Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Watercolor Wednesday

Here is a detail of the painting I did for this week's Watercolor Wednesday. It has been extremely cold here in Minnesota this week and my walk to the train not as pleasant as usual.
Above is the whole painting, which I probably will crop a little bit. Below, is the painting before I put in the figure. I was just messing around with some colors and some salt but it doesn't surprise me that I saw a winter scene in it.

And finally, below is a picture I took on the way to work this morning (and almost missed my train, dawdling as usual!). I know that frost on the inside of the windows is a bad sign but it is pretty nonetheless.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Crepes with Orange Zest

For Saturday morning brunch, I felt the need for something that would seem like a luxurious treat but would actually be really simple to make. The answer is crepes! Some people would say these are more a dessert than a breakfast food but I say they are as much of a real food as doughnut, right? If you insist on having something more substantial with your crepes then make a savory crepe and fill with eggs or cheese or even some sausage or bacon. Crepes are extremely versatile!

A couple of notes on crepes:

  • It is best to let the batter rest in the fridge for atleast 30 minutes before cooking the crepes. In fact, you can make the batter up to two days ahead of time, so it's perfect for a brunch gathering.

  • Yes, it helps to have a little omelet or crepe pan. These are cheap, though, and worth it.

  • Please don't be intimidated by crepes! If you've ever made pancakes then you can make these.

Anywho, I used the sweet crepe recipe from "Joy of Cooking" and just added some orange zest to the batter (about a tablespoon). I made a raspberry sauce using fresh raspberries, a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar, 3 teaspoons of water, another tablespoon of orange zest, and two tablespoons of Harry & David's Orgegold Peach jam. I just heated it (not to boiling), mashing up the berries with spoon and stirring together. We also spread some of the Kumbe African chocolate sauce on the crepes (I got it at the St. Paul Farmer's Market last summer, but you can buy it online here:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Simon's glamour shot, organizing, and new blog idea

Here is a picture I took of the adorable Simon. He looks like he is posing, doesn't he? I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille......
As I may have mentioned, I signed up for a beginning watercolor class. It's a community ed class and, unfortunately, after attending the first class, I decided it wasn't really what I'm looking for. I need a class that teaches basic watercolor techniques, and this class was more focused on self-expression. Anyway, I cancelled the class. Instead, I'll work on my technique at home and post a new watercolor painting every Wednesday. I'm a day late, but this apple is my first and last painting from my class and the first Watercolor Wednesday posting.

Last, I am organizing all of my art and craft supplies. I'm armed with a label maker and a bunch of plastic bins. Nothing can stop me now!

Patchwork Dress

Here is an update on the patchwork dress I'm working on for the doll featured in my last post. It is a fun way to use up some fabric scraps.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Fun with Shrinky Dinks

My latest project is a "paper" doll made out of plastic. I made this smaller version as a prototype to work out the kinks in the design. The brads that hold the arms on will be smaller relative to the doll in the bigger version so they won't be so obvious. Anyway, above is a picture of her in only her underwear.....

....and here are some picture of the two outfits that I've made so far.

Great in 2008

That is my new motto. There are lots of words that rhyme with eight, which I thought of "create in 2008!" but that doesn't really encompass all that I want to do.

I love making lists and so actually enjoy making New Year's resolutions (not so much the keeping of the resolutions, though). However, resolutions typically tend to be more on the serious side - always trying to improve ourselves and vowing to resist all temptations this year. So, here is just a list of things I would like to do this year.

My List, So Far
  • Renew Passport
  • Go Camping (at least twice)
  • Buy a digital camera
  • Start an Etsy Shop
  • Keep blogging regularly
  • Comment more on other blogs
  • Display a painting at the Alumni art exhibit this summer
  • Split a CSA share with friends
  • Learn how to use a sewing machine
  • Attend Sunday life drawing sessions at MCAD
  • Pick berries at a U Pick place
  • Go Canoeing on Lake Calhoun
  • Take a small business class (already enrolled for February!)
  • Visit UW Superior
  • Grow a windowsill herb garden
  • Volunteer work relating to teaching
  • Start/join an Artist Trading Card group
  • Show art at a coffee shop
  • Have professional slides made of my art
  • Make a cake successfully from scratch
  • Visit the Museum of Russian Art and the Weisman Museum

Monday, January 7, 2008

Chocolate Orange Birthday Cake

My sister E. recently celebrated her 28th birthday. She asked me to make a cake with either lemon/raspberry flavor combo or a chocolate/orange combo. Her color scheme was gold and blue.

I chose to do an orange and chocolate cake simply because I had the ingredients on hand. I doctored up a chocolate cake mix with lots of orange zest (probably a tablespoon?) and some espresso powder to deepen the chocolate flavor. I made a moistening syrup from The Joy of Cooking (Combine equal parts water and sugar. Heat just until the sugar dissolves. I added another 1/2 tablespoon or so of orange zest) and poured the syrup over the bottom layer of the cake.

I frosted the layers with chocolate buttercream (adding orange zest to it, too!). The decorations consist of marbled blue fondant circles dusted with gold luster dust. I probably went a little overboard with the luster dust. Around the edges I placed wedges of chocolate orange (a favorite holiday treat in our family).

Everyone had a good time at the party, I think, and the cake was a big hit. One guest had two pieces, even though he claimed that he doesn't really like cake. I think that says it all :)

Bright and Cheerful

Look what I found on the Pottery Barn website! Just the thing for a grey gloomy Monday. No, I haven't bought them and won't unless they go on sale. However, just looking at them cheers my little flower-loving soul.
I really like the way they've arranged the plates on the wall in the top picture. It seems like it would hard to do but perhaps they make special hardware just for this very thing?
Here is the website for anyone with extra dough just sittin' around (HA!):