Thursday, September 20, 2012

Drawing is a different way to confess

I have always been a doodler.  In the corners and edges of notebooks as far back as 3rd grade.  I learned it from my mother who always drew on the back of envelopes as she talked on the phone.  She was actually a pretty good pen and ink artist when she gave herself the time but that was rare.  I never thought of myself as good.  In fact, I can't remember using a pen or pencil to make pretty shapes thinking I was doing anything but occupying my mind so it wouldn't drift until a few years ago when Pam taught me how to draw a feather for quilting.  I literally took a pile of about 50 pages of scrap paper and drew feathers until I felt I could actually do it with some kind of confidence and then went to my machine and tried sewing them.  It was quite a victory.

I began Zentangle playing a few years ago.  After my second surgery this year, when I stopped falling asleep every 15 minutes I was awake, I found my ability to keep my mind focused on what's going on during a sermon or a meeting or just about anything else is almost comical.  I have begun sketching much more because it keeps my mind from wandering.  Sometimes the sketch is about who I'm with or what the sermon is addressing.

Sometimes it's about ideas for the brain quilt I'm thinking about.

Some of these lines of ink inspire quilting ideas.  Or design ideas.  The eye postcard I showed you I'm making came because I drew an eye during a sermon a few weeks ago.  I no longer take a pretty notebook to church choosing a sketchbook instead.  It yields some interesting things.  Looking back over my sketchbook for the past several months I saw eyes in many of my sketches and didn't realize I was doing it repetitively until recently.

This morning for the first time I spent 15 minutes drawing a mandala after reading an essay about it.  The encouragement was to start with a dot and build out.  I've never tried it before, but I wasn't unhappy with where it took me and it was fun to try to use shapes that describe (at least to me) a little bit of what I am feeling about my life.  My daughter Kay looked at it and decided that the very element that I meant to use to indicate crazy unpredictable health garbage looked like crowns.  It's noon, and I think I just had my favorite moment of the day.  :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blueberry Bruschetta and Homemade Ricotta

Of course, I enjoy a little coffee along with breakfast.

Now, I don't know that this is really called bruschetta.  If it were a savory dish with cheese and veggies on toast it would get called bruschetta, so that's what I call it here, too.  :)

I found a picture of it on Pinterest and unlike many other food pics clicking on it didn't really get me to a recipe.  The original picture (still visible on my "Food Other People Make" board is beautiful and shows a slice of ciabatta with ricotta, blueberries, honey and mint.  (How hard can that be?) Well, I have to admit, I love blueberries and until very recently we had free access to as many blueberries as we cared to pick, so we picked a bunch.  I decided to try this for breakfast one morning and it was great.  Since then I have made it without mint (around my yard mint has turned a little bitter so I am not using it) I have made it with raspberries instead of blueberries and I have made it with other kinds of bread and one morning I used agave syrup because I was out of honey.  I have to confess, I much prefer honey and will do without it rather than substituting again.

This isn't just my favorite breakfast, it's my favorite mid-afternoon snack and my favorite late evening treat.  This summer I've learned to make my own ricotta which is so easy it's almost silly.  It's a good thing because I have used a LOT of ricotta since discovering this treat.   I hope you enjoy it, too!

Homemade Ricotta:

1 gallon whole milk
1 t. salt
2/3 c. lemon juice

Heat the milk and salt in a large non-reactive pan.  Stir to keep any from sticking to the bottom.  Bring the temp to 185 F.  Turn off the flame (if you use electric heat, move the pan to a cool burner) and stir in the lemon juice.  Leave it alone for 25 minutes.  The curdling happens almost immediately but let it sit for this short while, in the mean time prepare the colander, have a glass of tea and read some blogs.

Use a large colander lined with cheesecloth (ask about the day I made cheese using coffee filters instead of cheesecloth because I couldn't find my stash) set over a bowl, when the milk has sat for 25 minutes, pour the curds and whey into the colander.  I find it helps to do it kind of slow in the beginning just in case the cheese cloth slips or something else happens.

Honestly, at this point you've done the hard work.  Lift up the colander and empty the bowl.  I have no use for the whey and I throw it away.  If you know a good use, please let me know!  Set the colander back down in the bowl and pour yourself another glass of tea.  You can go work on a quilt this time because it's going to take about an hour.

When you return to the colander you will see that the cheese has drained a lot.  If you like the consistency, GREAT, you're done.  If you like it a little thicker you can squeeze the cheese cloth to force out any excess moisture.  I do this every time.  You can add any seasoning you like (you'll find a use for lemon basil ricotta on my Pinterest page or leave it plain.  Put it in a sealed container in the fridge and use it as you like.

Blueberry Bruschetta:

Ciabatta bread sliced in 1/2" thick slices, I prefer to do it on the diagonal most of the time
Fresh ricotta, I have been making my own, but store bought works, too
Fresh blueberries

Toast your bread slices.  Schmear a good spoonful of ricotta on each piece of toast.  Take handfuls of berries and cover the cheese with them.  I like to push them down into the cheese as I place them.  Drizzle honey over the top and enjoy this lovely treat.  I've tried it with different berries and I'm planning to experiment with melon slices and cherries and asian pears.... all in good time.  :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Eye am watching you...

I have found that sketching during talks helps me keep my mind in the topic at hand.  It's funny how that happens for me.  Since my surgery if I don't keep the quiet part of my mind busy it can wander and distract me completely.  I have started taking sermon notes in my sketch book, so the notes and drawings grow along with one another.  LOL  A sermon on Dt. 6 involved an eye drawing, which was the result of a very long and a still not final eye appointment last week.  

Funny my eyes aren't green but look like that here.
I think Mavens thought my time with crayons was funny.

The next day I took that picture of my eye and then during Mavens I re-drew the drawing this time using color to flesh it out (literally).  

Then, I started playing with fabric.

I think this is going to be a postcard.  Ask me how you can get it!