Thursday, March 31, 2022

The End of March

 Hi everyone.

As today is the last day of March, it is also the last day of Valerie's SPRING challenge at Art Journal Journey. Thank you Valerie for this topic. It was just the perfect theme for a month where old man winter had a hard time leaving, and when I  was plenty ready for spring. And also I want to thank everyone who joined us with your own inspiration spring pages.

Here is my last page for this challenge, although hopefully not my last spring inspired page.

Last week I shared a mud season page with some dirty dogs on it. This is actually the other half of that background spread. At first I thought my mud season art would be a 2 page spread, but then I decided against it, so I was left with this background.

However, I thought these flowers I cut out of an old scrap of wallpaper (I have a small collection from various people's scraps) looked great on the background. It had me thinking about how green leaves and colorful blooms come from the mud and colorless early spring.

I glued down the flowers, stamped the quote and added some of these little plastic pearls.

I also want to post a tag for Wendy's FACES challenge over at Tag Tuesday.

I inked a tag and then used some gesso and a stencil. Once dry, I added some bits and bobs, as well this young man.  I think he will grow up to be a flying ace, hence all the little ace playing cards on the tag. And if that doesn't work, then I think he looks confident enough to become whatever he decides. 

It's not the most complicated tag I have ever made, but I am happy with it.
Have a great last few hours March, and thanks for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Watching Old Julia Child Cooking Shows

Hi everyone. Today I am joining our lovely hostess Kathy and all the other "foodies" over at Food Wednesday.

The past week there was not a lot of inspiring food made or eaten in my life, but I have been watching some old reruns of Julia Child's French Chef cooking show on one of the PBS channels we get. I'd never seen these except in little segments within another show. I have to say I've learned a few tips and did have some smiles too. They are very entertaining. 

Julia had a great onscreen persona, and I like how in this show she manages, even with a bit of kitchen bumbling, to make the most wonderful looking foods. Mostly in black and white of course. And I am guessing her kitchen style is  very much how many of us home cooks would be also, even if she is probably more professionally trained than most home cooks. 

She knows what she's doing; she skilled at techniques, but you can tell these weren't filmed over and over until she got it all perfect. I think that is another part of the charm of these old shows.

My favorite lines from the episodes I have watched is how, when she was cleaning off her counter, she brushed all the scraps on the floor saying she'd just get those out of her way. Obviously realizing that at home the cook would be the one who must clean them those scraps, she said (in so many words) that it was easy to make such a mess when you had an automatic floor cleaner because some else would sweep them up.

It is also interesting getting a glimpse at the kitchen and equipment she used. The show ran from 1963-1973, and I am sure the kitchen was state of the art then. Now it looks dated, and I am sure many modern chefs would miss their modern kitchen equipment for some of the prep tasks needed. Julia also had this one contraption for cooking an oversized zucchini she was going to stuff. It looked like an oval washbasin with these big heavy chains to lift it out of the pan of boiling water. I don't know if that was a real tool or something concocted for the show. And in the last episode I watched, she was using a duck press. I was curious how it was used, but also a little disgusted too. I guess I am one of those folks who sometimes doesn't want to know where (and how) their final food comes from.

It's fun seeing most of these cooking tools though, to see where we are now in the kitchen and comparing it (for me at least) back to things from my childhood.

And she always end going into her dining room and sitting at the table.

This next photo shows Julia in her own home kitchen. If you don't know, it was donated to the Smithsonian Museum. 

As you might already know, Julia Child had a fascinating life. She worked in military intelligence during World War 2,  lived in various places in Europe, went to cooking school when she was approaching middle age, wrote cookbooks and even had her own cooking shows. She was  49 when her most first and most famous cookbook was published. 

She co-wrote that book with 2 Frenchwomen, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, making French cooking accessible to American home cooks.

I will admit, that like many people,  I enjoy reading and learning about Julia. She certainly was a woman ahead of her time and definitely a role model for so many other people.

I can't say I've read every book about Julia, and I'm certainly no expert, but here's a few I have read, just in case you  are curious about reading of her life also.

These books were all very good.

That's all for me today. I'm sure many of you might know more about Julia Child than I do, but she is always worth your time.

Have a great rest of your week.


Monday, March 28, 2022

T Stands for Outside and Inside

Hi everyone. 

It is time for T day again, so I'm glad you could visit at my tiny spot on the planet in New Hampshire. Too bad it isn't a better day to sit outside and enjoy a drink. The snow has finally melted, but we are in typical New Hampshire early spring mode when everything is colorless and bland. And messy after a winter of shoveling and wind. It doesn't seem to matter if I rake in the fall, but it always needs to be done again come spring. 

You can see how the back deck didn't quite get finished last fall. My husband needs to put up the railing and trim it out once we get into outside working season. Our ground is too soft and muddy to do much yard work right now. 

You can also see the plastic on the screen porch (right side of the photo), and hopefully in another month that will come down. It is always a banner day when the screen porch opens up.

The good new is I do have some growth starting in my gardens. It's so exciting.

My irises are just peaking out,

and daffodils, 


and even some day lilies are popping out of the ground.

And  as I write this Monday afternoon it is really cold. Welcome back to winter. As we haven't gotten warmer than 24 degrees today (-4 degrees C) with a wind chill making it feels like about 15 degrees (-9 degrees C), today is a good afternoon for a hot drink. It is also time to join our lovely hostess Elizabeth and her side kick Bleuebeard for  T Stands for Tuesday   (over at their blog)  so I will share my mug of tea with you.

And since it's so cold outside, let's have out T drink inside. We're still working on the spare bedroom where I have  my art supplies. Maybe you'd look to see another update.  You can see in this next photo that the ceiling on one side of the room is finished. We put up some tongue and groove pine boards.  I spent some time last week putting a clear stain and urethane on it. 

Before we could move onto the other side of the room (to work on it) we had to move everything that was crammed over there. In the above photo you can see my work bench and supplies that were still in the room. We also pulled more of the rug up, but in this next photo it is still on the floor.

The popcorn ceiling around the skylight was coming down.  And if you wonder about the little door, we have an attic storage space under the eaves of the house and that's how you get into it.

Here is the room after a Saturday of moving things and working. We pulled off the white sheet rock ceiling and pulled up the rug under it. 

The next step was to put up the tongue and grove pine board ceiling to match the other half. 
Sunday a good part of the ceiling got put up.

This week I have a fairly quiet week so I hope to work on the walls.

I am amazed by how much light the big closet blocked in half the room.  Now there is so much more. It's going to be a great new space one we finish it. 

I hope you enjoyed visiting and seeing what's new at my house. Thanks for visiting. Have a great T day, and rest of your week. 


Spring Clothes

Happy new week everyone.

As March is starting to wind down, I thought I would share another spring page for Valerie's challenge at Art Journal Journey. You have until the end of the month to join us. 

Spring is a  time for some new light weight and colorful clothes. You may buy them.  You may just pull out the old things which can feel like getting new clothes when you haven't worn them for several months. Someone can give you something new to wear, or you can sew them.

My page today is all about sewing a new outfit.

I started with some left over pink paints which I spread with an old credit card as well as sponged on with a paper towel. I created a border using some paper tapes as well as a piece of white metallic paper trim. That gave my ladies a place to sit and talk about what they were sewing for the spring season. You can see it is not quite spring clothes season for them yet by their outfits, but they are very excited for some new pretty dresses to wear.

The striped piece is the back of a sticker sheet. I thought the assortment of colors looked like a color card showing the latest seasonal fabric colors. Then I stitched a bit. I added a whole lot of sewing notions. Some were stickers and some were fussy cut from a magazine page. I also added a coat check ticket I had in my stash. Finally I added some little flowers I had in my stash and gave some of them a white paint dot center. The words are some multicolored stickers. 

Although the spring season is here for quite awhile longer,  the spring theme at Art Journal Journey will be around for only a few more days. 

Thanks for visiting my blog.


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Red Riding Hood on a Spring Day

Hi everyone.  I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. 

 More spare bedroom work is going on here, and we're finally moving onto the other side of the room, as the closet side is finished except for painting the walls and the putting in the floor. Once we get the new ceiling up and the carpet ripped out on the other side of the room, then it's paint the walls, put in the floor and we'll be done. I'm starting to be able to see the end point of this project. And I'm definitely ready to clean up the piles created from it too, even if we still have another month or so of work. (Seeing the hubby is still working full time and only has weekends for the project.)

For art today, you can see my 2 page spread above. Today I want to share Red Riding Hood's real story with you. 

See the tree in this first page or the left side of the spread?  That's Red's home. It's really a bohemian art studio, as Red is an artist who like to paint nature. That's why she lives in a tree house, so she can be closer to her favorite subjects.

The real story of Red Riding Hood starts on a beautiful spring day as she heads out with her basket full of art supplies to do some plein air sketching and painting.  Her subjects will be the bunnies and the beautiful purple spring flowers in bloom. 

There are even lots of birds singing, as you can tell by the music paper in the background and the few who are flying through the forest. 

 Red Riding Hood does have a grandmother, but her grandmother at 80 is still a distinguished runner, even if instead of marathons she now only runs 5K races. 

And there are no evil wolves, because face it, wolves are not really evil. They are just animals who need to hunt as a team for their food. The people who hunt the wolves could be more evil because have much more sophisticated weapons, and sadly the wolves  don't stand a chance.  

My spread started out with some watercolors for the background.  Then I added some bits of papers. I did some random stamping, and after cutting the quotes out of a paper sheet full of art quotes, I scattered them around the page. The bunny and birds are die cut sticker. Red Riding Hood is a Janet Klein stamp, as is Red's tree house. The title is hand written by me, and yes I missed the v in involved but added that in. The story teller is the Art By Marlene punch out lady sitting on the title, and finally, I finished with some tiny purple flowers.  

And before I end this post, I should mention I am linking up my bunny, spring flower and singing bird page to Valerie's Spring challenge at Art Journal Journey.  You still have a few days before March ends to join us, so we hope you'll share your spring journal page with us.

I'm also going to link up to a new challenge for me Paperbabe Stamps Challenge. The theme for challenge # 164 is Anything Goes. I always thought I needed to use Paperbabe stamps for this challenge or I would have been around sooner, and if I'm wrong about not needing to use a Paperbabe stamp, I hope someone lets me know. 

Have a great rest of your weekend and start to the new week, and thanks for visiting. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Coming Out of Hibernation

 Hi everyone. I hope you've had a nice week as it almost time for the weekend again. 

My week has been busy with assorted must do things. I've been sealing the half of the completed ceiling in the bedroom construction project, visited my mom, had a few appointments and even managed a morning beach walk with my friend one day. I am very excited about today though because I don't have to do anything (unless I want to) or go anyplace. Smile. 

Today I have a different kind of spring page for Valerie's spring challenge at Art Journal Journey.
Spring is the time of year birds migrate and animals who've spent the winter in full or partial hibernation reemerge.

Many of you know there are a few bears who wander around my area.  I haven't seen one yet this year, but I know if they aren't out yet, they are coming soon.

I made my page using watercolor markers, regular markers, some stencils, and also a bit of white ink for the morning clouds. I also stamped one little phrase on the left.

It took me awhile to do this page as I had to layer markers between drying my page. It also took me awhile to get the sky to look as I wanted it to look.  All in all I'm happy with my page.

Although I haven't seen any bears yet, a skunk wandered through one night recently. Not that I saw him, but he was odorous enough the smell woke me up in bed. Yuk.

I am also linking to Gillena's Lunch Break.

And I'll wrap up this post with a few random spring photos from the last few weeks as I feel like I am coming out of hibernation myself.

Here's a pretty sunrise on a foggy morning off my back deck.

And here's some tree shadows and some great structural lines. 

And  some  beach textures too.

And finally ice melting on a warm day at a lake near my home-plus this nice reflection at the dam of the same lake.

Thanks for visiting. Have a great start to your weekend!


Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Fifth Season

 Hi everyone.  Happy Thursday.

Today I have another page for Valerie's Spring challenge.  Those of you who have or have had dogs might appreciate this one, especially if you have a yard full of freshly melted snow or after a heavy spring rain.  Or even if you don't have dogs but have a yard that's wet and soft, you know what I mean. 

My area is in mud season now, but just slightly past the peak of it, as long as we don't have a lot of precipitation to get it all muddy again. Smile.

Lois and Jim let their dogs out one evening when they got home from work. They have a large yard, and it is fenced in, but since by the time they got home is was dusk, they didn't realize how muddy the yard had become over the course of the day.

I think doggie bath time is going to take up a good chunk of their evening. 

To make this page I started with a stencil and a brown watercolor marker. After I'd finished stenciling in the image, I washed over it with a big Chinese calligraphy style brush. I also dipped my brush into some blue watercolor paint  just to give the background a little pop of non-muddy color.

I also think this stencil and some colorful markers would make a cool tie-dye background, so you just might be seeing it again.

I drew in the door and used some white ink to paint in the lighter background inside the doorway.  
On my page I used a bit of blue watercolor over the white ink just to make it a little less white. 

I used various stamps to make the people and dogs. I stamped them on white paper, colored and fussy cut them and then arranged them on my page. I doodled in the rug that the Lois and Jim are standing on. I used a black watercolor crayon and scribbled the mud all over the dogs, and then took a wet paintbrush to spread it to create the mud. 

Finally I scribbled in the title of my page.

I am linking this page up to Valerie's spring challenge at Art Journal Journey.

A couple of years ago I got sick of muddy paw prints every time our dogs went out and then came in, so I  bought a piece of that fake grass rug and put it at the bottom of the outside stairs where the dogs had worn away the actual grass.

It isn't exactly attractive (OK, it is hideous), but it does the trick. I am also amazed how well it has held up too. One of these years we need to redo the sidewalk, and once we do that and put in paving tiles right up to the steps, then I'll get rid of the fake grass.

It's like watching something in slow motion, but I've been keeping track of the snow melt, and mud, in my yard.

I think you can see the mud and puddles on the lawn  in this photo from last week. It's NOT pretty. 

And then finally, it's gone.  Hurrah!!!!! Now the next step is a bit of greening up. 

Welcome to the 5th season of the year. 

I hope your week is going well. And thanks so much for visiting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

My Baking Class

 Hi everyone. Happy middle of the week. 

Today I'm joining our hostess and all the ladies over at Kathy's blog (Hummingbird Studio at the Lake) for Food Wednesday .  This week I wanted to share the baking class I took last Friday at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont.

Some of you might remember that I have taken baking classes here before, but it has been awhile. I've done 2 different 4 day long intensive classes in pastry making, and I've also done a one day sourdough class. The class I took last week was British Meat Pies. Ever since seeing British meat pies made on the Great British Baking show and since I never tried them either time I had been in England, I was curious about them. 

And I know I could have just played around on my own with a recipe in my own kitchen, but every now and again it is fun to go take a class as well as to learn a few new baking tricks.

Actually meat pies have been on my baking bucket list for awhile. And I even clicked off 2 other baking list want-to-try items: using lard in a crust and  making a hot water pastry crust. Both of those are things I will definitely do again.

I thought I took more photos to share, but I guess I didn't. We were pretty busy for most of this 4 hour class.

At King Arthur Flour, the classes are taught by professionally trained chefs. They are really good at teaching you not only how to make what you are making, but also some basic skills in the way a professional chef would do them. An example of that is how to use a pastry blender to blend butter and other fats into flour mixtures. Here's a pastry blender tool in case you aren't familiar with them.

I've used them before, but I've never spun the bowl each time I cut the fat into the flour, which makes it so much easier, faster and really does the trick.
We made 2 different meat pies. First we made spice lamb filled Scottish meat pies. We made 4 mini ones a person. And then we made steak and root veggie filled Cornish Pasties. We ended up with 3 large ones of those. 

Our instructor that day first demoed how to make the pasties crust, then we made them and put them in the fridge to chill.  Then she demoed the crust for Scottish meat pies, and we made that crust. This process continued until we had completed our baking. Then we got to sample the items of the day because the instructor shared her baking with us.

The very first photo in (today's post) shows you the instructors work table and the agenda on the white board behind it. There is also a big screen above it so people in the back can see, but it didn't make my photo. 

Everyone made their own crusts, but we worked with our table partners to make our meat fillings. My partner ended up being this wonderful lady from Springfield, Massachusetts. As we chatted we found out we were both retired high school biology teachers. How fun was that?

We had so much filling for our pies, that most people seem to overfill theirs just a bit. No soggy bottoms but definitely a bit of a spill over.

Here's my Scottish meat pies. They are filled with spiced ground lamb . We also made a gravy to put over them. I've never added mace to cooking before, but boy did that make the lamb tasty.

There is a little space to add your beans if you want them. to the top, which I believe is a traditional way to eat them? 

And here's my Cornish pasties. I think the top looks weird because they did expand a just bit when we baked them, or else I did  terrible job brushing the beaten egg over them.

Vermont still has pretty strict covid regulations. In order to take this class I needed proof of vaccinations. Plus masks were required the whole time. I know a lot of people are sick of masks, but I felt a lot better wearing one.

It was a fun day, and I think I need to look for another class I might like to take. I'm not sure when I would do that, but since I haven't taken one since 2019, I definitely want to take one in a shorter period of time than that.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed this synopsis of my day at baking school.