Thursday, October 13, 2016

Garmisch Christmas Market

If you've been following me and my blog for any length of time, you've come to know that besides being an artist, I love to ski. It's my passion and has been my passion since the first time I failed miserably on skis back in about 1981'ish. Falling repeatedly down the mountain, I said to myself happily, "THIS is my sport!"

Since then, I've skied in many places and recently I've come across a new area (new to me), that I'm interested in going to since I love Switzerland so much, especially the Jungfrau region. Garmisch, Germany!

Garmisch is a small town in Bavaria in southern Germany. It borders Austria and is home to Germany's highest mountain, Zugspitze, at over 10,000 ft.  There are a lot of similarities to Switzerland with rolling green mountains, trails, and chalet-type homes cozied in between.

Garmisch also hosts the annual Christmas Market which is a must-attend! The Alpine music, festively decorated booths, handicrafts, culinary specialities of the region, as well as the Lüftlmalereien (traditional painted house façades that are popular in this region) can be enjoyed in the magnificent glow of Christmas lights. Yule-tide spirit abounds from November 26 to December 23, 2016 filling hearts of the young and old with holiday cheer. I hope to make this an annual trip every Christmas!

Aside from the beauty of the village, there's the amazing local crafts of old world craftsman that really attracts the artist in me. While in Switzerland, I purchased a few wooden carvings of old thyme Santa's and a St. Bernard mountain rescue dog. You don't see that type of craftsmanship much these days.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Beautiful Pies for Fall

As I was reading my emails this morning, one from Pottery Barn popped up and of course I have to look and get inspired by all their gorgeous furnishings and accessories. I didn't realize that Williams-Sonoma is one of their family of stores and also another of my favorites, so I had to click on the link to go see all the latest Fall goodies!

I LOVE cooking stores, even though I don't cook that much, I'm always "planning" to. A weakness of mine is bakeware. All sorts, from tarte pans to bundt cake pans, cookie cutters, cookie stampers, rolling pins, you name it. My favorite though is all the Fall inspired pans. They are so ornate and beautiful! This year, there is pumpkin and acorn cakelet pans and a wondrous assortment of pie crust cutters. Don't we all need Fall piecrust cutters? 

OMG Gorgeous! Look at the detail!
Well I came across the recipe section which had some gorgeous pies and I want to share one of the recipes with you. So get out that "Ruffled" pie dish you've been dying to use and let's start rolling some dough!
First some words on making a pie crust:
ALWAYS use very cold water and very cold butter
and DON'T handle the dough too much. This makes for a very tough, un-flakey crust and you don't want that.
Basic Dough Recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbs. very cold water


To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.

To make the dough in a stand mixer, fit the mixer with the flat beater, and stir together the flour, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix on low speed just until the dough pulls together.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. (Although many dough recipes call for chilling the dough at this point, this dough should be rolled out immediately for the best results.) Lightly flour the work surface, then flatten the disk with 6 to 8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Makes enough dough for one 9-inch single-crust pie or one 10-inch galette.

To make a double-crust pie: Double the recipe, cut the dough in half and pat each half into a round, flat disk. Roll out one disk into a 12-inch round as directed and line the pan or dish. Press any scraps trimmed from the first round into the bottom of the second disk. Roll out the second dough disk into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick and refrigerate until ready to use.

We're going to be making an Apple-Ginger Cranberry pie. Looked delicious and perfect for the crisp Fall weather!


  • 2 rolled-out rounds of the basic pie dough recipe, each about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick, chilled
  • 4 lb. Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced or Granny Smith if you prefer a bit more tart (I do)
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg plus 1 tsp. water, lightly beaten
  • Vanilla ice cream for serving
Remove 1 dough round from the refrigerator. Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish pie dish and gently press into the dish. Trim the edges flush with the rim. Reroll the dough scraps and cut out shapes using decorative pie cutters. Refrigerate the pie shell and cutouts for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

In a large bowl, toss together the apples, cranberries, crystallized ginger, the 3/4 cup sugar, the salt, the 3 Tbs. flour and the lemon juice.

Let the pie shell, cutouts and the remaining dough round stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Pour the apple filling into the pie shell and place the dough round over the filling. Trim the edges flush with the rim and press the top and bottom crusts together. Brush the underside of the cutouts with egg wash and arrange them on the pie. Brush the entire top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, about 1 hour, covering the edges with foil if they begin to brown too quickly. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

To serve, cut the pie into slices and top with vanilla ice cream. Serves 8.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Almost Fall Decor

I love the "Welcome" on the black door. Stunning!
One more day and it'll be officially Fall! I wish someone would tell the weather that. Here in TN it's still in the 90's. Much too hot for this girl to get into the full Fall spirit yet but I'm trying.

This past weekend I bought some mums and planted them in my old rusted out wheelbarrow and added a sign and a pumpkin. It looks very festive despite the fact that it still feels pretty much like summer. 
Loving this!
Here are a few more cute ideas for your porch and yard that I've gathered from around the web and Pinterest (my fave site for awesome ideas!). I hope these inspire some of you as well, no matter what the weather.  Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

If it's Almost Fall, There Must be Pumpkin Spice!

Have you tried the new Pumpkin Spice Oreos that have just hit the grocery store shelves? If not, you must! Truly, these are delish, at least in this cookie girls opinion.

Normally I don't eat Oreos as I think they're a little too sweet and have been trying not to eat much sugar these days, but I had to try one to get into the spirit of things. Unlike the Candy Corn flavor (ugh gross), these don't taste artificial.

So the cookie itself, I'd say is more of a hard biscuit. If you've had the Golden Oreos, the cookie part is sweeter and softer than the original chocolate Oreo. This pumpkin spice cookie is more like the original, more crunchy. And they taste spicy. Like a really good spice cake.

The center filling is sort of a burnt orange color. Very Fall-esque.
The overall flavor, and don't separate the layers now, is really, really good. This cookie gives them an "A" rating!

Bring on the Pumpkin Spice!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hurry Fall!

There's just a slight feel of Fall in the air here in middle Tennessee, at least for the past couple days. The temperature has dropped and humidity has gone away, with just a slight breeze and crispness in the air. I can't wait for Summer to be over and Fall to be here!

The other day at our local grocery store, we picked up this big clay pumpkin to put on the porch and start my decorating. The back has an opening for a candle or lights. I'm going to put orange and white lights in, but I won't light till the first official night of Fall. I know it's early  to start decorating but I don't care, I live for Fall and Halloween!
I can smell a pumpkin spice latte now! The house filled with scents of cinnamon and cloves...hurry Fall!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Paperclay or Papier Mache? Well That Depends

If you've been following me lately, you know that I've been busy getting ready for my 3 upcoming shows, making as many items as I can so my booth is well stocked. To me, if you don't have a full booth, it doesn't look good and I think buyers are less likely to come in to shop. We can talk booth set up later...

So with that, I want to talk about my sculptures that I create. Unlike many artists out there, I don't mind sharing. There's no "secrets" or hidden techniques on how I do things. There's really nothing new to working with clay or papier mache. All I can add are my own tips that help me.

First, if I want to cover something more quickly, I will use papier mache as my base. It's cheaper and goes on easier than paper clay. You can come back later after it dries and add paper clay details if you want.

When working with papier mache, OMG it's a mess, but a fun mess! I use Fastmache. It comes in a box and you mix it with warm water. Put whatever amount you want to start with into a Ziploc baggie so you can seal it and knead it. Start slow on adding the water. I like to end up with a kneadable dough almost like clay. You don't need to worry about getting all the lumps out, that's what gives it tooth and texture and keeps it from looking pretty-boy perfect. Also, I add a drop of Dawn dishwashing liquid. It's supposed to aid in any mold that might form, though I've never ever seen that happen even years later. Oh well, add it cause it doesn't hurt your mixture either way.

When applying your mixture over your armature, like a styro ball or foil, as you work, wet your fingers to keep the mix from sticking to your hands. I keep a bowl or a cup of water handy to keep dipping. Helps with smoothing also!

Before you start working in details or smoothing it out, let it dry for a bit. Just till it's slightly tacky then go in and smooth over with a wet finger. You can also use a wet paintbrush. I've found that works well also. 
This is the head of my pumpkin man below. The papier mache is covering a Styrofoam ball with a dowel inserted to later put into his base. Because I live in a humid climate, it took a few days to dry. That's ok, other stuff to work on!

This is my finished piece. I'm very happy with him and think he's a real cutie! His expression just makes me smile!  Now, to paint him, you don't need to apply anything special to seal it. Acrylic paints seal. That's all I used, just cream color acrylic paint. Then after he was dry, I washed over a thinned brown paint and wiped off to give an antique look.

Here are a few more heads drying. I'm going to be making some pumpkin wands and also some "make-do's" which to me are just heads on top of something. I'm using painted candlesticks. These took a few days to dry cause of the damp weather.

Onto paper clay. I don't like just any brand of air dry clay, I prefer Creative Paperclay. It's just a better quality I find. You'll pay slightly more but I think it's worth it. I will admit though I do use the lesser known brands occasionally when I'm just doing something small, like an accessory to my larger sculpture. Ok, so let's talk about it.

Unlike papier mache, paper clay is smoother and more of a finished look. I tend to be more of a perfectionist when working with clay than with papier mache. I want it to look very smooth and get out any lumps, bumps or imperfections. I drive myself crazy trying. Or crazier rather!
Here's my witch head out of paper clay. You can see the difference in the texture between the papier mache and clay. The technique is not much different really other than you can really push and pull the clay into areas and you don't get the same sticking issue. I still dampen my fingers to help with any stickiness and also to smooth or blend areas together. Don't use too much water though or you could get cracking when it dries. I use clay tools to help blend in added clay to the piece such as for a nose or cheeks. You can pick those up very inexpensively at local craft stores. The cheapo plastic ones work just as good as the metal I found.

Some artists apply a coat of Gesso to the piece after it's dried and before painting. I've done it both ways and don't find a lot of difference really. The acrylic paint still sticks and covers just as well.
So for the witch, I applied my acrylics, let them dry and then went back over with a couple washes of various shades of green and then a brown for some antiquing. Finally I sealed with a satin waterbase varnish. You could leave unsealed as well because as I said, acrylic paints do act as sealers as well.

This head, out of papier mache, is going to be something I've not created before really. It doesn't look like much now, maybe you can make out the nose and cheeks. This will be a sweet doll. Hopefully. Her face will be sanded smoother, still keeping some of the "tooth", and then painted in soft, natural colors, much like dolls were in the old days. Not sure yet of the hair or the rest. She'll be a work in progress. I'll post pics as I'm going along.

Do I prefer paper clay over papier mache? No, not really. It just depends on what I'm making and the desired outcome I want.

Friday, August 12, 2016

What's Going On?

Well, wow, so much! I've been so busy creating and planning my display for my 3 upcoming shows. 
This is the banner for one of the shows - Sweet Tea and Shopping, Sept. 16 & 17. I love it. So well done. And they even did a promo banner for By Way of Salem too to show on their event page. Love it!
Isn't it great!?
I've got some more things done and I wanted to give you a few more peeks at what I've been working on. And I'm also working on some FABULOUS jewelry too.

More work to come! Stay tuned. Next time I'll tell you about my other shows; Paisley and Plaid, Fall and Christmas Markets. Two more great shows!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Tiny Bit of Fall - Works in Progress

I just wanted to share a few of the things I'm working on for my upcoming shows in September and November.

I've got 2 shows in September; 1 is in Murfreesboro, TN at Paisley and Plaid's Fall Market on September 10th, and the other is Sweet Tea and Shopping's Fall Frenzy in Gallatin, TN on September 16th (preview night) and September 17th. Then in November, it's Paisley and Plaid's Christmas Market on November 12th (also in Murfreesboro, TN). They should all be fantastic shows and I'm very excited to be a vendor and be part of these holiday events!
So here are a few quick pics to bring you up to date;
First my helper. This is Lucy, my Staffordshire terrier and helper extraordinaire. Always by my side now that Freckie is gone, and willing to lend a paw. LOL!

Papier mache pumpkin on a wooden candlestick base. I'm excited about this one! I haven't done papier mache in awhile and I think this'll be fun when it's all finished. I'll post a finished picture. Update: Last night I finished the head. I painted it a warm buttermilk color and did the facial features in a deep brown wash instead of the usual black, and then antiqued the whole thing with a nut brown color. I am loving it! Hope you will too.

This is the start of a wooden and paper clay wire witch. I'm going to be sculpting the witch head out of clay, painting it, then stitching up a fun pointy witch hat. She'll have wire arms as well, perhaps holding a bucket of treats or maybe a magic wand, we'll see. Another project that I think will be really cute when it's finished.

And finally, here's one I'm just not sure of. I want to do a set of Dia de los Muertos wine glasses, and I'm not loving the paint. It's hard to cover and streaky. Painting glass may look simple, but in reality, it's not, at least for me. But again, we'll see how it turns out.
Ok, back to work! And feel free to leave a comment, I love to get feedback on my work. Keeps me on my toes!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

She Said Create!

Summer is in full swing here in middle Tennessee and NOW I remember why I want to move! Hot, humid, storms, bugs...need I say more. Oh well, Fall will soon be here and all will be well in my world once more....

But in the meantime, I'm preparing for two upcoming shows for Fall and Christmas that I'm excited about! I love doing shows because I not only get to sell my art to people who appreciate it, but I also get to meet other vendors that are so nice. It's really fun! I may be adding a third show somewhere in between but we'll see because that means you have to have an awful lot of stuff made and right now I've got a little glitch in the process.

A few weeks ago we came upon 4 stray tiny, tiny kittens that were dumped in the bushes down the road from us. Sad I know. They were wet from the rain, shivering, and shaking in the road so we picked them up and are caring for them. In my house. In my craft room. They've since perked up and are tearing around, into everything and well, being kittens. Adorable.

So I've had to relocate my work area. And it's not working. Hmmm...not much area to choose from to set up in this small house. Tried the 3rd bedroom, not working. Dining room? Maybe. Better get it figured out really quick cause I've got to get to making things!
What will I be making? Monster dolls, maybe some voodoo dolls too. Lots and lots of painted items. Some clay sculptures. Maybe some stitchings. And jewelry. Yes I know, I have a love/hate relationship with it but I really do like making it! LOL! I get fueled and inspired by other jewelry artisans and it gets my own creativity flowing.

Back to my craft area. Oh how I wish I just had ONE BIG craft studio! I've just GOT to figure this out!
A shed turned into craft room? Like it!

She shed craft room
Wow, that'd be amazing!
This could work....
I may have to settle with just working on my dining room table for awhile. Sigh............

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Heat is On!

Summer Time Living!
We're weeks away from summer, and here in Tennessee we're set to have our first real "heat wave" this weekend. And you know, I really don't mind at all. I was deprived of sun while living in Washington for about 18 years, and my body is just soaking it up now, and loving it. I feel like I'm really thriving in warmer weather.

The first year I was here, I have to admit I was absolutely miserable. I hated the heat and the humidity. Having horses, I don't have the luxury of just staying inside all day long in the A/C when the weather is hot, I've got things to do! Now, after being here a couple years, I think I've adapted.

Interestingly enough, I was recently offered my old job back in Washington, which I love by the way, and with a very large pay raise! But......I couldn't do it. I can't go back to all the traffic and congestion that we wanted to move away from. Or how the houses are just smashed together with no room, encroaching on all the wildlife and destroying the natural habitat of the area. I was really surprised I turned it down and decided to stay here in TN, at least for awhile.

We've decided though once my project at work is finished, we'll relocate somewhere else. Even though I do love the sun here, the storms can be unpredictable (tornados), and I don't want to have that threat looming every springtime.

For me, life's a beach! We both agree the beach is somewhere we'd love to settle. Not sure where yet, but we're looking at some options including Florida or Hawaii. My love of surfing is definitely something I want to do more of, along with snorkeling and just being closer to the ocean. Life's a journey!