Goat Cheese, Walnut, and Dried Plum Spread

Delicious Spread for Parties, Snacking, or an Unconventional Breakfast

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I fell in love with goat cheese last year.

Then I tasted a weird fruit spread a month ago and wanted to recreate it with goat cheese mixed in. It’s actually not the prettiest spread, but it was my breakfast and I loved it.

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Goat Cheese, Walnut, and Dried Plum Spread
Servings: Depends on how ambitious you are. Two servings for me. Probably four servings for a normal human. 
Calories: Bahahahaha! Don't know. Don't want to know. Ignorance is bliss. 

Ingredients: 
-2 oz Goat Cheese with Honey (an extra ounce if you love cheese like me)
-5 dried plums (a.k.a. prunes, but are we 80?)
-1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
-1/8 cup dried cranberries
-Honey-Optional
-1 baguette

1. Combine plums, walnuts, and cranberries in a food processor and chop until all pieces are uniform and the plums bind everything together loosely. 
2. Stir in goat cheese. Taste. I don't like mine super sweet, but this is where you can add extra honey if you like. 
3. Slice and toast your baguette. 
4. Spread it on. Eat it. Feel fancy. Share with your friends. Spread the fanciness.

Visit the Edible Masterpieces page to see more recipes.

Watercolor Speed Painting Video

As I drink my coffee on this cold and wet Minnesota spring morning, I can’t help but realize I forgot to put the recycling out. Again. It is so easy to lose track of time when you work from home.

It’s also fun to play with time. Here’s another speed painting video! Just finished it on Monday. Enjoy!

Materials Used:

‘Blank’ is the New Beautiful

Why we should stop trying to redefine beauty.

We don’t need to redefine it. We need to stop telling people that beauty gives them worth.

Lately companies have been redefining beauty to be more inclusive, and no matter how good the intentions are this still forces us to look at our bodies and see all the ways we should change them.

I watch/listen to a lot of TV when I am painting and once I started to pay more attention to commercials I couldn’t help but get annoyed by what I heard. Over and over again, we are shown how we should look at ourselves.

Like Pantene with ‘strong is beautiful’. Strong hair and strong bodies. 

All I need to do now is work out a bunch and fuel my hair. Bam! Beautiful!

Aveeno and Jennifer Aniston think healthy skin equals beautiful skin.

 

Does that mean that if my skin looks dry it won’t be beautiful? Better slather on the lotion.

I have to give a gentle golf clap to Walgreens for this one: 

The message at least gives me the power to define my own beauty and it’s actually inclusive.

And then there was Dove with the Real Beauty Campaign telling us we are more beautiful than we think:


It’s a great example of how we are too critical of ourselves, and our perception of self differs drastically from how others perceive us. I was on board with it until one woman said, “I should be more grateful of my natural beauty.” and “It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”

 

Really? Beauty is critical happiness? I call bullshit.

Some messages floating around are more positive than others, but I’m
still going to criticize a message that makes me look at my body with any sort of objectification.

 

I was all for redefining beauty in the beginning. Everyone
should feel confident with their bodies and minds—but when the conversation is about beauty in any form we are just given a new image to fixate on and a new product to buy.
I argue that we should disconnect ‘beauty’ from our sense of identity in general. Beauty does not equal happiness. 

 

Now, shifting to the commercial that just pissed me right off. Crest. 

And omg, nobody is going to pass the fricken ‘Tissue Test’.

But back to the first commercial.

Girl 1: “Why are you deleting these photos?”
Girl 2: “Because my teeth are yellow.”
Girl 1: “Oh, yeah. They are a little yellow.”
Girl 2: (joking outrage) “Hey!”
Girl 1: “Why don’t you use a whitening toothpaste?!”

I just need to say Girl 1 is a shitty friend. She should have said “Your smile is awesome! Save those pictures!”

 

I have been in this position, though. Looking at a picture of myself and then going “Oh, lordy! Why didn’t someone tell me I looked like that?” I ignored the happiness on my face. I ignored the memory of the moment, and instead thought about the way I looked as if appearing ‘unattractive’ diminished the quality of my experiences.

The beauty industry is the worst.

If someone is trying to sell you a product by telling you it will enhance your appearance, odds are pretty good that they are just preying on your insecurities. Their goal isn’t to make you feel better about yourself. Their goal is to get your money and making you feel bad about yourself is an effective tactic.

 

Scroll through Pinterest, pick up a magazine, turn on the TV, go grocery shopping, eat a brownie, go on Facebook and you will suddenly start questioning every inch of your body.

 

We are inundated with click bait on how to have thicker hair. How to have clearer skin. Acne gone forever! How to shape your booty. How to get rid of your muffin top. How to fix yellow nails. How to get rid of bat wings. Perfect cat eye makeup. Sculpt your cheekbones. Get whiter teeth. Shinier hair. Straighten your teeth from home. Burn more calories. Cellulite fixes. Varicose veins, shmaricose veins. Get rid of blackheads with a lemon! How to hide your wrinkles. Eliminate gray hairs. Slim down quickly! How to get the perfect tan. Stop aging. Get longer eyelashes. Blah, blah, blah…

 

If you can maintain your confidence after numerous sources
tell you all the things ‘wrong’ with your body—tell me your secrets.

 

Please.

Be aware and help change it.

Am I the only one annoyed with how things are packaged and sold to us?

If you are with me, I have a plan. I suggest that we change our perspective. I suggest that we take control of what matters. Yes, health is important. Being confident is important. Feeling good about yourself is important—but does any of this depend external beauty?

 

No.

 

So, instead of saying ‘blank’ is the new beautiful—can we just
be awesome instead? Beauty does not have to be a part of our identity.
How about we stop giving power to beauty and appearances and just enjoy the moments we live in?

 

A sassy new hair cut can give you loads of confidence, but a bad hair day shouldn’t devalue your self worth. The winter weight in my thighs may jiggle more than usual when I walk, but I’m still going to enjoy cooking dinner with my fiance and eating ALL of it. And then I’ll go paint a new piece of art and rock the shit out of my lack of perfection.

The struggle is real.

I admit, I struggle with this every day as a still I see myself as having a lot of flaws—but we need to stop sacrificing moments of happiness just because we don’t look the way we want to. Mostly, I’m really tired of pop culture telling me how I should want to look and then selling me a product to achieve that look!

Moral of the story, if anyone took a picture of you in one of your happiest moments, and you wanted to delete it because your teeth look yellow, your stomach wasn’t toned, or your cankles were out of control, etc.—then this one is for you:
Fuck being beautiful. Be awesome.

 

(Guys, this goes to you too!)

If you like what you read, check out my other ‘profound’ thoughts for more.

How I Suck at Selling My Art

As the title of this post oh so delicately suggests, I am not the best at selling my art.

My identity and skill set did not come equipped with “Sales Woman.” And unfortunately, money is not the biggest motivator for me to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve had jobs where I’d get sales commissions, and although it was a perk I was not driven to push people to buy things. In my head, I thought maybe they didn’t really need the product. Maybe they didn’t realize they were being over-charged. Who am I to force this upon someone?

Obviously, this is an issue. If I plan on making a living as an artist, it would be beneficial to sell things. Clearly, I desire to make money–I would just like to be comfortable while doing it.

So, why am I so bad at selling my art and other creative products?

For one, I am an introvert. Talking to people is exhausting if I don’t know them and don’t know what to talk to them about. It also opens the door for me to say and do awkward things, and then remember those interactions years later in painful detail.

Two, I make the false assumption that potential customers shop like I do. I don’t like being pressured to buy anything. I do research on products before I commit to a purchase. Everything from shampoo to a couch. Hasty decisions are rarely made. Thus, I do not push other people to buy from me.

Three, selling art is like selling a piece of yourself and it’s quite difficult for me to put a price on that.

It would be incredibly convenient for me if potential customers would say, “I value your art. Let me pay you ‘x’ amount.” And if ‘x’ amount is something I would be happy with, then we both walk away feeling satisfied with the transaction.

Instead, I am often times left teetering between what I think my art is worth, and what I think people might be comfortable paying for my work. I tend to short change myself this way, but my goal is to unload my art, buy more supplies, and eat Chipotle.  I’ve been so anxious to get rid of my art that I have basically given it away at times.

To challenge my comfort zone, I displayed my work at a local art event last week. Naturally, I wanted to make the event more successful so I decided to compensate for my lackluster sales skills by trying a few new tactics.

1. Overcome my introversion.

Introverts often cannot handle large crowds of people with only surface level interactions, but we can thrive on conversations that are more meaningful. A fellow creative person offered me the advice of “treat each transaction as a relationship.”

That is what I did.

I didn’t try to convince anyone to buy my stuff. I talked to people. I showed an interest in their experiences. I shared my techniques. I treated people as people and not as a potential sale.

Was this successful?

I had a tension headache by the end of the night and my cheeks hurt from smiling for 5 hours, but it worked.

2. Stop assuming people are like me.

I don’t meet a lot of people like me in public—so this is just a bad way for me to operate.

I decided to present myself more and do the exact opposite of how I want people to treat me. I engaged customers when they approached and put in the effort to approach them as well. I made sure to tell them I was the artist. Apparently, I don’t come off immediately as the creator.

Once I established my artistry, the conversations kept going, and sales happened more frequently. People want to know the artist.

Opening the dialogue and being forward with information allowed me to feel like I was creating an experience and not pushing for a sale. This even works on other fellow introverts. Just focus on making a connection meaningful.

3. Place a value on my art.

I tried something new at this event. I made a “Name Your Price” bin. I have a bunch of prints and work that I am tired of looking at. Instead of telling people what they are worth, I let them choose. To my surprise, people went for it.

Out of the majority of sales from the “Name Your Price” bin, customers paid at or above what I would have asked for.

I also settled with the fact that I will always price lower than I should, but I made it a point to clearly label all pieces with these outrageously low numbers. If you don’t put a visible price on your work, a lot of people won’t ask. They may just assume the piece isn’t for sale.

In conclusion, this was the most successful event that I have ever done, in both sales and pleasant interactions with people. The location of my display, the favorable weather conditions, and other factors definitely played into the traffic at this event, but my effort to come out of my bubble contributed to my success.

Thank you for perusing my post and do let me know if you have any questions or comments.