28 October 2012


Sometimes I find myself sitting in perfect quietness, thinking of perfection and the lack there of.  I don't claim to be a perfectionist, quite the opposite is true.  But remembering this crucial fact in the moment of self judgement or even comparison can halt me to look deeper.  "Why can't I accomplish that or when will it be my turn?"  Silly, and realistically not what I should be wasting my time on. 

But it occured to me that with full injection of the social media in our lives, we tend to forget that others have struggles too.  We hear only what they want us to see and see only what they want us to hear.  LOL  Leading us to "Like" those fabulous photo shots or "Pin" the absolute most creative thing.  Competitively trying to impress and out do the neighbors, a modern-cyber keeping up with the Jones I presume?

Resonant moments are somewhat like meditation.  I find these moments in still images, in the nature's majesty, in stories long forgotten or a song from the car stereo.  But literally these resonant peaceful telling moments are all around me. 

On a daily basis, I run at such a high pace that I forget to notice those quite moments speaking to me. 
My imperfect world consuming my thoughts, keeping me from connecting with myself.  So tonight my family is all in bed, the television is off and I can actually hear my heart beat.  I cherish such moments and I hope that you do too!

Be safe and Cherish each moment  ~ Amy 

24 July 2012

Perfect Blueberry Pie

As I venture deeper into learning to bake, I have taken on pies.  My crust is pretty much mastered, but still experimenting with different fillings.  Here is the attempt at Blueberry Pie.  And YES the berries are from my own garden. 
You will need the following ingredients:
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
3-4 tablespoons milk

1 heaping quart of washing fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Tapioca
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of Nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon juice 
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons butter 

 Pre Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Crust ~ Mix together the sifted the flour into sugar and salt.  Using a fork or pastry masher, cut in the cold butter and 3 tablespoons of milk. Gently blend until all is just blended, Don't Over Work!  Roll out onto a lightly floured surface.  When large enough to cover a 9" pie pan, fold into quarters and transfer over.  Unfold and press into bottom and sides of pie plate with your hands.  Allow the excess to be trimmed off and crimp the edges.  Save this Excess!!!

Filling ~ Mix the dry goods (cornstarch, white sugar, tapioca, cinnamon and nutmeg).  Pour this mixture over the washed berries and fold gently until coated evenly.  Place this mixture into the waiting crust, spreading it out over the whole pan.  Sprinkle the lemon juice evenly around the pie. Disperse the butter around whole pie and do the same with the brown sugar.  Crumble the excess trimmed crust and disperse as well all over the pie filling.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, checking it after 30 minutes.  You will know it's ready when the crust starts turning golden and the fruit bubbles.  If the crust browns faster than the fruit bubbles, then tent the pie with aluminium foil until desired results.  If your oven cooks cooler than the dialed in temperature, allow the pie to cook a bit longer.

When pie is removed from the over, place it on a cooling rack.  I like to set my pie in the kitchen window for additional cooling from the window.  Allow to cool for at least an hour, this lets the fruit congeal nicely.  Serve in bowls with a generous scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream.

15 March 2012

Pot Pie Muffins

What to do with left overs?  The age old question. 

If you are like me, you cook for an army and then your family is forced to eat left overs for several days and nights to come.  So, here is my challenge . . . to change it up and keep their interest.  Tonight it was Beef Stew left overs, so that became home made Pot Pies.

With very little cupboards space, I don't have extra space for dishes like individualized ramakins.  So how did I accomplish pot pies for each plate?  Easy answer . . . muffin tins.

Be sure to use cooking spray prior to placing your bottom pie crust into the tins.  I slightly cooked and cooled those crusts before scooping in the stew.  Topping each pie off with a crust layer before baking a bit longer. 

Gently I lifted each pie outof the tin using a wide spoon and a butter knife and walla . . . individual pot pies.

Even the pickiest of eaters love these cute eats.  And don't forget the coconut oatmeal cookies to follow!

12 March 2012

Whimsical Fairy Garden Window Painting

A few months back I was really doing some soul searching in trying to realize what was missing in my life.  As an artist I had come to a huge hault simply because life interupted; children with challenges, business demands, never enough time for it all ~ so something had to give.   And you probably know how the rest of this story goes.  So today with this post, I am sharing a journey back to the creative self that wanted to come out and play again.

And the Fairy Window Painting was born . . .

I started with an old window, added trim pieces to the back to create a hollow for the canvas to set within.  Then and only then was the canvas' frame made and covered.

Trim pieces added to frame creating hollow to hide canvas.
Folding corners without wrinkles.

Much research went into who these fairies would be and how they would interact in telling the story behind the garden window.  Gardens are filled with flowers and leaves, branches and grasses.  In order to have that something special, I wanted them to sparkle and what better way to do that but in the light of the moon.  But before the story is told, the canvas had to be prepared with gesso, the blocking and layers of paint had to be applied. 

Priming canvas with Gesso.

Mixing colors is key.

Character blocking.

Now was the fun part . . . developing the charaters and the details.  The blue butterfly and how it coordinated with the fairy across the canvas.  The movement of the leaves and the suggestion of an evening breeze.  And the unexpected touches with acorn caps and glitter.

Once all the characters were dancing with whimsy, the window frame needed a few final touches.  Remember the added trim on the back of the window?  That trim didn't have the patina in the paint that the original frame did, so I had to create it.  Painting a chippy finish takes layers, a little soap and lots of sandpaper.  And to hang this heavy heavy window filled with glass, wood and canvas I had to install a reliable mounting bracket and wall mollies.

Chippy paint in layers.

Hidden or recessed mounting brackets keeping all flush.

And last but not least . . . the installed finished painting.  In the course of this whole journey I was fortunate to have a client that commissioned this piece yet allowed for my creative licensing to come into play.  I invited her to view the process a few times along the way.  And let me tell you that is one of the most nerve racking moments to endure.  Sharing a vision that had simply started with words.  And now I'm here revealing the total project with you the world.

If you are interested in commissions with me, Amy H Montoya, please contact via email at amy.montoya28@gmail.com.  Open to discussions on any and all paintings.

16 January 2012

Theory of Colours

What is your favorite color?

The theory of color actually has an interesting begining . . .

The "Theory of Colours" is a work by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about the poet's views on the nature of colours and how these are perceived by humans, published in 1810.  It contains some of the earliest published descriptions of phenomena such as coloured shadows, refraction, and chromatic abrerration.  In his book, Goethe provides a general exposition of how colour is perceived in a variety of circumstances and the phenomenon of human colour perception.  ~ via Wikipedia.

What I know from years of working with color is that we humans react to color with the same almost expected reaction as any other human.  With some exceptions.  We are often drawn to color from memories or from mood, and both can be fuel for some really amazing reactions. 






 . . . all are huge factors in your determination of color. 

Personally, I seem to wander from one color to another when it comes to my favorite.  I can't really figure out why, but I'm working on it.  I have also noticed that when selecting colors for a client or a project, the answer is always clear for me.  You see, as long as I can remember I have been driven by color.  At 4 years of age I won my first of many coloring contests and later majoring in Fine Arts while in college.  It was a no brainer that I work as a Designer, for aethetics is like breathing for me.  So why is finding my own personal color so difficult?  To many choices? ? ?  Maybe that is a good thing . . .

15 January 2012

Caramel Pecan Rolls

Here's a post that may be unexpected . . . but demand was to great not to share.  Enjoy . . .

Ingredients Needed for Dough ~

1 Package of Yeast
1/2 cup of Warm Water
2 cups Warm Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tspn Salt
1/4 cup cubed Butter
1 Beaten Egg
5-6 cups Sifted Flour
1/4 cup Melted Butter
Cinnamon to sprinkle
Brown Sugar to sprinkle

Dissolve yeast in the warm water (ideal temp is 105 degrees, more will kill the yeast and less will result in no froth).

Combine warm milk, sugar and salt.  Stir and allow to cool.  Once cooled combine yeast mixture, milk mixture, the beaten egg and flour till dough is formed.  Do not over mix.

Put dough out onto a well floured board or stone work surface.  Knead in the cubed butter pieces until dough becomes smooth and elastic.  Place in a well greased (I use Pam) bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap that also is greased on the underside.  Let rise in a warm place.

Meanwhile, let's prepare the caramel for the pan(s).  Ideally you will need two 9x13 pans.

Ingredients needed for Caramel ~

1/4 cup melted Butter
1/2 cup Karo Syrup
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Heavy Cream
2 cup Chopped Pecans

Divide each of the above ingredients between the pans you are planning to bake in.  Start with the melted butter and spread it evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Drizzle the corn syrup and heavy cream.  Sprinkle the brown sugar and the pecans.

Now the fun begins . . .

Once dough has doubled in size (or more), turn the dough out onto a well floured board or stone work surface.  Roll the dough to approximately 1/2 inch thickness and shaped more in a rectangular shape verses a round or oval shape.  Melt 1/4 cup of butter and spread evenly over the dough surface.  Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar on top of the buttered dough.  Use as much or as little as you prefer, but a good even coat is fine.  Roll the long edge of the dough like a jelly roll.  Cut 1 inch thick slices (I find a long strand of dental floss to work best) and place onto caramel prepared pan.  Lastly, let the rolls rise until doubled in size.  I often will let this step take place overnight allowing fresh rolls to go into the oven first thing in the morning.

Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes.  Do not over bake.  When serving turn over onto plates.