Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cast Iron Skillet Cookies

Have I mentioned that I love Cast Iron cookware?  ;)   My vintage pieces mean the world to me, and there is a story behind each one.  But every once in awhile,  a cook has to turn to a modern company to fill a need.  This is what happened to me when I learned of the skillet cookie sensation.  I know.... I could have used one of my smaller skillets, but single serving cookies were on my mind.  Unfortunately, not one of my pans fit the bill.  (Sigh of relief at the thought of my family taking forks to my beloved Griswolds and Wagners!)   To fill the bill, I turned to a wonderful modern maker of cast ironware, Lodge.  They are so reasonable and hold on to your chairs folks... They are Made In The USA.  How often do you see that?
Below is the four that arrived in their gorgeous cast iron glory.  Trying to stay with a single serving size, these little beauties are 5 inches.  My confession may as well be right now, "I could not make it half way through a cookie at this size."  It would have been even less if there was ice cream on top! :(
At any rate, these cookies were made with the addition of mini M&M's and chocolate chips.  Subsequent cookies have been made with the addition of chopped up candy bars... Reese's in particular for Mr. Hollow.   I made the dough with a recipe from Cookies and Cups blog that can be found here.

Here are a few photos of the process.  It is important to me to show that the amount of butter is accurate.  The batter starts out crazy runny but do not fear...

It turns into a butter infused dough with the addition of the flour... I am talking some serious butter!

To make it easier, I divided the dough and mixed in the diner's choice of candies.  (Extra dough can be refrigerated or frozen.)  Be creative.  This dough is a fabulous base to any additional sweets.

The dough is all pressed in place and ready to go!

Viola!  Chocolate chip cookie in a skillet... YUM!

And don't forget the M&M's.  :)

Trust me, it tastes as good as it looks... The flavor is just awesome.  If you are looking for a cake like cookie, this is NOT for you.  If you are looking for a ooey gooey cookie, this is what you have been waiting for.  And if you are tougher than me, try a scoop of ice cream in the center. :)

A big thanks to Shelly over at Cookies and Cups blog for such a wonderful recipe!  And just in case you were wondering, I still cringed as the forks touched  those beautiful new pans!  LOL

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring has Sprung with Baby Lambs!

Our first babies of the year are twins!  These are Trix's first lambs.  They are so tiny.  Reminiscent of Levi when he was born.  :)

The lamb with all of the white is a little girl, and the chocolate faced lamb with touches of white is our handsome little guy... They are yet to be named.

I couldn't get a great photo for scale.  They were only hours old in these pics.  And since I was in too much of a hurry to break out my Rebel camera, the Sony with its necessary flash was used. I hate to get to close to newborns with it!

Notice that Luke is taking a drink out of Trix's water.  He is never far away with newbies in a stall and will give an unsuspecting viewer a smack with his head as a reminder to keep a safe distance.  He takes his job VERY seriously!  Wouldn't want him any other way.  :)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bucilla Alphabet Quilt WIP

Has this been a crazy winter or what?   Believe it or not, I actually have the window open while typing this post, and the sun is shining cheery and bright through the window.  Fresh air and sunlight... Aaaah...  It renews the spirit.  :)
While cleaning in the living room, my eyes wandered over to the Bucilla Alphabet quilt.  Obviously, it has been awhile since my last update.  As you can see, a few more rows done.  The colors are a true reflection of the 60's and 70's.  They would definitely grab a baby's attention!  LOL.  I just love this quilt.  I really do!

If you want  a lesson in embroidery, this quilt is it.  It has made me do some stretching.  The King's eyes really gave me a time!  LOL   I remain positive and dedicated.  Only 9 letters left, I know... it should be 10.   I jumped down and did the U already.  Not sure why... Just went crazy one day a few rows back! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Home Spun Yarn

I cannot say enough about the classes on Craftsy.  I am learning so much!  It has been a blast, and I am hopelessly and happily hooked on spinning wool... Which is a good thing, since there are fleeces stored in bins all over my house. LOL
It doesn't look that pretty, but below is a photo of my first plied yarn from Farmerboy's ram, Brick.  This was an unbelievable learning experience.  It also inspired me to sign up for two more classes on drafting and plying on Craftsy. ;)  My technique is getting there, but it could use a whole lotta help.  Isn't it amazing to think from sheep to yarn... all with my own hands?   Major accomplishment! 

After a good wash, the two brown twists are my very first yarn.  It looks like yarn too!  Albeit not perfect but yarn just the same. ;)  The third cream twist is from some comb top Corriedale that I received with my wheel.  It is a longer staple and was spun after my completed class with Amy.  This skein was so much more uniform than my initial go with the wheel.  I think Amy would be very proud of my progress.   This spinner sure is!

So now, I signed up for Jacey's drafting class and Jillian's plying class.  Plus, two more classes are sitting in my cart for hand embroidery and colored pencil techniques. :)  They are running some crazy sales on the Craftsy site, and it is unbelievable how exceptional these classes are for such little money.  Isn't it an amazing age we live in?  Such wonderful teachers are available at my own pace right at my fingertips.  I feel blessed. 

Farmerboy has been busy making some barn board creations for a spot he rented in Elizabeth.  You can see a small glimpse of his beautiful pieces in the last photo.  I will be sharing them in the next post.  Maybe I should switch gears and work on some stitching this weekend.  A few primitive candle mats might look nice with his furniture! ;) 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review of a Fancy Kitty Mini Bench Picker for Wool

The sub zero temps in northern Illinois are finding me held up in the house, and I couldn't think of anything warmer to do than pick some wool. :)  For those new comers to my blog, below is a shearing from our ram Brick.  He is a busy guy that taught Farmer Boy to never turn his back on him, even when there was a fence between them.  YIKES!  (You can read about Brick here.)  As you can see by the vegetation, our sheep do not wear jackets.  They live their lives without the hassle of keeping their wool clean... That job is left to me!

There are a few in our flock (in my opinion)  that apparently must love to roll profusely in their bedding.  Those little beasties' fleeces are always hard to pull apart after being cleaned.  A few have been left unprocessed in their holding tubs.  I honestly cringed at the thought of trying to get them fluffy enough to run through the drum carder. (Please check out the Baby Brother Drum Carder here.)   After much research, I decided to break down and buy a wool picker.  After checking out several reviews, I opted for a Fancy Kitty. 

All I simply have to do is push the wool up through the left, make a few passes over it with the sharp projectiles ( located under the handle and on the base) and viola fluffy fleece gathers up at the right.   This piece of fleece went through a few passes, and it was amazing the amount of vegetable matter (VM)  that fell out.   For my high vegetation beasties, the Fancy Kitty will save me hours of picking and pulling by hand.  Makes me wonder how I lived without it!  :)

A matted looking section of Brick fleece before picking...

A fluffy picked cloud of Brick fleece, after the Fancy Kitty Picker got done with it!

A few passes through the Brother Manual Drum Carder, and I have some spinning material!

I was very impressed with the construction of the wool picker from Fancy Kitty.  It really did perform like a dream and will be getting a work out over next few weeks...   I signed up for Amy King's  "Foundations of Spinning" class on Craftsy and am in desperate need of some fiber to spin. ;)

***Note*** If you have the winter humdrums, check out the classes on Craftsy.  They have Quilting & Embroidery, Drawing & Painting, Wool Processing & Knitting/Crocheting, along with Cooking/Baking & Decorating...  Supplies/ Patterns and so much more!   Their classes do not disappoint, and the new ones are currently 50% off.  What better than to learn and ask questions at your own pace?  And your classes become yours to view... even after completion!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Kitchen Aid Pasta Roller & Drying Rack Review

I have to do a review of the Kitchen Aid pasta roller with spaghetti and fettuccine attachments that arrived just in time for Christmas.  Santa did not have a very big list from me this year.  Not sure if I am really content with my life or am just a boringly lazy individual... I am going with option one! ;)     Anyways, these attachments have interested me for years.  They made the perfect "What the heck" gift.  I needed to channel my inner Julia Child who was a huge believer in embracing new devices for the kitchen.  Well, this is about as new and crazy as I get. LOL
My first batch of egg noodles went very smooth.  It makes me nervous to have such a weighty attachment hanging off my beloved Kitchen Aid.  I was sure her motor would blow to pieces, but she rolled out the dough like a pro.  The motor was placed on the #2 setting (which was fast enough for me), and only bogged slightly when the folded over dough was put in for a second pass.   The pasta roller was positioned at #2 for the first three passes.  A necessary flour dusting was given between each pass.  (My dough was a tad sticky!)   Then, the roller was set at #4 for the final run through.  The whole process went smooth and relatively quickly; even though, I was working through an obvious learning curve.  The final pass yielded some flawless dough-- very thin and even.
On to the fettuccine attachment...  Once all of the strips of dough were dusted and lined up on my kitchen island, the fettuccine attachment was locked onto my Kitchen Aid.  A simple lining up of the dough, a pass through the slotted rollers and I was catching sheets of egg noodles.  Not all of the noodles were cut free in strips, but they fell apart easily upon drying.  Okay, I am impressed with these attachments!    They not only get the job done but are durable, weighty and built to last.  Just as solid as my beloved hand crank machine.

To dry my egg noodles,  I invested in the Kitchen Aid drying rack.  The legs pull down and out like a tripod, and a twist of the top knob sends a flourish of acrylic arms to transfer the pasta onto.  The unit is space friendly and could hold up to two batches of my noodles.  I draped the noodles over the arms by hand, but inside the center of the rack hides a pasta wand that can be pulled out from the top.  The pasta dryer is exactly what this pasta maker has wished for.  Makes me wonder how I got along without it!

The Kitchen Aid pasta roller and attachments are going to be a great addition to my kitchen.  They will be seeing a lot of action during the soup making season and beyond.  While turning some of our left over prime rib into beef and noodles tonight, I noticed how thin the noodles were. The cooked up quickly and were just the right thickness after boiling.  Even Mr. Hollow was impressed.  I would say this gift was a huge success!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Holiday Fairy Garden

 I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  We had warm weather here in Northern Illinois.  It certainly made the travelling less stressful.  Not the "White Christmas" that we sing about, but a few evening snow showers on the way home brought some smiles.  All the relatives are healthy and happy... What more can one ask for?   I absolutely LOVE this time of year!  :)

The Christmas holiday for me has always centered on the reason for my nativity being displayed and  spending time with loved ones... not so much the gift giving.  In fact, my only shopping  was for Farmer boy and his fiancé... Okay, a few for Mr. Hollow too!   It is funny, since I absolutely loved working in retail and enjoy finding gifts that hopefully will make the recipient smile.  While finding their presents, it is well known that I shop for my "gifts" as well for under the tree.  Trust me, this is NOT a bad thing.  They don't even require wrapping! LOL  Although my want list is really short, I usually have a few dream items I fulfill for the holiday.  Yes... I could buy them during the year, but Christmas has always been a time for me to do some self reflection.  The season is a time of looking forward to the coming year and realizing what frivolous or useful items will help realize some of my new resolutions.  I am very excited about a few of my items and will share them over the next month, but this post is about an unexpected gift from the newest member of our family... my soon to be in 2016 daughter-in-law... The gift of a charming fairy garden. 

Instead of buying a premade garden, she made this little scene for me.  I pride myself on being hard to buy for, but this little forest is absolutely perfect for me. :)  It is green, rustic and contains a rendition of two little critters that make me laugh to watch in nature through out the year... Squirrels!  Look at the little squirrel on the front of the log whistling as he prances across.  It makes me smile every time I glance his way.  Very symbolic of the carefree nature of the animal in the wild. LOL  And of course there are two of them!  Trouble will always run in pairs. ;)

I had to show this overhead shot.  There is a moss base in the front and back.  Hopefully, I can find a way to keep the moss healthy... Yikes!  In between the moss is a little path of tiny pebbles.

To the back of the garden, there is a wee trellis.  A tiny little vine is climbing it.

Look at the pot... orange, my favorite color!  It is such a lovely and inspiring little garden -- right out of the pages of Beatrix Potter.    Makes me wish that I had a large well lit studio area to keep it in.  *sigh*  But for or right now, I believe that the best spot is in my work area to the front of the house.  That particular work area is where I do most of my writing and idea formulating.  It will be a little magical garden of ideas... Especially, when the days DO decide to become wintry!  :)