Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bookmaking: License Plate Book

 I've continued binding unusual things into books. I made a seashell book here and a fabric book here. This time, I made a book from old license plates.
 I took some license plates and drilled holes in one side. I folded papers to make the pages (signatures), gathered tools, and began to bind.
 I placed the layers together and then sewed the bindings together.
And now I have a bound book. I haven't filled it with anything, but am thinking of doing sketches of NH foliage, wildlife, and scenes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chocolate Bark

Chocolate Bark is an easy to make candy that can be tailored to almost any occasion. At the most simple, it's just thin chocolate broken into shards or sliced into pieces. At its most elegant, it contains luscious chocolate, dried fruit, salted seeds or nuts, and contains a mix of flavors.
The secret to making a tasty bark is to use tasty chocolate. You can use high quality chocolate or even Candy Melts that are made in all sorts of colors.
The steps are simple:
Melt chocolate and spread it thinly onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. (Add additional layers of chocolate, if desired and swirl them together, or marble them while still liquid.)
Choose from the toppings, candies, nuts, seeds, dried fruits. Make sure they are chopped and in bite size pieces and sprinkle them on top of the still molten chocolate.
Let mixture harden.
Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Now for the fun. Choose from various chocolates and toppings. Mix and match from below.

CHOCOLATE - white chocolate, semi-sweet, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, Candy Melts, Almond Bark, peanut butter chips, caramel chips, cinnamon chips, mint chips
CANDIES - MnM's, snickers, peanut butter cups, Reeces Pieces, Pop Rocks, Kit Kat, Twix, Junior Mints, Peppermints, Dried Cereal, marshmallows, Oreos, Cookies
DRIED FRUITS - apples, cherries, cranberries, blueberries, raisins, figs, dates, coconut, mango, candied orange, Pomegranate Seeds
SALTY- pistachios, pecans, walnuts, macadamias, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, plantain chips, almonds, pretzels, potato chips, tortilla chips, popcorn
TINY SWEETS -Sprinkles, candy pearls, nonpareils
DUST - salt crystals, chili powder, powdered sugar, cinnamon, instant coffee, red pepper flakes

Monday, July 25, 2016

Project: Polymer Clay Love Birds Wedding Cake Topper

I wanted to find a wedding cake topper for a 26th wedding anniversary cake. I couldn't find a set, so I decided I needed to make a pair. I started out in my sketchbook making sets of lovebirds.  The only thing I knew, was that I wanted them to be light blue, be a bride and groom, and be able to balance on their own.
I looked through my sketches and discarded some ideas for efficiency and ease of use. I eliminated the birds that appeared to be flying and the ones with legs.
I liked the top hat for the groom and the flower hat for the bride. Then, I got to work.
I found some colors of polymer clay, but didn't like the blue, so I combined turquoise and light blue to make the shade of blue that I like. The pink was also a little too deep, so I added some white polymer clay to that as well. I conditioned the clay and made the shapes. The process is hard work and leaves my hands very messy, so I didn't take any pictures. Sorry.
 I sculpted the birds and the large heart, baked them in the dedicated oven and let them cool to room temperature. Then, I added 3 coats of gloss and let them cure for 24 hours.
I love how them came out. They were a success.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


This week has been full of blessings.
I'm continuing to work on paintings. I love to research, explore, and then work on my art.
I played tennis with some wonderful ladies this week.
We celebrated our 26th anniversary and received thoughtful wishes from family and friends.  Thank you all! Our daughters made us a beautiful origami flower filled basket! So beautiful.
Jon knows that I love mugs of tea, so he found this hilarious mug for me!
Jon and I walked on the beach and these pelicans barely blinked an eye. It was beautiful to see them in their natural habitat. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Buck Moon

July's full moon was on July 19th. Typically, called the Buck Moon by Farmer's Almanac, because bucks begin to grow new antlers at this time. It's also been known as the Thunder Moon due to the increased storms during this month. 
Next month's full moon rises on August 18th. It's called the Sturgeon Moon due to sturgeon being plentiful in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. It's also known as the Green Corn Moon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Iced Coffee Lemonade

Using the Concentrated Espresso from yesterday's post, you can make lots of variations of iced coffee.
The espresso concentrate can be used for iced coffee at a 1:1 ratio with additional cold water. Traditional additions are milk and sugar, just like with regular coffee, but have you tried lemonade in your iced coffee?
The lemon in the lemonade cuts the strength of the coffee and adds a little tang to the drink. The sugar and water also balance out the acidity of the coffee. It's unusual, but refreshing.

 Pour the espresso concentrate over ice. Add an equal amount of lemonade (or more to taste) to your glass and serve.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Iced Espresso Concentrate for Iced Coffee

Iced Coffee is delicious anytime of year, but summer seems like the most refreshing way to enjoy it. And iced cold jolt of coffee on a hot day... yum. There are lots of ways to make delicious iced coffee, right down to refrigerating leftover coffee and adding milk or water later int the day. One favorite way to make Iced Coffee is to make a concentrate and keep that in the fridge. I brew the espresso using the Cold Brew method which reduces the acidic taste of coffee.  I like this method because it doesn't require any special tools and only 2 ingredients: water and ground espresso.
I use good quality ground espresso, bought in a canister.
I add 1/3 cup into a tall glass.
 Add 1 1/2 cups cold water to the glass.
 The grinds will float for now, but as they sit (steep without the heat) they permeate the water. Notice how the color is already changing.

 Let the mixture sit (brew) in the fridge overnight for at least 12 hours.
The next day the mixture will be dark and brilliant.
 Look at how rich the soaked grounds are.

The mixture needs to be drained, at least twice, and then can be stored in the fridge until it's ready to be used.