Monday, March 24, 2014

Rusted Pods...

For as long as I can remember, I've always drawn, doodled, painted and carved pods.  Even if I'm not trying to draw pods, somehow one ends up in my work.  Another common thing, "Squiggles"...always show up in my work too.  Tails, tendrils, vines.  I'm sure a psychotherapist would have a heyday with it, and I'm sure if I thought about it hard enough...I could figure it out myself and save a few thousand bucks.  Alas, onto the art. 

Every  month, I meet with a group of lady friends who I've done collaborative projects with for about 6 years.  One I've known for much longer as she was my art teacher in middle school.  She's an inspiration to me then, and now, and one of the only people currently in my life that's been around the longest!  Everyone else I "used to know", I no longer consort with for one reason or another.

One year, our art group did an ABC themed art journal, one year we did charms, sometimes we just do an art/craft lesson, eat and talk!  But this year's project is a small book based on a theme of our choice.  I chose "The desert", no surprise there...and my prompt, or secondary theme, is "vintage/distressed".  Each month we make a page for someone in the group based on their theme, and someone makes one for me.  At the end of the year, we'll have a complete book with art from everyone in our group...and these rusty pods were for a friend wanting a double nature book!  Nature/nature.  Give me nature, or leave me alone!  :)  I can relate.

Of course I had to do pods...and what I couldn't figure out was how to make it all natural.  Everything outside is DEAD, there are no leaves to speak of, nothing growing to use as a stencil or to sew onto the I decided to use cotton fabric, and the idea of rust since it's a process of nature that I've always admired.  I also used hand-stitching and not my machine, since I'm natural, right?!  This was my first foray into French knots, and it's hard to see in the photo, but the top of the large poppy pod skeleton is completely comprised of little French knots close together.

The other side of the page is mixed-media with pen and ink, graphite, thread, paint and some little pieces of fabric cut from my first rusted muslin experiment.  I'm not sure what sort of pod this is...I made it up.  But it's based on milkweed, with pea pod influences!  After the pages were finished, I hand stitched them together around the sides to hide all my embroidery. 

The next page on my list which is due in April, is bird art with a vintage distressed look.  And this is NOT me, but I've already started!  As with the Paschal candle for church, which I just sketched out on paper last night as I was lying in bed...I usually ruminate until the deadline nears and then I crank out that idea that's been brewing in my mind.  But I'm trying to turn a new leaf (or whole tree as it seems) and be an "ahead of schedule" kind of girl.  Wish me luck! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

A little update...

In my copious free time, and with my fledgling HTML experience...I'm attempting to combine my blog with my website, and move it to a new home.  Yes, we'll see how that goes!  I've had since 1999, and I don't want to lose the domain...although I haven't updated it in a long time.  Old pics...old jewelry...old news!  I don't even have time to fix rosaries anymore, I've had to turn people down because anything that requires my focus gets seriously competed with around here these days!  One day...some day...I'll want to sell jewelry or start a rosary repair business or sell art or something, and I'm going to schlep the website along until that day comes.

I've picked a new "theme" that's nice looking and I'm working on figuring out how to work it.  I'll camp here until I can navigate the new one.

SO, anyway....thank God for spring!  I know this is Missouri and it could still snow, then be 75 the next day...but the fact that the daffodils are popping up just makes me feel better about the whole lot. 

My African violet decided to bloom for me too.  I need a bigger kitchen so I can house all my little growing things.

Tried this fun recipe over at Against All Grain, St. Patrick's Day cookies that naturally turn food coloring required!  It's a reaction between baking soda and sunflower seed butter, pretty neat...I've always loved chemistry.  Which leads me to my next, current obsession...rust dying fabrics.

I've been looking at a blog by Alice Fox who rust dyes fabrics and then hand stitches on them, her work is heavenly!  And another wonderful artist, Jennifer Coyne Qudeen who also rust and eco-dyes...and then sews.  I've always collected rusted things but usually I hang them around like trophies to admire, or make other pieces or art from them.

Now I'm starting to combine my love for printmaking with my new found love of hand-sewing in my artwork.  It's something that takes little commitment from me, I can wrap a rusty object with fabric and throw it in the kiddie pool out back...and if I forget about it...that makes it even better!  My kiddies can mess with it, throw it around and poke it with a stick...and it doesn't matter.  Pics to come soon, as I've already been using the fabric pieces in my art.

Here's another little art project or "accidental experiment" I accomplished lately...melting a coconut oil jar in the dishwasher!  I'd hoped to put beads in it, but now I use it as a flower vase.  It went from the shape on the left, to the gnarled shape on the right...and now the plastic is super hard.  (I love it.)

Soon I'll have to stop playing around so much and get serious, as I'm painting our church's Paschal candle again this year.  My goal is to have it done by what would have been my dad's 73rd birthday, which is the weekend before Easter.  The design is in my head and it's just a matter of starting, and starting is always the hardest part.

And last...I didn't spend the $1 on this...I just snagged a picture of it at the thrift store...Is it saying that the person wearing the shirt is closed-minded?  Or is this person shutting off to other people's nagging input or not allowing them to "live rent-free in their head" anymore?   Time to shut off my mind for the day, until the next update...adieu!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Praise for Against All Grain's "grain free sandwich bread"...

Before I start gabbing...just take a look at this brown, glistening crust...the crack, the rise...oh my...

This is Danielle Walker's recipe from Against All Grain, and I love it.  Of course, I wanted to soak and dehydrate my own cashews to make cashew butter instead of buying the jarred kind, so that added days onto this process, but it was worth it.  It's a beautiful piece of culinary science...the reaction of baking soda with apple cider vinegar...the technique of whipping egg whites to it moisture while baking, and patience blended with a quiet peeking, no shocking with cold air and slamming the oven door!!  Of course my oven has the worst bit of old dirty glass in the front, so I had no idea what was going on in that oven...until the end.  

What a pleasant surprise.  So many recipes I've tried with mediocre results, so much money in materials squandered.  But this one was fantastic.  I followed it to the letter, except (there's always an except, right?!)  I used organic raw milk instead of almond milk. Unless almonds are organic, it's a law in this country that they are to be pasteurized by fumigation with carcinogenic chemicals.  No thanks.  Plus, I'm not sure how they milk an almond...(just kidding).

After it emerged from the oven, we set a timer because it's supposed to cool for one, torturous hour.  Many times I tried to storm the gates (or the heel, rather...) but I waited.  When I sliced it open, I was very surpised that it was done all the way through.  I'm used to spongy, wet doughs now that are goo inside, and this was not the case.  Air pockets!  And then we toasted it in the broiler...

And slathered on Kerry Gold butter!  It was delicious, everything I'd hoped for.  It didn't turn into a nasty ball of glutenous dough in your mouth like wheat bread, and it didn't turn all squishy with quiggy bits like rice flour's a bit "spongy" when you poke it, but toasting fixes that right up.  Now we have to wrap it up and it's supposed to get better as it sits.  I'm not sure how long this is going to SIT?!  I've already had seconds...I reproduced yet another bready favorite, cinnamon toast.  With a little honey and was just oh so delightful.

What prompted me to take on a big job like this on a Sunday besides desiring the satisfying aromas of freshly baked bread wafting through the house?  It was...Whole Foods.

Last week, we were at Whole Foods looking for something to eat for dinner.  I've had some bad runs there between "vegan enchiladas" and "paleo stir fry" among all the other seemingly healthy things they serve in their prepared food area.  The enchiladas made me plain sick, and the paleo stir fry was OK except the only dressing that did not contain a bunch of sugar was a tomato basil sauce, and it was just not tasty.  I ended up dumping tamari on it, and when it mixed with the tomato flavor...yuk! 

Don't get me started on their soups and salads.  Most of them contain a wheat product as a thickener plus canola oil which is not a healthy oil.  Canola means "Canadian oil, low acid"...and it comes from the rapeseed which was banned by the FDA back in the 50's because it was too toxic for human consumption.  If the FDA bothers saying that something is's BAD.  In the 70's, they bred a new variety of rapeseed, renamed it "canola" and voila!  Better living through science prevails once again!  Cheap and dirty.  Plus, word on the street is it makes a fantastic pesticide.  No wonder the mosquitoes come after me and leave everyone else alone...

Sooo...the next time we ended up at Whole Foods looking for food, I decided to try their gluten free deli sandwich.  The bread they use only contains one substance that I don't care for, agave nectar.  It's highly processed and is heavy on the fructose in, almost completely fructose. Fructose goes straight to the liver, but it's a lot better if it goes skipping happily down the lane hand-in-hand with fiber, that's why it's perfectly fine to get it via whole's not good in an isolated, processed state like agave.  Plus it's just sickening sweet.

ANYWAY, the sandwich...made my day.  I hadn't had a sandwich in a very long time.  One of my favorite things in the world is an Italian sub sandwich.  They're the best in Philly, but even D'Bronx here in Kansas City makes a pretty darn good one.  I salivate over them and miss them dearly.  And the bread on this gluten free sandwich...was nothing like a hoagie roll, nothing!  The goal is to make them at home. But alas, if I was going to buy and consume a $4-$5 loaf gluten free bread that wasn't bad...I knew I could make something with my own ingredients that was much better.  And this recipe will be our new "go to" sandwich bread from now on. And I think I might have to now own her cookbook!

BTW, no one has paid me to say any of these things...I rant and rave on my own accord, for free!