Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sweet Art

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    What a wonderful surprise! I went to Cracken Cakes & More Cafe (located in Beach Park, Illinois) for first time and found out a great Art exhibition in the middle of Culinary Art... Honestly, it is the last place where I would expect to discover remarkable paintings, graphic designs and pictures.  This new bakery is been open for a while but I never visited it until this last week. I do not regret it at all.  Neat, peaceful, cozy, superb and artistic.

    The first baked goods that delighted my palate were lemon bars and brownies. At my age, I can brag I lived several decades and all this time I never ever had such as perfect lemon flavor.  It was not acid enough to force me to make funny faces, but delectable and enjoyable. A sweet acid balance created with care and love. The baked meringue on top of the lemon bar was another distinctive detail. A soft crunchy texture followed by a soft citric cream. The brownie was not overloaded in sweet, and did not have excessive chocolate sensation.  This was a recipe prepared with the correct ingredients to prevent the exaggerated  sweet which makes you to feel like getting diabetes.


I bought a vanilla cake for my husband at Cracken Cakes & More!


    You may be drooling by now... So, let me show you the art I found out at this perfect bakery.











Monday, June 6, 2016

Take advantage of the left overs!

                           SwissZahlerArt





 


Leftovers are very common in the kitchen and ideal to prepare a new recipe.  That's the first place where we drive our mind and ideas about leftovers. Some days ago, neighbors were taking a low tea and one of them told us her leftover episode in life.


"It was during the 60s when I got married with the High School sweetheart who did not have a job and planned to study Law, a very expensive career to develop.  I already had a receptionist job and plans to go college.  My income was low and my parents warned me I would have to support the marriage because the sweet heart did not even look for a job to be responsible.  I married after all.  He told me he would get a job, we would find out solutions and with love, we would live happily together.  In your dreams.  So, I started to clean houses to get the extra needed money for food.  The sweet heart, now husband, just studied, studied, studied.  He spent all day long in college.  I did not go to college in order to work and earned the money he needed to pay for additional tuition, books, fees and pay the studio apartment rent, bills, bus fares and food.  We were married and had a daughter.  Life got more difficult with the additional expenses to support a baby.  Almost every day, I took my daughter with me when I cleaned houses to save paying a baby sitter.  Did I have to hear the music from my parents!  I was the motor of the house from work, plan, budget the income, do the housework, raise a baby technically by myself and support a husband too.


He could never get a job to support his family because he had to study.  Several times, he took money from me to have a business meeting with his classmates or potential employers.  That was the money to pay the rent or the bills.  While I sew the clothing for my daughter, the husband demanded money to buy expensive suits, shoes and handkerchiefs because he had an image to take care of and professional appearance to show.  Any day, I sat down and did the Math.  If I would not have to give him any money, my daughter and I would live better.  I could not afford to buy my daughter a dress, only pieces of cotton fabric to sew.  One night, I was sewing the pieces and contemplated that was me, left over pieces to build for others. It had to stop...

As soon as I got paid, I bought some fabrics and started to sew kitchen cloth, table cloth, little girls cloth and dolls cloth with the smallest leftover pieces. That was the first time the husband beat me because I spent the money he needed for a down payment car.  The beats continued every time I denied him money.  My office coworkers advice me to get divorce.  One of them offered me to move with her family and leave the abusive irresponsible husband right away.  A helping hand was extended and I grabbed it. She took me to the Police, helped me to press charges against him and obtained an order of restriction.  Her mother helped me to sew more and I got a large production to sale.  For first time, the whole income was mine!  My daughter and I lived at the good Samaritan family for a couple of months until I saved enough to move into a nice decent house.  Sewing became the primary income; so, I quit cleaning houses but kept the office job to get a little retirement.  Leftover pieces of cotton fabric saved and changed my life for good.


My daughter got married with the man who repaired my sewing machines and sewing equipment.  He had a job, he was responsible and he demonstrated me his capacity to support a family.  So, they got my blessings and got married.


And for the husband, I got divorced for good. He ended up in jail for not paying the child support and always blamed me for not finishing his Law studies and graduate as lawyer."


Never underestimate leftovers.
Take advantage of them.

 
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If you want to purchase the lap quilt on the picture, it is available at































Thursday, April 28, 2016

Northern Cardinal by my window

           SwissZahlerArt








          There is a multi functional room where I sew, crochet, write, paint, do jewelry and practice playing an electric keyboard.  Like men have their space at the garage known as "man cave", we women have our specific perimeter beyond the kitchen.  That multifunctional room is my art studio, handcraft and writing spot when the winter or low temperature do not allow to create art outdoor.  Small and simple but clean and very well organized.




          A nice detail in the middle of the simplicity is a window with great view.  When the eyes get tired of stitching carefully, doing detailed strokes with a triple zero brush or reading a paragraph over and over that window is the natural relaxing solution.  Friendly breeze to feel, clear skies to see and lot of birds chirping to rejoice the soul.  There is a tree outside the window where the birds rest and get food from the bird feeders.  Sometimes, there is a large bird variety and it worth to take a unique picture.  Now, the image inspires to do a new painting...


          Little by little, a scene perpetually captured gets a new life on a canvas.  The pencil defines lines to limit the color expansion.  The wall at the background is the first element to get a new life and the tree trunk is painted few times until the wood tonalities shape it. 






           Now, work on the foliage and the grass.  At first, it looks more like tissue paper with water sprinkles than ground where neighbors walk their dogs.  That is the beauty and advantage with the acrylic painting.  You can re do strokes, change, fix and substitute deceptions or mistakes. Sometimes, how painful it is not to be able to apply the same solution in our lives. 





Grass corrected.  The bird feeder and the northern cardinal start to get their right shape.





Only one bird flies to the bird feeder to nourish himself.  Do not get disappointed northern cardinal, I shall fill the bird feeder.  Butterfly, you are going to get colors too.





All of the brushes do their final performance to recreate a picture.  So far, this is the longest I ever delayed to finish a painting.




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Design protected by the Copyright Law and by the Karma Law.

Monday, November 2, 2015

DEAR DIARY LET US TALK ABOUT PAST THANKSGIVING DINNERS

Dear Diary:

I wrote on your pages a lot of stories about this holiday every year.  You and I got old sharing different situations that happened on this particular day, how the menu changed over the years, so the weather... It looks like yesterday when my sisters and I were infants and had to sit at the table with the adults, pray before to eat, stay quiet, do not talk, eat with good manners. We had to dress formal and if we ate at other people's house, we had to wear hat and gloves also.

When I got married and invited people at our Thanksgiving dinner, I always considered the little children.  Do you remember how I use to have a special small table and small chairs for the infants?  Once, I was a child and I know how "boring" the adult conversations are.  Kids like to be with other kids.  So, I thought to make their dinner moments pleasant.

Sometimes, the youths, do not want to share time with the adults and prefer to eat with other humans their age and talk about the last movie, the popular singer, how difficult the school project is, how much they love the new TV program, their plans for senior high school, my mother does not allow me to use make up, grandpa always disapproves how do I dress, my parents just got divorce, dad doesn't live with us but he prohibits  me to pierce my nose, the acne is destroying my life, "I have to find out myself"... too much data for adults to absorb in a Thanksgiving dinner.  When there are teenagers with an already crumble world, we better give them space and like children, give them a special table to share with people their age.

Many times,  I wondered if I was segregating the children and the teenagers from the festivity. I always asked my kids if they would prefer to eat with the adults or with the visitor's kids. They always preferred to be with people their age.  That is exactly what I wanted during my childhood.

Change of eating habits in the modern life:  people with special diet or health situation like no salt, low sodium, gluten free, fat free, lactose intolerance, food allergy and a universe of etceteras.  The menu is always included in the dinner invitation.  Why people do not let me know on time about their eating situation?  Very rarely, somebody called me on time and let me know about their eating restriction.

Nowadays, there are dinner invitations with the "bring a side dish" modality.  I suggested my daughters to call ahead and explain which unique side dish they were going to bring. Do you remember my friend Joni? She always requests to bring the side dish and writes on the dinner invitation a suggestive list which never includes the mashed potatoes neither the green bean casserole.  Guess what.  Those are the most duplicated side dishes that her guests bring every year!

Oh Diary.  I always calculate a specific quantity of food for a specific quantity of people and the dinner invitation with the RSVP annotation would prevent the shortage of food portions.  On the other hand, there are people who invite themselves to the Thanksgiving dinner (I call them parachuters), guests who bring an additional guest, people who love the second and third serving and sometimes, there is a person asking for a ration to go like been in a restaurant. In the past, I always gave the requested portion to go on a regular dish and that is how I lost some of my dishes.  The china sets got incomplete.  No wonder I started to sale the lonely pieces online.  Until there was the day when I started to give the requested portions to go on plastic food containers like butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, so on.  Seriously, all of the plastic containers were returned... People did not like to receive the food on plastic containers and eventually quit asking for the extra portion to go. 

My dinner invitations always have the line Our home is smoke and alcohol free.  My grandchildren want to add the word texting. They dislike when other person can not keep a normal conversation because of the cell phone dependency, constant interruptions because of the obsession to read and answer a text message right away.

One year, my husband and I decided to have the dinner in a restaurant. (That was the only year when all of the kids did not visit us because all of them were overseas.)  My goodness Richard did the reservation on time.  The joint was extremely packed.  Looks like women do not want to cook anymore.  One of the persons eating at the restaurant was giving terrible time to the waitress. Did not that person realize he was not the only customer, the waitress had to take care of a lot of people, she was working a holiday an she has family too?

And the school lunch the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally turkey sandwich, Thanksgiving dinner side dishes left over casserole or re run of the dinner.  I always prepared different meals like chili, pizza, white rice topped with stir fry beef, Caesar salad, tuna salad with crackers.  School children or High School youngster do not want to see poultry for a while after Thanksgiving. 

Dear Diary, a new Thanksgiving is around the corner and of course, the dinner and the activities are already planned.  This year, I did what is called "treasury list" in the place where I sale stuff online. A treasury list is a selection of products based on a theme. I chose about how to entertain the children during this event.  The tittle is Entertainment For The Kids After The Thanksgiving Dinner. The link is


https://www.etsy.com/ch-en/treasury/NjkxNTk2ODJ8MjcyNzk2MTI0NA/entertainment-for-the-kids-after-the?index=4&ref=pr_treasury_more&atr_uid=

Well Diary, you  know by now I write too much. 
I shall continue writing other day.
Good night Diary. ☺




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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Colonial America

SwissZahlerArt                                    









The story about how did I paint Colonial America the year 2012.





AS soon as the news expanded about a new land beyond the ocean, little by little, some Europeans traveled to this side of the world (later named America) looking for a new life, future, hope and establish their own colony. The most famous and important emigration was made in the Mayflower by the year 1620. 







I wanted to paint a scene about how did the colonists live in that portion of the Middle Age. The History books provided a lot of illustrations from that time.  All of the sudden, the scene popped out like a vision and the hut with its surrounds were transferred on the canvas. To paint a scene from the early colonies implicated to recreate a possible moment in the XVII century.  Therefore, accuracy, logical and reality must apply. 









The most difficult spot to paint was the wild turkey and the logs because it was the first time ever I painted a turkey and each log had to have a different shape and color. My husband says that this turkey wanders around like a pet but may not be around the next Thanksgiving. 








Change of land implicated a lot of risks, bravery, expect the unexpected, adaptation and survival. The human spirit is full of these behaviors and keep us going on through the centuries. So, I thought about a barrel outside the hut to store water. A new object in the new land. On the right, there is an ancestral broom. 



Not all of the grass has the same tonality. An Art teacher told us in High School, "observe, pay attention when you draw or paint." She was the best Art teacher I ever had and learned a lot from her. Once again, applied years later what I learn during the teenager time. A dandelion was added to give a small different tonality spot among the greenery.









Other indispensable detail to survive in the first colonies was the community garden vegetable.  The soil shape was made by tapping a round brush in two different brown colors. A splash of white and a splash of black gave a better shape to the garden. The bloomed vegetables were painted with a triple zero brush.







Lines to define the forms, eraser assistant, color mixing tests, drops of water to prevent the paint to dry too soon, brushes and more brushes, strokes,  visualization, inspiration and looking into the past. Those were the ingredients to create this acrylic painting which I called Colonial America.  





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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Recent lunar eclipse and end of the world

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Do not you like to live here that you have
 to put an expiration date on Planet Earth?  


  Last Sunday, September 27th, 2015 we enjoyed a lunar eclipse during a full moon.  This unique natural phenomenon does not happen very often and it was treated like a bad omen.  There are people who love to put an expiration date sticker on planet Earth even the universe when something rare takes place like last eclipse.  Centuries ago, the folkloric tales transmitted the fictional incoming catastrophe throughout word of mouth.  Nowadays, the ideas circulate faster than the speed of light due to the modern technology.  Once again, the false predictions and scary narratives did not come true.  Fortunately?  Four days after the famous eclipse, we are glad neither of these circumstances really occurred:

~  Galactic eclipse did not happened neither we lost natural light during three days.

~  The Illuminati did not take over the planet, no reptilian extraterrestrial race conquered Earth and one more year, month and day that planet Nibiru did not appear in the sky all of the sudden.

~  We are happy there were not massive natural disasters.

~  Atlantis did not emerge from the ocean.  Shame, we still do not know this continent location.

~  Other world war did not start.  Don't we have enough war against the ignorance, poorness, unemployment,  civil rights, corruption and lost of moral values to invent one more war?

~  The credit cards chips did not malfunction.

~  A colossal asteroid did not crash against Earth neither the Moon.

~  Shangri la did not appear suddenly.

~  Appliances are still working.

~  The Sun did not lose its orbit.

~  Dinosaurs did not come back to life, Big Foot did not leave the forests and invaded cities with all of his relatives and there are no reports about any Wolf Man wandering and killing people due to the eclipse. 

     Before I was born, there was WWI aka Great War.  It was said the Armageddon would happen during that war and the world would end.  Other wars occurred after WWI and the world has not end yet.

     Few years later, The Great Depression affected some humans and businesses.  Once again, it was said it was the end of the world.

     During the 60s and 70s there were other stories about the end of the world. 

     I remember other end of world panic the year 1981.  The folklore said all of the planets would be alignment with the Sun in one day and all of them would crash in line.  That gossip was beyond science fiction.

     1987 had the Harmonic Convergence when the Sun, Moon and six planets from our solar system alignment.  That was other end of the world illogical prediction.

     Some people were terribly worry the world would end on December 31st, 1999.  Then, the same worry repeated by December 12th, 2012.

     In conclusion.  At my age, I perceived lot of stories and situations about the end of the world that makes me to wonder how come we are still here...





       

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Art, Creativity and Marketing II








Let us put a small bread store as example.  The store is located at the town border, away from the population and surrendered by farms.  The hours are from 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.  Friendly hours.  The product variety and quality is superb.  This store would provide you with large quantities of bread upon request.  And the prices are very reasonable.  The location is not so convenience but there is good bus service to go there.  The business owner uses Marketing to let others know about his bread creations. He does not limit to the walk-in customers, he works extra to bring clients to his business:





  • he donated the hamburger buns for the local High School opening American football game:  free publicity, people gets the opportunity to try his product
  • discount coupons printed in the county newspaper:  he does not limit to the town, he thinks beyond the town limits
  • stand in the adjacent city farmer's market:  good sales and publicity spot, once again, he thinks beyond the town limits
  • participates in events such as festivals, concerts and fairs
  • advertisement in the local radio station:  local publicity
  • fliers with list of products and offers in the bread store:  people get and keep the product reference for future shopping
  • mails letters to other businesses such us restaurants, coffee shops,  hotels, convenience stores and gas stations offering his products:  extra effort to try to obtain bigger and constant sales
  • he creates a program to build loyalty:  punch cards ~ each person who shops there gets a card which is punched every time a purchase is made, the reward is a free sweet roll when the punch card completes 15 punches or 1 pound loaf of white bread when the punch card completes 25 punches and 2% discount with 3 cards completely punched

All that work develops the popularity, creates consumers confidence, increases the sales, stables the business and makes the IRS* happy.  If the bread store owner does not work beyond kneading the dough, bake, clean and stand in front of the counter waiting for potential buyers, the business shall sink like the Titanic.  In the example, he worked more than an extra mile.  He took logical, accurate and competitive actions to grow in the business environment.  He was not afraid to fail. He projected the success, planned, analyzed and care about his culinary art creation:  his bread.


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*  Internal Revenue Service.  American institution in charge to collect and enforce the taxes