Monday, April 11, 2016
ALL THINGS FRENCH~MACARONS
My own French Macarons
There is something about France that keeps calling me back to her. It might be the glorious old stone buildings, cathedrals and castles or it might be the couture-the clothing there is devine or it might just be the food. 'Mais oui bien sure'- French for “But of course.” It's the food.
I dined on glorious desserts, breads and many of the over 600 types of cheese available throughout France and, did I mention the wine? The wine was plentiful at such good prices I just had to take advantage of it and have my daily dose.
This time, I went to France, primarily, to take a cooking class. My granddaughter went with me and we stayed with my friends Betsy and Chris, who live in Nantes. Believe me, with all the amazing castle jaunts in the Loire Valley (known as the valley of castles) I was lucky to fit the class in! I learned to make the 'oh so French Macarons.' These cookies are sold absolutely everywhere there are patisseries or weekend markets. You see them used to dress shop windows because they are so colorful and whimsical. I must tell you though, they are not that easy to prepare, as we found out. Chris acted as our interpreter for the class since our chef spoke very little English.
Our French Chef
My Granddaughter, Marcy
Piping the Macarons
Betsy and our Interpreter, Chris
After An Afternoon Immersed In Almonds, Sugar, Pistachios, and Gnash, The Cookies Were Ready To Fill.
I made several attempts to recreate the macarons once I got home and finally, with the aid of a silicone baking mat that is marked with circles for the cookies, I was able to achieve the look and taste of French Macarons. Below the recipe, I have added links to 3 of the items I used while making the macarons. I tend to use Amazon because I have little time to shop but I'm sure you can find subsitutes at other local stores.
Here is the translation of recipe for Macarons. Since our ovens are different here, I modified the ingredients and method a bit from the French version I learned in class but the taste and look is the same.
3 egg whites that have been placed in refrigerator for 2 days (covered with wrap)
2/3 cup of almond flour
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
5 T. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
l.Preheat oven to 325 degrees and position rack in the center of oven. Most recipes say to line a baking sheet with parchment paper but I found after many trials and error that a silicone baking sheet is best. I found one at Amazon that has circles drawn on them so that you can position batter perfectly. I'm sure others will work as well. You can also use the parchment paper if you prefer and place the silicone mat under the parchment since it is transparant and use the pattern.
2. Sift almond meal and powdered sugar using a hand held colendar with small holes or flour sifter. At this point we used a powdered colorant to keep down the amount of liquid entering mixture. A gel is also recommended for this but not the liquid baking coloring.
3. Place egg whites in a bowl and beat until frothy. Then add 5 T. granulated sugar a little at a time until stiff peaks form. Gently stir in the vanilla. I found the best vanilla ever while in France at an outdoor market. It was called bourbon vanilla. It actually has an abundance of very finely ground vanilla right in the extract.
4. Add the sifted mixture slowly (three separate portions) to the meringue mixture and mix with a spatula, pulling up the mixture along sides of bowl and punching down again and turning bowl until mixture resembles a kind of lava look. You want to get the air out of mixture.
5. Place mixture into a pastry bag or large gallon size zip lock bag. Pipe out 1 1/2” mounds onto silicone sheet and then place on a thin cutting board or sheet and lift in the air and let drop on the counter. This ensures the air is removed and the bottoms achieve the frilly look strived for in macarons, which are called “feet.” You can drop the cutting board 2 or3 times. Let sit out for about 15 minutes or until only a small indentation forms in them when you touch.
6. Now turn down oven temp to 300 and preheat. Then, place macarons on baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Open oven and turn rack around and bake another 5 minutes. Do not overbake. You don't want tops to be brown and do not underbake because they will be too mushy. All ovens are different. Experience will tell you when they are done but I have found that about 10 minutes altogether is perfect. The top should be crunchy and the inside chewy.
7. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Assemble with fillings after they cool. They should be placed in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then taken out and allowed to sit on counter for 20 minutes. I have found that they freeze very well and even taste better, if that's possible. The fillings are an important part of the cookie. I make pistachio filling, almond filling, cashew and chocolate gnash filling. You can find hundreds of good ones on line since Macarons are very trendy right now.
I hope this post helps all of you who have struggled with macarons. Remember, I went all the way to France to learn and still had to tweak for my own oven and local ingredients. Have fun and have patience.
I'm selling them on our Farmer's Market now so if you are local, come on down and try them. I think you will be glad you did. Thanks so much for visiting today. Also, please let me know if you have success with this recipe. Don't give up.
Posted by Healing Woman at 7:20 AM
Thursday, March 31, 2016
SORCHA, DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST
I named my latest burning bowl "Daughter of the Forest," after the heroine in a book I am reading of the same title and written by Juliet Marillier. It is from her Sevenwaters trilogy. I normally don't read anything that involves fantasy or myths but since my friend Karen, better known as my book guru, recommended it, I knew I needed to give it a chance. I'm so glad I did. I found that the book is steeped in herbal lore. I have always loved and appreciated all the cures rendered from precious medicinal herbs such as Agrimony, used for sore throats, St, John's Wart for depression, Vetiver for skin care and I was thrilled to learn of many herbs I never heard of. A lot of research went into this book.
The theme of the burning bowl fits right into the story as well. Unity Church has a special ceremony each New Year’s Eve. A large bowl is placed at the altar and each member of the church is asked to write down problems or vices they wish to annihilate from their lives. It could be a wish to quit smoking or drinking. It might be a desire to lose weight or to quit any of a number of addictions. Each person places their list into the bowl and at midnight, the bowl is lit. Everyone watches as the fire burns away all the troubles. I can imagine Sorcha, the heroine of the story, using the bowl as she conjures her remedies and sends evil away from the people of her forest.
Sorcha features an amazing headdress that I finally had a chance to use. It is made of small beads and safety pins. It's hard to imagine anyone sitting for as many hours as it must have taken to complete let alone the number of times the pins would jab fingers. I had been patiently waiting in my studio for just the right application. The headdress can be positioned in several different ways as shown in the pictures. She is 4" wide x 4 1/2" deep x 8 1/2" high and is an original. I priced her at $68. If you would like to purchase, e-mail me and we can go from there. I take personal checks or Paypal.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
ALCHEMIST WALL SCULPTURES
Goddess Odelia-Means " Little, Wealthy One" 3"x11"
A friend of mine recommended I change my switch plate covers to wall sculptures. I thought about it and decided to give it a whirl. I may not discontinue the switch plate covers though. I have just finished 3 of the wall sculptures. You will see they are of the same design as the covers but I have taken away the spaces for the switch and added hangers to the back. I rather like them. Here are the first 3 all ready to go. 3 Special Goddesses. I am asking $65. each. I created them with stoneware clay which has been fired in my kiln. I've added embellishments that look as if they have been dredged from antiguity. Each one is an original. Hope you like. If you'd like to purchase, please e-mail me and we can go from there. I accept personal checks and Paypal.
Goddess Rashida-Egyptian-Means Righteous 3"x 9"
Goddess Balere-Basque- Means "Strong" 3"x16"
Sold. Thank you Katharine!
Posted by Healing Woman at 9:19 AM
Sunday, March 13, 2016
HEALING WOMAN PLANTER
Front View~ I Tried To Capture The Light Coming Through Beads But Could Not Do Justice
Sold. Thanks Yavia!
This may be the most unusual planter I have ever created but when spirit speaks, we artists must listen. The inspiration for Healing Woman came from my friend Wanda K, who gave me a most unusual pair of antique earrings. They looked like devination crystal balls for gazing.
I couldn't wait to incorporate them into my work. Thank you Wanda! I wasn't sure where they would end up but I am pleased that they are now dangling from my healer's hands. I left the backing intact because I think they add to the mystique. The embellishment above her head seemed to fit the theme of the wild and wonderful healer.
Close-Up of Clear Earrings
She is 4" wide by 4" deep and approx. 13" high. I have priced her at $100. She is fairly light so should ship well. I think she would be lovely potted with a trailing herb such as thyme. I hope she finds a really good home with someone who appreciates the work involved in this piece.
Another Front View
Thanks so much for viewing. If you are interested in purchasing, please e-mail me and we can go from there. I accept Paypal and personal checks.
My story of Healing Woman seemed appropriate for her.
Dredged from antiquity..daughter of fire emerges with the healing power of the ages..Voices lost in time whisper to her of healing on many levels. Energy rises from her very soul as she remembers the responsibility bestowed upon her. She is the Studda Bubba, the witch, the magician and the shaman..the very essence of the healer. She calls upon the great mother to share with her the wisdom of her yield. Knowing she is merely the vehicle of a force far greater than she, and with great integrity, the healing woman delivers her cures as the power moves through her hands of light.
Posted by Healing Woman at 3:23 PM
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
ALCHEMIST BURNING BOWL
Sold. Thank you Holly!
The Alchemist is the first burning bowl of the season and fits in well with my Alchemist series. I looked up the definition of alchemy and found it to mean that it can be either a medieval chemical science whereby metals were turned into gold, or a discovery of a universal cure for disease and elixir for prolonging life. So an alchemist would be a person who studies to achieve this goal.
My burning bowls were created to allow the owner a chance to have a burning bowl ceremony which can be personal, or shared with others. Can believing that by burning a paper where ones flaws and bad habits are written really work? This custom appears in many forms. An example would be that the Chinese are known for taking problems into a boat and sending out to sea, thus releasing them to the waters. I have used stained glass in the bowl that has been fired at a high temperature on my kiln, allowing your 'problems' to burn properly. You can use it for incense or a candle when not in ceremony. You may not be able to turn metal into gold but you might be able to clear the slate for a more worry free existence in this life.
I'm proud that I have kept my price the same for my burning bowls since the first one (all different of course) many years ago. Just $68. She is 4" wide x 5" deep and 9" high including the crystal. I used sparkling crystals and a wing embellishment. I hand sculpted her out of stoneware clay. You can e-mail me if you'd like to purchase. I take Paypal and personal checks. Thank you so much for taking the time to view and read.
Stained Glass Basin
Posted by Healing Woman at 8:03 AM
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
ALCHEMIST TEA VESSEL
Alchemist Tea Vessel
Sold. Thank you Lisa!!
The 'Alchemist' is the name I have given to the first of my new series for 2016. Here you see my new tea vessel. Her eyes tell all. She is mysterious, mesmerizing and spellbinding. I can visualize a personal tea ceremony or one as described below.
Old Lock Used As Part of Lid
Enchantment found it’s way to the table where the Goddess Ceremonial Tea Vessel was placed. Three friends were drawn to help initiate a healing. The pungent herbal aroma from the mysterious vessel containing the special roots and herbs chosen fresh from the garden permeated the air. The elixir was steeped to perfection and the cups were filed. Each Goddess inhaled the scent of the tisanes which opened their sensory perception as they gazed at the fascinating original clay Goddess face that was sculpted into the vessel. All were oblivious to their surroundings and time was lost to antiquity as they partook of this special potion, all the while awaiting for the magic to unfold.
Back of Vessel
My tea vessels are each an original. I hand sculpt them using stoneware clay. The Goddess faces are sculpted in the bas-relief method. I used a lead free glaze on each vessel. The Alchemist is approx 10” wide by 5” deep by 7 high including the lid top. I used an old door lock with an ancient brass key for the lid. The glaze is a rich copper/teal/turquoise. It's hard to describe the color but the picture is accurate. . About 4 cups of tea can be brewed and I made the spout drip proof. I have priced her at $125. A lot of work was involved and I think whoever owns her will consider her a treasure. If you are interested in purchasing, I take peronal checks or Paypal. Just e-mail me and we can go from there.
To brew tea:
The best way to brew tea for vessel is to place cold water in another microwavable container. Heat water and then pour into vessel in which either tea bags or a tea strainer or tea ball has been placed. Place lid back on and allow to steep for 5 minutes or so. Serve. (Be sure to hold the lid as you pour the tea.)
Care of Tea Vessel:
Because of the various embellishments placed into the vessel, it is best not to place in dishwasher or microwave but instead use the tea vessel to steep and serve. I have used lead free glaze on the interior of each pot so that it is safe to drink the tea and after finishing, running hot water inside the pot releasing any tea having lodged there is all that is needed to keep sanitary.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
GRAND SALE !!!!!!
Sold. Thank you Yavia!
Each January when I make my New Years “Revolutions” I create a special column for all the new items I want to create with my sculpture for the coming year. There is always a new series in the works. This year is no different. I have many exciting ideas for several new series for 2016. In order for me to start fresh, I always feel as though I should sell what remained from the previous year. (or a lot of it anyway) Does that make sense? I think many artists think this way. It is sort of a clearing of the brain to allow for future 'brainstorms' so to speak.
Most of the art pieces I am listing have absolutely nothing wrong with them. Perhaps they did not get shown all year or were somehow overlooked. Orphans in a sense. I am giving a description of each item and price I had listed for with the new on sale price. If you see something you would like to have, please e-mail me and let me know. If for some reason the link for my e-mail does not work, here is the exact e-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org These are very, very good prices. Most come with one of my stories I write for them. Hope you enjoy viewing. I take checks or Paypal. Thank you so very much!
Grandmother Tree is approx 17" high x 7" wide x9" deep. I hand sculpted her from stoneware clay which was kiln fired and then added all of the driftwood and moss embellishments.
She is a spectacular bargain since I had her priced originally at $225 and now offer her to you for $145. She would make a lovely accent piece in a bay window, on a screened porch, altar, etc.
Chinese Herbalist Tea Vessel
Sold. Thank you Lisa!
7" wide x8" high x 4" deep. This teapot features a luscious chocolate glaze and one of my original faces created from stoneware clay. Would make a lovely gift for anyone versed in the art of tea ceremonies. Holds about 1 1/2 cups of tea. She was $89. but since I've had it for awhile I have decided to let go for $55. Teapots are the hardest thing I do with my sculpture. There is so much detail! This one is lovely.
Earthwalker bas-relief vessel.
A Srong original bas-relief face is featured on the top of this box. Size is 10 1/2" wide x 6" deep x 4" high. She can be used to store all sorts of things or propped upright and used as a sculpture. I have finished the inside with a brocade fabric and the outside front features an ingrained wooden relief. Price was $110. but I will sell for $69. A bargain!
Sold. Thank you Leisa!
Most of my smaller planters sell each summer season but Oceana for some reason unbeknown to me, is still available. She was priced at $78. but on sale now for $45. She holds a good size herb or trailing plant. Drainage hole is in bottom. Artificial plant not included. She is approx 5" wide x 5" deep x 12" high.
2 Art Dolls
Every once in awhile I like to experiment with small art dolls. These two seated dolls are cute and add a bit of whimsy to wherever you place them. They are approx7" high x 7" wide by 8" deep. The first one (with purple hair) is Polly. She has elf ears and bendable cloth body. The second one is Olga (orange hair) She reminds me of a doll I received as a child. This doll was from Poland and I remember loving to toss her around. So I made Olga toss proof-just in case. Dolls similar have sold for $85- $100, but I will sell each of them for $40 or both for $70. They are so cute.
Music was my Refuge
Sold. Thank you Lisa!
I created a collage around a Maya Angenu quote. I used musical notes then painted one of my faces-this one is hauntingly mysterious- and crackled the entire thing. She is 8" wide x 10" high and has a 1 1/2" width for easier hanging. I used a good grade cradle birch wood base for her. I actually love this one and was tempted not to sell her but I am anyway. Must move on. She was $89 and on sale now for $55.
Angel of Sacrifice
She is part of my angel series. For some reason the larger angels sell a lot more slowly than the smaller ones. Probably because of price but I'm not sure. I changed this one around a few times-changed color of hair etc- so hopefully someone will want to enjoy her in their home with her new hair do. I used the method I learned while studying in Italy for the halo and Renaissance Oil method for face and painted her on a secure board with a hanger for hanging in the back. She is 13" wide x 18" high and about 1" deep. The series runs close to $200 for this size but I have her for sale for $90.
Within the Within.
After I fired the face for "Within the Within" I noticed that one eye was...well..missing? I decided to camouflage by pulling hair (horsehair) over it. Then I started reading a series of books about a Native American elder who had one eye (Spirit Song by Mary Rain Tree) I decided that she was really came out the way she was supposed to so I renamed her "Grandmother No-Eyes." Her stoneware clay face is adorned with grey horsehair, turquoise and a rich black and cream brocade. She is quite large-14" wide x 36" high and 6" deep-approx. I have priced her from $200 down to $100. I think you will enjoy this piece. You can also see her on the right hand side of my blog with a link for other bloggers to add to their blogs.
Goddess Ceremonial Altar` "Stardust Woman"
I just finished this piece not too long ago and posted her on my blog. She was priced at $110 but I had no takers. She is 4" wide x 4" deep x 11 1/2" high. She can be used in ceremony as an altar or for candle or incense. I'm pricing her at $65. Really a good price, especially for all the work involved!
Sold. Thank you Trish!
She is 11" wide x 14" high and 1 1/2" deep. I created this mixed media painting on a birch board with deep cradle sides for easier hanging. I used oils, encaustic wax and dried flowers from my garden. I've had her hanging in my own home for several years and now is the time for me to share her. She was $135-(I think) and I am offering her for $85.
Sold. Thank you Barb!
This is a beautiful, very textured piece. I sculpted one of my original stoneware faces for her and adorned her with horsehair, mudcloth from Africa and a beautiful stone head piece. She is approx 12" wide x 22" high and about 2" deep. She is very rich and earthy. I had $185-then dropped to $145 and now will sell her for $89! Someone will be very happy with her.
Sold. Thank you Yavia!
It's unusual for me to have a planter for 2 seasons! Everyone seems to buy around her and I'm waiting for someone to love her and give her a good home. She is all stoneware clay and can be kept outside during the summer. She is approx 6" x 6" x 12" high and was $89. I am selling her for $55.
I read a book about lace readers that intrigued me. There are actually woman who read fortunes by looking at lace. The book is called Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. It was a fascinating read and I felt I just had to paint her. She is approx 15" wide x 18" high and 1 1/2" deep for easier hanging. I painted her using acrylics onto a wood framed canvas. She is mysterious and her story is spellbinding. I priced her $300. because she took so long to do but now have decided to let her go for $155. Her coloring goes well with most decor.
Native American switch plate cover
Sold. Thank you Kayla!
I've had this switchplate cover forever. Everyone lifts it up and says how much they love it but I guess they don't want to pay the price. She was $58 and then I dropped the price to $45. Still no takers. So now-just $25. It will allow me to go on and make more of my covers knowing this one has a good home.
Penelope Pin Cushion
Pure and simple, this was a pattern but I changed it around to make it my own. She is so fun to have near your sewing machine. I used bone hands and one of my original faces plus ineresting cloth and saying on her back side. I sold similar ones for $42. but will sell her for $22. She's wild with her red and purple hair. Dimensions are approx 9"x9"
Quote on Back of Penelope
I named this piece after one of my Hopi teachers. She features one of my clay faces, horsehair and a woven backing. She was $78-now $45. I've pretty much discontinued this style and she is the last of this series.
She is from my Oceana series. I created this mixed media painting on a solid birch board and used encaustic wax and oils She is 11" wide x 15" high. She has a serene look and will bring peace to any room she is placed. She was $165-Now $90.
Philosophy Art Doll-Change is Growth
I've been creating these little art dolls for several years now. They can be hung on the wall or at a window or anywhere else you'd like to add a bit of whimsy and fun to your life. (You can't help but smile whenever you walk by them) They make a wonderful little gift for someone who needs some cheering. I'll be making more soon but she is the only one available right now. She is 9" high and about 6" wide (depending on how you place her moveable arms and legs) They sell for $28. but I'm letting this one go for $15.
Sold. Thank you Shirley!
Last Oceana piece to list. She is 7" wide x 10" high. Makes a nice accent piece for bathroom or anywhere. She was $78-Now $50.
Posted by Healing Woman at 7:12 AM