Repurposed Decorations: Not-So-Fine Art

More on re-using items in decorating: old art (frames, canvases, etc.) can get a new life if you have an artistic streak, or are pretty handy with spray paint.

Here is a large framed printed canvas that I bought about 7 years ago at an auction for $5.

I had thought that I’d like to use the frame someday, probably repainted. It’s been in the attic all this time. Now 7 years later, I’m OK with the gold frame and the canvas itself gave me inspiration. I know the painting in there is a reproduction of something famous, but it doesn’t go in my house.

So I painted over it.

First, I masked off the frame from the canvas and applied a coat of Gesso (it’s like primer for art) that I got at Michael’s. Then I used oil paints to paint my picture (I was visiting my sister who is taking lessons and has a whole set of oil paints).This is my first dabble at oil painting.

The picture I painted is of my two boys playing outside in the early spring. I wanted something personal: it isn’t fine art, but I love it because it is meaningful. (And, to be honest, I’m delighted that the subjects even look human, and like my sons! Thanks, Mom, for all those art lessons years ago!)

Of course, my boys didn’t sit in that positions as models for hours so I could get the shadows right; so I snapped a photo to refer to as I painted. Here is my photo.

First I sketched in the main parts of the picture with pencil, then painted it in. You can see  that I changed some of the elements in the photo to be more elegant (no crabby fence). Also: I painted in a well drafted room with the windows open.

Novice that I am, I had no idea that oil paintings can take weeks, even months to fully dry. I had to come back home before that time, so we very carefully wrapped the frame in paper and placed a board over it to survive the trip home.

Then my new “art” got a place of honor on my mantel.

Here it is at Easter time with some spring moss, lamb, and bird.

Have you kept an item out of the landfill by repainting or re-purposing it in your home?

I’m linking to a blog party on mantels at Funky Junk Interiors.

Butter Substitute for Baking

In regards to the Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe, one reader asked the question:

Is there a way to substitute the butter for something non dairy? I babysit for a little boy who is highly allergic to dairy and finding dairy free recipes for treats is so hard!

This is such a good question, as so many need to avoid dairy and all margarines are so unhealthy (even organic) because their vegetable oils are fragile are damaged at high heat (over 325).

White and creamy virgin coconut oil

Virgin (unrefined) Coconut Oil is a wonderful substitute for butter, and unlike most vegetable oils, can be safely used at baking and frying temperatures. (You would still want to keep the peanut butter cookie recipe under 320 degrees because of the oil in the peanut butter.)

It is solid at room temperature, but melts at low heat (like if you touch it…very similar to butter). It has a slightly sweet flavor which is a boon for many types of cooking/baking. It can be used 1:1 for butter, but since there is no salt added, you may want to over measure your sea salt in recipes which call for butter.

Tropical Traditions is the premier place to get this good-for-you oil: it’s organic, processed gently, and this family business helps the native people of the Philippines. You can feel good in every way about supporting this company. You may want to try out coconut oil on a small scale before ordering from Tropical Traditions; most health food stores will carry organic coconut oil labled “virgin” or “expeller pressed.” Iherb.com carries one from Jarrow that fits the bill.

You don’t want to get refined coconut oil: read this article on the different processes for extracting coconut oil.

If you are ready to get a larger amount of coconut oil, there is a special buy 1, get 1 deal being offered from Tropical Traditions until August 5.