Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s day! Okay, maybe I’m a little biased since it is my birthday, but Valentine’s Day is a really awesome holiday! Despite popular belief, you don’t have to have a significant other in order to enjoy all that this holiday has to offer! Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love in all it’s forms and I think the vast majority of us can think of at least one person in our lives who we love and appreciate.

So I decided it would be fun to celebrate this year Disney style by sketching some of my favorite “Disney couples”. When I first began I honestly intended to be drawing the typical fairy tale endings and happily ever afters that Disney is so well known for. However when I sat down and thought about it, I found there are so many other loving relationships found among Disney films and the majority of my favorites fall among these. Parent-child, Sibling, Friend. I love a good happily ever after, but those aren’t the only relationships that should be celebrated. I didn’t sketch all of them, but here’s a small handful of my favorites! Maybe I’ll do more in the future!

Now, go spread the love!

Bambi & Mom Dumbo & Jumbo Elli & Carl Goofy and Max Lilo and Stitch Robin and Marian Simba & Mufasa Tarzan and Kala

Commission and a Gift

A birthday gift for a good friend of mine featuring her polar bear, Honaw.

Miss Melis

A commission for another friend featuring her griffin, Brann.

Brann

Beauty of Tears

I was having a difficult time last night and some tears were shed. As I was sitting at my computer inspiration hit and I decided I wanted to capture my emotions. So I took a picture and did a self-portrait speed paint. It was actually very therapeutic. And fun. Speed painting does amazing things.

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A Win and a Fail, but They Both Tasted Good

I think we’re all familiar with Pinterest, and one of my favorite things about it are the Pinterest fails. Not because I like to see people fail, but because I’ve been there. Many, many times. And I applaud those willing to share their fails so we can all laugh while we learn a lesson.

Recently I experienced my own “Pinterest Fail”. Over the holidays I was asked to bring some desserts for Christmas dinner and my brother specifically requested that I bring candy cane sugar cookies I’d made earlier in the month. They weren’t homemade – just the refrigerated Pillsbury cookie dough. But being me, I decided to try and be cute and shape them like candy canes. What could go wrong with that? Oh, a bunch of mutated cookies? Right.

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In my defense, I did come up with this brilliant plan at 5am Christmas morning and wasn’t fully awake to consider the possible outcomes, but still I did it. Luckily my brother is a huge fan of Pinterest fails and he got a kick out of the cookies. And they tasted great!

Luckily not everything I try is a failure and I had sweet success a couple of weeks later.

That same brother came over for dinner this past Sunday and that morning I realized I didn’t have enough flour to make a cake or cookies for dessert. Much to my pleasure however, I did have enough to try a new recipe I found on Pinterest that I’ve been dying to try. Here’s the recipe (Please note, there are actually two recipes here – one for pretzels, one for pretzel bites. I tried the cinnamon pretzel bites!):

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt or kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Warm the milk in a saucepan or microwave to about 110 degrees. (I usually just use a finger test. You don’t want it too hot or it will kill the yeast. Just a nice warm temp that doesn’t hurt your finger.) Pour the milk in to a medium sized bowl or your mixer bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it soften, about 2 minutes then stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of flour.
  2. Dice 2 tablespoons of the butter into small pieces and soften it (don’t melt it!) Stir the butter into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cup flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead or just knead it in the mixer if you have one (use the bread hook). You want a smooth dough but still slightly tacky. Knead for about 5 minutes.
  3. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with cooking spray. Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups of water in a shallow baking dish (I use a 8×8 pan). Set pan by the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Punch the dough and then turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 pieces.

If you want to make 6 pretzels:

  1. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands (using flour if necessary) into a 24-30 inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.
  2. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the coarse salt.
  3. Bake until golden 10-12 minutes for pretzels. While they are baking, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a shallow dish (I use a pie pan). Set it next to a cooling rack.
  4. Dip the warm pretzels in the melted butter then place on a wire rack to let excess butter drip off.
  5. Serve the pretzels warm with mustard or we like cheddar cheese sauce. Sprinkle with additional salt if needed. Makes 6 pretzels.

If you want to make pretzel bites:

  1. Roll and stretch each pieces into a rope but instead of shaping into a pretzel, cut the ropes with a pizza butter into the desired size of bites (about 2 inches is what I usually do).
  2. Gently dip each pretzel bite in the soda solution, then arrange on the baking sheet.
  3. Bake until golden, 8-10 minutes for bites. While they are baking, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a shallow dish (I use a pie pan). Set it next to a cooling rack.
  4. Dip the warm pretzels bites in the melted butter then roll the bites in a bowl of cinnamon/sugar mixture after you dip it in the butter. (about 1 cup sugar and 3 T. cinnamon or personal preference)
  5. Eat plain or make a chocolate or glaze dipping sauce. Makes about 60 pretzel bites.

NOTES: The baking soda mixture is what makes the pretzels turn the golden color. Although you could skip the last butter bath, it’s highly recommend! And if you’re making these for a bigger group, triple the batch.

The recipe is quite simple. The only thing I was worried about was using yeast because it’s been awhile since I’ve made anything using it. Which explains why I became very excited to see it rise successfully. (Just ask my husband, every time I’d check on it I’d squeal, “It’s rising!”)

And here’s a picture of our final outcome!:

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They tasted divine and turns out they’re super addicting! I want to try them with a cream cheese filling at some point.

Enjoy!

My New Year’s Resolution: To Fail

Well, a new year is upon us. Which means we all get to make New Year’s resolutions. New beginnings. New ways to improve ourselves and our lives. Which for the vast majority of us, it means making goals that we end up never following through on.

I’m guilty of it.

I am so full of good intentions. Seriously – if all my good intentions (we’ll ignore the bad for now…) were carried out, I’d be a saint! But I’m not. And 99% of those good intentions are unfortunately stuck floating around my already over crowded brain.

But yesterday in church, a fellow member recited a quote that really got me thinking. “Even if youre on the right track, you‘ll get run over if you just sit there.” Meaning you could have all the good intentions in the world, but if you don’t act upon them, they mean diddly squat.

So rather than make a list and share it with people and be all “LOOK WHAT I SAY I’M GOING TO DO BUT YOU ALL KNOW I REALLY WON’T!”, I’m just going to start doing them. Not everything. I’d be too overwhelmed to jump on every single resolution I want to accomplish. Instead I’ll start with what I can do. What I feel I should be doing. What I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

One of which is the reason for starting this blog. I want to use my talents to bring a little more beauty and happiness to the world. I’ve been blessed with a lot of talents. And if we all sat down and took a good long look at ourselves, we’d realize we’ve all been blessed with God-given talents that should be shared.

But I have a lot of weaknesses too. I’m so incredibly shy I’ve spent my entire life trying to overcome it. I hate the spotlight. I don’t like attention.

And that shyness stems from my paralyzing fear of failure.

Most people have a fear of heights or spiders or whatever. My biggest all time fear is failing. It terrifies me so much that I’ve chosen to spend most of my time on the sidelines of life; never putting myself out there because when I do fail, I cry. And I hurt. And I don’t like letting people down, especially myself.

But failing is part of life. It teaches us important lessons we can’t learn any other way. Lessons we need in order to grow into the amazing people we all have the potential to become. And not trying is simply the easiest, most socially acceptable way of failing. I’m failing everyday by not trying.

I don’t want to be that kind of failure. I don’t want my kids to see me as that kind of failure and I don’t want them to become that kind of failure. I want them to be the skinned-knee, bruised up, tear-streaked face, dirty-from-hard-work kind of failure. Because those failures learn. Those failures are the ones who become successful. They learn to wipe off the dirt, dry the tears, bandage their wounds and stand up to try again.

So this blog is about failing, and learning and succeeding; perfecting my imperfections one step at a time.

And I invite anyone who wishes to, to follow along and fail with me.