Pumpkin Clove Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

What’s a fall family gathering without a delectable fall treat? Our family watercolor fest featured lots of painting, sipping on cups of coffee or tea, and sampling of delicious treats like these heavenly pumpkin clove cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting. If you haven’t tried Warren Brown’s pumpkin clove pound cake, this is a great time of year to give it a try. Instead of baking the cake in a Bundt pan, we made cupcakes and a small loaf cake. They turned out great. Get the recipe here.

Fall Family Watercolor Fest–Even the Dogs Joined in on the Fun

The puppies’ palette–primary colors by Winsor Newton. I thought it was best to keep things simple–and to take this project outside–but it didn’t take long for these cheery colors to turn into a muddy mess.

Dexter tried to use a paintbrush but decided that paw painting was a better solution.

So he jumped in with all four feet and got down to work.

He’s a regular Vincent Van Go-Doggie, Go-Doggie!

Little Stevie waiting for his turn to paint.

The long hair on his feet created a canine mop brush and a big mess to clean up. Catching him to wipe his feet proved to be a bit challenging. Yorkies try their hardest to be uncooperative; it’s what they do best.

The completed painting. I actually like the end result and plan on framing this painting and hanging it above their dog beds. Family activities are always more fun when you include every member of the family.

Fall Family Watercolor Fest

What do you get when you celebrate three of your favorite things–a beautiful fall day, spending time with family, and experimenting with watercolors? A fall family watercolor fest–that’s how my mother, sister, daughter, and I spent the day. We had a great time painting, enjoying homemade treats, and sipping on cups of coffee and tea. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day. I hope your weekend was equally as sweet. Here are some photos of my fall family watercolor fest:

My kitchen table was the perfect place for a family watercolor fest. With all those windows, it offers plenty of light plus easy access to food and drinks (a must in my book) and a view of the backyard so I could watch the puppies enjoying the beautiful fall weather.

It can get challenging to paint when the late afternoon casts deep shadows on your work, but we carried on, determined to complete our paintings in one session.

Normally when we get together there’s a lot of talking involved, but things got pretty quiet when everyone was concentrating on their work. Painting can be so relaxing.

We each walked away with a completed painting to remember this special day. That makes the paintings even more precious in my book.

And here’s my German Shepherd, Mary. She laid at my feet for hours while I worked on my painting. She’s such a loving, faithful companion. I’m so blessed to have her as part of my family.

My daughter’s Yorkie, Little Stevie, preferred to watch the activities from his perch on the back of the couch. He’d a delightful little imp.

Late Night Chef: Smokey Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? It’s comfort food at its best. But when you throw in some bite-sized sausages, colorful peas, and heavy cream, it’s not just macaroni and cheese, it’s way, way over the top macaroni and cheese. And it’s my most requested recipe. So here I am at 10:00 pm whipping up a batch for a pot luck I’ll be attending tomorrow. Instead of passing out the recipe in person (folks always ask me for it), this time I’m sharing it with all my friends online. This recipe is just too good to keep to myself.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this dish:


1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 of a 14-oz. package of ‘Lil Smokey cocktail sausages, cut into thirds
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups cream
8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

In a large saucepan, combine the hot cooked macaroni and butter. Stir to allow the butter to melt completely. Add cream, eggs, 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, Velveeta cheese cubes, sausage, peas, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon into a large, ungreased baking dish. Top with remaining 2 cups of cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbling around the edges and the cheese is lightly browned. Serve with a salad and iced tea. Enjoy.

Here’s a picture of Dexter watching me chop the sausage and praying to the canine God that bits of sausage will fall on the floor (his prayer was answered–several times):

Weekend Chef: Cherry Dijon Chicken Salad

It was a gorgeous day today so I spent the afternoon outside doing yard work. It was exhausting work that left me with little energy or time to make dinner. So I whipped up a simple dinner of cherry Dijon chicken salad and served it on buttery croissants with slices of fresh cantaloupe on the side and home-made pickles that I bought at the farmer’s market. It was a simple but delicious meal. Here’s what you need to make this quick dinner:


2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s mayonnaise because it tastes closest to home-made mayo)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar

Wash the chicken breasts, remove any visible fat, and cut each breast into thirds (to reduce the cooking time). In a medium saucepan bring 4-6 cups of water to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat, add the chicken, and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the centers are no longer pink. Be careful not to overcook the chicken or it will become dry and tough. Remove to a platter. Cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces. In a medium-sized bowl combine the cooled chicken, cherries, almonds, celery, mayonnaise, mustard, and sugar. Enjoy.

Weekend Chef: Apple Pie Oatmeal

I bought these beautiful red and golden delicious apples yesterday at the farmer’s market and searched the internet for some apple recipes to mark the start of the fall season. I came across Six Variations on the All-American Apple Pie on Babble.com and decided to try the apple pie oatmeal for breakfast this morning. Boy was it good; sorry you missed it, mom. Here’s the recipe (I changed it slightly to suit my tastes, and I’ve noted the changes below).


1/2 apple, cored, and chopped into bite-sized pieces (I used a whole apple and peeled it first)
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups water (I used 2 1/2 cups of water since I used a whole apple)
I added a dash of salt in the water


Milk (I used cream I bought from a local dairy farmer)
Brown sugar
I added home-made granola I bought at the farmer’s market

Combine water, salt, raisins, and apples in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat until boiling. Stir in oats. Cook until the oats and apples are tender (about 8-10 minutes). Spoon into bowls. Top with brown sugar, cream, and granola. Enjoy!

This recipe was so easy and delicious. It took me about 10 minutes to make from start to finish. Easy, quick, and delicious–that makes this recipe a keeper in my book. Doesn’t this look fabulous?

Maigold Roses Complete

I just completed this painting a few minutes ago and was so pleased with the results that I had to post it right away. I darkened the background a bit behind the leaves on the right-hand side to increase the contrast, I added veins to the leaves using a negative painting technique, and added veining to the rose petals using a very diluted brilliant red violet, though next time I would dilute it even further because I think the lines should be even paler than what’s shown here.

As I mentioned previously, this painting was based on a tutorial from Janet Whittle’s book, “Roses in Watercolour.” Since Ms. Whittle stressed that using the right type of paper was very important to achieving this type of background wash and I didn’t have the paper she recommended on hand (Arches 140 lb. Not paper), I practiced her wash technique on the four types of paper I had on hand–Fabriano Artistico Hot Pressed, Fabriano Artistico Cold Pressed, Canson Aquarelle/Acuarela Cold Pressed, and Aquarelle Arches Cold Pressed. It was a worthwhile experiment because the results varied widely with each type of paper, and the Aquarelle Arches Cold Pressed 140-lb. paper was the hands-down winner.

My palette consisted of Winsor Newton opera rose, aureolin, quinacridone gold, Winsor red, indanthrene blue, Winsor violet, and perylene maroon as well as Schmincke brilliant blue violet, May green, helio green, and brilliant red violet.

I will definitely be using this wash technique in the future as well as some of the other techniques I learned from this book. I highly recommend it.

Maigold Roses

I worked on these Maigold roses for several hours again today and still didn’t finish the painting. I got close, but lost my light and had to stop for the night. I still have a few leaves to finish, some shadows to refine, some edges to clean up, and I need to add faint veining in the petals. For a tutorial on how to create a similar colorful background, pick up a copy of Janet Whittle’s book, “Watercolor Roses.”

Five-Minute Chef–Simple Caprese Salad

Need something quick and delicious for dinner? This simple caprese salad takes five minutes to prepare. Serve it with some rustic bread and a glass of peach iced tea (my favorite) and you’ll have a fabulous, healthy meal in the blink of an eye. Here’s what you need to prepare this salad:

Simple Caprese Salad

2-3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced (I bought mine at the farmer’s market)
Fresh basil, chopped
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Place several tomatoes on each plate, top with slices of fresh mozzarella and chopped basil. Combine olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle on top of salad. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. That’s it. So simple and delicious.

How to Tame a Wild Watercolor Background

How do you tame a wild watercolor background? Add some wild roses. Here’s a sneak peak of a painting I’ve been working on this weekend. I worked on this painting for a good portion of the day but had to stop when the lighting changed. If all goes well, I’ll be posting the completed painting tomorrow.