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Archive for February, 2017

Get these “Clematis Flower” Bags, Laptop Sleeves and Much More!

February 11th, 2017 No comments

Puddles and palm fronds reflect during a walk around the neighborhood

February 11th, 2017 No comments

Get these Gardenia Blossoms to brighten your phone, office and commute

February 10th, 2017 No comments

Homemade Walnut Pesto on Rotini for dinner

February 10th, 2017 No comments

On YouTube: Watercolor Tips to Improve Paintings – 5 MORE Beginner Mistakes

February 9th, 2017 No comments

Noted: This Couple Went to Every National Park in America and Says These Are the Best

February 9th, 2017 No comments

New Cookbook: Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA by Mario Batali

February 9th, 2017 No comments

I came across mention of this new cookbook in a magazine recently and quickly requested it from my local library as an ebook. I am still working my way through it, but wanted to offer my initial response so that you could make a point to check it out as well.

Mario Batali–Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA

I have been a follower of Mario Batali for years since I religiously watched Molto Mario years ago on Food Network. I have several of his recipes in my kitchen “rotation” including a gnocchi and sauce recipe we typically serve to new guests to the house. Having cooked his recipes and then visited our Sicilian relatives several times, I can attest that his recipes are quite respectful of their Italian heritage if changed a bit by their immigration to America.

Unfortunately, over the years — and one would expect, due to his increased development of high-end restaurants — Batali’s recipes and taste had left me behind. I am a rather fussy eater and while I appreciate good food, his use of odd or high-end ingredients in his recipes left my own food sensibilities behind.

That is why it is so refreshing to find this new cookbook, Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA,  which focuses in some of the most traditional and historical foods from throughout the US. Sure, most of these recipes are familiar to us in name, if not taste, but having a definitive collection of them can lead me down some interesting food avenues.

As usual, all the recipes are well written and the layout of the book is excellent. My favorite parts, though, are the short historical notes on where and how the food originated and the short endnotes where Batali offers up ways in which he might add or change the recipe to suit a particular occasion or simply to dress it up a bit.

On first reading, I quickly flipped through the book and found myself bookmarking many recipes along the way. In some cases, these recipes were a reintroduction to old favorites, an introduction to midwestern classics I had missed during my childhood and college years or classic regional foods I knew by name only, but now sound intriguing enough to try here in my own kitchen.

I’ll be working my way through several of these recipes in the next few week and hope to find several that I can add to my family “Recipes in Rotation.” I think you’ll find something to love here, too.

Some of my favorites included:

  • Corn Muffins from the American Northeast
  • Tourtiere from French Canada and imported into the Northeast and Midwest
  • Black and White Cookies from New York City
  • Winchester Beer Cheese from Kentucky
  • Biegnets from New Orleans
  • Swedish Pancakes
  • and much more!

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out! 

Do It 2017!: #5 Creative progress So Far

February 9th, 2017 No comments

Do It 2017#5 Creative Progress So Far

This week I’ll give you a few updates on how I am doing with my own creativity and creating.

First, as part of allowing more time for my own creativity I am trying to stick to a more normal 9-5 work schedule. This is always a challenge when you work for yourself. The computer is always sitting there, staring at you, and wondering why you aren’t working on something. I work in my home office, so unless I make some definitive movement from work to personal life, it all just blends together.

Watercolor Wandering

Since my wife and son have late nights at college this quarter, it has been a little easier to set aside my own time in the evenings, but I still had to nearly force myself to make some movement. First was clearing off the left wing of my desk and setting up my watercolors. Years ago I was able to get some professional training in watercolor painting — for free – and developed some skill in painting from nature. Unfortunately after years of disuse, it is taking me a while to get my skills back. That said, I did get things set up and even did 2 quick practice pieces. Movement is always the first important step, so I feel that this is a big accomplishment and it puts me back on the path of my own creativity.

Watercolor setup

Of course, it will be up to me to sit down at the desk and pull out my brushes, but having them open and available certainly helps in that regard. They also provide an easy excuse to move from work mode to creative mode as they site just an arm’s reach away and I only need to pivot my chair to change my attention.

One big help is simply seeing dinner time as my switch over time from work to creativity. After I sit down to dinner I remind myself that I need to work on something creative and not simply fall back into the computer as I might have in the past.

I have also been looking for watercolor tutorials on YouTube and have shared a few to the blog here. YouTube has a huge wealth of resources and it only took a quick search to turn up hours of watercolor demonstrations and tutorials. Make sure you dive into YouTube and see it has to offer in your creative area. I am sure you will find many resources to expand your own creativity there. Be sure to share your favorites with me and the other readers in the comments.

Youtube watercolor videos

Music Making

As I mentioned before, I now also have my guitars set up next to my desk again and I have been practicing 30-45 minutes each evening after dinner. It is a great time to work as often the family is out of the house, so I don’t have to worry about disturbing them (or embarrassing myself) (LAUGH)

At first I only had the electric guitar out of its case, but as we have put the home office back together after having carpet installed, it gave me a reason to set everything back up again. So now the electric, the acoustic guitar, tuners, music and such are all close at hand.

Guitars

What are you creating?

So, now the big question — how have you been doing with your own creativity over these last 4 weeks?  I love to hear your accomplishments, both large and small and I am sure others readers would too. Leave a comment here and let us know what is working — or not working — for you.

This week I plan on paying more attention to setting aside time for painting and playing to try and make it more of an easy habit to full into each evening. I hope you are making space for creativity in you day, too!

Previously on Do It!:

You’ll look stunning with these “Dazzling Dahlias” Tops, Bags and Much More!

February 9th, 2017 No comments

Stormy Day, Los Angeles

February 9th, 2017 No comments
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