About Me

My photo
I am a multifaceted woman, living with intention and passion. I always see the glass as half full (ok, almost always). Currently into: jewelry design, glass beadmaking (aka lampworking), visual journaling, cooking and web design everything. Things that bring me great joy: my family, friends, Scrabble, British period pieces, Shabby Chic, Austin, TX, mini art tiles, autographed cookbooks, chocolate, Chianti, pedicures and beach glass. I don't "do" and/or dig: dishonesty, guilt, intolerance, unkindness, drama and goat cheese (it's a long story, but I love all the other cheeses!) So you now have a teeny tiny little picture of me, with a few warts thrown in. Welcome to my world!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Everyday Art: Day 2

i love summer
     Alright, day two and I'm getting the art for today in just under the wire I think, at least for my time zone. It is an ATC, "i love summer." We have had some glorious days and I wanted to commemorate them with an artful keepsake. So much sunshine, I wish we had it all year. I will probably continue to add to this piece, I can't seem to stop messing around with collage based art. The details: created with CARAN d'ACHE  Neocolor II Watersoluble artist crayons (I am sooo addicted to these, wish I owned every single color!), Sharpie markers, PITT markers, gel pens, a transparent bingo marker and a rhinestone. Also scraps of magazine pages for the edges. It measures the same size as a playing card, which is the typical ATC size. It did take some time to create, so I realize that I will have to create other pieces of quicker art some days. Wheels are spinning...
Fresh Veggie Pizza

     I also made a wonderful fresh veggie pizza for dinner, and it was very creative, so it is my bonus "art" today. I love the ones that are always made at the Pampered Chef home parties, which I have not been to or even been  invited to in years. I decided to make up my own recipe, but it started the same as the ones I've had at the parties, with refrigerated crescent roll dough, unrolled, but kept as a sheet and baked. I added an herb cream cheese and sour cream topping, followed by lots of fresh veggies. It satisfied a huge veggie craving and I didn't feel too guilty since the topping was made with 1/3 less fat cream cheese. Tomorrow I know I'll be making enchiladas and Spanish rice, but have no idea what other art I'll be creating, wish me luck!
   One last thing, I read a wonderful book yesterday, "City of Thieves," and it was incredible! A great summer read if you are looking for something exciting, fun, and sad with great historical content. I couldn't put it down and stayed up late just to finish it. There are a few "difficult" parts, but necessary to the story. I can't say enough good things about this book, but I don't want to give anything away. I can't wait to pass it around to family and friends, 5 out of 5 stars!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A New Pledge: Create at least one piece of art everyday

art Everyday!
     So here I am, heading towards the middle of the summer and I have hardly created any art, outside of artful food! I admit, I have spent many hours on Facebook and Netflix, but in my defense, I had a lot of catching up to do. But as the summer is coming into full swing, I am feeling the loss of art-making time. Sooo...I have decided that I need to prioritize and move "creating art" to the upper echelons, where it belongs! I have also decided that any medium is allowed here, including food, but only in a pinch, or as a bonus. My goal is to take a photo of each piece of work and post it here. I am hoping that this declaration on my blog, for all the world to see, will further cement my personal commitment to creating art everyday. (But I really don't need that, do I?)
    I will have to sacrifice some other, not-as-important things, like facebook time and TV time, but I'm ready to do that. My first piece today is the "art Everyday!" image above. Created with Photoshop CS4 using
gradients, filters and brushes. And, I did make strawberry freezer jam today, which is a form of foodie art to me. If I get my new projects done soon, I can add them to the day they are completed, or is that cheating? Anyway, I feel like I might be on a roll here...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday Fab Finds

Franco Farms Berries
     Welcome to the first Wednesday Fab Finds! Wednesday posts will be about anything I find during the week that I think is fabulous in some way, shape or form. I love to go to flea markets, estate sales, garage/yard sales, thrift stores and resale shops. I also love to take back roads and try new restaurants. And I have a thing for books, novels, historical, sci-fi/fantasy and culinary. Anyway, I feel like I am finding wonderful things all the time and want to share my treasures with you.
Starting with today, we found a new place to pick strawberries not too far from home. We normally love to pick at Gunzvillers in Elk Rapids, but that is a 45 minute drive. We took a risk and went to "Franco's," which is about 5 miles out of Traverse City heading south on US 31. Great berries, beautiful flavor and sweet! Check out the Taste the Local Difference website for places in MI to pick.
Perseus Jackson "PJ" our new Lion Head bunny
     The next find is our new Lion Head bunny, Perseus Jackson, or PJ for short. We found him at the Pet Supplies Plus store thanks to a family we met at the TC Balloon Classic two weeks ago. They brought their Lion Head bunny to the open space and we just happened to sit down behind them. We fell in love with their little bunny, so fluffy and social. Also, weighed less than 2.5 lbs, the size of bunny we have been looking for. Anyway, we are all madly in love with our new pet!
     Find numero tres (3) is something I found at Cali's, a local shop in downtown TC. "Haikubes," a box of dice that have words on each side that you use to create haikus. I love these, they are so cool!!! Now I just have to find a
really sweet transparent container to keep them in and also on display in the living room so anyone can just dump them out, have some fun and easily put them away.
And just so you know, I paid $25 for my set, should have known I could find a better deal online! At least I did support a locally owned business that I am very fond of, that is a good thing.
Tri Oreshki Dlya Zollushki
     My last find this week is a movie on YouTube, "Tri Oreshki Dlya Zollushki," or "Three Nuts for Cinderella," or "Three Gifts for Cinderella." I saw this movie on a PBS station, I think, a long, long time ago, and loved it. I finally found it on YouTube and enjoyed it all over again with my daughter. It is a Czech film that I think was very well done for the time it was produced, over 30 years ago at least. Click here to watch the six part film.
     Hope you are finding wonderful treasures of your own like a perfect peach, an old photo or a new china cup and saucer for your collection!

Let the Summer Projects Begin!!!

Mexican Folk Dress
      So here is the first project, turning the pictured yellow Mexican folk dress into a more modern tunic for my daughter. I just saw the how-to for this on one of the blogs I love, The Crafty Chica, and lo and behold, yesterday, my daughter and I spot the exact type of dress needed for this project in a thrift shop for five bucks! How can you not try it for that? I have cut the bottom off and pinned it, but have to hem the side slits and bottom hem yet. My daughter also wants pleated panels set into the side slits to avoid any muffin top type of event or showing. I think that should be easy enough with the fabric I cut off. At least right now I think it will be easy enough, I'll get back to y'all on that. When finished, it should look like the black tunic here.
     Next up is this t-shirt I want to refashion into a more flattering and feminine style. I saw what Rice Zachery Freeman did with a shirt (among other amazingly cool clothing reconstructions and embellishments) and decided to give it a try. I am always trying to find cool t-shirts in a price range I can afford, but rarely do those two things coincide. I can count on one hand, not even using all the fingers, how many times I have found such a thing. This is a heavy cotton t-shirt by Liz and Jane, dyed a
cool shade of periwinkle blue, which you cannot tell in the first shot because I took the photo in the evening with florescent type lighting. But the second photo is almost
T-shirt pre-refashion
right on in color. You can see the cuts I've made and some of my initial pinning. I want to add a raw edge trim, such as silk or that soft netting I've seen on some expensive t-shirts, but don't know what to call it. I hope to get to the fabric store tomorrow or the day after to choose something for the edges. My goal is to make it look more feminine with a more fitted shape and to add a raw edge trim for contrast and fun. I am really excited about both of these projects because I think I can finish them and actually achieve what I envision! I will post the finished pieces as soon as I'm done. I am even considering adding a hand beaded edge as another layer over the raw edge trim, but we'll see how it goes. If I plan on doing too much, I know I will overwhelm myself and then it will sit and nothing will happen, and I so want to complete these projects, among other thing, by
T-shirt, progress report
next week at the latest so I can start something else I have been thinking about.
     On to some foodie porn with a picture of the S'mores cake I made yesterday for my family. I use a bag of mini marshmallows instead of the topping the recipe calls for, which is marshmallow creme and chocolate chips, swirled. After the cake is done, I pour the mini marshmallows on top and put the cake back into the oven, second rack from the top, and turn on the broiler to toast the marshmallows. Doesn't take long, but I keep the door open and pull the rack out periodically to rotate or shift the pan so the marshmallows toast evenly and don't catch on fire! You cannot take your eyes off the cake while the marshmallows are toasting, and you have to pull the oven rack out to rotate the pan so you don't burn your hand under the broiler. Anyway, the cake disappeared in less than 24 hours, and I did not eat it alone! But since it is now gone, I think I am going to move on to eclairs. I watched "Simply Irresistible" last night and every time I do, I get this insane urge to make those caramel eclairs that Sarah Michelle Geller makes in the movie. I have all the ingredients and the S'more cake is toast, so I have my fingers crossed that sometime tomorrow, I will be posting photos of the eclairs!
     Finally, my new "Paletas" recipe book arrived today, and it looks like it is going to be a lot of fun to play with this summer. The recipes include Cantaloupe, Lime
S'mores Cake with toasted marshmallow top!
Pie (think Key lime pie), Avocado, Apricot-Chamomile, Sour Cream-Cherry and Tequilla, Roasted Banana, Passion Fruit Cream, Mexican Chocolate and oh so many more. I'll post pics of those too as we try them out. For those of you who are not familiar with paletas, they are just like ultra fruity or flavorful popsicles, usually with less sugar. They come in a wide variety of flavors, many regional. I can get them at TC Latino Grocery here in Traverse City, but they sell them from carts in the more

metropolitan areas of the country. The rice pudding paletas are my very favorite so far, but I've only had five different flavors. It is creamy, refreshing and so satisfying, I hope to make those within the next week or two. Anyway, paletas are amazing, you'll never want a regular popsicle again after you have a paleta. Well, at least that is how I feel.
     Tomorrow I am introducing "Wednesday Fab Finds." A weekly to bi-weekly post about my latest treasures from estate sales, garage/yard sales, thrift stores and resale shops. Lots of goodies for tomorrow!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trattoria Stella, restaurant heaven!

Trattoria Stella
     Wednesday was my dear friend Julie's birthday, and to celebrate, we went to dinner last night at one of my very favorite restaurants on the planet, Trattoria Stella here in Traverse City. The restaurant is within the refurbished Building 50, originally the largest building on the Traverse City State Hospital (an asylum) grounds, way back when. The hospital was actually a self sustaining mental institution. There are several large barns and other smaller buildings on the property, some already converted to new uses and others still awaiting rebirth. There was a serious effort by the Traverse City community to save these buildings a while back. They were supposed to be demolished, but the architecture and bones of the buildings were still sound and some people with vision and resources committed to restoring and bringing these buildings back to life. Building 50, with it's 388,000 square ft of space is the largest structure on the commons, or more formally, "The Village at Grand Traverse Commons." I have walked around the exterior perimeter of this building, it takes about 20 minutes. I have also been up in one of those cool towers, what a view! But back to my culinary adventure at Stella...
Pig Brain Tortellini
     We ordered drinks first and then appetizers to share, an amazing start to the evening. I had a wonderful Pinot Noir, "A Capella," from Black Star Farms, a local winery, but only two glasses, so I would remember our dinner very well and still drive myself home. I am just going to list what we had with bullets for the sake of clarity and explain here and there and sprinkle the photos around too. Some are a bit blurry, but it is hard to take a good photo with my sorry cell phone in dim light, but I tried anyway. Let me start with our appetizers...
Cornmeal Battered Asparagus
  • Cornmeal battered and fried asparagus with lemon crema and basil pesto (OMG, orgasmic!)
  • Hard-seared foie gras with lemon-dressed arugula and five hour sauce (Swoon worthy!)
  • Pig brain tortellini with some incredible sauce I cannot name because it was a special (you just can't be squeamish about these kind of things, otherwise you miss out on the most amazing dishes, I loved it!)
Foie Gras!
      After those delightful appetizers, we continued to peruse the menu, trying to decide what to order next, between conversation, gift opening  and laughter. We picked two different salads. I ordered one of my favorites, the cold beet salad. Every time I have this, I tell myself that I am going to start cooking and keeping beets on hand to make this kind of thing whenever my heart desires, but do I? Um, no. I don't. Thankfully, this appears on the menu often. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the salads and desserts, sorry to be such a food porn tease!

  • Char-grilled, chilled beets with kalamata olives, house-made mozzarella cheese and extra virgin olive oil
  • Heirloom tomatoes with house-made mozzarella, torn basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil

     Next up we ordered our main course, we each chose something different, so it was fun to try all three, which we all agreed were fabulous! I had the Ahi Tuna, and it was an emotional experience, stars aligned, perfection, and that is putting it mildly. My second fav was the duck, it was outstanding and the giant raviolo filling was dreamy.
Wagyu Top Sirloin
Ahi Tuna with Candied Pinenut Risotto
     Did I mention that we spent 4 1/2 hours over this meal? We ate a course, chatted up a storm and then ordered the next one, taking our time and savoring every single bite. Even so, you'd think after all the food listed above we would not have room for dessert, Ha! We each ordered a different dessert and shared those too. The Rhubarb Crostata was my fav, but they were all a piece of heaven!
  • Panna Cotta with strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries (I love panna cotta and make it at home once in a while)
  • Flourless chocolate cake
  • Rhubarb Crostata with caramel and sea salt gelato
Long Island Duck with Raviolo of Leg and Mascarpone
Two of us also had the most excellent cappuccino with dessert and I have to say, I have not had such a lovely cappuccino in ages. We lingered over everything, we caught up, we shared worries and current hopes, we listened, we laughed (hysterically at times) and made plans to do this every year! It was the loveliest of evenings. I left completely content and satiated on every level, physical, mental and emotional. Thank you my friends and thank you Trattoria Stella!