Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Scripture

Isaiah 30 verse 18

The LORD longs to be gracious to you,
and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Quote o' the Day

"We are known forever by the tracks we leave."

-- Dakota Proverb

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Our big “weather event” is coming to a close, and we are very thankful to have not lost power. (Over 182,000 Oklahomans did.) And we’re also thankful to be able to just stay in and enjoy the winter wonderland. The snow is just beautiful.

Lucky Dog

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This is a first!

Well, this really is a first. I’ve never seen a raccoon in any of our trees taking a nap. We’ve often wondered where they are during the day, and assumed they were somewhere up in a tree, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it.

And yes, I am shopping for a new camera. Obviously, I am going to need one in the super-zoom class, don’tcha think? J

Ooh, somebody woke up!

A little grooming... scratchin' like a dog...

And off we go, back to wherever.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hostess Hangover

I must have Hostess Hangover... I’m so LE (low-energy) today! Last night I hosted our local calligraphy guild’s party, and while I did not “imbibe”, I got all wound up and couldn’t get to bed at a decent hour. Thus, this feeling of sludge all day.

Besides, I have long-maintained a theory of “After Every Up, There Must Be a Down”.

Today was my Down, and I sure didn’t feel like cooking tonight. If I had been thinking straight (which is hard to do with sludge brain), I’da begged Mr. Man to bring something home. But I didn’t, and not wanting a frozen entrée, I did the next easiest thing: I got out my can opener. J

I guess it’s the lack of sleep and subsequent low serotonin levels that made me crave carbs, or the fact that we are anticipating another snowstorm on Thursday, cuz it’s got me thinking Hearty Dishes, not salads.

And other than take-out or frozen, you can hardly get much easier than good ol’ Chili-Mac. Oh, my 7-Can Soup might be easier. (You literally open 7 cans, dump ‘em in a pot, and heat.) But tonight’s carb craving dictated a different tack, and my pantry said Chili Mac. Cook a pound of macaroni, drain it, and add 2 cans of chili and 2 cans of chili beans. Heat thoroughly. Easy peasy. Simple pimple.

I add some water, too, so that it doesn’t dry out, like a cup or so. If you get it too wet, you can boil it off--if it starts drying out on ya, you can always add some more. You can put some chopped onions or grated cheese on top, if you want.

Sounds like good eats for a snowstorm to me.
I guess I’m just a little early.

Lucky Dog

Electric Smoke

Here's another one of my abstract pieces, done with Panpastels.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quote o' the Day

“Never ask a barber if you think you need a haircut.” -- Unknown

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Scripture

Psalm 65 verse 8

Thou dost make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.

[This is one of my very most favorite verses, because
Shouting for Joy = Color!! What artist isn’t gonna love that?!]

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lost Love

Yesterday I re-discovered my love for making Versal-like caps with colored pencils. How had I forgotten this??

This changes everything! J

I was inspired by Graham McArthur’s incredible work on his website to try combining my Versals with one of my abstract pastels. (Thanks, Graham!)

Coincidentally (or it that Serendipitiously?), the day before I received a note from Peter Thornton regarding his available workshops, and he wrote the whole thing out in his wonderful caps and Italic handwriting using a humble pencil.

These two things apparently collided in my brain without my realizing it.

I was ready to letter in gouache, as usual, and had even already mixed up some white to use for my Versals. But after I did my rough layout in pencil, I somehow thought to just go ahead and use a pencil for the final, too. (!)

After the first few letters, I was hooked!! J

I used a PrismaColor white colored pencil on Ingres Antique paper for the letters and PanPastels for the artwork.

What else can I tell you? The letters are about ½ inch tall, I guess, and the sheet of paper is 9 ½ x 12 inches big.

I haven’t played around with how I would crop it in a mat, because I probably won’t bother to mat or frame this. It was just an experiment.

And the photographs I took are crummy, as usual. The piece looks a lot different in person than in the photo. Don't they always? Sigh. (Insert whining about my point-and-shoot camera here.) J

And to make the letters, I drew the skeleton form of the letter, and using pressure and release, I weighted them accordingly.

Ha-ha! Didn’t that sound sooooo simple?! “I weighted them accordingly.” I wish!!

Anyway, that was what I did in the studio yesterday.

To new and old discoveries…

Lucky Dog

Friday, January 22, 2010

Exit, Stage Left

So I’m still reading in Exodus, and am just about to where the Israelites “exit” Egypt.

And in today’s chapter God tells them, oh, and BTW, you won’t go out empty-handed. I will send you off with all the riches of Egypt.

And He proceeds to tell them to go to their Egyptian neighbors and ask them for their silver and gold.


Excuse me, how would that go again??

“I need to borrow a cup of sugar, and oh yeah, while you're at it, how about all your silver and gold?”

That’s a yikes!!! J

(I bet my neighbors are glad I’m not a fleeing Israelite.)

Lucky Dog

Thursday, January 21, 2010

LipSmackin' Good

I have the best husband! He was swinging by the store on the way home from work to get some provisions for us, and I asked him to see if they had any Bonne Bell LipSmackers in Strawberry.

You see, I had gotten hooked on Chapstick Naturals, cuz I like a slippery lip balm, and of course, that means I can’t find any at the stores around us now. Aarrgghh! J And nothing else has been the right consistency, until I remembered good ol’ LipSmackers.

And why Strawberry? Well, the one I tried last week was Cotton Candy and that was wonderful, but I needed another one, and remembered that I used to have the Strawberry flavor back in high school.

And what does he bring home?? A plethora of flavors!! I’m kinda embarrassed that I am so easily excited over something as simple as lip gloss, but c’mon, how much *fun* is this?? Vanilla, Mango, Wild Raspberry, Watermelon, Tropical Punch, Cotton Candy, Kiwi, and Strawberry... a veritable cornucopia of lip balm delights!

I immediately opened up the package, pulled out the Strawberry flavor and put in on. OMG, I was suddenly back in 10th grade again! Amazing!!!!!!!!!

To feeling 16 again… J

Lucky Dog

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quote o' the Day

"Artists don't get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working." -- Stephen DeStaebler

Monday, January 18, 2010

Feline Crazy!

This is a photo of our little female cat, whose name is currently Mud. (see post about missing memory card)

Doesn’t she have the calmest, most relaxed expression? She just oozes contentment and sugar-y sweetness, doesn’t she? No?? That’s cuz she’s a *CrAzY* cat!

She’s a Ragdoll cat, which should mean that she’s so laid back, she’d flop when you pick her up. But not this one. She’s a feisty girl! But we love her anyway.

Usually. J

Lucky Dog

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Scripture

Lamentations 3 verse 22

The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
for His compassions never fail.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Plaguing Questions

Okay, so I'm reading the Old Testament outloud, one chapter at a time, and I finished Genesis and am now into Exodus. I’m in the part with all the plagues. You know, Moses says to the Pharoah over Egypt, let us go into the wilderness to worship God, and Pharoah (not wanting to lose his free slave labor, I guess) says no way.

Thus the plagues. Let My people go or else, kind of a thing.

What I don’t get is, Pharoah says no and Moses causes a plague of, say, frogs, and what happens next? Pharoah’s magicians say, big deal, we can do that too, and they cause a ton of frogs to invade absolutely everywhere.

So I’m just wondering, why cause more frogs? Why make more of a bad thing? Why not use your powers to get rid of the stinkin’ frogs? Helloooo! No, let’s make more bloody water, more frogs. Oy.

And get this, later, when Moses asks Pharoah, okay, when do you want the frogs to be gone? Pharaoh says, tomorrow. Really? Tomorrow? How about right now?! Aarrgghh!

These are just some of the many questions I have.
It’s a long list. J

Lucky Dog

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quote o' the Day

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
-- Philo of

Some days I have the worst back pain, although I bet if you ran into me at Walgreen’s, you’d never know it. I don’t know what you’re dealing with, I just hope that you are winning. J

Lucky Dog

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm So Happy to See You!!!

Well, today was way too exciting, and not the good kind. I lost my memory card from my camera that was full of all my photos. Full, I tell you! I looked and looked and looked again. I searched the obvious places and the obscure. I ransacked all my drawers and even stripped the sheets off the bed. I looked for hours upon hours.

Thank heavens, Mr. Man finally found it. Even then, it was after I had gone through two bags of trash and after he searched the whole downstairs. He was swinging the flashlight around the carpet and “happened” to see a corner of it peeking from behind the pedestal sink in the powder room. The powder room! Exactly where I would expect to find a memory card that I had been using in the master suite. (Not.)

I suspect a feline had too much fun in the night, if you ask me. A feline whose name is Mud at the moment. Actually, I’m just glad I can finally quit stressing and put the trash out. (This would happen on Trash Day.)

Whew. Yes, way too much excitement.

Lucky Dog


Look who came by for a late breakfast! A buck. A boy deer, as evidenced by those antlers. We don’t see antlers much. The boys tend to stay outa sight.

I wish it were a better photo for you, but I just have a little point-and-shoot camera. I zoomed up on him as best I could, and then also had to crop the photo, so it’s not the best. It’s more of a documenting photo than an artistic one. But at least he looked up and posed for me. J

And really, I’d swear that he could sense the focusing beam, because right after I took this photo, I focused on him again, and while the camera was doing its focusing gyrations, he spooked and took off into the woods. So while I really wish this photo were better, I may have been lucky to have gotten it at all.

Lucky Dog

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quote o' the Day

"Discipline is remembering what you want." -- Unknown

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Piece from the Creek

Do you love all those swirly patterns as much as I do?? J

Lucky Dog

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Scripture

Psalm 23 verse 6

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

[I have heard Goodness defined as :
God giving us that which we don't deserve
and Lovingkindness (or mercy) as:
God withholding from us that which we do deserve.
Cool, huh?]     J

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Recipe--Cheese Soup

Our outdoor thermometer recorded a low of -1.5º! That’s something new for us transplanted Texans! (I don’t even want to *think* about our next natural gas bill! Yikes!)

So, this is another perfect day for homemade soup! And I decided to make one of our favorites:  Cheese Soup.

I got the recipe years ago from one of our neighbors growing up. She was probably 65 when I was 15; who knows? She seemed old to me my whole life. In fact, in the innocent stupidity of youth I even asked her once, “What’s it like to be old?” Her answer was brilliant: “It takes longer to recover.”

She was outspoken and vibrant, and a quite the world traveler. She’d hop a freight ship to Australia or head off to Russia. She was one of those flashy types that always wore a matching hat and scarf in something like orange or turquoise or hot pink. It matched her great personality. She was just so cool.

She got this recipe out of the Austin paper, which got it from a local restaurant. I’m afraid I don’t remember the name of that restaurant, but I’d just about swear that this is as good as the soup at Charleston’s here in Edmond. And if you made it with real cream, oh, I can’t even imagine...! J


4 c. chicken broth (2 cans)
½ c. carrots, finely chopped
2½ ribs celery, finely chopped
½ small bell pepper, finely chopped
S&P to taste
(I add about 4 chopped potatoes. You could also add cooked chicken.)

4 T. butter
4 T. flour
2 c. milk
1 c. cheddar cheese, grated  (I use more!)

Put broth and veggies in a 6 qt. pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer while preparing the rest.

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add flour and stir until well mixed, but not brown. Add the milk slowly, stirring. Stir until smooth. Add this to the big pan.

Add grated cheese, S&P to the soup. Cook until well blended and hot.
Makes about 2 qt.

Look at that poor little piece of parsley! Ha-ha! But in these temps, and a blanket of snow for 2 weeks, I was surprised there was even any left in the flowerbed!

Stay warm!

Lucky Dog

Friday, January 8, 2010

My Favorite Piece

For my one week anniversary of having a blog, I am just now getting around to posting some of my calligraphy. It’s always something, isn’t it? This is a piece that I made awhile back, and it’s probably my very most favorite piece that I’ve ever lettered, so it gets the honor of being first.

I painted the background, lettered in Uncial using Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleedproof White, and then “whapped” it with various colors of nail polish. J

Don’t get me started on DM’s BP White, because I think they changed the formula and I’m not happy at all about it. I used to mix it and Pro White for an unbelievable hybrid white that was simply *magic*, and now it doesn’t work.

To more magic in 2010…

Lucky Dog

Turner Acrylic Gouache Set of 36

Here’s my new paint set from Mr. Man! I mean, Santy Claus! J Isn’t it just gorgeous? I don’t know how I’ll let myself open and use them, because I just *love* virgin paint sets!! OTOH, I am excited to see how the velvet-y matte paint looks on a sheet of Arches Text Wove or Rives BFK. Yummy!!

Lucky Dog

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Snowy Creek

Here is another photo of the creek behind us after the Christmas Eve blizzard. It is the prettiest that I have ever seen it.

Lucky Dog

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Making Your Own Rice Sock Buddy

With the Arctic Blast on its way, I thought it was about time to make another Rice Sock Buddy.

I first saw the idea of a Rice Buddy on the old Home & Family show several years ago. The idea is, you take a new tube sock, fill it with dry uncooked rice, and sew up the top.

To use it, you zap it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, until it’s warm enough for you. Then hug it, and enjoy the portable warmth. No batteries, no cords, no electro magnetic fields.

I have been using mine like crazy this winter! I zap it to toasty warm and carry it with me when I go to put deer corn out or get in the mail. I have another one warmed up for Mr. Man when he comes in from the cold. They just feel heavenly against a frozen face or *nose*.

I keep it in my lap sometimes, carry it around the house like a little baby, or even put it under the covers with me. It’s like having a faux pet in your lap while you watch TV! J And it is especially good at keeping my fingers from turning into icicles.

So, having made these out of tube socks in the past, I decided to go whole hog this time and make one out of fabric.

I wasn’t sure I had any cotton or linen fabric. Not that I don’t have an embarrassingly large fabric stash, for someone who doesn’t sew anymore. But I’m an old Stretch-and-Sewer, so most all of my fabric is knit. Thankfully, I found some woven in there after all, so made this cute little guy. Ooh, pretty! Maybe I will use knit fabric next time. Wouldn’t one made outa fleece be delicious?

Now if you’re making it out of fabric, of course, the size is up to you. The tube sock isn’t the most attractive thing in the world, but it works really well. In fact, after awhile it gets kinda floppy, which is perfect for tucking around your shoulders or neck for some extra TLC. So really, it has its place, too. I like to knead mine.

Now, I have also used flaxseed instead of rice, and have found that the rice gets and stays hotter. But I guess it’s just which you want to smell. I’ve never wanted one with lavender added, but you may. Me, I just use cheap rice. Maybe next time I will try tucking a fabric softener sheet in with the rice. Hmmmm... (Oh, great. Now I think of that!) J

And I have truly used mine so much lately that I don’t know how one manages without one! And even for one who doesn’t want to ever sew again (who, me?), it really is easy.

Just use a funnel and fill up a new tube sock with cheap rice, secure with pins, and sew across the end. In fact, I sew 3 seams across the end, just because the thought of a busted seam and rice going everywhere is just too crazy for me to cope with. So why not 3 seams for a little peace of mind. J

So, I hope you try making your own little bit of warmth and comfort. With the temperatures headed for single digits this week, you may be really happy you did.

Lucky Dog

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Creekbed Art

Isn't this so cool?? The ice in the creek behind us has frozen into all sorts of the neatest patterns. I wish I could paint something like this! If you click on it and open up the bigger version, you can really see some of the cool details.

Lucky Dog

Raccoon Tracks

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cardinal in the blizzard

Backyard View

Breakfast Time

Back to the Real World…

Our Christmas vacation was wonderful. We had a Christmas Eve blizzard and watched cardinals in the snow. We got to have 18 straight days together and Mr. Man did things on my Honey-Do List. I have loved it. I could totally get used to being spoiled like this forever, but now it’s time to get back to the real world.

Yup, it’s back to the routine of Monday through Friday, back to counting Weight Watcher Points, and back to working on my own To Do List. It was fabulous while it lasted, but here it is: Monday.

My To Do List is always long and crazy. It always has been, and over the years I have come to accept the fact that it always will be. But ya know, it isn’t just that it’s long, it’s that it’s the same crazy things over and over.

It’s like a lot of our bills. Mr. Man can’t stand the fact that so many of our bills are things that you never finish paying for. Like cable or cell phones or insurance. It’s not like a set of towels that you pay for and that’s it. No, you keep paying for these things month after month after month. It seriously never ever ends.

Well, a lot of my To Do List is like that, too. I don’t ever do my final load of laundry, cook my last meal, or finish practicing my calligraphy.

I guess that’s why I love Creating Things so much (AKA being an artist). You have an idea that inspires you, or some fragment of metallic pink thread begs to become part of a collage, so you get in the studio and pursue that vision to wherever it ends up taking you.

And in the end, you make something out of practically nothing, just some jams and jellies and little pots of color, and you have *created*. You have brought into being something that did not exist before. There is the joy of creation and the joy of completion. And that is a very, very, very good feeling.  :)

(So is getting all the laundry done for the week! Yay!!!!!)

Lucky Dog

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Scripture

Psalm 103 verse 8

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

[This has got to be one of my all-time favorite verses.
Now I'm just askin', does it get any better than that?]

Saturday, January 2, 2010

And the Winner Is.....

…the sourdough bread starter from Aunt Becky!

It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it...  :) 

We forced ourselves to taste each batch of hot, fresh rolls, slathered with real butter, and both of us surprisingly preferred Aunt Becky’s.

It was a close race, though. PW’s rolls were clearly softer, but AB’s had that touch of yeast-y flavor that we love. And if they weren’t literally side by side, we might not have even been able to tell which was which. So, if I ever need rolls within 12 hours, now I know what recipe to use. Because, just like I’m sure it has happened to you, sometimes ya just have roll emergencies.

So now we know.

Lucky Dog

A Not-So-Brief Recap, Before We Continue

First of all, I didn’t know what “starter” was. And I sure never thought about making bread by hand.

After all, I had a bread machine already, didn’t everyone? But then my neighbor gave us some homemade rolls as a thank you for picking up her paper & mail while they went back home for a visit.

Wow, they were like little clouds of puffy deliciousness. I begged her for the recipe, and she said she couldn’t give it to me, that I needed some of her aunt’s “starter” to bake them with. What? Well, then, can’t I have the recipe for that? No, she said, she would bring me back some starter the next time they visited home. That was at New Year’s. I got the starter after Spring Break.

"Starter” is a gloppy concoction that you keep in your refrigerator and use instead of yeast from the store. Different starters have different strains of yeast and thus taste differently, resulting in different tasting bread. (The most famous being the sour twang of San Francisco sourdough bread.) And I call my starter a “sourdough” bread starter because it functions as one, but the bread that I make with it doesn’t have a sour taste to it at all. It reminds me of the yeast-y cloverleaf rolls at the Luby’s Cafeteria at Steck in Austin, growing up. Yum. Plus, it’s a no-knead bread. That means zero kneading! Time does the work for you, instead of your mixer or your muscles.

Trouble is, I can’t get any more if I needed to. My neighbor moved back home, so if for any reason my little bread dough starter died, I’m doomed. Game over. I don’t know how my friend’s aunt got it or made it, or how many decades it goes back, but it’s a good Southern starter, and I have felt privileged to have it. So you can begin to imagine how precious my little pitcher of liquid gold is to me.

Then the unthinkable happened. A little over a week ago, I nearly accidentally killed him. You see, normally I would turn my oven light on, let it get a little warm and cozy, and put my starter in there to wake up and eat all day long. Well, I was cooking something else that day, and went to pre-heat my oven, and I forgot that my starter was in there. Yikes! Thankfully, it survived, or at least enough of it did to multiply itself back to health.

So, I am very excited about today’s bread experiment. On the one hand, it would be nice to not have to feed and maintain a starter, or worry about keeping it alive (AKA not killing it). Also, making bread with my starter is a 2-day process. I have to feed him and make dough one day, shape and bake the dough the next. I can’t just wake up and decide to have fresh bread that night. I have to plan ahead. Plus, I can’t just e-mail someone some starter. It’s difficult to pass along to someone who wants it, whereas I could give anyone a recipe.

But on the other hand, anything else would have to be really, really, really incredible bread for me to burn my bridges and throw my starter completely away. It makes seriously good white bread. In fact, Mr. Man won’t eat store-bought bread anymore. It will be very hard to beat. I sorta hope PW’s recipe wins, because it would be easier on many levels, but it would be a bit sad to throw my little starter out.

(I think I’d get over it, though!)  :)

Lucky Dog

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sourdough bread starter

Here is a photo of some very happy sourdough bread starter. See how bubbly he is? He's been eating all day long.

I'll take one cup of him and make some dough tonight, and put the rest of him back into the refrigerator until next time. He's like a little pet. A very, very low-maintenance pet.

Lucky Dog

Decadent Cinnamon Rolls

Happy New Year!  This is my favorite time of the year!

Putting up all the Christmas stuff and getting the house back in order always gets me in the mood to re-organize for the New Year! I love, love, love that! I love things nice & orderly, and always wish I were more organized. I keep striving, but I never seem to quite get there… 

Still, though, I love the fresh, new beginning of the New Year! It's a January thing.

So... I made The Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls over the holidays.
If you haven’t gotten hooked on her blog yet, check it out at Romance, recipes, ranching… she’s got it all. And her cinnamon roll recipe. Oh my, her cinnamon roll recipe. She promised they would be wonderful and they really, really were.

And they were pretty easy to make too, if,
if you don’t mind melted butter, dirty dishes and flour all over the place. Maybe I’m messy and don’t know it, so it may be just me. At one point I think I would’ve freaked, except I knew that Mr. Man always cleans up the kitchen for me after I do any cooking or baking. Isn’t he wonderful?? He says (to paraphrase the ending of the movie, An Affair to Remember), “If you can cook, I can clean.” Thank heavens, too, because I did have a bit of a mess.

But it really was a pretty easy recipe, and of course, the rolls were
so worth it. Yummy! It makes several pans full, and you can freeze them, so how perfect is that? (I opted to give mine away and make some neighbors and friends happy, but having some in the freezer sounds divine!)

And now that I’ve tried the recipe, I would offer 2 suggestions.
I’m big on passing along the kind of I-learned-this-the-hard-way-so-now-you-don’t-have-to stuff. And the first one is, use a candy thermometer to make sure your scalded milk mixture is around 115ºF. before adding your yeast. Just to make sure. You don’t want to kill the yeast with too much heat at this point!

And the second one is, I got
much nicer slices when I used dental floss to cut the rolls with instead of a knife. (You slide the floss underneath the roll and bring the two pieces of floss together to cross over the top, pull taut, and voilà, really beautiful slices.) When I used my knife, they smushed. Now, your mileage may vary, but I’m just passin’ that along for what it’s worth. Dental floss.

And the dough was so dreamy soft, and handled so beautifully.
I just love the feel of a good bread dough. It just has a quality that’s hard to describe. Very tactile and satisfying. Springy. And of course that maple icing was delicious. (Let’s just eat that by the spoonful, shall we?) I think you could put that maple icing on pig slop and it would be heaven!  :)  

But the dreamy, soft dough leads me to my next experiment. Pioneer Woman’s roll recipe vs. the sourdough yeast bread starter recipe that I currently use for my pillow-soft yeasty white bread or rolls. Hmmmm…

Yes, I will definitely need to make both recipes and see which we prefer. But it will have to be a real comparision.
Limit the variables. It’d have to be a true hot-out-of-the-oven taste test. Side by side. Freshly baked with lots and lots of real butter. Okay, I’d better get started. I have to feed my starter a day in advance.

Let the games begin.

Lucky Dog