Friday, February 27, 2009

Cooking From Scratch Part One: Your Own Delicious & Healthy Bread

Dear Starving Artists,

I am about to share a secret that will halve your grocery bill and allow you to ride out this recession with finesse and style.  Get yourself a good, simple cookbook and learn the work the grocery store to your advantage.  Prepared foods cost more per unit than basic ingredients and are definitely less healthy.  Cook from scratch from bulk ingredients.

This may sound difficult if you don't cook at all, or if you hate to cook but it will definitely protect your health to cook your meals from the best ingredients you can afford.  For example: bread is a healthy staple and a lot easier to make yourself than you might think.  

If you turn on your oven to bake, it does cost something, but your house gets warmer, and delightfully fragrant in the bargain. Not only that, but your bread will be so much more delicious and you have control over the ingredients.  

So many of the brands of bread contain corn syrup which in NOT GREEN (google KING CORN, the documentary) or healthful.  I put ground flax seed meal and all kinds of healthy stuff in my bread, and minimize the fats and sugars.  I buy my flour from the bulk bins at WINCO (a very affordable grocery store) and when I am rich, I buy organic flour.  We do the best we can with the dollars we have, right? (Please don't scold me; buy something from my Etsy Store and I will buy organic flour in your honor!)

So, I'm going to share my easy and excellent bread recipe here.  It makes four beautiful loaves, and as you improve as a baker you can vary the ingredients.  From time to time I will share more recipes, especially Hispanic ones that my family has passed down for ages.  

5 cups flour
3 Tablespoons yeast
1/3 cup sweetener (honey, brown sugar, or molasses) or less to taste (must have 1 tablespoon)
5 cups warm water
Mix above ingredients quite well: no lumps or clumps.  Allow to rise about 1 hour, or until the sponge is bubbly and doubled.

Later add: 1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup flax seed meal
2 Tablespoons good salt
enough flour to make dough (about 4-5 cups, so that you can knead and it's not sticky)

  1. After the sponge has risen for about 45 minutes to an hour, add the oil, salt and continue to stir in flour until you can no longer stir with a heavy wooden spoon. 
  2.  Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead the dough.  You do this by pushing and stretching the dough with the heels of your hands and then folding and turning the dough, each time pressing the dough forward with you hands and refolding until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  How do you know the dough is ready to shape into loaves? When you pinch it, the dough will feel like your earlobe!  Add flour as you need to to keep the dough from sticking.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and cover with towel as you shape each loaf and set it into a greased bread pan.  The best size for this recipe is about 6 by 9 inch pan.  You can grease with butter, PAM spray or shortening.  Oil doesn't work well.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Allow loaves to rise under a light towel until they're curved about 1/2 inch above the top of the bread pan.  Be sure it's a warm place, but do not place loaves too near heat as they will rise too fast and the yeast will die.  If the place is too cold, the yeast will sleep and rise sluggishly.
  6. Before you place loaves in oven, you might choose to brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes in center of oven.  The bread crust will look browned and the bread will sound hollow when tapped if done.
  8. Remove from pan and cool at least 15 minutes.  (Use willpower; it wrecks the loaf to cut it too soon!) If you  must leave the bread out for awhile, cover the loaves with towels to keep them from losing too much moisture.
  9. To store unused loaves wrap and place in freezer.  Bread defrosts fast!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Jen and Chrisy were neck and neck, but Jen had the most correct answers.  So Jen wins the necklace.  However I'd like to reward Chrisy for being such a loyal contestant by offering her a $5.00 coupon to go towards any item in my store, except vintage and the custom altars.  Jen and Chrisy should convo me to claim their prizes.  

In the midst of all this, I have been on jury duty, so the contest hasn't been promoted as it should have been.  I will try again later.  I am still learning about this business and don't know how to do a lot of the promotional things.

However I love to write, so I'll stick to that for awhile and we'll revisit contests and promotions in the spring.  
Keep warm and happy, everyone.  Life is so short!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Contest Question # 5 & 6

Midnight tomorrow I will announce the winner: the one who posts the answers to 5 &6 first on the blog and has correctly answered all the previous questions.  

Here are the last two questions:

A.  Good mojo, I say she has it! Who is she and what item features her?

B.  This pendant, I describe that it looks like cherry candy.  Odd of me to say that, better check to make sure I'm right.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE! Wish you all could win...Hope it's been fun/
We'll have to do this again soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Contest Clue # 4

You deserve a medal for getting this far.  So does she; and while you're at it, pick up some roses.
Who is she?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Question # 3

Did you answer #2?  What was the item that might be used to turn over a new leaf, or as an affirmation for hurtful memories?

Okay, question #3 is as follows:
The birthstone for January...which item did I design around a 1930's glass bead?

Happy day to you!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday's Clue and Question #3

Time to turn over a new leaf.  This item might be worn as an affirmation to heal hurtful memories...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lonely Hearts Clue and Question #2

Cheap wine, a favorite on Skid Row, had a little jingle vintage 1960's: "How's it sold/Good and cold/What's the jive?/Bird's Alive." It's between 13 & 18% alcohol by volume, made by Gallo, and is responsible for a lot of public drunkenness.  Sadly, this wine's name name was taken from the great totems of Native American origin.

What's the wine called?  And which item features this totem? There's an extra clue if you read the first line of this post very carefully. Post your answers to the question on this post and the one below.  If you are the first one to post the correct answer to the last question and have posted the answer to each day's question you're the winner!

Good luck!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lonely Hearts Scavenger Hunt Begins Now!

You could win the lonely valentine heart necklace above, if you can find the answers to each day's question in my Etsy Store.  It's a scavenger hunt of sorts, but not too hard.  Here's how it works.  
  1. There will be six questions, one per day; the last one's on Friday.  The clues refer to descriptions of items in my Etsy Store.  You can find the answers in the descriptions. Remember to check both pages of the store.
  2. Each of the questions have a clue as to which posting might include the answer. 
  3. Each evening until Friday, I will be posting a question and--you can leave the answer in the comments to that posting on this blog.
  4.  On Saturday I will be selecting a winner from whomever comments first with the answer to the very last question (provided he or she also gave the right answers to the other questions). 
  5. GOOD LUCK. If you have any questions, post them today as comments.  If two people comment simultaneously I will look back to see who commented first on previous postings.
  6. FIRST QUESTION: This one is easy. I'm leaving a clue.  A clue: in spring a little bird paints hers bright sky blue.  This item is sadly unhearted and I can't understand why.  It is classic and timeless and would look as good with a little black dress as it would with a sweater and jeans. Which item is it?
  7. <-----There's  a link to my Etsy Store on this blog...Happy hunting!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Heartspace Lonely Hearts' Contest

Dear Friends of Heart*Space:
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!  I hope your heart is happy, and that your rose looks better than the one my cat gnawed on (see right.)

I want you to be the first to hear about my Lonely Hearts' Contest.  In my store there are some lonely hearts that didn't sell for Valentine's Day.  You could be the lucky winner of one of them.

Tomorrow I will be posting the clues to a scavenger hunt throughout my Etsy Store.  Those who visit my store and search through the postings will find the clues in the item descriptions in various listings of artisan jewelry or custom altars.  I won't tell you which, but I will drop some clues on postings this week! I will be offering one of my Valentine necklace's as a prize for the potential Queen or King of Hearts, who through expert scavenging, is able to deduct the most answers to questions by the deadline.  I will be posting the contest deadline, directions and clues Monday at 12 noon Pacific Time.  

Be sure to check this blog daily for updates.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Visit the Treasury?

Hi Dear Friends who Follow this Blog,
Just a quick note. One of my vintage items has the honor of being featured in the Etsy Treasury of the Spanglish Team.  It's a beautiful springy treasury. The other artists are so cool, I feel honored, even though I didn't make what is featured.  It may help lead some buyers to my Etsy Store, or so I hope. 
Here's the link:

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

PS. After writing this, I  discovered I'm in another treasury! Another vintage item, which is a good start. Here's the link:
Thank you for looking!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Blessed Kateri

This week I want to introduce you to Blessed Kateri, Lily of the Mohawks.  I have made a necklace with her image to celebrate this Native American saint who awaits canonization.  I have been drawn to her image in the garden surrounding Saint Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe, New Mexico, loving her story, which is seems so sad and is probably completely misunderstood. 

That Kateri was a deeply spiritual woman attracted to the story of the wounded, rejected Christ and His grieving mother is not for me to dispute.  Yet, the reasons for her rejection by her Mohawk peers when she became a Christian do not ring true to me. I believe the pain caused by the Missionaries, colonists and the White Man in general is the reason Kateri was ridiculed and marginalized by her people.  How could one who knew the pain and sickness brought from Europe worship their God?

I believe Kateri's vision of Christ was in accord with her innate knowledge of The Holy that preceded her conversion.  I believe there is "that of God in each one" and Blessed Kateri's gift was compassion and love not only for her own people, but for the conquerors who had so misunderstood Christ's teaching  as to justify the destruction of an entire culture, a civilization with values and truth as viable as their own.

To wear this necklace if you're Native American is to celebrate the life of a great and compassionate ancestor Skin.  If you are not Native American, perhaps it would serve as a reminder of the great souls that trod this Holy Ground before your ancestors came.  May you walk softly, spread light and love and treasure the beauty all around you.  Here, in honor of Kateri and her People is a reverent Mohawk Prayer:
Oh Great Spirit, Creator of all things;
Human Beings, trees, grass, berries.
Help us, be kind to us.
Let us be happy on earth.
Let us lead our children
To a good life and old age.
These our people; give them good minds
to love one another.
Oh Great Spirit,
Be kind to us.
Give these people the favor
to see green trees,
green grass, flowers and berries
This next spring;
So we all meet again
Oh Great Spirit,
We ask of you.