Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baking endeavors

I have been in rather a baking mood this week. On Monday morning, I sleepily offered Dan some warm soda bread with lunch, only to realize that my recipe called for buttermilk. I don't as a habit keep buttermilk in the house, and I certainly did not want to go to the grocery store (which, along with cleaning the tub, is one of my least favorite household chores). So, instead I altered the recipe. I knew one could substitute plain yogurt for buttermilk, but I had only vanilla, so I put that in and left out the sugar. It is a steamed bread, so for the first 30 minutes of baking it is sealed up in two round baking dishes, one on top the other. The top dish is removed for the final 15 minutes, and it gets nice and brown and beautiful. I love that first picture, it's like a glamor shot for my bread!Here, my bread is cooling on the colander. I keep reminding myself to get a wire rack, but alas! I also keep forgetting. This morning Dan woke me up saying how delicious pumpkin pancakes sounded! So, like the dutiful wife I am, I made him some pancakes! I good friend of mine taught me that you can substitute pumpkin for eggs in pancakes, which is what I did. They turned out really well too.Viola! There you have my culinary adventures for the week. I would be happy to share recipes with anyone interested!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas stuff!

Well, I've had my first non-payment in my etsy shop. Etsy has an odd check-out process, in which you may click on the "commit to buy" button and purchase an item without actually paying for it. This causes some problems, particularly if the buyer is new and doesn't understand how etsy check-out works. So, I had someone buy an ornament, and not pay for it. It's only been a day, but this person hasn't responded to either of my messages and still hasn't paid. I'll give her another day or two, and if she doesn't pay by then, I'll start the process of cancelling the sale. I've been very happy with my customers so far, they've all been great and their positive feedback has been very encouraging. Here is one of my favorites: "Wow! They look even better in person! Thank you so much, I can't wait to see everyone's smiles when they get them for x-mas. Thanks again for the custom order!" I've been working on another custom request, a poinsettia ornament. I think it will turn out really nice. I'll post pics when it's finished. In the mean time, I love my new Christmas tree, and I have some little gifties underneath, all wrapped up and beautiful! Enjoy the season, and remember to have fun!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving! I certainly did. I made two apple pies as my contribution to the family repast, and also created lots of ornaments. My sales on etsy are now up to 20, which pleases me. But, I must say, I have been spending so much time on ornaments that I haven't had time to draw or paint anything else! So, I've decided to dedicate some time today to painting another landscape. I don't know what yet, but it will be something to do with trees, since that seems to be the one obsession in my life that remains constant.
On another note, back in October I blogged about learning to make yogurt. I have since made it twice, and it turned out spectacularly both times! It is creamy and delicious and mild, not too tart. I like to eat it with a drizzle of maple syrup to sweeten it, although I'm sure it would be good with fruit or jam or some other such thing. My elder brother, upon his first taste of plain yogurt (which, incidentally, he thought was vanilla) exclaimed vehemently his dislike. Then he tasted mine, which had maple syrup in it, and said, "That's not so bad." I will take that as a compliment, and a recommendation for everyone to try it. Here is my recipe for yogurt:

Make sure all containers and utensils are sanitized in the dishwasher or with boiling water.
Heat 2 cups of milk on the stove to 170 degrees. Pour into a bell jar and allow to cool to 120 degrees. Add 1/4 cup of dry milk powder and 1/4 cup Stonyfield Farm plain yogurt. Put into a small cooler with two other jars filled with boiling water, and allow to set for several hours, not more than twelve. You can use other plain yogurt as the starter, but make sure it doesn't contain gelatin. After you start making yogurt, you can use your own as the starter. The measurements are approximate, since I don't really measure. Milk is much cheaper than yogurt, so it makes sense to me that this would be cost effective.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More ornaments

I've been creating tons of ornaments! Not literally. But for several days I've been very focused on making them, so that I have a little stockpile of them available for when I'm on Thanksgiving break. Although, I'm still planning to make some then. I had a hack of a time identifying some of them, but I think I've labeled them accurately. Here are several I've listed on my etsy shop:
English Ivy

Freeman Maple

Sugar Maple

Sweet Gum

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Etsy Gift Guide

So, for those who aren't aware, etsy puts together gift guides of various items the etsy admin chooses. It's just one way to promote various sellers and aid the buyers at the same time. I was so excited to find out this morning that my Fly Agaric mushroom ornament has been featured in one. It is the Holiday Ornaments gift guide. I have no idea how long it will be in there, because I'm not really sure how it works. But, it has gotten me some extra views and hearts, so it's cool with me! Dan immediately suggested I make some more. Perhaps I will. I have some polymer clay left, but I thought I'd wait and see if I get any more sales. I've sold one ornament so far. On a completely different note, I went to the coffee shop today, since it was drizzly and cold and generally a coffee-type day. Man, did that ever hit the spot. For about five years now I've been drinking tea instead of coffee, but I've decided to get a French press and coffee grinder for Christmas. I'm ready to reemerge into the coffee world.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Appalachian Trail

Those of you who know me, know that I am just *slightly* obsessed with the Appalachian Trail. I have read countless books on the subject, as well as regularly browsing through hikers' online trail journals. Today Dan made my weekend (after a less-than-stellar Friday night at the local cow farm/gun auction) by taking me hiking on the AT! We only hiked about three miles, but it was gorgeous! And I forgot my camera. But picture this: steep mountain trail covered in crunchy brown leaves, and tall, huge trees with a few colorful leaves still clinging to their branches for dear life. The sun shone brightly through everything, and the views between the branches were excellent! I could definitely see myself thru-hiking. So much, that I asked Dan, in all seriousness, if he would let me if I really felt compelled to. He gave me a searching, uncomfortable look and said, "I don't know." And that has been the final word on the subject. Would I really consider leaving my husband for six months to go hiking? No, probably not. I would love it most of all if he would hike it with me. But then, he could meet up with me occasionally and we could hike together for a weekend or whatever. It could work...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mockingbird painting

Here is a picture of my newest painting. I have not yet listed this on etsy. It's in a very different style for me, which I have been wanting to try out. I used a lot of glazing in this piece, so the colors are quite rich and deep, which doesn't translate very well into the photo. However, I'm thinking of doing another one in this whimsical style, only with a winter theme. I'm very seasonally oriented, if that isn't obvious. :) And on another happy note, I sold my first painting through etsy today! I'm so excited about it! And I really, really hope the buyer loves her new piece of art! It's one of the first paintings I did when I started this whole art thing back up again, and I love the pop of red in the leaves. If you are interested, you can view the painting I sold here. Happy day all! I know mine was! :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Silvan Ornaments

I've recently discovered the joys of polymer clay. This plastic-y clay is quite easy to work with, and may be cured in a kitchen oven. After it's been cured, it is lightweight, and won't break when dropped...which is always an important feature in anything I am interested in. I have been making Christmas ornaments out of this versatile substance, all to do with woodsy things. I call them Silvan Ornaments! It has been quite enjoyable for me to work on these, as it both satisfies my inescapable yet way too early longing for Christmas, as well as my creative instincts. I have several leaves, a mushroom or two, an acorn, and an owl so far. I'm going to make some snowflakes, perhaps some little critters, and the requisite snowman for my mother. They aren't all done yet, but here are some photos for those interested. I also have a couple listed in my etsy shop, and more will be forthcoming.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My latest knitting projects.

I decided one day recently that I wanted to create a knitting pattern. Or, at least, knit something without the use of a pattern. So, I went to this lovely etsy shop, which sells both fantastic hats and patterns to create them yourself! I created a hat based on some of hers. I did not use a pattern, and unfortunately, also forgot to write anything down. So, this will be the only hat of this style I will make. But I love the way it turned out! Shown with it are my wrist warmers, otherwise known as fingerless gloves, which I adore and for which Dan makes fun of me every time I wear them. He apparently can't comprehend how essential properly clad wrists are to one's general feeling of warmth. I, who wear them frequently, comprehend this perfectly and will continue to wear them regardless of the opposition I receive from the philistines. (Just kidding Dan! I could never speak in such a way about the foremost patron of my artistic existence!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I've been educating myself lately on how to do things. Here's how it all came about: I was browsing through various etsy shops, as I am wont to do, and found a shop called Theraganics. This shop makes home made soaps. As I was looking through her very attractive products (yes, it's has always been difficult for me to resist bath products), I thought that making soap could be a useful skill to have. What if our government collapsed and chaos ensued? Then what would I do about personal hygiene? So I decided to learn. I read up on it, and now consider myself adequately knowledgeable on the subject. But then, I thought, if I can't get soap, I'm probably not going to be able to get lye, which is the essential ingredient. So, accordingly, I learned how to extract lye from the ash of hardwood. Who knows if any of this knowledge will be useful? I had better learn something a bit more applicable to my life. So, my new project will be to make my own yogurt. I like yogurt. So does Dan, in smoothies and what not. So, I'll give it a try, and calculate the expense to see if it is cost-effective. And I will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Not-so-Dreary Day

I went for a long walk today, about 3.5 miles. I was the only walker I saw, on my way to the organic food store across town. The time went quickly, although the way back was significantly more strenuous, as I was loaded up with several pounds of granola for my husband. It's definitely cold here, only in the mid-40's, and drizzly. But I was well attired for the weather, and avoided feeling the chill. Dan thought the day was dreary, but as I was walking I could not agree. The trees and flowers were a blazon of color all around me, and the tiny droplets of frigid rain against my face nearly took my breath away. Looking closely at the leaves, I realized they are each a little work of art. The colors, the patterns, the symmetry. All destined to be enjoyed for a moment, and then fade and crunch under the feet of passersby. It's amazing to me, the depth of beauty all around us, waiting to be acknowledged.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Dan and I decided to, or rather I decided and talked Dan into, traveling to Ohio this past weekend to visit some family. It was such a great time! I am very fond of my family. It was fun to see how my little two month old nephew is growing. My sister is also growing, as she is expecting her first baby! She has an adorable baby bump now, and we all celebrated together by eating three apple pies (and other delicacies prepared by my industrious mother), decorating pumpkins with markers, watching football, and passing the baby among us like a hot potato. I gave my sister a candle I bought from blisscandles on etsy, and matching mommy and baby hats I knitted for her. Now, it's back to everyday life. I finished and listed a new painting on etsy, which you can view here, entitled Wisteria. Not very autumnal, I know, but none-the-less, it is painted and listed. And I already have several ideas rolling around in my head for my next painting. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Candles and Gingko leaves!

I finally posted my Gingko drawing on my Etsy shop today. You can view it here if you like! I've been rather into drawing lately, but now I'm wanting to paint again. I have an idea in my head for a painting, and I'm dying to try it out! Sometimes it looks better in my head than on the canvas, so we'll see how it turns out! It will be of my favorite springtime flower, wisteria. Also, I got two candles in the mail today, which I ordered from blisscandles on etsy. Oh man, they smell completely amazing. I got the Spiced Wassail scent, and it is wonderfully fall-ish. They are soy wax candles, which burn clean and last a long time. I would highly recommend checking out Suzanne's shop, because her candles look lovely and smell great, and the transaction went without a hitch.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I drew a picture of three Gingko leaves today. It might be done. Usually when I draw something, I let it set out where I can see it for several days, just to make sure it's really done. Sometimes I add things or tweak shading, or whatever. If I'm satisfied with it after several days, I'll spray seal it and then take some pictures of it. I also got a couple of my photographs printed and framed, and I plan to take some pictures of them tomorrow perhaps and post them on my shop. I'm really pleased with the way they turned out. One of the pictures I previously mentioned, a yellow Gingko leaf. I'm not a photographer by any means, but all the same I like taking pictures. What do you think of this photo?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

English Ivy

I listed a new drawing in my etsy shop today. It is a drawing of English Ivy. It seemed rather empty, so I decided to write English Ivy on it in fancy script. I'm pleased with the way it turned out. I'm really fond of drawing with carbon pencil. I think it looks so sharp and crisp against the stark white of the paper, much better than regular pencil. I'm envisioning my next drawing, which I think will be of some gorgeous Gingko leaves I found yesterday at the University when I was taking some lunch to Dan. I was walking along enjoying the brisk wind, a quintessential fall day, when I looked down and saw all these perfect little ochre hued fans. I didn't realize Gingko leaves turned yellow in the fall, but they do, and they stood out against the green grass like tiny golden lanterns. I grabbed a handful of them, and did a practice drawing of three of them yesterday. I think that will be my next project. I also took a beautiful photograph of one, and I'm considering posting that on etsy as well. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I'm on Twitter now. I'm still not convinced that Twitter is all that great, but I'll keep you posted on how it turns out. If you would like to follow me on Twitter, my address is: I was feeling discouraged this morning about not having any sales yet on etsy, so I looked around in the forums there. That was quite encouraging! There were all sorts of tips and advice, as well as stories of how long it took people to get their first sales after they started their shops. So, I'm feeling energetic and inspired again (hence the Twitter thing). I will now walk to the University and sketch for awhile, then take Dan some lunch. I made a fabulous Italian feast last night for dinner, completely from scratch. It was parmesan polenta served with a creamy Italian sausage and vegetable sauce. The book said it would go really well with a Sangiovese, which is one of my favorite red wines. We did not have any on hand though, so just drank water. It was still quite yummy, and is destined to be our lunch today!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Connie Tom

This is perhaps one of my favorite paintings I have come across on the web. I think it's absolutely beautiful. I love the colors, the lighting, everything. It's called Lanterns of Gold, and the painter is a woman by the name of Connie Tom. I think I could just stare at it for a long time. Her web page is here. Check it out, she has many more beautiful paintings. Maybe one day I'll be able to paint that good. I have been practicing my woodland scenes, and so far they are looking like I need some more practice. But I'll post one eventually.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tea Time!

Those of you who know me, know of my penchant for drinking tea. I drink it several times each day. In fact, I am enjoying a cup of apple blossom green tea right now! So, imagine my happy surprise upon discovering an etsy tea shop! There are several, in fact, and I made my first etsy purchase yesterday from one called teaman. He has tons of different types of hand blended tea, and his prices are excellent. Since I just ordered it yesterday, I have not had the pleasure of drinking any yet. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my tea package, and anticipate becoming a regular customer. If you like tea, or if not but are still curious, please check out his shop. In the mean time, I believe I will paint a new picture today. It is a rainy, cool, cloudy gray day, and I'm inspired to paint something misty and green. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sharon's Hands

I posted a new drawing on SilvanArt today, the drawing I did of Sharon's hands, and immediately I started getting some views. I discovered something invaluable. New postings come up first, so when I post something new, people will see it, click on it, and come to my shop. Therefore, I will not post several new items at once. I will post them on different days, to keep traffic alive in my shop. This makes sense to me. When I fist drew Sharon's Hands, she told me that she wanted me to "pretty them up" for her. I think her hands are beautiful the way they are. I wrote a bit about this on my etsy listing. Her hands have such character. You can look at them, and see the life she's lived. The hours spent in the kitchen preparing food for her family, the time she spent on her knees, scrubbing and making her home beautiful. Whenever I meet a new person, I find myself looking at their hands. Whenever I see an old friend, I do the same. For whatever reason, hands fascinate me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I want to knit a sweater. Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of knitting a scarf. I will not start another new project before I finish this one. Today I had three unfinished projects going, including a knitting project (the aforementioned scarf), a crochet project, and a drawing project. I did finish my drawing project, as that is supposed to be the focus of my efforts these days. Once it's sealed I will take some pictures and post it on my Etsy shop. And, for the second day in a row, I drew in my sketch journal! I'm being very disciplined. Perhaps when I'm finished with my scarf, I will no longer feel like knitting a sweater. Why is it, that when a task is no longer optional, it is also no longer as fun?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Apple Pie

If anyone has ever made an apple pie, they know that it's a long, tedious process. Especially if you make your own crust, which I have begun doing in an effort to create a healthier pie. I suppose this kind of thing is an art in itself, which makes it an appropriate topic for discussion in this blog. : ) Dan, my husband, asked me to make a pie for him, and I did. When I was halfway through slicing the apples, he came downstairs wondering what I had been doing all this time. "Making the pie..." said I, a bit testily. So, naturally he offered his help. I sat on a chair as he took over. First, he searched the kitchen in an effort to find a more industrial tool for the job. Finding none, he returned to the knife and demonstrated to me the proper way to transfer apple slices from the knife to the bowl. He then proceeded to slice three quarters of an apple, all the while lamenting the effort it took. Finally, I took back control of my own kitchen, and suggested he make a trip to the store. When he got back I was rolling out the bottom crust. He watched as I transferred the crust to the pie plate, filled it with apples, and then retrieved the lump of dough set aside for the bottom crust. Dan exclaimed, "You have to do another one? Wow, that's a lot of work. I won't ask you to do that ever again. For awhile."

Thanks to for the apple picture.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rockbridge Arts Guild

I was browsing online through various artsy things, and I found the website for the Rockbridge Arts Guild. This seems to be a group of individual artists of various skill levels, and it offers lots of different opportunities for activities and education. By which, I mean critiques of one's work, trips to museums, workshops, and group painting activities. It sounds really neat. I was reading on their newsletter critiques of some artists' work, and one thing really stuck out to me. They talked about practicing drawing every single day, in the same way a musician would practice her instrument every day, to maintain and develop her skill level. This really spoke to me, since, as a musician, I completely understand the necessity of continual practice. So I have decided to keep a sketch journal, in which I will practice my drawing every day. Hopefully, this will help me in my endeavors to become a more skilled artist. In any case, perusing their website refreshed my desire to pursue art, and my excitement in doing so.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just getting started

I have recently opened an Etsy shop called SilvanArt, In my shop I sell my own original artwork, which consists mostly of paintings and drawings of a natural theme. This has been a very interesting experience for me thus far, so I thought I'd blog about it. Etsy has been a great site to work with, as far as my limited experience can tell. It was not difficult to make my shop, and there are multitudes of helpful articles that may help me on my way to that pivotal first sale. Please feel free to take a look at my shop. Even if you're not in the market for purchasing original art, I'd love to share what I've done and also hear any feedback you might offer. Thanks for reading!