Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No Need to Knead & Soups On! Lazy Food….

I’ve been learning that cooking at our high Colorado altitude is a little different than cooking at our previous altitude in Utah.  Here we are at 6,300 ft and in Utah we were at 4,700 feet.  While they are both “high altitude”, Colorado has additional challenges with baking.  I have not been super successful with cakes and cupcakes yet.  Still working on adjusting the recipes.  However, I’ve got cornbread down pat and decided to try my hand at my first loaf of bread.  I am still having a hard time with pain when I over use my left arm, so I decided to try a favorite no fail, no knead recipe…. and I wanted an easy lazy dinner for last night so I made a Potato Corn & Ham Chowder to go with it :) Yes, I planned dinner around the bread. Hehe!

This bread is started the afternoon before the evening you want to eat it.  It rises for a full 18-24 hours.  I went the full 24 hours and it turned out awesome!

Nice, round crusty bread… perfect for dipping in soup or chili.


Last night we had it with Potato Corn & Ham Chowder.  And it was SOOOO delicious!

Here’s a shot of it during its last rise stage.  I keep a cool house (temp wise) and found that it rose nicely next to the crockpot of chowder… all that nice warm air coming off the crockpot…

(Really, I don’t own a ginormous crock pot and teeny tiny Kitchen Aid.. crazy angle with the camera phone.)
Once it has reached it’s full rise (dough doesn’t readily spring back when you poke it gently) it goes into the oven… Here’s a shot of it crisping up the crust… 2 more minutes, 2 more minutes….

I couldn’t wait for it to cool before cutting it… oh my gosh.. get in my tummy now…

Slather it up with some butter… just a smidge…

(See? I took a bite – or two – oh my… yum.)
Dunk it in your soup ….. and enjoy!!!

It was seriously good.  I ate the last piece for breakfast this morning. MMMM.

No Knead Bread
*I measure most dry goods by weight for baking)
  • Whisk together:
    16 ounces All Purpose Flour
    2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt (less if you use table salt)
    1/4 Teaspoon Instant Yeast 
  • Add:
    11 ounces room temp water (abt 1.5 Cups)
1) Mix well with a spoon. Dough will be wet and sticky.

2) Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 18-22 hours in warm place (I put mine in the oven.. no drafts.

3) After it has rested and risen for 18-22 hours scoop your dough out onto a well floured piece of parchment paper. (It needs to be well floured or cornmealed or it will stick.)  Spray a piece or two (depending on the size of your loaf) of plastic wrap and cover LOOSELY (allow for more rising room).  

4) Let it rise for 30ish minutes (at 6300 ft), up to 1 hour at lower elevations.

***note: rise time depends on your elevation and climate.  Here in Colorado (6,350 ft elevation) I can let my dough rise for about 1 hr and it is ready to go.*** 

The dough is ready when you can press your finger into the dough GENTLY and it very slowly springs back, but still leaves a slight indentation.

Ok, so now.. you need a HOT oven…. and an oven INSIDE the oven

5) 30 minutes prior to baking:  place a dutch oven (with the lid) into the oven and set the oven at 475.   It’s gotta be HOT HOT HOT (yes, said just like the song…) Get that dutch oven all nice and hot.  

OPTIONAL STEP: Here is a step you don't have to do, but I like to do.  Score your bread.  Immediately before placing your dough into the Dutch oven score (or slice) the top of the bread with a very sharp knife or a bread lame.  Slice about 1/4" into the dough.  

This allows the dough to expand in a controlled manner when oven spring happens.  You don't have to score your dough.  You can just let it go crazy and pop open wherever.  Sometimes you can get some cool looking loaves.

6) Carefully take the dutch oven out of the oven and remove the lid.  Remove plastic wrap and pick up the entire loaf of bread WITH the parchment paper and place it down into the dutch oven.  Place the lid on the dutch oven and set the timer for 35 minutes.

7) After 35 minutes carefully remove the lid and bake an additional 8-10 minutes to brown up the crust.  

Remove bread from dutch oven and place on a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing.

03/22/2020: Here is a video I just posted for this bread recipe

Potato, Corn & Ham Chowder ~ Erin Grotegut
  • Toss in a crock pot:
    6-8 Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced/cubed small
    1 Med White Onion, diced (about 1 Cup)
    1 Can Creamed Corn
    1 Can Whole Kernel Corn
    8 Ounces Diced Ham
    2.5-3 Cups Chicken Broth or Stock (3 cups if you use 8 potatoes)
    1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
    1/4 – 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
    Dash Garlic Powder (not garlic salt)
  • Optional:
    1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Chives
    1-2 Tbs Diced Chiles (Your fave… kicks it up a notch or two…)
  • Have ready:
    1/4 Cup Butter ( don’t use margarine)
    2 Cups half and half
    2 Tablespoons flour
1) Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or if you are a goofball like me and start dinner at 3, cook on high for about 3-4 hours until the potatoes are soft and able to be smashed.  

2) Smash the food in the crock pot with a potato masher until it is the consistency you like.

3) Make a slurry.  Scoop out 2 Tbs of the “broth” and put into a bowl or mug.  Add 2 Tbs of flour and whisk with a fork.  Add to the crock pot.  This will help thicken the chowder a bit.

4) Add the butter and half & half and cook for about 10-15 minutes until the slurry has had a chance to thicken and cook.

Garnish with chopped chives and/or your favorite shredded cheese.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Going Bat Stick Crazy Around Here

And now for the excuses…..

I have not died.

Or driven off the face of the earth.

(Yes, it looks like we might drive off the face of the earth on this road up to Pike’s Peak… oy)

I have just been living a very crazy life here in beautiful Colorado.

To catch you up on everything would make for a thick novel so instead I will sum it up.

1) Had a GREAT My Creative Escape retreat here in CO in April.

2) I’ve been working as a Professional Organizer for Peace Together Spaces and loving it!

3) Spent the end of May and most of June traveling around the country (destination east coast) with my Mom.  Visited Niagara Falls and some LDS Church history sites along the way, ultimately landing at my grandparent’s home in Massachusetts for a few weeks.

4) Had 25 extra bodies (visitors) in my home from the last weekend of June – July:  family, friends, and family and more friends!

5) Had a minor car accident Aug 1.  I have 3 vertabrae pressing into my spinal cord and numbness and tingling in my left arm and hand.  After multiple dr and chiro visits I have ended up with a spine specialist and am now working on getting better with physical therapy and good drugs.  (It hurts to sit at the computer for very long, or really anywhere I have to sit still for very long.)  Trying to avoid surgery.

6) Well… life is just life… and I am going bat “stick” crazy around here… and crafting when I feel well enough…  This past week was a “good week”.


So Anyway…

I am normally not a “Halloween” person.  I don’t do “ghoulish stuff”, “guts”, “scary”, or “creepy” for Halloween, but I DO enjoy silly, cute, fun stuff… and this year I am actually excited to decorate for fall and Halloween. YAY!

When I was in Utah at the end of August for my friend, Tahne’s, birthday  and B’s work, and a concert (F.U.N.) I stopped in one of Utah’s plethora of crafty shops… I can’t remember which one it was, but I picked up a fun witch’s boot to decorate and saw the most adorable bats… but I didn’t purchase them… I figured I could make them myself with scraps from B’s woodshop. (Leftover bits of InkStaks and RibbonStaks).  So I drew up some bats in Photoshop and printed out the pattern, traced them onto some scraps of pine and zipped them on out our band saw.


and dry fitted them with some fun patterned and textured papers…



Then I painted up the edges with this fabulous home made glitter paint…

glitterpaint-web _web

To make the paint, mix:

Any color acrylic crafty paint
Small amount of Valspar Paint Crystals (GLITTER) for paint (Lowes)

**A little glitter goes a LONG way… and it will add texture to your paint, esp if you accidentally dump the bag over your paint… :)

** Use a popsicle stick to stir the paint and glitter, not your paint brush.


After the paint dried sufficiently enough that I could handle the bats (not a patient crafter here) I wandered out to the wood shop and measured out some dowels sticks… "(bat stick, hahaha.. get it? ok.. well.. )

While they finished drying (I also mod podged on the papers), I whipped up some custom dyed ribbons to finish up the bats and another fun Halloween decor project.


Here is my finished Bat Trio.  I think they turned out whimsical and fun. Now to decide where to display them in the house!

IMG_1236Bats-web  IMG_1234BatTrio-web




Happy flying, little bats!


I’m sorry I’ve been away so long.. leave me a note and let me know if you’re still out there in blog land!

Inky Smiles!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dance In The Rain

I have not been diligent about blogging lately.  I’m trying to figure out this house and get things settled in it so that it feels more like a home.  We are also gearing up to put lights in the ceiling in my studio, so I’m packing up the goodies I just unpacked to make room for a little mess.  Yes, I know, crazy, there’s not much out to put away.. just boxes and my main workspace to cover with plastic.  Hopefully the lighting project will go quickly! 

I wanted to share a couple of cards I made last summer but have not shared here yet. I might have shown them on FB, but I can’t remember and I am too lazy to go scroll through 6 months of posts. hehe. AND, I realize it is Valentine’s day, but I haven’t had much time to think about Valentines’ing… (though I did make some fun googlie eye cards with my Cub Scouts) lol… so these will have to do today.

I love water coloring with reinkers… I did that with this first card. Stamps are from Sweet N’ Sassy Stamps, paper is  kraft brown from MME and inexpensive watercolor paper from Michael’s.


This second card is my favorite in a while.  I used Tim Holtz stamps and distress inks layered on with an InkBlok and foam pad.  I really love the sunset effect behind the “umbrella dude”. Images are stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black ink and the sentiment is stamped in a Distress Ink (I can’t remember the exact color). I buffed the edges of the card with a Walnut colored Distress Ink to age it up a bit. Metals are embellishments from CTMH, not a lot of “bling” on this card because it went to a guy friend of mine and I didn’t think he’d want sparkle… tee hee.

I love the sentiment on this card.  Don’t wait for the storms to pass you by.  Live your life.  Seek joy by dancing in the rain, even if it’s just stomping in some puddles :)




Get out there and dance in the rain… or in my case, snow.

Inky Smiles!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Derby… Blingsta Style

So I have already failed my goal of blogging once per week.  I have no excuses.  Really.

Immediately after we moved here, like the first or second Sunday we were at church, I was asked to be the Bear Cub Den Leader.

(Yes I hear you laughing… stop.  Really.  Not funny.  Ok, so it’s hilarious.  Laugh all you want.)

At first I was all, “What the what? What are you smoking?”

And, “I am SO not a little boy person. WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU DO WITH THEM?”

And, “Oh heck, I’m in biiiiiiiggg trouble.”

So I fought through my denial.

And so far I have survived.

It’s all good.


So this past Saturday was the Pinewood Derby for our ward (aka congregation).  The boys asked if I was going to make a car.

“Uhm, yes, of course! And I’m going to paint it pink and bling it out.”

Their responses: “You can’t have a pink Pinewood Derby car!”

followed by, “Are you going to put DIAMONDS on it?”

To which I replied, “Oh yes! LOTS of diamonds!!”



But… I procrastinated and procrastinated until the night before the derby… like until 10 pm the night before the derby.  Brent was not happy…. but we dug the band saw out of the mess in the shop and I sketched the lines on the block… and cut out the car.   And then sanded… and sanded… and sanded… thank goodness for a drum sander or we’d not have made it in time. :)

Here’s what I started with once it was all cut out…. I really wanted to taper the sides in more, but we didn’t have time. :( booo!


I couldn’t decide on pink or teal… but ultimately I went with, yep, you guess it, PINK.   I mixed some plain old acrylic paint by Plaid with some shimmering Create A Shade pink by Close To My Heart to get a pearlescent sheen.  Plain ol’ pink was too flat…


Once it was nice and dry (note that it was midnight when I was painting.. oy…) I hammered in the wheels.   BSA Derby Car wheels are nailed into the little slits with a regular nail… and if you are not careful, or are in a hurry, or it’s 1230 am and you can’t keep your eyes open, you end up with this….



Crap. Crappity Crap. Crap, Crappity… yes, I said Crap on my blog.  It could have been worse.  I was frustrated…. so I painted some wood glue into the chipped piece and squooooshed it back together and let it dry.  It would have to get the last wheel on in the morning….


I pulled out all the bling and went to town… This is what happens at 1 am when you’re trying to bling in a hurry….


I blinged my little heart out while Brent sat down there in the studio with me… He entertained himself with Mythbusters… and of COURSE they were blowing things up. I mean, we needed some manliness happening in the room while I blinged out a pink Pinewood Derby car. :)

Check out them wheels…. Sparkley…..

I just love how it says “BSA Pinewood Derby” around all that sparkle. *Giggle*

When it was all said and done my car weighed in at a whopping 2.5 ounces.   Pinewood Derby car max weight is 5 ounces.  I was nowhere close, but that’s all good.  I wasn’t planning on racing it anyway. I just made it for fun to show the boys that I wanted to have fun with them. :)

E6000 glue plus some rhinestones and bling = Heaven.


I love this little car… It was so much fun to make!

I even included a princess tiara… cuz that’s how I roll….


And I was digging some scalloped, lacey trim…. If I had had some silver paint I would have painted some silver flames up the front of the car, coming from under the hood jewels…

IMG_9636web IMG_9643web

We had SO much fun at the derby… ALL EIGHT of my awesome Bear Cubs came and brought their cars.  They were SO adorable and made super cool cars  (I wanted to snap a pic of their cars, but they were all mixed in with the rest at the check in table. I also am not sharing a photo of my boys because I did not ask permission from their parents to have them on my blog….)  One of my boys, Jacob S, took SECOND place out of the entire Pack.  WOO HOO!

Here are most of the cars…


There was even an “adult cars”.  Here’s the gang… Left to right: The Bling Machine, The Car from the Closet (Palmers found it hanging out in a closet at their house), The Green Hornet Car, and Coooooool Runnings – the Bobsled.



It took a while to get everyone checked in and weights tweaked… some cars had to drill out some excess weight and some, like mine, had to add weight… a LOT of weight.  Nearly the entire bottom of my car was covered in little weights…  (Thank you Kelly!!)  Kelly decided it NEEDED weight in order to even make it down the track.  At 2.5 ounces it probably wouldn’t go very far…. after she superglued the weights on it weighed in at 4.90 ounces…. and yes, it made it out of the gate. :)


We had a blast watching all the cars race down the blue and gold track.  The boys were whooping and hollering to see their cars fly down the track.  We all gathered in chairs around the track.




I tried to get GOOD pictures of the cars flying down the track… but when a teeeny weeny car is flying down a track, all you get is pretty much this:



Or this


Those little stinkers just FLEW down the track…

Even the adult’s cars flew down the track… I think my car should have been Pink Lightning….even though it consistently placed third.  Hey, at least it wasn’t LAST… and it was my first very own Pinewood Derby Car.. :)  See, look, there she is… Lane 4.  GO PINK!


Good times, my friends, good times :)

Me and Pink….


But as much fun as we had racing our little cars I think the VERY BEST part of the afternoon was hearing a whole pack of Cub Scouts and their dads at a Boy Scout Pinewood Derby yelling




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gelatin + Acrylic Paint + Paper = ART!

We’re slowing getting settled in to our new home here in Colorado.  I haven’t crafted in quite some time…. in fact, nearly every craft supply or tool I own is still packed away neatly in boxes… BUT, earlier this week end of last week I did dig my desk out from under the chaos of boxes and furniture that is currently occupying my future craft room.  We figured out some good configurations for workstations and are deciding on color for the walls.  Brent even cut down my desk top with his skill saw, right there IN my studio on the carpet. LOL!  What a mess, but hey… progress, right? Thank goodness for vacuums and I am sure that floor is going to see worse than sawdust… :)

So anyway…. today (technically last Friday, since I’m a slacker butt and didn’t finish this post when I started it) I got to do some MESSY art with my friend, Erica Michel, who drove down from FoCo {Fort Collins} to play …

Here’s Erica and her pooch, Major.  He came to play, too.  He thinks he’s a lapdog. I love that.


Erica introduced me to a new messy but fun technique: Monotype Printing on a gelatin “plate”. 

 Monoprinting? What’s that??

Monoprinting is a form of printmaking that has images or lines that can only be made once, unlike most printmaking, where there are multiple originals” ~ From Wikipedia.


So there’s a product on the market by Gelli Arts, called a Gelli plate. It’s a rubbery feeling thing that you can paint on and print with, withOUT a second plate or press!

Erica ordered one, but was anxious to try out monoprinting on gelatin (hers had not arrived yet), so she did some google’ing and found a recipe for making a homemade (but biodegradable) gelatin plate.  You will want to make it the night prior or several hours prior to playing…

Here’s the recipe she found on YouTube (Linda Germain):

12 Tablespoons Knox Gelatin
3 cups cold water
3 cups boiling water

Directions:  Dissolve gelatin in COLD water in a bowl, stir until all gelatin is dissolved.  Slowly stir in BOILING water and stir with a whisk.  It may or may not be foamy… skim off the foam with a piece of thin cardboard or heavy cardstock.  Pour into a large baking sheet or 9x13 pan (it will be very thick in a 9x13). Skim off any bubbles with a piece of paper.  Put in the fridge (make sure it is level) and let cool until solid.

Flip out onto a non stick mat onto a solid surface.

FLIP IT, Flip it good…

Here’s a step by step for flipping your mat… you don’t want to just dump it or it will become a big nasty mess….  You will need:  your gelatin goo mat, some type of nonstick craft mat (I used my Tupperware baking sheet), and a sheet pan or other hard thing to catch the mat.  I used a sheet pan because it nested nicely right inside the pan that I made the gelatin mat in.

{Notice the “lake” looking bit on my gelatin mat?  Well, that was because I followed the original instructions and put some silly plastic wrap over it in the fridge.  This stuff sets up FAST… skip the plastic wrap… Erica did and hers turned out purtier… }


Carefully loosen the edges by cutting with a knife, or a paint spatula like me because I was too lazy to walk the 6 steps to the kitchen behind me and get a knife.   I can justify my laziness with my klutziness… plastic spatulas are safer for me. :)


Lay your non stick mat on top of your gelatin mat.

Set your extra pan or hard surface thing on your mat and prepare to flip it…


When some gelli comes along, you must flip it!
Dump that baby right out… lift the top pan (the one you made the gelatin mat in) up and the gelatin mat SHOULD just slide right out of the pan.


You may want to trim up the edges.  See the photo above? Top right corner… not good.  A crack like that will just spread as you use the mat.  Cut if off.. with your plastic spatula… and feel free to play with the excess…


Yes, like a 3rd grade boy… you know you want to… Squish it, squish it good…


There ya go.. Mat is prepped and you’re ready to get messy.

You will need (see top pic cuz I am too lazy to post it here again, haha):

  • a gelatin mat
  • some stencils (any kind – paper, plastic, whatever)
  • texture thangs… (bubble wrap, sponges, leaves, whatever)
  • a brayer or two
  • a spraybottle filled with water
  • some paper towels
  • a nearby garbage can
  • something to cover your workspace (if you care about it getting completely filthy)
  • and some PAINT, LOTS of paint, the cheap acrylic kind works GREAT

Let’s PLAY!  I’m just going to show a basic, simple monoprint..  I was having too much fun playing (that I forgot to keep taking pics) and my hands were so covered in paint that I did not want to touch my camera…

The first thing you want to do is drop a couple of blobs of paint onto your gel mat. Any colors or mixtures will do.  Here I’ve globbed some tealy blue and a metallic limey green onto my mat.


Then roll it out with your brayer.  Don’t smash the paint into the mat… you could damage/rip/shred your gelatin mat and then the fun would be over.


Once your paint is sufficiently spread out, you can lay down a stencil, or pounce some texture onto the paint… We used a really cool plastic stencil for this one.


Next, lay your paper on the paint… here is where we become our own “press”.  This is a cheap sketch book paper.. nothing fancy.  It’s thin, but that’s ok, the paint adds thickness as it dries..  Just press that paper onto the stencil and pick up the paint.  You can also use a brayer and roll it across the paint.  I was lazy. I smooshed with my hands. It’s all good.

And peel that paper up… OOOOH LA LA!  We have made a monoprint… I LOVE the shimmer of the green mixed with the tealy blue… love it…. LOVE IT!


And this is what you end up with….one excited lady and a shiney design!


This is what will be left on your gelatin mat…. OOOH! I could use that for SOMETHING!!!


Why YES, I do believe I know what I will do with this leftover paint… hrmmm..  Let’s pick it up with the original print we made… this stuff dries SUPER fast, so you don’t have to worry too much about “schmutzing” it up too badly…  Just lay that baby back down on the gelatin mat and pick up some more paint. 

This is where I will attack it with a brayer…


Since the stencil was stuck there originally some of the paint came up when we removed the stencil which will give this layer a “grungy” look.

OH! Don’t forget… there’s still paint on the stencil, too! Let’s just spritz it with some water to re-wet the paint a little… and use the brayer for this bit…


VOILA! I will use this little beauty later for something awesome.


So there you have it, kids… mono printing on a gelatin mat.  Loads of fun, loads of mess, loads of color…

A few helpful tips:

** Be GENTLE… the mat WILL rip and tear.  Ask me how I know.

In between coats of paint you CAN clean it if you want to… I did, Erica didn’t, and then I stopped after a while because it was too time consuming. LOL!

To clean off the gelatin mat surface just spritz with water and use a paper towel to GENTLY wipe the paint off. 

ONLY use a water based paint.  Anything else will either eat or ruin your mat.

You may cut your gelatin mat to ANY size you need.  If you’re doing this with kids (which, by the way, is a FABULOUS idea… just supervise) you can cut the mats down to 6x6 or 5x5, etc.  One sheet cake pan can be cut in half for two pretty close to standard paper size mats.

Pets & Small Children:
They will try to eat the gelatin mat.  I don’t think that’s a great idea… Sadie tried licking my pan clean so I had to move it out of her reach. This is not “Jello”…

Textures and Whatnot:
You don’t have to just use stencils. You can use a soft rubber tipped paintbrush or a rubber eraser on the end of a pencil, or a q tip, or other soft “pen” to draw OFF the paint and doodle on the mat.  You can also use things such as leaves and bubble wrap, crumpled paper, yarn, twigs, or other fun found objects to create texture and patterns on your gelatin mat.  Use your imagination and go wild!

Here are some more fun snap shots from the day.



Erica made this AWESOME print… She put globs of paint on her gelatin mat, brayered it, and then rolled a paper towel roll in the paint to pick up a little paint and leave some texture on the mat…







I think this one is the favorite of the ones I made.  Lots and lots of layers and colors… I globbed some white Gesso in a puddle on my mat and used a paint bottle bum to pick up some paint and make funky circles all over the page. 


We had soooo much fun! Here’s our pile of lovelies


“What will you do with them?” you ask… Well, they will likely become bits and pieces in other art projects like art journals, collages, maybe a card or two…

Thanks for popping by! I hope you enjoyed this post.. and if you make some gelatin monoprints please be sure to share pics and link to your post in the comments!

Inky Smiles!


PS… while I was editing these pics and writing this post Brent unpacked and put away 7 boxes of books ! Woot! We’re making progress :)

PPS… the homemade gelatin mat is a one time use … most likely…


Looks like I need to be ordering a Gelli plate by GelliArts here sooooon!

PPPS. Check out YouTube and search for Linda Germain for some pretty awesome ideas for more gelatin printmaking!