Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How To Make Butternut Squash Soup

                              BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

With the turning of the autumn leaves succulent winter squash is being harvested.  Brisk evenings produce hearty appetites giving many opportunies to try out new squash recipes.

Here is an excellent recipe for a delicious soup using one of the winter squash varieties, Butternut. It is a fragrant, creamy and delicately flavored soup that pairs well with a crisp salad, French bread or roll.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons butter
2 small onions, minced
3 cups peeled, seeded and cubed Butternut squash
2 quarts chicken stock
1 1/2 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
dash nutmeg
1/2 cup whipping cream or whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper

Place the whole butternut squash in a covered saucepan filled about 1/4 of the way full with water. Bring the water to a boil, then steam until the flesh of the squash is soft and easy to peel. Let the squash cool a bit, then peel with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, then cut into cubes.

Melt the butter in a medium to large soup pot. Add the onions and saute' for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, cubed potatoes, cubed squash, and paprika. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat then simmer for 35 minutes or until all of the vegetable are soft and tender.

Pour the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Return to soup pot, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in chopped fresh chives and whipping cream or whole milk. Heat until warm, stirring contantly.

Serve with a garnish of a few fresh chives and/or croutons.

*You can adjust the thickness of the soup by decreasing the chicken stock to 1 1/4 quarts to form a bisque instead of a soup.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Even though the winter season is somewhat yet ahead of us, the temperatures are really beginning to drop off at night in many areas of the U.S. So I thought a reprint of an earlier article that I wrote in debsdogblogg.blogspot.com may be helpful for those of you dog lovers out there in preparation of the cold winter months ahead!


Cold weather can bring in many challenges to both human and canine. Just as it is important to keep ourselves, children and loved ones warm, comfortable and safe in cold weather months, it is also vital to make sure that our 4 legged friends are, as well. Since they can't talk to us directly(although we should be able to read their animal language fairly well), being on the alert to their needs is very important to survival and happiness. Especially puppies and small dogs are extra vulnarable to cold related illnesses, frostbite and death. Just because dogs have fur doesn't mean that they don't get cold, frostbitten or hyperthermia.

Here are a few tips to endsure that our puppies and dogs are properly cared for during the cold days of fall and winter:


This can vary depending upon your climate and living arrangements. For those living in rural areas a simple area in an accessible dry barn or shed can provide a nice place for your Fido or Fido's to find the appropriate shelter. A thick soft bed of dry straw is an excellent warm bedding. When it gets really cold out there, as it does in areas of the upper U.S., a heat lamp above the bedding area will provide enough heat for your dogs. When it's brutially cold out there chances are your dogs won't want to be romping around outside anyway, so will be happy to stay in the nice warm place that you have provided for them.

Of course, there are a number of very nice dog houses that can be purchased and outfitted with a portable ceramic heater, floor heating pad or straw(but I would use caution in using any electric heating source with straw in order to minimize fire risks). If you live in a town or city environment this will probably be your best choice if your dog is spending a lot of time outside during the cold weather months.

Some folks who have a nice slot of time in the summer and early fall may enjoy building their own custom dog house. If you are one of those people please keep in mind that this will take a real commitment of time and resources on your part.

At times the ol' thermometer dips down so far that it is unsafe for any pet to be outside for more than 5 to 10 minutes to avoid possible freezing limbs, toes, ears, and paw pads, getting frostbitten or freezing literally to death! In this case it is advisable to make a place inside your home for your dogs and other pets. Of course, Fido would really enjoy being in your living area with you, but if this is not acceptable to your living arrangements for one reason or another, then by all means providing him/her with a warm place in your basement or heated garage/porch would ensure that your dog friends are comfortable and safe.


Winter air is usually fairly dry and dogs are still in constant need of hydration. Since water may freeze quickly in outdoor containers it's vital to make sure that steps are taken to provide plenty of fresh drinkable water at all times. There are a variety of ways to do this. One is the electric dog dish that plugs into an outside electrical outlet. Another is a device that is actually designed to drop into the bottom of the dog dish and is plugged into an outside electrical outlet. Both types of devices will keep the water unfrozen enough that your dog will be provided with adequate drinking water. Of course, when the temperature reaches near and below zero it may require breaking up the ice regularly to keep it fluid. Water should be checked daily.


I have talked about the proper dog food diet for your dogs in previous articles, but the most important thing to realize is: "Your dogs and puppies need to have plenty of food available especially if they are living mostly outside." Dogs will generally eat quite a bit more food in the winter as they need more calories to keep them warmer. Many people have automatic self feeders for their dogs. Some just feed a larger quantity of food to their dogs each day at a regular feeding time. By all means, if you are going to be out-of-town overnight or longer.... please leave your dogs enough food, water and protection. Having a trusted friend or family member check on them a couple times a day is a really good idea, as well.


Yes, it may sound silly to some, but those cute doggie booties and sweaters that you've seen advertised can be very useful in contributing to your doggie's comfort and protection. Even, large breed dogs can benefit from doggie booties because their paw pads can get frozen, frostbitten or cracked if they are out on snow and ice for extended periods, especially when taking your pooch for a walk in the winter. Also, they may protect against tearing a toenail on ice. Tearing a toenail can be very painful for your dog.


Providing plenty of room for excercise can go a long way in helping your dogs stay warmer in the cold weather. This way they will have the needed room to be able to keep moving around which contributes to healthy circulation. Taking them on daily walks is also an excellent way to contribute to the all around health of your dogs.


Giving your puppies and dogs plenty of love and affection can also go a long way in providing proper care. They crave your acceptance and love, so giving them plenty of it is one of the most loving things you can do for them.


Hopefully, these tips will help you plan for the protection of your canines during the cold and wet days of the fall/winter season. As always, please ask your family veterinarian any questions that you have concerning the saftey and well being of your pets...............

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Birds

It was just like a scene from the movie "The Birds" near our house yesterday. Thousands of black birds decended on this place. Creepy!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Color Wheel Made Easy

***My series on Color Mixing Parts 1-9 has been so successful that I decided to simply combine all of the lessons into one lesson for my readers convenience. You will find the following information very useful in your everyday life. 

If you would enjoy having this tool at your fingertips please feel free to download a copy of my eBook  - "The Color Wheel Made Easy" found in the Amazon Kindle bookstore  at this link:

http://www.amazon.com/COLOR-WHEEL-MADE-EASY-ebook/dp/B00BMB8QPW .

My eBook can be downloaded onto any electronic device for quick and easy viewing through the Amazon Kindle Bookstore. 

Part 1-9

For many years I had wanted to learn the art of oil painting on canvas. However, it just seemed to somewhat intimidate me Why? Because I felt it was important to learn the art of mixing color in order to feel comfortable painting. I took a few private lessons from a fantastic artist, but the colors just weren't quite correct in the painting that I first did.

Of course, I also chose a harder than life subject to paint which didn't help (lol). I was a bit discouraged so didn't pick up a brush for awhile. I didn't have my own oil paint and supplies at the time, so decided to wait until I could invest in those before attempting another painting.

I had been mentally absorbing Mr. Bob Ross' technique for years through viewing his programs on public TV and was anxious to see what I could do with it. Since learning to oil paint had been a lifetime goal, I decided to take the plunge and order the supplies needed to get started.

Through Dick Blick mail order art supplies I ordered everything I needed to get started including the Bob Ross master paint set. I was very excited to get started and actually completed my first masterpiece in about 4 hours! Then a few days later painted another and and then several more.

My family and friends were so impressed they began to commission paintings from me.

One thing is missing here though. Bob Ross doesn't teach the art of mixing oil color in the master paint set. So now, I still didn't know how to mix various colors of paint. Several other TV series that I viewed featured oil color artists who kept mentioning that they only use 3-5 colors of oil paint, then mix any color under the rainbow with those colors. However, they never did teach how to accomplish such a feat.

Finally, I got an email one day from an artist in Australia who was giving a live video showing over the internet about mixing oil color. I had my own color mixing chart, but really needed a bit more mentoring to figure it out so I watched the video. It was absolutely enlightening.

I'm going to share with you some of what I learned about mixing oil color and how you can too can easily learn to mix oil color for painting and how you can use the art of color mixing to enhance your everyday life through creating color pleasing crafts, fashions, home decorating, etc.


Below is a chart showing the three primary colors: Red, Yellow, Blue. In Oil paint that would represent, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and French Ultramarine Blue. These three colors are from which ALL others are made.


Now if you mix these primary colors together in various combinations they will make up SECONDARY colors: orange, green, and violet.

Then, by mixing various combinations of these secondary colors, you will create INTERMEDIATE colors and so on.


Now, I will share with you an easy way to mix INTERMEDIATE COLORS.

INTERMEDIATE colors are reached by mixing one primary color +(plus) one secondary color as shown in the diagram below.


TINTS are achieved by adding WHITE to a color.

TONES are achieved by adding GRAY to a color.

SHADES are achieved by adding BLACK to a color.

The amount of WHITE, GRAY or BLACK that is added to a color will determine the intensity of the TINT, TONE, or SHADE.


Now that we have reviewed PRIMARY, SECONDARY & INTERMEDIATE colors, TINTS, TONES & SHADES, we will now learn which of these colors are WARM or COOL colors.

WARM and COOL colors are colors that reflect emotional values. They add warmth or coolness to a painting, hand knitted or crocheted item or to any number of other artistic pieces.

The WARM colors are: Yellow to Red-Violet on the Color Wheel.

The COOL colors are: Yellow-Green to Violet on the Color Wheel.


Now we will focus on Color Harmonies, colors that go together. These color harmonies include, Complementary, Triadic Harmony, and Split Complementary.

Learning COLOR HARMONIES helps us develop harmonies in color and color patterns that are useful when developing designs for hand knit or crochet projects, painting, and in many other artistic pursuits.

The first of the color harmonies, Complementary Colors are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel as shown below. The chart below the color wheel shows how the colors complement each other.

Learning how colors can complement one another is so important in every day life and will help us in designing handmade crafts, fine arts, decorating, in our wardrobe, etc.


To find a Triadic Color Harmony on the color wheel, select a color, then choose two additional colors that are equally spaced apart. This concept is shown in the color wheel diagram below.

The color chart that is located below the color wheel above shows how triadic colors compliment each other.

Using the concepts of selecting color harmonies is helpful in everyday living as we choose pleasing colors to design knitting, crochet & sewing projects, designing home decor, entertaining, cooking, creating artwork and in almost every aspect of life.


Split Complementary Colors are a color and the two colors next to it's complement on the color wheel.

This is shown in the color wheel shown below:

The Chart below shows how Split Complementary Colors complement each other:

Using Split Complementary Colors to design fashions, knitting, crocheting, art work, in decorating,etc. makes them more interesting and pleasing to the eye.


Learning how to use the color wheel in every day applications can be both challenging and rewarding.

The final two color harmonies that we will be discussing are Triad and Tetrad complementary colors.

Triad colors are three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel as shown in the diagram below:

Tetrad colors are four colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel as shown in the diagram below:


Now that we have reviewed the main components of Color, it is important to have a quick reference guide to Color and it's definitions. The chart below gives Color definitions for your convenience.

COLOR: Described by the three dimensions of intensity, hue, and value.

Intensity: Also known as Saturation or Chroma. Means the relative degree of brightness or dullness of a color.

Hue: A specific color family with it's relative degree of warmness or coolness.

Value: The relative degree of lightness or darkness of a color.

Primary Color: Yellow, Red and Blue. These colors cannot be mixed from any other colors.

Secondary Color: Two primary colors mixed together resulting in Green, Orange and Violet.

Intermediate Color: Also known as Tertiary Colors. Achieved when one primary and one secondary color are mixed together.

Warm or Advancing Colors: Yellow, Red and Orange colors.

Cool or Receding Colors: Green, Blue, and Violet colors.

Tint: White plus Color.

Tone: Gray plus Color or it's compliment.

Shade: Black plus Color.

Key Color: A Dominant Color in a color scheme or mixture.

Neutral Gray: A Combination of White and Black.

Chromatic: A Color with hue, including Red, Green and Violet, etc.

Achromatic: A Color without hue, including White, Black and Gray.

Achromatic Color Scheme: A Color scheme using only White, Black and Gray.

Monochromatic Color Scheme: a Color Scheme using one color in different values.

Analogous Color Scheme: A Color Scheme using colors that lie next to one another on the color wheel.

Complementary Color Scheme: A Color Scheme using colors directly opposite on the the color wheel.

Split-Complementary Color Scheme: A Color Scheme using one color plus the two colors next to it's complement on the color wheel.

Triad: Three Colors equally spaced on the color wheel.

Tetrad: Four Colors equally spaced on the color wheel.

Now you can use this quick reference guide along with Lessons in Color Mixing when designing your craft items, crochet and knit pieces, your art work, fashions and in decorating!


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