Saturday, June 29, 2013

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: Independence Day!
"God Bless America" Mixed medium paint/photo collage by Tina C. Wells

It has become our tradition that we venture up to Orange County to spend the Fourth of July with my sister and her family. The photo in this collage was taken last 4th of July of my two kids and my niece and nephew. 
Over the past year, I have been having wonderful fun experimenting with mixed medium, paint/photo collages. Ultimately, I would like to hang twelve of these pieces (10”x10” each) together... stay tuned. 
Send me a picture, and I will get started on a piece for you ;)

Simply Creative: Pallet Flag

 This rustic flag hangs outside in my backyard. It was made by my friends Joseph and Kristen and given to our family as a gift. The flag is painted on a pallet, with painted metal stars attached. I am so lucky to be the recipient of their talent and creativity! (Thanks again, friends!)

RECIPE: Patriot Shortcake

It has been some crazy roller coaster ride since summer began at our house, and as much as I want to make something fabulously creative for our 4th of July celebration, I need to keep it simple this year. But sometimes simple is the best. This delicious dessert is perfect for the 4th, or any other summer day. 

Patriot Shortcake

I cheated. I bought the Trader Joe’s shortcake biscuits. I LOVE them. They are only slightly sweet, very much like a scone. This buttery, salty shortcake, with tart, sweet fruit, and creamy ice cream or whipped cream is the perfect flavor combination. 

Shortcake (plain scone or biscuit would work)
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream 
Sliced strawberries
teaspoon+ of honey

Layer in individual dishes shortcake (bottom), scoop ice cream, berries mixed with honey (top with whipped cream if not using ice cream).

For great menu ideas and recipes, see my post from last 4th of July:

July 4th goodie buckets:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: Pets!
"Mr. Fluff" by Tina C. Wells
This little guy belongs to my friend Donna. I'm pretty sure he rules the ranch! Pet portraits are fun and affordable; an especially good gift. To view more pet portraits, visit my website: 

RECIPE: Herbes de Provence

A few weeks ago, I spent a lovely afternoon catching up with my friend Donna. Her beautiful property in Jamul is called Hillside Ranch. I love it there...horses, barns, succulents, gardens, and her charming internationally eclectic hacienda. Her raised, covered, edible garden is wonderful. The photos below show the amazing bounty! I was the lucky recipient of some her fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. 

Bountiful harvest at Hillside Ranch!

Donna shared with me another project she has been working on, her herb garden. Herbs are fairly simple to grow, and nothing compares in your cooking. She has been drying her herbs and making homemade batches of Herbes de Provence. Drying herbs is quite easy. Two simple methods:

  1. Clip herbs, tie stems, hang to dry in warm, dry spot; approximately 2 weeks
  2. Lay herbs on a cookie sheet and place in a warm 150 degree oven 3-4 hours, with the oven door open a little.

Donna used a recipe for Herbes de Provence from Keys Creek Lavender Farm in Valley Center (north east San Diego county). It sounds like a wonderful place to visit, and I am looking forward to taking a trip to there. I did a little research on Herbs de Provence, and one thing is certain, no two recipes are exactly alike. Herbes de Provence are traditionally used to flavor meats and vegetables. Use directly as a spice rub, or create a marinade: 1/2 cup olive oil, juice of one lemon, 2 TBS herbs. Another suggestion, slice french bread, spread with olive oil and goat cheese, sprinkle with herbs, bake.
I will list 2 recipe versions. Because there does not seem to be one standard, I would say that experimentation and personal preference are the rule. 

Herbes de Provence (basic recipe, equal parts)

Lavender Farm Herbes de Provence
1 part Fennel
1 part Mint
2 parts Lavender
2 parts dried orange peel
2 parts Bay leaves
3 parts Rosemary
3 parts Savory
3 parts Marjoram
3 parts Thyme

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: Cactus Wren
"CACTUS WREN" by Tina C. Wells, Acrylic on canvas, 8"x8"
A quick get-away took us to Carefree, AZ. We sat on our secluded desert porch and watched this little cactus wren hop from plant to plant. I love the polka-dotted belly and tail. 

JOURNEY: Carefree

Carefree, Arizona: The Boulders
Over the Memorial Day weekend, we took a trip to see my husband’s family in AZ. With built-in babysitting, we dropped off the kids in Phoenix and headed for an overnight stay in Carefree, Arizona. It doesn’t sound like a real place, does it? More like a state of mind, but actually Carefree is a real location just northeast of Phoenix. It does live up to its name; truly I felt as though I was getting away, breathing deeper, relaxing in this desert oasis. Carefree, and its sister town of Cave Creek is all that I want Arizona to be, with its wild-west, rustic charm, a little bit Cowboy and a little bit Indian. There are many small meandering shops with everything from tourist tchotchkes, to specialty western wear, rustic furnishings, and restaurants. Speaking of restaurants, I recommend El Encanto for Mexican fare- so charming with a pond tucked into the courtyard.  
Love this desert landscape

El Encanto, Cave Creek, AZ

Flemming's in North Scottsdale is a short 20 minute drive and has a great happy hour

We stayed at a wonderful resort called The Boulders. As the name would suggest, huge boulders tower above. It has an amazing understated glamour, sprawling across several miles with pools, golf course, spa. The rooms are tucked into little 3-room villas, walking accessible or by golf cart, with private entrances and patios, so that we hardly saw another person there. We were celebrating our 15 year anniversary which is coming up in 2 weeks. The resort brought us a nice bottle of champagne that we enjoyed on our porch, overlooking cactus, boulders, quail, lizards and rabbits...and my favorite, the Cactus Wren, Arizona’s state bird. The weather was mid-90’s which is perfect pool weather in the desert. The only disappointment was that we couldn’t stay longer...
The Boulders Resort 

Rugged desert landscape from our porch

RECIPE: Mexican Corn Bake

I got this recipe from my grandmother years ago, but it never fails to please. A great side dish with your favorite mexican or southwest entree. Serves a crowd!

1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
2 small jars pimentos
2 small cans chopped green chilis
2 cans (15 oz each) creamed corn
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
salt & pepper

Mix ingredients together, bake in greased 9x13 casserole pan 1 hour in preheated 350 degree oven.