100 Day Challenge – Week 1

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been doing a little challenge for the last few weeks. It’s called The One Hundred Day challenge, hosted by an artist named Elle Luna. I recommend her book The Crossroads of Should and Must to anyone but especially to creatives. Though I had hear about the one hundred day challenge before this book is what inspired me to commit to it.


Day 1

But back to the project. The goal is to pick one activity and repeat it every day for 100 days. I followed the challenge last year and decided to actually commit this time around. The activity I chose is to daily draw or sketch something related to my dream project of illustrating a book for my nephew. It can be of anything from him to his dog Mia to his favorite toy. My goal with it is to help conceptualize my dream, discover a style I want to go with, and develop a story line.


Day 2

I’m already on day 23 (almost a quarter of the way through!) but I wanted to post about it in week long segments. These are the first seven sketches.


Day 3

This project has been so good for me. I was overwhelmed going into it, 100 days seems like a long time. There have been a few tough days where I’ve been uninspired and I’ve had to post photos I’m not completely happy with but this project has been such a great creative exercise.


Day 4

I feel like a habit of sketching daily has already improved my skills and I look forward to seeing how much I will have grown at day 100.


Day 5

Today as I was flipping through my sketchbook Carson came and sat beside me to look at the sketches. I started to make up a story on the fly using the sketches. He was enthralled by it, not moving or saying a word. After the “story” was finished he grabbed my sketchbook and set it with a pile of other book before going of to play.


Day 6

I guess this storybook illustration dream of my will have at least one interested reader. That makes it all worth it!


Day 7

This is week one of #100DaysofCarsonandMia. You can follow my daily posts on Instagram.

End Grain Cutting Board

I’ve been having a good creative flow lately. That isn’t typical for me in the winter time. Something about the lack of sun, exercise, and warmth leaves me unmotivated and brain foggy but that isn’t the case this winter, or at least this month. Maybe it’s because of the strange, sporadic weather, one day it’ll be balmy and spring like then the next will be single digits and icy. Change is one of the best ways to get your creativity flowing again. While I will be very ready for spring and summer I’m grateful that this winter is going so well.

A little over a week ago we had a major ice storm. The road were bad, very bad, so I took a snow day. I wanted to spend my extra free time working on a creative project. After browsing Pinterest for a bit I came across this beautiful shop that sells kitchenware. I absolutely loved this cutting board and (after seeing the $300 price tag) decided to make one myself.


The shop tools needed dusting off along with my carpentry skills. I hadn’t worked with wood since I had created this desk and a picture frame in August of 2013. I forgot how much fun it is to work in the shop with the table saw, wood planer, and other power tools. Since this project was relatively easy (compared to a desk!) it wasn’t long before it was almost done. Yay for instant gratification!


The cutting board is made with walnut cut into small blocks and glued together in a pattern made with the grain of the wood. The end grain is often exposed in cutting boards since it is harder which means the board will not get marked up as quickly and it is easier on your knives.


I was very happy with how it turned out but after a few coats of the finishing oil the wood darkened a lot and the grain pattern I had worked so hard to arrange all but disappeared. So much for a copycat of the $300 dollar board. I’ll know better for next time.

Even though it didn’t turn out exactly like I had hoped I’m really happy with it, and also a little scared to use it because I might scratch it, hehe.

For information and tutorials about end grain cutting boards go here, here, and here.



Snow Day + Links

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Two days ago there was a big snow/ice storm. It coated all the branches in ice crystal and the ground in crusty snow. It’s looked liked a winter wonderland outside ever since then and has inspired me to take a lot of photos. The first day the road were so icy I couldn’t get into work so I took a snow day and spent the morning photographing and the afternoon doing some woodworking in the shop right next to the cozy wood stove.

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Here’s some entertainment for your next snow day.
Podcast: “Sounds Good” with Brandon Harvey
Recipe: Homemade Pop Tarts
Tutorial: Making a simple metal cuff.
Shop: The Noonday Spring Collection! Especially this, this, this, and this.
Watch: “Impossible” by Jeremy Cowart. Everyone should watch this.


Bacon Wrapped Pear + Kale Salad with Sweet Ginger Dressing

The other night I was craving a good salad but didn’t have time to stop for some groceries. I rummaged through the fridge trying to find something to make a decent salad with. I found some kale that was a little past it’s prime, some pears, and a few pieces of bacon. At first it didn’t seem very promising but then I had a little inspiration. I’ve been all into oven roasting veggies lately so I decided to try it with the fruit. The results where better and more gourmet than I even hopped they would be.

I usually cook in the evenings so by the time it’s ready the sun has already set, which means getting a decent photograph of the food is impossible. I tried taking a photo of my salad but it looked awful, so bad I was going to skip uploading the recipe altogether. I decided to try illustrating the food and was actually happy with the results. It might not be as appetizing as a well lit and staged photograph but I’m happy with it.

I used kale as the base which was good but to make it a little fancier and to give it a softer texture I might try spinach or arugula next time. I think it would also be good in a breakfast bowl with oatmeal or quinoa as the base. Or they would be just as good served as hors’ doeuvre, without the greens, drizzled with honey and balsamic reduction.

Bacon Wrapped Pear Salad with Sweet Ginger Dressing

2 bosc pears, sliced into wedges
6-9 strips of bacon, cut in half
1/2 c. pecans
balsamic vinegar
ginger juice or minced ginger

Salad: Preheat oven to 400*F. Wrap a half strip of bacon around the center of each pear. Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 25 minutes or until bacon it cooked and pears are soft. Sprinkled pecans over the pears, try to coat them in the melted bacon fat. Bake for 5 more minutes. Place greens or serving plate and top with the pears and pecans. Drizzle with dressing.

Dressing: Put around 1 tbsp. of honey in a small bowl. Add vinegar 1 tsp. at a time until it is to your liking. Add a dash of ginger juice and sprinkle in nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Beet Hummus

Fruits and veggies or my favorite food group. I could live without meat, or bread, or even cheese but I need me some salad or roast veggies often. I tend to obsess over one vegetable or fruit at a time, usually whatever is in season. I’ll stock up on the veggie and try as many different recipes with it as I can think up. This year I’ve fallen in love with asparagus, squash, kale, and pears. My latest heartthrob it the red beet.

There are very few vegetables that are quite as audacious as this root. It stains deep red anything that dares cross it. The only thing bolder than it’s color is it’s rich, sweet, earthy flavor. It seems to be a veggie that people either love or hate. I love it, though I don’t think I’ve ever met a vegetable that I don’t like. My theory is that there are no bad veggies, just bad cooks. But I digress.

My sweet Mennonite grandma gave me a jar of pickled beets which I recently opened and ate plain and with salads. I never got around to using the leftover beets to make the traditional Amish appetizer of pickled beet eggs because while flipping through a copy of My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz I came across this recipe. I knew that was how I would use the last of my pickled beets.

It couldn’t be any easier to make. you throw all the ingredient’s in a bowl, whip them up with an immersion blender and it’s ready to serve. It’s lip smacking good and so easy, especially if your beets are already pickled for you. Thanks grandma!

I need to give a little hat tip to the immersion blender. If it’s not my favorite kitchen tools of all time it definitely makes it into the top five. Seriously, I use it for everything. I don’t think I’ve used a regular blender in months. If you’re think about investing in one I would say it’s worth it.

Beet Hummus
Recipe adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

12 oz. cooked or canned beet, drained (I used pickled beets which added note of spice and vinegar.)
2/3 canned chickpeas, drained
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (2 will be very garlicky)
6 tbsp. tahini
2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 c. lemon juice
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses (I substituted it with an equal amount of balsamic vinegar reduction)

Blend all the ingredients with a food processor or immersion blender. Adjusting seasonings to your taste. I normally find that if it tastes flat a little extra lemon juice or tahini will do the trick. Optional: Dress it up with a drizzle with olive oil, some poppy seeds, or some whole chickpeas just before serving.