Monday, December 29, 2008

Handmade dog collars and art that I am loving...

clouds new collar
Here is Cloud wearing his new handmade collar from Camille's Studio that I found on Etsy. I bought some as gifts so I got him one too. He's a little pirate. (Arrrrrrrr, avast!) It's so cute, and comfortable for Cloud. Camille has so many styles to choose from and is a super nice person too. If you're a dog lover you will want to visit her blog - (She even blogged about Cloud!)
Thanks again Camille, we love the collar! :-)

My favorite thing about Etsy and Artfire is all the wonderful artists I've found and friendships I've made. I'm having a lot of fun collecting art that inspires me and makes me happy. Here are some recent goodies that I love:

This magical winter tree pendant from Gypsy Mare Studios (Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor):

This card from Diane Clancy:

This sweet winter painting from Marnie Vollenhals:

These gorgeous prints and bookmarks from Julia Guthrie:

And my newest addition, these wonderful cards from illustrator Rachael Smith. You can't help but be happy when you look at teacher cat and the kittens!

Thanks to you all! I just love surrounding myself with happy and beautiful things and am so honored to own these works of art!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas everyone!

Cloud - too cute for his own good!
Cloud and I hope the season brings you an abundance of peace, love and joy. Thanks again for taking the time to visit my blog, and much love to friends old and new.

As a side note, Cloud gets almost three times as many Christmas cards as I do. Seriously. This year he got 14 and I got 5. Should I be embarrassed? Oh well, just look at him, I mean come on, no one can compete with that!

Floppy ears!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Love and blessings,
Kat and Cloud

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

sunrise, winter solstice
In the darkness and cold of winter, the promise of longer days and natures renewal rises with the sun.

sunrise, winter solstice

aceo sun
I want to thank everyone who reads my blog for visiting. I love your comments and the friendships I've made, and I look forward to sharing a wonderful 2009 with you.

Wishing love and blessings to everyone this holiday season,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dragons, dragons!

You may remember this post had inspired me to draw dragons after a long absence. So the last few evenings I've been practicing and working on my dragon drawing technique, just for fun.

dragon doodle
This one reminds me of illustrations in childrens books. Something about the colors I guess.

dragon doodle
This creature is surly, ill-tempered and not very bright. He is a minion to an evil overlord.

dragon doodle
This dragon looks intelligent, kindly and has friends and alligences with heros and heroines who, if they ask nicely, may get to ride on his back.

Fun stuff! :-)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Handmade for the holidays

One of the reasons for this post is because so many people that I talk to have never heard of Etsy. If Etsy is new to you, it is a place to buy hand crafted items, ranging from art, jewelery, clothing, pottery, soaps, toys and much more. I'm continually amazed at the quality of work every time I browse, and find so many beautiful things.

Artfire is another site for buying and selling handmade goods. It's still in beta testing, but it looks very promising so I set up a storefront there as well.

Since becoming a fan and supporter of "slow food" and supporting local and family farmers, I'm finding it natural to transition into supporting handmade goods. Etsy even has a feature where you can search for artisans in your area. So if you're looking for something unique, want to support the handmade movement, or even just don't want to stand in long lines this holiday season, check out Etsy and ArtFire for a gift made with love by hand. :-)

Here's some favorites I found this morning while browsing treasurys on Etsy:

Spiraling thru the Earth and Sky treasury

Vanilla Sky treasury

Myth and Magic of Christmas

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First snow

first snow

We had our first snow here. It's not much, but it's a start. I left the coneflowers up for the birds.

first snow

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers, especially the ones who read more than my blog, they apparently can also read my mind... (TW, get out of my head, girl, hehe!)

This is the closest I have to a turkey costume for Cloud, he's not really the clothes wearing type, other than his hoodie for outside excursions during a brutal Midwest winter day. As you can see, he was too embarrassed to look at me, but was compensated with treats, so we're good now.

Oh, Hai
"Oh Hai! You gonna eat all that turkey???"
Benny has his Thanksgiving "game face" on.
Who am I kidding, this is his normal expression, Lol.

Oh, and the flowered wallpaper? My studio was a childs room before we bought the house and we haven't gotten around to remodeling it yet. I actually kind of like it... :-)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, we are so blessed!

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Making Fairy Tales" demo on Youtube

I found this really neat video while blog surfing today, and I thought I would post it here too. The video features Irish artist PJ Lynch. I love to watch how other artists create. The music is beautiful, and his fire-breathing dragon is magnificent! I haven't drawn dragons in a very long time and this makes me want to again...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happiness is another Rat Terrier painting

This is Hawk, and I am so excited to be painting his portrait! Hawk is owned by Marnie Vollenhals, who is a wonderful artist from Texas. She paints sweet and whimsical illustrations that feature the adventures of Hawk and his friends. Hawk even has his own space rocket! I have him sketched out here, such a handsome fellow. For those of you wondering why his ears don't look like my dog Cloud's, some Rat Terriers ears stick straight up and some are floppy. This is going to be 8 x 10 acrylic on Ampersand Gessoboard. Can't wait to get started painting!

I am proud to be the owner of this original painting by Marnie titled 'Hawk wants a gumball.' I just love her work, it's so happy and makes you feel good. Check her out - you can find her work on Etsy and on her blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Little Giant ~ Rat Terrier painting

Clouds portrait is finished. I'm calling it 'Little Giant,' as anyone who knows one of these pint-sized dogs can attest to. I really like how the pose captures the breeds dignity, intelligence and heart. How I love this little dog!

A look back... Remember the original photo - beautiful head pose on an otherwise goofy photo? I raised his head up a little and changed his back to make him sitting down:

The sketch:

First layers of paint:

More work on the background:

Close to being finished:

Final painting:

Specs: 8 x 10," acrylic on Ampersand Gessoboard. Thanks for following along!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Impulse buys prompt feasting and revelry...

Well, feasting anyway. I had two appointments in Omaha this morning, so between them I went to Whole Foods. Just to pick up "a few things I couldn't get here..." You can see where this is going. In the spice section I found saffron, which I hadn't seen there before. The worlds most expensive spice. For only 3 bucks and some change...I've always wanted to try it... In the end it was the color that sold me - deep and rich and russet. Some of you may remember this post about color, and it was one of those moments... Into the cart it went.


At the meat counter I spied lamb shanks. Not only are they one of the most economical cuts of lamb, they are also (in my opinion) the tastiest if cooked properly. They are full of gelatin which makes them very moist and nutritious.

Ok, I have a confession to make. I am a freak about butter. Not just any butter, but really good butter. I have no qualms at all about paying 13 dollars a pound for good butter. Maybe I need help. But hey, I don't buy expensive shoes or purses. I buy expensive butter. It's my thing. So I found this Italian butter, made from the production of Parmigiano-Reggiano:


If you aren't familiar with Parmigiano-Reggiano, do yourself a favor and find some. Cut yourself a thin slice. Taste. You will throw out that stuff in the green can faster than you can say, "WhatwasIthinking,eatingthatcrapinthegreencanforalltheseyears!"


First I marinated the lamb shanks in a half cup of merlot. Seeing as it was a new bottle, I had to taste if first to make sure it wasn't poisoned or anything. Yeah. It was fine. You can't be too careful...

lamb shanks

After marinating for a couple hours, pat the shanks dry and brown in some oil in your cast iron skillet.

lamb shanks

Remove the shanks and put in a glass baking dish with a tight fitting lid. De-glaze the skillet with the marinating wine and a cup of stock (preferably beef or lamb. I used chicken - it was what I had.) Add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a quarter teaspoon each of oregano, thyme and cumin, an 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or less!) and 2 minced cloves of garlic. I also added a pinch of the saffron, just because I had to try it in something. Pour mixture over the shanks in the baking dish.

lamb shanks

Cover and bake at 300 degrees for about 3 hours. It should be falling off the bone. Remove shanks to a warm platter. Add salt to the sauce and boil down until nice and thick, reduced by at least half. Pour over the shanks.


I made my favorite squash but added a pinch of cayenne in addition to the other seasonings. Just when I thought that recipe couldn't get any better! Steamed red chard with loads of the Italian butter and another glass of wine rounded out the menu. If you can't tell, I love good food. I really, really do.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Soups on!

It's definitely soup weather here - windy, cloudy and downright cold! I stockpiled a bunch of pie pumpkins and squash from a roadside farm stand before his season was over, to have on hand for this and this. So what to do with all that wonderful orange pumpkin flesh? I've been adding it to one of my favorite soup recipes, a Southwest style chicken soup. The result is excellent - thicker and heartier, real 'stick to your ribs' fare.

First I half and seed a pie pumpkin, then brush the inside with a thin layer of olive oil. Bake at 350 until nice and soft, about an hour and 20 minutes (for my oven.) Cool slightly then scoop out the flesh and mash with a 'tater masher. So pretty!



In your soup pot saute half a chopped onion and 2 - 3 cloves minced garlic in some butter until soft (don't burn!) Add two cans chopped tomatoes (I like the Muir Glenn organic fire-roasted ones,) about 3 cups of chicken stock, half a cup of your favorite salsa, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon (or less) of cumin and a couple teaspoons of chili powder (more or less to your taste). Salt to taste. Add two cooked chicken breasts, sliced. Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 10 minutes to blend the seasonings. Stir in the cooked mashed pumpkin a little at a time until its as thick and pumpkin-y as you like (keep tasting.) Depending on the size of the pumpkin you may have some left over. Adjust seasonings (you'll probably need to add more salt.) Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese, chopped avocado, chopped fresh cilantro and a lime wedge. This soup will make you very, very happy.


As you can see I didn't have the cilantro or lime for the photo shoot. My bad.

This makes 4 servings. Optional ingredients are a can of black beans and/or corn. Enjoy!
You can easily make this vegetarian using veggie stock and no chicken.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I forgot to post the original photo of Bailey that I used for her painting. Here she is, what a sweetheart. I look at as many photos as I can and usually one will really jump out at me that will make the best portrait. It's not always the one you would think, sometimes unusual poses can be very striking. But this one is awesome. A classic pose for sure.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Howl-o-ween!

cloud and jack
I tried to get Cloud to pose next to the Jack-o-lantern I carved today, but as you can see he was too scared of it, Lol! The look on his face cracks me up! This is the closest he will get to it. I guess it speaks volumes for my mad pumpkin carving skills, that my creation is so frightening that even Cloud the Wonder Dog is too scared to go near it... hee hee!

Happy Halloween everyone! Have fun and be safe. :-)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tastes of the season

acorn squash

Last night I made the best acorn squash I've ever had. I halved, seeded and sliced the squash, then tossed with a glug (about 2 tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil and a mixture of about a half teaspoon of cinnamon and quarter teaspoon each of nutmeg, cumin and salt. Then I spread it out in a glass baking dish and baked at 350 until it was tender, about 35 minutes. It was caramelized and sweet as candy, with no added sweeteners! This will grace our table often this Fall and Winter for sure!

fried green tomatoes
To round out the menu of comfort foods last night (meatloaf and the above squash) were fried green tomates. If you haven't tried these you are missing out! Slice them thick, then dip in egg and breading and fry until golden. Darn good eating. And movie, by the way... :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Frost is coming

house 143

The wind is blowing so hard today, we're supposed to have gusts over 50mph. We also get our first frost tonight - low of 28 (24 tomorrow night!) I picked these roses yesterday because they're the only thing left blooming and I don't know how well they'll make it through the next couple days.

I snapped this Cardinal holding on for dear life while riding out the wind on the feeder this morning.
house 138

The "Tree of Life" in our front yard lost this good sized limb. It's kind of hard to make out in the photo, but the limb is as long as the rose bed - all the way to the left edge of the photo. Hope that's the extent of the damage. I do love to hear the wind through the trees though, especially the pines. This weather makes me want to curl up with some tea and a book.
house 142