Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wax on, Wax Off + Cashew Chicken Salad Wraps & Creamy Italian Ranch Chicken (a great Crock Pot Recipe) Recipe

Yesterday I posted a photo of the drawings I made of Frida Kahlo. I am working for a few pieces for a call for art for a Frida exhibit. I glued that to a cradled panel board, colored it and began to use encaustic wax to finish the painting.
I wanted to make the flowers 3D, and that took a little practice. I tried making them and dipping them in the encaustic wax, but that did not work all that well. Many of the pedals stuck together, or hung in ways that were not very pretty. I then figured out that it was better to put a small bit of wax on the griddle, then lay the flat tissue paper pieces in that wax, which soaked into the paper. I plucked them off of the griddle with a pair of tweezers and waved it around to make the wax cool quickly. I was also planning to use wire to attach the flowers, but that made them sit at a weird angle. I found that I could use the end of a stylus to push some of the flower into the wax to make it stick and that worked nicely.

I am thinking about adding a few small beads in the center of some of the flowers. I am also still deciding what color to paint the sides of the panel. It will most likely be black, but I might be more daring and paint it a shade of blue.

Larr took photos of Ellie and Kohlton for graduation announcements.

Spring break is over, but I am going to go back to making art as soon as I figure out what we will eat for lunch tomorrow. I am going to start on a book sculpture for another call for art.

We had this for dinner last night. It was a big hit!

Cashew Chicken Salad Wraps
via: The Kitchn

Makes 4 wraps
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup roughly chopped cashews or peanuts
1/4 cup sliced green onions (white part only)
1/2 cup sliced mandarin oranges or clementines, divided
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped red cabbage
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
4 large wraps or tortillas
1 cup fried Lo Mein noodles, for serving

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and Dijon mustard until combined. Season generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Fold in the cashews, green onions, half of the mandarin oranges (the citrus will crush; you want this to happen), and the chopped red cabbage. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Taste and adjust ingredient amounts to personal preference. Spread a wrap with a dollop of chicken salad. Garnish with a few mandarin oranges and fried noodles and roll up, sealing with a toothpick if necessary.

Recipe Note
This salad is equally good served in a large bowl or as a regular sandwich; garnish with remaining mandarin oranges and fried noodles before serving.


Creamy Italian Ranch Chicken
via: Yummly

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (I like to dice them up so they're chicken tender sized)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 packet italian salad dressing
1 packet ranch dressing
8 ozs cream cheese

Throw everything in the crockpot on low and cook 6-8 hours.
After about 4 hours of cooking I usually stir everything together- but if you're not home it's no big deal.
Just stir about 20 minutes before serving to really mix together the cream cheese and dressing packets.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

An Exciting Day of Possibilities and Artistic Efforts

Here we are, it is Thursday during spring break, already. I can't really complain. It has been an exciting day. Yesterday I learned from my friend Mia that there might be a chance to get a scholarship to attend a workshop at Anderson Ranch this summer. It is magic for artistic adult, kind of like Disneyland is for kids. I feel transported to another, magical world when I am there. I may also have a chance to teach a kids workshop during the summer of 2016, so I spent a portion of my day putting together an art related resume. I made a standard one, and an artsy one. I am a geek like that. Or wait, would that be nerdy instead of geeky? Whatever. They are done and sent off.

It between things, I have been spurred into action by two calls for art. One is a call for art that is related to Frida Kahlo. I want to make a multi-media encaustic. Here is the first step, picking images and drawing them.
I am not entirely sure I like both of them. Sometimes that happens because I look at them so closely as I am drawing. I wanted to get a response as to what others think, so I posted them on Facebook and asked for a response. So far everyone that commented likes both of them, and some like the one with the shawl, the one I am not sure I like, the best. It is funny how that goes. I have glued it to a board and will begin the encaustic process soon.

Ellie and Kolton are at the Grand Canyon today, day 5 (I think) of their spring break road trip. Here are a few photos from Sedona. Ellie says that I would love it there; it is like Aspen, but with more artsy shops. I may have to take a road trip of my own soon.

Larr and Ethan are off on their own short adventure in Buena Vista. And Remmie, he went full tilt at the dog park today and wore himself out. He is happily exhausted and nearly passed out in the backyard enjoying the sunny afternoon. It is a nice change from the moping around he has done for the last few days due to the fact that Ellie, his favorite human, is not here.

Okay, well the iron is heating, wax is melting and I am off to do more art. Here's to good day to you, too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Colorado Blue Sky, Rolling Rivers and Meadow Creek B & B

Larr started off our spring break with a surprise trip to stay at the Meadow Creek Bed & Breakfast in Pine. It was one of our favorite places to go before we had the kids, and so it was fun to go back. We just wanted a place to relax.
It was built by an Italian prince who lived in Denver. It was their summer home that allowed them to get away from the heat of the summer. We stayed in the Rose room, the very same room we stayed in before.

On Saturday we went out for a drive, starting out along the Platte river where the rocks are so beautiful. The snow has not started melting yet, so the water was still pretty calm.
every time I see rocks in the river, like these, I imagine what it must have been like when they rolled off of the mountain and into the water. I wonder, did they all come off at one, big, thunderous time? Did they break off one by one? Was anything crushed in its pathway?

Just a short bit away, but at a higher elevation, we tried to go up over Guanella pass. The river there is still much more like winter. The snow is dirty from the construction on the road. We could not get very far because we were not in a four wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. I think Larr was disappointed that we could not go very far.
When we returned to the B&B, we relaxed in the hot tub and had a quiet evening by ourselves on Sunday night. Larr caught up on the newspaper and I finished reading a book about transparent watercolor.
I also loved petting Kelly Ann, the resident dog. She has such a sweet, calm manner and such welcoming eyes.
We had a nice breakfast the next morning and took the long way home over Squaw Pass, one of Larr's favorite roads as the views are so wonderful.
We returned on Monday, midday, ready to take on some of the projects that we have been putting off. During our absence, Ethan scrubbed the grout and the kitchen floor. That was a very welcome surprise. Remmie was happy to see me return. He was missing me. Ellie and Kohlton are on a road trip of their own, so Ethan and Remmie had some bonding time. Ethan is trying to win Remmie over. Remmie is giving it some thought, though once Ellie returns, we return to being "background music" as Ellie is the one Remmie lives for.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Home Sick, Creative Bug and a Little of the Want Whinies

After an inspiring day at work on Tuesday, in which I took part in Instructional Rounds where I observed a variety of other teachers teaching the Close Reading strategy, I came home ill and unable to go to work for the last two days. After running a fever, puking, etc., I decided to take a few sick days. It ended up being a very good thing for me. I slept in. I lay in bed and listened to the birds as they went about their day chirping and singing to each other. I had time to take naps and enjoy looking at the newest Crate and Barrel catalog. This evening I am feeling better and am ready to return to work.

I also took a bit of time to work on adding materials to my "One Little Word" notebook, doing it in a leisurely manner. This was good because I have wanted to add to it for a while and because I could do it in a manner that was natural and not hurried. I am thankful for that opportunity.

I have also subscribed to Creative Bug and have started watching the videos for learning how to design fabric.

Here are a few things that I love from the new lines at Crate and Barrel:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Quiet, Creative Weekend - Just What I Needed + Charred Cabbage with Guinness, Irish Soda Bread & Boozy Irish Triffle Recipes

This weekend we did not have anything big going on, and that was just fine with me. After so many weekends with so many things going on, I just needed some quiet, uncommitted time. I think each of us did, really. There were things going on that I simply did not notice until it was too late. There was the Saint Patrick's day parade downtown. It looks like it was fun, if you want to be in a crowd. I was fine with missing that. It was also Dead Guy Days up in Ned., which is always fun. Ellie and Kohlton went up to his dad's house on Sunday and discovered it. They might have gone over to take part in the festivities, or not.

Ellie created a cake with a spring theme. With each cake she learns something new. This design is very different from the others. I think she really like painting on the cake. I think this one is lovely. The cake was made for a birthday celebration for Kohlton's aunt.

Ethan has spent the better part of last week designing and building a custom shelving system to hold a lot of his stuff. He has a lot of backpacks, bags, boxes, etc. that had been scattered here and there. It is nearly done and I think it will feel good to have a place where those things belong. He designed it in Sketch-Up, did most of the work in Grandpa's shop and then built it up at home. It would have been fun for him to do this with grandpa. It is likely that we will not be able to keep his house, so this might be a sort of last hurrah in the shop that is so beloved. We are considering building a small addition onto our garage to house the tools and machines, but that is pretty costly, so I am not sure we will do that. We may also put a lot of that stuff in a friend's shop, where we can gain access to it.
Larr spent the weekend sorting through his mother's art. She did botanical drawings. Larr gathered, sorted the originals from the copies and has begun to catalog her art. He thinks that there are over 120 drawings and paintings. We are going to have them scanned or photographed professionally, and then we will make a book of her art.

I did bits and pieces of things. I used a shadowbox to create a display of some of the flowers that were on the special cake Ellie made for my birthday. I am very happy with how that piece came out. I will do the same for the stuff we have from the succulent cake that Ellie made for Ethan. Some of my flowers had broken and the rest were very delicate. I tried using superglue to reconstruct them. That did not work, I just ended up with a lot of superglue on my fingers (and none of them glued together, luckily). Tape was a fail, too. Hot glue, however, worked really well. I built up a layer on the backside which made them stronger and made it possible to fix the broken ones.

I also finished a skirt I started a few weeks ago. It is made of brussels washer, which is a linen spandex blend that is really lovely. I need some new skirts and since my style is not in vogue right now, it is hard to find skirts that I like. I have many skirts in my closet that I got at the thrift store, thinking I might wear them, but not really liking them all that much. I am trying to work up the gumption to donate them back. Winter is almost over and since I have not worn some of them at all, like not even once, I think it is safe to send them on their way to someone else.

I also worked on, maybe even completed, the vision board project for the "One Little Word" class I am taking over at Ali Edward's site. It was the main project for February, but I could not find the time or inspiration to get it done last month. Making collages is not really my kind of thing, but I wanted to try it as an adult. I went through a bunch of magazines over the last month looking for words and phrases. I found that I kept finding the same ones since I only read or get two magazines.
{I made this two page collage.}

I search for inspiration and kept coming back to the same ones.

{This is by Patricia Sherrill, as part of her "The Documented Life Journal, 2015". It is one of the most inspiring pieces of art that I have found in a long while.}
{I am not sure who made this one, but I like it a lot.}
Sunday was a full on beautiful, warm spring day, so that dog and I hung out in the backyard. We both enjoyed the sun. I worked on figuring out my arrangement. I am pretty happy with what I came up with. It is not really my style, but I like it enough.

We are a week from spring break. Ellie and Kohlton are going on a road trip to some place warmer. I think Ethan is hoping to do some camping, weather permitting. Larr is not sure that he has time since there is still so much to do with the estate. I would like to go to someplace, even if it is just for a few days. I am not sure if that will work or not. I am going to see what I can come up with this week.

Here's what we are having for our Saint Patrick's Day dinner: Corned Beef (prepared in the slow cooker), Charred Cabbage with Guinness, classic Irish Soda Bread

Charred Cabbage with Guinness
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

1 tablespoon butter
½ red onion, very thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
1½ teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
One 1½-pound savoy cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted, lightly crushed (we did not have this and so it was omitted.)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (we did not have this, so we used 1 tea. paprika in its place.)
⅓ cup Guinness stout beer
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the red onion and season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until the onions soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine vinegar, add the sugar and continue cooking until the vinegar is almost completely evaporated, another 2 minutes.

2. In a separate pan over high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the cabbage and let it sit for 30 to 40 seconds until the leaves begin to slightly char. Stir and continue to cook until the cabbage begins to wilt and is just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the caraway, crushed red pepper flakes and stout, and cook until the beer is almost completely evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the red onions and lemon juice to the cabbage and toss. Serve with corned beef.


Classic Irish Soda Bread
Via: Eat Cake for Dinner

adapted from: Cook's Illustrated

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
2 Tbl. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, cold
plus 1 Tbl. melted butter for brushing loaf
1 3/4 c. buttermilk

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Cut 2 Tablespoons of cold butter into chunks and add to the flour mixture. Using your clean hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it is completely incorporated. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk. Use a fork to work the ingredients together. Add up to another 1/4 cup of buttermilk, adding 1 Tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat together to form a 6'' round. Place dough into an 8'' inch (or larger) cast-iron skillet. If you don't have a cast-iron skillet you can use a baking sheet, but the outside won't get as crispy. Use a sharp knife and cut an "x" into the top of the loaf, about 5-inches long and 3/4-inch deep. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with 1 Tablespoon of melted butter. Cool for a few minutes, slice and serve. Best if eaten on the day it is made.


Boozy Irish Triffle
via: Two in the Kitchen

Boozy Triple Irish Trifle

1 box of Devil's Food Cake (I used Pillsbury)
ingredients as per box instructions (except the water)
1 c. Guinness Beer plus more for drizzle
2 8 oz. bars of cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. Bailey's Irish Cream
1 c. powdered sugar
2 c. cool whip
1 bag (27-29 pieces) of baking caramels (I used Werthers but Kraft would work fine as well)
6 TBSP Jameson Irish Whiskey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray it with cooking spray.
Prepare cake according to package directions except substitute the water called for in the instructions with 1 cup of Guinness Beer. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the cream filling by placing the cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl and mixing until soft and creamy. Add the Bailey's and the powdered sugar and mix until blended. Carefully fold in the cool whip by hand. Set aside.
Make the caramel drizzle by placing the caramels unwrapped in a medium pan with 3 TBLSP of Jameson's Irish Whiskey. Over low heat, whisk together until smooth. Add 2-3 more TBLSP of whiskey and whisk together until desired consistency and taste is achieved. Set aside.
Cut up the cooled cake into pieces, place in a medium bowl and pour 1/4-1/2 cup of Guinness beer over the pieces and allow it to soak in for a few minutes.
Assemble the trifle by using a medium trifle dish and covering the bottom with cake pieces. Next, add a layer of the cream filling and then drizzle with caramel sauce making particular attention to the sides of the dish so the layers all show. Continue the layers again and finish off with a cake layer on top and covering it with the remaining cool whip from the container. Save one piece of chocolate cake to crumble on the very top and finish it off with a caramel drizzle.
Alternatively, you could layer individual clear plastic cups for a different type of presentation.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ethan's Trip to Thailand - Bangkok + a Great Waffle Recipe

In January Ethan spent time rock climbing in Thailand with a few friends that he has from his time on the tall ship, the Lady Washington. It took him three flights to get to Bangkok. He flew out of Denver to San Francisco. From there he took a plane to Tokyo, Japan, where he had a lay-over for a few hours at the Haneda Airport.
The final plane took Ethan to the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. I think it Ethan was traveling for about 23 hours.
Ethan met Alec and Emily at the airport. From there they took a train to their next location. Ethan had a chance to snap a few pictures during their brief time in Bangkok.
On part of their journey through the city, they took a long tail. It is a long boat that sports an awning and a diesel engine.
They also had lunch, some of it coming from a floating market.
There were many styles of dwellings and homes seen from the boat.
Ethan, Emily and Alec also took a tour of the Grand Temple which I will feature in the next post.


2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, just until smooth.

2. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot.