Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Giveaway

In honor of our Valentine's Day Blog Party, I have created the Love ATC and B is for Bird Gothic Arch as giveaways. If you would like to enter, please leave a comment and after 12 noon on Sunday, March 1, I will have a random drawing to choose 2 winners. Please be sure to leave me an email address or blog address to link back to.


I found these old books at the thrift store Please feel free to download them and use them in your artwork. The Lettering book has a copyright date of 1895, and Agatha's Unknown Way has a copyright date of 1898. Please do not include these images in a collection or collage sheet for sale.

Saltine Toffee Almond Candy

This recipe is amazingly easy to prepare and uses ingredients that are readily available. The candy is so delicious because it's sweet, salty, crunchy, has chocolate and toasted almonds.

Saltine Toffee Almond Candy

Saltine Crackers - approximately 1-1/2 sleeves
4 ounces butter (1 cube)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
3/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped (or other nuts desired)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place almonds in a pan and toast in oven until lightly browned. Watch carefully so that the almonds don't scorch. Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the candy.

Line a 15-1/2 inch x 10-1/2 inch x 1-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil; spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.

Arrange the saltine crackers in a single layer on the foil lined baking sheet, making sure there are no empty spaces between the crackers.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and sugar, stirring while the sugar melts. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and boil for 3 minutes. Carefully pour the sugar-butter mixture over the saltines, covering as many crackers as possible (toffee will spread in the oven).

Bake the crackers in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes until the toffee is bubbling. While crackers are baking, chop the almonds.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 1 minute. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the hot toffee, and let sit for 5 minutes so chips will soften and begin to melt. Using a knife or spatula, spread the melted chocolate over the entire surface of the toffee. Sprinkle with chopped toasted almonds. Cool completely. Break into pieces to serve.

A Small Visitor

I looked out my kitchen window and noticed that a hawk had decided to perch on the limb of one of the oak trees.

Snow In The Sierra's

Another storm came in bringing us much needed moisture in the form of snow. The only problem we had was that power lines were knocked down, so we were without power from 7:30 a.m. on Friday to 5:17 a.m. Saturday morning. It's a good thing we have a wood stove in the living area to keep us warm, and where I was able to do a little simple meal preparation. The worst part was that our well is pump-driven, so with no electricity we aren't able to run the water. We had some emergency water set aside, so that helped. No television and no video games, so we played board games by oil lamp light. I also worked on some Valentine's Day cards for my family. Even though I had the oil lamps and candles lit, it was really difficult to see what I was cutting with the X-acto knife. All the while, I kept thinking about those brave pioneer women who created their beautiful quilts with tiny stitches by lamp and firelight! It really made me thankful for electricity. I thought you all might enjoy this gorgeous view of the snowy landscape from my kitchen window.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Petite Dolls Workshop

I joined Suzi Blu's Petite Dolls Workshop, so I've been working my way through the lessons. I began doing some practice sketches of eyes and getting the shape and placement correct, head shapes, head tilts, lips, gesture sketches, shading and blending. When I felt confortable with the beginning level, I moved on to sketching faces, drawing and shading and blending the eyes, and working on hair styles. Suzi is a great teacher, and her pdf's and videos are uplifting, entertaining, extremely instructional, and fun. She makes each step look easy, with the emphasis on practice, practice, practice. So far, I've been sketching on paper, but I'm ready to try sketching on a piece of birch playwood and then using a woodburning tool to outline the doll. I'll use watercolor pencils and acrylics to shade and paint the doll. I think one of the most important things I've learned from Suzi is to take chances, and that it's ok to mess up or ruin a piece because it's part of the learning process.