Sunday, January 31, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Winter Barn Scene

It's snowing gently as I write this, so I thought I would post yet another winter watercolor. Can you imagine how prolific I will be once summer is here?!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Great Deals at Salvation Army Thrift Stores

Woohoo! Check out this outfit. The entire ensemble cost $11.50. That's right, eleven fifty. The top is Ann Taylor, the skirt is Athletica and the booties are all leather. Who says you can't find great deals. They are at your nearest Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger

Rather than using ginger ale when you make your Moscow Mule, try ginger syrup . It's easy. The syrup is a result of making candied ginger. Here's how you make the candied ginger:

Peel and slice a pound of ginger very thin, or dice into small pieces. 

Place the ginger in a non-reactive 4 quart saucepot with 4 cups of water. I like the enameled cast iron version. Bring the water to a boil. Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat.

After draining for a second time, mix 4 cups of sugar with 4 cups of water and the ginger. Heat the mixture to 225 degrees F.

Once it reaches 225 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat. Drain the syrup and save it. Let the slices cool for about 2 hours. 

Place a 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in a bowl and place the ginger in the sugar, coating all sides.

Place candied ginger in tight fitting jar. 

Once the syrup has cooled, place it in a clean bottle. I like the versions with a resealable cap.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Democrats, Republicans and the Health of the Economy

When I speak of health, I refer to unemployment and spending by consumers. Both parties tout how strong the economy is doing and the United States is workforce back on track. Stronger than ever. Lowest unemployment record in years.

Have these economists or experts visited a Salvation Army, Goodwill or other thrift store lately? Thrift stores are packed. On weekends, the wait to check-out is a half-hour or more. One of the nations' largest Salvation Army locations is in southeast Michigan. In fact, the metro Detroit area boasts a bevy of resale shops.

And this is happening when Walmart, Macy's, Sears and Kmart are closing retail locations.

Unemployed workers have fallen off the official records. They still need jobs. They still struggle. More and more houses are becoming rentals. Food banks and food pantry's are limiting the amount of food available.

If numbers don't lie, ask the people looking for work this question - "How healthy is the economy?"

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

David Bowie's passing and Iggy Pop

David Bowie was an amazing artist. He was multi-faceted and inspired many people including Michigan's Iggy Pop. You can hear the influence in much of Iggy's music after he left the Stooges. And Iggy's musical style is evident in Bowie's music.

The world lost a shining star when David Bowie lost his battle to cancer.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Puppy Enjoying Winter Snow

Maybe she contemplating the gentle snowflakes falling. Or maybe she's planning her attack on villainous squirrel! Whatever caught her attention, puppy decided to stare out the window for over a half hour. She does like to eat snow on our walks. It's like she's eating a snow cone, she's just that excited over the frozen stuff.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Polenta Fries

Not the best photograph I have ever taken. But, the taste is delicious! These are my Polenta Fries. I thought I would share the recipe after seeing Polenta Croutons featured on, "The View". Pretty much the same theory - you make polenta and let it set-up, cut it apart, and bake it.

I use one cup grits, three cups water and one cup of milk. You could use four cups of water if you prefer. Salt is optional, although most people prefer it. Stir the mixture over medium heat on a stove top for about 10-15 minutes. Let the mixture "set" for about an hour. Spread the Polenta onto a non-stick baking pan about a half inch thick. Sprinkle garlic and paprika on top. Score the Polenta lightly about 1/4" so it looks like a french fry. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit  for a half hour then flip the Polenta over and bake the other side for an additional 30 minutes. Let it cool slightly and cut the creation to look like fries.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Pine Tree Watercolor

This is a painting I did of a pine tree in winter. There was a bit of lake effect snow yesterday. The lake is east of the cities, yet the air flow was such that it was pushing the weather system westward. Almost eight inches in some towns, while other cities got just a dusting of snow.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Watercolor Cabin at the Lake

Can you tell the days are getting colder here in Michigan? I am doing more and more watercolors. I have one more that's in the works right now.

I call this "Cabin on the Lake". Lakes are HUGE in Michigan - hence the name Great Lakes State. Some of the smaller lakes are so vast you cannot see landmass on the other side. A beautiful site.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Snow Watercolor

Here's a very quick watercolor of snow in winter.

Fields Watercolor

Here's another watercolor I did this past weekend. Looks like fields in springtime. This one is going to be a wedding present. I just need to mat the painting.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Applying Black Shoe Polish to Cloth Shoes

I have a pair of shoes that are in good shape, but I don't like the multi-color fabric anymore. What I really want is a pair of black mules. Before I donated these shoes, I decided to try and change their color using black shoe polish. I could have dyed the shoes. If I had dyed them with a liquid and the shoes got wet, like in a rainstorm, would my feet turn black?
Since I had the wax version of the shoe polish, that's what I decided to use on the shoes.
I used a damp paper towel and applied the wax polish to the shoes.
It took a couple of coats to cover the fabric base colors.

Overall, I got the effect I wanted - black mules. The wax polish doesn't come off. And I didn't spend a dime. Renew, reuse, recycle!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Watercolor Tree in WInter

Here's my version of a tree in winter. The original was in a book that a borrowed from the library...yes, people still READ printed books.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Magazine Box

My Mom wanted a magazine box from a large big box store. I took a look at the container and told my Mom I could recreate it. Here's my version of the box made from sisal, fabric and a bow.

I made a box out of corrugated cardboard that fit the largest magazine my Mom had. Next, I used hot glue to attach rope around the bottom half of the box.

Here's where it gets interesting. I took a drop cloth and measured and marked squares around the box to form fabric that lines the inside portion of the box and drapes over the sides enough so the unfinished portion of the box remains hidden no matter how many magazines place pressure on the fabric lining.

After cutting and washing the fabric, I pressed and starched the drop cloth.

Now it was time to sew seams along the edges.
Once the edges were sewn, I placed the fabric inside the box. I used upholstery tacks to attach the cloth to the box and finished the look with an organza bow. Voila!

Friday, January 1, 2016