Sunday, November 30, 2008

First snow

first snow

We had our first snow here. It's not much, but it's a start. I left the coneflowers up for the birds.

first snow

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers, especially the ones who read more than my blog, they apparently can also read my mind... (TW, get out of my head, girl, hehe!)

This is the closest I have to a turkey costume for Cloud, he's not really the clothes wearing type, other than his hoodie for outside excursions during a brutal Midwest winter day. As you can see, he was too embarrassed to look at me, but was compensated with treats, so we're good now.

Oh, Hai
"Oh Hai! You gonna eat all that turkey???"
Benny has his Thanksgiving "game face" on.
Who am I kidding, this is his normal expression, Lol.

Oh, and the flowered wallpaper? My studio was a childs room before we bought the house and we haven't gotten around to remodeling it yet. I actually kind of like it... :-)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, we are so blessed!

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Making Fairy Tales" demo on Youtube

I found this really neat video while blog surfing today, and I thought I would post it here too. The video features Irish artist PJ Lynch. I love to watch how other artists create. The music is beautiful, and his fire-breathing dragon is magnificent! I haven't drawn dragons in a very long time and this makes me want to again...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happiness is another Rat Terrier painting

This is Hawk, and I am so excited to be painting his portrait! Hawk is owned by Marnie Vollenhals, who is a wonderful artist from Texas. She paints sweet and whimsical illustrations that feature the adventures of Hawk and his friends. Hawk even has his own space rocket! I have him sketched out here, such a handsome fellow. For those of you wondering why his ears don't look like my dog Cloud's, some Rat Terriers ears stick straight up and some are floppy. This is going to be 8 x 10 acrylic on Ampersand Gessoboard. Can't wait to get started painting!

I am proud to be the owner of this original painting by Marnie titled 'Hawk wants a gumball.' I just love her work, it's so happy and makes you feel good. Check her out - you can find her work on Etsy and on her blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Little Giant ~ Rat Terrier painting

Clouds portrait is finished. I'm calling it 'Little Giant,' as anyone who knows one of these pint-sized dogs can attest to. I really like how the pose captures the breeds dignity, intelligence and heart. How I love this little dog!

A look back... Remember the original photo - beautiful head pose on an otherwise goofy photo? I raised his head up a little and changed his back to make him sitting down:

The sketch:

First layers of paint:

More work on the background:

Close to being finished:

Final painting:

Specs: 8 x 10," acrylic on Ampersand Gessoboard. Thanks for following along!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Impulse buys prompt feasting and revelry...

Well, feasting anyway. I had two appointments in Omaha this morning, so between them I went to Whole Foods. Just to pick up "a few things I couldn't get here..." You can see where this is going. In the spice section I found saffron, which I hadn't seen there before. The worlds most expensive spice. For only 3 bucks and some change...I've always wanted to try it... In the end it was the color that sold me - deep and rich and russet. Some of you may remember this post about color, and it was one of those moments... Into the cart it went.


At the meat counter I spied lamb shanks. Not only are they one of the most economical cuts of lamb, they are also (in my opinion) the tastiest if cooked properly. They are full of gelatin which makes them very moist and nutritious.

Ok, I have a confession to make. I am a freak about butter. Not just any butter, but really good butter. I have no qualms at all about paying 13 dollars a pound for good butter. Maybe I need help. But hey, I don't buy expensive shoes or purses. I buy expensive butter. It's my thing. So I found this Italian butter, made from the production of Parmigiano-Reggiano:


If you aren't familiar with Parmigiano-Reggiano, do yourself a favor and find some. Cut yourself a thin slice. Taste. You will throw out that stuff in the green can faster than you can say, "WhatwasIthinking,eatingthatcrapinthegreencanforalltheseyears!"


First I marinated the lamb shanks in a half cup of merlot. Seeing as it was a new bottle, I had to taste if first to make sure it wasn't poisoned or anything. Yeah. It was fine. You can't be too careful...

lamb shanks

After marinating for a couple hours, pat the shanks dry and brown in some oil in your cast iron skillet.

lamb shanks

Remove the shanks and put in a glass baking dish with a tight fitting lid. De-glaze the skillet with the marinating wine and a cup of stock (preferably beef or lamb. I used chicken - it was what I had.) Add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a quarter teaspoon each of oregano, thyme and cumin, an 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or less!) and 2 minced cloves of garlic. I also added a pinch of the saffron, just because I had to try it in something. Pour mixture over the shanks in the baking dish.

lamb shanks

Cover and bake at 300 degrees for about 3 hours. It should be falling off the bone. Remove shanks to a warm platter. Add salt to the sauce and boil down until nice and thick, reduced by at least half. Pour over the shanks.


I made my favorite squash but added a pinch of cayenne in addition to the other seasonings. Just when I thought that recipe couldn't get any better! Steamed red chard with loads of the Italian butter and another glass of wine rounded out the menu. If you can't tell, I love good food. I really, really do.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Soups on!

It's definitely soup weather here - windy, cloudy and downright cold! I stockpiled a bunch of pie pumpkins and squash from a roadside farm stand before his season was over, to have on hand for this and this. So what to do with all that wonderful orange pumpkin flesh? I've been adding it to one of my favorite soup recipes, a Southwest style chicken soup. The result is excellent - thicker and heartier, real 'stick to your ribs' fare.

First I half and seed a pie pumpkin, then brush the inside with a thin layer of olive oil. Bake at 350 until nice and soft, about an hour and 20 minutes (for my oven.) Cool slightly then scoop out the flesh and mash with a 'tater masher. So pretty!



In your soup pot saute half a chopped onion and 2 - 3 cloves minced garlic in some butter until soft (don't burn!) Add two cans chopped tomatoes (I like the Muir Glenn organic fire-roasted ones,) about 3 cups of chicken stock, half a cup of your favorite salsa, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon (or less) of cumin and a couple teaspoons of chili powder (more or less to your taste). Salt to taste. Add two cooked chicken breasts, sliced. Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 10 minutes to blend the seasonings. Stir in the cooked mashed pumpkin a little at a time until its as thick and pumpkin-y as you like (keep tasting.) Depending on the size of the pumpkin you may have some left over. Adjust seasonings (you'll probably need to add more salt.) Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese, chopped avocado, chopped fresh cilantro and a lime wedge. This soup will make you very, very happy.


As you can see I didn't have the cilantro or lime for the photo shoot. My bad.

This makes 4 servings. Optional ingredients are a can of black beans and/or corn. Enjoy!
You can easily make this vegetarian using veggie stock and no chicken.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I forgot to post the original photo of Bailey that I used for her painting. Here she is, what a sweetheart. I look at as many photos as I can and usually one will really jump out at me that will make the best portrait. It's not always the one you would think, sometimes unusual poses can be very striking. But this one is awesome. A classic pose for sure.