Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coconut Cake

In case you missed it this week, this is actually my second posting.  Wow!  How did I manage that?  So if you missed Monday's monologue, I invite you to take a peek.  Now,...   Happy Thursday!  The cake below is the one I created for my daughter's eleventh birthday, and it inspired today's post.  Bon Apetit!

Canned pineapple?  Never!  It doesn't even pretend to taste like the juicy pine-coneish fruit I buy in the produce section.  Margarine?  H*** nooo!  Butter tastes so much better.  Artificial sweetners?  I prefer good old-fashioned sugar every time.  But this week I discovered that Mother Nature may need a little help sometimes.

Backing up to last summer, I purchased a cooking magazine at the airport before boarding a plane. Now, I realize that drooling over recipes while confined to a tin can suspended in mid-air, knowing that peanuts have been eliminated due to a fear of airborne anaphylaxic shock and pretzels lost out to the financial bottom line is not indicative of a well-balanced woman.  But, I like my food magazines.  So, back to that magazine.  The cover featured this beautiful cake, even the gentleman next to me commented on it.  (Granted he was probably ready to gnaw off his own arm, just like me.)  I promised myself, I would make that cake!

Fast forward to a year later and my daughter- a budding foodie in her own rights- is celebrating her eleventh birthday.  For the past month she has been badgering me to buy a coconut, a real coconut.  I see an opportunity to grant her wish and make a dessert that my husband and son will not like.  After all, the other party guests will enjoy it.  And here is where the adventure begins!

I buy the coconut.  I read the instructions for "milking" a coconut.  I wash a screwdriver in soapy water and drive it through the three eyes in the coconut.  I turn the coconut upside down over a bowl and the eyes begin to weep, yep real tears of coconut water.  Tears, drops, streaks.  If this sounds promising, let me assure you that it is not.  I wiggle the coconut, and yes there appears to be liquid inside.  According to the recipe my coconut should yield 1 cup of water.  I make new holes next to the old holes and try to enlarge them.  And still just droplets of coconut water drip out.  I shake, refer to my recipe, shake again, and then head to the pantry for canned coconut water.

Next step, obtaining coconut meat.  I preheat the oven and place the coconut in for half an hour.  (If you are taking notes, STOP.  Put your pen down and simply read the words of wisdom before you.)  Then I take it out and bang it against my solid surface counter-tops.  The instructions said to bang it on a solid surface, but apparently Corian is not solid enough.  My stone wall in the backyard works though.  Now that I have the coconut in two pieces, I use my knife to take out the meat of the coconut.  It comes out smoothly if somewhat unattractive.  Now the challenge.  How do I take this brown lump of white stuff and turn it into the snow white shavings pictured in the book?

At this point my coconut looks like a potato that had been peeled and then left out in the air.  You know the dingy brown color to which I refer.  And there are no specific instructions on how to shave it.  First I try a box grater then realize- "DUH!"  I don't want it grated, I want it shaved.  I spend the next TWO HOURS using my 10" Santoku knife to cut thin shavings of coconut.  (I might have nicked a finger or two in the process- but no blood no foul!)

The cake contained 6 beaten egg whites folded in and a topping of Italian Meringue.

A week later I threw half of the cake away.  Yes, I just admitted to throwing away 1/2 of that BEAUTIFUL waste of time.  There is a silver lining.  Since the cake was awful and we discovered that fresh coconut tastes as though you are licking the Coppertone right off your forearm, I will NEVER purchase and prepare a fresh coconut again.  Give me the desicated, sugar coated, Easter- grass-wannabe shredded stuff they pass off as coconut.  Sometimes Mother Nature needs a little help!

Monday, June 25, 2012

From the debris...

 Well, THAT was embarrassing!  Like coming out of the women's room with your skirt tucked into your underwear while you glide across the restaurant floor to your table.  Well, maybe not quite that bad.  But I shared my messy art space and the only comment made was that my art table compels readers to clean!  Glad I could be of help.

Maybe only one person read it....

My space is MUCH cleaner today. My family can breathe a sigh of relief.

Birthing a new artistic creation is a messy process- just like birthing a baby.  But at the end, it's all worth it.  I want to share what I made from that cosmic disaster.

I just bought the Sizzix spinning pop-up platform.  And so these are my first cards I made with it.  I LOVE them!  I am thinking about loading some into my Etsy shop this week.  So stop by GryphonWylde.

I used some of the mixed media techniques I have been practicing on the second card.  I used a little glitter in the flower center.  It was a way to cover some excessive glue that squeezed out, and I love the way it turned out.

Another technique I am transferring into my stamping is doodling on the finished image.  The girl needs a little doodling and texture, but I am restraining myself.  After all, she is on a greeting card, not a wall hanging.  So I am trying to keep it simple.

Back to that messy space.  Anybody have any awesome art spaces they would like to show off?  I am always looking for ideas.  One of these days I am going to overhaul- get rid of the "temporary" storage and work stations and put in something more efficient and permanent.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Galactic Belly Buttons

Most people have a fuzzy understanding of the black hole.  While most of us cannot explain how a black hole functions, we know from watching Star Trek and a multitude of other sci-fi movies and programs that when an object gets too close to the black hole it will be swallowed.

I like to imagine some alternate universe on the other side of this galactic belly button.  Cotton candy clouds drift through the skies while winged unicorns play shuffleboard and fair maidens race powder blue space crafts.  But it is not the black hole’s playground that clouds my vision.  I have been thinking of the familiar side of this space phenomenon.  You know, the dark side, that object-sucking-black-vortex side.  Its ugly second cousin resides in my studio space.

Unlike the Spartan minimalistic exterior of its more mysterious cousin, the monstrous curiosity that resides in my home is characterized by a swirling cloud of artistic debris.  Like the rings of ice that surround Saturn or the clouds of  vapor that engulf Venus, art ephemera shifts and swirls, settles then billows, expands and contracts leaving 12 inches of inhabitable surface on my table, at best, and a 6 inch window on its more normal days.

This perpetual wind devil keeps stencils, ink pads, paint brushes, pencils, and carefully selected rubber stamps just out of reach.  Its undeniable gravitational pull feeds constantly on the project at hand.  Whether it’s a simple Thank You card or a more complex mixed-media canvas, I always find myself searching for the next item I need.
Should I ever go missing, tell my family not to bother with posters around town or pictures on milk cartons.  More than likely, I too have succumbed to the treacherous anomaly that surrounds my art table.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


 Wow!  I missed you on Thursday.  Did you miss me?  The family and I took some time to get away and play.  And so, I have spent some time on the highways of Texas.  I have seen some beautiful country and some crazy drivers!

Twice we found ourselves dodging flying rubber!  Oblivious to the fallout behind them, these drivers kept driving as their trailer tires broke away sending rubber and radial shrapnel hurling in the paths of other drivers.  The first time time this occurred the driver realized it shortly after the whipping radial took out its dual tire.  But the second driver was not so observant.  A billow of black smoke followed the rubber-storm, and you would think that the driver might notice the black cloud following him.  Nope.  The black smoke soon gave way to little sparks which soon exploded into showers of sparks.  Cars kept a safe distance.  Eventually an adrenaline junky found the nerve to speed up alongside the U-Haul driver and signal the problem.

My next crazy, first-time-ever-road-experience occurred within the same hour.  Given the frequency of these highway shenanigans, I should warn you that this all occurred in the greater DFW area.  So, the kids are plugged into their electronic devices in the back, I am plugged into the GPS device on my phone, and my husband is gripping the steering wheel keeping a look out for flying debris and sudden exits.  I direct us onto the ramp for the next highway, we make a smooth entry and then an abrupt halt.  On our right we witness a mass exodus of cars.  Okay, maybe not MASS.  But if you have never seen a dozen cars suddenly decide to leave the highway- without an exit.  You might call it a mass exodus too.  Cars were climbing curbs and crossing grassy medians fleeing the road we had just accessed.  I expected to see a horde of undead ambling toward us when I looked up the road.  No, just stand still traffic.

Traffic not withstanding, we had a great time.  The kids saw the Alamo for the first time, we all visited Schlitterbahn for the first time, and we got to touch dolphins!  Add to that two days with my awesome sister-in-law and the great shopping in Dallas (art supplies and clothing) and it was the perfect week getaway.

I will put my new art toys to use and post a couple times in the coming week.  -  Renee

Happy Father's Day-  My dad is a little quirky, which is great!  It means I get to give him less-than-traditional cards.  As a kid, that meant buying Far Side cards.  But since I started making my own years ago, that meant making cards with a sense of humor.  This is my latest.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Butterfly Art Journal

What a whirlwind of a week!  I participated in my very first blog hop ever!  It was exhausting, but so rewarding.  If you are one of the many who stopped by to take a gander at my skulls on Monday, thank you.  And if you are one of my new Followers- thank you even more!!

I am still trying to get the hang of this blogging thing- so when you see me stumble, please lend a hand- or a word.  I tried to message my new following friends, but it seems I am supposed to follow myself in order to be allowed into the inner circle. That seemed hinky.

If you missed my Monday's post, since Thursday is my day to shine, then I invite you to take a look at Monday's photos.  I posted several skull themed creations of mine since the blog hop was entitled, Skull Appreciation Day.  It was hosted by the great gals at Smeared and Smudged.

As predicted, it was a productive week, just never as productive as I would like it to be.  I have delusions in which my house sparkles, my well mannered and well groomed children say  things like, "what can I do to help?", my Studio is organized and the floor, desk, and table are visible, the fridge holds NO fuzzy food.  My delusions- more like Rockwellian fantasies, even include blog posts ready on Wednesday evening, a full Etsy shop, and always having the right card on hand.  And of course, in my bizarro world I NEVER raise my voice or feel as though there is a speeding freight train closing in on my backside.

I DID manage to begin my Living Canvas workshop with Christy Tomlinson.  These photos show the cover of the art journal we are making.  It began as a 25 cent book from Garnders.  Brief detour here-  about a month ago I took my daughter to a thrift store and a dollar store looking for things we could use in our collages.  That was a mistake.  If you are into altered books, or using book pages in your art, and you live in Tulsa, stick your painty little hands in the cushions of your sofa, bypass the cheerios, pretzels, and LEGOs you will find there and feel around until your fingers close in on the cold hard cash.  If you did that last week and the cupboard's bare, there is always the car and the little jar you keep on the dryer for the treasures you find in the laundry.  Then get into the car and make a beeline for Gardner's used books.  The tables out front hold the bargain books and they are all only $.25 each!  Mother Load!!!

So, this began as a hardcover novel.  I gessoed the covers and then started in with paint, rub ons, stamps, paper.  You get the idea.  The front says "when you are through changing you are through."  That's kinda the theme of the workshop.

 I have one other project that I would like to share, but this post has grown too long.  I will keep it for another day!  Thanks for stopping by! -   Renee
front view
rear cover

Monday, June 4, 2012

Skull Appreciation Blog Hop Monday

Good Morning!  It's Monday- which is why I am running behind schedule.  But I am here now and I can't wait to show you some of my skully creations.  But before I do, let me tell you a little about them.  Several years ago I made a pair of skull earrings embellished with flowers and vines, and I LOVED them.  So, I made more.  And I sold those to friends and friends of friends.  A year later as Day of the Dead approached I decided to make more.  A friend of mine talked me into setting up a booth at the local Day of the Dead Festival, and so I set about creating more skull art adornments.  I began adding drops and beads and wires.  And as I worked I became inspired to create other skulls, my 6" canvases.

I don't create skulls all year; it is an inspired period of creativity and then it hibernates for a while.  If you like what you see here today, visit my Etsy shop,  . I will post some of my creations that have not yet found homes.  And while you are here, I invite you to check out some of my older posts.  They vary greatly in voice and content, and so each week promises something new.

Enjoy blog hopping today and thanks for stopping by!

Black Dragon
Lady Brayton
Smudger Challenge
Glittery Katie
Ms. Ruin
Bombshell Stamps Blog
Lady Coral
Renee  (you are here)
Scrapbook Stamp Society