February 2013 archive

Rose Petal Fairy in Watercolor

Rose Fairy

This rose fairy painting proved to be quite time consuming. I worked on it off and on over the last two weeks, putting the painting aside when I became frustrated (mostly with the color scheme), and picking it up again later so I could approach it with fresh eyes.  I nearly gave up on this painting early on in the process but stuck with it because my daughter encouraged me to press on. Now that it’s complete I think the color scheme is fine. I particularly like the little mouse and the colorful sky that depicts an early morning sunrise.

This painting is based on a tutorial in Linda Ravenscroft’s book, “The Fairy Artist’s Figure Drawing Bible.”

Rainbow Dragon

Greta's Rainbow Dragon1

I couldn’t wait to share this rainbow dragon that my daughter painted today. I love the colorful scales paired with the neutral gray tones; it creates a wonderful balance of cool and warm colors that helps guide viewers’ eyes around the painting. This painting is an interesting play of contrasts: its whimsical and sophisticated, colorful and subdued, patterned and random. What’s not to love?

Weekend Chef: Meatball Gyros

Meatball Gyros

I love gyros so when I found this recipe for meatballs with cucumber sauce on flatbreads in the August 2012 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine I just had to try it. The recipe calls for frozen meatballs, which are a real time saver for busy cooks like me. I served these Greek-style sandwiches with a tossed green salad and had dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. Delicious, easy, and quick–that’s a winning combination in my book. Get the recipe at bhg.com.

Abbott in Action


Here is a video of my daughter’s horse, Abbott, free lunging. Free lunging is when you put the horse through its paces around the arena without a lunge line. Abbott is trained to respond to clucking noises. So in this video when you see him stopping and then resuming his paces, my daughter is off camera clucking to encourage him to keep going. Free lunging is less stressful on the horse’s joints because you’re not constraining him to a small circle when he’s moving. Abbott is a 2005 quarter horse/paint gelding. His shire was a western pleasure champion, which is apparent in his movement. My daughter enjoys showing him in huntseat equitation. Abbott is the apple of her eye.

And here is a picture of me riding Abbott. I enjoyed horseback riding at a place called Patty’s Riding Stable in Fairfax, Virginia in the early 1970s. Back then it cost $3.00 per hour to ride the horses. I diligently saved my weekly allowance (.50 cents per week), and when I had accumulated enough money, I’d go for a ride. I had no idea what I was doing but I didn’t care, I had fun anyway. Apparently the horses knew I was clueless because one Chestnut mare named “Chessie” would slam me into the corner of a barn filled with grain every time I rode by it in an effort to knock me out of my saddle. I had to take my foot out of my stirrup and push off against the building with my foot to keep her from body slamming me against the side of the building. Somehow, I always managed to hang on. When this photo was taken, I hadn’t ridden a horse in over 30 years. It felt so much higher up there in the saddle than I remembered, and I was initially quite nervous. Abbott was very patient with me.

Me Riding Abbot2

Sometimes You Just Have to Stop and Smell the Flowers

Stevie and Flowers2

Stevie and Flowers1

Stevie and Flowers3

Stevie and Flowers

Little Stevie, our Yorkshire Terrier is such a curious boy. He just couldn’t wait to check out this bouquet of pink tulips–a Valentine’s gift from my sweet sister. Aren’t they lovely? Thank you, sissy. I snapped dozens of photos of Steve and my flowers in hopes of recreating them in a watercolor painting.

Bacon, Egg, and Potato Salad

Bacon Egg and Potato Salad1

This bacon, egg, and potato salad is one of my daughter’s favorite salads. It’s my variation of a spinach salad with a hot bacon dressing that my mother served years ago. This salad, however, is served cold and I’ve removed the bacon grease from the dressing. The end result is a sweet and sour, crunchy salad with a feather light dressing that’s truly a party in your mouth. This salad is a bit more time consuming to prepare than most salads since you’ll need to boil the eggs and potatoes and fry the bacon, but it’s well worth the extra effort. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make bacon, egg, and potato salad:

Bacon Egg and Potato Salad Ingredients


1-2 heads Boston (or butterhead) lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
6 Yukon gold potatoes, boiled and sliced (I don’t peel them)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Combine the lettuce, onion, crumbled bacon, chopped eggs, and sliced potatoes in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the cider vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar, and water. Cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely and pour over the salad.

Doesn’t this look good?

Bacon Egg and Potato Salad2

The Love Note


I was searching through a box of artwork that my daughter created when she was young when I came across this note she gave me when she was 8 years old. It was so darn cute that I just had to save it. It’s the best love note I’ve ever received. I posted this last February when I first created my blog, but since Valentine’s Day is approaching and many of you haven’t seen this before, I thought I’d share it again. My answer is written on the bottom of her note. How precious is this?

Greta's Love Note

One-Year Anniversary

One-Year Anniversary

February 18th will mark the one-year anniversary of my blog. Since I began this blog to share my efforts on learning how to paint with watercolors, my daughter, Greta, thought it would be a good idea to repaint our first painting and share the results here. We’ve developed a lot of new skills in the past year–and I’ll share some lessons learned in an upcoming post–but we still have a lot to learn. Our plan is to repaint this little lion–which we intentionally kept simple since it was our first effort–each year on our anniversary to show our progression.

My blog has grown into much more than an art blog over the past year. I’ve also branched out and included posts about the things I love most–art, cooking, interior design, gardening, and spending time with my family and animal friends. Life is good, and I’m pleased to share the goodness with you. I’d like to thank my loyal followers and readers for all their encouragement and lovely comments over the past year and I hope to continue to share all the goodness life has to offer.

The Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, Virginia

Red Truck Bakery1

My mother and I visited the Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, Virginia this morning.  I stopped in there a few weeks ago and bought some amazing rosemary focaccia topped with sea salt and other items and wanted to share the goodness with my mom.  Owner and baker-in-chief Brian Noyes has been churning out focaccia and other hearty loaves, seasonal pies, croissants and muffins, coffee cakes, savory quiches, and delicious soups and sandwiches in a renovated 1921 Esso filling station since 2009.

1954 Ford Truck from Tommy Hilfiger's Connecticut Farm1

The Red Truck Bakery was founded in a farmhouse in Orlean, Virginia, which is located approximately 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. Prior to opening his Warrenton shop, founder Brian Noyes delivered baked goods to local businesses in this 1954 red ford truck that originally came from designer Tommy Hilfiger’s Connecticut farm.

Citrus Cupcakes with Burnt Sugar Icing

Today I sampled one of these citrus cupcakes with burnt sugar icing, Alma Hackney’s rum cake, a meatloaf sandwich, and of course, the rosemary focaccia.

Red Truck Bakery Communal Table

The locals enjoy coffee, baked goods, and homemade sandwiches at this communal table which is made from beams from a local barn torched by General Philip Sheridan during his march through the Shenandoah Valley. What a charming spot to host a meeting.

Red Truck Bakery Counter

An antique toy truck decorated the counter.

Red Truck Bakery Radio Flyer

And red radio flyer wagons added additional charm.

Red Truck Bakery Sign

The Red Truck Bakery is located on 22 Waterloo Street in Old Town Warrenton, Virginia. Store hours are Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm. The items sell out quickly, so if you’re planning a visit be sure to arrive early or call ahead and reserve the items you want.

Red Truck Bakery Cookie Jar

If you don’t live nearby you can still enjoy baked goods from the Red Truck Bakery; they ship nationwide. For information on online ordering visit the Red Truck Bakery website.

Three Women and a Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This is a pineapple upside down cake fresh out of the oven. My mother made it as a treat today for me and my daughter.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Half Eaten

And this is the same cake 10 minutes later. Boy was it good; so good I have to share the recipe. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make old-fashioned pineapple upside down cake.


2 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
9 whole pineapple slices
12 maraschino cherries
12 pecan halves

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Cream shortening; gradually beat in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; beat thoroughly. Add flour mixture alternately with the milk. Melt butter in the bottom of an oven-proof fry pan. Add brown sugar and spread evenly on the bottom of the pan; bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple slices with a cherry in the center of each slice and additional cherries and pecans between the pineapple slices. Pour cake batter on top of the pineapple mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes. Loosen sides of the cake from the pan with a knife. Invert onto a serving plate.

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