Jun 162014

I sometimes doodle.

I am sure you do too.

Who doesn’t – right??

When I was a teen I starting doodling on HUGE poster size pieces of paper – using a black fine tip marker and repetition. Building an entire page full of tiny parts into something kinda cool.

Some years ago ‘zentangles’ became the rage and I just looked at is and smiled – I recognized it. It’s what I had been doing all those years ago!

It rekindled the doodle desire in me.

I began fiddling with it in my small sketchbook


It is really just repetition of lines and simple shapes.



Sometimes the shapes are recognizable or combined turn into something recognizable



and sometimes I will start with a ‘thing’ and then work out from there.

and sometimes they turn into something very weird…..

don’t ask — I have no idea.

here you can see that it’s nothing fancy – it’s just repetition and filling the space ‘tightly’


Some time ago someone mentioned that it would be great to transfer to metal.

I agree.

It’s been in the back of my mind ever since.

Should I stamp, etch, engrave..? And I just never did decide.


Well, yesterday I decided to play a little.  I decided to stamp….freehand. I don’t have many stamps – it’s not something I do a lot, so I was limited in what I could do. If I continue to explore this I will make some custom stamps for myself (or etch a design)


If you want to learn more about zentangles – There are books and classes and more.

I have to say that I haven’t read any of them so I can’t really comment but it would be interesting to SEE the drawings and to hear their connection with doodling as a meditative exercise. I know it calms my mind. And I don’t think you have to know how to draw, or that you have to do it like I do, or like anyone else does – just DO it!

So. give it to me straight – do you doodle? Will you try?

 Posted by at 2:10 pm  Tagged with:
Jun 152014

I don’t know why. It’s become an obsession.

I’ve made five loaves of bread in the past 4 weeks.

Some have been more successful than others but I am committed to making the perfect loaf of bread.

And not just any bread. But SANDWICH bread.

Or something that will pass as that. (To 3 hungry and growing boys. )

There is just something about MAKING bread.

The slowness of it. In a world that moves SO fast.

It’s a tactile thing which meets some need in me – hands on measuring, mixing, kneading the dough.

It’s almost ‘parental’ — creating the dough, kneading it, finding just the right place to set it to rise….checking it, until finally it can go in the oven. (ok, maybe that analogy is just because my youngest is turning 13 this month….my baaaaaaaaaaby is growing up!)

I purchased an awesome bread pan for this challenge.

It’s a “pullman” loaf pan.

And it turns out bread that looks, well, like a commercial loaf of sandwich bread.




And it’s so pretty when it’s sliced!



So far, this is the most successful loaf but it was a little dense, a little coarse (sounds like some people I know. not naming any names….just sayin’….)

Here is the recipe I’m using:

4 3/4 cups  All-Purpose Flour

1 cup  water

2/3 cup ) milk

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

6 tablespoons  butter

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons  potato flour

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons instant yeast

Basically you mix all the ingredients until they pull away from the bowl and form a shaggy ball. Then turn the dough out and  knead for 7ish minutes (by hand) (will vary by machine) until dough is nice and smooth.

Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise until JUST doubled. (1 1/4 – 2 hours)

Remove dough and shape into loaf the length of your pan. Place in greased pan and allow to rise until it is just below the edge of the pan (if you are using the lidded pullman pan). Once the dough has risen, place lid on pan and put pan in oven at 375 for 25 minutes. Carefully remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes.

Cook until inside temp is 190.

Remove pan from oven and turn bread out on to wire rack to cool.

I usually let it cool for  a few minutes upside down and then turn it right side up to finish cooling.

Slice and enjoy!



 Posted by at 6:02 pm
Jun 122014
I ran across this cool little item a while back and put it on my Amazon wishlist.
When I needed to order a few things the other day, I popped this little cutey into my cart. 🙂
I love a tool that does double duty and this little Xyron sticker maker has such potential, it was a great score at just 8 bucks !
This cool little tool takes your item – a drawing, cut out, picture, and turns it into a sticker.
You feed your item in one end….


Pull it out the other end


 Lift to tear it off on the serrated edge
 Then rub to ‘set’ the glue


 Cut and peel off the top plastic




And you are left with a STICKER!



Peel off the sticker whenever you’re ready to use it



And they stick pretty good!




you can’t go wider than the opening, but you can go smaller



Hello little cutie-pie!



 And you can go lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnger.


Now, these examples aren’t exciting.

Not at all.

But think of what you can do –  food labels, stickers for your kids, stickers OF your kids – stickers for DAD on Father’s day – drawings the kids make, turned sticker would be a great gift for him!  or for Grandma, or yourself. Or your kids can make stickers to decorate their notebooks or laptops.

I can use it in my studio – for labels on packaging, to thank you stickers, or as a piercing guide.

I am sure I will come up with other uses too…..what about you – what can you think of???

Jun 122014
I’ve been reminded of this in different ways recently.

How little things add up.

Metalsmithing is like this in so many ways.

Each piece we make is the product of so many small steps along the way. And not only do we build on those steps but how well we complete each step often impacts the final outcome.

Little things add up!

Most pieces we make are the product of smaller components that we’ve made. Make earwires, make connectors, make a focal, made small detail elements. . . .and…………

these little things add up!

Into a fully finished functional piece of jewelry.

Janice Fowler, Handcrafted earrings

Earring components by Doxallo Studio in progress


Earrings ready for final clean up and polish

Part of what has me thinking about little things though is this.

That is my bread dough getting ready for it’s first rise.
If making sandwich bread from scracth doesn’t teach me to slow down and see the little things, I don’t know what will!
Every little thing you do to that recipe, all along the way, impacts how it turns out.
From mixing proportions, to kneading time, to rising temperature and duration…..I am learning this by trial and error (and 3 loaves of bread in less than 10 days)
Every little thing, every choice, they build on each other.
This lovely little lump of dough  belongs to my grandson. He often joins me in the kitchen.
He likes to help. and I like to let him. 🙂
From pouring ingredients, to stirring, to kneading dough…I even let him crack eggs.
He has his own technique he has developed – it goes like this:
tap tap tap, hold egg over secondary bowl, and fist it, smashing it to smithereens. It’s quite effective.
Yes, it’s messy.  But it’s really effective. 🙂
I just scoop the shells out, wash his hand, and then he dumps the eggs into the main bowl.
it works for us.
and you know what? It’s a little thing that we do together. One of many little things — that will build on each other. and will contribute to something in him. Hopefully something positive. 🙂

In addition to baking bread, I have made brownies twice in a ten day period.
This is good — YUM!
and this is bad…… Ummm, YUM!
I have gotten in the habit of making my brownies in cupcake tins. Everyone gets a corner!
A round corner, but let’s not get technical. . . it’s the same effect.
Crunchy edges, chewy insides. Oh em gee.
 hello calories! how’d you end up on my thighs?
ohhhhh, yes………………
little things add up.
So, I suggest cutting them in half  BUT, here is another ‘little thing’ I started doing a few years ago. I add fresh ground flax seed to my brownies. . . and sometimes some ground oats.
This stretches the batter a little and adds some healthful qualities to the brownies.
It’s a little thing, but if done in various foods we eat, these little dietary changes will add up! (you can also sub out some fat and other things but I haven’t done any testing with that yet)
One last little thing. 🙂
Try adding a tablespoon of instant coffee granules to your brownie batter.
You’ll thank me for it.
Jun 082014

In my quest to participate as best I can in school events, I often volunteer to make food. It’s something I am fairly good at and I’m in the kitchen anyway most evenings, so why not. 🙂

In my quest to ‘save time’ (OK, i can already see that I don’t like that terminology – it’s not like I’m bottling it up for later…..how about use time wisely? I don’t know – will have to think on that.) In any event,  I decided I didn’t want to spend an hour decorating a cake that took 10 minutes to make (out of a box). But I really wanted something with visual impact and something the kids would clamor to.

With that in mind, and with sharing with a large group in mind, I went for a sheet cake rather than a layered cake. A simple yellow cake mix and then swirled chocolate and vanilla frosting.

Simple so far, plain even, but then this happened:

mini marshmallows

chocolate chunks

crushed pretzels

colored sprinkles

and, as if that weren’t enough – I drizzled melted chocolate on the top!


Just LOOK at that! What kid wouldn’t want to dive into that??



Everything stuck to the icing nicely when the cake was cut. 🙂


Since the oven was already on, and this cake was going to an event, and I was already in the kitchen……

I made another! 🙂



I will often make two of something so that I can freeze one for later or just keep one home for my hungry bunch!

The great thing about this cake decorating method is that it is ENDLESSLY versatile! Pretty much anything you have in the pantry you can throw on there –

  • chopped cookies
  • nuts
  • candy (of just about any variety)
  • cereal
  • crackers
  • caramel
  • seeds
  • oats

ok, I was starting to stray…..use the comments below to share what crazy items you might put on a cake like this. 🙂