My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Friday, November 30, 2012

SkyWatch Friday: Frosty Daybreak & Festive Delight...

Our week began with frigid 5ºF temps and this golden sunrise, made eerie by the freezing fog...
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After Monday's frozen sunrise, we wanted a warm and festive treat. So I made these yummy muffins...

(©Susan Voisin & reprinted with permission; my changes in red italics)

Ingredients

~ 2/3 cup unsweetened dried cranberries* (if using sweetened, the only kind I can find here, omit agave nectar and reduce sugar to a slightly rounded 1/2 cup)
~ 1/2 cup hot water
~ 1 TBSP agave nectar (omit if using sweetened dried cranberries)
~ 1 cup whole wheat flour
~ 1 cup unbleached white flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
~ 1 TBSP ground flax seeds
~ 3/4 cup sugar (I use sucanat)
~ 1/2 TBSP egg replacer powder (Ener-G brand or homemade)
~ 1 teaspoon baking powder
~ 1 teaspoon baking soda
~ 1/2 teaspoon salt
~ 1/2 cup orange juice
~ 1/2 cup soy or rice milk (I use vanilla almond milk)
~ 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
~ 1 teaspoon vanilla
~ 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
~ 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional) (I use 'em!)

* I also often use regular frozen cranberries, thawed - halving the larger ones and soaking them in the hot water. They work just as well!

Instructions

1. Put the cranberries in a bowl and pour the hot water and agave nectar over them. Stir and set aside for at least 15 minutes to allow the cranberries to plump up. 

2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Spray the muffin pan with non-stick spray or use a silicone pan or muffin liners.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flours, flax seeds, sugar, egg replacer, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, stir together orange juice, soymilk, apple sauce, vanilla, and orange zest. Strain the liquid from the cranberries into the liquid ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add liquid. Stir just until all flour is moistened; don't over-stir. Stir in cranberries and nuts.

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 12-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out clean. 

5. Remove muffin pan to a wire rack. Cool for 5-10 minutes before carefully removing muffins from cups. Makes about 14-16 regular-sized muffins. 

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes
Number of servings: 14
Nutritional information for this recipe is posted on Susan's blog
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Muffins this festive deserve a festive beverage to accompany them... 
So I enjoy my muffins with a delicious cup of hot hibiscus tea... whose beautiful red color goes so nicely with the cranberries (as well as with my silicone muffin cups and holiday dishes), but whose beauty is more than skin deep...

Happy SkyWatching and bon appétit! :-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ABC Wednesday: Treasures

I spent a little time this week tinkering with my camera's settings and PhotoBucket's free editing toys (which have some neat tricks but are not without their trials and tribulations!), and here are the results applied to some of my tiny treasures...

Timeless treasures washed up by the tides:
Shells, sand dollar, shark's tooth & calcified coral I found on beaches in Maine & Florida, 
and two halves of a nautilus shell purchased at a gem show (a gift from a friend)

A teeny bunny my mom gave me takes a seat on a chunk of rose quartz,
with a watercolor of Loch Ness' beguiling Urquhart Castle,
a cherished token from a terrific trip to Scotland in 1998, as her backdrop.

Friday, November 23, 2012

SkyWatch Friday: Special Delivery

My husband is a UPS man, and since our house is on his route he stops by on his afternoon break to change his socks, refill his water bottle, grab a freshly baked muffin, or whatever - and to say hi! :-) On Tuesday afternoon when I heard his truck pull up I opened the front door to greet him and saw this ominous but intriguing cloud across the way...


Clouds on clouds, in volumes driven...
~ Thomas Love Peacock~


Clear and cloudy, at sunrise and sunset, by sunlight and moonlight,
the magnificent skies of the world are just a click away at... 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ABC Wednesday: Some Special Esses :-)

A selection of S's for your satisfaction...

Slow Sculpture...
Sweet, too!
"Turtle for Tots" by Mary Zimmerman ~ Paonia, CO
By the playground in Kendrick Park

Speedy Sportscar...

Serene Scenery...
Taken this summer on the ranch where we board our horse Mocha

Simple Stone...
A lone grave marker in Sheridan's Municipal Cemetery. I could find no other markers 
in the vicinity of this grave with the rest of this person's name or vital statistics, 
nor evidence of missing stones. Maybe George was secretive and wanted it that way! 

Stunning Sunrise...
Hot off the press, this morning's spectacular sunrise from our back yard

Scrumptious Skillet Supper...
I had to break a cardinal rule of food photography and photograph this
 under icky artificial light (on the sad little stove in our last rental). Sorry!

The original name of this dish is Skillet Black Beans with Potatoes and Tortillas, but we simply call it "that yummy skillet supper." :-) With potatoes, corn tortillas, beans and spices, this satisfying dish has become one of our new comfort foods. It makes a lot (use a large skillet!), and makes great leftovers.

Click here for this delicious recipe by Nava Atlas. The only changes we make to this recipe is that we sauté in water instead of oil, and add a poblano pepper and about 1/4 cup of frozen organic corn. (We like ours with 3 cloves of garlic and 2 chipotle peppers, but adjust these amounts according to your own heat preferences).

Here it is all served up garnished with fresh cilantro, avocado, homemade vegan sour cream, and a splash of Sriracha hot sauce, since we like our sustenance on the spicy side!...

See what other S'ssss are in store at...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quilt Show 2012, Part 3

Sheridan's annual quilt show is actually called the "Fiber Arts Show," and though it consists predominantly of ever-the-crowd-pleasing quilts, I always find treasures among the non-quilt exhibits. Here are my favorites from this year...

"Kitty Cradle"
Technique: Crochet
Artist: Kristy Anderson

This one's for all you cat parents out there (Barbara, Molly, Rose, Spud, etc) and your
beloved feline furbabies (who would probably love to curl up in this comfy blanket 
-- or, in the case of Charlie Jackson, claw it to shreds!) :-)

As a cross-stitcher, I always have to include at least one example of that particular fiber art (and this year I'm including two)...
"Egyptian Sampler"
Technique: Counted Cross Stitch
Artist: Norma Just
Pattern By: Teresa Wentzler

"The picture represents the gods and goddesses of Egypt. 
The scarab beetle is Kephri, the god of the morning sun."
"Egyptian Sampler" detail

The little metallic beads added a dazzling touch of shimmer and glint,
much like the treasures inside a pharoah's tomb.
("Shimmer & Glint" sounds like a pair of nefarious Victorian-era tomb raiders!)
:-)
"Egyptian Sampler" pattern description and details

Speaking of Fiber Arts entries that make me think of Victorian villains...
"Sewing Aids: Seam Rippers and Stilettos"
Technique: Hand-Turned on a Lathe
Artist: Robert Inman

"These tools are made of wood and turned on a lathe. 
One has a seam ripper on one end and stiletto on the other. These pieces 
can be removed from the tool, turned and put inside the tool for safety."

Part of a colorful display of appliqués...
Various Wool Appliqués

This last exhibit was, according to the artist, challenging to do ~ and it was also challenging to photograph! Beneath and behind scratched and glare-prone glass beneath harsh fluorescent lights, I couldn't get far enough above it to fit it all in one frame, or photograph it from the front of the glass case without some of it being out of focus. So I combined the results of my best efforts of both techniques! But I agree with Rosemary, the results were worth it. I loved this pretty sampler...
"Victoria"
Technique: Counted Cross Stitch
Artist: Rosemary Denton

"I try to stitch a memento after we take a trip.
This one was more challenging than I planned, but the result was worth it."

That does it for this year's Fiber Arts show! See you next October! :-)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"The Dust Bowl" on PBS

Tomorrow night we will be glued to the television, watching Part 1 of Ken Burns latest documentary, "The Dust Bowl"...

 
Lasting nearly a decade and covering 100 million square miles at its peak, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s was the worst man-made environmental disaster in American history. At least, so far. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," a quote by Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952), keeps playing in my mind as I've watched Ken Burns give interviews about his latest documentary, and as I've begun reading a book that BW just finished (and highly recommends), The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived The Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan.

Part 2 of Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" airs on PBS Monday night. As they say, check your local listings! :-) (And/or your local library for Egan's book!)

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. 
When we see land as a community to which we belong, 
we may begin to use it with love and respect.
~Aldo Leopold

Friday, November 16, 2012

SkyWatch Friday: The Bighorns at Sunset


May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, 
leading to the most amazing view. 
May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
~Edward Abbey~

Black Tooth Mountain & neighboring Bighorn Range peaks

Enjoy your weekend, and happy Sky Watching!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

ABC Wednesday: Reveling in R's

is for...

Reflections...
Sunset's Righteous Riot of Rainbow hues 

Before November's Ravaging winds Reduced the trees to bare branches,
we enjoyed these Reflections in a pond by our house

Red...
Who could Resist Rejoicing at this Radiant Burning Bush 
and the Regal frog Resting beneath it?
(waiting for a kiss from a Ravishing maiden, no doubt!)

 Rustic Red barn on Beaver Creek Road
Rays...
I got Ridiculous with Rays in my SkyWatch Friday post last week,
so click here if you want to see more!

Recycling...

Tomorrow (Nov 15) is America Recycles Day in the US!

I Revere the earth, and as a Result I Relish Recycling! :-)

Really! :-)
(click for Recycling tips!)


Rejoice at the Rousing Roundup of Rs at...

Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 Quilt Show, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Sheridan's 2012 Fiber Arts Show! This post features the rest of the quilts that I thought were most blog-worthy, again with any particularly interesting notes from the quilt's creator or owner italicized in quotes below it (my own notes are not in quotes and not italicized), and my favorites marked with asterisks on either side of the quilt's name. As always, I love to hear if you have a favorite or favorites in the batch!

I found in putting this post together that I had a lot of seasonal quilts in the batch, so I decided to put those in order of... what else... the seasons! Starting, naturally, with Spring, easing on into Summer, then the colors and holidays of Fall and Winter, before ending up at Valentine's Day...

"Tulip Twist"
Technique: Quilted and Appliqué blocks
Artist: Dory Almond
Long-Arm Machine Quilted By: Dory Almond with help from Karen VanHouten

"Flowers and Scallops"
Technique: Whole Cloth and Appliqué
Artist: Lois Wragge
Quilted By: Jennifer Golden

"Flowers and Scallops" detail

"Americana"
Technique: Machine Appliqué
Artist: Georgann Lee
Quilted By: Georgann Lee

"This pattern had no instructions, pattern amounts, or anything! 
Only the appliqué pictures were included - 
making this a darn near original design!"

*"Summer Breeze"*
Technique: Pieced and Appliqué
Artist: Kandi Davis
Quilted By: Kandi Davis

I had a hard time getting the colors to come out accurately on this one 
because of the harsh lighting. The closeup below looks more like the real thing.
I loved the colors and the hint of the nautical in this cheerful quilt!

"Summer Breeze" detail

"Fishies"
Technique: Paper Piecing
Artist: Valeria Finley
Quilted By: Valeria Finley

"My first machine quilting project! My husband is a SCUBA diver, 
and I bought this kit while on vacation in the Florida Keys."

Pineapple Star
Technique: Paper Piecing
Artist: Jackie Waters
Quilted By: Becky Stednitz

"Bellissima"
Technique: Pieced
Artist: Kandi Davis
Quilted By: Two Chicks Quilting

"I made this quilt for the Wyo Theater to raffle at their 2012 gala."

"Over the River and Through the Woods"
Technique: Embroidery and Quilting
Artist: Marcia Suranyi

Click here and here for closeups of this quilt!

*"Let it Snow"*
Technique: Machine Pieced
Artist: Jennifer Golden
Quilted By: The Golden Needle, Jennifer Golden

"This is a variation of the log cabin block called, 
"Not Your Grandmother's Log Cabin."

Left: "Redwork Winter"                 Right: "Heart of the Home"
Technique: Redwork                     Technique: Embroidery
      Artist: Peggy Gable                    Artist: Heather Mortensen

And here are the rest of the quilts I chose to feature, in no particular order...

Birthday Quilt for Trinity Lutheran Church, Sheridan
Artists & Quilters: Various

"Reflections Bargello"
Technique: Machine Pieced
Artist: Marge Hamilton
Quilted By: Laurie Sheeley

"Reflections Bargello" detail

"Star in the Round"
Technique: Paper Pieced
Artist: Marge Hamilton
Quilted By: Laurie Sheeley
Pattern By: Judy Niemeyer

*"Cathedral Window"*
Artist: Myrtle Ingersoll
Owned By: Janet Hoxie

"My mother started this quilt when I was 15, to go on an antique sleigh bed 
she purchased for me from an old family friend. Many of the colorful patches are from scraps from clothing she made for me when I was a child."

"Cathedral Window" detail

This one is a mystery quilt, the only one without an identifying tag. 
So lets make up our own name and story for it, wanna? :-)

*"Fabulous Fractions"*
Technique: Strip Piecing
Artist: Peggy Gable
Teacher: Mary Jane Collins

"Fabulous Fractions" detail

I love the shimmery gold fabric and thread, 
as well as the intriguing design that looks as if it's under water.

Part 3, featuring non-quilt fiber works, is next!
(Click here to visit Part 1)

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
  • MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL ~ John Berendt
  • MY NOTORIOUS LIFE: A NOVEL ~ Kate Manning
  • ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
  • QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING ~ Susan Cain
  • THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL ~ Daniel Stashower
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY ~ Erik Larson
  • THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
  • THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"