Tuesday, August 30, 2011


For the homecook, making something in advance is pure heaven, especially if there is a dessert involved.  In my house, it almost never happens, since I like to prepare things fresh on the spot.  For any occasion, this second recipe for Tiramisu is a classic, traditional, recipe that's easy and simple to prepare.  After all, Italian food is not about complicated ingredients but rather fresh, wholesome ones. The most important part of this recipe is incredibly fresh eggs from the farm if you can.  Recipe coming up this week!  Get ready!

Monday, August 29, 2011

What do you Control?

Quote of the Day:  I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.~ Jimmy Dean

This is a famous quote that you've probably heard before.  It speaks to what we can control in our lives and what we can't. For the most part, we control nothing but our own reaction to the situation or person or outcome. We can keep adjusting our "sails" by thinking of new ways to do something to feel successful.

I was trying to take a picture of Eric and our cat Leo.  You can pick Leo up, but you can't make him look in the right direction.

Switch directions

Okay, that didn't work either.

Moved in closer, tried to snap faster (quick, he's looking my way!), and got a fur face.

Finally, Eric set Leo on the ground where he calmly laid down.
Eric adjusted his "sails" to fit Leo's comfort.
I adjusted my "sails" of what would make a great picture,
and viola!

Here's the thing. In our lives, especially in our creative endeavors, we can't control who will show up or how they will respond to what we've created. All we can do is create what is in us and wants to come out. We'll build up our inventory, polish our skills, and eventually we'll shine.  More than one of us has walked away from an event that felt less than successful. But, is that all perspective? So, only a few people were there, not much money was earned, but what did you gain from the experience.  I think of writers who sit at book signings all afternoon and sell only a copy or two.  Was it a waste of time?  I don't know. Maybe the joy was in sitting in a bookstore for an afternoon chatting with the workers, browsing the shelves, drinking coffee, connecting with that one buyer who really wanted to read your book.

Or, maybe that feeling of "this just isn't working" is your call to try a new perspective. What preconceived notion do you need to let go in order to find just the right fit?

Go. Create. Inspire! and look for success in new ways.

Journaling Prompt:  When have you felt blue about your art?  How did you adjust your sails?

Italian Chicken Dunkers

I have a little confession to make.  There is a certain  national fast food chain that makes chicken nuggets that I will eat whenever I can justify it.  There is nothing healthy or good about them and after reading the ingredient list I should be utterly appalled, vowing to never consume them again.   But, something about how they taste, their crispy texture and the bar-b-que sauce I dip them in makes me crumple and I consume them all along with the fries and a diet soda. Yes, I admit I not only eat the nuggets but I also buy them in a combo meal.   Unfortunately all three of my kiddos also love these bites of fried, over-processed goodness too.  It is not something I am proud to admit.

Do I endorse this kind of eating?  Absolutely not. It goes against all the changes I have been trying to make for the health of my family. But what is a girl to do when the nugget craving hits not only her but the entire family?  Well come up with a recipe that we all can be happy with and that is at least somewhat healthy.  And that is how the Italian Chicken Dunkers I am about to share with you were born.

Are they similar to many other recipes out there? Yep, they sure are but my kiddos and I have made them more than once perfecting the recipe into something we all love.  You can eat them straight out of the oven or pop them into the freezer like the over processed and expensive nuggets seen in stores but, these are soooo much better! They are baked, not fried.  They have homemade breadcrumbs seasoned with lots of garlic and best of all parmesan cheese.  YUM!  Go make up a batch and see for yourself, I promise you will love them too.  Enjoy!

Italian Chicken Dunkers
Recipe Source: A Cook's Quest

1-2 pounds chicken breasts-cut into strips
1-2 cups flour for dredging
fresh breadcrumbs (I used about 8 large slices of bread) or store bought if you want.  I would suggest panko.
2-3 eggs, beaten
onion powder
garlic salt
1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 T melted butter or olive oil

I wish I could give you exact measurements, but really this is a recipe that can be customized to your liking.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Season flour with salt, pepper and garlic.

Place bread into your food processor and pulse until the consistency you want.  I like a bigger fluffy crumb so I leave mine pretty rough.  Pour into a pie plate and add onion powder, garlic salt and parmesan cheese.

Set up an assembly line to dredge the chicken.  Start with the flour, then egg, then breadcrumb mixture.  Place chicken pieces on a buttered baking sheet.  Brush with melted butter and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your nuggets, or until the juices are clear and the meat is cooked through.

Dip in your favorite sauce.  We chose marinara because it's what we had on hand, but any dipping sauce would be great.  I think next time we will use homemade ranch.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fried Artichokes (carciofi fritti)

I was craving something truly Italian today all the way in Mississippi.  Had some drop in guests for dinner.  I always have a bag of frozen artichoke hearts on hand.  This recipe is guaranteed to fry up delicious and crunchy.  With a little squeeze of lemon, and some salt and parsley, it's the perfect appetizer or side dish.

I really love the how versatile artichokes can be.  Here in the South, you just don't find many people who know how to cook them, so they use them for decoration.  What a waste of a wonderful vegetable. I try to eat one every day when I am in Italy and they are in season.  Imagine the excitement when artichoke hearts appeared in the freezer here in the south. I just had to try it.  What you can find here  fresh on occasion  is large and spiny.  I recently found some fresh, baby, sun kissed artichokes in Memphis, TN.  I bought all they had, cooked them and placed in the freezer for future pasta and risotto recipes.   I did not think to fry them as my quantity was so limited. This method applies for frozen and fresh baby artichokes.  The only additional step involved is taking away those outer, tough, leaves and removing just a little of the choke.  Then, place them in lemon water and quickly pat them dry  before coating them for frying.
For these, check your grocer's freezer. You will be happy you did.  Here is a quick, last minute appetizer for those drop in guests or just because you are craving something to snack on with your family.  I will include both methods just in case you can find fresh baby artichokes.  Buon Appetito~

one 12 oz bag of baby artichokes/ thawed and drained
one cup flour
2 eggs
one deep narrow pan for frying/artichoke will be submerged under oil while cooking
Vegetable oil 3 inches deep in your pan
salt to taste
Fresh lemon to taste / wedges to garnish
Parsley for garnish

In  a colander, drain your frozen artichokes.  Add a little salt.  Dry well with paper towels. Add your oil to your skillet and heat to med/high, being careful not to let the oil smoke or burn.  If  this happens, your heat is up to high.  Turn it down.  Do not worry to much if a little water remains on your artichoke.  Coat them with flour.  Coat them with egg and salt them slightly. Coat them with flour again.  Do not worry if they look a bit sticky.  You will be able to separate while cooking.  When the oil is hot, carefully slip in your artichoke pieces.  You will notice they will sizzle and expand some.  If they stick together, you can break them apart with a fork. When you see the edges turning golden, give them a turn.  They will turn golden again after a few minutes in the hot oil. It takes some practice.  Be careful as the oil will sometimes pop while cooking.  This is normal.  Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.  Place on a serving dish, garnish with lemon and parsley.  Buon Appetito~

Method 2/ Using fresh baby artichokes
Clean your artichokes by pulling back your outer leaves and trim off your bottoms. Cut an 1/8 of an inch of the tips, place them in a bowl of fresh water that has 1/3 cup lemon juice and a pinch of baking soda  in it.  The lemon juice and baking soda  will keep them fresh and bright green.
Quickly prepare your oil,  Drain and dry your fresh artichokes. Coat them in the same manner and fry.  Please keep in mind that your fresh baby artichoke might take additional time to cook. Keep an eye on them while cooking.  Drain on paper towels and serve.  Buon Appetito


No baking involved.  My favorite kind of dessert in Summer. I have two versions of Tiramisu.  I am not sure why this happened.  I guess in an effort to change things up just a little,  since traditional  Savoiardi cookies  are so hard to find here in Tupelo, Mississippi.   The name "Savoiardi" dates back to the 15th Century,  when it was created for the the Savoia family,  the Royal family of Italy.  The name of the cake, "Tiramisu"  translates "Pull me Up," due to the addition of espresso coffee in the cake. This light biscuit gives this dessert it's cake texture.  This version I am posting  has No Eggs.   We had the traditional recipe all the time (with fresh eggs),  and turned out fine. In an effort to make everyone happy and to lighten it up a bit, this version omits the eggs.  I am not sure when making Tiramisu in the country got so fancy and complicated, but I assure you, it's not.
For the home cook, this is quite the impressive dessert. Layers of Lady fingers, soaked in espresso, chocolate, whipping cream and marscarpone cheese,  create a luxurious, light and fluffy cake.  I traditionally make this cake in a baking dish and pile in the ingredients.  In today's version ,  I wanted to dress it up a bit.    Hope you enjoy~ Buon Appetito.

For this version: You will need to purchase to the soft, sponge like Lady Fingers. Version number 2 Tiramisu,will be coming up utilizing the traditional Savoiardi Lady fingers which are harder in texture so you will need to use the baking dish method.

Version Number 1

3 packages of Lady fingers  about 36 (For this version, you need the sponge like kind)
9 inch spring form pan
2 flat baking dish (for your espresso/soaking of your ladyfingers, and one for your cocoa powder)
1 cup plus 1/2 cups of Marscarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup good quality Spanish Brandy or French Cognac
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1/2 cup whipping cream/
1 cup espresso, brewed and cooled.
unsweetened cocoa for dusting/ 8 0z of good quality Dark chocolate bar for chocolate shavings you can make with a vegetable peeler.

Sprinkle some cocoa powder into a baking dish. In another dish, pour your espresso into it.  Gently place your cookies, one at a time, (or if available in short sections of cookies),  in your cocoa powder and press down.  Then, line your pan.  This takes practice.  If you need to make an anchor on the bottom of your pan, so the cookies stay straight, you can do this by soaking some cookies in espresso and begin lining the bottom at the same time.  Keep going until completed.  Place in the refrigerator to set.

Into a bowl, cream your marscarpone, vanilla extract, brandy and sugar.  This should take a good 5 -7 minutes as your sugar must have time to dissolve.  Set aside.
Into a chilled bowl,  whip your cream with a pinch of sugar.   Gently fold your whipping cream into your marscarpone mixture very slowly.  You will notice that your whipping cream will create volume.  Gently pour about 1/4 of your mixture into your pan.  Soak some lady fingers and place on top of your whipped mixture/add some more Lady Fingers in the same manner.  When you get to the top.  Sprinkle with additional unsweetened cocoa, chocolate shavings and refrigerate, covered overnight. 
Enjoy!~ Buon Appetito!~
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Friday, August 26, 2011

What Could This Be?

Favorite Photo Friday

Quote of the Day:  Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. - Albert Einstein

What could this be?

Go. Create. Inspire!
And, use your imagination.

Journaling Prompt:  Describe an object, like the clouds, in a way that is new and original.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Clandestine Collecting

Quote of the Day:  I woke up this morning with this song running through my mind.  Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood? Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood? The people that you meet each day. from Sesame Street

I was in on a great conversation last Saturday at that wedding reception. (No eavesdropping needed, I was legitimately there.) A woman was talking about her mother-in-law (MIL), how well they get along, actually, yet, she has some quirky habits. As they were planning her wedding, the MIL suggested they have fresh-cut flowers, from the garden.
DIL:  But, we don't have much for flowers in our garden this year.
MIL: Oh, that doesn't matter.  We'll just go night picking around the neighborhood.

(eyesbrows up - laughter all around)

You never know where you'll gather up good dialogue, hear a great story, collect bits of humor that you can later use in your written work. As you go about your daily life, doing mundane things like buying meat, you might strike up a conversation with the butcher and discover new ingredients to add to your lasagna. Now, I've gotta be a little careful here. If you're a mystery writer, you might already have some dark thoughts on that statement.  To clarify, I was buying both ground beef and chicken & swiss brats (they really are great), and he suggested I put some of the brat meat in the lasagna. So, I'm going to try it on my guests for Thursday night. (Stop thinking like Agatha Christie!)

Go. Create. Inspire! (and do a bit of clandestine collecting, you might gather a bouquet of ideas)

Journaling Prompt:  Write about a time/place/person who gave you great ideas for your project.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

I am not a lover of bananas, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE banana bread.  There isn't much to say about this recipe.  It is easy to mix up and the tastiest banana bread I have had in a very long time.  Next time you have some bananas that don't look so pretty try mixing up a batch of this. You won't be sorry.  ENJOY!

Cream Cheese Banana Bread
Recipe Source: A Thrifty Mom

3/4 cups softened butter
1 (8oz) cream cheese softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cups mashed bananas ( about 4 bananas)
1 cup pecans (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl combine the butter, cream cheese and sugar until well blended.  Add the two eggs and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until everything just comes together, you don't want to over mix it.  Add the bananas, nuts and vanilla.

Pour into a large greased bread pan or two small greased pans.  Bake at 350 F for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  

**Cook's note: These make wonderful muffins too.  Just adjust your baking time.

Butterscotch Pudding with Butterscotch Almond Cookies . . . Like Love and Marriage!

Some things were born to cohabit. They were just meant to be together. Like Adam and Eve, like Ken and Barbie, these chewy butterscotch-almond cookies, partnered with homemade butterscotch pudding,  produce perfect harmony. I'm crazy about their complex flavor and just-right-to-bite texture.

Along with light brown sugar, almond meal (finely ground blanched almonds), and almond extract, their secret ingredient is a couple tablespoons of buckwheat honey. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a beekeeper selling raw Michigan buckwheat honey at Detroit's Eastern Market a couple of weekends ago and naturally I wasted no time in nabbing a bottle. Dark and dusky, buckwheat honey is kind of like a cross between molasses and maple syrup, but more distinctive than either. Some people describe its color as seeming almost purplish when the light shines through it. A little dab added to baked goods will have your taste-testers munching slowly while staring off into space, muttering to themselves, ". . . what is that I taste? It's really good . . . "

About these recipes . . .

The cookie formula is one I adapted from When Everybody Ate at Schrafft's: Memories, Pictures, and Recipes from a Very Special Restaurant Empire.  Apparently, their homemade butterscotch cookies were a huge seller. Wish I'd been around when Schrafft's was in its heyday. I first heard about it as a kid, strictly through the old movies I watched on TV with my mom; seems like some character or other was always going there. "Meet me at Schrafft's," or, "Yeah, I discovered her sittin' on a stool in Schrafft's!" was a common refrain. This book is a hoot. I recommend it if you ever want to know more of the story.

I altered the recipe by using almond meal instead of the indicated finely chopped pecans, added in almond extract, used light vs. dark brown sugar, and threw in buckwheat honey as mentioned above. (And, yes, I reworded the recipe.)

The pudding comes from Luscious Creamy Desserts by Lori Longbotham. She suggests the addition of a tablespoon of Scotch whiskey to rile things up (her recipe is called "better-than-classic butterscotch pudding"). I put in half that amount just to see what might result. I thought the Scotch added an almost fruity aspect to the flavor and I was kind of on the fence about it, but my husband loved it.

In the pudding, I also used light brown sugar vs. dark brown and it was plenty sweet with the light brown. The pudding didn't firm up quite as much as I'd expected, but was similar in thickness to Greek yogurt. Just right, in any case, for dipping cookies. This pudding is very rich, and the recipe makes four modest individual servings. With a cookie on the side, this actually makes for a pretty filling dessert.

Butterscotch Pudding and Butterscotch Almond Cookies
(For a printable version of these recipes, click here!) 

Butterscotch pudding
Yield: Four 6 oz. servings

Have ready four 6 oz. ramekins/bowls standing by.
Have a medium-size bowl, along with a fine mesh sieve, standing by; it will be needed immediately after cooking the pudding.

1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 Tbsp. or 1/2 of one stick)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
Yolks from 8 large eggs
1 pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 tsp. Scotch whiskey (optional, of course!)

In a medium size bowl, whisk the cornstarch and milk until the cornstarch is well mixed in. Set aside.

Put the 8 egg yolks into their own medium size bowl with the pinch of salt nearby; set aside with a clean whisk.

In a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium low heat, melt the butter.

Dump in the brown sugar and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth and bubbly.

Whisking constantly, pour the milk-cornstarch mixture into the saucepan carefully, with the heat still on medium. Cook for about 2 minutes, continuing to whisk, until the liquid is hot and any sugar lumps are gone. Take the pan off the heat.

Add the salt into the bowl of egg yolks and whisk.

Into this, pour the heated mixture, whisking constantly (or you'll end up with scrambled eggs!).

Pour all of this back into the saucepan and put it back on the stove. Over medium-low heat, cook for 6 to 8 minutes, whisking continually all the while (isn't whisking fun?), until big bubbles show up on the surface.

Without delay (not even 20 seconds, people!), pour the entire mixture through the sieve you set up over the empty bowl. Into that, whisk the lemon juice, vanilla, and Scotch.

Let this cool for about 15 minutes, stirring periodically, then ladle it into your ramekins/bowls.

Cover each ramekin with a small piece of plastic wrap, pressing it right down onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Cool further, until no longer hot, then refrigerate the puddings for at least three hours, until cold and set.

Butterscotch Almond Cookies
Yield: At least 24 good-sized cookies.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. buckwheat honey (or use 1/4 cup extra brown sugar instead)

1 large egg
2 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Generous 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup almond meal (Sometimes also referred to as almond flour; you can make your own by grinding blanched almonds in your food processor. Just be careful not to overgrind them into paste. I buy almond meal at Trader Joe's, where it's not too expensive, but you can also find it at health food stores and, increasingly, in regular grocery stores in the baking aisle.)

In the large bowl of your mixer, blend together the butter and shortening just for several seconds. Add in the sugar, beating until creamy. Add into this the egg, non-fat dry milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and honey. Beat until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, kosher salt, and almond meal. Pour this into the mixer bowl and blend on medium low speed.

Chill the dough for an hour or more before portioning onto cookie sheets.

Scoop the dough using a 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. portion scoop (or, just eyeball it, of course), leaving a couple inches of space between each one. Dampen your palm and gently flatten the balls down slightly. Bake the cookies for about 7 to 9 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheet then move to a rack. Store them in an airtight container.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!) 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Upbeat Sunday

Quote of the Day:  What I want to know is...Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong? - Barry Mann and Gerry Goffin

First pages of my family gift journal.

This weekend was filled with so many of my favorite things.  I got my journal ready for our family journal exchange.  The boys came home from scout camp, a little stinky and itchy, but in one piece, and quite happy. Eric said my journal looked "cool." Thanks, Eric. He's also participating in the journal exchange.

I was invited to a small, intimate wedding reception for a former piano student, as a friend of the family. I felt very honored to be there.

We had an outdoor worship service at our Pastor's place. He has a large yard. The weather was cool and sunny, almost no wind, so the music pages didn't blow around. I sang a song called What a Beautiful Morning (not the one from Oklahoma). Then, we enjoyed home-made caramel and cinnamon rolls.

I came home and took a nap (a gal gets wore out from all that singing and fellowshipping), then got domestic and made a delicious stir-fry and banana bread.

I shared the second loaf with my neighbor, who, in turn, invited me to join them for dinner.
Delicious eggplant parmesan that we enjoyed out on the front porch where we chatted with the neighbors.

While I was cooking and baking I tuned into Pandora (isn't that a brilliant idea), and cracked my eggs and stirred my food to good old tunes of the 50's and 60's. I clicked "like" to all the best by The Cordettes, The Archies - Sugar Sugar (which could also be the theme song for that wedding reception - a dessert buffet - yum), The Four Tops, the Chiffons, Little Eva, Lesly Gore (You Don't Own Me - one of my top five favorite songs), Betty Everett, Sam Cooke's What a Wonderful World: Don't know much about history, Don't know much biology, Don't know much about a science book, Don't know much about the French I took. (A great song to hear just as we're getting ready for a new school year.)

These songs have a great beat. They're simple, yet lyrical, and full of harmony.  This is my "Lollipop" playlist.  In fact, one of my favorite movie soundtracks is from Stand By Me. Which reminds me, it's time to take out the paper and the trash, Hey, Zach, Yakkety, Yak, don't talk back.

I'll leave you tapping your toe and humming along to these great lyrics, (from the quote of the day song):

Each time that we're alone
Boogity boogity boogity
Boogity boogity boogity shoo
Sets my baby's heart all aglow
And everytime we dance to
Dip da dip da dip
Dip da dip da dip
She always says she loves me so
So who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?

Journaling Prompt:  What songs set your hips twirling, your toe tapping, and your lips humming?  In other words, what songs give you an upbeat feeling?  Anyone want a slice of banana bread? It's still warm.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Family that Journals Together

Favorite Photos Friday and Double Quotes

Quote of the Day: If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable - each segment distinct. ~Letty Cottin Pogrebin

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

Joy's journal, French twist binding and fragments of a songbook.

Our family is trying something new for Christmas gifts this year. For those who want to participate, we're buying or making a journal that reflects us, then we'll be passing that same journal from person to person.  We'll have the books in our possession for about 10 days where we can write in them, include photos, quotes, clippings, or drawings - anything that reflects that particular time.  It can be for and about the owner of the journal or about the person writing in it.  The last person in the rotation will wrap up the journal and give it to the owner at Christmas.

Joy made her journal at my house by cutting up an old songbook and using some of its pages as well as blank journal pages. I taught her the French twist binding.  She left it here in Minnesota and won't see it again until it arrives at her home in Portland, OR at the end of December, filled with the imprint of her family.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  What are your family's gift giving traditions?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Pulse of the Family

Quote of the Day:  Pulsing through our veins is the blood of our ancestors, all their hopes and fears, longings and frailties. - Mary Aalgaard, after visiting with family this week.

Actually, my sister Joy talked about this.  She's heard of a pulse test that reads your family's health history, emotional and physical.  We know that we are genetically wired for certain diseases like cancer or heart disease, but we're also linked to our ancestor's emotional health.  This is interesting to me.  We have depression in our family.  We have sensitive souls who are strong in music and art and connecting with other people.  Some of us have control issues.

Cousin Angie and sister Joy singing and playing.
Leo is listening and purring.

Often, when we get together we talk about the negative traits of our family.  This time, we made a point of bringing out the positive qualities.  Aalgaards are great hosts.  We know how to make you feel comfortable.  We're good cooks.  We make music and know how to listen as well as talk.  We are spiritual and loyal.  We're the first to roll up our sleeves and help a neighbor.

We come from people with a wanderlust.  We travel and relocate, constantly seeking, aware of the journey.  We know that it's important to be together, to talk, to create, to connect.  We have a fun journaling project in the works for Christmas.  I'll tell you more about that on Friday.  In the meantime...

Go. Create. Inspire!  And, spend a little time with family, and check your pulse.

Brother Nathan, Sisters Nancy and Joy.
Having lunch together before Joy flies back to Portland, OR.

Journaling Prompt:  Write about the physical and emotional history of your family.  What are the positive traits that you've inherited from your family?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Binding

Quote of the Day: If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would have thus been kept active through use.  The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature. - Charles Darwin (the beginning quote in my favorite poetry book The Music Lover's Petry Anthology)

(I would say do those things at least once a day. Creativity, art, music, nature, poetry, all the arts stimulate our minds.) 

A few of you guessed it. We made journal books.  The little one is an accordian fold book.  The larger one is made with nicely textured Japanese paper and an accordian spine.  We put three sections of paper in it.  The purple one is a multi-sectioned French twist binding.

Georgia has also taught me a modified Japanese book binding which I've used when teaching journal making, and writing.  I'd love to do more of this, both making the books and teaching.

I get all excited about the different kinds of paper you can find at art stores.  I love the textures and the things that are embedded in the fibers.  It stimulates my creativity.

My sister Joy and cousin Angie are visiting for a couple days.  We're off to the coffee shop where I do my writing for a cup of inspiration.

Journaling Prompt:  What stimulates your creativity?  Are you a teaching artist, or an artist who teaches, or would you rather not teach?  I think my first calling is teacher.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Accordian Fold

Favorite Photos Friday #3 (clearly, I can't stick to just one)

Quote of the Day:  This river, named after a crow's wing, makes me feel light. - Georgia A. Greeley

On the banks of the Crow Wing River

Sits an old army barracks cabin

Where I met with these two lovely, creative people

To make this

What do you think it will be?

Journaling Prompt:  What is it about water that is so alluring?  Which body of water are you most attracted to? Oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, creeks, water falls, other?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Brainerd Buddy Walk

Quote of the Day:  If we all walked in every cause walk in our community, we'd be one healthy community - physically, spiritually and emotionally. Mary Aalgaard from my article in Her Voice.

I write for our local women's magazine which has a strong community connection for both women and men.  I found my voice through Her Voice when the editor, Meg, called me an author and printed my words for the first time.  My most recent article came out this week on The Buddy Walk in our community for people with Downs Syndrome. The interviews with these families gave me a stronger connection to my community.  I felt drawn into their stories, not always smooth sailing, but always filled with love and a desire to connect with other people who care about someone with disabilities.  They are a warm and welcoming bunch, and I feel so honored to share their story with you. 

Here are a few photos from my friend and Her Voice photographer Joey Halvorson.  These are some great ones that didn't make it into the magazine.

Sisters Avery and Lauren out for a cruise.

Lauren and her mom Beth

Big brother Patrick with a protective arm around Sarah.

Sarah with her dad Tom

Dave giving comforting kisses to son Noah.

For the full story and more photos click here.  My story starts on p. 23.

If we all walk together, no one has to walk alone.

Go. Create. Inspire! And, walk for a cause.

Journaling Prompt:  How do you react when you see someone with different abilities?  Do you join any cause walks?