Amy Artisan

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Category: Family (page 1 of 16)

On Christmas

For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord! ~ Luke 2:11

Without the birth of Jesus in a lowly manger, there would be no death & resurrection that draws us to salvation. Without salvation, there would be no promise of Heaven. Without this promise, death might only bring despair. How thankful we are the for story of Jesus, the faith we have through Him and the promise of heavenly reunions!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Love from the Artisan family (Joyce, Amy & Rebecca)

Acadian Adventures

My sister has a milestone birthday this summer. To celebrate, we decided to take a road trip to Acadia National Park and on up to Prince Edward Island. As the spring progressed, we booked our Airbnb stays…we built our itinerary…and before we knew it, Rebecca arrived to Pennsylvania on a Friday evening in late June for our adventures to begin.

On Saturday morning, we loaded up my car (aka Annie), picked up large iced coffees and were ready to hit the road. The trip odometer was set to 0, a new notebook was at the ready to capture the license plate game. A quick selfie was snapped. And we were off! As we hit the road, we came up with a few meal rules for the trip: No US chain restaurants – although Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee is a given; focus on local establishments; In Canada, enjoy uniquely Canadian eats.

Ready to hit the road!

The first day was a long haul drive to reach Acadia National Park. Traffic sailed through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. In Connecticut, it became heavy and that continued pretty much through Massachusetts and New Hampshire until we reached the Maine state line.

On the road!

What is a road trip without homemade treats? Rebecca brought a bag of Mom’s classic road trip cookie – Colonial Rocks – with her & they were enjoyed throughout the trip.

Mom’s cookies for a road trip!

It was early evening on Saturday when we arrived to our motel, The Twilite Inn, a classic roadside motor inn that we found via Airbnb. As we checked in, we discovered our innkeeper was a Packers fan…Supper was seafood from a roadside lobster pound – a lobster roll and fish sandwich definitely said we had arrived to Maine.

Our classic Americana accommodations

On our way back to the motel, we decided to stop at a local dairy bar for ice cream. The “small” Wild Maine Blueberry ice cream cones were delicious – even more so after waiting 25 minutes from order to cone in hand (the teen boys behind the counter were struggling mightily with a large group of customers).

Glad we only ordered small cones!

On Sunday we headed into Acadia National Park. Our first stop was the visitors center – in addition to a few souvenirs, we also picked up the Audio Tour CD and used that as the basis for our wandering through the park. Once we pressed play on the audio tour, we were off and proceeded to spend most of the day looping around the park. Words can’t adequately describe the views that we enjoyed – I’ll let a few picture highlights do the talking. The color of the water is a gorgeous navy-teal.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we reached Cadillac Mountain. The views from up top were pretty spectacular – but we both agreed that being right along the coastline was what we enjoyed more.

As the audio tour ended we made our way to Northwest Harbor and then over towards Southwest Harbor and the lighthouse there before just driving around the island.

For dinner, it was another roadside seafood shack – this time, fried clams and fried shrimp. After a bit more driving around we tracked down the last piece of blueberry pie at a local restaurant to end the day.

Sunday eats

Next up…meandering through Maine and New Brunswick, Canada towards Prince Edward Island…


Wonderful Weekend

On this Tuesday after the Memorial Day holiday weekend…joining in on the Ten on Tuesday Weekending edition to recap a great extended weekend in the ‘Ville with the family – earlier this month, Dad had emergency back surgery and the days and weeks since then have been filled with rehab and recovery. As the month progressed – and Dad progressed – I started formulating a plan for a visit…we decided it would be best for me to just “show up” and not tell Dad I was coming. Last week started with a work trip and when my meetings were done, it was time to detour to Georgia for family time.

  • Caught the 5:55 Thursday morning flight from Milwaukee to Atlanta. The early departure time didn’t dampen my excitement to be going home.


  • Walked into Dad’s rehab room at lunchtime on Thursday and rendered him speechless with my surprise visit for the weekend.
  • Hung out with Dad each afternoon and balanced rest time for him with plenty of activities. While I spent a bit of time with him each morning and evening, the afternoons were “my” time to provide Mom with some respite for her nonstop presence by his side.

Meal Prep

  • Made yummy meals for us to enjoy as a family sitting together in Dad’s rehab room: Roma Italian Pie (with extra veggies) and Shepherd’s Pie. We have all decided that Dad needs “tastes of home” for each meal instead of the tray from the rehab dining room.
  • Sat in salt…on Saturday morning, Rebecca & I tried out the halotherapy/salt room at a local med spa and thoroughly enjoyed it. We see future sessions for us.


  • Colored pictures with Dad on a Friday afternoon. I pulled out my “travel” coloring book from my work bag and Dad worked on a coloring book that was under the Christmas tree for him.


  • Strolled the halls each afternoon with Dad – our laps through the building provided more opportunity for him to strengthen his legs by powering his wheelchair with his feet.


  • Knit on a new shawlette – digging into the stash from 2006 for this version.
  • Read several books in my down time – when Dad was resting in the afternoons; while easing into the days after seeing Mom off to the rehab center; while waiting up for Mom to return in the evenings.

Merry Mom

  • Celebrated “Merry Mom Day” – finally spoiling Mom with gifts for Mother’s Day and her May birthday. The quick way to get everything wrapped was to use our Christmas fabric bags – which provided plenty of giggles for all when I carried in the bag of bags.
  • Split a yummy Cheesy Chicken Sausage & Spinach omelette with my sister when we met “Uncle Mike” for breakfast on Monday morning.


Much too soon, the weekend was over and it was time to head to the airport and wing my way back to PA. Thankfully I managed to get through the security line at the ATL airport in under 10 minutes in spite of all the recent security line troubles. As I settled into the backseat of my ride home from the airport, I was so thankful for the ability to be home with the family for these 5 days.

What did you do over the holiday weekend?

Mom Made

As the calendar turns to May and Mother’s Day approaches, Carole prompts us today for 10 Favorite Foods Mom Made. Of course I’ll share in this list! My Mom is a wonderful cook and baker! When she was in college, she spent her summers as a camp cook; when I was in elementary school, she managed to cook for the high school youth group missions trips to San Quintin, Mexico in a small kitchen in an airplane hangar. From an early age, I learned the lovely art of hospitality from my Mom – she loves to share from the heart by way of the kitchen. Growing up, we were often delivering a meal to new moms at church – something that I have done many times since I’ve been on my own. Missionaries, church friends, college kids and more have sat around our table and shared life over simple and delicious meals from Mom. In the age of Martha Stewart and Pinterest and Instagram and trying to portray “the” perfect dish, I’m so thankful that I learned from Mom the true joy is in the making and sharing of the dish – not in the picture and presentation.

Mom's Strawberry Pie

Mom’s Strawberry Pie

In no particular order, here are some favorites from her kitchen…and really, this list could go on and on and on…

  • Strawberry Pie – I’ve written about this once or twice; a simple and tasty recipe that always brings to mind Grandma’s strawberry patch in the backyard of her home in Southern California…
  • Lemon Chicken Florentine – A simple mix of chicken, spinach, onion, lemon juice & tumeric; a great make ahead dish – just as delicious hot or chilled…
  • Santa Maria Beans – A simple and delicious staple of Santa Maria BBQ from our time in Lompoc – even better when paired with a Tri-Tip…
  • Italian Squash Soup – Another Artisan Mom “recipe.” Brown & drain a pound of Italian sausage. Add in 24 oz tomato sauce, a couple of zucchini & yellow squash diced, some chopped mushrooms, & Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, pepper, garlic, etc) to taste. Bring to a boil & simmer for 20 minutes…
  • Simple Sausage & Cheese Biscuits – A favorite for breakfasts and perfect for parties and holiday teas
  • Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, Onions & Mushrooms & Gravy – Always a delicious Sunday dinner to come home to after church…
  • Sugar Cookies – A recipe Mom discovered in a book on hospitality, this is a “go to” recipe – delicate and dainty cookies that are a good excuse to use a cookie stamp…
  • Cardamon Cookies – A family staple in the Christmas baking – delicious with or without or without frosting…
  • Tater Tot Casserole – Keeping the theme of simple…ground beef, onions, green beans, mushroom soup and a layer of tater tots on top…
  • Green Enchiladas – A recipe that Mom found in the Air Force news when we were in Wichita more than 40 years ago – turkey, onion and cheese enchiladas with a spinach sour cream sauce. My sister requests this for her birthday dinner. Thanksgiving turkey leftovers often are set aside for a batch of these…

….and this list could go on…Lemon Meringue Pie…and on…Fresh Salsa…and on…Ebelskivers…and on…Applesauce…and on…

Today as I putter in the kitchen, I’m so thankful for all that my Mom taught me (& my sister) through the kitchen…not only the recipes…the kitchen tips and tricks…the fun…but also the art of simplicity…the focus on taste…the joy of hospitality…

What are some of your favorites from your Mom’s kitchen? 

Ornamental Treasures…Painted Plaster

The Artisan family Christmas tree has always been a scrapbook of memories with the ornaments that adorn the tree. (And truthfully, there isn’t room on the tree for all the ornaments every year…)

Rebecca & I are lucky to have amassed quite the collection of “Artisan Dad” painted ornaments throughout the years. For many years, at the breakfast table on Black Friday we would find our newest ornaments at our placemat.

At home in the ‘Ville, I have a collection of panda pears that Dad painted over a series of years. Here on my tree, I have an eclectic mix of painted plaster from more recent years – filled with sentiment, moments in time, whimsy and most of all…love.

Maggie – A sweet portrait of my sweet kitty, Maggie. This kitty loved the Christmas tree – she loved to sit under the tree & just look up into the lights.

Patriotic Bells – In 2001, a timely choice in the aftermath of 9/11, Dad combined the spirit of Christmas with the patriotic spirit that was so prevalent.

1949 House – In 2002, I moved into my 2nd apartment in Chicago – in a vintage courtyard building that reminded the whole family of scenes in “While You Were Sleeping.” I only stayed in that place for one year but this cute house with that address on it always reminds me of that place.

Ball of Yarn – An appropriate ornament from when I really jumped back into my knitting.

Candy Cane Mouse – A simple and silly mouse that is a reminder to have some whimsy in the celebration.

Vintage Rudolph – While “new,” this cutie looks like it could have been on Dad’s tree when he was a boy. I chuckle when I see it as I recall at least one Christmas where Rudolph left presents under the tree for me & my sister – I remember unwrapping a slip with that gift tag on it.

Christmas Tree – Given our family enjoyment of the Christmas tree, this is a great addition to the collection to celebrate our trees. When we still went with a live tree every year, Dad & I were responsible for loading the tree with lights – our mantra was there was no such thing as too many lights on the tree.

Devers – A cute memorial for Rebecca’s kitty. He was a bit of a rascal & while he never did burrow into a stocking, this is just the sort of thing you could see him doing. He was a kitty that confirmed why the Christmas tree had the length of fishing line looped around the top of the tree & secured to the window frame each year.

Each year, as I look at my Christmas tree I see not just a celebration of the season – I see a celebration of life. Moments…memories…stories from so many chapters of my life. What stories does your tree tell through your ornaments?

After seeing Katie’s annual ornamental treasures writing last year, I decided that this will be a December tradition for me as well.  

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