It’s Been a Wild Ride, but I’m Back with Buttons!

Nevertheless She Persisted

I haven’t blogged in quite a while, but I’m back to it. My small button business literally took off overnight. For reals – I made a Nasty Woman button during the presidential debate, went to bed and when I woke up it was madness! I couldn’t keep anything in stock, I was up all night making buttons and shipping orders. It took me some time to get the hang of it, but now I’m all good!

I have a large inventory of political, feminist, science and other activism designs available now in my Etsy shop – PlushBot Design Co. Designs are available on 1.25 & 2.25 inch buttons, 1.25 & 2.25 inch round fridge magnets and 2×3 inch rectangle fridge magnet. Use coupon code FREESHIP to get free shipping on orders of $10 or more.

Adult Coloring Page Underwater Robot

robot adult coloring pageThe adult coloring page phenomenon sure hasĀ taken off! Of course, anyone can color these images – not just adults. I think using the term adult coloring book or page gives us permission to have some fun and color! Whenever I go to my local art store the shelves are full of coloring books targeted at grownups. I though it would be fun to transform some of my designs into coloring pages! Download and print a copy of theĀ Underwater Robot Coloring Page, grab your pencils or markers and go for it!

 

New Abstract Painting – A Work in Progress

abstract paintingHere’s a little sneak peek of my newest abstract painting – Serpent. It’s still a work in progress and while I know the general direction I’m going with it I’m still waiting for a bit more inspiration. That usually happens when I’m sitting at my painting table and working. I find that I can’t wait for inspiration to strike, I just have to sit down and work at it. Abstract painting is different from realism in that way.

Image Transfer on Microscope Slides

I’ve been working on some sketches for a new assemblage art piece. One of the components will be x-rays of various body parts and animals. I decided a good medium for this would be acrylic image transfer on glass microscope slides and this is how I did it!
Image Transfer MaterialsYou will need some glass microscope slides ( you can get these on Amazon), acrylic gloss medium, images of your choosing printed either on a laser printer or photocopier (ink jet will not work), and some basic tools like a paint brush, cutting mat, and x-acto knife or scalpel.
Painting on Gloss MediumPaint the gloss medium on top of your images. My slides were 1 x 3 inches so I cropped my x-ray images to that size. I did 6 coats letting it dry completely between each one. If you’re impatient (like me) you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process.
Dried X-RaysOnce your gloss medium is completely dry cut your images out. Even if you use a hair dryer I recommend waiting a few hours before proceeding with the next step, you want these to really be dry.
Water SpraySpray the back with water and wait a few minutes for it to soak in. I use a cookie sheet I bought at the dollar store for this so things don’t get messy on my workbench.
Rub Off PaperOnce the paper is saturated begin to rub it with your fingers. The paper will begin to rub off leaving the image behind in the gloss medium!
Wipe with Paper TowelsRub, rub, rub and carefully scrub a bit with paper towels or a rag.
Clear ImageNeato!
Let Them DryLet your images dry. You wait around for things to dry a lot with this project!
Attaching to SlidesBrush some gloss medium on the slides then affix your image transfers to them. They’re going to want to slide around a lot so be careful.
Image AttachedImage transfered!
Wait to DryWaiting to dry again! This one takes the longest, almost 24 hours for me.
Finally Dry!Finally dry! Now clean them up a bit.
ScrapeI used some sculpting tools I have laying around the studio to clean up any unwanted gloss medium from the side of the slide without the image transfer.
TrimUse an X-Acto knife to trim the excess off the image transfer.
X-Ray SlidesCool! X-ray slides! Now on to the next steps for my assemblage piece. Stay tuned…

Rye Crackers with Caraway Recipe

Rye CrackersI love rye crackers and since I still had some leftover rye flour from my swirled rye bread adventure I decided to bake some! I did some searching online for a recipe and found the perfect one on Food Republic. Head on over there and check out the recipe, it’s also a great foodie website so explore!
Rye Crackers IngredientsOne thing I’ve learned from my baking and cooking escapades is to always get your ingredients ready before you start, especially if it’s a new recipe. That way you don’t have any surprises or find out you’re out of baking powder while you’re in the middle of things.
Spice GrinderThis recipe calls for ground caraway. I have a coffee grinder that I use exclusively for grinding spices. I added a few teaspoons of caraway seeds and ground those babies up! A good tip for cleaning out your grinder after using it is to run some uncooked white rice through it. Then just wipe it out with a paper towel and your caraway won’t end up tasting like the cardamom pods you ground up last time.
Ground CarawayPerfectly ground caraway!
Dry IngredientsAll the dry ingredients go in a food processor.
Cubed ButterAdd in the cubed butter and pulse until it looks like fine crumbs.
Wet IngredientsHello wet ingredients!
Knead the DoughPulse everything in the food processor, then turn it out and knead until smooth. The dough will need to rest for about 25 minutes.
Pasta RollerDivide the dough up and run it through a pasta roller. If you don’t have a pasta maker roll it out by hand and work on those arm muscles! You want it to be about 1/16″ thick. I found that I liked the crackers best on the 4 setting for my particular pasta maker.
Rye Cracker DoughIt’s starting to look like rye crackers! I used my pastry scraper to cut my crackers, but you can also use a pizza cutter. I left the ends of my crackers rough, I like the way they look!
Egg WashPut the rye crackers on a silicone baking mat, or you can use parchment paper. Brush the tops with an egg wash.
Caraway SeedsSprinkle the tops with caraway seeds and press them lightly into the dough. Prick the crackers with a fork.
Baked CrackersPop them in the oven and bake until golden brown. When they first come out they will still be a little bit pliable, but after they cool you will have crisp rye crackers!

Rye Bread with a Swirl – Step by Step

Rye BreadThis delicious loaf of rye bread is a real eye catcher when you slice into it! It’s has a hearty crumb and a good crust. This is a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book that I’ve made several modifications to. I’ve been cooking out of that cook book for nearly 20 years!
ingredientsTo make one loaf you will need:
3 to 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS butter
2 TBS dark molasses or cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups dark rye flour

I like to buy my yeast by the pound and keep it in a big jar in the refrigerator. I’ve had this batch of yeast for 2 years now and it’s still working just fine! 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast equals one envelope.
heating milkAfter you mix 2 cups of the all purpose flour and your yeast in a large mixing bowl it’s time to heat the milk. Combine the milk, salt, brown sugar, and butter in a sauce pan and heat it until it reaches somewhere between 120 and 130 degrees.
add wet to dryAdd the wet to dry ingredients and mix on high speed for 3 minutes, this helps develop the gluten.You should have about 2 1/2 cups of batter, divide it in half.
kneading boardMy kitchen has old tile countertops and I don’t dare try to knead dough on them! I went to Home Depot and bought a large ceramic tile. I place it on top of a non-slip drawer liner I cut to fit and it works perfectly!

dough ballsTo one portion of the batter stir in as much of the remaining all purpose flour as you can, then knead in some more to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. To the remaining batter stir in the cocoa powder or molasses (I used one tablespoon of each!), the rye flour, and as much of the remaining all purpose flour as you can. Knead in more flour as needed to make a stiff dough. Form each dough into a ball, place them in separate bowls that you’ve oiled, cover, and let them rise until doubled. Mine took about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
rolling out the doughPunch down both doughs and roll them out into rectangles about 12 x 8 inches each.
dough on topPlace the dark dough on top of the light one.
roll it upRoll the doughs together beginning at the short side.
loaf panPlace it in a buttered loaf pan seam side down and let rise until nearly doubled.
risen loafMine took about 50 minutes for the second rise. Pop that baby into a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes! Bread is done when it sounds hollow while tapping on it.
cooling loafNow here’s the hard part! Let your rye bread cool for at least an hour before slicing it. I know it’s tempting, but I find that slicing bread too early crushes it and the slices come out a bit doughy.
pretty sliceAnd now the big moment! Slice into your loaf of swirled rye bread and impress your friends and family!

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