the calendar says we are in SPRING, but in actuality, it’s been freezing like the dickens the past few days.  idk what’s up with our crazy midwest weather, but i hope we can warm up to somewhere decent, like the low ’70s, please.  thank you.

yesterday was the season opener here.  but OMG, mother nature was not very nice… it was a rather wicked cold, windy & rainy day (well, 1st half anyway)!  like the true die-hard that i am, i ventured out to the flea… lemme tell you tho, it was brutal.  not very many vendors were set up and the crowds were low, which is pretty unusual as this flea has over 500 vendors typically and a foot traffic of thousands of peeps.  you’d think we were in the  middle of february or something the way i (& many others) were dressed.  ugh, i could hardly stand it, but i trudged on, as did others.  i felt bad for the vendors, especially the ones who did not have tents or tarps to cover their stuff.  this was a bit of a disastous opening day… but as i was getting ready to leave, the sun made an appearance.  however, by then, i was thoroughly chilled and all too ready to go home. 

(i spotted these & thought of those two dudes, mike & frank, from american pickers… as they would say, “MANtiques”… i liked the shamrock sign, but @ 75bucks, took a pass instead.)

anyhoo, between shivering from the cold and rain and trying to look at all these items, many of which were getting wet from the sporadic sprinkles of rain, i managed to find some “smalls”, as they say in the flea-tiquing biz.  i was not looking for anything large, though i did spot a vintagey plant stand, such as this one here>>>

i’m debating whether or not to use this for plants or as some sort of organizational unit for my art & craft stuff.  hmmm, for now, it’s residing on the back deck.

on the way home from the antique flea, i stopped by a thrift store & found some other “smalls”, like this sweet dressy bessy doll by playskool (c. 2001).  for a buck fifty, i just couldn’t pass it up.  now, i’ll have to go find a dapper dan from the same era so she won’t be without her companion.  do you remember playing with these delightful playthings when you were little?  i do.  yep, so many hours of enjoyment.  years later, i also remember buying a set for a niece & nephew when they were very small.  even now, i think these dolls are the sweetest things ever… talk about the timeless quality of these sweet dolls.  for me, they represent fond memories, comfort & practical learning all rolled into one.  i just LOVE that about them & things like them.  don’t you?


ok, i’m skipping ahead of myself…  let’s back up to the freezing flea-market adventure, shall we.  here’s what i was able to score, despite my fingers going numb in a few places, hehehe.

well, one good thing about the rain, all these purty & inventive plant displays are well-nourished!

i did have an eye out for vintage tea cups & saucers, but didn’t spot any until i saw this combo… however, it turned out to be a garden stake.  oh well, better than leaving without at least one tea cup set, even if it is for the garden.

aren’t these vintage doll hangers just the cutest?

of course, i couldn’t resist these vintage buttons…

these vintage toy people had no faces, but maybe one day i will repaint them & give them their faces 🙂

the minty green of these toy trees caught my eye & for a buck, why not?

these were next to the trees above, so for another buck, what the heck… i’m sure i can find some use for them…

the same dealer where i found the above “smalls”, also had a big bag of these… a deal for $5… way cheaper than buying a couple of new scrabble games 3x that price. 

in one of the buildings, i came across a new vendor who sold BLING BLING and other fun vintage (costume) jewelry…  she had a $4 table and i couldn’t believe these were in this pile!  check it out>>>

i asked the dealer why $4 & she replied that they are damaged in some way.

well, could’ve fooled me!

they need a gentle cleaning and only the bracelet was missing a rhinestone…can you see it?  no, i didn’t either.  you can’t even tell, right?

when i was ready to pay, the dealer said, let’s just make it $15.  i was like, wow, thank you!! & i thought $4 a piece was a good deal.

what started out to bea cold, dreary & gloomy day actually ended up being a not so bad afternoon.  still cold and windy…

but at least the sun came out.  & a little SUNSHINE is always good for the soul.

easter greetings


remember in the last post, i mentioned my disappointment of receiving damaged macarons from sucre?  & how i emailed the company & told them?  well, i didn’t think i would hear from anyone from there… BUT i did!

chrissy from sucre emailed me a few days after i had sent that initial email.  she was very apologetic.  AND she informed me that she had already re-sent another sampler pack to me @ no extra charge!  i wrote her back & thanked her for her kind gesture and professional customer service.

i started to rethink my opinion of sucre

well, a couple of days ago, i received the “make-up” order…. BUT sadly 😦 all the macarons in there were CRACKED.  mon dieu, much worse than the original order!

sigh, at this point i realized that the folks at sucre really have no control over their fragile goods once they are in the hands of UPS.  chrissy had mentioned in her response email to me that as much as they carefully & thoughtfully package their fragile confections, they are, unfortunately, somewhat at the mercy of “the whims” (chrissy’s words, not mine) of UPS’ handling and delivery… 

so, i emailed chrissy again to tell her the above & that i appreciated their efforts, etc… & that she needn’t send another box… bec. frankly, i don’t care to be disappointed in a box of cracked up macarons…  i really doubt another box would make it either!

as before, i didn’t cry over broken macarons… i salvaged what i could & decided to have a photo shoot of sorts, before they all got discarded (aka eaten)  🙂

i tried to photograph them in as flattering light as i could manage.  most all the macarons were crushed on the one side… so i tried to not show the underside.  but the crumbs… they were hard to brush off mainly because they stuck to the filling & i didn’t want to chance cracking them even more!

as imperfect in appearance as they were, they were still quite very tasty.  the lemon ones were my favorite ones, i think. 

one of these days, when conditions are oh so right for macaron making, i will have macarons that are not on crack, er, i mean not cracked :)…

& that will be a day of celebration, for sure.

mac attack

lately, i’ve become obsessed with all things macarons…  i am determined to learn how to make them…correctly & successfully 🙂  have been scouring the internet for the 411 on these delectably sweet french confections.  you might say that i’ve gotten “a big mac attack” wicked bad.  a week ago, i ordered a sampler box from http://shopsucre.com… i received my goodies the other day, but was  disheartened to find that pretty much all my macarons were damaged…there were crumbs everywhere!  yes, i have contacted the company & told them all about it, even sent pix like this one: 

to express my disappointment and dissatisfaction.  i have not heard a response from them, suppose i never will.  but companies need to be told when their products arrive damaged & not as described…   and above all, how all  that simply is not acceptable… yadda yadda…

oh well, instead of getting my knickers all bunched up in a twist, i decided to make lemonade, so to speak.   i took what macarons i could salvage from the “wreckage” and set up a little still life that i could sketch and paint.  don’t get me wrong, the damaged macarons were still delicious.  heck, they should be!!!  omg,  after paying a premium for these rather high-priced french cookies, one tends to expect nothing but the best!  so, long story short, this is precisely why i want to learn how to make my own macarons… so i will never have to be crushed by, well, crushed  (& overpiced) macacrons again! 🙂

i guess the moral of my lil tale here: when the cookie crumbles, go ahead & enjoy the crumbs 🙂

fancy an itty bitty book swap?

just posted sign-ups in our little group on facebook.  if  you are so inclined & would like to join in on this fun book collaborative, please give me a shout out here & i’ll fill you in on the whole itty bitty scoop.  having a facebook account, while not entirely essential, would be a plus, as our group there is private and by invitation only.  we have had, however, peeps join in on the fun who aren’t on facebook… we just touch base via email.  that has worked out just fine in the past.  please do think about it…sign-ups end april 24, 2011.  mail-by deadline is july 8, 2011.  have a super sunday! 🙂

one last ode to winter & then bring on spring!

  a lil book collaborative that i hosted in the facebook group.  the theme, as you can see, is MITTEN.  i mailed out the books a couple of days ago and hopefully they have all reached their intended recipients safely.  it was another fun book.  🙂

if you like coconut & cheese…

we have satellite internet & we have found living in a very wooded boonies, that internet connections can be very temperamental… it just seems with the crazy, unpredictable winter weather happening these days, our internet service gets a bit more wonky than usual.  i am typing this quickly before the internet goes…

anyway, if you weren’t able to get the recipe for “bibingka” in the last post (i used a hyperlink shortcut), here it is that i copied and pasted—> (it is very similar to my mother’s, though i modify it for her & use sugar substitute on account of her being diabetic… still tastes FABULOUS!)

Recipe: Bibingka 

 ½ stick of butter, soft

 2½ cups sugar

 5 eggs

1 box (16 ounces) Mochiko rice flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

 2 cans coconut milk or evaporated milk

1 cup coconut flakes

1 cup cheddar cheese

 Preheat your oven to 450˚F, and grease a 13-inch-by-8-inch baking sheet. (The pan is critical. Any other size, and your bibingka is doomed.) In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. On low speed, slowly add the sugar, and continue to beat until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In a medium bowl, stir together the rice flour and baking powder. Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture, and mix well. Stir in the milk, one can at a time, and mix well. Add the coconut flakes and cheese and stir just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. You’re probably going to get a little nervous here, thinking all the batter won’t fit. Don’t worry — just fill that pan right up. Bake at 450˚F for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375˚F and bake for 20 more minutes. Cover the pan with foil when when it gets brown. The cake is done when a knife stuck in the center comes out clean.

Read more:  go here  for the original post of this recipe.

bibingka and other foodie business


i woke up this morning thinking about this…  it brings many happy, fond memories.  my mother makes the best, then my sis jo & i have been known to make it pretty nicely too.   i was wracking my brain for the recipe… i believe i have all the ingredients to make a batch… i know i have my mom’s recipe somewhere.  but aaack, just can’t find it.  so i googled for the recipes.  a ton of different versions of this quintessential filipino cake popped up & i searched and searched until i found one (aka see above link) that closely resembled my mom’s version.  my mom’s version is simple but oh so delectable.  no lie.  i ❤ this cake.  🙂

i think i will whip up a batch using the above recipe just to make sure that it tastes like my mom’s, hehehe. 🙂 

& if it works out, then i will make another batch & send it to my mom… her birthday is coming up (shhh, don’t tell!) & i know that my mom (& my dad too) will LOVE getting this surprise 🙂

next to making art, cooking has become another passion these days.  idk how i became a “foodie” all of a sudden, hehehe… but i’ve been totally diggin’ cooking things from scratch lately…PLUS  also using the freshest ingredients where at all possible. 

speaking of which, “cooking fresh” also makes me want to grow my own food this gardening season!  i used to when we lived in maine… i tried in vain to replicate my old veg and herb garden beds when we first moved here.  but i soon got discouraged because of the very rude & quite brazen deer population that also reside out here in the wooded boonies. 😦 

 the deer around here simply have no respect and  have treated my garden beds in those early days like their own personal smorgasbord.  i couldn’t plant or grow anything without seeing nibbled remains of plants, shrubs and trees!  once one fall weekend,  i planted about 200 tulip bulbs in the front yard, envisioning a glorious spring display…but instead, i found a field of bitten off tulip heads come that following spring!  OMG, was i ever so pissed.  you. have. no. idea.    the deer have been so CHEEKY that in the last few years, i sorta just threw up my hands & gave up on trying to grow our own food like i had before in maine.  i was going to be damned before i grew a whole crop of veggies just exclusively for the entire deer population!!!!

last summer, i had frequented a number of various farmer’s markets in the area… so much so,  that a part of me felt a bit sad (& rather mad) that i had to buy other peeps’ food when i knew full well that i could grow my own tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, fresh herbs, etc, etc if it weren’t for those gosh-darned DEER!  when we lived in maine, i never had the deer problem there as  i do here.  OMG.  we had a virtual grocery store in our back yard when we lived in maine.  homegrown gardens were the norm where we had lived.  i SO miss that.

this year, however, especially after receiving countless seed and garden catalogues, i am determined to grow our own food again.  but this time, i think i will grow them in containers & place them all on the huge back deck.  i figure that at the very least, those darn DEER could not possibly get into the second floor deck!!!  the sun exposure is westerly so that should be plenty enough to grow a small crop of assorted veg, herbs and of course flowers.  you gotta have flowers to pretty up the joint and bring the bees and hummingbirds by 🙂

so that’s what i’m plotting… literally and figuratively. as soon as the weather warms and i can work in my garden, i plan to clean up  my lower garden beds and then i think – NO! i must! – plant some thorny (make that EXTRA thorny!) rose bushes and other deer repellent plants and shrubs.  ha!  take that you pesky DEER!!    who knew that i was going to have this on-going WAR with the DEER (aka “the enemy”)? 

as for my plan of ATTACK, so to speak, the upper back deck, which btw runs the entire span of the house, i will start planning my container garden. that is where i will basically grow our food. hopefully, this plan will work.  i cannot wait to get my hands in the dirt and play!  back in the good ol’, deer-free days, i was (& will be again!) a voracious gardener.  i am looking forward to getting back into gardening saddle again.  it’s been too long.  & back to self-sustenance & reliance is what i say!


oh yes, nearly forgot… last 2/26 was my BLOGOVERSARY.  i totally FORGOT…oopsie!  it’s been SIX years -OMG- since i started art blogging.  oh well, no biggie… LIFE happens and i have had a lot going on these days.  well, happy belated blogoversary to me then, hehehe 🙂

i’ve said what i’ve wanted to say today… so now, BIBINGKA time!  gotta get crack-a-lacking…if you have never had it… idk what to say other than that you are in for a real treat if you can try it. 🙂

you won’t be disappointed.  trust me on that one!

xoxo mary ann

(ps., pardon all the 🙂 …today is one of those rare days that i am actually not feeling stressed, like i usually am… i think it’s because i’m at home & not at school!!!)

art heals

the sadness of letting go our beloved TJ still lingers… but, as they say, life (must) goes on.  we have to take comfort knowing that we did the right,  most loving and kind thing for him.  he’s not suffering any longer now and i’d like to think that he is still with us in spirit.  it will take some time getting used to not seeing him around… but time heals…

and for me, art does too.  i have been more than ever wanting to draw and paint what i am feeling/ experiencing.  i just have to make a more concerted effort to do so.  otherwise, i will continue to be the stressed out, uber cranky yiatch that i’ve been lately.  & omg, i so do not want to live my life like that.  no friggin way.

lately, i’ve been admiring the fabulous works of teesha moore and tessa mcsorley.  i revisited teesha moore’s work when i recently stumbled upon many of her youtube vids on art journaling.  i had forgotten that she really pioneered many techniques/trends that you often see (& perhaps take for granted) now in the world of art journalling.  i have an even better appreciation for her work after viewing her videos.  

i came across tessa mcsorley’s work also by accident.  and her wonderful sketches of girls and forest animals really struck a chord with me.  i really love that she takes her artwork straight from her sketchbooks & then turns them into functional art via  silkprinting onto tee-shirts, bags, small posters, etc.  i totally LOVE that.

another bit of news that is lighting a spark under me to create more  is that i just learned that my sketchbook for the sketchbook project is being viewed! wow, how’s that for a boost to the ol’ morale, eh? 

so, i am hoping that in the days to come, i will be more diligent in my art-making & i’ll be sharing more of creations here… & i am really loving the idea of functional art… so who knows, i might dream up something along those lines 🙂

slowly but surely, i will get out of this funk i’m finding myself in and make the art that i know is within me…

& is waiting ever so patiently to come out.

OWOH winners and sad farewell

(a digi-collage that i made a while ago for a challenge in a flickr group i’m in)

sorry for the huge delay but it’s been a ROUGH week  both at school and at home. 

(this snap was taken in spring 2008)

my hub & i have made the very painful decision to put down our beloved TJ.  he is our “patriarch” of our kitty tribe.  He is 18 years old and for feline years, that is pretty old.   and for the past year or two,  we have seen TJ deteriorate.   it’s been tortuous to see our TJ, who was once a big, strong, bear of a cat, become so weak, frail and senile.  we have put down two beloved cats before and both the hub & i have decided “no heoric measures”…TJ has lost his appetite, lost so much weight, barely gets out of his cat bed and sleeps all the time, and he even has stopped purring.  the last week has been brutal trying to put off the inevitable… the vet will be paying us a housecall (as we want to spare TJ any further trauma with taking him in the pet carrier & go for a bumpy car ride to the vet’s)  this weekend and we’re both a wreck over this whole business.  but we have to keep telling ourselves that  we are doing the right thing for TJ, and that he has had a beautiful, full life with us and the other cats and that he won’t be suffering any longer.   TJ has to know that he has received unconditional love from us and that he gave us his, plus so much joy & more as well.   

while i still have the composure, i thought i’d better announce the winners of the OWOH giveaway NOW… because LORD knows, i will not be any shape soon…

sorry that i had to combine a happy event like OWOH with the extreme sadness that is happening with us right now, but i am forcing myself to do this because i don’t want to disappoint anybody or keep anyone waiting…

so without further ado, here are the randomly picked winners:

#1.  micki butler, #33, wins the secret garden itty bitty book.

#2.  carmen, #110, wins the atc block.

#3. gale varland, #58, wins the 4×4 mixed media canvas.

#4. pat, #6, wins recipe book w/ polka dots.

#5.  sylvia smiser, #48, wins the recipe book w/ wavy stripes.

#6.  holly j., #88, wins the set of magnets.

#7. michelle remy, #78, wins the set of pin-back buttons.

#8.  gracie, #54, wins the crotcheted cuff.

#9.  wendy w., #90, wins the owl brooch.

and last but not least,

#10.  carolyn knight, #66, wins the handbound mini-zine book.

CONGRANTULATIONS you lucky winners!!  i sincerely hope you will enjoy your goodies 🙂

and many thanks to lisa swifka for organizing and hosting OWOH as well as EVERYONE who has kindly dropped by and visited my humble blog!!! xoxo

to the 10 lucky winners:  i will be in touch shortly via your blog or private email to notify you that you have won!  i will need to get your particulars, so if you would kindly drop me an email of your full name & address to follow_your_bliss07@hotmail.com that would be greatly appreciated!   i will plan to mail out your goodies tuesday 2/22 (as 2/21/11 is a holiday and so no mail service)… 

to everyone else, have a good day and please send us some wishes of  peace, healing and strength.

thank you for your patience and kind understanding,  mary ann xoxo