Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Food, Glorious Food!

On a recent jaunt to the library I found this incredible gem tucked into the shelf pretty close to the books about cookies I was sifting through.  The selection of cookie books was dismal, but the book below caught my eye.  Lost Recipes by Marion Cunningham.  After thumbing through it I had to check it out.  It is more than a cookbook.  It is a revelation!  It is an invitation to be in charge again of what we are eating and putting on our table.  It has thought provoking quotes in defense of home cooking and how important it is to sit at the table with your family and eat a home cooked meal together.

I read this book like a novel and what a great read!  Once my own copy that I ordered gets here, I will mark it up with notes and dates of dishes cooked.  For my first foray into this cookbook I made the very, super de douper easy Ham and Bean Soup.  That is the other thing I am loving about this book.  I do love a good challenge and to try new and exciting recipes, but that is not this book.  This book is all about simple, yummy, inexpensive home cooked deliciousness.    


This recipe is literally 4 ingredients.  Roughly equal parts Great Northern Beans, chopped onions, ham, and then some Dijon mustard.  Oh, and water.  I guess I didn't count that as an ingredient.  After soaking the beans overnight I just dumped the beans, onions, and ham covered in water in a big pot...
brought it to a boil and simmered the heck out of it.  The house smelled so good!  After several hours, the beans were tender and I added the dijon mustard, some pepper and, voila!  Dinner.
I made some simple biscuits (from the cookbook of course) and the soup was on!  Sage is on the left in this picture leaning over her bowl, inhaling the aroma :D  And I see John waiting patiently at the other end of the table.  We all loved it, except Denver my 5 year old.  But, Denver doesn't love anything foodwise that isn't sweet.  Those are actually his exact words, "I don't love it."  He is super picky, but he did eat quite a bit after we threatened he wouldn't get any dessert.

I'm excited to try out pretty much the entire book of recipes.  There are two in particular that have me salivating just reading the directions.  Raised Waffles and Dewy Buns.  Yes, I admit I'm a carbaholic!  Here is a quote that I love from the book because the first paragraph reminds me of my childhood dinners.  My mom always not only managed to make incredibly delicious home cooked meals, but also gathered all 8 of us around the dinner table every night:

"Together, we cleared away books and newspapers from the table and set it nightly for dinner.  Properly.  A tablecloth.  Napkins.  Forks on the left, knives and spoons on the right, because it matters.  Because when families come together with their hungers at the end of the day, more than bodies are fed.  This is the place where we can sit and talk and be nourished and known.  

But the frenzy of our days has devoured the family dinner hour.  Even though people seem to recognize intuitively the powerful symbol of dining together - we celebrate with banquets, carry food to bereaved families, preserve our holiday meals - comtemporary schedules no longer honor the day-after-day coming together that bonds souls.  Families straggle home at unpredictable hours to poke around the refrigerator and eat cafeteria-style, that efficient refueling process that has nothing much to do with anyone else at the table."
~Virginia Tranel

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What day is it again?

That has been my blissfully ignorant question this summer.  Since the kids aren't in school, the days of the week are kind of running together.  If there wasn't gymnastics or church I don't think I would even know what month it was.  But that's not to say we haven't been busy. 

You know when people ask you, "So, what have you been up to?" and all you know is that you've been busy nonstop but can't think of one single thing?  So I gathered some pictures of things I've done this week just to prove to myself that I have accomplished SOMETHING and it turns out I've been pretty productive. 

The ever-so-lovely Evelyn had me make the above cookies, and this time they're for her daughter (the gorgeous and crazy busy Caitlin) who raised a lamb for the fair.  The rest of this week's pictured projects are:

I made two very thrifty wreaths.  One is made of pages of a book (from the library's free bin) and the blue one is made of coffee filters.  I LOVE wreaths!   
    Framed book pages.  I got the frames at the dollar store and then printed some dirigibles (love that word!) directly onto some book pages (of course from the library free bin).  hmmmm, I'm sensing a theme going on here.

    Decorated journal.  What a fun, easy, and economical project.  All it takes is a notebook, some cute paper, and some Mod Podge.  Throw in some glitter and maybe some ribbon and the possibilities are endless.  I made these with the young women at our church.

    Fabulous fabric flowers.   I knew there would be more fabric flower making in my future!  This time I learned some brand new methods from my super creative friend, Josie who has this awesome blog called mod blog.  I attached my freshly made flowers to my favorite hat (thanks again little brother!) and I thought I loved the hat before! 

    Besides the things pictured above, I managed to get the crew together to organize "kid city" which is what we call the usually crazy, scary, lego infested room that the kids have all their crap in kid's room.
    What have you been up to?  Are you finding some time to get your craft on?  If not you MUST make a journal.  You can finish it in about a half an hour, it is cheap, it WILL look awesome, and it makes a great gift.  How many crafts can you say that about?!  Go on... you know you wanna.  And then show them to me.  I'd love to see!


    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Asian Culture Inspired Cookies

    It's time to unveil the resulting cookies from the Cookie for Your Thoughts giveaway contest.  I had way too much fun with Jan's winning idea:

     Jan J.
    "My girls are adopted from China and I love Asian culture. I would love to see painted cookies of a koi pond, a fu dog, paper lanterns, pagoda, etc. Wow I can only imagine what you would come up with!"

    ... and here are the cookies I sent to Jan today.  I'm so happy with how they turned out and I really hope Jan and her daughters enjoy these cookies.  Thanks Jan for inspiring me!

     All 4 of these cookies went through what I call an "ugly phase" where I thought NOOOO!  these aren't turning out right!  I'm so glad I kept going instead of getting rid of  scarfing down the evidence because I love what I ended up with.  I have a theory that just about every art project goes through an "ugly phase" and a lot of people don't push through it to get to a great end result
     This primitive red, yellow, and blue cookie was my favorite to do.
    (Have a great day!)

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    Mustang Cookies

    The very creative Kristen called me the other day requesting a special order.  Ron, her father had just passed away and she asked me to recreate in cookie his 1965 Mustang for favors at the funeral.  She made a tag to put on the cookies that explained the history of the car and how it was passed to Ron by his father and restored by him.

    On the tag she also had a picture of Ron's father giving him the car!  When she told me that it nearly brought me to tears.  It really brought home that you can never take too many pictures because they become priceless treasures when we no longer have our loved ones with us.  He sounded like such a special man and I was very honored to be a part of the celebration of his life.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family right now.

    Don't forget to hug your loved ones and take lots of pictures.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Birthday Canvas

    This is my sweet cousin Alyssa and her new-ish husband Jesse.  They are an adorable and fun couple and so perfect for each other! Alyssa's sister (another of my adorable cousins!) took this engagement picture of them about a year ago.  She's such a talent and you can see more of Melanie's work here.

    It was Alyssa's birthday yesterday and my mom threw an impromptu birthday lunch for her, so I was trying to think of something super-fast to make, but personal.  This is what I came up with below.  I painted a tiny portrait of them on a stretched canvas.  I wish I had a little more time with it, but I kind of like the roughness of it.  Jesse is an artist and he paints BIG paintings.  In his words, "Go big or go home!" ... I guess I'm goin' home!  :D

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    4th of July Fun

    It was a hot and busy day yesterday and here are the pictures to prove it!  I forgot to take pictures of the pancake breakfast put on by the scouts, but here are some shots of our 4th.  Hope you had a great one!

    Sage cartwheeled down the street in a parade
    Denver and Bailey enjoyed getting pelted by candy
    We cooled off by swimming at a friend's house and they even fed us
    the dessert we brought
    the surprise inside!  I found this sweet idea here on Glorious Treats blog.
    We capped off the night with a block party with our neighbors.  It's always a good idea to have kids run around with fire, right?

    God bless America!

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Cookie for Your Thoughts Giveaway Results

    Those of you who submitted cookie ideas: you compiled the most incredibly inspiring list that I am going to refer to all the time!  My mind is running wild with the cookie possibilities.  So many great ideas that I was debating just picking a random winner.

    But as I was reading through the comments again, one comment caught my imagination and wouldn't let go!  The winner is:

    Jan J.
    "My girls are adopted from China and I love Asian culture. I would love to see painted cookies of a koi pond, a fu dog, paper lanterns, pagoda, etc. Wow I can only imagine what you would come up with!"  

     Congratulations Jan!  I'm going to have so much fun with this.  Email me your info and I will get these cookies to you and your daughters!

    饼干 <-----this is cookie in Chinese

    Thank you everybody for participating.  I can see myself making a lot of these cookie suggestions in the near future.


    I am lucky enough to get an occasional email from curious readers so I thought I would compile a short list of the frequently asked questions just to clear some things up.

    So here goes...
    Everything you never wanted to know about Arty McGoo:

    How do you make/decorate your cookies? 
     I make all my cookies 100% start to finish with real butter and pure extracts.  When possible I use local, farm fresh eggs and even some of the extracts I use are made right here in San Luis Obispo!  I always frost with a Royal Icing flood for a nice, smooth canvas and then the fun part:  I either pipe a design in frosting or paint directly on the cookie using food coloring and a paint brush, or sometimes both.

    How do you paint on cookies?
     I've used Wilton, AmeriColor, and Duff gel paste colors and they all work great and I think any concentrated colors would work fine.  I use a white artist palette to put my colors on and mix and apply them with Wilton paintbrushes.  I use the food coloring just like watercolor paints and dilute them with water.  A little goes a long way and you don't want to overwork the colors because they will start to pit the surface of the frosting.  If the painting seems a little sticky at the end, I lightly dust it with powdered sugar.  I've been painting on cookies since March 2011 in this post when I first put paintbrush to cookie and I LOVE it!

    Are you crazy?

    Is that picture in the header you?
     Yes and no.  That picture is of me, but that's not usually what I look like.  My daughter Sage and I were having what we call a "spa day" where I give her a manicure and put on lotion and all that girly stuff.  We extended it to a makeover and we played with makeup and hair.  I snapped some pictures of us and this one came out so hilariously cheesy that I thought it would be funny to use as my header.

    Can you make me cookies?
     I live in California and it is illegal in this state to sell home-baked goods (even non-perishable ones!) to the public.  I currently make cookies for friends and family until I can figure out a commercial kitchen that won't cost me more to bake out of than I make on the cookies.  I'm not gonna lie, decorated sugar cookies take a long time (from baking, to waiting for the flood icing to set, to decorating) and I haven't figured out how to make a profit while renting a kitchen by the hour. 
    I wish I could make cookies for EVERYONE! 

    Do you paint on anything besides cookies?
     Cookies have definitely become my most used canvas, but I have been known to put paintbrush to other things.  This post has several of my non-edible paintings in it as does the tag painting and I definitely want to do more permanent works soon.

    I always love hearing from new friends and I hope by reading this you know more about me than you ever wanted to!  Blogland is a grand place and I so enjoy "meeting" new friends and hearing your comments and emails.  If perhaps I didn't answer any questions you have, feel free to email me at
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