Yes . . . I know, first comes Christmas---but I'm excited about upcoming features on my blog beginning in the new year. I will be interviewing people in various creative fields, including visual and performing arts, photography and interior design. I believe in the essential productive power, energy, personal contribution, and healing/de-stressing effects of creative endeavors.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost, the world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly and to keep the channel open.
Bentley’s obsession with snow crystals began when he received a microscope for his 15th birthday. He became spellbound by their beauty, complexity and endless variety.
“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind,” he said.
Bentley started trying to draw the flakes but the snow melted before he could finish. His parents eventually bought him a camera and he spent two years trying to capture images of the tiny, fleeting crystals.
He caught falling snowflakes by standing in the doorway with a wooden tray as snowstorms passed over. The tray was painted black so he could see the crystals and transfer them delicately onto a glass slide.
To study the snow crystals, Bentley rigged his bellows camera up to the microscope but found he could not reach the controls to bring them into focus. He overcame the problem through the imaginative use of wheels and cord.
Bentley took his first successful photomicrograph of a snow crystal at the age of 19 and went on to capture more than 5,000 more images.
It's not too late to order packets of holiday cards. An inside message is optional. These cards are 5-1/2" x 8-1/2", then folded in half. The packet of four cards and four envelopes, without an inside message is $7.50/packet. The packet of four cards and four envelopes with an inside message is $8.00/packet.
Two designs are available...
Optional inside message:Peace on Earth . . . Warm wishes for a safe and wondrous new year.
Above card:Alternative Christmas Tree/Hanukkah Bush
Optional inside message:May every joy of the holiday season be yours, and may the new year bring you happiness.
Images on both cards are printed from my original paintings. Hit the "Contact Me" button on the right side column of this blog to email me with your choices.
In the last week things warmed up a bit here and the snow from two big storms melted. The photo above could have been the view from my studio window just a couple of weeks ago. We'll have more snow and low temperatures in the months to come, and I can make my own ice and berry wreath to hang next to the finch feeder on my birch tree. Have a great weekend.
Every Tear Creates A Pearl - Toni Youngblood, acrylic paint, wax frisket 2009
Platitudes abound regarding the concept that one can find the positive in, or benefit from painful events and experience growth. "What doesn't kill me, makes me stronger." "No pain, no gain." "Every cloud has a silver lining." My own, "Every tear creates a pearl", developed from something my sister-in-law (22 years my senior) told me and my niece (her daughter) when we were quite young. My niece asked her mom, "Where do pearls come from?". My sis-in-law proceeded to say that, "They come from inside oysters. When a little piece of trash lands inside the oyster, it creates an irritation to the animal. The oyster then works with it by covering it over with layers and layers of material that, over time become the pearl." My mind/heart borrowed from her explanation and evolved a metaphor for creating something beautiful from experiences over time, which at first are unwanted and painful. There are times when I need to remember that what is hurting now may be the birth of something beautiful in my psyche.
It's interesting how one can get accustomed to living in disorder . . . when there's not much choice.
The house is kind of a mess with furniture jammed in everywhere---waiting for the day it can be settled in the new/old back room. I've decorated a bit for the holidays . . . the entry hall and the front porch.
And I set up an improvised menorah so my house mate, Kat can ward off homesickness. I made Star of David-shaped cookies with this recipe, adjusting the temperature to 400 degrees F. (The unusual "finish" on the wall pictured in the background, is one of the "time capsules" in my old house. I removed gypsum wall board installed by previous owners of the home, in order to uncover the window in the dining room-----along with ancient plaster which will need to be re-done. Oh, but I'm so happy to have the window and the natural light it provides!)
She said it made her feel more at home with Hanukkah items in the house. And she gave me an adorable little dreidel. She said her mom has always given her little dreidels to distribute to her friends, since elementary school. I love it! :o)
Though my builder said it will be done in time for Christmas, progress on the back room continues to scream along at a turtle's pace.
(In case you are wondering, the bathroom shower was installed behind that used-to-be-window-now-niche years ago!)
I've learned (for health reasons) not to hold my breath for these construction deadlines to be met. ;o) But still, I'm glad some progress is being made.
Ginger Pear Bran Muffins are good any time of the year. This summer I made the muffins for the first time using pears from my own tree. I found the recipe a little while ago on Farmgirl Fare blog. Now that winter's chill is on, I'm enjoying one of these muffins with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Here's the recipe in Farmgirl Susan's own words... Farmgirl Fare 100% Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffin Recipe Last year I discovered small bags of something called uncrystallized candied ginger in the dried fruit aisle at Trader Joe's. It was love at first bite. The little chunks have a smoother texture than crystallized candied ginger, and they taste like ginger rather than sugar. This is actually the first time I've used any in a recipe; they're so good that usually I just munch on them straight from the bag. (They taste great with roasted and salted almonds, too--something I learned from my mother.) I'm sure crystallized candied ginger would work fine in this recipe, but if you love the flavor of ginger this stuff is definitely worth seeking out. As always, I urge you to uselocalandorganicingredients whenever possible. Organic wheat bran, oat bran, and whole wheat flour are a bargain in the bulk bins at natural food stores. 2 cups (3oz/86g) wheat bran 1 cup (5oz/141g) oat bran 1 cup (6oz/170g) whole wheat flour 2 teaspoons (12g) baking soda 1 teaspoon (6g) baking powder (make sure it's fresh!) 1/2 teaspoon (4g) salt 2 large eggs 2/3 cup (5-1/2oz/156g) yogurt (nothing beatshomemade) 1/3 cup (2-1/4oz/65g) canola oil 2/3 cup (7-1/2 oz/216g) honey 1 teaspoon (6g) vanilla extract (optional) 2 cups peeled & mashed very ripe pears (about 3 pears or 17 oz)or2 15-oz cans of pears, drained and mashed + 1/3 cup of the pear syrup 1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger, preferably uncrystallized Place oven rack in middle of oven and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a standard size muffin pan or line cups with paper liners (which makes cleaning up a breeze). Combine wheat bran, oat bran, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Combine eggs, yogurt, canola oil, honey, and vanilla in a small bowl and mix well. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. Gently stir in the pears and candied ginger. Generously fill muffin cups with batter. (I use a large stainless steel scoop, sometimes called a disher. These are also great for portioning out cookie dough and making perfectly shaped cookies.) Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 28 minutes. Cool muffins in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then carefully remove from pan and serve warm, or let cool on a wire rack. Store muffins in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze. Defrost muffins at room temperature, or in the microwave if you're really in a hurry.
Coffee and Cinnamon Cookies Recipe
Above: Photo by Radostina Boseva
Last week I ran across this Coffee and Cinnamon Cookies recipe on 79 Ideas blog, written by Radostina, a graphic designer/budding photographer who lives in the Czech Republic. Please note when you read the recipe on Radostina's blog, the baking temperature is shown in Celsius, so for those of us accustomed to Fahrenheit, the oven temperature translates closer to 400 degrees F. She also mentions that it is a bit early for baking these cookies for Christmas. But as my friend, Katrin pointed out, Hanukkah began on December 1st. I say enjoy these cookies now, and Happy Hanukkah! That's what we are doing and they are delish!
Most definitions describe a settee as a small to medium sized sofa. My father called all sofas "settees". As in "Don't put your feet on the settee." Maybe that was an old Southern custom, calling the sofa a settee. He lived in the South his entire life.
I'm a pushover for a pretty settee.
I also enjoy seeing "pretty" (old style) sofas. And I have a collection of images of "pretty old style" sofas, as well.
I like these old world pieces blended with modern pieces in the same space.
The diminutive scale of a settee allows more versatility in function and placement than a regular sized sofa.
I've saved so many images of settees over the last couple of years in my interiors inspiration folder, I thought it was time to pull them out and see the collection all together.
I hope you enjoy seeing them, too.
Maybe I'll pull out the images of pretty old sofas and post them another day.
December's Gallery Stroll is this coming Friday. Because of the holidays, Gallery Stroll will be held the first Friday this month, allowing opportunities to consider the gift of art and handcrafted creations for those special individuals on your gift list.