I could use a vacation.

We haven’t taken a vacation since our honeymoon in 2012. Granted that was to Europe but my need for the beach is endless and I yearn for a week near the water. I want to take my paint and pencils and just relax with a tasty beverage.

In 2007 I was fortunate enough to travel out of the country for the first time. My dear friends Trish and Tom got married in St. Kitts. It was breathtaking. I didn’t own a camera at the time and so I had to borrow a little digital one. I managed to take a few good pictures but the fact that my photos aren’t perfect doesn’t diminish my cherished memories of that time.

I’ve been trying to paint a landscape based upon a photo I took there. I have a lot of work to do but I think I’m off to a decent start. It’s probably not a good idea to post photos of my work before they’re finished.

St Kitts Turtle Bay

Oh well. Being home alone most of the time and wanting feedback leads me to put myself out there. It’s a thing.

Insomnia and daylight savings … ugh.

My husband and I bought a new mattress. To say that it’s “firm” would be an understatement. It’s more like sleeping on a rock slab. As a result I end up in the guest room sleeping on our old mattress which is a pillow top and feels like sleeping on a cloud. I occasionally will take over-the-counter sleep aids but feel guilty every time since they are reportedly so harmful to your liver, ugh.

Anyway, I couldn’t sleep and lost another hour thanks to Woodrow Wilson and FDR and their effort to create more daylight for wars and what not. Geezsh, really?

So here I set on a Sunday a.m. contemplating stuff. Wishing I had more light to paint with. Which is something I finally got to do yesterday. I am continuing to paint cows. Those big black eyes just call to me for some reason.

IMG_0003

She’s a Jersey calf. I feel okay about it. After watching a few more instructional videos I think I definitely need to invest in better quality paint. As with everything else in life, the better your tools the better the outcome. Maybe I should keep painting and use what I have. I’m no Mary Cassatt.

The good news is we are that much closer to spring and the snow here is melting away. Soon I will be paddling in my new kayak and life will be grand.

Have a great Sunday!

Snow and more snow. I thought I moved to the south.

Here in KY (and most of the south and east) we’re snowed in. My distaste for this crap is endless. I want to live on a beach. I can run from a hurricane. Naturally, my hubster is out of town when the snowpocalypse hits us (three times and counting). Last time we got 13 inches. This time over two feet and don’t get me started on the drifts. Since he won’t be home until Friday and the Prius is not a jacked up 4×4 I will have to carve out a place for him to park when he comes home. I guess I’ll get some exercise this week after all. Ugh.

IMG_0009

Oh and I found a great way to pass the time … Adult coloring books…

IMG_0008

I spent last evening practicing my sketching and admittedly I have a long way to go until I’m even “proficient” I love doing it.

My subjects last night were a pelican and lion?

pelicanlion runs

IMG_0002 IMG_0003 His hind leg is a bit off, huh?

Yeah, I think the pelican is so fierce and thinking … “I would love to eat you.” Actually, both of them seem to have hunger in their eyes.

Today I’m painting another cow. I’m not sure why I find them so interesting. Maybe it’s their big doey eyes and long lashes. If it turns out okay I’ll share it.

Stay warm and safe out there. I’m off to start the shovelling. Ugh.

Yesterday I opened for business…

So, I am offically a freelance marketer. I have two clients. My husband is hiring me to handle all his video editing and a local shredding company has hired me to handle all of their marketing. I have no grand illusions of getting rich doing this but it will certainly be nice to work at my own schedule and pace. My new company is called … Here is my logo.

rmjcreativelogo small

Do you like?

I love ravens and crows.

Some time ago I watched a documentary or heard a news magazine about crows. The story detailed how intelligent and social they are. I figure they are great subject material for a new painter. Birds as a whole are rather simple.

Here is my raven chick. I’m pleased.

ravenchick

He’s sweet and slightly angry. I’ll probably try again and tweak it more but he makes me happy.

A new start. A new day. A new hobby.

I never imagined that I possessed even a modicum of artistic skill or talent. It’s never been a hobby or interest I seriously considered. While being an admirer of painting, sculpting, drawing and what not I never imagined I could be one myself. I’ve never really thought I had talent or skill of any kind. Well, except for cooking and I suppose the only “artistic” endeavor I’ve considered was writing. Although, I grew up playing the piano and had the ability to play by ear. In fact, I remember how dissapointed my instructor was when I quit playing. Yeah, I could kick myself for that decision.

So, over the last few months I realized I needed to do something with my free time (besides watch TV). I needed to use my brain for good. Cooking is all well and good but too much of it makes the backside big and well I have plenty of that. About six months ago I participated in a painting workshop. You know the kind … with wine, food, and paint. The instructor was obnoxious and overbearing but I learned that I might actually enjoy painting and with some instruction could possibly be okay at it. With the encouragment from a new friend I have begun to paint and sketch. Granted I am not great nor will anyone be chomping at the bit to buy any of my work but it is such a nice way to spend time. I find great peace in just spreading the paint on the canvas. Many times I paint over what I start and even that has something satisfying about it.

Mostly I’ve been painting animals like birds, cows, and elephants. I also now spend an inordinate amount of time on Pinterest looking for inspiration. I watch YouTube videos for instruction. It’s a great way to while away the cold wintery days.

Here are a few of my attempts…

IMG_3436

IMG_3522

IMG_3526

IMG_3527

IMG_3528

IMG_3529

IMG_3530

Reason #5099 why I love Summer … Berries!

Yesterday my friend and colleague, Christa, brought in freshly picked blackberries and a client brought us blueberries from her BLUEBERRY FARM (yes, I shouted that) because I am amazed by people who farm things I love. We agreed that the perfect farm would be a lavender/blueberry one. Yes, yes, yes. Oh and add some goats and chickens just for kicks. Mmmm … goat cheese. Sorry, I get distracted.

Christa commissioned a tasty treat made with blackberries. After some discussion and debate we decided blackberry scones would be a great idea. We also talked about how Panera and bakeries seem to make them too sweet, so I had to make a scone that wasn’t too sweet, cakey or dense. That didn’t seem like too tall and order. I knew exactly where to look for a recipe.

See:

Blackberry Lavender Scones 

They are amazingly good. They’re light, flaky, tender and not too sweet. I could seriously have eaten them all. The blackberries are just a bit tart and the lavender adds just a hint of perfume and romance to the flavor. I liken it to cooking with fish sauce. It doesn’t sound like something good but it adds depth and complexity to foods that you just can’t get otherwise.

If you’ve read my blog before you know I got the recipe from “Cook’s Illustrated”. If you can read and follow instructions you too will cook like a pro using their cookbooks. The folks over there know what they are doing. I added the lavender to the recipe because I love cooking with it. Try it I tell you, try it.

I also made a blackberry coulis with the leftover berries. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and tart. Delicious! Now I need to resist the urge to make pancakes in the morning, or pound cake, or brownies.

So, summer is here, praise the sweet Lord above. I have Sweet Peas blooming, Dahlias about to bloom and berries in abundance. Pastures are green and abundant with calves, colts and kids (goats that is). I love it.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. Next on my list is a kayak. Yes.

Here’s the scone modified recipe from Cook’s Illustrated … 

It is important to work the dough as little as possible—work quickly and knead and fold the dough only the number of times called for. The butter should be frozen solid before grating. In hot or humid environments, chill the flour mixture and work bowls before use. While the recipe calls for 2 whole sticks of butter, only 10 tablespoons are actually used (see step 1). If fresh berries are unavailable, an equal amount of frozen berries (do not defrost) can be substituted. An equal amount of raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries can be used in place of the blackberries. Cut larger berries into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces before incorporating. Refrigerate or freeze leftover scones, wrapped in foil, in an airtight container. To serve, remove foil and place scones on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven. Heat until warmed through and re-crisped, 8 to 10 minutes if refrigerated, 16 to 20 minutes if frozen. See final step for information on making the scone dough in advance.

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), frozen whole (see note above)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries (about 7 1/2 ounces), picked over (see note)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for work surface
  • 1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest (or lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Score and remove half of wrapper from each stick of frozen butter. Grate unwrapped ends on large holes of box grater (you should grate total of 8 tablespoons). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Save remaining 6 tablespoons butter for another use. Place blueberries in freezer until needed.

    2. Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lavender, and lime zest in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.

    3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

    4. Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Following illustrations, fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.

    5. Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.

    6. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

    To Make Ahead: After placing the scones on the baking sheet, either refrigerate them overnight or freeze. When ready to bake, for refrigerated scones, heat oven to 425 degrees and follow directions in step 6. For frozen scones, heat oven to 375 degrees, follow directions in step 6, and extend cooking time to 25 to 30 minutes.