A Christmas (Cookie) Story

  • Food + Drawing


    I don't know why it took me so long to start drawing food. I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to combine my two interests somehow. In the last eight months, I've done lots of food drawings, beginning back in October with my Inktober recipes. I wanted to illustrate for someone other than myself, so I reached out to friends who have a coffee business. I'm working on a series of illustrations for different methods of brewing coffee. It's so much fun for me, and I find it satisfying to be working for "clients" other than myself.  

  • Chickens

    These chickens were modeled on my own chickens, Duck and Cluck. I took an online class from Anita Lehman through Carla Sonheim's website that was a very thoughtful look at composition. Sometimes it's nice to get back to basics and see how structure influences outcome. And, on a side note, it's been nice to have fresh eggs to eat and use in baked goods!

  • A New (Old) Way of Working

    I don't know why it took so long for me to go back to making collage and mixed media pieces. Maybe I didn't think they were "serious" enough, or I forgot how much fun it was for me to work this way, or maybe I just forgot how to do it. Recently, I found some fruit that I painted simply on canvas paper. I took out cheap, thin acrylics, poured green and yellow on top, and pushed the paint around the paper. After it dried, I tore out the fruit and saved them for a collage. That's where my playing around with fruit bowls began the other day. For a slight change of pace, I took a yellow piece of painted paper and turned it into a French press. I've mainly been using really smushy media, like a soft pencil, conte crayons, and Faber Castell gelatos. These collaged pieces really feel like me, and I'm loving all the color!

  • New Things!

    I'm test driving some new products at the market this Saturday. It's so much fun to play with color and shape on functional bags and totes. I like the simplicity of playing with fabric, paint, and potatoes. Yes, potatoes! That's what I used to make my stamps......and, they're compostable!

  • Stretching

    I decided to challenge myself with an online course, Explore Florals, taught by Victoria Johnson. It was three weeks of design briefs, each focusing on a different way to think about florals, with an accompanying palette. It was harder than I thought to get out of my own way of doing things and try something new. Just like life, I suppose.

  • Creative Thinking

  • UPPERCASE!

    I am so thrilled to have my very first drawn illustration in the current issue of UPPERCASE Magazine! 

    I drew this on Thanksgiving, 2017. We decided to stay home and celebrate, just the three of us. I wanted my daughter to feel like that even though we weren't going anywhere, it was going to be a special day. So, I let her pick the drinks!

  • Pushing Forward

    I'm trying to remember this and to boldly learn new things without getting bogged down by self doubt. It's hard!

  • Plugging Away


    I'm trying to enjoy the quiet stillness of winter. We've had lots of snow (and snow days) and rain, which has made for long weeks of nasty weather. I'm drawing daily and I can see myself steadily improving. 

  • Winter

    above image—not winter

    Winter is not my favorite season. It's cold, it's dark, it's icy....but with those restrictions comes permission to quiet your mind, think, make. It's the season when I have the most time. My daughter is in preschool, and farmers' markets are few and far between. It allows me to focus on my art and on all the other little projects that I think about during the summer. This year I'm stretching and taking Make Art That Sells, an online course from art agent Lilla Rogers. So far, I feel out of my element, which I'm taking as a good sign. Growth comes in fits and starts, and it isn't always comfortable.

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A Christmas (Cookie) Story

For the first year ever, we're staying here in Vermont for the holidays. It was a hard decision to make, and I know I'll really miss seeing my family. But beyond missing the people that I love, I'll miss the Christmas cookies most.

In my memory, I associate family members with specific cookies that they've made over the years. My mom's steady contribution to the cookie plate is a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie, her attempt to make a sweet virtuous with the addition of oats and whole wheat flour. In the past she made tiny butter cookies, squeezed into shapes of trees and Santas with the cookie press, then sprinkled with coarse colored sugars and round sprinkles. There were also thumbprints, soft, buttery balls dunked into egg white, then coarsely chopped walnuts, and finished with my small thumb making a dent in the center. They were always requested by my aunt Barb, and though I loved the cookies filled with jam, my aunt preferred them filled with frosting. Mom made frosting in pastel colors, flavored with extracts to make two or three flavors (usually orange, lemon, and lime) that we carefully dolloped onto the cookies, where it set into a crusty, sugary lump.

My grandfather's wife, Roselee, also made thumbprints, but only the jam-filled ones, and snickerdoodles, whose silly and seemingly made-up name appealed to me. The snickerdoodles reminded me of cinnamon toast, which I loved, and the fact that I only saw them once a year at Roselee's house made me covet them even more. My aunt Barb made peanut butter blossoms, peanut butter cookie balls with an entire Hershey's kiss pressed into the center. These were my very favorite cookies when I was young; I would carefully eat around the kiss, then savor the inner bites of soft chocolate and peanut butter mingled together.

My other favorite cookie was a sugar cake that my grandmother made. These were a simple, down-home cookie, soft and vanilla-y with a topping of colored sugar or cinnamon sugar. After she passed away, no one made them anymore, namely because shortening was an important ingredient. I decided to bring them back last year, changing the shortening to butter and oil and substituting buttermilk for the milk. I was so happy to bring them to my family and to share memories of Mama while enjoying the soft, cakey cookies. My husband couldn't understand the appeal of such a seemingly bland sweet, but each family has its own traditions and foods, and they don't necessarily make sense to others. And certainly, each family has its own cookie traditions, which is what made it so hard for me to choose only a couple this year. To start with, I'm making my aunt's peanut butter blossoms, and I'm trying a new cookie from Dan Lepard that I've been eyeing ever since I saw a photo of the craggy sticks. Lepard's bonfire cookies are filled with warm spices, perfect for a cold Vermont day, and perfect to warm my heart with memories of family and friends this Christmas.