Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Crunchy Granola

This granola recipe is a favorite of mine, and my Summerhill students always seem to enjoy it when they're here, so I thought I'd pass it along. Since granola tends to be high-calorie, I usually use it as a condiment and sprinkle it on top of fresh fruit and yogurt for a delicious breakfast.This morning I had fresh red raspberries and strawberries from our garden. Sublime!

Crunchy Granola

3 cups uncooked oats (old-fashioned, not quick)
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup sunflower seed kernels
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup roughly chopped dried fruit

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl.
2. Melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in maple syrup or honey. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
3. Pour sugar mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine. Spread evenly on a greased baking pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, stirring 3 times during baking. Cool. Stir in dried fruit.

Recipe notes: This recipe is very flexible. I sometimes add more oats, and since I can't eat gluten, I use gluten-free oats and substitute gluten-free cereal for the wheat germ. I sometimes use slivered almonds instead of chopped, and I always break the pecans into pieces instead of chopping them, because I like having larger pieces. For the dried fruit, I use raisins, dates, and/or dried cherries.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Blooms

"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us." -  Iris Murdoch

I'm feeling a bit mad with joy myself these days with all the blooming going on around here! My hydrangeas are prettier than they've ever been. They're loaded with blossoms and the colors are just luscious! And the daylilies, roses, coreopsis, bachelor's buttons, and all the other flowers are putting on a gorgeous show, too. I can't resist sharing some pictures of them, along with some of my favorite quotes about flowers.

"Flowers are God's way of smiling."
-  Proverb

 "When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it,
it's your world for a moment." 
-  Georgia O'Keefe

"To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers
is a delectable form of defeat." 
-  Beverly Nichols

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."
-  Claude Monet

"Flowers are love's truest language."
-  Park Benjamin

"With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures
and some books, I live without envy."
-  Lope de Vega

"A flowerless room is a soulless room, to my way of thinking;
but even one solitary little vase of a living flower
may redeem it."
-  Vita Sackville-West

 "Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers,
and the mystery of life."
-  R. Search

 "To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music; it is one of those things which is far better to enjoy
than to attempt to fully understand."
-  Henry Tuckerman

 "God has sown his name on the heavens in glittering stars; but on earth he planteth his name by tender flowers."  
-  John Paul Richter

   "Flowers are happy things."  
-  P. G. Wodehouse
My buddy Buckley

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gallery Still Life

I volunteered today at Artisans, our local art gallery, run by Creative Industries of Greene County. http://www.createpa.org/  After a flurry of activity in the morning, things quieted down in the afternoon, and I had some time on my hands. You know I can't just sit around twiddling my thumbs, so I pulled out my sketchbook and paints, which I had brought along just in case, set up a still life on an old wooden office chair that I pulled up right next to the desk where I was sitting, and got to work.

Of course, I had to pick the most complicated floral arrangement in the place! But I just loved those long squiggly twigs that were poking out from the leafy stuff.


Daisy is my daughter Sara's golden retriever. She's a sweetheart and loves to come and visit "Gramma" to romp with our dog, Buckley, and run around in the open fields. I did this painting for Sara last Christmas. I did a pen and ink drawing, then added watercolor washes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bellanca Bag

I bought the pattern for this bag last fall, bought the fabric in January, cut out the pieces in February, and then ... well ... um ... uh .... it sat in my workroom for about four months, haunting me, laughing at me, teasing me with its cute polka dot fabric and cheerful, colorful prints. I have the best of intentions. I buy things that I love, that I can't wait to make, and then, well, I end up working on customer jobs instead of my own stuff. Well, I decided to give myself a deadline. I wanted to take that bag on our trip to Asheville, so I could load it up with all my essentials, plus my camera, sketchbook, and water bottle. And, with a few evenings of staying up too late, and putting off that slipcover that needed to be started for a customer, I finally FINISHED it!

It has lots of inside pockets and a magnetic clasp. It took quite awhile to make, but the instructions were very clear. It's a Lila Tueller pattern called "The Bellanca Bag." She also has a really pretty line of fabrics. You can see her patterns and fabric on her blog. http://lilatuellerdesigns.blogspot.com/ I'm just really tickled that I finally finished this project and have a cute bag to use now. (Of course, I bought this fabric to match my winter coat! Oh, well...)

Cornices with Crown Molding

I recently completed a commercial job for a local company with offices on the campus of Waynesburg University. The job included upholstered cornices for a reception area and offices, wood blinds, and a wall of draperies in a teleconferencing suite.

The reception area cornice features contrasting banding in an interwoven pattern. Since the lining side shows in the hallway where clients enter the office, the customer requested that I put the name of the company on the back side of the cornice. I applied the company name and logo directly to the cornice lining using fusible applique.....

I love the way the office cornices turned out. They have crown molding and dentil trim, custom stained to match the cherry wood furniture in the offices.

 (Cornices designed by Leslie Fehling, fabricated by Custom Occasionals)

The arched bottom is edged with contrasting dark brown welt cord. 11/16" cut pyramid upholstery nails follow the arch and form a simple center design that is the focal point of the window treatment.

In the teleconferencing room, the client requested drapery panels to serve as a background for videotaping. The heavy velour fabric of the panels was custom dyed to coordinate with the company's logo and mounted to Kirsch Architrac rodding. The panel weighed almost 70 pounds. The white square you see hanging in front of the draperies is a sign that I fabricated with the client's logo and company name on it. I have blanked it out for privacy reasons. The sign is hung with thin wire that is invisible against the blue background. The company logo was positioned so that it appears just above the person's head who is being
videotaped............................... ....................... ......................... ....... .........

My customer was delighted with the changes in his office space after the window treatments were installed. It was amazing what a difference it has made. This start-up company no longer looks like they just moved into their offices.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Road Trip Sketches

I've been wanting to visit Asheville, NC, for several years and in mid-June my husband Fred and I finally found the time to make the trip. Finding myself with seven hours of empty time on my hands while Fred chauffeured me to vacationland, I started sketching in the van. Since the scenery was moving by at 70 mph, I decided to sketch what was in front of me:

I have these nifty new water brushes that make it so easy to sketch with minimal equipment. A travel watercolor paint set and my water brushes, and I'm all set.

We enjoyed seeing the masses of crown vetch covering the roadsides, so when we stopped for gas, I picked some to draw.


Since I need a lot more practice drawing people, I thought I'd try rendering the model sitting right next to me. Our daughter Sara said he looks like a Ken doll. Hey, at least I'm not afraid to try!

Driving through the mountains of Virginia ...

Our first stop in Asheville was at a Thai restaurant for some lunch. I loved the fortune I got in my cookie ...

A little something before dinner ...

The next two sketches were done in a little 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" sketchbook I keep in my purse - just in case I have a sketching emergency!

Sitting at a cafe the next morning having a scrumptious breakfast and wonderful mocha ...

The view across the square on a sunny summer morning ...

It was a beautiful evening for sketching at Pack Square Park  ...

The next day we toured the Biltmore and I did this painting of the gardens and conservatory ...

On the trip home I wanted to sketch but didn't want to do another bucolic country scene, so I decided to start drawing some of the vehicles we were following. It was fun trying to find something interesting to draw, like an emergency vehicle or a boat or a car with an overloaded roof rack. I did each little drawing in just a minute or two, then painted them later at home.

Doing a sketch of a scene seems to imprint it on my mind so much more than taking a picture does. It's not always easy to find the time to do a drawing when we're on vacation (or any other time, for that matter!), but I'm always so glad I did.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Plein Air Painting

I love painting outdoors, and was so excited that a "plein air" painting group has recently started up here in Greene County, PA. "En plein air" is French for "in the open air". We're meeting every Sunday afternoon at different locations in our area, and it's a great excuse for me to go and spend a couple of hours being totally immersed in sketching or painting and not thinking about all the endless things that need to be done at home. Our first get-together was at the Greene County Museum in Waynesburg, PA, on a sunny summer afternoon. I sketched the museum's front porch with ink and watercolor. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

We had a little cookout yesterday for Father's Day. The hamburgers and hot dogs tasted great, but the biggest hit of the day was this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie that I made. It turned out just perfect, with a rich, golden brown crust, and a filling that had just the right sweetness and consistency. Of course the filling bubbled out all over my oven, but don't fruit pies always do that? That's what makes them look homemade!

Doesn't that look yummy? Here's the recipe:
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
(Recipe from 1970s Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

1 ½ c. sugar
3 T. quick cooking tapioca
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 # fresh rhubarb, about 3 c. of ½” pieces
1 c. strawberries
1 T. butter
Double pie crust

Combine sugar, tapioca, salt, and nutmeg.
Add rhubarb and strawberries and stir to combine. Let stand for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour into unbaked pie shell. Dot with 1 T. butter.
Make lattice top pie crust on top of filling.
Bake at 400ยบ 35-45 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and top is lightly browned.

Perfect Pie Crust
 This pie crust recipe is practically foolproof and tastes absolutely wonderful. It is rich and flavorful and rolls out easily.

4 c. flour
1 T. sugar
2 tsp salt
1 T. vinegar
1 ¾ c. shortening
1 large egg
½ c. water

Put flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Mix.
Cut in shortening with a pastry blender.
In a small bowl, beat together vinegar, egg, and water.
Combine the two mixtures, stirring lightly with a fork until all ingredients are moist.
May be refrigerated for up to 3 days before using. Or may be frozen.

(I usually roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap, then just peel off the top layer of plastic, flip the crust over, position it in the pie pan, and peel off the plastic. It keeps from getting your counter all flour-y and even keeps your rolling pin clean.)

Makes 2 double 9” pie crusts plus 1 single pie shell.

Hello, World!

I’m anxious to start posting on my new blog, but feel like I need to write something profound and insightful for my first post. Oh, the pressure! I’ve been thinking about this for days. I have all sorts of great things I want to share with you, but feel like I need to start off with a bang. But this blog really isn’t going to be about big bang type stuff. It’s about little stuff – a sketch, a flower, a great cookie recipe – the little pieces of my days that make me happy and fulfilled. I want to share the everyday art of my life - the sketches I draw, the flowers I grow, the food I cook, the curtains I sew. So here goes! I’m just going to dive right in and get started. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.
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