Saturday, December 28, 2013

Radiant Orchid


The pantone color of the year has been revealed: Radiant Orchid!
No shy child like ashes of rose or mauve this color packs a punch.
I like it best when it is neutralized with gray:

who says a little goes a long way!

About the PANTONE Color of the Year
The color of the year selection requires careful consideration and, to arrive at the selection, Pantone quite literally combs the world looking for color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films that are in production, traveling art collections, hot new artists, popular travel destinations and other socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from technology, availability of new textures and effects that impact color, and even upcoming sports events that capture worldwide attention.
For more than a decade, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design. Past colors include:
  • PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (2013)
  • PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (2012)
  • PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (2011)
  • PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (2010)
  • PANTONE 14-0848 Mimosa (2009)
  • PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris (2008)
  • PANTONE 19-1557 Chili Pepper (2007)
  • PANTONE 13-1106 Sand Dollar (2006)
  • PANTONE 15-5217 Blue Turquoise (2005)
  • PANTONE 17-1456 Tigerlily (2004)
  • PANTONE 14-4811 Aqua Sky (2003)
  • PANTONE 19-1664 True Red (2002)
  • PANTONE 17-2031 Fuchsia Rose (2001)
  • PANTONE 15-4020 Cerulean (2000)

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Wednesday, October 23, 2013

    kitchen sink ragout

    You've heard the story "Stone Soup" where two vagabonds outwit the villagers into producing them a meal. It turns out to be a win/win as the stone soup is enhanced and enjoyed by all.  My last picking of the garden took a bath together and too puny to be served singly ended up in the stock pot together.
    Here's the basic recipe for my kitchen sink ragout:

    Saute 3 cloves of chopped garlic and one medium chopped onion till lightly browned in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large pot.  Stir in 2 cups of chopped zucchini, 2 cups of chopped eggplant, 2 chopped and seeded mild sweet peppers of your choice and cook until tender.  Remove the vegetables from the pan and reserve in a bowl.  Add another tablespoon or so of olive oil and saute a cup of sliced mushrooms (I added frozen hen of the woods) from last autumn.  Add 2 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes or substitute with a large can of fire roasted tomatoes.  Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until the tomatoes thicken.  You can add in a third to a half cup of red wine or dark beer. I used CutThroat Porter by O'Dell Brewing.  Add back the reserved cooked vegetables to the pot with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in a good half cup of fresh snipped basil and or thyme.  Serve over noodles or smashed potatoes.  Share it with the village.

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    Bird in Hand part 2

    The birds have been more actively guarding the feeder lately.  I was sorry to have found this beauty near a window.  The poem was written in 2005 while I was in a writing mood and took an 8 week poetry class at the Loft Literary Center.  


    Come Passion 
    Cookie Engel, September 2005
    my father, William Engel gave me the nickname when I was a tyke.

    Saturday, August 24, 2013

    Eve Loves Apples

    Every three years it seems we get a bumper crop of apples and this year all three of my varieties produced. Our early summer rains must have washed the coddling moths away because the fruit is well formed and the bees and asian beetles have not arrived to consume the fruit.  State Fair is right on schedule, followed by the Golden Crisp.  The Haralson need to add more weight and color and should keep well into October. 

    The apple of my eye reaches for a beauty.

    There's plenty for neighbors and for the deer.

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    Bird in Hand

    I love surprises.  When I recently acquired a large glass curio case for the shop, inside was a huge collection of miniature porcelain bird figurines, almost twenty of them.  They were produced in the early 80's by Royal Cornwall.  Each bird is painstakingly hand painted.  Two have issues as noted but they are sweet.

    You know birds love no surprise that they seemed very interested in wild black raspberry cream scones.  A recipe adapted by me from my adopted grandmother, Ida Mayhew Hopkins.

    Berry Cream Scones
    1 cup unbleached wheat flour
    1 cup oat flour
    2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder 
    1/2 tsp sea salt
    6 T cold butter
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    1 cup berries (combination of wild black raspberries, red raspberries or blueberries - fresh or frozen)
    2T sugar
    1/2 tsp cinnamon

    In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt.  Blend in the cold butter with a pastry cutter until the butter is pea sized and well blended.  Pour in 1/2 cup cream and mix lightly with a fork.  If the mixture seems too dry add a bit more cream.  

    Divide the dough in half.  Turn the first half of the dough onto a piece of parchment paper that has been dusted with flour.  Sprinkle with half of the berries and carefully shape into a 6" round.  The less you work the dough the better.  
    With a long thin bladed knife slice the round into six equal wedges.  Separate the wedges slightly as they will bake together a bit.  Press a few remaining berries into the top of the scones. 
    Brush the scones with the reserved 1/4 cup cream with a pastry brush, and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  
    Repeat with the second half of the dough. 

    Place the dough rounds on the parchment paper and then on an insulated cookie sheet.  I use two separate cookie sheets and swap their position in the oven half way through baking.
    Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking another 20 to 25 minutes or until the surface is cracked and golden brown.

    makes 12 scones

    Cool and serve!  They are best the morning they are baked but will hold for a couple of days at room temperature in a covered container.

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    BeBop-a-ReBop Rhubarb Pie

    creds to Garrison Keillor for the post title,
    creds to Ione and the St. Mark's Sampler for the recipe:

    FYI: The pie baked above is a similar recipe version that does not call for milk and substitutes a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg instead of the cinnamon.  
    Since this pie is going to travel 350 miles in a car tomorrow, I thought it best.

    1 and 1/2 cups sugar
    3T flour
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1T butter 
    2 beaten eggs
    3 cups cut rhubarb

    Blend the sugar, flour, nutmeg.  Toss in cut rhubarb to coat.  Add the beaten eggs and blend well.  
    Pour into a 9" pastry lined pan.  Dot the top with small pieces of the butter.  Or top with your favorite crumb topping. (I skip this as the custard gets nice and golden)
    Bake for 10 minutes in a hot (425 degree) oven
    Continue baking at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until crust is golden and rhubarb is tender.

    Thursday, June 6, 2013


    While the thesaurus defines a rapscallion as a hood, thug or racketeer, I deem rampscallions to be of the highest order of wild onion foragers.  I inducted Richard this Sunday.  The sweet little scallions are easy to spot along the forest floor.  June's soggy ground kept a firm hold so it did take a little more finagling to get them to release.

    allium tricoccum is a member of the lily family

    they do clean up nicely!

    a 4 minute waltz in the trusty cast iron skillet with a little olive oil (shhh... bacon grease),
    balsamic vinegar and par-boiled green beans...
    you can imagine why Rapunsel's mother gave away her first born for a taste


    Saturday, May 4, 2013

    Stepping Out in Faith

    The talent of many of the artists on Etsy continues to amaze.  Last week I was introduced to the shop of Dianna Wood of TheWoodsSecretGarden.  On the heels of a lush Rousseau painting, her intricate botanical illustrations grace suede boots, shoes and other wearables.   She combines beautiful flora and fauna with text, often scripture passage, that she paints by hand with waterproof dyes.

    When we chatted after a treasury exchange, she graciously agreed to the interview that follows these gorgeous product photos.

    bark cloth inspired pumps
    Hillard Hanson Suede Boots

    high heeled lace up "Truth" boots

    "Happy Trails" long suede jacket
    Victorian inspired "Truth" boots
    Bearpaw botanical boots

    Q) Your illustrations remind me of a Rousseau painting.  Who have been the greatest influences in your art?

    A) I really can’t point to a particular artist as having “influenced” my art. However, I can say that I am creatively “inspired” by just about every artist and tend to be most challenged by the realists from the 14th Century. I spent years working with oil on canvas and found that abstract and non-objective compositions were very easy and only require a good eye for color and composition where photo realism requires actual technical skill.

    Q) What are challenges that you find using three dimensional suede as your canvas?

    A) There is something wonderful about holding the canvas in your hand and being able to turn it as you go. I can complete a project sitting up in bed with a pillow on my lap – which is wonderful after a long day at the office.

    In terms of the three dimensional aspect—really very little challenge at all. With boots and shoes, I do need to consider creating a design that will not only look good from every angle but will also work well with its counter part, i.e., the other boot or shoe. Decisions have to be made in terms of “the view” as well. Will the design look good to the wearer looking down at their feet, as well as from the vantage point of an on-looker?

    Proper perspective can sometimes be problematic if you want a realistic image to extend down onto a heel or wrap around the toe. But that can be easily solved by using the larger flat surfaces for the more detailed realistic illustrations or by sketching out the design on paper and then tapping it to the boot and taking a “far off glance” before actually working on the boot itself. That has saved me from many a design mistake.

    Q) How have you promoted your work outside the Etsy venue? 
    A) I started my line of wearable art a little over a year ago and up until just a few months ago, had done no other promotion outside of Etsy. In December, I was looking for a pair of suede boots to illustrate as a Christmas present for our little granddaughter who lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas and struck up a conversation with the manager of the BEARPAW retail store in Citrus Heights. After showing her my business card and telling her what I intended to do with the boots, she promptly suggested that I contact the VP of Global marketing about the possibility of doing some boots for BEARPAW.
    One thing led to another and I am now the lead artist for BEARPAW’s international campaign called “Creative Expressions” You can see my designs and read about the campaign on their web page at:

    I work full time in law enforcement and also assist my husband with his ministry so there is little time to create, let alone promote. I am so grateful that this opportunity with BEARPAW came along. They are an international shoe company and the exposure has been outstanding.

    Q) Describe a perfect work day in your studio/work space.

    A) A perfect day would be to actually have a full day! I have to squeeze in design time when I can. There are, however, a few Saturdays when I wake up before the sun comes up with a design in my head and can spend the entire day getting that design out of my head and onto a handbag, jacket or boot.

    I am very fortunate that my husband is supportive of my art and will actually do all the chores on those days to allow me time to create.

    The only regret that I have about my line of wearable art is that it is not affordable for the average customer.  
    I would love to see technology advance so that my designs can be printed on suede, therefore mass produced and sold at a more reasonable price.  We have a joke around my house, “I am the artist and even I can’t afford my boots”.
    Until then – I will keep “Stepping out in Faith”

    I think you will agree that this one-of-a-kind, wearable art is priced right.  Visit Dianna's shop here: TheWoodsSecretGarden.  She also will accept commissioned work on your existing boots or purse.  (FYI, I saw the "The Dream, by Rousseau" up close and personal at MOMA on my trip to NYC January, a highlight!  The soles of my practical tennis shoes came home adorned only with gum from the E train subway.)


    Saturday, April 13, 2013


    On recent trip to Rockford, I picked up a few new beauties for the shop under the category of
    guilty pleasures / Italian tole / I'm really a simple girl but I like shiny things!

    When I was asked by Laurie to write a brief article for my vintage team's blog, I considered my fascination with gilt's the link

    Friday, March 22, 2013

    Spring Skis Bees Knees

    The first official days of spring and there is still a snow pack of 10 inches on the back pastures.
    The spring sun entices the bees out but many don't make it back to the hive before the big chill.  
    Poor little buggers. 
     I saw dozens of piles of them and wondered if this was due to poor bee management, 
    but apparently it is usual.

    This week we've seen it dip to well below freezing.
    Honey, don't put away the long johns yet.