Frutta V

Frutta V
Maria's Best Selling Giclee Print to Date

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Starry Night - The Painting & Starry Night Artsy Soap, Feb 27, 2011

Starry Night - The Painting by Van Gogh

"Starry Night" is one of the most well known images in modern culture as well as being one of the most replicated sought after prints. Images of this painting have helped market a mass of products.  So how has that imaged influenced us.  It is interesting to ask almost any adult or child to identify the image.  Usually they know the title, but not always the artist who made it famous.  Many of Van Gogh's paintings can be instantly identified through the strong color and brush strokes. 

Take for instance an exhibit some time ago that I coordinated called "Replica."  Artist choose a painting created in past history to replicate in some way, but not totally duplicate.  It needed to be their painting but still recognizable.  I myself choose to replicate was "Starry Night."  I painted half the painting as day time and half as night time.  I am looking for that image in my stash of floppy discs to upload.  (Hope I find it before I finish this entry.)  Another aspect of the exhibit was that the public voted on their favorites in all categories of medium.  The exhibition was truly amazing and successful.  

Maria's "Starry Night" Artsy Soap
Coastal Cottage Artsy Soaps

One of my creative endeavors is my handcrafted soap company, Coastal Cottage Soaps.  This is a cottage industry whereby I sell soaps and toiletries from my website, at farmers markets and various locations in and around Delaware.  I started this venture over 5 years ago and have literally made a ton of olive oil based natural soaps.  By following my tried and true recipes I can be creative by mixing various essential oils, botanicals and color oxides.

I felt I needed to be more creative to keep it fun and to add challenge to the effort. So I started a line of soaps that would have a designer look and have great fragrance.  I embedded my own soap pieces of various shapes and colors into soap logs and bars of glycerin based soap.  This method lends itself to creating themed soap for children, holidays and events.

I decided to take another step in the process that would benefit the arts.  If I could build ships, flowers, and seaglass inside a bar of soap I could create a famous painting.   So I sat forth to create a few different soaps that would focus on famous artists and their paintings.  I always love telling the story and or history behind my products.  That is the story behind my  Starry Night Artsy Soap.  I have swirls of yellow and gold, moon and stars floating in an iridescent soap base that varies from dark to light blue sky.  I embellish the soap bar package with an image of the famous painting by the same name.  The underside of the tag gives the history of the famous painting.  My first famous art soap is the image above, Starry Night Artsy Soap.

Starry Night by Van Gogh
"Starry Night" by
Vincent Van Gogh

Below are the 2 stanza's from the lyrics to Don McLean's hit song Vincent (Starry, Starry Night).

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer's day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills,
Sketch the trees and the daffodils,
Catch the breeze and the winter chills,
In colors on the snowy linen land.

For they could not love you,
But still your love was true.
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night,
You took your life, as lovers often do.
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.

Van Gogh's artistic legacy is contained within his paintings, drawings and writings. They are everlasting and will never "forget" the style that created them. They are Van Gogh's eyes that watch the world.

I hope you enjoyed the story behind my "Starry Night Artsy Soap."

#   #  #  #  #  #

Love to all,
Maria L B

Thursday, February 24, 2011

2 Pears Daily Painting & "Study of Two Pears" Poetry Musing, Feb 23, 2011

My "Two Pairs" Daily Painting:

I had painted the background of this painting some time ago, knowing 1 or 2 pears would be painted in the foreground.  So off I go to find real pears for my still life reference.  Well there are yellow pears, red pears, Asian pears (apple shaped)  and brownish pears and more.  So I bought 3 varieties thinking that I could whip up a french desert from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking with some of the pears.

It was a great sunny afternoon and I move my canvas, oil paints and palette to the enclosed porch which was warm with the wonderful sun shining in.  The sun gave the pears great light reflection and shadows.  Just what I wanted to create while being warmed (body and soul) by the sunshine.  I could see many colors in my pears from browns, taupe, a tinge of red and also blue, not to mention yellow, green and orange.  I never see only one color in most objects and natural vegetation and animals and hardly ever use only the one color of paint from the tube.  I love mixing colors to give depth and dimension.  I love the feel of the oil brush strokes when applied to canvas or board.

"Two Pears"
Daily Painting
Liberto's Art

I basically finished the little daily painting of "Two Pairs" and started another, "One Red Pear."  

Later I ran across an interesting poem "Study of Two Pears."  It is hard to know if the poet was really studying a painting of two pairs, or studying two real pears.  He describes the dimension of colors he saw in the pears, contemplates the shape that belongs to no other fruit or natural object me know. 

In the case of "Study of Two Pears" the poet is actually drawing and painting the two pears for us.  There are many comments and reflections concerning this poem and it's meaning.  A study of the "Study of Two Pears" will go on and on.

Study of Two Pears

by Wallace Stevens

pusculum paedagogum.
The pears are not viols,
Nudes or bottles.
They resemble nothing else.


They are yellow forms
Composed of curves
Bulging toward the base.
They are touched red.


They are not flat surfaces
Having curved outlines.
They are round
Tapering toward the top.


In the way they are modelled
There are bits of blue.
A hard dry leaf hangs
From the stem.


The yellow glistens.
It glistens with various yellows,
Citrons, oranges and greens
Flowering over the skin.

The shadows of the pears
Are blobs on the green cloth.
The pears are not seen
As the observer wills

Stevens fuses the creative imagination with objective reality. Since he was a "philosopher of aesthetics," he challenges the reader to think about how we view the world and encourage us to sharpen our senses to explore every crack in this world--no matter how small (Poetry Foundation, 2008).

I am glad I painted the "Two Pairs" before I found the corresponding poem by Stevens.

Other Art Projects:

Mailed off the 2nd Delaware Floorcloth a customer purchased from website:  I am working on a 2nd Delaware floorcloth design for customers to choose from.  I also started another floorcloth.  I have sized the fabric and gessoed one side.  This canvas rug will have a floral handpainted design.  I have finished 2 sets of folk art painted wood canisters which I need to photography.  

Colonial Clothing Sewing Project:

I have been researching colonial clothing and costumes for 2 events this spring.  My French Husband and I will be colonial merchants and therefore will wear very middle class clothing of the period.  Since I am alsos a seamstress it is more affordable for me to create the clothing myself.  I will be creating a long Chemise and ladies bodice (either English or French) 
and pockets for myself.  For my gentleman I will creating the men's 18th century white cotton workshirt with the big sleeves and 1770 linen waistcoat.  I also may try my hand a three corner hat for I have the felt in my fabric stash.  The local fabric store did have the patterns I needed which I purchased  today.  I checked on the fabric I needed so my next trip may be shortened. 

A very wonderful blog: has great websites and blogs relating to reinactments, period clothing, events and other great topics.

Oh ------------ so much to do!

# # # # # #

Love to all,

Maria L B

Monday, February 21, 2011

Creative Inspiration - Design Elements, Feb 21, 2011

Design Patterns & Nature Influences Creativity:

What does stimulate artists?  Wow, the list is endless.  Nature is an endless source of stimulation as well as patterns for design elements.  The earth tone hues, dark browns soil colors to dark red clays.  Monochromatic greens ranging from chartreuse to forest green. Add in the colors of flowering trees, bulbs, perennials, annual flowers, sunsets, sunrises, body's of water, mountains and clouds.  Great colors of wildlife including birds, insects, mammals and all the others.  The design elements of this vast base of nature gives us patterns, colors and other elements to play with.  Look around you and contemplate how many everyday objects in your home were created through the eyes of an artist. And endless variety of design pattern  in linens, clothing, dinnerware, rugs, furniture, etc.

Let us not forget the engineer and architect that designed the monuments, museums, buildings, homes, bridges, machines and machine parts that have produced these elements since the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.

Many artists are also driven by unique landscapes, historical structures, the sky, the country side, people, personalities,  humor, and everyday objects.  Artists sometimes find that one idea leads them to another idea and on and on.

Artists are sometimes stimulated by what may be considered the most popular in producing monetary sales at the time.  Other artists seem to focus only on what they love to create and only create in their favorite


Some artists seem to feed off other artists.  By that I mean the creativity and enthusiasm of one artist may have a great impact on another creative individual. Like being soul mates, most artists relate to other artists.
Ideas and creative endeavors do lend inspiration to other artists. 

Artist usually create in solitude, many in real isolation.  The support of other artists helps fuel the individual artist and the community itself.

Art Groups/Associations Help Support Our Creativity:

We know there are many art groups we can join for various reasons.  That is one way to connect with other artists.  It really depends on the mission of the art organization and your own community.  Art and art education should be available and a focus to create a better environment and creative venue for its members.

Following your creative inspiration:

The most important point I am trying to make is to follow your inspiration.  If only working on the idea a few minutes each day.  You know you are working on a project.  Although progress is slow eventually the idea will come to fruition and success is the end result. 

One of the most productive times in my artful life was while working on my paintings 1 hour a night, every night, after which I spent 8 + hours a day as an Art Director.  I  could have spent that time doing many other tasks.  That escape into creativity was a stress free daily adventure.  

Once we have discovered our creative inner self and have accepted that profound quality so much is possible.  You do not have to consider yourself a "professional artist" to create. 

Most artists are always in training, practicing and learning. 

# # # # # #

Love to all,

Maria L B

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Artist's Apple Study & "One Apple is Not Enough" - Feb 16, 2011

The Apple of My Eye:

So many wonderful thoughts, sights, and delights brighten my day.  There is just not enough time to enjoy even more.  At the break of day or the uprising of the day our ever happy dog, greets us.  How can we be sad or even a little on edge when you start the day with Winston.  We wonder what he would say if he say upon arising if he could talk.  I believe he would say with a very loud voice and great smile, "Top of the Morning to You."  Winston is t;he apple of my eye and a great delight that we celebrate every day with.

Sir Winston Pumpernickle of Woodbrook
Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier

 One Simple Study, One Simple Daily Painting, One Simple Apple

What could be more simple or more perfect than an apple.  An apple of any color or shape in any season is a gift.  This special object has been studied by artists, athletes, doctors, poets, writers, chefs, and so many others.  Every artist has been exposed to the apple study.  Let us draw the apple.  See the light and shadow of the apple. What else do you see.  What other colors do you see?  What story can the apple paint? The apple can be a simple composition in any medium.  SO CLASSIC.  It cannot be overdone.  How could we not show the love between humans and the apple.  Whether the study is completed in monochromatic tones or various color hues.  The apple can be seen through the artists eyes and transmitted to the paper or canvas by the artists fingers.

The Apple Study
M Liberto Bessette
Liberto's Art Web Site

Art for Heart Sake: 


There is a new poem floating around called, "One Apple a Day is Not Enough" by Taylor Mali.
"An Apple a Day Is Not Enough" is a powerful poem written and performed by Taylor Mali (a well-known spoken word artist and teacher) about the importance of health education. It's done in the style of kinetic typography. We must get the word out about the importance of health education and its ability to get this country's health back on track├ó€”but we can't do it alone.

This is an interesting video that adds simple profound words kids will understand to the visual movement of words called kinetic typography  to form a poem.   Please play and send to anyone and everyone.

Maria's Healthy Apple Oat Muffins

So as we celebrate life let us think about the apple, how it may relate to art, creativity, the heart and the health of all of us.

# # # # # #

Love to All,

Maria L B

Monday, February 7, 2011

Art Studio Housekeeping - Famiglia & Note Dal Passato, February 5, 2011

Art Studio Housekeeping:
Somedays artists work at their craft no matter the random projects in various stages scattered around their work area or studio.  Materials pulled out to remind you of the creative idea you had yesterday.  It is great to be able to start and stop without having to totally have to clear and put away.  I have the great benefit of having a very large space to produce many art forms which enables me to maintain my artistic culture.  I am basically an organized person and domestic goddess.  All rooms in our home lend themselves to basic order.  My French Husband is a really neat and organized guy.  He can find any tool or screw in his "little wood shop".

Every now and then when I try to locate a certain art supply or reference and have to move other items I decide - enough.  I will stop all projects, reorganize and clean. So then I start and realize there is no turning back.  Art books, paints (oil, acrylic, watercolor), sketch pads, watercolor paper, canvases.  Oh we have so many canvases ranging from new, incomplete paintings and canvases waiting to be framed.  And that is not counting the canvas fabric I use for floorcloths.  Frames - wow all sizes and shapes, even broken frames. Mat board, foam core, glass.  I have artist brushes, pencils, erasers, pastels, and related items in vases and artists reference books arranged on one of two drafting tables.  I also have my mother's art books and many art magazines.  Floor easels, folding easels and other reference books. 

I guess you get the picture.  But not all the picture.  There is also the soap making supplies, materials, labels and molds.  In addition there is all the house paint, gesso and stencils used to produce my lovely floorcloths. I am blessed with the availability of having a supply of many other art materials to produce stained glass, metalwork, jewelry, stamps for note cards and collage as well as children's art supplies.  I have files of references on many subjects to sketch and paint and..........................!

I did complete the task at hand by vacuming, scrubbing and organizing a portion of the art materials.  I does give you additional energy to step into an organized art arena.

Famiglia (Family):
I wish I had learned Italian as child or even later on before my father died.  My grandparents imigrated from Sicily around 1901.  My grandfather came first and pathed the way for my grandmother Dominica and their first born Leonarado.  They lived in the Italian section of NY City on or near Houston Street.  Several more children were born there.  In 1913 they had saved enough money to purchase a parcel of farmland from my Great Uncle, Salvatore Gelfo in Central Delaware.  Many other Italians lived in the vicinity, many from the area in Sicily.  More children were born including my father.  My grandfather became a United States Citizen and speaking Italian was discouraged.  Although my grandmother never really learned English or became a citizen. 

The birthplace of my grandparents.
Baucina Sicily as it looks today.
Baucina is in the Province of Palermo.

My father was brilliant even though he had little education and I learned much from him.  A passionate gardener who could graft fruit trees and grape vines, produce wine, grow fruits and vegetables, create great Sicilian dishes, a skilled carpenter who could build anything from furniture to homes. He could make most strangers laugh and had a heart of gold.  I did learn so  much just by following him, watching and asking questions.  As he learned this traditions the same way, by following, watching and asking questions.  

Note dal Passato (Notes from the past):

So when I found some notes of translated English to Italian terms on the bulletin board in my studio I had to stop and give thanks to my heritage.  Both my mother and father were very creative people each with their own special talents.  I am blessed to know they blood flows through my veins and I have some of their talents as well.

Tulta la vita Maria continues (the artful life of Maria continues)!!

L'amore e goodnight (love and goodnight).

Maria Liberto Bessette

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Daily Paintings, Daily Painters, Daily Inspirations - February 3, 2011

Daily Paintings, One Painting Each Day

It is a great challenge. Can it be done? Daily painting is all about discipline and a love of the work. We create original art for every taste: still life, landscape, cityscape, figurative, floral, and more. You will find a variety of styles including realism, impressionism, fauvism and abstract. Most paintings are no larger than 12" x 12".

You can see some of my other Daily Paintings on this blog and also on my website:

Daily Painting
"Blue Sky Cloud"
Maria Liberto Bessette
It is good to decide on several themes you want to paint.  When you have completed at least 4 or 5 paintings in one theme you have a little series which will help market your art.  Another point is to paint on a small canvas, paper or board to reduce painting time and also reduce the cost of matting, and framing.  Smaller paintings are also more marketable because of (1) affordability - the price charged by the artist and also (2) the size  - as small paintings may be hung in more locations in a customers home or office or given as a gift. 

Daily Paintings are solidly marketed through the internet and most produce at least 3 paintings per week.  Painting is not all there is to it.  There are other chores like scanning the images and preparing the images for the web.  Most Daily Painters can be accepted into one of several Daily Painters on line galleries after they consistently upload paintings to their own art blog.  (Most blog sites are free to those who want to join and post.)  It is an easy process with great visibility.
Daily Painting
"Little Field of Kent County" (Delaware)
Maria Liberto Bessette

Daily Painters

One Painting Each Day, yes artists can produce one painting a day.  What is the secret?  Love of art and wanting to produce in a timely manner.  It is also good training and keeps the artist in the creative mode.  Almost like the need for routine physical exercise each day like walking, jogging or aerobic.  You feel the same momentum and when you skip a day for some reason you feel you have let yourself down.

Daily painting is all about discipline and a love of the work.  The websites focusing on daily painter originals are dedicated to connecting those who love art with those who love to make connecting those who love art with those who love to make art, and want to make art affordable and accessible.There are also many benefits for the artist doing daily paintings. First, you develop the discipline of being in your studio everyday. Too many artists wait around for inspiration to strike, and as a result they end up producing a small body of work with an inconsistent quality. Daily paintings also allow the artist to break free of their normal routine and try techniques or subject matter they would not normally be able to do. It also allows the artist to make a living with their art, while they are building their reputation in the market place.

Daily Painting
"Autumn Sky Beach"
Maria Liberto Bessette

Daily Inspiration

The painting a day movement is not limited to painters, nor was it created by painters. For many centuries masters in their respective crafts have advised their students to work daily on their craft. Writers are encouraged to write a short story, even a single page, based off of a conversation they overheard on their commute to work. Even some quilters have committed to doing their creative work with their fabric to produce a quilt every week or two. Check out the new "quilt a day" style.

Inspiration is all around us and also a good excuse to think "outside the box."  We all have ideas we want to try, many photographs, and the knowledge of what  has sold or been popular within our art box.  Think about this in a smaller scale and  try out the idea of one painting a day. 

I am now on my third series of daily paintings.  I have not submitted my work to a Daily Painting Website.  I need to produce on a more regular basis and perhaps limit my creativity only to painting.  That is really, really hard for me as I also have a natural soap business whereby I produce handcrafted soaps and bath products.  

I do have fun and enjoy all my creative endeavors and realize that is what keeps my inner-self happy. 

 # # # # #

I hope you have enjoyed my discussion on "Daily Paintings" and "Daily Painters."  I need to purchase additional supplies of canvases and artist boards to keep my going.

Love to all,

Maria L B

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Glass Half Full - Ordre du Jour - January 28, 2011

A Glass Half Full - Ordre du Jour:

Artists want to be successful.  To be successful you have to market and connect.  In this world of social media and marketing there is work to be done by the artist who is a do-it-yourself kind of person.

Checking my several email accounts, 3 websites, this blog, my ebay store and other accounts needs to be a daily ritual.  It would be embarrassing to know someone checked out your websites and they were not up to date.  It does astound me that it may be necessary to spend so much time at my computer.  I think - I should be painting, I want to be painting or creating.  It is my internal spirit and soul.  If you love something so much you should attach yourself to it.  But you also want to be successful.  But then we should not discuss success.

So for several reasons aside from writing this blog, I am concentrating on my websites and their content.  I am inviting you to visit them, and  which should be visitor perfect. .  And then there is Facebook and Twitter.  I am trying to get a hold on Twitter, as my friend N Taylor Collins thinks it is the greatest.  So I am learning to follow, get followed and tweet.  How sweet tweeting is!

I have also been graciously included in a Facebook group:" The Poetry Den".  An advocate of all the arts I must say  I know no rules or formats regarding poetry.  I only can speak from the heart and apply pen to paper.  I do love to read the poetry or creative writings I compose. 

I have come to realize in the last few days that the "Art Glass" is always at least half full.  The glass is our creative spirit. And filling the glass is the challenge.

This poem below, Morning Light,  I created for My French Husband.  We now talk about "the glass half full" almost every day.

Morning Light

     It is morning.

     Sun not shining,

     snow not snowing,

     rain not raining. 

     Just clouds, dampness and grey,

     spreading over the earth

     and into the glass.

     The glass is half full.
     We both study the glass.

     I look at its emptiness.

     He looks at its fullness.

     We both need a larger glass.

            Maria Liberto Bessette

# # # # # # #

Night night!  Sleep tight!

Bon Soir!

Maria L B

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Coastal Cottage "Soap Cakes" Pastry Challenge - January 26, 2011

 My "Soap Cakes" Creation Story
6 inch "Soap Cakes" Bakery Cake

Slice it into party favors for the girls.

Assorted "Soap Cakes" Cupcakes

The Coastal Cottage Soap Journey continues with another successful challenge in my soap making galley/studio some time ago.  I am always searching and thinking about new ways to put more creativity into my natural soap making business.  I have made tons of real honest to goodness natural soap bars for ladies, men, children, and dogs with essential fragrance oils, botanical, coconut oil, shea butter and olive oil.  I have created laundry soap, simulated sea glass, boats, blue crabs, Delaware, stained glass, shells, peaches, flowers, famous artists paintings and more using my handcrafted soap.

Obviously I believe you can develop soap into just about any kind of food or item.  Almost like the new "cake baker/artists" who get challenged on the  TV food channels. So why not!  I  could make bakery  soap cakes, fancy cupcakes, brownies, cookies, cheese cake bites and more.  The bakery cakes could even be cut into slices for party favors at the party. A few other soap makers were doing it.  I knew I could make soap cakes too. 

So away I went to my soap making galley/studio with recipes and photos of whipped soap. 

Whipped Soap for "Soap Cakes"

It is a entirely different process than the regular natural soap recipes, but using the same ingredients in slightly different proportions. (You do know I make my soap entirely from scratch.)   By my side was one of two grandsons, who seemed to be interested in this different method of creating soap.  To date he is the only family member who has been hands-on involved with the soap making process.  (Although My French Husband is the chemical engineer of the business.)  We did have to have everything planned out in advance including all colored soap decorations which would adorn the soap pastries.  
Toppings to Decorate "Soap Cakes"
Cupcake pan & liners ready to be filled
So we had all pans lined with paper ready to be filled.  We were producing a 6 inch bakery cake, 12 cupcakes and 24 cheese cake bites.  We also had prepared a mold for sandlewood soap bars if we had soap to spare.  We had great fun as well as a very, very successful case of soap cakes and pastries. 

The challenge was so successful that I am now selling these pastry treasures at various locations as well as my website.  Is there no end to creativity? 

Below are photos of more soap cupcakes, brownies and cheese cake bites.  You can find Soap Cakes on my website  Enjoy but don't eat!

Assorted "Soap Cakes" Pastries
Real Cured Natural Soap!

A Great Valentines Day Gift!

"Soap Cakes" Cupcakes
No Calories!

"Soap Cakes" Cheesecake Bites

Great Party Favors!

"Soap Cakes" Brownies

Do Not Eat! 

Thank goodness these Soap Cakes have no calories!  They are all entirely real soap and can be used as soap. 

"Soap Cakes" Cupcake Close Up

They are so special!

Love to all and please create something.

Maria L B

Friday, January 21, 2011

Morning Light & Beauty at the Beach - January 19, 2011

Images of Life:

We take for granted the most common everyday occurrence.  Like the morning sunrise. But then again, we might still be in a slumber state at that time of the day.  Occasionally I awaken before sunrise.  This is a rare occasion.  Usually by sunrise I am finally in a sound sleep after hours of awakeness organizing my current or next project. 

My French Husband and I awoke this particular day to a third day of clouds, dampness and cold.  I am a warm weather person, growing up on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.  He grew up in New England, therefore Delaware seems like the tropics to him. With filled coffee cups in hand we both stood looking out to our backyard, birds and the morning at hand.   I wrote the following poem after our conversation concerning the bleakness of the day.

Morning Light

It is morning.

Sun not shining,

snow not snowing,

rain not raining.

Just clouds, dampness and grey,

spreading over the earth

and into the glass.

The glass is half full.

We both study the glass.

I look at its emptiness.

He looks at its fullness.

We both need a larger glass.

                    Maria Liberto Bessette

Our Sea Glass Collected From the Beach
And Then Beauty of the Beach:

What might have started out as a gloomy day took a turn for the better.  A cloudy morning turned into sunshine and a little warmth.  The weather for the rest of the week was to be frigid. I thought how great it would be to check out our favorite bay beach.  It would be the warmest day for a while. We checked the tides and decided to bundle up and head east with Winston, our Wheaton Terrier. 

We arrived and realized there was not another soul nearby.  Winston could run free.  There he was running across the sand and then stopping to investigate every so often.  Of course it was cooler and windier on the beach than inland, but still inviting, with a special beauty.  I searched for sea glass while looking across the bay to another place.  Just the three of us there on the beach.  Brave souls enjoying the freedom of space, sand and sea.  Pieces of salt water ice  washing ashore.  A strange sight to behold. 

What could the day possibly have yet offer? 

An Artists Palette
Artist Brushes, Sea Glass & Shells

We arrived home,  I contemplated the day and realized I had not planned dinner.  Thoughts of a seafood chowder came to mind.  The rest of the afternoon entailed food shoppiing and preparing an interesting, delicious and hearty Chowder Bake from Real Simple Magazine.  It involved bacon, leeks, yukon gold potatoes, corn, wine and heavy cream partially cooked and then placed in a casserole.  Then fresh cod was nestled down into the thick chowder.  Crackers were spread overtop and then the casserole was placed in the over to finish cooking.  Wa   La!

Chowder Bake

Chowder Bake
from Real Simple

The glass at the end of the day was very full indeed.

May all our lights shine to aspire creativity!

# # # # #

May all our lights shine to aspire creativity!

Maria L B

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Images, Little Bird & Haiku - January 17, 2010

Winter Images Outside My Window 

Jumping out of bed to get a glimpse of the snowfall during the night caused excitement in my soul.  What a wondrous image. 
 I had to capture it. 
But where is the camera? 
A few minutes time will change the artists view of God's white blanket awakening to the sunrise. 
Finally, I quickly take a few shots.
 I must share my images caught through the windows of my comfortable nest of my home.

Winter snow blanket / solitude, nesting, cleansing / regrowth, promise, spring!          ()

And a few minutes later it was almost lost to the coming day.


My little glass bird base peeking and watching out the window.  This Little Bird will stay warm inside,  feeling honored to sit on Maria's windowsill.

Thanks for tuning in.  Little Bird and I say Goodnight!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon, Maria & Julia & Julie - Mastering the "Art" of French Cooking, January 16, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon or Boeuf A La Bourguignonne or
Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions and Mushrooms

This great Sunday Feast did not happen so  casually. If you can't guess then let me tell you.  It started in September of last year when I received the "Julie and Julia" movie for my birthday. 
  • First of all the movie also inspired the idea of this very blog whereby I write about the everyday life of my creative side.  If Julie could write a blog while creating a year full of recipes from MtAoFC, I could also write a blog.  (Think about the many creative thoughts, connections, everyday occurrences and artistic projects we encounter in one day and also take for granted.)
  • As an Amazon junkie who buys and sells books I requested a few Christmas gifts from my French Husband.  Used dog eared books, one being Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 was requested.  I wanted an older printing of the original book first published in 1961.
  • Julia Child
    "The French Chef"
  • Well my love came through with a beloved copy of my request, along with another book, "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell.  (from which the movie was made)
  • So there I am leafing through the pages of French terms, like le beurre doux (unsalted butter), lard de poitrinefume (bacon), couper en des (dice), farine (flour), few of which I can pronounce. All so intriguing, so inviting and yet uninviting to me  - I am up for the challenge.  I will learn from Julia, follow her French recipes step by step, with no short cuts or tweaking.
  • By the way our kitchen posseses almost every cooking utensil, vessel, and  appliance useful to most full fledged cooks.  I believe I can whip up any recipe whereby I have almost all the ingredients.  I love the challenge of testing new recipes.  I tweak the recipes that I can to my produce a dish with less sodium and fat.
    Potage Parmentier
    (Leek and Potato Soup)
  • Back to leafing through the book -  My French Husband is into a tv show and I keep grabbing his attention to ask how to pronounce several french terms and words.  He is doing  his best to be supportive.  Stretching his memory to the nuns who taught him Parisian French as the 1st language in school, he tries to accommodate me.  How can  I prepare a french recipe without knowing how to pronounce the name of it? That is my frustration.  
  • The first recipe I created is also the first recipe in MtAoFC:  Potage Parmentier (Leek or Onion and Potato Soup)  as Julia states in her book; "the soup smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make."  Stir in cream and chill it for a vichyssoise.
Boeuf Bourguignon
(Beef Stew in Red Wine, Onions, Bacon & Mushrooms)
  • It is all good - so let's proceed to the beef:  Boeuf Bourguignon.  First to gather all the ingredients including full bodied red wine.  After cutting bacon into lardons, simmering in water, draining, drying and sauteing, then sauteing vegetables, beef cubes coated in flour (a few at a time until brown) and eventually placing in oven covered by wine, beef stock, tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon it was ready to simmer for 3 to 4 hours.  Later you add small white onions and mushrooms, skim off fat and summer until the sauce can coat a spoon lightly.  I served Boeuf Bourguignon over boiled potatoes, parsnips and carrots along with my crusty 5 Minute Artisan Bread.  It was a great, great entree that Julia would be proud of.
Clafouti aux Pommes
(Apple Flan)
  • Oh I almost forgot to mention dessert:  Clafouti aux Pommes (apple flan).   This is a French traditional simple desert for family meals.  A pancake batter of sorts, poured over fruit in a fireproof dish then baked in the oven.  It looks like a tart and even Julia suggests using an electric blender.
  • Another art form:  Culinary arts, 5 star gourmet restaurants, award winning chefs, culinary schools, and cooking shows have created a food industry which I my mind is an entertainment industry as well.  My french chef hat is off to these special artists.
  • I believe the reason I love cooking so much is two fold:  the creativity part (assemblage, experimenting, visualization, anticipation, presentation) and also the reward of smelling, tasting, consumption of this creation that also nourishes ones body. 
  • I wonder where the Julie Julia path will lead me next.  After posting this blog I think I will try another great french classic:  Soupe A L'Oignon Gratinee (onion soup gratineed with cheese).
  • WOW!  My French Husband just hand me something I really need, 6 pages of French Culinary Words, to improve your French, straight from  Now isn't he a big help!
  • Incidentally I am also reading the other book, Julie & Julia.  Julie Powell provides much detail and many more situations regarding her life, her friends and the Julie Julia Project than the movie by the same name.  My best to Julie who survived one year of insanity.

Bon Appetit!

Maria Liberto Bessette

Friday, January 14, 2011

Poetry Night Live, Another Artful Challenge - Jan 14, 2010

My Creative Writing Challenge:  The story is really a simple one.  A challenge to participate in a Poetry Night Live event.  This program co-sponsored by the organization of which I am the President, Holly Branch, American Pen Women.  It was looking a little dismal because of our latest snowfall and icy conditions.  I had sent news releases, emailed and facebooked.  It was becoming doubtful that there would be a great turn out. 

Recently, I had run across some lines I had written regarding a certain subject.  This was an unfinished something or other.  Reading over the words did not turn on the light bulb, but did offer an intriguing challenge.  Maybe I could pull off a free form bit of so called poetry.  So I knew if I did proceed with reading this pile of words I would confess to the crowd that of course I was not a poet, and they would also come to that conclusion at the end of my verbiage. 

The evening turned out to be delightful.  Several prominent Delaware as well as regional poets participated such as Linda Blaskey and Lize Rose Dolan.  We were honored.

Before my reading, our great guest poet, Gerry LaFemina, talked about poetry having rules and form, like most things in life.  I almost laughed out loud thinking of my "free form, unruly" poem.

I have to say although I would probably begin again discarding most of what I wrote, I did enjoy and indulge in some kind of self approval.   If the only compliment were "your read so well", well I would be pleased.  Not to say I will use another of my scribblings to create another free form poem - someday.  Or maybe I will actually  take a poetry workshop at least have more understanding and appreciation of poetry writers.

Dishing Up Delaware

Delaware in a dish, a dish of Delaware.
What do you think?
What do we speak of here?
Foods rooted in Delaware’s culture and traditions.
Surely not 5 star restaurants,
Not national chains,
Not cuisine by Julia, Erma, Graham, Emerald, Ina, Rachel, or Mario
But foods that are Delaware - down-home and culturally distinctive.
Foods that alone create -- an event.

In one‘s mind and on one’s tongue -- I can picutre the scenes of  piles of steaming Delaware Blue Crab, turned pink,
On trays set on tables of brown paper or newsprint before these “crabsters”, who hammer, hammer, crack, crack, pick and pick and finally consume.
Smell the old bay, the sea, the salt and sea weed.
Look across the landscape of cracked shells, claws and yellow looking paste.
Washed down with pitchers of golden sudsy liquid.
Your feast of crabs has ended for now.

Not to mention other feasts of local fire house fare.
You know the fire house. 
You know the ladies who are mixing and rolling out flat pieces of dough by the thousands.
Thrown into broth with some kind of vegetable or meat.
Chicken and dumplings, dumplins and peas, beef and dumplins, and other combinations.
In other fire houses across the state, during months that contain an “R”,
bushels of oysters are coated with batter and fried up to serve and sell,
while men line up on another special night to indulge in the slurpee raw ones.

We can’t forget the delmarvalish chicken in all I speak.
Mrs. Steele must be in awe of the sprawling chicken houses producing millions of chickens that may come to our table as the perfect buttermilk dipped fried chicken.
The chicken is not just a food but a Delaware industry we can tip our hats to.

And the peaches.
The peaches which once were gathered and taken by train from many station in Delaware to ravel up and down the coast by train.
 Prized peaches.
Now the peach is a good excuse to organize a hometown festivals in August where peach ice cream, cobbler and pies are sold.

Oh there is also the Delaware made scrapple brought to you by Ralph and Paul Adams. Have you heard of the Apple Scrabble Festival where blocks of this product are tossed through the air competing in a race for farthest thrown?
It must be a sight to behold.
But still in many kitchens the scrabble tradition lives on.
Crispy slices of scrabble are served up next to home fries, eggs and pancakes.

Wild and maybe wooly, and oh -- so,  well with so much aroma is a unique and almost forgotten Delaware delicacy --------- the muskrat.
Served in many ways that I am really not sure of.
Trapped, skinned and fixed up.
I myself only know where you may find this wonder to eat - The Wagon Wheel in Smyrna.

At last we have come to a festival, an event, a happening -- whereby the pumpkin is the star.
But the only purpose here is to catapult this wonderful fruit through the air by equipment and their operators.
This food stuff has put Delaware on the map.
It is to me a sad way to promote our farmers crop of pumpkins.
Maybe we should be eating, not playing with food.

So what morsels of food delight the Delaware palettes?
What Delaware dishes can delight our souls?
Remember Delaware’s roots, traditions and culture.
Not too different from the rest of Delmarva, but still unique


Creative Art Pathways:  We all travel down little trails and wide paths not even thinking about where we are going.  So many little twists and turns.  We commonly take the path we have followed many times before.  The comfortable and familiar fork in the road.  But the most interesting path and sometimes more challenging path is the road less used.

The Artful Life can be described in the words above.  Creative souls usually gravitate toward each other and travel down the interstate together.  The visual artists exit off to their road traveling to somewhere.  The same with the creative writers, musicians, dancers and all segments of the arts.  These paths, roads, trails and interstates cross over each other, intertwine, spin off and merge on.  All going somewhere, or maybe nowhere it seems.

We pass by many, come in contact with others, get to know many, are impressed by some, learn from many, connect with several, work with some,  become a mentor for others, look up to a few, teach several and support all positive and optimistic beings.

What amazes me are the connections and interactions of artists.  Most artists I have come in contact with state that creativity feeds their soul, gives them a purpose and a reason to connect.  I am so grateful for all the artists, creative ones and also for those who also support the arts in all it's forms who create a better world her on this earth.

Artists all need to spread our wings, try different paths, challenging paths, the path not marked, and also the path of hope and thankfulness.  Thankful for our gifts, out talents, our success and our failures.  Thankful for our mentors, our friends, our students, our contacts, our family and all those who support us.

Thanks for reading, and please leave me comments.

# #  # # # #

Love to all,

Maria L B