January 27, 2015

Aqua Inspiration

One of my favorite colors is Aqua.  This color is not only easy on the eyes, but it transports me from a cold winter day to a warm beach where I can dip my feet into tranquil aqua waters.  Over the years, I've been drawn to this blue-green color and have touches of it in my home and in my artwork.  Here are a few samples that I hope will inspire you.  You can also check out my Pinterest board with more aqua inspiration here:  http://www.pinterest.com/starlitestudios/aqua-turquoise-robins-egg-blue/

"Promise of Spring" painting on canvas.

A bike I spray painted this past summer
and filled with lavender bunches from my garden.

An Easter Ornament made from a vintage postcard.
  I made the frame from chip board and
 used aqua glitter to give it some sparkle.

I repainted the frame of this shadow box with aqua
and stenciled the edge in white.  I included
a small bird nest that fell out of a tree after a
storm.  Thankfully, the nest was already empty.
The resourceful bird used netting in her nest.

"Isabella's Ice Cream Shop" painting on wood panel
with frame.  I included my aqua garden bike in the painting.
  This cute little shop is close by. We enjoyed some
 of their yummy ice cream last summer.

"Tea Time" painting on wood panel
with a vintage aqua frame repurposed from the center 
of a vintage wood shutter.  This painting is available in my
Etsy shop at this link: 

This painting has a funny story to it.  I always admired this barn from afar.  Being that I paint lots of barns, I saw a photo of the yellow barn on the internet and thought that it would be neat to travel to wherever it was someday so that I could create a painting of it.  Last year, my daughter, Vanessa had a photography class and one of her assignments was to shoot a roll of film of whatever she wanted.  She decided to take some photos of the countryside near us, so we hopped in the car and I drove down some unfamiliar back roads and we found lots of photo inspiration.  We were about 6 miles from home when we rounded a bend in the road and there it was--the exact barn!!!  I could hardly believe it!!!

I used little touches of aqua throughout this painting titled "Mascot Barn."

A wreath I made for our bedroom with a round
canvas center and pompoms made with yarn.

We painted our bedroom with a soothing aqua.
I added my aqua painting above the bed and made a
pillow from pretty aqua cloth I bought at JoAnn's Fabrics.

Over the last ten years I enjoyed painting hundreds
of wooden bowls.  This is one of my favorite
designs, "Robin's Nest."  It is only 2-1/2" in size.

"Dandelion Dream" painting on canvas with aqua tones in the sky.

I added a swirly aqua sky in my painting "Hans Herr House."

A commissioned painting I did in 2013 that combined
 a couple's love for snowmen and the beach.

A painting of my daughter, Vanessa at age four.

"Firefly Dream" painting on canvas with hand-painted frame.

I hope you found some aqua inspiration today.

Next post, I'll share a how-to for painting an aqua frame like the one above.  Until then, stay warm and cozy!

You can also see this post at:

January 23, 2015

Half Dinner

One day as I was staring into the pantry, wondering what I was going to make for supper, I came across a half bag of egg noodles.  This happens a lot in my house, having a small family.  There’s always half of this and half of that leftover. Do you experience that?

 So I grabbed the noodles, then headed to the frig and found a half jar of spaghetti sauce, a half container of cottage cheese, a half can of cream of mushroom soup, a half carton of cream, and a half block of cheese.  Get my drift?  You don’t know the half of it!  (I just had to add that--LOL!)

I was trying to work up some magic with all this half stuff and immediately thought that it looked half like lasagna.  So, this is how I put it together.

Half Lasagna

Half bag wide egg noodles (at least 6 oz. or a little more)
1 lb. ground turkey
Half can cream of mushroom soup (cream of celery works good too)
Half cup cream
Half large container of cottage cheese (about 16 oz.)
Half jar spaghetti sauce
Grated cheese (I’ve already tried mozzarella, havarti, american - use whatever you like or have on hand that melts well)
Garlic Salt
Onion Powder
Italian Seasoning

Cook noodles according to package directions. (I use a large frying pan to cook the noodles so I only have half the dishes to clean.)  Drain and place noodles in a long greased casserole dish (9x12, 10x13, whatever?) Mix together the half can soup, half cup of cream and half container cottage cheese and stir into the noodles. (Don’t drown the noodles with this sauce,  just stir in enough to wet the noodles to a light creamy consistency.)  Top the noodles with a good handful of grated cheese. Cook 1 lb. ground turkey in the same frying pan.  Add a few shakes of each of the spices to the meat.  (I don’t measure them.  Why make more dishes.)  When the turkey is no longer pink, place it on top of the noodles.  Spread half jar spaghetti sauce evenly over the meat.  Sprinkle with another good handful of grated cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour.  Serves 4-6.

Serve with a side salad and your favorite bread.  

So, how did everyone like it?  After my family ate this, they went back for another half serving. So, I know they liked it!  My teenager told me it was blog worthy.  I hope you enjoy this at least “half” as much as we did!

January 15, 2015

Ironstone Soup - The Power of Improvising

I want to tell you a story while I share the progression of a painting with you. 

The other day I decided to make Beef Barley Soup.  I bought everything I needed, so I thought, but when I went to the freezer for beef, I couldn’t find any.  Somehow, I tend to think that the freezer is a self-replenishing  bottomless pit--1 lb. of beef just has to be in there.  Nope, wasn’t there, so I had to “improvise” with 1 lb. of boneless chicken. Then, I realized I didn’t have quite enough barley, so I added leftover rice.  Instead of beef barley soup, I ended up with something that looked like “stone soup”.   Ever do that?  You are probably saying, “Yes, all the time!”  I think we tend to look at “improvising” with a  “glass half-empty mentality,” but, I believe there  actually is power in improvising.

(Starting a new painting)

I learned at an early age that it’s okay not have everything you think you need.  Growing up in a large family with 6 other siblings--all boys,  my parents often improvised in making meals and making the budget stretch.  In tough times, we relied upon God’s provision where we lacked the ability to improvise.  I can remember sitting at the supper table one evening, with just empty plates in front of us, because my father’s job was on strike.  We trusted the Lord by saying grace and then we heard the doorbell ring.  It was a sweet lady from our church that brought us 2 large bags of corn on the cob from her farm.  She didn’t know we had a need, but God did!  This taught me a powerful lesson that if I had everything I ever wanted, I would seldom see God’s hand of provision.

(I set up a little still life for a reference - had to
improvise on the tureen)

  I knew that I wanted to be an artist at a very early age.  After dabbling in finger paints at age 5,  and moving onto paint-by-number in grade school,  I was ready to try my hand at oil painting by age 15.    When my parents bought me some paints, brushes and canvas board, I felt like I was in heaven!   I was ready to paint and realized I had everything I needed, except one of those fancy easels.  Did that bother me?  Not at all!  By then, I learned that one of the secrets to creativity was found in improvising.  Growing up in a musical family, I got the idea that a music stand would make the perfect easel--and it did.

(I drew up a sketch the way I wanted it to look)

Now, that I’m grown, I own an easel, but hardly ever use it. I prefer to lay my work flat and turn the canvas to suit the angle I’m painting at. I still improvise all the time and I have found that the results of improvising can be very satisfying.  Last year I wanted to buy a unique clock for my husband’s birthday, but because of budget, I had to improvise and create one.  Painting a saw blade for the face of the clock and drawing a clock design for my brother to make from wood, made it so much more special to my husband. You can see the clock here:  http://starlitestudios.blogspot.com/2013/03/farm-paintings-painted-bowls-and-clock.html

(Then painted the background)

(I painted an ironstone tureen on the canvas)

(Added some books)

(Worked on shading, highlighting and lots
of little details)

So, the next time you think of improvising, think of it as “the-glass-half-full” and maybe with faith, even overflowing!  By the way, the “stone soup” did turn out great!  My family even went back for seconds.

(After working and reworking colors and details, 
the painting was finished.)

Title:  Ironstone Soup

Now, it’s your turn.  What are some ways that you had to improvise and it turned out for the better?
Please check out French Country Cottage at the following link:

January 11, 2015

Our Kitchen Reno

Today, I would like to share our kitchen reno.  This is what our kitchen looked like right before renovation.

The first wallpaper (the flowered one) was easy to remove.  It just peeled right off.  That felt good!!!

However, there was another layer.  The second layer was attached to bare drywall and was not easy to remove, but after two weeks we were making progress.  Yay!

Before we ripped out the carpet, we decided to have some fun with it.

We chose the same hardwood flooring that runs throughout the downstairs and I painted the walls a soothing green called Willow.

Then the cabinets were installed...

and some new appliances. 

Now I'm ready to cook.

You can also see this post at:  http://www.stonegableblog.com/the-scoop-153/

January 6, 2015

How To Simplify Your Life in One Easy Step

Today, I’m taking the Christmas tree down and putting all the ornaments and decorations away for another year.  There’s something refreshing about having everything cleaned up and back to normal. With the new year already underway, I could blog about organizational tips, share to-do lists, setting goals, etc., but I’m not going to.  Instead, I would like to share something that will help simplify your life.  We could all use some simplicity after the holidays that somehow seem to exhaust and deplete us.

This past Sunday, our sermon was titled, “Simplify Your Life in 1137 Easy Steps.”  (LOL)
The scripture passage was taken from Luke 10:38-42. 

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

We can all relate to having company over and the many preparations it entails.   If you have the help of someone, it can make things so much easier.  I’m not suggesting you hire a maid.  In this passage, Martha was overwhelmed and resentful toward her sister because she had to do everything herself.   When she told Jesus to tell her sister, Jesus gave Martha a strange answer, “only one thing is needed.”    What is that “one thing?”  He is looking for a friendship with each of us.  Just imagine, the Creator of the universe wants to have a relationship with me!  How do we do it?  Just talk to him and ask him.  He doesn't expect you to be perfect.  Just come as you are.  When we invite Jesus into our lives, we begin this friendship with him.  Praying is simply talking to God, and when we read the Bible, we open ourselves to hear from Him and it brings growth in our life. 

You may think that you don’t have time.  There are so many things that need to be done.  How can I add a quiet time with him.  Somehow, when we are filled up, we are able to make better choices, love others more, eat better, become more creative and we experience a deeper life that Jesus wishes for us.  We are able to be more attentive to what God desires and we experience life in all of its fullness. However, if we are depleted, we over complicate life, are easily irritated, we overspend and feel resentment. 

If we carve out a little time and find a quiet place every day where we can turn off all the “noise” and talk with Jesus, we soon begin to see that all the rest will fall into place.

This year my biggest goal is to simplify my life by making sure I choose that “one thing.”  I hope you will too.  Let’s see where it takes us.

*Notes above are adapted from the sermon at LCBC.  You can see the whole video message here:

Download the Daily Bible Reading app and select the NT 260 plan here: