Tuesday, September 15, 2009


When you only get to go on vacation about once every ten years or so it is very special when you do go. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been on vacation in the last 30+ years. All but one of those trips has been to the beach because the ocean is my most favorite place in the world to be. I love the ocean. I love to look at the ocean. I love to listen to the ocean. And, I adore live oaks. As soon as I start seeing them, I begin to feel better. Even if I wasn't feeling bad, I still begin to feel better. The ocean is this healing and amazing oasis to me. It is the one place that I truly love to be. I have always said that if I had a million dollars I would spend it on ocean front property. Of course now. it would cost several million dollars. But, I still feel the same way. There is just something about the sea that is so appealing. It is truly, my happy place.
The condo we are staying in is at Blue Mountain Beach and it is very beautiful. It rained all day our first whole day here. I'm talking torrential downpour! We still had a good day though. We weathered the storm and bought fresh seafood to cook for dinner last night. This morning we awoke to more rain and I wanted to cry. But. it soon cleared up to a gorgeous day. I am now sitting on the patio with my laptop, sipping a martini and enjoying the breeze off of the ocean. Life is good.

sunset, soooooo beautiful

natural pond with turtles, behind condo

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Myles at the piano

Myles loves the piano. He is actually very gentle while he is "playing", most of the time anyway. He is a handful but, so much fun too.

I started teaching myself digital painting in January. I keep my grandson during the week. He is blind and a toddler so there is not much time to paint anymore. It is so hard to start and stop painting that I just don't start. I've had an unfinished canvas sitting in my den for..., well since just after he was born. So, I started playing with painter x in January and fell in love with it almost immediately. Actually that's not quite true. I started with a essentials because it came with the wacom pad I got for Christmas. I hadn't had a new wacom in many years and my previous one had died a couple of years ago so my wonderful husband got me a new intuos. After the first digital painting, which I did of my grandson, I was in love. Then my daughter said I should try painter x and I did a trial with it. Love it! No more dirty brushes. No more spilled paint. No more worrying about stopping and starting or being interupted. And you can fix your mistakes! It's fabulous! I still love photshop and illustrator but, I had never done actual illustrations with them, only touch ups on scanned pieces. At the top is my first digital painting. It's of my grandson before he really had any hair.

These are my latest attempts at learning painter 11. This time I tried working in digital watercolor. It isn't exactly what I wanted but I am pretty happy with it. I'm sure I will get better at it with practice.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yeast Rolls!

I love to make bread. When we lived in Germany for several years and had to shop an hour away at the commissary, I made bread at least every other day. (I never got up early enough to walk to the bakery) I don't bake like that anymore. My girls are grown and have moved out and my 14 yr old son is extremely picky. But, he loves O'Charley's rolls; So, I attempted to make them this weekend. After some Internet research we modified a recipe we thought would come close. It did come close but, will need a little playing with to get it closer to what he would like it to be. My husband and I liked them better than O'Charley's rolls. They were easy to make. You just have to think ahead because the rising time is about double what it normally would be for rolls. They saved really well and were as good today as they were this weekend. I think next time I will try adding a little malt, honey and a tad more yeast. Maybe that will produce a roll more like the O'Charley's version. The one I made was nice and lite, but the air bubbles were not as large and they were not quite as delicate or sweet. It is an easy recipe and requires no kneading.

Yeast Rolls #1

1) Mix: 1/2 cup cold pressed/refined coconut oil

1/2 cup melted European style butter

1 1/2 cups boiling water

2 tsps salt

2/3 cup sugar

-mix well then let cool to room temperature

2) Mix: 1/2 cup warm water

1 pkg yeast (do not use rapid rise)

2 tsps sugar

-mix and allow yeast to "bloom" for 5-10 min.

3) Mix: mixtures 1 and 2 together

add 2 slightly beaten eggs

pour into 6 cups bread flour (I use unbleached white)

mix in mixer until well blended

pull from the sides of the bowl

sprinkle counter with light dusting of flour

dump dough into flour and fold in from the outside 4 times

flip it over and tuck in the underside forming a large ball of dough(it should be smooth, this will help it to rise properly)

oil a stainless steal bowl with about a tablespoon of oil( I usually use olive or rice bran for this)and put dough in the bowl, rolling the ball until the smooth side is facing up and is coated in oil

cover with a cloth or towel and set on top of the oven or in a draft free area for 2 hours, it will more than double in bulk

press the dough down to release the large air bubbles

make golf ball size balls by pinching off pieces of dough, shape with fingers and tuck around and pinch on the underside just as you did with the large dough ball, again it will form a skin on the dough allowing it to rise properly
Mix: 1/2 stick butter melted but not too hot with one egg yolk, beating while you are adding the yolk, then slowly beat in 1-2 tbsp water, drizzle into the mixture while stirring with a whisk

dip each ball of dough into the mixture and place on a baking pan

(appearance after 2nd rising)
cover and allow the rolls to rise for 2 more hours

bake @ 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes on a rack one level above center of oven

(they should be golden brown)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

see my website

So, I am new at this. Since I don't have anything posted yet if you'd like to see some of my work please see my website @ karenwhitakerillustrations.com