Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31, 2012

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: OWL

"Great Horned Owl" original painting on canvas by Tina C. Wells
Owls are all the rage. They are on dishes, pillows, in art, crafts, ornaments, etc. I have to admit, I’m a fan. Besides the obvious, that owls are beautiful, elusive birds, I have a sentimental attachment. Owls always nested in the trees on my grandmother’s property. In the front guest room, where I always stayed, I would hear the “WHOO-WHOO...WHOOOO” at night. I have always had an owl fascination, and finally decided to paint the Great Horned Owl. 

Owls are a little spooky too; they are carnivorous and nocturnal. More than once I have witnessed the owls keen hunting skills as he swoops down on unsuspecting prey that is carried off in his able talons. I was raised on the stories of the eye-plucking-owl on Mt. Helix that somehow mistook a teenage girl as his prey. You can fill in the blanks. It is Halloween after be careful out there tonight if you hear a WHOOOOOing coming from the trees. 

Have a wicked Winsome Wednesday...

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 30, 2012

RECIPE: Pumpkin-a-la-King

"Pumpkin-a-la-King", Chicken-a-la-King filling in a baked sugar pumpkin

Baked, hollowed out sugar pumpkins become the edible bowl for Chicken a la King. Sugar pumpkins are readily available this time of year at most grocery stores, for about $2 each. Choose small ones as each pumpkin is for an individual serving. Because this is a bit time consuming, I recommend this for a smaller gathering of 4-6 guests.

Baked Sugar Pumpkins
Cut out the top of the pumpkin. Clean out the seeds, and scrape away the stringy insides. Rub inside with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Replace tops.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake pumpkins 25 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. 
Remove tops, turn upside down, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool.

Simmer 1 hour:
Approximately 3 whole chicken breasts with skin and bones (or entire fryer chicken cut up)
1 qt water
1 TBS parsley flakes
2 carrots peeled and sliced 
1/4 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper

Remove skin and bones, discard. Set aside chicken and carrots. Reserve 2 cups broth.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup diced celery
4 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup flour
2 cups broth (reserved from cooking chicken)
10 oz bag frozen peas
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sherry

Saute celery and mushrooms in butter until tender. Blend in flour; slowly add broth, then milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add chicken, carrots, peas; heat thoroughly.

To Serve:  Spoon warm filling into room temperature, baked pumpkins. Bake in 350 preheated oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot with biscuits. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 26, 2012

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: Trick-or-Treat

"Trick-or-Treat" by Tina C. Wells, 10"x10" mixed medium
This was a fun piece to create. Last Halloween, this picture was taken of our Trick-or-Treater front of the garage door. I loved creating the right setting for this photo with a little paint and imagination. 

I think the one thing I truly like about halloween (because there are lots of things I don't like) is the creativity, and role playing. Both of my kids spend lots of time dressing up (year round). I love their world of imagination, and halloween is the one time that they get to celebrate it.

Have a safe, fun evening next Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24, 2012

SIMPLY CREATIVE: Monster Cupcakes

Kristen's Monster Cupcakes

My friend Kristen first made these for her son's 2nd birthday a few years back. It has become tradition, as his special day is at the end of October. I absolutely love these! They are fun, funky, and oh-so-creative. As Kristen told me, there is no 'right' way of decorating these- just have fun! My motto exactly.

Some simple instructions and tips:

When using your basic cake mix, Kristen has a few great tips. She either slightly under bakes her cupcakes (start with a minute less than that of the given range, and test with a toothpick to make sure it isn't doughy). Her other great tip that always makes the cupcakes more moist, (plus has the added benefit of less fat) is that she substitutes the oil for applesauce, in direct proportion.

The cupcakes above are base frosted in 3 different colors, green, grey and white. They are decorated with all different kinds of candy: assorted licorice, white chocolate chips, different gummies, marshmallows, etc. She used these to create one-of-a-kind silly monster faces. 

Basic Buttercream Frosting:
8 TBS butter, room temperature
3 3/4 powdered sugar
3 TBS milk
2 tsp vanilla

Add ingredients one at a time on low, and then beat on medium 1-2 minutes. Adjust powdered sugar or milk to change consistency.
Separate into several bowls and add a few drops of food coloring to get desired colors.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

Halloween Party

Fun Jack-o-Lantern

I have such fun memories of Halloween as a kid, and the best is carving the pumpkin with my Dad. I remember feeling antsy about him getting home so we could get started. Being a man of methods, we always went out to the patio with newspaper to cover the table; the mess then was neatly wrapped up into the newspaper and thrown away. He was, of course, in charge of the knife, but we got to recommend placement of the eyes, nose, etc, and then help with pulling out the slimy insides. Mom often roasted the pumpkin seeds, which I still have a fondness for. The very best moment, however, was lighting the candle and seeing the Jack-o-Lantern face glow.

There seems to be 2 versions of Halloween out there, the terrifying kind, and then the Pottery Barn Kids type. I am a fan of the latter, a fun night out for kids playing dress up, candy and jack-o-lanterns. A couple of families will be coming over for dinner and then heading out to trick-or-treat in our neighborhood. It has become mandatory that the adults dress up too. We plan our menu and everyone brings food to share.  Three of our kids all have birthdays within 2 weeks of halloween, so my friend will be bringing her famous monster cupcakes she always makes this time of year. I will be experimenting with serving lime sherbet punch (very swamp-like) in a ‘cauldron’ of dry ice, and making Chicken-a-la-Pumpkin (chicken a la king served in a baked sugar pumpkin- more on that, later in the week). But, I am most looking forward to carving the pumpkin, now with my kiddos. I can’t wait to see their faces light up when the Jack-o-Lantern comes to life. Delight.

Halloween Party Treats and Decor

Adorable Trick-or-Treaters

Love this Jack-o-Lantern lined walkway!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20, 2012

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: TEA

"Morning Reflection" Art by Tina C. Wells, 12"x12" acrylic on canvas

Reflecting over a cup of tea can be the perfect break in the middle of an otherwise busy day. 

The perfect cup of tea: Boil water in a kettle; once the boil has stopped, add water to teabag in teacup. Allow to steep 3-5 minutes. To keep tea from tasting bitter, do not squeeze teabag into the cup. Enjoy black or with a splash of milk and honey. Sit. Sip. Savor.

Shop for Winsome Wren art at:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

SIMPLY CREATIVE: Packaging Appeal

October 18, 2012
Packaging appeal for homemade gifts

Sometimes there is nothing better than a homemade gift. But it can be challenging to make the homemade gift look polished and clever. I placed the cookies I made yesterday into a canning jar, tied a hand stamped tag on with raffia, and added a personalized tea bag. Simple, inexpensive, homemade gift with packaging appeal!

Alphabet stamps, and ink pads, are available at craft stores, such as Michael's. They are a fun, easy way to add personalization to a gift. The personalized tea bag is a unique touch. I covered the existing tag with a blank address label and then stamped a message on both sides

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

RECIPE: Bruna Brod

October 17, 2012

Happy teatime memories

Tea time with Swedish Bruna Brod cookies

A favorite cookie of mine with tea, is the Swedish Bruna Brod butter cookie my grandmother always made. I became very fond of tea in college when I took a month long trip to England with my grandmother. I love the pause of afternoon tea. I have wonderful memories of sitting at my her kitchen table, talking, drinking tea, and eating her almond flavored, buttery Bruna Brod cookies. She seemed to always have them on hand. Warm memories.

BRUNA BROD        
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1 TBS molasses
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 1/2 cups flour

Beat butter and sugar; continue beating and add egg, corn syrup, almond extract and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together and mix with other ingredients, a little at a time. Divide dough into 7 parts. Form each part into a long, log roll. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Leave adequate room between rolls as the dough will flatten out. Bake at 350 preheated oven, for 14-16 minutes (if you are not using parchment, start with 12 minutes and check). Cool 3 minutes, then while still warm, cut into diagonal strips and remove from pans.

My Little Kitchen Helper!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Impromptu Tea with Girlfriends
Tea is wonderful. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love coffee! I can’t live without it. It is my morning ritual. I seem to need my coffee buzz to make it through the hectic-morning-get-everybody-out-the-door routine. But then, after that, a mellow, warm cup of tea can really hit the spot. I get together with a few of my girlfriends a couple times a month over tea. We drop off the kids at school and meet at one of our houses where we talk, laugh, cry, vent, encourage, pray, and just sit and sip together. With our hectic lives, these times are often quite impromptu. Sometimes it’s a text sent out the day before “come for tea tomorrow?” Other times there is actually a little planning and prep, but always simple and easy. There is the freedom to serve tea in mugs, sitting on the couch, barefoot, or in your grandmother’s china, at the table, if you feel like it. It’s really just about connecting.  This is not afternoon tea with its dainty sandwiches and bite size delicacies. This is a last minute, mid-morning get together. At my house, I usually have a few staples, like a variety of teas both herbal and caffeinated. I always have on hand cheese, nuts, dark chocolate, and fruit. Sometimes I get a wild hair and actually bake something, but it is never expected, which is a relief.
So I encourage you to invite your girlfriends over (the ones who won’t judge you because the morning dishes are still in the sink) and whip up that scone mix in the cupboard if you have time...if not, heat the kettle and pull out the cups (and that dark chocolate that you have been hiding). You’ll be glad you did. Sip and savor. 
Tea Time

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Winsome Wednesday! October 10, 2012


This week I am featuring two rooms I painted for identical twin boys. Their mom (my client) is a creative genius! Collaborations with her are always fun and exciting. I first painted for this family when the boys were 18 months old; they are now five, and the murals needed an update. To the room that already had dinosaurs, race cars, cities, roads, planes, etc. I added a T-Rex fighting off an alien invasion.  I really can’t take credit for these client dreams all of this up! She tells her boys amazing stories about the sun and the moon, mice and dragons, space travel on other planets...on and on. The challenge and the fun is trying to climb in her head to see what she is envisioning and then create ideas for the murals. 
What I truly appreciate is how she allows creativity to flow throughout her home. How many of us would listen to our kids say “Mom, I want blue aliens in a space ship battle with a dinosaur!” and respond with “OK, let’s do it!” Not many of us...I know my first response might be "but, that doesn't match your perfectly coordinated bedroom." I need to loosen up and encourage my kids personal creativity, not just my own design agenda. She is dreaming up the fun with her boys and listening to their creative hearts too. I love it!  

Outer Space Room:


Wild World Room:

And Oh Yes, GROW SLOW, babes...time goes too fast.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Winsome Wednesday! October 3, 2012

Happy October! 

 I{HEART}ART:  Inspiration:  PUMPKINS!

It is safe to say that I have a “thing” for pumpkins. My husband might go so far as to call it an obsession...hmm, maybe. What I do know for certain is that October is my absolute favorite month of the year. The weather is (usually) fantastic; earthy, warm colors abound, long awaited treats arrive on the scene (like pumpkin cream cheese muffins at Starbucks), and pumpkins are everywhere. The good ol’ fashioned orange ones are great, but I especially love the white, green, cinderella, and other varieties that are available. I literally have hundreds of pumpkin photos that I have taken over the years and those have served as inspiration back at my studio. 

"Stacked Pumpkins" art by Tina C. Wells
"Blue Pumpkins" art by Tina C. Wells
"Pumpkins on a Pallet" art by Tina C. Wells
"Multicolored Pumpkins" art by Tina C. Wells
"Colorful Pumpkins" art by Tina C. Wells
"Oh Pumpkins!" art by Tina C. Wells

RECIPE: Carmel Apples

Carmel Apples with twig skewers
I include this not because it is anything new, but because it is so very easy and fun, especially with the kiddos.  

While in Michigan, my son and I made these delicious treats together. We took a little walk through the woods gathering the perfect sticks. We used the apples we had picked a few days earlier. These worked perfectly because the grocery had not added the ‘beautifying’ wax; this can cause the carmel to slip right off the apple. It is best to purchase organic apples that hopefully have no wax coating on them. 

We used approximately 14 oz of carmel cubes and 2 TBS milk in a sauce pan on medium heat. This was enough for 4 medium/large apples. To insert the twigs, I first stabbed the apples with skewers. 
Since I was at the cabin and doing this project with an 8 year old boy, we kept it simple with just carmel, but at home I like to dip some in chocolate and nuts in addition.

SIMPLY CREATIVE: Painted Pumpkin

Painted Pumpkin
You can do this (even if you think you can't paint)! This took about half an hour and it was simple and fun. Here it is, step-by-step:

large orange pumpkin
brown acrylic craft paint (about $1 at Michaels)
small round paint brush

Painted Pumpkin, step-by-step

Start by painting brown at the stem and down the grooves for depth; soften the paint edges with your finger, or a rag.

Next, paint leaves along either side of one of the grooves. Darken that groove. 

On the next flat space between grooves, make a center dot and then add petals around; fill the space from top to bottom with flowers.

Add dots between leaf and flower designs.

Repeat all the way around the pumpkin.

Note: this is meant for a pumpkin on a covered patio, or inside, as this is not paint that will hold up to the elements outside.

JOURNEY: Michigan, part 2

A few photos that give the flavor of the area:

Goshorn Lake, MI
Lovely, little Goshorn Lake is separated from Lake Michigan by two miles of sand dunes. During our week stay, we watched the leaves turn increasingly crimson and golden.
Cabin Decor
 The cabin is built entirely of logs, and all interior walls of wood. Our whole family collaborated on the project, everyone adding a touch somewhere in the cabin, including my husband's trophy coues deer that hangs by the fireplace. The bedrooms are themed with boats, bears, trains, and trees, which adds a bit of whimsy.

 The town of Saugatuck is 2 miles away from the cabin and offers artsy shops and cafes. A few of my favorites are above, starting with the cool retro sign as you enter the town. Middle left is the quirky shop, Amsterdam on Blue Star Hwy. where you can find everything from antiques to funky repurposed items. Center is Mermaids Bar and Grill, with a great outdoor deck, dockside on the river. Center right is Uncommon Grounds, charming coffee shop with their own roasted coffee and homemade pastries. Bottom is Good Goods, a shop full of intriguing artisan-made objects.

Saugatuck Dune Ride
The dune ride is something I have always wanted to do, but never had. Besides being fast, and fun, the driver tells the interesting history of the area.
Lake Michigan
One of my favorite things to do while visiting the cabin is to hike to Lake Michigan from the Felt Mansion. The hike is about a mile and takes you through a thick forest. All of a sudden, there is a glimpse of the lake. It looks like the Atlantic, waves, beach grass, and so vast that you can't see the other side. Beautiful.