Saturday, December 12, 2009 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Life is laced with embellishments...














The need to create overwhelms me at times. When I am not creating, I find myself thinking about it. I dream of varied ideas and plan how to pull off a creation. I wake wishing I were in my studio already. With being sick the past two weeks, I have taken my journal and made some amazing altered pages. Creating is such a respite and relaxing opportunity for me. As I am making a gift, I think about that person and pray for them while creating. God just opens my soul to possibilities during this time. I love the positive aspect of that.

In this artwork, featured photo, I wanted to keep four packs of buttons from this design company. I thought I would frame them, but I found that wasn't enough. I needed, NEEDED, to embellish the whole project. I used more buttons from that same company and added them to the edges along with the needle and thread I had laced the buttons with. It will hang beautifully in my studio too.

Life is like that. Laced with embellishments, both positive and negative, it is how we look at each that makes life pleasant and peaceful or disrupted and shallow. Our family focuses on the positive aspects of life. However, if I dwell on the negative, that is who I become. If I focus on the positive and turn on my smile dripping in a bubbly personality, then each day is full of sunshine and the obstacles are so much easier to gracefully dance through.

Maybe this ties in well with this blog! Just as I broke the routine of my nightly regiment, you too can break the routine of being negative. Chose to be positive, smile, nod, rather than sour and...well, negative. You will look and feel ten years younger and that the weight of the worldly burdens are gone. God is good and this is the season to share that goodness and love.

((Smiling))

Love and Blessings,
Rita

Saturday, November 21, 2009 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Recipe: Peppermint Cup Cakes











Peppermint Cup Cakes might be delicious make with chocolate but since I am allergic to chocolate, this was better for me. I thought this brought out the peppermint flavoring very well too. Now, I would love to share with you the homemade version but it wouldn't be fair since the only way I like to make cakes of any kind is from a box. I can make them from scratch, however, I am so thankful for the boxed mixes...they are excellent.

Peppermint Cup Cakes
 ~ from the kitchen of Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Prepare a white cake mix of your choice. The only difference I do in preparing the mix is that I replace the required oil for real butter. Then I add 1 t of real peppermint flavoring and 1/2 t real vanilla to the mix. Also, I save the egg yolks in the freezer for use at another time. So, prepare the cake mix & place the batter into cup cake sleeves & bake according to directions on the box.

Take fluffy canned frosting, add 1/8 t of real peppermint flavoring to the icing and mix well. Spread evenly onto the cup cakes. Take crushed soft peppermint (from Cracker Barrel store) and sprinkle over the cup cakes. Delic-eee-0000-soooo!!!!

Ethan baked the cup cakes for me and I frosted them as he was trimming the Christmas tree.

I do have a funny story about my first every white cake. I hadn't been married but a couple of years when I attempted my first white cake. I was careful to measure and add the right ingredients. Once my mixer began to beat the batter, the whole thing began jumping on the counter. I was afraid something had happened to my mixer. When I pour the batter from the mixing bowl, out fell a large lump. After spooning it out, I found a piece of metal that was the size of an American quarter but about 1/2" thick. I knew right away there was no way this could have come from my mixer.

I cooked the cake...yes, I figured any germs would have been backed away. NOW, I would NEVER do that. ;-) The cake was very good as I remember. However, I thought the company needed to know about this.

I wrote a letter, since there was no such things as e-mail at that time. I described in cute detail how I had made my first white cake only to discover a hidden treasure. I told them what the piece looked like and said I would be happy to mail it to them if they would like.

Time passed and I got a reply from the company with a letter saying, "We were pleased to receive your letter because of the humor and delight you shared with us. We have never, ever received such a letter as yours." They gave their apology and an explanation that it came from one of their powder beaters in their plant. They went on to say, "We hope that the enclosed gift will make up for this problem." Enclosed was a check for 5x what the box of cake mix cost me and at least 10 coupons for free boxes of cake mix.

Needless to say, I was thrilled. It proved to me those many years ago that if you handle situations with humor and kindness, you will be rewarded. God has been good to me throughout the 25 yrs following that situation because I am an others focused person and I always bring a since of laughter to the table.

Love and blessings,
RHC

Recipe: Crab Cakes











I love seafood of every kind. My sons, Garrett and Joel, and I loved these crab cakes. I served warm tarter sauce with these. They were not greasy at all and browned nicely in the skillet. This recipe made 12 cakes.

Crab Cakes  
~ From the kitchen of Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

2 C fresh crab meat, finely chopped
1 C Italian bread crumbs
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/4 C minced onion (I use the dried minced onion)
1/4 C Kraft Real Mayo with Olive Oil
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t minced garlic
4 drops Hot Choleua Sauce
1 T butter

1. In a large bowl, combine crabmeat, bread crumbs, egg, onion, mayo, lemon juice, garlic, & hot sauce, mix well.
2. Make 12 balls of this mixture, roll in some Italian bread crumbs, & flatten to make a cake.
3. In a large skillet (I use a Pampered Chef non-stick skillet) melt the butter.
4. Cook the crab cakes until slightly brown on one side, flip them over & brown the other side.
5. Remove from the skillet onto papertowels to drain.
6. Serve hot and with warmed tarter sauce (I put the tarter sauce on the stove to warm while I made the crab cakes.

Love, blessings, and enjoy,
RHC

Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup











I have used a couple of different recipes in the past for Butternut Squash Soup, but this has to be my favorite and preparing the squash has taken several attemps, but I have found the best way to cook it. My loves this wonderful soup served with crumbled turkey bacon that is grilled crisp for this dish.

Butternut Squash Soup 
 ~ From the kitchen of Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

3 T of real butter
1 med onion, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, shredded
3 med potatoes, finely shopped
3 butternut sqash, peeled, seeded, & prepared*
1 - 32 oz box of chicken broth (99% fat-free)
2 t sea salt
1 t freshly ground pepper
Garnish with grilled crumbled turkey bacon & fat-free sour cream (optional)

*1. To prepare the butternut sqash, wash the squash first, then cut each on in half. Scoup out the seeds (if the seed area isn't soft enough to spoon out, simply do so after baking, being careful not to get any of the squash meat.) Brush on olive oil all on the top of each butternut squash, place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Begin preparing the other ingredients.
2. In a 12 quart boiler, melt the butter.
3. Add onion, celery, carrots & potatoes to the melted butter.
4. Add chicken broth just enough to cover the vegetables & simmer.
5. Scrap the meat from each sqash & add to the vegetables.
6. Add the remaining chicken broth & stir all the ingredients well & bring to a boil.
7. Remove from heat & allow to cook slightly.
8. Spoon mixture into a blendar and process until creamy. (I have to do about a 1/3 of the soup at a time, but once it is creamy, I put it into a very large metal bowl until I have all of it done, then add it back to the 12 quart boiler).
9. Place the soup on med-high heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
10. Serve hot, garnish with bacon & sour cream.

Love, blessings, and enjoy,
RHC

Recipe: Ham & Biscuits











I could be really crazy and give you a recipe for homemade biscuits with ham, but I must admit, those photographed here are not homemade. Since I was making several other dishes from scratch, I decided that it would be ok to fundge on the Ham & Biscuits. With frozen biscuits, I simply baked them and opened them while hot and added ham slices I bought in the meat section of our grocer. My husband, Jerry, grilled the ham for me. =) They were delicious and large too. Feed some growing boys in my house well for the Tree Trimming Party & even for breakfast in the morning. Ummmmyyyy.

Love, Blessings and {{{Hugs}}},
Rita

Recipe: Sauerbraten Meatballs & Gravy



Sauerbraten Meatballs and Gravy

~ From the kitchen of Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs...these are so delicious!!!

1/2 C fat-free milk
1/2 C dried bread crumbs
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground allspice
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 t sea salt
1/2 t fresh ground pepper
2 lbs of very lean beef ( I use Schwans ground beef)
3 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 C red wine vinegar with garlic
2 C beef broth
1/2 t ground ginger
2 bay leafs
2 T brown sugar
6 gingersnap cookies, crushed

1. In a med bowl, soak bread crumbs, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, salt, & pepper in milk.
2. Add beef & shape into meatballs, any size you like. =)
3. In a large skillet, brown meatballs in hot oil over medium heat.
4. While the meatballs are browning, put vinegar, beef broth, giner, bay leaves, gingersnap cookies & brown sugar in a bowl, mix well & set to the side.
5. Once browned, remove meatballs from skillet & drain on a layer of paper towels.
6. Add #4 to the skillet & bring to a rolling boil. When it can't be stirred down or becomes a thick gravy, return the temp to med-high and add the meatballs back to the gravy mixture.
7. Serve meatballs & gravy hot.
This is also very good over bowtie pasta...however, this dish is excellent alone. =)

Love and blessings,
RHC

Artichoke Wraps Recipe


Artichoke Wraps

~ From the kitchen of Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

1 T butter

1/2 C red potatoes, diced

3 oz fat-free cream cheese, softened

2 T minced onion

1/3 C grated Parmesan Cheese (not the crushed kind)

2 T Kraft Real Mayo with Olive Oil

1 T finely chopped fresh Parsley

1 T lemon zest

8 drops hot Choluea Sauce

1/2 T of sea salt

1 - 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained

24 wonton wrappers

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a small skillet, melt butter over med-high heat and cook potatoes, stirring constantly until potatoes are golden crisp.

3. In med bowl, combine cream cheese, onion, Parmesan cheese, mayo, parsley, lemon zest, hot sauce, and salt.

4. Fold in artichoke hearts & potatoes.

5. Spoon the mixture into phyllo cups.

6. Place in the mini-muffin pan, bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the wraps have browned.

7. Serve warm and with fat-free sour cream.


Love and Blessing and totally enjoy, RHC
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Trail Mix Popcorn Recipe

It has been a while since I have blogged, so what a better way to begin than with a recipe that I found today! Sorry, I don't know how many calories these might be, but they are NutLess and ChocolateLess since I can't have these for now, BUT I love popcorn, especially the dripping in butter (layered actually) at the movies, umm...oh, sorry, I butter get back to the subject...

Trail Mix Popcorn
* Makes about 20 small popcorn balls.

1/2 cup popcorn kernals, freshly popped
1/2 cup dried pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried banana chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup barley malt syrup
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

1) Toss popcorn with pumpkin seeds, banana chips, and cranberries.
2) Heat syrup in a medium saucepan.
3) Add vanilla to syrup.
4) Pour syrups over popcorn mixture.
5) Toss well.
6) Form into balls and place on wax papered cookie sheet.
7) Cool and serve.

Ummmy....Linda, check to see how what the WW value would be on these...on second though, don't!! =)

Love and Blessings,
RHC
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Random Thoughts about crochet, Jackson Pollock, jewelry, Jesus, knitting, & oatmeal...

Totally random ((Rita's Moment of Random Thoughts)), remember, I warned you...

Artist tips are fun to post on Twitter, but I find myself loaded with tips related to raising boys (the importance of having Ora-gel and Super Glue on hand) to cooking. There are many people out there with more wisdom than I could hold in my hand for life experiences make each of us that way on any given subject.

One tip I shared on Twitter tonight is really great. Take an empty/clean oatmeal container, the round ones with a plastic lid, punch a hole in the top of the plastic lid and place the ball of yarn inside weaving the end of the yarn through the hole in the top. This keeps the yarn from rolling around plus gives you a new way to recycle while feeding the body a healthy hearty meal. See what I mean, "what goes around, comes around", as my friend Sherry use to say. Also, for the thin, tiny crochet thread I use for my beaded necklaces fit perfect in a butter bowl, simply using the same technique. My beaded thread fits perfectly into the bowl and I pull as needed.

Yarn is a wonderful art. I met a precious lady once who used yarn at a senior center to outline and fill-in coloring pages. Then she mounted them on cardboard and framed them. The art of knitting has been around far more centuries than can be recorded, but the earliest findings note socks being the reason for knitting ((makes sense)). Crochet didn't come around until the early 1800, I believe. It is more a decorative art than knitting. However, Knitting, which I consider practical, has a beautiful detail to it as well. Regardless, I could never learn to play the piano because I had to use two hands to do it, thus, knitting was never my gift. I tried, oh, I tried, but it never stuck, sadly to say.

Crochet...yarn into filet designs, doilies, afghans, baby items, clothing, scrafs, even fabric rugs...I can do well and fast. Using crochet in jewelry ((wire and thread)) has been a true enjoyment, but making baby blankets for Linus will be my treasured gift.

I am so glad that whatever our gift of art might be, that we have opportunities to use it to help others. I have always told my sons that we are to be others focused when that person is in need. Jesus met a person where they were, supplied their need before sharing with them the love of God. His actions spoke loader than His words, how much different are we today? Funny, Jesus still meets us where we are...

Jackson Pollock said, "Every good painter paints what he is." What are you painting each moment of every day as a reflection for others to see? I, indeed, pray it is good.

Love and Blessings,
RHC
Monday, August 24, 2009 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Possibilities with Crochet...











Possibilities. There are so many now that my life has yet taken another turn. Which path will I take? What will I do? The adventure is the path of possibilities for which I am ready to walk down. I am thankful for this opportunity too! =) For now, my crochet hook is running quickly from row to row as I work on my next baby blanket. Soon, it will be shipped off for the Linus touch and used for a baby that needs it desperatley. Another color then will be started for a teenager in distress. I am thankful for this time to use my artisan talent for others. Hmmm, I wonder if there are senior centers that I might could offer free lessons or lap afghans? Oh, the possibilities...

Love and Blessings,
RHC

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

My laptop decor element...

Are these not adorable!!!
This was such an easy project. I added a daisy from the hostess line of Stampin' Up! to the top of my Acer Aspire One Laptop. it fit perfectly. Stampin' Up! has many items in the Decor Element collection. The prices are low and these are removable making them great for changing decor in your home or office, dorm, or simply for fun.

Tomorrow morning, I leave for Salt Lake City at 7 am. I am very excited and need this time of respite. It is with confusing feelings that I leave my dad at this time. He won't be with us much longer. He has so much trouble breathing and is under full Hospice care. My son, Joel, is recovering from surgery as well but is doing great. It is  little frightening to leave them. However, I realize I need girlfriend time...and a place to relax, renew, refresh, and remember. It will give me a chance to refocus as well. Setting my sights on the artistic goals and dreams that have only just begun. Being obedient to God's direction for this time of rest and renewal is something we all need to remember when we are caregivers. Not just to focus on our own interests, but to know that we have to be fully equipped to care.

Have a wonderful Wednesday and remember you are half way to the weekend, da'ling! Hang in there!!!

Love and blessings,
RHC

Sunday, August 2, 2009 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

What should this become?




Items taken from one form of media to another is something I love to do. Saturday, I went into this shop that has frilly girly accessories. The shop keeper offered me anythinig in the store at 20% off if I paid cash...I couldn't pass up the deal nor the price I got for this set. So, look at these photos and let me know what colors &/or design you think would be fun for this set - pendant and earrings. I can't wait to post them in a new style of jewelry...or whatever they may become.

Love, Blessings & {{{Hugs}}},
RHC

Beading Sample & Dreaming


This has been a productive Sunday! First thing this morning, my mother (both my parents live with us now) made homemade biscuits with syrup/butter to dip them in. There is no way I will ever succeed in shedding fluffy with her living here. LOL, but it was so umy!

Then I watched TV church of our worship service and a church live online with a chat room running along side of the screen. It was awesome! The other thing that was amazing was that both pastors were carrying almost the same message theme. God must need me to pay attention, don't you think? =)

Then I mowed our lawn (2 acres I might add) and cleaned a portion of the wooded area that will some day grow up to be a lovely walking trail. I usually like to mow the grass on Monday since it takes all day, it gives me a chance to put the mower in 1st gear and think about what I want to accomplish in my studio that week. I meditate, simply exist in the great outdoors, which is lovely all year long in the country.

Then I headed to the studio. After adding a small area for my rough work and storage for my metal shelving, I am ready to organize a bit. It is so exciting. I worked on my swap cards for for the artist convention and picked beads from my stash for a beaded bracelet (photo insert). I want to make one in greens and one in sandstone shades. I have yellow beading too, but haven't decided to use them yet. I love making this bracelet design. I will be sure to post the photos of the finished project. Also, I have strung beads for the crochet beaded necklace I will be making.

It is fun to create works of art. I love to make weird designs in the grass when I mow or place a bird feeder in a certain place that I know the birds will enjoy. I love eating homemade donates my mother made (which she did this evening) which are her own creation. It inspires me to watch and listen to my husband and sons sing or write their own music. Making a bed, preparing a cooked dish, arranging the table...all these are creative outlets. Which one is yours?

I have encouraged our sons to live their dreams, whatever they may be today or tomorrow. One has gone from wanting to be a lawyer to a professional musician to being a writer. Whatever each one has wanted to do with their life we have encouraged it, along with education of course. I wish someone had done that with me; so today, I am giving you permission to live your dreams. Start now planning where you will be in 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months, 10 yrs. If you are not happy doing what you are doing 9-5, then make plans to live your dream. Take the prep time to decide what it is you really want to do, what will make you smile all the time, what will make you happy!

I smile all the time, regardless of the circumstance. I am bubbly, smart, and fluffaly adorable. I am also an artist...in the past year in caring for my father, I have come to realize that I am an artist and I have gained the self-confidence to move forward in that. I am using the time caring for my father to build my skils, knowledge, getting my studio ready, and so forth. You can too? What is your dream?

Happy week, love and blessings,
RHC
(Ps Sorry for the long blog, but I just had much to say...)
Thursday, July 16, 2009 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Art is my respite again today...

Today has been a load of day dreaming about this piece I have been asked to make using an animal theme. What about a butterfly using wire and beading or thread and beading with a snake theme? Oh, that would be so, so, so fun in a mysterious sort of way. Maybe a black snake with golden eyes or a piercing tongue hanging in red. I will have to think about this some more. I even considered a Noah's Ark idea but this has been done often and could be a clunky and heavy piece which wouldn't appeal to me at all.

I had a moments shop time due to my dad's weakness today. I am his full-time caregiver since my parents moved in with us last fall. He is declining rapidly sadly to say. So I use my time between his morning care and evening care to play in my studio. Tomorrow, I need to run to the local bed shop (Bella Beads) and pick up some seed beads for this animal project and to make an Ivy Green bracelet which is a sewn piece.

The baby blanket is coming along great. I will post photos and instructions soon so that you can make this quick and easy pattern I created. I gave one to a family friend who is expecting their baby in August. I attached a couple of infant sleepers and a copy of the first in the Laura Ingles Wilder series....a must read with your children, plus a book is a gift forever just like that baby blacket, you are giving of yourself.

A challenge...begin now thinking of homemade/handmade items you can give for Christmas. Another challenge....make all your Christmas/Holiday cards and gift tags this year. Start now and send me photos and notes of what you gave and of the cards you make. Oh, this will be like a great blogger party....I will have my coffee cup ready with some flavored warm tea while we share....this will be so much fun....

Love and Blessings, RHC
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