Sunday, April 29, 2012


I remember sitting next to the new girl in fifth grade while we quietly both drew our best pictures during class.  The competition was pretty even until she came along and shook the apple cart.  I remember impressing classmates with the same picture of hills, the sun, a blue sky, and the occasional tree.   

She was drawing ducks and chickens precisely from memory.  Jealousy struck me down.  This wonderful artist followed me through school for seven more years. We even shared Art I, II, and III in high school.  I watched her improve, and eventually become the teacher’s pet senior year while I was scrambling to get my projects turned in…usually late.  What I learned from this was that I needed to stretch myself, but I wasn't sure how.
  a highschool art project

In college I took an art workshop class that definitely accomplished that.  Two guys who had already done the job of “stretching themselves” criticized my cookie cutter artwork, leaving lasting words like “it looks like something I’d find on my Grandma’s end table” and “I’ve seen all this before” while slamming my beautiful, handmade sketchbook closed in front of my face…and everyone else in the class.  I was so proud of that thing!

What I learned from my teachers was how and why to be authentic.  As cheesy as it sounds, I learned that the end result isn't as important as the process.  My work didn't have to be beautiful.  They just wanted it to be a journey rather than a repetitive equation used to keep me safe from judgement.  It was a hard lesson in "accepting criticism".  I mean really accepting being so okay with it that rather than running home and crying to someone about how big of a failure I was, I decided to have a heart to heart with my stubborn ways, allowing it to soak in and impact me in a positive way.
In a time when art is all over the map, I believe the key ingredient to being an artist is authenticity, and it can be practiced in all avenues of life.  I discovered that my relationships and everyday living could use a good dose of it, too.  The monotonous hill and sky picture did the trick in fifth grade:  It impressed my peers (the ones I could barely speak to, because I was probably the quietest girl in school).  All I wanted was for people to like me.  I wasn’t actually concerned with being an artist of any sort.  Sure, I’ve always loved creativity,  but even more than that…I now love authentic creativity...the kind that is cultivated by a deeper strength and confidence.  That is something that honors our souls.  Honoring the soul above honoring the desire to simply be liked is something I was not only pushed to learn from my college professors, but from God.  He teaches authenticity (and strength) like no one else.  Jesus draws the true artist out in all of us.

THIS is an awesome article that goes along with the idea of this post by Relevant Magazine:
"Made in the Image of God"?

----When we fully grasp what it means to bear God's image, we are at once struck with the grandeur of our possibilities and the tragedy of our unrealized potential. To be fully human is to fully reflect God's creative, spiritual, intelligent, communicative, relational, moral and purposeful capacities, and to do so holistically and synergistically. Furthermore, though all humans possess these godlike capacities, each of us has the potential to express them distinctively, because God's image has been imprinted uniquely on each of us. In God's infinite creativity there are no duplicates; you are the only you there has ever been or ever will be. 

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from About You , by Dick Staub. This article was adapted from pages 29-37. Copyright © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.----

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Best, Most Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Universe

There is nothing healthy about this recipe, but if you are going to really splurge, then I recommend these cookies!...and their counterpart, cookie cake!  ...oh, and you can't forgot this simple, homemade buttercream icing.  I will eventually create a "healthy" version of this recipe using sucanat instead of refined sugar.  ...or I could go ahead and tell you can actually use 1.5 cups of sucanat in place of the white sugar, and cut out the brown sugar all together.

I am a sugar-holic.  Seriously.  It is definitely, unfortunately my addiction in life.  I love simple desserts the most: brownies, ice cream, and chocolate chip cookies.
I’ve experimented with several chocolate chip cookie recipes, and have found this to be my hands down favorite.   It’s similar to Christie cookies, but honestly…I like it better.  Sorry Christie, you’re cookies are really good though!  

Yes, there are three different kinds of chocolate chips in here!  This is not only because chocolate is one of God's greatest creations, but because the varying textures make these cookies even better.  It's totally optional as to how many different kinds you want to use or not use.

Makes about three dozen small cookies.

-1 C butter, softened and slightly melted
-1 C white sugar
-1/2 C packed light brown sugar
-1/2 C packed dark brown sugar
-2 eggs
-1 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp hot water
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 3/4 C all purpose flour
-1/2 C milk chocolate chips
-1/2 C dark chocolate chunks 
-1/2 C mini semisweet chips
-1/4 C toffee chips
-Optional-add 1/2 cup of quick cooking oats

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C).

-Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and toffee. Roll into balls.   Place onto un-greased pans.


mmm...look at that dough
It just needs some chocolate chips and toffee. 


-Bake for about 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Cookies will not look completely cooked when ready.  Make sure they don’t look too doughy though.  Cook them another minute if so. 

-Remove from tray immediately and place on wax paper.  This step is important to continue the baking process.   

One of my favorite parts of making cookies is taking a big spoonful of dough and plopping it on a fresh out of the oven cookie.  Pure joy :)

Warning:  This recipe makes a TON of cookies!

P.S.-You can leave the toffee out, and they are still amazing!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crock Pot Indian Chili

Don't be overwhelmed by all these ingredients!  This really is an easy recipe.  Just round up all your ingredients, put them in the crock pot, and hit the road.  When you get home, your house will smell like an Indian restaurant.  Trust will thank yourself when you take your first bite :)    

  • 4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • Patak's Tikka Masala Curry Cooking Sauce
  • Punjabi Tikka Masala Cooking Sauce 
  • 1 each yellow, red, orange bell peppers, cut julienne style, then halved
  • 1 sweet onion, cut similar to the peppers
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cans of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can of chick peas
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of chicken broth, homemade stock, OR water (add more if it will be cooking all day)
  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream (add more if you love it like I do!)
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin 
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • add salt and pepper to taste

*If you can't find Patak's and Punjabi's Tikka Masala sauces, you can get any two Tikka Masala sauces you can find.  I found Patak's and a different Tikka Masala sauce than Punjabi (at Kroger) and it turned out great!  Whole Foods will likely have these two sauces if no where else does. 

It goes well with naan bread or basmati rice.

Even if you're not a huge Indian food fan, it is delicious, and worth expanding your palette for.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Easy Necklace Holder

If you go to your local craft store and buy jagged felt or something similar, it can become a great way to keep your necklaces organized.
I had some of this hanging around from a Lord of the Rings costume (long I'm not a huge geek).

All you will need is:
one hammer
two nails
string/felt string/etc...

My necklaces were usually stored in a heap, so I found this to be a great way to keep them from getting tangled.  I hung it behind the bathroom door, so I could just turn around and pick one...much cheaper than a nice jewelry armoire.  It looks pretty, too!