Monday, November 26, 2012

Autumn Baked Goods

      I have done two baking projects lately, both including lots of Autumn ingredients like cloves and pumpkins and molasses and nutmeg.
    First, I made chocolate chip pumpkin bread. I made this bread for art and craft day at my friends house.

2 Cup all purpose flour (Separated into one cup each. You will need each cup at a separate time in the recipe.)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of your pan.
2. In large mixing bowl, mix your first cup of flour with the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Add pumpkin  milk eggs and shortening  Stir until blended. Keep mixing for a couple of minutes, so the ingredients are nice and mixed up together. Now add the second cup of flour and mix again until the flour is blended. Fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Put the batter into your pan. Bake about an hour. Let cool for ten minutes before you enjoy. This bread pairs well with tea, especially chai or orange spice tea. Flavor enhanced when eating inside a warm house on a rainy day.

 I made these Ginger-Butterscotch cookies to share with my friends on Thanksgiving.

2 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3  cup white sugar
1 cup butterscotch chips
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine about half of the flour, brown sugar, margarine  molasses, egg, baking soda, ginger cinnamon, and cloves. Stir ingredients until they are thoroughly mixed together. Mix in the rest of the flour. Now mix in the butterscotch chips.
3. Shape into small balls, about an inch wide. Roll the balls in the white sugar. I like to get them thickly coated with the white sugar. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-12 minutes. Let cool for a bit and then enjoy!

   I got the base of both of these recipes from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and modified the recipes to fit my needs and personal likes. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Somewhere in the Dry and Dusty Desert is a Sanctuary Where Aderyn Reads to the Birds

Here is an illustration I finished recently. It is 15 by 20 inches and illustrated with gouache and pen.

    Aderyn lives in the middle of a sizzling hot desert, and although she loves to feel the heat emanating from the flat surfaces of the desert, she misses the birds of other places she has lived. In the desert, the animals all seem rough around the edges and slightly mean. Snakes are abundant with their flickering tongues and roughly scaled bodies. Snorting bores with their tufts of rough hair and large curious nostrils are cute only in their ugliness. Even the desert birds are angry and shrewd. There is the vulture, with it's hunger for decaying flesh. There is the roadrunner with its darting, suspicious eyes. Or the hawk, in a constant state of gliding, it's cunning eyes scanning the flat ground for easy prey. Aderyn loves dainty birds and pretty birds. Her favorite birds are the birds that are far to fragile to survive the ruthlessness of the desert. One morning she woke up early to drink a glass of iced tea while watching the sun rise. When she opened up her front door there was a tiny bird lying almost dead on her door mat. The little bird was the color of a tulip, and it's small feathered chest was only slightly moving up and down. Aderyn nursed it back to health, but she knew that she could not let the bird back into the harsh desert. Instead, she was struck with a grand plan. She would build a lush and beautiful aviary for all the non-desert birds that needed sanctuary  Anytime a non-desert bird became lost in the desert or became too tired in its trip to travel south, it was welcome in Aderyn's avian sanctuary.  Dainty birds from all around the world stopped at her aviary. Every night, she read them stories from a book full of stories about birds and their various adventures. Sometimes Aderyn would sleep in the aviary with the birds instead of in her house. She would fall asleep to the sound of light chirps and rustling feathers.She would dream she was a bird too, flying through a clear blue sky. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Liona the Bird Person Helps a Weary Traveler Navigate Through the Labyrinth Forest

  Here is a new mixed media painting I made using acrylic paints and Fall leaves. It is about 23 inches long and 18 inches wide.

    For thousands of years, the only people who could accurately navigate their way through the Labyrinth Forest were the bird people. The Labyrinth Forest is full of tricks and illusions naturally orchestrated by the magic within the forest. Most people who wander into the forest- either purposely or on accident- never emerge from the forested depths  Light breaking between the trees may look like an exit from the forest, but any traveler will discover it is actually another turn into more trees. But the bird people have lived in the Labyrinth Forest for so long, that it is in their blood to know the forest. A baby bird person could crawl toward an exit easier than the wisest of non-bird people. Some of the bird people resent every other type of person expecting them to help them through the forest. They feel it is not their responsibility to help others through the forest, and if the forest wanted these outsiders to pass through, the forest would show them the way. But Liona believes that every one has the right to travel through the forest. Many people living on the lands on the outside of the forest would have to travel around the forest in order to get to different villages. This would easily take them years because the forest is so long that traveling around it is not an easy task. But traveling through the forest takes only a month or two. Today, Liona is helping a weary traveler named Marie. For the month of travel, Marie lives inside a leaf monster. She mustn't leave the monster even to get a fresh breath of air. The air in the forest has a way of lodging itself inside a person and changing them. People who have exited their leaf monsters despite the warnings of the bird people become consumed with an overwhelming urge to explore the forest. They runaway from the navigating bird person and the leaf monster but quickly become lost. After this, there is no hope for them. They are just another wandering lost soul. Sometimes the bird people run into these lost travelers but usually after time spent in the forest air, these travelers are mad. Marie is a cautious person and will not leave her leaf monster. She feels frightened just looking outside the window. But she has a sick sister in the village across the forest. Her sister may die of consumption and she must see her before she passes. Marie hopes that she will be able to cure her sister. Most Bird People can also see the future. So Liona already knows Marie's sister will not survive her illness. But she cannot tell Marie this. She must let Marie find out on her own.

Leaf Monster



Friday, November 23, 2012

A Walk Through A Land of Golden Sunlight, Red Leaves, and Shadows That Stretch as Far as the Eye Can See

   I took a walk in the late afternoon/early evening on a recent Fall evening, which combined two of my favorite times: Mid-fall when all the leaves have changed color but haven't yet fallen and early evening which always has beautiful lighting and a pleasing way of distorting shadows.

  Yesterday my friend told me about vintage cheating methods of the Tour De France. Of course cheating athletes these days use steroids and other performance enhancing drugs which is quite dull compared to the inventive means of cheating old timey athletes had to employ. One method my friend told me about involved fishing string being tied one end to the back of a car while the other end a was tied to a cork. The bike riders would hold the piece of cork in their mouth and then get pulled long by the car. I do not condone cheating, but there is something about the ingenuity of this idea that really cracks me up. Other things that cheaters did were take car rides or even train rides toward the finish line. In one Tour De France, the person who was originally crowned fifth place ascended to the first place position because the four contenders in the spots ahead of him were all disqualified for cheating. That must have been quite exciting for that fifth place winner. I think someone should make a movie in the style of a 1920's slapstick- in the visual and humor aesthetic of Buster Keaten- all about the Tour De France and the various methods of cheating contestants have used.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gourds: Autumns Treasures

   Happy Thanksgiving! I am planning on spending the first half of my day cooking. I am going to make green bean cassarole, vegetarian stuffing, candied yams, vegetarian gravy and an apple pie. I hope I am not being to ambitious and that I will have time to make all of this. 
  In the spirit of the holiday, here are natures seasonal decoration... gourds! I know a lot of people who detest gourds and find their bumps and spines repulsive. But I love them and look forward to their appearance at the grocery store every Fall. I like how each one is so different from the next.

   And a petite pumpkin....!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shabby Streets and Savvy Animals

   Recently I was heading to my friends house for an art and craft day when I accidentally got off the bus far too early. That was okay though, because I had my camera and was able to take pictures of the sad and slightly decrepit street which is Aurora. It is a street with a seedy underbelly, but also a street with character. And although there are seedy elements to Aurora, I never think of it as sinister, only a little bit sad and weary under the seemingly contradictory burden of too much travel and too much neglect.

  I have been watching nature documentaries lately about animals and the parts I still cringe and close my eyes at are when any animal is eaten. I know it is part of nature, but it is hard to watch as the baby zebra clumisly tries to cross the murky brown river, it's tiny stripped head bobbing up and down, while the crocodile lurks just out of sight, licking it's spiky chops. And yes, that crocodile needs to eat, but it is so sad to watch it tear into the zebra. The worst part about it is the prey is being eaten before it is even dead. Nature really is brutal!
   Speaking of the ever so chipper subject of death, I learned something interesting (from and avid redditer  ) the other day about ones fate after death if they live in Amsterdam. If you die in Amsterdam with no friends or family to attend your funeral and mourn for you, a poet will write a poem for you and recite it at your funeral. This is a really beautiful idea. It is a way to appreciate everyone who has lived in this world, even if there is no one living in this world to appreciate them. I think this practice should be brought to the states! Maybe a nonprofit could be started employing poets around the country to write poems for all the lost souls who die alone.
  Since tomorrow is a holiday and this post has (unintentionally) become quite dower, here is a link to a cheerful and adorable polar bear video. I was trying to find a clip to the video I was watching last night (Called "David Attenborough: Wildlife Specials episode one Arctic Warriors...It's on netflix), but I had no luck. There was a particularly cute part where a not yet fully grown polar bear was trying to hunt by imitating his mother's technique. Polar bears jump on the ice above water that they think a seal is occupying in hopes the ice will crack and they can catch the seal. They look pretty cute when they are jumping! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How To: Make a Miniature Terrarium

   Terrariums are a perfect way to add a little bit of nature in your home. Here is how to make a miniature terrarium out of an old spice jar.

 I live in a wet and rainy environment, so I found my moss outside my house. But if you live in a drier environment  you can probably find moss at a gardening store. You can decide to only use moss in your terrarium to give it a more natural feel, or you can add a tiny figurine to give it more of a diorama feel.

  Step One: Remove Spice Label and Clean Jar

      Use soap and water to clean your jar. If the spice company used especially stubborn adhesive to affix the label, a bit of peanut butter rubbed onto the sticky parts should really help out.

Step Two: Add Soil
   You can add a lot of soil or a little depending on how high you want your terrarium ground to be.

Step Three: Compact Soil

   Press the soil down as if you were packing brown sugar for a baking recipe  My fingers were too short, so I found a blunt pen to use instead.

Step Four: Add Just A Little Bit Of Water.

    Drip, drip, drip should do the trick. I added more water than intended so I added more soil to absorb the extra water.

 Step Five: Add the Moss

   If your moss is too thick, you can cut it into a smaller piece  My moss was too thin, so I squished to pieces together.

Step Six: Clean away the dirt from the inside of the jar. 

    You don't want your view obscured by excess dirt! Just get a piece of tissue and wipe around the inside of the glass.

Step Seven: Add your figurine (if you want) 

   And Voila! You have yourself your very own miniature terrarium to enjoy.