Friday, August 26, 2016

Fond of Fridays. . .

While I'm discovering new favorites all the time, as of this moment, here are a handful of the Instagram accounts I find inspirational and fun.  The list includes some pretty amazing artwork, and a couple of cute Border Collies!  Enjoy!

Hillary Butler:  @hillarybutlerfineart

A photo posted by Hillary Butler (Fine Art) (@hillarybutlerfineart) on


Life Creative:     @lifecreative


Leslie Whyte Graff: @lesliegraff


Amy Montgomery @amymontgo_art


Envy & Zain (Kelly Bove)  @kelly_bove 

A photo posted by Envy & Zain (@kelly_bove) on

What are some Instagram accounts you watch closely?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Dinner and Service, not necessarily in that order

Philippians 2:1-11 

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, ...

This past week was a busy one for our youngest (and I'm sure for our oldest too, as she is serving as a counselor at Camp Berea  this summer).

Some members of the youth group, including our youngest, served members of the church that had some larger projects.  Scraping, painting, washing windows, things where help was needed, and you know the saying:  "many hands..."  They also met together, had a devotional time, and shopped for and cooked their meals.

So while they cooked their meals the first three days of the week, I offered to cook a meal for the team one evening.  In talking with Mary, she told me how when they were trying to think of a menu for the week, she mentioned chicken broccoli Alfredo, and everyone said yum!  (That is a loose quote.  They were excited about that option, anyway.)  But because they weren't sure of the pans, utensils, etc. that were available in the church kitchen, I thought I could make that at home and take it to them.

I am proud of this group of teens who have set aside a week for getting up early, going and doing jobs that aren't necessarily "fun," but are important, and taking on a heart for serving those with needs and working together with their peers to get the job(s) done.  I thought the least we could do was to serve them in some small way.  My husband helped tremendously by doing the shopping while I was at work.  (Thanks Charlie!!!) And some of the team helped in the kitchen with preparing the meal.  (Great job team!!!)

We made a gluten free version, as some in the group are highly sensitive to gluten, and since I don't usually follow a recipe closely for this particular dish, here is a brief snapshot of the ingredients and process.

The basic ingredients are:
pasta (gluten free for this version)
half and half
Parmesan cheese (we will grate our own to avoid any fillers)
butter (because...butter!)
minced garlic
boneless chicken

My process:

Cut up the chicken into small pieces - I used four pieces of boneless skinless chicken breast -
cook the chicken in some butter (or oil if you prefer) with some salt and pepper, until it is cooked through.  The timing will depend on the size of the pieces you have, but really takes only a few minutes.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil, add salt, and then add the pasta, adding the broccoli for the last 4-5 minutes of cooking time, until tender.  Drain and return to the pot.

Then, while your pasta is cooking...

And, if like me, you have a limited number of skillets (or more truthfully you don't like doing dishes), take the chicken out of the skillet and put on a plate for now, and using any drippings in the pan, add a little more butter (or oil), and two or three teaspoons of minced garlic (two or three cloves), and cook for a few seconds, then add your half and half.  (Here is where I really never measure, so some recipes will say about two cups of cream, if you need a measurement.)

Now since we are doing gluten free, we did not add any flour to thicken the sauce.  You could mix some corn starch with water and add to the cream to help thicken, but heating the cream and garlic for a few minutes (without boiling) will thicken it some.  After it has cooked and thickened slightly, check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed, and grate in some nutmeg as well.  Then add your cheese.  (You don't need a measurement for this, do you?  I mean, is there really such a thing as too much cheese?)

Once the cheese is melted into the sauce, pour the sauce over your cooked pasta and broccoli, stirring to coat.  Then add in your cooked chicken, and mix and stir over medium low heat, until everything is combined and nice and hot!

And if you haven't started already, dish it up and enjoy! Yes, we kept it pretty informal...

You can serve this with a salad, or some fruit, but you have your starch, protein and veggies all in one dish! 

I didn't get many pictures while we were cooking, because, well, we were cooking!  But there were no leftovers, and the table was pretty quiet while they were eating, so I think they liked it! :) 

And a big thank you to Mrs. Reynolds who helped with the cleanup in the kitchen!!!

Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Time, Priority, Ideas

My current full-time job is the kind that is feast or famine.  I either have a LOT to do, or not much.

In those slower times, I sit staring at the computer screen at some spreadsheet that needs to be filled out, and my mind starts racing around this track that has been laid out in my head.  Decorating, art projects, creative business ideas, marketing, social media, friendships, lack of connections, are my girls prepared for life as adults, and . . . you get the idea, right?  With each thought that sets up at the starting line, I can hear the noise of the engines revving louder and louder until the flag waves, and they're off!

These thoughts and ideas are a blur as they race around the track, with only a second between each of them.  I find myself holding my breath  - you know, like when you are on a roller coaster, heading up that first really tall climb, and you suddenly realize you are holding your breath? Yeah, like that... (or is it just me?)

Then I'm back in front of the spreadsheet, realizing I need to get back to work. 

I try to make lists of the ideas I can catch, but sometimes when I get home, I am onto a different track with different schedules, thoughts, projects that need to be addressed like laundry, dinner, dishes. . .

These are my days.  Not all of them, but many.  I try to get the important things done, like dinner (sometimes), laundry (you can't NOT do that), and sleep (eventually).   The creative stuff doesn't always make the cut, but I am trying to work on that.  When I have a project someone else is waiting for, it gets priority.  If it is just something I want to work on, well, it can wait. I'm not entirely sure why that is.  I guess I don't give myself the same priority and sometimes the ideas seem frivolous, so they aren't really worth the investment of time and energy.  Sometimes the energy isn't available!

Why does it work that way?  Am I the only one?  Why don't I value my ideas and myself enough to give time to experiment more often?  I read about making time, treating these things like actual appointments, but it is difficult for me. I can begin days with the best ideas and plans to get things at least started, but...then life happens.

Then today, I found this article: 

4 Ways to Make Space in Your Brain to Create

It is from the Quiet Revolution website, and has some good tips for trying to, well, make space in your brain, to create!  There are several different theories presented from authors and creatives like Anne Lamott, Ray Bradbury, and more.  With suggestions and illustrations, it offers a variety of ways to make space, to think about the ideas that we form, and capturing those ideas to turn into creative projects. 

"In other words, find a routine for your creativity, and stick with it."

What are some ways you make your ideas come to life?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday - Checking in

Well we made it to another Monday!

In the spirit of accountability, I am here to say I didn't work on any paintings this weekend.  I did help with the birthday party craft of Pokemon ornaments, which seemed to be a fun time for the kids at the party.
These are the examples I was asked to paint ahead of time...
Here are some the kids worked on...Pikachu was very popular...
I worked at my part time job Saturday evening, and our youngest had the opportunity to volunteer at the camp she attended earlier this Summer, so Sunday we took her up to New Hampshire to drop her off. 

So even though I could have made time to work on some things, I cleaned out the refrigerator, took care of a friend's cat, and picked up a few groceries for the week. 
There you have it.  Do I feel guilty?  Maybe a little.  I try to rationalize things, but I know I won't finish any paintings until I work on them.  So I have to take that responsibility on myself. I do try to look for beauty in the everyday things, keeping my curiosity handy to explore or capture images with my phone as I go.  (Though some subjects are difficult to capture when they don't sit still...)

Let's see what this week brings!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trying new skills, and honing old ones


The Summer is really getting away from me!  I have been working on a couple different painting projects, which, if you follow me on Facebook, you have seen the beginnings of those. 

I have yet to finish them, as I hone my skills on procrastination. . .

This weekend I have a birthday party craft to help with, but I also hope to also get some more work in on these paintings.

I want to loosen my painting skills to some degree, to work with a little more freedom.  I am finding when I sit down to work on the paintings, I have the mindset that I use when painting small ornaments. 

I work in small strokes, small amounts of paint, and small movements. 

Granted, these paintings are not the large wall sized backdrops I used to paint in a week for Vacation Bible School,

 but I need to practice developing my style a little more, and worry about the exact details a little less. 
Maybe at the end of the weekend I will have more finished works to show you!  (I also need to practice accountability...)  :)

Do you have any tips for keeping on top of projects?  How do you find motivation to work on finishing up tasks?