a sweatshirt with a panda eating bamboo on it! The only gift I have left to make is a fleece blanket for another niece.  There are plenty of cookies and candy to make as I will make up cookie trays for a couple of households.

And then there’s the dreaded Birthday.  Born just a week before Christmas, I have  a birthday when I’m just too busy to have one or to actually enjoy it.  Why couldn’t I have been born in September?  Some years I have gone somewhere to shop and just enjoy the day by myself, but I am still shopping for Christmas.  I try to just take the day for me and do something different on that day, like… whatever I want that I probably wouldn’t do some other day.  But I don’t do things like bungee jumping or the like.  At least not yet.

Potato Soup…

I don’t usually post about food, but today I am making potato soup before I go teach, so that’s what I am posting about.

When the weather starts to turn cold, I love to start making soup. I love soup. I’m not sure why, but I do. I have never liked potato soup….that is, until recently. I know why I never liked potato soup…my grandmother made it all the time and it was runny, made of mostly milk, few potatoes and celery. I just never cared for it much, consequently, for all these years I never made potato soup. A couple of years ago I found some recipes I thought I would try. There are a couple of different ones I use. They are thick, tasty, and have lots of potatoes in them. I love potato soup! (And I love potatoes, as my hips will attest to) I make it a lot too, as soon as the weather cools. My very favorite potato soup recipe is thick with sour cream, but rather bland….but that is because it is meant to be served with highly seasoned, homemade, deep FRIED, croutons. They are seasoned with parsley, garlic, paprika, salt, and parmesan cheese. Are you drooling yet?

dsc03878

Simmering potatoes, onions and celery…

dsc038801

I added some parsley and chives for a little flavor….now to make the croutons…I like to use whole grain breads for those. I have some homemade in the freezer.

I have to run now, but I will post the croutons later for your drooling pleasure.

dsc03882