2019 Challenge

Last year I challenged myself to read 75 books in the year and made it, finishing the last two in December. This year I am attempting, and I do say attempting a different type of challenge.  I bought the book by Kevin McPhearson called “Reflection of a Pond”

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For a little over a year, he painted the pond in his back yard. I thought it might be a great idea to work on my brushwork and color skills in my artwork.  I live on a beach with a beautiful view.  Depending on the day, I see the mountains, amazing sunrises, boats, people, the marina and love the view every day. I am going (to try) to paint my view at some angle every day this coming year.

The paintings will be small at 5″ x 7″ and I am not going to only focus on part of the view, because as I see it there are three sections to my view.  To the right and mostly south, I see a park and a small falling apart dock.  In the middle, I see the break-water and a few boats and off to the left is the marina where the ferries come in and out.

I started this six days ago on January 16th, and in all honesty am a little overwhelmed by the idea.  I decided I was not going to set up my easel in my living room, but take photos and paint them from my Ipad in my studio.  I am a messy painter and I think my house would be safer without the possibility of my cat wandering through the paint and spreading it throughout the interior.

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DAY ONE

Sunrise, where I live, is sensational. This time of year it is usually a little after seven, so I have gotten in the habit of waking up and checking to see if it is beautiful or if it is gray.  If it is gray with no sun, then I know I have to wait till later or for a later day.  Keep in mind that these are small and quick studies.

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DAY TWO

I am starting to relax a little with my second painting, knowing that most likely they will never sell, but they might make a fun show or a fun book, but I am savoring the differences in the colors of the morning.

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DAY THREE

Some days are peaceful and don’t seem to sing to me, but this morning on day three, the sky was amazing and constantly changing.  The interesting thing about sunrises here is that they can be totally amazing one minute and literally gone the next.  You have to try to capture the essence of what is happening quickly.

 

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DAY FOUR

I am starting to experiment a little more with texture and using a palette knife a little more.  I am hoping during the year to gain control of the palette knife using it for the dock and sometimes for everything.  The boat to the right of the dock, looks more like a rock than a boat, but it is a learning experience.

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DAY FIVE

On this morning it was misty and you could barely see the boats through the fog.  I moved to the marina area to focus on the painting and love the almost eeriness of the painting.  It could be a city or a marina or another country, but I had fun just playing with the color, which is the opposite of Day 6.

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DAY SIX

So often, as most of you know, we awaken to gray, grey and grayer, so I decided to attempt a tonal painting using only Payne’s Gray, Titanium White, and French Ultramarine Blue.  I tried my new camera lens which is a 150 -800 mm to see what I could do with a close-up shot.  I had fun with just the three colors and the closer view.

Going forward I will try to paint daily with different colors or different views and see what happens.  I will post every few days with my newest painting.

I will continue to post food posts, as I love to cook.  Today I made Peanut Butter cookies and Chocolate Chip cookies to take to our local Senior Center for their Bingo Game tomorrow.  I know they love sweets and not too many of them cook.

 

2019 Challenge

Studio Update

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Every art studio could use a cozy corner for reading art books.  This last week my husband built these two-inch shelves with a lip for setting finished small pieces and works in progress. Now I need to get busy and paint some more small works.

Next weekend he is going to add more shelves for bigger pieces.  It is wonderful, as they are all straight on the bottom for once.

Every challenge yourself to something and feel either great about accomplishing it or bad that you failed (the first time).  This year I challenged myself to read 75 books on the Goodreads challenge and can very proudly say I accomplished that goal. The year before I attempted to bake every bread in Paul Hollywood’s Bread Book.  I made it about 2/3’s of the way and gained a couple of pounds, but did not finish the book. I still love to bake and may just try to finish it. I take my baked goods to my local fire department, so they are enjoyed and not wasted.  My wonderful local fire department surprised me with a gift certificate the last two years.  That made me cry the first year, as I was amazed they recognized the gift. This year I felt a little guilty as I felt I did not take as much, but will up the ante as the year goes on.

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Now with 2019 coming up, I decided I would follow the example of Kevin McPhearson, the author and artist of “Reflections on a Pond”, and paint the view of the water in front of my house every day of the year. If I don’t have time to paint on a particular day, I will take a photo and paint it later. I find it an interesting thought and am hoping it will improve my painting skills.

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Studio Update

THE WARM SIDE OF MINIMALISM

Here is a wonderful article from Kohler about designing a simple, but wonderful bathroom.

Veil Master Bathroom Suite from Kohler

Minimalist design centers around de-cluttering space and providing more room for both the mind and the body to breathe. Too often this design style is mistaken for being stark, bare or monochromatic—but that is a far cry from the inviting feeling of warm minimalism. Follow these simple guidelines to carefully curate your space and ensure your bathroom can feel both pared down and cozy at the same time.

Well-Rounded Silhouettes:
Minimalism has evolved from harsh corners to the gestural, organic rounded edges seen in the pieces of the Veil Collection. By incorporating ergonomics and asymmetric spherical shapes into the minimalist world, this collection forms a powerfully comfortable design.

Overhead view of the Veil freestanding bath from Kohler

Beyond White:
White fixtures are a staple of minimalist suites like the Veil Collection, but they instantly become more inviting by adding décor and paint colors in a neutral color palette. When a room utilizes these subtle accents of taupes and shades of white, it creates a subdued energy that’s perfect for rejuvenation.

Tantalizing Textures:
While the overall aesthetic of minimalism shies away from the extravagant, bringing in textured fixtures creates interest without becoming overwhelming. When seen from far away, pieces like the Artist Edition Shagreen Sink don’t steal attention but upon closer inspection, its fine details add eye-catching depth and shimmer.

Oyster Pearl Artist Edition Shagreen Sink from Kohler

Nature as Nurture:
Intentionally choose a few perfect pieces of décor like plants or other natural materials to add to your design in order to help your bathroom feel less bare. Wood accents can be painted over as a way to blend the outdoors into your color scheme and bring energy to a space. The contrast of treated wood or splashes of greenery soothe the environment and bring the outdoors in.

Layers of History:
Items with a lived-in vibe can actually enhance a clean, minimalist design. For instance, distressed and oxidized metal finishes like the Composed Faucets in Titanium Finish present as sleek and contemporary but still have warmth. These designs infuse a sense of charm and intrigue in a modern space.

Composed Faucet in Titanium Finish from Kohler

Stay Versatile:
One way to keep out the clutter in a bathroom and still provide function is to expertly choose pieces that are multi-purpose. For example, the Verdera Lighted Mirror has built-in lights which eliminate the need for additional light sources. Hidden storage inside of a vanity or mirror also keeps your grooming items close but out of sight. In this way, minimalism emphasizes quality over quantity—a sentiment that translates to more mindful living in general.

The Verdera Lighted Mirror with built-in Amazon Alexa

Invisible Technology:
Tech innovations should elevate your bathroom experience without ever feeling intrusive. The Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror uses voice control to center your routine around mindfulness and immersing yourself in a relaxing escape from the modern world.

By following these warm minimalism trends you’re sure to create a space that feels as good as it looks.

THE WARM SIDE OF MINIMALISM

Curves in Photography

One thing about my blog, is that you never know what will be featured next.  If you keep in mind that food, art, photography, interior design, fashion design and gardening are the things I love; that will give you a better idea what to expect to see at any time on my personal blog.  If you don’t love most of those, then I am the wrong one to follow.

For the next assignment in our local Photography group we decided “Curves” would be a good topic.  Here are few of my ideas for curves.  I would love to know what you like the best with the topic in mind.

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These were on my dining room table, and I love how the windows reflected in the curve of the vase.

Flower 4

This one I obviously fell in love with all the fabulous floral curves of this beautiful carnation.

Then I went into the kitchen to a slightly different direction.

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I love the beautiful aesthetically roundness and color of farm grown eggs.  Here were my offerings.

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Leaving the yolk inside was just such a beautiful color I took another shot.

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When I did a search for photographic curves, all that showed up were exquisite nudes.  Since I don’t have a model and I am definitely not going to be a model I had search elsewhere.

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So here is my fun work for the day!  Think I will read my book.

Curves in Photography

Michael Symon’s Mom’s Lasagna

Total:  2 hr 50 min
Prep:  20 min
Inactive:  20 min
Cook:  2 hr 10 min
Yield:  6 servings
Level:  Intermediate

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound pork neck bones
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, loose or removed from casings
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, with their juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound dried lasagna noodles
  • 2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for final topping
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a three-finger pinch of salt and sweat them until they’re translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the neck bones and let them brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ground veal, beef and sausage, and season with another healthy pinch of salt. Cook until the meat is browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the white wine, tomatoes and their juice, and the bay leaves. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, making sure to get all of the browned bits into the sauce. Season the sauce with salt, to taste, and simmer for 2 hours over medium heat. Remove the bay leaves and neck bones and let cool. Skim any fat that rises to the surface.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Add enough salt so that it tastes seasoned and allow the water to return to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, parsley, basil, oregano, eggs, and Parmesan with a pinch of salt.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Ladle about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan. Arrange a layer of noodles followed by a layer of sauce and then some of the ricotta mixture. Top with a layer of mozzarella, smoothing it with a spatula to the edges. Repeat the process until the pan is full. Finish with a final layer of noodles, sauce, the mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest, 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

The chef was raised on his mother’s next-level, thirty-layer lasagna, which he serves at his new Atlantic city restaurant.

REGAN STEPHENS

September 05, 2017

Every Italian dutifully swears his mom’s cooking is the best, but in Michael Symon’s case, it may actually be true. The Iron Chef recently opened Angeline in Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa as an homage to his mom, Angel. The menu, inspired by family recipes, is a roundup of the classic, red-sauce-style Italian dishes Symon grew up eating: handmade linguini with clams, arancini, eggplant parm and a daily “Sunday Supper” that includes a feast of prosciutto, ricotta and red peppers, cavatelli, garlic bread, meatballs and more. But one dish evokes a particularly strong sense of nostalgia for Symon: lasagna.

“Every Wednesday at my parents’ house was lasagna night—the night all my friends begged to eat over,” he says. “You could smell the lasagna baking houses away, and Wednesday was the only night of the week I was more than happy to be early for dinner. I’ve eaten lasagna from every corner of the earth, and I have yet to find one as good as Mom’s.”

Symon recreates Angel’s recipe in the thirty-layered dish he named “Mom’s Lasagna.” In a glossy dining room designed with little touches to recall his mom’s home (floral wallpaper, lace curtains and a built-in hutch displaying cake plates and other nonna-approved knick-knacks) servers present towering rectangles of pasta and cheese that sit atop pools of meaty red sauce. If you aren’t getting an invite to Mrs. Symon’s house on lasagna night, this is the next best thing.

To start your own Wednesday night tradition, use the chef’s best tips for building an architecturally-impressive, nostalgia-inducing lasagna.

The Noodles

According to Symon, cutting corners sacrifices taste. “Don’t bother with those no-boil noodles—they compromise the texture,” he says. “Go the extra mile and use the real thing.” He also quotes his co-host on The Chew: “When boiling the noodles, salt your water until, in the words of Mario Batali, it’s ‘as salty as the sea.’ This is your chance to season your pasta.”

The Cheese

To help keep layers smooth and mess-free, use Angel’s trick. “One of the things my mom always did is put the ricotta mixture in a plastic zip bag or piping bag,” he shares. “That way it goes right where you want it to go, and you don’t have to fight with it. It spreads quickly and evenly.”

The Pan

The chef says a 9 x 13-inch pan is the optimal size and shape for baking lasagna. “It keeps the ingredients condensed so the final product is nice and thick, versus each layer being spread thinly in a larger pan,” he says.

The Finish

There’s really no such thing as too much cheese, so Symon likes to grate fresh mozzarella and fresh parmesan on top to make it extra cheesy. “Another tip from my mom: always cover it with foil at the beginning of the cooking process, then remove it for the last 10 minutes to let the cheese on top get brown and crispy.”

Michael Symon’s Mom’s Lasagna

The Birthday Party

Birthday Girl

Every grandmother should have the opportunity to have a birthday part for their granddaughter.  It brings joy to all involved, but I didn’t realize is that it also brought stress.  (in a good way)

It had been about twenty or more years since I had a party for kids.  My sons are grown and in their thirties.  Back in the day it was very easy for me.  One of my sons was born the day before Halloween, so we had a scary ghost and dunk for apples, eat the donuts off the rope line, walk through the cardboard castle, filled cooked spaghetti worms, grape eyeballs and etc.  The other two sons were born in the summer, so we had outdoor scavenger hunts, big picnics at the park and always had a wonderful clown named Flutterby, who came with chicks and ducks.

My beautiful granddaughter, Claire has a birthday in December.  In Washington that means you either have a party in the house, or go somewhere like Chucky Cheese.  Being there is not Chucky Cheese close by, I volunteered to have it at my house.  Luckily Claire had been here most of the summer and made some friends at the local Boys and Girls Club.  I was worried about getting anyone to attend.

I love to entertain and usually find it quite easy; but to entertain a group of seven year olds, I was now out of my league.  I asked a former student for some advice and the director of the Boys and Girls Club and we came up with a plan.  I told my sons I was more worried about this than a dinner party with six courses, as it had been a long time since I had been around that many children.

So the plan came into being.  The party would be Saturday morning from 10 AM till 12 PM.  We would make personal pizzas, have a first floor scavenger hunt, play “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, eat cake and ice cream and open presents.  By the day before we had nine children that were going to come.  I had baked a cake for the party and a cake for our more formal dinner at a restaurant.  I had party favors, had ordered the donkey game online, as no one sells it anymore, and made a scavenger hunt of funny stuff.

Pizzas went well, but I did not make enough red sauce.  My sons organized the lines and the cooking and getting the right pizza to the right person. My husband made Mimosas for the adults and everything actually went well.  The scavenger hunt started and I realized within minutes, they did not need twenty minutes to find everything and reset the timer to five more minutes.  Four of the nine found everything on the list, so there went my prizes.

Pin the tail on the donkey was next.  I learned that you had to put tape on each tail, as I seemed to have forgotten and having a solid mask was sort of important. One of parents handed me tape for each one.  The one that was closest to where the tail belongs got cake and ice cream first after Claire. It was her birthday and even though she did get the tail directly in the appropriate spot, we had to change the see-through blind fold.

Cake & ice cream was a breeze and even though I took the ice cream out too soon and it was pretty melted, it seemed to be eaten just fine.  Only had to wipe a little off the floor and luckily had enough chocolate milk containers for all.  As gifts were being opened, I thanked everyone for coming and for their gifts.

All that worry and it went quite well.  Claire had such a good time, she took a two hour nap (her choice) in the afternoon and then we all went out to dinner.  Then I came home and went to bed.  Tired Grandma!

The Birthday Party

SUNDAY NIGHT OR WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS

It’s Sunday night and weekend passed way too quickly.  The backyard had a lot of plants to cut back for winter and chickens are very funny, but very messy.  Time to clean up their mess before the rains come.

The Korean Beef Short Ribs became, as I told my husband, the meat eater: “Meat over Rice” and that was all he ate, as that was all i cooked.  I took some Butternut Squash soup out of the freezer and cut up the rolled pork loin with broccoli rabe adding it to the soup.  Put a little fresh Regianno Parmesano and you have a pretty tasty dinner and not wasted food.

The chickens got the left over Pea Salad and they were happy too.  It is a nice relaxing evening here at “Kingsley Manor”. Off to binge watch Poldark.

Beside dinner, I baked another Paul Hollywood’s Pain de Savoie for my husband’s office pot luck, designed an invitation for my granddaughter’s birthday party, wrote an article for a local magazine and caught up on my online class.  Grandma was pretty busy today.

SUNDAY NIGHT OR WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS

Just a nice Winter Meal

Short ribs

My husband loves “meat & potatoes”, so to make him happy I cook a lot more meat dishes than I would really like to eat.  I could eat fish and chicken seven days a week, but I do have to admit this meat dish was pretty good.  I would add a little more beef stock than the recipe suggested and maybe add a little white wine to tenderize the meat.  The recipe came from Cooking Light Magazine.  I would not really consider this a “light” dinner, but it was tasty.  The recipe was by Marianne Williams.

Oh, and do NOT touch your eye after chopping up the chili; as it is not a fun moment. 

Prep Time
20 Mins
Total Time
8 Hours 20 Mins
Yield
Serves 8 (serving size: 1 short rib and about 1/3 cup rice mixture)

The slow cooker makes a masterpiece of beef short ribs as the meat becomes buttery tender and the cooking liquid reduces to a spicy, deeply savory sauce. Sake, a dry rice wine, and mirin, a stronger, sweeter rice wine, balance each other here (the alcohol will cook off as the dish simmers). Both are available at most grocery stores. Spicy, tangy kimchi, or Korean-style fermented cabbage, adds heat and complexity to the dish.

Just a nice Winter Meal

Do Not Leave Your Glass on the Sink

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This is not my cat.  My cat is a big fluffy Siberian Forest Cat named Frostyman the Cat.  He is a beautiful boy, but he is everything a cat should be.  This morning I learned another lesson from Frosty.  Do NOT leave your water glass on the counter with water in it and go back and drink the water later.

I usually have a glass of water that I keep by the sink during the day with ice in it.  I am trying to drink a lot of water as I know it is good for you.

This morning when I came down to the kitchen there was my beautiful boy with his head totally immersed in my glass of water. Frosty

It made me wonder how long my cat and I had been sharing the same glass of water?

I have found in the past, if I leave food on the counter, it becomes “cat food”, no matter what it is.  I also found if I cover it with a clean dish towel, the cat has no interest in it.  He does not seem to have the where with all to remove the towel or maybe is lazy or maybe is just not smart enough.

Going forward, if I leave my water glass on the sink, I will cover it with a clean dish towel. If the towel is removed then I will know the cat shared my water and now it is his.

Moral:  The cat usually wins.

Do Not Leave Your Glass on the Sink