Beautiful Girl

"Clara" by Jean Philippe Richard

“Clara” by Jean Philippe Richard.

Recognizing art I’d seen in Soho, I was drawn into the BelAirFineArt gallery in Venice. Then I discovered “Clara.” This life-sized bronze sculptor by  Jean Philippe Richard struck me as beautiful and mysterious.

"Clara" by Jean Philippe Richard.

“Clara” by Jean Philippe Richard.

Beautiful is my mom. Mysterious is our time on earth. 

Barbara Ellen, my mom as a toddler.

Barbara Ellen, my mom as a toddler.

Me, my son and my mom.

Me, my son and my mom.

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Birthday Girl

My mom and third granddaughter.

My mom and third granddaughter.

Today is my mom’s 75th birthday. What a milestone.

Art Materials in Italy

IMG_0344 (1)In Italy, art is everywhere. I expected to see art in museums and galleries, but I was surprised by the materials. On display, pigments, glass rods, silk cords, paintbrushes, metal, work tables and weaving looms become their own sort of art. They beckon creativity to come out and play.

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Off the Grid in Italy

Morgan and me in Tuscany.

Mom and daughter trip to Tuscany.

Tuscany is Bellissimo!

I haven’t posted in awhile for a very good reason…I was in Italy! I was practically off the grid with unreliable Wifi and no phone plan. My daughter became our navigator with her grasp of Italian and her own data plan. Look forward to lots of pics and posts about Venice, Bologna, Siena and Rome.

I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Where to next?

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DIY Raincoat Crisps, Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps

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I had never heard of Raincoast Crisps until a friend served her homemade crisps with cheese as appetizers. I couldn’t stop eating them!  Thekitchn describes them perfectly.

“These crackers are thin, crispy, and packed with flavor. The raisins add their chewy texture and sweetness, while the nuts and seeds give the crackers substance. The fresh rosemary gives a breath of pine-y goodness to every bite, just like in the original crackers.”

Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour (to make these gluten-free, substitute with gluten-free flour or rice flour)

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk (to make these gluten-free or non-dairy, substitute with 1 ¾ cups almond milk)

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup honey

1 cup raisins

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

¼ cup sesame seeds1/4 cup flax seed (ground)

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary (I used dried rosemary)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.

  1. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. Add buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes.
  3. Add raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary. Stir until blended.
  4. Spray two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans with non-stick spray, then pour batter into two pans. Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove pans and cool on a wire rack.
  5. The cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. When ready to continue baking, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Slice loaves as thin as possible and place slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. (Tip. One loaf can be sliced and baked, and the other can be frozen to be slice and baked at another time.) Bake for about 15 minutes, then flip over and bake another 10 minutes, until crisp and deep golden.

Yield. About 8 dozen crackers.

Source: Dinner With Julie

Tips from  thekitchn

–freeze loaves before slicing in order to get the thinnest crackers

–bake loaves in mini-loaf pans for the perfect cracker shape

–double quantity of rosemary if you love the rosemary taste

–replace half of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour

–plump up raisins before mixing them into batter if you want them to stand out more in finished cracker

 

Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty

Frieze of Dancers, c.1895

Frieze of Dancers c.1895, Oil on canvas

Good Impressions

I’ve always loved Impressionism, so I felt compelled to visit the MOMA to see the exhibit on Edgar Degas before it closes July 24. Maybe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when a quote by Degas spoke to my experience as a writer. I write, revise, begin again, write, revise, repeat. I just finished listening to the audio version of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. In the Afterword, Gaiman says he waited until he was a good enough writer to write this book. Maybe writing, revising, beginning again and repeating the process is practice until my writing is good enough to bring my stories to life.

Just maybe.

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Two Dancers, c.1898

Two Dancers c.1898, Pastel on eight sheets of pieced paper

The Road in the Forest, c. 1890

The Road in the Forest c.1890, Monotype in oil on paper

Pathway in a Field, c.1890

Pathway in a Field c.1890, Pastel over monotype in oil on paper

Three Dancers, 1900-1905, charcoal and pastel on tracing paper

Three Dancers 1900-1905, charcoal and pastel on tracing paper

 

 

 

American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies

Hostess gifts idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. Wrap them in cellophane for a pretty presentation.

DIY Hostess gift idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. These funky melamine dishes are from SEED387. Wrap cookies in cellophane for a pretty presentation.

Need a patriotic-themed kid activity? Or are you in the mood to bake? Either way, enjoy this re-post.

Hon, you know what I like about a holiday besides spending time with family and friends?

 The built-in theme!

One of my daughters and I had fun taking the American flag colors to the extreme.  We baked red, white and blue sugar cookies and cupcakes.  Click here for sugar cookie and Royal Icing recipes.  My daughter decorated with flags while I tried my hand at tie dye effects. I used a toothpick to “drag” two or three icing colors from the center out, then swirled with the toothpick to create a tie dye look.

Patriotic Cookies

Patriotic Cookies.

Tie Dye effect.

Tie Dye effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.

Coloring on cookies.

Coloring on cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baking Day continued with red, white and blue cupcakes. 

We were inspired by Ziploc Bag’s Patriotic Piped Tri-Colored Cupcakes, but they turned out to be more challenging than they looked.  So, we abandoned our pastry bags and spooned the colored batter into baking cups.  The result?  Still patriotic, fun and delicious.

*Tip:  Wear plastic gloves because colored batter is messy and stains.

1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.

1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.

2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl vanilla.

2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl plain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3. Transfer three bowls of batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored strips.

3. Spoon batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored stripes.

 

 

4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags at all.

4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags.

 

 

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5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.

5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.

 

Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.

Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.

6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.

American Flag Fun!

American Flag Fun!

America is Beautiful on July 4th

Flags in front of the American Legion post.

Flags in front of the American Legion post, Main Street.

Wishing you a reflective and relaxing July 4th from Main Street…

Hot air balloon at festival in Readington, NJ.

Hot air balloon at festival in Readington, NJ.

To our blue skies…

Liberty State Park, NJ

Liberty State Park, NJ

To wherever you live in the world. 

Ray Charles added his own lyrics to America the Beautiful.

Oh beautiful, for heroes proved,
In liberating strife,
Who more than self, our country loved,
And mercy more than life,
America, America, may God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain devined.
And you know when I was in school,
We used to sing it something like this, listen here:
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain,
But now wait a minute, I’m talking about
America, sweet America,
You know, God done shed his grace on thee,
He crowned thy good, yes he did, in a brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.

Hon, I was going to quote John Lennon but then I thought you’d enjoy listening to him yourself.

John Lennon’s Imagine song and video.

Imagine.

DIY Graduation Party, Words of Wisdom

Proud of our grads!

Proud of our grads!

Miles of milestones.

Our Words of Wisdom Box was inspired by Advice Boxes on Pinterest. After the graduation party, one of my daughters Tweeted, “”Last night my backyard was basically a Pinterest board.” What can I say? I love a party and I love a theme. If I can combine both, even better!

Words of Wisdom Box

Supplies:

shoebox, wrapping paper, Exacto knife, index cards, scissors, pens, sign, frame, basket or other vessel

Instructions:

  1. Wrap a shoebox in wrapping paper.
  2. Cut index cards in half.
  3. Cut a slit in top of shoebox long enough to slip index cards through.
  4. Make a Words of Wisdom sign. (“Give advice to our new graduates.”)
  5. Set up box, pens, index cards and sign.
  6. Invite guests to be creative.
Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Words to live by.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

“Remember there are a thousand things you haven’t done yet.”

“Believe in yourself. Dream. Try. Do Good.
“Stay true to who you are.”

“Be confident. You are both great. (No tattoos!)”

“Always say yes to opportunities.”

“Never give up!”

“Find something to be thankful for every day.”

“Be a better student. Nevermind, you already graduated!”

 

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guests know where to drop their words of wisdom.