Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bosch Mixer - Wow!

For the past 8 months or more I have been saving for this new mixer. It has a large capacity and has an exceptionally powerful motor. The bowl is large enough for 18 to 20 Cups of flour! Yikes! That's enough to make 6 large 1 1/2 pound loaves of bread all at one time. Finally! An easy way to whip up a batch that is big enough to eat now, freeze some and give the rest to friends and family.  Now all I have to do is double, triple or quadruple my favorite recipes and Saturday morning baking is one very productive 4 hour deal. Yum!  By the way, it is a Bosch Universal Plus. I got it on-line from Pleasant Hill Grain for
$429.99. A lifetime investment perfect for me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sometimes a moving picture is more fun than a pogo print!

Here's the recipe - adapted from "Bread Machine Magic" by Linda Rehberg & Lois Conway -

However, do not try to stuff these ingredients into a bread machine, this is for two large loaves. I put almost everything into a mixer, but knead the last cup or two of flour by hand. Measure out everything before you start, just so you won't miss anything -

Wholewheat - Wheatgerm- Sunflower Bread
1 C rolled oats
3 C whole wheat flour
3 to 4 C plus unbleached bread flour- there is a lot of wiggle room here. A lot depends on the brand of flour, the temperature and humidity in the room, and one's mood.... to get a dough that "feels good."
2 TBSP Gluten
3 TBSP wheatgerm
1 TBSP salt
4 TBSP brown sugar
2/3 C sunflower seeds
10 TBSP Buttermilk powder
2 1/4 C warm water
2 eggs
3 TBSP canola oil
2 TBSP active dry yeast
Mix yeast with 1C water and some of the brown sugar. Let sit 10 minutes to activate. I like to do this in a 2 C glass measuring cup because it's fun to see the yeast bubble and rise to life!
Pour into your warmed mixer bowl (I warm the bowl by rinsing it with warm water just so the yeast won't be shocked on entry into the bowl) and gradually add all the wet and then the dry ingredients, mixing slowly.
When the motor starts to growl, transfer the mass of dough onto your kneading board or counter and work in the last of the flour. Add more flour if dough is really wet, but this dough just tends to be sticky. Because it is a whole grain mixture, you really do not have to knead it for long.
Transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel to keep the dough moist and let it rise. In my kitchen which tends to be 76 degrees or more, this dough rises within 60 to 90 minutes to more than doubled in size.
Prepare two 9 x 5 inch bread pans with crisco and flour to prevent sticking.
GENTLY deflate the dough, (remember it is a living thing) and cut into two equal parts. Flatten it somewhat into a rectangle and roll it into a loaf shape.  Place in pans to rise again, covered with that wrap or towel. This takes another hour or so.
15 minutes prior to baking, move the wire rack to the bottom third of your oven and heat to 350 degrees. Bake for about 35 minutes or until a baking thermometer registers 190 degrees at the center of the loaf.
If the crust is getting browner than you like, tent the pans with some aluminum foil. When done, remove the bread from the pans immediately and let cool on wire racks or until you absolutely cannot wait to cut a slice to try it out. mmmmmm. good.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Ft. Lauderdale

Sometimes the best thing about taking pictures is changing them.
I have a few different programs that allow this.
The hardest part is deciding which effect I like best.
Make it look a few years old.
Make it look dreamy.
Make it look like a drawing.

Every single one is pretty to me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bag lady

Saturday, while baking more bread, I put some gesso on a couple of used brown lunch bags and did this drawing.
It's a pretty face from a magazine done using my left hand and a # 6B graphite pencil.
I sure do like to use my finger to smudge the graphite to shade the angles of the planes of the face.

Last night, while watching a movie, I added color using pastel pencils.
What fun they are! Good control for adding color in small places. I added more pencil work and used my eraser to make the highlights whiter.

 Working from a photo really does teach me more about drawing a portrait. And, I gotta say that this left hand of mine is learning

Friday, July 22, 2011

More Left Handed Art

This is Suki. I'm trying to understand the shape and shadow of oriental eyes. And working left handed sure makes you slow down. But, she is pretty, I think. This is graphite pencil, oil pastels and some watercolor for her hair.

This is Portia. I used PanPastels for the face and was sorry that even after several layers of workable fixative and more pastel, I didn't get the opacity I wanted for highlights on her skin. The rest is graphite pencil and black watercolor for her hair.
And, finally, we have Rina. Another trial for oriental eyes. These look a little off, but oh I do love the green shadowed with purple.

Glad it's the weekend. I've painted some brown paper bags with white gesso and will see how loose I can get on such a humble surface. I just can't justify using really good paper ... yet.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Left Handed Art Making-

Last week Jane Davies at the Sketchbook Challenge site
interviewed Lynne Hoppe and I was immediately intrigued by her art work. She draws and paints using only her non-dominant hand. Every drawing book I've ever read has encouraged this and I've done it, but never with the idea that I should always make art that way. It just seemed like an exercise to loosen up and get the left brain activity confounded, forcing more intuitive, right brain stuff.

When I saw her work however, I knew I had to try it. It has that naive quality that I lust after. In fact, I haven't been doing much art work lately because mine seems so terribly serious. I don't want it to be serious. What I want is playful, loose, childlike and far from realism. I struggle with it and am always having conversations with my inner critic.  So far, it has been winning and I haven't been drawing.

Until Tuesday. I came home for lunch and started to draw with only my left hand. Then I added oil pastel, some watercolor and you know what? I was having fun! All left handed!
Got the whole thing done in 20 minutes and drove back to work feeling pretty happy, indeed.

Meet Gertrude - her name means "warrior maiden" - I looked it up later in the day.

Wednesday, lunch time, somewhat fearfully, I did it again!  This time I was having a war with my critic, but I stopped listening and in 15 minutes, I met Holly. It means, "Holy".  Thanks for your support, little one, you do bring blessings of hope for this struggling artist.

Thursday. A difficult day at work. And it shows here. Plus, I was getting all bent out of shape because I couldn't get my whites to be as opaque as I wanted. I gessoed this page, so the printed ink didn't smear, but the oil pastel didn't want to smear much either.
What to do? What to do? Wait a minute, we live in the age of e-mail and kind hearted artists. Maybe Lynne Hoppe would help me. So, I did it. I e-mailed Ms Hoppe and hoped for the best.

Meanwhile, I met Gretchen.  It seems those lips sure are speaking out.  Her name means, "child of light."

And here we are on Friday after help has arrived. Lynne Hoppe answered my e-mail and my pile of questions and I am so grateful!  She advised preparing the page with matt medium for a nice surface.  It worked! Those oil pastels GLIDE on right over the printed surface and that old book page held together beautifully.   Additionally, she wrote all kinds of stuff about her technique - the use of gouache right on top of oil pastel and how she gets from start to finish. Really, really helpful and generous. I feel so much better now. This little face is mostly oil pastels with white gouache in the hair, but I will be braver as time and practice go on.
This is Trixie. This name comes from the Latin, Beatrice, which means, "one who brings happiness and blessing."
Wow. Ain't that the truth.
Thank you again Lynne - from the Welsh, "waterfall or lake". Your blessings are, indeed, flowing over me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Cats: we have cats. These are some of the feral kitties that live in my backyard. Breakfast time is a good time. During the day, they lounge around the porch, play tag, chase butterflies and display how perfectly wonderful it is to take a nap.
This is Fred. So curious, looking in the open door, right up at me, turning at the sound of each camera click. Today I found out that he is a girl! She has been caught and will be neutered and adopted out to a good home. I wish I could keep her, but it is difficult to catch these feral kitties, so when we can we are spreading the love.
I miss her already.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Watercolor Journaling

I've been trying my hand, or should I say brush, at watercolor painting and am finding it a fun media. Every time I go to the grocery store I look for something to draw and paint. For now it's flowers.

Right now I am truly enamored with this one kind of flower. It's a daisy, but a special kind that has a raised center and I don't know what it is called.  I just love taking photos and then printing them out to sketch later in my new journal. I've been trying out lots of color combos and have found that yellows are my crack. I can't get enough of yellow!

My kitchen table is full of watercolor painty things and now every time I go into the kitchen, or pass the table to get to the laundry room, I can pick up a pencil, a brush, or some india ink and add a dab.

This sure beats crying so much which has been my modis lately. Every little thing makes me tear up. And, every thing is so beautiful, I feel as if my heart is just going to burst out of my chest. Why does even this make me cry?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Back for a visit.

Every time I log in to Blogger I see the last post of August 2010 and think about how not in the mood I am for writing anything down. No excuses. Just living from day to day and wondering what's the point? I started this process as a way to journal my creative endeavors, so that one day I could look back and see what I've been doing in my spare time.

I see all the many people on the net writing about keeping a journal to document their daily lives, to catch an inspiration, to doodle, to vent, to pretend to do or be someone or some thing. And, though I have a half dozen journals started, none have ever been filled front to back. I seem to live in my head a lot. Lately, it's been annoying me enough to get me to think about writing it or drawing it or painting it, just so I can clear our some of the recurring debris.

 This is one of the reasons I haven't been writing. Candy Chloe. 07/04/1993 to 03/07/2011. She was our "middle dog". She came from a friend who needed to find her a home and we took her in gladly to keep our aging and anxious doberman, Lady, company. Her joyful lust for life gave Lady many happy active years of doggie fun. She was followed by my brother's boxer, Liz and for a wonderful long while we had three large, barking, running, happy dogs in this home. Playmates for my husband and sons and constant company for me.

 Time moves relentlessly on and son's grow up and move out. But every day I had company for my morning walks and late night prowls. However, as everyone knows, time takes what you love away and in 1999, Lady died at 17 years of age. In June of 2008, Liz passed at almost 14 years  and now, this March, at 17 1/2 years, Candy moved on and joined them where I can not see or hear or touch or smell, or sense them anymore. In between all of that our three house cats crossed over too, and now for the first time in my entire life, I live in a house that has no pets at all. I grew up with dogs and cats and birds and even ducks in the yard. When I graduated from nursing school, I got my own apartment and immediately adopted two cats. Every time I moved, I took them with me. I was never without a furry, fuzzy, warm body somewhere in my living space.
  This is really, really hard. I am in a heavy hearted place of grief that has come at me unexpectedly. I never knew how deeply involved I was with each of the critters that honored me with their love.  I am not in a good way right now. Tears fall too easily when I am driving to work and happen to see doggie ears in the car in front of me. Is this heart ache that feels so very heavy going to lift soon?  I feel too sad to bring in another pet right now. I feel afraid. I don't sleep well. I am distracted at work. I tell my husband I feel sad, but some part of me is actually ashamed of the depth of this feeling of loss.
 I am holding onto my sanity by feeding the 25 feral cats we have in our yard, but that is a story for another day. Maybe.