Make Good Art

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.”

Neil Gaiman

Wonder No More

Over the last several years, I’ve tried my best to get away from processed foods. There have been more successes than failures on this, I think. There are some things I haven’t been willing to give up. Sandwiches are one of those things. I mostly eat them in the summer when it’s too hot for roasts or soup. But I’ve always had a hard time finding a bread that I like that doesn’t have way too many ingredients in it. Growing up in the 70s, Wonder Bread was the end-all-be-all for me, but back then I assumed that if a store sold something, it couldn’t be bad for you. We all know better than that now.

I’m not going to claim that this bread is good for you (with butter and sugar in it, it’s obviously not great for you). But if you want a soft bread for sandwiches, this one works well. I’ve been making this for over a year and I get no complaints. If there’s a time when I’ve run out of time to make bread and have to buy a loaf from the store, that’s when I get complaints, so I try not to do that. I have plastic bags that the loaf fits perfectly in and that allows the bread to stay fresh for at least 5 days (we’ve always eaten it in that amount of time). I have a bread bin, but the bread always gets stale in a couple of days without the bags. They’re a great investment if you make lots of bread at home. This bread also makes great bread crumbs or croutons if you find yourself not eating it before it starts to get stale.

Sandwich Bread
Print Recipe
Adapted from
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 3 hours
Sandwich Bread
Print Recipe
Adapted from
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 3 hours
  • 1 1/2 cups flour all-purpose
  • 1 1/2 cups flour whole wheat
  • 1/2 cup milk your choice
  • 1/2 cup water warm, mixed with milk to make liquid lukewarm
  • 4 Tbs butter melted, can use vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp active yeast
Servings: loaf
  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. Or mix and knead the dough using an electric mixer. If using a bread machine, combine ingredients in the order in your machines instructions and set to the dough or manual cycle.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours. If you're using a bread machine, allow the machine to complete its cycle, then leave the dough in the machine until it's almost doubled in size, about an additional 30 minutes or so.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface. Shape the dough into an 8" log.
  4. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 60 minutes, until it's domed about 1" above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly. Towards the end of the rise, preheat your oven to 350°F.
  5. Bake the bread for 30 minutes, until it's light golden brown, turning halfway through to even out the crust. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or by measuring its interior temperature with a digital thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf).
  6. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack before slicing. Storing the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature should allow it to keep for several days.
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Division of Responsibilities

It seems to me that in every family/relationship, one person is responsible for certain things.  For example, I’m responsible for taking out the trash; gathering up all the various bags, getting them to the big trash can outside, and making sure that it all gets to the curb by Monday morning. My wife is in charge of temperature; she is much more sensitive to the cold than I am, so she picks where the setting on the thermostat is.

This theory of mine applies to our kitchen as well. 99% of the time, she is in charge of herbs (she is the main caretaker of our inside and outside gardens; she has a blog over at if you’d like to experience some good writing). She picks, cleans and chops the fresh herbs while I’m working on other things. One of the meals she is totally in charge of is omelettes.

I’ve never gotten the hang of omelettes. I get the basic idea, and I’ve watched her make them for years, but mine just never come out as good as hers. I make good fried and scrambled eggs, and a fairly good crestless quiche, but omelettes just elude me. And with more of our ingredients coming fresh from our backyard (pea shoots, basil, and asparagus) or the farmer’s market (mushrooms, eggs) her omelettes get better every year.

The strawberries also came from the farmer’s market this morning. The bread is a wild yeast sourdough (I’m in charge of bread).

Equipment Mise en Place

Instead of linking to the various bits and bobs of equipment I use in each recipe, I thought I might go over the main things all in one place. This probably won’t be an exhaustive list, so I won’t promise that there aren’t going to be any links in further posts. But what follows are the pieces I use most.

(By the by, I got the title from Anson Mills. They put that in all their recipes and it just stuck with me.)

I don’t much use the oven in our house. With only the three of us, the oven has always seemed a waste of energy. One of the first additions to our kitchens that we bought was Breville Smart Oven. We’ve had this same toaster oven for almost 5 years now (the newer version has an oven light and a slow cook setting) and other than some discoloration (which is my fault for not cleaning it as much as I should) it’s as good now as when we bought it. I’ve used it for everything from filet mignons to muffins to pizza.

The one item we absolutely couldn’t do without is our Breville Barista Express. Trying to figure out how to save money and time without giving up our White Chocolate Mocha from the coffee shop that was about a 10 minute drive away, we decided to make our own. It was a pretty high initial investment, but unless we’re out of town, this gets used every day for WCM and the occasional hot chocolate.

Our newest acquisition is the Breville (you see a pattern here) Fast Slow Pro. It’s a combination slow cooker and pressure cooker. We had been interested in pressure cooking, and after watching several videos (especially those by Flo Lum) we took the plunge and got this one. We’ve made several recipes using the pressure cooking function, and I see this piece of equipment being one of our most-used in the future.

To round out the Breville pieces we have the Hemisphere Control Blender and Custom Loaf Bread Machine. The blender is mostly used for smoothies and I used to make loaves of sandwich bread in the bread machine, but I mostly use it now for mixing and proofing dough for a different type of sandwich bread.

I have a KitchenAid stand mixer which I use for bread dough and pasta. With a pasta attachment, I’ve made sheet pasta for lasagna and to make ravioli. I’m going to try using it for making butter one of these days as well.

We have other things that get their use, but not as much as the items above. I try not to buy things that only have one use, unless its pretty specific (i.e. the olive stuffer for cheese-stuffed olives for martinis) since I don’t have a ton of storage space in my kitchen. Probably why I stay away from catalogs and kitchen-centric websites.



A Change in Direction

If you look at my last post, you’ll probably get why I picked that title. I had been posting about tech, tips, tutorials and whatnot. That last post I mentioned was a long time ago. It’s not that I’m not interested in tech or learning new methods of doing my work (I am and who wouldn’t be interested in doing their job better/faster?) but being honest with myself, I found that it didn’t hold a whole lot of interest for me. Other people would focus on one or the other of those topics, and they would do it better. And since this is my webpage, with my name on it, I figured I write about something that does hold my attention: cooking.

Right, yes, I know. Pretty big spectrum swing. Cooking and learning to cook: been around as much as 1.9 million years. Tech: if you aren’t writing about what is coming out next year, you aren’t going to get the attention or hits. I don’t have any ins on what is going on or coming up in tech. So, I would basically have to write what other already had and change it up so that it was my own, and that wasn’t fun; it was a chore.

So, I want to try writing about something that isn’t my day job. I’m no expert at cooking; I’m barely a novice. I only cook at home for three people. But I have found equal value in blogs and recipe sites created by chefs in 5-star restaurants and those who are just passing along their grandmother’s family recipes. If you found your way here because you were looking for some of the work I’ve done in my day job, head over to the portfolio tab. Everything you need is there (though my resume is under the About tab). If you find yourself interested in my next posts about what I’m making in the kitchen as opposed to Photoshop, stick around here. I’ll be making a wild yeast sourdough bread to start with. I hope you follow along. A journey like this is always better with friends.

Photoshop CS6 Beta First Impressions

I’ve gotten the new Photoshop CS6 public beta (only the second time in 20 years Adobe had released a free version of Photoshop) and played with it a bit (get it here). Here’s some quick, early thoughts.

The Look

I’m sure it’ll be one of those things hard-core PS fanboys (and trust me, there are such creatures) will either complain about or just “meh”, but I like the new look. Gives it more of a Lightroom feel. And I always thought Lightroom was set apart a bit too much, even though it isn’t sold with the Creative Suite. I think the dark will let your eye find the image you are working on easier.

Saving your Work

Auto Save and Background Save? Oh man, gimme, gimme, gimme! On of the features I LOVE most about InDesign is recovering a file if, gasp, InDesign crashes. For ages, I’ve wondered aloud (especially if I know someone was listening) why, why, WHY, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign didn’t have features (and the same shortcuts, don’t get me started) across all of them. Well, the Auto Save is a great step in that direction. Even though Photoshop is the one of those that crashes on me the least, it’s an awesome feature. It defaults to saving every 10 minutes and you can change that a bit, but crashing and losing 10 minutes of work as opposed to an hour or two is great (yes, I know, I could save the file myself more often, but come on, how many of you really do that?). Background Save is one of those “duh, why didn’t I think of that ages ago” things. When you go to save your 2GB file, you can now switch to another tab and start working as opposed to going out for coffee and a donut. Not only is it more efficient, but your waistline with thank you too.

Content-Aware Move

This one is pretty cool. Content Aware Fill was a great induction into the Photoshop pantheon of tools. Sometimes it gives you some weird results, but it’s a huge time saver. Well, the Adobe-folk have taken it one step further and made Content Aware Move. Instead of taking, say, a car and selecting it, moving it, then cloning out the original, now you can just move it and Content Aware will fill in the space where the original was. I’m sure that the results will be varied as before, but again, its a big, time-saving step.


Okay, that’s it for now. I’ve got a bunch of catching up to do (I didn’t get an advanced copy like some other reviewers) and I’ll let you know some of the other new features once I dig through and find them.

Once Again, with Feeling

Tomorrow is the unveiling of the new iPad (maybe iPad 3 or iPad HD). The iPad 2 came out just a year ago, so is this one going to be worth upgrading so soon? I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for in it. The retina display, better camera, longer-lived battery, Siri? These are all speculation at this point, but a new iPad would almost certainly have all these or there wouldn’t be a point in upgrading just yet. In less than 24 hours, we’ll all know for sure.

Will I be getting one, you ask? No, I still can’t justify the cost of one just yet, but as my wife uses one pretty exclusively instead of a laptop now, perhaps I’ll inherit her iPad 2 in a bit. I’d like to try out Photoshop Touch for the iPad. And I have some ideas about some educational apps for our son. Again, that doesn’t really justify spending a minimum of $500 on an iPad (assuming the 3 stays the same as the 2, but that isn’t for sure). But I’d be happy to inherit one.

For a pretty good rundown on what is expected, head over to CultofMac. It’s a good read and it’ll be interesting to see how much they get right.

Old, New, Good, Bad

When CS5.5 came out, I wrote about pricing, both upgrade/purchase and the new subscription. I’m still of the opinion that there are pros and cons to the pricing structure, but back in November there was news that frankly flabbergasted me: when CS6 was to be released, you would only get upgrade pricing if you owned CS5 or CS5.5. If you owned, let’s say, CS4, you would either have to shell out $949 (at least, that’s the current price) to upgrade to CS5.5 then upgrade AGAIN to CS6. At that point, you might be paying nearly as much as buying it for the first time. Scott Kelby, President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) called Adobe out on this new structure in an open letter in November.

Yesterday, Adobe backtracked and announced that the upgrade pricing for CS6 would be available back to CS3, which is essentially their old pricing structure (though they haven’t given actual pricing yet). My best guess is that Adobe didn’t like ticking off the President of an Association that is dedicated to one of their products, although I’m sure they got plenty of other complaint letters.

Adobe seems to really want to get everyone on the subscription service, but it seems that the idea to force more people to that didn’t quite go like they wanted. I would expect that fairly soon you’ll only be able to get the Creative Suite by subscription, which gives you access to what Adobe is calling the Creative Cloud, which not only gives you access to the program you want, but storage space, web fonts, training, syncing, and collaboration in a cloud based system. The release is planned for the first half of 2012, so all the details aren’t available yet, but it will be interesting to see how customers take to it.


Doing My Part for the Economy

It’s a strange realization, that you are the owner of a business.

I’ve been working as a freelancer for nearly two years now. My wife accomplished a hard feat two years ago; she got a better job. If you think the economy is bad now, think back to November of 2009. Yep, even worse then. Companies were downsizing (even the one I worked for at the time; I’d managed to keep my job even though others there hadn’t), gas prices were still quite scary and the housing market was still in free fall. I was proud of her accomplishments and understood her wanting to move up when the opportunity presented itself. But that meant moving to a city I’d never been to (in this case, Wichita, Kansas) and trying to find a job. In the worst economy since the Great Depression. I was confident of my skills in what I do, but still…a daunting task.

I was fortunate that my most recent employer was willing to work with me as a freelancer. It was a beneficial relationship; I’d be able to make money while looking for work and they had a freelancer who had been doing work for their company for the last three years. I knew the people, what the clients liked and didn’t like and the procedures of moving work through the pipe. It was a lot like I hadn’t quit but just started working from home.

After doing some work for a couple of other clients, my wife and I decided that I should stop looking for a “full-time” job and make freelancing my job. And I don’t appear to be the only one. This article talks about the growth of freelancing starting around a decade ago.

Of course, with the growth of the internet and upload/download speeds, freelancing from home is becoming easier to accomplish. Even five years ago, it would be hard to do this sort of work efficiently. Internet speeds being what they are now, it doesn’t really take all that long to connect to a client via VPN or ftp and upload a 5GB Photoshop file.

One of the benefits of using a laptop is that if the internet service in my house goes down, I can drive down the street to Starbucks, have a mocha and finish my work for the day. Or I can take the laptop with me if a client needs work done but doesn’t have an open workstation. As long as you have the software (or export capability) that the client needs, portability like this is a definite plus.

I love what I do. Even working for other companies over the past several years, I loved the work. It was challenging, creative and never boring. But as the owner of my own business, it’s even more satisfying and doesn’t seem like “work”.











Be Kind to Your Production Artist

For those of you that have separate Designers and Production Artists, this is especially for you. For Designers that act as Production Artists (or vice versa) you can take some of this and apply it to your workflow as well. But I’m focusing on those who have different responsibilities.

Speaking as a Production Artist, a large factor of the position is timing. Some of the clients I’ve worked with are notorious for giving final approval, shall we say, at the last minute. I’m not sure why that seems to be a characteristic of nearly every client on the planet, but it’s definitely one of the top similarities. But there are a few things that a small change in workflow can be done to help cut down on the midnight oil.

Designer’s should be designing, not prepping files. Ideally, when you get an image file, you should have the largest version of it that you can without scaling up. Most printers want files at 300 dpi at print size. But if a Designer is using this image and giving four different comps for clients to choose from, it makes sense to use that file at 72 dpi so that the Designer’s computer isn’t having to chew on all those extra pixels for something a client is going to look at on screen or at best a reduced-size print. And if you are using Illustrator it takes extra time to create the preview before you can start working on it or any time you make changes to the image in Illustrator.

Smart Objects are everyone’s friend. When using it on an image, you can use many filters non-destructively. For example, if you wanted to add Noise to an image, and you didn’t convert it to a Smart Object first, you make a change to that image that is permanent (unless you Undo the filter). But if the image were a Smart Filter, you could change the amount of Noise that image has much later (or even delete the Noise all together). Granted, not every filter is available with the image being a Smart Object, but if you can use it, you should. A Production Artist will have a hard time trying to judge, in the above instance, how much noise to use. You’ll save time going back and forth trying to determine what the proper setting for the filter is. When it’s time to prep the file for printing, the low-resolution image can just be switched out and the filter can be applied with just a few clicks.

Another way Smart Objects can be useful is importing type from Illustrator. When you paste type from Illustrator, you have a few options: Paste As Smart Object, Pixels, Path or Shape Layer. If you Paste As any of the last three, you won’t be able to edit the text. As a Smart Object, you’d be able to open it again in Illustrator, edit as need be and update it in the Photoshop document. Also, you don’t have to guess as to kerning/leading values, again leading to time saved by not having to go back and forth or having more rounds of changes.

Hopefully, this wouldn’t take a lot of time or effort to get used to. It’s mainly just making sure that you choose the right option when pasting. But these methods should save time all around, resulting in better bottom lines for your agency.



Lion: One word review



Ok, I’ll elaborate a bit. In my last post I admitted that I’d probably be “in line” to get Lion the first day out. I was. At least part of it was that it was only $30 and that the installation for an Operation System was online! How cool! I will admit, that part was the easiest. I’ve upgraded an OS a time or two and this really did go smoothly. The only thing I didn’t care for was Lion getting rid of the install program after the install, but that was the olde tyme me talking. Why keep around 4GB worth of OS when you can download it from the App Store if you need it again?

The first thing that I “meh”-ed about was the whole “natural” scrolling. I understand that Apple is all a-flutter about their best-selling iPhone/iPad, but there’s nothing “natural” about scrolling on a laptop as if it were an iPad. If I had a touch-screen for my Macbook Pro, maybe, but I spend most of my time with a mouse or Wacom tablet, and “natural” scrolling just isn’t. Fortunately, you can turn it off. Which I did. But after about 2 weeks. I really wanted to give it a go, but just couldn’t get used to it. And my wife, who even has an iPad, was totally lost if she ever needed to use my Mac. So, off it went.

I also give the Launchpad a “meh”. I have an iPhone and am used to the iOS way of displaying apps, so again, I get it. But it isn’t any better than the Applications folder. If anything, it’s a bit harder to organize. I guess I might get used to it, but I’d probably have to use it and I just haven’t, really.

Another function I haven’t really used is Mission Control. Perhaps I’m not enough of a “power user” to need multiple desktops going at once, but again, I haven’t found the need. I’ll keep trying though.

On thing I sort of found out about on accident is VPN access. I had been using a Cisco program to access VPN for a couple of my freelance clients. I thought I had prepared enough for the upgrade that I was fairly confident that all my programs would still work in Lion. And they did. All but one. The one I sort of REALLY needed to work. And the Cisco client just flat out didn’t work any more. I had read that VPN was supposed to be improved under Lion, and I had had my share of issues with it in the past (connectivity, slowness, etc.) and was looking forward to something being done about it. So, when the Cisco client stopped working and figured out how to set up the VPN connection through the Network Preferences, I finally found something worth the $30 upgrade. It’s a small thing, but I like the fact the icon is in the menu bar. The connection is MUCH more stable than the Cisco client ever was. And while the transfer speeds didn’t change (and nor did I expect them to) but the file population came across MUCH faster. Which is helpful when you’re just looking for a file.

So, on the whole, Lion is ok. Was it worth $30? Well, if I’m more productive working remotely, absolutely. For all the other features? It might be worth it for some people, just not hugely for me.