Simplifiy….

Everyone, I am sure, has all sorts of resolutions this year.  I have one — not to make any.  I know that sounds like a cop-out, but I like to think it is more profound than that.  Every year I make resolutions I don’t keep, which in turn makes me feel worse than I did before I started.  So this year I promised myself nothing, and find that I am doing more positive things for myself than ever!  🙂

One of the things I have been thinking about lately is getting people interested in the art of simplifying.  I teach a religious education class once a month (third graders — all too cute for words).  This past Wednesday I brought in cupcakes I had made to celebrate Elizabeth’s 9th birthday.  As I passed them out I heard several of the students complain that they didn’t like frosting.  Not like frosting?!?  Could this be?  I suggested to them that they may not like regular frosting, but they should try this special one (it was really just a cream cheese frosting that I had made).  They loved it — unequivocally.  I thought about this and realized a lot of kids only have had experience with that shortening frosting they put on cakes in supermarkets and even at some bakeries.  That stuff is just awful — all sugar, no depth and it leaves that horrible back-of-the-throat aftertaste.  No wonder they thought they didn’t like it — I don’t like that stuff either!

How unfortunate that a whole generation of children is being raised with the belief they don’t like certain things — all because the mass marketed stuff is just so terrible.  I cannot count how many times a child visiting my home told me things like “I don’t like oatmeal cookies”, only to try mine (a recipe from my mom – *thanks, Mom!*) and discover that they do.

I have always been one to make things from scratch – it was how I was raised, but it is also cheaper, which is why I have kept it up.  For years, my husband was the soul breadwinner in our family – often working two jobs just to keep this family afloat.  Every dime I spent had to go as far as possible.  I remember once, when the boys were little, standing on line at the grocery store and having this little old lady compliment me on my nutritional food purchases.  I looked at what I was buying and realized it was all stuff she would have recognized from her youth – all food food.  I did have sugar and chocolate chips on the belt and told her that I do makes cookies and sweets as well (I didn’t want to give a false impression of perfect nutrition) –but she said “the point is is that YOU make it, hon”.  That has stuck with me.

So I think this year, along with my sewing stories, I will also include simple recipes and tips in the hopes that it will inspire someone to put down the “Duncan Hines Creamy Home-style Butter Cream Frosting” (see how they use the word ‘cream’ twice – I guess they are hoping you don’t flip the can over and read the ingredients, which contain sugar and shortening, but no cream, or even dairy products!).  If you are interested, here’s my simple cream cheese frosting recipe.

1/2 brick cream cheese, room temperature—-

1/2 stick butter, room temperature ———– cream these together in a mixer

1 tsp vanilla — add to above

1/2 bag (or more) powdered sugar — mix into above

Here’s the fun part…. once everything is mixed together, you need to add

1T milk — at a time, until frosting is the “right consistency”

I know what you want to say – “what is the ‘right consistency'”.  Come on, we all know what frosting is supposed to look like.  So mix in the milk (a little at a time) and powdered sugar (1/4c at a time) until it looks right.  And remember to taste your frosting!  The cream cheese will get the form you want without making the frosting too sweet.  Play with it —  and if you get precise measurements that you love, send them to me.  🙂

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I have always loved the process of transforming pieces of fabric into quilts. For years I collected scraps, just to be sure I'd have the right piece for the project at hand. Eventually, as my skills progressed, my hobby grew into art. I moved from simple quits, to 'landscape quilting' and then eventually onto portrait work. I am new to the art field and am self-taught, learning from my mistakes as well as from my successes. I create my images using only fabric and thread. I remain true to this limitation for two reasons; first, I love the challenge of finding new ways to depict ever more challenging subjects. Second, fabric work remains my true love. I enjoy the hunt for fabrics; where other artists might blend oil paints, I love finding that perfect shade or pattern for a specific need. I refer to my style as "gestalt impressionism" for one needs to take a step back from my pieces to get the whole picture. My view point changes by what is influencing me at the time. Recently I've begun to focus on the journey of the individual. I enjoy working on portraits of people whom I feel have lead interesting lives.

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