Saturday, March 23, 2013

See ya snow...we're outta here!
It's time for our annual Spring Break trip to somewhere other than here.
It's become a tradition for my husband and me to go on a Spring trip with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and their three boys.
My favorite week of the year!

I'm always in charge of the goody bags.

And the treats.

Mini muffins fit perfectly into the egg carton.  Great for transporting too.
Sunny blue skies and warm fresh air, I'll be greeting you tomorrow with wide open arms.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Some of my favorite bloggers have been writing about the blooming things in their yards, discussing garden plans and what they've recently planted.  There are pictures of fluffy pink tree blossoms and bright green sprouts poking through the dirt... 

Thought I'd share how my Spring garden is progressing:

Directly underneath the pile of snow are all my early bloomers...Crocus, Daffodils, Paper Whites, Bleeding Hearts.  

I'm trying really hard not to complain, as we've been in a long drought and need the precipitation.  And because my husband is in the snowmobile industry; therefore it isn't so nice for me to complain about the snow.  

So I sit here waiting for the big thaw - not complaining - but stating that I'm really really really anxious to get my fingers and toes in the dirt, to have the windows wide open, to sit on the porch swing, to put away the heavy coats and boots, to go for long walks with the dog, and to see some blooming things in my yard too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Layers of Papers...

Pencils and Stencils...

Patterns and Paints...

I've recently completed four custom collage paintings,
designed for a specific wall in a beautiful newly renovated kitchen.
The client had a pretty clear idea of what she wanted for colors, style, and size,
so that was the starting point for the pieces.
They are created on 10" x 10" canvas panels.
Hoping I'll soon have a picture of the paintings hanging in their new home!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Last week I baked two loaves of this yummy bread, and almost ate one entire loaf by myself!  The other loaf I froze and gave to my brother-in-law this weekend, and it received a big thumbs-up.  Thought I'd share the recipe with fellow bread baking friends interested in trying it.  Because it doesn't have preservatives, the bread stays fresh just a day or two, so freeze what you can't eat right away.

Here's the original recipe:

Ok, because I have a habit of changing things up a little bit, here are a few of my own notes:
I used fat free Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt
Olive oil instead of canola oil
Sea salt instead of regular salt
Raw honey instead of regular honey

I'll definitely be making this bread again.  Next time I'll add some chopped nuts.  And I wonder what would happen if one used only whole wheat flour, omitting the white flour altogether.  

This is a hearty bread.
It's wonderful served with butter and jam.
Or garlic butter.
Or plain.
Or dunked in soup.
Or not.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just getting back home and settled in after being out of town for a few days.
This picture of my kitty pretty much sums up the current state of all of us around here!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My candy-obsessed youngest nephew is having a birthday. 

This kid was born with an uncanny proclivity for junk food, even though he doesn't really get to have it on a regular basis.  However, in times of superabundance, he keeps what he calls his "secret stash" in a kitchen drawer.  Even his two older brothers are quite respectful of his private reserve.  

Last summer each of my nephews got to stay with me alone - no brothers! - for a couple days each.  We did pretty much whatever they wanted to do, and ate pretty much whatever they wanted to eat.  Here is M after we went grocery shopping.  Our cart was full of junk food, of course!  

(At Auntie Camp the motto is "sure...why not?!")

I'll be seeing my nephews this weekend, and can't wait to see M's reaction to the candy sundae I made for him!
Fill 'em up with sugar, then give 'em back...that's what Aunties are for, right?

Friday, March 8, 2013

About a month ago while browsing the book section of a small thrift store in town, I stumbled upon an old string-bound photo album.  Its brittle pages held black and white photos commemorating a family's special occasions, military service, vacations and fishing trips up north.  I couldn't help but feel sort of bummed that someone got rid of their family photo album!  There's a great big soft spot in my heart for preserving family heritage, no doubt the result of being born and raised on a farm and coming from a long line of "savers"...on both sides of the family.

I didn't have the heart to put the album back on the shelf and walk away.  It seemed crazy to spend money on a complete stranger's family pictures, especially when I have so many of my own family photos at home!  Quite honestly though, it was an image of three young ladies joyfully posing on a beach that got me.  I needed to honor their heritage.

Today I made thank-you notes to send to a few special friends who recently helped me celebrate my 40th birthday.  I incorporated a copy of the beach girl picture on each card, imagining that these girls would approve of being showcased in such a manner.   

Each card is a little bit different, but the essential parts are the same.
Just like our friends, eh?

Well my beach girls...hope I've made you proud!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Grateful for the bright sunshine we had
the last few hours of the day!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A cuppa homemade roasted winter vegetable soup,
a hunka whole wheat honey oatmeal bread,
a droppa plum jam made by a friend from her backyard harvest!
Who's coming for lunch??

Monday, March 4, 2013

A little more than a year ago, undoubtedly fueled by my looming 40th birthday, I convinced myself it was time to start using anti-aging facial products to fend off old age.  I wondered if my skin was getting enough benefit from the all-natural products I'd been using for a long time.  Under the care of a trusted and knowledgable skin care professional, I began my mission to be wrinkle-free and radiant.

But not too long after starting the new regimen of cleansing, toning and moisturizing, my face broke out in ugly red welt-like bumps and I developed mild acne like I'd never had before, even as an adolescent.  Ever the trooper (and mostly because of how much I'd spent), I continued using the products for awhile, thinking my skin would eventually get used to all this new stuff being thrown at it.  Unfortunately, that never happened...

It's now been almost exactly one year since I've been back to using only all-natural products.  Only within the last few months, my skin is back to its normal self and really is looking just fine - for a 40 year old. 

This evening I treated myself to a feel-good facial after a steamy shower.  I really love using these natural ingredients that are always on-hand in the kitchen...and they've never caused welts or acne on my face.  Here are my non-scientific formulations for the concoctions:

- Three dashes olive oil
- One dash sea salt
- Mix oil and salt together in a pretty little dish
- Apply to face and neck avoiding the eye area, open sores, scratches, and that kind of thing  
- Gently rub to exfoliate
- If you don't have paper cuts or iron burns on your hands like I do, you can exfoliate hands too
- Rinse and pat dry
- Follow up with a yummy honey mask

Yummy Honey Mask:
- Scoop some honey into the pretty little dish (I used raw honey, but honey out of the squeezable bear container works just fine too)
- Cover face and neck with honey, avoiding eye area of course
- Add a smidgen of warm water if it's a little hard to spread
- Take a sec to enjoy the sweet taste of honey on the lips
- Keep mask on face for about 15 minutes, or however long it takes to gather and sort the dirty laundry
- Rinse with warm water, followed by a couple splashes of cool water to close the pores
- Follow up with soothing coconut oil moisturizer

Coconut Oil Moisturizer:
- Scrape out a few scoops of coconut oil and place briefly in palm of hand to melt oil
- Spread all over face and neck, avoiding eyes
- Do a mini massage by rubbing temples and sinuses, then open and close jaws while rubbing them
- Leave oil on face, don't rinse
- Follow up with cleansing lemongrass hot tea and a chunk of dark chocolate

Friday, March 1, 2013

It's March!
And I'm thinking Spring as I submit my entries into the Cloth Paper Scissors Reader Challenge.  The assignment was to create a "tunnel book" in our own unique style.  My intention was to create two separate tunnel books; one I envisioned with happy colorful flowers, and one would pay homage to my favorite drink - coffee.  But after working on the colorful flower book for awhile, and then struggling a bit with the coffee book, the idea occurred that my flower book was missing something…a coffee cup!  Love when things have a way of working out like that, don't you?
Colorful Flower Tunnel Book

The pages of my tunnel book are made from thin cardboard cereal boxes covered with tissue paper.  I then painted and doodled all over the pages.  The accordion sides are made of scrapbook paper.  Vintage papers and painted wire were used on the coffee cup.

Colorful Flower Tunnel Book Close-Up

Awhile back while in a thrift shop, I picked one of those slide changer magazines that were once used in slide projectors.  It reminded me of watching slide shows at my Grandma's house with my cousins when my sister and I were little.  I didn't have a plan for it, just knew it needed to be part of my "little objects" studio stash.  When I saw the tunnel book challenge, I immediately thought of that little box and its tunnel possibilities!

Slide Changer Box Tunnel Book

The slide changer magazine is a rectangular metal box that houses 36 square "photo slide" holders that slip in and out of their individual slots.  I made a paper frame to slip inside each of the squares used in the project.  The first squares have very thin frames that are barely seen, and each paper frame gets bigger toward the back of the tunnel.  Using old family photographs from my studio stash, I carefully cut out images such as the deer, Grandma's picket fence, trees, people, buildings, a road sign, and even the ship The Queen Mary!  I adhered these cut out images to the paper frames so that when you peer inside the box, a scene unfolds before your eye, beginning with a rural field and grazing deer, traveling through an industrial area, and ending with a bridge and the blue sky.  Clouds and skyscrapers were adhered to the top edges on some of the squares.

Slide Changer Box Tunnel Book Close-Up
I enjoyed the opportunity to "think inside the box" for this challenge.  A fun feature of this piece is that the squares are interchangeable; simply slide them out of their slots and the scene can be rearranged!