By Virginia Ellen

Family Fun at the Philly Art Museum

A Fun thing to do—with kids (or without).

As the summer winds down, you may be finding it a challenge to find different activities for your children. Have you thought of taking them to the Philadelphia Museum of Art?  Just visiting the place is an awe inspiring (in the true meaning of the word) experience. Right now, there is a quite wonderful collection of paintings of the Impressionists on display.  The focus of the exhibit is a French art dealer who quite literally cornered the market on Impressionist paintings at a time when no one particularly wanted them, and held on at great personal sacrifice until they came into favor. When we visited last week, I was impressed with how many young children were there (many with grandparents), and how engaged they were with the paintings.  Asking the children questions about the paintings seemed to be especially successful in directing and holding their attention.  Since there are many children in the paintings, the children could relate to several of the canvasses.  The exhibit takes about an hour to see. Everyone gets a walkman with descriptions of many of the works.  You can choose which ones you want to listen to.  Of course there’s the obligatory gift shop, but the museum also has a nice cafeteria which serves all kinds of good food and desserts. If you have more time to explore, there is a wonderful collection of armor, as well as miniatures and many other galleries with specific interests in mind.  If you know what your child will be studying in school this year, you could focus on that time period or genre. Having taught mythology for several years, that’s always a favorite of mine. Parking is easy in a subterranean parking lot, a very short walk from the door.  The staff is friendly and helpful.  Enjoy an afternoon of family fun and education at the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Green Agate Necklace, Earrings and Bracelet

Stone of the Month—Tree Agate aka Moss or Dendritic Agate

Our beautiful summery and refreshing stone of the month is Tree Agate.  It has green veins on a white background, giving it a cool, leafy-glade type of feeling.  The green veins or dendrites, come from the Greek word “dendron” meaning “tree.” Tree agate is also associated with summer in that it is called a stone of abundance or plenitude.  Wearing Tree Agate  is said to guard against natural disasters and dispel sickness.  Tree agate also encourages strength and perseverance, the ability to meet challenges, and the capacity to see the connections in life all around. Since the stone has a strong calming influence, it is helpful in the relief of many disorder, including those of the nervous system, including exhaustion, the skeletal and circulatory system, and relief from general pain. Wearing Tree Agate was thought to encourage the favor of the gods.

By the way, have you ever wondered why children’s marbles are called “aggies”?  They’re named for the material they were made from—agate.

See some of our beautiful Tree Agate jewelry in person at one of our upcoming events!

Bacon Asparagus Quiche Recipe

20150505_000338338_iOSmakes 1 – 9 inch quiche

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, reserve a few longer pieces for decoration
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • unbaked pie shells
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss or other cheese of your choice.
    Directions Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Steam or roast asparagus until tender but still firm, cool. Brush pie shell with beaten egg white. Sprinkle crumbled bacon and chopped asparagus into pie shells. In a bowl, beat together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese over bacon and asparagus. Pour egg mixture on top of cheese. Bake uncovered in preheated oven until firm, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Grasshopper Pie

Another great way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day…  I have to admit – this is one of my favorites!  Grasshopper Pie

  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows or 32 large
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons white creme de cacao
  • 1/4 cup green creme de menthe
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Few drops green food coloring, if wanted Semi-sweet chocolate or extra cookie crumbs for garnish


Preheat oven to 350.

Crush cookies and mix with butter.  Press crumbs into artists at Heart pie plate.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool.  Combine marshmallows and milk in saucepan over low heat. Cook and stir until melted.  Cool.  Add liqueurs, and gently fold marshmallow mixture into whipped cream. Add food coloring, if wanted . Pour filling into prepared shell, and top with shaved chocolate or cookie crumbs, if desired. Freeze until 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 1-9 inch pie.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Stoneware Baking Dish

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raisins, if desired
3/4 cup buttermilk

Celtic Knot Wood Trivet
Celtic Knot Wood Trivet

1 Heat oven to 375ºF. Spray Artists At Heart stoneware baker.
2 Cut butter into flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl, using pastry blender until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in raisins and just enough buttermilk so dough leaves side of bowl.
3 Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead 2 minutes or until smooth. Shape into round loaf, about 6 1/2 inches in diameter. Place in baking dish. Cut an X shape about 1/2 inch deep through loaf with floured knife. Bake 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Brush with butter or margarine, softened, if desired. You can serve your fresh hot bread on a handmade wooden Celtic trivet.

Spinach Feta and Artichoke Dip

  • 2c fresh or 1 cup frozen spinachchip and dip w spinach artichoke dip
  • 1 small jar, about 6 oz., a marinated artichoke hearts
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2  cup crumbled feta
  • Sabrosa Fired Up! salt to taste

Microwave spinach until wilted, about 45 seconds.  Cool and chop; drain well.

Drain artichoke hearts and chop finely.

Add sour cream, feta and Sabrosa Fired Up! Salt to taste. Stir.

Microwave about 2 minutes until piping hot.

Pour into the center cup of Artists at Heart Chip and Dip and fill the outer circle with your choice of pita or other chips.

Serves 4.

Happy St. Brigid’s Day!

St. Brigid's Cross Wood Trivet

St Brigid’s feast day is this Sunday, February 1.  The date is half way between the winter solstice and spring equinox.  It was a day, much like our Groundhog day, when spring weather was forecast.

Brigid herself was born around 451.  She was raised by converts of St. Patrick. Much to the consternation of her father, Brigid persisted on giving away her possessions, and those of others, to the poor and needy.

At one time, Brigid asked the local bishop for permission to start a monastery.  Observing the Holy Spirit around her, he maintained that God himself had ordained Brigid.  And so she became a bishop and is still depicted holding the crook, the traditional symbol of a bishop.


St. Brigid’s Cross is said to have first been fashioned by Brigid out of rushes or reeds.  In those early Christian times, the farmers adopted the custom of making these same crosses at the beginning of spring to protect their holdings, placing the St. Brigid’s Crosses in prominent positions in their houses and buildings. The tradition of making St. Brigid’s Crosses on the 1st of February, St. Brigid’s Feast Day, continues to the present day.


St Brigid's Cross necklace with Carnelian and AventurineSt Brigid's Cross Necklace

No Beans About It – Chili Recipe

Chili This hearty chili has no beans.  You certainly can  add any type you wish, but this is so good without them…No Beans About It Chili in stoneware crock

  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated with Artists at Heart Garlic Grater
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 4 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2-14 1/2 oz. cans stewed or diced tomatoes
  • 1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1-6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup green chili salsa (substitute what you have on hand if this is not available)
  • 1 whole jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cups chili powder
  • 1-4oz. can diced green chilies, undrained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Sabrosa Guerande Grey Salt, to taste
  • Artists at Heart Dutch Oven and Crock

In Dutch oven, saute onion, pepper, celery and garlic until tender.  Add meat, 1 pound at a time, stirring until browned, or salute meat in another pan at the same time.  Add remaining ingredients, stirring after each addition.  Simmer about 2 1/2 hours.  Season to taste with Sabrosa Salts and pepper.  Serve in Artists at Heart crock with shredded cheese, sour cream and minced onion.  Enjoy!