Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pancakes and Inspiration

CinnAppNutPancakes I have been feeling quite inspired lately, and everywhere I turn I find more to inspire me.  It must be the crisp fall air that is finally here.  Fall is definitely my time of year, even though I know that a winter of freezing in my studio is just around the corner.  I am dusting off my pile of warm fuzzies as we speak… 

Something else that I love when the weather turns crisp is pancakes.  (I used to own and operate a country inn where breakfast was included, so I am quite the expert on breakfast, ha ha).  It’s been a few years, but I am getting inspired about cooking again now that I work from home.  Lately I’ve been inventing new pancake recipes, and I thought I’d share one of my favorites with you today.  These were inspired by the French Breakfast muffins we used to serve at the inn (I’ll be posting that recipe one of these days).  I love the hints of vanilla and nutmeg combined with the apples and cinnamon.

 Apple Cinnamon Nutmeg Pancakes with Maple Syrup 

1 cup unbleached flour (I use half whole wheat and half white flour)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Scant 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 rounded Tablespoon Sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

Maple syrup to taste



2 large cooking apples, sliced thinly (rome, macintosh or granny smith are great)

2 Tablespoons butter

1 T brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


Stir together dry ingredients, beat egg in small bowl, add milk to beaten egg, and pour into dry ingredients.  Stir until combined. 

Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto preheated griddle, keep warm in 200 degree oven.

Make topping:  Melt butter in saucepan, add brown sugar and cinnamon, then add apples.  Cook until just tender. 

Serve pancakes topped with apples and maple syrup and enjoy!

Oh yes, a few chopped toasted walnuts on top are wonderful, too. 


GaryGillis_Hummingbird_Moth While I was enjoying the above pancakes, I thought I’d browse the front page of 1000 Markets.  The first thing I saw was this stunning photo by Gary Gillis.  It is a Hummingbird Moth, and the photo took him 6 years to get!  I believe it, because the clarity is simply stunning.  I spend a lot of time with my camera, and I am always striving (and have yet to achieve) the luminous clarity that jumps out from Gary’s photography – indeed an inspiration.


Another photo of Gary’s that I love is this luminous pink water lotus.  I travelled to a garden in nearby North Carolina a year ago when the lotus were blooming and was just enthralled with these gorgeous and amazingly huge flowers, truly a photographer’s dream.   Of course, my photos were nowhere near the quality of Gary’s, so I shall spare you all.   The colors in this photo are reminding me that I just have to try enamels on my flower jewelry soon.  I can just see a cuff bracelet and earring set in these colors for next spring’s new designs. 

GoldenLeafBlogjpg One of my little nature inspired experiments this week at the bench was yet another fold formed leaf.  I’ve been playing with the ‘line fold’ where the back of the fold is hammered flat, and I decided it made a great center vein for a leaf.  This one is done in brass, and accented with a little black star sapphire.  I really quite like it.  Lol, wouldn’t it be great if I could do one in 18kt gold……I keep looking at the gold sheet -one of these days I’m going to buy a couple of inches.


That’s it for now….have a great week!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What, October already?

1CandleCupcake.jpg I can’t believe how fast September whizzed by!  My head is spinning!  This September was a big milestone for me – it marked my 1 year anniversary as a full time artist.  It also prompted a  bit of reflection and a serious reality check.  I am happy to report that I survived the reality check.  Making a living as an artist is not an easy thing, and as I head into my second year, I had to pause and make sure that I am not running headlong into disaster.  And I may be, since I am “of a certain age” and now without medical insurance.  But on the bright side, that is the only negative (yes, I know, it’s a very big one, but I’m working on finding a plan) thing I could find.  I still absolutely love what I am doing and wake up inspired each day.  I am much healthier – my blood pressure is way down and I’m (finally!!) losing weight.  My business is still growing by leaps and bounds, and my biggest problem is figuring out how to produce more jewelry in less time while not neglecting  the various ho-hum accounting and paperwork chores too badly.  I am happily planning for additions to my business such as teaching workshops on a regular basis, and I’m steadily increasing the number of galleries and shops that carry my work.   In the end, happiness with my daily life and the freedom to create is more important to me than the financial security that a “day job” GastonHouse brings.   Unfortunately I did have to forgo attending the Jewelry Artist’s Network retreat this year which was a difficult and painful decision, but necessary at this point in time.  I will be there in spirit, if not in body, and am already planning how to swing it next year.

One of the things l love most about my business is the wonderful people that I meet through my shops on Etsy and 1000 Markets.  I received an inquiry a couple of weeks ago from Natalia, the author of a wonderful fashion blog  in the UK called Fashion Titbits who wanted to feature my Etsy shop in an article.  I love  international customers, and am always looking for ways to draw more attention to my work from overseas, so I jumped at the chance to be featured.  She did a lovely interview and is featuring several photos of my work. There is a giveaway as well – anyone can enter today through next Saturday, October 10th.  The winner will be announced on the 11th.  If you love a good fashion blog, (and giveaways, too!) do be sure and pay a visit to Fashion Titbits

800px-Bruggewasser I particularly loved one  of her posts from this summer, titled ‘Style Secrets A to Z’  What an interesting insight into fashionable pleasures from an international point of view.  Her pick of Bruges, Belgium for “B” reminded me that I need to go back there.  I passed through on a train ride from Amsterdam to Calais, and was positively enthralled.   Alas, we did not have time to explore at all since we only had a few minutes to switch trains.   This gorgeous city is full of history, fabulous architecture and yummy chocolate – I’m ready to pack my bags!

I wanted to post a picture of the new hummingbird ring design I’m working on, but didn’t get a chance to work on it today.  JoaniesDragon3 However, I did finish this custom order for a customer which I just love – a lovely brass dragon with a tourmaline and garnet set in 14kt gold.  I’m also working on a dragon ring for another customer that will be her engagement ring – I can’t wait to finish that one, too!