Friday, December 30, 2011


This was the first illustration (click to enlarge) I completed when I switched my career plan from fine art painting to freelance illustration.  It is from my whimsical story Petunia's Slightly Slow Adventure.  I usually don't like to post my early pieces because they don't reflect the quality of my current work.  They are not the highlight of my career by any means.  And this piece has some clunky areas.  But there are things I still like about it.  I love the mushroom's vibrant color and the watercolor technique of the grass.  And the rays of light fit the theme over at Fridays are Hawaiian shirt day  

Here's my favorite paragraph from my (unedited) story...

They came to a clearing and all looked around.  And what they saw was so scary they didn't utter a sound.  A campfire glowed with five Witches dancing around.  They were swinging their arms wildly first up and then down.  They had crazy gray hair and ratty black gowns.  Petunia was scared and so was Mr. Mouse.  But the Black Cat didn't know what all the fuss was about.  Then as the Queen watched a smile slowly spread across her face  She snorted, shook her head and let a little giggle slip out.  What they thought was so scary turned out to be sweet.  The Witches were catching fireflies for little Toad to eat!

Petunia was thrilled they had found Toad at last.  And do you know what?  She hadn't even been flying that fast.  

The end.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Skull...

The legend...

One of the most compelling archaeological mysteries is the story of the 13 Crystal heads.  These heads are believed to be between 5,000 and 35,000 years old and were carved over a period of several hundred years but without any tool marks.  In fact their very construction defies the laws of physics and common logic.  They are believed to offer spiritual power to those who hold or possess them. 

 Oh my.  There hasn't been a more intriguing mystery since the burial place of the arc of the covenant.  And this Christmas my husband unwrapped his mystery gift and discovered one of these skulls.  And to make things even more exciting it was filled with vodka!  

After seeing a T.V. segment on the comedian Dan Aykroyd's special brew I was hooked.  Although at the price they sell this liquor, it should come with a personnal friendship with Mr. Aykroyd.  Just say'in.  

So we mixed up our first martini ever. Here's the recipe for 2 drinks.  Place 1 pearl onion stuffed olive in each martini glass.  Pour 4 shots of vodka into a shaker filled with ice.  Add a 1/2 shot of vermouth.  Shake, pour and enjoy some Christmas spirits.  Much better than a visit from Bob Marley!

And the icing on the cake was setting the Crystal head along side our Mayan mask.  Hmmm.  The disappearance of the Maya.  Another one of life's mysteries. 

 But it is not a mystery who won my Penzey's giveaway.  My high school art teacher Mr. Urness.  Or Don to his friends and family!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Messenger...

I just finished this illustration for a national scbwi contest.  And it happily fits the theme over at Fridays are Hawaiian shirt day  Everyone knows the old fable of Chicken Little.  I call my illustration Chicken Licken Good.  For shame.  And Chicken Little and his poultry friends have a message.  What do you think that could be?  Hmmm.  THE SKY IS FALLING OF COURSE!  Here's the passage I used...

So they went along and went along until they met Turkey Lurkey
“Good morning, Goosey Loosey, Ducky Daddles, Cocky Locky, Henny Penny,
and Chicken Licken,” said Turkey Lurkey, “where are you going?”
“Oh, Turkey Lurkey, the sky is falling and we are going to tell the King!”
“How do you know the sky is falling?” asked Turkey Lurkey.
“Ducky Daddles told me,” said Goosey Loosey.
“Cocky Locky told me,” said Ducky Daddles.
“Henny Penny told me,” said Cocky Locky.
“Chicken Licken told me,” said Henny Penny
“I saw it with my own eyes, I heard it with my own ears,
and a piece of it fell on my tail!” said Chicken Licken.
“Then I will go with you,” said Turkey Lurkey, “and we will tell the King!”

Wish me luck!  And I have a message for all of you.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Apfel Pfanne Kuchen

If you are a fan of a traditional German Apple Pancake you might not like my version.  It is light on the pancake and heavy on the apples.  But I always have to adjust recipes to suit my taste.  Plus I'm only feeding two people.  So we don't need a ginormous pile of fluff.  Start with 2 peeled and sliced honey crisp apples.  Throw them in your antique cast iron skillet along with 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 4 tbsps butter, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 3 tsps of cinnamon.  The recipe I went by called for 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  Good grief.  If you don't like cinnamon you should get out of the kitchen!  Then cook the apple mixture until it starts to get tender.  It's going into the oven so it doesn't need to be fully cooked. Now for the pancake:  In a bowl mix 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.  Then add 1/2 cup milk and 1 tsp vanilla.  Stir and start adding 3 eggs beating after each one.  Now pour the batter over the hot apples and place in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Then bake an additional 10 minutes at 350.  

Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  Enjoy!  If you want to double the pancake part, you'll be following the original recipe.  Only 5 eggs though.  And you can add an extra tbsp of melted butter and sugar in the pancake part.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  And if you have a lemon on hand give it a squeeze over the pancake.  It is either for good luck or for taste.  Who knows.  I'll be doing my drawing for the Penzey's gift box next week. (details in my Lefse post)  So if you are a teacher, leave a comment and I'll throw your name into the mix!  

Monday, December 19, 2011

I took a scissors to my stupid slippers!

I thought I would take a little blogging break and re-post one of my crafty Christmas posts from 2010.  This one still brings a smile to my face.  I started a little Christmas sewing project this year.  But I'm so darn busy that it will probably become a New Years project.  Sew for now.  Hee hee.  Enjoy this one...

These (were) my old Haflinger slippers. I'd hand stitched the soles back together numerous times. And unfortunately for me the rubber dots had completely worn off on the bottom. I said unfortunately because my feet slipped out from under me a couple weeks ago while attempting the basement stairs. The vacuum I was holding went flying and so did I. After bumping down to the bottom the first thing I saw when I composed myself were two scared and adorable kitty faces peeking down at me from the kitchen. "Call 911 kitties!" I shouted. I'm kidding. My elbow was throbbing and my behind...well I won't go into that! Luckily no broken bones. But it was time to buy new slippers.

But Haflinger's are so darn expensive. So I hatched a plan to extend their life even further. I cut off the tops and used my Christmas tree cookie cutter as a template. Two trees per slipper top.

I cut out two more trees from this green fabric.

I used this Christmas card as a star template. P.S. It was from the in laws!

I cut out the stars from the center of the top felt tree. Then glued the three layers together.

I attached a red bell to the center of the cutout. And threaded the star to the top. And just for fun I also attached the Haflinger label. I'll never forget that these used to be slippers!


Then I rewarded myself with a new and improved pair of Haflinger's. These have a sturdy rubber gripping sole. But just in case I taught my cats how to dial 911. The end.

Be sure to stop back on Wednesday for a new recipe!

Friday, December 16, 2011

One of my toilet buddies is hanging out in the sink. And sink is the word of the day over at Fridays are Hawaiian Shirt Day  Of course I had to post Toilet Buddies.  I had to go all literal and not post something sinking into the terra firma.  One of my favorite aspects of this piece is that I painted the devil/angel kitty on a separate piece of paper.  (geez, I guess I could have used this one for last week's theme)  And I mounted it about 1/2 inch behind the window.  So it seems like you are looking out at the floating cat.  Kind of fun.  And fun is the real theme of this piece.  And it's all fun and games except when our favorite buddy sits in front of our flat screen T.V.  The ledge is too narrow to turn around so she backs up, sits and then moves forward.  Only to repeat this over and over while we are trying to watch the tube.  She is trying to get our attention so we will play with her.  It drives my husband bonkers.  Next insane cat room.   

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Coffee Cream

This is a simple and delicious breakfast.  Here I'm making my whipped cream.  Take a small carton of whipping cream and beat until the desired consistency.  Don't over mix or you'll get butter!  Then fold in a few tablespoons of powdered sugar to taste.  Then add the magic ingredient.  1/2 -1 tsp of finely ground coffee.

 Sorry about my pancake blobs.  No perfectly circular cakes at my house.  But hey.  They still taste good! Editors note:  The pancake in the back is my pancake. I put twice as many chips in mine and push them down into the batter.  The ones in front are my husbands.  He prefers less chips.  Weirdo!Here's the pancake batter recipe:

1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 beaten egg
2 tblsp oil
1 cup flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the wet ingredients and mix.  But don't over mix pancake batter.  I like to keep the premixed dry ingredients on hand.  So I will quadruple the recipe, mix and store in a container.  Then when I make pancakes, I just measure a heaping cup of dry ingredients and I'm ready to add the wet. And if you want to make them healthier, substitute (some) flour for whole wheat flour.  I also throw in a tblsp per batch of ground flax seed.  That's just how I roll. Now pour the batter on your skillet and add the chips.  I use bitter sweet Callebaut chocolate chips from the store Kitchen Window.  Because once you add some syrup you don't want them to taste too sweet. Now cook, flip, cook and enjoy.

  And don't forget about last week's giveaway.  If you are a teacher and leave a comment, I'll add you to my pool for a Penzey's gift box! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Zee and Zoey!

Caren over at the kitty blog cat chat had some fun news for me last week.  I won the sleek and sexy book, "The Chronicles of Zee and Zoey!"  Be sure to check out the writer Deborah Barnes  I plan to take the book with me on my next trip.  So I haven't read it yet.  But it takes you on a journey of the extraordinarily ordinary life of her amazing cats.  A Maine Coon and an exotic Bengal.  It is also full of illustrations and brilliant animal photos.  It seems like it would make a charming holiday gift for an animal lover.  Thanks Caren and Deborah!
Wouldn't you be thrilled to receive this exotic package?

And of course I couldn't talk about Zee and Zoey without mentioning my own wild things.  This photo was taken while we were putting our new Ikea sink together.  Hana and Akua really do love each other and are great siblings.  Who needs a sink when you can have a new bed?  This photo is purrfectly heart melting.  Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a new recipe.  And for more cats visit Gattina

Friday, December 9, 2011


The theme of separate over at could be interpreted in so many ways.  But I selected a completely new and terribly old piece for it. (click to enlarge) It is brand spanking new to my blog.  But painted in 1998.  The land and ocean blend together but are two separate things.  My favorite part of the painting is the merging of the mangoes in the bowl with a sea urchin.  Given my love of the jungle and ocean I'm surprised I haven't painted more pieces like this.  But tomorrow is a new day...

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Pizza Post

I got the crazy idea this Summer to document all the mouth watering varieties of Za that passed our lips. I had already decided I was going to add food and recipes to my blog.  Now I almost feel like I should rename it, "Sharon's Paws Create Food!"  I did fall a little short on catching all the pizza love though. An empty box doesn't photograph very well.  But I tried... 

No delivery here.  This is my world famous Mexican pizza.  I'll have to devote a Wednesday time slot to it later.  Cilantro, shaved corn off the cob, peppers, chorizo sausage, tomatoes, and onions.  I'm patting myself on the back right now. 

But most of the pizza we eat comes straight out of a box.  This is from the unique and portable Big River Pizza.  Coming to a farmer's market near you!

Can you guess what kind this is?

We enjoyed this favorite on a scenic trip down to the Stone Barn in Nelson,Wisconsin.  We always get the Southwestern. Yum! 
We had Pizzeria Lola about every other day this Summer.  I should have photographed it when we had a colorful and flaming hot variety with Calabrian and Serrano peppers.  
We always say it is the leaning hour at the happy tower.  Or happy hour at the Leaning Tower of Pizza.
Pizzeria Lola.  Classic  Margherita
Pizzeria Lola.  Marinara.
 A little balsamic drizzle at Olives in Marine on St. Croix.
The end. 

 Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a Norwegian lefse demo and a giveaway!

Friday, December 2, 2011


I've posted this selection from my Fiction Project before. The icon in my side bar will lead you to art house co-op and my journal of illustrated poems about Costa Rica. I also thought this series was perfect for Brigade. The theme of the day at Why? You'll have to read till the end. Click on the illustrations to enlarge and read the story...

Leaf cutter ants. Nature's army.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kenny 365

Fall is quickly slipping into Winter. And the Kenny 365 neighborhood photo project continues to capture a day in the life. Here are my last 8 submissions...


This natural wreath will soon be withered on the vine. But the rusty sunflower has weathered many Winters.


Our street has a new resident. And he is a beautiful black squirrel


Yellow, red and orange might be the popular Fall colors. But brown is better than a snowy white!


The owner of this Kenny house was camera shy. But she allowed me a photo of her beautiful yard. And anyone who walks grass lake has enjoyed her Fall display.


A day in Kenny is like a day at the beach. Well, sort of.


Free mobile home on lakefront property. Nestled in the safe and friendly Kenny neighborhood. Sports an open floor plan perfect for a very small family of 3. A tiny barn is also included in the free asking price. Hurry! This charming fixer upper won't stay on the market for long.


Just another example of the spooky spirits in Kenny.


Is this the yellow brick road? No, it's just a street in Kenny.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I was never really sure if I liked Belly Lagossa's perfectly circular and bug eyed peepers. Belly was illustrated for local writer Beth Solheim. He is a character in her series of mystery books. And it is a mystery to me as to why I painted those giant orbs so round. They seem to pop right off his goofy (intentional) face. But Belly's eyes did give me a fun entry for

And in other news. I've been having trouble getting aROUND to commenting on my favorite blogs. I don't know if it is my computer or blogger. But whenever the blog asks for an ID or html the link doesn't open. Weird. But don't worry. I'm still making my rounds!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup canned plain pumpkin (I used left over mashed squash)

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

1 2/3 cups flour

Streusel topping: 2 tbsp flour

1/4 packed brown sugar

1 tbsp ground flax seed (optional)

1-2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375. Premix all dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in the egg. Then blend in squash and milk. Now add dry ingredients until combined. Don't over mix. Place batter in a greased muffin pan. (I used liners) Makes around 12-14 muffins.

Now combine the topping ingredients and blend with a fork. Add to the top of muffins and then bake for 18-20 minutes.

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover squash. Any kind. Or you could go the traditional route and stick to pumpkin. And speaking of pumpkin... HAPPY THANKSGIVING BLOGGING FRIENDS!