Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Process of Organization

I am trying to organize all the jewelry.  This is one of those tasks that is hard to start because it seems insurmountable.  Some need new photographs, some just need photographs, I am getting ready to retire some pieces and send them to be reworked, many of them need to be listed on Etsy.

So many new pieces that you all have not yet seen.

Wish me luck,


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stollen - A German Tradition

Growing up, I always new it was Christmas time when I smelled Stollen baking in my grandmother's kitchen.  It wasn't everyone's favorite holiday treat, but there was something to that fragrant bread that I always loved.  My version of this holiday treat is different from my grandmother's mostly because I use dried fruit soaked in Grand Mariner instead of the candied fruit.

2 cup Raisins, dried Apricots, dried Cranberries, and dried Cherries rough chopped
½ cup Grand Mariner
Soak the chopped up fruit in the liquor for at least two days. 
½ cup whole milk
½ cup flour
4 teaspoons yeast
Warm the milk to 100° F, then whisk in the flour and yeast, cover in plastic wrap and store for 1 hour in a warm draft free place until very foamy.
2 ¼ cups flour                                                                           1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar                                                                    1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt                                                                         5 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon grated orange zest                                                    Up to ¼ cup water
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Mix together flour, sugar, salt, zests, and cinnamon.  Fold in sponge, egg and butter.  Then add enough water to make a soft dough.  Let rest 10 minutes.
Add fruit to the dough.  Sprinkle the counter with flour and then knead until the fruit is spread evenly through the dough.  The dough should not be sticky but may be tacky.  Knead for about 6 minutes.  Add a bit of oil to a large bowl and spread it around.  Roll the dough ball in the oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment for 45 minutes.  The dough does not rise much.
Form either one large loaf or two small ones.  My grandmother always made stollen in metal loaf pans.  I formed the dough into two small bรขtards. Gently coat with a very thin layer of oil, cover with plastic wrap and proof on a parchment lined sheet pan for approximately 1 hour or until 1 ½ times its size.
Heat the oven to 350°F.  Bake the bread for 20 minutes, turn the pan and bake for another 20-40 minutes depending on how you made the loaves.
Now I don’t do this, but after you bake the loaves and remove them from the oven, coat the loaves with a bit of oil and then cover with powdered sugar, wait a little bit and then tap on another layer.  This is apparently traditional, but it was not the way my grandmother made it.
Cool completely and store in a plastic bag, unless you like your stollen stale, then leave it out.  Stale stollen is also traditional.  If you cannot wait to eat your fresh baked stollen, make sure you wait at least 1 hour.
I hope you enjoy!

Happy Holidays,

Sarah McTernen
An Ardent Life Design

Friday, December 16, 2011

Warning: Traffic Revision Ahead

I've decided that a change in direction is needed:  partly for this blog, partly for my web presence, and partly for my life.  I am not a big company.  I am not a power-driven business woman.  I am a mother to three pretty awesome kids.  I am a housewife, no matter how '50's that sounds.  I am a photographer with a different point of view.  I am a website designer with a personal touch.  I am a baker of cheesecakes, cookies, bread and more that entice peoples' tastebuds.  I am a violinist, though it has been a few months since I've played.  I am a writer, of more than this blog.  I am an artist in copper, gemstones and more. 

I am not sure why I thought it was to my benifit, or to my readers for that matter, to keep all of these aspects seperate and to try and be a kind of business woman that I am not.  You are not a single thing: just a mother, just a sales clerk, just a fiber artist, so I will not pretend that I am anymore.

That is all for now.  I will update you as changes are made, and changes will be made.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season if I don't talk to you before then.

Merry Christmas, Happy Solctice and a Wonderful New Year,

Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dropping the Ball

I have been neglectful. I'm sorry. I haven't written in months. I could give plenty of examples of why I have been busy, but in the end, it hasn't been a priority. Things have been hectic and I am realizing that with so much going on, I tend not to be able to be perfect at everything. I accept imperfection in my art, knowing that the little differences identify it as mine. I have a harder time accepting this in my life. As a new year approaches, I will make posting here a larger priority.

What is going on in December?

Calendars are on sale online for $15 both 8x10 wall year calendars and 4x6 desk monthly calendars. You can buy a pre-packaged calendar, or pick and choose from any of my photographs. View the calendars on Facebook at the Ardent Photography page and E-mail me with your order at

Signature Art Jewelry on Etsy is on sale at 50% off until December 4th.

Junktastic is back in December! On December 4th, we will once again gather at Studio 6 Ballroom to sell our handcrafted and vintage wares, giving you a local opportunity to have a handmade holiday. Please come visit us on Sunday from 10am until 4pm. Find Junktastic on Facebook.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and may your holiday season be full of family and light.

Best wishes,

Sarah McTernen

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Art of the Sell

I am not a salesperson. Even when I worked in retail (okay, it was a market, but still...we did have an artsy/craftsy section), I wasn't ever one to convince someone to buy something. I would never sell ice to an Eskimo, as the saying would go, because I just find that rude. But if you love something and are trying to find the justification to buy it...that I may be able to help you with.

Artists are notorious for being bad sales people. I think it is an artist's conundrum to fall in love with what they create and therefor it is hard to let it go. Sometimes I refer to it as the "Smelly Cat" issue. I used to watch Friends, and in this one episode, Phoebe was playing for money, but she felt bad because "Smelly Cat" earned $1.50 while "Sticky Shoe" only raked in $.25 (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea). I feel bad when a piece is not loved. I had a smile from ear to ear when a little boy bought a 4x6 of The Toilet. Now this was not because a little boy paid $5 for one of my photographs. It was because this was the first time someone had wanted to take The Toilet home and love it (the way you love art.) I don't ever want to convince someone to buy what I create. I want them to love it. I want them to take it home and cherish it.

Now the other side to this is that I hate to see someone not treat themselves. By nature I am a very frugal person and I rarely buy things for myself, not really an uncommon trait in a mother of four, but it goes to intent. I don't treat myself, but I think that everyone else should indulge in what they love (I am a horrible enabler). Let me tell a story to illustrate.

This past weekend I was at a show. The traffic had been light and the day had been hot. I was losing my festival attitude (this had more to do with the constant sun and heat than anything else). A couple came into the booth and began looking at the jewelry. We talked about how I did this, and why I did that, all the while the woman is picking up my Aquamarine Maze cuff (this very unique, very one of a kind piece that I am not sure I could duplicate) and she begins to fall in love, but she puts it back down, and then picks it up, and then puts it back down. I hand her my card and I say I sell online, but she is still looking at the cuff. We talk about custom pieces, she asks if I could make something like the cuff again, I tell her it shouldn't be an issue. I am sure the cuff will still be here. She is shocked, "Why?" "Because lots of people pick it up, but they always put it back down and move on." It is speaking to her. In the end, it was made for her. The cuff wins the conversation and she takes it home, not wanting it to be left on the table, lonely. Most of my pieces are highly individual, just waiting for their owner to come and claim them.

I read somewhere that artists who put their work up for sale, but do not take into account their customers wants and needs, are selfish. I have to say that this is a salesman point of view. I am not a salesman. A salesmen is trying to sell you something, I want you to buy something. A salesman thinks that his product is the best in the world and will try to convince you of that in any way he can. I love my work and I hope that you do to, but if you don't, have a nice day, it is not for everybody. Now, maybe I will sell a few less photographs because I don't try to push them on people, but hopefully I will collect a few more art lovers.

Thank you for reading,

Sarah McTernen

Friday, August 19, 2011

Garfield Street Fair - Saturday, August 20th

The 2011 Garfield Street Fair is Saturday, August 20th. With more than 100 vendors, two music stages, two beer gardens, a wine garden, children’s activities and a large car show, we are expecting this year's event to be fantastic.

For the first time, the street fair will extend along both the west and east ends of Garfield Street. The fair opens at 10 am and ends at 6 pm.

The Garfield Street Fair is listed on Facebook, as is the Garfield Street Business Community, and you can see the list of participating vendors and bands performing at

Please come on down and see all the new work and displays.

Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Snide Remarks and Digital Photography

This weekend I attended an art festival as a vendor. All in all, this was a good experience. There was one moment that made me want to rant. While a couple was in my booth, perusing my photographs, we came upon the question of how I achieved a certain look to a photograph. I mentioned the word Photoshop and saw the man's eyes change. Now that I had mentioned that I use a photo processing program, my work became meaningless and not worth the time he had just spent looking through my hundreds of images. His wife was still rather taken by quite a few of my pieces and when she pointed out a framed version of "Vines" he responded with the snide remark of "all Photoshop".

Since the beginning of my career as a photographer, I have fought the battle of film versus digital. I have had eyes rolled at me, had stories relayed about how someone's father who shot film took such better photographs than mine, have had people point out what they perceive to be digital flaws in my work, and other such interactions. I have fought with my own opinion of digital versus film and I have come out on the other side, not wanting to belittle what I do, what I create. I am a digital photographer and an artist who uses Photoshop mostly to process my photographs. The majority of my images have not been "Photoshoped". But let's take a minute to put that concept to rest.

I hear people dismiss work because it has been altered, but altering photographs has been happening since the inception of the camera. Film was not a perfect record of what happened in history. It was just as likely to be modified and altered as digital images today. Early art photographers actually shunned artists who made clear concise images, because they wanted to be more like the painters of their time. Also, art photographs are not news images, where you are being bamboozled by someone trying to change what really happened.

Another point on this matter I must bring to the fore front. I hear all too often people saying how they do not understand Photoshop and they couldn't use it if they tried. If this program is so difficult to use, then why is it looked down upon when someone can wield it well? Is it not an art form in its own right? Every time the art world expands, the people, and the critics, want to put down the new medium because it is not as good as the old. Maybe it is not. This does not mean that it is not any good. It is different. It is a different medium just like the difference between the romantic and the impressionist painters. Photographers have always had the problem of being lumped into one category but now the masses lump film and digital photographers together, making digital the red headed step child of the former.

So now we move on to my work. I use Photoshop as a processing program. I take all of my photographs in RAW format which is similar to a digital negative. There is not much you can do with a RAW image until you process it. Film photographers use baths of chemicals to process and tweak their photographs. I use Photoshop. Most of my images are not altered to any great extent. I alter some to great extents because I believe that being able to create what I see in my head, what I envision, is an art form. I love photograph like "Tinted Rose" where I removed distractions from the background then turned the whole thing sepia just as much as I like "Haunting" of which I did no additional processing.

I love what I do, but I was always a much bigger fan of Ginsberg than Kerouac. Now to explain, Kerouac did not believe in editing. He thought that one should never alter a poem after the words had hit the paper and if they did so, it was dishonest to the art. I am a firm believer in the power of editing. I have been working on the same book for twenty years and there has been a lot of editing. The same theory applies to my photography. The captured image may be well photographed, but if I think it is missing that punch, I use Photoshop to capture the image that was only in my mind.

Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen

ETA: I find it funny that I only used photographs from the Botany collection. This was not done on purpose. :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Renewal of Summer

I know spring is supposed to be the time of renewal and fresh starts, but this year, I think that spring skipped us and left an extra dose of winter in its place. The last few months I have been busy with creating jewelry, booth displays, and new photographs, dealing with shipping errors and print house backlog due to a water main break, prepping for shows, recovering from shows, and sick munchkins one after the other after the other. It seems like it has been non-stop. There are many things that have been neglected and this blog is one of them, my newsletter is another, and my website needs some enduring TLC.

Want to see this month's newsletter? Here is the July edition of The Keen Observer.

I am in the process of updating the website. The look will not be a large alteration, but the Art Gallery is changing a bit and the Events page has been updated.

I am still backlogged on developing some new work. I have a few hundred images that I need to go through and get ready to show off. I am excited to be working on a new Art Gallery. It has been needed for a while now.

This weekend I will be at the Art on the Ave Junktastic event at Studio 6 Ballroom on 6th Avenue in Tacoma. I will be there with lots of new jewelry piece, new framed work, and new prints. If you find a print that you love but I don't have it in the size you want, just let me know you want to put in an order. If you order at the show, you get show prices!

Thank you for reading and your continued support of my work.

Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July Junktastic

Junktastic Sunday Market During Art on the Ave
Sunday, July 10th, 2011
11am until 5pm
Come on down and see all the new photographs and jewelry designs.

Best wishes,
Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

UP for Art Artist's Market at Duck Daze

Please come and visit the first UP for Art Artist's Market that will be happening in front of the new library in University Place this Saturday in conjunction with the Duck Daze festivities. It is supposed to be a gorgeous day, so come out to UP to take home some fabulous art.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Custer Elementary Bazaar

Come visit me on Saturday and get your last minute Mother's Day shopping taken care of.

Best wishes,

Sarah McTernen
Ardent Photography

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Picturing the Rain

Working on a new background for a website so I was playing with a clear glass vase and a blue piece of construction paper. I sprayed the vase with water and the got as close as possible to focus on the water droplets.

Need a unique website with an artistic touch? Give me a call. I would love to help you out.

Thank you,
Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Playing with Long Exposures

The moon was at it's closest the other night, and though I was outside to capture the brilliance of the moon, Washington weather had a different agenda. As the clouds rolled in, covering the face of the moon, I began to look at the few stars that I could see. Then holding the camera as still as I could (it was too late to go and grab my tripod, maybe another night) I shot some short long-exposure shots. I am excited for summer now, and to get to play a little more with this concept once the skies clear up.

Thank you,
Sarah McTernen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Moon at Night, Is Big and Bright...but Behind Clouds

Big Bright Moon on Saturday night ... well at least bright, I am not sure it was any bigger than normal though it was nice and full. The clouds crept in too soon, so I had to settle for some eerie artsy shots.

Thank you,
Sarah McTernen

Friday, March 18, 2011

First Show for 2011 is Junktastic!

Have you heard? There is a Sunday Market at Studio 6 Ballroom. Find local artists, crafters, junkers, vintage, recyclers and more all under one roof (okay, I think there are a few vendors who are going to be outside, but I'm not positive about that). You need to come and check this event out. Ardent Photography with be there with new prints, favorite prints, some framed pieces, as well as Ardent Life Designs jewelry. So come on down to 6th Avenue in Tacoma and say hi.

See you this weekend and thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen
Ardent on Zazzle

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Some of Your Favorite Things

I must thank you all for your patience this year. I promise I will find the ball at some point (it is probably lost under the couch). But until then, I figured I would pose a question. I was going through some statistics on my Etsy shop and wanted to see what the most favorited photographs were.

The top three:

The Pearl Nautilus: 16
The Dandelion: 10
AR Apart: 9

Though my Etsy shop does not contain all of my images, I want to know...

What is your favorite of my photographs, any of them NOT just the three above?


What would you like to see more of?

On March 23rd (aka next Wednesday) I will pick one lucky person to receive an 8x10 of their favorite shot, so spread the news.

Thank you again for reading,
Sarah McTernen

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hello Again!

It's been awhile. How have you been? I have been busy with Ardent Life Designs, taking photographs of the new pieces that are created, and chasing after three little munchkins. Junktastic is coming up on the 20th of this month and I will be there with prints available framed and unframed in various sizes. I hope to see you there.

Starting next week, I will be posting a photograph a day and getting back on the blogging path.

Thank you for reading,
Sarah McTernen