The Great Spice Challenge

  • 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.

  • Upcoming Holiday Season

    I'm getting ready for the upcoming holiday season! I'll be at the Bennington Farmers' Market on the first and third Saturdays of Nov. and Dec., and I'll be at the Williamstown Berkshire Grown Markets on Nov. 19th and Dec. 17th. I'll have lots of lovely linen aprons and tea towels, and delicious edibles, perfect for gift giving or enjoying with your family and friends. See you soon!

  • Inktober Almost Finished!

    I challenged myself again this year to participate in Inktober. It's an Instagram challenge where you post something drawn or painted with ink every day of October. You can make it as limiting or free as you'd like, and there's even a prompt list if you prefer to follow that. I decided I would work on patterns as a continuation of my recent Sketchbook Skool class with Ohn Mar Win. (I also wanted to practice drawing/painting people, but I enjoyed and got wrapped up with the patterns!) You can head over to Instagram to see the whole month!

  • Honored

    This is an image of an artist book that I submitted to Uppercase Magazine, and here it is actually in the magazine!

  • Permission

    I've been playing with the idea of home for many years now. For a while, I tried to convey this in a nonliteral way, but lately all I want to draw are tiny houses! And they make me happy, so I've allowed myself to do so.

  • Radio Silence

    Well, I've been busy with life, baking, and painting. After a many year hiatus, I'm making stuff again! It feels great to play around with long-forgotten supplies and skills. Check out my instagram to see the latest.

  • It's Holiday Market Time!



  • PCS Pop-up is Open

    We are so excited to tell you that we've opened a pop-up shop at 30 Spring Street in Williamstown, MA! We are open Thursday through Sunday, from 11am to 4pm. In addition to PCS goodies, we are carrying jewelry, pottery, cards, and art from some very talented local artists. We also have coffee beans roasted by Assembly Coffee Roasters in Pittsfield, MA. Stop by, say hi, and shop!

  • Not Quite Perfect

    If you've checked my blog anytime in the last few weeks, you'll realize what a fitting title this is. I've been trying to finish this post for the last couple of weeks. I keep rescheduling the date when the post will appear to give myself more time to come back and work on it, yet I keep forgetting and it keeps publishing incomplete. 

    As most people with small children learn rather quickly, life changes drastically after the baby arrives. I've been trying to be okay with how things get done these days. Like incomplete blog posts. Like constant piles of dirty dishes, dirty laundry, piles of clutter. But the most important thing is that my little girl is happy and thriving. She doesn't care about the mess. And it's a good lesson for me. It's okay to not be perfect. It's okay just to be.

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The Great Spice Challenge

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I really appreciate challenges that have limitations. It’s proof of what you can make with a length of rope, a piece of wood, and a slice of American cheese. Currently, I have accepted the challenge to use fresh whole spices in new, surprising ways. Marx Foods offered free whole spices to bloggers willing to test and come up with recipes and interesting uses. It’s a marketing scheme, but certainly one that is mutually beneficial.

Last week, I received the sweetest box in the mail full of tiny sample bags. Most are quite familiar, but there are a few that I’ve never used in their whole form (annatto seed) or that I’ve never thought much about using on an everyday basis (fennel pollen, whole star anise), and some that are old familiar friends that I never tire of seeing or using (whole Tahitian vanilla beans, Tellicherry peppercorns).

Although I am a strong believer in using whole spices, freshly ground, it is not always practical when you get home from work and want to eat immediately. I was finally inspired to invest in a small, manual spice grinder. I have a mortar and pestle, which I’ve used with variable success, and a coffee grinder that I would never consider using for spices (I don’t believe that a piece of stale bread would really get rid of the remnants and not ruin our beloved brew). I found an inexpensive model at the local kitchen store, half the price of a well-designed Swiss model, but with similar features including a ceramic mechanism. It has a little enclosed container to catch the freshly ground spices, which is a huge plus (and the Swiss Miss did not). I tested it immediately and it easily ground allspice berries to a fine, feathery powder unlike my mortar and pestle, where any round spices would jump out onto the floor. Annatto seed proved especially taxing to my white marble mortar and pestle, finally turning the waxy seeds (with the addition of olive oil) into a vibrant brick-red paste that had no intention of washing off anything, including my hands and now orange mortar and pestle. Now that I am correctly equipped with a spice grinder, I am ready – let the Spice Games begin!