Those are the breaks

by dawning on / Art, Personal

After the death of a loved one, I create this piece. I didn’t show it to many, and honestly I kept it under my bed for a couple of years. I hesitantly brought it out for my first solo exhibition over the summer. I wanted to fill the space with as much work as I could. Unfortunately, the gallery where I was showing my work is also a venue for large gatherings. My piece got broken. I didn’t want the owners to feel obligated to pay the large “I don’t want to sell this” price, so I just took the broken pieces home and tried not to cry about it in front of them.

I mourn this piece. I didn’t get many pictures of it, and I regret hiding it away. I thought it was beautiful and it held so many of my emotions within it’s fragile fired clay. Tears were shed when making it and now tears are shed for it. That was the circle of life for this piece.

My husband wants to put it back together with some epoxy so I can hang it in my studio. That would be nice.

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Make art that feels good to make | art

by dawning on / Art, Personal

As an artist, sometimes I get too consumed with making a perfect amazing masterpiece each time I make art. But, that wasn’t the goal when I started making art. I started making art because it makes me feel good, it is an outlet, and it revitalized my soul. When you turn something you love into your career you really need to take a moment to remember why you fell in love with it in the first place.

Pieces like these are just fun and relaxing to make. I really love the finished product too. Exploring color and form can be a very enjoyable process. Plus, the bonus of thinking about awesome animals that I love!

dsc_0312buck feline


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Garden Fresh Pasta

by dawning on / Food and Health

Garden fresh pasta is so easy and so yummy! This great dish can be a stand alone vegetarian meal or can make the perfect side dish. I had it last night with my Baked Parmesan Chicken, and I am still wanting more!

Ingredients for Garden Fresh Pasta:

  • Thin wheat noodles
  • 6 medium to large tomatoes diced (or 50-60 sliced grape/cherry tomatoes. I love how this looks especially if you grow different colors of tomatoes in your garden!)
  • 1 1/2 cups green onions chopped
  • 4-5 medium sized garlic cloves pressed or minced
  • 1 cup chopped basil (I like to use a porcelain knife so I get a sharp cut but don’t brown leafy greens)
  • Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Salt & Pepper

Cut the tomatoes first, put them in a strainer with a bowl underneath it, and cover them in a dusting of salt, stir and salt again. This removes all the extra water from the tomatoes so it is not too runny.

After all vegetables are cut boil the water for the the pasta. At the same time turn the heat on for the frying pan.

Follow the direction provided on the pasta box.

Using a large frying pan, add olive oil and set to medium heat. Once the pan is warm add the garlic and let sizzle for about 2 minutes stirring regularly. Once the garlic hast puffed up a little turn the heat down to low and immediately add the tomatoes, green onions, basil, and pepper (to taste).  Stir everything together with out pulverizing the ingredients.

Once the pasta is done cooking the vegetables will be too.

The vegetables should be warm but not very cooked, this is garden FRESH pasta we are going for.

Add some olive oil to you pasta noodles and serve topped with the vegetables and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Here are the noodles I usually use, they are cheap, they are whole grain, and they are thin (so they wont hold as much of the starchy water, and wont hold as much of the oil). Great combo!

Thin wheat noodles

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Charcoal Reduction Thoughts

by dawning on / Art

I have been thinking about the artist’s process a lot lately, which is something that I usually take for granted. I realized recently, that the artist’s process is fascinating to some people. To me, I am just in the zone and doing my thing, so it is easy to overlook.

I would say that 90% of my process is staring, examining, looking or what ever you want to call it. My pieces take days to make because I need to look at them for that long before I know I have what I want. Every step that I make, I have to sit back and absorb and see what I need to fix so I can make it more of what I am imagining. It may sound boring, but for me (and many other artists) it is the process…our meditation and becoming one with a piece.

This is my newest piece that I have been working on. I am challenging myself to create natural elements in life with charcoal, a very natural medium that I am able to produce myself. It is coming together nicely and is almost done. Here are my steps along the journey of making this piece:

Showing steps - Dawnings Art

Dawning’s Art Process Charcoal Reduction

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Baked Breaded Parmesan Chicken

by dawning on / Food and Health

I love this recipe for baked Parmesan chicken! I also love to serve this chicken with my garden fresh pasta, which is super easy and absolutely fabulous. I am usually just feeding my husband and myself so this is a great recipe for left overs. We usually get 3 meals out of this recipe, which is good because it does take a little bit of time to make. *See the bottom of this post for re-heating instructions.

Recipe for baked Parmesan chicken:

  • 1 package of chicken breast cutlets (5-6 pieces)
  • 3 tubes of Ritz Crackers (I like the whole wheat kind)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Parmesan Cheese finely grated
  • 7 eggs
  • Dried herbs: I like to use Thyme (heavy), Basil, Rosemary, and Turmeric (light)
  • Pepper (no salt needed because the crackers are salted)
  • Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)

Spread olive oil in an oven safe pan that is about 9×12

Crush all the crackers into a large bowl or plate (I like to use a 10″ casserole dish because it has deep sides and lots of room to work in). Mix the crushed crackers with  the dried herbs, pepper, and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese.

Mix the eggs in a separate dish that is big enough to dip your pieces of chicken in easily.

With your chicken set out (to the right for right handers and to the left for lefties), have your egg in the middle of your production line, and your breading at the end (on the left for right handers and the right for lefties). Your oven pan should be near by and ready to receive the breaded chicken.

Dip one piece of chicken in the egg, making sure it is as covered as possible. Then take that chicken and lay it flat on top of the cracker crumbs, and roll it in the crackers so that it is coated as much as possible. Then dip it back into the egg, again, making sure you get the egg coated all over the chicken. Then take the piece of chicken and lay it flat on the crackers and roll it again. After it is completely covered lay the piece of chicken in the oven pan. Do this process to all the pieces of chicken.

Prior to putting the chicken in the oven scatter the rest of the Parmesan cheese over the chicken to give it a nice crust.

Parmesan Chicken - Dawning McGinnis

Now it is ready for the oven!

Cook for 35-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely through (which ever comes first). I like to cook my meals that I plan on re-heating as lightly as possible (cooked all the way so there is no pink at all, of course). This makes for better re-heating and less over cooked food.

Parmesan Chicken Enjoyed - Dawning McGinnis

This is so freaken good!!!

*Re-heating instructions:

Since I loath using a microwave and destroying my awesome food, I usually recommend using an oven. Toaster ovens work, but usually not as well.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the chicken in a clean oven safe pan that fits the amount of chicken you are re-heating.  There is no need for more oil to re-heat, but if the chicken was slightly over cooked it may help it not be dry. If you are using oil, I recommend a light coat of olive oil like you used when cooking the chicken. Once the oven is pre-heated put the chicken in and set the timer for 15-20 min. Make sure to feel the chicken for correct temperature.

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Scarab Series: First Painting

by dawning on / Art

Watercolor painting offers so much variety. You can create saturated bold colors or very light stains.

I have always been drawn toward the image of the scarab and I think the bold colors support the stylistic lines in this piece.


Dawning’s Art Watercolor Scarab

This series creates a story in my head. Scarabs breaking out of eggs that are actually all the planets in space. Our Earth is shattered and from the molten explosion a sacred beetle is given life.  The universe transforms in the mind of those who are left to ponder our small existence on the surface of an egg that birthed an insect.


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The Hard Road to Eden: A story about a girl, her dad and nature

by dawning on / Nature and Outdoor Adventures, Writing

The Hard Road to Eden

A fairly true story (as true as memory serves) by Dawning McGinnis

            “Sit next to the door and be ready to jump if we start to go over” my dad yelled as we barreled down the rough, dusty road. I sat on the step in front of the passenger sliding door to our more than twenty year old 1968 GMC laundry van and watched the rocks and plants that lived in the embankment on the safe side of the road go by so fast that they became smears of colors. I was not scared, I was ready. I would be Dad’s only chance of surviving if the road got lazy and dropped our van down hundreds of feet of jagged minerals, rocks, and trees.

            We had been in the wooded mountains, of a later well debated place in Oregon, for weeks. We carved out new tire tracks on the logging roads throughout the area and had been gaining altitude our entire trip. Slowly, as we traveled higher, the shelter of the forest faded to reveal the bare earth all around us. The gravel way was hard to distinguish from the rest of the rocky boulders. The road kept climbing, taking us with it. Soon our reliable companion, the road, became old and neglected. Things then quickly got worse for the once-secure stretch; rains had washed out the outer ledge and created ominous caverns and pockets waiting to trick passersby into their graves.

Before dad had hollered for my vigilance, I had already gone back through the heavy steel door that was decorated with perforated hardboard painted traffic yellow. The door was always open if we were awake, so I did not have to struggle my eighty pounds of body weight against it to slide it open. Beyond that thick steel was my home. The homemade wooden storage boxes by the door could be turned into a guest bed, but were used mainly to hold my dad’s giant jugs of bathtub whiskey and extra water. The cabinets had locks on them to keep our food from spilling out as we drove down the uneven road. We had a small TV that we ran off of car batteries, which was used primarily to watch the only movie I owned, The Little Mermaid. Under the TV hung an ugly busy floral print piece of fabric that concealed our cooler filled with milk, eggs and jelly. Our step style bunk beds took up the rest of the living area in our van. The highest bed, my bed, concealed our work gear, which could be accessed from the back doors outside. Our mobile castle was topped off by a moon roof window that we were able to climb out of to get a better view and a keg of water on the tailgate. The only light was coming through that two foot square tinted hole in the ceiling, and my eyes took a moment to adjust to the darkness. I grabbed my electric orange and pink bag and started filling it with all of our money, over eighty dollars between the two of us, peanuts, and almonds. I would need my strength if I was going to find help. I thought about how long it had been since we saw another person and it seemed like weeks to me in that moment. All I knew was that I would be walking for a good long while.  

After several tenuously slow miles, the road eventually widened again and we were safe. There was no time to let relief wash over us; our attention was quickly drawn toward glints and glimmers coming from the rocks all around. Dad said excitedly, “We struck gold!” We came to a stop and jumped out of our trusty big blue whale of a van. To our surprise we were surrounded by small monoliths made of minerals. White, clear and rosy pink quartz had made this place its breeding ground. The sun was high and its light played reflective games with the crystals that were stretching up to embrace the warmth. My dad and I both looked crazed with glee as we ran and started exploring the magical place we had found.

            Even though there was an abandoned logging road stretching through this jungle of minerals, I felt like we were the first to discover it. We were the first people ever to lay eyes on this special place. Searching at ground level through the towering crystals, we both found one that resonated with our individual vibrations and spoke with us through these wavelengths. I sat by running water and let the world slip away while I watched the flow, holding nature’s geometric masterpiece in my hand. My mind joined with the water, enjoying the ride. My eyes found my brain again to convey that the water had made a slide on top of rocks that were colored a deep celadon. I got onto the slide and felt the cold mountain stream seep into my clothes, while realizing that the stone below me was slippery. It was like the mountain made this slide in hopes that a little girl would one day find it, taking as much pleasure out of riding it as the mountain took in making it. I called my dad over and he got on the slide behind me. Dad’s heaviness slowed us as we let the water carry us around hairpin bends. Our line of sight was filled with evergreens and our skinny slide unraveling in front of us as we went. We rounded a corner and the world opened. We only glimpsed our surroundings before we were dropped off a small waterfall into a perfectly round, deep and clear pool. We splashed in the first water we had felt on our bodies for over two weeks. We explored our new luxury and tried to swim to the bottom to no avail. The trees towered over us, letting in a ring of light which beamed down to warm the cool water.

As our stomachs started rumbling, we made our way to the gravel shore. There we found a very large cleared area surrounded by trees, seemingly for privacy from the road. Walking back to the van, we collected minerals that spoke to us so that we could decorate our new home, and then we drove our blue whale to the clearing. We sat in front of the water and talked about our new living arrangement, our water feature, garden of crystals and our towering fence of dark green trees. The water was so clear that the minerals at its depths reflected light green throughout the pool. I dipped my hands into the water and cupped some to my face, noticing that the water really was completely clear.

We spent our days swimming and exploring the limestone slides that ran through our new home. I thought of it as heaven, surreal, and the place I wanted to stay forever. This oasis made itself known to us, like a gift meant only for our eyes. After our food ran out and foraging was not working any longer, we promised the land that we would return and continue our friendship.

Once we got back down the mountain our Eden was lost to us. We have speculated where to find it again since then, but those are speculations and the roads we used to get there were not safe over twenty years ago. Although the place is lost to me, I feel it inside still. It echoes the love, pleasure, and joy I have felt through my life. That clear, perfect water holds my best memories with my best friend. The minerals scattered through that place hold a picture of the most grateful people that have had the chance to behold their geometric lacing. 

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Meet the Snoozle Womps: A children’s story I’ve been working on

by dawning on / Art, Writing

Meet the Snoozle Womps

by Dawning McGinnis


On a planet named Crystalline,

there is a mountain that has stood the test of time.

The mountain is covered with crystals,

and everyone on the planet can see them like signals.

Down the mountain a creek flows,

and Quartz is the name that the villager’s know.

Quartz Creek has a steady stream,

making the village of Mineralia extremely pristine.

In their small village the Snoozle Womps delight

in finding new ways to use the crystal’s light.

Mineralia has many unique amenities

from all of the Snoozle Womps’ different specialties.

The Snoozle Womps have discovered crystals that have the ability

to do anything from cook their food to create tranquility.

Mineralia runs smoothly

because the Snoozle Womps know their callings resolutely.

For the first time in who knows how long,

a Snoozle Womp who didn’t know his purpose has come along.

Abelard Snoozle attempted to find his true calling

by trying out everybody else’s jobs, as if he was trawling.

None of these jobs made Abelard happy,

so he went to ask advice from his Uncle Mapsy.

Mapsy lives high up the mountain as a cartographer,

and every time Abelard goes to his house the trip gets rougher.

Abelard doesn’t have to explain the reason for his visit,

the turmoil he has been going through is implicit.

Mapsy had no advice for Abelard so instead he told him what he sees

when he watches Abelard from high above Mineralia’s idiosyncrasies.

“I see you try all kinds of things that bring you nothing but havoc,

although, I can easily say the thing you enjoy the most is your stomach.”

“I do love to look at my stomach” Abelard exclaimed,

“I feel like if I look hard enough the secrets of our world will be explained.”

Abelard went back home with new pride

knowing that his true calling had been identified.

Abelard now spent his time staring at his stomach and performing experiments

which led him to an amazing discovery and his utter merriment.

The news of Abelard’s breakthrough traveled fast

But soon all of the Snoozle Womps’ expectations would be surpassed

Abelard prepared a presentation that made him feel sublime,

and chose to share his findings at dinnertime.

The Snoozle Womps gathered together for a feast,

and as they waited for Abelard their anticipation increased.

The smell of the feast was more than tempting

though nobody was eating due to the presenting.

Finally Abelard declared with certainty

that he knows the reason for the Snoozle Womps’ internal luminosity.

A demonstration had everyone convinced

there must be a reason the Snoozle Womps and the crystals coexist.

The Snoozle Womps have lived in Mineralia for how long, nobody knows.

But, the light that is in the crystals makes the Snoozle Womps’ bellies glow.

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Sandcastle Christmas Tree: A Short Story About A Girl and Her Dad

by dawning on / Writing

Sandcastle Christmas Tree

by Dawning McGinnis


I woke up early, not because I was used to the three-hour time difference, but because it was starting to get warm in our van and the beach was calling to me. In my short thirteen years of life I had never spent Christmas morning on a Florida beach. I was born in a small Oregon coastal town, so spending a memorable holiday on the opposite coast was special to me. I quietly crawled out of my bunk bed in the back of our van and slid over my dad who was still asleep in his bed that stepped up to mine. I tried to open the steel door that separated our sleeping area from the cab of our old 1968 Chevy Step Van as quietly as possible, but the noise and the light from outside still woke Dad up. In his groggiest voice he croaked, “Who’s going where?” and flung his arm over his head while letting his fingers dangle in his eyes. His mustache was a sight, styled after Fu Manchu and messy from sleeping. I told him I was going to the beach and he woke up more, so I waited for him.

I sat in the captain’s chair driver’s seat, the only seat in the van, and looked out the two giant four foot square pieces of glass that were the windshield. We had camped under the bright green leaves of a rare, over-logged, West Indian Mahogany tree, where we could see the calm waters of the Atlantic wash up on Long Key’s beach. The sand looked intensely white, while the water was an effulgent turquoise where it was shallow, shifting to a slightly darker viridian about one hundred feet from the shore where the water finally got deep. There were Black Mangrove trees that looked like they were floating in the middle of the ocean, but the water was so shallow that their home, fifty feet from the sandy beach, would only have been ankle deep. There were no clouds, and the ocean faded into the sky nearly seamlessly.

Dad was up and out of the van. He went back to the shiny chrome keg filled with fresh water we had on our tailgate to splash his face and to swish his mouth out. I took that opportunity to duck back into the camper part of our van and grab the couple of gifts we had gotten for each other during our trip that started in Orlando and brought us the long way, through Tampa, to the Keys. Nothing was wrapped, but we didn’t care about things like that. After gathering the gifts I went down to the beach.

The warm sand was welcoming and I plopped down on my knees, put the gifts to the side and started to gather sand together in a pile. The sand was dry, not at all the right kind of sand to build a sandcastle Christmas tree with, but I had no bucket to get water to wet the sand and I never thought of even doing that anyway. I just pushed sand together and watched it sift through my fingers and fall off of the pile that I was making. I knew my tree was going to be more of a crumbling pyramid, but I kept piling the sand and digging it away from the base to give the effect of a tree. Dad found me as I was finishing and sat down beside me with a thud that pushed the dry loose sand up between us. He put his darkly tanned bare arm around me and squeezed me close. I could feel the cold water that had not dried from his face against my forehead and it felt good. It wasn’t hot out, but it was seventy degrees with Florida humidity and only a little after nine in the morning.

We held each other and enjoyed the view. Talking about the waves that we caught in Miami made us decide to get up and take a stroll in the shallow clear water that gently swayed in front of us. There were no waves here, as if the ocean found a quiet place to take a break. For several minutes we walked away from the shore and from the van we called home, our gifts left on the beach in a small moat around my attempt at a sandcastle Christmas tree. We splashed each other, and Dad talked about being a teenager in Florida. He loved to talk about how he was a greaser from Portland who moved to Florida and became a surfer, but eventually the conversation would turn to his female classmates and their tight mohair sweaters that he appreciated, maybe too much. My long-winded dad could talk for hours about pretty girls, waves, and his exploits with his long since deceased cousin. After a while of walking we realized that we were at least a football field away from the shore so we decided to go back to our gifts and where our ingredients for breakfast lived. The water had only gotten as high as our calves, so on our walk back to shore we laughed and talked about how we could maybe walk the entire 215 miles to the Bahamas without the water going over our heads. This would be far from possible, but it was always fun to talk about the impossible with my dad.

We got back to our gifts; the sandcastle tree that I built looked much more like a hole with gifts leaning up against a mound in the middle than it had before our walk. Nothing had changed, but my creation looked much less like what I had envisioned it to be after leaving it for a while. My dad only saw beauty though, so I chose to as well. I handed Dad a gift; a cheap plastic fishnet Christmas stocking-shaped bag of candy. It wasn’t filled with what I would have called good candy, but it was full of the candies that my dad liked: black licorice and hard butter scotch; it was perfect for him. He was so cute when he held up the stocking from its cardboard top that was stapled onto the plastic fishnet. My dad’s long hair, with a 1950’s pomade slick in the front and long hair to his shoulders in the back, lit up with the sun and he gave me a goofy grin just in time for a picture. His hair cut, just like his facial hair, had a style all to its own and both stood out and somehow fit into the culture of the 1990s. Above all it reflected my dad’s quirky personality. I hold that picture while I write this and smile back at the immortalized version of my favorite man, feeling the warmth and love that we shared that day.

Next I opened a small brown paper bag that had a piece of tape on the rolled top holding it closed. Prying the tape off and un-crinkling the paper I remembered what was inside. When we were traveling out of Orlando heading for Tampa, it got late and we were passing through a town called Kissimmee. The town was electrified with lights and people; a giant marquee sign with at least a thousand light bulbs that said “Old Town” in front of a Ferris wheel beckoned us toward it. The decorative street lamps were a convincing re-creation of the old gas lamps with tungsten filaments from the early 1900s, and they gave off a similar warm glow which made the damp cobblestones reflect an even warmer orange light. The shops were all busy with patrons, and we had caught a glimpse of an arcade area which was exactly what we needed to unwind.

This arcade was different than any I had ever seen before; I had never seen games like these. I went up to a game that said it was a fortune telling machine. It had two copper plates shaped like a left and a right hand; I put seventy-five cents in the machine and placed my hands on the plates. The copper was cold and kind of greasy, but I held my hands steady wanting to know my future. Slowly a printer in the machine started to make noises like a Dot Matrix printer, and eventually a slot about a foot under the right copper plate spit out a thick blue card with holes punched in it. I grabbed the card anxiously to read the fortune for my right hand, and to my dismay I read what sex noises I make in bed (a sonic boom), and what animal I make love like (a snake). I was embarrassed and amused at the same time. I did not wait for the slow and loud printer to finish my left hand; it was time to find my dad. We left the strangest arcade I had been to and went to see what the shops had to offer.

The streets that the shops were on seemed like something out of Venice; small alleys with cobblestone that came to a slight v-shape in the middle for rain drainage, brightly colored flags at shop doors, and warm light pouring from the stores out into the night. The patrons had started clearing out and some shops were closing. We strolled a bit and eventually ducked into one shop that had some handsome natural stones in the window. This shop was also getting ready to close so we took a quick look around the small closet sized room, but I got fixated on a case of rings. My dad came over and asked which one I liked and I pointed at a large oval abalone set on top of a silver band. Dad then scooted me outside and came following a minute later.  I thought he had gotten the ring for me, but I wasn’t sure. As I sat in the sand and opened the small paper bag, I knew he had gotten it. Overjoyed, I slid the ring onto my thumb and gave my dad a big hug.

Florida Xmas 1994 - 1Florida Xmas 1994 - 2


“The Florida Keys Are Made of Limestone.” What Are the Florida Keys Made Of? Web. 03 Nov. 2014. <>.

“Lighting A Revolution: 19th Century Competition.” Lighting A Revolution: 19th Century Competition. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014. <>.

“Native Trees & Shrubs of Florida.” Trees & Shrubs of Florida. Florida’s Nature. Web. 03 Nov. 2014. <>.

“Native Trees and Shrubs of Florida.” Trees and Shrubs of Florida. Florida’s Nature. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.>.

“Orlando International Airport to Key West, FL – Google Maps.” Orlando International Airport to Key West, FL – Google Maps. Google. Web. 05 Nov. 2014.


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Dawning’s Art at Alberta Abbey

by dawning on / Art

There are only a few more days to see my art at Alberta Abbey in Portland. Viewing is free, so come see my art in person at this wonderful venue! Until January 20th.

Alberta Abby Website

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Pre-made for Easy Meal Prep

by dawning on / Food and Health

I like to make food that can be used for a variety of meals. I live in a small house with just myself and my husband, and I find it really hard to cook an intricate meal for only two but we are adults and can’t live on PB&J’s. To make things easier I like to pre-prepare staple ingredients, and I rotate through them for even more variety.

Some of my pre-made staples are:

Boiled chicken breast  – This is so nice to have around because it can be used in anything and is a healthy meat choice. Check out my post Boiled Chicken Doesn’t Have to be Boring. I use this in my Garden Fresh Pasta, Stuffed Shells, and Shredded Chicken & Mandarin Orange Salad to name a few great ways this staple can be used.

Pasta Sauce – Good pasta sauce takes a little while to make, and even the Excellent Easy Pasta Sauce I make takes about a half an hour. This is why I make a good amount up when I make it. I use the Excellent Easy Pasta Sauce for many dishes like my Stuffed Shells and Easy Spaghetti.

Breakfast Bake – Breakfast can be a hard choice in the morning. Everybody is so busy and many don’t make the time for a healthy breakfast. Breakfast Bakes are a perfect pre-made solution. Make a whole casserole and it can last a single person a whole work week, or make two for a couple! (I will post my recipe for this soon!)

I also like to pre-prep some staples, like Parmesan cheese, sliced onions and cut lettuce for sandwiches, and sliced celery & carrots for easy munching.

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Boiled Chicken Doesn’t Have to be Boring

by dawning on / Food and Health

Boiling chicken is an easy and low calorie way to eat meat protein, but it doesn’t have to be tasteless. I use shredded chicken in so many meals, and this little bit of seasoning I add is subtle and a great compliment to already great dishes. (I will post some of my favorite uses for shredded chicken soon!)


  • Boneless Free Range Chicken Breast
  • Free Range Chicken Broth
  • 3-4 Bay Leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground Peppercorn Melange
  • Dash of Salt

Fill a pot with 1 cup (or so) of broth. Add all ingredients. Then add more broth until the chicken is completely covers. Cover the pot with a lid and turn heat onto medium low. Once chicken broth has come to a boil turn heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the inside of the chicken is no longer pink. After chicken is done, drain the broth and save to use for other recipes, or to boil more chicken in a couple days.

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Excellent Easy Pasta Sauce

by dawning on / Food and Health

As we all know, sauce out of the jar is not great. There are very simple ways to turn so-so store bought sauce into something really excellent. Here is what I usually do:


  • 2 Jars Classico Tomato & Basil Sauce
  • 14.5 oz. can Ready-cut Tomatoes Diced with Garlic, Oregano & Basil – thoroughly drained
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried Thyme
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Dice the onion while a pot (large enough for all the sauce) is heating on medium 2 tablespoons of Olive oil. Once oil is warm put the onions in. Saute until the onions are clear. Turn down heat to medium low and let the pot cool for a moment, then add garlic. Saute on medium low heat for 2 minutes stirring regularly. Add jars of sauce and the canned tomatoes. Stir. Add brown sugar, thyme, bay leaves, and salt & pepper. Stir. Let the sauce warm completely and serve with your favorite noodles!

Makes 6-8 servings


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Stuffed Conchiglioni Pasta Shells

by dawning on / Food and Health


  •  Conchiglioni pasta shells (whole wheat can be hard to find, but are my preference), or Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta Grand Shells, or Jumbo pasta shells (use about 20 shells depending on size)
  • Pre-made boiled chicken breast, 1 cup shredded
  • Pre-made pasta sauce, 2-3 cups
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 eggs (enough to cover all ingredients)
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Olive oil


Heat oven to 375 degrees

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and use about 2 tablespoons of Olive oil to coat the shells. Allow to cool prior to filling.

While the pasta cooks, combine all ingrediants, other than 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and the pre-made pasta sauce, in a large bowl.

In a 13x9x2 baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the pre-made pasta sauce. Fill each cooked pasta shell with about 2 tablespoons of the mixture of ingredients. Fill dish with stuffed shells. Spread remaining sauce over the shells. Sprinkle the remaining Paresan cheese over everything.

Cook for 35 inutes or until hot and bubbly

Stuffed Shells

Dawning’s Stuffed Shells

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An Artist’s Process – Charcoal Reduction

by dawning on / Art

By Dawning McGinnis

I turned on the television, but I never looked at it or even noticed the noise coming from it while I was eating. I just stared at my newest art piece. I looked deeply at the dusty charcoal, trying to find imperfections that I could fix. After I was halfway through my sandwich I realized that my self-portrait was done and truly was an amazing first attempt at using this medium. It wasn’t that I needed to keep working on this piece; instead I realized that it was time to move on to my next artistic venture. But, my self-portrait was still nagging at me.

After another hour or so of contemplation, my husband got home and right when he walked through the door with his black hood from his sweatshirt pulled over his head I realized what I wanted to create.

About a week earlier my husband had gotten the October 2013 edition of National Geographic, which was a 125th anniversary collector’s edition that celebrated photography. On the cover was the Afghan girl, that mesmerizing green-eyed girl who never knew the effect that her picture had on the world. Those intensely deep, yet glassy reflective eyes were the source of my inspiration. The severe look on that Afghan girl’s face was what my self-portrait reminded me of. I wanted more than a reminder of the look that this girl gave to the camera man, Steve McCurry, in the refugee camp in 1985. I wanted to capture that intensity with my charcoal. I felt that my self-portrait looked more scared or eerie than intense, so I needed a model that could convey strength in addition to intensity.

I told my husband my idea. I had one caveat, I didn’t just want him to pose for my portrait of him, I wanted him to scan his face like I had scanned mine in my self-portrait. I loved the line of light reflected in the eye from the scanner. I felt that one bright line added to the intensity of the portrait and also reminded me of the large amounts of reflected light in the Afghan girl’s eyes. My husband agreed to the challenge of scanning his face, but first we looked up the Afghan girl’s story for inspiration.

I had never gotten a chance to read the story of the photographer finding the Afghan girl as an adult. The revisited story that National Geographic put out in 2002 was more than I had hoped it would be for inspiration. The article gave a name to the woman who had stuck in my mind since I was a child and that was priceless for many reasons, but the largest reason was biblical in nature. In college I had taken a literature class covering the Old Testament, and in an attempt at feminism I had researched Jewish words to give names to some women that were pivotal in stories but were never named. I felt that having a name gave these women who struggled, and were prominent characters, their own identity and power which they never were allowed to have in their society or stories.

Sharbat Gula, her name is Sharbat Gula. She has seen more war and suffering than I can imagine. It is not only ferocity that shines in her eyes, it is strength, it is endurance, and it is hope. Steve McCurry’s famous portrait of Sharbat Gula was first taken in 1985, when she was a young girl during the height of the war with the Soviets, and the photographer returned nearly 20 years later to learn what might have become of her and took her photo again, this time in the midst of another war. The pictures Steve McCurry took in 2002 show a woman that looks closer to fifty rather than thirty. In 2002 she was no longer beautiful the way she was in her first portrait, but she was still mesmerizing.

After hours of scanning my husband’s face, and my husband getting way too into the process, I decided that one of the first scans was usable for what I was planning. Even though I found the right picture to work from, my husband insisted on scanning his face several more times to make sure I had what I needed. I do not know how his eyes survived over seventy scans, but I do know that he is definitely devoted to the arts.

I wanted to start working on the piece right away, but it was close to three in the morning when we stopped destroying my husband’s vision with our scanner. I was ushered to bed by the man who takes care of me when I become too obsessed with my projects.

I slept hard and woke up around eleven in the morning with the same, if not more, zeal as I had before bed. I somehow found the will to get dressed, brush my teeth, run a brush through my hair, and feed my cat before I started working, but that is all I had the patience to accomplish before making a charcoal mess in my living room.

I grabbed my twenty-four by eighteen inch drawing pad and carefully tore out a piece of the toothy paper. I secured the paper to my wooden drawing board and laid the whole thing on the hardwood floor. Holding the tiny compressed black stick in my right hand, I made huge strokes pressing down on the paper. Once the entire paper was covered in black I rubbed it with a soft chamois cloth that was once a light tan color, but after my one attempt at using charcoal had turned just as black as the medium itself. After the paper was uniformly blackened I picked the drawing board up and set it on my easel. I took some tape and secured the picture of my husband to the drawing board for reference.

With eraser in hand, I removed the black charcoal from the paper starting with my husband’s jaw-line working up to his nose. For hours I pressed my eraser hard into the paper, stopping occasionally to smudge some charcoal back over with a small piece of paper rolled like a tiny unicorn horn. Four hours of pushing the charcoal around the paper, removing where needed, then finally adding darker lines. My art teacher in college always told me, “You have to earn your black.”

I looked at the clock. It was almost nine at night and my husband would be home from work in about a half an hour. I stepped back to see what I had created. I was pleased, and it was time for the final touches. I was finishing up the white highlights that I was adding with Conté Crayons when I heard my husband’s car pull in our driveway. I listened to his radio belting out a funk song for a few minutes while I continued to fidget with his portrait. When he finally walked in I was standing back and observing the piece again. All he said was “creepy.” I gave him a minute to set his stuff down before I barraged him with questions. When he came back though, he answered all my waiting questions when he simply said, “It does have the intensity you were going for and it looks better than the scanned picture of me.”

My passion for recreating the feelings that were captured in McCurry’s amazing picture of Sharbat Gula in 1985 was sedated for the time being after making the portrait of my husband, but I have been thinking about revisiting this subject.  Sharbat Gula’s expression is impossible to recreate in the face of my wonderful peaceful husband. I think that if that expression is what I want to capture than I may need to go to the source. A portrait of Sharbat Gula will be on my list of projects.



Denker, Debra, and Steve McCurry. “A Life Revealed.” National Geographic. N.p., Apr. 2002. Web. 31 Nov. 2014. <>.

  • Image Afghan Girl

Draper, Robert. “Why Photos Matter.” National Geographic Oct. 2013: 28-33. Print.

McGinnis, Dawning. Scanner Rich. 2013. Charcoal. Portland, Oregon.

  • Image Scanner Rich

McGinnis, Dawning. Scanner Dawning. 2013. Charcoal. Portland, Oregon.

  • Image Scanner Dawning

Newman, Cathy, and Steve McCurry. “A Life Revealed.” National Geographic. N.p., Apr. 2002. Web. 31 Nov. 2014. <>.


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Modern Mixed Media

by dawning on / Art

Bubblephant is truly modern mixed media. First I made a painting and then I created a collage on top of the painting (the circles). After that was finished I took a picture of the piece. Using Photoshop I enhanced the colors and added some shapes. Then, using Illustrator, I made a vector of a creative commons image of an elephant. Several more steps later, Bubblephant was born! I enjoy taking paintings and other pieces that I am just not satisfied with, and turning them into something completely new and wonderful. Digital art is another outlet and can be very expressive and satisfying.

Elephant and summer dots small

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Here is a short movie I made

by dawning on / Personal

I hope this short movie I made will help to keep people warm during these winter months. Plus the bonus of kittens!

Seasons Greetings from

Dawning’s Art


Laughing Kamooks Mountain River Ranch!


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New Digital Art Typography Self Portrait

by dawning on / Art

I made a new self portrait! I tried to really think of myself, my art and my goals when I was making it. I have to say that it turned out exactly how it should be, and I am very happy with it! I plan to do more like it for those inspiring people in my life.

Dawning Graphic purple to blue

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Playing with Pegapussy

by dawning on / Personal

The Pegapussy I created for the snowboard I made for The Big Chill got stuck in my head, and I wanted to use her for more than just one snowboard. I have been playing around with her image and here are some fun pictures I created. I have also turned her into a T-Shirt! Shop Now

Pegapussy over Mt Hood

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Creativity Explored – A Studio for Developmentally Disabled Artists

by dawning on / Art

When I was in San Francisco my uncle took me to an incredible place called Creativity Explored. This place was the largest and most diverse studio for artists with developmental disabilities that I had ever imagined. I was awestruck when I walked from the gallery into the studio and saw hundreds of talented artists working away. I met many artists and they seemed happy, safe, and in their element. I wanted to stay and meet/talk to everyone there, but that would have taken weeks.

For the last several years I have been exploring Art Therapy, but after an internship and learning more about the field I sadly realized it wasn’t for me.

I think that art takes you where you need to go on it’s own. The emotions that need to be released, will be during the process of making art if you are in a free and safe environment.

Creativity Explored is an art studio, not an art therapy studio.

I have always wanted to create a truly safe and happy place for all people to find their creative passion, and where I could teach when people need teaching and create along side other creators. I haven’t fully formed my notion of this perfect studio space, but I know I want to share it with any and all others.

While I was at Creativity Explored I got to chat up the Executive Director, Amy Taub. Amy is a salty older woman near retirement with extensive knowledge of the inner workings of a studio devoted to artists with developmental disabilities. She said that if she had it all to do over again, she would never have made the studio so big. I thought that was a shame because it is mesmerizing seeing such a large group of people busily enjoying their work, but obviously I do understand. Amy’s complaint was that the people there aren’t getting as much individual attention as some may need or want, and it is too challenging to organize a place like that.

Amy also said that only a fool opens a studio for artists with developmental challenges without government assistance. I wanted to ask so many more questions after she said this, but I also didn’t want to take up all of her time. In my mind I kept thinking “the catch is, to get government assistance, as far as I have read, a non-profit has to be in operation for a certain amount of time on it’s own. How is this achieved?” ……

The last advice that Amy gave was never show art unless it is good. I loved this sentiment. I wouldn’t show my own art unless it was good. Turning off customers that were once interested due to promoting an artist that was not ready, that is the worst. That customer probably wont be back to see the artist develop, and now just thinks of the business as one that has bad art. It was great advice for every artist and studio.

My visit to Creativity Explored was beyond words amazing for me. I have so much to learn and so many questions. I could have easily spent my whole trip to San Francisco in this one studio, meeting people and picking Amy’s brain. I hope I get the chance to go back.


Creativity Explored Artist John Patrick McKenzie They are Full of Holy

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Dawning’s Art Shop now has CLOTHES!!!

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by dawning on / Art

Here are some highlights from Oddville! A Burning Man affiliated art show I was in on November 13th at American Steel Studio in Oakland.


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New Raku Kiln

by dawning on / Art

This is Dawning’s Art Studio’s new Raku kiln and the first pots to come out of it.

Construction is moving along!

First firing in Raku resized

There is still soooo much to get done though….

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Horse Hair Pots

by dawning on / Art


Studio construction is going slowly, and Summer brings too many fun activities.

Despite how slow things are going, I am still finding time to create. Here is a picture of the most recent horse hair pots.

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Home studio planning

by dawning on / Art, Personal

Changing a living space into a multi-functional art studio:

The new studio will be the former master bedroom of my house. It has a separate entrance with a small yard and a bathroom. It is also right next to the garage. The studio will have my wheel, a big art table, a painting area with easels, a big TV for watching demos, and tons of storage for supplies. The garage will have a clay wedging table, an electric kiln, and a lot of clay ware storage. The Backyard is home to barrel firings and cast iron stove firings. I am not quite sure where the Raku kiln will go, but I am sure we will figure it out.

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