Thursday, May 30, 2013

Crafting My Way to a Mixed Media Collage - The Beginning

Supplies for a mixed media collage
Okay, I like turning candy bars and cookies into floral bouquets for gift giving. Recycling and reusing paper by turning it into wreaths is another endeavor that satisfies my urge to create. Now I should have known that this was leading me in the direction of mixed media art. My brain takes different ideas and blends them into a new project all on its own; mixed media is a natural for me. My friend, Sharon, is an art teacher and she has shown me some of her own mixed media art canvases. All of this has been germinating in my mind for months, but I started researching mixed media collages about a week ago.
First,  I did an online search for mixed media collages. The search showed that YouTube has tons of videos on techniques and DIY tutorials about mixed media collages. After watching two or three, I realized I have all the basics for a mixed media collage.  Paint, paintbrushes, stencils, ink, stamps, ModPodge, recyclable books, magazines, and pictures are all in my crafting room.

After that, Pinterest and Etsy had pictures of completed projects that helped me to decide what direction to go in for a collage. The germinating seed finally took root and an idea began to grow. My collage is going to be faith based. As the seedling idea grew, I reached for my trusty notebook and sketched out the preliminary ideas for a collage.
Preliminary doodles to get ideas for a collage down on paper.

Today was spent exploring my resources. I purchased vinyl letters and a pack of multicolored tissue paper at the dollar store, but the bulk of the things I needed were already on hand.

Right now I am aging the sheet music and scripture page with cold, black coffee. The pages are currently drying on a cooling rack and I am looking forward to beginning my summer art project. Check for updates as this project progresses.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Get Your Food Kicks at Route 66's Rock Cafe

Stroud, Oklahoma is home to the Rock Cafe; a Route 66 internationally known food stop. Bill and I rode into the parking lot of the Rock Cafe already knowing the eatery's reputation for serving good food. We were pleased to discover that their reputation is well deserved.

My choice was easy because our waitress recommended my favorite burger, the mushroom and swiss. As the waitress placed our order on the table, riffs of grilled beef, hot potato, and dill flowed through my nose and caused my tastebuds to jump up and down in excitement. We both could not wait to eat this food!  The burger was juicy and full of flavor. The mushrooms, onions,dill pickle and swiss sang to my tastebuds and created a sweet harmony of taste perfection.

Bill ordered the Rock Cafe version of chicken bites with brown gravy. He enthusiastically endorses eating them this way, but this item can also be served with white gravy or ranch dressing. It was excellent!

Dessert was also another tastebud treat! The apple bites were square bits of tender dough enclosing an apple filling that never saw the inside of a can. They were very good. Bill had the peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream and he loved every bite as well. I know we keep saying it was good, but it was really, really a treat to eat.

The only downside to our visit was the bill. My hubby took care of that, but he told me later that the $23 or $24 he thought it would cost(23.75 before tax), turned into $28 and change at the register. Hmmm-----Stroud must have  a really high tax rate and  the teenage servers at the diner must be getting a 15% tip on the bill. We don't mind paying a gratuity for good service, which it was, but we like to know about it upfront.
Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cruisin' to Clanton's Cafe, Vinita, OK - updated 6/24/2013

Taking a motorcycle trip with Bill is always  fun, but add a great eatery to the journey, and the adventure factor doubles for me. After four windy hours of riding west, Bill and I were happy to see the Vinita, Oklahoma exit sign that announced our exit was half a mile from us.
As we rumbled into Vinita, I excitedly scanned the left hand buildings for a Clanton's sign.  Then I saw the object of my search, a one story building, rising from a veritable sea of vehicles. Now this wasn't a weekend. It was Thursday and the surrounding parking lot was jam packed.  We cruised around the building, seeking a space large enough to park our two bikes and the trailer I was towing.  We both spotted the bare strip of parking  lot  about the same time, so we parked in tandem and dismounted .
Now my husband is a city fellow and he didn't know about calf fries. I actually told him about Clanton's being famous for this item as we walked into the building, shame on me.  Brimming with excitement,  me not Bill, we had a brief wait for a table and used that time to soak in the atmosphere inside the building.
The Guy Fieri sign  was a reminder that he and the Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives crew had featured Clanton's  Cafe on the Old Route 66 shows. Framed local news articles, poker playing dog pictures, and hunting trophies adorned the walls. Waitresses swiftly took orders, smiled, and returned bearing platters of homemade french fries smothered in gravy, steaks, and a veritable feast of home cookin'.
A smiling, friendly waitress seated us and I acted like a complete tourist. Yes, I told her I was a fan of Triple D and Guy. THEN I told her my goal of eating at as many featured spots as I could. See, I told you, totally a tourist.
Bill ordered chicken fried steak, I ordered an open face roast beef, and both were accompanied by the handcut fries. The waitress told me she could bring us a sample of calf fries, so I said YES. You can see them in the picture.
The food was wonderful.  Bill praised the chicken fried steak as the best he has ever eaten. The roast actually was chunks of roast beef in a gravy that was silky smooth delishishness. Sorry, it was so good that just thinking about it made me feel like I was talking with my mouthful. Seriously, it is that good. Plus, we both ate all we could eat for $16.60. 

Oh yeah, the calf fries. The sauce they were served with is to die for. I know, I know it's a cliche, but it's true! It was like seafood cocktail meets salsa. Yum. The fries were dipped in a crisp light batter and fried to perfection. My tastebuds were happy with the batter and sauce. The calf part is very mild so there is no reason to not try a calf fry. Unless, you just can't get over what part of the calf you would be eating.
Look up Clanton's Cafe on Google Maps or Facebook and plan a road trip to Vinita, Oklahoma soon!

Clanton's Cafe on Urbanspoon

We enjoyed Clanton's Cafe enough the first time, that we visited a second time on June 20, 2013. This time I ordered the chicken fried steak with white gravy and Bill ordered the open faced pork loin sandwich. We shared a slice of homemade coconut cream pie that was a perfect meld of flaky crust, fluffy meringue, and coconut filling. I don't like overly sweet pie, so I cautiously tasted a small bit of filling first. It was a perfect balance between too much sugar versus not enough sugar.
Chicken Fried Steak at Clanton's
added 6/24/2013 Photo by Sallee Bonham
Pork Loin Open Face Sandwich
added 6/24/2013 Photo by Sallee Bonham
Coconut Cream Pie
added 6/24/2013 Photo by Sallee Bonham

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pantry Style Cocoa Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

Baking in hot weather isn't much fun, but I do love to make homemade cookies. I have a quick, budget-friendly cookie recipe that only requires stove top cooking. Another reason this is a great recipe is because you only need seven ingredients to make these fudgy, oatmealy gems.


2 cups white sugar          1 stick butter*                          1/2 cup milk                     1/2 tsp. salt                  
                  6 Tbsp. cocoa                 3 cups quick oatmeal             1 tsp. vanilla extract
* I always use butter for this recipe. If you use margarine, I can't guarantee what the end product will be like.


Place the sugar, butter, milk, and salt in a three or four quart sauce pan or stockpot over low heat. Stir until the butter and sugar are melted, then turn up the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes. I set timer as soon as the sugar mixture comes to a full boil.
After the timer goes off, turn the stove burner off and add the cocoa, quick oatmeal, and vanilla to the sugar mixture. Stir until well mixed. Using a teaspoon, drop a rounded spoonful of the hot cookie mix onto a wax paper lined baking sheet, repeat until the mix is gone. Work quickly because the mix will get crumbly if it cools off too much. The cookies may appear to be loose or somewhat crumbly, but they will harden as they dry.
Let the cookies sit and dry for several hours before removing them from the baking sheet. I have actually made a batch of cookies late in the evening and let them sit on the waxed paper lined baking sheet overnight.
Yield: 3-3.5 dozen cookies
These are not pretty cookies, but they have a fudgy goodness that my husband loves. I am always surprised at how fast a plateful disappears!
Several ideas for recipe variations have been swirling around in my head, so check back for additions to this cookie recipe. Happy non baking!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sallee's Pantry Style Corn

 Canned corn from your pantry can be made to taste like fresh corn. You do not think I am telling you the truth? Well, my husband does not call me a kitchen wizard for nothing. Sometimes the secret to preparing something tasty is to keep it simple and this bit of kitchen magic is simplicity itself.

The Secret Process 

  1. Open a can of whole kernel corn and drain well.
  2. Place two tablespoons of salted butter (not margarine, butter)in an eight inch skillet and melt the butter over low heat.
  3. Add the drained corn and sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over the corn.
  4. Gently stir the corn once or twice. Bring to a simmer and gently stir the corn once or twice again.
  5. Once the corn is nice and hot, it is ready to serve.
I allow two tablespoons of butter and one teaspoon of sugar for each 14-15 ounce can of corn when I am cooking for company.

Sounds too easy to be true doesn't it? Well the corn was originally crisp, but the canning liquid will make the kernels soggy if you just dump the can contents into a saucepan. Heating the corn in a skillet with butter (not margarine, butter) allows the corn to regain most of its original crispiness. The sugar helps it to taste like fresh sweet corn.

My inspiration for preparing my corn in this manner is my mom. Mom always takes cleaned ears of field corn and then adds sugar to the cooking water. The field corn is much sweeter when it is cooked this way.

I know that margarine is cheaper than butter, but your end result will not taste the same. I experimented with margarine, light margarine, and butter. The best results are with butter.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spring "Blooms" Candy Bar Bouquet

When I can construct a budget, friendly gift for someone to enjoy it is a win-win situation. I love to make economical gifts for my family and friends. Last time I made a candy bar bouquet, I finally remembered to take pictures as I worked.


Floral tape           12 inch or 10 inch bamboo skewers          green tissue paper          Invisible scotch tape      

3 packages of snack size candy bars (18 candy bars)         low-temp glue gun          glue sticks

Pinking shears or decorative scissors       4-inch ceramic pot           wired ribbon     

Filler for ceramic pot - I recycled pieces of styrofoam, but you can use floral foam, swim noodle pieces, etc. A batch of plastic wrapped rice crispy treats will even work!



Step 1 - Preparing Materials

·         Take 18 bamboo skewers and cut five to 6" length; five to 8" length; and eight to 10" length

·         Wrap skewers with floral tape. Start about 2" above the pointed end and wrap to blunt end.

·         Cut eighteen 1"x 1/2" rectangles from the green tissue paper. I didn't measure, I just estimated.

·         Cut eighteen 3"x3" squares from the green tissue paper. Again, I didn't measure, I just estimated.

Fill ceramic pot with filler. Stop about a 1/2 inch below the rim. (I like to place crumpled green tissue paper on top of the filler and poke the skewers through it.)

Step 2 - Assembling Your Candy Bar "Blooms"

  • Place a line of hot glue down the skewer from the blunt end. It should be about half the length of your candy bar. WAIT a couple of seconds, then place the skewer against the back of a candy bar. If you don't wait a couple of seconds, you could shrivel the candy bar wrapper, or melt the chocolate. Impatient? Then use tape, but the result won't be as cute, in my opinion.
  • Then, put a couple drops of glue on top of the skewer and place a green rectangle over it.
  • Continue until all eighteen skewers are done.
  • Poke a skewer through the center of a 3" tissue paper square. Then slide the square up to the candy bar. Gather the tissue paper gently around the skewer and tape it into place with invisible scotch tape.

Step 3 - Arranging Your Bouquet

  • Start with the 10" or 12" skewers and stick them into the pot, starting with one in the middle and space the rest evenly around the pot. I like my bouquets to be balanced and pretty from all sides. Just place and replace skewers until you're happy.
  •  After all the skewers are placed, arrange" leaves" and fill in any bare spots with more tissue paper.
  • Cut a length of wire ribbon; fold each end in half and clip diagonally from the fold to the open edges. Look at the picture to see your result.


·         Make your bouquets smaller or larger by using less or more candy bars. Smaller bouquets would need 4" skewers, 6" skewers, and 7" skewers. This will create a nice shape for your bouquet. Larger bouquets would need more 6" and 8" skewers.

·         Use raffia instead of ribbon.

·         Use full size bars for 6" - 8" pots.

·         Use scratcher tickets in place of the candy bars.

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Thanks for the mounds of love and all the joy you have given me. Your worth $100,000!