Color theory; easter table setting

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Easter is an excuse for using lots of color and I’ll take any excuse I can get!  Traditions in egg coloring and flushes of spring flowers draw us to dressing our tables with lots of it for the holiday.  My table this year is pulled from the color in my collection of Ukrainian hand dyed eggs.

Each year I decorate using my egg collection and every year is an excuse to use a different color combination.  I decided on a Triadic Complimentary Color scheme this year.  These schemes are the most lively because the colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel create a visual vibration as the optic nerves are tickled to make sense of them.  In short, when complimentary colors are placed next to each other they make each other more appear more vibrant.

color-wheel

easter color theoory

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Find some Ukrainian eggs through the League of NH Craftsmen in Meredith, NH.

 

 

Color Your Life Workshop

Painting pillows

Color makes us feel good. There is a reason for this; as part of the electromagnetic spectrum, the energized wave lengths of color affect our emotions by activating our endocrine system to release pleasure hormones.

On Saturday May 17th I am teaching a color class through the Concord Hospital Wellness program held in the Craft Center at the League of NH Craftsmen headquarters.  In this class learn about how color can change your mood, what colors make you feel best and how to incorporate them into your home. Experience this color theory through painting and penciling on fabric to end up with the components for a throw pillow to be assembled at home later. [NOTE: no sewing experience is needed. Non-sewing methods can be applied.] Demonstration, lecture and worksheets also included. $60.00 for the class plus $20.00 materials fee.  FUN!!

Saturday, May 17th, 10-2

League of NH Craftsmen Headquarters

49 South Main Street, Concord, NH

Please contact the Center for Health Promotion to register – 606-230-7300 or register through LNHC by phone 603-224-3375 or on-line.

Click here to download the information PDF shown below.workshop

50th birthday party cupcakes

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David requested cupcakes for his 50th birthday party.  I used the request as an excuse for another creative endeavor, to tweak some of my existing recipes and formulate some new ones. They were a hit and many of the party guests wanted the recipes for all three varieties so here they are.  Feel free to share them but I would be very upset if you printed or published them without my permission since they are my originals.  Enjoy!

Coconut Coconut CakeDSC05415

MIX: With an electric mixer on medium/high, beat until very creamy and light colored:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, very softened to room temperature.  In New England winters – & this years spring! – room temp is not warm enough.  I microwaved my sticks additionally for about 15 seconds.  Having very soft butter is important.
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar added bit by bit.

Beat into the mixture one at a time:

  • 4 large egg yolks

Slowly add to the mixer, alternating with each other 1/3 at a time, the following two mixtures.  Blend well after each addition:

  1. Sifted together: 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt
  2. Stirred together: 1 cup coconut milk, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Remove completed mixture to a large bowl.  Use the mixer to beat the following until soft peaks form:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar added bit by bit

Fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture until no white shows then also fold in:

  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

BAKE: fill batter 2/3 full into paper lined cupcake tins or foils.  350° for 17-22 minutes just until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  They should still be moist looking.  Let cool in the tins for 10 minutes then remove each cake to a rack to cool completely. Makes around 30 cupcakes.

FROST: Combine the following in a mixer in the order listed beating after each addition until light and creamy:

  1. 2 sticks unsalted butter; softened like above
  2. 4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
  3. 1/4 cup coconut milk
  4. 1 tsp vanilla

Spread frosting to cooled cupcakes decorating with toasted coconut sprinkles.  To toast coconut:  spread some sweetened flaked coconut onto a baking sheet and toast in a 350° oven for 15 minutes stirring often to keep browning even.

Carmel Chai Spice Cake, gluten-freeDSC05405

MIX:  With an electric mixer on medium/high, beat until very creamy and light colored:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature. In New England winters – & this years spring! – room temp is not warm enough. I microwaved my sticks additionally for about 15 seconds. Having very soft butter is important.
  • 1 1/2 packed cups of light brown sugar adding bit by bit.

Beat into the mixture one at a time:

  • 4 large egg yolks

Slowly add to the mixer, alternating with each other 1/3 at a time, the following two mixtures. Blend well after each addition:

  1. Sifted together: 2 2/3 cups gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill mix), 2 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp ground chai spice*
  2. Stirred together: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Remove completed mixture to a large bowl. Use the mixer to beat the following until soft peaks form:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar added bit by bit

Fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture until no white shows.

BAKE: fill batter 2/3 full into paper lined cupcake tins or foils. 350° for 17-20 minutes just until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. They should still be moist looking. Let cool in the tins for 10 minutes then remove each cake to a rack to cool completely.  Makes about 30 cupcakes.

FROST: Combine the following in a mixer in the order listed beating after each addition until light and creamy:

  1. 2 sticks unsalted butter; softened like above
  2. 4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
  3. 1 tsp ground chai spice*
  4. 1/2 cup caramel sauce (recipe following)

Spread frosting to cooled cupcakes and decorate with a caramel sauce drizzle.  I filled a condiments plastic bottle with a tube-nosed cap to drizzle with.

Caramel sauce:  You can use store-bought but I have not found any that is real caramel instead only tasting like brown-colored corn syrup.  This one is amazing!  From Joy of Cooking, in a small heavy sauce pan pour:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water poured over sugar to wet it all.

Heat on medium flame swirling pan until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Turn up heat to med/high, put the lid on the pan and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove lid and continue cooking until the mixture is deep golden brown swirling the pan as it cooks to keep it mixed.  It will brown at the edges first then begin smoking when done.  Remove from heat and add in:

  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into piece.  Whisk in completely.
  2. 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Whisk in completely.
  3. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  4. a pinch of salt

NOTE: if caramel gets lumpy then simply reheat on low whisking until it smooths out.

*Chai spice is the spice blend that is used in chai tea.  I have a tin of my daughters blend so ground the whole spices in a designated coffee grinder to make my own fresh powdered spice (whole star anise, whole allspice, whole fennel/anise seeds).  However, you can substitute the 5 Spice Blend asian powdered spice available at any supermarket.

Red Velvet Beet Cake, David’s favoriteDSC05403

PREPARE:  put in a small sauce pan then heat on low until melted together:

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2oz. broken up unsweetened chocolate (I use Ghirardelli)

Whisk to smooth the mixture out adding in then letting cool completely:

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. red liquid food coloring or 1/2 tsp paste coloring

Drain, then grate, then drain again squishing out all the liquid:

  • two 15oz cans of sliced beets

MIX:  In a mixer add then beat together:

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 large eggs

Add the melted, cooled chocolate mixture plus the grated beets to the egg/sugar mixture blending completely.  Then add, mixing well, the following ingredients that have been sifted together:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

BAKE: fill batter 2/3 full into paper lined cupcake tins or foils. 350° for 17-20 minutes just until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. They should still be moist looking. Let cool in the tins for 10 minutes then remove each cake to a rack to cool completely. Makes about 30 cupcakes.

FROST: Beat in the mixer the following ingredients adding in the order listed:

  1. 1 stick of unsalted butter very softened to room temperature. In New England winters – & this year’s spring! – room temp is not warm enough. I microwaved my sticks additionally for about 15 seconds. Having very soft butter is important.
  2. 8oz. cream cheese softened the same way.
  3. 3 cups powdered confectioners sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla

Frost cooled cupcakes then sprinkle with red sugar and some grated chocolate.

 

 

50th birthday comedy club

DSC05397My husband David turned 50 over the week-end.  To celebrate his transition he decided to let his normally shy self out of the proverbial ziplocked bag and showcase his hidden talent for stand-up comedy.  Our small barn became a club & hosted a hilarious evening with friends!  See his video debut below.

The marquee sign was made from foam core.  I painted the edges with artist’s acrylic paint, punched holes through for a strand of Christmas tree lights that I place clear bulbs through.  All was duct taped in the back to stay flat.  Words were printed on my large format ink jet printer onto tabloid size paper.

party invitationThe PDF invitation was made in the Pages program of my apple computer.

Our guests were asked to bring some finger food to share and a joke to tell.  The actual intent of the evening was a surprise.  Knock knock…who’s there…DSC05401

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DSC05372The Whinery sign above the bar/counter was made by lightly painting a piece of wood with semi-gloss wall paint.  For ease I purchased a pre-cut piece of thin plywood at Michael’s Crafts.  I then laid out the lettering in my computer, used the “flip” function to reverse the words then printed it out again on my large-scale format printer.  I taped this onto the board print-side down and traced the outline of the words.  The ink on the paper leaves lines so I then had a pattern to color in.  I simply used a felt tip pen for speed and ease.

“The Whinery…get it off your chest.”

DSC05374One of the best gags of the evening was David’s “microphone”.  Fashioned from a round of plywood, some PVC pipe and a rubber-banded black sock, it provided a great prop for many, MANY jokes…”Hey, it this thing on?”  “Can you hear me in the back?”, “Let me get closer to the mike”, heads were banged on it (with faux feed-back sound from the audience) and we pretended to pull the mike off the stand.  It only stayed somewhat propped up because of the hole David drilled into the floor of his “stage”.
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See David perform his routine at his own just-for-fun blog site JacksonDavidComedy.com

staring in the face of 50

Wise Guy winter wisdom

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DSC05341After going to bed last night knowing a big storm was coming in later this week and then waking up to an additional dusting this morning, I knew I needed some encouragement.  So I went to my Wise Guy Cards.

Like I promised earlier this year, here is another quote from that box to cheer us on towards warmth… because the memory is a powerful thing!

“In the depth of winter, I finally realized that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

Albert Camus

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Color study; falling in love with white

white artworkI have fallen in love with the color white.

I can’t think of when this affair started exactly but a couple of years back I started surrounding myself in it.  My rooms have become white, I am collecting white brick-a-brack but most noticeably white has become the back drop color for almost all of my current artwork.

Perhaps it is that I have fallen in love with power of negative space; the void that draws the eye to content, the space that defines its center.  White is clarifying and when its particular shade is tinted properly, helps illuminate its coordinating colors.

My current white paint favorites:

For a balanced, rich yet lively white that goes well with warm and cool tones, I have painted many rooms in my home with Benjamin Moore’s White Dove…I painted the trim with Sherwin William’s Dover White a slightly browner and darker hue of the same tone to emphasize the woodwork and create a layered look.DSC05321white doveDover white

Jeff and Suzanne just painted the interior of their historic New England colonial home.  We choose Benjamin Moore’s Marble White because it contained that complex red/yellow under-tone like the wall colors…

marble whitejeff and suzanne

Deb and Mark are painting the outside of their California shingled Victorian-era home.  They wanted a creamy white to go with their gray-green color scheme inspired by the beautiful new stone wall just installed.

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We choose Benjamin Moore’s Vapor Trails to pick up the gray tones in the greens for the body of the house while coordinating with some existing vinyl window frames so all the trims will all look cohesive.

.vapor trailsstruges greens

When choosing a shade of white to paint with, consider what other colors in the room it will be placed next to. For example, if your wood floors are golden then your white should have a golden tone, if your carpet is taupe colored then your white should have a cool gray-brown tone.  The same is true with wall colors; think warm or cool, red, yellow or blue undertones.  And most importantly, view your potential color choices in the room you will be painting them in.  Light changes everything!

My artwork featured above; hand painted and printed cotton, reverse appliqued, stitched and stretched.  Jane Balshaw ©2013

“Shadows and Flame”, new art work

Formula red

 

I have just completed a new quilted artwork inspired by the Call to Entry from the League of NH Craftsmen HOT STUFF exhibit that opens on January 10th in Concord, New Hampshire.  “Shadows and Flame” is a throw back to my original roots in textile art; it is a true quilt, not stretched as I have done in the recent past but instead stitched tightly with under-turned edges that reinforce a firm hanging format.

The quilt features hand painted, hand dyed and over-painted fabrics with microscopic piecing, fused reverse appliqued and detailed stitching which includes the wording for the color formulas used to make the paint colors.

Please join me on opening night of the exhibit to see this work and the other work of some other amazing artists that the League supports.  Friday, January 10th 5:00 to 7:00.  Wine tasting by LaBelle Winery.  LNHC Gallery – 49 South Main Street suite 100 , Concord, NH  603-224-3375.  Shows runs through March 21st.

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