Dear Reader – (day 25) Will Paint for Coffee

Dear Reader

About a month ago, I did some commissioned artwork for my sister.

Nothing huge, but still.

“How can I pay you?” she texted. “PayPal? Check?”

“A Starbucks gift card” I replied.

She “lol”ed.

“I’m serious,” I typed. “Just email me a Starbucks gift card.”

My weakness for a Starbucks double tall latte rivals my weakness for pizza or childish candy. Thus – it makes no sense at all to call it a “weak“ness. The pull is STRONG and relentless, not weak. Psh. What do dictionary people know anyway.

The gift card makes me feel not-so-guilty that I’m hooked on ridiculously priced coffee.

I’m telling you. When this card runs out, I’m going to have serious Issues. (with a capital “I”).

starbucks

Just tie a sign around my neck with red scribbled ink:

“Will paint for coffee.”

Because I will.

Day 7 – There is a prayer under there

Dear Reader

There is a prayer under there ↓  Truly.

beloved 3 framed It’s in one of the bottom layers of paint.

My husband gives me a hard time because he says it’s not really there if you can’t see it.

I beg to differ.

It’s there, mixed into everything. Just like prayers in people. On those two square feet of canvas, it’s tinting everything over the top of it, it’s mixed into the darks and the brights, and in the end it leads to the same thing – beloved. Clear, bright, and beautiful.

This is the prayer:

I pray peace and happiness for you.

That you will overcome with freedom and joy;

and once these are yours that you will be able to turn towards your people (your people!!) and give to them freely – the gifts of your touch, your smile, your grace and love.

I pray your pain be lifted, that our heart be light. That you’ll know you are passionately loved. That you are beloved.

Someone out there needs to hear this, so here you are.

Be loved. Because you are, Beloved.

Back to the blog – Part II, {Plus Zucchini Pound Cake!}

zucchini pound cake

We’ve got cake!

Far overdue, in my humble opinion, because this baby arrived in my kitchen back in May, it just never made it to the posting stage, because, well, you know – life.

As I type, I’m actually a little concerned I won’t be able to find my little notepaper where I scribbled my itsy bitsy changes. The bottom line is, it’s a Joy The Baker recipe, and there’s really never a need to change any of her cakes. Or doughnuts. Or pumpkin scones. They’re pretty much perfect. The girl knows her sugar/butter/egg combos. The only reason I changed anything at all had much, much more to do with what I had on hand than it had to do with necessity to alter anything. (If you love to bake and haven’t bought either Joy the Baker Cookbook yet, you probably should. At least one. Right now.)

But before we get to the recipe (just scroll to the bottom if you’re too antsy to wait!), I’ll finish the catch-up game:

Food? I spent nearly all of my internet trips back here revisiting old recipes – like shredded beef sandwiches, burritos, and roasted chicken. I also repeatedly searched for my Chimichurri recipe – which I now realize I need to post – because it’s not here. Posts I’m sure need to happen at some point? Buttermilk Biscuits, Chimichurri (I like redundency. I like redundency. (That’s a joke. Clearly.)), Asian chicken lettuce wraps, Sauteed corn with lime and cilantro and a delightful Mexican cheese whose name eludes me at this particular moment, and a dreamy fried french toast we had this morning. . . .

Art?  Why do I feel like such a poser when I write about this? I feel like an imposter trying to be an artist. It’s been so long since I’ve been fully immersed in it – 16 years, actually.  I feel genuine satisfaction in creating again, yet, at the same time I feel such anxiety over what people might think of me and the  crappy (< that’s the mean voice in my head) art I’m making. I’ve partially trained, yes, but not totally. I’m learning as I go all over again. There is a huge shame factor I’m going to need to overcome if I’m going to progress at all. I enjoy making art; it brings me peace. I feel at the same time like I know it, but I still have so incredibly much to learn. I love the way I feel when I make it, and I want to work on projects for hours and hours and hours. Until I make something I hate and then I crash and burn and loathe it all and want to crumple it up and thwack it into the trash can. No, not really, (kind-of really) but there is a true and real depression to sludge through when I can’t make something work. In fact, I currently hate this painting:

unfinished abstract

And I was dissappointed by this outcome.

rock sketchbook

BUT.

They were just practice. The painting is unfinished, and well, there’s no reason I can’t still work on the sketch. #worksinprogress.  I’m trying to find what’s mine by trying out what I see elsewhere, by taking classes, by experimenting to see what feels good to me. What comes naturally? What is satisfying? What makes me feel happy when I’m finished with it? What do I want to know how to do that I don’t know how to do? What is it that feeds me and brings me the most joy and in turn will feed others and bring them joy too? I’m still searching. . . . I imagine it’s a long, long journey that never really ends.

Speaking of never ending . . . ramble!

Enough about all this. Let’s make cake and we’ll finish catching up when our mouths are full of confection.

Part III coming next. . . .

Zucchini Pound Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese (& Sour Cream) Frosting

This cake is delicious, homey, and like Joy describes, almost grandmotherly. You really don't even need the frosting if you feel like skipping that step. The original recipe is divine. I only changed this because 1) I always feel the need to substitute whole wheat flour when I can, and 2) poor planning meant I ran out of cream cheese and had to substitute sour cream in the frosting - however - it still turned out to be an incredible crowd pleaser. So, enjoy it either way. You can find the original recipe in Joy's book, the Joy the Baker Cookbook, 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • For the Frosting:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream (plus 1 more, if necessary for texture)
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (plus more, if needed for texture)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

For the Cake:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan and set aside. (Grease well! Make sure there is no spot left un-buttered, or it will spell doom for your cake!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition, then add vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the melted butter and increase speed to medium-high to beat until velvety smooth, about 3 minutes.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture, all at once, to the mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the zucchini, and incorporate the rest of the flour. The batter will be thick, not pourable.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When completely cool, frost the entire cake with frosting, recipe below.

For the Frosting:

Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese for about 1 minute, ensuring that it is soft and pliable. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the softened butter to the bowl. Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 1 minute, until thoroughly combined. Add in 2 tablespoons of the sour cream and mix again until well combined and smooth.. Add dark brown sugar to the cream cheese mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, followed by the vanilla.Beat until almost incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Beat on medium speed until all the powdered sugar has disappeared and mixture is velvety soft. If the frosting is too firm, add a couple teaspoons of sour cream to soften it up. If it appears too wet, add more powdered sugar by the tablespoon until you reach your desired consistency. Remember, it will firm up some once it is refrigerated. Use immediately by spreading over cake.

Store frosted cake in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Source

Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook, by Sara|Home is Where the Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2015/09/15/back-to-the-blog-part-ii-plus-zucchini-pound-cake/

 

After the Absence

Heart shaped leaf

I took an unintentional leave of absence. (Leaf of absence? Heh, heh. . . . )

It wasn’t pre-planned or meditated, it just happened as I sunk into life and let myself figure a few things out by mostly unplugging. (Instagram has been my tether to the Internets).

Continue reading

A Turkey Day Doodle

Thanksgiving doodle 2014

For you, Lovelies. A Thanksgiving day doodle for the kids to color while the bird roasts and you sweat your booty off in the kitchen. . . .

Oh, wait, I mean. . . for you to color with your kids while you all enjoy Hallmark quality family time around a cozy fireplace with hot chocolates in hand.

Or, you could print ’em up, roll ’em up, tie ’em with a ribbon, and tuck them in with each place setting. Then you all can talk about what you’re thankful for. Examples included in the doodle:

  • Mr. Worm, “I’m thankful for hot dogs!!”
  • Mr. Turkey, “I’m thankful for steaks!”
  • Mr. Giraffe, “I’m thankful for polka dots!”

I’m thankful for cool Southern winter days, warm little fingers that still hold mine, squeezy husband hugs, shiny new friendships and those that are weathered and worn, fresh journeys, and answered prayers. And you! I’m thankful for you crazy peeps who keep coming around these parts for better or for worse. ♥♥♥

What are you thankful for??

Teacher Love, Plus A Vase (totally recycled and recyclable)

Daisy in recyclable vaseDear Teachers,
I have so many things to tell you, but let’s start first with the confessions:

First on the list is this: I’m sorry, but I have officially checked out for the school year. There are only 26 days left. Maybe only 24 if you don’t count tomorrow or the actual last day. I think you are awesome, and there’s no way I could do what you do, so I fully, totally, completely appreciate your career choice and the fact that somehow, day-to-day, you keep it together and keep showing up for work and, by the grace of God, end up teaching our children how to read and write and add stuff together. Continue reading