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Potatoes

We have had an extremely busy Sabbath day, but it’s been fantastic and uplifting! We had a great Church meeting in our ward and then had the opportunity to go to a youth fireside about the help and healing that is available for pornography addiction. I know that doesn’t sound fun or uplifting, but change and healing are possible and the peace that comes is the sweetest thing you can ever experience. But that is a different subject.

Potatoes – On my YouTube channel a couple of days ago I shared a video about potatoes, how to pick and store them. I shared a tour of our root cellar and then shared a recipe my family loves that is super simple to make. I am going to share the recipe here in written form.

Smashed Potatoes

2-3 lbs small potatoes (about 2-3 inches in diameter, any variety)

Preheat oven to 375°. Wash potatoes, do not peel. Grease a large cookie sheet and place potatoes on sheet. Poke each potato once or twice. Place cookie sheet in oven and bake potatoes for 30-45 minutes. Check for done by gently squeezing. If they’re soft they’re ready. Mix the next set of ingredients in a small bowl and set aside while potatoes bake.

1/2 cup Butter, softened

3/4 tsp Salt (or to taste)

1/4 tsp Pepper (or to taste)

3/4 tsp Rosemary

1/4 tsp Thyme

When the potatoes are soft, remove the pan from the oven. Using the bottom of a glass cup, smash each potato to about 1/4-inch thickness. Top each potato with a small dollop of the herbed butter. Put the potatoes back in the oven for about 4-5 minutes to melt the butter and crisp the edges of the potatoes slightly. Don’t leave in too long or the butter will burn. Remove from oven and enjoy!

One other recipe I shared on the same video was for a really quick and easy vegetable dip that goes great with these potatoes, or any kind of potato for that matter, as well as carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.

1 – 16 oz carton Sour Cream

1 packet soup mix (I like onion soup mix the best, on the video it was beefy onion soup mix, you’ll have to experiment.)

Mix together thoroughly.

Our family loves potatoes and this is a really great way to use smaller potatoes if you have lots of those from your garden, or you love small red potatoes. You can use different herbs on the potatoes, Italian Seasoning, Oregano and Basil would be a great combination, as well as Cumin, Coriander and Cilatro with a dash of Cayenne Pepper. The options are endless, and this is a great recipe to make your own.

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Art Update

I haven’t stopped painting and doing art! But it seems like it has been in super small increments, taking forever to finish a single project and painting mostly small, quick projects. I also haven’t been getting my Friday blog post written because of time, and I have decided that 3 days a week is probably too much for me at this time anyway. So, I will not be doing the art blog post of Fridays, I will just update you periodically on one of the other days. Today I thought I would share what I have been painting, and the fun new kind of art I had the opportunity to try recently.

First the paintings. I am subscribed to a website called Emily Olsen Art, and she has been doing daily challenges every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Some of these challenges inspire me, others not so much. With time constraints I only do the ones I really like but those have been quick, easy, and fun projects. Some of the ones that I did this past month are:

But this one here was my favorite. I have painted mushrooms before, but I really like how fun this turned out, and the simplicity of it all.

Mushrooms

Now, for the new opportunity. I have a friend WillowAK Pottery who makes pottery. During a Garden and Art Tour, we participated in at the end of July she was offering bisque pottery (I apologize if I get the terms wrong, I am still learning!) that you could then choose your glaze color and a few other things. I thought this would be fun but couldn’t make it the day of the sale as I was selling art in the same tour in a different location. We were able to get together later, and she had a better idea for me. She allowed me to take a couple of pieces home and try using pottery pastels to “paint” some images on a couple of pieces of the bisque fired pottery. She then put a clear glaze over the pieces to finish them.

Before:

After:

I loved being able to try this new medium for sharing art, and I love how these turned out. I am excited to have some of my art on something that is useful as well, it doesn’t just hang on the wall. With this new opportunity comes new ideas, and I have been having fun watching YouTube tutorials about different techniques and all the possibilities there are. Just like learning anything new, this has opened my eyes to new possibilities, and I am excited to be able to explore some of them.

I love art, I love how relaxing it is for the most part. There are so many different types or art, and they are all fun to explore. I am so grateful I get to paint on a regular basis, and I love having the opportunity to try new things as well.

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Diversify

I have finally been finishing up the book Thinkertoys. I have read the first half of the book several times but never finished it. I like the first two-thirds, but then it goes through several very repetitive sections, and then the end has been pretty good. But regardless, this book has made me more aware of opportunities that have been presented to me. Some have been ones I had been leaning toward already, others I wasn’t even aware of, and may have missed had I not been in the mindset of looking for ideas and new ways of doing things.

The first was something I had been working toward but wasn’t sure I was quite ready to do. I bought an archival quality printer last winter as some might remember me writing about. My goal was to get to the point of not only printing my art but printing other people’s art as another avenue of income. I recently had an artist approach me about a large run of prints as well as note cards. At first, I was a little bit hesitant to even give him a price, lacking confidence in my ability to do so. But as I thought about it, I decided that I have been digitizing and printing my own art and it looks great, so why not try someone else’s art. The worst that can happen is he doesn’t like the proofs, so he doesn’t order the larger quantity. I decided to give him a price the next time I saw him, which was last Friday at the market. He thought it was a reasonable price and said he would get back to me this week. I am now nervously waiting to hear his answer. Either way, I am grateful for the kick in the pants to get me going on this endeavor, like I’ve said before, the first step is the hardest one!

The second opportunity came from a friend in a different field of art. The opportunity to put my art on a different art medium. I am going to write about this in more detail when the project is completed, but in researching the process for adding art, I was surprised and excited by the many possibilities, especially the possibility of using what I know about watercolor to possibly create a whole different product. It will be interesting to see how this first piece turns out, and to try other options as well. I am grateful for my friend who had the inspiration to offer these pieces in this format for personalization of the product that she carries.

I love this quote. I know that years ago this quote would have applied directly to me. I feel like I have come a long way since then, and I hope that I never allow something seemingly hard to influence my desire to try or complete it. There are opportunities all around us every day. I miss a lot of them because I don’t have the right mindset to be looking for them, but I hope I am changing that perspective as well. I hope you never allow a perceived challenge to daunt your desire to try something new, and that you look for those new opportunities that are all around each one of us every day. Take the opportunity to try something new today!

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Wild Rose

I recently finished a wild rose painting. The very first watercolor flower I ever painted was a wild rose, but I wanted to do one that was from my own photography because we have a ton of wild roses around our property. So, this summer I went looking for wild roses with my camera. I am not a photographer. If my oldest daughter had been here, I would have had her taking the pictures. She would have loved the assignment and has a great eye for composition. But it was up to me. There was plenty of roses to choose from, and I figured if I got a lot of pictures at least one of them would probably work, or I could combine several to make up one. Fortunately, I got several that would work. That’s one thing I love about digital cameras, you can take 100 pictures and then delete the many that didn’t work and only save the ones that you like best. The really nice thing about having a great picture is that it’s inspiring to paint, even if you hadn’t anticipated painting that subject matter.

I started this painting a while ago, the roses bloom in early June. But it took me until the middle of July to finish the painting because it’s summer, and I would rather be outside in my garden or hiking or anything except sitting inside doing anything, even painting! But, when the weather isn’t great, or late at night, I enjoy painting. It relaxes me and helps me sleep better anyway.

I use transparent watercolor when I paint, rarely do I use gouache paint which is not transparent, or only semitransparent. I like the transparent color because you can add a shadow color and then go over it with a bright transparent color and then shadow colors show through. Or you can lay down one color, like an orange, and then go over it with a red or yellow, and it totally changes the color and feel of the painting, whereas gouache often just covers the color beneath. This painting was a lot of layering, lighter colors getting darker and darker, but keeping spots of lighter color as I went along.

I love the depth of color that can be achieved through this layering process, and I love the finished product. This was a fun project, and I enjoyed the complete start to finish of taking my own reference photo to the finished painting. I love getting out in nature, and I am so grateful for the beautiful world that we live in.

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Undaunted

Today is market day, however I am not at the market. I came down with a cold last Sunday and I am still a little congested. It is raining today, and I decided that staying home would probably be the better option for myself and for my customers. But I am grateful for this unexpected time to prepare for next week a little bit, as well as get a few other business things done since I’m home and in the house for the most part. But today’s post is about something I observed last week at the market and my thoughts on it as I have thought about it all week.

There was a young man selling a number of beautiful paper wreaths that he had made himself. His craftsmanship was beautiful, and his price was a good price. The market last week however was a little slow. Actually, there was probably about the same number of people, maybe a little more, but they trickled in all through the day. Usually, there is a rush the first hour or two, and then slow for a couple hours, and then picks up again about 2 hours before it closes for a while. But last week didn’t ever seem to have the crowds although it was steadier on the trickle of people all day. But despite his best efforts, he hadn’t sold any and decided to pack up and go home about 2 hours after we started. It’s hard when you put your heart into something, and it looks really nice, and no one wants to buy one at that moment. I wanted to run after him and say just wait, just give it a little bit more time! I should have been his first customer because I thought I would like one for my house anyway. But I waited too long and then he was gone, probably discouraged.

This week I thought back to all the markets that I have done the last few years. The very first one I did I sold a few things, maybe $100 worth of prints, it was a great to know that at least someone out there liked some of my stuff though. The next one I think I sold almost $200 in prints. But then I did 3 or 4 markets that cost me time and booth fees to attend where I only sold a single sticker, or a couple of cards, costing me money to stand there and not sell anything. It was very discouraging, and I wondered if I was doing the right thing so many times. Since then, I have done many markets in various locations, and I have learned a few things.

First, don’t get discouraged if no one buys your product the first time around. Sometimes it takes a little experience at the markets, and often people don’t buy the first time you’re there, they look and mull it over for a week and come back and buy things later, but only if you come back too! Some products are fairly people specific as well. Art doesn’t sell as easily as baked goods and fresh veggies, but there are people who come who are looking for things besides baked goods and veggies.

Second, if one thing doesn’t work try something different. I remember the first thing I ever tried selling was handmade doilies. I crocheted them and they took me hours to make even small ones. I tried to sell them for only $20 or $30 dollars for smaller ones and $50 or $60 for larger ones, but I only sold 2 doilies to a friend, who found out I was there and came and supported me. That’s a true friend. I would have given her any doily she had liked, but she paid me for them, and I am grateful for her support. Most of the people who came through didn’t believe that I had made them, and thought they were still too expensive even if I had. I decided that wasn’t the business for me. I have made many baked goods for fundraisers and knew that I didn’t want to spend days baking trying to make enough to sell, not even sure it would all sell anyway. When I learned to paint, I decided to try the markets with art. I learned that prints are not easy to sell, but some other items that I can make with my art people really like. I have been able to adjust my inventory as I have watched customers and their interests concerning art. I still sell prints, but it’s not my major selling point and I enjoy looking for new products.

Third, customer service. Customer service is so much more than taking people’s money and handing them a product. I have learned over the years that people are what it’s all about, and that building good relationships with people is more important than the product in my booth. Saying hi to everyone who walks past your booth is a great way to engage people and help them slow down and enjoy, even if they don’t buy something from you. A smile and a friendly attitude toward people make a huge difference. I remember being at several markets with a particular vendor who always complained. “This market wasn’t very good, this market cost too much, they should have done whatever.” But I started watching, and they never engaged their customers. They never talked to anyone unless someone was actively trying to buy something from them. Not only does it drag your own booth down, but it has an impact on the whole market when people don’t feel welcome and needed.

And lastly, persevere. You have to keep trying. Maybe it’s an adjustment in how things are displayed, maybe it’s switching products, who knows, just don’t give up. Be constantly on the lookout for new ideas. I like going to other markets and seeing how other artists display their art. I have gotten many ideas on how I want to display my art from them. Just be careful not to copy someone else’s product or designs. Talking to the other vendors makes a huge difference in how fun the markets are as well. When you know them, if someone asks about a product like theirs you can reference them that direction. Likewise, if the other vendors know you, they will be more likely to send people your way. Just don’t give up, show up and try.

I enjoy going to the markets, I love seeing what other people create, eating the great food, getting my own stock up on veggies and especially meeting new people and catching up with old friends while I’m there. The Farmer’s Markets are a great hub to socialize, network and stay connected. So, if you have something you’d like to sell, try it, but don’t get discouraged if at first you don’t succeed. Keep at it and success will follow as you persevere.