Thursday, May 31, 2012

Puppy Update

Puppy Update! 

Here are pictures of our adorable Golden Retriever puppy taken yesterday at 22 days old.  So far the name that has stuck is Oberon.  I know, I know...I either hear instant approval or get strange looks and silence.  It's not your typical dog name.  Maybe best known as a character in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oberon is also a major moon of the planet Uranus. My 9 year old son Max, slightly obsessed with astronomy, made a long list of celestial names and Oberon stood out.  He would be affectionately known as "Obi" aka "Obi Dog Kenobi."  Since puppy won't come home to us until July we still have plenty of time and I'm wondering if any fabulous Hawaiin names will reveal themselves to us while we are on vacation. 

Feel free to make suggestions!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Illustration Friday - Faded

Even faded flowers can be beautiful.  I gave these yellow spray roses to my daughter after her last ballet recital.  I hung on to them even after they started to droop and brown and now I'm glad I did because they were perfect for this week's topic.  Watercolor on paper. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Corner of the Garden

A plein air watercolor of a corner of my backyard garden. 
Painted yesterday while waiting for my dinner guest to arrive.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Carmelized Onion, Ham & Apple Risotto

The other day I looked in the freezer for some dinner inspiration and found some leftover glazed ham from Easter.  I was going for a ham & rice dish inspired by Joy of Cooking's Arroz con Pollo but when I realized that the ham was too sweet I headed another direction.  This recipe is naturally gluten free and diary free.  Omit the ham and it's vegan, too!



1 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cups chopped precooked ham
1/2 cup apple, chopped, peeled & cored
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces dry white wine
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces Arborio rice
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance or other non-dairy butter substitute

Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes, add the brown sugar and continue to saute about 5 minutes.  Add ham & apple, saute until apples begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat rice.  Add wine and stir while it evaporates.  Add 1 cup broth, stir well and allow to simmer.  Do not allow to dry out, keep adding broth as needed  about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently to keep from sticking., about 18-20 minutes.  Rice should be al dente, not mushy.  Once rice is cooked stir in Earth Balance to create a nice shine.  Let sit 2-5 minutes before serving.




While I was chopping carrots for the salad I served with the risotto I noticed my fingernails were the exact color of the carrots...I had to be careful where I was chopping!!  This is Zoya Professional Lacquer "Arizona."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Illustration Friday - Sight

Rozsa, in traditional Hungarian folk clothing, was mesmerized by the sight of the giant butterfly.  Colored pencil and acrylic ink. Inspired by the book Tarka Lepke, which I have had for about 35 years.

15 Minutes

I came across this neat blog by South African Neville Trickett.  He says that in order to "learn how to see again" he finds images on the internet and gives himself 15 minutes to paint them...hoping that after a year of doing this he will be a better artist. 

I was very intrigued by this idea and decided to try my own timed painting.  Instead of finding a simple picture on the internet I wanted to try to paint my favorite picture of my daughter when she was 6.  Now considering this was my first ever portrait and considering I was giving myself only 15 minutes I may have over estimated my abilities just a wee bit.  Here's how it went:

15 minutes elapsed

Another 15 minutes, 30 minutes elapsed
45 minutes later
1 hour. 
At this point I decided I was done.  Not exactly what I had envisioned in my minds eye but I was determined not to spend more than 1 hour painting.  The my daughter came home and saw her portrait.  She thought she looked like a boy and demanded I paint her with her hair down. 
1 hour, 15 minutes
 What an interesting exercise this was!  I can see that I over-paint.  I need to remind myself to put down the brush and not keep trying to "fix" things things that don't necessarily need fixing.  Being able to stay with the strict time limit should help...I can't wait to do this again! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

For Charlotte

Since my youngest niece Charlotte recently turned one it was high time I painted something for her room.  I hope these little birdies make her smile.
14X20.  Acrylic on canvas.

Work in progress

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Happy Birthday C!

Going to C's 7th birthday party today so I made this 5X7 in about 1/2 hour to use as a birthday card. 
Happy Birthday C!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, gluten & dairy free

I've been baking macaroons lately, the problem with making macaroons, not once, but twice is that my husband doesn't love coconut.  The poor guy would come home to find me baking only to realize I had made something he didn't like.  When I saw this recipe using his favorite flavors (peanut butter & chocolate) I knew I had to make them soon!  They turned out so good...maybe even the best cookies I have ever made.


1 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips (Trader Joe's semi sweet are diary free)
Sugar for rolling

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Using a tablespoon, scoop and roll dough into balls and roll the balls in the sugar.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten slightly, I did the traditional fork criss-cross but the shape didn't survive the baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until the edges begin to turn a golden brown. Cool completely.  Enjoy!
One last note, these cookies are moist and soft but I must admit I slightly over-baked the second batch (just shy of being burned, really) and they were a big hit, too.  The more well-done cookies were drier and if you like a well done cookie, bake for a few minutes longer.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Macaroons, Take 2

I'm in the middle of a macaroons experiment.  I made macaroons last week and they were amazing....ut they were quite sweet and sticky and I wanted to see if I could make a more cookie like macaroon, denser and maybe with a little less sugar.  Here's how it went.


These cookies came out well, they were definitely not as sticky and sweet as that first batch.  These cookies are drier, denser and more filling.  My kids definitely prefered the sweeter ones.  Honestly I hesitated about posting these, not that they are bad...they are just not fabulous like the previous recipe.  I did promise a follow up, though, so here it is.


3 cups unsweetened flaked coconut, I used a small flake
1 cup almond meal
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almon extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup egg whites
pinch of salt

In a heavy saucepan combine eggs, egg whites, sugar and coconut. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently for 12-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in extracts and almond meal. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Using a tablespoon, scoop tightly packed spoonfulls onto baking sheet covered in parchement paper. Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden.

I think I will going back to the kitchen one more time, maybe the first recipe with a combination of sweetened and unsweetened coconut?  Or maybe leave well enough alone and just make another batch of version one?  Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Those of you who have followed this blog know that we lost our Golden Retriever, Annie, back in January.  The kids started begging for a puppy immediately (even before Annie died, to be honest) but I thought we needed some time to mourn our Annie.  After Annie, who was huge by Golden standards, I wanted a smaller dog but one day I woke up knowing that I really wanted another Golden.  I started looking at breeders and rescue facilities knowing that the beginning of July is the perfect time for us to bring home a puppy.  After a couple of false starts, I saw a post on Facebook from a friend who was getting a Golden and there was one puppy left!  And since the pups were born May 7th, they will be ready to go home the first week of July!  It felt like it was meant to be.

On Mother's Day (after an awesome breakfast in bed!) we drove down to Los Angeles.  We visited the La Brea tar pits, had our first experience with LA food trucks and met our puppy.

Meet out new puppy - he's the one at the top with his face showing.  I have a feeling he will be making very regular appearances on this blog.

We can hardly wait until July and it gives us a good long time to mull over names...any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Illustration Friday - Kernel

watercolor and acrylic on paper

I double checked the definition of "kernel" and a sunflower seed definitely qualifies!  I've had sunflowers on the brain since last week's topic "hitched" (although I ended up with something else entirely.)  We had sunflowers as centerpieces at our wedding...I'm glad I could get it out of my system this week.

"cross stitched" sunflowers. pencil on paper

And here's a little teaser...check these guys out...6 days old

Monday, May 14, 2012


Anytime I can find a recipe for sweets that is both diary and gluten free I get excited!  I had never tried macaroons before and this recipe is very easy and very moist & delicious.  I will definitely be adding this to my regular rotation.


3/4 cup (5 large) egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
10 oz sweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons almond meal
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a heavy saucepan combine egg whites, sugar and coconut.  Cook over low heat, stirring frequently for 12-15 minutes.  The mixture should be sticky and moist, not dry.  Remove from heat and stir in extracts and almond meal.  Transfer to a bowl and let it cool in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Using a tablespoon, scoop tightly packed spoonfulls onto baking sheet covered in parchement paper.  Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden.
The only thing I changed was adding 2 tablespoons of almond meal when I added the extracts. I wanted a bit of substance and am always adding almonds to increase our calcium intake. It's especially hard to get my dairy free son the right amount of calcium!

Stay tuned for more on macaroons...I decided to try another version to see if I could make them more cookie-like with a bit of crunch...although I loved these, as I said above, they are very moist and I wanted a bit of crunch.

Linking up to Take A Look Tuesdays on Sugar Bee Crafts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Illustration Friday - Hitched

If she gets bored of this place she'd get that wagon hitched up to her pony and move on...

Years ago I used to travel to China for work.  On my  5 or 6th trip I decided I wanted to buy a jade bracelet and my Chinese co-worker, Chain, took me shopping.  I don't know anything about jade, I just wanted a bracelet in a pretty shade of green that fit and was affordable.  Chain was very worried that I would get home and find out I had bought poor quality jade so she kept telling me that my bracelet was "just for funny"...meaning it wasn't good quality, it was just for fun.

My computer was down all day today so I couldn't work and did this little drawing instead.  It's just for funny.

Oh, and this is my 100th post!  Thanks for visiting...and I love your comments! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Purple Mountains

Just a quick little post to say Happy Friday. 
This is an acrylic painting from several years ago, I think it was the 3rd painting I ever painted!
It's only 5X7 and hangs right by my front door.
I really like it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kale Salad with Lentils and Feta

Sadly the time had come to remove the kale from my vegetable garden yesterday, the plants had run their course but I was able to get a decent harvest to enjoy for lunch.

Mix 1 teaspoon each balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, olive oil, toss on kale (I used about 2 cups) and refridgerate for at least 1/2 hour.
Shredded carrots
1/4 cup steamed lentils (I keep steamed lentils in my freezer so I can always scoop some as needed)
1/4 cup fat free feta cheese

Served with Mary's Gone Crackers, Caraway

The whole thing is just about 300 calories

 I made myself a little picnic and ate outside.  That is Tazo Zen green tea sweetened with a little stevia that I am drinking.
I really enjoyed sitting outside.  I spend soooooo much time at my computer.  Working, blogging, wasting vast amounts of time.  I'm usually sitting here eating my lunch!  It was nice to remove myself.  I would never have done it if I didn't go out to take pictures, so thank you blog, for forcing me to slow down and savor the moment (and my meal!)