Late Night Painting

Winter in South Dakota is dark.  And cold.
It is a good thing I've got my studio, otherwise I think I'd go stir-crazy.
Mock up - Watercolor
I've been working on some watercolors as of late.  It is a continuation of a series I've been painting on and off for a few years now.  Winter always drives me to paint what is immediately around me.  The newest ones are interior views of my house.  Some are just sketches at this point, and others are further along:
Watercolor is a tricky beast.  It requires intense concentration, and is not very forgiving.  The hardest things to paint are the flat areas that fade from one color to another, or from light to dark.  For some reason I like to leave these until the end.  It is like a game of Russian roulette at that point.  One wrong move and the painting could be trash.  Maybe it is the sadist in me that likes such an intense challenge.
Tools 2
I use these watercolors:  Yarka St. Petersburg Watercolor Pans.  I prefer watercolor pans over watercolor tubes because I can easily have access to a huge palette for precise color mixing.  I love this set especially because it contains really high quality pigments.  They also re-wet pretty well once they dry on your palette, unlike most watercolor tubes I've used.  I've had this set for about 5 years now, and made over 40 paintings - so they last amazingly long.
But enough painting talk.
Here's a pic from outside my studio window.  Despite it being cold, it is extremely beautiful outside.
Glitter Snow!
Glittering Snow

Knitting - Mittens and Cowl!

This cowl is my first real finished project from my new (to me) knitting machine.
Recycled Yarn Cowl
The main yarn I used was recycled from a cotton sweater - it is a marled black/grey/white mix.  That is the part that was done on the knitting machine.  For the white part, I picked up the stitches and knit with some spare yarn that I had left over from another project.  I really like how it turned out.

Second up is a project I started while watching the NFC Playoffs.  They are gold mittens - in honor of the Packers. :)


They've got a chain cable running down the center.  I think I'll call them the "movin' the chains" mittens.  I've got to work out the kinks a bit, but I think I may write up a pattern for these as well.

Recent Aquisitions

I haven't done too much thrifting lately, but I do have a couple little things to share that I picked up at the thrift store in town here.
Firstly, there is this strapping bunny:
050 - bunneh
I have an affinity for white ceramic forest animals! :)  I'm sure he'll be featured in a painting in the near future...
And then I found this beauty:053 - Knitting Machine
It's a sweater knitting machine.  At first it wasn't working - it just chewed up the yarn, and the needles weren't moving at all.  I cleaned it out really well, fixed a few of the prongs that had been bent or broken, and now it works just as it is supposed to.  I paid $20 for over $200 worth of equipment!
I hope this will encourage me to get a few more sweaters done.  It just does stockinette stitch, but it leaves raw stitches at the top and bottom of the work, so you can just pick them up and rib stitch, or finish off the edges.
I've already knit a cowl - there will be pictures soon, I promise!

Meaty Goodness: Pork Carnitas!

Pork Carnitas - 2

I had bought a pork sirloin roast at the grocery store the other day because it was on sale with the intention of making pulled pork sandwiches.  After bumbling around on the internet for a while searching for recipes, I came across a bunch of recipes for pork carnitas, and changed the game plan.  This recipe was an amalgamation of about five different recipes - I didn't want to leave the house, so I used what I had on hand and it turned out fantastically.  Also, it is done in a slow cooker - it is so easy!  

Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas:
Serves 6

  • 2 1/2 lb pork sirloin roast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1/4 C lime juice
  • 7-8 cloves garlic cut in half
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 1 dash pepper
  1. Mix the salt and cumin together in a small bowl.  Place the pork in the slow cooker, and with your hands rub the spice mixture in to the surface of the meat.  
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker, cover, and set on low.  Cook for 9-10 hours.
  3. Remove meat from slow cooker and shred with a fork.  Once the meat is shredded - return it to the juices in the slow cooker.    

We had ours as tacos with corn tortillas, cut up onions, cilantro, and salsa.  Tonight I think we'll have the leftovers with rice, beans, cheese, & tomatoes.  

So good!

Allan and Eve Fisher with Musician Sandy Champion @ the BrickHouse

Last Thursday we had the latest installment of our monthly art shows at the BrickHouse!  This month we featured drawings from Allan Fisher, a poetry/prose reading from Eve Fisher, and music from the lovely Sandy Champion.  
We had a great turnout - which is (i'm sure) due to Allan and Eve's huge contributions to the art scene here in Madison.  They are both really wonderful people and wonderful artists!  Here are some shots from their show:





I can't wait until next month's show!

DIY Brown Sugar Scrub

Brown Sugar Scrub #2

Because I have such sensitive skin, I've always been wary of skin products and body washes that contain crazy chemicals.  It creeps me out that all of those weird ingredients are being absorbed in to your skin.
I used up the last of some really great sugar based body scrub and have been on the search for an inexpensive way to make my own.  It couldn't be any easier to make, and so I'm sharing it with you!


  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar (Organic or Regular)
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Vanilla Essential Oil (Optional)
All you need to do is mix the oil (slowly) into the sugar.  If it is too grainy for you, add some more oil, and if it is too oily, add a bit more sugar.  It is not rocket science!  You can use it as is (it has a light brown sugar smell) or add in a few drops of essential oils.  You can even use plain sugar instead of brown sugar.  

Brown Sugar Scrub

It is a great exfoliator - I wouldn't use it more than once or twice a week though!  Better yet, it is under $1 to make a whole tub!


Measure - A Collaboration

Some recent progress on the collaborative project I'm working on with my good friend Joe:



017 - Measure

2010 In Review {better late than never!}

{In Milwaukee over the holidays - headed to the Third Ward on the Riverwalk}

So, as you may have noticed, I've been a bit absent from this blog lately.  Christmas tends to take a lot out of me between travelling, and getting ready for the semester ahead of me.  I am finally taking the time to do a review of the things happened in 2010!
  • I graduated with my MFA in Painting/Drawing from NIU, and for the first time in 19 years, I am no longer a student.
  • Taught Drawing 2 and Life Drawing at NIU.
  • Had my Thesis Show entitled 'Shelter Me'. 
  • Showed in our Graduate Group Show.
  • Worked on a collaboritive exhibition with Guerra De La Paz
  • Showed at ARC Gallery in Chicago.
  • Moved 600 miles to rural South Dakota with my husband to work at DSU - he in the Music department, and I in the Art department as an Adjunct.  
  • We bought a house!
  • I had a show in Miami at Carol Jazzar, went to the opening, and met many wonderful and inspiring people!
  • Was the matron of honor in my little sister's wedding to her wonderful husband Zach
  • My Brother-in-law got Engaged!
  • Started a weekly Knitting Group.
  • Joined the MAAC, became Vice President, and helped set up a monthly exhibition series at the BrickHouse.
It has been a crazy year, and there is no way I would have predicted at the beginning of 2010 that we'd be homeowners in rural South Dakota, and have jobs in our fields for that matter!  It has been such a crazy year, from the stress and excitement of my final semester of Graduate school, to leaving our very good friends in Illinois, to meeting new people and friends here in South Dakota.  

My goals for this year are simple:

Make Art and Live Well. 

Wishing you all a wonderful new year!
Much Love,

Cassie's Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe

After almost two weeks on the road visiting family and friends in Wisconsin, we are back in South Dakota and needed some comfort food. Also, I had to give my new immersion blender a whirl! {thanks mom for getting it for me for x-mas!} If you don't have one, get one now!

After seaching online I couldn't find a recipe for creamy tomato soup that I liked, so I mashed all of the ones I found into one, and it was amazing - so I'm sharing with you guys.  Here are the results:
cassie's creamy tomato soup

Cassie's Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe

-1 small onion
-2-3 cloves garlic
-2 tbsp butter
-1 large can crushed tomato (28oz)
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 cup chicken broth
-2-3 slices of crusty bread (can be day old)
-4 oz (1/2 block) cream cheese
-Salt and pepper
*you’ll also need an immersion blender

Step 1:
In a deep stock pot, cook chopped onion, chopped garlic, and butter on medium heat until they are translucent.  Stir constantly to avoid having the butter burn.  You don’t have to chop the garlic and onion very finely because you will be blending the soup later.

cassie's creamy tomato soup 4

Step 2:
Pour in the can of crushed tomato, the baking soda (which neutralizes some of the acid in the tomatoes), and the chicken broth into the pot.  Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3:
Cut the bread and cream cheese into chunks and add to the soup.  Let simmer while stirring for a few minutes.

cassie's creamy tomato soup 3

Step 4:
Blend with your immersion blender and then let cool for a few minutes.  Garnish with oyster crackers, and cheese.  Enjoy!