Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Survey of Online Organic Art Courses

It's the end of April and for this months blog post I'm going to talk about some of the arty things I've been up to, interested in and creating since my last blog post about art in February as well as some on line class reviews, photos of my work and more!



WATERCOLOR
First of all I was dying to take this watercolor class with Tascha Parkinson called Modern Watercolors: A Class in Design. It was 5 weeks long with one lesson each week.

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a simple shape with lettering
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I took this class because it had been quite a while since I'd had instruction on how to use watercolors, so I really felt like it was time to reacquaint myself with the medium. I had kept all my supplies from the class I'd originally taken during my first year in college so I only had to buy a white gel pen, which is a newer invention and really fun to use over dark backgrounds. If you haven't yet tried them I would encourage you to splurge and get a few different brands to see which one you like best they're a lot of fun. 

The watercolor course I first took was rather formal as it was based on classical techniques and style with really no encouragements for playing or experimenting. I really never wanted to do much landscape painting but I loved the medium and hoped for more. I didn't really create any watercolors beyond the class because I wasn't sure what else they could be used for so when I started Tascha's class I really felt like a beginner.

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floral spray with lettering
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Years later, though, I did fill a watercolor sketch book with some illustrations I did during the time I spent in Oxdrift, ONT, Canada in the early 2000's. I got inspired to just make some little drawings of our dogs playing or napping as well as a few still life sketches. Then I carefully colored them in with watercolor. I would have used markers but I didn't have any and it was the next best thing! I really had a lot of fun creating them. Little did I know that I was already using them in a way that best suits me! This is also one of the strengths of the watercolor class Tascha teaches. In a few short weeks I was able to create many little  watercolor pieces in my free time! 

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I found Tascha's lessons to be informative as far as technique and she offers lots of room for individuality and totally encourages experimenting. She is very friendly, supportive and takes a genuine interest in her students work and progress. I recommend this class to anyone that is interested in learning how to work with watercolors or anyone similar to my situation of re-learning to work with watercolors! 

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The length of the lessons run about 30 minutes or so. I feel that is just long enough to get me into the mindset of learning to use the materials without feeling overwhelming. Then when I had time to implement the teachings working with watercolor never seemed easier!


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ART JOURNALING
I really wanted to try art journaling this year, so I signed up for a 4 month class taught by Effy Wild called Book of Days (also called BOD). It actually started in January, but I wanted to give myself some time to work with it before talking about it.

I must say that I really love Effy's approach to teaching and her positivity. Her dedication to 'arting' everyday is really smart, too because I used to think that in order to make art you had to be properly inspired before sitting down to create but seeing that you can simply sit down and willfully make art was a new one to me and I couldn't wait to try!

I ended up really struggling with art journaling daily or even weekly as Effy suggested. Every time I went to art journal I felt stuck at what I should do or what I should be writing about because deep down I'm not the type of person who is a daily journal keeper. I really never was to begin with but that doesn't mean I shouldn't have tried. 

I took the class to learn something and I did. I learned that I was afraid to acknowledge that I'm not a daily memory keeper... LOL it seems rather silly to think that it would make me less of an artistic person to admit it. But not being able to create meaningful art daily even with someone as skillful and encouraging as Effy doesn't make me any less of the artist I hope to someday be... It just means that this particular method, as fun as it was, is not the best way for me to get there.

Here's a peek at one of my art journal pages I made during BOD. I did a portrait, some journaling and added in two tip-in's with some Washi tape I made. One tip-in is of a stamp I carved and the other is a postcard from going to see Swan Lake. It's also one of my best two page spreads in the art journal...



When the year began I set a goal for myself to create something every day this year. While I realize that is not entirely impossible to achieve I am not too disappointed in myself that I find it isn't always possible for me to be highly prolific at this stage in my creative life. I'm still learning so much about art, art journaling, painting and creating the art I want to create. 

I do think I took away a lot of valuable experiences from BOD on how to approach a blank page and what kinds of things to 'art' about in an art journal. I loved seeing Effy's dedication to a daily art practice as it was super nourishing to my artistic soul. I can not even tell you how incredibly invaluable and healing Effy's art videos, pep talks and blogs posts are all to me, personally, she is a real life role model that I've always wanted and never had before. And while our lives couldn't be more different in every way I still feel a connection to her because of the generous way she shares her wisdom and her enthusiastic approach to life and art. I'm glad the Universe has put me on a path to discover so many inspiring women ~ it must have known that I really needed them. Please do check out her creative offerings at The Glitterhood

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GATHERING UP INSPIRATION
I decided it would behoove me to join Milliande's online art group in order to explore some alternate ways of gathering up a diverse array of internal and external inspirations as sometimes I feel I am short of this in my artistic collections... I discovered Milliande's ning site last year when I was looking for classes on art journaling but didn't I join at the time because I wasn't ready for it. I do feel more prepared now though so I joined her Create Art Portfolio Ideas (CAPI) course

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symbols or figures can be found 
within a random doodle to be 
used (or not) as inspiration later
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You will not believe how generous in quantity and quality Milliande's ideas are for gathering up a variety of ways to collect inspiration (and keeping it organized) in order to push your art to the next level. She offers you her way of idea gathering and these can be easily implemented or adaptable to to suit your own style of gathering and keeping ideas and inspirations.

At a time when one is feeling burnt out or overwhelmed by the desire to create but unable due to a creative block or just hesitation from fear of starting or even not knowing where to start I found Milliande's class to be a good investment of my time as well as stress free. It's set up to be a 'work at your own pace' course and I think it's really helping me tap into some new veins of creativity I had not thought to try.  

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finding figures within
random scribbles
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Milliande'd CAPI class offers many lesson, videos, downloads, galleries and forums for you to access free of charge! I totally recommend the CAPI series for those of you who are just starting out, like me, and can work independently with art journaling concepts and minimal hand-holding. It is for those of us who feel stuck and would like to discover a way to get beyond it and into a different head space for creating or for those of us who have no problem at all but are interested in seeing how another artist operates... 

Sure sometimes it's difficult to carve out real quality time to create but I'm finding that the more I get to the art table the more I feel like it's becoming easier and quicker to get into the zone. On days when the creative muse is just not flowing through me I can utilize Milliande's teachings to keep my hands busy and steer my mind into the realm of creativity thinking over designs, doodling out ideas and storing up inspiration. Then when the muse is calling I can use what I gather up to create without interruption. That's a new one for me!

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the idea is to practice doodles then finding & pulling out 
ideas and hope that over time you'll get better at doodling 
or finding inspiration in the randomness of mark making
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I love the idea of having already gathered inspiration so I can use it as jumping off point for more quality art sessions. You know when the muse demands your full attention you can't be bothered with paging through magazines and cutting out images or pausing to draw out a composition! When you've already done the prep work and only have 15 minutes to spare for art that is when this technique comes in super handy!

The videos and written lessons Milliande offers are short (a few minutes) to about 30 minutes and uncomplicated which is nice if you're short on time and wanting the most out of a creative lesson. She also has a page that shows you how to navigate NING and upload photos which is handy because it's a bit confusing at first... but most new websites are, aren't they? She even has a Facebook group. 

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CUT AND PASTE JOURNALING
I tell you guys feel like I'm trying it all this year and I guess that's how I discovered Julie Gibbon's Found Inspiration for Journaling Technique during one of my recent online explorations. I know I'm not a journal keeper but I was online looking looking for ideas for approaching art journaling from a different angle in case this would be the thing to catch and keep my attention... at the very least I'd get some more ideas for those times when I do get inspired to art journal. I figure that the more ways I can learn to create art journal pages the better I will be at making them and the more I can create pages that appeal to me. 

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The Girl in the Bikini*
a start of a two page spread
acrylic paint background with a glued in image
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I do love to cut and paste and all through grade school and high school I'd make collages just for fun... You know how you take a stack of magazines or newspapers and cut out pictures and words then glue them all down making funny landscapes and weird people and add in some silly phrases or as I did just jam a ton of images together for no real rhyme or reason other than image hoarding, LOL. But after high school work and life took over so I stopped making them, save a few, but I never stopped loving the idea of them and always kept collage making in the back of my mind as something I'd do again someday.

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a start of a two page spread
acrylic paint background 
stencil images, magazine image / text
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So when I was online looking for some fresh ways to approach collage I found Julie's free 36 page PDF and it's chock full of ideas for the beginner and for those looking for some new ideas to try. It's also for those of us who are interested in upcycling as a way of creating a daily journal while learning to dig deeper into ourselves using art as a catalyst. Julie's technique combines collage making with painting and memory keeping! I've been kind of doing that ~ haven't I? Well, not exactly....  The key here is 'digging deeper' and that makes Julie method more like an art therapy.

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In my Art Doodle Love journal here 
is the start of a simple black and white
spread inspired by the prompt "Monotone"
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Julie's ideas for gathering up ideas and creating meaningful art journal spreads are an invaluable tool for any level of experience. When people ask her what art journaling is, why she does it and what it means she likens it to "creating magic" because of her approach with intuitive creating allows her to unlock clues to living the best life she can. Doing this practice over time she discovers repeating patterns of words or phrases and by reflecting upon these she can figure out what "stuff" she needs to work on ~ which is kind of the point of digging deeper, right? 

I would have to agree that using art journaling as a way to tap into the subconscious is one of the many extra benefits of practicing this form of creativity. The collecting of random images and phrases and combining them in appealing ways onto a page is a great way to use both the conscious and subconscious mind to work together and can have some profound and unexpected results. And as we grow and change in life I think that our art does as well and I find that endlessly fascinating and wonderful to look forward to.

The best part is that when you're making an art journal for yourself you can take it in any direction and make it work for you. It doesn't have to be perfect or pretty but when you're creating with wild abandon it's cathartic. Then if you can step back and say that the experience of creating the page(s) has more meaning than what's actually on the page(s) then it's a job well done! 

If you really don't like the resulting page you can always paint over it and create anew which is nice because if you were exorcising some unpleasant "stuff" you may want to cover it up anyway and replace it with affirmations that are positive and healing ~ which can also be cathartic. You can even purposely put in the things you want to hear. The kinds of things you need to hear and should be telling yourself in order to heal, be whole and move on. Be sure to check out Julie's free resource and join her on Facebook.

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BACKGROUNDS
Creating a background for your art may sound easy but it can be quite an involved process depending on the look you're going for and how much time and materials you want to use for it. Sure you can coat your substrate in all yellow but then what? Will you be content with a background that is just one hue? Or do you want it to look more dynamic and have layers of interest? What about your focal point? Will it match, clash, stand out too much or will the juxtaposition of the two be completely lost? Would you prefer your journal pages to be a cohesive work that is well integrated and interesting to look at for more than a few seconds?

I think that, for me to consider a successful art journal spread, or even a work of art, is one that holds the viewer's attention for very long time and with each subsequent viewing there is the enticing possibility that something new can be discovered. I'm not saying it has to be cluttered with "stuff" even though mine often are but even subtle layers of monotones can hold one's interest... (see the artwork of Misty Mawn for more ethereal pieces)

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inspired by Donna Downey
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I used to be so afraid of the blank canvas but during my online searches I soon discovered one person who's completely fearless of them! Donna Downey has a blog full of inspirational videos that show her exploring a wide range of techniques, mediums, products and a lot of random experimentations. It's like she's does all this research for us by using a ton of different supplies and different techniques and really takes the fear out of the unknown. After watching her videos you may even feel empowered to just go for it, too!

Often she uses standard paint and paint brushes but once in a while she'll dive into weird products (like glass bead gel) that I would be afraid to buy because of price and quantity of product left over if I didn't like it or didn't quite grasp what all can be done with it and she does all the testing for you!

I'm not going to lie and tell you all her projects are beautiful and perfect every time because a lot of the time they're just plain weird and seem to fail but that's one thing that keeps bringing me back to her videos. I like seeing a real person working with and through real art issues. I must say that Donna does manage to somehow salvage every single page, like some kind of awesome art MacGyver, she may not love the page, but it's a stepping stone as a future reference and for her personal growth as an artist. By sharing what she's learned along the way with all of us makes it really worth her time and yours. I for one appreciate her generosity and fearlessness!

Donna usually works in an art journal and seems to approach each blank surface by saying "I have no idea what I'm going to do today but let's just see what happens".  I really find that refreshing and it's kind fun to dig in and give it a try with that mantra in mind.

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Here are a few more resources, some of which I am currently interested in, inspired by and learning from. If you're also interested in discovering a few more diverse artists please start here:

Dan Eldon ~ one of the first known art journalers, Dan lived in Kenya most of his life and became a photojournalist; he kept a personal diary documenting the world around him in words an pictures
http://www.daneldon.org/

Teesha Moore ~ one of the most prolific art journalers with a very distinct style http://www.teeshamoore.com/

Zettiology ~ Tracy Moore (Teesha's husband) creates art journals and sculptures http://www.zettiology.com/

Inner Excavations ~ this is a read along and participation is encouraged with Liz Lamoreau http://www.lizlamoreux.com/inner-excavation/

Community Thrive ~ there are several free groups to join and create art with Mystele and friends (you must sign up to participate, there are also classes you can pay for) http://communitythrive.com/

ChakrArt ~ a free workshop http://timelessrituals.blogspot.it/p/blog-page.html#.UYCXGKKmiAg

Santos Dolls ~ paint and create assemblage art and hand sculpting techniques (you must sign up and pay for this class to participate) http://jeanneoliver.ning.com/group/santos-cage-dolls?commentId=6550528%3AComment%3A49728&xg_source=msg_com_group

True Free Spirit ~ a year long mixed media painting class with Mindy Murphy Lacefield (you must sign up and pay to participate) http://timssally.ning.com/

A Year in the Life of an Art Journal ~ Monday Mugshots ~ submitting a photo a week of your coffee, tea or other bevy http://oneyearartjournal.blogspot.com/

Explore Play and Redefine ~ work with limited color palates and making use of scruffy brushes (you must sign up and pay for this class to participate) http://theitsybitsyspill.blogspot.com/p/explore-play-and-redefine.html

Living Art at the Speed of Life ~ Tutorials by Pam Carricker http://pamcarriker.com/tutorials/

Mixed Media Art Tutorials with Christy Tomlinson http://christytomlinson.typepad.com/christytomlinson/tutorials/

Journal Fodder Junkies ~ Change ~ step by step making of a journal page

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A tip: If you like to use your time effectively you may already be doing this sort of thing... I hope you are! But since I've been immersed in the world of online classes I find myself sitting and watching a lot of videos. Then I sit or stand to make art... but it's too much sitting really and not enough physical activity... so I was getting stressed out about how inactive I was becoming so I changed what I was doing and I'm reaping the benefits! And now that it's nice out (finally) I can go bike riding and while I do I can meditate on making art when I get back in!

So, If I know a video will be medium length or longer I will save these types of videos for the morning when I exercise. I'll set up the video on my lap top and set up my Wii Fitness on the Telly and do a free run for 30 minutes or so while I watch the video that way I get double the value for my time! It may take me longer to get through them but that's fine with me, then I have more time to art instead of watching other people do it.... =) Another option for me is taking my lap top into the kitchen while I cook, sometimes I can be in there for hours and when I am I can really get a lot of videos watched that way!

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*The Girl in the Bikini (image above): I wanted to talk a little bit about this page and how I love using the camera as a tool while creating! The camera can really offer up a new perspective of a work in progress. This journal spread is a great example of one that seemed just fine when I first made it. Then I went back and took a photo for this blog entry and uploaded. When I did a read-through of the blog's final draft I realized that I'd left in too much of the original background around the model. I made some effort to cut away the bottom part of the photo (there was text there) but it seems strange to me now that I left in all the rest of the background and covered up nearly all of the interesting painting I'd layer on and I'm asking myself  "why the heck did I do that?" But at least now that I've taken this photo I can actually see it, you know?

Now, there are a few ways to resolve this: I could live with it. I could go and try to tear it the excess away. I can paint over it or I can even collage more elements around her. The thing is that when I was looking at the page in my hands it seemed one way. Then taking the photo had me looking at it in a new way.... I would encourage you to take photos along the way of your works not only to see how they progress through different stages but to also see your work in a new way.
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I hope you enjoyed reading this round up of art classes. Thanks for stopping by, reading my blog and looking at my art! Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments and any links you think I might like. 

Stephie                                                                 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

I am an Allergic Girl

This month I want to talk about food and my food allergies. If you don't want to read the story just have a quick look at the photos and captions. I took the photos while I made Jamaican Beef Patties, which I will also talk a bit about in this story. You can find the recipe for Jamaican Patties over at Baltic Maid  if you're interested in making them too. I've even put a copy of the recipe from her site at the very end of this post.

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the beautiful golden color is from curry powder
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I grew up in New York and remember eating Jamaican Patties fairly often and loving them. But we moved to the mid-west and since then I'd not eaten anything like them. I don't think anyone in my family even spoke of them after the move. Mid-western restaurants didn't have them on their menus so it's no surprise that about two decades later that I nearly forgot they existed! A few weeks ago I sort of remembered them and was trying to tell my husband, Bill, about them but the only description I could come up with was they were these "meat pies" kind of like a Pasty only not. Pasties, in my opinion, don't really have much flavor. They do make a rather hearty meal on the go and I do like them. But what I was really missing and craving was this "mystery food" from my childhood. Unfortunately I couldn't remember for sure how they looked or what flavor it was. So, how could I describe a thing I could not really remember to someone I grew up with so they'd remember too...? I didn't give up but just set the thought aside for a while.

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dividing the dough prior to rolling out
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Fast forward to a couple of weeks later and I was looking at food pins on Pinterest and saw a familiar shape in a photo that said Jamaican Patties I was like *DING* that's the food! When I followed the link to a working website I couldn't believe my luck! I was pretty sure this was the meat pie I was looking for. I do have a friend still living in NY that I grew up with, she is my sister's BFF, so I wrote her with the link and asked her if she could confirm the authenticity of the food as being similar to what we ate growing up and she said 'yes they looked very authentic' ~ wow! First Second try! Follow this link to wiki for more about Jamaican Beef Patties.


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ground beef, onion and curry
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In the next couple of days I made sure to have all of the ingredients on hand (or substitutions) because I intended to make these right away! I must tell you that the cooking and baking skills I have are what I learned from a couple Home Economics classes I took in school and a whole lot of self taught! At first my desire to cook was just because I wanted to learn to bake simple things like cookies. Then sometime during my 20's I found out I was lactose intolerant and I also got married. Then I wanted to learn to make breads, pies, roasts, soups and as budgets were tight cooking at home was very practical. However I had a whole new learning curve due to my lactose intolerance. I read a bunch of traditional cook books trying to discover how ingredients were used with what meals and which complimented each other. My goal was to look at a recipe and make a meal on a budget with what I had on hand. Then I had to figure out how to make foods dairy free or I'd be making his and hers dinners which after years of practicing this it's a cinch!


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once the filling is cooked & placing into the rolled out dough
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OMG you guys lactose and milk proteins are in so many things it is ridiculous and shopping became such a big chore at first. My shopping time nearly doubled because I was having to read every label of food that I was interested in buying to see if had milk in it and then having to put it back on the shelf because there was milk, dry milk powder or casseien in it. But as I became more familiar with different brands shopping time was greatly reduced. And we discovered a few soy substitutes as well as lactose free milk so I am now able to make a lot of foods I love: specifically pizza! I still read labels but now, for most foods, you can skip to the end and see if it contains milk or nuts because it will be in bold. It's the hidden milk proteins that I have to look for like sodium cassineate and such.

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the dough is moistened with water, folded over & pressed with a fork

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A few years after I discovered my lactose intolerance I discovered a new allergy. This time it was to tree nuts. Cooking at home rather than eating out became life and death for me. There have been a few restaurant chains that were totally clueless about the seriousness of nut allergies when it came to food prep and cross contamination.

Here's how a few treated me: they will either give me a book filled with their products to read the ingredients lists myself. "Oh geee thanks that's helpful and caring how about I go somewhere else" I would think...

Or they steer me towards dishes I do not want but that are (probably) dairy free selections like "how about some cream of mushroom soup" wait WHAT?

And my favorite "sorry but these are pre-made so we can't alter the ingredients" so then I would question the freshness of the food.

One restaurant even went so far as to hand pick out almonds from my spinach salad and send me the dish back... I know this because I found some of the almonds they missed at the bottom of my meal. It was a good thing I didn't have an allergic reaction to that. I'm going to use strong language here and say that was a crappy and dangerous thing to do and really show's ignorance and / or complete disregard for the seriousness of a food allergy in a patron. They will not see my business ever again.

Dare I say I 'learned my lesson' not to order a dish that has nuts in it and try to ask for it nut free. "It shouldn't be that way" I kept telling myself. So, then home cooked meals became a life and death necessity for me because I was afraid that an incompetent chef was going to kill me. Not to mention all the questionable pre-fab foods and how unhealthy those are in their own right. What I discovered was that a lot of restaurants, especially chains, are serving no better than TV dinners.

If you didn't already know they are getting their food from SYSCO or Reinheart. These are the these same pre-fab food stuffs that are served at nursing homes, hospitals and schools. Not necessarily all bad but not really all that good either. So it's a good thing I had a lot of practice with altering recipes at home so for me to accommodate this new allergy AT HOME was not as difficult as the lactose intolerance. But out there it seemed hopeless for many years until I also discovered this wonderful resource Allergic Girl by Sloan Miller. Sloan Miller is an allergy expert living with allergies! She's also got a blog called Please Don't Pass the Nuts a web page called Allergic Girl and a FB page. Her wisdom and insights have helped me re-integrate back into occasional dining out but, unfortunately, still unable to enjoy a decent pizza around here - if you're from New York you know what I mean. Good thing I can make it at home.

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all done and ready to eat!
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Back to the Jamaican Patties.... I was super happy that all the steps to make them were familiar to me and that I could pull off making them in no time.  Let me tell you they are spicy and delicious! I have a lot of gratitude for Baltic Maid for posting this recipe for it has allowed me to enjoy a dish I am quite fond of and can easily make in my own kitchen.... move over pizza you've got a contender! I suggest eating these alone or with rice or even a baked potato!

Here are a few sauces you can eat with these patties, many of which I just whipped up on the spot:
1. ketchup
2. ketchup mixed with curry powder
3. Patak's Vindaloo Paste mixed into ketchup
4. Patak's Vindaloo Paste  mixed with ketch up and mayo
5. Patak's Vindaloo Paste  or Pataks Eggplant Brinjal mixed with (soy) cream cheese
5. Patak's Vindaloo Paste or Pataks Eggplant Brinjal mixed with (soy) sour cream
6. Patak's Vindaloo Paste  mixed with plain yogurt
7. Any Patak's Chutney!
8. My husband eats his with plain yogurt.
9... get creative and mix your own special sauce!

If your local grocery store doesn't carry Patak's products you could always try asking them or you an order it online direct from the company or even through Amazon.com

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Below is a list that I have written on a card and use when I go to a restaurant. Feel free to copy it, change it to your needs, print it out and hand it to whomever waits on your table next time you dine out. You can either call ahead before you dine out to ask if they can accommodate food allergies or just show up and ask the staff to hand the list to the chef and see what happens.



butter, butter fat, ghee, cream, custard, milk, milk solids, dry milk powder, whey, whey products, rennet, brine, cheese, lactose, sodium lactate, lactoglobulin, lactoferrin, lactulose, caseinate, casein, sodium caseinate, lactalbumin, lactic acid starter culture, lactalbumin phosphate, potassium lactate, hydrolysates, maltitol, xylitol, lactitol

I also have these on my list not because I'm allergic but because I do not want these in my food and because I do experience unpleasant side effects from: MSG, phenylaline, aspartame, saccharin, sucralose & sorbitol



If the restaurant can accommodate you on the spot without steering you away from your first choice dish then you know they're most likely making their food fresh. If the chef personally appears at your table to discuss what you would like from the menu so they can make you a special dish. I'd call that a high level of competence, attentiveness and this type of chef most likely has been schooled in the seriousness of food allergies and cross contamination!

If they can't accommodate your needs or think they can and you experience side effects then no, they're probably not too savvy. It's probably not safe to eat there. Take note not to say you have a "dairy" allergy when / if you really have a "lactose intolerance" or "lactose allergy" as the most remembered version of the the food pyramid has eggs are included in the dairy category even though the current ones puts eggs in the correct meat category - or you may get people asking you if you can eat eggs. And, for some reason when I mention my lactose intolerance, I keep getting people asking me if I can eat pasta or wheat... even people who've just seen me eat a whole bowl of pasta.

For years now I've not been able to eat / buy popular popcorn brands but Sloan Miller just posted about Angie's Popcorn and I think there may be some hope for a dairy free popcorn after all these years! And she also suggested making some popcorn toppings at home!

I wish you all luck, if you suffer from a new or old food allergy! I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts, stories, recipe links and tips if you'd like to share them with me.


Thanks for stopping by!

All the best, 
Stephie                                                               

Jamaican Beef Patties
Ingredients
Pastry Dough
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/4 cups whole spelt flour & 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 cup / 1 stick / 113 g unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • 3/4 cup ice-cold water
Meat Filling
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 2 Scotch bonnet chili peppers (any colour), seeded and minced
  • 1-2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper, or  to taste
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 slices whole grain bread, processed into crumbs in a food processor
Egg Wash
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water
Directions
In a bowl, combine the flour with the salt, baking powder and the curry. Add the butter and mix it in with your hands until it resembles a very coarse meal. At this point add the water. Squeeze the mixture until it just forms a ball. Knead once or twice to combine fully (the less kneading, the better).
Divide the dough into two pieces, shaping each into a thick pancake. Wrap the pieces in plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for several days.  Take it out 30 minutes before using it.
For the filling, heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and add the beef, onion, spring onions, garlic, peppers, and thyme. Fry the meat until it turns brown and the moisture has evaporated. Add the curry, salt, and pepper, and constantly stir. A crust will form on the bottom of the pan.
Add 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir and scrap the bottom of the pan to incorporate the brown goodness on the bottom of the pan. Add the breadcrumbs and more water if necessary. Cover and let everything simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir the mix occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Divide each dough pieces into 8 pieces. Divide the meat in the pan into 16 portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the dough pieces into a rectangular shape with rounded edges. Place one of the meat portions on one side of the rolled-out dough leaving a free border of about 1 cm. With your finger, apply a little water around the edge. Fold the one side over the dough over the meat and seal the edge. Lightly press a fork around the edge to make a pattern. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Place the pastries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with the egg wash and bake them for about 20 minutes or until the pastries turn golden.
Guten Appetit!

Friday, March 8, 2013

a busy February

So yeah, my February was short and sweet. So short in fact I forgot to do a blog post during it so I'm making up for it now. Gosh it was quite a busy month for me as I spent the last week or so of January and the first couple of weeks of February working on three different Valentines Day art projects and I even managed to get a few other things created as well.



One big project I wanted to create were some hand draw and watercolor Valentine cards for fun and then give them all away! It was a great way to get lots of drawing and painting practice. My favorite is the cupcake girl. I just love all the sprinkles! If you'd like to print them from home you can purchase a PDF file from my Etsy shop.




I also cut out and hand embroidered a super long Valentine Bunting, available at my Etsy shop.




And I had a lot of fun choosing fabrics, cutting, sewing, stamping and stuffing these super adorable door hangers. I even hand carved a "LOVE" stamp for this project. Available in sets of 2 at my Etsy shop.










I took a poll on my FB to see which was my most popular painting from 2012. The Blueberry Blonde Goddess painting was the most popular by far. So now there are Blueberry Blonde themed pocket mirrors in the Etsy shop. They come with matching drawstring bag, that I made. They're decorated with several of my hand carved stamp images and I even made one stamp to look like the Goddess in the painting. 




Somehow I even found time to make these two mixed media collage paintings; available in the Original Art section at my Etsy shop





It was a short month but when I think back and now look back on all that I made in February I'm quite happy to see how much I was able to CREATE! As it is my word for 2013 I feel like I'm living it! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Leave me a comment, question or just encourage me to get my March blog post up sometime while March is still happening. LOL.

~Stephie                                                                    

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wild Soul

Happy New Year! 
2013 and I seem to have gotten off on the right foot. This year I want to keep up my painting momentum and also try art journaling. Last month I posted about making a small series of hand bound, travel journals called From Here to There. I liked them very much and kept one to use for myself. I then joined Effy Wild's Book of Days art journaling class and watched the videos, that are available to members, in order to prepare for the class start in January. What I ended up doing was using what I learned in that short time to fill my Here to There journal with as much as I could from my 2012 all at once right then in December. A bit unusual in the world of journaling, perhaps. I think it turned out really cool considering how quickly it all came together and that it is in no particular order. The journal has a fun, quirky, charm to it with lots of color, textures and topics. It was a practice run for art journaling in 2013.

Staying in the "Zone"
The endeavor of getting into the creative zone on a daily basis or at least have a more regular routine of creating I decided to search for some e-classes that offered daily art journaling. I found Wild Souls Art with Effy Wild which is an art community I had discovered earlier in the year so I recalled that she did art journaling daily, and I started my search there. As I became more acquainted with her site I was amazed at how much this one person has going on! In addition to teaching her own classes she takes classes and teaches in other forums besides her own. After comparing my needs / desires for art journaling daily with her course and a few others, not that I needed to look much further, I decided to sign up to her Book of Days premium course.

Elements
After becoming a premium member of Book of Days (BOD) I had access to a whole bunch of cool art videos and I began with the self guided Elements series. Elements is a mini-course that takes you through creating a one or two page spread for each of the elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. And there were bonus lessons: Spirit, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. I made it through the Elements videos in a week or so and within two weeks I had all my pages completed and hand bound together. I'll show you my pages but I didn't want this post to be photo heavy so I made up some collage pictures using Picmonkey.

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For the first collage the first page I made is on the left hand side. It is a page that has all four elements together: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. I've made it the cover page for my Elements Journal. Then on the top right there is a green woman representing the Earth element. Below her is a light blue page for my Air element. I used acrylics, bubble wrap, sand paper, metallic paints & stencils.


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This next collage has Fire on top, water on the lower left and Summer on the bottom right. In these three I have used a variety of techniques including stencils, portraiture and abstract. While I'm not super skilled at these I wanted to go for it and get in some practice.


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This is my page for Spirit. I had this lovely photo from an issue of Vogue of Charlotte Gainsbourg. I'd had this for a couple years and knew right away that I would be choosing her for my focal point for this lesson. I wanted  the background to be very minimal; which is not an easy accomplishment for me. But, I really did not want to go overboard using techniques or embellishments for this page. I'm a person who loves movies so I picked an actress for my incarnation of Spirit. If you're familiar with Charlotte's work you'd know she is an amazing actress and singer but also a lovely person with an interesting life. I feel she's a positive influence and couldn't think of any other person who is such inspiration to me. So I decided that she, rather than a self portrait was worthy of a shrine to the divine feminine. That's my opinion and why I chose her to represent Spirit. I decided not to add any text but rather allowed the empty space balance out the beautiful image. I did add white flocking to some of the swirls that overlap the image; when the glue dried the swirls fade away into the background yet they also integrate the picture into the whole rather nicely. I added a blue rhinestone to her forehead to reinforce the idea of the divine. Photos do not do art journal pages justice they need to be seen in real life to be enjoyed. 



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 This page is my Spring page. Very green. Very whimsical. It's one of my favorite ones from the Elements course. It has lots of visual texture! I made the texture with a variety of tape strips at the base layer then by randomly rolling on paint. On a whim I drew this heart shaped face girl with big hair and had a lot of fun doodling all around and I even added text. I was going to paint her in a bit more but I every time I went to paint her face or hair I just couldn't do it. She was really bringing me a lot of joy just as she is. I couldn't bring myself to change it.This was one of those times when the muse speaks and I was present to listen. The muse helped me to be brave and to try something I didn't know I wanted to try from start to finish. I really had a lot of fun making it. This page is totally different than what I've been seeing other budding and experienced artists doing. So to create it and allow it to be exactly as it is - is more than a bit scary. But I may never be able to make another artwork like it and so I just couldn't make anymore additions or changes to this page. On the flip-side I may continue to make lots of characters like this and she could be the first of many. And with that thought I couldn't not create this then cover it up. That would be silly. Especially since I felt super happy with it as 'weird' as it is. Art is a process, there will be lots of happy accidents! I'm still learning, experimenting and finding my way to my style of creating one painting at a time! So I've made this textured super green happy spring girl in the spirit of new growth and possibilities.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This is a series of photos for the two page spread I made for Winter. It was done along with about a hundred other women on New Years Eve during a live broadcast hosted by Effy. Talk about empowering! We were all there to support, encourage and make art together! I've never experienced anything quite like it. I think so even more now than while it was happening. The idea was to write a bunch of "stuff" we were releasing from 2012. This text is the base layer of the artwork and nearly everyone contributed what they were releasing from 2012 so I did not have much trouble filling up my two pages quickly. I wrote forwards, backwards and overlapped much of the text so it couldn't be easily read. It is getting covered up anyway so it didn't have to be pretty or legible. It was kind of nice just being messy and releasing  the "stuff" we want to and  have intent to let go of and just put it onto the page.


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Next I added some color chalk pastels and gesso to cover up the text. 


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For the third layer I made an outline of my hand on a scrap page, then I used it as a mask for both pages. I outlined and colored around the hands in pink... You can see my gesso, the mask I made of my hand, paint splatters and some stencils in the background...


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For the next step I wrote RELEASE on the left to represent 2012 and all the things I'm leaving behind. On the right it says RECEIVE to represent 2013 and all the things I'm willing to embrace in the New Year. I also glued on a SUKIE iron on image of a bunny and one of my hand carved stamps of bird images on the right. There is no real meaning in using these "symbols" it's just what I had on hand, they were small enough to use and they're cute. Although many artists do use symbolism in their art I have yet to develop my own personal symbol vocabulary. If you're interested in seeing an example of an artist who does have a developed symbol vocabulary and uses it well in their art I suggest you check out Jesse Reno.

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So, yeah me and 2013 have started off very nicely with my intention to be creative every day, to use the supplies I have and to add in a few new ones. To discover new art techniques and practice them. To try new art styles and cultivate an environment for me to develop further as an artist. I already have several online classes I'd like to take picked out and many fun projects planned to fill my year with creativity. I can't wait to do them all! 
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If you're wondering what online groups I'm a part of check my side panel, on this blog, for current ones at the top and older ones nearer the bottom. And in case you notice that I haven't blogged about every single group I'm in - I like to have a bit of flexibility with what I blog about so, I may not blog about or share the work I make during my time in any particular group past, present or future. I approach blogging the way I do a canvas with a bit of whim and I create what I want. 
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I will continue to update my Zazzle and Society6 accounts with products that have my art on them so you can buy them at your convenience. And of course my Etsy shop. If you'd like to request something specific please let me know. I will do my best to make it happen!
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I also wanted to mention that my word for the year is CREATE. I didn't really have one formally picked out last year but if I did it would have been PAINT. Which I did nearly all year long. I only found out about choosing a word for the year in December when I joined Wild Soul Art. So I picked a word for 2013 that would help me focus on what I wanted to accomplish for the year. I am going to do my best to live in that word for this whole year and I will continue to post to my blog once a month & update with what I'm doing.

Thanks for stopping by and being interested in what I'm up to.... 

Happy Days, 
Stephie                                                                 

Friday, December 7, 2012

From Here to There



From Here to There
Journal Kits
and a
GIVEAWAY
giveaway is now closed
PLUS:
Photos of how I've done 
a few of my journal pages!


I love making journals! It's December and I realized that I haven't made a journal in months! Suddenly I was really wanting to make one but this time, after gathering my supplies and setting up a space, I realized that the muse was calling me to accomplish a series of journals. In part this project grew from the abundance of cardboard I had as I just acquired from a toaster I just bought as well as the need for a new traveling journal for myself. Upon opening the box of the toaster I knew that *this* cardboard was destined to be some very special journals! As I began the project it became clear to me that making a few journals wasn't going to completely satisfy my creative urge. I realized that in order to satiate my creative tendencies I had to make the project even bigger and better by making them into journal kits.




I started out by making six journals but knew that I needed to practice and test ideas out on at least one of them. So I ended up really stressing the first journal out and decided I should keep it for my own. I had started out wanting to make myself a journal after all, right? And since I ended up putting it together and tearing apart a few times it was only fair not to pass it off to someone else. I did it this way because I wanted to see just how much the little journals could hold, still look nice, be relatively easy to construct, be portable, lightweight and filled with interesting items for inspiration.



I became aware that it would be a really good idea for me to get a feeling for using a journal kit that I put together. I can asses it strengths and weaknesses and look for ways to improve it. And that's exactly what I did! Nearly two weeks in the making and it's taken me a lot of trial and error to get these perfected and looking sharp! I'm glad that I was able to work through the difficulties and get the journals to be exactly what I wanted. After I got through the experimental stages I was able to apply what I had learned to the other five journals. I had a great time making these and I do believe that I will be doing it again!



the painting stages the covers went through...



I used acrylic paint for the covers, spines and the Washi tapes. Then I filled the journal with mixed media papers for decorating and newsprint for note taking or quick sketches. I included a pocket and filled it with a lot of inspiration like decorative scrap booking papers, paper doily's, manila tags and a few other things. Then a couple of days later I decided there weren't enough elements in the pocket so I added even more! I'm totally going to brag now: I also added a bunch of stickers made from some super cute, hand carved stamp, images that I made! Now the pocket is rather bulky but I feel it holds a lot of potential for a variety of creative expression.


close up of one of the covers



Originally I started out with enough space for storing three Washi tapes but through experimenting I ended up redesigning the holder to make more room and now it holds at least five! I'm totally bragging here again because one of the tapes feature my (BB) hand carved arrow stamp image and the other images are (SB) store bought or from (SU) Stampin' Up!



Washi Tapes
L-R: neon pink with SU swirls; light blue with SU snowmen
purple and pink with SB butterfly & flowers; red & orange
with BB arrow stamp; blue and green with SB stamp
and YES! that's a piece of home made Washi tape holding the end page in place...



This kit consists of a variety of supplies, colors and cheer to help inspire you to document those wonderful memories of your favorite vacation or day at the park and revisit them often. This kit will inspire you and help spark your creative muse. l know it will be just what you need to help you record a special day and to take with you on your next outing. Whether you like pencil, pen, pastels, water coloring, acrylic paint or  to mixed them all together there is plenty of space to experiment and create small works of art.



a look at the inside pages & folder filled with goodies
the button and string closure keep it all in place
you can decorate every surface!



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Included in each kit:

6" x 5" hand painted / hand bound journal, with button & string closure and 2 metal corners on front

12 pages (24 counting front/back) of mixed media paper
4 pages (8 counting front/back) newsprint
5 pieces of hand made Washi tape 12" - 17"

Tag board pocket filled with:
1 piece, folded, tracing paper
1 small piece of map
1 small piece of magazine page
2 small pieces decorative paper napkins
10 small pieces decorative paper
1 small, two color, picture of Neptune
2, folded, paper doilies,
a variety of hand stamped stickers, nearly all are BB hand carved images
5  manila tags, hole punched
3 mania tags
12 reinforcements
3 TICKET / KEEP THIS COUPON, faded blue
1 piece, blue card stock, decorated with my hand carved doily stamp / embossed in white
two pieces sticky back tape 1 embossed with the word BELIEVE and 1 with the word LOVE
and MORE!!!!
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Tag board page with 12" - 17" hand made Washi tapes:

1 purple & pink with butterflies & flowers
1 red, orange, yellow with arrows (my hand carved stamp)
1 blue & green with script
1 light blue with snowmen
1 neon pink with swirl
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A brief suggestion for additional supplies you may want to use in your new journal: gesso, book pages, newspaper, watercolors, gouache, acrylics, sand paper, scissors, photos, gel pens, distress ink , stapler, glue, glitter, spray inks, rub-ons, lace, ribbon, a brayer, stencils....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


a look at one of the journals...


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The holidays are upon us and I thought it would be super fun to do a giveaway of one of these sweet journal kits! Wouldn't you agree? If you think you'd enjoy this mixed media journal kit or know some one who would and would like to join my December Giveaway there are FOUR awesome ways to enter and please note: this giveaway is open to everyone everywhere but you should be over 18 because if you win I'll need your address to ship it out to you. Also if you're not in the USA the package may not arrive before Christmas, as you may well know. I also invite you to tell a friend, subscribe to my blog and to like my Facebook Fan Page to get sneak peaks, interesting links and more!
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Here's how to enter:

First lease leave me a comment with your name and a valid email address and tell me what your favorite winter sport is and why! (must be a real sport, please) 

Second fulfill the first requirement of leaving a comment. Then re-blog OR tweet OR post on Facebook OR somewhere else about this giveaway and leave me a link where you put it.

Third fulfill the first and second requirements in addition to making a purchase at my Etsy shop and leave me a comment with your Etsy purchasing name and as a Thank You I'll give you a 30% refund!

Fourth fulfill the first and second requirements for this contest and make a purchase at my either my Zazzle shop or my Society6 shop

~~~~~
Giveaway starts December 7th and will end December 14th... winner will be announced here and on my Facebook Fanpage. I will also contact the winner by email. If all goes to plan and you're in the USA you should have your journal before Christmas! If I don't hear from you by December 21, 2012 I will select another winner.
~~~~~

Happy Holidays & Best of luck on the contest!
~Stephie
 

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Winter is one of my favorite times of year and I thought you may all be wondering what my favorites are... Well I thought I'd start by telling you all that my favorite recreational winter sports to participate in are dog mushing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing and camping. Yes, I said camping - the kind you do in tents - it's really fun!  I never said it wasn't cold because it totally is but it is really rewarding.

My favorite winter sport to watch is biathlon, where women ski & shoot targets - these are some of the most impressive athletes I've ever seen. I was hesitant at first to watch but it really caught my attention.

Thank you to all who entered this giveaway and shared your favorite winter sports with me I like hearing about you! I'm happy you could all join in the giveaway fun. I counted five entries so I put 5 into Random.org
and Prerna Poojara has won the giveaway! CONGRATULATIONS!  I will attempt to get a hold of you by email. As you did not leave me an email address I will use the one attached to your blogging account. You have until December 21st to get back to me if I do not hear from you I will choose another winner.


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I've been on an art journaling journey and
here are a few pages I've made in my
Here to There journal kit. I've tried to
use as many of the elements I can
that come with the kit as well as other
ephemera from different events I've been to.


 This one is not finished it's just a jumping off point for inspiration...


 This is a two page spread there's some text; a postcard and a tip-in.


This is a two page spread with a quote and room for more....


 This is a two page spread with a tip-in envelope....
I made the envelope so I could put our concert tickets in it... 


Here's a two page spread dedicated to Cloud Atlas
and I just stapled in my movie ticket.

This is a one page spread I just started doodling
then I added color and text...